A Shade of Blood by Bella Forrest

Saturday, 29 June 2013.
A Shade of Blood (A Shade of Vampire, #2)
Published: 8th April 2013
By: Self Published
Source: Purchased

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Back on the beach at Cancun, the same place they were both taken from months ago, Sofia and Ben aren't ready to go home yet. And having missed it for so long, they find themselves trying to soak up as much sun as they can. Having been left with a large quantity of money, they book themselves into the villa they had been staying in previously. After a few days, they feel the time has come to call Ben's parents. When they arrive, they don't tell them where they were and when questioned by the police, they say they just ran away. They say nothing about where Ben got the scars all over his body from his torture at the hands of Claudia, and at Sofia's request, there's no mention of the vampires or The Shade.

Ben has a name and number for the hunters, given to him by a hunter who tried to save him on the island, but ended up being killed herself when they were caught. Knowing that his life will never be the same again, and having the need for vengeance and retribution, he plans to contact them. He tells Sofia that he'll give her some time, but that then, with or without her, he'll be making that call. He needs to take his revenge on the vampires, especially Claudia.

But Sofia can't seem to forget Derek and The Shade, and when Ben wants to become more than friends, something that she herself had wanted for a long time, she finds that she can't give herself wholly to him. Part of her still belongs to Derek.

And without Sofia there, the darkness is overtaking Derek. He's a completely different character than the Derek we met in A Shade of Vampire, and it was interesting seeing this other side to him. But it was also nice to see the effect that Sofia had on him when she returned, to find him in a compromising position with Ashley.

Lucas is not in this book too much, though we do get his POV a couple of times. He's on the run from Derek who will kill him for what he did to Sofia. But if he wasn't obsessed with her before, having tasted her blood, he can't stop thinking about her, and won't rest until she is his.

Things are getting tough in the Shade. Derek is struggling to keep everyone under control and try to keep Sofia happy at the same time. The vampires are not happy that Sofia, a human slave, is being put before them. But Sofia is not happy with the way things are currently done. She wants the humans who live in the Shade to be treated better and not treated like slaves or food which is exactly how the vampires see them. Sofia has learned a lot about how things are run in the Shade and has read it's history, and it doesn't sit well with her. There are going to be tough times ahead, and revelations throughout this books make for what should be a really interesting third book in this series.

I'm also looking forward to learning more about the prophecy made by Cora, the witch, over four hundred years ago, and what it means to Derek and Sofia, and to the Shade. Derek seems to be going to have quite the fight on his hands if he's going to manage to hold onto Sofia.

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The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse #2) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Wednesday, 26 June 2013.
The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse, #2)
Published: 4th June 2013
By: Strange Chemistry
Source: Netgalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this second instalment in the The Assassin's Curse duology. I'd really liked Ananna and Naji in the first book, and I was hoping things were going to turn out a certain way.

Adding a manticore into the mix here surprised me somewhat but worked quite well, and I really liked her. She added something to this book for me and I was slightly disappointed when they dropped her off. I enjoyed the relationship that was built between her and Ananna.

Part of me felt though, and this could just have been my bad memory, but that Naji and Ananna's characters had changed somewhat from the first book. While in The Assasin's Curse I enjoyed the dangerous, mysterious and broody guy that was Naji, I felt he acted more 'little boy lost' in this book and seemed to sulk or something. When he doesn't return Ananna's feelings towards him, she's just really mean to him all the time, so he just tries to stay out of her way. I found this annoying on both of their parts. And I never would have guessed his feelings for her, he gave absolutely nothing away.

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the antagonistic relationship between the two of them, I did. But I'd been hoping that they would get together, knowing Ananna had feelings for Naji and just hoping they would be reciprocated. But when they did eventually get together, there was nothing. No sparks, no swooning. It just didn't fulfil my expectations at all which was slightly disappointing.

And something that only came to mind sometime after finishing this book, was that, for three apparently, impossible tasks, they weren't that hard to accomplish.

