Demonglass [Book Review]

Note: This is the second book in the Hex Hall series. There are spoilers for the first book.

Title: Demonglass
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
ISBN: 1423121317
Pages: 368
Year: 2011
Publisher: Hyperion
Source: Personal Collection
Rating: 2.5/5

Summary:

Sophie thought she was a witch. That’s why she was sent to Hecate to attend school with other paranormal kids. But when she finds out she’s a demon, her world changes. In Demonglass, she moves to England to live  with her father, and Jenna and Cal come along. While Sophie is figuring out her powers, she considers going through The Removal to rid herself of them entirely. Add to the mix Archer Cross, her demon-hunting ex-crush, and Sophie has her hands full.

My Thoughts:

I got to Demonglass a lot later than I intended. And as a result, once I started reading it, I realized I didn’t remember that much about Hex Hall. And honestly, now that I’ve waited months to review Demonglass, I can’t remember much about that either. Bad blogger. Don’t you hate when that happens?

I liked Hex Hall a lot (despite my failing memory). Unfortunately I did not feel the same way about Demonglass. Demonglass takes us away from Hecate to the English countryside, and I missed the boarding school part of the story. It also kind of felt like there was a lot going on that I didn’t quite follow.

I will definitely read the third book, Spell Bound, due out in March. I still really like Sophie and the boys are pretty crush-worthy. Sometimes middle books don’t live up to the rest in a series so I won’t let my lackluster feelings for Demonglass deter me from finishing.

Others’ Thoughts (I am definitely in the minority here): That’s What She Read; Bookshelves of Doom; Debbie’s World of Books; KellyVision

Buy It now: Amazon; IndieBound

 

Ink Exchange [Book Review]

Ink ExchangeTitle: Ink Exchange
Author: Melissa Marr
Genre: Young Adult; Paranormal
ISBN: 0061214701
Pages: 352
Year: 2008
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Library
Rating: 4/5

Summary:

Leslie, Aislinn’s friend at school, lives with her druggie brother and alcoholic father. Sometimes the bills get paid. Sometimes they don’t. And once her brother used her to clear his drug debts. So life kind of sucks. Leslie works at night to save up money for a tattoo – something she feels she must do to take herself back. But Leslie is drawn to a dangerous tattoo. One that will link her to Irial, the king of the faery Dark Court. Aislinn didn’t want Leslie caught up in this world, but now she has no choice.

My Thoughts:

Ink Exchange is the second book in Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series. It follows Wicked Lovely in time, but focuses on a different set of characters. Aislinn, Seth, and Keenan are no longer the focus, though they are definitely in the book. Instead, the story follows two characters we met in Wicked Lovely, Leslie (Aislinn’s mortal friend) and Niall (Keenan’s advisor), as well as a new player, Irial (the king of the Dark Court). I thought I would miss our old characters but they are around enough to satisfy any longing I had for them.

I didn’t love Ink Exhange like I adored Wicked Lovely. I felt lost for a lot of the book. I didn’t really understand why characters were doing certain things because I didn’t really understand the rules of the faery world. Maybe I was supposed to feel as confused as Leslie, but I could have used a bit more explanation.

That said, I still couldn’t really put the book down. I wanted to find out what was happening, and the story, though vague, drew me in. Niall as a character – his competing need and inability to get close to Leslie and his struggle to find his place was fascinating and showed the delicate balance of power among the courts. In this sense, I did start to understand their world a little more.

Like Niall, Irial is a complex character. He is the leader of the Dark Court (the one we would probably call most evil – but perhaps it’s just misunderstood?). Yet he longs to find his successor. He has deep compassion for his subjects, and is trying to do anything he can to help them in this new Summer-Winter alliance world. I hope Irial is in the other books, I am looking forward to more of him.

And finally, we have Leslie. Like Aislinn, she is pulled into this world against her will. But she handles it all very differently. Leslie is another character who won’t give up and she gets a pretty kickass ending.

After writing all this, I’ve realized that while the story might be lacking sometimes, the characters are interesting enough to keep me reading. I am very much looking forward to this rest of this series.

Others’ Thoughts: S. Krishna’s Books; Makeshift Bookmark

Buy It Now: Amazon; IndieBound

Shade [Book Review]

ShadeTitle: Shade
Author: Jeri Smith-Ready
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 1416994076
Pages: 309
Year: 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Library
Rating: 5/5

Summary:

Aura was born shortly after the Shift and, like everyone born after the Shift, she can see and communicate with ghosts. When her boyfriend Logan unexpectedly dies, he continues to stick around in ghost-form and Aura continues to interact with him. Enter Zachary, the cute new student from Scotland and Aura’s new research partner. While Zachary and Aura attempt to uncover the mystery surrounding the Shift, Logan must pursue his wrongful death case so he can move on and avoid becoming a Shade – a dark, scary ghost that cannot move on.

My Thoughts:

This is going to be one of those I-Loved-This-Book-So-Much-And-You-Must-Go-Read-It-Immediately-But-I-Won’t-Be-Able-To-Articulate-Why reviews. You are welcome.

