It’s no secret that I love urban fantasy more than any other genre out there, and I love it even more when urban fantasy flirts with horror just a litIt’s no secret that I love urban fantasy more than any other genre out there, and I love it even more when urban fantasy flirts with horror just a little bit. I discovered the Edie Spence series entirely by accident, really enjoyed Nightshifted, the first book, and now I’m happy to report that the second book didn’t diminish my love for it in the least.
I think what people like most about Edie is that she’s just a regular woman, very non-heroic and plain. She works her night shifts at the hospital, gets conned over and over by her addict brother and pushed around by the supernatural community. She has no lasting relationship, no real friends, and her bond with her family is tenuous at best. One can’t help but feel compassion for Edie and her sad, quiet life, but there are times when she seems just a bit too passive. I like reading about regular people in unusual circumstances, and I don’t necessarily want them to be fearless or heroic, but resourceful would be nice. Edie is often just a pushover, for her brother, her co-workers, the mysterious Shadows and the entire supernatural community, especially the vampires. She gets involved in their business in very odd ways, they get her to do their dirty work with just two words of flattery and then keep her in the dark and fail to protect her from things they brought to her doorstep.
I pulled on my scrubs and all the silver that I currently owned. Between my belt, bracelet, and badge – which might warn me a second or two before any attack –I’d give myself even odds on surviving for five seconds once I was outside my door. Five whole seconds, although not necessarily painless ones.
In Nightshifted, Edie took it upon herself to save a vampire child, and now that vampire child, Anna, asks her to be some kind of Ambassador, involves her in things Edie doesn’t even begin to understand, and then just disappears without protecting her in any way. There were times when I wanted to yell at Edie to grow a spine, but there would be no point. She is who she is.
"You can't just leave anyone. It's one of your biggest virtues, and one of your worst flaws.
Edie is constantly surrounded by grotesque creatures she relentlessly takes care of, even when it’s not her job to do so. As I said in my opening paragraph, I love it when urban fantasy flirts with horror, and Cassie Alexander balances the fine line between the two wonderfully. Sure, some of the descriptions might turn your stomach (they did mine, and I’m not exactly a delicate flower), but this is what sets the series apart and I really like it.
At this point, I’d hate for Edie to find a steady relationship and then get her act together and become less pathetic (harsh words, Maja, harsh!). I don’t want a man to fix her life, that would be even more pathetic. I want her to find her own footing, start taking care of herself and then maybe get into a serious relationship, preferably with Asher. I like Asher for her, and I have a feeling he wouldn’t just abandon her like Ty (although he did give me reason to think otherwise). He’s charming and attractive and, you know, definitely NOT a zombie. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
What I really wanted, but didn’t get from Moonshifted was a stronger story. The first half was essentially plotless, or at the very least directionless. So many things were happening at once, and at the same time, nothing was happening at all. I still couldn’t clearly outline the plot for you, nor do I wish to try. For the first 80%, Moonshifted suffered from the worst case of Second Book Syndrome I’ve ever seen, but at least it ended with a bang. Hopefully, the next book, Shapeshifted, will be a bit more exciting in that regard.
3.5 stars. The purpose of this e-novella, at least in my eyes, was to make waiting for the May release of Binding the Shadows just a bit easier. Missi3.5 stars. The purpose of this e-novella, at least in my eyes, was to make waiting for the May release of Binding the Shadows just a bit easier. Mission accomplished, Ms. Bennett. You gave me a chance to spend some quality time with my favorite characters and if possible, got me even more excited about the upcoming book. In length, Leashing the Tempest is about one-fourth of a book, so it’s definitely worth your $0.99 or 2.99, depending on your location.
Things rarely go as planned for Cady Bell, her Earthbound demon boyfriend Lon and his teenage son Jupe. In this novella, a relaxing one-afternoon boat trip turns into a real adventure when two storms hit their location and an otherworldly creature pays an unexpected visit. Once again, it’s up to Cady and her abilities to save the day.
The plot picked up a bit late, especially for a novella, but I loved that Bennett built it around a mythological creature I’ve never even heard of. Yes, there are still a few out there, and no, I won’t tell you what it is, you’ll have to find out for yourselves. I’ll just point out that I was pleasantly surprised and completely creeped out by this creature. Here, I’ll give you a clue because I’m nice like that.
I’d summoned a few demons with weird appendages: tails, cloven hooves, wings… but I’d never seen a multi-headed demon outside a medieval engraving in a musty goetic tome.
Fortunately, Jenn Bennet unleashed her sense of humor in this one, and of course, most of the humorous remarks came from the teenage Earthbound wonder Jupe and his not-so-secret crush Kar Yee. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t be affected by Jupe’s innocent charm. Even Lon, who is a pretty strict father, all things considered, lets him get away with almost anything.
Lon and Cady’s wonderful relationship with Jupiter brings me to my favorite thing about Bennett’s books. What sets this series apart from all other urban fantasy series is the family at its center. Even though their stories are told from Cady’s point of view, in first person at that, they are indeed their stories. Every member of the newly formed family is just as important as the other two, and Bennett manages the stories with three equal protagonists beautifully.
The second book in the series, Summoning the Night, found its place among my very few favorite 2012 adult releases. If you like urban fantasy at all, you’ll definitely like this one.
A popular girl, queen bee’s best friend, in fact, but one that never felt like she really belonged, commits an unforgivable offense against the in-croA popular girl, queen bee’s best friend, in fact, but one that never felt like she really belonged, commits an unforgivable offense against the in-crowd and becomes a social outcast overnight. Left without other options and tired of being the target of abuse, she starts spending time with the weird girl and her group of friends and, after a lot of personal growth and quite a few enlightening moments, realizes there’s more to life than malls and glitter.
Yes, that is a description of at least a hundred YA contemporary books. Yes, Speechless is one of them. Yes, I usually stay as far away from them as possible, and I intend to keep doing that in the future. But this is Hannah Harrington, you know? And despite all my fears and reluctance, she truly made it work.
That’s not to say that I didn’t struggle at the beginning. The mean girls theme is one of my deal-breakers – those things I just can’t force myself to read about, and that’s what the beginning of Speechless is all about. It didn’t help that Chelsea, the main character, was constantly trying to prove herself to them. Such things always leave a bad taste in my mouth. I still remember Pink by Lili Wilkinson and the exact moment I realized that her main character, Ava, reached the point of no redemption. All those Very Important Life Lessons that came after couldn’t save her in my eyes. When you’re done, you’re done.
I loved that, loved that I mattered, that people were jealous. I loved turning heads. It didn’t matter that most of them were looking at Kristen; I was in their line of vision, and that totally counted for something. Being on the radar at all. It made me more than average. It was everything to me.
Fortunately, Chelsea realized the magnitude of her mistakes just before reaching that point. I was angry with her, but Harrington’s timing was superb, and that’s what saved the book for me. She turned things around at the very last acceptable moment, and she exposed her main character to abuse, which made me feel sorry for her first, and gave me a chance to genuinely like her later.
