Review: Need by Carrie Jones

Review: Need by Carrie JonesNeed by Carrie Jones
Series: Need #1
Pages: 306
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
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Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

In this creepy, compelling breakout novel, Carrie Jones delivers romance, suspense, and a creature you never thought you'd have to fear.

Thoughts: I really, really enjoyed Need. I was grinning and clutching my heart for at least half of the book – it just sucked me in and refused to let me go until I was completely in love.

Need is a book about pixies – but there is also a lot more supernatural stuff going on in it. I don’t want to spoil the surprise (although Jones gives plenty of hints along the way.) Unlike Evernight, the surprise just made me love the book more. I literally jumped on my bed squeeing “I knew it!” when it came around!

Need has been compared to Twilight in many reviews. While I can see the similarity – new girl in a small, cold town discovers there is more to the world than what she sees – the difference is it the protagonist Zara. Although Zara is far from perfect. Her father’s death traumatised her into becoming pretty darn terrified of everything. She is extremely compassionate – she takes action to stop suffering, writes letters for Amnesty International, and genuinely cares about those suffering around the world.

The reason Need didn’t get 5 stars from me? The mechanical climax. Some of the characters veered too far out of character in order to get the plot moving. Even though Jones came up with a fascinating way to wrap up the plot, I wish she had been able to keep all the characters in tune with their previous behaviour.  It was a bit of a let down.

Bottom line? Need is a beautiful book – classy writing, a stunning setting and believable characters. Need is a definite must for all YA fans!

The Reckoning Release Day! (+ Review)

Today is the release date of THE RECKONING BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG! Yay! This is the final book in the Darkest Powers trilogy, which started with THE SUMMONING and THE AWAKENING.

You’ll probably have noticed from the layout (and my incessant squee posts) that I am a huge fan of these books. While most people got into YA because of the Twilight books, I got into the genre because of this series! The books are action-packed, and far too easy to devour. And they are packed with paranormal beasties: werewolves, necromancers, ghosts, evil!humans, and witches, oh my!


 

 

The Summoning Summary: Chloe Saunders sees dead people. Yes, like in the films. The problem is, in real life saying you see ghosts gets you a one-way ticket to the psych ward. And at 15, all Chloe wants to do is fit in at school and maybe get a boy to notice her. But when a particularly violent ghost haunts her, she gets noticed for all the wrong reasons. Her seemingly crazed behaviour earns her a trip to Lyle House, a centre for ‘disturbed teens’.

At first Chloe is determined to keep her head down. But then her room mate disappears after confessing she has a poltergeist, and some of the other patients also seem to be manifesting paranormal behaviour. Could that be a coincidence? Or is Lyle House not quite what it seems…? Chloe realizes that if she doesn’t uncover the truth, she could be destined for a lifetime in a psychiatric hospital. Or could her fate be even worse…? Can she trust her fellow students, and does she dare reveal her dark secret?

 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Review! The Reckoning (Darkest Powers #3) by Kelley Armstrong

The Reckoning Release Day! (+ Review)The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkest Powers #3on 2010-04-06
Pages: 400
Genres: Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Only two weeks ago, life was all too predictable. But that was before I saw my first ghost. Now along with my supernatural friends Tori, Derek, and Simon, I'm on the run from the Edison Group, which genetically altered us as part of their sinister experiment. We're hiding in a safe house that might not be as safe as it seems. We'll be gone soon anyway, back to rescue those we'd left behind and take out the Edison Group... or so we hope.

SPOILERS for the first to books. But most are rather vague… if you aren’t a hard-liner, you should be fine!

Thoughts: It is so damn hard to write reviews for books you love, so I apologise in advance for the incoherence! I had been holding my breath for a year waiting for The Reckoning to come out. The first two books in the series were absolutely fantastic – action packed with a very subtle romance tension that made my stomach flip. So needless to say, getting my hands on the last of the Darkest Powers trilogy as exciting as getting a new Harry Potter book as a wee girl.

Where to start?  Well, Armstrong successfully managed to include plot twists and turns I was completely unprepared for.  Considering I had had a year to think it over, I thought I had a pretty good idea how this book would go.  I was so wrong!  The action was violent, sudden, and unexpectedly terrifying – and intensely emotional.  Chloe and Derek had to do some things they really weren’t ready for, and it pained me to read what Armstrong put them through.

Only that angst?  Made it the book all the better.

We also got a great look at Tori’s character.  She was such a villian in the first book in the series, but The Reckoning has really made me like her.  Apparently she can be just as good a friend as she can be an enemy (not that she’d ever admit to liking any of these losers!)  Armstrong includes some very subtle hints at what lies beneath her bitchy exterior – Tori engrossed in The Count of Monte Cristo was one I was not expecting.  I would love to read more about her in Armstrong’s next YA books!

I am not going to comment too much about the romantic triangle in this book – other than to say it plays a much bigger role and is dealt with extremely well.  If you hadn’t picked up these books because of their lack of romance, well, you should have.  Read all three at once, and you won’t be lacking for a thing.

And how about the ending?  Well, The Reckoning really does feel like the end of a trilogy – but not the end of a series.  There are still plenty of questions left to explore, and plenty of characters you will want to hear more from.  I was left totally satisfied, but also ludicrously excited about Armstrong’s next trilogy!

