Category Archives: Paranormal
Book: Daylighters (The Morganville Vampires Book #15) by Rachel Caine, NAL review copy via Netgalley, HC 368 pages, on sale now
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
While Morganville, Texas, is often a troubled town, Claire Danvers and her friends are looking forward to coming home. But the Morganville they return to isn’t the one they know; it’s become a different place—a deadly one…
Something drastic has happened in Morganville while Claire and her friends were away. The town looks cleaner and happier than they’ve ever seen it before, but when their incoming group is arrested and separated—vampires from humans—they realize that the changes definitely aren’t for the better.
It seems that an organization called the Daylight Foundation has offered the population of Morganville something they’ve never had: hope of a vampire-free future. And while it sounds like salvation—even for the vampires themselves—the truth is far more sinister and deadly.
Now, Claire, Shane and Eve need to find a way to break their friends out of Daylighter custody, before the vampires of Morganville meet their untimely end…
It’s finally time to say farewell to the Morganville Vampires series. After 15 books the series never wore out it’s welcome and I’m glad to see Rachel Caine’s vampire series go out on a high note. I’ve enjoyed all the adventures in Morganville and I’m glad the books are around if I ever want to return to Morganville. The final book is a satisfying conclusion – I don’t feel short changed at all. The finale felt true to the series, we get some closure and feel good about where we are leaving the gang.
Brief synopsis of the series: In the town of Morganville, Texas, humans and vampires co-exist, and once you’re in you can’t get out. We follow a core group of four, Morganville’s own Scooby gang, as they navigate the dangers of the town. Claire is one of the liaisons between the vampires and humans, and has allied herself with the mad genius vampire Myrnin, and the vampire high queen Amelie. Her boyfriend is Shane, and they live with another couple, Michael and Eve, in the Glass House, a house with some unique powers. And basically they are just trying to stay alive in this scary town they find themselves in. There are some interesting side characters that pop up throughout the series, plenty of action and surprises, and a little bit of romance.
In the last few books we’ve started to see a power struggle in Morganville, with the vampires beginning to lose control, and that all comes to a head in the finale. Would Morganville be better off without the vampires, or is there something even more dangerous coming to replace them?
The characters give this series heart, and I like that so many favorite characters show up in the final installment. I was even happy to see mean girl Monica Morrell! My favorite scenes, as always, are the ones with the bi-polar Myrnin and smart and sensible Claire. I’ve loved their friendship, and Myrnin’s zany ways.
In this final installment, there’s trouble for everyone, not just the vampires, and all the twists and turns kept me turning pages late in the night. I like that Caine always goes someplace unexpected, and it’s hard to surprise after 15 books. There is danger and new threats to the all the characters we know and love. Since it’s the finale, I was on edge waiting to see who would make it out alive/undead.
There’s not much more I can say about the plot without getting into spoilers. If you haven’t visited Morganville yet, you have 15 awesome books waiting for you. I think they are appropriate for any age, and whether you like vampires or not. These books are fun and fast-paced with characters to love and love-to-hate.
I’ll miss all the fun with the gang from Morganville, and I’m sure I’ll read through the books again sometime. I have my Common Grounds coffee mug and vampire bunny slippers as fun reminders for now. Plus, there’s the web series to look forward to, and Caine’s new book Prince of Shadows.
Book: Red Hill by Jamie McGuire, Simon & Schuster Audio, October 1, 2013
Book Info: Zombie fiction, Audiobook purchased via Audible. Running time: 9 hrs, 38 mins. Read by: Emma Galvin, Zachary Webber, January LaVoy. Also available in hc, pb or ebook from Atria Books.
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars
Red Hill is a new zombie fiction book from one of the biggest names in New Adult, Jamie McGuire. McGuire is known for the NA romance Beautiful Disaster, so a zombie apocalypse book is quite a departure. Readers of this blog know I prefer realistic stories, but hey it’s almost Halloween, so bring on the zombies!
Red Hill takes place at the beginning of a zombie apocalypse and has three different points of view:
Scarlet is a divorced mom of two girls. She shares custody, and her husband has the girls when disaster strikes. Scarlet will stop at nothing to get her girls back.
Nathan is unhappily married/separated and has a young daughter named Zoe. His goal is to keep his daughter safe.
Miranda is college-aged and traveling with her sister Ashley and their boyfriends Bryce and Cooper when the zombies arrive.
The trio and their entourage come together at Red Hill ranch for shelter and support, and try to keep the zombies at bay. Tensions run high, but romance also provides a distraction for the survivors.
Red Hill is more of a character study than a non-stop zombie killing adventure. Scarlet’s character is at the center of the action- she’s the mother figure to the group, and also one of the best at taking down zombies, aka creepers/shufflers/teds. She holds on to the hope that she will be with her daughters again and that’s what keeps her going.
The story picked up steam for me once the gang got together at Red Hill. Before that time, they were isolated and dodging zombies separately, and my mind would start to wander. There’s lots of time spent on the journey to Red Hill. And with the shift in perspectives, I felt a little detached from the characters.
When the group meets up at Red Hill though, things get a little less predictable and a lot more dangerous. Character bonds are formed. The danger kind of sneaks up on you, and there are some whoa, I can’t believe this is happening moments. The slow pace of the novel makes any fight or death scene that much more impactful. And McGuire makes some bold choices with the conclusion that took me off guard.
