The Immortal Rules in one word: Unputdownable. Everything about the story left me dying to know wh...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
Really 4.5 stars
The Immortal Rules in one word: Unputdownable. Everything about the story left me dying to know what would happen next. I am ashamed to admit that I haven't read Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series, but after reading this book you can bet that I will be remedying that very soon.
The world may be run by vampires, but Allison Sekemoto refuses to let them control her. Rather than be a Registered who gives blood twice a month, she chooses to be Unregistered and live in the Fringe, banding together with other Unregistereds to scrounge for food and eke out what living they can. But all of that changes one night in an instant. Soon Allie is faced with a choice: Die or become a vampire. Determined to stay alive however she can, Allie becomes a vampire. Under the tutelage of her maker, she learns the rules and laws of her new existence. Yet not even Kanin could truly prepare Allie for what she would eventually face. Allie has always been used to fending for herself, never forming true relationships with others. But when she finds herself joined together with a group of humans, Allie will learn that, no matter what Kanin might have said, sometimes you have to throw out the rulebook and follow your heart...
The Immortal Rules is anything but your typical vampire book; instead, it is a compelling blend of paranormal creatures with a dystopian world. Allie is everything that you could want in a heroine. She is strong but compassionate, a good fighter (with a little help from Kanin), and she isn't afraid to take risks. Her journey wasn't an easy one, but I think she found her way quite admirably. Her time with Kanin was very interesting. I loved learning about the vampire hierarchy that Julie created, and the addition of rabids brought yet another dimension to the story. I will be interested to see what else Kanin knows in future books. When Allie leaves her home and journeys beyond the city and into unfamiliar lands, she is constantly confronted with the disparity between who she is and who she can pretend to be. Allie's internal struggle was just as gripping as the external one. Her constant fight to control the Hunger, especially around the group of humans she comes to join, is incredibly tough. With Zeke, however, if she can control her Hunger, she might finally have a chance to learn what relationships based on something more than just convenience mean.
One of the best things about the characters in this book is that they are always more than they seem. With every page there was something new to discover. I said earlier that this book was unputdownable, but the last 100 pages were especially so. With so many confrontations and revelations, it was almost cruel and unusual punishment for this book to be over when it was.
The Immortal Rules is the thrilling start to a new series from Julie Kagawa. I can't wait to read the next installment! (less)
The idea that someone could clinically die and still return to life has always been intriguing to...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
Really 3.5 stars
The idea that someone could clinically die and still return to life has always been intriguing to me. Would that person see the world differently? How would their life change? Fracture explores some of these questions in a perhaps unexpected way.
Delaney Maxwell spends eleven minutes trapped in an icy lake before she is rescued. Miraculously, she makes a full recovery from her coma, yet her MRI shows that something isn't right with certain areas of her brain. Despite this, Delaney seems fine, and eventually she is released to go home. But everything doesn't go back to normal. Delaney feels an unexplainable pull to those who are dying, and no matter how she tries, she can't seem to resist the urge to follow the pull. Soon Delaney meets Troy Varga, who also recovered from a coma and feels a similar pull to the dying. But Troy may not be exactly who he seems. As Delaney struggles to come to terms with her new life, with her feelings for her neighbor Decker, and with her tense relationship with her mother, Delaney learns a lot about human nature, life, and even death.
I have to admit that Fracture was not quite what I was expecting. I thought that Delaney would be looking for more from life, trying to piece things together as she wanted them. Instead, her near-death experience caused her to slowly break down and, as the title suggests, fracture. In some ways she struggled with survivor's guilt, but she also struggled to figure out what the pull to the dying meant and what she should do about it. With this, Fracture had an interesting blend of contemporary and paranormal elements. On one level, Delaney was trying to be a normal high school senior and sort out her feelings for Dexter, but on another level, she had a sort of sixth sense. I think that I enjoyed the contemporary aspect more than the paranormal. I could sympathize with the conflict that Delaney had trying to figure out her feelings for Decker as well as understand her relationship with her mother. The emotions were very intense and very well captured.
Then there was the paranormal aspect as well as Troy. Troy was intriguing at first, but then the fascination wore off. Even though I could understand his reasoning, I still had issues with it. In addition, while the paranormal aspect added something to the story, I think that it could have used a bit more fleshing out, and it still felt unresolved at the end. Despite this, the book definitely makes you think about what you would do with only one day left to live and makes you think about life in general.
Fracture is a compelling debut from Megan Miranda, one that I read in one sitting because I was so eager to know the full story. I will look forward to reading more from Megan Miranda!(less)
I have been looking forward to Perception since Clarity proved to be such a great read last year. Although Percept...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
I have been looking forward to Perception since Clarity proved to be such a great read last year. Although Perception doesn't have quite the same angle as Clarity, the story certainly doesn't disappoint.
Perception begins a bit after Clarity ends. Clare has returned to school and is trying to adjust to her newfound popularity. Instead of just bringing new friends, however, this popularity brings something else - a secret admirer who might also have a dangerous edge. As Clare tries to unravel her mystery, her brother struggles with one of his own. A spirit is trying to give him a message, but he doesn't know what it means. Clare wants to use her gifts not only to help determine her secret admirer but also to help police in the case of the missing girl in town, but would using her abilities really help or only put her in more danger? And as if Clare didn't have enough to deal with, there is still the matter of choosing between Gabriel and Justin...
As I began Perception, I was excited to return to Clare's small coastal town brought to life with vibrant descriptions and sometimes quirky but always memorable characters. Clare's life may have changed over the summer in Clarity, but she is still the same sharp-witted girl as before. However, she comes to grow even more over the course of this book. She develops a friendship with Mallory, a girl whom Clare previously overlooked in school. While I appreciated that Clare wasn't on her own in this book as much as the last one, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of sadness at the constant reminders that this was Clare's first true experience of female friendship. We also see a different side to Perry in this book; his thread of the story is almost as important as Clare's and certainly one in which I was invested. And as for Gabriel and Justin...it is impossible to truly dislike either of them, despite some of their actions, and the connections that Clare has with both of them are very fully felt.
