Saturday, 19 November 2011

Interview with Lara Morgan (Rosie Black Chronicles)

Hey there awesome people! I've been AWOL for ages again, and I am this close to throttling - ahem - filing a complaint to our education system for tearing me away from blogging. But my last exam finishes soon, and I can't wait to be back reviewing and reading. Even the thought of it is brightening the thought of my massive pile of practise exams...

But in the meantime, I have a wonderful interview with the almighty Lara Morgan, the author of the Rosie Black Chronicles, right here at Book Couture, as part of an awesome blog tour. Lara. Morgan. Seriously, Mind. Blown. Alright, let's go...

Hi Lara! Thank you so much for taking the time to appear on my blog. I'm so thrilled to have you heere! The topic I'm really curious about today is writing tips, for all those aspiring writers out there. So first of all, I was wondering, what inspired you to write the Rosie Black Chronicles?

There were two inspirations for Rosie: first was my interest in our planet’s future given the mess of global warming and second my love of space adventure shows and movies like Star Wars and Firefly. I know, it’s a weird mix!  So basically I combined the two, exploring the kind of world both environmentally and socially we might have in the future if all the terrible effects of global warming come to pass and including against that backdrop an adventure story that involved spaceships and futuristic themes with an independent female heroine. I also found great inspiration for Rosie in Buffy. Not so much in the kind of person Rosie is but more in terms of her heroism in the face of sometimes terrible odds.

Hmm, global warming is such a topical issue at the moment, and Rosie Black's world certainly shows the frightening ramifications of inaction. And that is certainly an interesting blend of inspirational material!

Sometimes when I'm writing short stories (or actually, writing anything in general), I'll want to get the tone, the character, the phrasing, etc, right, and so I find myself agonising over every single word. I guess I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Then I find myself losing interest because the whole writing process feels too difficult. How is your own writing process like? And what would you recommmend beginning writers to do?

Ah yes, the agonizing is a very hard hurdle to get over. It’s also one I advise beginning writers to leap over because trying to get everything right before you move on can result in exactly what you’ve described and that is death to any writing. When I start work on a book I firstly do a lot of research into the kind of world I’m creating, so lots of reading (my favourite part!), and I scribble notes down about my characters. I don’t do very detailed sketches of them at that stage but I do think about who they are and where they might fit in the story. Then I get out an artist’s sketch block and start plotting out a story line. I draw a long diagonal line right across the page and at the beginning note down where I think the story might start, the scene and action. Then I make a dot in the middle of the line and note what a major plot point might be for the middle, then make a dot at the end of the line and note how I think the book might end, and I fill in a few points in between those three that might be some major plot points for the story. That’s it really, then I just start writing the first draft. I am one of those writers who work better if I don’t over plot. I need to do a bit of plotting, but while I’m writing the first draft I always revise my plot outline as I go so I tend to end up with several increasingly different versions. I rarely ever change the ending though. I always have a clear idea at the start where I’m heading and when writing a first draft I don’t edit as I go. If I find along the way that a character does something that affects what I’ve already written a chapter or so back I just make a note to myself to change it in the rewrite and keep going. It’s only when I’ve written the first draft all the way through that I really know what the story is. Then in the rewrite I can go back and refine it.

So I think my best advice for new writers is to stop agonizing over getting the perfect scene or sentence the first time and just get to the end. Remember all writing is rewriting. Relax, take a breath and give yourself permission to write badly the first time knowing you will be fixing it up in the rewrite. And never show anyone your first draft because the last thing you need at the beginning is someone’s well meaning advice before you’re even sure how your story goes.

That, is gold for aspiring writers. Reading is my facourite part too! And your visual approach to planning is very innovative and interesting. I've never heard of that technique before, and I think I might try it out someday. Thanks!
What's your personal cure for writer's block?

If I’m having trouble writing it’s usually because my creative brain isn’t quite sure what’s happening in the story next and is fighting with my ‘just-get-on-with-it’ side of the brain. I’ve found the best way for me to get over this is to stop trying to push through it and take a step back. I stop writing and just take a day or so to think about what the problem is. I leave my desk and sit on the couch in a different room with a notebook and just day dream the story a bit, making random notes if something comes to me. It can be very frustrating, but eventually – and often when I’m doing something unrelated like the dishes or sleeping – the solution will come and I can go back to work.