Oddly enough, romance was once again my favorite part. A slowly developed attraction between a normal-looking boy (no heart-stopping gorgeousness here) and a very flawed girl was simply too realistic and heartwarming to ignore. I loved how Sam changed in Chelsea’s eyes. At first, she saw nothing special about him, apart from the fact that he was being nice to her when he had every reason not to be, but after some time together she started seeing him differently, until suddenly nothing about him felt ordinary anymore. That’s the kind of love I want to read about – just people falling in love with other people. We can’t all fall for, or even appreciate, perfection.
… I was never happy before, and I never even realized it. You can be surrounded by people and still be lonely. You can be the most popular person in school, envied by every girl and wanted by every boy, and still feel completely worthless. The world can be laid at your feet, and you can still not know what you want from it.
In the end, I feel it’s necessary to point out that Speechless is nothing like Saving June. On the one hand, it’s a good thing. Diversity is always good and it would be a disaster if a young author like Hannah Harrington fell into a repetitive pattern. On the other hand, if you’re expecting to recreate the emotions Saving June left you with, you might end up just a little bit disappointed. Separate these two books in your mind and then go out to grab a copy of Speechless. I doubt you’ll regret it. ...more
Almost two years ago, when I picked up a book called The Reapers Are the Angels (mostly because I liked the title), I never dreamed reading it would bAlmost two years ago, when I picked up a book called The Reapers Are the Angels (mostly because I liked the title), I never dreamed reading it would be such a life-changing, earth-shattering experience. Not only did Alden Bell (pseudonym for Joshua Gaylord, author of Hummingbirds) take everything I thought I knew about genre fiction and turn it upside down, but his main characters, Temple and Moses (and what an odd pair they are) became permanent residents in my thoughts and in my heart.
Exit Kingdom is not a sequel, but a companion novel – a prequel in some ways – loosely connected through two characters: Moses and his paternal half-brother Abraham. The story begins after the events of The Reapers: Moses and Maury are sitting around a bonfire with some survivors and Moses is answering questions about their travels. When asked whether he believes in God, Moses offers to tell a story about his early adventures – one that explains why he knows with absolute certainty that God truly exists.
Like The Reapers, Exit Kingdom is very much a road novel, still influenced by Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner among others, but the philosophy hidden within is somewhat different. Temple was a ray of hope in an otherwise hopeless world, and Moses’ perspective seems rather bleak in comparison. Many factors caused this huge difference between them, but the most important one, the one that Bell himself keeps pointing out in the few interviews that can be found, is that Temple was born in a world infested with slugs, while Moses still remembers what life was like before.
Bell’s writing is unusual and breathtaking: he skillfully uses language to create the right atmosphere and to bring his readers closer to a world where education had to take the back seat to survival. It’s interesting that a language can deteriorate so badly and still be so beautiful. Add to that Moses’ unusual way of speaking – for even the most mundane sentences become noteworthy coming from his mouth – and you’ll get a prose piece that is distinctive and impossible to forget.
My brother and I, Moses says, we’re hard to offend, friar. You likely couldn’t stumble by accident upon the offence to us – you’d have to give it your full effort and strategy. So don’t fret yourself on that account. We’re happy to get whatever you feel like offerin. And we’re happy to offer services in exchange.
Exit Kingdom is a story about God, or the absence of God, but it is not a religious story. God, like beauty, is very much in the eye of the beholder. Where one sees chaos, another sees harmony. Where one sees apocalypse, another sees rebirth. I think the last sentence (it’s not a spoiler, not at all relevant to our story), will tell you more about this book than I have in this entire review:
Noa has spent almost her entire life in the system, changing foster parents far too often. Along the way, she became extremely good with computers and Noa has spent almost her entire life in the system, changing foster parents far too often. Along the way, she became extremely good with computers and she somehow managed to create a false foster family for herself, make a lot of money online under the name of her non-existent foster father and rent a great apartmen. But because of her lack of personal connections, she is targeted by a group that performs illegal medical experiments on human subject. At the beginning of Don’t Turn Around, she wakes up in a warehouse on an operating table with a huge scar on her chest and with absolutely no recollection of how she got there. She somehow manages to run, but she is cut off from her money and her things, and she has nowhere to go. Peter’s parents are obscenely rich, but ever since his brother died from a rare disease, he might as well be an orphan. His year older girlfriend just started college and is drifting away and he’s not really interested in anything but the website he created for his group of hacktivists. One day, while going through his father’s files, he stumbles upon a URL and when he tries to access it, armed men storm into his house, threaten him and take away his laptop. Completely terrified, but still curious, Peter turns to the best hacker from his site, which happens to be Noa. Pretty soon it becomes clear that their goal is the same, but that doesn’t mean they instantly trust each other.
Don’t Turn Around is an action-packed adventure that leaves you no time to relax, blink or even breathe. Before I started reading, I was curious about the title, but it soon became very clear. The main characters are being chased from one place to the next throughout the book and turning around to look at their pursuers is rarely a good idea. Although separately, both Noa and Peter are on the run the entire time, always trying to find somewhere safe to huddle with a laptop and learn more about the people hunting them. Since they’re both on their own, running, hiding and fighting back using minimal resources, the book has very little dialogue, but it is very fast-paced. The rapid pacing was exhilarating at first, but it soon became exhausting - it left me a bit dizzy and actually physically tired.
Fans of romance will be heavily disappointed. Dual perspective has been growing in popularity, especially in YA, and in most cases it means that the two main characters will eventually fall in love, sometimes very early in the story, sometimes a bit later. Noa and Peter don’t even meet properly until the second half, and even then there’s a lot of distrust between them, so there’s really no real romance to speak of. Peter is heartbroken and Noa is, for the most part, just broken, and even though they’re occasionally attracted to each other, that’s as far as it goes. Personally, I didn’t mind that one bit, but I know there will be a lot of frustrated readers out there.
If you’re expecting any kind of closure from this book, you will be disappointed. The ending is not exactly a cliffhanger, but nothing is resolved either. At one (pretty random) point, the story just stops. Nevertheless, I have no intention of reading the sequel, I just didn't develop any emotional attachments to these characters.
Brigid Kemmerer is one of those rare few authors who know exactly what their readers want. She surprised us with Storm by giving us a solid world fillBrigid Kemmerer is one of those rare few authors who know exactly what their readers want. She surprised us with Storm by giving us a solid world filled with complex characters and a plot that kept us on the edge of our seats, but in Spark, she took this a step (or three) further and showed a profound understanding of human nature and readiness to explore the more vulnerable side of her characters.
And who better to bare his heart than the gorgeous and daredevilish Gabriel Merrick? While I truly enjoyed Chris in Storm, he was simply too young and his problems too childish for me to relate to. But Gabriel’s troubles are a whole different story. Really, who of us has never been rejected or felt completely alone, even in a crowded room, even among family? Gabriel is crippled by guilt over their parents’ deaths, he feels responsible for their current situation, and, even though it’s never discussed or admitted, I believe he refuses to form a connection with Michael because he feels guilty for basically stealing Michael’s life. You’d expect strong and complicated emotions from someone who controls fire, and you’d be right: Gabriel is explosive by nature, he often acts (defensively) first and thinks it through later, but in Spark, he slowly learns to control that side of him just as he learns to control his element.
