Rejecting Destiny (Through the Veil #3) by Christi Snow

rejectingdestinyShe has one final chance to embrace her destiny or lose it all.
Twenty years ago Bethany Harris fell in love with Aaron Vaughn, but then she shattered his heart. When the Veil fell two years later, she became the leader of the Western States. She wasn’t ready for the job, but she stepped up and did it. She couldn’t have done that without Aaron’s friendship and support.
Since then they’ve become lovers in the physical sense, but Bethany continues to keep her distance. She lost the right to Aaron’s love a long time ago.
Now things have changed. What once defined their world may no longer be true. With the turmoil that follows, Bethany must lead her people into a terrifying new era. She’s reeling and doubting herself more than ever. But when Aaron brings home her biggest challenge, it may be one too many.
To succeed she has to face her biggest fear…trusting the strength of the relationship between her and Aaron, or else risk losing it all. She could lose her job, her people, but most of all the man she’s loved almost her whole life.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Oh Bethany and Aaron… readers may not have learned much about these two up until Rejecting Destiny, but this book definitely made up for that.

I have to warn you, this one made me just a little bit teary… well maybe more like a lot teary. Which kind of took me by surprise. Not that I didn’t already know that Christi Snow was capable of making me shed a tear or two. She’s proven that more than once. Let’s just say she pulled at all my vulnerable heart strings in this one. I think the real reason I was caught off guard was because as emotionally distant as Bethany seemed, I didn’t expect her to break my heart, but she did… big time.

On the other hand, having Aaron break my heart came as no surprise at all. I loved him from the beginning. So, how did these two break my heart? There were so many little twists, turns and surprises in Rejecting Destiny I don’t want to spoil it for you. Just know that every tear was totally worth it.

Beyond what was going on between Aaron and Bethany, there was a lot going on in the Western States. Changes were happening that no one could explain. People were shaking things up and pulling strings while forces were at work that were totally unexpected. Some were positive and the jury’s still out on the others.

Oh, and for the record, I sorta fell in love with a couple of new characters along the way and I’m hoping that readers will get to know them a lot better. Needless to say, I can’t wait for the next book in the Through the Veil series.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

 

Omega (War of the Alphas #1) by S.M. Reine

OmegaTen years ago, Deirdre Tombs died. When she was reborn the next day, Deirdre had become a shapeshifter who can’t shift shapes. Nobody knows what animal she’s supposed to be. She’s definitely not a werewolf. The Alpha, Rylie Gresham, can’t force her to transform like other members of her pack.

Now Deirdre is considered an omega, the weakest shapeshifter in the pack–a vulnerable position when Everton Stark demands tribute from Rylie. He wants to be the dominant Alpha. The only Alpha. And he plans to make her pack submit whether they want to or not. Stark can make every shapeshifter obey him by force of will alone.

Every shapeshifter except Deirdre.

The shifter who can’t shift is the only hope for Rylie to win the war against Stark. It will take everything Deirdre has to survive undercover in his den. But can an omega’s will be stronger than that of a charismatic, deadly Alpha like Everton Stark?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Omega takes place 10 years after the end of the Ascension series. Honestly, I didn’t think about what happened to people outside of the main characters. I’m not surprised that S.M. Reine not only thought about it, but created a whole new series centered around it.

Deirdre was an interesting character. At first I couldn’t sympathize with her, but that was a totally jaded POV on my part. I adore Rylie, faults and all. My love of S.M. Reine’s writing started with Rylie, so of course that’s where my sympathies lie. Deirdre had a totally different perspective. She knew what happened during that ten year gap on a very personal level. To her Rylie was everything her suffering for that decade represented. Her lack of trust toward Rylie and the pack was deep seated. Getting into her head for just a little while made me understand her POV, but it didn’t keep me from wanting to jump into the book and try to explain to Deirdre exactly how awesome Rylie really was and how much the Pack and everyone in it had been through.

This was Deirdre’s story though and the fact that I was so quick to defend Rylie proves what an awesome job S.M. Reine has done so far with this world. Deirdre’s story adds another layer to it and her story is proving to be no less intense than any of the other characters introduced so far.

