Friday, August 12, 2016

Vial Things (Resurrectionist #1) by Leah Clifford | Review

Vial Things (Resurrectionist #1) by Leah Clifford | ReviewVial Things by Leah Clifford
Series: Resurrectionist #1
on August 9, 2016
Genres: Horror
Format: ebook
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

When the resurrectionists of Fissure's Whipp begin disappearing, eighteen-year-old Allie knows someone is after their blood—or, more accurately, the genetic mutation that allows their blood to heal wounds, save lives and even bring back the recently deceased.

Raised by her aunt after her parents' deaths, Allie knows staying vigilant means staying alive. She's trained her whole life to protect herself by any means necessary, from self defense classes to extensive weapons training in knives. Now, she’s gone so far as to befriend a homeless boy named Ploy who unknowingly trades a few nights a week on her couch in exchange for being a human tripwire to those hunting her.

But as Allie and Ploy's feelings for each other grow, Allie realizes this time, she'll need more than fighting skills and a sharp blade to beat a villain literally out for blood.

Protecting a girl he shouldn’t love, from a threat he understands too well, Ploy must face his past to save his future in Allie’s world—a world where bringing back the dead can cost you your life.

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It’s been quite some time since I’ve read a book from Leah Clifford but it didn’t take long for me to remember why I loved her first series.  Vial Things is the start of her new Resurrectionist series and while it definitely gave me the same vibe as her Touch trilogy, it really captured my attention with it’s unique new story.

Vial Things is the story of Allie, a teen resurrectionist trying to escape her gift.  She doesn’t mind the whole bringing people back to life thing but she doesn’t like that her family uses it as a way to make money.  She decided that the easiest way to deal with it was to leave it all behind.  That plan is a good one until resurrectionists start turning up dead.  Allie knows that someone is hunting them and she isn’t safe just because she doesn’t use her gift.  She teams up with a homeless boy named Ploy and together they set out to make things safe for the resurrectionists again.

Pros:

  • Characters: I knew I was going to like Allie from the start.  Yes she was closed off but that wasn’t really by her choice.  The only people in her life who knew what she was capable of wouldn’t accept her once she stopped using her ability.  She found it hard to trust others and she didn’t exactly have an easy time of making friends.  I found her to be really likable, even if she didn’t show a whole lot of emotion.  She was lonely and that was something that is so easy to relate to.  That loneliness didn’t stop her from being a total bad-ass though.  She was strong and fierce and willing to do what it took to survive.  Ploy was similar to Allie in a lot of ways.  He was homeless and not exactly fit for the streets.  It was easy to see that no matter how he acted, he wasn’t always as brave as he seemed.  Allie was a friend to him; one of the only ones he had.  He had secrets from her, that’s for sure but so did she.  They were both using each other for different reasons but as they used each other they got to know each other and started to genuinely like one another.  Neither of them were completely trustworthy and there were times when I questioned what exactly one or the other was going to do but that’s one of the things that kept me hooked and on the edge of my seat.
  • Backstory: The science behind the resurrectionists did confuse me at times but it was really interesting.  The ability isn’t something that everyone gets and it’s not something that just comes out of nowhere.  It’s a genetic thing that manifests in some children but not all.  As this is the start of a series, I understand that I probably didn’t get everything there is to know about the resurrectionists but I look forward to finding out more.  There was so much about the family dynamics that I feel like I didn’t get and I hope to find out more about that as Allie learns more about being part of a group of resurrectionists.
  • Pacing: The story moves along at a rather quick pace.  There isn’t ever really a time when you’ll want to step away from the story.  Things are constantly happening and new information is being learned at all times.  I had a hard time stepping away from Vial Things once I was really able to sit down and start reading.  It’s one of those books that hooks you early on and doesn’t let you go until the last page has been read.

Overall, Vial Things needs to be on your radar, if it’s not already.  Leah Clifford has a way with the dark and morbid and scary and I love it.  I look forward to reading more in this series.

