Thursday, October 30, 2014

Guest Post–6 Spooky YA Books Perfect for Halloween

Books to Get You In the Spirit of Halloween
 
Guest Post by Elizabeth Eckhart
 
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Top Halloween Books
 It's finally almost arrived once again: All Hallow's Eve, the one night where the veil that separates the living and dead is cast down and spirits are free to roam the streets of Earth. For me, Halloween has always been a favorite holiday. I've always loved the decorations, the costumes, the imagination and of course, the stories.  Here's a list of six YA supernatural books you can read to get into the spirit this year.  
1. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
 war  This isn't just one of my favorite supernatural books, but one that would be found at the top of my list for my favorite books of all time. Marion's rugged, poetic descriptions and mastery of sarcasm makes the narration of his protagonist, R, a zombie who falls for a human girl, a refreshing read. The novel is set some time after the apocalypse and is packed with action, suspense and fear. R and Julie's journey isn't just a search for a cure to a disease in a destroyed world, but a voyage to resurrect humanity in both the dead and the living. The novel was also depicted in the 2013 film of the same name starring Nicholas Hoult as the lead and Teresa Palmer as Julie (available to stream through Amazon Prime or with DirecTV packages).   
2. The Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin
 
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 One of the most acclaimed supernatural novels on the YA market today, the story of Mara Dyer is a mystery that both entices and excites from the start of the first novel, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and only grows through the third and final installment, The Retribution of Mara Dyer. The trilogy tells the tale of a seventeen-year-old girl whose life is changed forever when she discovers she possesses a highly unusual, and dangerous, gift. It's packed with suspense and mystery as the origins of Mara's gift are slowly revealed, as well as romance during her relationship with sardonic and irresistible Noah Shaw.  
3. The Infinite Sea (book #2 in The 5th Wave trilogy) by Rick Yancey
 16131484  The strong cast of characters all fighting to survive in a world that's been wiped out by a series of natural disasters caused by aliens – known as "the Others" – are some of the best I've ever encountered, and although the book leans more toward science fiction than supernatural, the suspense and fear that permeates the characters' lives and seeps into the reader's mind makes it worth a read this season. Like many other dystopians, The 5th Wave will soon be arriving on film as well...   
4. Ruined by Paula Morris
 6261081  An ideal choice for anyone looking for more intrigue and mystery that horror, Ruined is a book based in New Orleans, Louisiana and follows sixteen-year-old Rebecca Brown after she moves from New York City to live with her aunt. Rebecca quickly meets the ghost of a former servant girl in the nearby cemetery. The spirit, Lisette, is eager to show Rebecca the darker side of New Orleans.  
 
5. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
 9378297  Ghost story aficionados will devour Blake's story of Cas Lowood – a teen with the unusual profession of killing the dead, and his relationship with a girl trapped within curses and rage, unlike any other spirit he's met before. Since her brutal murder, the ghost has killed every human being who has dared cross into her territory, and if Cas doesn’t proceed carefully, he’ll likely be next.
 
 
6. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
 289601  Helen has been dead for over 130 years. To deal with her personal demons, she attaches herself to different human hosts. The most recent is an English teacher. Pretty normal, right? Nothing seems out of the ordinary to Helen, either, until she notices something different during one of his classes. "Someone was looking at me. A disturbing sensation if you're dead." This novel is an interesting take on the classic ghost story, and will leave you wondering if you can be sure you’re ever truly alone.
------- Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @elizeckhart
   

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review–Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

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Heartsick (Gretchen Lowell #1)
 
by Chelsea Cain
 
Summary: Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years ago, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him, she mysteriously decided to let him go. She turned herself in, and now Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, while Archie is in a prison of another kind---addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie's a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she's right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth---he can't stay away.
When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets of Portland, Archie has to pull himself together enough to lead the new task force investigating the murders. A hungry young newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, begins profiling Archie and the investigation, which sparks a deadly game between Archie, Susan, the new killer, and even Gretchen. They need to catch a killer, and maybe somehow then Archie can free himself from Gretchen, once and for all. Either way, Heartsick makes for one of the most extraordinary suspense debuts in recent memory.  Source: I purchased a paperback.

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Review:

Heartsick was great. It was recommended to me by a friend with similar reading tastes after I finished reading Cain’s new novel, One Kick. I’m glad I picked it up.

Heartsick may be one of the most f***ed up mystery novels I’ve ever read. The things that Gretchen Lowell, a pretty notorious serial killer, did to detective Sheridan was beyond messed up. Their relationship was an odd one. At first I thought she was one of those typical serial killers turned helper, but that wasn’t really the case. It was a lot more.. complicated than that.