Speaking of characters, this author has come up with some pretty evil ones. Everton Stark is now at the top of that list. It’s not just because he’s trying to take Rylie down, which is bad enough. It’s more because of the methods he’s using to do so. He’s ruthless, dangerous and worst of all, passionate in his cause.

Omega wasn’t anything like I imagined it would be, but I’ve learned to expect that from S.M. Reine. She pulls no punches when it comes to emotions and she pretty much pushed them to the limit in the first book in this series. (Yes, there were tears…big fat ugly ones) I can’t say a whole lot more because I’m afraid I’ll give something away. There’s a fine line between good and evil and this author walks a tight rope with that reality. No one is safe. No one is immune and not everything is exactly as it seems… ever.

DragonFlyRating5

Beyond Possession (Beyond #5.5) by Kit Rocha

BeyondPossessionTatiana Stone has worked hard to establish herself as one of Sector Four’s most skilled crafters. All she wants is peace–but the sins of her father haunt her. He ruled the sector as a petty tyrant before the O’Kane takeover, and plenty of people harbor bitter memories of his cruelty. Especially now that Tatiana’s beloved baby sister has fallen in with a man who wants to start a revolution.
Zan failed his boss once, and it won’t happen again. So when Dallas O’Kane asks him to defuse the rebellion brewing in the sector, he’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done–including seduce Tatiana. It’s the perfect opportunity to get closer to the pretty crafter and complete his mission. But what he discovers is a fiery, passionate woman–and an affair that could destroy them both.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Yes, I’m reading this series totally out of order. Even though the novellas are written so they can be stand alone, I’d suggest at least reading the first book in the Beyond series, Beyond Shame, before tackling the rest of the series.

I love this world that the Kit Rocha duo has created. It’s raw and violent, but within the walls of the O’Kanes it’s all about family, respect and protection. Something Tatiana has never experienced. Beyond Possession gives readers a glimpse of the ‘roots’ of the O’Kanes reign. That reign began when Tatiana’s father was destroyed. That was the beginning of her independence and something she isn’t willing to give up, for anyone.

Zan has admired Tatiana for a while, but he respects her independence enough that he’s never acted on that admiration. When Dallas O’Kane doesn’t give him a choice, he’s totally honest with Tatiana and she’s just as honest with him. I admired that about Zan. He could have easily tricked her, but he respected her too much.

There is nothing ‘light’ about this series. There is an unexpected soft side to pretty much all the characters though. In our world, they would be considered the ‘bad guys.’ In the Beyond world, they keep the peace and offer protection from the really ‘bad guys’… and isn’t that a scary thought?

I’ll be backtracking soon so I can hopefully catch up before the next installment comes out. Beyond Innocence is due to be released in early 2015 so I have some serious catching up to do!

DragonFlyRating4

Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

BrandedFifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best. 

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home. 

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain. 

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me. 
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. 
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

I’m not sure if it was because this book was so dark or not, but I had a hard time getting into it. The writing was beautiful, the characters had depth and the story was unique, but I think it may have all been too much… at least for me.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1To be totally fair, I think that you have to be in the right frame of mind to read Dystopian or Post Apocalyptic  books. For some reason Branded just kind of drug me down.

The world that Lexi lived in was full of violence. That world scared me. I can’t imagine a world where basically one person dictated who was worthy and who wasn’t. When people were found guilty of one of the Seven Deadly Sins, they were segregated from the general population and sent to the Hole. The theory was that those sins were responsible for all the bad in the world and once the sinners were weeded out… forever… everything would be perfect. Of course there were flaws to this view. Mainly, no one is perfect or beyond sin. That’s what made Lexi’s situation hopeless. Especially since she wasn’t even guilty of the sin she was branded with. Every time she found a bright spot in her existence it was ripped away from her. I’m not sure how anyone could survive in this situation or even want to.

Of course there were twists and turns. Startling secrets were revealed and by the end the characters were left with a little bit of hope. Just enough that I will probably pick up the next book in the series when it is released. Things were left hanging for several characters at the end of Branded and even though I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this world that Ketner and Kalicicki have created, I’m curious enough to see how it all turns out.

