Venom By Fiona Paul

Cassandra Caravello is part of Venice′s wealthy elite. Her world is one of fabulous gowns, society parties and privilege, yet she longs for something more. While her fiancĂ© is away studying in Paris, she has a chance meeting with an artist called Falco. He is attractive, audacious... And highly unsuitable.

When Cass stumbles upon the body of a murdered woman, with a bloody X carved across her heart, she′s drawn into a dangerous world of secret societies, courtesans and killers. Falco is quick to offer his assistance, but then another body is found and Cass starts receiving death threats... Is Falco more involved than she imagined? And will she be able to stay true to her fiancĂ©, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for someone she′s not even sure she can trust?

Cassandra Caravello was once a wealthy aristocrat, but now lives on the tiny San Domenico island after her parents dies. While listening to the service of Liviana, her friend and fourteen year old contessa of one of Venice's most prominent families, she is reminded that her aunt Agnese is the only family she now has, besides her best friend Madalena and her lady's maid Siena. Cass's life is not her own, she is set to marry Luca, a man she hasn't seen since he left to study years ago, she needs to be chaperoned whenever she travels, even if it is only to visit the intimate church cemetery that leads onto her aunts crumbling villa. In a moment of grief, Cass flees from the funeral and finds herself walking along the Venice canals, and stumbles across a group of Artists, losing her footing and being pinned under a boy no more than a few years older than she. Now, she can't shake the imagine of his bright blue eyes or his muscular form disappearing through the huddle of street merchants.

Cass is a writer, a dreamer and wants to live her life, not succumb to the standards that young ladies should upheld. So when she wanders into the church cemetery to investigate strange noises in the middle of the night, she discovers that Liviana's family tomb has been disturbed... And Liviana is missing, the body of a young courtesan encased within the tomb instead. As Cass notices a gruesome cross slashed over the girl's heart, she flees, right into the arms of Falco, the artist she found along the Venice canals, but she can't shake the feeling that the two of them are being watched. Falco convinces Cass not to alert the guard, that they have no details of who she is, who would care about a murdered prostitute? For all she knows, they may be next on the list, and after receiving an anonymous note Soon, bella, it will be your turn, signed with an X, she now too is in danger.

Rather than hide away, Cass and Falco decide to investigate on their own, his constant references to Cass as a caged bird are starting to wear thin, but living your life as a noble young woman has Cass wanting to break free of her confines. With a ring that Falco found inside the tomb and a lead on the same symbol adorning an abandoned building, and judging from the bruises on the victim, they are dealing with a girl who was ultimately slashed and strangled. But the warehouse isn't abandoned, it houses a sadistic house of horrors, with bodies and body parts stored in large troughs. But when heavy footsteps approach, the two escape barely, before ending up as the next victim.

Cass has enough to deal with, without being pressured to prepare for her pending nuptials. But how can she marry a man that she hasn't seen in three years when she is falling for a common artist? As they continue to search for clues, at the infamous masquerade ball, bars and brothels, one thing becomes abundantly clear, Venice is a city of secrets that she holds close to her chest. But for Cass, being determined to seek answers may just get her killed.

Venom for me has been the surprise of the year. I'm not sure what I had expected, but not only was it entertaining, it was a true thriller in every sense of the word. Set in an era where ladies should be just that, expected to maintain the upkeep of their household, and rely on their Lady's Maid to run their errands, but Cass isn't your average girl. Her sense of adventure far outweighs her density, and she is far too accepting of others. 

Fiona Paul has created a lush and lavish world, made realistic by the seedy underbelly of murderous crimes and forbidden love. The storyline will keep you guessing from start to finish and I had no clue where the plot was heading. Suspenseful and thrilling, it's sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

 (Secrets Of The Eternal Rose: Book One)
Written By Fiona Paul
Published 06 / 12 / 2012
435 Pages
Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Collins Australia

Allegiant By Veronica Roth

One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation, like a single choice, changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered, fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature, and of herself, while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

My name is Edith Prior, and there is much I am happy to forget. In an attempt to reveal the video of her ancestor, Tris is now free of the fractions that oppressed society, that her Divergent status holds more power that she could have ever imagined. Tris, Christina and Cara are now sharing a cell at Erudite headquarters, the weight of being back holds the memories that haunt Tris, the walk to her execution, her brother Caleb's betrayal and the truth serum. Evelyn Johnson, Tobias' mother now oversees the trials, where Tris is being held prisoner. Evelyn has the city under control, with armed factionless patrolling the streets, and since the death of Jeanine Mathews, there is no one to challenge her rule.

