Exiled by M.R. Merrick

Chase Williams is a demon hunter in the Circle, or at least he was supposed to be. Failing to develop any elemental magic on his fifteenth birthday left him exiled in a world full of half-demons, and no hunters to protect him.
When Chase discovers the Circle’s plan to unlock a portal and unleash pure-blood demons into the world, he vows to stop them. Knowing he can’t do it alone however, he accepts help from Rayna, a sexy witch with an attitude and a secret.
As the pair attempt to stop the Circle, Chase realizes working with a demon is only half the battle. When they find themselves in the middle of the Circle’s plan, it leaves one of them to decide what their friendship is worth, and the other’s life depending on it.

I had heard a lot of chatter about this book on Twitter before I finally broke down and bought it. Everything I heard was good, so I figured it would at least be an entertaining read if nothing else. That my dear readers is an understatement. Merrick starts Exiled off with a bang and things don’t slow down much throughout the rest of the book. Not only that, but it’s a great story with spunky characters that have a wealth of personality and new twists on some old paranormal mythology that fit perfectly in the world that Merrick creates. Have I got you convinced? Well then, allow me to continue….

Chase’s story just about broke my heart. His exile was particularly cruel because of how it was dealt, but I’m not going to spoil anything for you. You need to learn to loath the character in question all on your own and trust me, you will. Because of his exile, Chase had to fend for himself, with the support of his mother. It made it harder for him to trust anyone other than her, but it also made him stronger than he would have been if he would have remained sheltered within the Circle. He wasn’t a perfect hero, but he grew during Exile and became a totally different person by the end, which made it possible for the reader to relate to him even more.

Rayna does have secrets, but not many she is purposely keeping from anyone. Most of her secrets she doesn’t even realize. I’m sure that as the series continues we will find out many more. She is nothing like any other person that Chase has ever met and it’s great watching their friendship and trust grow throughout the book. She could easily be a totally broken character for all she’s been through, but Merrick gives her loyalty and strength to overcome all of it. I think it’s safe to say that Rayna may be one of my favorite YA heroines that I’ve read this year.

Merrick also has quite a group of supporting characters that add a lot to the plot of the story and keep it moving. Of course there is Chase’s mother, Tessa;  Marcus, another hunter with a mysterious past; Willie (who is probably one of my favorite characters) a demon who can’t catch a break and Vincent, a vampire who is easy to hate. There are also others, but aside from the ‘bad guys,’ these are the main characters that the story centers around.

Merrick’s descriptions of the worlds he has created make it easy to vividly picture the character’s surroundings. I’m always amazed when an author describes a setting that is not like anything that you’ve ever seen. You know that it doesn’t exist anywhere but in the author’s imagination, yet, as you’re reading you get totally lost in the description and take for granted that it’s reality for now and you don’t question it. That’s magic and Exiled is full of it.

Exiled starts with a bang and ends with one too. The climax is powerful and I’m warning you now, there will be tears. At least there were for me. It doesn’t exactly end in a cliff hanger, but it is obvious that Chase’s story is far from over. After the Epilogue in Exiled (which evoked more tears by the way) I literally can’t wait until Shift, the next book in this continuing series, is released.

Okay readers, I know I gushed. You also know if you’ve read any of my other reviews that I save the gushing for the books that I really, really like and Exiled is obviously one of them. It’s got a little bit of everything for anyone who enjoys YA books. Hopefully my gushing will entice a few of you to give it a try. I, for one am glad I did and sorry I waited so long to read it. 😉

Black Dagger Brotherhood (Re)Read Event

No, we’re not obsessed… well, most of us aren’t obsessed…. we just know what we like. 😉

For those of you not familiar with the BDB boys, this is the perfect opportunity to get acquainted. I’ve been looking for an excuse to reread these books (it usually doesn’t take much) and was offered the perfect way to do it when it was discovered that some of our nearest and dearest *Ahem* had either never read any of the books *Ahem* Kyla @ KylaNovelista *Cough* or only read some of them *Ahem* Amanda @ On A Book Bender *Cough*. Needless to say, given the good Samaritans that we are, it was decided that an intervention was in order. AND being the good sports that we are, we couldn’t let them go it alone, so we turned the Event into a (Re)Read as well.

