Review: “Snakeroot (Nightshade Legacy #1/Nightshade #4)” by Andrea Cremer


17372472Title: “Snakeroot (Nightshade Legacy #1/Nightshade #4)”

Author: Andrea Cremer

Genre: Fantasy, YA, PNR

Publication Date:  December 10, 2013

Source:  Publisher-provided ARC

Synopsis: Fans asked for it, and now they’ve got it!

Andrea Cremer is continuing the story she began in in her internationally bestselling trilogy: Nightshade, Wolfsbane and Bloodrose.

Bosque Mar haunts the dreams of both Adne and Logan, trying to escape for the Nether, where Calla, Shay and the other Guardians trapped him in the final battle in the War of All Against All…

Will he turn Adne to the dark side? Will Logan reclaim his birthright? And will darkness take over our world?

☆: 4/5 stars – Will definitely satisfy hardcore fans of the series!

Review: Fair warning here, folks: this review is going to have a lot of spoilers for the “Nightshade” trilogy (and its novellas/prequels). I thought and thought on how to do a review for this book without spoilers and then realized that it just wasn’t going to happen. So, fair warning, folks. “Snakeroot” is apart of the new “Nightshade Legacy” continuation series (not sure if “Captive”, “Rise”, and “Rift” are in this continuation/expansion but I’ll throw them in there anyway), not focusing on the main characters of our trilogy, but instead on the fringe characters we met throughout the journey of the trilogy. While “Snakeroot” definitely satisfies, it leaves us on a cliffhanger with no definitive promise that this series will continue. And I sincerely hope it will.

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Review: “The Beautiful and the Damned (The Hollow #4)” by Jessica Verday


17334497Title: “The Beautiful and the Damned (The Hollows #4)”

Author: Jessica Verday

Genre: YA Contemporary, PNR, Paranormal

Publication Date: October 1, 2013 (Simon Pulse – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Synopsis: Cyn’s blackouts have deadly consequences in this sexy, suspenseful spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Hollow series.Cyn and Avian are far from a perfect match. She’s a witch who casts spells on men so she can steal their cars. He spends his time being judge, jury, and executioner to the truly evil in the supernatural realm.

When the blackouts Cyn’s been having ever since her time in Sleepy Hollow start escalating, she finds herself unable to remember where she’s been or what she’s been doing. Frightened, she seeks guidance at a local church, and it’s there she meets Avian.

The unlikely pair soon discovers that her blackouts are a side effect of what she truly is—an Echo—a conduit for souls of the dead. The only way to prevent Cyn from losing complete control is to return to Sleepy Hollow and vanquish the source of her power—but she may not survive the process. And if she does? She won’t ever be the same…

☆: 3.5/5 stars – A good standalone, but may lose people who haven’t read the original trilogy.

Review: Fair disclosure – I haven’t read the original “Hollow” trilogy, to which this book is a companion. But even so, “The Beautiful and the Damned” is a tightly-written, nice, short, companion book which gives the audience a small taste of the original “Hollow” world while creating an entirely new world with elements that were introduced or hinted at in the original text. Even if you haven’t read the original trilogy, if you’re looking for a read to devour in a short amount of time, I recommend “The Beautiful and the Damned”. Even if you may get a bit confused.

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Review: “Charm & Strange” by Stephanie Kuehn


16045088Title: “Charm & Strange”

Author: Stephanie Kuehn

Genre: YA contemporary, paranormal, AWESOME, magical realism, mindfuck

Publication Date: June 11, 2013 (SMP/Macmillan – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided finished copy

Summary: When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

☆:

Review: This is a wonderful, short read that reaches into your head, your heart, and won’t let go until the very final page. You know that feeling when you finish a book and you’re like “What the hell did I just read? BUT WOW I LIKED IT!”? That’s the feeling that “Charm & Strange” will give you once you’ve finished it. Beautifully written, and a total mindfuck worthy of Whedon or Abrams, you won’t be able to put it down, and you’ll want more of it by the last page.