The premise, as I have written it and as the publisher has written it sounds a little ridiculous. But it isn’t, I promise. Smith-Ready did such an excellent job building the world as it exists in Shade that no ridiculousness can seep in. The vocabulary – post-Shifter, blackboxing, shading – fits neatly into the story without sounding forced. The pacing is perfect – I felt like I was leaning forward the whole time anxious for what came next. And there was a great balance between the mystery of the Shift and the love triangle.

And what a unique love triangle. Aura still loves Logan, but what kind of future can they have? Yet acting on her feelings for Zachary will still hurt Logan. I am 100% Team Zachary but you can’t help but feel for Aura as she makes some tough decisions (plus Logan was the singer in an Irish punk band. Hot).

Oh, did I mention that Zachary is Scottish and speaks in an adorable accent (yes, I read his lines in a Scottish accent). I have found yet another character to crush on.

Finally, one thing that I really liked about Shade has nothing to do with the supernatural aspect of the story. Shade treats drugs, alcohol, and sex as a normal part of teenage life. They play a very important role in the plot but it isn’t tackled with reservation like it is in a lot of YA books. Since drugs, alcohol, and sex ARE a normal part of teenage life, I appreciate the frankness with with Smith-Ready approached it.

This book had adventure, intrigue, love, loss, hope, music, and so much more. Please, do yourself a favor and go read Shade now (I owe Jen from Makeshift Bookmark a HUGE thanks for making me read it). And when you are finished, you can read the sequel, Shift, which comes out tomorrow (it took all the self-restraint I possess not to immediately begin Shift).

Others’ Thoughts: Makeshift Bookmark; GReads!; Fiction Folio; Anna Reads; S. Krishna’s Books; Presenting Lenore

Buy It Now: Powell’s; IndieBound; Amazon; Book Depository

Nevermore [Book Review]

NevermoreTitle: Nevermore
Author: Kelly Creagh
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781442402003
Pages: 560
Year: 2010
Publisher: Atheneum
Source: Library
Rating: 4/5

Summary:

When Isobel, star cheerleader and star football player’s girlfriend, is paired with all-black wearing, lip-pierced Varen for a school assignment, she groans. But after spending some time with Varen working on their Edgar Allen Poe project she starts to fall for him. She ignores her old friends, breaks up with her boyfriend, and finds herself wrapped up in Varen’s mysterious life where she must enter his dream world (and encounter all of the haunting creatures in it) to save him.

My Thoughts:

My interest in Nevermore began when I was eavesdropping on a twitter conversation between Jen and April (click through for their gushing reviews) where they RAVED about it and lamented its lack of readers. They convinced me to give it a shot and within a few days I was reading it, ready to embrace the awesomeness.

Now, I did not react to Nevermore as strongly as they did. And I really wanted to. I think it was good. Better than good. But not so-amazing-I-am-now-dying-for-the-sequel.

Varen and Isobel have some crazy chemistry. I suspect Varen and anyone might have some amazing chemistry though (me perhaps?) because he is that good of a character. Unfortunately, they don’t act on it for a LONG time so that by the time something happens, it was less the product of great anticipation and more like something I had almost given up on.

Which brings me to the other reason I didn’t love Nevermore. The book itself is LONG. It’s 560 pages. I am not one to shy away from a good, long book, but this one felt unnecessarily long. I found myself getting a little bored during the last 200 pages and that’s where ALL THE ACTION is. Part of me might have enjoyed this book even if it didn’t have the paranormal part – I was just fascinated with the relationship. And I am not just saying that because the paranormal part gave me nightmares. Which it did (probably shouldn’t have read it while Ben was out of town).

That said, I don’t want you all to think I didn’t like it. Because I did. A lot. The creatures Creagh created were fascinating. While the dreamworld was a bit confusing, I think it worked really well – just like a real dream. And the subject matter – both Edgar Allen Poe and lucid dreaming are two topics that I have been interested in for quite some time.* After the I closed the book, I ended up doing some “research” on Poe. Creagh did a wonderful job of working his mysterious death into the novel. Oh, and I loved Gwen – she reminded me a somewhat calmer, definitely more sober Rayanne Graff.

Nevermore is worth the read if it sounds like your kind of book. I am looking forward to the second book, Enshadowed, due out in January. For now, I may just stare at the gorgeous cover of Nevermore and dream about Varen. Don’t tell my husband.

Others’ Thoughts: Anna Reads; The Elliot Review; Angieville; Presenting Lenore

Buy It Now: Book Depository; IndieBound; Powell’s; Amazon

*I took a Psychology of the Consciousness class in college (you know, the kind of class taught by someone who did way too many drugs at Harvard in the 60s) and lucid dreaming was one of the topics we covered. A few students claimed they could do it by the end of the semester. The trick to knowing you are dreaming is that you can’t control lights (turn them on/off) in dreams or read digital clocks. Once you realize you are dreaming, you are supposed to be able to do anything you want. Pretty cool, huh?