I picked up the audiobook because I saw Emma Galvin was one of the narrators. Galvin reads Miranda’s part, January LaVoy is Scarlet, and of course Zachary Webber is Nathan. Galvin is very strong with action scenes and bringing the emotional intensity to her reading- she reads Divergent so this is right up her alley. LaVoy sounds age-appropriate for Scarlet, and you can feel her concern for her kids. Webber’s Nathan has a smooth, calm voice that’s perfect for the character. The narration is good, and sets the mood for the story. Emma Galvin’s intensity stands out among the trio but that’s also the nature of her character. The novel’s slow pace did make the audiobook feel longer than 9.5 hours.
Red Hill is zombie fiction, rather than NA or YA and is such a departure for Jamie McGuire I’m not sure it’s a natural fit for her NA/romance fans. Then again, with the focus not on zombie killing action, it’s not a slam-dunk for zombie lovers either. I’m not into zombies, but even I think there should have been more action and scares.
Red Hill may be a good choice for someone who reads fiction and wants to dip their toes in the zombie pool. There’s not too much romance and it’s not keep-you-up-at-night scary. It has a Walking Dead vibe to it, and you’ll be thinking more about how you’d survive in a zombie apocalypse.
Take a listen to an audio sample:
Jamie McGuire and Simon & Schuster also put together a Red Hill playlist:
Book: If I Should Die by Amy Plum, Harper Audio, May 7, 2013
Book Info: YA Paranormal, borrowed OverDrive MP3 Audiobook from the library, and I bought the kindle edition. Running time: 11 hrs, 7 mins. Read by: Julia Whelan. Also available in hardcover, 416 pages from Harper Teen.
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars
I am the biggest procrastinator when it comes to finishing series books. I don’t know why, but it takes me forever to wrap up a series – maybe I’m not ready to say goodbye to the characters or worry that the finale will be a letdown. So, I’ve had the last book of the Revenants trilogy on my kindle since its release date unread, but when I saw the audiobook at the library I felt it was time to bite the bullet.
Readers of this blog know that my appetite for paranormal has waned, but there are a few paranormal series I still try to keep up with. This series is set in Paris and is a romance between an immortal Revenant (a self-sacrificing, honorable, zombie-like guy) and a human girl who lost her parents. Kate and Vincent have this epic love story that makes you want to root for them, despite their differences. The series has been working towards something big, and big things definitely happen in If I Should Die.
This book is a game changer, and there are surprises and sacrifices in store. The biggest change is Kate’s personal growth, and she takes a bigger role in the fight between good and evil. Everyone else is second fiddle to Kate, and there are less light-hearted moments than in previous books. There is a lot of action and discovery, and some new characters are introduced along the way. If you’ve followed the Revenants series, you may have predicted how the series would end, and Amy Plum has some tricks up her sleeve that I didn’t consider.
I like Vincent just fine, but I have a soft spot for his lovable friend Jules. He’s the comic relief while Vincent is so serious. Jules does not have a big part in this book, and I think that brought the mood down a bit. At least he gets to star in his own novella though!
The series ties up most of the loose ends, and leaves the characters in an interesting place. My favorite part of the book is the third act when the action really ramps up. Some of the earlier parts of the book went into too much detail for me, and I was starting to zone out, but I’m glad I stuck with it.
Julia Whelan narrates the audiobook, and it was a treat to hear her read another book in this series. Since most of the action is set in Paris, there are French accents, names and places that sound even better when they are pronounced correctly by a narrator. Whelan is comfortable with American and French, and male and female voices, has a good reading pace, and was in tune with the emotional tone of the book.
This book was entertaining, but I think I preferred the first two books a little more. There is a lot of story packed into this book, and I missed seeing more of some of the other characters that have been such an important part of previous books. Even though there are no more books in the works for this series, the story felt like it was ripe for a spin-off. Amy Plum’s next book is called After The End, and it’s the first book of a new dystopian series.
Book: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Hachette Audio, September 3, 2013
Book Info: YA Paranormal, Audiobook received for review from Hachette Audio. Running time: 12 hrs, 6 mins. Read by: Christine Lakin. Also available in hardcover, 432 pages from Little, Brown.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from best-selling and acclaimed author Holly Black.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is my first Holly Black book, and even though I don’t read a lot of vampire books anymore, I always hope to find one that makes me fall in love with them again. I liked Anne Rice books back in the day, and I read Holly Black is a fan of the Vampire Chronicles too. Black has written a rich vampire story you can sink your teeth into, so to speak. It’s dark and scary and puts you on edge; set in a world that fears yet glamorizes the Cold Ones.
The book starts off with a bang as the main character Tana wakes up after a party and finds almost all the partygoers dead. The two survivors are her ex-boyfriend Aiden, now infected by the vampire virus, and the chained, mysterious vampire Gavriel. The trio sets off to Coldtown, the safe place to go when you’re infected, even though you might not ever get out. Once you’re bitten, you can halt the virus if you don’t bite another human for 80 days, a challenge for these bloodthirsty “newborns”!
Tana has a personal family history with vampires, and teaming up with Gavriel and Aiden is a huge risk. I connected with Tana and found her to be an awesome heroine. She fights her own battles, taking on a vampire or two, and is a devoted friend. And I did ship her with Gavriel- loved their chemistry.
Gavriel is a live wire, and reminded me a little of The Morganville Vampires Myrnin. He’s of course beautiful and sexy, though a dangerous and vicious creature. We get to know his back-story through flashbacks, and why he is the way he is. There are some romantic moments in their way, but this isn’t that sort of vampire book.