When the whispers of rebels organising, calling themselves the Allegiant. They want to leave the city, believing that society should carry the factions forward. Where the choosing ceremony allowed those to choose which faction to join, Evelyn hasn't liberated the community, she's left them all factionless in a city plagued by fear. As expected, the rioting begins for those wanting to destroy all traces of the faction society, against those who still believe in preserving aspects from their former way of life... And Evelyn doesn't seem surprised by the increasing angst and demonstrations. This isn't what Tris fought for, so when the opportunity arises to discover what is outside, it's time for the group to rally.

Tobias is out of his element, gone are the days of Four, the name provided by his Dauntless faction. He can't live under Evelyn, his mother every piece of the tyrant her predecessor Jeanine was. The Allegiant rebellion have offered the chance to leave, and Tobias hesitantly agrees to join Tris, Christina, Cara, Tori, Uriah and Peter will join the Allegiant leaders, along with a reluctant prisoner that has spent his life determined not to venture beyond the fence. But what the group find is a modern civilisation, walking into what is known as the Bureau Of Genetic Welfare, located in a compound formally known as an airport and is an agency of the government of the United States. Living within the stifling oppression of the factions, couldn't have prepared them for the magnitude of the world that they have been absent from for so long. Seeing and hearing things that they may never comprehend.

But it seems the Bureau already knows who Tris is, and very much a part of the society beyond their fences. The new society are based on the science of genetic testing, that the government manipulated the genes of citizens who were determined to have a disposition, towards cowardice, dishonesty, low intelligence, the ultimately led to a broken society. The Purity War was forged against genetically healed citizens, the only ones that held positions of power and influence or those known as the Divergent, the ones society deems whole and pure... Anyone else is simply damaged.

But not everyone within the Bureau shares the same opinion, that people are simply responsible for their own actions, something that science may never any reasoning from, but it's easier to blame genetic disposition. When Tobias befriends one of the internal rebels working against the bureau, he is recruited to join their cause, driven by his own personal demons. The Fringe is nothing as Tobias expected, and has him longing to return back to the comfortable city living he's become accustomed to, but here, they know the truth. What the bureau stands for, what they've accomplished so far and before they can take further steps, The Fringe uprising plans to stop them from reinstalling the same pattern of cruelty and dictatorship. But how far are they willing to go?

Their plan is to steal life altering serum to destroy, but Tris is right to be suspicious, with those who have a consuming hate against what the Bureau stands for, all they plan on committing is breaking and entering? It's a pity Tobias can't see through their plan. They want an explosion of anarchy and to destroy those who have destroyed before them, and now responsible for the deaths of hundreds of citizens... And countless lives will be destroyed.

But with any rebellion, comes sacrifice, something Tris and Tobias understand first hand from their simple Abnegation past. Friends will fail, some will fall, but how far can a minority group take their fight, even if it's for the greater good.

Let me start by saying, that before Allegiant was released, I already knew what to expect after seeing a review on Goodreads. If that wasn't bad enough, everyone in Australia seemed to have their copy before I did, and had to chase up my order through the online bookstore days after it's release. Then, the delivery was delayed, so you can imagine I may have been a tad annoyed before I even cracked the spine. But I loved Divergent and Insurgent passionately, so I thought that it would have been well worth the wait, and it was... In a way.

Where books one and two in the series were all about a revolution against an oppressive regime, overturning a tyrant and overcoming prejudice to unite, Allegiant as though it was an intellectual science fiction, with an action scene thrown in now and again. I did enjoy the genealogy aspect, but it overtook the storyline and I found myself wanting to skim over passages as I felt they were too repetitive. Between the Allegiant on The Fringe and those in the Bureau, it felt a little too confusing, but I really enjoyed the addition of the new characters, especially Mathew and wished that he has played a bigger part.

I think the biggest difference is in Tobias. He has shed his Four persona, and readers will finally get to see the scared, unconfident and lonely boy that he ultimately is. But be warned, he's quite temperamental in Allegiant, and seemingly spends most of his time complaining or attending his own pity party.

