So often in the paranormal romance genre, we have a situation where the vampire must fight against all his/her natural instincts not to bite a human,...moreSo often in the paranormal romance genre, we have a situation where the vampire must fight against all his/her natural instincts not to bite a human, because of guilt, attraction, etc etc. But what if instead of the human always being the weakest link, this time around it's the vampire running the risk of poisoning themselves from feeding on a human? Intriguing idea, right? This was the concept behind NIGHTSHADE. In her latest adult novel, Michelle Rowen delves into a darker brand of urban fantasy while still maintaining strong romantic appeal (and that trademark brand of humor she's known for). Mix in this unique twist on vampire lore and you've got yourself a winner!
NIGHTSHADE starts off fast and furious and keeps on rolling. It's break-time at work, and Jillian Conrad needs her morning coffee fix. But on her way back to the elevators, her life as she knew it—the normal, get up and go to work hum-drum routine we all grapple with—ends forever. She's at the wrong place at the wrong time. Caught in the middle of a stand-off with a gunman and a frantic scientist, Jillian is poisoned with a serum that makes vampires lose their senses with desire for her blood. Wait! Vampires are real? Yep. Sorry Jillian, they sure are. As Jillian's normal world comes crashing down all around her, she realizes in the blink of an eye she has become a crucial pawn in the struggle between humans and vampires alike.
NIGHTSHADE was a fun, sexy and humorous vampire urban fantasy. I read it over a 24-hour period and immediately wanted the next book in the series to tear into. I do have to admit that initially I wasn't too sure about Declan with his unsightly eye-patch, scars and cold personality. But just like he did with Jillian- he definitely grew on me. I became vested in their relationship and anxiously wanted them to realize their mutual attraction to one another, and better yet—act on it. It happened when I saw how Declan's personality changed when he didn't take a certain serum –the one that supposedly kept his half-vampire blood thirsty impulses at bay (he reminded me a bit of the movie Blade in that aspect too). One thing that threw me a bit were Rowen's characterization of the djamphirs—they honestly gave me the heebeejeebees—I kept wishing they were more like sexy apple-pie smelling Christophers from Lili St. Crow's books rather than gory monster freak shows, but they needed to be what they were to fit the storyline, so it made sense that she did what she did with them.
Poor Jillian—what a catch 22! If Declan was on the serum, she knew it was safer to be around him. If he wasn't? Well things just got a whole lot hotter in the room—but also a whole lot more deadly. As for Jillian, I loved her character. She was such a great contrast to Declan. While he was etched in stone, she was approachable and downright lovable. It was also refreshing to read an adult book where the main protagonist didn't have to kick butt in order to kick butt. Jillian was no trained warrior by any means, but she was smart, kind-hearted and played the hand dealt to her so well that it ended up saving her life.
NIGHTSHADE slams to a halt with a twist that really sets an exciting tone for the next book in the series. It was one I did not see coming and can't wait to see how it all plays out. I would recommend this book to fans of adult paranormal romance as well as more mature teen readers. (less)
OUT FOR BLOOD kicks off with a bang and just keeps on rockin' the whole way through!
Out for Blood alternates between the viewpoints of Drake brother...more OUT FOR BLOOD kicks off with a bang and just keeps on rockin' the whole way through!
Out for Blood alternates between the viewpoints of Drake brother Quinn and the vampire slayer-in-training (Hunter) that steals his heart. It was fun to get inside each of their heads and find out how they really felt about one another. Hunter sort of reminded me of Lucy at times—that is, if Lucy had trained since birth to hunt vampires instead of being friends with them. I think Lucy would've turned out a lot like Hunter.
In Blood Feud my biggest qualm was that there was too little time spent developing Logan. Well, after reading this latest book, I have to say Alyxandra Harvey redeemed herself with Quinn. I think he might actually be my favorite Drake brother. However, I do think a little more time needs to be spent on developing the brothers for future installments. Sometimes they all sort of jumble together in my mind—so much so that I have a hard time keeping their names straight. I've even had to take notes on who they are! Also, every time I pick up a new book in this series, I find myself wishing that Harvey would revert back to alternating between Lucy and Solange like she did in the first book. I don't know if that would actually make sense with the way the series is progressing, but I really miss having those two girls front and center in the narration.
