Pride by Rachel Vincent

Book three of the Shifters Series, Pride by Rachel Vincent, is every bit as exciting and passionate as the first two.

 I’m on trial for my life. Falsely accused of infecting my human ex-boyfriend–and killing him to cover up the crime. Infecting a human is one of three capital offenses recognized by the Pride–along with murder and disclosure of our existence to a human.I’m two for three. A goner.

Now we’ve discovered a rogue stray terrorizing the mountainside, hunting a wild teenage tabbycat. It’s up to us to find and stop him before a human discovers us. With my lover Marc’s help, I “think” I can protect the vulnerable girl from both the ambitious rogue and the scheming of the territorial council.

“If” I survive my own trial…

 If you’ve read my previous review of Rogue (Review HERE), you know that I’m officially in love with this series and the third book did not disappoint.

 I LOVE Faythe. I love that she makes mistakes and gets angry but also does her best to seek justice and do what’s right. As the rebellious daughter of an Alpha, Faythe’s inner battle between independence and loyalty to the pride is spread wide open for all to see. I love to see her fight for what she wants but also work to please her father. She’s such a strong heroine with real flaws but also amazing strengths. I love reading her story.

 I so appreciate the genuine and loving relationship Faythe shares with her father. It isn’t easy to live up to such harsh expectations, but her father still shows compassion even in the midst of discipline. I loved watching the real fear he had about the possibility that Faythe might actually be condemned to die. It’s such a realistic and heartwarming father/daughter relationship.

 And Marc! I love Marc, and the circumstances in which Vincent throws her characters brought Faythe and Marc back to terms in a beautifully unexpected way. It was heartbreakingly real and I want more of them. Their relationship has to be in my top ten favorite couples. Their passion, drive and ambition create turbulence as well as tension in their relationship, making for a bumpy, but steamy ride. It’s so much fun to read.

 I’m also loving the direction the plot is moving. Vincent is a builder, and with each book, I feel like the reader will go deeper and deeper into the character’s lives and become more and more invested, and I can’t wait! I’m loving this series. It has everything I want in an urban fantasy: action, paranormal elements, and romance, as well as great characters, awesome world-building and an amazing heroine. I want more, and the next book, Prey, is on the menu, ready to be devoured. 🙂

Release and Recommendations

It’s tuesday. The spectacular day books are released to the world. This week I am totally fangirling over the sequel to Kierra Cass’ s The Selection (Review HERE). The Elite will be released on Tuesday, April 23, 2013.

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

I love this story. I love America; I love love triangles. The anticipation for who she will pick is killing me! This story works because America has genuine reasons to like/dislike each guy. It’s believable that she was totally in love with Aspen but then he betrayed her, and she was totally not into Maxon but now he’s finding his way into her heart, not to mention there’s a crown involved! I cannot wait to see what happens!

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

My mind is blown. This book is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s definitely in my all-time Top Ten list.

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr instantly sucked me in and spit me out 306 pages later. This book is amazing. I loved it, the characters, the world-building, EVERYTHING! Carnival of Souls is delicious and dark but also warm and beautiful. When I was reading, I found myself panting in anticipation; when I was working/sleeping/anything else, I was a mindless zombie dreaming/thinking/wondering about Mallory, Aya, Kaleb and Belias.

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures–if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father–and every other witch there–fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it’s only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and “Graveminder,” comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one’s own destiny

Marr created this dark world where corruption is everywhere and transactions of pleasure and violence are commonplace. I loved the concept that people hid their faces behind masks to conceal their identity but also that the mask’s color reflected the services the customer sought. Talk about awesome! Let’s not forget the fight to the death that is hosted once a generation and the victor is rewarded with money and power. I was absolutely and completely absorbed in this hypnotic tale of risking everything for what one most desires. The writing was clever and funny, and there was never a dull moment yet I totally understood all the background and ways of The City.  Marr’s story is filled with anticipation for blooming relationships and reconcilliation for battered ones. Marr is a wonderful storyteller, telling the darkest and sweetest of tales. Here’s a taste for one of my favorite lines:

“Hours of defense training had made her feel confident that she could handle anything boys tried, but in all of what she’d learned, there weren’t any lessons on how to avoid feeling like a skeeze because you reacted to a boy’s kiss like a cat discovering catnip.” Page 107

Each character loves someone or something, and they will do anything to get it — whether it is a fight to the death or risking everything for a brighter future. Marr’s characters are wonderfully made and beautifully unique, each voice is distinct. I loved that connection I felt like I had with each character, knowing their deepest secrets and desires. I was right there with them and I wanted them to reach their goal no matter the consequences.