Even when I disliked one of the characters (I’ll never be Layne’s biggest fan, I’m afraid), I always understood why they behaved the way they did. For example, Layne’s relationship with her father was incredibly frustrating and difficult to read about, but I never blamed her for not being able to stand up to him, and when she stopped her brother from doing the same for fear of driving their father away, it really broke my heart in two.
Once again, Michael Merrick really stood out for me. He is quiet and remains mostly in the background, but the sacrifices he’s made are revealed constantly through other characters. One of Gabriel’s stories about their parents’ death really showed how much pain and pride Michael swallowed for Gabriel, Nick and Chris. He was so young when he started taking care of everyone, but no one was there to comfort him. (I totally would. Yes, I would… Shut up, brain!)
With Spark, Brigid Kemmerer showed incredible potential and great imagination. I hope she’ll keep listening to both her readers and her characters, because what she’s been doing so far works. I need more, please. ...more
4.5 stars. When did Taheref Mafi go from being a debut author that intrigued and confused me to being on my very short list of authors whose works I b4.5 stars. When did Taheref Mafi go from being a debut author that intrigued and confused me to being on my very short list of authors whose works I buy without a second thought? I think Shatter Me is one of those books that kept changing and changing in my mind long after I finished reading it, becoming better every day, as it endured the test of time. I read a lot and I forget easily, it is a simple fact, but Tahereh Mafi never allowed herself to be forgotten. And she just sealed the deal with Unravel Me, which I was fortunate enough to read ahead of time and which turned out to be my second favorite book in 2012.
I didn’t like it… getting to know Warner, seeing a different side of him (not a better side, mind you, just one that made him clearer to me), and actually considering that he might be a better choice for our Juliette… Nope, I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it one bit. How can I feel so much love for a sociopath, a man damaged beyond salvation? Warner is cruel and frightening, but he also understands Juliette better than Adam ever could. The two of them are so alike, both abused by their parents, both living with so much ugliness on their conscience.
The life I know now is the only one that matters. The suffocation, the luxury, the sleepless nights, and the dead bodies. I’ve always been taught to focus on power and pain, gaining and inflicting. I grieve nothing. I take everything.
Because Juliette’s voice is so distinctive and closely connected to Mafi’s writing style in any reader’s mind, Mafi changed her writing completely for Warner, and it is the smartest thing she could have done. I’m not just talking about the absence of poetic descriptions and (in)famous strikethroughs, even the rhythm and sentence structure are different. This story from Warner’s point of view is clean and delivered with military precision, skillfully written and tightly controlled. Tahereh Mafi gave him a voice so unlike Juliette’s that there is no mistaking the two, and the contrast is made even more obvious by Juliette’s diary entries Warner discovers in her old cell room.
My mind is a warehouse of carefully controlled human emotions. I can almost see my brain as it functions, filing thoughts and images away. I lock away the things that do not serve me. I focus only on what needs to be done: the basic components of survival and the myriad things I must manage throughout the day.
And these diary entries… these words Juliette wrote down while she was in the asylum… even though there aren’t many of them, each and every one is so completely and utterly heartbreaking, her every thought, every memory is a new knife that finds its way into the reader’s heart.
This unusually long e-novella that takes place between the events of Shatter Me and Unravel MEe is an absolute must-read for all Mafi’s fans. If I wasn’t in the habit of reserving my five-star ratings only for books that really and truly take my breath away, I would have given Destroy Me those five shiny crowns. This way, it gets four and a half, but I need you to know it came very close, my friends. Very close indeed.
Late in the 21st century, the government, no longer the United Kingdom but Central Coalition, found a new way to deal with criminals. Instead of prisoLate in the 21st century, the government, no longer the United Kingdom but Central Coalition, found a new way to deal with criminals. Instead of prisons or even capital punishment, they get a clean slate, or more precisely, they get slated – their memory gets wiped clean and, if they’re underage, they get assigned to a new Mum and Dad, a whole new family they’re supposed to treat as their own. Kyla has been slated nine months ago, and the time has come for her to leave the New London Hospital and go live with her new parents and sister. The tightly controlled society is run by the Lorders (Law and Order Officers) and it’s normal for people to disappear, be taken away any time, with little or no warning. All slated wear a Levo around their wrists - it is a device that measures their moods and keeps things from getting out of hand. If they feel anything too strongly, their Levo shuts them down and they black out in pain.
As entranced as I was by this story, I did manage to notice some discrepancies. The problem with putting your character in such a challenging situation, or rather state of mind, is that it’s very hard to remain consistent. Kyla doesn’t know very much about the outside world when she leaves the New London Hospital, she even has no idea how to use the car door handle, and yet no one is surprised when she recognizes the sound of gunfire just a few days later. We could probably explain it away easily, with something simple like a movie, but the skeptic in me always assumes the worst.
Also, I love to know a bit more about the background with my dystopias. It’s not enough to just describe the society, I need to know how it came to be. (This pretty much sums up my problems with Divergent). In Slated, some of it was explained towards the end of the book, but it was too little, too late. I hope the sequel will take care of that.
The romance didn’t quite reach me. I liked Kyla and I liked Ben, but I never understood how their relationship happened. Or why. At the beginning, Ben is described as a gorgeous boy every girl in school wants to be with, but he remains uninterested until Kyla shows up. Then, suddenly, he’s all over her, friendly, protective, always there to help. She is, of course, insecure and convinced that he’s dating another girl, even when he starts spending all his free time with her. What makes it bearable is that Slated is not really focused on the romance, it’s focused on Kyla’s recovery, past and new family, all of which was handled perfectly.
Minor issues aside, Terry did a great job with the subject of memory loss. The beginning of Slated reminded me a bit of the beginning of Thyla. But the most interesting part Terry explored is muscle memory. Sometimes, Kyla would just stop thinking about things and start moving instinctively – she discovered a lot if things about her old self that way, her ability to drive just one of them.
Me pointing out a few flaws doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy Slated. As far as dystopias go, it was better than most. If you’re a fan of the genre, you won’t want to miss it. If you’re a fan of all things British like I am, you’ll enjoy the British setting and the distinctly British language.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, Hachette Children's Books UK, for review purposes.
Every time I get my hands on a new Demon Squad book, it feels a lot like Christmas. Admittedly, it’s a dirty Christmas, full of drunken groping and inappropriate comments, but it’s Christmas nevertheless. It is not often that urban fantasy is written and delivered with such boldness and abandon – Tim Marquitz does not only overstep the lines of good taste, he completely ignores them and then he laughs in your shocked face. And I love it.