Zombies vs Unicorns [Book Review-ish]

Title: Zombies vs. Unicorns
Edited by: Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
ISBN1416989536
Length: 432 pages
Year: 2010
PublisherMargaret K. McElderry
Source: Library
Rating: 4.5/5

Zombies vs. Unicorns is pretty much as awesome as it sounds. A bunch of the big YA authors of the day have contributed stories to help settle the eternal debate over which creature is superior: zombies or unicorns.   You can read all about the debate here.  Instead of doing a normal review (my normal review = definitely read this because it is wildly entertaining),  I am  tackling the stories as if they were head-to-head matchups and declaring a winner. Scroll down to see who wins.

Garth Nix – “The Highest Justice” vs
Alaya Dawn Johnson – “Love will Tear Us Apart”

Thoughts: The first story, about a princess who calls upon a unicorn to help her dead/dying mother, is alright. But I loved Johnson’s story about a semi-cured teenage zombie who falls in love with his intended prey (described as similar to the best mac and cheese you’ve ever had talking to you about your favorite music). There was something so tender about it that you forgot you were cheering for a brain-eating creature.

Point: Team Zombie

Naomi Novik – “Purity Test” vs Carrie Ryan – “Bougainvillea”

Thoughts: I thought Team Unicorn had a chance with this one. Novik’s story about a modern girl on a mission to rescue baby unicorns is hilarious. But then I read Ryan’s not-so-hilarious story of a dictator’s daughter living on the island of Curacao and attempting to avoid the zombie revolution that has taken over the world. Ryan managed to pack so much into a 30-page story that I am still thinking about it.

Point: Team Zombie

Margo Lanagan – “A Thousand Flowers” vs
Maureen Johnson – “The Children of the Revolution”

Thoughts: I may be predisposed to like anything that Maureen Johnson writes because I think she is about as entertaining as people get, but her story was much more to my taste in this matchup. Lanagan’s story is about…this is a tough one to describe…a boy wrongly accused, a midwife subjected to an unnatural birth, a woman in love with a unicorn. While Johnson’s story is just about a girl who finds herself in a the house of a famous celebrity taking care of her zombie children. Very funny.

Point: Team Zombie

Diana Peterfreund – “The Care and Feeding of Your Baby
Killer Unicorn” vs Scott Westerfeld – “Inoculata”

Thoughts: Diana Peterfreund’s story of killer unicorns and the one girl who could stop them (think Buffy) was touching. It had religion, internal conflict, and some old fashion teen romance. Also, there is a baby unicorn. Westerfeld tells the story of a small band of people fending off the 6 billion “Zees” in the world and one young girl’s solution to their boredom. Both of these stories had interesting takes on their subject matter, but I have to give Team Unicorn its first win.

Point: Team Unicorn

Meg Cabot – “Princess Prettypants” vs Cassandra Clare – “Cold Hands”

Thoughts: With a unicorn named Princess Prettypants, Meg Cabot pretty much clinched her win. I mean, she gave us a unicorn  that expels rainbows and jasmine from various orifices.  And Princess Prettypants turns out to be the perfect present for this 17-year-old girl. In “Cold Hands,” we’re told of a town where the dead routinely come back and coexist with the living. Clare’s contribution to the anthology is wonderful and if she weren’t up against a unicorn named Princess Prettypants, she would probably win.

Point: Team Unicorn

Kathleen Duey – “The Third Virgin” vs Libba Bray – “Prom Night”

Thoughts: “The Third Virgin” is a tale of a 500-hundred year old unicorn who can heal people and also steal part of their lives. This unicorn is out to seek a true virgin in need – the only type of human he can communicate with. It was an interesting story but it had too much baby killing in it for me. Libba Bray’s eerie story takes place in a town where all of the adults are gone due to the zombie infection and the teenagers are left to rule. And there was less baby killing. So it wins.

Point: Team Zombie

OVERALL WINNER: TEAM ZOMBIE

If you’d asked me which side I was on before I began this book, I would have said Team Unicorn. Because I thought I didn’t really liked zombies. Turns out I do. A lot. Team Zombie, FTW!

Now seriously, you should probably go read this book. But if you need more convincing, I leave you with this book trailer.

Point: Team Zombie

Paranormalcy [Book Review]

Title: Paranormalcy
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
ISBN: 0061985848
Length: 352 pages
Year: 2010
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Library
Rating: 4/5

Plot Summary:

Evie is not your average teenager. She has the ability to see through the glamors (disguises) of supernatural creatures. Warewolves, vampires, and faeries may be able to fool the rest of the world, but Evie sees them for who they are. She works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, an organization that keeps track of these supernaturals and protects the human population from them.

But then Evie meets Lend, a shapeshifter and her tidy little world begins to unravel.

My Thoughts:

There are a lot of fun quirks about this book. Evie’s best friend is a mermaid, she has an awkward relationship with a faerie, and she’s obsessed with a teen drama called Easton Heights. The little details made Evie very real to me.

Paranormalcy was dark enough to be interesting but light enough to be fun. It’s perfectly paced and kept me going through the first hours of the 24-hour Readathon. It is unique enough to stand out from the plethora of YA paranormal books out there today.

Buy It Now: IndieBound; Powell’s; Amazon; The Book Depository

Other Reviews: The Infinite Shelf; The Elliot ReviewKellyVision; Chick Loves Lit; Good Books and Good Wine