Pick of the Week

My pick of the week is a Young Adult title with a bit of a background story. I have said it before, but I have a bit of a checkered past with author Shana Abe and her Drakon series. Or rather I should say I have a love/don’t like/bored/like/sort-of like relationship with her books. The five Drakon books were all over the map for me, and that left me a bit wary of trying out her YA spin-off series set in the same world (albeit years later). It turns out that I truly loved the first book, The Sweetest Dark. I loved the world, the time-period, the characters, the story, and the very suprising (but sad) ending that I didn’t see coming. It was beautifully written, which is something I don’t say often (I think on the level of Laini Taylor‘s Daughter of Smoke and Bone books). I just hope that The Deepest Night catches me the way the first one did.

the deepest nightSynopsis…

A rich portrait of post-Victorian England, The Deepest Night seamlessly blends thrilling romance with riveting history and adventure—perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Lauren Kate.

It’s 1915, and sixteen-year-old Lora Jones is finishing up her first year as a charity student at Iverson, a prestigious, gothic boarding school on England’s southern coast. While she’s always felt different from everyone around her, now she finally knows why: She is a drákon, a rare, enchanted being with astonishing magical abilities.

As war hits Britain’s shores, and Lora reels from an unimaginable loss, she finds that her powers come with grave and dangerous responsibilities. At the request of Armand Louis, the darkly mysterious boy whose father owns Iverson, Lora will spend her summer at his lavish estate. To help the war effort—and to keep Lora by his side—Armand turns his home into a military hospital, where Lora will serve as a nurse. For Armand is inescapably drawn to her—bound to her by heart-deep secrets and a supernatural connection that runs thicker than blood.

Yet while Lora tries to sort out her own feelings toward Armand, fate offers an unexpected surprise. Lora discovers there is another drákon, a prisoner of war being held in Germany. And that only she, with her newly honed Gifts, will be able to rescue him.

With Armand, Lora will cross enemy lines on an incredible mission—one that could bond her to Armand forever, or irrevocably tear them apart.

What did you think of this one? I loved enjoyed it being set against the background of World War 1, especially coming off of a string of future-set dystopian books. And after the ending of the first one, I don’t quite know where this one is going to go next.

Reading Roundup…

Once again, time has slipped away from me, and it has been over two months since I have done a reading roundup post. I guess I will do a random selection of what best sticks out in my mind about what I have read.

Everneath_coverEverneathBrodi Ashton‘s debut book had sat on the TBR pile for quite a while. I was suckered in by the pretty cover, but didn’t expect much from the book after I had been through a string of sub-par YA debut novels. Turns out I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I liked that it was a little different than the usual vamps/weres/dystopian YA fare, since it is somewhat of a retelling of the Greek myth about Hades and Persephone. It was something I hadn’t come across before, so for me it seemed like a fresh idea (but in fact there were a few other retellings done last year by other authors). This didn’t move to the top of my favorites pile or anything, but I definitely liked it enough to order the second book.

predatoryPredatory – This anthology featured stories from Alexandra Ivy, Nina Bangs, Dianne Duvall and Hannah Jayne, but I only read the Alexandra Ivy novella. This short story, called Out of Control, serves as the introduction to her new The Sentinels series. Stepping away from her Guardians of Eternity stories, The Sentinels are warriors who guard – and sometimes hunt – those beings of great power. This was fast paced and interesting, and made me look even more forward to the upcoming first book, Born in Blood, which will be released on December 31st. I do actually plan on going back to read the other novellas in this anthology, since all of them sounded interesting. Speaking of Born in Blood, I will be doing a spotlight post on that upcoming book as my next post, since both the cover and blurb have recently been made public.

edge of dawnEdge of Dawn – I have bored everyone before with my unique relationship with Lara Adrian‘s books. I pretty much always enjoy them when I am reading them, but for some reason they don’t stick with me (with the exception of Darker After Midnight, which definitely stayed with me). I was pretty hyped to get into Edge of Dawn and see the “new” Midnight Breed world…but I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe it was me, but I kept putting the book down and reading something else shiny that caught my eye. I know it was Lara Adrian’s usual well written and well thought out story, but my attention just kept drifting away. I think all told it took me over two weeks to finish, which doesn’t happen often. The good thing is that some of the new characters did get my notice, and I am still looking forward to their stories.

