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Everlasting

Everlasting - Alyson Noel It was only a matter of time before The Immortals series packed it in and called it a day, 3 books too late. The series as a whole had a thinly veiled idea confused as a plot, was mostly forgettable and had two of the most selfish leads in YA history. The Immortals series shows it's colors as a truly inspired by Twilight's Tale of star crossed lovers doomed to repeat the same mistakes again and again. Believe me, that makes it sound better than it actually is.

With nothing standing in their way, Damen and Ever can freely find a way to be truly together in Everlasting, wasting most of their time on the same pathetic arguments they've been having since day one. Damen has given Ever a week to figure out why Summerland is growing dark and why an old woman is calling her Adeline, speaking through riddles and talking about journies and love being the key and Damen being the catalyst. It takes him less then a day to be shell shocked that Ever is taking his word seriously. She wants to get to the bottom of this, he wants to go to Italy. She thinks maybe there's a past life he doesn't know about, he thinks she's talking bullshit. Damen is a selfish smug bastard through and through here.

It takes a few trips and group meetings until Ever and Damen head into Summerland to take on Lotus, the old woman, head on. Skipping over some minor details, Ever proves to be right about a past life that Damen wasn't aware of. Before Damen became 'Damen', he was Alric, in love with Ever's Adeline. We're given a rehash of pretty much all the other past lives, just with new names. The gangs all there and involved in one complicated love angle. In the end, Adeline dies and it's revealed that because of the actions of Alric, he's damned his love life with the woman he loves forever. Coming out of the journey first, Ever waits for Damen who has to wrestle with the remainder of his life as he marries Esme, Drina's counterpart, and lives unhappily ever after. Stepping out of his past, he apologizes to Ever for being wrong and the two take a boat ride down the river of forgetfulness as the second part of their test. Ever makes it out unscathed, forgetting for a moment but because of the trinkets her friends gave her, she remembers almost instantly. Damen, on the other hand, isn't so lucky, but is found moments later in a Shadowlandesque world where he's worrying over the state of killed off immortal souls who are trapped. Here, we get a rare moment where Damen is an almost sympathetic character, he clearly understands that it's because of his own faults, he's damned so many souls. Ever helps him through it and they release some familiar faces who are all too forgiving. Roman, upon seeing Drina's soul, hands over the recipe for the cure, taking care to repeat it until they have it memorized. Reality sets in that they can have sex now and the couple rejoice and are thrust back into the Summerland they know and love.

Lotus is there to meet them and tells the two her story, she's one of the immortal children Damen created 600 years ago and left to wonder the Earth alone without the slightest clue what was in store for her life. She's lonely and aching to die and turning to Drina and Roman only turned to failure and ridicule and Damen wasn't an option as he disappeared years before hand. While their journey is over, Lotus asks them to do a side quest. They can go home now with a reward, a small bag that was given to Ever before she left on her journey is filled with whatever she wants of her choosing. Of course it's filled to the brim with the ingredients for the elixir. They can go home now with a passing grade and a bag full of 'Truly Togetherness' or complete the REAL task Lotus had for them. There's a mythical tree of life that gives off fruit of mortality. It's suppose to fix the problem of immortals having damned souls if they take a bite, turning them back into mortals and allowing their souls to reincarnate over and over again. True Immortality as Lotus calls it and it would wipe their karma clean. It's a choice she is giving them, a gift, something she was not given all those years ago. Something that Ever wasn't given not to long ago. Ever jumps at the opportunity to start a clean slate for her soul, not wanting it to be burdened like Damen's. Damen on the other hand, want's no part of it. He's heard rumors that the tree doesn't exist, that it only bears on fruit every thousand years and he even points out that they got exactly what they came for and now they can truly be together. Ever, the completionist, tells Lotus she's game and the bag of ingredients disappears as does Lotus. It's no surprise that Damen throws a hissy fit and leaves, complaining about his blue balls again. Ever gears up and heads up Summerland Everest, goes up against three immortals and winds up losing her one chance to get the fruit. Typical. The three immortals run off into the sunset, gleefully getting older and genuinely happy over becoming 'truly immortal'. Once the three are gone over the horizon, Ever mourning having lost everything, the fruit regrows much to her shock. Upon picking it, it regrows again. The tree is ever bearing like Lotus promised. Packing many of these things, Ever heads home.

From here on out, it's mostly a montage of her meeting up with people. She's been gone for six months now. Honor and Jude are dating and both acknowledge that Ever wasn't very good to Jude. Honor going as far to say 'I'm going to treat him better than you ever did.' while Jude brings up something he said a year earlier about 'always falling for the wrong girls. It's been you, Ever, every time.' Ever makes amends with Sabine as well. She meets with Damen briefly to tell him that the tree is real and she has the fruit if he's interested. He's not sold and asks if she took it, but she's waiting for him, so she hasn't and after that Damen becomes scarce. Ever completes 6 months worth of school work in 2 weeks, graduates and there's a huge party at Ever's to celebrate everything. They even invited Roman's immortals to give them the fruit if they chose. Upon completing Lotus' wishes, Ever can finally have her happy ever after, but someone is missing. Going to Damen's house, fruit in hand, to tell him of her successes and he reveals he is done the elixir. So here we stand at a precipice and here Damen breaks down and says that he doesn't believe Ever will love him once he's mortal as he won't be awesomesauce anymore. He bases this off of how Ever reacted to his 180 in Shadowland and he's seriously worried that she'd just abandon him because he wouldn't be able to supply her with opulence. Let me tell you, it wouldn't be part of The Immortals series if it didn't have them getting back together. Deciding they have nothing to lose, they bite into the fruit and start throwing themselves at each other and when nobody dies, Damen breaks the elixir on the floor, grabs Ever by the hand and takes her to a motel to finally be 'Truly Together' in the way they were intended. Everlasting ends with them jumping on a plane to Italy.

Everlasting was better than it's predecessors. The story came together nicely, the characters were actually called out on their bullshit and the plot wasn't half bad by The Immortals standards. If they cut half the bullshit out, and by that I mean books two, three and half of four, The Immortals could have been something better. Especially if they painted Damen up to be the villain he actually is, instead of the romantic aloof loner who's just trying to redeem his soul. Overall, things weren't consistent enough, rules were always bent and there were long stretches nothing happened just for Ever to make a bad decision to further the plot.

Night Star

Night Star - Alyson Noel The Immortals series is gearing towards end game content now and Night Star gets the highest marks from me so far. However, it became quite clear towards the end that it was 'one step forward, two steps back' before I found myself right where I started with frustration in development in both character and plot.


I'll address the Night Star villain first. Haven is still angry about the whole Roman thing and vows to take Ever down and her first line of business is becoming top of the food chain at school. Essentially, this is a rehash of Blue Moon and Evermore. Like Roman, Haven is brainwashing some of her class mates into worshiping her and like Drina, she's bent on revenge on Ever killing her 'beloved' who never loved her at all. Needless to say, Haven's motives aren't new at all or unique to her. She's petty and become unhinged quickly because of her addiction to the elixir, so dethroning Haven was pretty lackluster. The novel starts with no one wanting to choose sides to everyone sitting on Ever's side of the teeter totter while Haven screams how she 'can't get down'. ultimately Haven has the last laugh when she burns the shirt and gets punched in the chest for it.

There's a reason why Night Star got the highest marks out of the series. In a bizare twist, there was a good chunk of book here that wasn't outright horrible. It wasn't even bad or mediocre. It was good, honest, pure fun. It's revealed that Damen has been keeping secrets again. Apparently during on of Ever's past lives as a slave, Damen had shown up and purchased her, taking her away from her parents and her 'intended', Jude in a past life. Ever got to live the rest of that life span while her family burned to death in a fire. Ever is distraught as she wasn't suppose to even know she was a slave as Damen has been editing her previous lives, only showing her the more beautiful and opulent points in her past. Needless to say, this breaks the couple up, again. Ever, in turn, goes to Jude for comfort and it hits off what I'd consider decent story. The characters become more rounded and start to develop voices and opinions of their own outside of 'Ever and Damen are going to be together forever!' or 'Damen is super sexy and beautiful!' or Ever angsting in general about her lack of broken hymen. Miles and Ever have a heart to heart where they both show depth and maturation. Jude, who knows the full extent of Damen's lies, chooses not to act on his feelings for Ever until he's sure of her decisions. It's sad we didn't get more like this in the other books as it could have solidified a stronger series. It's a shame it had to go back to where it started.

