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)
Book Info: YA Paranormal/Dystopia, Audiobook received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 12 hrs, 36 mins. Read by: Emma Galvin and Keith Nobbs
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars
In Kresley Cole’s first YA book, Poison Princess, a sixteen-year-old cheerleader named Evie has terrifying visions. She thinks she’s losing her mind, but then the visions start coming true in the form of a worldwide catastrophe (called The Flash in the book.) In post-apocalyptic Louisiana, it’s hard to survive in a world with dwindling resources, while hiding from the scary zombie-like creatures that thirst for blood. Evie has some tricks up her sleeve though – she is a trump tarot card character come to life and with that she has some supernatural abilities. If only she knew how to use them.
Poison Princess is a dark and ambitious story that introduces a high stakes tarot card game played with flesh and blood major arcana players. The Empress, The Fool, Death, and others all play a role in this game. The story unfolds through the eyes of Evie’s character, but also features the POV of a killer named Arthur who is preying on Evie. The author plays with time as the events unfold in before-flash and after-flash fashion. The reader is kept in the dark as the danger of Arthur hovers over the book, and the reader is left to wait for his eventual face-to-face meet up with Evie. Tagging along with Evie is her classmate, aggressive Cajun bad-boy Jackson Deveaux.
I’ve never read Cole’s Immortals After Dark paranormal romance series, but I’m impressed with how she weaves a story. Poison Princess has a darker, more sinister vibe than I’ve seen in YA paranormal books. The only thing I could see toned down from a paranormal romance is milder language and tamer romantic scenes. Otherwise, the story is pretty edgy and scary for YA and I think would appeal to Cole’s IAD fans. Though the story was confusing at times, it held my attention and I finished it in short order.
Among the shortcomings for me were the characters. They were just not all that likable to me overall. Evie is trying to get her bearings and learn to control her ability and isn’t a strong enough character on her own to stand out. She does show some character growth towards the end that gives the reader a glimpse of her kick-ass heroine potential though. And Jackson is a piece of work. He is a love interest of the hot, bad-boy, jerk variety – to the extreme. You’ll either love him or hate him, and he didn’t really appeal to me. There is some redemption there with his character, but I’m not really sold on their romance. One character I’d like to see more of is the Death character, he was pretty intriguing to me.
I was thrilled to listen to the audiobook since Emma Galvin (Divergent, Winter’s Bone) narrates it. I’m glad I listened to the audiobook, and I think listening to it made the book more exciting and brought the story to life. Galvin reads with a southern accent for Evie, and a distinctive Cajun accent for Jackson. I think she does pretty well with the accents but I can’t vouch for how authentic they would sound to a Louisiana native, though I’m sure she did her research. Her Cajun accent reminded me of Rene from True Blood if that gives you an idea. I prefer her usual audiobook speaking voice overall, but I applaud her choice to go for it with the accents to suit the story. Galvin does have a great ability to deliver believable voices of different genders and age groups, and her pacing and intensity level matches well with the story. There is a second narrator, but he only narrates Arthur’s character, and he narrates a very small portion of the book. Keith Nobbs does a good job with his reading of the menacing villain Arthur, so much that the character haunted me throughout the book. I do recommend listening to this audiobook for a very entertaining listening experience. Even when I wasn’t fully sure what was happening in the book I was entertained and didn’t want to stop listening.
Poison Princess is the first book in the Arcana Chronicles, and it ends on an exciting note to set up the sequel. If you like Kresley Cole’s writing I would suggest trying out her YA book – its dark and edgy and steamier than a typical YA (though probably not what IAD fans are used to!) I’m interested to see how the characters develop in the next book.
Watch the video below to learn more about the audiobook from the narrators:
The Giveaway has ended. Congrats to Marty who has won the Poison Princess audiobook!
I’m excited to be part of the Fractured Light blog tour today! I thought I’d like this YA paranormal from the description, but I ended up liking it even more than I expected. After my review, be sure to check out the giveaway opportunity, and consider picking up the e-book edition of the book, which is currently only $0.99 during the tour, a great deal.