I liked the colorful characters in this book, the humans and the vampires, though Tana and Gavriel were by far my favorites. Sometimes I got a little lost in the details of the story- there’s a lot going on to keep track of. I did like the language Black uses and though I listened to the audiobook, I wouldn’t have minded reading her words in print as well. I appreciate that she sets out to tell a darker vampire story with more gore and less romance. Some of my favorite details were the beginning of chapter quotes about death.
I listened to the audiobook, read by Christine Lakin. I had heard a sample of her narration before the book came out and knew I wanted to experience the audiobook. I believe this is Lakin’s first audiobook, and she really sells the story and takes you to Coldtown. I liked the tone of her voice for the book, and she sounds age and character appropriate. Pacing, voices, emotion all come together perfectly for Lakin as though she was an audiobook veteran. Another thing that’s cool about this audiobook is the use of scary music to set the mood- it made me jump at times! I highly recommend the audiobook for an even more chilling book experience.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is good and scary to kick off fall reading. Though I prefer realistic fiction to paranormal, this was a nice change of pace. I’m even more interested in diving into Black’s back catalog with the Curse Workers series.
Book: The Runaway Queen (The Bane Chronicles #2) by Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson, Simon & Schuster Audio, May 21, 2013
Audiobook Info: YA Fantasy novella, Received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio, Audio length: 1 hours 18 minutes, read by George Blagden
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
The Bane Chronicles is a 10-book novella spinoff series about fan-favorite warlock Magnus Bane from Cassandra Clare and guest co-authors Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan. If you can’t get enough Magnus Bane, here’s your chance to catch up on his extensive backstory. The first installment from Rees Brennan, What Really Happened in Peru, debuted last month. I listened to this installment again via audiobook, and not only is there a new author but there’s a new narrator, actor George Blagden.
The Runaway Queen is co-authored by Maureen Johnson and takes place in Revolutionary France. Magnus agrees to rescue Marie Antoinette because Axel, the handsome count, asks him to. Meanwhile, Magnus is invited/demanded to attend a vampire soiree, a mysterious monkey turns up, and Magnus gives hot air balloon travel a whirl.
This installment is pretty entertaining, and in fact I listened to it twice. I kept getting distracted listening to Magnus talk about his lemon yellow gloves and wardrobe suggestions for his companion monkey, Ragnor, that I missed some key information the first time around! (Magnus wanted to dress the monkey like himself and I couldn’t help but think of Ikea monkey) There are some good tidbits packed in this 1-hour-ish audiobook and surprise name-drops from The Infernal Devices.
Magnus shows his usual flair in this book, and we get to learn more about how his mind works and see him think on his feet. I think the character is so fascinating and these glimpses into the past really give us a more well rounded picture of the warlock.
Maureen Johnson manages to get important historical and Shadowhunter world details right as well as bring humor to the story. There are several plot points juggled in this short story but I didn’t think it ever lost focus. This installment is an entertaining mix of adventure/danger/humor/romance and makes me eager to continue the series.
George Blagden narrates The Runaway Queen. Maybe there will be different narrators for each book? Jesse Williams narrated the first installment, and both actors do a good job with Mr. Bane. You may know George Blagden from Les Miserables, and he’s also in a TV series called Vikings. I see on IMDB that Blagden is fluent in French, and that comes in handy in this audiobook with the Paris setting. I think his voice complements Bane’s personality and dry sense of humor. It’s a fine line not to make Bane sound too campy but Blagden gets it right. His voice for the French vampire assistant is quite humorous. Blagden does a great job overall.
The next book in the series is Vampires, Scones and Edmund Herondale, co-written by Sarah Rees Brennan, due out June 18. It takes place in Victorian London and features vampire Camille Belcourt and Shadowhunter Edmund Herondale. Sounds like a fun one!
Check out an interview with George Blagden discussing the audiobook:
Book: Fall Of Night (The Morganville Vampires Book #14) by Rachel Caine, NAL Hardcover received for review, 338 pages, on sale May 7, 2013
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
When Claire Danvers gets accepted into the graduate program at MIT, she can’t pass up the opportunity. Enrolled in a special advanced study program with former Morganville native Professor Irene Anderson, Claire is able to work on her machine, designed to cancel the mental abilities of vampires. But when she begins testing her machine on live subjects, things quickly spiral out of control, and Claire begins to wonder if leaving Morganville will be the last mistake she’ll ever make…
I don’t usually include the publisher’s summary, but since this is the 14th book in the Morganville Vampires series I’m scared to attempt to summarize on my own!
We’ve reached the penultimate installment of the MV series and I still feel giddy when I get a new book in my hands. I don’t even read a lot of paranormal anymore, but I’m so attached to these characters I can’t stop reading. This is rare nowadays, and I commend Rachel Caine for keeping this series fresh.
This installment is a little different in that it takes place outside of Morganville as Claire ventures off to MIT. Claire wasn’t sure what to think of that, and neither was I. I was unsettled and felt like the new locale was a dangerous unknown entity. I missed the group dynamic but agree it had to happen. There are all these sketchy new characters around and Claire doesn’t have the backup she usually does. It’s a good chance for her to show what she’s made of though, and maybe even appreciate what she left behind in Morganville.
Claire and Shane have alternating POV in this installment. Their relationship was a little rocky in the last book so it’s interesting to see where their heads are. And of course, they each have lots of excitement going on around them and the alternating perspective provides some additional insight. Not to fret though, many of the series regulars appear in this book, along with some new blood. And, some of the old favorites appear in a whole new light, which is pretty exciting. It’s a little ominous that some of the characters from Morganville are not heard from in this book though, and they were missed.