Where is God now? I guess we’ve all asked ourselves that question at some point in our lives, some of us every day even, but when Frank asks, he actually hopes to get an answer. God has been missing, or rather, he left us to fend for ourselves, and to make matters more interesting, Lucifer has done the same. Two armies with no one strong enough to lead them are a sure recipe for disaster, but with a few more hostile universes in the mix, the Earth has very little hope of survival.
Enter Frank Trigg, Lucifer’s reckless nephew. After a long period of silence, his uncle sent him a message warning him about God’s old creations, all bigger and more powerful than us. Trigg is supposed to gather his allies and come up with strategies to defend Earth. But what makes him so special? Why should he carry this weight on his shoulders? To answer that, he’ll have to take a long, hard look into his past and maybe even kill an angel or two in the process.
This time around, Frank gave a whole new meaning to the word underdog. Nobody wanted him around for too long and there were far too many people (I use the term loosely here) trying to kill him. When you add to that a few shocking revelations about his family’s history, it’s no wonder I had the urge to hug him and comfort him just a teeny tiny bit (although he’d probably grab my butt or something, dirty bastard that he is, and then I’d have to shoot him with his own gun… not that he ever gets to keep it for long anyway).
The beginning of Echoes of the Past was a little bit rough for me. I was just getting comfortable in the Demon Squad universe, and suddenly there were more universes to consider, more powers, more creatures, more everything. It was all too much too fast and it took me a while to adjust, but the second half more than made up for it. In it, Marquitz showed that he’s not afraid to add layers to his main character. The emotional depth he showed, the seriousness with which he approached certain subjects while keeping Frank true to himself stunned me. It made me forget about the first half. It even made me less grumpy about the cliffhanger. I’ll always put character development first and that part was done perfectly.
It’s too early to start thinking about book 5, but I can’t help it, not after that cliffhanger, and I’m excited and terrified in equal amounts. I don’t know what’s coming next for poor Frank, but I’m sure it won’t be pretty.
Once Burned is a radical improvement over the last few Night Huntress books, but unfortunately, that isn’t saying much. Cat and Bones have been losingOnce Burned is a radical improvement over the last few Night Huntress books, but unfortunately, that isn’t saying much. Cat and Bones have been losing steam, but their world still has so much to give, which in some ways makes this a very smart move. I was a bit skeptical at first (aren’t I always?) about Frost using such a huge historical figure as a protagonist, but she handled that part well: she stayed very close to what the world knows about the real Vlad III Tepes.
However, she didn’t stay true to herself. When I tried to combine what we found out about him in the original series (he appeared in at least two Night Huntress books) with what I know of the real Vlad, this wasn’t what I came up with at all. Obviously she had to offer more than she did when he was just a secondary character, but she still needed to stay close to her previous portrayal of him. A lot of things were missing, most of all the sardonic sense of humor I’ve learned to expect. Frost chose to put emphasis on his other traits like arrogance and ruthlessness – all understandable, of course, he is Vlad the Impaler after all – but he seemed too cold somehow, and I didn’t get the attraction between him and Leila at all.
It didn’t help that Leila seemed seriously underdeveloped. Too much of her character was left unexplored. She carried guilt over causing her mother’s death, and yet the whole thing was barely mentioned. Years of animosity between her and her sister were resolved in one very short conversation. Everything was too abrupt. When I fist found out that she was a circus performer, I was excited and I wanted to learn more, but that too was barely mentioned. I see no point in giving your protagonist such an interesting occupation if you don’t intend to make the most of it.
Most of this book takes place in different parts of Romania. Being who I am (linguist, grammar nerd and lover of all things old and European), I was disappointed by the amount of research Jeaniene Frost invested in this book. Sure, she did her homework on Vlad Tepes himself, but Romanian language, culture and customs were all painfully neglected. Even Vlad’s humans, some of whom didn’t even speak English, all had English names.
Like my friend Missie (you can read her review here), I think it best not to overthink this book. Thinking about it too much only makes you see the barely hidden flaws. But Jeaniene Frost’s books are never boring, and they’re always hot. Sometimes – especially in the middle of the summer – that’s all you can ask.
Even after reading Vlad and Leila's adventure, Mircea II Basarab remains my favorite Wallachian prince and my favorite fictional crush. You can meet him in all his glory in Touch the Dark by Karen Chance.
Guess what, folks! It is entirely possible to write good urban fantasy without relationship drama or love triangle drama. Who knew?! Well, I did, andGuess what, folks! It is entirely possible to write good urban fantasy without relationship drama or love triangle drama. Who knew?! Well, I did, and I guess Jenn Bennett did too because that’s what she delivered. After the sweet beginning of Cady and Lon’s relationship in Kindling the Moon, I thought they would surely start having second thoughts, realize that their age difference and Lon’s teenage son are too much to handle, or at least that one of them would be attracted to another person as well. I mean, that’s how these things go, right? Wrong! I never in my wildest dreams expected them to communicate, to be supportive and ready to commit to each other, but most of all, I didn’t think they’d end up solving paranormal mysteries together, like a family. Shows what I know.
Now that Arcadia Bell finally knows the truth about her parents, she’s free to live her life with Lon and his son Jupe, work in her tiki bar and learn about her Moonchild abilities. Or at least she should be. When Earthbound teens start disappearing and the connection is made between current kidnappings and a 30-year-old unsolved case, Cady and Lon are asked to investigate. Normally they would refuse such an assignment, but all the kidnapped teens are connected to Hellfire, a club of Earthbounds Lon belongs to, which means that Jupe might be next. With Lon’s son in danger, there’s really no way they could refuse.
As if that isn’t enough, Jupe is developing his knack earlier than most part-demons. His knack is very dangerous, especially in the hands of a fourteen-year-old boy: it turns out that he can compel people to do anything he wants just by talking to them. The parental struggles that ensue are both heartwarming and at times hilarious.
Everyone who has a soft spot for Kate Daniels’ kid Julie like I do, will fall in love with Jupiter in a second. Most of the humor in both books comes from him, but he also made me tear up once or twice. He is sweet, intelligent and very realistic.
I think I’ve already made it clear how much I love Cady and Lon together. I’d continue the series just for that, even if the rest wasn’t that good. I got a little angry with Cady in the second half when she didn’t stand up to Mr. Dare, but I understand her fear and the need to hide her identity. Again, what makes it better is that Lon knows all her secrets so she doesn’t have to worry about him abandoning her in the future.
If you’re like me and you’re always on the lookout for a good urban fantasy series, Arcadia Bell is an excellent choice. I don’t know when book three is coming out, but I know I’ll pre-order it.
Jasper “Jazz” Dent was raised by his father Billy, one of the world’s most violent serial killers. While other kids were riding bikes and playing, JazJasper “Jazz” Dent was raised by his father Billy, one of the world’s most violent serial killers. While other kids were riding bikes and playing, Jazz was taking care of his father’s murder trophies and learning how to become an invisible, invincible predator. When Jasper was twelve, Billy finally escalated and got caught by the local sheriff, G. William. Four years later, Jazz is still tormented by his father’s teachings, and his only goal is to escape Billy Dent’s legacy. He needs to remind himself over and over again that people matter, especially when a new killer starts imitating Billy’s crimes. Jasper is the first to notice the pattern and as the bodies start piling up, he becomes obsessed with stopping the copycat.