Overall reaction:

 

What others are saying about Vial Things:

Insane About Books’ review: “The words disappeared as I read this story, and I found the building of this story  with anticipation and mystery completely brilliant.”

Novelknight’s review: “This is going on my recommendations list for the September newsletter (a little late for August unfortunately).”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich | Review

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich | ReviewThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
on September 15th 2015
Genres: Horror
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Three students: dead. Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.

Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, "the girl of nowhere."

Kaitlyn's diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn't exist, and in a way, she doesn't - because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.

Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It's during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.

Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary - and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.

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The Dead House was high on my list of books to get at BEA.  I hadn’t heard much about it but the synopsis and cover really caught my attention.  I’m not a huge horror fan (I’m such a scaredy cat) but I really wanted to give this one a try.  I’m really glad I did.  I wasn’t nearly as scared as I thought but The Dead House certainly caught my attention and kept me hooked from start to finish.

I really don’t know what I expected from The Dead House.  I couldn’t really figure out what the story was going to be just from reading the synopsis and I think that worked in it’s favor.  I went in completely openminded and didn’t really expect anything other than a story that would creep me out.  While it started off more of a psychological thriller than a horror, it definitely changed to something a bit scarier.  Kaitlyn/Carly’s story is very addictive and not at all what I was guessing.

The story is told through newspaper clippings, transcripts, journal entries, letters, etc.  Not only do readers get to see both Kaitlyn and Carly’s thoughts, they also get to see the thoughts of the people in their lives.  Friends, love interests, and even doctors weigh in on what happened with Kaitlyn and Carly and the other missing students.  And the story actually starts off years after the accident and takes readers back in time by going through the case as a police officer would.  All the evidence is presented and it’s up to readers to decide what really happened that night.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the characters and I think that has something to do with the style of writing.  It was extremely hard for me to get in the mind of any of the characters and so I never felt like I could relate to them or really love them.  So much of their stories were unknowns and I didn’t like that.

Carly and Kaitlyn were the same person but they were two very different girls.  Carly had the daytime hours and Kaitlyn took over at night.  They didn’t have any control over each other when it was the other’s time in the body.  The journal found in the ruins after everything goes down is Kaitlyn’s and it shows everything Kaitlyn thought and felt but not so much Carly.  There were a few little things from Carly in the journal but not much.  She was very much a mystery.  She had friends and a boy who was interested in her.  She was essentially her own person.  It was the same with Kaitlyn, although not so much the friends part.  She did have a boy though.  The romance seemed a little out of nowhere but I didn’t have too many issues with it.  I could see why the two of them got along and I could see that Kaitlyn needed someone.

As for the mystery, there is a lot and it’s not anything you will see coming.  Things just kept coming out of nowhere, it seemed.  I could never guess a single thing that was going to happen.  The mystery of how the accident would go down was what kept me reading.  And it may not be for everyone but I liked that the ending left things a little open.  This isn’t a open and close case.  Nobody survived so nobody is there to tell exactly what happened that night.

Overall, The Dead House wasn’t exactly perfect but horror fans and newbie horror readers can find something to enjoy in this one.  I look forward to seeing what’s next from Dawn Kurtagich.

What others are saying about The Dead House:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “The Dead House was a very interesting and intriguing debut and novel, to say the least.”

My Friends are Fiction’s review: “I finished this book last night and my first take away was that The Dead House was brilliantly and wonderfully WEIRD.”

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Blog Tour: Survive the Night by Danielle Vega | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Survive the Night by Danielle Vega | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Survive the Night by Danielle Vega | Review + InterviewSurvive the Night by Danielle Vega
Published by Penguin on July 7th 2015
Genres: Horror
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

We're all gonna die down here. . . .  Just back from rehab, Casey regrets letting her friends Shana, Julie, and Aya talk her into coming to Survive the Night, an all-night, underground rave in a New York City subway tunnel. Surrounded by frightening drugs and menacing strangers, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse...   ...until she comes across Julie’s mutilated body in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Casey thought she was just off with some guy—no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music. And by the time they get back to the party, everyone is gone.   Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway tunnels, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.   They’re being hunted.   Trapped underground with someone—or something—out to get them, Casey can’t help but listen to Aya’s terrified refrain: “We’re all gonna die down here.”From the Hardcover edition.

picadillyblueDanielle Vega has done it.  She not only managed to scare the crap out of me, she also managed to tell a captivating story that kept me hooked from start to finish.  Survive The Night seriously impressed me.

