Thursday, August 23, 2012

Blazing the trail by Deborah Cooke

Published: June 5th, 2012
Publisher: NAL Trade
Pages: 310
Copy: Library
Summary: Goodreads

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and Zoë Sorensson’s love life is heating up. Cute, loyal, and understanding, wolf shifter Derek is pretty much the perfect guy. He likes Zoë, and he knows what it’s like to have to keep a secret. Yet, Zoë can’t help but wish it was rebel rocker Jared asking her to the Valentine’s dance instead. But Jared’s too busy playing hot and cold with her heart, calling Zoë his dragon girl one minute and then taking special interest in her best friend the next.

Zoë is just about ready to breathe fire, especially once she uncovers a new threat that targets her friends. Although Zoë thought the Mages were defeated, they’re back and have invoked an old spell to give them new power—they plan to eliminate all shape shifters on the night of the big dance. Now, Zoë must lead an alliance of young shifters to battle the Mages and figure out exactly what—and who—she wants, before it all goes up in smoke…

Deborah Cooke's Dragon Diaries series was a pleasure to read.  Perhaps this was partly due to the fact that I did not have to wait more than a few weeks between each book, but it was only a small part.  From what I can find out, this is Ms Cooke's first foray into YA and I sincerely hope it won't be her last.

Her character development through the three books: Flying Blind; Winging It and now Blazing the Trail, has been steady and believable.  Zoe has so much to learn as the only femaile dragon, and taking her place as Wyvern requires a huge learning curve.  She is amenable to suggestion and allows her friends to help her whenever possible. Zoe is smart and sassy, but never forgets her friends.  What a wonderfully strong heroine she is, learning from her mistakes and always willing to try again.

There are so many wonderful secondary character in the trilogy that it's hard to mention them all.  Meaghan, Zoe's best friend is 'the genius' but she is such a likeable person that it's hard to hold that against her.  It's so funny watching someone get excited over mathematics :)  Jessica is a bit of a mystery, but by this book, she has developed into a solid character and you can't help but appreciate her.

Of course the hot guys are tripping over themselves, but most have their vulnerabilities - Liam getting teased about the peach fuzz on his top lip was so cute and Derek showed real strength of character in his relationship with Zoe.  Jared shows up again - the enigmatic 'stranger' who flits in and out of the story, but he definitely has a heart of gold.

For me though the storyline itself was what kept me coming back for more.  The twists and turns with the three fates Urd, Skuld and  Verdandi, or Granny, were impressive and the introduction of Sigmund, the ghost of Zoe's older brother was superb.  Something I appreciated in this series was that the mages were the bad guys and the shifters are the good ones.  Reading about a large group of different shifters putting aside their differences and working together was intriguing and well done.  Put together dragons, magic, shifters, ghosts and romance - lots of different romances in fact - and you have the recipe for a perfect series.  I'm just sorry it's over.

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