Readers who are joining in on this event are at all different levels in the series, so you can join in regardless of how many of the books you’ve read. I’ve read books 1-8, but I haven’t reviewed them all. I’ll take this opportunity to refresh my memory and write reviews for Books 1-5. Once I’ve caught myself up I will be reading Lover Unleashed for the first time. If you’d like to join us, just use this link to go to Amanda’s goodreads page and sign up. It’s very informal and we are all going to try our best to leave out any spoilers in our discussions.

Amanda’s organizational skills are simply phenomenal, so following her lead, I’m going to link my reviews from here so they are within easy reach. Hopefully by the end of December I’ll have them all done. I’m 3 ahead of the game, so I only have 6 to do. Enjoy!

  1. Dark Lover (Wrath)
  2. Lover Eternal (Rhage)
  3. Lover Awakened (Zsadist)
  4. Lover Revealed (Butch)
  5. Lover Unbound (Vishous)
  6. Lover Enshrined (Phury)
  7. Lover Avenged (Rehvenge)
  8. Lover Mine (John Matthew)
  9. Lover Unleashed (Payne)
By creativedeeds

This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Danger waits on both sides of the grave.

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they’ve triumphed over the latest battle, Cat’s new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance . . .

With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous “ally”—the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war . . . to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

Cat and Bones… enough said? I just can’t get enough of this couple. Just when you think that they can’t get any closer or any more devoted to each other, they surprise you. Along with everyone else in the series. In each book another layer is revealed and it just brings the reader that much closer to these great characters.

One of the great things about Cat and Bones is that they are continuing to not only grow in their relationship, but they are also growing in respect to their powers. Bones’ new powers come from his ‘gift’ from Mencheres and Cat’s comes from her ‘special diet.’ The fun comes in because neither of them know quite what to expect. Okay, so it’s not always fun, but eventually it gets there. As usual though, Cat and Bones are only part of the story. Where would we be without the rest of the family?

Mencheres used to be one of my least favorite characters. My how things change. I love how Mencheres has turned into an almost entirely new character than when we first met him. I don’t know why, but I always pictured him as ‘old.’ I think it was because of the fear he projected and respect that was demanded because of that fear. Not that he doesn’t demand respect now just because of his power and presence, but because he has found love he seems more reachable now. It’s a nice change.

Then there is Spade. I thought when I read Spade’s book that he and Denise made the perfect couple. That opinion doesn’t change in This Side of the Grave. It’s going to be fun to see this relationship grows.

Vlad has turned into one of my favorite side characters. I had originally thought that he was going to be featured in one of Frost’s Night Huntress World books, but thanks to Amanda @ On A Book Bender, I have been corrected. Turns out Vlad will have an entire series dedicated to just him. *sigh* That’s a very good thing in my opinion. There isn’t much info on Frost’s site, but the series will be titled Night Prince. It will be interesting to see how this snarky, independent vamp gets tamed. In each of the Night Huntress books since his introduction a little bit of his shell gets peeled away. His sense of humor is a great addition and the loyalty he has for his friends, especially Mencheres is admirable.

Oh Ian.  I never would have thought that I would miss his presence in any of the books. He’s kind of growing on me though. He only made a short appearance in This Side of the Grave. I think he only had one line in the whole book. It was a memorable one though. Pure Ian! 😉

Along with all the heat and danger that is always a part of Cat and Bones’ existence, there is also a lot of pain in this one. I really don’t like tears in the midst of my Cat and Bones reading, but sometimes it just can’t be helped. I guess you could say that this one ends in somewhat of a cliff hanger. At least I have One Grave at a Time handy. I don’t think I’ll be reading it right away though. It’s the last in both series until next year so I think I’m going to hold on to it for just a little while longer.