The whole book takes place over one night and I can’t tell you how much I love stories like that.  Casey and her friends set out for a night of adventure and instead they get a night of terror.  The Survive the Night rave takes place once a year in the abandoned subway tunnels beneath New York City.  There have always been rumors that people are killed in the subway but nobody really takes those rumors seriously.  That all changes when Casey stumbles upon the body of her friend Julie, gruesomely murdered by someone or something hidden in the subway tunnels.  And, of course, instead of being able to leave the same way they entered the subway, their way is blocked and they must set off through the tunnels to find a way out before it’s too late.

To be completely honest, the characters weren’t the greatest but I didn’t care that much about that.  Casey was the only one that I really ended up liking.  She made some serious mistakes but she was trying to change things.  She was easily led astray by people that she thought were her friends.  Shana was bad news.  She drugged Casey, she encouraged her bad habits, and she betrayed her every chance she got.  I wanted her to get what was coming to her.  Casey did not deserve how her supposed friend treated her.  As for Aya and Julie, they cracked me up but they weren’t anything too special.  Sam and Woody were the same way.  Sam seemed like a sweetheart but he had some secrets and he hurt Casey too.  He was just so judgmental.  I didn’t like that about him.

The creep factor was definitely up there with this one, at least for me.  I admit to being easily scared but books don’t usually have that capability.  That was not the case with Survive the Night.  There was a lot of gore but that wasn’t the only scare thing.  I never knew what was going to happen from page to page.  I didn’t have a clue who or what was coming for Casey and her friends.  I was jumpy and biting my nails from start to finish.

Overall, Survive the Night was everything I hoped it would be.  Danielle Vega’s sophomore novel is one that I will surely be recommending to all horror fans and anyone looking to give the genre a try.

What others are saying about Survive the Night:

Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “This pink covered book reads like a horrific thrill ride.”

Escape Through the Pages’ review: “I will definitely be checking out Danielle Vega’s other book The Merciless and recommend Survive the Night to anyone looking for a little creepy in their life.”

Interview with Danielle Vega

Describe Survive the Night in 140 characters or less!

When an illegal rave turns deadly, 5 teens must fight their way through the abandoned NYC subways while someone hunts them from the shadows.

Have you always been a horror fan? Do you prefer horror books or movies? What’s your favorite?

I have been a horror fan since I was a very tiny child. My mom never shielded me from scary movies and books, in fact she used to read me Stephen King to help me get to sleep. I can’t choose between books and movies—they’re too different and wonderful in their own special ways. Favorite horror novel is HOUSE OF LEAVES, favorite movie is SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? What’s your inspiration?

Yup, I’ve pretty much always wanted to be a writer. There really isn’t one person or career that I look to for inspiration, but I love hearing about other writers’ journeys. Recently, I found Amy Poehler’s honesty about the writing process in YES PLEASE very refreshing, and Stephen King’s ON WRITING is a classic for a reason. Writing is such a hard, weird, crazy job and I love hearing about how people end up doing it for a living. The stories are always good.

Do you have any must haves while you’re writing?

Coffee! I’ve also recently become addicted to Muji pens, and had a minor panic attack this morning when I thought I forgot it.

Can you share anything about what you’re currently working on?