I read this book during the 24-hour readathon. Series books are great for read-a-thons, especially action packed ones like these. It’s easy to settle in with favorite characters and let the pages fly. If you haven’t started this series yet, and you’re intimidated by the fact that there’s 14 books to catch up on, don’t be. These books are addictive and very fast reads. Each book usually ends on a big cliffhanger, so you’ll just want to binge on the whole series at once. And the last book of the series is out in the fall, so it’s a perfect time to give them a go.
Rachel Caine does a great job with character development and introducing new conflicts. As always, she surprises with another game changing ending to set up this falls series finale, Daylighters. I can’t imagine how Caine will resolve this newest wrinkle, but I have faith the series will go out with a bang.
Look for Fall of Night in stores on May 7, followed by Daylighters Nov. 5.
Welcome to my stop on the Blood Awakening blog tour, book two of the Blood Prophecy trilogy. The tour is winding down, but I have an exciting excerpt to share and also it’s your last chance to enter an awesome giveaway.
About Blood Awakening:
Ava’s life went from bad to worse the night Chance became a vampire.
He won’t have anything to do with her. Ava understands why—because he blames her—but it doesn’t mean she likes it.
And it doesn’t help that she’s starting to feel something for Erik, the boy who once wanted her dead. Especially when Chance decides that he does still love her, and wants her to be with him for eternity.
Now she has a choice: Humanity…or forever as a vampire with Chance.
But Ava wants nothing more than to be human again. At least, she thought that was all she wanted.
Thankfully her best friend Kayla has a plan to distract Ava from her boy troubles, and they go in search of Kayla’s missing dad. A great idea, but one that brings Sebastian back into Ava’s life. Along with another, more sinister former member of his coven.
Sebastian and Zyris face off against Ava and her friends, resulting in Ava making yet another choice that changes the course of everyone’s lives, and leaves her wondering if being human again is really worth losing everything.
Blood Awakening is on sale April 23 and is available for preorder now at Amazon & Barnes & Noble, and you can add it to your Goodreads shelf. For a special treat, Jamie Manning is sharing a sample from the book for you today.
BLOOD AWAKENING—Exclusive Sneak Peek!
Here’s a scene between Ava and Erik that was really fun to write—hope you enjoy!
Being in a new city, and being a blood-sucking monster (okay half, but still), I was nervous about being surrounded by so many people. Sure, back in Wellesley there were people—and at times those people were plenty—but a city like Boston was teeming with them. I was unsure how all the scents would affect my bloodlust, how well I would handle the constant craving that always seemed to lurk just beneath the surface. Unfortunately we hit the city kind of late, the evening sun sinking below the horizon and casting an eerie glow across the towering skyscrapers of downtown Boston, so the abundance of fresh veins was at its peak. I did my best to ignore the heady mixtures of blood and sweat and fear and confidence that bombarded my senses even through the walls of the car, focusing instead on Kayla and her dad and doing my best to reunite them. I managed to keep most of the aromas at bay, but did catch the scents of several really cute college-aged guys loitering on the sidewalk in front of a bar as we passed by. I quickly held my breath until we cleared them. Once we were safely in the hotel room and away from the throng of people, I was finally able to relax.
“I’m exhausted,” Kayla said, plopping face-first onto one of two beds—the one she and I would have to share. Erik claimed the other one, gently placing his suitcase on the bright orange bedding and unzipping it. I watched quietly from the chair in the corner as Kayla fell right to sleep and Erik hung clothes on the rack by the sink in the back of the room. I was so thankful that these two people were in my life, that they had been willing to die for me just a few weeks ago. The feeling was overwhelming. So much so, that I suddenly felt claustrophobic.
“I need some air,” I said, standing from the chair and opening the door. The cold northern wind instantly filled my nostrils and helped clear my head. I quietly closed the door behind me so as not to wake Kayla, and leaned over the dark green railing of the balcony. Even though the hotel wasn’t what you would consider five-star, it was rather nice: Very clean exterior and interior, and the view of downtown Boston was beautiful—especially at night. The skyscrapers broke through the darkness with their illuminated squares, housing businesspeople and cleaning crews and homes full of loving families and sophisticated urbanites. The tallest one—impressive even from this distance—cleared the others by a long shot. Kayla had told me the name, but having Swiss cheese for a memory bank, I’d lost it. Either way, I was taken aback by the scale of the city, impressed with the beauty and tranquility of it all. I must have gotten fixated on the calming peacefulness I was feeling, because Erik managed to sneak up on me for the second time, going a step further by placing his hand in the small of my back.
“Stop doing that!” I said, a bit too loudly as I spun around to face him. That wicked little grin was plastered on his face again, and all I could think about was knocking it off…or biting his bottom lip. Geez.
“You like it,” he threw back, flirting. He clearly knew how he got to me, and he exploited that every chance he could. It infuriated me that he seemed so unaffected by the events that had led us to this place in our lives, while I was a stumbling ball of nerves and emotion, always on the verge of breaking down. It also infuriated me that he was able to crawl beneath my skin like no one else—not even Chance. But at the same time, that was one of the things I liked most about him.
“What are you doing out here?”
“I wanted some air, too.”
“Well, go get some air down there,” I said, pointing to the farthest end of the landing. Erik peeked over his shoulder before looking back at me and laughing.
“Why do I make you so uncomfortable, Ava?”
“I don’t know.” The words came out before I knew it. I had fully intended on lying through my teeth and telling him he didn’t make me uncomfortable, not in the least. Now the truth was out there, hanging in the air between us like the thick fog rolling across the city.
