Thursday, January 24, 2008

#4 The Dead Girls' Dance: The Morganville Vampires, Book 2 by Rachel Caine

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This is the second book in the Morganville Vampire series and it picks up right where book one leaves off. By now, we've learned a bit more about all the inhabitants of the Glass House, where Claire is currently living off-campus while attending Texas Prarie University. Her roommates—Eve the Goth girl, sexy hunk Shane, and mysterious Michael—have been having to fight off the vampires that rule Morganville because situations beyond their control have really pissed some of them off. It certainly doesn't help when Shane's vampire-hunting father comes to town either, with a plan to take care of all the vampires of Morganville once and for all.

If I hadn't read the first book so recently I think I may have been lost for the first several pages as this book picks up mid-scene from the events of book one, with very little reminder cues. I really don't like when authors do this, particularly since these books are published several months apart and most people aren't going to read them right after another, but instead would read a number of other books in betweeen. Therefore, with this particular series, you might be better served picking up the first two or three books and then reading them all in one go.

In comparison to the other young adult urban (paranormal) fantasy books I've been reading, specifically the House of Night Novels by P.C. Cast, these seem a bit slower paced and not nearly as exciting. I remember thinking something similar about the first book of Ms. Caine's Weather Warden series, Ill Wind, when I read that. Certainly an interesting enough story, but it didn't have that wow factor for me that makes it a favorite. *shrug*

That said, the story is still interesting enough to keep going, and does pick up the pace more as things progress. Though written in the third person, you really only see into Claire's head most of the time, not any of the other main characters, so the inclusion of a few excerpts from Eve's diary at the end of the book is a welcome addition which lets you learn a bit more about what makes her tick.

I certainly plan to keep up with future books in this series, and already have Midnight Alley, the third in the series, waiting on my bookshelf. I'll just have to remember to read it sooner rather than later for the reasons stated above since I'll be passing this second book along and won't have it to refer back to.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

#3 Betrayed: A House of Night Novel by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

In this follow-up to Marked, Zoey has begun to settle into her life at the House of Night, a vampyre finishing school for fledgling vampyres. She's taken over as leader and High Priestess in training of the Dark Daughters and Sons and is greatly admired by her friends and many other students in the school. Yet something is itching at the back of her mind; a strange darkness surrounds the school that somehow feels wrong. Zoey wonders if it has anything to do with the ghosts she's been seeing, or if it's all just her overactive imagination...

But when a couple of her old friends from Broken Heart go missing, and then later turn up dead, Zoey is inclined to start listening to her instincts. And they're telling her that perhaps the strange feelings and dreams she's been having might just be some sort of vision. For someone is definitely not what they appear, and betrayal can lie in the most unlikely of places.

I totally loved this book! It was a great follow-up to Marked. It even works well for readers who may have missed the first book as the author brings up any important points from the previous novel as necessary. In a few cases I found it kind of redundant, but probably because I'd read Marked right before Betrayed. But readers who went several months between reading the two books, or those who didn't read Marked at all, will greatly appreciate the reminders. Though as is usually the case with series, and especially here since I felt a real affinity for Zoey, I do think that reading both books will give you a deeper appreciation for the characters.

The 3rd book in the series, Chosen is not actually due out until March. Though I just happen to have an Advance Readers Copy waiting here on my shelf, which I owe a review to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for, so I will be reading that very soon. :)

House of Night series

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

#2 Marked: A House of Night Novel by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

The House of Night is the perfect Vampyre Finishing School for fledgling vampyres like Zoey Redbird. Unlike most vampire novels however, Cast's vampyres are not created in the usual manner such as being bitten by another. Instead, a fledgling is Marked simply by biological changes going on in their body. The Change occurs over the course of 4 years, during which time the vampyre attends school at the House of Night, learning everything they need to know to prepare for their new life. Unfortunately, many of the weaker students do not make it through the Change, their body succumbing to the changes going on within them. Therefore many students, particularly the younger ones, live in fear of never making it to adulthood.

After Zoey was Marked, her parents freaked, and she ran away to the home of her Cherokee Grandma, where she had an intense epiphany: a vision of the Vampyre Goddess Nyx speaking to her and telling her she had a special purpose. When she awoke from that, the Mark on her forehead—the dark blue outline of a crescent moon—was completely filled in, as it is usually only on adult vampyres.

The integration of Goddess worship into the vampyre culture was very unique, and forces you to see Cast's vampyres in a completely different light, one that is a lot gentler than you come across in many paranormal novels. Though they do drink blood, they do so in a completely non-violent way and without harming their donors. The portrayal of rituals, circle casting, calling the elements, all the way down to the herbs used to cleanse, purify, or draw spirits to you, were all extremely accurate. This is the first book I've read by this author, but I would suspect that she's a Pagan or follows some other form of Goddess worship herself as she didn't try to sensationalize any of it but dealt with it very accurately and beautifully.

Taking everything as a whole, I really, really liked this book a lot. So much so that I was very happy to have the sequel already waiting here on my shelf, which I started on immediately.

House of Night series

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

#1 Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

In this follow-up to 2006's Moon Called, Patricia Briggs pens an exciting and fast-paced urban fantasy story about walker Mercy Thompson and friends. In this installment, we're reintroduced to characters we met in the first novel, though Ms. Briggs fills in the blanks a bit as necessary, for those who may have picked this up without first reading Moon Called. But if you've already read Moon Called, you'll appreciate the character development as you grow to like these characters even more!!

In Blood Bound, we learn a lot more about Stefan, and I swear, every girl should have a friend like him—dangerous yet sexy, mysterious yet honest... I've got to say next to Mercy, he's probably my favorite character now. ;-) This time around, the vampire seethe is in trouble from a rogue demon-ridden vampire. And for some reason, Mistress Marsilia feels that only Mercy's unique talents as walker can get them out of this mess! But Mercy wonders... is it just that she's more expendable??

The 292 pages of this book are jam packed with lots of action, such that I've have read only 7 or 8 pages, yet looking back, would be surprised at the amount of action that's happened. I love that in a book, not a lot of long descriptions, yet Ms. Briggs is still quite expert at letting you get to know a character well, without having to get wordy about them. Now how's she do that? ;-)

I have Iron Kissed, the third book in this series, on it's way to me now. Even though I have so much other stuff owed, I know I won't be able to wait to dive into that one as this series just keeps getting better and better!

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

#73 Cirque Du Freak #8: Allies of the Night by Darren Shan

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Allies of the Night picks up right where Hunters of the Dusk left off. Mr. Crepsley, Darren, and Harkat are back on the road after their visit with the Cirque Du Freak and unexpected scuffle with the vampaneze. Vacha is heading back to Vampire Mountain to inform the Princes and Generals of their new information. But where to now? Well, since Mr. Tiny has told them they should "follow their heart", it is to Mr. Crepsley's home city, the very place where they defeated the mad vampaneze Murlough thirteen years earlier, that they return.

Once there, it's as if someone were expecting them... odd! Someone has enrolled Darren in school, and the school inspector who shows up at their hotel produces the school enrollment forms with the false names they've used to register at the hotel!! Obviously, someone has set them up, though they're not sure who. But if anything, they now realize this is definitely where they're supposed to be.

I enjoyed this book just as much as previous ones, perhaps even more so, because now, as certain events are coming to pass, it's making way for the final confrontation between the vampires and the vampaneze.

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