Looking back on your writing experience, is there anything you wish you had done differently? And anything you would recommend for beginning writers?

I wish I’d known more about promoting the book and myself at the beginning. When my first book came out I really didn’t know what I should do and I wish now I’d invested some money into going to conventions or getting out there more. It’s not something anyone tells you, so it’s something I tell new writers. You have to take on responsibility for promoting yourself as well. You can’t just rely on the publisher, especially not in today’s market and luckily now with the range of social media we have an outlet that can help with that. So advice? Get online, go to conventions, and if you’re not published yet also enter short story competitions. Winning or placing gives you runs on the board. I won a story competition and it lead to me getting an agent so they really can help, especially if the awards have a national profile. Don’t be scared just enter, it’s worth it.

Valuable advice, once again. It's great that a story competition sparked off your career. It gives me hope that with the right amount of talent, and some luck thrown in too, anything is possible.

Usually when I read a book, I'm only reading it for pleasure, and I tend to read it fast, preferring to allow the storyline to play out in my imagination, rather than analysing every word. In some ways, that contributes to the magic of books for me, because while I might not register every single word, my mind still evokes the overall sense of the book. So what I'm wondering is, what kind of reader are you? And after having written your own books, do you find youself becoming more of a close reader?

 I can still get lost in a story, but what I have found is I probably pick up on errors or lazy writing more quickly than I might have before and I’m probably a tad more critical. It makes me wonder what the editor was thinking/doing to let something slip by, while at the same time I know that mistakes happen when you’re dealing with reading the same thing over and over. I won’t finish a book anymore if it irks me though. Life is too short to keep reading if I’m not enjoying it.

What are some of your favourite literature tropes?

I love a good quest. Yes it’s been done, and done, and done – heck I’ve done it! – but it makes for such a good story, such a great structure to revolve characters around. I also love a good dark lord. What’s not to love? Look at Darth Vader, Sauron, Voldemort and the incarnations of the lord as evil empire are also smashing.

Nice, me too! I like the way that quests can fully immerse the readers into an adventure.What do you think are essential elements to any story? (i.e. what would make or break a book for you?)

Characters have to have shades of grey to them. Heroes can’t be all good and bad guys need to be more than they appear to be. I can’t abide two dimensional characters and will put down a book if not enough effort has gone into creating people I can believe in and care about. I read a book recently which clearly was written more as a treatise for a blockbuster film than a novel. It had bags of action and thrilling turns but I felt no connection with the people in the story at all, the hero could have died at the end and I wouldn’t have cared.  That was really disappointing. 

Great answer! The plot could be masterpiece, but ultimately, we are human beings, and a personl connection developed with the characters is what really brings the book "alive" for me as well.
On my bookshelf, I've got one whole role dedicated to wonderful dystopian novels, and I found it interesting that YA dystopians novels are increasing in popularity now (that's what it seems to me, at least.) What are your thoughts?

Yes definitely dystopian YA is becoming more popular now, but it has been around for a while. I’ve got a book on my shelf written ten years ago that is YA dystopian and dystopia itself has been a solid presence in adult fiction for fifty or more years. Why it’s popularity is growing now in YA is, I think, partly due to the massive success of Suzanne Collins Hunger Games, and maybe as a point of difference to all the paranormal romance which has taken centre stage of late.

Finally, what are some of your favourite books (fiction and non-fiction, YA and adult) and movies? Books/movies you find most inspiring?

Books: Ursula Le Guin’s The Earthsea Quartet, Wild Seed by Octavia Butler, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, The Lord of the Rings, The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery, Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku.

Movies/TV shows: Star Wars (the original three please not those awful new ones!), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, The X Files, When Harry Met Sally and my feel good movie when I’m ill is Under the Tuscan Sun because it’s about a writer who buys a house in Tuscany – seriously what’s not to love there?

