Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review: "Some Girls Bite" by Chloe Neill

Title: Some Girls Bite

Author: Chloe Neill

Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy

Series: Chicagoland Vampires

Synopsis: Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was Merit’s. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker—and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead. Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she’s traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude— and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan’s attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone’s still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war—and there will be blood
Overall Review: GOOD BAD UGLY
I love adult urban fantasy series's that have a heroine who is around my age, late 20's to early 30's. Often times I feel like some books are written for women in their late forties and who have been unhappily married for years and has kids. Since none of that applies to me yet, I have only been married four years all of which have been relatively happy, I find it difficult to enjoy those types of books. I think this is partly the reason I revert back to YA fiction. That being said, when I find a protagonist like Merit, with whom I can relate, I am ecstatic. She is a single, twenty six year old graduate student, turned vampire. She lives with her best friend and has a pretty much non-existent social life....all things I could relate to until about six years ago when I met my hubby. Merit is a great character, full of spunk and quips. We are drawn to her plight and enjoy the intense sexual tension between she and Ethan. Ethan....hmmmm! Unfortunately, he is a fairly unoriginal character. Long hair, green eyes, egotistical, vamp. However, readers will be struggle between their desire for he and Merit to get together, and their severe dislike of the guy. He does some pretty crappy things, but hey, he is the 400 year old walking undead, not Edward Cullen, so really we shouldn't be surprised by his jerkish ways. Character problems aside, the milieu created by Neill IS original and very interesting. The series is set in a world where vampire existence is no longer a secret. And every vamp belongs to a certain House (a little like a fraternity) This the social structure of the houses is inventive, but also realistic. I enjoyed the action sequences, Merit is a real badass. Yeah Girl Power! Fans of Faythe Sanders (The Shifters series by Rachel Vincent) and Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead) will love Merit! I recommend this book for adults and older teens. I cannot wait to read the next two books in this series.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Review: "Beautiful Creatures" by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures

Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone in the small southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens and murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever--Ethan Wate, who has been counting down the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by the dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. " There were no surprises in Gatlin County. At least that is what I thought. Turns out I couldn't have been more wrong. There was a girl....there was a curse... and in the end there was a grave."

Overall Review: GOOD BAD UGLY

Even though I had grown up in the Northeast, I was often obsessed with the South and knew that I wanted to live there one day. Ever since I first saw the movies, "Fried Green Tomatoes," "Steel Magnolias," and of course my favorite movie of all time: "Gone With The Wind," I have been hooked on all things southern. Having lived in the South now for for nearly 11 years, (4 yrs in South Carolina and 6 years in Georgia) I am still captivated by the world of sweet-tea, pecan pie, and y'all. So when I find a book written about my beloved, adopted home, I am naturally drawn to it. With a little something for everybody, and everyone of my favorite things, Beautiful Creatures does not disappoint. Any southerner, whether native or implanted, will identify with the subtle details of southern living that can only come from experience. On top of the beautiful descriptions of small, historic, southern towns, this book has history, specifically Civil War history-which is nearly as important church on Sunday here in the South. Lovers of historical fiction will find pleasure with Beautiful Creatures. In the South, there is also a rich paranormal world, where nearly every building built more than a hundred years ago is said to be haunted. Garcia and Stohl, draw beautifully upon the superstitious traditions of the South with a wonderful ghost story, along with the familiar favorites of us Urban Fantasy junkies, such as witches...ahem, I mean Casters and wolves, and vampires although in this book they are given different names. On top of these wonderful layers is the readers favorite part of the story....romance. The romance between, the fairly popular but extremely deep Ethan and the eccentric, outcast Lena is unoriginal in a wonderful way. We always love to see the hero break the mold and fall in love with the unlikeliest of girls, those of us who rode the fringes of high school dreamt of a boy like Ethan Wate to notice us. Readers, young and old will fall in love with this multi-faceted, story. Though it is not a quick read, commencing at 561 pages, it is one that you will not want to put down. (I read it through the night finishing in a day and a half). This is a MUST READ!!!! And then be looking for the sequel, Beautiful Darkness, coming out in October.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review: "Hourglass" by Claudia Gray

Title: Hourglass

Author: Claudia Gray

Series: Evernight book 3

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas.... After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met. Bianca and Lucas take refuge with Black Cross, a fanatical group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at its hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend-the vampire Balthazar-hiding is no longer an option. Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run again pursued not only by the Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel Bianca can't escape her destiny. Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything...but can it survive what's to come?

