I'm officially obsessed with this series....when I'm not thinking about reading it, I'm ignoring all the things I should be doing by reading it- amazi...moreI'm officially obsessed with this series....when I'm not thinking about reading it, I'm ignoring all the things I should be doing by reading it- amazing. I can't get it out of my head!If you are a fan of adult paranormal romance, I think this is a must-read. What took me so long? (less)
The novel begins with the focus on a young woman, Carmen Garron. One of many displaced former citizens, Carmen is just trying to get by in Santa Olivi...moreThe novel begins with the focus on a young woman, Carmen Garron. One of many displaced former citizens, Carmen is just trying to get by in Santa Olivia. Her first true love is a soldier and after he is killed, she gives birth to his son, Tommy. Years later, after resigning herself to never loving again, she meets Martin, a drifter. But Martin is not an ordinary man. He is one of the “Lost Boys” – a group of young children secret experimented on in the jungles of Haiti. The DNA of the boys was altered with that of wolves, giving them the defining characteristics of intense physical strength, speed and the inability to ever feel fear. Martin and Carmen fall deeply in love, but sadly, he is forced to leave Santa Olivia forever. Carmen gives birth to a baby girl Loup (pronounced Lou), who will oneday rise to become an unlikely heroine.
As the years progress, we find that Carmen has succombed to the latest wave of plague running rampant through the town. At this point, the novel shifts almost entirely to Loup. Unable to support his sister, Tommy reluctantly places her in the hands of the town church to live with the other orphans of Santa Olivia. He still maintains contact with his sister and constantly warns her to be “careful” – something that has been ingrained in her from childhood. For if the army learned of her genetic heritage, they would immediately have taken her away. Since Loup is unable to feel fear, it is often hard for her to know what is dangerous or what will draw unwanted attention. Up until her mother died, she had lived most of her life constrained under the burden of her heritage.
Loup ends up confiding in her newfound friends at the orphanage about her unique abilities. The orphans (or “Santitos”) are loyal to her and prove to be true friends. Meanwhile, Tommy dedicates himself to learning to be a great boxer. He hopes to beat the Army champion and gain two tickets out of the village for the both of them. His fierce dedication and strong character enable him to become the town’s most promising boxing contender, and eventually Loup will be inspired to take on that role herself.
When the military turns a blind eye on a crime against one of the Santitos, Loup assumes the visage of the town’s saint “Santa Olivia”. She begins doling out justice in her own fashion. With the help of the Santitos, Loup concocts a succession of brilliantly hatched plans against those who have harmed the villagers. Suddenly the town becomes alive with rumors that Santa Olivia has returned to protect them. Desperate for something to believe in, they bring gifts to the shrine of their revered saint and spray paint desperate prayers on building walls. Though her true identity remains a mystery, Loup becomes a celebrated vigilante hero among the people. She continues to serve retribution for those with no voice, no rights and no hope-
It was impressive how all the characters were impeccably written with distinct personalities. Loup was a fascinating character. Although she couldn’t feel fear, she did experience every other range of human emotion - especially anger, love and heartbreak. The most poignant moments for me were when Loup was finally able to be herself, and shed her facade of being “normal”. When she was let go and showed her true strength, that’s when I was really enthralled.
From the compassionate, quiet Mack to the flirtatious and fiery Pilar, all the orphans added a certain level of endearment to the novel. I also enjoyed Coach Roberts. He was the quintessential gruff boxing coach who showed a caring heart underneath an abrasive exterior. Miguel Garza was another multi layered character and I enjoyed seeing his character progress from the typical villain, to Loup’s reluctant sparring partner, and then finally, to a real friend. I was also moved by the plights of the disillusioned villagers of Santa Olivia. I could feel the oppressive hunger of a people clinging to the hope that one day, there will be something to believe in again.
Breathing new life back into the town through their courageous acts, Loup and the orphans gave the people their faith back, something I found very moving. The final “Fight” scene had me on pins and needles. When Loup was walking through the crowd, it was very much a “Rocky” type moment and I held my breath in anticipation of what would happen in the ring –
The crowd quieted, uncertain, seeing only a smaller-than-expected figure in a vivid blue robe. She pushed back her hood. It could have been a loose white kerchief slipping from her hair.