I've heard amazing things about those, but haven't yet watched/read them yet. Except The Mortal Instruments and Lord of the Rings. That's it. I'm going to spend my holidays trying to hunt down all those books and movies and watch them now. 

And...that's a wrap! Thank you for your wise and illuminating answers, Lara!

My pleasure!

After reading that, don't you just want to go check out a sample of Equinox? Or go and enter my competition for both Rosie Black novels released. It's open to Aussies.
And if you have a facebook, go and visit the rest of the blog tour. Get updates and giveaway links and such.

Hope you all have an awesome day. And keep smiliing. :)

xx Tina

Friday, 18 November 2011

My first BLURB. *still in shock*

Hey there awesome person! You have a beautiful smile.

This is a quickie post to record something very momentous and amazing for me....

Take a lookie at this, which was sent my way by the lovely Emilie at Emilie's Book World and Brittany at Nice Girls Read Books, via twitter (psst, come chat with me? I'd love to talk to you. :) )

My words. In print. In actual, honest-to-goodness black ink on book-creating paper. Stuff I said about Embrace by Jessica Shirvington. Cue the silly dancing and the loud music and party poppers, because this has made my week. I only started this blog to chat about me, reading, but wow, seeing really makes a girl feel special, and honoured, and amazed.

Anyway, a cool interview with Lara Morgan coming up tomorrow! Stay tuuuned. ;)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Giveaway: Win Rosie Black Chronicles Book #1 and #2

How exciting is this? I'm hosting my very first giveaway's such a cool feeling. And I'm super happy because it's for two amazing dystopian books.

Hopefully this will excuse me from the fact that myblog has been awfully quiet again, and will be for the next month, until exams and such are finished.

Thanks to Walker Books Australia, I have a copy of Rosie Black Chronicles: Book 1-Genesis, and Book 2 - Equinox by Lara Morgan, to give away!

Equinox comes out in November, and keep your eyes peeled, because there'll be a blog tour for it coming soon, and a review of Rosie Black on Book Couture.

How to win a copy:
  • Open to residents of Australia only, age 13 or above.
  • Post a comment about your favourite dystopian book to get an entry in - be sure to leave your name (nickname will do fine too), and an email address for me to contact you with as well.
  • Spreading the word online linking to this comp will get you an extra entry too, e.g. tweeting about the comp (with @bookcouture), facebooking, blogging, linking...etc. Leave links as additional comments.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly, so it's pretty fair for all.
  • Entries close 22nd November 2011
 Good luck!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Review: Shift by Em Bailey

Shift by Em Bailey [Goodreads]
Genre: YA > Thriller
Release Date: 1st September 2011
ISBN-13: 9781742970578
Cover love? It's quirky and incredible and immediately drew me in. It fits the book perfectly, with the idea identity is always shifting, or shaped by others. 
There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vaile before she'd even arrived at our school. The first was that she had no parents - they were dead. And the second? They were dead because Miranda had killed them.
Olive Corbett is definitely NOT crazy.

Not anymore. These days she takes her meds like a good girl, hangs out with her best friend Ami, and stays the hell away from the toxic girls she used to be friends with.
She doesn’t need a boyfriend. Especially not a lifesaver-type with a nice smile. And she doesn’t need the drama of that creepy new girl Miranda, who has somehow latched on to Olive's ex-best friend.

Yet from a distance, Olive can see there's something sinister about the new friendship. Something almost... parasitic. Maybe the wild rumours ARE true. Maybe Miranda is a killer.

But who would believe Olive? She does have a habit of letting her imagination run away with her…

Even as the narrator, Olive Corbett’s past is shrouded in secrecy. While on the surface, Olive seems like your everyday teenage girl, with a fair share of problems at school and at home, there’s an unstable, insecure, but caring girl underneath. Without her best friend Ami to anchor her sanity down, she’d surely be lost. The beauty of her character was that she seemed to “shift” a lot between several personas, and I could never be certain who Olive was.

The question is, how did Olive fall from being one of the most popular girls in the school, to the paranoid “freak” that she’s now known as? Oh, and what exactly happened between Olive and her ex-best-friend Kate, the beautiful and popular queen of the school? 