“So I do make you nervous. Interesting.” He took a couple of steps toward me. I should have backed away, I knew it; but I couldn’t. Something unseen was holding my legs in place. I was positive it was fear. Or nerves. Or want. Ugh. I could only stare as his flawless face inched closer, the glow of the moon illuminating his features, making him appear more godlike than human. “I think I know why I bother you so much.”
I fought to not look away, to hold my ground with him. “Do you?” I asked, praying only I could hear the squeak in my voice.
“I do.” His eyes never left mine.
“Enlighten me.” I was being snarky, hoping that somehow my cold tone would push him away—at least far enough away that I couldn’t see the delicious-looking vein throbbing down the side of his neck.
“Because you like me,” he said, leaning in so close I could hear his heart beating through his chest. “Don’t you?” I so wanted to tell him yes, to get it out in the open so I wouldn’t have to fight so hard to hide it anymore. But I couldn’t give in to temptation. I had to remain strong for Chance—the one guy in the world I loved more than anything. The same guy who couldn’t care less if I was alive or dead.
“Don’t be so sure of yourself.” I took the plunge and put my hand on the exposed skin of his chest nestled in the V of his black T-shirt. (When did he lose the button-down? Not that I was complaining.) Heat thrummed through my hand, tinged with a pulse of energy. I fought the urge to wrap my other arm around his neck and draw him closer, instead pushing firmly on his chest. He backed away, smiling.
“Okay, okay. I get it.” He kept smiling as he spoke, somehow making him even more sinfully irresistible.
“No, you don’t.”
“You’re in love with Chance.” I could hear pain behind his words. I looked away from him, afraid of the truth in my eyes. Of course I was in love with Chance. I always would be.
“And you hate vampires.” I stared at the glow of the city, praying for a tornado or aliens to come sweep me away from this awkward-yet-wanted moment.
“I don’t hate you.” I looked at him again. The crystal-clear blue of his eyes bore into me. “No way I could.”
“But you don’t love me, either.” I wished he would turn and walk away, leave me to be embarrassed in private. “You barely know me.”
“I know I like being around you. I know I don’t want to be away from you.” Two tiny steps, and the space between us was filled with his overbearing magnetism. “And I know you feel the same.” He dropped his fingers onto my wrist, slowly dragging them up my arm, leaving a trail of heat in their wake. I opened my mouth to speak—to tell him to either a) back off, or b) keep going. “Don’t waste your breath,” he interjected. “I know you love him, not me.”
“Then you know why you have to stop this.” And he did. I didn’t look at him as I spoke; I couldn’t. My mind was too focused on the skin his fingers had just caressed, the fire his touch created. I wanted them back, desperately. “And besides, I thought you couldn’t stand me?” I again focused on the twinkling lights of the city, my heart beating so loudly it was nearly drowning out the beat of his. Erik moved slowly, turning his back to the railing and leaning against it. His muscular arm was inches from me, his skin prickling with goose bumps from the brisk night air—I hoped. He didn’t say anything at first, just stood there staring at the wall of the hotel behind us. I didn’t speak, either. I knew my words affected him, I could see it. He was silent because he wanted more from me. I was silent because I think I did, too. So the two of us just stood there, quiet and motionless, together but alone.
“Things change,” he finally said, the decibel of his voice piercing the silence; I actually jumped at the sound. I turned to look at him, but his eyes remained fixed on the wall. What did that mean? Did that mean that now he did like me? That me being half vampire didn’t matter anymore? Or did he mean that I should give in to the inevitable change happening right in front of me and just kiss him or something? My mind pulsed painfully with questions.
“I’m going to bed,” I said softly, pressing my fingers into my pounding temples. I looked at Erik again, but he didn’t look back—didn’t even acknowledge I was there—as I brushed past him and walked to the door of our room.
“One more thing,” he said after my back was to him. I stopped but didn’t turn around, fearful that if I did, I might just give in to the overpowering feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“What?” I heard rustling and felt him ease in behind me, his large hand once again resting on the exposed skin of my arm. He leaned down, putting his mouth next to my ear, his breath warm and inviting on my neck, the scent of his blood seizure-inducing.
“You didn’t say no to my question.” A tiny laugh escaped his throat as his hand left my arm, slid along my side (more sweet fire trails) and opened the door. I was frozen, totally unable to move or speak, as he sidestepped around me and went inside.
He was right, I didn’t say no.
And I had no idea why.
Thanks to author Jamie Manning for sharing that tantalizing scene! I hope that piqued your interest in the Blood Prophecy series.
Be sure to try your luck and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here for your chance to win all kinds of cool stuff like a $50 bookstore gift card, signed copies of the Blood Prophecy books, swag and more.
Book: What Really Happened in Peru (The Bane Chronicles #1) by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan, Simon & Schuster Audio, April 16, 2013
Audiobook Info: YA Fantasy novella, Received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio, Audio length: 1 hours 13 minutes, read by Jesse Williams
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
The Bane Chronicles is a new novella Shadowhunter world spinoff series from Cassandra Clare and co-authors Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson. The first of 10 short stories about my favorite warlock Magnus Bane kicks off with What Really Happened in Peru.
Magnus Bane is such a scene-stealer in all the Shadowhunter books that it’s nice to see him in the spotlight for a change. These bite size standalone stories fill in some of the blanks in Bane’s extensive backstory and help tide us over until the next Shadowhunter book.
This installment teasingly tries to answer the question posed in the title with comedic, sorrowful and insightful anecdotes. It’s a good bonus addition to the Shadowhunters legend and a must for those who can’t get enough of Magnus.