There are two love stories in this book and the characters’ circumstances draw them to be intertwined in this plot for power and love. Each couple has their issues and are led by painstakingly real emotions and motives. I loved it. I loved them. I loved it all. Beautifully done, Marr.

There is so much action in this story. Marr writes awesome fight scenes that are easy to follow but also heart-wrenchingly tense. A few times I thought I was going to have a heart attack! It’s THAT good, people! I am so utterly obsessed right now. I cannot wait until the sequel. I’ve scoured the internet looking for clues but since this book was only released on Sept. 4, 2012, the next book is most likely a long time coming. The anticipation on this one might just kill me!

This book is amazing. You HAVE to read it. You will not regret it. If you love books in bloodthirsty worlds packed with romance and action, Carnival of Souls is the book for you. This has to be Melissa Marr’s best book yet.

Releases and Recommendations

It’s Tuesday! The lovely day books are released to the world. This week I’m anticipating the release of Reached by Ally Condie on Tuesday, November 13, 2012.

Cassia faces the ultimate choices in the long-anticipated conclusion to the “New York Times” bestselling Matched Trilogy.
After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising–and each other–Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.
In this gripping conclusion to the #1 “New York Times” bestselling Matched Trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

I fell in love with Ally Condie’s Matched. It was beautiful, magical, poetic. I was annoyed by her second book, Crossed. Why on earth would you stuggle for so long and risk everything for someone but willingly walk away because the rising said so? I was really disappointed that Condie made the relationship between Cassia and Ky seem fake or false, like they didn’t really like each other that much anyway. Regardless, I’m willing to stick it out to see what the last installment of this series has to offer. I really hope Condie re-solidifies the relationship between Cassia and Ky and focuses on what’s important, on why people fight for freedom in the first place: Love.

The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark

The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark is very deceiving, in more ways than one.

I gasped, or tried to. My mouth opened, but I couldn’t draw breath. His lips, pearly wet, parted and he blew into my mouth. My lungs expanded beneath his weight. When I exhaled he sucked my breath in and his weight turned from cold marble into warm living flesh.
 
Since accepting a teaching position at remote Fairwick College in upstate New York, Callie McFay has experienced the same disturbingly erotic dream every night: A mist enters her bedroom, then takes the shape of a virile, seductive stranger who proceeds to ravish her in the most toe-curling, wholly satisfying ways possible. Perhaps these dreams are the result of her having written the bestselling book The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers. Callie’s lifelong passion is the intersection of lurid fairy tales and Gothic literature—which is why she’s found herself at Fairwick’s renowned folklore department, living in a once-stately Victorian house that, at first sight, seemed to call her name.
 
But Callie soon realizes that her dreams are alarmingly real. She has a demon lover—an incubus—and he will seduce her, pleasure her, and eventually suck the very life from her. Then Callie makes another startling discovery: Her incubus is not the only mythical creature in Fairwick. As the tenured witches of the college and the resident fairies in the surrounding woods prepare to cast out the demon, Callie must accomplish something infinitely more difficult—banishing this supernatural lover from her heart.

Look at the cover. It looks like a Young Adult book. It caught my eye because it’s very similar to the covers for the House of Night series by P.C. Cast. It was the crescent moon that looked very familiar. Strike one.

Now read the Synopsis. Doesn’t it sound like a trashy paranormal romance novel? I thought so, I picked it up fully expecting a damsel in distress haunted by a mysterious and sexy demon and ultimately, they fall in love sparked by their deep passion for each other. Well, it’s not that kind of story. Strike two for Ms. Juliet Dark, or should I say Carol Goodman seeing that Juliet Dark is her pen name.