This book takes the toxic effect that high-school life can have on a person, to a whole new level. Miranda Vaile transfers to Olive’s school amid a flurry of speculation, and wild rumours. Some say that she killed her parents, and while Olive is sceptical, she knows that there’s something really off about Miranda. This pale, wisp of a girl somehow latches onto Kate, and over time, seemingly draws the life out of her, until Kate is a shadow of her former self, and Miranda begins to glow with  the vitality that Kate had.

Em Bailey smoothly carries the reader forward on this rollercoaster ride of a plot, with her simple yet compelling writing style. The characters are flawed and therefore believable, and there is a cute romance between Olive and a hot new guy, Lachlan, that stumbles around as Olive keeps on trying to push him away from her, despite her growing feelings for him.

Shift is psychological thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat, constantly guessing and questioning the truth behind the story Olive tells. Is there really something strange going on with Miranda, or is it all in Olive’s head? I think I can safely say that have never, ever read anything quite as gripping and intoxicating. While this book isn’t for everyone, especially if you don’t like thrillers, it’s a refreshing break from mainstream YA, one which will creep up under your skin and claw at your heart, squeezing it at every thrilling twist and turn of the plot.


Friday, 30 September 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Black

Series: Anna Dressed in Blood
Genre: Young Adult >Thriller/Horror
Publisher: Tor Teen/Hachette AUS
Release Date: October 2011
ISBN: 9781408319444
Cover love? It's so hauntingly gorgeous, with a dark and spooky atmosphere that suits the story perfectly.
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

I confess: I have never, ever read horror before. Back in the Grade 2 days, I had a tentative peek into a Goosebump novel, and it practically scared the crap out of me, so since then, I've always avoided horror like the plague. But Anna Dressed in Blood was so freaking amazing that I'm crying, begging on my knees for more from Kendare Black, and *gasp* yes, more horror!

Theseus Cassio 'Cas' Lowood is one badass character, so fierce and brave. He descends from a long line of ghost hunters, all committed to ridding the world of ghosts who have stayed behind after death, out for revenge. After his father was brutally murdered by a ghost that he'd set out to kill, Cas devotes himself to training and slaying the dead, honing his skills in the hopes that one day, he can return to exact revenge on the monstrous being that took his father's life. 

As a professional ghost slayer, Cas gets called to Thunder Bay to investigate the mystery of a particularly mysterious and violent ghost that the locals call "Anna Dressed in Blood". For the past 60 years, everyone who has dared to enter her house is torn apart, ripped to shreds. But when Cas faces this terrifying "goddess of death", he discovers that he's finally met his match - a ghost he can't destroy. But for some reason, she decides to spare his life.

Intrigued, Cas can't help but be drawn back to Anna's haunted house, again and again, attempting to discover the mystery behind her death, the reason why she is unlike other ghosts he's encountered. Because beneath the otherworldly and powerful exterior is a beautiful and fragile girl trapped by her dark past...

Kendare Black writes a spellbinding tale, entwining witchcraft and ghost mythology, tradgedy and hope, fear and adoration, until the reader is just as enraptured by Anna as Cas is. I adored so many things about this book - the gentle but fierce prose, the numerous twist and turns within the plot. My one lament is that the side characters aren't developed as well. I could sense that there was more to them, but I'll probably have to wait until Girl of Nightmares (Anna Dressed in Blood #2) coming out in 2012, to find out.

Black doesn't hold back on the violence or the gripping themes either - this is a raw and powerful book that will probably scare the living daylights out of you, but in a fantastic way that makes you hungry for more.  It kept me up well past midnight, on the one hand feeling too afraid and nervous to keep on reading, but also too creeped out and entangled in this beautiful and dark tale to bear putting it down. And when I finally finished, I just lay there in bed, thinking about it all night. My advice: read it in broad daylight, but for the brave looking for a good scare, I dare you to read it in the dead silence of the night.

Parental Corner: Violence (heavy), sexual content (minor), profanity (occasional)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Review: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

My Rating:
Series: Birthright Series
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Crime
Release Date: 6th September 2011
Source: Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review.
Links: PanMac | Goodreads

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight—at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.