I have a novel called BURNING coming out in April 2016 under the name Danielle Rollins—it’s been called Orange is the New Black meets Carrie. But the book I’m writing now is a secret! Be prepared for boys and bunnies and blood.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Blog Tour: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer | Review + GiveawayThe Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer
Published by Harper Teen on March 30, 2015
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

When Stephen is forced to move back to the nowhere town where his father grew up, he’s already sure he’s not going to like it. Spencer, Michigan, is like a town straight out of a Hitchcock movie, with old-fashioned people who see things only in black-and-white. But things start looking up when Stephen meets the mysterious twins Cara and Devon. They’re total punks–hardly the kind of people Stephen’s dad wants him hanging out with–but they’re a breath of fresh air in this backward town. The only problem is, Cara and Devon don’t always get along, and as Stephen forms a friendship with the charismatic Devon and something more with the troubled Cara, he starts to feel like he’s getting caught in the middle of a conflict he doesn’t fully understand. And as Devon’s group of friends, who hang out in a cemetery they call The Playground, get up to increasingly reckless activities to pass the summer days, Stephen worries he may be in over his head.

Stephen’s fears prove well-founded when he learns of Spencer’s dark past. It seems the poor factory town has a history of “bad times,” and many of the town’s oldest residents attribute the bad times to creatures right out of an urban legend. The legend goes that the only way the town will prosper again is if someone makes a sacrifice to these nightmarish creatures. And while Stephen isn’t one to believe in old stories, it seems Devon and his gang might put a lot of faith in them. Maybe even enough to kill for them.

Now, Stephen has to decide what he believes, where his allegiances lie, and who will really be his friend in the end.

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The Cemetery Boys was my first Heather Brewer book but if it’s any indication of her talents as a storyteller, it definitely won’t be my last. The Cemetery Boys is an intriguing mix of horror and paranormal and it hooked me from the very start.

I honestly can’t tell you what I expected from The Cemetery Boys. It’s unlike anything I’ve read and the synopsis really didn’t give me a clue what was going to happen. I think that’s the perfect way to go into this one.  The prologue and first few chapters are intriguing enough to hook you and that’s all you really need to keep going.  As I read I actually found myself getting more invested because I didn’t know what was going to happen.  The story truly was unlike anything I’ve ever read.

Heather Brewer’s writing is simple but gorgeous.  I found The Cemetery Boys to be an extremely easy book to read because the writing was straightforward but in no way dull.  Heather Brewer’s descriptions were so well written that I had no trouble picturing everything in my head.  It helped set the atmosphere of the story and I adored that about the book.  I also adored that Heather Brewer managed to completely capture Stephen’s voice in her writing.  I’d heard that she was good with male MC’s but this was the first time I’d seen it for myself and I completely agree with everything I heard.

The town of Spencer was an awesome setting.  It felt like the town itself was a character.  There was so much mystery and history to the town.  Everyone who grew up there knew what was going on but Stephen was an outsider, finding out about everything for the first time.  The folklore and stories that he was told were beyond captivating and definitely pretty creepy.

Overall, The Cemetery Boys was my first foray into Heather Brewer’s books but definitely not my last.  The writing, the setting, the characters, and everything else about the book added up to make a fantastic story that kept me on the edge of my seat.  Paranormal/horror fans need to check this one out.

What others are saying about The Cemetery Boys:

The Fandom.net’s review: “If you’re interested in “old time-y” horror films that are heavier on the world and the plot progression, but maybe not so much on character development and relationships, then The Cemetery Boys will be a treat for you.”

Candace’s Book Blog’s review: “For people who enjoy books that are a bit different, off the beaten track and a little dark.”

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard | Review

Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard | ReviewStrange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #3
Published by Harper Teen on July 22, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

picadillyblueThis review is going to be extremely hard for me to write.  My feelings for Strange and Ever After are all over the place!  I loved it, I hated it, I couldn’t stop reading it.

Strange and Ever After picks up immediately after the ending of A Darkness Strange and Lovely.  Eleanor, Daniel, Joseph, and Oliver are heading to Marseille to chase down Marcus and get Jie back.  They aren’t sure what Marcus wants with Jie but they know she’s been compelled by him and the only way to break the spell is to kill Marcus.  However, Marcus is always one step ahead of them and he’s much more powerful than even Eleanor, Joseph, and Oliver combined.  Strange and Ever After takes the crew on a journey through Europe that tests their magic and their loyalties more than any of the other books.