the sweetest darkThe Sweetest Dark – Talk about a surprise. I actually fought with myself to buy this one. My experience with Shana Abe is at the extreme end of the hit-or-miss spectrum. I go from loving one book, to being bored by the next, to disliking the next and enjoying the next. I figured that since my history was so spotty with her Drakon series, I would maybe just cut my losses and not bother with her YA spin-off series featuring new character Lora Jones. But…but…then my series would not be complete?!? That cannot be allowed – ever. Grudgingly, I ordered The Sweetest Dark…and I was hooked. Completely original, great story, great setting, beautifully written with characters I really enjoyed – and an ending that totally surprised me. I mean, I just didn’t see that coming, at all. This is in my top three favorite YA book so far this year, and I cannot wait to get my grubby hands on The Deepest Night when it is released on August 13th.

I am going to do up a reading round-up post next week to cover a few more of what I read this past couple of months. How about you? What did you read and love recently (or not love so much, for that matter)? Anything stand out for you?

The Sweetest Dark…A Very Pleasant Surprise

the sweetest darkI have a different relationship with Shana Abe‘s Drakon books. I loved the first one, but things were hit and miss for me for the next four. So when it came time to decide if I was going to try her new YA spin-off series, I was a bit up in the air. I have been limiting my blind buys, especially since I found myself less than impressed with quite a few of the young adult titles I have bought lately. Long story short, I finally broke down and ordered The Sweetest Dark, still not expecting much.

I was wrong.

The Sweetest Dark was a total surprise. It is a quiet story, if that makes any sense – very character driven, without a ton of action and conflict, and very different from many of the YA novels out there. The tone was more mature, and while there is the dreaded love triangle it is like no other love triangle I have ever read, and it wasn’t the focus of the story. It reads more like a fantasy with romantic elements, if anything.

The story revolves around Eleanor Jones. Since the moment she was found wandering the streets as a child, with no memory of who she was or where she came from, she has known she was different. Raised in a harsh, cold London orphanage in the early 1900’s, life was not easy for Lora. Not only did she have to learn to survive having no one and nothing to call her own, she also had to learn how to hide the unique abilities that set her apart from everyone else. When the first World War threatens London, Lora finds herself sent as a charity case to a prestigious boarding school on England’s coast. This new world is filled with the daughters of the wealthy and privileged, neither of which describes Lora, and she is not allowed to forget that she does not belong.

It is here, at this school, that Lora meets two very different boys with secrets of their own. Sweet, quiet and unassuming Jesse holds the answers that Lora has been searching for her whole life, while rich, brash Armand struggles with demons of his own. The three of them are drawn together almost by fate, and while you never are in doubt about who Lora loves, you are left guessing right up to the end about how things will turn out for them. And let’s just say, I didn’t see that ending coming.

I thought that The Sweetest Dark was very well written, with great characters that didn’t feel overdone or stereo-typical, and I was very pleased with how Shana Abe re-worked her Drakon world for a new time and place. This was my first YA set during this time, and the looming threat of WWI made for a great atmosphere. I do have to say, it stood out in the ever-growing sea of paranormal YA.

God, I can ramble. Basically, what I am trying to say is that The Sweetest Dark was different, well written, and I liked it. It wasn’t perfect, but it definitely caught my attention and didn’t let go. Has anyone else tried this new series, or do you have it on your radar? It makes for a nice change of pace, and a great break from the same old, same old. Now, I just have to wait for August to get my hands on the second book, The Deepest Night. And believe me, I have no hesitation this time around.

New Series Alerts…

This is a huge new series week. Almost too many, actually (I do wish that these things could get spread out a bit more over the month, since there are weeks now where there is pretty much nothing going on). It looks like for this post, we have seven, count’em seven, to highlight.

This first one is a historical paranormal romance (which I am seeing more of lately) from author Brooklyn AnnBite Me, Your Grace is the first book of the Bite series.

bite me your graceSynopsis…

England’s “vampire craze” causes much vexation for the Lord Vampire of London, Ian Ashton. To save his reputation, Ian enlists aspiring authoress Angelica Winthrop without realizing she has hidden plans of her own.