So, to reiterate, as this seems quite negative lol. I did really enjoy The Pirate's Wish and I would recommend this series. The plot is decent and I enjoyed the characters.

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Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Friday, 21 June 2013.
Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Published: 28th May 2013
By: Harlequin Teen/Mira Ink
Source: Netgalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Unfortunately, Dare you To, for me, was just like any other contemporary romance out there. Great for those who favour this genre, but it just didn't wow me. Pushing the Limits had that something extra special that gave it that extra oomph that I just didn't feel with Dare You To.

I didn't like Beth in Pushing the Limits, and maybe that should have been enough to make me lose interest in this before I even started, but because I enjoyed Pushing the Limits so much, I wanted to give this one a go too, and having read the first chapter, I was quite intrigued about Ryan. They were so completely different that I was interested in seeing how they were going to be brought together. Beth did grow on me a little through the course of the book, but I know she won't be memorable, not like Echo and Noah. And Ryan, while he was a likeable guy, was just a similar mould to every other hot, jock guy I read about.

We're already aware that Beth has had a hard life. She was staying in her aunts basement with Noah and Isaiah, but we learn a lot more about her problems, and the ugly truth that has made Beth the person we know now. And I did pity her, it'd be hard not to. She feels unloveable and finds it hard to trust. But for someone who was so messed up, I felt that Ryan got through her barriers a little too quickly.

She is taken in by her uncle Scott, who moves her about a half hour away from Louisville, to Grovetown, where she lived until she was eight years old. He forbids her to see her alcoholic mother, and also tells her to cut ties with her old friends and her old life. But she really struggles with this and feels a need to protect her mother from her violent and abusive boyfriend. But her mother doesn't want to be saved, and it hurts Beth more everytime she tries to do something good for her.

Scott is one of the only commendable adults in this book. While Ryan appears to come from a good family, they are really just small minded, small town snobs. I especially disliked Ryan's dad, who I felt wanted to live his life through Ryan, trying to force him to do what he wanted with no regard for Ryan's feelings, and who had abandoned, and forced his family to abandon, his older son Mark, because he was gay.

In all honesty, by halfway through I was quite bored and just wanted to be done with it. Contemporary romance has to have that extra something for me to enjoy it, and Dare You To just wasn't it for me. I'm not sure I'll read Isaiah's story. He wasn't a character I was overfond of either. Though I did feel sorry for him in this one so it's nice to know he gets his happy ending too.

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Charm & Strange by Stephanie kuehn

Tuesday, 18 June 2013.
Charm & Strange
Published: 11th June 2011
By: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Netgalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't quite know how to review this book. I went into it expecting something completely different than what I actually got, so I'd recommend going into this book blind. Don't read the blurb, and definitely don't pay any attention to the tags on Goodreads.

It took me a while to figure out that I wasn't going to get what I thought with this one, which made me feel that it was quite weird in the beginning, and I was wondering when we were going to get to the pinnacle of the story, the werewolves, as was my understanding. And I was close to the home run before things finally clicked into place for me.

This book is written from the perspective of Andrew, the ten year old boy of 'before', and Win, 'after', who's now sixteen. In the past, we learn about his relationship with his family. His older brother Keith, who does his best to protect and care for Andrew, even though he's only four years older than him. His younger sister Siobhan, who's three years younger, and who he adores. He's remembering one summer when he went to stay with his grandparents, and his three cousins were there. Andrew doesn't seem to have much relationship with anyone other than his siblings. He's quite odd, and everyone was just generally mean to him. And all the while, his mother is at home in bed apparently suffering from depression.

Win, has many problems. He thinks there's a wolf inside of him, just waiting to be released. When things finally come to a head one night, and Win eventually cracks, thankfully, he has friends with him who are looking out for him. They immediately get him the help he needs.