Imagine this.

New York, year 2028. You’re sixteen years old, dogged by the legacy of a criminal chocolate business your murdered father once lead. Your grandma, your only guardian, is the oldest person you know (born in 1995) and she’s bedridden. Your elder brother is gorgeous, and girls would love him, if only he didn’t have the mind of an 8-year-old.  Your little sister makes you ache to protect the rest of your family.

Not to mention that your a-hole of a boyfriend insists on sleeping with you.

So what do you do?  

I won’t tell you too much, but let’s just say that eventually, you get arrested for attempted murder.

All These Things I’ve Done is a book that whisked me off my feet and took me on a journey. A journey through one year of Anya Balanchine’s life as I saw an alternate, morally corrupt world through her eyes and explored the potential ramifications of extreme Prohibition laws. In 2028, chocolate, mobile phones and coffee are amongst the many items that we now take for granted that have been outlawed. The effect is a world that we recognise as our own, but disorientingly merges elements of the past and present, to bring them to the future. 

However, the dystopia of this world is merely hinted at, while Anya’s story takes the forefront. Anya is brave, smart and resilient, hardened by being forced to take over the parental role in her family after her father’s death. But she’s still young and impulsive, and nowhere near perfect, and I envisioned with bated breath, captivated, as she tumbled from trouble into disaster. Anya amazed me – I can’t imagine that any sixteen year old could have the wit, instinct and courage to experience what she does and come out as wholly as she does. She’s remarkable and extraordinary, but I felt her maturity was too unrealistic at times.

Gabrielle Zevin creates characters that unique, flawed and plausible, and through them, she portrays different facets of human nature. I believe that the best books are ones that make me think – hidden within are themes and ideas that bring up questions for me. I’m not a careful reader, but this book inspired me to try. The very title, “all these things I’ve done” suggests that the book is an exploration of the idea of  redemption. Do we all deserve a second chance, no matter what we’ve done, or are some acts too horrible to be redeemed? What is the threshold of human forgiveness? Does an ability to forgive others make you a strong person, or weak minded? Are we, as humans, inherently good or bad? I guess there is no clear, definite distinction between black and white, because Anya’s world and life is comprised of all shades of grey.

There are books that take me away with the romance between characters, and there are those that simply don’t.  While the synopsis portrays this as a story of a pair of star-crossed lovers, I didn’t really see that. I thought it was more of a subplot, and I couldn’t help rolling my eyes, when literally 15 pages into the book, we had already met the guy who would so obviously be the love of Anya’s life. I was frustrated that there was no real doubt or gradual falling in love; that they were automatically drawn to each other, despite Anya’s flimsy attempts to distance herself.  

Overall, All These Things I’ve Done is an intricately layered exploration of the ideas of redemption and sacrifice, set in a world where danger and deception lurk behind every door. Anya’s coming-of-age is an unforgettable story that I devoured in one sitting, and absolutely recommend to fans of crime, and dystopia.

My Rating:

Friday, 23 September 2011

Review: City of Fallen Angels, Wolfsbane

These are some already-released must-reads that I read over my temporary hiatus from blogging. Why am I reviving them from their glory releases a couple of months ago? Well, coz they were pretty awesome reads and I thought I should let you know about them. Also, I wanted to record my thoughts, just for looking back on. :)

City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare
[Walker Books Aus, released 5th April 2011] [Urban Fantasy]

What’s it about? The Mortal Instruments series shot straight into my all-time favourites the first time I read them, because there is just something so enchanting and enthralling about the world contained between their pages. Clary Fray finds herself thrust unceremoniously into the dark and dangerous world of Shadowhunters (demon-slayers) werewolves, warlocks, and vampires, a world that only she can see, as she attempts to uncover the mystery of her mother’s murder.

My thoughts? In City of Fallen Angels (book #4), interspecies politics, the love of a star-crossed pair, and the forces of Heaven and Hell intertwine in a heart-pounding, gut-wrenching tale. When I read this, I took it everywhere with me, because I couldn’t bear to be parted from the non-stop action and the pure emotions that the book wrought out of me.