I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the novel, as detective Sheridan enlisted the help of a reporter after he was assigned to a missing children case. I liked getting to know the reporter, watch the detective piece together clues, and figure out who was murdering kids. But that wasn’t why I kept reading. I am not a big fan of mysteries and if that was all there was to the story, I wouldn’t have bought the next few books. What drew me in and what ultimately will keep me reading is Gretchen Lowell. She was twisted, smart, and cunning, but I want more examples of what she did, is doing, and will do. She destroyed what was left of detective Sheridan and their relationship was disturbing. What does she want from him? The novel gave me pieces of what happened when she tortured him in the past, but I never could quite figure out why she did it, why she turned herself in, and why she was helping him now. But those questions were answered with hints and little bits of information.

I’m hooked and I want to know more. I want to figure out who Gretchen Lowell is, what she wants with Sheridan, why she let him go, and what will become of the damaged detective. His thoughts about her are so tangled and twisted and it was interesting to read about it. I hope the next few novels explore everything a bit more. I’m not sold on Archie Sheridan as a character, I despised the reporter, and I’m skeptical that Gretchen Lowell is as put together as she seems. But first books can typically be that way and not give me enough to go on, so I am eager to continue the series and see what happens.

I definitely recommend the book, but it is not for the easily disturbed. It was dark, violent, twisted, weird, and quite gross at times. It borrows from themes from other famous mysteries, like that of the Hannibal Lecter novels without the added sophistication.

4%2520star

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday–Halloween Characters

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Top Ten Characters I Would Totally Want To Be For Halloween
(In A World Where I Wouldn’t Have to Explain Who I Am In A Long Paragraph Because Everyone Would Just GET IT…)
 
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1. Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.
 
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2. Kate Daniels from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. She’s so kick ass.
 
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3. Mac from the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. Another kick ass character.
 
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4. Cinder from the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. A Cyborg!
 
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5. Allison from the Blood of Eden series by Julie Kagawa. An actually vampiric female vampire kick ass character.
 
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6. The Unseelie Queen. From various books. She’s terrifying.
 
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7. The Darkling from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Can there be a chick version? Or maybe Alina when she was learning to be Grisha.
 
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8. Madrigal from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Karou would be cool, but Madrigal would be even cooler because of the various animal characteristics. Probably a scarier than intended costume, but it would be cool.
 
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9. Dementors from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. That would be a creepy costume.
 
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10. The White Witch from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review–Industrial Magic (Women of the Otherworld #4) by Kelley Armstrong

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Industrial Magic (Women of the Otherworld #4)
 
by Kelley Armstrong
 
Summary: Meet the smart, sexy—supernatural—Women of the Otherworld. This is not your mother's coven…
Kelley Armstrong returns with the eagerly awaited follow-up to
Dime Store Magic . Paige Winterbourne, a headstrong young woman haunted by a dark legacy, is now put to the ultimate test as she fights to save innocents from the most insidious evil of all…
In the aftermath of her mother's murder, Paige broke with the elite, ultraconservative American Coven of Witches. Now her goal is to start a new Coven for a new generation. But while Paige pitches her vision to uptight thirty-something witches in business suits, a more urgent matter commands her attention.
Someone is murdering the teenage offspring of the underworld's most influential Cabals—a circle of families that makes the mob look like amateurs. And none is more powerful than the Cortez Cabal, a faction Paige is intimately acquainted with. Lucas Cortez, the rebel son and unwilling heir, is none other than her boyfriend. But love isn't blind, and Paige has her eyes wide open as she is drawn into a hunt for an unnatural-born killer. Pitted against shamans, demons, and goons, it's a battle chilling enough to make a wild young woman grow up in a hurry. If she gets the chance.


Source: I purchased a paperback from a used bookstore.

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Review:

Industrial Magic was awesome. I sense a pattern with the books in the series. The first book introduced characters, the second book was the high stakes adventure, the third book introduced another set of characters, and the fourth book was their high stakes adventure. Naturally, Industrial Magic was full of adventure, violence, drama, and romance. It was fun, thrilling, and unpredictable.

I loved Paige and Lucas in Dime Store Magic and I knew the plot was gearing up for something quite large. I’m eager to see what happens to Paige and Lucas as the series goes on, though I realize the next book will be a new character with new adventures. Still, I got to see Elena, Clay, and Jeremy in this book, so I’m hopeful the pattern of older characters joining the new ones will continue.

The witch world that involves vampires, sorcerers, Cabals, demons, bodyguards, and necromancers was a complicated one, but I loved the connections and complications. Lucas attempted to avoid his father’s legacy, the Cortez Cabal, but his attempt to do justice brought him to Miami to help solve a case. From there, the plot thickened.