Like Clarity, Perception is a well-crafted mystery and quite a page-turner. Kim Harrington has once again skillfully woven false trails and surprises throughout the novel despite the inclusion of some obvious (but incorrect) conclusions. I loved how everything came together in the end, even if it the story was over before I was ready to say goodbye.
Perception is a perfect sequel to Clarity and one that still left me wanting more of the world and of these characters. I will look forward to seeing even more from Kim Harrington! (less)
This was one of my highly-anticipated debuts for 2012, and thank goodness I didn't have to wait lo...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
Really 4.5 stars
This was one of my highly-anticipated debuts for 2012, and thank goodness I didn't have to wait long into the year to read it! With an exotic Russian setting, an intriguing world of paranormal creatures in the royal court, and a boy worth swooning over, Robin Bridges created a fantastic debut novel and one that kept me up reading into the wee hours of the morning.
From her childhood, Katerina Alexandrovna has carried a dark secret with her: She is a necromancer and can reanimate the dead. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, she dreams of attending medical school and becoming a doctor. However, she is also a duchess and expected to behave in the royal court and to marry well. Yet when the tsar's son is in danger from a spell, Katerina cannot help but use her power to protect him. Soon she is caught up in a battle that has lasted for centuries, a battle spanning all of the nobility as well as the living and even the dead. Katerina must try to unravel the plot and stop it before it is too late. But to make matters even more complicated, there are boys. Both carry their own secrets, and being with either one would greatly affect the course of Katerina's life. Katerina will have to embrace who she is and to make a choice...a choice that could affect Russia as she knows it...
I think my love for books with foreign settings has been pretty well established, and the setting of The Gathering Storm is no exception. I enjoyed traveling back in time with Katerina to the late 1800s and being part of the Russian nobility, attending balls and witnessing an era when chivalry was very much alive. The addition of the paranormal elements to this world was nothing short of ingenious. There were a variety of paranormal creatures in this book, from faeries to vampires and beyond, yet rather than being overwhelming, all of these elements worked together to create a truly fascinating world. I found myself caught up in the mystery and intrigue of both the paranormal world and the two boys right along with Katerina. I loved that she looked for the reason behind things - in line with her desire to be a doctor - instead of being a "normal" debutante and only looking for a husband. And for those of you who read "two boys" in the summary and immediately thought "love triangle," let me assure you, it's not what you would expect. There are, however, definitely romance scenes in here that will leave you smiling.
There were only two things I wanted with this story - a better way to keep all of the nobility straight, because the amount of names was a bit overwhelming at first - and more. More of the brilliant writing, more of the world, more interaction between Katerina and George. After the ending of this book, I cannot wait to see how everything works out for Katerina.
Blending elements of historical fiction and the paranormal, The Gathering Storm is a fresh new story that will capture you from the very first pages. I will be eagerly anticipating the next book in this trilogy!(less)
When I first heard about this book, I was drawn to it because of the cover and the synopsis. Although I did have s...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
When I first heard about this book, I was drawn to it because of the cover and the synopsis. Although I did have some issues with this book, there are still several aspects that made it enjoyable overall.
Evie is not your typical girl; she loves hiking, camping, and even helped her father rebuild her '66 Mustang. But other than that, she never suspected that anything was different about her. When she moves to Gunnison, Colorado to attend college with her lifelong best friend, Jasmine, things begin to change. First she meets Alex, who helps her out of a sticky situation and with whom she feels an immediate connection. Yet Alex also seems to bring some baggage with him, and Evie can't shake the feeling that there is more than he is telling her. Then Evie meets Emil, and she cannot deny a connection with him either. As secrets begin to be revealed, Evie struggles to determine who she can believe and, if she accepts their story, what that means for her life. The danger and secrets of this new life are quite a lot for Evil to handle, and on top of that, she still must figure out - who is her true soulmate?
I really wanted to love this book. The premise, though perhaps not the most original, offered the possibility for a great story. But the execution fell somewhat short for me. Like Evie, I found myself frustrated during most of this book; the reader knows that there is more to the story than Alex and Emil are letting on, and I wanted answers right along with Evie. While I wanted to let myself fall for either Alex or Emil, I felt that they were both too enigmatic for that to happen. There were times when I thought that some details given were unnecessary, and other times when I was longing for more information.
All of that being said, I do think that this trilogy has a lot of possibility. With much of the world-building out of the way, the second book in the trilogy can focus more on action and stronger interactions between the characters. There are, of course, things that I did like about this book. It was a fast read, and I did enjoy some scenes. I liked Evie's character and her voice; not every girl wants to go hiking or four-wheeling, and her enjoyment of nature made for some interesting scenes to read. The love that Alex and Emil had for Evie was obvious; there were romantic dates and both guys had their swoon-worthy moments. Though love triangles can sometimes bother me, because this one was set up from the beginning and because there is a reason for it, I think it works here. Finally, there is the reincarnation aspect of this book; I find this idea really intriguing and am hoping to see even more of this in the future books.
I will be curious to see how this story progresses. If you are a fan of having two swoon-worthy guys in one book, age-old battles between good and evil, and books that explore eternal love, then you will want to read Eternal Starling.(less)
I have looked forward to reading this book ever since I finished Unearthly last year. I love these angel stories,...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
I have looked forward to reading this book ever since I finished Unearthly last year. I love these angel stories, because they have just the right blend of angel lore, humor, romance, and intrigue. Even though Hallowed is darker and has less action, Hand still manages to capture all of the aspects that made Unearthly such an enchanting book.
