Bites
April 15, 2017

Published: 1991
Publisher: HarperCollins
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

A Love Triangle of Unspeakable Horror…

Elena
Searching for the ultimate thrill, she vowed to have Stefan.

Stefan
Haunted by his tragic past, he struggled to resist her passion.

Damon
Driven by revenge, he hunted the brother who betrayed him.

The terrifying story of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them. (goodreads.com)

Eh. I wouldn’t say it’s unspeakable horror. Or really a love triangle. That would insinuate Elena actually liked Damon, which she doesn’t appear to. At least in this first book.

I thought I was missing something all this time in never having read any of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES books. Nope. Can’t say I have. They wouldn’t have been my thing back when I was younger when these first came out and they’re definitely not my thing now.

Elena’s kind of a dick and is used to getting everything her way. When she sets her sights on Stefan she aims to get him, and eventually does. Of course she’s the special reincarnation of Stefan’s long lost love and the woman who originally turned him into a vampire. Of course this is also the same woman who came between Stefan and Damon and made their already antagonistic relationship even worse. And then it bred a centuries-old rivalry of Damon being the bad vampire who feeds to kill in order to absorb human energy and power, thus making himself more powerful, and Stefan. The “good” vampire who only feeds on animals and when he has to people whom he doesn’t kill, making him weaker.

And then there’s Elena, the vapid, superficial high school student who has to have the world revolve around her and throws a major hissy when she doesn’t. Blech. No thanks.

And the book just ends right in the middle of it all. Like right before a major confrontation. Done. WHY??? I mean obviously THE VAMPIRE DIARIES hit the mark because it practically spawned TWILIGHT and when it was revived with the re-release of the books and then the TV show people went nuts over it. It’s just in that segment of vampire fiction that doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t care for love triangles. I don’t care for whiny little brats getting what they want. I don’t care for instalove that transcends time for some unknown reason. It’s not poorly written. I just don’t connect with it.

Not my bag.

3

Published: April 5, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

A burning vengeance.

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. The son of the queen of the Fells, Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

A blood-based curse.

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Destiny’s fiery hand.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine. (goodreads.com)

Just as good as any book in the Seven Realms series, FLAMECASTER did not disappoint in the slightest. The Shattered Realms novels do stand on their own and can be read without having read the Seven Realms books but 1) why would you do that? And 2) you’re missing out on an incredibly well-rounded world.

One thing Chima doesn’t skimp on is world-building. The world around the characters is just as rich and independent as the characters themselves, acting as its own entity. From there you get characters that have some semblance of roots in the older stories (if you’ve read them) and they’re built around the world, being a part of it as opposed to standing apart from it.

Chima tore my heart out at the very beginning of the book. Awful, awful woman. Not cool. Of course it’s the catalyst for the whole story but still. THERE WASN’T ANOTHER WAY??? Ugh. My soul hurt after that.

I’ve always liked the way Chima sprinkled in characters and didn’t have it be overwhelming. There’s a lot going on in FLAMECASTER and you get the story from multiple points of view, but never once was I ever confused about who was talking nor was I ever not able to juggle all of the characters in front of me. They’re all introduced and managed wonderfully, being sprinkled in in such a way that they all stick as opposed to being rushed with characters and it taking multiple reads to get them all straight.

Of course the ending was a total cliffhanger and I’m salivating for SHADOWCASTER. Must get my hands on it. God, I love this whole series. All of it. The world is fantastic, Chima’s written amazing characters, from the heroes and anti-heroes to the villains themselves, and the plot just sucks me in from the beginning. It was nothing reading the book and it wasn’t nearly long enough for my liking. Must get MOAR.

5

Published: February 2, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

When Jocelyn and her best friend, Madge, arrive at the gates of Brookline sanatorium—fresh out of nursing school—they are eager and excited to start their new careers. But from their very first meeting with Brookline’s austere warden, they can tell their new boss will be . . . difficult. Then Jocelyn wakes up in her room one night to the sound of screaming, and she starts to wonder if the treatments in this asylum are entirely humane. But the warden has his eye on Jocelyn—and the treatment of patients should be the least of her concerns. (goodreads.com)

THE WARDEN, I think, is the creepiest out of all of the novellas Roux’s written within the ASYLUM world. Not only is it set within the asylum itself, but you get to interact with the warden himself in a very tangible way. He’s no longer a flashback or something seen out of the corner of an eye or whispered about in passing. He’s a living character in this snippet of a story and you get to see firsthand just how manipulative and insistent he is about his way of doing things and experimenting. You see how he plays with people and actively distorts their realities in order to achieve his ends. He’s more terrifying than any jump scares could offer.