As a side note: I know that some readers have been frustrated by the fact that The Night Huntress World books are so intertwined with the plots of the Night Huntress books. Jeaniene Frost has a list of the suggested order that the books can be read in here. I followed the order of the list and I’m glad that I did. I probably would have been a little confused about Mencheres’ and Spade’s current situation if I hadn’t. I’m glad that the books are split into two different series though. Those of us who follow Cat and Bones are used to having them front and center. The relationships that are built in the Night Huntress World books deserve their own story and not just a side story within the Night Huntress series. I’ll continue to read them in the order that is suggested and just be glad that there are more of them to read. 😉

Teaser Tuesday 11-29-11

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I’m currently reading Exiled by M.R. Merrick. Do you like action packed openings? Well then this is the book for you. Merrick doesn’t waste any time grabbing your attention from the very first page, which is where I took this teaser from. As I write this, I am about 70% through and can easily recommend this as a great YA Paranormal read. You can look for my review later this week. Enjoy! 😉

He stood on his hind legs with his back to me and I took the opportunity presented, unsure if I’d get another. I leapt onto his back and stuck one silver dagger into each shoulder. He roared in pain and anger as the blades pierced his furry flesh, and reacted with a flurry of quick movements that threw me from his back. I fought to keep hold of one dagger as I hit the pavement, while the other remained stuck in his shoulder.

By creativedeeds

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge Goals

So I’ve been thinking about this challenge and trying to decide on my level of commitment to it. I went through my Kindle yesterday and put all the books that have been sitting on it waiting for me to read on my goodreads ‘to read’ shelf. There were a lot more than I expected. I’ll start with those with this challenge. To be fair, some of the books that I have on my ‘to read’ shelf on goodreads I don’t own yet, but I still have every intention of reading them. I put them there as a gentle reminder to pick them up. Other books that I will be choosing from for this challenge belong to my daughter and they are currently on her shelf. They are books that she has been begging me to read for some time now. What better way to get her to stop bullying me and participate in a challenge at the same time. Seems like a win/win situation to me.

Just to remind everyone, here are the Levels:

1-10 – A Firm Handshake
11-20 – A Friendly Hug
21-30 – A Sweet Kiss
31-40 – Love At First Sight
41-50 – Married With Children

Given the size of my pile and the daunting list that my daughter has given me, I’m going to attempt the 21-30 A Sweet Kiss Level. I feel confident that I can reach that with no problem, plus it gives me some room to surpass it if I get really ambitious. As for the books that I’m planning on reading? Here’s a tentative list. Of course it is subject to change, but that’s what keeps things interesting.

Books that I currently own:

Books that have been on my list for a while, just haven’t been purchased (yet):

My daughter’s list she has been bullying me with forever!

  • The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd (5 Book Series) by Heather Brewer
  • The Uglies by Scott Westerfield
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • Marked by P.C & Kristin Cast
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  • Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Perks of Being a Wall Flower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

If I counted right (no guarantees) that comes to 49 books. I doubt if I’ve listed them all, but this is all I could find this morning. I’m sure I’ve got a few more hidden gems around here somewhere that I’ve forgotten about. Regardless, if I manage to read all of these it will surpass my goal, which is a good thing. Do you have books that are just lying around waiting to be read? Need some incentive? Come join in on the fun! Stop by Evie’s site and sign up!

*I added some last minute purchases and shuffled some of the categories around near the end of December. After Christmas I will probably have some more additions to the list.

By creativedeeds

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she’s going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He’s out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy’s stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she’s managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they’re suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

Have you ever had a book take you totally by surprise? I don’t mean by just a little bit, I mean a ‘grab you from the beginning and never let you go’ kind of surprise. That is the only way I can describe the effect that this book had on me. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s beautiful!

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I requested the ARC for this book (which isn’t due for release until February 2012) after a couple of other book bloggers recommended it. I read the short synopsis and thought it sounded interesting. I received the ARC and let it sit on my computer for a while almost forgotten. I opened it up last night after remembering it was there, noticed it was a fairly short read for me (272 pages hardcover) and thought I’d start it just to see what it was like. That was all it took. A couple of hours later I was reading the final chapter and wishing there was more.