Eleanor really bothered me in Strange and Ever After.  I loved her in Something Strange and Deadly, lost some respect for her in A Darkness Strange and Lovely and really couldn’t care less for her in Strange and Ever After.  Her magic has completely taken over her mind and she can’t even see what it’s done to her.  She cares so much about her magic that she has lost sight of her friendships and relationships.  She has pushed everyone away and she constantly blames others for it, especially Oliver.  Oliver really confused me in Strange and Ever After.  I liked him but didn’t completely trust him in A Darkness Strange and Lovely but this time around I didn’t even really like him all that much.  He had a  horrible temper and he treated Eleanor pretty badly.  Sure, sometimes she deserved it but I felt like he could have taken a different approach.  However, he did some things throughout the book that made up for that and by the end I really did like him.  Daniel really shined in Strange and Ever After. He grew so much throughout the course of the trilogy.  I can’t even put into words how amazing he was.  He was caring, smart, kind, and brave.  He has got to be one of the best love interests I’ve ever read about.

The story wasn’t quite as fast-paced as the first two books but it was definitely never boring.  Marcus had lots of surprises in store for Eleanor, Oliver, and the Spirit-Hunters.  I truly never knew what he was going to do next.  However, sometimes I was a little skeptical about how he knew to be one step ahead of them all the time.  How did he possibly know what they were going to do next when sometimes they didn’t even know what they were going to do next?

The ending completely broke me.  I’m not even kidding.  There were not enough tissues in my house for the ending of this book.  I know some readers didn’t believe the ending was completely necessary but I really don’t see how it could have worked out any other way.  I’m still torn up about the way things worked out but I can totally appreciate how great this ending was.

Overall, Strange and Ever After is a wonderful conclusion to the Something Strange and Deadly series.  Susan Dennard has definitely gained a fan and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for readers next.

What others are saying about Strange and Ever After:

Lili’s Reflections’ review: “I will continue to recommend this series to anyone who wants to read it, and if you haven’t already started it yet now is the time to do so because book three is officially out! “

Scott Reads It’s review: “ SAEA is less about zombies and isn’t as Gothic as the previous novels, but it does have more poignant, heartbreaking moments and so much character development.”

Finding Bliss In Books’ review: “That aside, Strange and Ever After is an entirely satisfactory conclusion to the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy (or, as I’ve penned it, the Ke$ha zombie trilogy).”

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) by Susan Dennard | Review

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) by Susan Dennard | ReviewA Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #2
Published by Harper Teen on July 23, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 406
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

Darkness has come to the City of Light...

With her brother dead and her mother on the verge of insanity, Eleanor Fitt is utterly alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor begins to hear the vicious barking of hounds and see images of haunting yellow eyes, she fears the worst—that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are coming for her.

To escape and search out the Spirit-Hunters, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. Though friendly, Oliver entices Eleanor with necromancy and black magic, yet as long as she can resist his powerful temptation, she'll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over the city...and there's a whole new evil lurking. With the body count rising, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there's a price for this darkness strange and lovely...and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

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A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a strong sequel to Something Strange and Deadly.  It follows the same trajectory of the first book which is to say it’s fast-paced, full of surprises, and surprisingly emotional.  It’s exactly what a sequel should be.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely picks up a few months after Something Strange and Deadly ends.  Things in Eleanor’s life are rather rough.  Her mother took the loss of Elijah harder than expected and now must remain in a mental institution.  To pay for her bills, Eleanor has had to sell almost everything they own.  When Marcus shows back up in Philadelphia it’s actually kind of a good thing because it forces Eleanor to flee to Paris to meet up with the Spirit-Hunters.  And thus the adventure begins anew!