Why should you read it? So, I can’t say that the premise of the story sounds all that original at first, but trust me, Cassandra Clare takes what could have been a predictable, clichéd plotline and infuses it with an unforgettable cast and a rich story world setting.  If you love action-adventure stories  with heart wrenching romances, I think you’ll adore this series as well.

You’ll like it if you liked: Well, I think you’ll like this one no matter what, but The Mortal Instruments series had a similar “feel” and genre to the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead.  

Additional Notes:
  • The audiobook version is narrated by Ed Westwick (Chuck from Gossip Girl), and Molly Young (Castle).
  • Cassandra Clare also has a prequel series to The Mortal Instruments  - called The Infernal Devices, a steampunk series set in the 19th century, which is just as riveting.
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer 
[Atom Books Aus, released 26th June, 2011] [Paranormal – Werewolves]

What’s it about? For her whole life, Calla Tor has existed in a world where her kind, the shape-shifting wolf Guardians, have always been subservient to the Keepers, magic-wielders to whom the Guardians’ survival is inherently linked. Calla accepts that her destiny as an alpha female of the Nightshade wolf pack is to marry Ren, the alpha male of the rival Bane pack. For if Calla refuses, the Keepers will exact their fury upon her loved ones. But in Nightshade (Book #1), all that Calla knows to be true is cast into doubt when she begins to fall in love with a human boy, and discovers what sinister things the Keepers have in store for them both.
In Wolfsbane (Book #2), Calla finds herself fighting alongside the Keepers’ sworn enemies in an epic race to uncover the truth, save her friends from under the keepers’ oppressive rule, and salvage her relationships. 

My thoughts?  What I loved most about this book was how Andrea Cremer managed to interweave action scenes and plot development with enriching the world she’s built. In the beginning, Calla was thrust into the fight, leaving me (the reader) just as confused as she was. But gradually, we get to see more of the external forces acting on her world, and discover, alongside her, the truth of their past. Wolfsbane answers some of the biggest questions in Nightshade, but at the same time, creates more for book 3, Bloodrose.  

[SPOILER] I have to admit though, I was occasionally annoyed by Calla. Annoyed by her doubt and emotional confusion and her fallibility. Annoyed by the way that she was torn between her love for Shay and her lingering emotions for Ren, how she was tactless and emotionally confused. Perhaps the reason why was because I see myself reflected in her, and wished that she was stronger and more decisive, as fierce in love as she was in battle. And the relationship that she shared with Shay felt forced and superficial. Somehow, I didn’t feel genuine sparks between her and Shay, not like there was in the first book, but I attribute this to the fact that they didn’t have that much time together.

Andrea Cremer, however, often writes quite strong characters, which are distinct and flawed, with very human desires and reactions. None of her characters are close to perfect, so they’re realistic and believable. And what I love most of all is how she portrays same-sex relationships between her characters with finesse and tact. She, through Calla’s eyes, doesn’t place specific emphasis on their struggles or makes them the objects of ostracisation. She doesn’t over-glorify their love either, creating relationships that are genuine and caring. But most of all, I love how the characters accept same-sex relationships between other characters as ordinary, just like any other relationship. Maybe I’m being discrimatory by pointing out this, but I think this acceptance is beautiful, and ought to be praised. 

One more thing – there’s a plot twist in here that I caught onto early on, which is rare for me. I thought it was clichéd and too obvious, (although it was foreshadowed in the first book as well, which might have contributed) but I’m reluctantly intrigued to see how it’s explored. [/SPOILER]

Why should you read it? The Nightshade series is one that gets a place amongst my “love list” because it combines edge-of-your-seat action with real, emotionally complex characters, and best of all, a rich twist of the wolf mythology that draws you into the book and leaves you pondering the book well after the last page, questions dancing on your tongue. This book is kind of intoxicating, and I for one, couldn’t stop reading it until I had finished the journey within its pages.

Just a warning, apparently no YA book is complete without a classic love triangle and a bit of emotional drama to liven things up, and in this second book at least, I felt it was a little too much. 

Readalikes: Vampire Academy, Twilight, Blood and Chocolate.