What made Graffiti Moon so hard to put down? Cath Crowley has an almost poetic style of writing. The whole time I was reading this book I found myself wishing I could come close to expressing myself in prose the way she did. Her characters had depth, fierce emotions and humor. The two main characters, Ed and Lucy, were extremely artistic and creative and Crowley’s descriptions of their art gave you vivid images of their creations. Add that to the passion they had for the art that they created and the imagery was amazing.

Another aspect that pulls the reader in is the way Crowley gives the characters their own voice by sharing points of view. The chapters are titled with the character’s name. Ed, Lucy and Leo are each given a voice and it works beautifully. The story wouldn’t have been the same if you hadn’t been given a glimpse into each of their thoughts. Leo’s chapters are all poetry which gives you a unique way to get inside his head. The breaks could have been awkward but they flowed perfectly between Ed and Lucy’s point of view.

Graffiti Moon is set in Australia, but it could have been in any city. The ‘where’ of the story wasn’t important to the plot.

This was the first time I had heard of Cath Crowley, but I’m sure it won’t be the last of her books that I read. You can check out or pre-order Graffiti Moon at Amazon.

Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost

An immortal war has been brewing in the darkness . . . And now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.

Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she’s only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he’d seen it all. Then Kira appears, this fearless, beautiful . . . human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.

Jeaniene Frost never ceases to surprise me. She has a real knack for giving characters that she just scratched the surface with previously so much depth that you can’t help but fall in love with them. Yes, I am talking about Mencheres.

Mencheres was never my favorite character. I’m guessing that’s because I was always seeing him through Cat’s eyes. He was someone with so much power that he intimated her and then seemed to use that power however he could to manipulate others. Yep, that’s pretty much Mencheres on the surface. Trust me, even if you aren’t a fan of this powerful vampire, you need to read this book. You will see him in a totally different light.

Kira was the perfect person to bring out the hidden aspects of Mencheres. She wasn’t part of the vampire world until she met him, so she came into his life not knowing how intimidated she should be. She grew to love him for who he truly was, not the person everyone thought he was. They both grew a lot in this story and because we learned so much about Mencheres’ back story and his own internal battles, I doubt if any reader will ever look at him the same way again.

I’m not sure who Frost will feature next, but I can’t wait to find out. Ian didn’t make an appearance in Eternal Kiss of Darkness but Vlad was there. Either one of them would make for an interesting side trip in The Night Huntress World. I love reading about Cat and Bones, but this additional series adds so much to their series. Besides that, there is always just enough of Cat and Bones thrown in that we don’t miss them too much. 😉

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

I’m not sure how many TBR books are in my pile, but there are quite a few. I’ve also got a bunch that I’ve promised my daughter I would read, so why not throw them in as well? Since I’m a fairly ‘newbie’ to the book blogging world, this will mark my first challenge. I doubt however it will be my last or only for the year. Below are the challenge details I got from Evie at Bookish who is one of the Challenge hosts.

Challenge guidelines: 
  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 – Dec 31, 2012.
  2. As we would like to see quality reviews linked up to our monthly wrap-ups, only bloggers can enter. Sorry about that!
  3. Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that’s been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2011 and earlier! NO ARCs and 2012 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2012 TBR PILE Reading Challenge (You need to include the info + host list + challenge button. You can also grab the button code and add it to your sidebar!)
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  8. At the end of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it’sunique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this month. For each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It’s open to INTERNATIONALS. For participating in the mini-challenge you will get +1 entry.
  9. If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice – we will be checking ;)
  10. December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you’ll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway – 12 books, 12 winners, INTERNATIONAL.
  11. You don’t have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways

Levels:

1-10 – A Firm Handshake
11-20 – A Friendly Hug
21-30 – A Sweet Kiss
31-40 – Love At First Sight
41-50 – Married With Children

