Bites

Published: January 3, 2015
Publisher: Self
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

A deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience. It’s not a deal that Emmy’s willing to make, but as her world burns around her she finds herself in the arms of the enemy and the line between oppressor and saviour begins to blur.

After an attack by the infected, Emmy is rescued by the handsome Drew who introduces her to the world of the Silver. Desperate to escape subjugation and confused by her attraction to him, she gathers what remains of her surrogate family and plans to make a break for freedom.

But despite her efforts to resist, she is drawn further into the intrigues of the mysterious Silver through the agency of their ruler, the Primus: Solomon. Emmy refuses to submit to the cold and detached Primus and an attempt on her life makes it clear that he is unable to protect her from the political machinations of his race.

As the connection between them deepens she must choose between her desire and her will to rebel, but can she trust his intentions when everyone is after her blood? (goodreads.com)

There is a lot of amateur hour going on in A BARGAIN IN SILVER to the point where it was really difficult for me to get through. The pacing was incredibly slow, there wasn’t a whole lot going on to advance the plot, and the author spent way too much time giving inane detail to the point where she didn’t leave anything to the imagination. I don’t need a detailed breakdown of what the left hand and the right hand and the left leg and the right leg are doing, nor do I need to know where exactly in a room a character is and how many feet each thing is from the character. Just gobs of detail unnecessarily padding the book.

I think the vampire apocalypse concept is interesting; that’s why I agreed to review the book initially. But it ultimately ends up being bookends to an insufferably slow plot steeped in constipated looks from Drew and neutered vampires that simply orbit around Emmy in an offputtingly Mary Sue sort of way.

It’s all very Twilight and the ending doesn’t help there. The silver concept is neat in the same way I thought glittering vampires were originally neat in Twilight. It’s something different and it sets Jaffrey’s vampires apart from others. But that’s about it. The majority of the story is spent watching two powerful vampires cock fight over Emmy. Meanwhile Emmy’s tripping and falling over everything and constantly bleeding around them.

The prologue doesn’t do the book any favors either. It opens the book with Emmy wearing a vampire collar and serving drinks in a vampire bar. Then the story starts on the night the world went to hell, successfully killing the tension of about 2/3 of the book. I know where she ends up and how she ends up. Why am I reading this?

For most of the book there’s no antagonizing force propelling the story forward. It’s mostly a day in the life of Emmy and that’s about it. She tries to be an active participant in her own story but she’s really just shoved along as the pages turn. Nothing really antagonizing happens to her that would be cause of true dramatic tension until about 3/4 of the way through the book, and it’s barely anything. It’s more insinuated. And then when it finally does come to a head it’s all of a sudden there, as if coming out of nowhere. I guess it’s vaguely hinted at throughout the book because an incident involving Drew makes absolutely no sense when compared against his personality but it just comes off as bad writing. And I guess it ultimately is bad writing because the author doesn’t do a good job of threading the tension throughout the plot. Too much time is spent on Sol and Drew slap-fighting over Emmy. But you finally get a full chapter of villain monologuing in the penultimate chapter that explains absolutely everything. It’s just clunky.

This is a draft that needs some serious rewriting and tightening. The voice is bland at best with all the Ben Stein details going on and I should not be bored in a vampire apocalypse novel and I was most of the time. The plot is slow-moving and clunky when it does move and character development leaves a lot to be desired. I’m not sure if the author’s intent was to go for a Twilight knockoff but that’s pretty much what this is, with a sterile-detailed sex scene.

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I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Published: October 13, 2017
Publisher: WordFire Press
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth.

Wyatt Baldwin’s senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance.

But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.

With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong? (book back blurb)

This was such a neat concept that I couldn’t help but snap it up when it was offered to me. And the book didn’t disappoint.

I’ll start with what I didn’t like, which is pretty minimal. From an editing standpoint it was a bit head-hoppy. I definitely had to go back and re-read passages to make sure I didn’t space out in a scene or character change only to realize that I really didn’t. From one paragraph to the next you’d be bounced around from one character to another. It didn’t happen too often but often enough that it disrupted the flow of the story for me a few times.

Also the Auschwitz reference was a bit much. I don’t think it quite lines up with the objective of the story and it’s just tasteless and unnecessary. The story wouldn’t lose anything if that had been removed and I feel it was in there just for shock purposes and that kind of bothers me.

Everything else I really did like. Okon is brutal and I like that in a YA author. He’s entirely unapologetic with his nastiness and no one is safe. There’s a lot of gore going on in the story, however, it’s not over-described. I didn’t find myself getting nauseous at all while reading. Always a good thing. But that’s not needed. You get perfectly well what’s going on without all the detail and it’s more than enough.

I think Wyatt’s a great character and Carter was definitely number two in my book. I like that Okon gave us adults in YA that weren’t completely useless and just placed in the story to get out of the kids’ way. It made for a much more natural dynamic between the characters and for the story itself. I could have lived with less Sean, but I imagine that was the point. Annoying little brother.

I also liked how the story’s set in the future, but only about a step into the future, instead of hundreds of years. It gets you in the mind frame that this is something that could happen now, despite all the vampires and zombies and werewolves. And how the world he created, at least this little corner of Copper Valley, wasn’t a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland after the outbreak. It’s normal but it has something abnormal happening really close to it. It grounded the story even more.

I think MONSTERLAND provides something different for the YA category that really isn’t otherwise present, not only in type of story but in teen/adult relationships. I think Okon balances the whole step-parent issue really well without going to extremes (evil step-parent need not apply). It’s a good book, a great story, and I think a lot of people will find it really entertaining in a sometimes creepy, sometimes funny sort of way.