After years of preparing for her purpose and then having everything turn out the way it did, Clara wonders what more she can do, or what more she should be doing. It seems as though her purpose may not be over - her visions certainly aren't - but confronting the larger picture may mean confronting her conflicted feelings for Tucker and Christian. On top of this, the visions that Clara is having seem to mean that someone important to her may die sooner rather than later. Clara's world seems to be crumbling around her, and there is little she can do about it. The more Clara struggles with her questions, the more she realizes something - nothing is as simple as it seems.
If I had to sum this book up simply, I would say that Hallowed is a book of revelation. Certain things that were only hinted at in Unearthly are explained in much more detail here, especially the angel lore, and I loved this. With all of the new information I felt even more drawn into the world that Hand created, even though some of the revelations proved to be painful. As mentioned before, this book is darker than Unearthly. There is less of the lighthearted romance and more of a struggle of feelings, less of a happy, united family as instead each person tends to keep their own secrets, and the threat of danger is always prevalent. Even still, there are moments of respite, moments where I felt like I could sit back, read, and smile. Finally, there is Clara herself. I really enjoyed seeing how much she grew throughout this book from someone who was focused on what she wanted to someone who could see the larger picture and act accordingly. By the end of this book I felt a much stronger connection with her than I had in Unearthly.
One of the things that bothered the the most in Unearthly - the love triangle - I actually really enjoyed in this book. Here more so than the first book, Clara's choice is really about more than just choosing between two guys. We also got to see another side of Christian, which I loved. Tucker is an adorable country boy, but if Christian really is how he appears in this book, I think my heart might belong to him a little bit more.
Hallowed was everything that I was hoping for and more. I know that there is much more to come in the third book - more questions to be answered, and an decision to be made - and I cannot wait to see how everything plays out!(less)
I wanted to read Arcadia Awakens as soon as I read the synopsis. With mystery, intrigue, myths with a paranormal t...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
I wanted to read Arcadia Awakens as soon as I read the synopsis. With mystery, intrigue, myths with a paranormal twist, and a foreign setting, it had all of the makings of a great book. As I read I found myself completely drawn into the story, transported into a world filled with Mafia capos and shapeshifters...
In an effort to escape the recent events of her life, Rosa packs up her few belongings and boards a plane that will take her to Sicily to live with her sister and her aunt. Rosa knows that her family is part of the Mafia, but she never realized just how deeply involved they are until she is immersed in that world. To make matters worse, Rosa soon learns that Alessandro Carnevare, the boy she met on the plane and has developed feelings for, is the son of her family's biggest enemy. Yet that doesn't stop her from falling for him. But there are more to these star-crossed lovers than meets the eye. These Mafia families are part of a larger legacy, once that Rosa is only beginning to understand. As she becomes invested in the world, Rosa finds that she will have to make tough decisions about what she values most...family, love, or her own life...
Talk about a book that crosses genres, that has a story that is so easy to lose yourself in. This is a complex, rich story, and although it is slow to start, by the end it is gripping. Both the story and the characters themselves are full of surprises, and I was always eager to see what would happen next. Even though we learn so much in this book, I have a feeling that there are still more secrets to be revealed, and I am looking forward to that. In some ways, Rosa was difficult to connect with, but as the story progressed and we learned more about her I found that she was a sympathetic character. Life was certainly not easy, but she handled everything that life threw at her and proved to be a great heroine.
The one thing that I would have liked to have seen would have been more development of the relationship between Alessandro and Rosa. Although there were some very sweet moments - and steamier ones - between them, I did not feel a connection between them as a couple. I am hoping that their relationship will become richer in the next book.
From the setting to the characters to the story itself, Arcadia Awakens is a book that will stay with you for a long time. I cannot wait to read the next book in the trilogy!(less)
Angelfire was one of my favorite books of 2011, so I've been dying to read Wings of the Wicked for a very long time now. I was very ea...moreReally 4.5 stars
Angelfire was one of my favorite books of 2011, so I've been dying to read Wings of the Wicked for a very long time now. I was very eager to delve back into the world that Courtney created and see what Ellie and Will faced this time.
Ellie and Will thought that they had a hard fight in Angelfire, but the worst is not over. Demonic reapers are still after her, and Bastian has certainly not forgotten about her. Even with the help of more angelic vir, Ellie is finding it harder and harder to escape from the demonic. And in addition to all of this, Ellie still has to deal with warnings from Cadan as well as being a senior in high school. Furthermore, with the stress and Will's moral conscience, things between the Preliator and her Guardian are strained at best, very tense at worst. Now not only does Ellie have to fight for her life against demonic reapers, she also has to decide how long she can fight her heart...
Wings of the Wicked in one word: Wow. Sometimes sophomore novels don't live up to the first book, but with Wings of the Wicked nothing could be farther from the truth. This book was darker than Angelfire, but with this came an intensity that made this book impossible to put down. Somehow 500 pages flew by and yet still weren't enough. The world and its angel lore, the action, the romance...all were taken to a new level during this book. Every fighting scene was incredibly vivid, and Will and Ellie's relationship by turns sizzled off the page or made me smile ridiculously or even tear up. And Will. Oh, Will. I'm positive I claimed him as one of my book boyfriends already, but if not, let me do that now. He is swoon-worthy to the max and practically perfect in an endearing way. Then there's Cadan, who definitely surprised me in this book. I'm very curious to see how things will turn out for him in the next book. Finally there's Ellie. Despite her rough patches, she really grew into her own over the course of this book. And all of these characters are woven into a story full of twists and turns that take you on one crazy ride.
It's hard to say what the best part of this book is, because I love the characters, the story, and the writing. Courtney's writing style truly makes every scene come to life and made me feel everything that these characters felt. There's also a bit of evil genius at work in this book...I'm convinced that a few scenes were in there to torture us readers (and Courtney has admitted to her evil ways...).
