Review: Betrayals by Lili St. Crow

Review: Betrayals by Lili St. CrowBetrayals by Lilith St. Crow
Series: Strange Angels #2
Published by Quercus Books, Razorbill
Pages: 308
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Strange Angels

Poor Dru Anderson. Her parents are long gone, her best friend is a werewolf, and she’s just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn’t entirely human. (So what else is new?)

Now Dru is stuck at a secret New England School for other teens like her, and there’s a big problem— she’s the only girl in the place. A school full of cute boys wouldn’t be so bad, but Dru’s killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead. And with all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide. . .

Can Dru survive long enough to find out who has betrayed her trust — and maybe even her heart?

Thoughts: I have such mixed feelings about the Strange Angels series. Don’t get me wrong, I love the books. Dru is probably the most depressing teenager ever, but her stubbornness and strength are really inspiring. I love how she is still grieving her father’s death from the first book – and her mother’s death as a child. I love the universe, filled with werewolves, dhampirs and vampires constantly at each other’s throats.

St. Crow’s universe is violent and gothic, and utterly immersive. I read this book in a single day – I just couldn’t put it down.  We learn so much more about the dangers Dru is facing – from enemies she didn’t even know she had. We also find out a lot more about her troubling new powers, how Graves is dealing with his new transformation and we get a bit of Christophe’s fascinating background.

But I have some trouble with the love triangle. When it comes to the whole Graves/Dru/Christophe thing, I have a feeling that I’m on the losing side of the love triangle a.k.a. the “I don’t want to see Dru with either of them” side.

Okay, sure, if I had to choose: Team Christophe all the way. But that’s because I find him hot – seriously hot – and not because I think he is right for Dru. As for Graves, I really have trouble seeing him as anything more than just a friend. A totally awesome friend, but just a friend.

Unfortunately the non-epic romance and the shortage of Christophe meant Betrayals lost the edge that Strange Angels had. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to read Jealousy (which has an epically terrible cover) and hope to get some bloody answers in it!

Bottom line? Filled with supernatural violence, a grieving teen, and a serious ammount of political intrigue – Betrayals is a great book. And hopefully you’ll find yourself choosing sides in the romance – I’m sure the book is more enjoyable when you aren’t trying to fasten a chastity belt onto the heroine.

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Review: Frostbite by Richelle MeadFrostbite by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #2
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 336
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Vampire Academy, Blood Promise

It's winter break at St. Vladimir's, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy's crawling with Guardians--including Rose's hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if handto- hand combat with her mom wasn't bad enough, Rose's tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason's got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks....This year, St. Vlad's annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...

Thoughts: Frostbite is a fantastic follow-up to Vampire Academy. The second book in a series is usually filled with flaws, but not in Mead’s case.  Action-packed, and emotionally gut-wrenching, this series is a definite must for YA and Vampire fans.

Rose does not have the ideal life by a long shot. Her gender and genetics give her limited options in the vampire world. Rose can’t be with the man she loves without sacrificing her best-friend, and even if she makes the “correct” choice she won’t ever have anyone of her own to love. It’s all very depressing, but she does the very best to make the most of bad circumstances.

Rose really matures in Frostbite, but not by choice. After the trauma she is put through in this book leaves her no choice but to make the “grown-up” decisions. In a way, I miss the more naive Rose from the first book, the one who looked forward to being an adult and fighting the Strigoi. Watching Rose lose that optimism was terribly tragic.

Wow, I have made this sound like the most miserable book in history. READ IT ANYWAYS. What I love about Mead is that she never introduces her characters fully formed – they always have plenty of room to develop. And watching that process? Heartbreakingly brilliant.

In retrospect, I am amazed how much Mead fit into such a small book. Compared to the rest of the Vampire Academy series, Frostbite is a sliver of a book. But so damn much happens in it! Mead deals with the epic Dimitri/Rose tragedy, Rose’s addiction to being bitten, Lissa’s ever worsening condition, the introduction of Rose’s mother, and a whole new (vaguely Chuck Bass-like) character. It’s actually quite impressive.

Bottom line? The Vampire Academy series just keeps getting better. Mead actually seems to have a plan for these characters, and I really can’t wait to see how it ends!

Review: Beating Heart by A.M. Jenkins

Review: Beating Heart by A.M. JenkinsBeating Heart by A. M. Jenkins
Published by HarperTeen on 2009-08-25
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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She is a ghost: a figure glimpsed from the corner of your eye, a momentary chill, and a memory of secret kisses and hidden passion. He is 17 years old: Evan Calhoun, warm and alive, and ever since moving to this big abandoned house, he has dreamt of her. Ghost and boy fascinate each other–until her memories and his desire collide in a moment that changes them both.

Combining verse fragments with chiseled prose, A. M. Jenkins captures the compelling voice of a long–dead ghost and the perspective of a modern teen, twining mystery and romance in this evocative, sensual, and unrelentingly engrossing novel.

Thoughts: Beating Heart is a short, haunting novel with left me equal parts disturbed and impressed. This is not your average YA novel: there is no garunteed happily ever after, and no love-conquers-all message. This might look like a book about love, but it is not.

Beating Heart is all about sex. The lies we tell to have it, the lies we tell ourselves to keep having it, and the serious damage it can do to a person’s life. Not pregnancy or STDs, but the psycological consequences of sex. And it is not a pretty picture.

Honestly, although I was vaguely disturbed by this book – I’d give it to a teen in a heartbeat. Because, honestly, life is not simple and love doesn’t last forever. It is far too easy to hurt people you’ve cared for, especially the ones you are sleeping with.