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I received a copy of this book from the author through The Children’s Book Review in exchange for an honest review.

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Published: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Berkley
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

New York City in 1978 is a dirty, dangerous place to live. And die. Joey Peacock knows this as well as anybody—he has spent the last forty years as an adolescent vampire, perfecting the routine he now enjoys: womanizing in punk clubs and discotheques, feeding by night, and sleeping by day with others of his kind in the macabre labyrinth under the city’s sidewalks.

The subways are his playground and his highway, shuttling him throughout Manhattan to bleed the unsuspecting in the Sheep Meadow of Central Park or in the backseats of Checker cabs, or even those in their own apartments who are too hypnotized by sitcoms to notice him opening their windows. It’s almost too easy.

Until one night he sees them hunting on his beloved subway. The children with the merry eyes. Vampires, like him…or not like him. Whatever they are, whatever their appearance means, the undead in the tunnels of Manhattan are not as safe as they once were.

And neither are the rest of us. (goodreads.com)

What I liked about THE LESSER DEAD was that it was something different. A fourteen-year-old sort-of child vampire surviving in 70s New York. Excellent depiction of New York at the time. I practically felt like I was there, all the grit and grime and grossness, but also the endearing and nostalgic. I really liked that. Plus it’s a lot of how Joey gets by, how he feeds (kind of repugnantly but at least he recognizes what is and isn’t consent, especially as it pertains to his ability to hypnotize people), and how he passes in the world of the living.

I also liked how the vampires were slightly different and just how in the human world there are classes of people, there are classes of vampires. In this world vampires can’t tolerate direct sunlight and if they get hit with it it leaves scars. No vampire healing from that. They can tolerate cloudy days without little more than a headache and this particular group of vampires doesn’t kill people. Feeds from them, sure, but in order to keep the cops looking the other way they don’t do deaths.

The vampire children part of it was eerie too, especially how that whole relationship developed. I can’t go into details without spoiling, but Buehlman did a good job of making them creepy, that’s for sure. They’re kid vampires and they’re constantly hungry and that has devastating consequences. it also makes the vampires bat around the idea of just what the kids are, whether there are different species of vampires and if these kids are some of them. They do eventually get their answer, but it’s not one they’re going to like.

Joey has a great voice and I think the world Buehlman developed around him was vivid in its darkness and shadows and crusted corners. It’s a New York everyone thinks of, pre-Guiliani. It’s the dangerous city everyone knows and loves, made even more dangerous by the fact that vampires are living in the subway tunnels and feeding on people every night.

But I didn’t love it like I really wanted to. It just didn’t strike me in the way I wanted it to after reading the blurb. It’s not that I wanted it to necessarily be more than what I got but I wanted more out of it. That probably doesn’t make a ton of sense but there you go. Buehlman creates some great characters and sets a great scene. He also added to the vampire mythos and world nicely. But I’m just kind of meh about it. THE LESSER DEAD is a good book and I’d recommend it for any vampire fan. But it just has that little something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on.

3

My next recap is up over at The Devil’s Elbow and this time I’m recapping the next and last book in Carmen Adams’s not-series-series, SONG OF THE VAMPIRE. Adams must have loved The Lost Boys so hard because, like Wing said, this book is the most Lost Boys book ever, even with the movie novelization thrown in there! Truly, it is. But truly it also has its total derp moments and those are supplemented nicely with various gifs.

So head on over to The Devil’s Elbow and check it out!

Published: March 3, 2009
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she is the best- but she does not know if even she is good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, Elena knows failure is not an option—even if the task is impossible.

Because this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad.

The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt does not destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just might. For when archangels play, mortals break. (goodreads.com)

I was expecting far more smut going into ANGELS’ BLOOD, but it was lacking. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, and it was there, filthy talk and sexual tension abound. But I adjusted my expectations quickly enough and settled into the story nicely.

I got the main character, Elena, who’s a strong woman and knows how to hold her own, acting and dressing and just existing in a way that I kind of adore. She has a don’t-give-a-crap attitude without being a bitch about things and she dresses in a way that makes sense for what she does. None of this skin tight crap. Cargoes and t-shirts and she’s this practically Amazonian woman who refuses to trade her strength in order to hook a guy. Instead she just goes for guys who can handle her strength, however grudgingly she does it.

The story’s a little slow to develop and there isn’t a whole lot of world-building going on, especially for a first in a series. This just seems like a world where angels and vampires and other creatures are part of the world and that’s about it. Nothing else to explain? Don’t know. But it isn’t a complicated world; just one where there are supernatural creatures with angels as the top tier having broken up the world into territories. It gets into Elena’s family history a little bit, shows her on a hunt, interacting with her best friend. And then finally she gets brought in for the big job run by a big angel.

No surprise there’s sexual tension between her and her boss, but I’m okay with it. It’s good sexual tension and they seem like a solid fit for each other. None of this bad boy bullcrap and she doesn’t swoon for the bad boy under her own devices so she gets a pass there. And somehow Elena also maintains an air of naïveté despite the world she lives in. It makes her more endearing.

It’s obvious the way future books are being set up in this one, with the vampires, the land wars among the angels, the development of some of the angels, and I’m looking forward to seeing were the series goes, especially with where the book leaves Elena. I also totally adore her relationship with the director of the guild there, whose name escapes me at the moment. They’re incredibly protective of each other and they stand by each other through thick and thin. It’s really nice seeing positive female relationships like this in books where one isn’t a sycophant to the other or they’re just enemies for whatever superficial reasons.

Looking forward in the series, looks like I have a whole pile of books to read in this world and I look forward to it. While I wanted more sex in the book, Singh creates an excellent balance of tension, play, character development, and plot that has me hooked, for sure.

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