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Review: Forsaken by the Others by Jess Haines

Friday, June 28, 2013

Forsaken by the Others

(H&W Investigations #5)
by Jess Haines

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Paperback: 352 Pages
Publication: July 2, 2013 by Zebra


The Others–vampires, werewolves, things that go chomp in the night–don’t just live in nightmares anymore. They’ve joined with he mortal world. And for private investigator Shiarra Waynest, that means mayhem…

Have a one night stand with a vampire, and you can end up paying for it for eternity. P.I. Shiarra Waynest, an expert on the Others, knows that better than most. Yet here she is, waking up beside charismatic vamp Alec Royce with an aching head…and neck. Luckily, Shia has the perfect excuse for getting out of town–namely, a couple of irate East Coast werewolf packs who’d like to turn her into a chew toy.

On Royce’s suggestion, Shia temporarily relocates to Los Angeles. But something is rotten–literally–in the state of California, where local vampires are being attacked by zombies. Who could be powerful enough to control them–and reckless enough to target the immortal? Following the trail will lead Shia to a terrifying truth, and to an ancient enemy with a personal grudge…

◆ A copy was provided by Kensington Books for review ◆

Forsaken by the Others is an action-packed novel filled with mystery and intrigue. Shia has gone from worrying about keeping her PI agency afloat to dealing with vampire politics and all the Others in New York who would love to tear her to pieces. Rather unwillingly for someone whose life is in mortal danger, Shia relocates to Los Angeles temporarily with her good friend and fellow PI Sara. Being a woman of action, however, Shia can't stay still and finds herself investigating a case of zombies that have been killing her vampiric host's people.

Shia reminds me of an older Rose from Vampire Academy and some Val Shapiro from Parker Blue's Demon Underground series. She's rough around the edges, impulsive, and quick to take action. She's also fiercely loyal and someone you can trust your back with in a fight. At the same time, there's a vulnerable side to her. She's suffered a lot over the course of the series, and now she not only has to deal with the guilt over the hardships she's brought onto her friends and family, she isn't sure if she's entirely human because of the vampire blood and lycanthrope infection. Shia values her humanity, which I respect about her. Shia's human-ness adds another layer to her character and sets her apart from other MCs because she has to work around her human weaknesses in order to fight with the Others.

Those who like a seductive vampire will be delighted with how Shia and Royce's relationship is progressing. And what's nice is that the romance doesn't overtake the plot in the book. In fact, Royce is very absent in this book because he's back home in New York trying to make it a safer place for Shia, so you could say that there is actually too little of Royce here. I wouldn't have minded seeing more of him and hopefully we will in future installments.

There's also plenty of kickass action for those who love to see a good fight and all kinds of funny for those who appreciate a good laugh, ranging from the "ohmigosh are they going to get out of there alive???" scenes to those where even Shia realizes the irony of the situation. I felt so bad for Shia and Sara when they knock at the door of a Goliath werewolf, but their reaction to him is hilarious.

Forsaken by the Others is what I'd call a lighter urban fantsy read. While it has its dark moments, there's always plenty of humor to go around, which isn't hard to find when you have such an outspoken, charismatic MC like Shia. I recommend this for urban fantasy lovers who love good humor and fight scenes with some sexy mixed in.

  1. Hunted by the Others
  2. Taken by the Others
  3. Deceived by the Others
  4. Stalking the Others
  5. Forsaken by the Others
Similar Books
  • Alexandra Sabian series by Jeannie Holmes
  • Allay series by S.L. Wright
  • Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Demon Underground series by Parker Blue
  • Sex
  • Violence

Review of The Armies of Heaven & Interview with Jane Kindred

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Armies of Heaven

(The House of Arkhangel'sk #3)
by Jane Kindred

Genre: Fantasy
Paperback: 400 Pages
Publication: June 25, 2013 by Entangled Select


Full-scale war has broken out in Heaven, and Anazakia must embrace her destiny, leading an army of Virtues into battle against a Host of enemies to restore the House of Arkhangel’sk. Furious with her for putting her trust in the angel who has done them all irreparable harm, Vasily tries to ignore his growing resentment, while Belphagor returns to the world of Man with a cadre of beautiful androgynous Virtues to restore the sundered alliance between the Fallen and the gypsy underground. Without their help in enlisting the terrestrial forces of Grigori and Nephilim, Anazakia’s Virtues are hopelessly outnumbered. But there are more things in Heaven and Earth than any of them have dreamt of, and those they cannot see will mean the difference between victory and losing everything.