There are two things I enjoy the most about The Drake Chronicles. First off, these books are a refreshingly unique in a market over-saturated with vampire books. Alyxandra Harvey has created a fascinating subculture with this series, one with complex political maneuvering, scary creatures (like the Hel-Bar) and cleverly crafted world building. Secondly, she has devoted great time and detail into bringing her female narrators to life. From the newly turned vampire Solange in Hearts at Stake, to Isabeau, the magical wielding vampire in Blood Feud, to Helios-Ra student Hunter in Out for Blood, all of these characters have left a strong impression on me.I love that the women in The Drake Chronicles are fighters and survivors. Fiercely independent, they can take care of themselves and hold their own just as good (or better) than any of the Drake boys. I think this is what keeps me coming back to this series. It's refreshing to read books where the women are so strong-minded. They don't sit passively in the background waiting for the supernatural boy to swoop in and tell them what to do.
Bottom Line: Alyxandra Harvey's books are well-written with fast moving plots and great action. Out for Blood, the third installment in the series, definitely packs a good punch. I enjoyed the forbidden aspect of Hunter's relationship with Quinn and that of the vampire training school itself. While Hearts at Stake is still my favorite, this was an exciting addition to the vampire fans are sure to enjoy.(less)
THE STEFAN DIARIES is a book based on the CW television show which is based on the popular series by L.J. Smith. Confused much? I was too.
After doing...moreTHE STEFAN DIARIES is a book based on the CW television show which is based on the popular series by L.J. Smith. Confused much? I was too.
After doing some research, it appears that L.J. Smith did not write this book (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong), but I believe she was not the author. If you look closely, she's listed as a "creator" only. When I realized that, it changed my opinion of The Stefan Diaries. Up until then, I couldn't help but feel somewhat exasperated that she would completely alter her original plot just to match the TV show. But now that I know she didn't pen it, I can enjoy The Stefan Diaries for what it is—an entertaining companion piece to my favorite show.
First off, so much has changed. Stefan and Damon's pre-vampire days and their history with Katherine has been completely altered from what happened originally in L.J. Smith's books. If you've read them, you know that Katherine's decision to take her ring off in the sun was the catalyst to centuries of bitterness between the Salvatore brothers. That didn't happen in this book. Other little discrepancies include the fact that Katherine's maid was really Gruden in the original (not Emily Bennett) and Giuseppe Salvatore had no idea that Katherine was a vampire. Even the way Stefan and Damon became vampires was altered in that there was no duel to the death this time around. Basically, The Stefan Diaries throws a ton of stuff out the window and adheres to the events of the television show almost to the letter. At first, I kept getting out my copy of L.J. Smith's The Awakening and trying to make sense of it all. But then I decided to take the book for what it was (a fun re-imagining of Stefan and Damon's 1864 pre-vampire days). And you know what? It turned out to be a lot of fun.
In all honestly, I prefer L.J. Smith's writing regarding my favorite characters, but I do have to admit the plot line of The Stefan Diaries (like that of the show) is so much better. I think L.J. Smith's writing was more intuitive when it comes to the characters though; she really has her pulse on what makes the Salvatore brothers tick and her writing always made me connect with them. In The Stefan Diaries, it felt like various people were thrown in way too hastily, perhaps just to give us die-hard fans a little thrill. These characters (particularly that of Pearl and Anna) seemed two-dimensional and rather forced to me. That was my biggest qualm with the book- the lack of attention taken to really bringing the characters to life.
The characterization that threw me the most was Katherine. What I liked: In L.J. Smith's books, Katherine was so immature and child-like, I always had a hard time picturing her as a woman of marriageable age and understanding what the Salvatore brothers saw in her. The Katherine in this book was different. She was more mature, more sensual – I felt Stefan's pull toward her. I actually liked her better in The Stefan Diaries, for the most part. What I didn't like: Katherine's complete lack of menace. If the book is going to mirror the show, it needs to stay true to Katherine's personality. This Katherine had a conscience and seemed more of a victim of circumstance than the calculating, opportunistic vampire diva we have all grown to know and love on the CW. Katherine is supposed to be a greedy, violent she-devil, who will stop at nothing to get her way. Yet in this book, it seemed like she was relying on Stefan too much to protect her, when her own natural vampire defenses would've been so much more useful.