Super fans of The Mortal Instruments series know that Magnus Bane was banished from Peru. I didn’t remember that tidbit, but after doing some digging I think it’s mentioned in City of Fallen Angels? In What Really Happened in Peru, Magnus visits Peru with his warlock cohorts Ragnor Fell and Catarina Loss. Magnus gets involved in several antics there, but which was the final straw? (Seriously, which was it?)
This quick read answers some questions about the mysterious Magnus while also providing the silliness you might expect. There are exotic animals, bad dancing, drunken exploits and stolen kisses. With Magnus’ immortal status he has had his share of heartbreak though, some of which we learn about. The story jumps around in time and gets a little confusing at times, but I guess it’s to illustrate all the exploits Magnus gets involved in over the years.
Jesse Williams narrates What Really Happened in Peru. This is his first time narrating an audiobook- he is best known as Dr. Jackson Avery on Grey’s Anatomy, of which I’m a fan. Williams has good comedic timing for Magnus, something we don’t get to see a lot of on Grey’s. I think Williams understood the character of Magnus and had fun with it. There are a lot of different characters, accents, and time frames in this installment, so Williams gets to get creative with the narration. I preferred his male voices overall, but I liked that he’s animated and really got into the story. At just over an hour, I’m pretty sure this is the shortest audiobook I’ve ever listened to, but I do think Clare’s books lend themselves well to audio.
The next book in the series is The Runaway Queen, co-written by Maureen Johnson, due out May 21. It’s set during the French Revolution, when Magnus tries to rescue the royal family.
Check out an interview with Jesse Williams discussing the audiobook at MTV and listen to an audio sample below:
Book: The Collector by Victoria Scott, Entangled Teen, On Sale Now
Book Info: YA Paranormal, Review copy courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley, Paperback 352 pages
I was intrigued to check out The Collector by Victoria Scott – I feel like I’ve been hearing about this Dante Walker character for months. Even though paranormal isn’t my go-to genre these days, I like to shake things up now and then from my usual contemporary. Besides, The Collector was generating a lot of buzz so I had to give it a shot. For the most part, The Collector is a fun read & I like the male POV. It’s not a book that totally consumed me, but it’s enjoyable and I’m curious enough to want to continue on with the trilogy.
Dante Walker is a soul collector, who works for the Boss Man corrupting and tagging vulnerable beings. His confidence, swagger, and good looks make him irresistible and quite successful as a collector. So when Boss Man gives him the assignment to retrieve good girl Charlie’s soul as a ticket out of Hell, he knows he’s got it in the bag. But Charlie’s innocence and all-around goodness sparks some humanity and for the first time he’s struggling to stay on the dark path.
I found it refreshing that this book is in the bad boy Dante’s POV. He’s got a lot of personality and unashamed bravado. He comes off as a jerk so that the only way he can go is up. He’s quite a character, but I liked him in spite of his conceit. I was glad that the book was not dual POV- it’s a nice change of pace to have a male POV book.
Dante’s counterpoint Charlie is as sweet and good as they come, so she’s quite the challenge for Dante. I liked Charlie, and her awkwardness and innocence. She has a nice supportive group of friends too, even though she’s not in the popular crowd. Charlie isn’t as well rounded a character as Dante but there’s a lot to like about her. It made sense that Charlie would fall for Dante in a superficial way, but she also sees something good in him that he doesn’t see in himself. I liked seeing Dante’s character evolve through Charlie’s influence.
The good and evil story is appealing, and with Dante under a deadline to capture Charlie’s soul, there is lots of action. It’s light, fun, and witty, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I wasn’t thinking about it all the time when I wasn’t reading it, but I did find it amusing and Dante’s voice especially is a standout. And there’s not too long to wait for the sequel – The Liberator is due out August 27th.
Book: Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare, Simon & Schuster Audio, March 19, 2013
Audiobook Info: YA Fantasy, Received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio, Audio length: 16 hours 24 minutes, read by Daniel Sharman.
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
Writing about the end of a trilogy is always hard but this one seems especially daunting. Every adjective I want to use to express my feelings about Clockwork Princess I worry will come across as a spoiler. I’m a fan of the Mortal Instruments series and I must admit it took me a little while to warm up to this prequel series. I wasn’t receptive to the new characters and setting at first. But in the end the Infernal Devices series won my heart, and with the satisfying conclusion I may even prefer it to the original.
In Clockwork Princess the tension with the relationships, love triangle, and battle with the villain Mortmain comes to a head. The love triangle was particularly gut wrenching in Clockwork Prince so I didn’t know how much more I could stand! The journey in this book is surprising, passionate, and fulfilling, and the epilogue gave me chills. There’s not much more I could ask for in a series conclusion. I think the ending was perfect and very much in keeping with the tone of the series.
I’ve “read” this series exclusively via audiobook. In an unusual move, a different narrator reads each book of the trilogy. Clockwork Prince is the only book with dual narration, and I liked it, but I think my favorite is Daniel Sharman’s Clockwork Princess reading.
It’s funny because I was listening to the audiobook and liking it, but thinking it was moving a little slow at the beginning. But then I’d look down and see I was already at disc 6, at the halfway point. I savored every moment but had an uneasy feeling throughout, anticipating the inevitable heartbreak. I do think this series is ideally suited to audio format, and each of the narrators does bring the flavor of Victorian London to life.
This is the first book of the trilogy without a female narrator. Daniel Sharman has the task of conveying the voice of Tessa, as well as the other standout female characters. Plus he has to speak Mandarin and Welsh and use an American accent. I think he does an outstanding job with his accents, and with Will, Jem and the other male characters especially. The female characters also sound believable, such as Cecily, Charlotte and Sophie. The best complement I could give Sharman is at the end I didn’t notice the narration at all because I was so engrossed in the story.