This is not the type of book I regularly read. That's not to say I haven't read this type of book, but I like to be prepared if I'm going to. When I finished this book I just cried. And the horrible feelings that this book brought out in me, stayed with me over the next couple of days. I'm aware of the animals that live alongside us. I have my own children, it's something I'm constantly vigilant of. But in reading, I like escapism. If I'm going to be left with lingering feelings over a book, I like them to be happy, giddy ones.

On the whole though, when I looked back on this book after realising what was actually going on, it was an exceptionally well written book. Had I actually known what I was going to be reading and was clued in from the start, this would have had a higher rating, as I'm not sure I've ever read a book with such a complex way of telling it's story. Stephanie Kuehn is an extremely talented author and deserves a lot of praise for her execution of Charm & Strange. And while I wouldn't have read it had I known it's content, I'm glad I did, just to experience this authors work. I will be interested in reading more of her work in the future.

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Netgalley/Edelweiss Month

Sunday, 16 June 2013.

So the books from Netgalley/Edelweiss that I managed to read this month are below. Unfortunately, I only managed to read a total of 7.

Unbreakable (Unravelling, #2) Breathless (Elemental, #2.5) Spirit (Elemental, #3) Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)

Charm & Strange The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse, #2) Ink

You can read my review of Ink here, reviews for the others will appear on the blog over the next couple of weeks. I can tell you now though, that I enjoyed every one of these books :)

Ink by Amanda Sun

Wednesday, 12 June 2013.
InkInk by Amanda Sun
Published: 5th July 2013
By: Mira Ink
Source: Netgalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With a mixed bag of reviews for Ink, I did head into it with some hesitation, only to be pleasantly surprised.

After Katie's mom dies, she has to move to Japan to live with her aunt Diane. She's out of her depth. She doesn't know much about Japanese culture and she's struggling with the language. She would have much preferred to have been sent to Canada to stay with her grandparents.

When she accidentally eavesdrops on the break up of Tomohiro Yuu and his soon to be ex-girlfriend, and sees one of his sketches move, her life is about to take a very unexpected turn. Tomohiro is rude, mean and dangerous, with a bad reputation and secrets in his past. But after what Katie has seen, she just can't forget it. And does become a little obsessed about it. She wants to know where he sneaks off to everyday and did he really cheat on Myu and get another girl pregnant? I admit that Katie's obsession and actions around this point were a bit over the top.

I really enjoyed Ink though. With the mysterious Tomohiro, a twist of Japanese mythology, involvement with the Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia, and also the Kami, who plan to take over and rule Japan, there was a lot going on, and after getting over a few glitches in the beginning, I was thoroughly entertained throughout. I also found that the romance was really sweet and I enjoyed it a lot, with some nice little moments.

Katie, while a likeable character, I felt had the potential to be an awesome character. But some of the things that she says/thinks are just really stupid and I felt should have been edited, as they didn't seem to fit with the character that the author was trying to create. These were mostly at the beginning of the book so it wasn't as annoying as the story continued. Katie was mostly a tough, strong character who was snarky at times but maybe just a bit too inquisitive.

I really liked Tomohiro. He was a really enjoyable character who lives under a facade, to prevent people from becoming close to him and being harmed by the monster that he feels is within him.

Katie makes some friends in Japan, Yuki and Tanaka, but they play very little part. They seem to be only brought into the story to serve another purpose. They're not well fleshed out and I didn't' build an opinion of them either way. But Katie makes another friend, with a guy she meets at the station, Jun. He is a mysterious character who I wondered about but liked, and who played an interesting part.

Obviously, this book is not for everyone. In most reviews I've read, people didn't like that it had a lot of the usual cliches. Maybe it's that I haven't read enough of them yet, but they don't bother me or hinder my enjoyment. I really enjoyed this book and found that I didn't want to put it down. But if the cliches would prevent you from enjoying a book, then this one probably isn't for you.