Be prepared to lose sleep, to laugh, cry, grieve, and rejoice along with Ellie, Will, and the others. I am dying to know what happens next and will be impatiently awaiting the final book in this trilogy!(less)
From cover to synopsis, everything about this book made me want to read it. Once again judging a b...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
Really 4.5 stars
From cover to synopsis, everything about this book made me want to read it. Once again judging a book by its cover worked out well, because the story between the covers was just as good as the picture outside.
Nikki Beckett has spent a century in the Everneath, a realm in which immortals (Everliving) Feed on the emotions of humans. At the end of the century, Cole, the Everliving who has been Feeding from Nikki, asks her to stay, but instead Nikki chooses to Return to the surface. Once she Returns, she has six months before the Everneath claims her forever...six months to say a proper goodbye to her family and friends. Unfortunately, she can't just walk back into her old life. Her family and friends - even her old boyfriend, Jack - aren't quite ready to be completely trusting. And to make matters worse, Cole is determined to win her for his own. As her time runs out, Nikki must find out if there is a way to avoid the Everneath and the Tunnels altogether, looking for help in the most unlikely places...and the one place in which she could have found help all along.
I love mythology, so I was very excited to read this retelling of the Persephone myth. I enjoyed that the basic tenets of the myth were brought into a modern-day setting and other similar stories from mythology were also included along the way. If I had to pick one word to describe Everneath, it would be intense. From the grief to the love, I could feel all of Nikki, Jack, and Cole's emotions. Even though things between Jack and Nikki weren't perfect for a long time, the bond between them was undeniable. And as for Cole, even though he is made out to be the villain, I can't help but think that there is more to him that has yet be seen. Beyond this, the writing of Everneath was excellent. I was completely drawn into the story and its mystery and did not want to put this book down until I knew everything there was to know. Because we get to see not only the present day but also Nikki's flashbacks to the time before the Feed, I felt so much closer to her and Jack. I am already dying to know how things work out for them in the next book.
I do wish that Nikki had been a bit of a stronger character. Even though I could sympathize with her, some of her decisions frustrated me. I also would have liked to see a bit more with her brother - even though he was important to her, I felt that the relationship was glossed over a bit more than necessary. My only other complaint is how long it will take for us to get the next book - I need it now!
In Everneath, Brodi Ashton wove a story full of passion, love, loss, and life. This was a fabulous debut, and I cannot wait to read more from her!(less)
I was drawn to this book because of its cover and its synopsis. Magic, secrets, forbidden love...Crave promised al...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
I was drawn to this book because of its cover and its synopsis. Magic, secrets, forbidden love...Crave promised all of these great aspects of a paranormal story. I had high hopes for this book, but in the end I found myself a bit let down.
Savannah Colbert has spent her entire life in Jacksonville, a small East Texas town ruled by the Clann. Although she used to be friends with Clann members, including Tristan Coleman, they were forbidden from speaking in the fourth grade. Since then, Savannah has stuck with a small group of non-Clann friends, though she still didn't feel like she truly belonged. And then a sudden illness sends Savannah's life spiraling in a new direction. Suddenly she's being given explanations that couldn't possibly be true...only they are. As Savannah tries to deal with their implications, she can't help but find herself drawn to Tristan more and more, despite what her family might want. And maybe, just maybe, he wants her as well. But would the consequences for giving in to him be disastrous?
Like many books, Crave has its strong and weak points. It took me some time to get into this story. After Savannah's illness, I was hoping that things would pick up, and they did, but only for a while. Then things became more intense again toward the end. However, there was a long portion in the middle that seemed very bogged down with day-to-day events - namely, Savannah's work with the Charmers. I think that some of the more mundane activities could have been omitted, as well as some of Savannah's worry; at some points I found myself thinking that I had just read the same exact passage a few pages before. In addition, I was unsure sometimes as to whether I was reading a paranormal or contemporary book. I would have liked to have seen the paranormal/magical aspects of the story fleshed out a little more.
However, there were some things I did enjoy about this book. Crave is narrated by both Tristan and Savannah, and I liked seeing their dual perspectives. Savannah is a strong character who does try to do the right thing, both for herself and for others. While she's not immune to worry and moments of self-pity, she's also not afraid to stand up for herself. There was also the romance aspect of this book. Tristan was incredibly endearing, and some of the moments between him and Savannah are very sweet. I also liked some of the minor characters, especially Savannah's friend Anne, whose no-nonsense attitude but loyalty made her a friend you would want to have, and Tristan's sister Emily, whose intelligence and caring gets Tristan out of more than one scrape. Also, even though Crave is the first book in a trilogy, it doesn't end with a complete cliffhanger; events are wrapped up, though the story is far from over.
Even though I had some issues with this book, the premise behind it is still interesting and I think that the next book has the possibility of being more exciting. If you like a sweet romance sprinkled with a dash of magic, then Crave will appeal to you. (less)
I've read a lot of ghost stories lately, but Between is not your typical ghost story. Instead, it is the story of a girl, her life, her love, and her...moreI've read a lot of ghost stories lately, but Between is not your typical ghost story. Instead, it is the story of a girl, her life, her love, and her choices, and how they lead to her untimely death. Told in alternating past and present tense, Between shows how events can shape lives and that all actions have consequences.
On her eighteenth birthday, Liz Valchar is awoken by a thumping sound. When she goes to find out what it is, she sees her own body, face down in the water, obviously dead. Thinking that she is dreaming, she desperately tries to wake up, but to no avail. She is dead, with no real memories of what happened the night before. Fortunately, she isn't left to wander in this strange semi-existence alone; Alex Berg, a boy from her high school who died the previous year, comes to meet her. Together they weave in and out of memories, trying to piece together what happened the night that Liz died. Alex is insistent that there is a reason they were brought together and that they have to figure out what it might be. As the memories become stronger, it is soon clear that despite the perfect facades of so many high school students, nothing was really as it seemed...