◆ A copy was provided by Entangled Publishing for review ◆

Anazakia has accepted the role that's been thrust on her as the "Fallen Queen" and now seeks the throne of Heaven. However, she is not the only one vying for power, and the people of Heaven are split amongst the various factions. In order to restore the House of Arkhangel'sk, Anazakia must make bitter decisions as a queen leading her forces into battle.

I really enjoyed watching Anazakia grow over the course of the series. Initially a sheltered princess blind to the growing dissent of the people, Anazakia matures into a kind queen understanding of the wishes and needs of the people. At times, Anazakia does forget the importance of her role in the battle, becoming blind to her duties when her duties as a mother and person conflict with her duties as a leader, but her behavior is understandable. In fact, these vulnerabilities make her all the more real and believable. She's gone through so much, it'd be strange if she didn't crack at some point. Fortunately, Anazakia is surrounded by loyal friends who support and advise her, providing her the strength to keep going, and I enjoyed getting to know them better through the various narrators.

The multiple POVs were done better in this book than the previous book. It was easier to see the chronological order of events in relation to each character, and it didn't feel as if the story was being told to me as much. It did help that there were more battle scenes in this book, which I really enjoyed. A lot of the brutalities of war are clearly detailed for us -- enough that I could see the sacrifices made, but not in such graphic detail that I had to put the book down. For example, I might know that someone is beat or tortured, but I wouldn't be able to paint a picture of the scene (provided that I had the artistic talent).

If there's anything that surprised me me, it's how the romantic relationships played out. Given the complex relationships of the characters, it shouldn't have surprised me what Anazakia ends up doing. However, I didn't see the romance coming between her and this other angel; though they may have had history together, she never really showed present romantic inclinations towards him until late in the story when it suddenly comes to the surface. It may be that she never had time to think about it, and she certainly had to reason to love him. Nevertheless, there is no single form of love, and if a companion novel is released, I'd be interested in seeing how the relationships amongst Anazakia's group play out in the future. Anazakia's reign as queen is looking pretty unconventional.

The Armies of Heaven delivers a solid conclusion to an enjoyable romantic fantasy trilogy. Fans of paranormal romance and more epic fantasy alike can find common ground in the series.

  1. The Fallen Queen
  2. The Midnight Court
  3. The Armies of Heaven
Similar Books
  • Language, Sex, Torture, Sadosim/Masochism, Violence

Interview with Jane Kindred

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
I was a voracious reader from an early age, and there were many times I actually ran out of things to read, so I started writing my own stories. I used to write stories in my head to fall asleep at night, and it occurred to me I could write them down, so I did.

I'm glad that you started writing them down since you're published now, and I got to read your books! You mention at your about page that you began writing romantic fantasies since an early age. What draws you to the genre?
In general, I prefer an imagined world to a real-world setting in fiction, because the rules change, and magic becomes possible, and I've always liked books that have a love story along with the adventure. It seems more complete, and makes me care more about the characters.