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Blog Tour Stop! Review and Giveaway: Defy the Dark edited by Saundra Mitchell


Defy the Dark

Welcome to the first stop on the blog tour for the Defy the Dark anthology! See the end of the post for the other stops and a giveaway for a copy of this anthology (totally worth reading!) and more.

Title: Defy the Dark:

Author: Saundra Mitchell (editor)

Genre: Anthology, Post-Apocalyptic, Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, YA Contemporary, Time Travel, Historical, High Fantasy, LGBT, Magical Realism, Paranormal Romance, Comedy,

Publication Date: June 18, 2013

Source: ARC provided by contributor Valerie Kemp for an ARC/blog tour

Synopsis: Defy the Dark, an all-new anthology edited by Saundra Mitchell. Coming Summer 2013 from HarperTeen!

It features 16 stories by critically-acclaimed and bestselling YA authors as they explore things that can only happen in the dark. Authors include Sarah Rees Brennan, Rachel Hawkins, Carrie Ryan, Aprilynne Pike, Malinda Lo, Courtney Summers, Beth Revis, Sarah Ockler, and more.

Contemporary, genre, these stories will explore every corner of our world- and so many others. What will be the final story that defies the dark? Who will the author be?

☆: 4/5 stars – Pretty solid! If only the contest winner’s story were in here too…

Sadly, my review of this is incomplete. My ARC is missing one story: “The Sunflower Murders” by Kate Espey, the winner of the Defy the Dark Author Contest. Yet another reason to buy the finished copy because it’s sure to be awesome!

Anyway, some statistics first before I review each individual story. Number of authors whose stories I fell in love with and whose future publishing exploits I will stalk/continue to stalk: 2. Number of authors whose works I have sworn off for good: 4. You’ll pick them all out easily!

“Steepstalk” by Courtney Summers: 5/5. This story puts us in the head of a stalker. That’s about the simplest way to put it. She’s so obsessed with her object of “affection” that she she rewrites events in her favor and we never even get her name. Who has time for themselves when so deeply obsessed with someone else? Not this girl. Books where the lead characters are being stalked are my guilty pleasure, but getting put in the head of one was just as great!

“Nature” by Aprilynne Pike: 1/5. The weakest story of the anthology, not to mention the only one I gave 1/5. This story has twenty or so pages and four or five are spent dumping the history of this post-apocalyptic world on us and telling us why ladies of certain hip sizes are forced to have all the babies. It’s a poorly written story with too many glorified parallels to Mormonism, a religion I have many fundamental problems with. Creepy in all the wrong ways.

“The Dark Side of the Moon” by Dia Reeves: 3/5. This made sense solely because I’ve read this author’s Portero books, which this story is set in. It’s weirder than a gaggle of geese playing hopscotch, what with baby spider people, not-magic magic, and a kid trying to prove himself to his girlfriend’s parents. Kinda fun, but it grates on me when obviously magical things are crawling around and people say it’s not magic the way Patricia does. Points for an interracial relationship, though. He’s black, she’s white.

“Ghost Town” by Malinda Lo: 4/5. Well-written, creepy, and starring an LGBT character as Lo’s stories always too. She’s such a reliable source of diversity! She develops her female lead Ty well, gets across how hurt she is by the prank the girl she liked pulled on her, and all that tripped me up is that its parts were told in reverse chronological order. I didn’t catch that until my third reread and it made the first two quite confusing.

“Eyes in the Dark” by Rachel Hawkins: 2/5. There are a few creepy moments and good writing here and there once they drove into the forest and encountered the red-eyed creatures, but this is mostly a story that induces facepalming. The female lead cheats on her boyfriend with some eye candy, the writing is immature, and they call something skanky for laughs. It’s not that funny to me. Her writing has been getting too immature for me to deal with anyway, so off my list she goes.