In some ways, Between is almost a story within a story - there is the overall mystery of how Liz died, but there is also her time with Alex, which she spends reinterpreting her memories and learning about herself and about human nature. While the mystery is interesting, it is Liz's journey that really makes this story. Liz may not always be the easiest character to like, but I enjoyed watching her grow. There are some heartbreaking moments in this book, especially when Liz is longing for just a little more time with Richie, her boyfriend. In addition, I loved the way that she and Alex finally came to an understanding about one another. They were simply friends, and the lack of an overt romance was refreshing. Even though I didn't live in the Northeast, I did go to high school in a small town where everyone knew most everyone else, and so in some ways reading this book was like a trip through my own memories.
I will admit that Between reminded me of a few other novels I've read, but I think that within the first few chapters this story did develop its own unique identity. While this book is of a more reflective nature, the underlying mystery of how Liz died, combined with character exploration, made for an intriguing read. Although some of the characters are frustrating at times, the book as a whole is very realistic and very powerful.
Between is by no means a light book. It is a book that makes you think, a book with messages, and a book that will stick with you. I will definitely be reading more by Jessica Warman in the future.(less)
Although I am not a huge fan of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (don't shoot me, some of his other...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
Really 3.5 stars
Although I am not a huge fan of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (don't shoot me, some of his other plays are just better), I do love retellings of classic stories. This book reimagines Romeo and Juliet's entire story, placing them both in a new light and adding a paranormal twist.
Seven hundred years ago, Romeo murdered Juliet so that he could become immortal. But Juliet didn't die; instead, her Nurse offered her a new life. She became part of the Ambassadors of Light, a group who works against the Mercenaries to preserve soul mates and true love. But every time Juliet returns to earth, Romeo is there, trying to thwart her and win one of the lovers to the Mercenaries' cause. This time, Juliet has found herself in the body of Ariel, a girl who has had a rough life and been badly hurt by those she thought she could love. While Juliet tries to find the soul mates she has been sent to protect, she also tries to improve Ariel's life and her relationships. But this isn't a routine mission. She never expected to find someone new to love, someone with whom a future would be impossible. Nothing seems to be as it should, and for some reason seeing Romeo again only confuses her more. Will true love win in the end?
This story wasn't quite what I was expecting. Instead of being a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, it places the familiar characters in a new setting entirely; however, some of the dialogue from the play does make an appearance, and certain ideas from the original story make an appearance. In this book, Juliet is not the love-struck girl she was in the play. Instead, she is strong and independent, slightly jaded, and someone who doesn't really believe in love despite her constant work with soul mates. When she finds someone she thinks she can love, she fights her feelings every step of the way, afraid of being betrayed again. I have to say that my favorite character in this book was Ben. While Romeo worked for the dark side, Ben was caring, passionate, and sweet. I did enjoy the brief intermezzi from Romeo's point of view, however; they shed new light on his character and added more depth to the story. The book was certainly interesting, with both two different plots running side by side and the mystery and paranormal twist throughout the book.
Juliet spent a lot of time frustrated in this book, and as I result I sometimes found myself frustrated as well. Although I understood her reasons for pushing Ben away, it was always sad to watch her do that. However, after the plot twists and changes of heart from some of the characters, I loved the way that everything turned out in the end.
Juliet Immortal is an enjoyable book, one that will take you to Verona and beyond and one that will make you believe in soul mates again. I will definitely be reading more books by Stacey Jay.(less)
I have always found the history surrounding the Salem Witch Trials very interesting. Given that, I...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
Really 3.5 stars
I have always found the history surrounding the Salem Witch Trials very interesting. Given that, I was curious to see how this book would explore the stories from a modern-day perspective. Blending past and present with paranormal elements and a sweet romance, this book drew me in right from the beginning.
Connie is a graduate student at Harvard pursuing her doctorate in history. In preparing for writing her dissertation, her advisor, Manning Chilton, suggests that what she needs is a new primary source. Connie never dreamed that preparing her grandmother's house for sale could provide just that. After finding the name "Deliverance Dane" on a piece of paper hidden inside a key, Connie begins to research this mysterious person. It soon becomes clear that Deliverance was connected with the Salem Witch Trials and that a book of her spells and potions may still exist. In her search, Connie meets Sam, a steeplejack working on church restoration. She cannot help but fall for him, yet, as her advisor constantly reminds her, she knows her work has to come first. At least, it does until Sam becomes seriously ill. Could Deliverance's book possibly contain something that would help Sam? Can Connie find it in time and unravel all of the mysteries before her - even ones that she never expected?
First of all, I loved the fact that Connie was a graduate student. I personally think that we need more books with college students as the protagonist (though I admit that may have something to do with being in college myself). Being that Connie is a researcher and so much of this book is about uncovering Deliverance's story, it would have been easy to be lost in historical details, but that was not the case. Deliverance's life is revealed not only through Connie but also through brief interludes set in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I loved this juxtaposition of time periods and the chance to see Deliverance's life firsthand. In addition to uncovering this story, Connie is discovering many things about her family, working to understand her mother better as well as herself. When you add to this Connie's friendships and her relationship with Sam, this story contained many layers, which I appreciated.
Though I really did enjoy this book, I have to say that I did have a few problems with it. I had difficulty connecting with Connie's character. Despite the fact that she's a graduate student like myself, her emotions seemed somewhat glossed over or rationalized rather than being felt intensely. In addition, there were times that I got lost in all of the descriptions, and there were times when I found myself enjoying the historical perspectives more than Connie's story. I would have liked to have seen Connie and Sam's relationship develop more, even if it was a subplot.
If you enjoy historical fiction or books about the Salem Witch Trials, then you will enjoy The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. I will look forward to seeing what Howe writes next!(less)
I used to love ghost stories as a child, especially ones that were somehow rooted in truth or lege...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
Really 4.5 stars
I used to love ghost stories as a child, especially ones that were somehow rooted in truth or legend. When I saw that this book was a ghost story that added in witches and was set in Texas, I knew I had to read it. And by "had to," I mean that I stayed awake until after 2am one night so that I could finish it.