Overall Review: GOOD BAD UGLY

How many times have I said that I love it when a series gets better with each book? A hundred? A million? Well, Claudia Gray has done it! She has made her third book in the Evernight series the best so far. Even though the gripping and shocking cliffhanger is going to drive me crazy until the next novel is released. We all know that generally the third book of the series is the best, or at least to me it seems that way. Um think of Shadow Kissed from the Vampire Academy series. Like Shadow Kissed, Gray's third book, Hourglass, leaves us with one hell of a cliffhanger. The love story between Bianca and Lucas is the stuff that good fiction is made of. They each accept the faults of the other and always put the other first. My heart melts every time Lucas does something to take care of Bianca...you know like, fetching her blood since she's a vampire and all. Call me old fashioned and maybe a traitor to my generation of Women's Lib and the N.O.W, but I like the idea of a guy taking care of the girl he loves and I love that Gray embraces this concept in her characters. Bianca is by no means a helpless character, it takes a lot of strength to leave your parents and the only life you've ever known to be with the guy you love, especially when the people he lives with are hellbent on killing your kind. I love how Lucas is still bad ass even when is crying over Bianca. Hourglass was an enthralling read that I read in one day. It is fast paced and has a great balance of action and romance--everything a good UF junkie like me needs for an enjoyable reading experience. Claudia Gray's portrayal of vampires is original, but it is the romance of between Lucas and Bianca that keeps the readers addicted. This is a must read for all fans of the vampire and UF genre. Be sure to read the first two in the series, Evernight and Stargazer before this one. I promise you will love it! Now, quick go get your fix.....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Review: Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

Title: Fairy Tale

Author: Cyn Balog

Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis: Morgan Sparks and Cam Browne are the perfect couple. They have been best friends since birth and have loved each other nearly as long. But a week before their joint sweet-sixteenth bash, everything changes. Cam's awkward cousin Pip comes to stay and Cam begins acting really distant. When Morgan confronts him about his behavior she is shocked to discover that Cam is from another world...a fairy world. And now their world wants Cam to return and take his rightful place as Fairy King. Determined to keep Cam with her, Morgan plots to fool the fairies. But as Cam continues to change, she has to decide once and for all if he is really her destiny and if there perfect love can weather an uncertain future.

Overall Review: GOOD BAD UGLY

This book was a quick, fun read that made me cry. If a book makes me cry it automatically gets a good rating...I am not a crier. Morgan is a fabulous character with a great sense of fashion, perfect grades and an even more perfect boyfriend. However, the more we get to know, Morgan the more we see how intertwined her life is with her boyfriend Cam. A dangerous temptation for any teenage girl. So when it looks like Cam will be leaving her to become the Fairy King, she can't deal. All she thinks about his how Cam "can't leave her." Instead of thinking that if Cam stays in this world with her (which he is willing to do because he loves her and doesn't want to leave her) he will not fit in anymore and will be miserable in a lot of ways, she is only concerned with not being with him. We don't dislike her for this because most of us can totally sympathize. She joins forces with Pip to trick the fairies into keeping Cam with her. But the closer she gets to Pip the harder her choice is. Without giving spoilers it's hard to give more information. The plot is well thought out and the resolution is rather original. The lesson learned is this...if you truly love a person you will do what is best for THEM regardless of how it affects you. Both Morgan, Cam and Pip learn this lesson. A sweet conclusion ties up the loose ends of the story up, but leaves the reader wishing for a sequel. I recommend this book for all ages.....tweens to adults.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Title: Bleeding Violet

Author: Dia Reeves

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home. But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.

Overall Review: GOOD BAD UGLY

Okay...where to begin with this book. Well, have you ever watched a movie maybe the Twilight Zone or even read a book and by the conclusion you say "What the...?" (insert F-bomb or hell here) Let's just say that my first WTF (only the F-bomb was fitting here) came after reading the FIRST chapter. That has never happened to me before in all my years of reading. It also became my mantra throughout the book. Bleeding Violet is an entirely original book, that is not for the faint of heart. If you have been looking for a book that will blow your mind, look no further. If you crave the blood, gore and psychotic elements of which most YA urban fantasy lack, you will find satiation here! Let's start with characters. If you thought J.D Salinger's character Holden Caulfied was crazy, wait until you meet Hanna Jarvinen-crazy incarnate. Hanna is a bi-polar, manic depressive, bi-racial, bi-cultural, absolutely gorgeous sixteen year old who has grown up without knowing her mother. So a few months after her precious father dies she decides it is time to force her mother to man-up and fulfill her god-given role and moves to Portero, Texas. Hanna is so unlike any other protagonist in literature that you are immediately drawn to eccentricity and feel for her plight. She has not had an easy life, the majority of it due to her disorder. She is not a character to emulate, but to learn from. Parents will cringe at her antics and way of thinking, most teens will not relate to most of Hanna's problems, though unfortunately some will. It all boils down to the fact that Hanna simply wants to be loved and she will do anything to get it whether it means having sex with all the boys in her class, killing others or killing herself. The person from whom she desires love the most is her mother, Rosalee. The only character who really can match Hanna crazy for crazy is Rosalee. Like Hanna, Rosalee is beautiful and charming and evidently just as promiscuous. Rosalee doesn't want Hanna, she believes that love is a trap, and tries to send her away. At first, we are appalled by the way she treats Hanna. How could any mother treat the being whom she carried under heart for nine months the way Rosalee treat Hanna? Well, Rosalee has a secret. But fear not eventually Rosalee's maternal instincts kick in, I mean, who better to be loving and accepting of someone as crazy as Hanna than a mother who is equally as crazy. Your dysfunctional family has got NOTHING on this one. Along with finding love from her mother, Hanna also finds love Wyatt (I love that name...sigh) Wyatt is that typical guy from high school who makes your stomach flip, flirts with anything that has a pulse, and ends up being much deeper than you originally thought and best of all he is hot without having long hair. Wyatt and Hanna have a rather bumpy beginning. And a most unusual relationship what with Wyatt being Mortamaine, a group of well trained, special powered, fighters of the forces of evil that plague the town of Portero. Hanna truly falls for Wyatt, something we get the idea that she has never done for any boy, so when he does typical boy things such as refuse to call her his girlfriend in front of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, or when he takes her on a Mortamaine hunt and uses her as bait, she is justifiably crushed. However, in the end, it is Hanna who breaks Wyatt's heart. As I said, the love that Hanna craves more than anything is her mother's and her own love for her mother trumps all...even the love of a wonderful boy like Wyatt.