So all the old characters are back but there are some new additions this time around.  Both the best and the worst new addition was definitely Oliver.  I loved him but I also didn’t trust him at all.  He was friendly and witty but also very secretive.  Even at the end of the book I knew he had secrets that he had yet to share.  I look forward to finding out more about him in Strange and Ever After.  It’s really difficult to tell if he’s a good guy or a bad guy.  I think the worst thing about Oliver though was what he brought out in Eleanor.  I really lost a lot of respect and liking for Eleanor in A Darkness Strange and Lovely.  She pushed people away and she blamed everyone but herself for it.  She was so consumed by her new powers that she couldn’t see how they were  beginning to control her every thought and action.  Also, Daniel, Joseph, and Jie could see what was going on and they tried to help but they kind of took the wrong approach.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked them all still but I think they could have handled things with Eleanor a little better.  Especially Daniel.

The romance was very hot and cold, just like in Something Strange and Deadly.  Eleanor and Daniel love each other, that’s pretty obvious from the start but what’s not so obvious is how they are going to make things work between them.  They come from very different worlds and while Eleanor is okay with that, Daniel is not.  He wants to be worthy of Eleanor and I love him even more for that.  He had tons of flaws but in my eyes he was perfect.

The plot fits surprisingly well with the first book.  I wasn’t sure how things were going to tie together but they all do in the end.  There were a lot of twists that I didn’t see coming and some that I definitely did.  However, those little things I was able to guess didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a wonderful sequel that will leave readers eager to check out the third and final book, Strange and Ever After.

What others are saying about A Darkness Strange and Lovely:

The Page Sage’s review: “A Darkness Strange and Lovely met my expectations and then some.”

Romancing the Laser Pistol’s review: “ I think it I liked A Darkness Strange and Lovely because it was full of: hot kisses, zombies and old fashioned Paris balls.”

Stories and Sweeties’ review: “To you give a clear picture of my feelings for this book, I simply say this: every night, in the ridiculously wee hours of the morning, I had to tear myself away and force myself to put this down.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard | Review

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard | ReviewSomething Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Published by Harper Teen on July 24, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 388
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia...

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family as fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walkers by. But this is nothing compared to what she's just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor... from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she'll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. An now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

picadillyblueSomething Strange and Deadly was one of the series on my list to start and attempt to finish this year.  I’ve had Something Strange and Deadly on my shelf since before the book was published but I never got around to actually reading it until now.  The hype for this series is definitely warranted.  Something Strange and Deadly is a unique, entertaining, and thoroughly addicting story.

Eleanor is an extremely feisty and smart heroine.  She is unique to heroines in YA these days but especially in heroines from her time period.  She stands out among everyone she knows and while some might consider it a bad thing, I considered it one of her best qualities.  She is not afraid to speak her mind and go after what she wants.  When her brother, Elijah, goes missing she sets out to find help from the Spirit-Hunters, certain that the necromancer tormenting Philadelphia has her brother.  The group of Spirit-Hunters are made up of the classy Joseph, the quirky Jie, and the sarcastic Daniel.  Daniel is rude, outlandish, and rather odd but that didn’t stop me from completely falling in love with him.  He lacked manners but he made up for that in other ways.  Joseph and Jie added a certain flair to the group of Spirit-Hunters and they all brought something unique to the book.  Even Clarence and Allison Wilcox were interesting additions to the story although I would have enjoyed a bit more backstory to Allison.  She came up a little short compared to everyone else.

The story is fast-paced and pulse-pounding from the very first page.  I read straight through the book in one day.  I haven’t been that captivated by a book in quite some time.  While Eleanor’s escapades weren’t entirely plausible, they were fun to read about.  Eleanor was always escaping from places to meet the Spirit-Hunters and I felt that she probably wouldn’t have gotten away with that for long in the time period she lived in.  However, that is a minor complaint of mine.

The ending completely surprised me and actually brought tears to my eyes.  Every time I thought I figured something out, a new secret would pop up and I definitely could not figure out how things were going to tie together.  I was pleased that the story tied up rather well and while it left me eager for the second book, it wasn’t a horrible cliffhanger.

Overall, Something Strange and Deadly brings something new to both the historical fiction genre as well as the horror genre.  Susan Dennard has a promising start with this debut novel.