Amy Goodnight would like to be normal, but unfortunately for her, that's impossible. Her family has magic, and she has learned to be careful around their spells and her own tendencies toward witchcraft, even going so far as to be the buffer between the world and her family. When she offers to take care of her aunt's ranch for the summer, she thinks that her ghost hunting days are over. But life has other ideas. Amy suspects that something is amiss when long-buried bodies are discovered on the neighboring ranch. Then there is a ghost who seems to be haunting her. And finally, it seems like someone doesn't want these bodies disturbed. In a small town, gossip flies, suspicions run high, and there's no escaping your family. Can Amy figure out what the ghost wants and help him, all while staying safe? More importantly, can she do it with the devastatingly handsome distraction of her neighbor?
This book has everything you could want in a ghost story: mystery and suspense are woven with magic and folklore, and to top everything off, there is a dash of romance. At times it almost seems as though there are two mysteries unfolding at the same time, and the story kept me guessing at the truth until close to the end. The characters really made this novel; in fact, Amy is probably one of my favorite characters that I've read this year. She's not afraid to speak her mind, and what she says is often snarky but usually incredibly amusing. All of the dialogue was great, from the debates between Amy and her sister Phin (think female version of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, but a witch) and the constant banter between Amy and Ben, the charming (or not, depending on the day) neighbor. I loved the way that the relationship between Ben and Amy grew; the tension and frustration finally led to understanding and attachment. There are also references to other books as well as pop culture that I enjoyed seeing interspersed in here.
I also loved the vivid descriptions and the setting of this book. The story truly came to life, and it was that along with the mystery that kept me awake and reading late into the night. Even though this is a stand-alone book, I would still love to see these characters again and know if any other unusual things happened to them.
Texas Gothic is a perfect summer ghost story, complete with a refreshing voice and a captivating tale. I will certainly be picking up more of Clement-Moore's books!(less)
We've all heard stories about Jack the Ripper or other serial killers and wondered how people coul...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
Really 3.5 stars
We've all heard stories about Jack the Ripper or other serial killers and wondered how people could do such things. In this day and age, with all of the technology we have, it seems like it would be nearly impossible to recreate these events. But when Rory Deveaux moves to London, that's exactly what starts happening...
When Rory's parents told her that she could pick where she went to school for her senior year, she chose a boarding school in London. It's a hard enough adjustment for her to get used to a new city, a more advanced school, and living with a roommate. If that's not bad enough, someone has started recreating the murders of Jack the Ripper, and Rory's boarding school is in the area near the crime scenes. And then things really get strange. Rory sees a man that nobody else seems tobe able to see, not even her roommate who was with her. Then she gets a second roommate who never seems to do any schoolwork. Finally, there's a mysterious boy who always seems to be hanging out in the library. As Rippermania continues to sweep the city, life becomes increasingly more complicated for Rory. Could it be that she's the murderer's next target? And if she is...why?
First of all, I love books set in foreign cities. I've only spent a few days in London, so it was great to explore more of this city in this book. I really enjoyed the history that was incorporated in this book. This book revolved around Jack the Ripper's infamous murders, and we were not spared any of the details. Although this book is from Rory's point of view, occasionally an outside perspective would be introduced that added to the heightened sense of Rippermania, which I found very effective. I also appreciated how the mystery is not as cut and dry as it first appears. There is more to the murderer than just his elusive qualities. There is, in fact, an entire world of ghosts and secret police hidden in London into which Rory finds herself inducted. This added paranormal element really made the book intriguing.
I enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book and learning more of their backstories. When the action seemed stalled, the interaction among the characters balanced this. I did have one complaint about this interaction, however, and that was the romance between Rory and Jerome. It seemed almost out of place; I would have liked to have seen it developed more. I was also slightly disappointed with the murderer's reasoning behind his actions. While there is some closure at the end of this book, there is also an unexpected twist that should be interesting to watch play out in the next book.
Complete with interesting characters, unexpected plot twists, and a little bit of history, The Name of the Star will keep you guessing and keep you reading right until the very end. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next!(less)
I know what you're thinking - vampires and unicorns couldn't possibly go together. But in Drink, Slay, Love, they...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
I know what you're thinking - vampires and unicorns couldn't possibly go together. But in Drink, Slay, Love, they do. I have to admit that I've always had a soft spot for unicorns (I blame Fantasia), so that and the cover were what drew me to this book. And I was not disappointed.
Pearl knows exactly who she is - a vampire, one of the youngest vampires in her Family, and a vampire with a fondness for ice cream-infused blood. And then one night, everything changes. She is stabbed by a unicorn's horn, only she doesn't die; instead, she wakes up back at her house, confronted by a family who doesn't believe her story of the attack, left wondering if her memories are true. Over the next few days, Pearl begins to discover the effects of her attack. She can walk in sunlight, and humans no longer seem to be simply a source of sustenance. This conscience only grows stronger as Pearl enrolls in high school (what could be a bountiful hunting ground for her Family) and begins to make friends. But no matter how close she becomes to Bethany, or what she might feel for Evan, she can neither abandon her hunt for the unicorn who changed her nor escape her Family. But when the two worlds collide, which one will she choose?
Though the vampires in Drink, Slay, Love may be very close to vampire canon, this book is certainly not your typical vampire story. While Pearl struggles with her family responsibilities and what she comes to believe is right, she is not afraid to stand up for herself when she needs to. I loved reading about her journey of self-discovery and how she came to realize that sometimes, you can't do things simply because your family or your boyfriend expects you to. The shift in her feelings about Evan and the fact that she finally opened up to him yielded some very sweet scenes. But despite her assimilation into the human world, Pearl still had her vampiric connections. Even though her family frustrated me at times, I really enjoyed reading their family dynamic and watching these different characters come to life. I also liked her Uncle Pascha's quotes from literature. Finally, the fact that unicorns are the antithesis to vampires in this book - pure genius.