Book: Fractured Light by Rachel Mclellan (Book 1 in the Fractured Light trilogy), Sweetwater Books, YA Paranormal, e-Book received for review, Hardcover 312 pages, On Sale Now.
About Fractured Light:
Llona Reese is used to living on the run. After the Vykens killed her parents, she knew they would eventually come for her too. But she never felt ready to face them—until now. Defying the Auran Council and everything she’s been taught, Llona must learn to use her power over light as a weapon if she wants to survive.
Llona (E-o-na) is a high school senior with an unusual ability – she can manipulate light. The technical term for people like Llona is Aura, and Llona inherited this gift from her mother. Since her mother’s death though, Llona is left without a mentor to guide her. She tries to fit in as a normal high school student as best she can, though her talent gives her some athletic abilities that make her stand out. Auras have some pretty cool light tricks in their repertoire, but there are some bad guys (the blood-sucking Vykens) around that want to put out their lights for good. Lately there have been some mysterious murders in Llona’s town, and she has reason to suspect that she could be the next target. Luckily she has some friends on her side to look out for her, but it would help if she could learn to use her powers to defend herself and those closest to her before it’s too late.
I like Llona – she’s pretty fearless, sometimes recklessly so, and she’s independent and hard working. Her ability is a little inconvenient as it gives her supernatural athletic abilities during the full moon, though she is tired at other times. She’s getting mixed signals about her talent, and wants to live by her own rules. She’s a great friend, a little reserved, though she has a quick wit. Llona has just a few friends in her circle, and in particular May is someone who is understanding of what she is going through. I enjoyed seeing her come out of her shell during the course of the book.
One person who is always there for Llona, whether she likes it or not, is Christian. He’s always around when she’s in trouble and shows an interest in her like no other. He’s handsome, caring, responsible, intelligent, and seemingly perfect for Llona. But he sends infuriatingly mixed signals, and though it seems like he cares for Llona, he holds her at arms length. I definitely wondered what he was hiding.
Since Fractured Light is also a murder mystery, there are several suspicious characters to keep your eye on. My guess was actually way off, but it was fun to try to figure out who the killer was.
I read this book in one sitting – it’s a quick fast-paced read. Though I don’t read as many paranormal books as I once did, this one grabbed my attention and is impressive for a debut novel. It has a good mix of mystery, paranormal, romance, and high school drama. The secondary characters are well rounded and are used to good advantage throughout the story. Though Fractured Light is the first book of a trilogy, it has a satisfying conclusion on it’s own while leaving you interested in reading the sequel. Look for the next installment Fractured Soul in 2013.
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GIVEAWAY: Be sure to enter the international giveaway for your chance to win one of 3 Necklaces, 5 Signed copies of Fractured Light, or 10 eBooks. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here.
Book Info: YA paranormal, Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss, Available in HC 357 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Until I Die by Amy Plum is the second book in the Revenants trilogy, and the sequel to last year’s Die For Me. In this series, Kate has recently lost her parents and moved to Paris with her sister to live with their grandparents. She meets a mysterious boy named Vincent who is actually a revenant, which in this book is a good zombie basically. But like any paranormal couple they have their problems, as well as the bad revenants called Numa who are always after them. In the sequel Kate and Vincent have a reality check about their future as a couple and we learn more about the revenants history.
I liked Until I Die just as much as the first book and was thoroughly entertained. There are character reveals and surprises that kept me guessing, and some hints about where the trilogy conclusion is heading. Until I Die is one of the better “middle” books and I didn’t feel like there were any slow parts- the only negative is where Plum left the story hanging at the end!
The book picks up where Die For Me left off. Kate and Vincent are happy together but hanging over their heads is the idea that their romance can’t last forever. Kate will eventually grow old and die and Vincent’s role is to sacrifice his life for humans again and again. They work independently to try to find a way to make it work as a couple, but their investigation is causing even more danger for themselves and their loved ones.
Even though it’s been a year since I read the first book I easily fell back into the story and immersed myself into the world of the revenants. The Paris setting is very charming, and the author uses the setting to her advantage by having the characters explore all the city has to offer. All of the characters are back in the sequel, and the revenants characters are my favorite, especially Jules and Ambrose. There are new characters as well that help explain more about the revenants back-story.