The freedom to explore the imagination with fantasy is why I love the genre, and some romance never hurt! I saw in your guest post at Paranormal Romantics that you are concerned with how women and sex are being portrayed in literature. What are your worries about this trend?
My post at Paranormal Romantics was about a trend I've noticed in paranormal romance and urban fantasy for a woman's magical strength to be tied to her sexuality. I think it's a very limiting means of empowering a female character, when women have so many other strengths. When it's in the context of the story, such as in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series, it can be very powerful--and her character Phedre is so much more than just a beautiful courtesan--but when it seems superfluous to the character or the story, I find myself wondering why the author made that choice, particularly when it most often comes from women writers. Maybe it's a means of adding erotica to the story that feels more "authentic" if it's an important plot device, but I'm all for just having erotic scenes if you want them and I don't think they have to be justified by being the key to the woman's magic. She can have as many partners as she wants, just don't tell me she *has* to have them to save the world, you know?

It does seem that romance has been overtaking the plot in stories more frequently nowadays, unfortunately. Though I wouldn't mind some romance on the side, I like to see more of a girl saving the world than her relationship. Anazakia's perspective is told in the format of a memoir and is the only perspective told in first person. Why did you choose to tell her story this way?
I was having trouble at first finding the voice for the story. I'd started the book with what's now Chapter Two, and really liked Belphagor's voice, but felt like I was missing something with Anazakia, so I decided to try an alternate first chapter in first person from her point of view, and immediately felt her coming through. Her style was so different from the third person sections, from her word choices to her cadence to the way she saw the world, that I couldn't imagine not keeping her that way. But then I still really liked Belphagor as I'd first written him and felt the story would be missing something if it were all in Anazakia's point of view. I thought I was taking a crazy chance mixing it like that, but it seemed right for the story, and I never received any negative feedback on it, which surprised me. I kept waiting for someone to say, "You can't do that!" but no one ever did.

I appreciate your having kept the other POVs. They really help flesh out the plot, and I liked getting to know other characters on a more personal level. Anazakia's story parallels that of the last Romanovs, and we learn a bit of folklore and Russian history during her stay in Russia. What influenced you to draw so heavily from the Russian culture and did you do any research for the story?
My initial idea was to tell the story of an angelic family like the Romanovs, and in researching them, I became fascinated by Russian culture. I decided that instead of just a family similar to them, I would recreate them and their destinies. I did quite a bit of research, including traveling to Russia to live with a host family for a month while I tried to learn the language.

It's cool how you went to Russia for your research. If Anazakia were to meet Grand Duchess Anastasia, what would they talk about?
I think they'd end up giggling like little girls and sharing an almost twin-like connection, finishing each other's sentences or communicating without words at all. I see them as kindred spirits.

That's so cute! What are you currently working on?
At the moment, I'm working on a m/m erotica project featuring Belphagor and Vasily from the Arkhangel'sk books.

About the Author

Jane Kindred is the author of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy and The Devil’s Garden. Born in Billings, Montana, she spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.

Review: The Midnight Court by Jane Kindred

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Midnight Court

(The House of Arkhangel'sk #2)
by Jane Kindred

Genre: Fantasy
Paperback: 400 Pages
Publication: August 14, 2012 by Entangled Select


Against the pristine ice of Heaven, spilled blood and a demon’s fire will spark celestial war.

The exiled heir to the throne of Heaven, Grand Duchess Anazakia, and her demon companions, Belphagor and Vasily, have made a comfortable home in the Russian city of Arkhangel’sk, but their domestic bliss is short lived. When their daughter, Ola, is taken as a pawn in Heaven’s demon revolution, the delicate fabric of their unorthodox family is torn apart—threatening to separate Belphagor and Vasily for good.

Anazakia is prepared to move Heaven and Earth to get her daughter back from Queen Aeval, risen in Elysium from the ashes of temporary defeat. But Aeval isn’t the only one seeking Ola’s strange power.

To conquer the forces amassing against them, Anazakia is prophesied to sacrifice one close to her heart, while Vasily’s fire will prove more potent than anyone suspected. In the ultimate battle for supremacy over Heaven’s empire, loyalties will be tested and secrets will be revealed, but love will reign supernal.