The ending is what most fans of the series will be interested in, and I thought it was fitting. Even with Allegiant being somewhat of a disappointment for many, Veronica Roth should be applauded. She's created a brilliant series, regardless of the ending, that fans have enjoyed and will talk about in years to come. I wanted to love Allegiant, but it just felt too incomplete compared to what I had expected.

(Divergent: Book Three)
Written By Veronica Roth
Published 22 / 10 / 2013
526 Pages

Thirteen By James Phelan

I click my fingers and everybody dies.

Sam wakes from his nightmare to discover the terrifying reality. It will come true.

Kidnapped from school and finding out his parents aren't who he thinks they are, Sam is suddenly running from danger at every turn. Nothing will ever be the same again.

With his life and identity shattered, Sam's salvation is tied to an ancient prophecy. He is in the final battle to save the world, up against an enemy plotting to destroy us all.

He alone can find the last thirteen.

He stands before Sam in full body armor, the imposing figure that can end the world with a simple click of his fingers. Sam can sense what he wants, he's after the strange crystal in his pocket but Sam won't go down without a fight. As Sam grabs his companion, the world ignites and Sam is... Gone.

Fifteen year old Sam can't remember when he last slept without waking, bolted upright in bed and in a panic. His nightmares seem to have reached a breaking point, and the ominous dream journal he keeps beside his bed isn't helping matters, his parents still insisting he write the particulars down so he can explore them with his psychiatrist. As most of the details are already slipping away, Sam remembers The Last Thirteen. The last thirteen what? But as his parents exchange glances and ask questions about Sam's nightmare, Sam can't help but feel that something in fact is wrong, very wrong.

He doesn't need to wait too long, as military helicopters storm his high school while Sam is distracted during science class with Mister Cole. As the heavily armed soldiers head directly for Sam's classroom, blowing out the windows, Sam can barely hear the warning from Mister Cole to leave, before the teacher throws himself in front of the group of soldiers, clearly intending to escort Sam by Force. But as he's taken, struggling and kicking for freedom, the only hope Sam has is that Mister Cole had promised, We'll find you.

Sam isn't the only one taken, Eva and Alex are also along for the ride. But why? Ava seems to have the answers that neither of the boys have... She dreamed this and knows exactly what is coming next, warning them to brace for impact after being shot down via missile. Before the group of teens can catch their breath, they come into contact with The Academy and Lora, who Sam feels he already knows. The group who dragged each of them from school, is known as The Enterprise, a rival group that wants to exploit the Dreamers talents, but mean them no physical harm. Those that took down the helicopter?Not even The Academy knows who they are. But one things for certain, they clearly aren't big on life preservation.

As the group of teens move into The Academy, it seems that Sam is already somewhat of a celebrity. Their rooms outfitted with all the latest technology and game consoles, their headquarters deep within the Switzerland mountainside. Their families and now long forgotten and previous lives compromised. The Academy nurtures young Dreamers to control and manipulate their pending prophecies. From the moment Sam dreamed of the masked man now known as Solaris, the battle for the ultimate power begun. Sam has cemented his place among a group of thirteen true Dreamers, he represents their last hope for the future.

But for Sam, obtaining the missing piece from the prophecy tablet, finding the Star of Egypt and facing the wrath of Solaris, might just be something that he never saw coming.

Thirteen is a short, sharp read, but highly entertaining. It's a mix of fantasy and mythology that's entwined with a coming of age supernatural. The story surrounds a group of teens known as Dreamers, who can see the future through dreams. The main protagonist is Sam, who is thrust into a supernatural world that has left him wondering who to trust. Before he can find his feet, he's forced into a battle that will potentially end the world. I enjoyed James Phelan's style of writing, it's clean, crisp and to the point. The main characters he's created in Sam, Alex and Eva are what seem to be average teens, plucked from obscurity because their dreams are said to be an insight into the future, and what a frightening world that is.

A somewhat simple likeness to an technologically advanced Harry Potter, leaning towards supernatural science fiction and without the developed characters. Perfect for the ten to fourteen age bracket, who will love being thrust into Sam's dangerous world. A quick read for older young adult enthusiasts who want a break from the usual. The Last Thirteen is a thirteen book series, each culminating towards the one event. I'll be continuing the series.