Damon's characterization, on the other hand, was spot on. Dark, mysterious and more than a little dangerous, his appearances were actually my favorite and what kept my interest going. I could practically hear the words rolling off his lips and his scenes actually made me get out my copy of Season 1 and play a few key episodes. Stefan, on the other hand, was way too passive and "woe-is-me" for my taste. I hope in the next book, he shows a more hardened and wizened outlook on life.
(Final Note: I am a certified Vampire Diaries-aholic. I look forward all week to Thursday nights on the CW and I've read all the books. I've even been known to poke around online looking for my own Elena replica and Katherine pendant necklace (don't judge!). Now, if you have never read the books or watched the show, but have decided to pick up The Stefan Diaries and dive in cold turkey, your take will no doubt be completely different than mine. I do think, however, that if you are a fan of the show, chances are you will enjoy the book. For me, The Stefan Diaries was a light-read—more of a way to relive my favorite CW episodes than anything else. While there weren't many surprises, I enjoyed the time I vested in the book. I'm looking forward to the second installment in The Stefan Diaries, entitled Blood Lust, which releases in January of 2011. )(less)
“His silvery eyes glinted like animal eyes, like a fox in a hen house.”
“If this were a gothic novel,” he drawled. “There would be ghosts and vampires,...more“His silvery eyes glinted like animal eyes, like a fox in a hen house.”
“If this were a gothic novel,” he drawled. “There would be ghosts and vampires, and you would be afraid.”
She thought of the books she read late at night in the library, sensationalist novels like Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho and Burger’s Lenore, all fraught with villains and undead creatures who roamed the nights with insatiable appetites.
“Don’t be silly,” she laughed. “I don’t believe in vampires.” – page 7 ARC version
BLOOD FEUD, the second installment in the Drake Chronicles, reunites us with the characters from its predecessor HEARTS AT STAKE. While HEARTS AT STAKE took off at a break-neck pace for me--causing me to devour it in one sitting, BLOOD FEUD didn’t quite capture my interest in that exact same way. For one thing, I found the romance between Logan and Isabeau a little lackluster. While great attention was given to Isabeau's character, I felt like Logan’s was left a little under-developed. The only thing I really knew about him was that he liked wearing old-fashioned pirate shirts. Although my favorite characters from the first book made appearances in BLOOD FEUD, they were sporadic at best. It was hard to see them pushed to the sidelines and I found myself really missing their entertaining personalities.
Isabeau St. Croix, however, was a fascinating addition to this series. Alyxandra Harvey really did a great job bringing her character to life with well-written, heart-breaking flashbacks of Isabeau’s life during the French Revolution. I respected and admired Isabeau. She was a warrior, vampire and classy woman all rolled into one. Magic and mystery practically oozed out of her pores. The flashbacks of her life prior to becoming a vampire were the most vivid chapters of BLOOD FEUD and I found myself looking forward to when the next one would be revealed. I also enjoyed the elements of ancient magic blended into the narrative, especially concerning the Cwn Mamau vampires--their connection with animal companions like Charlemagne, mystical elements of their training and their vampire politics
Overall, I thought BLOOD FEUD maintained a well-written plot line with great action and that same sense of snarky humor Harvey exhibited with HEARTS AT STAKE.
The next book in this series is OUT FOR BLOOD, releasing in November 2010. It will be told from the point of a view of a Helios-Ra vampire hunting agent; something which promises a fresh spin to the series and some bold, exciting new conflict!(less)
Opening Scene: "Schuyler Van Allen walked as quickly as she could up the polished brass spiral stairs leading to the upper deck. Jack Forc...more2 3/4 stars
Opening Scene: "Schuyler Van Allen walked as quickly as she could up the polished brass spiral stairs leading to the upper deck. Jack Force was standing at the edge of the bow when she caught his eye. She nodded to him, shielding her eyes from the hot Mediterranean sun. It's done."