Haven takes no prisoners when she takes Jude out with ease and sends Ever straight to the shadow realm where Ever views her slave life deeper. Apparently Damen wasn't such a cruel person after all, he went back for the rest of her family and had ever intentions of buying them or breaking them out if he had too. He was far too late. This turn of events was aggravating as it played Damen up to be the worst guy imaginable, he even reacted that way too. He didn't bother to show Ever how he went back for her family. In the end Ever was completely won over by this and just couldn't see how she could live a life without Damen, going as far to say that Damen was her only soul mate and original intended. I can't help but feel strung along by this, it was poorly executed and was terribly inconsistent, even by Alyson Noel standards.

Once again, the two fail to obtain the magical elixir that will allow the semen exchange, but with one book left and nobody standing in the way, it's bound to be 'Babies Ever After'.

Dark Flame

Dark Flame - Alyson Noel Dark Flame is no different than Blue Moon and Shadowland, nothing but endless filler. In Evermore, there was a sense of something that could have been something better than what it's become, but it's sequels have been stuck as a record on repeat. It's nothing but a parade of Ever making all the wrong choices, Damen being sexy and brooding, while a newly immortal Haven is becoming increasingly harder and harder to handle.

Dark Flame leaves no slack in between novels, Ever is still cursed and tries two times in the duration of the first 200 pages to reverse it, both times failing. This takes Ever on multiple trips to Roman's house with the intention of telling him that he's not getting to her and in most cases, she winds up underneath him using Drina as a disguise.

So what's the the answer to her problem? She was just over thinking it. She was told over and over that she was 'cursed', only to be told by Ava that she was just letting it bother her to much and once she put it out of her mind, the curse would be gone. Simple as that. This, of course, comes after she ignores Ava for a good chunk of Dark Flame because of how Ava pulled a wool hat over her eyes in Blue Moon.

Damen was utterly useless in this novel. He was always willing to 'help', yet, the one time Ever said 'I can't talk about what's happening to me here, can we go to Summerland?', he calls her an addict and says he's not going there with her until she's had a proper break from it. He sees the way her body changes between the real world and Summerland, yet still says he won't follow her when she disappears to get away from the darkness in her head. Stress is ruining Ever's body, despite chugging back bottles of BODY IMPROVING elixir. Her decline in health shouldn't have been so rapid if she's taking something that's equivalent to beauty steroids, proving yet again that The Immortals series is still painfully inconsistent.

Dark Flame serves it's only purpose to show how much better of a choice Jude is. Even after Ever stabs him, even after she freaks out over him killing Roman and letting the elixir break because every twist in this series MUST serve as way to keep this 'We Can't Truly Be Together' plot going. The synopsis for Night Star promises a huge secret to be revealed about Damen, Ever and Jude's past lives and I'm hoping it breathes a little life into this otherwise stale series.

Shadowland (The Immortals, Book 3)

Shadowland (The Immortals, Book 3) - Alyson Noël Thus far, The Immortals series has raised nothing but more questions and utter confusion from me. Shadowland, the newest installment, continues this trend and marks the halfway point through this upward climb which is sure to turn into a downward spiral in no time.

As par for the course, Shadowland picks up where Blue Moon left off, dealing with the repercussions Ever's poor decision making, her friends are just as horrible as ever and school is just as much as a drag on an immortal lifestyle as anyone can imagine. Shadowlandis short, forgettable and with every new plot point is followed with a resounding 'Why?'. Nothing in this book really needed to happen. It gives me the same feeling House of Night gives me, Alyson Noel could have easily cut back on some of this bullshit and easily squashed most of this content into three books tops. It's mostly filler.

Damen has decided to cut back on his mortal spending habits, getting rid of his car, his prized possessions and even tells Ever he plans on selling his mansion so they could live a more modest life. Makes sense since the two of them can manifest anything they want. Ever responds to his with annoyance. How could her sexy, smoldering boyfriend ever want to part with his materiel possessions? Damen, as it turns out, is concerned with his karma and feels like it's a matter of time before it comes to bite him in the ass. He tries to remedy this further by adopting Romy and Rayne while they stay on Earth on account of losing their powers and being unable to return to Shadowland. This further annoys Ever as the twins blame her for their lost powers and it distracts Damen.

There's some story placed in here and Damen creates a psychic shield to cloak his body so he can finally touch Ever and chaste make out sessions with a failed sex scene ensue. During this arc, Sabine encourages Ever to get a job and apply for college to which Ever stares at her vacantly and wonders if any of this would have a point seeing as she's immortal and has her one true love. because bettering yourself or pursuing interests outside of your significant other is pointless. While I see her sentiment of being immortal, she doesn't bring up once that she can just do college in a few years as many times as she wants, but instead mentions being with Damen is the be all, end all to her life.

Roman is noticeably vacant for much of the middle part of Shadowland and it's to introduce the REAL third part of the Immortals series love triangle. Ever buckles down and follows a psychic trail to a store called Magic and Moonbeams, operated by love interest number 2, Jude Knight. Jude is calm, a slacker and prefers to spend his time relaxing and riding waves, a perfect foil to Damen's no nonsense, business as usual, dark and broody nature. It's not surprising, giving the synopsis of this book, that there is romantic history between Ever and Jude's past lives. At this point, Damen practically FORCES a love triangle that shouldn't even be there. This is despite Ever saying she rather not test the waters with Jude, but Damen still tries to negotiate time spend a part going as far as to suggest a year to get over him. It doesn't make sense and this shouldn't be happening. It's whittled down too three months or something and Damen keeps his promise of steering clear of Ever, a la Edward Cullen style, while Ever works, attempts to have friends, while bonding with Jude but never even attempting to go beyond an employee/boss relationship.

I still don't understand why the end of this book is a thing. I've tried re reading it, I've tried looking to the internet to clear some of the fog but most of it just doesn't add up. Apparently Ever screws up a spell from a book she found in Magic and Moonbeams, while under the watch of two witches in making. The twins waited until after the spell was complete to tell Ever that it shouldn't have been performed under a dark moon. The end result is she's now chained to Roman. She tried to convince herself otherwise, but is still drawn to him. It's revealed that Jude might be immortal as he has the same tattoo as the other immortals do, though this twist isn't exactly shocking. The climax of this book starts with a phone call from Ava. She made her presence known earlier on, but is now making her come back as she tells Ever that Roman is at her house with Haven close to death. without wasting time manifesting a car like she'd done before, Ever runs there at top speed with Damen close behind and arrives to a situation that looks grim, not to mention, her psychic link with Damen is broken. Roman tells Ever how it is, that she's a self absorbed elitist who doesn't care about the people around her, a trait that was given to her from Damen's influence and then gives her an ultimatum. If Ever chooses to let Haven die, Roman will lift the curse from Damen. Or she could make Haven into an immortal. It boils down to how selfish Ever is feeling. The choice seems obvious to make Haven immortal, but in doing so, that would damn Haven's soul to Shadowland if Haven were to die while being immortal, which sort of seems insignificant since Ever and Damen know how to make the elixir if Haven chooses to stay with her friends and not turn to the dark side. However, Damen and Ava are telling Ever to say her goodbye's, turning Haven is the wrong thing to do. Ever wasn't much for listening to her friends advice so she forces the elixir down Haven's throat. The story ends with Damen and Ever reconciling, because everything is about how in love they are.

It took me a while to write this out, but I think I've managed to write it in a way that makes sense. Like it's predecessors, however, Shadowland is riddled with things that I just don't quite understand, with plot lines that don't add up. The main character keeps going against better judgement and keeps gaining super powers for the sake of plot convenience. The love triangle was forced and felt tacked on, only there because this series was written in the previous decade where love triangles sell a stretched out series. With how this series is going, I doubt things will get better.

Blue Moon

Blue Moon - Alyson Noël What started off as a promising beginning, Blue Moon takes all of the potential Evermore had and pummeled it through a wall. While Evermore was mostly forgettable, it held a charm that if handled better, could have been a rather nice story about a girl dealing with the loss of her family.