In Jasper, Lyga created a well-rounded, consistent and truly believable character. He is smart and incredibly observant, but severely damaged, and very easy to love. But he's not the only one worth mentioning. Of all the fabulous characters that were built around Jazz, his girlfriend Connie was the one who really stole my heart. It is rare that a teen character, especially a secondary character, is so strong, self-assured and genuinely kind. Jazz is convinced that she’s the one keeping him sane and grounded (or as sane as he can be), and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with him. As much as I loved Jazz’s best friend Howie (and really, how does a serial killer’s son get a type A hemophiliac for his best friend?), Connie is one of those characters that make me proud to be a woman.
Getting brief glimpses of the killer’s point of view is certainly not uncommon in crime novels, and I can think of at least ten cases when I really appreciated the insight. Usually, these chapters are either about the gore or about allowing the reader to really feel the fear of the victims. This time, however, I didn’t feel that the few brief passages told from The Impressionist’s point of view brought anything useful to the story. Yes, they were interesting, but they were mostly about The Impressionist's obsession with Jazz himself, which is something we could have figured out on our own. We saw the gory details through Jazz’s eyes (and memories) anyway. There was, however, one thing Lyga did better than most: while Jazz was investigating, even when he was one step ahead of the police, Barry Lyga never made the police look stupid and incompetent. He found a way to create a hero that is special in some way without degrading the small-town sheriff and his people.
The narrator, Charlie Thurston, did an amazing job differentiating the voices of all the characters. He didn’t just change his voice, he slightly changed his accent too, and he adapted it to each character according to age and education. The changes in accents were minute, but they were there, and they were very impressive. He also handled the emotional scenes in a way that made me believe and really feel them. My only problem is that he made Billy Dent, Jazz’s personal boogeyman and the world’s most notorious serial killer sound funny! I’m not sure if this is an audio issue or a book issue, which is why I’d like to hear from those of you who’ve read the book. Regardless, next time I see the name Charlie Thurston on an audiobook, I won’t hesitate to pick it up.
Stop by The Nocturnal Library to read a guest post by Jana Oliver and enter for a chance to win a copy of this book or any other book in The Demon TrStop by The Nocturnal Library to read a guest post by Jana Oliver and enter for a chance to win a copy of this book or any other book in The Demon Trappers series + signed swag.
Reviewing a last book in the series is never easy or especially fun. In fact, it’s one of my least favorite things to do, vacuuming and peeling onions included. Fortunately for me, Jana Oliver gave me a lot to write about, all of it good.
Riley Blackthorne is finally sure that she loves her father’s protégé and her friend and protector, Denver Beck. She may have given up her soul to avoid the Armageddon, but her heart still knows where it stands. The kiss they exchanged on the cemetery right before the battle was pretty eye-opening for both of them, but now that Beck’s past is coming back to haunt him, he doesn’t want Riley anywhere near him, all in a misguided attempt to protect her and save himself from possible rejection. The way Riley sees it, the only way for the two of them to ever be together is to uncover the skeletons in Beck’s closet and make him see that she will always stand by his side, no matter what. Of course their story isn’t the only thing we have to worry about. There are human enemies to defeat and demons to destroy. Once again Oliver entertains with the wide variety of creatures she's created: from Pyro-Fiends and Klepto-Fiends to Arch-Fiends and fallen angels.
I think Beck’s fans (because really, aren’t we all?) will be quite happy with this story. Even though there’s a battle between Heaven and Hell going on in the background, Foretold mainly focuses on his personal demon, his horrible, uncaring mother and the crime he was always blamed for, but never officially accused of. Although Oliver always experimented with language, she took it a step further in Foretold. The finer nuances of Beck’s character were constantly emphasized through a very clever use of language. His pronunciation was changing depending on his mood, location and company. His grammar would deteriorate every time he was under stress, which was most easily noticeable in his pronunciation of pronouns. This sort of thing can be very rewarding for an attentive reader and it’s exactly the kind of thing that makes me insanely happy.
I need to say a few words about Riley Blackthorne as well. There was a point in the series (around the middle of book two), where I almost gave up entirely because I couldn’t deal with her whining and self-pity. Yes, she’d had a lot to deal with, but she reminded me of my five year old when she’s both sleepy and hungry. This didn’t take long, but her character didn’t suffer any radical, overnight changes either. It is almost sad that the series is ending now that Oliver finally found solid ground to stand on with her.
It says on the cover that this is a book for older audience and I tend to agree, though I generally dislike such limitations. Younger teens should be aware that these books contain violence and sex that isn’t necessarily a profound, life-changing experience. Sometimes sex is just sex and Jana Oliver never shied away from it. One of her characters is a twenty-something-year-old war veteran after all, and not one that is happy with sitting alone in his apartment, watching game shows and drinking orange juice. The Demon Trappers series is balancing a fine line between YA and adult urban fantasy, which worked perfectly for me, and hopefully it will for those of you who have yet to give it a chance.
Update 04/17/12: Stop by The Nocturnal Library to read a guest post by Elizabeth Norris and enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Unraveling.Update 04/17/12: Stop by The Nocturnal Library to read a guest post by Elizabeth Norris and enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Unraveling.
I never give five stars easily, but I'd give this book ten if I could.
I always feel this strange sense of accomplishment when I discover a book I can add to my all-time favorites. There aren’t many books that mean so much to me and that I keep going back to over and over again. I take that short list and adding books to it very seriously. Therefore, I needed to give myself some time before reviewing this because I was afraid that my initial reaction was entirely emotional and that my enthusiasm will drop once I calm down. I slept on it, I finished a very different book by one of my favorite authors, but none of that changed how I feel. If anything, I am now convinced more than ever that I found something truly special in Unravelling (that’s two Ls in the UK edition, only one in the US).
Janelle Tanner is living with her parents and her younger brother, working as a lifeguard at the beach and dating a gorgeous and extremely popular high school senior, Nick. Her life looks perfect on the outside, but on the inside, her mother is bipolar and needs to be taken care of, and her father, no matter how wonderful, has a job that’s keeping him away most of the time. He’s the head of counterintelligence in the FBI’s office in San Diego, and he just got a case that’s driving him and the other agents crazy. An explosive device has been discovered and it’s counting down days, but no matter how many experts they bring in, no one has any idea what it is or how to disarm it. As if that’s not enough, unidentifiable bodies, almost completely melted from radiation, are suddenly showing up everywhere. One of these bodies was found in the car that hit Janelle on her way home from work. She seemed more or less fine after the accident, but what no one knows, what no one would ever believe her, is that she died when the car hit her, and a stoner kid from her school, Ben Michaels, brought her back to life and healed her. Who is Ben? Where are all the bodies coming from? What’s going to happen when the countdown finally hits zero? Is it all somehow connected? Janelle and her best friend Alex always enjoyed ‘borrowing’ her father’s case files from his home office and discussing his cases, but this time, they may be in over their heads.
