Rachel Hawkins has done it again! Demon Glass is full of the snarky, sassy Sophie-goodness that made me fall in love with Hex Hall. It’s not as chockRachel Hawkins has done it again! Demon Glass is full of the snarky, sassy Sophie-goodness that made me fall in love with Hex Hall. It’s not as chock full of funny as its predecessor, but the new location (a sprawling English mansion) and the new characters (including two unpredictable, kind of unstable demon teens) make for a more than interesting foray into the supernatural.
This time around, readers get to see Sophie far out of her comfort zone. Sure, she still has Jenna – who I still love – and Cal is around – love him too! – but all the scenes with her Dad show just how uncomfortable she is with both him and what they are. Despite Sophie and her Dad not having that familial connection, they have this lovely chemistry that bubbles with their growing affection for one another. Readers get to see them develop that father daughter love (insert sappy aww).
Now, I know everyone is probably wondering where Archer is….fear not, he’s in Demon Glass as well. The steamy that radiated from Hex Hall’s pages is a bit dulled this time, but it’s most definitely there. But keep in mind that Archer is technically the bad guy, so any steamy is made 1000x more steamy because it’s so illicit. Discovering who Archer really is and how he fits into the huge political mess of the supernatural world is complicated, but so worth it.
Demon Glass has different feel than Hex Hall, but the new atmosphere and complications amp up the tension and force Sophie to come to terms with who, and what, she is. The fighting is intense, the politics come into play, the building badness lingers, and the characters become so much stronger. Oh, and the cliffhanger is a killer. All of these things make Demon Glass a sure winner for Hex Hall fans!...more
Ward Against Death is a fast-paced mystery thriller with a fascinating storyline and irresistible characters. The world itself is complex, with differWard Against Death is a fast-paced mystery thriller with a fascinating storyline and irresistible characters. The world itself is complex, with different groups of people working towards different goals, and an almost Victorian-esque dark city setting. Ward and Celia’s chance ‘friendship’ is problematic, but so very entertaining. They bicker constantly and have this underlying distrust for one another that just works.
The different organizations are introduced early on and aren’t explained right away, so I felt some confusion for a bit. Adding all the political-like mystery and Celia’s illusive past to the mix makes the plot a little convoluted, but if you follow along and pay attention, everything clears up perfectly. If you like urban fantasy with some seriously vivid characters, then Ward Against Death is just for you.
Celia, the newly dead, but also newly risen, daughter of a very powerful man is a spitfire, both in her attitude and her actions. She’s as likely to take down a bull of a man with just a knife, as she is to turn a man like Ward into an incoherent puddle. Speaking of Ward, I kind of loved him. He’s a necromancer, but doesn’t feel like he’s a very accomplished one. He has this innocent charm to him and takes his oath as a physician (even as one whose been ordered to never practice again) very seriously. Despite his bumbling nature, it’s clear to the reader that he’s far more talented than he thinks.
Ward Against Death is a thrilling debut that satisfies as a standalone, but offers so much as a series. Melanie Card has opened up a world that, though similar to regal days of the past, is unique and holds this darkness in it. I’m eager to see what happens next for Ward and Celia and just what it all means for the shady organizations that they’ve found themselves entangled with....more
Human Blend left off with some stunning revelations and Earth Blend throws the reader right back into everything. The first few chapters are a littleHuman Blend left off with some stunning revelations and Earth Blend throws the reader right back into everything. The first few chapters are a little difficult to get through, because it’s a lot of backstory for several different characters and some of it carries over for each of them. Lori Pescatore deepens the mythos she created in the first book and even adds a bit of a sci-fi edge to everything.
Learning exactly what the blends are and how the Earthlings factor into everything allows the reader a level of understand that wasn’t there before, but it is packed on a bit too heavy in the beginning. Once Julie comes back into focus, the story evolves much like it did in the previous book. Julie is, as always, a character that the reader needs to root for. Her compassion radiates off the page.