I feel like I can write a proper review to this as opposed to breaking it down like I had to do with Evermore. With Drina out of the way, Ever and Damen can finally consummate their relationship. Blue Moon opens to them working on Ever's powers and talk of Damen's blue balls. Many of the first chapters involve Ever wanting get over Damen's past. Ever constantly brings up how Damen has waited long enough, that he deserves this and tells him to book that room at a motel so they can finally have sex. Between them making out and talking about the night they will finally be together, a new character named Roman is introduced and Ever is the only one getting bad vibes from him despite his good aura and nice guy personality, but he's British and if there's anything I learned about the British from Halo is that they're evil. Roman, is of course, immortal. We get a few chapters that drag out the page length that involve Sabine wanting to meet Damen and we're treated to the usual banter that occurs in most YA lit where the female love interest gets flustered and embarrassed about how in love they are.

As luck would have it, Roman has shoved himself into Ever's group and some conversation is exchanged about how Ever's friends secretly wish they belonged with the 'In Crowd'. This sets up the downwards spiral this series is going to take. A downward spiral that starts with Damen ditching Ever after attending one of her friends theater productions. Things take a turn for the worse when everyone at school, sans Ever, is suddenly getting along, combining tables even in the cafeteria. Even Damen has tossed her aside, quickly pulling Stacia into his good graces and arms. It's obvious from the get go that Roman is working against Ever and when it's revealed he's behind the reason the school is suddenly getting along, it's not a surprise at all. This book is mostly filler. There's a few scenes that show Damen in a worse light than what he was standing in before, there's trips to Summerland to get non google based research and there's even a trip to Damen's house to get him poison free red jucie in his pantry that gets foiled because Ava the Psychic wanted a tour of Damens' house. Also, a set of twins were mentioned living in Summerland who had befriend Riley. They act as guidance counselors to Ever while she's in Summerland alone.

Ever discovers, through her research, that on a particular night when the moon is full and blue, she can time travel. She has to option to go back in time and fix her family or she can stay in the present and help heal her dying boyfriend. She chooses both... sort of. The Blue Moon is an event that happens once every 3-5 years so Ever only has one shot at saving her family and chooses to do so, setting Ava up with an elixir she's been preparing for a few days to give to Damen while she goes back to live her old life.The only repercussions this will have is that her memory will be wiped clean prior to the accident. Since she won't be around, there's no way she can tell if the elixir was successful or not and leaves it up to fate whether or not Damen comes back for her. It's a vague plot line that blows open more plot holes. Before she leaves, she saves the school by yelling at them to 'Stop' and they look at each other disgusted before moving on. With that mess out of the way, Ever tells her friends goodbye and gets ready to go back in time.

Ever lives two days with her family, attends her old school with her old friends and boyfriend, getting vague memories of the life she lived after her parents died. Come the night of the accident, Riley who's sitting beside her in the back seat address her sister. "You can't change the past." A lot of readers saw her going back in time as Ever's first big mistake in a pile of many and while the whole thing was lackluster, I'd only somewhat agree. While I have no problems with her going back, some of the rules and stipulations about time travel just seem silly to me and the whole thing was played out as drama for the final scene to come.

Going back was a loss so she heads over to Ava's house to collect Damen and tell him her adventures. However, what she walks in on is not what she expected. Roman answers the door and when she gets inside, she finds Romy protecting Damen's near dead body with a force field. Romy, at this point, has enough energy to save herself and keep Damen alive and if Ever enters the circle, the operation falls apart and Roman would be allowed to attack. On top of this, Roman says that all she needs to do is add her blood to a bottle of elixir and take it to Damen and everything will be fine. She heeds Roman's advice and slits her wrist while Romy is telling her NOT to. Funny that she listens to her immortal enemy versus the friend saving her boyfriends life. Needless to say, her actions mess everything Damen has been fighting for. By adding her blood to the elixir, the two are no longer allowed to share DNA. This includes: Kissing, Hand Holding, ANYTHING that involves skin to skin contact. So she would have done anything to save her boyfriend. That's admirable. What makes no sense is that she'd go against her better judgement, after hating Roman for an entire book, after listening to him tell her how much he wants to bang her while putting Damen's life in danger and yet she becomes her own undoing.

The drama that unfolds in Blue Moon goes beyond for the sake of drama. It's a pointless set up to stretch out this destined lovers doomed never to fuck story line. I didn't believe, while reading Evermore, that The Immortals series could get as bad as what I had been hearing. I believe I am starting to see what everyone is talking about.

Evermore

Evermore - Alyson Noel Evermore is stuck in a strange place for me. While not the worst start to a series I've read, it's far from the best. Very far. Ever and Damen aren't the worst characters I've read in a cesspool of YA Lit,
things could have been handled so much better. Evermore had me believing most of the time if you weren't Ever, you were pretty much the most forgettable character in existence, only serving purpose to move the plot forward when the story deemed it necessary. That's the problem with Evermore though, it's mostly forgettable. Nothing really stood out as ground breaking or noteworthy or brought anything new to the genre. The only way I feel like I could review this book is if I broke it down into parts; the plot, the heroine, the hero, the villain, the side characters, because talking about this book as a whole would leave for a very short review.

The Plot:
After an accident takes her family, Ever develops powers that allow her to see a person's aura and make her psychic. Avoiding contact with people in her life in order to control her powers, have left her with the title of 'Freak' among her peers but that changes once she meets Damen Auguste. Honestly, the plot to Evermore is so shallow; Girl has troubled past and meets boy who soothes her soul. Forces try to keep them apart and they win with the powers of true love that transcends time and space. There's minimal character interaction and development that makes the reader wonder if it's really worth reading. We get pages, chapters even, of info dumps that make me wonder if this series should have really been stretched into 6 books. Needless to say, we're given vague answers to big questions or sometimes no answers at all. At the root of it, Evermore echo's the teachings of Twilight and every series similar in the genre; in order for a woman to be happy, all she needs is a sexy, rich man. A man who gives her space and understands her temperamental mood swings because if she says 'NO', she's just having a bad day, needs space and that 'NO' will eventually turn into a yes once she's come around.

The Heroine:
Ever Bloom is like every other heroine in Ya Paranormal Romance released between 2005 and 2010. She's plain, ordinary, doesn't have any talents beyond her psychic ability but can accessorize a large hoodie with an ipod like nobodies business and loves the classics. Once popular, Ever prefers the way of the freak since the death of her parents and younger sister in an accident that should have killed her as well, the events giving her something akin to PTSD but the author wrote it more as teen angst than anything else. What bothers me most about Ever is that she spends more time wallowing in how she thinks of herself as a 'freak' with her new found powers than she does mourning the loss of her parents. The other students hate her, she feels like a burden on her aunt and she barely understands her friends. While she misses her family, she makes it clear that the worst thing to come from the accident are her powers. Her whole characterization, wardrobe included, is designed to keep others away so she doesn't have to get intimate, having the chance to 'read' them through touch. It's bad enough she has to read their minds and they all think so poorly of her anyways. Ever constantly brings up the fact that she could have EASILY been one of the popular crowd, I guess she misses the life style of being top of the food chain at school with the amount of times it's brought up. Her relationship with Damen ranges from 'not at all' to 'barely there' and when the two go out, she considers him an adequate fill for 'boyfriend'. Once he leaves she realizes that she knows nothing about him, a fact that pleases her because she can't read him at all but leaves her unsatisfied because he'll exit her life for days at a time with no explanation.

She does have some positive moments. Towards the end of the novel she realizes that she has to control her powers without relying on Damen, her sister or alcohol around and takes it upon herself to get a mental shield in place with the help of a psychic. That's good development considering Ever spent the majority of the book complaining how the powers ruined her life and that seemed to fix the problem because soon after she started reverting back to her pre-accident self. She reacts rather well to Damen when finding out his history. It's too much to handle and she sends him away, clearly afraid of what this means to her and to him. Towards the end of the novel, Ever says goodbye to her sister, makes Damen leave her alone and drops her 3 day drinking binge. Life went on. That, however, was quickly ruined on Valentines day when she recalls the words of the psychic, Ava, that Ever was wrong about the person she kept close and the person she said goodbye to. If she kept her sister around for too long, but had the heart to send her away, that means Damen must be the one she shouldn't have said goodbye to. So Damen, who said he's always watching, materializes, takes away her shield and the two live happily ever after.