What others are saying about Something Strange and Deadly:

Cuddlebuggery Book Blog’s review: :”Overall, this was a great read and I strongly anticipate the next one!”

A Page of Heaven’s review: “Something Strange and Deadly was a rather okay book; my feelings for it ranged from love to content to majorly annoyed.”

The Flyleaf Review’s review: “An original blend of historical, paranormal, and a slight touch of steampunk, Something Strange and Deadly is an impressive package to savor.”

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Merciless by Danielle Vega | Review

The Merciless by Danielle Vega | ReviewThe Merciless by Danielle Vega
Published by Razorbill on June 12, 2014
Genres: Horror
Pages: 279
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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3 Stars

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
 
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
 
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

picadillyblueThe Merciless by Danielle Vega is seriously one of the creepiest books I’ve read, especially for YA.  I knew it was horror when I started reading it but I really didn’t expect much from it since horror is usually toned down for YA.  While I felt that was the case a little bit with The Merciless, I felt it definitely lived up to the genre in creepiness.

Sofia is new to town, new to school, new to everything really.  She’s  used to being the new girl.  What she’s not used to is having friends.  When Riley, Grace, and Alexis befriend her, she jumps at the chance to be part of the popular clique.  However, things start to spiral quickly.  Riley believes that a fellow student, Brooklyn, is possessed and that it’s their job to get the demon out of her.  What does that entail?  Kidnapping, torture, and a whole lot of scary stuff.  Let the fun begin.

Riley, Grace, and Alexis might be certifiably insane.  The stuff they do to Brooklyn (and force Sofia to do with them) that is just plain crazy.  These teenage girls are ruthless, let me tell you that.  Riley is definitely the ringleader and the mastermind behind everything but Grace and Alexis are more than willing to help her kidnap and torture Brooklyn.  Heck, they’re even willing to possibly kill her.  These girls will go to crazy extremes to please Riley and the only thing that will please Riley is the end of Brooklyn.  She may say at the beginning that she wants to help Brooklyn but it’s pretty clear what she really wants to get out of the exorcism.

Sofia is kind of hard to like.  Sure, she’s forced to go along with the exorcism and I don’t hold that against her but there was always something off about her.  Sofia has always been alone and so she doesn’t quite know how to act with friends or even a boyfriend.  She’s kind of awkward and tries a little too hard to please people.  Also, it turns out she’s hiding a pretty big secret that helps explain why she’s so hard to connect with.

Speaking of the boyfriend, he was pointless.  Sure Charlie seemed like a really nice guy but that was about it.  Charlie and Sofia had absolutely no chemistry and I couldn’t understand why they got together.  It was really abrupt and out of nowhere.  Charlie wasn’t developed enough as a character for me to really like him or want him to get with Sofia.  Their relationship and their interactions just seemed like a waste.

I have to give Danielle Vega props for that ending.  It’s not something you will ever see coming and it’s completely crazy.  Be prepared to have your jaw drop.

Overall, The Merciless is great for the horror aspect but not so much on the character front.  However, if you’re just looking for a creepy book to read, I would recommend this one.  Just don’t expect too much character development.

What others are saying about The Merciless:

BookYAReview’s review: “The Merciless is a mind-twisting, fully engrossing story that had me on the edge of my seat from page one and never let me go.”

The YA Kitten’s review: “ If you’re looking for some good YA horror that makes you wonder if there are really supernatural things going on, you’ll probably want this.”

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff | Review

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff | ReviewThe Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Razorbill on November 14, 2011
Genres: Horror
Pages: 363
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
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5 Stars

Everything is made of steel, even the flowers. How can you love anything in a place like this?

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped - and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie's whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be.

I hate myself right now. I’ve had Brenna’s books on my shelf for quite some time and I only just recently picked one up and read it. Now I’m definitely going to make time to read her others because The Space Between was completely mind-blowingly fabulous!