“Stillwater” by Valerie Kemp: 5/5. It’s the only other five-star story in this anthology and let me tell you, it is GOOD. This creepy little Texas town has kept two branches of the same family together for years and when they go to sleep, they forget how they can escape this odd, magic-entrapped place. The authentic Southern voice, the elements of magical realism, solid writing, and how the story plays out makes me want to keep an eye on what Kemp does in the future. This is why I love anthologies: I usually find one good author to start following.

“I Gave You My Love By the Light of the Moon” by Sarah Rees Brennan: 3/5. Brennan normally writes great short stories, but this one is rather bland. Nothing more than a vampire-and-werewolf story that doesn’t use the words “vampire” or “werewolf”. It’s so unremarkable and especially disappointing because she’s shown she can do better.

“Night Swimming” by Beth Revis: 2/5. This one is a prequel to her Across the Universe series, but have fun trying to figure out who the unnamed main character is and their role in the series. I’ve actually read the first book of this series and have no idea who they are. Considering that they’re writing out vengeful plots in the end, they might be a little bit important. Being unable to fit the events and its main character into the continuity of the series took away what little I enjoyed about this odd story.

“Almost Normal” by Carrie Ryan: 3/5. There are elements of This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers in this zombies-are-invading-oh-noes story, but it doesn’t have the same magic to it. It also gives us the third nameless protagonist of the anthology!  I’m unsure if their gender was ever specified either, so my brain says they’re female and that makes their relationship with their girlfriend and LGBT relationship. My head, my rules. But they’re most likely male, sadly.

“There’s Nowhere Else” by Jon Skovron: 3/5. The idea of this teenage boy’s soul leaping into other bodies while he sleeps is fascinating, as is the eventual battle two separate forces wage for his gift. It’s rather blandly written, however, and undermines the genuinely entertaining premise.

“Naughty or Nice” by Myra McEntire: 2/5. And another one off my list! This story takes its lead characters Bex and Henry to Bavaria, where an unusual festival has them running from a monster whose sack they have to grab if they want to live. It’s an awesome idea, but the judgmental way Bex describes other girls and the haphazard way the hyponenuses (Henry and Bex each had their own love interest before getting together during the story) are gotten rid of makes this so difficult for me to enjoy.

“Shadowed” by Christine Johnson: 3/5. This is the one high-fantasy-themed story in the anthology and once again, I love the idea. A girl whose own shadow is trying to kill her? Yes! What kills it is the confusing ending, how the love interest attaches to Esme unnaturally fast, and the badly explained premise in general.

“Now Bid Time Return” by Saundra Mitchell: 4/5. The protagonist escapes to Europe for a week hoping the polar night (the sun being down all the time) will help her sleep, but she ends up finding so much more. It’s a little time-travel story that’s well-written with well-developed character and an amazing idea, but how they saw each other through time still confuses me and there’s no resolution whatsoever.

“The Moth and the Spider” by Sarah Ockler: 2/5. Aaaand another author off my list. This story of a girl trying to write her suicide note when someone calls her with the wrong number has a very literary feel to it, but it’s very odd too. We have no idea why Cali tried to kill herself and her only real quality is her desire to die until Theresa Zednick calls the number she thought was her mother’s. Not well-developed, though admittedly well-written.

“Where the Light Is” by Jackson Pearce: 3/5. Another unremarkable story. In a town of miners, the lead works in the mines in order to live up to other people’s expectations; his father was a heroic miner who saved people’s lives and died a few years before. He meets a Knocker (mountain-dwelling creature) while working in the mines one day and strikes up a friendship (later romance) with her. Decently written, nice idea, but it didn’t stick with me.

“This Was Ophelia” by Tessa Gratton: 3/5. The focus of this story is the romance between a girl named Ophelia (who cross-dresses and attends clubs as a guy named O) and a boy named Halden, who likes kissing boys and likes O but not Ophelia. These two fall in love over the course of three nights and their overdramatic affair is the focus of the story, making the story itself overdramatic. However, the prose is lovely and the Hamlet parallels are awesome.