I’m really pleased with the conclusion of this trilogy and I’ll miss these characters, so it’s a bittersweet ending for me. I’m looking forward to the City of Bones movie, and The Dark Artifices series to come. Kudos to Cassandra Clare on this amazing series!
If you want to check out Clockwork Princess on audio, be sure to enter my giveaway. It’s ending this weekend!
Have you read Clockwork Princess? What did you think of the conclusion?
Check out an interview with Cassandra Clare & Daniel Sharman discussing the audiobook below:
Book: What the Spell by Brittany Geragotelis, Simon & Schuster Audio, Jan. 29, 2013
Book Info: YA Paranormal, Audiobook received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 9 hrs, 41 mins. Read by: Joy Osmanski. Also available in HC, 288 pages from Simon & Schuster.
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars
What the Spell is the first book in the Life’s a Witch series about a sixteen-year-old witch just coming into her powers. The series started out as a big success on Wattpad, and now Simon & Schuster is bringing it to the masses.
Teen witch Brooklyn has always been a social outcast but now that her magical powers are “unbound” she decides to give herself a total makeover. Maybe now the Elite will notice her and she’ll get the attention she’s always wanted. But if her magical secret gets out it could spell danger for her loved ones. What the Spell puts a Pretty Little Liars spin on the Salem Witch Trials and is a cautionary tale about the perils of popularity.
I had heard that this series is a modern-day look at the Salem Witch trials, and the dangers of getting caught using magic. Brooklyn’s parents for instance are very low-key with their magic for fear of exposure. But it wasn’t as much of a witch-hunt so to speak, though there are hints that there is trouble ahead. The life of a teen witch (twitch) is all cute love spells and tricks and Brooklyn takes full advantage of her talents to climb up the social ladder.
The idea of being true to yourself, and not compromising your beliefs for popularity, is a good one. At one time or another everyone wishes they could be popular, or even just to fit in, so Brooklyn’s story is relatable to a certain extent. But I couldn’t feel much sympathy for her due to her consistently bad choices and lack of character growth. Her boyfriend Asher is also a witch, and his family uses magic but doesn’t let it get out of hand. Maybe Brooklyn wouldn’t have been so out of control if she didn’t have to wait sixteen years to flex her magic muscles. One character highlight is Asher’s sensible, bookish little sister Abby, and hopefully she’ll have a bigger part later in the series.
I listened to the audiobook of What the Spell, read by Joy Osmanski. She’s a good fit for the book, and gets into Brooklyn’s head very well. It was easy to differentiate the different characters, from the snobby Elite members to parents and teachers. The voices are not overdone, but have enough character to keep things interesting. The audiobook was entertaining, and I might have skimmed through the book if I was reading it on its own.
I think this series will appeal to fans of series like Pretty Little Liars. It’s paranormal light and heavy on the social drama. The character’s are not very likable but the message deep down is a good one. The next book actually centers on a new character, so I’m kind of curious to see how it plays out. What the Spell is available now, and the sequel, Life’s a Witch, is out in July.
Scent of Darkness is moody, dark and mysterious and the type of book I like to read from time to time. The premise instantly reminded me of the novel Perfume, another book about the dangerous power of scent. In this story, a made-for-her fragrance changes a character’s life and makes her dangerously alluring to everyone in her path. Scent of Darkness drew me in, and I got lost in its magical spell. The New Orleans setting is an enchanting backdrop to the story.
Evangeline (Eva) is 18 and spends her summers with her grandmother Louise in New York. Her grandmother believes in magic and is a powerful perfumer. When she dies, she leaves Eva a bottle of custom scented perfume with a note of caution not to open it unless you want everything in your life to change. It would take a very strong person not to open that vial, and Eva is not that person. The fragrance has the essence of leather, rose and jasmine and becomes a part of her from the moment it touches her skin. Every person (or animal) near her becomes obsessed with her scent and wants to be closer to her. It’s like an extreme love potion.
Of course, Eva’s love life improves and her object of affection, Gabriel, a medical student, becomes infatuated with her. But things get complicated when another man, the artist Michael, enters her life. Once things get a little out of control, she needs help solving the mystery of the scent’s powers and discovering what her grandmother’s intent was with the magical perfume. Helping her is her tarot card reading teenage neighbor Levon, one of my favorite characters in the book.
This is not going to be a book for everyone- it has that dreamy, seductive quality of books such as Imaginary Girls, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, and Perfume, and other books with magical realism. It also has a horror-esque, unsettling feeling to it. Most of the characters are cryptic and I felt somewhat detached, though the mystery of the plot kept me reading.
This book is technically in the Fiction category, however with it’s eighteen year old protagonist it has New Adult appeal. The writing is accessible, with short chapters, and a quick read at only 220 pages. The twisty plot unfolds like a horror movie and had me on edge. It’s the first book I’ve read by Margot Berwin (Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire) and it’s haunting, consuming and creative.
If Scent of Darkness sounds like your kind of book, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you my hardcover copy (US readers please). (UPDATE: Book has been claimed)
Boundless is a book that I’ve been dying to read but at the same time reluctant to read because I didn’t want the Unearthly trilogy to end. On the surface I shouldn’t love this series – it’s about angels, and the ultimate love triangle after all, but love it I do. A lot of the anticipation has to do with who the heroine Clara will choose, Tucker or Christian, in one of the most heart-wrenching love triangles in YA. Beyond that, there is the question of Clara’s purpose and what she chooses to do with her gift. The ending is satisfying and answered many of my questions, while also leaving me craving another story centered on this world.