This story is very much an adult book but to me it’s more a Mystery Fiction than a Romance. There is still love in the story but it’s more a story about love than a love story. There is far more to this book than meets the eye, in fact, there’s an entire world filled with fairies, witches, creatures of the night and demons. There is a lot of substance to this story; the plot is driven by the misadventures of our female protagonist, Callie, as she discovers the secret of Fairwick College which, consequently, is directly correlated to her love life.

As much as I could predict Callie’s relationships with her long distance boyfriend, Paul; her fling with Liam; and her mind-boggling affair with her demon lover, I was still surprised a few times with the plot twists. I had my suspicions but in the end, they all turned out wrong. Juliet Dark has a way of letting her readers in but never giving anything away. It makes for a good mystery.

The concept of Gothic literature oozes out of this book; there are gothic themes and the main character’s inner monologue references gothic literature many times. I loved the Honeysuckle House, the old Victorian home that Callie lives in, and the dreary weather of upstate New York, and who could possible forget the mysterious “night-mare” that visits Callie in her dreams for a little sexy time. This book is every gothic literature buff’s fantasy novel!

Although, this book wasn’t anything close to what I was expecting, it was an alluring mystery with erotic elements. I’m not a huge fan of the mystery genre, but with the paranormal added in, it wasn’t half-bad. I certainly appreciated the amount of detail Ms. Dark went into relating her characters to classic novels and modern-day pop culture. Her references made me smile.  However, the bizarre ending left me unsatisfied and caught unaware which I found unsettling. The next book in this series, The Water Witch, was released on Sept. 13, 2012. I’ll evenually get to the sequel to see what happens next, but until then I’ll try to classify whether the strange ending was strike three or not.

Fateful by Claudia Gray

Let me start this review by saying that I was super intrigued by this book, but then I read that it involves the titanic and I immediately put it back on the shelves. I’m the girl who cries during the movie every. single. time. I even cried watching the trailer on TV when Titanic came back out for the 3D release in theatres. This story really tears me up. However, werewolves and the Titantic? I was intrigued and it was only when my friends at goodreads informed me that it had a happy ending that I decided I would go for it. I’m glad I did.

 A tragic tale about falling in love on the world’s most infamous ill-fated sea voyage as heroine, Tess, discovers darker secrets that lie beneath the doomed crossing… and a hidden brotherhood that threaten to tear her lover from her forever.

The RMS Titanic is the most luxurious ship ever built, but for eighteen-year-old Tess Davies it’s a prison. Travelling as a maid for the family she has served for years, Tess is trapped in their employ amid painful memories and family secrets.

When she meets Alec, a handsome upper class passenger, Tess falls helplessly in love. But Alec has secrets of his own… and soon Tess is entangled in a dangerous game. A sinister brotherhood that will do anything to induct Alec into their mystical order has followed him onboard. And Tess is now their most powerful pawn.

Tess and Alec fight the dark forces threatening to tear them apart, never realising that they will have to face an even greater peril before the journey is over…

New York Times best-selling author Claudia Gray delivers adventure, dark paranormal suspense, alluring romance, and a truly surprise ending, set against the opulent backdrop of the Titanic’s first — and last — voyage.

This story was beautifully built from the historic era, to the ship, and to the characters. I was so surprised by this book. Throughout the story, I was so enraptured in Tess’s relationship with Alec that at times I forgot that he was a first-class passenger and she was a third-class handmaiden and that they were both on the doomed Titanic. I don’t know how Claudia Gray did it, but she made the possibility of werewolves on the Titanic so believable. The relationship between Tess and Alec was believable too. They didn’t fall into insta-love. They were obviously attracted to one another but it wasn’t until they shared their deepest secrets and were brought together through dire circumstances that their love could bloom. It made the acts of love at the end of the novel that much sweeter because there was a genuine connection between them. I never once thought their words of love were cliché or fake. It felt real to me and it made this story unbelievably amazing.