The Hero:
Damen Auguste, like Ever Bloom, felt largely forgettable. He's sexy, is secretive about his past and is talented in almost everything he touches. Not to mention he stalks ever, ditches her for days on end and throws her to the wolves far too often. At one point he lets a fight between Ever and Drina go on for far to long just to see if Ever had become immortal like he suspected. She's rightfully pissed and sends him away, but he assures her that he would have stepped in if she wanted him to at anytime, telling her that he's always watching. He fails to tell Ever the most important details of their history together under the guise that it's for her own protection and allows this to happen for almost a year, letting Ever suffer in misery. Damen uses this as manipulation because Ever cannot survive alone with her powers so unstable, it's either she gets a shield for her mind or goes to Damen for help. Naturally, every other character pushes her in that direction and this is largely seen as okay because Damen is 'young', hot, sexy and rich so it doesn't matter that Ever says 'No'. Since Damen isn't a priority in this book, he's so one dimensional so I'll leave it at that.

The Villain:
Drina is much like Damen and every other character who isn't Ever. She's just kind of there. She shows up at a Halloween party dressed up like Ever as Marie Antoinette and instills this feeling of 'There's something not right with this girl' in Ever. Drina has a very possessive and vindictive personality as shown many times as she's killed off Ever in all her reincarnations making her the typical 'all other girls are jealous bitches' girl. The only thing that makes her different from the other vindictive bitches is that she's been doing this for over 600 years. When she finally confronts Ever at the end of the book, she dumps her plan on her and lets her run, giving chase when she's satisfied with the distance. Wouldn't you know? Drina was easily beaten TWICE by the power of True Love. I don't mind the first book in a series starting out with a simple throwaway villain so long as they make their time and efforts count. Drina never got that, but I didn't feel any sort of relief or triumph over her death.

The Side Characters:
All of them were clearly purchased at "Stereotypes 'r' us" as not a single one is memorable or their own character. Haven is run of the mill goth whose only quirk is liking cupcakes and goes to support groups for the attention. Miles is every gay cliche presented in YA lit. Drinks vitamin water, drools over hot guys and loves theater. Sabine is Ever's single aunt who prefers working to fleshing out any sort of relationship with her peers.Riley is somewhat more fleshed out but is the typical bratty preteen who idolizes her sister. Ever only really mentions the other girls in her class as being vapid whores.

What could have been a decent novel about a girl going through the motions of grieving is bogged down by true love, teen angst and shallow plot.

House of Night: Legacy

House of Night: Legacy - P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast, Karl Kerschl, Joëlle Jones, Kent Dalian House of Night Legacy serves as a bridge between Marked and Betrayed. Zoey is feeling nervous and antsy about becoming the leader of the Dark Daughters and the powers that surrounded her and her friends on Halloween night. House of Night: Legacy gives us answers that were only loosely given in Betrayed as then, Zoey was spending most of her time flopping between her emotions for her almost ex boyfriend, her almost boyfriend and her teacher. with Legacy, I feel it did a decent enough job with the story and plot though there were some inconsistency between the pictures and it's text counterpart.

For instance, Zoey barely acknowledged the Handbook's existence in the novelizations, often relying on Darius, Aphrodite, Erik or Stark to fill her in on things either gathered from being an adult vampyre or from directly reading the materials given to them. With Legacy, we visit the handbook in each graphic novel to get a story from the history of vampyre's so that Zoey could learn a lesson to apply to life as well as getting some background stories on the first element users. Honestly, this was something that the Cast's could have written a book about. It filled out the story better than what we got in Betrayed. While Betrayed told us about Zoey being nervous, most of her research was done online and told us nothing about the more important figures in their history.

The characters themselves weren't nearly as bad in Legacy as they were in the first 8 books of the novelization. Damien's homosexuality was only brought up once, Stevie Rae had a little more screen time towards the end of Legacy that showed her having prophetic nightmares about her own death, and the twins were still hive mind but with each book being around 40 pages, they cut back on a lot of them checking for hot guys.

While I felt like this was a mostly positive step, I felt like the bastardization of much of the lore was punch to the gut. I've always felt on the medium about Nyx, but bringing up Norse mythology, Celtic history, The Odyssey, Cleopatra and Anthony, and the Amazons? It felt like a cheap gimmick so they didn't have to flesh out real characters to suit their story. Then again, with what we're given in the novelizations I'm not surprised.

The artwork is nothing to sing home about. The panels set in modern times often have the characters heads looking too big for their bodies, their noses shaded funny and their feet looking out of proportion as well. During the 'history lessons' the artwork evened out, but the artwork left a lot to be desired. I liked how the artwork changed to reflect the times, but it felt inconsistent that it would have so much that was well drawn only to have it fall off the ball at other times.

Heaven

Heaven - Alexandra Adornetto

Finally, a YA novel that lives up to it's self proclaimed cries of being Romeo and Juliet. However, the lead hero and heroine in this case, leave bodies in their wake as they struggle to make all that oppose them see that their love as God's Will. Heaven is split into four arc's really.

Starting off where Hades ended, with the couple sitting in the diner with the wedding band rolling around on the table after the place is rocked with an earthquake. Their love has stirred something, but that wasn't my heart a flutter. They rush to the chapel, make their vows, exchange their rings and and are joined by a reaper who slays Xavier's childhood priest. Folks, I've barely started this book and things are already starting to become unhinged. Naturally, they're saved by their biggest supporters, as Gabe and Ivy get them out in a hurry, fleeing to a cabin in the woods where the couple stay for the duration of the summer. Needless to say, the angels are not happy with their union. A group of them, called the 'Seven', are hunting them and it's revealed that God has nothing to do with this particular manhunt. I find this strange as I thought that the God from this particular book kept tabs on all his children. On top of that, it's stated in the previous two books and through out the duration of Heaven that Xavier is in God's good favor. Again, Heaven is all drama for the sake of drama. They make a promise to Gabe and Ivy not to have sex and have a pseudeo honeymoon, sort of, trying to make the best out of a shitty situation. Until they're found out, barely surviving the ordeal with the power of love.

Arc two starts with Ivy and Gabriel sticking the two in collage, a dream both teens wanted to live. They mess with Xavier and Bethany's papers, making them play brother and sister as it's easier to hide them in plain sight as siblings. Apparently. They live like this for a while, with Bethany's roommate developing this obsessive lust for Xavier that's constantly mocked by Bethany, something I grew tired of quickly. They managed to sneak away during a party and consummate their marriage before returning to school. It's become a thing in this trilogy, every time Gabe or Ivy tell them not to do something that would raise attention to them, Xavier and Bethany are caught with their panties down, figuratively and literally, a few chapters later. Molly is also introduced back into the series because that romantic sub plot she had with Gabriel in Hades needed to be resolved. She's engaged now, to a religious cultist nut job who abuses her. This is cut momentarily short when the Seven attack and kill off some students, Xavier and attempt to take Bethany. Once again, Gabriel and Ivy step in to intervene and whisk the couple away.

Arc three is Xavier's possession. Lucifer has overtaken his body and is slowly killing him as revenge for having one of his own taken. Upon striking a deal with Lucifer, Bethany raised Jake Thorn's spirit so that he could name the price for Xavier's safe return. Gabrial's wings were the ultimate price but not before another arch angel comes to save them and Gabe is left with severely deformed wings. See, if this was the overall plot for Heaven, it would have been more fitting. The other three arcs just sit there for the sake of fleshing out this book more but THIS is what Heaven should have been about. There's real consequences, sacrifices could have been and were made, but Ms. Adornetto had to tie on subplot after subplot, drawing in more characters who existed for a page or two just for this particular arc to end rather hastily. Xavier is exorcised and is back to marital bliss with Bethany, though not before they fix Molly and her crumbling world. In an act to finish off this arc and Molly's character, Molly and Gabriel finally talk about stuff. Gabe has been feeling more and more human and admits he does perhaps love Molly more than he's willing to admit. The feeling, however, will disappear once his wings grow in more.

