Ideally, sequels not only expand upon the stories and themes introduced in their preceding books, but they also improve upon them. Scorch does a great...moreIdeally, sequels not only expand upon the stories and themes introduced in their preceding books, but they also improve upon them. Scorch does a great job of upping the stakes for a group of young grim reapers in an entertaining way, in both the action and character development departments. This sequel features tighter plotting, is faster and funnier, and makes you enjoy your time with its likable protagonists even more than you might've the first time around.
I really liked: Uncle Mort's hilarious attempts to minimize Lex and Drigg's makeout time, jellyfish venom, the further developments of Lex's (and Driggs') powers, and a really cool twist at the end that changes the direction of the story and an important relationship.
And my favorite quote:
That doesn't mean you get a free pass to ride the baloney pony whenever you want to. Got it?
Heh. Definitely check out Croak and Scorch if you enjoy humor mixed with your YA urban fantasy.
An advance copy was received by the publisher for this review.(less)
3.5 stars Fun! It took about 20% for me to really get into the book (the narrative voice and humor seemed a little unusual to me at first), but once t...more3.5 stars Fun! It took about 20% for me to really get into the book (the narrative voice and humor seemed a little unusual to me at first), but once the story got going it was pretty cute and a very entertaining read. Good for those occasions when you want something a little more lighthearted...but with reapers.(less)
So here it is: the conclusion of yet another of my favorite series. Did all the YA writers get together to plot to torture us in 2013?
No spoilers belo...moreSo here it is: the conclusion of yet another of my favorite series. Did all the YA writers get together to plot to torture us in 2013?
No spoilers below, even if you haven't started the series yet.
My favorite thing about Soul Screamers: Kaylee has grown so much over the course of these books. As a bean sidthe, or banshee who calls souls of the dead, she started out somewhat naive and unsure of herself, but grew into a strong, admirable young woman. She makes huge sacrifices for her friends and family, but has stayed somebody you'd still want to invite over for popcorn and a movie. 'Cause you know she'd eat some to be polite, even if she doesn't...feel like it.
Other things about the series that are done well: strong family bonds. (Aren't you tired of absent parents or parents who just don't "get" their teens and are nothing more than annoying roadblocks to a good time?) Well-defined secondary characters, many of whom have their own interesting story arcs. Mythology that is well thought out, with cool soul-calling and blood-letting. Humorous dialogue. Emotional turmoil handled in a reasonable way. Realistic depictions of how relationships with friends and exes change, with both anger and sadness. A love triangle that doesn't make you want to kill everyone involved. Sex handled in a way that is tender and funny and true. Cute, cute boyfriend. Swoony ice cream kisses. (view spoiler)[ :D (hide spoiler)]
I still loathe Sabine, though. And I wasn't a huge fan of the plot line with Emma that continues on through this book, nor of a certain baby/soul subplot. And unlike in the last two spectacular Soul Screamers books, I was frustrated with Kaylee several times because she kept making all these decisions that were clearly going to lead to no good and hurt people, even if they were made with the best of intentions. But props to the author for handling emotional responsibility and consequence in a way that felt satisfying, even if I didn't necessarily enjoy some of the things that happened.
Overall, With All My Soul offers exactly what you'd want in a series ender: high stakes, heightened romance and feeling, unexpected plot developments, and satisfying emotional resolution. I'll miss having a Soul Screamers book to look forward to in coming years, but I'm happy with how Kaylee's story ended. Fingers crossed we'll get a new YA series from this author soon, too!
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Sales Alert: this short story in the Souls Screamers series is only $1.29 for KIndle and Nook right now and all proceeds benefit St. Jude's Children's...moreSales Alert: this short story in the Souls Screamers series is only $1.29 for KIndle and Nook right now and all proceeds benefit St. Jude's Children's Hospital for the first six months. If you're planning on reading this, please consider purchasing it sooner rather than later.
This book is heaps and heaps of fun! I didn't know quite what to expect going into it, but I was hooked from the very first page and had a grand old t...moreThis book is heaps and heaps of fun! I didn't know quite what to expect going into it, but I was hooked from the very first page and had a grand old time following Ward on his adventures.
There are so many awesome elements to keep you on the edge of your seat. Cool action sequences. People brought back from the dead. "Seeing smoke." A seductive villain who will steal your soul with a kiss. An assassin who kills someone by throwing a dagger through his throat. Oooo! Just the kind of action I like in a book.
Ward himself is also a really interesting hero, in that he's very sensitive, painfully honorable, and dead set on doing the right thing. He's also decisive, game for anything, and inconveniently attracted to Celia, the undead girl he's brought back to life who guilts him into helping her find her murderer. A great deal of the book is actually spent from her POV, and the dual perspectives are surprisingly well done.
I loved all the medical talk (Ward is also a physician). I loved Celia, who is a seriously kick-ass heroine, taking down attackers with incredible speed and strength and skill. I loved the descriptions of Ward's necromancy, which actually seems to take some, you know, concentration and power and focus. This is a fantastic YA crossover debut, and if things veer a little too often towards repetitive misunderstandings or romance novel territory, I'm okay with it since the rest of the book is so great. Plus the lovesick fixation is actually coming from Ward, since Celia really can't be bothered with this guy at first. I liked the role reversal, and I liked how their relationship developed.
This book is such a well-written, enjoyable read and I got out of it exactly what I didn't get out of The Girl in the Steel Corset: nuanced characters, the promise of an appealing romance, well-plotted action, fun adventures, rich world-building, and clever use of magic. I can't wait to find out what happens next to this reluctant necromancer...and I bet you're really going to like him, too.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher. Recommended for older teens and adults only, as this is more of a YA cross-over than traditional young adult novel.