◆ A copy was provided by Entangled Publishing for review ◆

The Midnight Court picks up in the world of man, where Anazakia is in hiding with her daughter Ola, Belphagor, and Vasily. Love is there as Ola's nanny, and they have Nephilim guards. However, all is not well. Vasily and Belphagor's relationship is strained; and with Belphagor back, Vasily and Anazakia aren't sure how to act around each other. In fact, there's a lot of tension in the relationships, especially with the introduction of some new characters.

While I didn't enjoy this book as much as the last one, it does what I expect of a second book in a trilogy. It further develops the relationships among the different characters while deepening the plot and introducing us to the various factions rising in Heaven. I enjoyed getting to know Love better, though I wish it could have been in a better situation. Kidnapped along with Ola, Love finds herself abused and struggles to maintain a semblance of normalcy with her charge. I admire her strength of heart, and she's now one of my favorite characters. Belphagor, however, I like less. I don't like the way he treats Vasily; even if it's a way of courtship for them, Belphagor acts more like Vasily is a possession of his.

The writing also didn't work for me. It'd been bugging me since book one, but it really irritated me in this book how much telling goes on in this story, which is disappointing considering how good the battle scenes are. I wanted to see the scenes play out instead of having the characters summarize things. Sometimes, it feels as though there are too many characters narrating events. While I like seeing what goes on in different places, much of the summarizing may be due to effort of filling in the reader on so many events going on at the same time. Also partly due to the many changes in POV, the sex scenes seemed random as if they were added to the story simply for the sake of having them. If there's going to be sex in the story, it needs to have a reason to be there or at least feel like it belongs.

What I like most about this story is how Anazakia grows more into her role as the last surviving member of a royal family. She seems and acts more like a queen, and she has a better understanding of the way the world works. She's no longer the naive princess she used to be. With the various factions established, book three promises more action.

Comes back tomorrow for my review of The Armies of Heaven and an interview with author Jane Kindred as a part of the tour for the book!

  1. The Fallen Queen
  2. The Midnight Court
  3. The Armies of Heaven
Similar Books
  • Language, Sex, Rape, Sadism/Masochism, Torture

Review: The Fallen Queen by Jane Kindred

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Fallen Queen

(The House of Arkhangel'sk #1)
by Jane Kindred

Genre: Fantasy
Paperback: 448 Pages
Publication: May 15, 2012 by Entangled Select


Heaven can go to hell.

Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.

Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.

Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved. are hopelessly outnumbered. But there are more things in Heaven and Earth than any of them have dreamt of, and those they cannot see will mean the difference between victory and losing everything.

◆ A copy was provided by Entangled Publishing for review ◆

The Fallen Queen is not your classic Good versus Evil story. It isn't simply about Heaven being overrun evil forces and the ousted heir apparent rallying the good to fight back. Though evil reigns on the throne and seeks to kill Anazakia so that she cannot take back her rightful place, those who should side with her are glad to see her family dead and gone while those who should hate her fight for her. I love the complexity of the world building and plot development. It makes it that much harder to predict what's going to happen next, and I'm happy to say that the story continued to surprise me from start to finish.

The story is slow to start. At first, I was completely lost and had no idea what was going on, even after Anazakia's nursemaid puts her in the care of Belphagor and Vasily, hoping the demons can hide her from the ones who killed her family, and though there is a fair amount of telling going on. It isn't until the pieces come together that I could understand the storyline. For the most part, there is a lot of waiting involved in between the running and fighting. It would have been nice to get more world building worked into the context, as I found myself lost several times because I didn't know the world adequately to piece together the situation, though we do get to learn more about the characters during the waiting periods. The story gets better once the pace picks up and the plot gets moving. I have to mention that I love the battles scenes. As graphic as they are, I like how they portray the brutal realities of battle and don't romanticize it.