Lucas and Paige worked really well together and I still love them as a couple. I liked Jaime, though it took me awhile to warm up to her, and I even enjoyed the bits with Cassandra, despite hating her in Stolen. Vampires had their own issues and it all made sense once you thought about it. Cassandra wasn’t a bad person, but she was so disconnected with everything because of her age that it made sense for her to be a bit more callous than other supernaturals.

I highly recommend the series. I have to stop for now and move onto other series because of time, but I love that I can stop on a good spot and return to the series at any time. It’s a long series, but it’s separated into pairs and I know when I pick up book 5, I won’t be lost. It’s an awesome urban fantasy/paranormal series and I’m so glad I picked it up!

4%2520star

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday–New Series

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Top Ten New Series I Want to Read

1. The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about the series and I picked up the first couple of books.

2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas. I bought the first book and I’m excited to see what the buzz is about.

3. Talon by Julie Kagawa. The cover is incredibly intriguing.

4. Starbound by Amie Kaufman. I have These Broken Stars and I think the cover is pretty. I’d like to read it.

5. The Young Elites by Marie Lu. I still have to read the Legend trilogy, but I have a good feeling this one will be good.

6. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I think I just like the cover, but the book is bound to be awesome!

Honestly, I’m waiting on more series to conclude than starting new ones. I try to start series that already have a few books out or I try to read more stand alone novels. I’ve gotten kind of burned out from waiting on all these books.

Review–Dime Store Magic (Women of the Otherworld #3) by Kelley Armstrong

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Dime Store Magic (Women of the Otherworld #3)
 
by Kelley Armstrong
 
Summary: Paige Winterbourne was always either too young or too rebellious to succeed her mother as leader of one of the world's most powerful elite organizations- the American Coven of Witches. Now that she is twenty-three and her mother is dead, the Elders can no longer deny her. But even Paige's wildest antics can't hold a candle to those of her new charge- an orphan who is all too willing to use her budding powers for evil... and evil is all too willing to claim her. For this girl is being pursued by a dark faction of the supernatural underworld. They are a vicious group who will do anything to woo the young, malleable, and extremely powerful neophyte, including commit murder- and frame Paige for the crime. It's an initiation into adulthood, womanhood, and the brutal side of magic that Paige will have to do everything within her power to make sure they both survive.

Source: I purchased a paperback.

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Review:

I had no idea the Women of the Otherworld series continued with other characters after Stolen. I thought the series would be from Elena’s point of view the whole time. I suppose that’s what I get for not reading the synopsis of books when I commit to a series. I’ve had Bitten and Stolen on my shelf for literally 2 years and never read them because I wasn’t ready to commit to a 13 or so book series. To find out I could have read those two, stopped, and could have pick up the rest of the series AT ANY TIME was so aggravating to me. I have to mentally commit to long series and 9 times out of 10 a book in a series ends with some sort of cliffhanger. You know, maybe I’ve just been reading YA too long and not enough adult PNR and Urban Fantasy because I’ve noticed they normally end in some sort of satisfying way.

Anyway, despite my initial outrage that Dime Store Magic was from Paige’s point of view, I kept going. Next thing I knew, I was on the edge of my seat. I think I was more invested in Paige’s story then I ever was in Elena’s, so I guess the change of narrators wasn’t an issue. I did a complete 180 and now I’m actually excited for other point of views I’ll get in the future. I loved the plot and I loved the way the witch coven worked. The idea that witches hid, were fearful of being discovered, and valued secrecy over aptitude and power seemed so logical! What an awesome perspective to show in a series about witches. I’m intrigued by the future of the coven based on their fear and Paige’s willingness to explore any avenue to gain power in a non threatening and evil way.

Lucas is not like many PNR male romantic interests. He’s kind of dull, totally wordy, and such a nice guy. But I thought he was the cutest thing ever and I, like Savannah, picked up on his interest in Paige and started rooting for them to do more than work together. I loved the way they worked together and the way their relationship unfolded. It’s certainly not the kind of relationship you’d enjoy if you’re expecting super sexy alpha male PNR, but I liked the contrast from Clay and Elena’s relationship.

I feel like Dime Store Magic has a lot of negative or middle of the road reviews because not many people liked Paige or Lucas and thought they were dull, but I enjoyed the book more than I imagined I would. I didn’t like Paige much in Stolen, but I realize that a witch who was always taught that other magic was evil by a coven who hid spells that worked would be a witch who was frustrated, somewhat weak, and misguided. It’s in Dime Store Magic that we see her grow out of it, uncover the issues within the coven, and gain the strength to choose knowledge over fear. I don’t know how anyone could be bored with that!