Arc four is where the Seven finally corner the love birds and Bethany sacrifices herself in place of Xavier's sister. In heaven, Bethany is put into Angel therapy with a therapist named Eve who grills her about her angelhood and heaven, locks her into white rooms until one day, she's visited by Gabe. His advice is to play the game and find help from within. Naturally, Beth thinks of Xavier and remembers his dead ex girlfriend and seeks her out. Since this series is all about how 'other girls' are just vapid, shallow bitches, Emily gives her the third degree before reluctantly leading Bethany to Bethany's childhood friend, Zach. Zach was mentioned briefly at the start of Heaven and never mentioned until now. It was shitty foreshadowing then and I'm not surprised to see him now. Zach, who had signed up to be with Seven at one point, is now playing shepherd to child spirits in heaven. Zach points them in the direction of Joesph who heads an uprising of angels who want to turn human. Okay, lets put things on hold for a minute. We're introduced to four new characters in the last part of Heaven, four characters who influence the plot heavily from the moment they are introduced until the end and that's all they are. Plot. The last arc was so bogged down by all these extras. Yes, Bethany does become human. After escaping Eve, Emily gives Bethany her blessing and Joesph cuts off Bethany's wings. She falls, witnesses her friends becoming adults and Xavier becoming a man, before finding her way back to Byron. Xavier answers, marvels at her humanness, invites her in and they continue blissfully into their small but perfect piece of forever.

The Halo trilogy has been no new experience. It echos what I've learned from previous YA series that were released in the last 10 years, bringing nothing new to the table. Xavier and Bethany are, quite honestly, the most selfish fictional couple there is. All three books were bogged down by drama and characters that were half assed developed for the sake of moving the plot along. What I enjoyed about the first and second books, has been completely removed from the third. Could I recommend this series? I personally don't know if I could because everything is so weak in plot, character and structure wise. Whatever else the book holds is held back by the authors personal beliefs that extend beyond her christian faith that all good girls wait until marriage, other girls are vapid whores and that you're no good without 'the one'.

Hades

Hades - Alexandra Adornetto This book takes 'I've been through hell to be with you!' literally. Hades picks up a few months after Halo ends. It's Bethany's first Halloween and Xavier is taking her to her first Halloween party. Drinking, dude bro's and playboy bunnies aside, everyone is having a good time including the girls having a seance upstairs. What starts as a harmless Halloween activity ends with Bethany on the back of a motorcycle on an express lane ride to Hell. Jake Thorn rides again.


At least there's a coherent plot in Hades. Unlike it's predecessor where teens in love was the plot through and through, Hades got a different treatment. Stick Bethany in Hell and watch her claw her way out except Jake Thorn is one of the princes of Hell and wants to make Bethany his queen. The problems I have with the plot are that 1) Bethany spends months down there before her siblings and Xavier bust through Hell's walls to get her. In Xavier's car. That's right, Xavier's car is equipped to bust through Hell. Righteous. 2)There's a promise of a war brewing between Heaven and Hell because of Jake Thorn stealing an angel, though that never happens and 3) Most of it is drama for the sake of drama.

Because of one of the servants relaying some information about a river in Hell giving a person the power to astral project themselves back into their life, Bethany is able to see what her family and friends are doing.

There's a scene where Molly busts through the front door and demands to know where Bethany is. The school keeps saying she's sick, but it's been a couple of months with no other updates so she goes straight to the source. Xavier gives her the third degree and informs her that his relationship is far more important than Molly's friendship and that she should just go chase some boys. Seriously, the two squabble like children with points going to Xavier because his love for Bethany has more meaning than anything Molly could give. Of course this scene is just to set up Molly finding out about the angels when Micheal crashes through the ceiling. Also there's a subplot that's relevant to Molly telling Gabriel her feelings and now it's super hard because he's an ethereal being and she's just human and how do Xavier and Bethany do it? Because this needs to be resolved.

What ensues after months of waiting is a goose chase across the states with Ivy and Gabe towing Xavier and Molly with them. They perform an exorcism on a nun who tells them about a portal near some train tracks. In Hell, Bethany meets socialites, goes to bars, spends time with the servants and Jake Thorn and heals a tortured soul which lands her on 'Big Daddy's' bad side. They try to kill her and than lock her away when it doesn't work. It's during this time that Molly gets Gabriel alone to tell him about her feeling. Bethany, who's projecting at this point is trying to get her friend to not do it. We get a painful sequence of unrequited love before Gabe drops this load on us.

“If you think you love me, then you don’t know what love is,' Gabriel said. 'Love has to be reciprocated for it to be real.”

This is by far one of the most offensive things I've read in YA literature. I mean, there's a lot of offensive things in these books pertaining to true love and co dependent relationships being okay if you're with 'The One' and a woman's place and desire to be taken care of, but this is a whole new level. During this conversation, neither person was right or wrong until Gabe denied the existence of unrequited love.

Back in Hell, Jake Thorn discovers Bethany's pastime and decides to take action against Xavier once and for all. Fearing for her boyfriends life, Bethany projects in time and warns Xavier through his car radio to Jake Thorn's plan. Only Jake Thorn takes the wheel and almost succeeds in his plans if not for meddling angels. Back in Hell, Jake Thorn confronts Bethany and the two strike a deal, Xavier's life if Bethany gives Jake her 'flower'. The two shake.

"Maybe I needed to stop thinking of this as an act of sordid unfaithfulness, but rather an ultimate act of love."

No, Bethany, that's lying to yourself.

What happens between then and the end isn't really that important as Xavier driving into hell and getting an eyeful of lit candles and a half naked Jake Thorn on top of his girlfriend. It's also a HUGE surprise to Bethany that even if she had sex with a demon, Jake Thorn still would have went after Xavier. Gabriel slays the demon, they all go home. We get a montage of them living life and graduation. Xavier pulls Bethany away, announces he gave his rights as valedictorian to his best friend so that he could propose to Bethany so that he could keep a better eye on her. As a future sense of things to come, there's an earthquake and the ring slips off Bethany's finger. End Hades

With Hades, there felt like an actual plot, a sense of danger, risks needed to be taken. However, like with Halo, it took so long for them to move, because they needed more evidence or they needed to go here and there. It felt rushed in a few places, characters and plot points were dropped entirely in favor of moving things along. Jake Thorn seemed a little more fleshed out, but was still severely lacking. What few things I did like about Xavier in Halo, were completely dropped in Hades, giving him a more over protective, snotty demeanor that we've become so familiar with in most YA male love interests.I don't even the Christian values in these books, most of the time it's played well, but the times that it's not, it feels horribly judgmental.

Overall, Hades was better than it's predecessor, but still missed it's mark. Dat Cliffhanger doe.

Halo

Halo - Alexandra Adornetto I really can't say that this book pisses me off to the same extent that a lot of books directed for teens have done so in the last few years. I just find it incredibly problematic. Halo wasn't horrible, but I wasn't exactly impressed either. Maybe a little impressed with how this book got passed the editing radar with rather sloppy character development and horribly paced story. Halo was written by a young Alexandra Adornetto when she was 17. Congratulations on writing a novel and becoming a New York Times Best Seller.

However, I'm going to be honest in this review.

Halo kicks off with three angel siblings coming to earth to spread good will and keep the faith among humans. Gabriel is an all powerful arch, warrior extraordinaire, one of God's favored angels. Ivy is an eight winged seraph, hangs out with God when in heaven, knits and cooks like nobodies business to pass the time on earth. These two are accomplished by an infant angel named Bethany who's strongest suit is being incredibly sympathetic towards humans. I thought most angels held that quality, but apparently Bethany loves just a little harder. The events that ensue for the duration of Halo involves two teenagers falling in love and a demon set out to break them up.

See, I believe anything has the potential to be an awesome story, if handled correctly.

You know, lets just start out with what I liked.

Bethany: The first third of this book was gold for her character. I can't express how much I loved her naivety, her questioning everything with wide eyed wonder, just partaking in the wonders of wanting to learn. Sure, she was judgey at times, but most of it seemed innocent. She questions her love for Xavier, pointing out to herself that she's only known him for a week and went on one date with him so it CAN'T be love. The scene where she gets drunk was surprisingly well done, Xavier gets her home and her brother and sister make her sleep off the hangover as punishment. It's nice.

Mythos: Surprisingly for the most part, I felt like the angels and bible lore were handled well. Thanks in part to Ms. Ardonetto being Christian, her angels characterizations came off rather well with some deep pot holes here and there.