Gray created connections all over the place, bringing in storylines that drew you close to each character and their relationships. It was that much more heartbreaking when the ship finally goes down. It’s safe to say I bawled my eyes out. I loved Myriam who became quick friends with Tess on the ship and the 7th officer, George. Their relationship was so sweet and new. I nearly lost it when Irene’s secret is revealed and the consequence of such was her undoing. Through only a short book, Gray draws you in and you love everyone Tess encounters, except for her employer, the despicable Mrs. Lisle.

The conflict between Alec and being initiated into the brotherhood was thrilling and really drove the story to its heart-breaking conclusion. My only issue with this book was the nauseating horror that grew within me with each page turned because I knew, I KNEW what was going to happen to that ship. All I could think was how on earth could they possibly all get out? I wanted all of them to live!

I appreciated the care that Gray put into creating this story where she created her own fictional characters to be on the ship in order to avoid soiling someone’s real name or story, especially since this story has a paranormal element. I thought she accurately portrayed the ship in all its splendor to honor those who were lost at sea those many, many years ago.

I was so glad this story had its own version of a happy ending, sadly the Titanic must always go down. However, as much as I liked the happy ending, I wish there was more time to acclimate to the good news before the book ends. Its almost as if I didn’t believe that good things were happening because they happened so fast. The action in the end took away that moment of disbelief I was hoping would happen between Alec and Tess to really solidify it was really happening. Regardless, I really liked this book. I’m interested in reading more of Claudia Gray. Her character development is right up my alley, I love a story with strong characters and even stronger, believable bonds between them. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical and paranormal romance; this book had the best of both worlds.

Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward

Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward, book 10 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series,  is one of those books I needed to read. Ward has tormented Tohrment for far too long. His story needed to be told.

Ever since the death of his shellan, Tohrment has been unrecognizable from the vampire leader he once was. Physically emaciated and heartbroken beyond despair, he has been brought back to the Brotherhood by a self-serving fallen angel. Now, fighting once again with ruthless vengeance, he is unprepared to face a new kind of tragedy.

When Tohr begins to see his beloved in his dreams—trapped in a cold, isolated netherworld far from the peace and tranquillity of the Fade—he turns to the angel in hopes of saving the one he has lost. But because Lassiter tells him he must learn to love another to free his former mate, Tohr knows they are all doomed….

Except then a female with a shadowed history begins to get through to him. Against the backdrop of the raging war with the lessers, and with a new clan of vampires vying for the Blind King’s throne, Tohr struggles between the buried past and a very hot, passion-filled future…but can his heart let go and set all of them free

What a long and frustrating read! (In a good way.) There was so much loss and pain between Tohrment and John, and Qhuinn and Blay…the list goes on and on. It’s so raw and real it had me tearing up in public places! I felt like I was drowning in sorrow; Ward waits until the last second before oxygen flow is restored and a sigh of relief  is cast from the happy ending I knew was coming. It just took a while to get there.  I know that seems like a spoiler, but come on, if you’re a Black Dagger Brotherhood reader you know the extremes, however unrealistic, Ward will go to give her characters a happy ever after.

Surprisingly there wasn’t a lot of focus on sex. There is sex but I feel the Black Dagger Brotherhood series has grown into this colossal, epic story that sex is no longer the selling point nor the destination. Much like a matured relationship where meaningless sex pales in comparison to true love, this series has reached a whole other level. However, there is plenty to devour in the juicy bits Ward does give us.

I love that Ward is creating these strong plot points and growing them over a few books before they manifest into their own story. With each character, I become attached and wish to see more and more of them. With the official introduction of the band of bastards into Caldwell, my worry that there will be no more stories to tell is squashed. I’m intrigued by their violent yet old world attitude; it brings a historical fiction feel to the series. I want to see more of Xcor and Throe, even if they are the enemy, definitely better than the lessers.

I was satisfied with the ending and Ward has done it again; it was beautiful. I’m waiting in nail-biting anticipation for the continuation of the hanging storylines. I am super amped to hear the story of Blay and Qhuinn in the next book, Lover At Last. It’s going to be epic. If you haven’t started this series yet, you seriously need to. Ward’s books are totally worth it and her characters always seem to find a place in your heart.