Angelica Winthrop’s life goal is to ruin her reputation, avoid marriage, and become a gothic authoress like her idol, Mary Shelley. To find inspiration for her new story, she breaks into the home of Ian Ashton, Duke of Burnrath, not knowing she will be coming up against the Lord Vampire of London. Romance sparks and reputations are at stake. But who knows the real difference between fact and fiction?

–Bite reading list HERE.

Ashlyn Chase‘s first Flirting With Fangs book comes out this week, and it is called Flirting Under a Full Moon. It sounds like a fun one.

flirting under a full moonSynopsis…

If Brandee Hanson ever wants to go from waitress to photographer, she’ll have to take some once-in-a-lifetime shots. But when she catches the gorgeous private investigator Nick Wolfensen on camera—transforming into a werewolf—she is thrown into a world of vampires, shapeshifters, and other paranormal misfits.

In order to keep his secret and stay clear of the supernatural council, Nick will have to convince Brandee not to release the photo. Fortunately, he was looking for an excuse to spend more time with the beautiful waitress anyway.

–Flirting With Fangs reading list HERE.

This next one is tricky. I am a huge fan of Thea Harrison‘s Elder Races series, but for some reason I find myself wary of Rising Darkness. Not sure why I am, but it is the first of at least two books in her Game of Shadows series.

rising darknessSynopsis…

In the hospital ER where she works, Mary is used to chaos. But lately, every aspect of her life seems adrift. She’s feeling disconnected from herself. Voices appear in her head. And the vivid, disturbing dreams she’s had all her life are becoming more intense. Then she meets Michael. He’s handsome, enigmatic, and knows more than he can say. In his company, she slowly remembers the truth about herself…

Thousands of years ago, there were eight of them. The one called the Deceiver came to destroy the world, and the seven came to stop him. Reincarnated over and over, they carry on—and Mary finds herself drawn into the battle once again. And the more she learns, the more she realizes that Michael will go to any lengths to destroy the Deceiver.

Then she remembers who killed her during her last life, 900 years ago…Michael.

–Game of Shadows reading list HERE.

I only stumbled across this one quite recently, but it gave me an adult Throne of Glass vibe. Amy Raby‘s Assassin’s Gambit is the first book of her Hearts and Thrones series.

assassin's gambitSynopsis…

Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.

As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.

Lucien’s quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala’s gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good.

–Hearts and Thrones reading list HERE.

Another tricky one for me personally is the new one from Shana Abe. I have read her Drakon books, and I would love one, be bored with the next, really like the next one and then loathe the characters in the next one. Makes it very hit or miss, and this series is a young adult spin-off from that world. This is Lora Jones’ story, and it is called The Sweetest Dark.

the sweetest darkSynopsis…

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

–Lora Jones reading list HERE.

This one recently underwent a name change. Originally, Victoria Scott‘s new series was to be called Dante Valentine, but now it seems the character’s name has changed to Dante Walker, which works much better, I think. Book one is called The Collector.

the collectorSynopsis…

He makes good girls…bad.

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence has made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple, weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within 10 days.

Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky, Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect—he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector, and uncover emotions deeply buried.

–Dante Walker reading list HERE.

And this last one is also one that I only found out about a couple of weeks ago. Cecily White‘s Prophecy Girl is the first book of the Angel Academy series, and it has been generating some major buzz around.

prophecy girlSynopsis…

Amelie Bennett. . . . Ending the world, one prophecy at a time.

I was born to slay Crossworld demons. Big black flappy ones, little green squirmy ones. Unfortunately, the only thing getting slain these days is my social life. With my high school under attack, combat classes intensifying, and Academy instructors dropping right and left, I can barely get my homework done, let alone score a bondmate before prom.

Then he shows up.

Jackson Smith-Hailey. Unspeakably hot, hopelessly unattainable, and dangerous in all the right ways. Sure, he’s my trainer. And okay, maybe he hates me. Doesn’t mean I’ll ignore the wicked Guardian chemistry between us. It’s crazy! Every time I’m with him, my powers explode. Awesome, right?

Wrong.