Within a short number of pages you see how the characters spiral despite their best intentions and greatest efforts. Really no one’s any match for Warden Crawford. Once you’re in his web he’s got you and there’s no getting out.

Considering I just bought the book that has this complete set of novellas in it, I’d say THE WARDEN is an excellent addition to the spooky, creepy world of ASYLUM. It’s not overwhelming, it’s not about cheap scares. It’s far more insidious and will dig into the heart of a person’s fears and uncover it for all to see.

4.5

February 28, 2017

Pub Date: March 1, 2017
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

The letters went out in mid-February. Each letter invited its recipient to spend a week at Camp So-and-So, a lakeside retreat for girls nestled high in the Starveling Mountains. Each letter came with a glossy brochure with photographs of young women climbing rocks, performing Shakespearean theatre under the stars, and spiking volleyballs. Each letter was signed in ink by the famed and reclusive businessman and philanthropist, Inge F. Yancey IV.

By the end of the month, twenty-five applications had been completed, signed, and mailed to a post office box in an obscure Appalachian town.

Had any of these girls tried to follow the directions in the brochure and visit the camp for themselves on that day in February, they would have discovered that there was no such town and no such mountain and that no one within a fifty-mile radius had ever heard of Camp So-and-So. (goodreads.com)

At first I was really disoriented by CAMP SO-AND-SO (as, I’m sure, were all the campers I was reading about). It’s a very non-traditional story told from multiple viewpoints in third person omniscient that tells multiple stories that are otherwise connected, but functioning independently from each other. It’s very strange but I adored the voice so I pushed through and I’m so glad I did.

What a fantastic story. Every time I’m surprised by a Carolrhoda Lab book and I shouldn’t be because I’ve loved nearly every book I’ve read from them. They just know how to pick them. And CAMP SO-AND-SO is no exception. It’s campy (ha!) but in a grounded sort of way that mixes in the supernatural and the faery world in a way that perfectly blends together. Despite the fact that you literally have twenty-five different characters you’re following I never lost track of any of them (okay, I may have mixed up the girl in the orange hoodie and the girl with beads in her hair a couple times toward the end, but I think I’m a little justified there considering what happened between the two). They’re all completely independent of each other and they stand out against each other.

CAMP SO-AND-SO was a downright fun book. It had the very quirky camp feel, but completely upended that entire trope on its head and nearly bastardized the whole idea. I loved it. I also loved that not everyone come out unscathed. Or at all. That appeased my blackened soul nicely. And the ending fit nicely with the overall tone of the book: fun and quirky with a dark underlying tone lurking just beneath the surface of the world McCoy created. Awesome.

It’s a story that’ll appeal to the younger reluctant YA reader for all the action and playing around the story does along with the older YA reader who’s looking for something different, but still plays to known tropes within the genre (camping genre? is that a thing?). I was never a camp person (I was allergic to the outside when I was little, camp probably would have killed me) and CAMP SO-AND-SO made camp both appealing and appalling all at the same time. Although I’m pretty sure that was the point.

An excellent read, I highly recommend McCoy’s book. There’s literally something for everyone (a hint of romance, the supernatural, super villains, the outdoors, an epic quest, and stagehands!).

4.5

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

February 13, 2017

This was the book that first introduced me to Mari Mancusi about ten years ago and it’s been love ever since. And not only because she totally love-drops The Lost Boys in her Blood Coven series. It’s a fantastic set of books with awesome characters and a plot that’ll suck you in right from the beginning and won’t let you go until the very end.

Mari recently had the rights to the series returned to her so she’s re-releasing the whole set with brand new covers! And starting today through February 17th you can get a copy of BOYS THAT BITE for free on Amazon Kindle! If you haven’t checked out the Blood Coven series yet, now’s the perfect time to start.

Two sisters–as different as the sun and the rain. For one, getting into the Blood Coven is to die for. But for the other, getting out could be lethal…

When Sunny McDonald gets dragged to Club Fang by her twin sister Rayne, she doesn’t expect to find anything besides a bunch of Goth kids playing at being vampires. But when some guy mistakes Sunny for her dark-side-loving sister and bites her on the neck, she finds out that his fangs are real–and deadly.

Now, Sunny has less than a week to figure out how to reverse the bite, or else she’s going to end up as the perpetually undead. And not only will she be a vampire, she’ll also be bonded to Magnus–the bloodsucker who bit her–forever. And forever is a really long time… (Amazon.com)