Completely Irrelevant Side Note: (view spoiler)[Ward's last name is de'Ath. My friend Beth once dated a guy whose last name was de'Ath and I was so disappointed when she broke up with him, because if they'd gotten married, her name would have been Beth Death! I totally would have gotten her a Garbage Pail Kid card for her wedding. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
*Happy happy dance.* For fans the Soul Screamers series, this book will either be everything you want...or everything you feared most. I fall firmly i...more*Happy happy dance.* For fans the Soul Screamers series, this book will either be everything you want...or everything you feared most. I fall firmly into the "incoherently happy" camp after reading it.
Soul Screamers as a whole is kind of a funny animal. The mythology is pretty unusual and I really like the unique world that Rachel Vincent creates with her banshees, maras, grim reapers, and demon breath. The stories are admittedly fairly straightforward (think Morganville rather than Chicagoland or Vampire Academy) and Kaylee Cavanaugh sometimes seemed very young in the beginning. But as Kaylee's problems became bigger and her relationships with her best friend and her family and her boyfriend became more involved, this somehow became a series that I really, really enjoy. She makes plenty of mistakes, particularly in that last agonizing book My Soul to Steal, but they are ones that you completely understand and sympathize with.
If I Die presents Kaylee with the biggest challenges she's ever faced in her life--she suspects that attractive new math teacher may not be everything he appears to be, she's still fighting her complicated feelings for her possibly irredeemable boyfriend Nash, and to top it off, she receives world-changing news that gives her only a matter of days to put everything right.
I really love Kaylee after this book. One of the things that surprised me is that she meets all of her problems with admirable maturity and sensitivity. There are a number of really difficult situations she has to resolve before time runs out, but instead of being self-pitying or railing against fate, she immediately takes action to help the people around her, all the while remaining true to her emotional self; that's no small feat under the best of circumstances. I'm impressed by the author's frank handling of teen sexuality, which is very um, enthusiastically present in this book but written with exactly the right amount of excitement and humor and gravity. Most importantly, it's also included in the right context of Kaylee's life.
I'm also really happy with the way the author handled the tricky situation with Kaylee's relationship with her boyfriend. Nash was previously hooked on demon breath and his ex-girlfriend the evil Sabine complicated things further. Nash's behavior, particularly (view spoiler)[how he dealt with his ex and the terrible, terrible thing he did to compel Kaylee (hide spoiler)], changed Kaylee's perception of him irrevocably, and the author does a terrific job of showing how agonizing and sad it is when feelings and priorities change with time. Anyone who read the excellent Soul Screamers short Reaper also knows the complicated story behind what Nash's brother Tod has done for him and will be thrilled to see Tod finally being present in the book in a big way. Fangirl moment: (view spoiler)[Yaaaay! At last at last at last. I'm so happy with where this story went. :D (hide spoiler)]
If you haven't read the series, it's one that is extremely entertaining and matures in surprising ways with its protagonist. And if you're already a fan of the series, well...this latest installment hooks you from the very first chapter. It's important to read this as quickly as possible so that major plot developments aren't accidentally spoiled for you, since this is a game-changing book--so don't wait too long! You're in for an awesome ride.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
If you loved the pigtailed, saddle-shoed Ashley, the harbinger of Death in Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, you'll enjoy "Death and Waffles," the short bo...moreIf you loved the pigtailed, saddle-shoed Ashley, the harbinger of Death in Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, you'll enjoy "Death and Waffles," the short bonus story released as an online exclusive. It's nice to spend a little more time with one of the best characters from the book, and yes, yes, there are plenty of waffles.
Never judge a book by its title. I have to confess it took me awhile to get to this one because I think the title is a little cheesy (and it's now obv...moreNever judge a book by its title. I have to confess it took me awhile to get to this one because I think the title is a little cheesy (and it's now obviously impossible to get Elton John out of my head), but this turned out to be a hilarious book that had me laughing out loud numerous times--not a bad feat when a big part of the book is about raising the dead. All the characters are engaging and likable, especially smart-mouthed Sam, strong and beautiful Brid, Sam's little sisters, the...incapacitated Brooke, and the gleefully bizarre Ashley.
"So, you're telling me the zoo commissioned you to make a zombie panda in order to avoid a potential international incident." Hah!
This is probably a 3.5 star book for me, though, since:
* I would have liked to have seen more of Sam's necromancy powers appear earlier on * Douglas would have been more interesting if his character was a little more developed * it would have been fun to see more of the critters that appear later in the book * the flashbacks slowed down the momentum a little too much * the book would have been more pulled together if Sam's narration was in the third person. With focus shifting between him, Douglas, Brid, and then later Ramon and Tia, having Sam's POV in the first person was confusing when it would have been just as good written in the third.
Still, these are minor ticks considering this is a super funny, fast-paced and entertaining book. I enjoyed the big battle scene at the end, am mightily intrigued by the idea of a were-bear, and I love the way the author writes. Can't wait for the next installment in the series! Though now I want waffles. Badly.(less)
This is a great bonus story for fans of the Soul Screamers series. Unlike many of the discounted/freebie novellas that authors release, this one reall...moreThis is a great bonus story for fans of the Soul Screamers series. Unlike many of the discounted/freebie novellas that authors release, this one really enhances the story arc and provides a different and more balanced perspective. It's fun to be inside Tod's head and I was surprised at how touching some of the scenes were. I've always liked this character, but this novella made me understand and enjoy him even more.
This novella is a especially meaningful for fans as the series heads into If I Die, as I think Tod's going to be playing a pretty pivotal role in the story to come.(less)