Anazakia and her friends are interesting characters. They have likable personalities. A sheltered Grand Duchess, Anazakia is naive and gullible and sometimes resembles a damsel in distress, particularly after she learns of the massacre of her family. However, she also has heart, and that's what won me over. She isn't afraid to put her life on the line to help her comrades or to give her opinion on matters. Though she didn't bother getting into politics before, she has the makings of a ruler within her. Belphagar and Vasily, the demons who shelter her, are two characters brimming with life and personality. Belphagar is the hot conniving one who only likes men. He's the one who accepts the mission to protect Anazakia; though he initially does it for the money, they develop a good relationship, though they tend to quarrel. Vasily is the nice one and has a certain characteristic about him that makes the other two want to protect him. Amongst the three of them, complex relationships develop.

Overall, The Fallen Queen does what I expect a first novel to do. It introduces the characters and sets up the initial conflict, giving it somewhat of a resolutions while teasing readers with the promise of greater conflict to come. I love the characters, and I'm interested in seeing where the story takes us.

  1. The Fallen Queen
  2. The Midnight Court
  3. The Armies of Heaven
Similar Books
  • Arcane series by Shona Husk
  • The Last Archangel by Michael D. Young
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  • Language (swearing)
  • Sadism/masochism
  • Sex scenes
  • Torture
  • Violence

Review: Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

Monday, June 24, 2013

Scent of Magic

(Healer #2)
by Maria V. Snyder

Genre: Fantasy
Paperback: 414 Pages
Publication December 18, 2012 by Harlequin MIRA


As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again.

◆ A copy was provided by Harlequin for review ◆

Touch of Power introduced us to the world and conflict. Scent of Magic takes the conflict and stirs it up.

Dead to the world, Avry disguises herself and takes on the guise of Irina of Gubkin to infiltrate Estrid's army and gather information while indirectly fulfilling her promise of helping them fight against Tohon. There, she makes new friends among her fellow seargents. While nobody can replace the group from the first novel, her army friends have their own unique personalities and really brighten the atmosphere whenever they appear. Avry has proved it before, but I'm always impressed by her resiliency and ability to adapt to the situation. Having been on the run a lot since the plague, she's a fighter and can hold her own in the army.

As Avry settles into army life, Kerrick heads north to meet with Ryne and plot their next course of action. During this time, he also heads home, giving us a look into his relationship with his family and what has passed since he left three years ago to find a Healer for Ryne. He also becomes closer to Danny, one of the children that Avry rescues during her escape from Tohron in the last book. The world building further continues with the introduction of the northern tribes, an interesting people, some of which have unique powers.

I like how the story continues to be told from the alternating perspectives of Avry and Kerrick. Both have something to add to the story, Avry being a Healer and Kerrick being a veteran of the fight against Tohon. In addition, the two of them are separated for much of this novel, and the multiple perspectives allows us to keep up with what's happening on the different fronts. Avry's perspective is in first person while Kerrick's is in third person. Typically, I prefer my multiple perspectives told solely in third person, but it didn't distract me in this novel for some reason. Maybe it's because the writing style is fairly consistent between the two perspectives.

There is never a dull moment in Scent of Magic. There is plenty of action to see as Avry and her friends, new and old, prepare for the fight against Tohon. Not everything goes according to plan, and though there is a lot of waiting involved, new developments constantly put them on alert and lives are lost and grieved. Then there is that nasty cliffhanger at the end that has my heart aching.

  1. Touch of Power
  2. Scent of Magic
  3. Taste of Darkness (coming December 2013)
Similar Books
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  • The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce
  • Sex

Imagine Weekly: Mailbox #51

Sunday, June 23, 2013
Imagine Weekly is a weekly feature where we share a summary of what has taken place on the blog the previous week and show off books that we got.


Click on a book's cover to view its Goodreads page

Thanks to Random House, Scholastic

* Check out more book hauls through Tynga's Stacking the Shelves *

Previous Week


Other News

Upcoming Week

  • Reviews: Scent of Magic, The Fallen Queen, The Midnight Court, The Armies of Heaven, Forsaken by the Others, Forevermore

What did you get this week? Leave a link in the comments section, and I'll check out your week's haul!