(The Last Thirteen: Book One)
Written By James Phelan
Published 26 / 08 / 2013
207 Pages
Thank you to Scholastic Australia for the opportunity to read and review.

More Than This By Patrick Ness

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this...

The unforgiving current is no match for Seth, as he feels his life slipping away. The ocean has slammed his seventeen year old body to his death, the impact fracturing his skull, severing his spinal cord and washing away his life that lead to the moment, where his death now comes as a relief. But for Seth Wearing, his life has only just begun.

Waking up free of injuries on a vaguely familiar suburban street, Seth can't help but assume that he's woken up in hell. The broken and run down houses in the English county are a backdrop to the desolate streets, abandoned cars, dust and the stench of decay. Where is he? He certainly isn't wearing his own clothes, but rather a mass of bandages. The streets should be a wash of colour, neighbours gathering and children playing, but it's eerily quiet. No cars, no trains and not a soul in sight. Stepping inside the house, Seth now realises where he is... This is the house where he used to live. The house he lived in before his family moved to America. The house in England. But how is that possible? This is the house his mother swore she never wanted to see again after the incident that had changed their lives forever.

Seth can remember his life before he passed, the night he and friends H, Gudmund and Monica stole the baby Jesus from a nativity scene on a neighbours front lawn, that he should have been in his final year of high school, and that he had planned to escape to college and leave his parents and brother Owen behind, the family that had become virtual strangers after the incident. As Seth finds himself in the dusty old house, with no food, now clothed like a homeless clown and with rusted water that could potentially be poisoning him, he releases that he can't stay without adequate supplies, and sets off to explore his new version of hell. 

Clearly something isn't right when Seth can retrace his steps through the house, the dusty footprints of one way traffic from the upstairs floor. But Seth never expected to find a glossy black coffin, filled with white cushions and metallic lined bandages, torn in what looks to be an escape attempt. The coffin is powered, with tubes being fed through the interior and Seth wonders if the surrounding homes are housing the same horror. Running on empty, Seth lulls himself into a fitful and traumatic slumber, each time he dreams of his previous life, the incident and repercussions. His mother's love for Owen, while Seth is barely acknowledged, falling in love and his world cruelly torn apart by those he needed most. But if the vivid dreams don't unravel Seth's new existence, The Driver certainly will.

In the first sign of human life, a black van driving through the desolate streets. But before Seth has a chance to approach the vehicle, he's accosted by a small boy no more than twelve years old, panicked and begging Seth to run... Or he'll die at the hands of the masked man known as The Driver. Regine and Tomasz find themselves in the same situation as Seth, with no idea how they came to be. They all have different theories about what the world has become, but as unique as they all are, they've all woken up in a coffin, all have died, all three are dreaming vivid memories of their former lives and all scared to be taken by The Driver.

Why are they there, where are they and what has happened to everyone else?

If I could use one word to describe More Than This, it would be phenomenal. This was my introduction to Patrick Ness and I can't believe I've waited so long to experience his brilliance. The story is a young adult post apocalyptic, science fiction thriller that places the reader in Seth's world, and what a frightening world that is. The plot is intricate and well paced, creating a vivid landscape of desolation and isolation. Seth is a brilliant and well developed character who carries the weight of his family on his shoulders and it seems as though he may have been the only one, his mother especially having blamed Seth for what is clearly her own mistake. Through Seth's dreams, we see glimpses of his circle of friends, and the life of a teen in love, but is scared to tell the world. 

I absolutely loved Tomasz, or Tommy as he is affectionately known. The small Polish immigrant holds the group of three unlikely allies together. He's experienced the hardest life of them all, but with his broken English, slightly off kilter phrasing and antidotes, he adds a lightness and comedy to the storyline, which breaks up the intensity.

More Than This is the type of book to ruin you for all others. Patrick Ness has constructed a story so masterful that both teen and young adult readers will be blown away. 

More Than This
Written By Patrick Ness 
Published 10 / 09 / 2013 
480 Pages

Thank you to Walker Books for allowing me the privilege to read and review.

Scan By S . E Fine & Walter Jury Cover Reveal & Giveaway

MacGyver Meets War of the Worlds in this Exhilarating Adventure. Scan is the first book in a new young adult science fiction series. Co written by the producer of the Divergent movie.

GoodreadsTate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best, at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans.