So where did this book fall apart for me? With this being a supernatural romance, we know well in advance that there's going to be the reveal scene where the paranormal being sheds their skin. On their second pseudo date, a group outing to the beach, Bethany takes Xavier aside, points out her lack of foot prints and navel, sheds her shirt and lets her wings out in front of him. She essentially ruins the mission as no one's suppose to know about this, but for the rest of the chapter I breathed a collective sigh of relief when she's racked with nerves and nightmares for the night. The morning after, there's confrontation with Gabriel who's fuming and rushes out to convene with the angels. The first part of this book would have been an almost flawless set up. Bethany screws up, gets punished, and quite possibly Xavier gets mind crushed. That would be the reasonable outcome. Xavier gets invited to dinner and I'm expecting a very hostile confrontation but we're left with Gabriel giving his blessing on heaven's behalf. In a conversation about Bethany happening AROUND her, Gabriel instructs Xavier to 'Guard' Bethany with his life. My personal opinion would have to perhaps used 'Guide'? Instead we get him taking it to the literal extreme; carrying her books all the time, taking her to class, never letting her out of his sight. Bethany starts to center her life around Xavier and comments how she's glad her human best friend understands that in the early parts of a relationship friendship always takes the back seat while the couple spends all their time together.

After that, everything went down hill for me.

The Antagonist: Jake Thorn. First and last names are always used when talking about him. He's hot and embodies darkness, writes poetry and has a thing for Bethany. He quickly starts acquiring support from his classmates and something is 'off' about him. Bethany can sense it, Xavier does too, in fact, so do Ivy and Gabriel. Yet they do nothing but stand by waiting for something to happen. Jake Thorn writes a poem about a girl with the face of a angel and Bethany flies off the handle and confronts him in the hall about it. The two develop a friendship that feels like nothing more than acquaintances and when Xavier is injured, Jake Thorn takes her to prom instead and steals a kiss. Oh and prom is clearly just for girls. That starts a story arc if Bethany really wanted to be faithful to Xavier. As the story climaxes, Jake Thorn manages to kidnap Bethany and whisks her away to a cabin in the woods but he's defeated by the power of love. It feels like the climax Graceling has if you need a comparison, it happens so fast, if you blink, you'd miss it. In fact, Bethany was out for most of it so you kind of do. Over all, Jake Thorn was a barely there antagonist and a barely there character to boot.

Xavier: So he's a thing. He's athletic, good christian guy, loves his family. Like with Bethany, I liked his character prior to Gabriel giving the two heaven's blessing. It's nice not hearing about a guy who's constantly on the girls heels, ready to catch her in case she trips. That got remedied real fast though.During the prom arc, he doesn't call Bethany for almost a week and when confronted, he tells her he saw the picture of her and Jake Thorn kissing and questions her love and morals. This happens even after Xavier agrees Jake Thorn is no good. Sill, he's not as bad as some other romance heroes.

Pacing and Plot: With the help of the right editor, it could have been tightened up some. Most of the time, there wasn't anything but a shopping montage leading up to an arc climax. Characters were acting out for the sake of drama, often going out of character for something to do.

Other Girls: Halo follows the trend of most girls being vapid bitches or just there for comic relief, serving a role to make the lead heroine appear better than the others. Bethany is the one to get Xavier out of his two year relationship free stupor. She's pure and saving herself and doesn't judge others. Unless it's for their values or morals that don't quite match her own. Once Xavier and Bethany make their relationship official, all the girls start leering at her in the halls, but it's cool because all the guys congratulate Xavier.

I can't entirely hate this book, but I can't say I even like it. I can only hope that with Alexandra Adornetto's future work, she improves.

Revealed (House of Night, #11)

Revealed (House of Night, #11) - P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast Revealed is a final ditch effort to install more drama into a dead series when the Casts woke up last month and realized they had two more books (Revealed and Redeemed) to tie this up. Remember how in Hidden, there was that hidden (oh, I get it now) chapter on the website? Turns out it's chapter one here so I guess that nullifies my rant in my previous review about Hidden's epilogue. Still though, that doesn't stop the crazy train from stopping at that station, it keeps going.

While Zoey has always had relationship problems throughout the book, it kind of died down in the last three books. She settled with Stark, admitted she found other guys attractive, but remained faithful to one man. However, her 'intrigue' with Aurox has gone beyond that as Aurox starts to remember more of his previous relationship with Zoey. In turn, Stark becomes more jealous and more possessive, chasing Zoey towards Aurox because she doesn't want to deal with Starks' 'Poopie' because he just can't understand how she really feels with all these emotions. Also, she drinks Aurox's blood. I didn't hate Heath's character, nor did I hate his relationship with Zoey. It was definitely one of Zoey's strongest relationships outside the one she has with her grandma. While there were some nice moments between the two, reminiscent of the earlier books, it just irritates me that the Casts are reverting back to boyfriend drama this late in the series to give it some life while it's singing it's Swan Song.

Neferet is noticeably absent through Revealed. We get her hiding throughout it's duration in a hollowed out log while she relives her toughest moments as a human and fledgling. While her earlier life wasn't easy, you'd think that after 'living' for so long, she would've seen some good as well instead of letting a few bad moments ruin her whole existence, later becoming the driving force on her path to evil.

They try to force more character development with side characters. While paying respects to Erin at her funeral pyre, Shaunee talks to Dallas and they have a fight over who's fault it really is over the death of their friend and girlfriend. Apparently Nicole is a lesbian and has the hots for Shaylin and, in turn, Shaylin happens to also be a lesbian and has the hots for Nicole. I don't know why I'm expected to care over little things like these with characters that weren't fleshed out earlier.

Also, Zoey is having killer mood swings, literally, because of the seer stone. Friends and family are dying and she's telling everyone to deal with it because they're in the middle of a war and she can't decide if she wants to stay with Stark or not. The stone eventually leads her to murdering a couple people and the book ends with her being hauled off in the back of a cop car. Again, that is the Casts inserting Drama for the sake of Drama. With the series finishing up in one more book, I'm wondering how the Casts are going to do it. They have so many subplots, so many characters, too much drama.

Hidden

Hidden - Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast The last three reviews for the House of Night series have taken me a while to write and as I sit down to write one for Hidden, I feel as if I can't articulate anything to say about it. Hidden deals with the repercussions of Destined and like with many of the books so far, could have been lumped together with the one before it, or the one after it.

Not much happens aside from stuff gets recapped, but not in the same way the Casts did in previous books. It's more than just 'Jack died a few books back and we're still trying to deal!' it's more along the lines of Neferet is evil, but we already knew that, and Erin is going dark side, but we already knew that, oh and Zoey is intrigued by Aurox... but we already knew that. Maybe it just comes off as sloppy writing to me as I read these books one after another and didn't have to wait six months to a year for the next one. This review won't be as long as others I've written for House of Night.

The usual characters have endeared themselves to me; Aphrodite, Stevie Rae, Rephiam, even Aurox doesn't seem that bad. Zoey has done some growing up, something I can put on Thanatos for actually being an adult who has a positive influence on the teens. Seriously, if you've read my other House of Night reviews, that has always been one of my problems with this series, the lack of positive adults.

The one thing I want to rip into is how Erin's character was treated as when I stop to think about most of my gripes about this book, Erin is the character they lead back to. There were a few times when she was reaching out for help, or someone could have stopped and talked to her but they just let her go without a fight. I can appreciate the fact that the Casts decided to split up the Twins, but I felt that it a)Wasn't handled well and b)Came far to late in the game for me to really consider it good for the story. At one point in Hidden, the Nerd Herd gets onto their bus and Erin announces she's staying at the school. At this point, Erin was already willing to hand over Beelzebub to Shaunee and already deep into a relationship with Dallas, two times someone from the nerd herd could have talked to her. Zoey shrugs and tells her it's her decision, gets onto the bus, sits next to Shaunee and tells her she likes her better without Erin, in fact, with the way Erin has been acting, she likes Shaunee better anyways. At least Aphrodite said she likes Shaunee thinking for herself, even if what she said to Aphrodite was par for the course without Erin there to echo her. Attempts to win Erin back could have drove her defection home harder if the actual attempt to get her back were there. With Erin running Evil, Shaylin steps in to handle the water element.