DragonFlyGreen3-5

The Wild’s Call (Aspect of the Crow Trilogy #0.5) by Jeri Smith-Ready

From the author: “The Wild’s Call” is a SHORT STORY originally written for the publisher’s website as a daily online serial. Per the publisher’s guidelines, each chapter had a required length of 750 words or fewer.

From the publisher: It is seven years after the collapse of modern civilization, and the world is entering a new Dark Age. Can best friends Elysia and Darien trust the animal spirits that are beckoning them to escape into the wilderness and create a new way of life? And will they give in to the mutual passion they’ve always denied?

Don’t miss this thrilling prequel story set in the same world as Jeri Smith-Ready’s Aspect of Crow trilogy: Eyes of Crow, Voice of Crow and The Reawakened.

Okay, it’s official. I will now just go ahead and put everything by Jeri Smith-Ready on my TBR list.

Honestly, I didn’t know about any other books by this author until I started reading her Shade Series. For a lot of reasons, I really love that series. The characters, the premise, the writing even the local. It’s one of the first series that I have read that took place in an area that I grew up near. It was only part of the draw, but it was there. The point is, reading Shade, Shift and Shine made me want to read more. That’s when I found The Wild’s Call.

This was a quick read but it wasn’t lacking in anything. Jeri Smith-Ready has a way of pulling you into the worlds she creates and more importantly making you feel. Although this novella is set in Baltimore, Maryland it’s not the Charmed City that people are familiar with. The story is set in a dystopian future that seems hopeless. Yet, it’s not your typical dystopian world. The main characters Elysia and Darien have hope that comes in a unique form. I absolutely love the twist that this story takes and I can’t wait to jump into the series and see what happens next. This is one prequel that served its purpose and grabbed me from start to finish and left me wanting more.

I received The Wild’s Call as a free download from Amazon on April 19, 2012

Sherry’s Wolf (After the Crash #3.5) by Maddie Barone

When a plane crashes fifty years in the future the survivors learn:
1. Nuclear war has destroyed the technology they knew.
2. Plagues have reduced the female population to a precious few and a woman is worth her weight in gold.
3. Werewolves are more than mere myth, and they want mates.

Plane crash survivor Sherry Rowe was out of her mind with pain when help arrived at the crash site. When the big gray wolf transformed before her eyes into a gorgeous, scary, naked man who claimed her as his mate, she thought he was a hallucination induced by the horror of the plane crash and the pain of her broken legs. But days later, he was still there, trying to take care of her. How could Jumping Stag expect her to love him, a man who turned to a perverted animal, when she was still dealing with the loss of the husband who hadn’t survived the crash?

I really need to start paying attention when I pick up freebies. I get so caught up in the synopsis and deciding on whether or not it’s in a genre that I’m interested in that I forget to check the obvious. Like – this is actually a novella between the 3 and 4th books in a series and I haven’t read the previous books. Ugh! Well, the good news is that I got up to speed fairly quickly and I actually liked the story.

This is actually a post-apocalyptic story with an interesting twist. You get that idea by the 3 numbered points in the synopsis no doubt. What the synopsis doesn’t touch on is the tenderness of this story. Sherry is not only suffering from the shock of her loss, but she’s also trying to come to terms with the fact that her life wasn’t so great before the accident. Stag was not only the text book alpha male, but he is living in time where females and children are things to be loved and cherished. He has no idea what he’s up against by his ‘wolf’ choosing Sherry as his mate.

Even though I jumped into this series mid stream, it gave me just enough to peak my interest into looking into the rest of the books. I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy them as much as I enjoyed Sherry’s Wolf, but I’m definitely curious. 😉

I received Sherry’s Wolf as a free download from Amazon on May 21, 2012.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I love getting ARCs, I really, really do. However, there are one or two major downfalls. Both are dependent on loving the book. If it is part of a series, I have MORE time in between books to wait than I would have if I waited until the actual release. The second is by getting the book through NetGalley I don’t have the physical book and the ebook expires. Have I mentioned that I am not only an eclectic reader, but a book hoarder? If it is a book I love I will be reading it again (and again and again…) And yes, if you hadn’t already guessed – The Immortal Rules falls into this category. It is a book that I will definitely need to purchase – soon!