Even with all he knows like how to defend himself with useful tools made out of bubblegum, Tate fears he’s still inadequate. With the help of his girlfriend and estranged mother, all Tate can really do is keep moving and ensure his father’s invention stays out of the hands of his pursuers and that his father didn’t die in vain. A riveting, fast-paced adventure, Scan is a clever alien thriller with muscle and heart.

Walter Jury was born in London, has a background in the film industry, is a big fan of the New York Giants, and is an enthusiast of Jamba Juice’s Protein Berry Workout smoothie only with soy, never whey. Scan is his first book for teens. Oh, and under his real name, he’s a producer of one of 2014’s biggest blockbusters. Let’s just say he “diverges” in his career from film to literature quite well.

S. E. Fine was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast, where she lives with her husband and two children. She’s a clinical child psychologist and the author of the YA fantasy series Guards of the Shadowlands.

You can find Sarah via her Website  and  Goodreads
Check out SCAN now at MTV  and  Hollywood Reporter

The Lost Code By Kevin Emerson

In the year 2086, Camp Eden promises summer “the way things used to be,” back before the oceans rose, the sun became a daily enemy, and modern civilization sank into chaos. Located inside the EdenWest BioDome, the camp is an oasis of pine trees, cool water, and rustic charm.

But all at Camp Eden is not what it seems.

No one will know this better than 15-year-old Owen Parker. A strange underwater vision, even stranger wounds on Owen’s neck, and a cryptic warning from the enchanting lifeguard Lilly hint at a mystery that will take Owen deep beneath Lake Eden and even deeper into the past. What he discovers could give him the chance to save the tattered planet. But first, Owen will have to escape Camp Eden alive.

In a desolate world ravaged by the sun, the future is bleak for fifteen year old Owen Parker, until he secures a spot at the Eden Dome. During his first day at camp, Owen drowns, underwater for eleven minutes and far longer than anyone could possibly hold their breath. Except, Owen is dragged into shore, very much alive. Plunging down through the murky depths, Owen recalls the pale blue pulsing light, a haunting female voice to find her, in the temple beneath the Aquinara. With the parting wisdom, this is just the beginning.

Lilly is a lifeguard and Councillor in training at Eden, having found Owen at the bottom of the dome lake. As she warns him not to tell anyone about the close call, clearly she knows more than she's willing to admit. Maria the camp physician cleats Owen of any physical harm, apart from the delicate wounds he obtained across his neck as it's suspected he tangled with the lake ecosystem. The wounds are incredibly itchy, almost pulsing in waves. Owen never wanted to attend the camp, but finds himself a resident for the summer, only to please his father. Back home in the underground lair, Owen lives with his father, his mother had left when before Owen had turned ten. The world is in ruins, sea levels had risen and wiped out billions. In a cruel survival of the fittest, the wealthy were cryogenically frozen in time, and reanimated after the domes, known as Eden, were completed. Camp Eden, previously referred to as Camp Aasgard, is overseen by a director who now after Owen's accident, is treating the seemingly unscathed boy as if he were a prized possession.

The dome is assumed to be a replica of the way the world once was, the simulated sunshine, the storm clouds and to the animals and bugs found buzzing through the air. But when Owen discovers that a butterfly fluttering past is actually tracking his movements with a camera, he realises that the campers are being watched... But why? Rumor has it that the domes are failing, the brutal solar rays are destroying the structure, but camp director Paul shrugs off the innuendo. As camp life continues, Owen's wounds are healing remarkably fast. The itchiness and heat radiating from his bandages are almost too much to bare. Strangely, the only relief Owen can find is the thought of being submerged in the lake, the exact location in which he drowned... And he isn't the only one.

A group known as The Nomads who follow Heliad 7, and sun worshiping cult that is supposedly modeled on ancient religion, and they want in... While Owen is considering opting out. The dome was constructed on what was once the lost city of Atlantis, and Owen has finally come home.

The Lost Code has so much potential, in what is a unique fantasy, mythology, post apocalyptic, young adult science fiction with a touch of romance. The volatile world that the Earth had become was intriguing, and that the only true to life experience you can have, is it join one of the domed communities. The simulated weather, the surveillance and reproduced predisaster settings urged me to continue reading, despite the main character Owen. Owen felt as though he was more of a socially awkward, naive ten year old boy, rather than fifteen. The author seemed to have created a character that was a little too young and simplistic. I enjoyed the first half, parts felt beyond ridiculous and I have no idea what the Technicians were, Owen's inner voice I'm assuming... Or perhaps not. Are there actual little people inside his body? At one point, there seem to be several Technicians having a debated conversation, which made me wonder if Owen had an underlying mental illness. With so much going on within the story, with nothing actually happening, I wouldn't be surprised.