Did Not Finish Reviews

Saturday, June 22, 2013
by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Genre: YA Paranormal     Paperback: 336 Pages
Publication: June 8, 2013 by Flux

With New Agey parents and a Pakistani heritage, it might have been difficult for Sunny Pryce-Shah to fit in. Thankfully, she had her older, popular cousin Shiri to talk to—until now. Shiri’s shocking suicide brings heartwrenching pain and grief, and also seems to have triggered a new and disturbing ability in Sunny: hearing people’s thoughts.

It’s awful, especially when Sunny learns what her so-called friends really think of her. Feeling more comfortable with the Emo crowd, she tells them about her strange talent and uses it to help cute, troubled Cody. But when his true motives are revealed, she isn’t sure whom to trust anymore. Sunny hopes to find answers in Shiri’s journal. Was her cousin also cursed with this “gift”? Will Sunny end up like Shiri?

I can't conenct with Sunny. It may be in part due to Shiri's death and Sunny's emotional disconnection from everything. Nevertheless, it felt as if Sunny was telling the story instead of living it. She also dwells a lot on the past and details that I don't care about.

The City's Son
(The Skyscraper Throne #1), by Tom Pollock

Genre: YA Paranormal     Hardbackback: 480 Pages
Publication: September 8, 2012 by Flux

Running from her traitorous best friend and her estranged father, graffiti artist Beth Bradley is looking for sanctuary. What she finds is Urchin, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London’s mystical underworld. Urchin opens Beth’s eyes to the city she’s never truly seen-where vast spiders crawl telephone wires seeking voices to steal, railwraiths escape their tethers, and statues conceal an ancient priesthood robed in bronze.

But it all teeters on the brink of destruction. Amid rumors that Urchin’s goddess mother will soon return from her 15-year exile, Reach, a malign god of urban decay, wants the young prince dead. Helping Urchin raise an alleyway army to reclaim his skyscraper throne, Beth soon forgets her old life. But when her best friend is captured, Beth must choose between this wondrous existence and the life she left behind.

I could not connect with the characters. Also, the changing between first and third person was jarring.

The Huaca
by Marcia Mickelson

Genre: YA Paranormal     Paperback: 256 Pages
Publication: May 14, 2013 by Cedar Fort

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Cummings just wants to be a regular teenager, but after her mother’s mysterious murder, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever be normal again. Her mother’s death has left Ellie and her father worlds apart. And when her best friend abandons her, Ellie has no one else to turn to—except for the strange boy who says he can help.

Gabe de la Cruz seems to know way too much about everything, and her instincts tell Ellie to stay far away. But when he claims that he can communicate with the dead through an ancient Incan artifact, Ellie can’t resist the temptation of seeing her mother again. In the hanan pacha—the Incan afterworld—Ellie’s mother sends a message to help Ellie understand what happened the night of the murder—a message that may be better kept a secret . . .

Another book where I couldn't connect with characters. It felt as if the story was beind told to me instead of pulling me into the world. Considering Ellie's age and all that's happened to her, I think I expected the narrative style to be more advanced. It feels as though the writing was meant for a younger audience.

(Avena #1), by Marianne Curley

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance     Hardback: 336 Pages
Publication: June 25, 2013 by Bloomsbury Children's

For as long as Ebony can remember, she's been sheltered. Confined to her home in a secluded valley, home-schooled by her protective parents, and limited to a small circle of close friends. It's as if she's being hidden. But something is changing in Ebony. Something that can't be concealed. She's growing more beautiful by the day, she's freakishly strong, and then there's the fact that she's glowing.

On one fateful night, Ebony meets Jordan and she's intensely drawn to him. It's as if something explodes inside of her--something that can be seen from the heavens. Ebony still doesn't know that she's a stolen angel, but now that the heavens have found her, they want her back.

The opening chapters did not hook my attention. In spite of, or rather because of, the info dumping, I was confused. Also, I couldn't connect with Ebony.