From the very start of the book I was intrigued. Daphne is the demon daughter of Lucifer and Lilith who sets off into the mortal world in search of her half brother who is the son of Adam and Lilith. Along the way she meets some very interesting characters, including Truman who I will talk more about later. The prologue grabs reader’s attention immediately and while my attention did wane a little bit in the first few chapters I was quickly hooked again once I got about 60 pages into the book. And while the first few chapters are a little dull, Brenna’s gorgeous writing makes up for it.

The characters were interesting, to say the least. Daphne has grown up in Pandemonium (Hell) and she has had pretty much no interaction with humans. What she knows about humans comes from TV shows and things her brother brings back for her from the mortal world. Needless to say when she gets to the mortal world she is a little overwhelmed. She doesn’t know how to interact with humans, how to act like a human, and she’s a little closed off but that’s why she has Truman! Truman is one of the most messed up characters I have ever read about and all I wanted to do through the whole book was help him. He was super sweet and funny in a totally twisted way. His life was even more messed up than Daphne’s but he was willing to help her. And along the way they are joined by the completely fabulous Raymie but I won’t tell you any more about her. Just expect a surprise.

The writing was by far the best part of The Space Between. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the characters and I loved the story but the writing was beyond amazing. It was lyrical and captivating and reason enough for me to read every other book Brenna Yovanoff ever writes. It’s a very different story but I have to say that with the writing style I was reminded of Laini Taylor’s books and that is high praise coming from me.

Overall, The Space Between is worth checking out. It’s a creepy, lovely, awesome book that I definitely plan to read again sometime in the future!

What others are saying about The Space Between:

Rex Robot Reviews’ review: “Ultimately, I found The Space Between to be haunting, beautiful and frightening.”

Bookalicio.us’ review: “I loved every second of reading time.”

Dazzling Reads’ review: “Good and Evil, Heaven and Hell and the Space Between, Brenna Yovanoff created a beautiful and wicked story where stereotyped characters cross all boundaries to become something unique that defies the nature of evil itself.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dearly, Beloved (Gone With The Respiration #2) by Lia Habel | Review

Dearly, Beloved (Gone With The Respiration #2) by Lia Habel | ReviewDearly, Beloved by Lia Habel
Series: Gone With The Respiration #2
Published by Del Rey on September 25, 2012
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 496
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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5 Stars

Can the living coexist with the living dead?

That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.

Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.

Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.

As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the virus—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.

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Dearly, Beloved is an amazing follow-up to Dearly, Departed. The writing is just as flawless, the setting just as lovely/creepy, the characters just as wonderful, and the zombies just as awesome. Dearly, Beloved will not disappoint fans of the first book!

Bram and Nora are back and better than ever. This is one couple that never seems to waver. They are always there for each other and for once there is no love triangle. These two are devoted to each other and nobody will stand between them. Together they are amazing but surprisingly they are just as awesome apart. Nora is brave (sometimes reckless), funny, stubborn, and smart. She’s a wonderful heroine that readers will love. Bram is also brave, funny, and stubborn and it’s hilarious to see them clash. They may argue but they clearly love each other and Bram only wants what is best for Nora. Throughout everything he looks out for her and protects her. He’s such a sweet zombie boyfriend.

The rest of the characters really evolve in this book. Tom, Coalhouse, Chas, Dr. Dearly, Pam, Michael, Renfield, Doc Sam, Beryl, and Vespertine are all back. There are also a couple new characters introduced that were quite fascinating. The characters from the first book are just as awesome. More from all of their pasts are revealed and people are not quite who they seem (some in good ways, some in bad.) The characters really are so much more developed in this book and it will be wonderful to see even more of them in the next book.

The plot is a bit slower that the first book but not slow enough to make you want to stop reading. There is a lot of background information and build-up but it’s all very necessary information. Lia Habel doesn’t skimp out on the details to get to the action. There is the perfect balance of fighting, history, science, romance, and zombie. This book really does have a little something for everyone.

Overall, Dearly, Beloved solidifies my love for Lia Habel’s writing and storytelling abilities. This series is on my list of favorites and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Looking for more reviews of Dearly, Beloved?

Dark Faerie Tales’ review
Kelsey’s Cluttered Bookshelf’s review