As the final chapter of the Unearthly series begins, Clara, Angela and Christian transition to college life at Stanford. The three are all having visions they need to decipher, and try to balance school and angel responsibilities. Clara worries about Jeffrey, and is concerned about the Black Wing following her around. Tucker is miles away but still in her thoughts and dreams. Not much else I can say really about the set-up- there are a lot of twists and surprises you’ll have to discover when you read the book. Clara’s journey is emotionally satisfying and included appearances of many of my favorite characters.
Speaking of characters, the author does a great job with keeping an air of mystery around them. She kept me guessing the character motives throughout the series, particularly the angel characters. Are they all good or all bad, or shades of gray like some of the angels’ wings? Clara has to decide who is trust worthy, especially with life or death at stake.
The love triangle, sigh. Cynthia Hand certainly keeps the suspense going! I like both Christian and Tucker and kept an open mind, though I’m ultimately Team Clara and had faith that she’d make the right choice in the end. The epilogue is a nice touch.
The writing is one of my favorite things about this series. I felt an emotional connection to Clara and the other characters and felt invested in the outcome. Obviously this installment is more dramatic as all of the elements come to a head, but there are some smaller touching moments as well.
Cynthia Hand has done a wonderful job with this series, and I’d read anything she chooses to write. Hopefully she will revisit this world with a spin-off or prequel. It felt to me that there are more stories to tell. And Hand’s teasing morsels about the past and future leave me eager for more. My favorite genre is contemporary, and these books do have a lot to offer contemporary fans, even though of course there is a big paranormal element. (Read this amazing interview with Cynthia Hand on The Midnight Garden to see what she’s working on now!) I am sad to see this series end.
I wasn’t ready to let go of this series after Boundless, so I picked up the novella Radiant right after, and that helped to give me more closure. I did feel like I was missing a piece of the puzzle about Angela and Clara’s summer trip to Italy, and that is covered in Radiant.
Radiant is Angela and Clara’s story of their summer trip to visit Angela’s family. I think this is the first time we have heard Angela’s POV, so it’s interesting to get a peek inside her mind and some of her backstory and feelings about Clara and her place in the world. This story also fills in some of the blanks about Angela’s mysterious romantic interest in Italy.
I don’t really like this novella trend, and would prefer that all the pieces were included in the actual novel. But, this novella is better than average and the fact that Angela’s perspective is included is a plus in my book. I think if I had read the novella before reading Boundless I would feel more of an investment in Angela’s situation. Overall, I think Radiant is worth your time and provides additional character insight.
Book: Crash (Visions, Book One) by Lisa McMann, Simon & Schuster Audio, Jan. 8, 2013
Book Info: YA Paranormal, Audiobook received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 5 hrs, 18 mins. Read by: Allyson Ryan. Also available in HC, 256 pages from Simon Pulse.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
I’m a fan of the Dream Catcher trilogy so was happy to see Lisa McMann come out with the new Visions series. Like the Dream Catcher series, McMann blends realistic contemporary and paranormal in her own signature way in Crash. We got off to a bit of a slow start, but I liked how everything tied together in the end. The mystery of the visions kept me in suspense and the supporting characters have a lot of charm. This book is a fast read and has an interesting concept, and I’m curious to see how the series progresses.
High school sophomore Jules is a middle child and her family runs a pizza restaurant, Demarco’s. She and her siblings work in the restaurant and make deliveries- driving around in the meatball-topped food truck. Their rival chain is the more popular Angotti’s Trattoria, and Jules’ forbidden crush Sawyer works there with his family. Jules is hiding a big secret- she is seeing visions. And they appear all the time, in billboards, in dreams, on TV. She can’t escape them. These visions show a truck causing a building explosion- and 9 body bags. More details appear with each vision and soon she sees the specific building and the faces of the victims, but can she stop the crash in time?
I felt for poor Jules holding on to this secret. I can’t imagine seeing such terrifying visions everywhere! Plus, mental illness runs in her family so in the back of her mind she’s wondering if that’s what’s behind the visions. She does manage to have a good sense of humor though, and made me laugh with her lists of challenges that go along with working in a pizza restaurant. The vision idea reminded me of the book Unearthly where the visions play a part in the heroine’s purpose. But in Crash, Jules doesn’t have a mentor to guide her.
The family dynamic between Jules and her siblings Rowan and Trey is enjoyable. I like how they look out for each other and their sibling bond. The rivalry between the Angotti and Demarco families adds another layer of tension and is interesting to see how it plays out. We learn some backstory but I think there’s more to uncover there.
Romance plays a small role in the book and the forbidden aspect kept things interesting. Sawyer is mysterious but I liked what we saw of him. The pizza chain rivalry definitely adds a challenge for the pair!
I listened to the audiobook of Crash, read by veteran narrator Allyson Ryan. The audiobook is a scant 5 hours, and it’s a nice change of pace to listen to these quickie audiobooks. It is my first experience with Ryan and she is obviously a skilled narrator. She can take on the voices of the different male and female voices and ages well. My one comment is her voice for Jules is a little mature for the sixteen year old, and that detracts from the story at times. But she has a clear, easy to understand voice and reads with emotion; I’m just not sure she was the best fit for this book.
The first book in the 4-book Visions series gets off to a promising start. It’s a little slow at the beginning but it pays off at the end. The conclusion has an interesting twist and makes me want to know what happens next.