The only thing I did have trouble believing in this book was Pearl's easy infiltration of the various high school cliques - could a new student really have reached that many people, especially after some unusual stunts? That being said, Pearl's many human activities made a nice contrast to her vampiric ones. And it was great to see her classmates work together when they needed to.
With plenty of action and a little romance, fans of the paranormal will enjoy this refreshing and creative twist of a vampire story. A fast-paced, fun read, Drink Slay Love will leave you wanting more.(less)
I've been on a bit of a ghost story kick lately, and from friends who had already read this book, I knew that Anna...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
I've been on a bit of a ghost story kick lately, and from friends who had already read this book, I knew that Anna Dressed in Blood had to be good. And it was. This is not your typical mysterious ghost story. Anna Dressed in Blood is a paranormal thriller with secrets and surprises lurking around every corner.
Cas Lowood has one mission in life: track down ghosts and kill them. Armed with his athame like his father before him, Cas and his mother travel around the country in search of ghosts that need to be banished from the world of the living. When Cas receives a tip for a ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood, he can't wait to start the new mission. Yet from the very beginning, something is different. Cas somehow feels drawn to Anna, and when he finds her, it turns out that she is unlike any ghost he's ever met. When she spares his life, something that has never happened before, Cas knows that he has to learn her entire story. Together with his friends and some help from a few witches, Cas sets about uncovering the secrets of Anna's past. But he isn't prepared for what he finds. And once he knows, what will he do?
Anna Dressed in Blood is one of those books that draws you in from the very first page and keeps you eagerly reading for more. I loved knowing both Cas and Anna, uncovering their motivations and their secrets. Cas is an all-around good guy, committed to his mission and still coming to terms with his past. He is excellent at what he does and as a result has been isolated for many years; it was nice to see him opening up to others over the course of the book. The same is true of Anna. She might have been a murderous ghost, but I could not help but feel bad for her, especially once her entire story was revealed. And speaking of murderous. There are several harrowing scenes in this book, and while there is some gore, it is never overly graphic. Instead, it adds to the chilling nature of the story.
I do have to say that I wish we had seen more of the relationship developing between Cas and Anna. It was clearly there, but I would have liked more scenes with them getting to know each other. Also, I know that some people have mentioned having nightmares after reading this book, but I didn't find any of the scenes to be too scary or disturbing.
Kendare Blake has crafted a fabulous debut novel with just the right amounts of spookiness, action, emotions, and romance. I cannot wait to read more from her!(less)
Shattered Souls had a lot of advance hype, and after reading the book, I can certainly see why. Mary Lindsey has s...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
Shattered Souls had a lot of advance hype, and after reading the book, I can certainly see why. Mary Lindsey has spun a story that is incredibly gripping and one that left me wanting more.
Lenzi has been hearing voices, and this terrifies her - she is afraid that she is turning into her father who recently committed suicide because of his mental issues. Lenzi tries her best to block out the voices, but they just keep coming. On the night of her birthday, the voices suddenly turn into hallucinations...or do they? She meets a mysterious stranger who just happens to know a few things about her, and Lenzi must accept that Alden, as well as what he's saying, is real. Only Lenzi doesn't want any part of the life Alden describes. She is happy with her boyfriend Zak, and everything else she will handle. But Alden can help her with the voices - the lost souls - and she quickly finds herself drawn into his world. Soon Lenzi has a decision to make: will she lead the life she wants or the life she is destined to lead?
Shattered Souls is a book that you can't put down. I loved that the paranormal aspect was introduced so quickly, and once I knew a bit of the world I was dying to know even more. Lenzi and Alden were both characters that I enjoyed getting to know. Lenzi is a genuinely good person and Alden is incredibly devoted to her, even if I did want to tell him to speak up for what he wanted. Even though the world is new to Lenzi, they quickly manage to work together and are a phenomenal team of Speaker and Protector. Beyond this, I loved the history woven through this book. It was interesting to learn not only Lenzi and Alden's stories but also the stories of the souls that Lenzi helped. Then there were Race and Maude, whose quips added just the right touch of humor to the book. And finally there is Zak. As much as I wanted to dislike him, I just couldn't. All of these characters manage to tug at your heart, each for their own reasons. And if you thought you'd seen evil spirits before...think again.
I do have to admit that several aspects of this book - reincarnation, lost memory, and teamwork through centuries - reminded me of another book that I read earlier this year. Even though I loved the characters and the idea of helping souls pass on, I couldn't help but be distracted at a few points. Even so, I couldn't stop reading until I had turned the last page.
I do hope that Mary will write more books in this world - these characters and the world are too good to let go of this soon! And I am very much looking forward to her next book, a retelling of Poe's Annabel Lee!(less)
This has to be one of the most hyped books of the year, as well as one of the most controversial....moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
Really 4.5 stars
This has to be one of the most hyped books of the year, as well as one of the most controversial. Needless to say, I couldn't wait to read it. Once I started it, if I could have read this book straight through, I would have. It's that engrossing, and when I was reading, all I cared about was figuring out the question we've all seen: Who is Mara Dyer?