Once the mythology aspect was explored, that's when I lost interest. Where the first half was a simplistic storyline, the world is dying, a camp for children, boy meets girl, token bully and a dictator in camp director Paul. Then it morphs into a story about mythological skulls, flashbacks and DNA testing, underground tunnels to a lost underwater world and a blue pulsing Siren. There were too many ideas thrown together and I just felt as though it didn't work. I think it'll appeal to young teen readers, but sadly it just wasn't for me.

The Lost Code
(The Atlanteans: Book One)
Written By Kevin Emerson
Published 22 / 05 / 2012
448 Pages

Girl Of Nightmares By Kendare Blake

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live, not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong... These aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

If it hadn't been for new friends Carmel and Thomas, Cas and his mother would have packed up months ago after Anna Korlov disappeared. Anna may be gone, but Cas certainly can't let her go. Cas is a ghost hunter, he lurks during the darkest hours for resident ghosts that are intent on harming the living. Cas is determined to find out what happened to Anna that night, when he had confronted the Obeahman and realised that his sacred athame was connected. Each and every ghost Cas had killed, the Obeahman had feed upon, leaving Anna to pull him from the world with her on night her house imploded, with both Anna and the Obeahman inside. Anna didn't leave, she was taken.

A tip leads Cas to an abandoned barn, where the ghost is suspected to take the loves of the living, by conjuring accidents. Six deaths in three decades doesn't usually rate on his radar, but now being based in Thunder Bay, ghost hunting's are few and far between. The barn looks ominous, standing alone in a blackened field. Ghosts in nature are shy but curious, so Cas, Carmel and Thomas lure the otherworldly being out. As they explore the barn, the words accidental death fresh on their minds, as Thomas is pushed from the loft. As the young farmer becomes corporal, Cas hesitates in using his knife... The ghost's laughter sounds remarkable like Anna's. Cas must be hallucinating, be he can't let her go without knowing that Anna is at peace.

But Cas isn't seeing things, everywhere he turns, he finds a piece of Anna. Her simple white dress in a window display at the mall, standing in the bushes outside of his house, her eyes empty and hollow without any trace of recognition. Each time Anna appears the athame comes to life, a warning beacon making Cas aware of her presence. He feels Anna calling to him, if only he could hear what she wants. Seeking help from Thomas's voodoo grandfather Morfran leads them to a woman who may be able to help them reach Anna, but not without warning. When Cas is tipped off about a ghost who burns his victims, he never expected to see Anna. Disposing of the ghost isn't easy without being burnt, but when Anna floats across the floor towards the furnace, ignoring everything around her and climbs in, Cas will be lucky to escape alive.

Cas can't take much more, Anna floating in and out of his life, haunting him, she doesn't speak and doesn't acknowledge Cas. Both Gideon and Morfran both warn that it isn't possible, Anna can't return and that Cas has no business searching for answers... But what is Gideon not telling him? Anna is being tortured and Cas can see that wherever she is, she's hurting and cannot escape. As a last attempt, Thomas and Cas visit Riika, a Finnish witch that may be able to help. Cas has doubts, considering Anna's own mother Malvina was also a Finnish witch. Her own mother cursing Anna and binding her to her house, after her mother brutally cut her throat. Rikka confirms that Anna has been present in Cas's life and the secret to freeing her is through the athame. 

When Cas is finally able to contract Anna through an ancient ritual, finally learning where the was sent... And who is there with her. She lives in the dimension with her bones being broken, burnt, cut and killed over and over again. But when she finally speaks to Cas, he knows he'll walk through fire to reach her... And he just may have to.

After receiving a photograph sent from London, robed beings at an alter with identical knives to Cas's Athame, calling themselves the Order of the Biodag Dubh, or Black Dagger. His only hope is Gideon, and Thomas and Cas fly to London on a whim to catch him by surprise. But they didn't expected to be accosted by Jestine, a young fiery witch with a story to tell. Gideon is hell bent on sending the two boys home, but the moment they arrived, his father's oldest friend's hands were tied. Cas's life is now in the hands of the Order of the Black Dagger. But just how far will he go to save the dead girl he can't imagine his life without?