The Immortal Rules is part of a new series titled Blood of Eden by Julie Kagawa. I knew going into this book that it was about Vampires but trust me, it’s not your run of the mill Vampire story. There may be Vampires in the world that Kagawa has created, but the book is much more than that. It’s dark, horrific, sad, violent, heartbreaking and packs a powerful message. In short, this book was an amazing read – period.

Allison has grown up in a world that is based on survival of the fittest. The Vampires are in charge of this new world and they aren’t the sparkly kind – not even close. Humans are a food source, plain and simple with a chosen few that are a little higher on the food chain. The cities have crumbled, society as we now know it doesn’t exist and the only person that Allison knows that she can depend on is herself. All Vampires are the enemy and they are all evil demons. Vampires are to be hated and no one hates them more than her. Imagine suddenly turning into the ‘thing’ that you hate the most. What better lesson in prejudice could there be? That’s just one of the things that makes The Immortal Rules so amazing.

Obviously her world is totally turned upside down. She’s given a choice, but it doesn’t make the outcome any easier. Once she is changed, her fight becomes something totally different. She is guided by Kanin, who on the surface isn’t a sweet and loving mentor. There’s a lot of mystery behind him that is only partially revealed. His character is very intriguing and becomes even more so as the story progresses.

The other characters that Allison meets along her journey are interesting as well. Even the characters that she only spends a short amount of time with help her grow and understand exactly who and what she has become. As a result of Allison’s growth, they grow too – at least the ones who survive. It was an amazing process and one that the reader couldn’t help but get caught up in. There’s a lot of prejudice in this book and a lot of suffering but there is also hope and self awareness. It’s something that you really need to read to understand.

The Immortal Rules doesn’t necessarily end in a cliff hanger, but there is no doubt that when you finish you will be ready for the next installment. Allison’s story is far from over. Her journey has just begun and I for one can’t wait to see where the next books take her. Evidently, early in Kawaga’s career, she promised herself that she wouldn’t write a Vampire novel. This particular reader is ecstatic that she ultimately changed her mind. 😉

Some other reviews and posts that you should check out.

Julie Kagawa’s personal explanation of Dystopian and Post-apocalyptic Fiction

Soulswallo’s Goodreads Review

Between the Pages Review

Parajunkee Review

Desert Blade by Ella Drake

In the post-apocalyptic Midwest, now a ravaged dust bowl, former guardsman Derek Covington must find help for a sick boy. With nothing but memories of all he lost, Derek crosses the desert alone in search of the doctor who saved his own life ten years ago. Drifter gangs who loot and pillage don’t dare come near,  for Derek has a formidable weapon: a prosthetic arm with a deadly blade.

For a decade, Dr. Lidia Sullivan has fantasized about the handsome guardsman who’d been in her care. And now she can’t deny his dangerous request. But as they make the treacherous journey back to Old St. Louis, they must contend with much more than fierce desert winds and their unthinkable attraction. A fearless gang has spotted Lidia—a rare woman—and will fight Derek to the death to get her. And though he risks his life to save her for the sake of the child who needs her, she fears there’s one thing Derek will never risk: his heart.

If I had one complaint about Desert Blade, it would only be that I wanted more. I didn’t know when I started that it was a Novella, but it didn’t make me enjoy it any less, it just left me wanting … well… more. *sigh*

Derek and Lidia were both strong characters and I loved the intensity between them. The setting drove that intensity to a whole other level. The end of the world as we know it would bring out the survival instinct in any of us. They fought for what was left and didn’t take time to focus on themselves. That’s what made their attraction so strong.

Because this was a Novella, everything happened fast, which isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes short and to the point is all we have time for and a quick read works quite nicely. Being short doesn’t mean that Desert Blade lacked on anything. There was action, romance and enough back story to make you feel for the characters and what brought them to where they were.