Elizabeth Norris’ writing is flawless. It doesn’t draw attention to itself, but it keeps you engaged and controls your emotions in a way that doesn’t make you feel manipulated. Unravelling is action-packed from start to finish, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks depth. It was truly heartbreaking, and I gave myself a headache from all the crying. If you think this is just another YA novel, think again, because Elizabeth Norris pulled no punches. She kept surprising me on every page, and each time I thought I had it all figured out, she did something entirely unexpected. It was like watching the awesome first season of Fringe all over again, but with a likeable heroine instead of Olivia.
Don’t you just love a girl who doesn’t spend all her time consciously making one mistake after another because she lacks the backbone to do the right thing? That’s our Janelle for you, a girl who knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t hesitate to make it happen. She’d been a victim once and she has no intention of being one ever again, so she thinks hard about every choice she makes and doesn’t allow herself to be influenced by anyone else’s opinion. She’s my new character I want to be best friends with. I always expect YA heroines to disappoint me sooner or later, because they almost always do, but with Janelle, that never happened. I can count on the fingers of one hand the characters that impressed me as much as she did.
(Did you guys notice how I avoided writing about Ben as much as possible? I'm trying to be serious here and I don't think gushing about that boy would help my cause much. But rest assured, he IS perfect.)
I think I’ve made my opinion pretty clear: I cannot recommend this highly enough. I can’t wait to find out how other people will feel about it. Do yourselves a favor and preorder this one, you won’t regret it.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, HarperCollins UK, for review purposes.
My name is Mia Price, and I'm a human lightning rod.
After an incredibly promising start and a lot of excitement on my part, the second half of StruckMy name is Mia Price, and I'm a human lightning rod.
After an incredibly promising start and a lot of excitement on my part, the second half of Struck really fell flat and completely failed to impress me.
On the surface, Struck is pretty original: a girl who gets hit by lightning over and over again is doing her best to keep her family alive and sane after a huge natural disaster, while being pulled in two different directions by religious fanatics and their opposers. Both groups are convinced that the Armageddon is coming in just a few days and that they desperately need Mia’s special abilities, therefore they’re ready to do just about anything to force Mia to join their side. To make matters worse, her family is also divided: her mother has been completely brainwashed by the powerful televangelist, Prophet, while her brother wants nothing more than to join the other group, Seekers. Sounds very interesting, right? And it is, for the most part, just be aware that you’ll find the same story we’ve seen a million times before if you look just a little deeper beneath the surface.
I felt that the thing that drew me to this novel initially, Mia’s ability to attract lightening, wasn’t explored nearly enough. That’s what I wanted to read about the most. After the delicious statement at the beginning of the book (“My name is Mia Price and I’m a lightning addict.”), I was expecting the author to take this much, much farther than she actually did. Instead she chose to go down a well-worn path: Mia running blindly into danger to save her mother or her brother, the beautiful, mysterious boy that simply refuses to tell her what his deal is, Mia being stupid, Mia being stupid, Mia being incredibly stupid… well, you get the picture.
For me, there comes a point in the book where I get so irritated by the main character’s choices that I stop caring for the plot altogether. I think what bothered me the most was that a lot of Mia’s problems could have been avoided with one or two serious conversations. She kept making stupid choices to keep her brother out of trouble, when all she really had to do was sit down and explain a few things to him. Same goes for Jeremy: he insisted on being vague while warning Mia to stay away from the Waste and the Seekers, when the whole truth would have been much more effective.
Still, I suppose if you’re in the mood for paranormal YA, you could do much, much worse than Struck. I have no objections whatsoever to Bosworth’s writing style, the beginning is very compelling, it pulls you right in so you don’t have to go through that torturous period of getting into the story. I just wish she maintained the same level of originality till the very end, instead of hiding behind tropes and clichés.
After a promising start, The Book of Blood and Shadow turned out to be my biggest disappointment in 2012. I never expected to have to struggle to finiAfter a promising start, The Book of Blood and Shadow turned out to be my biggest disappointment in 2012. I never expected to have to struggle to finish this book. In fact, when I ordered a copy, I was pretty certain it would find a place among my favorites, but the more I read, the more disappointed I became. I’ll start with the good…
Characters and relationships are Wasserman’s strong point. I loved getting to know Nora, Chris, Max and Adriane in the first part of the book, loved finding out how their friendship developed, adored reading about Max and Nora and those first months of their relationship. It was all incredibly convincing, the slow falling in love, the realization of differences between a best friend and a boyfriend, Nora’s constant questioning of herself and her place in the group, and that moment when she needed to choose whose number to dial in time of trouble. There were so many layers and complications between these four people, and all of them came from great understanding and experience.
It was easy for me to connect with Nora. She squealed when she got a Latin dictionary for her eleventh birthday; when she was sad or lost, she consoled herself with endless declinations and conjugations… in short, she was a linguist at heart, which made her all the more dear to mine. In addition, both our lives were divided into two periods by a huge event and I was able to recognize how, through Nora’s situation with her brother, Wasserman offered her astute understanding and portrayal of a family devastated by grief.
The premise itself is where it all went wrong. It was just too farfetched – the idea that two college boys and one high school girl could discover something a very determined secret society and hundreds of scholars couldn’t, that the said society was willing to kill for the knowledge, but not research all available texts, Elizabeth’s letters included. The codes were too easy to decipher, the riddles were something a child could solve, everything was just a Google search away and finding the pieces of this precious, mysterious machine proved to be almost effortless. I’m not sure if Wasserman couldn’t do better or if she simply dumbed it down for her targeted young adult audience, but either way, I felt almost insulted by the simplicity of it all.
If I were a Czech citizen, I would be unbelievably angry about the way Wasserman described Prague. What she wrote may very well be true about some god forsaken village in the middle of nowhere, where the communist mindset is indeed still very much alive and hygiene is not high on the list of priorities, but Prague is a beautiful city that combines centuries old culture and modern ways, a city that has moved forward considerably in the last twenty years, and her version of it is simply unfair, or at least outdated. If that’s how she sees Prague, I don’t even dare imagine how she would describe Zagreb, or heaven forbid, Sarajevo. Her words were both inaccurate and rude.
The writing suited me, she has a great feeling for rhythm and punctuation and a talent for using short sentences to emphasize her very dry sense of humor. I do hope that Robin Wasserman’s next project will be a nice contemporary YA (or better yet, New Adult), about growing up, falling in love and finding your place instead of another mystery-adventure-The-Da-Vinci-Code-wannabe novel that simply won’t work, just like this one didn’t. Characters and relationships is where her strengths lie, and everyone should just stick to what they do best.