Also, in line with the whole Erin thing, if you didn't have the internet back in late 2012, you missed out on the epilogue the Casts released on the HoN webpage. I wouldn't have known about it myself as there's nothing about it in the book itself, or mentioned anywhere really unless you go to the Hidden page itself on the HoN website. Maybe they advertised it when the book was released? I wouldn't know I only read the book recently. The website based epilogue kicks off with the newly liberated school throwing a fund raiser for the Street Cats society. When Hidden left off with Neferet being subdued, the epilogue had her manifesting from spiders. The nerd herd assembles, talking Erin into controlling water again only to have her taken out by darkness. That's right, Erin was taken out in a chapter I didn't even know existed if I hadn't been following links around the internet. Erin, however, was redeemed in the eyes of her friends so we have that. In the grand scheme of things, it felt cheap. So many characters; Dragon, Heath, Stark and Stevie Rae, ALL got deaths worthy of mention. Even Jack and Linda, minor characters, had notable deaths but Erin, a lead character there since book one, is killed off screen in a chapter I had to look for.

That about sums up Hidden.

Destined

Destined - Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast Moving along the typical with any House of Night novel, Destined has three or four plot arcs that accompany it's very stretched thin overall plot. One is the continuing saga of Raphaim and Aurox being the new kids at school. This however, is one of the more minor plots. Destined focuses more on a fight between the twins and a new girl, Shaylin, who's the newest arrival with Kalona being redeemed on the side.

The book starts off with a rather disheartening scene where Zoey see's Nyx accepting Linda into her good graces and heaven, causing Zoey to wake up in a cold sweat realizing her mother is now dead. While she isn't given details other than Nyx accepting Linda, all Zoey knows is that she can't allow this to affect Stark in any way. Zoey sends him a heaping dose of spirit so he won't wake up while she sits panicked in the corner about the loss of her mother because at this point, Stark has obviously been under more stress. Only he hasn't and he clearly thinks Zoey is in the wrong and any problems she may have right now can be solved with sex.

After that disappointment of a prologue, the kids return to school and Zoey blindsides Neferet by initiating a Skype call with the leader of the High Council and and makes a list of demands; a newly humanized Rephiam to be included in the school roster and the tunnels be included as a House of Night that acts as it's own under Stevie Rae. Duantia accepts Rephiam, acknowledges Stevie Rae as a priestess, but doesn't fully give permission for the tunnels being part of the school. Soon after, there's a bit of commotion involving Aurox and Erik is introduced as the Tulsa House of Night Tracker. His tracker sense starts going off and he finds a blind girl named Shaylin who he promptly marks as a red fledgling. By doing this, Shaylin regains her sight and Nyx gives her a very rare goddess gift, True Sight, an ability that allows Shaylin to see auras. With Erik playing a more dominant roll in the books again, We're treated to listening to him gripe about how all he wanted was to be a ballin' hawt actor in LA and this is cramping his style. Erik decides to make her Stevie Rae's responsibility and thus, solidifies himself as an important character because he feels partly responsible for doing this to Shaylin. Honestly, Shaylin isn't a horrible character by any means, perhaps her powers make her Sueish, but I'm never particularly fond of characters who get introduced this late in the game, especially when they are a shoe in for End Game content. Her aura sensing abilities shadowed by Aphrodite's visions or Zoey's 'feelings' as Shaylin's True Sight just regurgitates whatever we already knew about the character she's seeing. Neferet's aura looks like dead fish eyes, so it means she's up to no good. We know, at this point many of us have sat through 9 books now and know about this through the other girls powers.

Aside from small talk and character introductions, the next truly big thing to happen is Kalona showing up to announce he's defected from Neferet and calls a truce, but this is cut short when Thanatos arrives. Thanatos offers to perform a reveal ritual at the place of Linda's death on the firth day of mourning. Thanatos is definitely one of the better adult characters in this book. She guides the teens when it's necessary and allows them to have room to grow. It's refreshing based off of what else we're given in regards to adults here who are mostly absent, creating teens who act out a lot.

Not a lot happens between now and the ritual, but there are a couple things that get rolling to set up future plots. While discussing things back in the tunnels, Rephiam finds unexpected support from Shaunee, who shares with him how she doesn't connect with her father as well and this leads to cracks in the twins relationship. Erin just doesn't understand why Shaunne would feel so strongly about 'father issues'. Prophecies abound soon after as the teens gear up for the ritual and it's not long before Neferet finds out about it and sends Aurox. During the ritual, we see just how much the fight with Shaunne is affecting Erin. The teens have to choose something that represents how they're feeling at the moment. Erin reaches into a cooler she brought with her and pulls out a handful of ice cubes, claiming that's she's been feeling frozen, cold and cut off from everyone else, clear signs that there's trouble in paradise.

This is largely overlooked when they witness Linda's death and the final battle takes place, leaving Dragon dead, but having him reunite with Anastsia in rather lovely scene. After witnessing Neferet's transgressions, Thanatos decides to become the new High Priestess of the Tulsa House of Night and Much to everybody's surprise, Kalona pledges himself as Thanatos's Warrior.

It's sad to admit that the Casts have upped their game in this one. When they aren't attempting to punch out two 300 page books in a year, it feels like they actually put effort into this one. It's a shame that the characters are becoming more fleshed into themselves now, when this sort of development should have come books ago. Zoey has finally hit her stride in powers, gaining nothing new here and her tattoo's have stopped appearing. Stevie Rae is becoming more well rounded and Aphrodite was always my favorite. Damien and the Twins are finally getting SOME development but because it's so late in the game, I just can't be helped but to not really care about what happens to them. Around the time of this books release, there was an interview where PC Cast goes off about how Glee didn't give her a shout out as they have ties to show and her daughter has to put her line. This brought this books rating down as I have a low tolerance for author drama.

Awakened

Awakened - Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast This series is very problematic on so many degrees it's moved beyond being silly and has entered a territory that's left me with a headache. I don't get this series. Is the fan base so huge that they're screaming for more? Okay, I'm not going into that.

Awakened is the 8th book in a 12 book series, excluding the novellas and graphic novels that only add bits and pieces to the overall story. 8 books in and the plot is moving at a grueling pace. I challenge anybody to read the first 3 books and starting with book 4, just read the last 5 chapters... you would still get the same out of it if you read the whole thing, seriously, a big chunk of the point they were getting too happens in the last few chapters. Skip over everything else, you are just wasting your time.

In Awakened, 4 things happen. Jack dies, Kalona defects from Neferet, Zoey gets two special powers and Heath returns.

Lets start with Zoey here. Zoey gets two special powers while on Skye. Zoey and Stark aren't prepared to go back to the real world and decide to rest on Skye for a while. The queen has taken to Zoey because the young fledgling is also a queen in her own right. Zoey can manifest sprites and fey along with the elements now and upon Zoey and Starks departure, the queen gives Zoey a Seer's Stone that gives her shaman like powers. So on top of being a vampyre, Zoey is a High Priestess, a queen and now a shaman. This girl, who has been a vampyre for 4 and a half months has three titles. Of course the ability is conjure fey is very rare, even amongst High Priestesses. Zoey has no problems with it, there's no training montage, she asks air to help her and the sprites appear. She hasn't used this ability outside of Skye, but no doubt she'll be using it in future books considering the outcome of Awakened.

At the end of Burned, Kalona fails to kill Zoey, but manages to off Stark. Nyx shows up and makes Kalona give up a small piece of his immortal soul as part of a life debt to save the fallen warrior. You know, Nyx always says she's created all her children with free will, but here we see her forcing Kalona to save Stark. What. So with Zoey alive, Neferet makes Kalona her servant for the rest of his immortal life. She fabricates a story so it looks like the two of them aren't on good terms anymore so more work can be done and after a meeting and hearing about what his father has done, Raphiam points out that that Kalona no longer has a complete immortal soul so he's free from the deal. This scene leads to the final battle as it's where Kalona defects.