The bigger story eclipses Julie and the other characters, to a point. Earth Blend is very plot-driven, putting the characters that were introduced in Human Blend into more and more difficult situations. Not only does Julie’s past come back to get her, but Austin’s future is altered as well. The history divulged in the first few chapters, while somewhat strained with the lack of dialogue and overload of information, become very important in understanding the story later on. The heavier, more devastating stuff is lightened by some well-placed humor – often courtesy of Marcus – and some high-energy action scenes.
The Blends and the Earthlings play a much larger role than they ever did in Human Blend and while I missed the relationships that Julie had in the first book, Earth Blend offers a fast-paced and increasingly complicated view into the lives these different beings and how they connect, despite their differences. Lori Pescatore has given readers another worthwhile installment in this distinctively unique series. I’m looking forward to seeing where life takes Julie from here. ...more
Loss is unlike the other two Riders of the Apocalypse books and Jackie Morse Kessler’s new style and direction are both welcome and exciting. Billy BaLoss is unlike the other two Riders of the Apocalypse books and Jackie Morse Kessler’s new style and direction are both welcome and exciting. Billy Ballard’s life of being bullied is extremely relevant to anyone at any time. We all know that feeling, either personally or as a bystander. And boy does Billy Ballard suffer. He not just bullied on a regular basis, but he’s tortured. He’s made to feel like he is nothing, then he has to go home and hold the weight of his grandfather’s care on his shoulders.
Billy’s Gramps having Alzheimer’s adds another layer to the story and especially to Billy. Billy feels inadequate as a human being because of his bullying. When Death comes to him, telling him to take his place as Pestilence, Billy feels like he cannot do it. Yet, day in and day out, he cares for a man he loves who barely even recognizes him. Billy’s strong, but doesn’t realize it.
I said Loss was very different from the previous two books in this quartet. And it is. Very much so. Not only is Billy Ballard the center point of the book and the new Pestilence, but the old Pestilence still reigns; He’s just a little crazy and hanging out in his own mind.
The division between Billy and what becomes known as The White is startlingly clear. We journey, along with Billy, through the hell that King White (Pestilence) has suffered through and even unleashed on the world. For the first time, we get to see how being a Rider is a huge responsibility, but also a looming burden. What comes out of this is stuff made of human nature’s greatest fears and faults. Billy Ballard is a boy staring down the barrel of the gun and he may not be brave enough or strong enough to fight back. Discovering if he is a thrilling experience.
Loss is unlike either of the previous two Riders books, but it’s also exactly like them. Jackie Morse Kessler has developed a way to dig into some deep emotions and pull them out. Loss is by far the best of the quartet thus far and I doubt I’ll forget Billy Ballard or King White anytime soon. ...more
Shift is the second book in the Shade Trilogy and it does not fall into that sophomore slump category by any means. Shift is everything that Shade wasShift is the second book in the Shade Trilogy and it does not fall into that sophomore slump category by any means. Shift is everything that Shade was, then 9938832x more. It has action still, – DMP agents do not seem like nice people – emotional turmoil, – ghosts=death=sadness – and it has romance – I cannot tell you how much I love Zachary. And even Logan. And I loved seeing more of Dylan.
When Shade left off, Logan just returned from shading, something that’s not supposed to be possible. In Shift, he goes on to become solid again. Also, not supposed to happen. Aura feelings become more and more conflicted because she loves Logan, but she has really strong feelings for Zach. The girl is torn and screwed up and definitely flawed in her actions. But that’s why I love her. She’s the farthest thing from perfect, letting her emotions get the best of her and doing things she shouldn’t do. And she knows it.
Aura’s love life is far from the main issue here though. Logan’s reappearance and his appearance in solid form are not normal, even for ghost standards. Aura and Zach continue their research into Megaliths and how they, particularly the one at Newgrange where both Aura’s mother and Zach’s father traveled before they were born, tie into the Shift. More questions are brought up than answers and I’m dying to read the closing book.