Girl Of Nightmares is the second installment in the Anna Dressed in Blood series. After Anna saved the lives of Cas, Thomas and Carmel, no one knows what happened to her, but Cas is determined to give Anna her happy ending. Sadly, Girl of Nightmares didn't live up to the hype for me, it was good, but not as poetic as the original. The original was mesmerising and almost magically, mixed with the horror and gore, it made for an incredible read. I think Anna's ending didn't need revisiting, but I can understand those readers that needed to know what had happened to her, and I'm in two minds whether I regret reading Girl Of Nightmares or not. It's only the storyline, not the actual writing. Kendare Blake is a master at creating a world where the reader is fully submerged, creative and unique. I'm really looking forward to her new release Anti Goddess, the premise sounds incredible. 

Girl Of Nighmares
(Anna: Book Two)
Written By Kendare Blake
Published 07 / 03 / 2013
384 Pages

Weekend Readings # 005

This weekend, I'm feeling a little blah about the books I have left on my fantasy / mythology list for October. I've never been a huge fan of fantasy, unless it's mixed in with a little dystopian, and although I've read a few awesome titles... Fantasy is making reading feel like a chore with some of the novels I've picked up or bought this week. 

So whatever you're doing this weekend, check out Sporadic Reads and let us know what you're reading. So over my weekend:

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on. His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live, not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong... These aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

The Goddess Test By Aimee Carter

Every girl who had taken the test has died. Now it's Kate's turn.
It's always been just Kate and her mom, and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear that her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld, and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy, until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride and a goddess. If she fails...


Kate is spending her eighteenth birthday driving from her home in New York City to Eden in Michigan, as a last wish to her mother, who wants to die in her hometown. Her mother is already on borrowed time, and Katherine Winters isn't ready to let her go, not being able to bring herself to talk about what will happen once her mother passes. As they are nearing the end of their journey, Kate's mother asks to make a detour to see one of the local sights, two ominous iron gates in the middle of nowhere. But when Kate narrowly avoids an accident with what she thought was a cow, turns out to be a dark haired boy around Kate's age. Simply standing in the middle of the road, with the breeze ruffling his long black coat. 

Eden is barely a town, not significant enough to even merit mention, but Kate is still expected to finish her senior year at Eden High School and leaves her mother in the hands of home nurse Sofia. After her first day at school, Kate has made a best friend in the eccentric James, Dylan who can't keep his eyes off Kate, and new rival and cheerleader Ava, Dylan's girlfriend. Kate isn't interested in making friends, she's spent the last four years caring for her mother and plans to return to New York once she passes. Ava is determined to make Kate's life difficult and through clenched teeth, invites her to a bonfire party. Except, the party is just a cruel joke and Ava leads Kate to the property that houses the ominous iron gates... And flees. But Ava doesn't escape unscathed, her life cut tragically short in a moment of cruelty.

Screaming for help, the boy who Kate thought she had hallucinated, appeared. Henry offers Kate a deal, asking what she would do to bring back Ava, telling Kate to read the ancient myth of Persephone, the deal made to bring Ava back to life. Ava can only remember driving into the water and hitting her head and wants to know what happened to her. The cruel girl's new lease on life won't be wasted, as she is now determined to smother Kate with her new found friendship.

Persephone was Queen of the Underworld, the Greek myth telling the story of her marriage to Hades. Hades supposedly had taken her by force, staying with the God through the months that mortals know as winter. Has Kate agreed to marry a complete stranger in exchange for a second chance at life for Ava? James is staunchly against Kate giving up her being, even if it is only for the winter months. But Kate can't help feel strangely loyal to Henry, having saved Ava's life. In a dying promise to her mother, who insists that Kate is destined for great things, Kate vows to make the most of her life, to find someone, fall in love and marry and perhaps even have a family of her own and with the knowledge that Kate will find happiness, her mother slips into a coma. 

On the eve of the autumn equinox, Henry seeks Kate out but will she live up to her end of the deal?