Misguided Angel (Blue Bloods, Book 5)
Notable Quote: "Love," Mimi hissed. "You familiars know nothing about love. Delusional human, you never felt love; you only felt what the kiss required you to feel. It's not real. It never was." – Page 93
MISGUIDED ANGEL, the fifth installment in The Blue Bloods saga, was something of a let-down for me. THE VAN ALEN LEGACY, its predecessor, had marked a turning point for me in the series. It left me gasping in shock- the romantic drama, testing of friendships, the violence and the loss--I loved it all. So when it came time to read MISGUIDED ANGEL, I was beyond excited. I'm sorry to say I ended up closing the book feeling more than a little bereft. My biggest concern was that it was just too darn short. I think it should've been published as a novella or combined with the next book in the series. Most Blue Bloods books are 400 pages or more and this one barely reached 300. But the length wasn't the only problem. I found myself having a hard time not drifting away. More than once I actually put it aside to read another book instead- something that has never happened with this series before.
Van Alen Legacy, The (A Blue Bloods Novel)One thing I have always loved about Blue Bloods is Melissa de La Cruz's method of alternating viewpoints through various key players- Mimi, Skye and Bliss. I love jumping from character to character and MISGUIDED ANGEL did not disappoint in that aspect. Divided into three sections, the reader gets inside the heads this time of love-on-the-run refugee Schuyler, an angry Mimi and new Venator vampire Deming. The scenes with Mimi were the strongest in my opinion.
I used to loathe Mimi, but ever since THE VAN ALEN LEGACY (my absolute favorite Blue Bloods book to date), my whole perception of her has changed. In the last book, Mimi showed depth in regards to her feelings for Kingsley and the shocking compassion for the poverty-stricken people of Brazil. She quickly turned into my favorite anti-heroine. In MISGUIDED ANGEL, I loved how even though she was hurting and furious with Jack, she nonetheless took her position in the conclave seriously. She was still way too bossy, mean-spirited and downright rude, but I appreciated how her character always remained loyal to her duty. She always will do what is right even knowing it will break her heart in the process. Mimi was also soulful when you least expect it- for instance, the way she felt regret over tossing away former familiars surprised me. I never quite know what will move her and I enjoy that volatility in her character's personality.
In my opinion, the weakest sections of the book were with Shuyler and Jack. It seemed like very little plot advancement occurred at all with the two of them and I found it difficult to stay focused when reading Shuyler's chapters. Also, it was really hard to imagine Skye and Jack referring to one another as "my love". In prior books, neither of them ever spoke like that. It seemed too swoon-y to me and I found many of their conversations to be somewhat out of character. It was disappointing because their relationship was what I looked forward to reading about the most with this book. I ended up being more interested in Mimi and Oliver's unlikely friendship instead. In the past Oliver's mainly followed around Schuyler like a love-sick puppy. So it was a refreshing to see a different side of his personality and watch him interact with other people, especially someone like Mimi, who couldn't be anymore different than Skye.
Another point of contention I have to bring up is Bliss-she is my favorite character and noticeably absent in MISGUIDED ANGEL. What's a Blue Bloods installment without a large chunk devoted to Bliss? As interesting as Deming was, I would've preferred to keep the focus back on the characters I have vested myself in with the past four books. I expect when I pick up a Blue Bloods for certain people to be featured, and it bothered me that Bliss wasn't.
Bloody Valentine (A Blue Bloods Book) (Blue Bloods Novel)MISGUIDED ANGEL picks up a month or so after the events which culminated in THE VAN ALEN LEGACY. The struggle to keep Lucifer from escaping through the five gates was the primary concern of all the major players. New information was brought to light about the Silver Bloods and die-hard fans of the series may happily gobble up all that they can. The ending of the book was interesting and fueled my interest to find out where this series will go next. Though the book was something of a disappointment to me, I am still vested in this series and looking forward to LOST IN TIME as well as the novella BLOODY VALENTINE due out in February. (less)