Now my teachers think I’m the murderous Graymason destined to bring down our whole race of angelbloods. Everyone in New Orleans is hunting me. The people I trusted want me dead. Jack and I have five days to solve the murders, prevent a vampire uprising, and thwart the pesky prophecy foretelling his death by my hand. Shouldn’t be too difficult.

Getting it done without falling in love. . . that might take a miracle.

–Angel Academy reading list HERE.

And just as a heads-up, there are a couple of e-novellas being released this week as well. Delilah S. Dawson‘s The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance (Blud #1.6), Meljean Brook‘s Tethered (Iron Seas #2.5), Laura Wright‘s Eternal Beauty (Mark of the Vampire #4.5), and C.C. Hunter‘s Saved at Sunrise (Shadow Falls #4.5) are all available for digital download this week.

Cover Lover – 4 New Titles

Just a quick little cover post for today.  This first one has been making the rounds lately, but I of course missed it for yesterday’s post.  Immortal Ever After is the next book in Lynsay Sands‘ Argeneau series, due out on February 26th.  I am not feeling the top black shadow section – seems like another bad photoshop jobbie.

immortal ever after

Karina Cooper continues her Dark Mission series with the released of One for the Wicked on April 30th.

one for the wicked

Eternal Demon is the title of the next book from Laura Wright‘s Mark of the Vampire series, due out on May 7th.

eternal demon

Now, I am a bit sketchy on the details for this next one.  I do believe that The Deepest Night is the follow-up to Shana Abe‘s upcoming Young Adult Drakon spin-off book, The Sweetest Dark.  The covers and titles seem to have a theme going, but info has been a bit hard to find on this newish series.

the deepest night

Spotlight on…Shana Abe

I admit, I am really hit or miss with Shana Abe and her Drakon series.  Loved a couple of them, really didn’t get into the swing of the rest.  Her website is quite out of date, and information has been a bit tricky to find on her new series starting next April 9th with the release of The Sweetest Dark.  Looks like a little bit of info has been trickling out recently.

Synopsis…

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.
 
England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.
 
Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

I did find out some surprising info when I stumbled across an interview with Shana Abe over at The Reading Cafe.  It seems that this book is the start of a new young adult series, but set in the same world as the Drakon books.  Also, it turns out that some of the Drakon characters play a role in The Sweetest Dark.  And I guess that means I can figure out what makes Lora “special”.

I am actually not sure how I feel about this being so closely connected to the Drakon series.  My love/hate relationship with those books makes me a bit wary of this one.  Did anyone else have the same vibe from the Drakon series?  For me, they were either really, really good…or really, really not.  It is the only series where I have had such extreme feelings from book to book.  Is this one on anyone’s radar, or are you taking a pass?

Cover Lover – 10 New Titles

As I must say lately, I raided All Things Urban Fantasy for most of these.  I must be off my game, ’cause I didn’t find much on my own this time around.  Shana Abe will be releasing her first young adult title, The Sweetest Dark, this August 21st.

Cynthia Garner follows up her recent Secret of the Wolf with The Heart of the Demon, the third book in her Warriors of the Rift series.  It is due out later this year.

The next Black Wings novel from Christina Henry, Black Lament, will be released on October 30th.

Gail Carriger will start her new Finishing School series later this year with the release of Etiquette and Espionage.  This one is a young adult release.  I like the look of this – much better than the Parasol Protectorate series ones, anyways.

The next one is from author Tessa GrattonThe Blood Keeper is the second book in her Blood Journals series, due out on August 28th.

There has been a bit of a design change for this one.  The second book from Elizabeth Miles‘ The Fury Trilogy, Envy, is going for a bit of a softer look than the first book.  This one is due out on September 4th.

I saw this one a while back, but completely forgot about it.  Lou Morgan‘s Blood and Feathers is a July 31st release.

Next up is one from Kim Harrison.  Apparently, Into the Woods is connected to her Rachel Morgan series, as I understand it it is a collection of short stories set in that world.  It will be available on October 9th.

This one is the follow up to Suzanne Johnson‘s Royal Street, called River Road.  This one is due out on November 13th.

And finally, this one is the cover for Two Weeks’ Notice, the second book in Rachel Caine‘s the Revivalist series, due out on August 7th.