After surviving a horrible accident, Mara wakes up in the hospital with no memories of how she got there. Once her parents tell her that her best friends all died while she survived, she begs to move away. The family moves to Miami, where Mara and her older brother Daniel attend private school. There Mara meets Jamie, the token best friend, and the beautiful and intriguing Noah Shaw. And then strange things start happening. Mara is eager for her memory to return, hoping that she will start to understand everything, but each piece of the puzzle only leaves her more confused. Not only does she have to fight to stay relatively sane, but also she has to fight her growing attraction for Noah, about whom she has been warned. But Noah seems different to her, and he could just be her key to unlocking the mystery surrounding her.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a perfect blend of mystery and romance, with a dash of the paranormal. But even without the "great mystery," as it were, I think this book would still be incredibly good. Michelle Hodkin definitely has a way with words. The quality of writing and the depth of the story made me forget about everything else. The characters were so intriguing that I didn't mind reading about their day-to-day activities. They each had their own baggage and their own stories to tell, which in some books can be overkill, but here it only made me care about them all more. And Noah Shaw...he is swoon-worthy. It's almost impossible not to fall in love with him. Learning about him was just as exciting as learning about Mara. These are two characters that actually complement each other very well.
If you've read other reviews of this book, then what I'm about to say will come as no surprise. About three quarters of the way through the book, things start changing. I'll say it: Things get downright weird. There were times I was confused. My questions weren't answered by the end of the book. BUT. This book is a mystery. It's told in first person, so we only know what Mara knows. Mara doesn't understand everything, so how could we? I definitely wanted more explanations, but I believe that they will come in the next book. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy speculating what else Michelle has in store for us in this highly inventive, obviously very complex story.
This is a book that deserves its hype and then some. The overall mystery is so intricately weaved, and with the addition of unforgettable characters, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a fabulous debut novel. I am already eagerly awaiting the sequel!(less)
What do you get when you combine a family with psychic abilities, a small tourist town, and an unsolved murder? Ad...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
What do you get when you combine a family with psychic abilities, a small tourist town, and an unsolved murder? Add a little romance to the mix and you have Clarity, a captivating debut novel by Kim Harrington.
Clare Fern is biding her time until she can go away to college. Raised in a family of psychics, she has always been the outcast at school and relied on her brother and his friend for company. Things seemed to change when she dated the mayor's son, but when that relationship ended, so did her respite from the teasing. But this summer, things might change. When a tourist is found murdered over the July 4 weekend, the town's new detective is expected to solve the case. But Clare's ex-boyfriend Justin knows what she can do and wants to enlist her help. Clare soon finds herself not only having to work with Justin but also with Gabriel, the detective's attractive son, to try and solve the murder. But as they get deeper into their investigation, the stakes get higher, and soon nobody is safe. Will Clare be able to see the investigation through in one piece...and with her heart intact?
Clarity was a great blend of mystery and paranormal elements. As much as I enjoyed watching the Fern family use their psychic abilities, I really loved following Clare, Justin, and Gabriel as they worked to solve the murder. The story was fast-paced with one surprise after another; I started reading it one morning and didn't put it down until a couple of hours later when I finished it. The chain of suspects as well as the unexpected events during the investigation kept me guessing who the murderer was right along with Clare. In addition, everything from the setting to Clare's emotions were very vivid. It was easy to identify with her, from her desire to protect those she loved to her internal struggle about how to balance the feelings that never quite disappeared for Justin with her growing attraction to Gabriel. The book continued to be a roller coaster (in a good way) until the end.
I wish that this book had been longer, because I definitely wanted more. I have to admit that the ending seemed a bit rushed and the explanation was not completely believable. However, I did enjoy the role that one of the smaller characters played in the outcome. Also, even though the murder was solved, things were left open between Clare, Justin, and Gabriel. I'm curious to see what Clare decides to do in Perception, the sequel.
Clarity has a world and cast of characters that it's easy to fall in love with. This was a fabulous debut novel, and I can't wait for the next book!(less)
The possibility of time travel is always fascinating, but it raises a lot of questions. What would...moreFirst reviewed on Portrait of a Book
Really 3.5 stars
The possibility of time travel is always fascinating, but it raises a lot of questions. What would the rules be, and would anybody be able to travel? These are some of the questions Myra McEntire explores in Hourglass, all within the confines of a small southern town, an institute designed to protect the secrets of time manipulation, and a budding romance.
Ever since her parents died, Emerson has had a rough time. But even before the accident, she had begun to see people from the past, people who would disappear if she touched them. After being hospitalized and spending two years away at boarding school, she has to come home to live with her brother and his wife. Her brother has hired a new consultant from the Hourglass Institute, Michael, who is supposed to help her with her "gift." But not only do Em's visions of people from the past get stronger, but also she finds herself attracted to Michael, and the tension between them is hard to ignore. As she learns more about herself and her gift, she becomes caught up in the world of Hourglass and all of the people there. She discovers that she isn't alone; other people have time-related abilities, and yes, time travel is possible. When Michael asks her to help him change the past, Emerson has to decide if she's willing to risk her life so that others can live.
First of all, I loved the premise of Hourglass. It is fresh and inventive, and it explores science fiction in a way that isn't overly technical. I enjoyed delving into this world and learning about the different abilities that McEntire created. I also loved Emerson's voice. She's smart, sharp, and snarky, which was by turns amusing and frustrating when she used her razor tongue to keep people away. Then there were the guys - Michael, the Hourglass consultant, and his best friend Kaleb. Michael was the obvious hero, with his brooding nature and devastating looks, but I actually found myself more drawn to Kaleb; he had a much more interesting history, and he made no secret about his feelings for Emerson. Kaleb was at times the bad boy and at other times the boy next door, and I couldn't help but feel sympathy for him.
However, as much as I wanted to love this book, I didn't. It may have been because of the hype, but I wasn't blown away like I thought I would be. The last 100 pages were riveting, with constant surprises and intense emotional scenes, but before that I was at times confused, frustrated, and left wanting more. While I liked Emerson, the relationship between her and Michael didn't come alive for me. I wanted their relationship to grow instead of jumping from tension and avoidance to love. That being said, I am curious to see where McEntire will take this story in the sequel.
Hourglass was an inventive debut novel that brings a new voice and a different story to the paranormal genre. Complete with romance, secrets, and time travel, Hourglass is definitely worth the read.(less)