What can be better and/or funnier than Lucy and Nicholas on their first date? A double date with Quinn and Hunter. An excellent short story that makesWhat can be better and/or funnier than Lucy and Nicholas on their first date? A double date with Quinn and Hunter. An excellent short story that makes waiting for the next book, Blood Moon, just a little easier. ...more
The Raven Boys is not a book you can just breeze through and immediately forget. Once again Maggie Stiefvater wrote a story that refuses to be categorThe Raven Boys is not a book you can just breeze through and immediately forget. Once again Maggie Stiefvater wrote a story that refuses to be categorized, or even properly described. For me, discovering it and its characters was a slow process. It was like scratching off a lottery ticket when you have no coin to scratch with, so you use your fingernails, and it’s messy and infuriating right up until the point you uncover it all and realize you’ve actually won. That’s what The Raven Boys really are – bits and pieces that reveal themselves painstakingly and gradually, but that combine into a whole unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Blue Sargent comes from a family of seers. She lives with her mother and other women like her, but, although she amplifies other people’s talents, she is not a seer herself. When, on St. Mark’s Eve, she sees the spirit of a soon-to-be-dead boy dressed in Aglionby private school uniform, it can only mean one of two things: either he’s her true love, or she’ll be the one to kill him. Richard Gansey is an Aglionby boy through and through – exceedingly rich, radiating self-assurance and power, a bit eccentric and completely obsessed with discovering ley lines and finding the resting place of a medieval Welsh noble, Glendower. He is also the boy whose spirit Blue saw on St. Mark’s Eve, which, according to everything her family believes, means his days are numbered. As always, there was an all-American war hero look to him, coded in his tousled brown hair, his summer-narrowed hazel eyes, the straight nose that ancient Anglo-Saxons had graciously passed on to him. Everything about him suggested valor and power and a firm handshake.
Gansey proved to be the most elusive of Maggie’s characters. Somehow, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t quite see him clearly. The more I attempted to grow attached to him, the more ghost-like he seemed to me. I do believe this was Stiefvater’s intention, though, and it made the story that much sharper and the stakes that much higher. She managed to create that feeling of not being able to hold on to someone – fitting considering the axe above Gansey’s head.
Here’s something I want to make very clear: The Raven Boys is not a romance. Forget about the ‘if you kiss your true love, he will die’ line. I’m sure it will become important at some point in the series, but this book is strangely and refreshingly romance-free. Instead, it is full of ghosts and murderers, Latin-speaking trees, ancient rituals and baby ravens. It is the furthest thing from what I expected.
It took a while for me to warm up to this story, but just as my patience was starting to wear thin, the fireworks begun and everything fell in its place. I believe Stiefvater paced The Raven Boys with the whole series in mind, which is perfectly fine by me because I trust her to make it all worthwhile, but I fear that some might find the first half far too slow.
As unique and breathtaking as this story was, something was missing from it, something I can only describe as Maggie’s spirit. She has a signature, that subtle thing that makes her books instantly recognizable and that makes her my favorite author in the world. That signature, the unique emotion present in all her books, is far less clear in The Raven Boys.
Those who used to complain about Maggie’s writing, calling it flowery and purplish, will have no such problems with The Raven Boys. I, on the other hand, feel that I’ve lost something I can’t quite name, and I can only hope it’ll return in the next book.
Edit 8/30/12: You can now win a copy of The Repossession and its sequel, The Hunting, at The Nocturnal Library
A small town, 34 missing children, a doEdit 8/30/12: You can now win a copy of The Repossession and its sequel, The Hunting, at The Nocturnal Library
A small town, 34 missing children, a dog with fused hind legs, quite a few religious fanatics, secret research facility, one huge pig, a farm, teleportation and an artificial lake. If you’re wondering what all these things have in common, allow me to enlighten you: they all play an important role in The Repossession by Sam Hawksmoor.
I suppose more YA should be written by middle-aged Canadian guys. Sam Hawksmoor surprised me with how original and believable his story was. Making a sci-fi novel believable is not an easy task, it all depends on how well written it is and what it relies on to convince you. Most people hear the words secret government research facility and instantly think that everything is possible. That’s what the author counted on, and that’s one of the things that make this book such huge success, in my opinion.
Want to make $2,000 cash? Participate in a simple experimental trial that could help us cure one of the world’s most pressing problems. We need healthy young people, 14 to 17, willing to put their survival skills to the test. We are a non-profit organization with brilliant green credentials. All applicants apply in total confidence. No adult/parent need be notified.
As someone who grew up in one (or three), I’m intimately familiar with social dynamics of small towns. Hawksmoor succeeded in creating the atmosphere of one such small community. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up from that feeling of constantly being watched and scrutinized. It was pure perfection, so creepy and convincing. It wasn’t hard to believe that a kid who grew up in such environment, with parents that blindly follow the crazy Reverend and his poisonous group of fanatics, would respond to a sketchy add for a chance to earn $2000. For those kids, the add isn’t just an add, it’s a Get Out of Jail Free card.
For Genie Magee, leaving the house is not an option. Her mother is convinced that Genie is possessed by the devil, that she is Satan’s bride, no less. With a little help from Reverend Schneider, she has imprisoned Genie in her bedroom, put a huge lock on her door and bars on her window. Every day, the Reverend’s followers come by to pray at Genie’s door, spit on her, call her names, brand her with crosses and abuse her in any way they can possibly think of. The only thing holding Genie together is the hope that her boyfriend Rian will come for her. And he does. But even though all Genie and Ri want to do is get as far from Spurlake as possible, they get dragged into the mess Reverend Schneider and a secret research facility are causing all over Spurlake. 34 kids are missing and no one is really bothering to look for them. Genie and Rian might be the only ones who can uncover the truth.
I loved how Hawksmoor handled the relationship between Genie and Ri. It was so different from what we’re used to. They were just two troubled kids, one heavily abused and the other “only” neglected, who saw each other as a chance to put it all behind them. Theirs was a young love, certainly, but a true love, not exaggerated, but simple, sweet and entirely believable.
As always, I am infuriated by the major cliffhanger, but since the book was so good and memorable, I might be willing to forgive even that. I should also mention that pictures of the cover don't do this book justice at all, the entire thing is really beautifully designed.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, Hodder Children’s Books, for review purposes.
The music was bad, the fires were cozy. It was nice. Normal. You know, until the screaming. And that kind of scream in Violet Hill could mean o3.5 stars
The music was bad, the fires were cozy. It was nice. Normal. You know, until the screaming. And that kind of scream in Violet Hill could mean only one thing. Vampires.
Although I had a lot of fun reading it, the fifth and penultimate installment of the Drake Chronicles didn’t quite meet my expectations. Blood Moon is more like a really long chapter than an actual book. It starts exactly where Bleeding Hearts left off, with Solange’s three sets of fangs in Kieran’s neck, and it ends with another vicious cliffhanger.
Remember my Storm review from about a month ago in which I kept going on and on about the four hot Merrick brothers? Well, there are seven Drake brothers, they’re vampires and they’re all gorgeous. The youngest, Nicholas, is in a relationship with his sister Solange’s best friend Lucy, and they make the cutest couple in the history of the universe. Quinn finally abandoned his womanizing ways for Hunter, a vampire hunter and a student at the Helios-Ra academy. Logan is bound to Isaboe, a Hound vampire that survived the French Revolution. Connor is hopelessly in love with Christa, Lucy’s cousin who was recently turned into a vampire. But none of that matters now that the Blood Moon festival is approaching and their mother’s coronation is just day away.