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Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins

Monday, 10 June 2013.
Sweet Peril (The Sweet Trilogy, #2)Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins
Published: 30th April 2013
By: Harper Teen
Source: Purchased

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've come to the conclusion that Kaidan Rowe is a lot of the reason that I love this series. As he's trying to stay away from Anna to keep her safe from the Dukes, he's missing for most of the first half of this sequel and it did impact my enjoyment of it. Anna is travelling with Kope to visit some of the Nephilim who they think will be on their side when the time comes to fulfil a prophecy spoken by Sister Ruth, the nun who was present at Anna's birth. Anna thinks Kaidan is no longer interested in her, and I was really hoping she wasn't going to turn to Kope for comfort.

At long last, Anna's dad gives her permission to travel to LA to speak with Kaidan and Blake. From this point on, my interest was peaked one hundred fold. I just couldn't put it down from here on out.

Anna and Kaidan are brilliant together. Whether they're arguing or making out, it's really enjoyable being with them. And things do get quite steamy.

I really like Anna. She's tough, but also really sweet, caring and extremely loving, and now that she's been trained to fight, she's kick ass too. And she can cook, a fact which manages to turn Kaidan on.

I enjoy the English slang in this series. It's something that's completely familiar to me in everyday life, but in the books that I usually read, it's quite unusual so I thought it was a nice change.

This series has some great secondary characters too. The twins Marna and Ginger, Blake, Patti and Anna's best friend Jay. For some reason, I never took to Kope, though it could have been that I always feared there was a chance that he'd get with Anna, even in the first book, Sweet Evil, they seemed to get a little cosy.

The Dukes are completely depraved and unremorseful. The way they treat the Neph is despicable, they have no regard for them whatsoever, not even their own off spring. And with threats they've made against Anna, Kaidan was right to be staying away from her. Now it seems things may be about to get even more dangerous for her.

I'm really looking forward to the third and final book in this series, Sweet Reckoning. It just can't come soon enough.

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Stacking the Shelves #30

Saturday, 8 June 2013.

Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, (and filling our kindle) sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process! Hosted by Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews

My last STS post was on the 5th May, and since then, I do seem to have amassed quite a lot of books, especially since I'm supposed to be trying to cut down. I don't seem to have been too successful over the last few weeks. I may need to impose a book buying ban, but not sure I could cope with that with all the really awesome books that are coming out this year.

Pure (Covenant, #2) Deity (Covenant, #3) Elixir (Covenant, #3.5) Apollyon (Covenant, #4)
The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1) Sweet Peril (The Sweet Trilogy, #2) Fall of Night (Morganville Vampires, #14) Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1) A Shade of Blood (A Shade of Vampire, #2) Vampire Kisses: The Beginning (Vampire Kisses, #1-3) Fallen Angel (Fallen Angel, #1) Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1) Clarity (Clarity, #1) 

I've read the four books in the Covenant series and really enjoyed them. I can't wait for the release of Sentinel. I'd already read The 5th Wave and Shadow and Bone but bought these copies to have on my shelf and for Mal's Lost Letter. And I've also read Sweet Peril and Fall of Night. I bought Vampire Kisses, Fallen Angel and Paranormalcy second hand from Better World Books.

Physical books for review:
All Our Yesterdays Goddess (Starcrossed, #3) The Fall (The Glimpse, #2) PODs

Ebooks for review
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) The Bone Season (Scion, #1) Spartan Frost (Mythos Academy, #4.5)

Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1)

From Donna over at Book Passion for Life


Fall of Night (Morganville Vampires #14) by Rachel Caine

Thursday, 6 June 2013.
Fall of Night (Morganville Vampires, #14)
Published: 2nd May 2013
By: Allison & Busby
Source: Purchased

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The last 166 pages brought this to a 4, before then, we were looking at a 3.

The Morganville Vampire series has always been one of my favourites, but Bitterblood just wasn't up to scratch. So when I started Fall of Night, for the first time ever, I was going into one of these books with little enthusiasm. And for the first 277 pages, it unfortunately lived up to my expectations.

But enter Oliver and Myrnin and this book took a turn for the better. The pace was faster, the action picked up and I didn't want to put it down. The way a Morganville book should be. It's just a pity it took so long to get to this point.