The soldiers in the bleachers erupted in howls of laughter, hoots of derision, and catcalls of disappointment. But among the Outposters in the square, there was a hush as her name went around, its meaning dawning on them…
And on the heels of that revelation, a second significance dawned. A girl in a blue dress; a girl in a blue robe.
“Santa Olivia!” someone shouted.
Others took up the cry. “Santa Olivia! Santa Olivia!” This novel was not as I expected it to be. It is marketed as an urban fantasy/superhero novel, and readers looking for more traditional paranormal fare should recognize that it's grounded in science, not supernatural. In a market dominated by leather clad shape shifters with bad attitudes, this was a refreshing and welcome twist. For mainstream fiction readers who enjoy paranormal elements without the gore, this would be a good crossover book as well. Political undertones also prevailed throughout this book, all of which were believable. The author took elements from current events, and twisted the ramifications into a believable parable of what could really happen when war and widespread disease collide. As for the romance, I would say it was handled tactfully and never seemed too graphic for me. However, parents should preview this book before giving it to younger readers as some of the language and sexuality might not be age appropriate.
BOTTOM LINE: Santa Olivia is a coming of age tale, a fight novel and a love story all rolled into one and I enjoyed it immensely. (less)
Iris' father, a troubled Vietnam veteran, never lives to see his dream of opening a center for Vietnamese street children fufilled. As a man haunted b...moreIris' father, a troubled Vietnam veteran, never lives to see his dream of opening a center for Vietnamese street children fufilled. As a man haunted by the atrocities of the war, Iris' father was not able to give her much emotional and physical support throught her life. Nevertheless, after his death, Iris picks up where her father left off and travels to Vietnam. Noah, a childhood friend and Iraqi war veteran, also decides to accompany her. After losing one of his legs overseas and witnessing his own fare share of trauma, Noah has a grim outlook on the world. His life now revolves around trying to dull his pain with alchohol and pills. He travels with Iris more to appease his mother than out of any altruisitc motive of his own.
It was obvious to me that John Shors had done his research on the cultural sights, sounds and morays of Vietnam. Upon looking up his biography, I wasn't surprised to read that he has in fact traveled the world extensively --he tought English in Kyoto Japan for three years then backpacked through different countries for the next three. When I was reading Dragon House, I felt like he instantly transported me into Ho Chi Mihn City where I was able to witness everything through my own eyes firsthand. I could almost smell the spices in the air and hear the clamor of all the congestion and voices within the overcrowded and dirty streets. From the street children Mai and Minh who live under a bridge, to Tam, with her loving grandmother, I was extremely moved by the character appeal of the street children. The adversity these children have to overcome just to surivive day to day left me reflecting on my own life, and made me realize just how trivial some of the small trials and tribulations I tend to focus on really are. The pacing of the story was fast and intriguing, and I found myself anxiously flipping pages in the hopes of finding out if everyone was going to be "ok". That sentiment extended to Iris and Noah as well. I really loved the idea of both of these troubled people coming to Vietnam and finding renewed faith in themselves and the world through their efforts with the center.
Ultimately, Dragon House is a poignant story of hope, redemption and most importantly, sheer love. I read it over a span of twenty four hours and could not put it down. This book touched me on a deep, personal level. You would think a novel about the plight of street children would leave you feeling exhausted and downtrodden, but after devouring this page turner, I was uplifted by the themes of love, friendship and the resilience of the human spirit.
For readers with a love of paranormal romance, KISS ME DEADLY, offers something sure to please. There is a wide diversity of different paranormal crea...more For readers with a love of paranormal romance, KISS ME DEADLY, offers something sure to please. There is a wide diversity of different paranormal creatures to sample from. Whether its killer unicorns, fallen angels, djinns, faeries or ghosts, those are just a few of the entities you can look forward to spending time with. All stories hold the promise of something new, dangerous and more than a little deadly.
Fans of popular Young Adult series will be thrilled to learn that many of the short stories relate to existing works of authors such as Carrie Ryan, Becca Fitzpatrick and Rachel Vincent. If you are a fan of anthologies such as THE ETERNAL KISS: 13 TALES OF BLOOD AND DESIRE, this is a collection of short stories I think you will enjoy. While THE ETERNAL KISS was definitely superior in my mind, this was a solid offering of paranormal romance that I definitely enjoyed escaping into.