I feel as if Jacks death was unnecessary and his funeral was a joke, nothing more than a backdrop for the final battle before the main cast decides to take themselves to the tunnels. Jack's funeral served as nothing more than a reason to get everybody in the same spot and even after seeing Nyx, seeing Neferet for what she really is, nobody does anything. Even the people that could do something basically turn their backs on House of Night and say, 'We'll be in the tunnels.' Yeah, they TELL everybody where they'll be. The final battle takes place while they're paying respects to Jack and honestly I forgot why they were all there until a teacher asks, "What about the funeral?" and Neferet quickly shuts it down. So long Jack and thanks for all the fish. During this arc, Erik is forgiven and it's revealed he's now a tracker. This series has a funny way of pushing out characters only to pull them back in long after you forget about them.

As I've said, most of the main plot points happen in the final third of the book. Neferet has sided with the evil white bull and her new accomplice is willing to give her a servant who's willing to go the distance. However, there must be a sacrifice so they head over to Grandma Redbirds house because the older and wiser the sacrifice the better the killing machine. They show up and Zoey's mom is there. Apparently Zoey's 'step loser' had cheated on Zoey's mom with the office secretary. So now Linda Heffer is spending the night at Grandma's house. Grandma is away for the night so Linda is alone. Neferet uses her as a sacrifce.
Theres a change of scenery and we go to the Goddess Realm and Heath is living up his afterlife, playing football before large filled stadiums of people... you know, living his dreams when NYX shows up with a propostion. Nyx gives Heath three choices, he can: A) stay in limbo and be content with life there, B)Choose to be reborn, but that could take awhile, but it'll leave him with time to kick it up in limbo or C) Have his soul be put into the vessel the white bull is creating for Nefert. Nyx assures Heath that he'll have a chance to meet Zoey again because the him and Zoey are destined to be together and that she will always forgive him if he chooses the path of light. He chooses to help Zoey by having his soul placed into the vessel, you know, where his soul could be turned evil and unforgivable by Nyx. Still though, there's that chance things could turn out good and by having a pure soul put into the vessel, it could be controlled in lights favor. Until then, Neferet is controlling Heath.

Zoey wakes up from a nightmare where she's told her mom is dead and we're left with a cliff hanger. I feel as if the last two books could have been smashed together. We're left with more filler than anything else.

Normally, here, I'd make a list of all the special marks Zoey got and take a boyfriend tally, but she's pretty much settled on Stark, and after losing all her marks she lost in the last book, she's gotten all of them back. She's gotten two new powers and the new title as little queen. Really, that's all that's addressable in this book, that's all that happens and most of it happens in the later third of this book. Most of it's filler. This series, in short, should have ended 3 books ago.

Burned

Burned - Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast I've been frustrated with this series for a while now so I took a year off in reading them to clear my head of the pain these books inflict.


The good thing about this series? Two Thirds of this book was review, running around catching friends and family up on current events, so I didn't have to go back and read stuff from Hunted to remember where this story was going. Burned picked up right where Hunted left off, Heath is dead, Zoey is in limbo and nobody knows what fuck to do. I wish there was something to review here, but honestly? You might as well go back to my Hunted reivew and read that.

I guess there's one thing I can talk about: Stevie Rae Johnson. Why is she on the cover? Because this book was clearly about her. You may have noticed in the last book the Casts are experimenting with multiple points of view. Here we have words from Heath, Aphrodite, Stark, Rapiam, Kalona, Stevie Rae, all of whom are in the thrid person while Zoey gets three chapters in the first person POV. Still, a good chunk of this story is Stevie Rae dealing wtih her affair with Rapiam. This may be surprising, but I favor this part of the story than any other part. It's nice seeing other people who arn't Zoey get developement. We get a large chucnk of plot progression from Stevie Rae as she comes to terms with Rapiam, Dallas and being a high preistess. Stevie Rae's parts were actually a satisfying read.

However, this series is still bogged down with pop culture references and inane teenage talk. One scene in partiluar invovled Zoey talking to parts of her shattered soul, meeting with A-ya and then having one of THE MOST uncomfortable conversations with her 9 year old self. Apprently 9 year old Zoey is thrilled to finally have BOOBIES but wishes them bigger. Oh, and she represents Zoey's Joy and skips off. Good Times. What could have been some good growth for Zoey, was played off as.... A joke? as something light hearted? Whimsical maybe? I see the intention, but it just felt. so. misplaced.

There was a rather touching scene where Stark makes it into Vampyre limbo where he and Heath have a heart to heart. I actually like these two in their scenes together. Whenever Erik was around, he'd be nothing but hostle towards the other guys and he's suppose to be 'mature and wise'. Stark and Heath at least has a mutal understanding to get along for Zoey's sake as it hasn't been easy (okay, maybe a little easy) with adujusting to Vampyre life.

I'm grasping at straws here for things that happened that I can discuss, but there's not a lot to grab and hold onto as most of it was filler. So we'll go right to the score board:

Boyfriend Count: 2...ish?
Kalona: Does he count? They aren't actually 'together', but there's something there.
Stark: Is now her guardian/warrior.


Tattoo Count: 6 New: 0
All of her tatto's disapear at the end of the last book and come back at the end of Burned.
Crescent outline: Appears at school.
Filled in Crescent: Receives later that day at Grandmas
Facial: Appears during Halloween ritual.
Shoulders: Appears during Halloween ritual.
Back: After saving Heath from the underground.
Waist: Acquires after saving Stevie Rae.
More Shoulders: Over her scars after banishing Kalona

Forever

Forever - Maggie Stiefvater Following my quest to get to the bottom of why The Mercy Falls Trilogy is continuing into a stand alone novel later this year (2014), I went straight from Linger to Forever so that when I'm confronted with that task, I'll be ready. From what I gathered, Forever (and Linger to the same extent) were met with unfavorable views. They paled to Shiver and I get it. Shiver in itself stands alone pretty well. It completed it's story with a happy ending and everyone got what they wanted. With few plot holes that needed to be tightened, I'd say Shiver would make a pretty good stand alone. That rarely works these days, does it? One has to expand those plot holes with whole books plugging up the ones in the first book while making their own. Linger finished up Shivers nicely, but with that gaping hole blown out the back end, it had to be patched over with Forever

There's not a lot I feel is wrong with Forever that I haven't already brought up in my last two reviews (mainly Linger) but it's always worth mentioning that I still think Sam and Grace are incredibly boring. The two pretty much capped in character development in Shiver when they got their original happy ending.

There's still a few things that bothered me or left me wondering "Why?"

First off, Grace's decision making. Forever in some sense screams Breaking Dawn. She says she wants to tell her best friend Rachel (one who seemed to conveniently stop coming around after Sam) that she's still alive and talks to Isabel about it and is met with disagreement. She wants to expose herself to her parents and again, that's met with more disagreement. The end result is that she gets to keep her friend, attend Olivia's funeral, and manages to reach an agreement with her parents with very minimal fighting. Hell, it feels like Sam left some sort of positive imprint on Grace's mother after he went after her when seeing her on the street.

The exchange with her parents sent my opinion of them off kilter and I don't know how I feel about them in the end. I liked how they were handled in Linger. I felt they weren't completely vilified here but Grace's treatment of them is gross. She acts like, in comparison, everyone else's home life is a cake walk compared to hers. The second her parents put their feet down, Grace flips her shit and blames them for not raising her better. There's a lot I could add here in regards to the parental situation but I can sum it up with I can't help but feel a little sympathetic to her parents.

The ending was a mixed bag for many. Isabel is gone, Cole is doing his thing and Grace and Sam prepare for life 'together'. Sam is considered 'healed' and Cole has prepared some Meningitis for Grace when she goes primal. It has Sam reaching out his hand to Grace and it ends like that. Maggie Stievater released a video afterwards defending the end of Forever and I can honestly agree with her thoughts and opinions about giving her characters that kind of happily ever after as I do enjoy being able to think about what these characters get to do afterwards. I get to decide if the cure works on Grace. It feels like one of the stronger points of the last third of the book. The only thing that broke it for me was Grace telling her parents she was going to the Netherlands with Rachel as it felt like a surefire way to write out the best friend and parents, but your mileage may very depending on where you fall in regards to Grace's relationship with friends and family outside of the core four characters.

Over all? These three books were a good read. Surprising since there's a lot of things I disagree with but there's a lot of things that were handled rather well. While I find Grace rather disrespectful to her parents, I find most of her actions to be realistic. I liked that Sam was facing consequences and not everything came up roses. Cole and Isabel will always be my favorites and in closing, I can honestly say I'm waiting anxiously for Sinner.