Hosts:
Evie from Bookish – http://www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com @SeoEvie
Nicole from All I Ever Read – http://www.nicoleabouttown.com/ @Nicoleabouttown
Bonnie from Hands and Home – http://www.handsandhome.ca/ @HandsHomeBlog
Donna from Book Passion For Life – http://bookpassionforlife.blogspot.com/ @BookPforLife
Caitlin from WatchYA Reading – http://whatchyareading.net @caitlingss
Rie from Mission To Read – http://missiontoread.com/ @missiontoread
Vicky from Books, Biscuits & Tea http://booksbiscuitsandtea.blogspot.com/ @alouetteuette
Christa from Hooked On Books – http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot.com @ChristasBooks
Jenna from Fans Of Fiction – http://fansoffiction.blogspot.com/ @fansoffiction
Angel from Mermaids Vision – http://mermaidvision.wordpress.com @mermaidvisions

You can sign up at Evie’s blog, just follow the link and then link up! Once I go through my TBR list, I’ll let everyone know exactly what books I’m going to try to tackle. This should be fun!

By creativedeeds

Severed by Megg Jensen

Reychel knows her gift of prophecy will lead to madness and now she is at her most vulnerable. The enemy army will attempt to sever her from everything she’s ever known: her homeland, her friends, Mark, and her gift. Even at her weakest, she refuses to give up on her desire to end the war between the Malborn and the Serenians. Reychel would do anything, even come back from the dead, to conquer the enemy and reunite with Mark.

Severed is the final book in Megg Jensen’s Cloud Profit Trilogy. I was sorry to see it end, but Megg managed to bring Reychel’s story to a satisfying close.

I love the Dystopian world that Megg has created for her cast of characters in her Cloud Profit Trilogy. Everything is so intertwined and unique. It was an easy world to get lost in. I don’t think it’s a world I would want to live in, but not many Dystopian worlds are.

Each of Jensen’s characters are strong in their own way. Reychel is probably the most powerful of all, yet she sees herself as the weakest. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and won’t let anyone stand in her way to do what she feels is right. It doesn’t always work to her advantage, but she is also strong enough to live with the consequences of those decisions and move on. The bad guys are really, really bad. Ace is the perfect balance for Krissin and Johna tries to keep everyone on track. There are also some surprising alliances in Severed.

The love that Mark and Reychel share is written beautifully. Their love keeps them going and fighting even when the odds are totally against them. There were times that I wasn’t sure how they were going to get past everything that they were up against. The characters didn’t come through Severed unscathed, but I didn’t expect them to. The hardest battle fought by Reychel in Severed was internal and in the end she came to the only solution she could. I hope other readers enjoy the journey through this trilogy as much as I did. I can’t wait to see what Megg Jensen has in store for us next.

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Did you know that The Iron Fey series was meant to be a Trilogy? You do know that means that the books would have ended with The Iron Queen. Meghan Chase’s story arc was over, she was Iron Queen, end of story. Thank goodness Ash got to have the last word!

Iron King takes up where Iron Queen left off, leaving Ash to find a way to fulfill his promise to Meghan and give them their ‘happily ever after.’ Not a simple task when you’re dealing with the Nevernever, where nothing is as it seems and for every victory there is another obstacle. Also not very easy when there are so many internal battles that need to be settled.

Kagawa took this story through so many unexpected twists and turns that I found myself holding my breath at times waiting for the next twist to undo everything Ash was working toward. We learned a lot about Ash in The Iron King. Some things that were very hard for him to remember and for us to hear, but they needed to be brought out. Without that knowledge no one would have known the true Ash, including himself. He wasn’t the only one that Kagawa helped us to know better. Puck came full circle in The Iron Knight as well. He grew as a character and became so much more than the prankster of the Summer Court. He was still his snarky, reckless self and he still reminded Ash regularly that he was only there to make sure he didn’t screw up. What fun would a serious Puck be?

Yes, Iron Knight was sad at times. Ash had to face things he didn’t want to face and some things he never expected to face again. He fought an internal battle, but never gave up even when it would have been so easy to turn away. The journey he took in Iron Knight made him worthy in my mind of whatever decision he made and inevitably the journey took him to the only place it could.

I had put off reading Iron Knight because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to these characters. After reading it, I’m still not ready to leave them behind, but Kagawa did a great job of bringing all the characters where they needed to be. I’m sure this is a series that I will go back to more than once.