GIVEAWAY TIME

Yep, another giveaway! This one is for a finished copy of this anthology, a gorgeous bookmark, and a glow-in-the-dark bracelet. Here’s what you’ve got to do:

  • Be 13 or older.
  • US and Canada entrants only, sadly.
  • Fill out the Rafflecopter widget to your heart’s content.
  • Don’t cheat! All your IPs are belong to me.
  • If you win (lucky duck!), you’ve got twenty-four hours to respond before I pick another winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

NEXT STOPS

June 11th: Seeing Night Reviews

June 12th: Book Belles

June 13th: Reader Girls

June 14th: Soul Unsung

June 15th: Valerie Kemp (aka one of the contributors who wrote an amazeballs story and organized this whole shebang!)

Review: “Days of Blood & Starlight (Smoke & Bone #2)” by Laini Taylor


Title: “Days of Blood & Starlight (Smoke & Bone #2)”

Author: Laini Taylor

Genre: YA, AWESOME, paranormal, romance

Publication Date: November 6, 2012 (Little, Brown for Young Readers – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided finished copy

Summary: Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

☆: 4.5/5 stars – a DEFINITE must read for 2012, and another wonderful chapter in the “Smoke and Bone” saga!

Review: I’m very, very happy to say that this second installment in the “Smoke and Bone” trilogy has absolutely NO middle book syndrome at all. None. We get to return to two worlds that have become very near and dear to my heart – that of Earth, our world, and Eretz, the world of the Seraphim and the Chimaera. There’s a ton of action, a lot of heartache, and some breathtaking magic involved, so buckle up, fans of book number one, because not only will this book kick you in the feels (repeatedly, I might add), it’ll also kiss it all better. Or almost.

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Review: “Magisterium” by Jeff Hirsch


Title: “Magisterium”

Author: Jeff Hirsch

Genre: YA, dystopian, paranormal, fantasy

Publication Date: October 1, 2012 (Scholastic – North America)

Source: NetGalley Review Copy/ARC provided by publisher

Summary: On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn’s only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn’t for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn’s mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father’s work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run—with only one place to go.

☆: 3.5/5 stars – a solid YA paranormal dystopian tale!

Review: This one’s a bit hard to review, guys, because it’s such a different animal when you compare its beginning and its end. Not that that’s a bad thing – it certainly made for interesting reading, and I can tell you, “Magisterium” is a very absorbing tale of a future severely divided between science and magic, civilization and chaos, with life-changing choices to be made.
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Review: “Kitty Steals the Show (Kitty Norville #10)” by Carrie Vaughn


Title: “Kitty Steals the Show (Kitty #10)”

Author: Carrie Vaughn

Genre: Adult, PNR, Urban Fantasy

Publication Date: July 31, 2012 (Tor/Macmillan – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided finished copy

Summary: Kitty has been tapped as the keynote speaker for the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies, taking place in London. The conference brings together scientists, activists, protestors, and supernatural beings from all over the world—and Kitty, Ben, and Cormac are right in the middle of it.

Master vampires from dozens of cities have also gathered in London for a conference of their own. With the help of the Master of London, Kitty gets more of a glimpse into the Long Game—a power struggle among vampires that has been going on for centuries—than she ever has before. In her search for answers, Kitty has the help of some old allies, and meets some new ones, such as Caleb, the alpha werewolf of the British Isles. The conference has also attracted some old enemies, who’ve set their sights on her and her friends.

All the world’s a stage, and Kitty’s just stepped into the spotlight.

☆: 3/5 stars – a great addition to the series, but nothing amazingly original.

Review: Okay, so I’ve been meaning to read this series for awhile, so when Tor asked me to review this book, I jumped at the prospect. A friend had really built up my expectations of the series and how awesome Kitty is, but unfortunately, for me, while this book is a solid contribution to the Kitty canon, it didn’t really feel like anything new or special in a genre that has a lot of the same thing.
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