A Shimmer of Angels
(Angel Sight #1), by Lisa M. Basso

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance     Paperback: 321 Pages
Publication: January 29, 2013 by Month9Books

Sixteen-year-old Rayna sees angels, and has the medication and weekly therapy sessions to prove it. Now, in remission, Rayna starts fresh at a new school, lands a new job, and desperately tries for normalcy. She ignores signs that she may be slipping into the world she has tried so hard to climb out of. But these days, it’s more than just hallucinations that keep Rayna up at night. Students are dying, and she may be the only one who can stop it. Can she keep her job, her sanity, and her friends from dying at the hands of angels she can't admit to seeing?

There was something in the way Rayna narrated the story that made it hard for me to connect with her. It felt as if she was summarizing events instead of being present in the story. There was too much telling. Also, the way characters are introduced and talked about made them feel like one big cliche.

Data Runner
(Data Runner #1), by Sam A. Patel

Genre: YA Science Fiction     Ebook: 231 Pages
Publication: January 29, 2013 by Diversion Books

In the not-too-distant future, in what was once the old City of New York, megacorporations have taken over everything. Now even the internet is owned, and the only way to transmit sensitive information is by a network of highly skilled couriers called “data runners” who run it over the sneakernet. It is a dangerous gig in a dirty world, but Jack Nill doesn’t have much choice in the matter. A brilliant young math whiz and champion of parkour, Jack must become one of these data runners in order to get his father out of a major gambling debt. But when a mysterious stranger loads Jack’s chip with a cryptic cargo that everybody wants, he soon becomes the key figure in a conspiracy that could affect the entire North American Alliance. Now it’s all up to Jack. With the help of his best friend, Dexter, and a girl who runs under the name Red Tail, Jack will have to use all his skills to outrun the retrievers and uncover the truth before they catch him and clip him for good.

The world building is poorly handled. There is a lot of info dumping in the first chapter, particularly through a dialgogue between Jack and his father, and I didn't understand much of it. Too many terms are thrown at the reader at once without enough details to put the pieces together. I also felt disconnected from Jack and couldn't relate to him.

Indigo Awakening
(The Hunted #1), by Jordan Dane

Genre: YA Paranormal     Paperback: 304 Pages
Publication: December 18, 2012 by Harlequin Teen

Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He’s warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish on the streets of LA. In her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can’t explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy—to touch him—to protect him even though he scares her.

A fanatical church secretly hunts psychic kids—gifted “Indigo” teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind—for reasons only “the Believers” know. Now Rayne’s only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power—a force darker than either of them imagine—that could doom them all.

The premise of this story is interesting and original. However, it just didn't work for me. I didn't believe the story or the romance. And while I admire Rayne's courage and loyalty, her actions often crossed the line between bravery and recklessness. I would have liked to see more of the action and intrigue in the story as well.

Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend
Confessions #2, by Louise Rozett

Genre: Contemporary     Paperback: 288 Pages
Publication: June 18, 2013 by HarlequinTEEN

Rose Zarelli has big plans for sophomore year—everything is going to be different. This year, she’s going to be the talented singer with the killer voice, the fabulous girl with the fashionista best friend, the brainiac who refuses to let Jamie Forta jerk her around...

...but if she’s not careful, she’s also going to be the sister who misses the signals, the daughter who can only think about her own pain, the “good girl” who finds herself in mid-scandal again (because no good deed goes unpunished) and possibly worst of all...the almost-girlfriend.

When all else fails, stop looking for love and go find yourself.

It feels as though the first quarter of the novel is a recap of what took place in the last book and what has since taken place (over the summer). While a couple characters are introduced and there are some developments, it felt as if I didn't really learn anything new about Rose and her companions. For the most part, Rose spends most of her time mulling over past developments instead of focusing on the present. It'd be fine if she recapped in the first chapter, but it goes on too long. I don't have any interest in reading past this point.