Henry is more than intrigued by the beautiful and humble Kate, he's enchanted. But will she be The One? As he offers to keep Kate's mother safe so Kate can return to say goodbye, Kate agrees to Henry's terms. She'll be his guest for the winter, calling the castle home for the next six months, where the staff and keepers seem to already know who she is. Each night, Kate spends time with her healthy and very much alive mother within her dreams, so vivid that surely they must be real. Henry rules the dead, otherwise known as Hades from the Underworld. He's immortal and looking for a queen, but is Kate willing? With a band of armed guards, food testers and being referred to as Her Highness, this may very well be one long, long winter. 

Henry was once very much in love, but Persephone fell in love with a mortal and Henry had no other option but to set her free. He has been ruling on his own for nearly a thousand years, searching for a partner in a last attempt to retain his reign. Kate is the last one, if she is accepted, the two will marry and live together for six months of each year. If Kate fails, then she will return to her life, with no knowledge of Henry or their deal. She will need to endure seven tests, that will determine if Kate is worthy of ruling and becoming immortal. But is she being deceived?

I loved The Goddess Test. It was unique and really engaging. All too often young adult mythology consists of long descriptive passages and delves further into the myth than necessary, but Aimee Carter creates a world in which readers can lose themselves. The characters are likable, especially troubled soul Henry. The deal created between Kate and Henry felt awkward and understandably, Kate just accepted without any fuss or fanfare, to save a girl she had only just met. It isn't until the story moves forward, that her motives are justified, but she's far too accepting and seemingly naive for a girl who's eighteen.

If you can move past Kate's lack of curiosity, it really is entertaining. A few plot twists that I certainly didn't see coming, will keep readers on their toes. I'll definitely be continuing on with the series, to see what becomes of Kate and Henry.

The Goddess Test
 (Goddess Test: Book One)
Written By Aimee Carter
Published 19 / 04 / 2011
293 Pages

Mine To Tarnish Novella ARC Mini Review

Katherine’s place is the same as any woman’s, on the shelf next to the dresses and bolts of cloth. When she’s sold to a warlock, life grows even bleaker. Her new owner is as old and rancid as he is cruel, driving her to do the unthinkable: run.

Nothing prepared her for being on her own. And she’s definitely unprepared for the warlocks hunting her down. But she must stay one step ahead because if caught, the best she can hope for is death.

Katherine has just been sold to a wealthy warlock, due to the potent mix of magic within her blood. In a society where women are but mere possessions, their only worth comes from their ability to bare a son, to carry on the next generation of warlocks. Nigel, Katherine's new owner is cruel, unforgiving and far older than should be legal. Katherine is defiant and won't go down without a fight.

Katherine's mother has always been a secret advocate for revolution, encouraging Katherine to flee the oppression under her new ownership. She enables Katherine to drug the warlock, ensuring she can escape and find the Tarnished hideout. But when she follows her mother's directions, she stumbles upon a young Tarnished male, who comes to her aide against the authorities. Charles works within a group of Tarnished that intervene with women who don't want to be owned. The group live underground and have several tunnel locations in which women and Tarnished alike hide.

Expected to take all of her belongings in her escape, Katherine has left behind a hair ribbon, one that a special person in her life had given her. When the pungent Nigel Crowell uses the ribbon and casts a hex to find her, the entire hideout is on the run. Katherine won't put anyone else in danger, but Charles won't let the young beauty go. The two teens are now on the run, but when one of their own turns against them, will they be able to outrun their pursuant or die trying?

Mine To Tarnish is the novella depicting Katherine's story, of how she came to be as an integral part of the Mine series. The series is set in a magically dystopian world, where women are nothing more than possessions, their only value is how magically potent their blood is, so that they have the potential to bare the next generation of powerful warlocks. Any woman who doesn't comply is Tarnished, which is signified by an intricate web of tattoo's across her face and placed into a life of servitude. It's depressing and oppressive, but females are incredibly resilient and a rebellion is on the cards.

I really enjoy Janeal Falor's style of writing. She's factual and to the point, not wasting time on lengthy descriptions, rather delving straight into the action. I'm really looking forward to the release of Mine To Spell, the second book in the series.

Mine To Tarnish
(Mine: Book 0.5)
Written By Janeal Falor
Expected Publication 02 / 12 / 2013
112 Pages
Thank you to Janeal Falor and YA Book tours for the competition giveaway.
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