Claire has moved to Boston to attend MIT and study under Professor Irene Anderson, a previous assistant of Myrnin's, and a character I never warmed up to. But Claire thought she'd left the vampires behind in Morganville, she was wrong. And so we meet Jesse, otherwise known as Lady Grey (Does that name ring any bells with anyone from previous books? I thought it sounded familiar?). She is quite the awesome character and I really liked her.

But the vampires weren't the only thing to follow Claire to Boston. Shane does too. Even though part of the reason she felt the need to leave Morganville and distance herself from him was to distance herself from him and his trust issues and to experience some self growth out on her own. I really didn't like this stalkerish side to Shane. He gets a job and a room, finds out where she lives, and regularly passes by! No, I didn't like it! But I was even more surprised by Claire's reaction to it.

I've loved all these characters all through the series, Shane, Claire, Eve, Michael and Myrnin. And even Oliver and Amelie because without them, it just wouldn't be the same. And I know that the release of the next and final book in the series, Daylighters, will be bitter sweet. But because I didn't enjoy Bitter Blood too much, and this one was so slow to take off, I wasn't holding out much hope for it, but the ending of this one has really lifted my expectations. Now I just have to decide who I want to win, the humans or the vampires?

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The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo

Monday, 3 June 2013.
The Gathering Dark (The Grisha, #1)
Published: 7th June 2012
By: Indigo
Source: Library copy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Gathering Dark (Shadow and Bone) is a book that almost passed me by. The Shadow and Bone cover didn't attract my attention and the blurb didn't appeal to  me at all. But when great review after great review kept coming, I began to wonder what I was missing out on. And I was missing out. This is a fantastic fantasy story.

Alina and Mal grew up together in an orphanage and are best friends, but lately, Alina's been starting to feel something more. Mal is a tracker in the first army and Alina is a cartographer or map maker.

When, after saving Mal's life, she finds herself being brought in front of the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha in Ravka, life as she knows it is about to change. She is ordered to the Little Palace under armed guard, without getting a chance to say goodbye to Mal.

She discovers she has powers she wasn't aware of. When she was only eight years old, so that she wouldn't be taken away from Mal. But now, it has opened up a whole new world for her. She's part of the Grisha. And she may be the answer to Ravka's biggest problem, The Shadow Fold, a patch of complete darkness, where the volcra lurk, waiting to feed on the human flesh of those trying to travel to West Ravka. She is their salvation, but she is also in danger of having her power abused.

Alina and Mal belong together, that much is obvious, but she seems to be drawn to the Darkling, the most powerful man in Ravka, and probably, the most feared and dangerous too. And as much as I loved Mal, I was also drawn to the Darkling. He's beautiful, powerful and mysterious, a very charming villain.

Alina is a tough character. Having grown up in an orphanage, and never feeling as though she belonged, has prepared her for when she finds herself among the Grisha, still not feeling like she belongs and finding herself acquiring the attentions of the Darkling. I loved the way she spoke to him, seemingly unable to hold her tongue despite any fear she might feel towards him.

We see two sides of Mal. The before Alina was taken away, a fun, humourous boy who was a bit of a ladies man. And after, he's hardened and more serious, circumstances of the last five months having taken effect. But, I felt we started to see a lighter side to Mal again towards the end.

At the beginning, I felt there was a lot to take in, with the different names and skills/ranks of the Grisha. But I used post its along the way and that kept me clued in. And after I'd finished reading the book, and checked out Sam's review, I discovered this pronunciation guide to Ravkan which would have come in handy while reading. Also, I couldn't get my head around the descriptions of the Kefta, so I went online to see what they looked like and discovered this awesome guest post over at Karin's Book Nook describing them perfectly.

I'm really glad that I eventually picked up this book as I really enjoyed the characters and the world that Leigh has created. If you haven't read it yet, do your best to pick it up soon. Book 2, Siege and Storm releases on the 4th June. I can't wait!

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