Everyone misses the good old days when the Drake family was living in exile in Violet Hill and all they had to worry about were the Helios-Ra agents roaming the woods. Everyone, including me. I understand how a series works, I know that Harvey needed to up the stakes so close to the series finale, but the sheer number of tribes and groups, human and vampire both, that were going against the Drakes was staggering, and I was confused and lost most of the time.
Blood Moon is told from Lucy’s, Nicholas’s and Solange’s perspective. Although my favorite couple didn’t get to spend much time together, I could feel how strong their relationship has become and how much they love each other. Lucy has always been one of my favorite characters in the world, she’s what’s pulling me back toward these books and I can totally imagine her as my best friend. (She’d have to actually exist first, but you know, details.) Nicholas is not far behind, he is the perfect brother, the perfect young vampire (NOT of the vegetarian kind) and a perfect boyfriend to Lucy. I loved seeing his family and Lucy through his eyes again. Solange, on the other hand, was a disappointment. I can’t say I ever really liked her, but now she’s reached the point of no redemption. Of course the cause for her actions was made clear in the last part of Blood Moon, but I’d already stopped caring by then, and I don’t think I’ll ever care again.
Bloomsbury and Walker Children’s decided that it’s time to wrap up this series, and I have to say I agree with them. Harvey mentioned the possibility of writing a spin-off about Lucy and I truly hope she’ll get her chance. She and Nicholas are the only ones I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to. The last book is called Blood Prophecy and should be out in January 2013.
As a huge fan of Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series, I was incredibly excited when I heard she was writing YA. Death and the Girl Next Door is oneAs a huge fan of Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series, I was incredibly excited when I heard she was writing YA. Death and the Girl Next Door is one of my most anticipated books this year, and even though it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, I’m overjoyed that Darynda decided to write it. The fact that it wasn’t quite what I expected is actually one of my favorite things about this book: if you decide to pick it up (and you should), you can throw your expectations right out the window.
Here’s what you need to know about Darynda Jones’ YA debut: First, it is about Lorelei McAllister, a 16-year-old high-school sophomore who lives with her lovely grandparents and spends time making mischief with her two best friends, Brooklyn and Glitch. Second, (and I’m sure this will come as a shock), neither Brooke nor Glitch happen to be madly in love with her. Third, there are two hot boys, Jared and Cameron, but there is no love triangle, not even close. Fourth, there are guns – several real ones and one nasty-looking water gun. Fifth, although a secret society is involved, no one gets naked to perform weird rituals. This isn’t The Da Vinci Code. Sixth, just like Charley, Lorelei has a bit of Lorelei Gilmore in her, and I don’t just mean her name.
Death and the Girl Next Door is one of those books that made me laugh so hard I was constantly forced to stifle my laughter lest I wake my poor sleeping child. I stayed up half the night to finish it and even the toothpicks I used to prop my eyes open the next day didn’t make me regret it. Darynda’s trademark humor is present on every page, though she did tone it down a bit for the younger audience. Lorelei and her two best friends can lighten up just about any situation they find themselves in. Darynda Jones can claim all she wants that she’s not as funny in person, but I’ll have to meet her and drink a cocktail or ten with her before I can actually believe it.
I won’t lie to you and say that this book is without problems – it’s not. The first part felt a bit disjointed, I had some minor problems with the love interest, and there were a few things that made me slightly uncomfortable (revealing them, however, would reveal too much of the plot), but truth be told, I’m willing to overlook it all. I expect hilarity and steaming hot romance from Darynda, and that’s exactly what I got with Death and the Girl Next Door.
If you’re like me and you tend to run away screaming every time someone mentions an angel book (or any other book with religious undertones), get over your justified fear and give Death and the Girl Next Door a chance. Writers who don’t take themselves too seriously are few and far between, but when you find one, you’re in for a treat.
Sometimes you read a book, you moderately enjoy it, but when you finish it, you have very little to say about it. This is one of those times. The ImmoSometimes you read a book, you moderately enjoy it, but when you finish it, you have very little to say about it. This is one of those times. The Immortal Rules was a pretty entertaining read, but it simply failed to impress me. I suppose I expected more originality, but instead I got the same old story hidden behind a few interesting details. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun reading it – I did, for the most part, and I’ll definitely pick up the sequel.
Allison Sekemoto grew up in the Fringe, outside the walls of a big vampire city. She has never set foot inside those walls – as an unclaimed and unprotected human, she is easy prey for any vampire she might run into. One day, while hunting for food, Allison’s crew gets attacked by rabids. After seeing her friends die and being savagely beaten herself, she is saved by a Master vampire Kanin and offered a choice: she can either die or be turned into the very thing she hates the most.
I really enjoyed the worldbuilding at the beginning. I was hoping Allison would somehow explore these vampire cities, spend some time discovering New Covington and the life inside the walls. I wanted to know more about how they function, about the vampires and the humans that chose to live among them. I was vastly disappointed when Kagawa decided to lead her heroine out of there and have her wander around through wilderness where nothing is even remotely interesting. I realize that she’ll probably go back in the second book, but I wanted to know more now, and that feeling of disappointment when Alison ran out of the city and when I realized she won’t be going back soon stayed with me throughout the book. The second she left the city and started walking on her own, my interest in the book dropped by about 25%. It didn’t help that the middle part bored me almost to death: the time Allison spent alone and all that wandering around when she joined Zeke’s group didn’t work for me at all. In fact, I think this entire book would have been much better if it were a hundred pages shorter.
Julie Kagawa is undoubtedly a talented writer and I could tell she put much thought into her worldbuilding (especially the first part), but it’s the little things that make a book and in my opinion, she failed in polishing those details, which ruined the story for me to some extent. It bothered me that certain things didn’t make sense, for example, when Allison joined Zeke’s group, they gave her an old tent to sleep in, but she still had to cut a hole in the bottom and bury herself in the ground every night to avoid being accidentally exposed to sunlight. I don’t know how dirty they all were, but it is impossible that no one would notice she was covered in dirt every evening. You sleep in the ground, you come out covered with it no matter what, and nothing short of a long bath and a complete change of clothes could possibly fix it.
Another thing that didn’t work well for me was the romance. I didn’t really understand where the attraction between Allison and Zeke was coming from at all, and to be honest, I didn’t really like Zeke all that much. I like my love interests with just a little bit more fire than he had to offer – he was too vanilla for my taste. I would have loved to see a relationship between Allison and Kanin, the vampire who turned her, instead. It’s the first time I’m actually hoping for a love triangle in the future.
Huh. I guess I had a lot to say after all. I realize that my opinion won’t be very popular in this case, but I had to share it anyway. The majority of my friends really enjoyed this book. After all the gushing reviews I’ve read in the last month, I’m pretty sure my lack of enthusiasm won’t do any damage at all.