Like any anthology, some stories were more unforgettable than others. Here's a rundown of the ones that stood out to me the most and a little teaser as to what you can look forward to--
THE ASSASIN'S APPRENTICE by Michelle Zink was by far my favorite story. The Assasin's Apprentice centers around Rose, a young woman dealing with the loss of losing her family to the wrath of a demon. At the beginning of the story, Rose had nothing left to live for except vengeance, that is, until she met a demon slaying Assassin named Asher. Things quickly heated up and when it was over, I found myself wishing there was more. This was an enchanting tale of revenge and love tangled together. I would eagerly gobble up any books that happened to evolve out of this into a full length-series.
"My fingers found the hilt of my Blade without looking, and I had a flash of Father, standing near me as I assumed the ready position. I could still feel his hand on my shoulder, steadying my arm as I focused on the targets across the field in the distance.
Hit your mark, Rose. Hit your mark. "- Page 9
FEARLESS by Rachel Vincent involves a parasitic empath called a "Mara", something w hich I have never encountered before. For fans of Rachel's Soul Screamers series, you'll be delighted to know Nash makes an appearance in this one.
"But she wouldn't wake up while I was touching her. No one ever had. I was part sedative, part leech, and all bad dream—literally. And I wouldn't even have known that much, if not for Nash's mother. " Page 296
HARE MOON by Carrie Ryan. If you are a fan of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Dead-Tossed Waves, you have to read this. This was a real delight because the reader gets to go back in time and uncover Sister Tabitha's past. Contrary to what you might think, Tabitha wasn't always such a formidable, unforgiving presence. Her story was one of unfulfilled dreams and forbidden love. As always, Carrie Ryan wrote a beautiful, heart-breaking story that I couldn't help get swept away in.
"Sometimes she closes her eyes and wonders what it would be like to walk through the gate and run away with him. And sometimes she imagines bringing him home with her and claiming him as hers." – Page 225
FAMILIAR by Michelle Rowen was a fast, fun look into the life of Brenda, a witch-in-training who gets more than she bargained for when she purchases a kitten to take on as her familiar (animal used to enhance magic). Turns out, Owen was not the average cat, or really a cat at all. As Brenda's fate intertwines with Owen's, the two take on some intimidating werewolves in this sweet, romantic story of love on-the-run.
"No, wait! Stop, just stop. Just change form again."
"Back to my kitten? Or the tiger? Or I can be a full-sized regular cat—that's the best for staying incognito. Perhaps a Puma would be fun, though. Or a leopard. Choose your kitty-cat Brenda." – Page 257
DUNGEONS OF LANGEAIS by Becca Fitzpatrick was a short story going back 300 years into the early feuds of Patch from Hush, Hush and the ever suffering Chauncey. I enjoyed how Fitzpatrick expanded on Chauncey's character and gave us a taste of what his life was really like. Though arrogant, self-serving and exceedingly stubborn, Chauncey definitely had a whole lot of guts to stand up to Patch and I enjoyed the way he plotted and schemed to get the best of Patch. Fans of the series will get a thrill out of this one.
"The angel had deceived him, tortured him, blinded him, taken away his will to speak for himself. Chauncey had given his oath to end a phantom pain. A few spoken words that had proved to be his undoing. Lord, I become your man." – Page 160
THE SPY WHO NEVER GREW UP by Sarah Rees Brennan. This was a very imaginative take on Peter Pan and a rip, roaring good time to boot. Sarah Rees Brennan is one of my favorite authors and never ceases to entertain me. Though not romantic in any way, shape or form (at least to me), I loved reading about Peter Pan becoming a secret spy for the Queen of England. Ashley, one of Wendy's ancestors, was a fantastic counterpart in crime for Peter. Ashley really made this story come alive and I got a real kick out of it.
"Knowing Peter, the next time he came might be many years late. He might be coming for her daughter. In which case, Ashley was not going to bother with the pepper spray. She was going to make her child sleep with a Taser. – Page 155(less)