There is a whodunit mystery this time around, and even though I’m usually slow to figure these things out, in this book I called it early on. There are also some unsubtle hints about the direction of the series and the characters, and I can’t wait for the final book to find out if my suspicions are correct.
This is one of my favorite new paranormal romance series and the characters and the setting make it a delight to read. And Amy Plum lives in France so she knows her stuff and makes it feel like you are on a Paris vacation. The book is evenly paced and hard to put down, especially as you get close to the end. Like I said earlier though, Plum ends this one in a frustrating spot and it left me really anxious for the final book. If I Should Die is expected May 2013.
Check out the book trailer:
Dive into summer with a gripping nautical adventure tale with a paranormal twist!
In the wake of a tragic boating accident that killed her friends, 16-year-old Miranda is consumed by guilt. She has no memory of how she managed to survive the crash, only the murky dreams of a strange boy in the dark water. Her only refuge is in the late-night swims she takes alone— until one night on the beach when she meets Christian, a boy who seems eerily familiar, but keeps many secrets.
The more she fights it the faster love pulls her under. Soon she finds herself in over her head when the dangerous true nature of Christian’s secrets rise to the surface.
Wrecked is a seductive contemporary reimagination of The Little Mermaid, with a paranormal twist, from debut author Anna Davies.
Giveaway is now closed:
Congrats to Tiffany and Lexie who each won a copy of WRECKED!
Genre/Format: Young Adult Paranormal, Hardcover, 496 pages. Received ARC for blog tour.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
I enjoyed The Dark Divine trilogy. It’s nice when a series ends and it feels like each book serves a purpose and leaves you craving more rather than overstaying its welcome. The characters show growth throughout the books, and there is a good mix of romance, suspense and paranormal intrigue, along with spiritual themes. The final installment The Savage Grace is action packed and bittersweet, and delivers an emotional punch. The conclusion gives some closure to the werewolf curse storyline while also dropping some intriguing hints about the future. Even though I’m not as big on werewolves as I once was, the mythology, battle scenes, and surprises kept me invested throughout.
The Dark Divine trilogy is centered on Grace Divine, a pastor’s daughter who falls in love with Daniel Kalbi, a boy with a werewolf curse. The curse threatens Grace herself and her family, and wolf enemies emerge to cause even more trouble. The characters must battle internal and external demons to save their loved ones, and find a way to balance their human and wolf nature.
I recently listened to the audio of the previous book so I was all caught up with the story. The Savage Grace picks up where The Lost Saint left off, with Daniel in wolf form. Grace continues to come into her own in this book and is ready to kick some demon butt. She won’t give up on Daniel or her brother Jude, even when it’s sometimes hard to ignore the darkness within that wants to take over. Grace has a new mentor to guide her decision-making, and to develop her own hidden talents, all while trying to graduate from high school. The beginning addresses more personal demons than fight scenes, but that is in keeping with the series theme. Not to worry, there will be action aplenty.
Daniel emerges as an alpha wolf, and more strong and confident this time around. He even has a wolf posse to lead, and he seems to have more inner peace overall. Though it is interesting to see Grace manage things alone, the book is more exciting when Daniel shows up to help lead the pack. His character is much improved over the last book. The new wolf pack The Lost Boys won my heart too, and I enjoyed the dynamic between them, Grace and Daniel. Jude is not forgotten and also has a standout role in the conclusion.
The action in the last third of the book is intense as the conflict between good and evil comes to a head. I was surprised with how it all went down and the emotional impact. There is a twist that makes me a little uneasy with the ending but I love that everything is not perfectly tied up in a way. If you like paranormal romance, werewolves, and action give The Dark Divine trilogy a try. The spiritual themes also add a refreshing dimension to the series and set it apart from the average paranormal romance. The Savage Grace is available in stores now.
Read my interview with author Bree Despain and enter to win all three books in the Dark Divine Trilogy. There will be three winners – enter here!