Jeri Smith-Ready is a goddess at writing dark, yet fun, interesting, and sexy as hell stories. Shade hooked me, Shift destroyed me (in a good way), and I’m drooling for Shine. Shift made me run the gamut of emotions. One minute I was happy for the characters, the next I was sad and nearly in tears, two pages later I would be ready to throw the book across the room. All because of Smith-Ready’s spectacular emotional hold on me as a reader. If I had Shine in my hands right now, nothing else would matter because I am that eager to figure out how it ends; and you should be too. ...more
The Midnight Gate starts off not too long after Spellbinder concluded and while it begins with a much slower pace, the story unfolds cleverly and withThe Midnight Gate starts off not too long after Spellbinder concluded and while it begins with a much slower pace, the story unfolds cleverly and with ease. Belladonna’s troubles couldn’t have ended with Dr. Ashe being carted off by The Hunt, that would have been far too easy. But her troubles double, triple, just get really, really bad. Yet Belladonna is still Belladonna. She copes remarkably well for a twelve year old girl with dead parents and an ever-mounting pile of bad on her doorstep.
Belladonna’s perseverance is one of her many characteristics that make her, and this series, stand out. She’s tough and intelligent, but still only a young girl. She knows that. She’s unafraid to ask for help, and is more than willing to accept it from her Paladin, protector, and maybe-friend Steve. Just as before, Helen Stringer puts Belladonna and Steve through the ringer and places them in more than a few unsettling positions – Belladonna’s venture into foster care being only one of them. These two are able to work through it though and, from their uproarious banter with ghost girl Elsie, a huge story unfolds.
The Midnight Gate is a bit slower than Spellbinder, but there are heaping, bountiful bouts of backstory that are captivating. The good and evil – Spellbinder vs. The Darkness – aspect jumps to life with dragons, other worlds, mythical creatures, life and death situations, and even some ancient Sumerian. The ending comes together flawlessly; with small details from the story working into a big showdown that provides the action and adventure young readers crave, but also adding to the series as a whole.
Unexpected twists and turns abound in The Midnight Gate, bringing Helen Stringer’s story about a girl who can see ghosts, into an entirely new light. Mythology runs heavy throughout the pages, leaving the ghost aspect on the backburner, to tackle the new responsibilities that Belladonna is only now realizing she has. Spellbinder is much more than just a nifty title for her and she quickly discovers that she holds a lot of weight in the fight between good and evil, light and dark. This series will entice readers both young and old, with a fantastical element that delights, characters with heart, and a strong backstory that ties each adventure together....more
Spellbinder is complex, interesting, and way beyond the average middle grade read. Helen Stringer incorporates a great deal of mythology to make he4.5
Spellbinder is complex, interesting, and way beyond the average middle grade read. Helen Stringer incorporates a great deal of mythology to make her story work, but it’s never overwhelming or confusing. She flawlessly mixes mythology into Belladonna’s journey to save her parents and return the ghosts to the world, while giving the reader a great deal to ponder, in regards to life, death, and everything that comes after.
Belladonna is everything a normal 12 year old girl should be, aside from the small detail that she can see ghosts, and is very cut off from others because of it. Her parents are dead, but she lives with them, going about her everyday life with ghost parents. Sure, they still chat with her and can even cook for her, but they can’t touch her and no one outside her family knows they’re there. That kind of existence is rather depressing; and when Belladonna’s parents disappear, she could easily close herself off, but she doesn’t. She fights.
Along with her is Steve Evans, her always-in-trouble classmate. Where Belladonna is rational and obviously intelligent, Steve is sarcastic, rude, and surprisingly inventive. This otherwise dark story is lightened by Steve’s joking. Whenever Belladonna seems down, he tends to lift her up. Their back and forth dialogue is one of the strongest aspects of the book. Belladonna and Steve are supported by a few ghosts, some riddles, a magical ruler, and an overall compelling plotline. Each little detail comes back into play for the climax, and while the finale isn’t action-packed and beyond thrilling, it left me happy with the end result.
Spellbinder is a must-read for fans of ghosts, fantasy, or just all-around great middle grade stories. Anyone could enjoy it with its strong, lively characters (even the dead ones are lively) and original premise. The story starts off a bit slow, but is unlike any other ghost story out there. Helen Stringer has infused Spellbinder with a lot of heart and it shows. I’ll be reading the sequel, The Midnight Gate, very soon!...more