Bottom line? The Reckoning is the best book in an amazing trilogy and I would give it ten stars if I could!

OMG I’ve finished it!  What now?  Armstrong is going to be publishing a new YA trilogy in the same verse, and Chloe should be featured in it (just not as the protagonist!)  She also confirmed that she will be writing more books from Chloe’s POV – but we will just have to wait a while.  To hold you off, read Kelley Armstrong’s short story Dangerous.  It is from Derek’s POV set prior to The Summoning – explaining how he and Simon ended up in the Lyle House.

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle MeadVampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 331
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Frostbite, Blood Promise

St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school--it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's - the very place where they're most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi - the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires - make Lissa one of them forever.

Thoughts: This is – truly – a brilliant book. I had thought all the hype around it was over-the-top… I was so wrong.

Vampire Academy is not like most YA novels – hell, like any novel I’ve read. Although there is plenty of teenage realism – mean girls, cliques, and inappropriate kissage – the characters are at the same time very, very different to us. What we consider normal is not what they do – and where we place our priorities also differs from them. It’s odd, to not agree with a character but still understand them.

In fact, there was a lot of that in this book. Our main character, Rose, is exactly what I wasn’t in high school. She flirts with everyone, goes out partying all the time, and makes out with guys she doesn’t even care about – just for the thrill. This reckless edge does settle itself a bit in Vampire Academy, but it is still there even when she is behaving. You could say she is of the “punch first, ask questions later” variety. And even though I don’t personally understand this, I understand her.

It’s weird.

Another really unique feature of Vampire Academy was the relationship between BFFs Lissa and Rose. You get this right from the start as Mead opens with a scene of the two of them. Although I literally swooned over both Dimitri and Christian, the Lissa/Rose bond was by far the strongest in the book.

The vampire universe also had a really nice twist to it. Mead managed to incorporate all sorts of issues – politics, drug abuse, and social class – into the verse without it seeming too contrived. She also managed to work in discussion about mental illness – which was an unexpected surprise. It is something I am very sensitive about, and I really appreciate authors who make an effort to get things right when they include it.

Bottom line? An amazing, addictive read. Mead creates gives a unique twist on vampires, and creates kick-ass characters to boot. Even if you are not a YA fan, go get yourself a copy!

This was the my (and final) read for the brilliant League of Reluctant Adults Mini-Challenge hosted over at Literary Escapism.  It’s been really fun – and I plan to do a little a wrap-up post to celebrate. ♥

Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa MarrWicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Series: Wicked Lovely #1
Published by HarperTeen
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty-especially if they learn of her Sight-and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens. Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. His is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost-regardless of her plans or desires. Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; everything.

Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twenty-first-century faery tale.

Thoughts: Wicked Lovely was, without a doubt, one of the most unique YA books I have read. First of all, there’s the universe. I was a bit nervous about the idea of faeries and was pleasantly surprised. Marr does not gloss over any of the horrors commited by faeries in traditional texts, and even encourages them by beginning each chapter with a quote about faery exploits. It was all appropriately horrific and enchanting.

Then there is the romance. Marr breaks the soul-mate stereotype I usually read in YA, and instead allows the people you love to be the ones you choose. Just because someone is destined to be the love of your life does not mean they are going to be!

Something else I appreciated was the realism of the (non-explicit) sex scenes. It is reassuring to read about a character – with an interesting sexual history – getting tested for STDs and waiting 6 months to ensure their accuracy. Perhaps that doesn’t sound romantic, but it was an absolutely heart-stealing scene.

Bottom line? Excellent read for young adults and adults alike – and a must it you are a fantasy fan!

Review: Hearts at Stake (aka My Love Lies Bleeding) by Alyxandra Harvey

Review: Hearts at Stake (aka My Love Lies Bleeding) by Alyxandra HarveyHearts at Stake (aka My Love Lies Bleeding) by Alyxandra Harvey
Series: The Drake Chronicles #1
Published by Bloomsbury, Walker Books for Young Readers
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.

Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.

Thoughts: Hearts at Stake is a fun debut novel but don’t set the bar too high when you pick it up. The action was entertaining, but not all that memorable. Plot turns and twist were all over the place, and kinda hard to follow. The world building consisted of tell-and-no-show. And as for the romance, well, both pairings fell flat.

But it was still an entertaining read! Harvey has a tongue-in-cheek style that I enjoyed – and we have to give her serious credit for creating the most violent vegetarian (Lucy) I have ever read! I also loved the relationship between the two narrators: best friends, Lucy and Solange. They are fiercely protective of each other, but extremely different. They work very well together, as whatever one of them lacks the other makes up for. It was a lovely dynamic!

It was released in the US with the cover/title you see before you… but in the UK they decided to rename it to My Love Lies Bleeding and gave it a Twilightesque cover. Usually I like the changes made by UK publishers, but not this time.

Hearts at Stake is a light-hearted, funny read. So although there is a lot of life-threatening violence… it is light-hearted violence! (If that makes any sense.) So, if you can, try to get a US copy (I got mine from Fobidden Planet in London) so that the content matches the cover!

Bottom line? This was a fun, light-hearted read – but I was not particularly in love. Pick it up if you are looking for a fast-and-fun read! The next book in the series, Blood Feud, is out in July.

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