The plot is a little confusing since it seems like there are different plots intertwined. The overall is Hanna's struggle to be accepted in a town that shuns her because she is an outsider and by a mother who has no use for anyone but herself. This is an enjoyable read for older teen readers and adults. I DO NOT recommend it for tweens. However, if a tween desires to read it, I feel it would be important to discuss the issues of Hanna's promiscuity (she lost her virginity at age 14 in a sauna with a random boy) Whereas, I applaud any other who is not afraid to address the issue of sex and teens, I am unimpressed with those who don't condemn sex as cure for boredom and acceptance. This is my only problem with the book. So, go ahead, get ready to suspend your disbelief a little more than usual, prepare for lots of blood and purple, (hence the title Bleeding Violet) tons of action and creatures that can usually only be found in nightmares or Twilight Zone episodes and a whole bunch of "WTF's" or "WTH's" which ever you prefer.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Review: Meridian by Amber Kizer

Title: Meridian

Author: Amber Kizer

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: Meridian has always been an outcast. It seems wherever she goes, death and grief follow. On her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her families house and though she is untouched her body explodes in pain. Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she is a danger to her family and is hustled off to her great-aunt's house in Revelation, Colorado. There she learns the secret her parents have been keeping from her for her entire life...And it's not even close to what she thought!

Overall Review: GOOD BAD UGLY

When I first saw this book on the shelf, I thought it looked good. When I read the inside flap I was even more curious about it but wasn't in a hurry to read it. So after two weeks on my shelf, I finally decided to give it a shot, needless to say it was GOOD! I couldn't put it down and spent all day yesterday reading it. I finished right before bed, WHOO!
This book was a different read from most paranormal romances which of course I love. The protagonist, Meridian, is an interesting character and fairly original. At the start of the book, we know she is plagued by something rather disgusting...animals go to her and die. She wakes up in the morning with dead insects and animals in her bed. YUCK. So from the very beginning readers are sympathetic and the sympathy increases by the seemingly bad treatment she receives from her parents. After a terrible accident she is shipped off to her Auntie's. Auntie is a great character and readers will love her instantly. She is quirky, spunky and lovable, all things we want in great-aunt grandmotherish type. Since Auntie possesses the same gift as Meridian, she is able to teach her how to harness her gift and use it the way she is supposed to. Because of their gifts, Meridian and Auntie have attracted the attention of the local cult leader, Reverend Perimo who has managed to get control of the town of Revelation and its people. The Reverend has convinced the town that Meridian and Auntie are witches and they are the reason God has brought judgement on their town. Between a war with the Reverend and a war with others who are like Meridian and Auntie, they have their hands full. Luckily they have the help of Tens. Tens is a young man who has a special gift and and even more special job... he is Meridian designated protector. Ten's is not a very original character even though we do like him. He is typically, tall, good looking, longish dark hair (what is it Paranormal fiction and guys with long hair? I am so not a long hair girl, so I always pretend the author wrote short hair.) and of course at first he is mean to Meridian, but as we know it is just a cover of his true feelings. Though likable, Tens is forgettable. The romance between the two is a little quick but I guess at sixteen that is the norm. My big issue with the book, however, is the portrayal of God. Yes, I know most UF books have evil connotations and deal with hellish things, but most don't blatantly refer to God and compare him to elements in the book. I don't know, some it just kind of made me uncomfortable. I like to read my vamps, wolves and demons without being reminded that God wouldn't approve. (Perhaps this is because of my Conservative, religious upbringing--a Christian guilt thing.) Kizer did a good job at showing how most cult leaders misuse the Bible by quoting verses that fit there delusions and use it to exploit hurting people.
Overall I believe that readers of this genre will enjoy the book. I am looking forward to the sequel due out in the fall. This isn't an OMG I have to read this book, but it is a "I have few days and I need a quick, fun read." With some strong language, the F-bomb is dropped once or twice, I wouldn't recommend it for tweens.

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