I’ll be looking for more Ella Drake books now that I’ve gotten a taste of her writing. I liked her style and her world building in Desert Blade worked well with the story.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans – except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay – no matter what the personal cost.

I’ve let this review sit for a couple of days. I know I’ve said this before after reading a book, but I really had to recover from this one and remove myself from it for a while before I sat down to write this review. It was honestly that powerful a read for me.

I knew when I finished Catching Fire that this was not going to be an easy book to read. I was so right in that assumption. Am I sorry that I put on my big girl pants and finished? Not at all. Even though it was heartbreaking, violent and painful, it was also powerful and amazing.

No one came out of Mockingjay untouched by violence or loss in some way. Katniss was in a no win situation and honestly felt like she couldn’t trust anyone. She was given a title and responsibility she didn’t want and felt like she didn’t deserve. She was driven by grief, anger and guilt. She still felt the need to save and protect everyone, regardless of what happened to her in doing so. Her world continued to be ripped apart and there was nothing she could do to stop it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been as effected by a book as this one.

This series has evoked a lot of emotion. It seems that there are two sides. People either love it or hate it. I don’t argue with the people that hated it. I can honestly see why they did and respect their opinion. The heartbreak and other emotions evoked in this book and the rest of the series is raw. There are parts that are honestly painful to read. The characters in this book are broken. No one really comes out with a satisfying ‘happily ever after’ ending. With all that they went through, how could they? Were there parts of the story and some violence that bothered me? Maybe, but this was ultimately a book about war, and it wasn’t sugar coated. Ultimately, I felt that the series ended in a way that did the surviving characters justice. It may not have been the ending I would have foreseen or wished for, but there was a spark of hope and healing. Anything else would have diminished what the characters endured.

I don’t want to say too much more, but I think you get the idea. It would be too easy to give things away if I kept going. I really have enjoyed talking about it with people who have read it though. Mockingjay is a book that was hard to read, but I’m really glad that I took the time to experience it.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before… and surprising readers at every turn.

I’m not quite sure what has taken me so long to finish this trilogy. It’s not because I didn’t like the Hunger Games, because I did. I told myself for a while that it was because Catching Fire hadn’t been released in paperback yet. If I’m honest, that isn’t all of it though. As much as I liked Hunger Games, it was a hard book to read. What Katniss and Peeta went through was cruel and terrifying. I think I might have been just prolonging the agony. When someone lent me the second book in the trilogy I couldn’t avoid it any longer.

Catching Fire takes up a little while after Hunger Games left off. Katniss is still coming to terms with everything that she has gone through. Everyone is safe and now she has to go through the motions of being the happy, madly in love ambassador with Peeta, whom she has barely talked to since they came back. Unsurprisingly, that feeling of safety is short lived and they are thrown back into the Capitol’s dangerous game. To say that the emotions in Catching Fire are raw would be an understatement.

There are so many twists and turns, along with the raw intense emotion you have no choice but to keep reading. Stopping wasn’t an option.

I know that some of my nearest and dearest absolutely hate love triangles, and I can understand why. I’m almost certain that some of that attitude comes from the teenage drama that some YA romances thrive on. The connection between Katniss, Gale and Peeta in Catching Fire couldn’t be farther away from that scenario. This trio is in an impossible situation and Katniss is stuck right in the middle of it. She’s not a flighty girl who doesn’t know what she wants. She simply wants everyone she loves to be safe and doesn’t have time to give into her feelings or open her heart up to either one of them. The pain that these characters experience is heartbreaking – there will be no winner in this and you know as you read it’s only going to get worse.

Turns out my initial reluctance to read Catching Fire was totally warranted. It was just as hard to read, if not more so, than Hunger Games, yet it was impossible to put down. Am I going to wait as long to read Mockingjay? I don’t think that’s possible. Even though I’ve heard from several people that they didn’t like the way that Suzanne Collins ended the trilogy, I need to finish it. I’ve heard just as many people say that it was amazing, so I’m willing to trust that Mockingjay is worth the inevitable heartbreak. After all, books that bring out emotions and reactions this intense are why we keep reading, right?