Even if this somewhat ominous review has turned you off, give this book a shot. It will take a regular reader only an hour or so to finish, and will put the other novels on your shelves into perspective.

Bottom line? A unique twist on the YA fantasy on the market, Beating Heart is a haunting novel which will change how you read YA.

Review: Tempted by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Review: Tempted by P.C. and Kristin CastTempted by Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast
Series: House of Night #6
Published by ATOM, St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 336
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Marked, Betrayed, Chosen

Zoey needs a break after some serious excitement. Sadly, the House of Night school for vampyres doesn't feature breaks on its curriculum - even for a High Priestess in training and her gang. Plus juggling three guys is no stress reliever, especially when one is a sexy Warrior so into protecting Zoey that he's sensing her emotions. Wider stresses lurk too, and the dark force in Tulsa's tunnels is spreading. Could Stevie Rae be responsible for more than a group of misfit fledglings? And Aphrodite's visions warn Zoey to stay away from the immortal Kalona and his dark allure - but they also show that only Zoey can stop him. She's not exactly keen to meet up, but if Zoey doesn't go to Kalona he'll exact a fiery vengeance on those closest to her. She just has to find the courage to do what's necessary, or everything that's important to her will be destroyed.

Thoughts: Tempted was terrible.

Okay, so I don’t usually expect all that much from the HoN series.  As a general rule, I find the writing pretty terrible, the characters kinda one-dimensional, and some of the plot ideas seemingly written by somebody high on E.  So why do I keep reading?  Well, I like the universe and – prior to this book – I used to like some of the characters.  Now I’m down to the universe.

Tempted was just all over the place.  We hear from 4 POVs, an unfortunate first for the series.  The Casts jump back and forth from character to character with no discernible pattern.  For example, we get a single chapter from Aphrodite (which was probably the best in the book) about half way through, and then… nothing.  That’s it!  Just the one chapter.

Huh?

The Casts also successfully destroyed two of the characters I liked: Stark and Stevie Ray.  I hate it when characters lose their character because of some insane plot point.  If you have to make a character do a complete 180 to move the story along, try something else!  *shakes fist*

I’ll be reading on the next book – which comes out tomorrow in the USA. But I’m definitely going to wait for the paperback.

Bottom line?  Do the world a favour, and don’t let a teenager within a 100 feet of this book.  The last thing we need is for actual teens to be more like HoN!teens.

Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. CrowStrange Angels by Lilith St. Crow
Series: Strange Angels #1
Published by Quercus Books, Razorbill
Pages: 293
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Gifted from someone with/without taste, Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Betrayals

Dru knows that The Real World - peopled with ghosts, suckers and zombies - is a frightening place. She's ready to kill first and ask questions later, so it's going to take her a while to work out just who she can trust.

Dru Anderson has been 'strange' for as long as she can remember, travelling from town to town with her father to hunt down things that go bump in the night. It's a weird life, but a good one - until in an icy, broken-down town, a hungry zombie bursts through her kitchen door. Dru is going to have to use every inch of her wit and training. Can she stay alive long enough to fall for one - or both - of the guys hungry for her affections?

The summary above sucks. It is the least spoilery one I could find (most give away the first half of the book). But it paints Dru in completely the wrong light. I mean, sure, she is capable of kicking ass – but she is not kick-ass. They made Dru sound like Rose from Vampire Academy – and she is so NOT ROSE.

A better summary? You know the show Supernatural? Well, imagine a less-cocky, teenage, girl!Dean – without the baby brother – hunting evil around the US with his Dad. There you have (at least the start) of Strange Angels.

Thoughts: Strange Angels is a really great addition to the YA Paranormal scene. Lili St. Crow paints a much more realistic picture of a teen living in an unreal world. Although absent, Dru’s parents play a big role in her life – and both they (and her safety) trump whatever guy she is supposed to mooning after. Strange Angels is violent, tragic, and really enjoyable – although it does go downhill towards the end.

I loved the first half of this book.  But in it, Dru is miserable – I mean, I’m-almost-an-alcoholic-teenager!miserable – and her world thoroughly sucks. Despite the temptation to just curl up and die, she is trying desperately to plough through the misery. It was amazing to read, even though it was utterly tragic. Really made me appreciate her strength. I also loved her inner Dad!voice. She would constantly think of what her Dad would say or do in a particular situation (which often involved killing things).  It made me love the guy without ever spending that much time with him.

Graves, the first boy she meets in this book – well, he’s ok. I haven’t quite worked out if I really like him, but I do appreciate how much he helps Dru. Graves has had a really hard-knock life – hell, the guy is practically homeless – but has amazingly managed to keep his head above water. I’d like to find out even more about his background in Betrayals.

Mid-way through the book, we are introduced to Christophe. He is tough, scary and not-so-human… and yeah, I really liked him! But as soon as Christophe came into the picture, Dru started to edge into the too-stupid-to-live category. There was one particular scene where Dru refused to do something for no apparent reason. I mean, it shouldn’t even have been an issue, but Dru decides it is the perfect reason to pitch a fit – and it completely blows up in her face. It was really frustrating, and I wanted to just reach through the book and shake her! (Although Graves I wanted to smack, as he agreed with her insanity.)

The last half? – maybe 3 stars. But the first half was just so great (well, actually it was miserable, but a great read) that I had to keep the rating up. I am looking forward to Betrayals and have a feeling Dru will straighten her head out a bit in that book… I am also looking forward to more Christophe!

Bottom Line? A great addition to the YA Paranormal Scene.  If you are a fan of the Morganville series then this will be up your alley!

I read this for the Battle Royale New Author Mini-ChallengeTeam Deadline Dames!

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