I will definitely continue the series and I kind of love that the books seem to be in pairs in the series. I feel a lot less pressure to trudge through all of the books and it’s nice to know I can finish Paige’s story and move onto other books before returning to this series or I can continue to devour the series. I have choices. I recommend the books so far and I can’t wait to read more.

4%2520star

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review–Stolen (Women of the Otherworld #2) by Kelley Armstrong

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Stolen (Women of the Otherworld #2)
by Kelley Armstrong
 
Summary: It was in Bitten, Kelley Armstrong's debut novel, that thirty-year-old Elena Michaels came to terms with her feral appetites and claimed the proud identity of a beautiful, successful woman and the only living female werewolf.
In Stolen, on a mission for her own elite pack, she is lured into the net of ruthless Internet billionaire Tyrone Winsloe, who has funded a bogus scientific investigation of the "other races" and their supernatural powers. Kidnapped and studied in his underground lab deep in the Maine woods, these paranormals - witches, vampires, shamans, werewolves - are then released and hunted to the death in a real-world video game. But when Winsloe captures Elena, he finally meets his match.  Source: I purchased a paperback from a used book store.

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Review:

I enjoyed Bitten, but I admitted that I wasn’t sure where the story would go in the next installments. And when I began Stolen, new types of creatures were introduced. I felt like I went from a story about only werewolves to a story involving everything with no warning. But I kept reading, curious to see where the story would go with the new creatures. And I’m glad I did.

Stolen was incredible and devoured it. I loved the plot and I thought it was interesting to see Elena cope with being held captive in the strange compound. She had to think about her alliances and figure out how she was going to get out, along with coping with the new creatures she learned about. Suddenly, she wasn’t the only powerful female in the world.

I thought Stolen was an improvement from Bitten because there was so much action and so much hanging in the balance. However, I do still wish I had more werewolf background before being introduced to new creatures in the world. I also wonder how future novels will be able to top the action and dire situations in Stolen.

One of the more exciting things about Stolen was finding out about the existence of other types of supernatural beings, some of them women like Elena. I thought she would bond with some of them and for awhile, it appeared she understood Cassandra. I was a little disappointed by the direction of the book after Elena’s capture in this regard. All of the powerful women turned out to be less than ideal people and I kind of hate that because I thought maybe Elena could would benefit from having some good powerful women to befriend, learn from, and give advice to. And if that isn’t the point, I’m confused about the name of the series.

I definitely recommend the series so far and I’m excited to continue, despite my concern about where it will all go. It’s always like this for me at the start of a long series.

4%2520star

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review–Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

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Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1)
 
by Kelley Armstrong
 
Summary: Elena Michaels is the world’s only female werewolf. And she’s tired of it. Tired of a life spent hiding and protecting, a life where her most important job is hunting down rogue werewolves. Tired of a world that not only accepts the worst in her–her temper, her violence–but requires it. Worst of all, she realizes she’s growing content with that life, with being that person.
So she left the Pack and returned to Toronto where she’s trying to live as a human. When the Pack leader calls asking for her help fighting a sudden uprising, she only agrees because she owes him. Once this is over, she’ll be squared with the Pack and free to live life as a human. Which is what she wants. Really.


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Source: I purchased a paperback from a used bookstore.  

Review:

I watched the show Bitten on Syfy first. I have had the books on my shelf for ages, but it wasn’t until I spent an afternoon watching my recorded episodes of the show that I realized I had to pull these books off of my shelf and read them. I knew from reviews that the show had changed a lot of aspects of the characters and plots, but a lot of it was the same, so it was easy to fall right into the book.

Bitten’s premise was unique. Elena was the only female werewolf and one of very few people to survive being bitten. And of course, it ruined her life. Some reviews of the book hate that Elena followed a pattern of hating her otherworldliness and trying too hard to be normal, but I actually understood it. Elena wasn’t born into a life and desperately wanted out. She was forced into it, struggled with her feelings about it and thought that she could try to carve out a normal life for herself away from the Pack.

I enjoyed Bitten and will definitely continue the series. I’m really eager to see where it goes. I felt like Bitten had a satisfying conclusion, so I’m a little anxious about what will happen next and if I should have bought so many of the next books in the series.

Sometimes, I think a person’s opinion about a movie or show has a lot to do with what they experienced first.. because I think I like the show better. There was a lot more in the show about dynamics of the Pack, history, backstory, etc that the book didn’t have any of. Even Elena’s life in Toronto was more thought out and rooted. I don’t know if the show borrowed from the other books too in the first season or if they just made stuff up, but I really need some more backstory of the characters in order to love this series. However, I have discovered most urban fantasy/paranormal series I read I am always a bit Meh and on the fence for the first 1 to 2 books, so this is nothing new. I will continue on and see how I feel!

 4%2520star