Book Review: The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) by Julie Kagawa

13581990Title: The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: YA Dystopian, Paranormal Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

Julie Kagawa does it again. I thought she couldn’t surpass the Iron Fey Series, then she gave me The Immortal Rules. I thought she couldn’t possibly surpass The Immortal Rules – she comes up with The Eternity Cure.

I have to admit I may be a little bit biased. The vampire blood relationships between vampire brothers and sisters has always been a dirty little secret of mine – all the way from back when I first read In The Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes I’ve been a fan of vampires sharing a blood mother or father falling for each other. I fell in love with one of the characters in that book, and now, roughly ten years later, Julie Kagawa presents a similar character. An evil vampire who’s not scared of killing whoever stands in his way, but who at the same time you can’t help but sort of like. Jackal. He was what really made this book for me. He’s unpredictable, fully aware of his vampiric nature and capable of acting on it. He does whatever he has to do to get whatever he wants. No sparkling vampires here, God no.

Jackal was a minor character in The Immortal Rules but here he really begins to shine. He’s manipulative but intelligent, has a sharp, nasty sense of humor I kind of like, and he’s strong-willed. He keeps on saying Allie and him are alike – even though it’s obvious they aren’t. They have some common characteristics, but Allie is still too much attached to her human side. However, that’s what I like about Allie. She doesn’t give up. She doesn’t let go. She hangs on with both hands, struggling to survive, to keep on loving, to keep on living. She’s not afraid in the face of danger – in fact she’s quite the oppositve, one of the bravest characters I’ve ever come across. She doesn’t do as much developing in this book as she did in the previous one, but there’s still a fair bit of character growth.

I don’t want to spoil this book for those pepole who haven’t gotten around to reading The Immortal Rules yet, but this book picks up several months after The Immortal Rules. Kanin is still being held hostage by psycho vamp Sarren, and Allie has sworn to save her sire. Sarren has a devilish plan to re-release Red Lung into the world, and Allie’s hometown, New Convington, is his testing ground. Allie and Jackal team up to get the cure to Rabidism and save Kanin, which leads them to the Inner City of New Convington and to the prince of the town, Salazar. But while fighting a way through the underground tunnels, Allie runs into someone she never expected to see, least of all here.

Like usual, Julie Kagawa delivers just the right amount of action, romance and adventure. I already mentioned in my review for The Immortal Rules that I thought the setting was brilliant, and she explores this world even more in The Eternity Cure. An excellent read for fans of vampires, dystopian novels or just kick-ass awesome books.

 

Book Review: The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)

10215349Title: The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)

Author: Julie Kagawa

Genre: YA Dystopian, Paranormal

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Goodreads, Amazon (Paperback), Amazon (Kindle), B&N

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for honest review.

To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness…

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for…again.

Enter Julie Kagawa’s dark and twisted world as an unforgettable journey begins.

The Immortal Rules is single-handedly the best vampire book I’ve ever read. Allison, or Allie, the main character, is a kick-ass heroine who has more spark and courage than Lara Croft and who actually reminded me of a human (and then vampire) Buffy. Allie’s life was tough from the get-go as she lived in the Fringe as one of the Unregistereds. She had to scavenge for food, but in return didn’t have to serve as a bloodbag for the vampires. However, with food growing increasingly scarce, Allie and her gang venture outside the wall to the ruins of the old world to find food. They’re attacked by Rabids, filthy monsters that were once humans or vampires but now act on instinct alone. Trying to save her friend Strick, Allie gets attacked and nearly dies.

But in the nick of time she’s saved by a vampire named Kanin. He gives her a choice: become a vampire or die forever. She chooses to become a vampire, and Kanin trains her in the ways of vampires. But when their home gets attacked and Kanin gets kidnapped by a psycho vamp named Sarren, Allie is on her own again. She ventures through the world, lost and confused, until she comes upon a small group of humans looking for a human-only tonw called Eden. Despite her mind telling her it’s not a good idea, she joins the group and travels with them. But pretending to be a human is tough, especially when she starts falling for Zeke, the son of the group’s leader, Jeb. Whenever she’s around Zeke, she doesn’t know for sure if she wants to kiss him, or bite him…

Allie is amazing. Like I said before, she reminded me of Buffy. She has wit and humor and incredible strength – and I’m not talking vampire strength here. She’s also intelligent and brave, and she struggles so hard to stay human that I couldn’t help but admire her for it. She’s the favorite female main character I’ve read about all year, and that’s saying something. I loved how, despite everything, she was willing to risk her life for Zeke and his little group, and how she wanted to be the good kind of monster at all costs.

Then there’s Zeke. Oh God, Zeke. Just like Allie mentions at some point in the book, that boy is simply too good for this world, definitely if this world tumbles into a state of decay with half the population dead and the other half struggling to survive between vampires and rabids. Zeke is willing to risk his own life to save others, a rare trait in this dystopian world. It’s also what makes Allie fall for him. Zeke is definitely not a ‘bad boy’, he’s as good and pure as they can get, a stark contrast to Allie who’s supposedly a monster. And I’m glad that for once, the good guy gets the girl.

The world Julie Kagawa introduces us to is filled with lurking dangers around every corner, dead traps everywhere and a society as messed up as can be. And it’s positively awesome. At least to read about. So much imagination and worldbuilding went into creating this, and the results are simply stunning. I loved the Iron Fey series and I thought it couldn’t get any better. Well, The Immortal Rules completely and utterly blows the Iron Fey series away.

This book is a long read (over 450 pages) but it doesn’t feel that way. I finished it in about three hours I’d say. The story is fast, the adventure non-stop, the characters downright amazing. I’ve already downloaded The Eternity Cure, and I’m going to get started on it like, right now. I NEED to know what happens next – it’s almost as vital as breathing.

The Immortal Rules has it all: impressive cast of characters, excellent writing, extraordinary worldbuilding and a heart-breaking romance.

Book Review: Marking Time (The Immortal Descendants #1) by April White

16122623Title: Marking Time (The Immortal Descendants #1)

Author: April White

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Seventeen-year-old tagger Saira Elian can handle anything… a mother who mysteriously disappears, a stranger who stalks her around London, and even the noble English Grandmother who kicked Saira and her mother out of the family. But when an old graffiti tag in a tube station transports Saira to the 19th Century and she comes face-to-face with Jack the Ripper, she realizes she needs help after all.

Saira meets Archer, a charming student who helps her blend in as much as a tall, modern American teen can in Victorian England. He reveals the existence of the Immortals: Time, Nature, Fate, War and Death, and explains to Saira that it is possible to move between
centuries – if you are a Descendant of Time.

Saira finds unexpected friendships at a boarding school for Immortal Descendants and a complicated love with a young man from the past. But time is running out for her mother, and Saira must embrace her new identity as she hides from Archer a devastating secret about his future that may cost him his life.

Marking Time is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Ever. Seeing as this comes from the girl who averages between 150 and 200 books read a year, that’s saying something. April White has a remarkable talent for creating strong, realistic characters, amazing fantasy settings and intriguing, surprising plots. Needless to say I’m more than a little amazed by the author’s ability to combine all three of these elements into one book. I read Marking Time in about three days, in the middle of university exams, so that’s saying something. I longed for my breaks simply because I wanted to read this gem.

Our main character, Saira Eilan has it tough. Her mother vanished into thin air, but that’s not what she’s worried about, since her Mom happens to do this approximately every two years. No, she’s worried about a strange fellow chasing her around while she’s exploring the catacombs underneath Vienna. She’s worried about the strange but somehow familiar symbol she finds there. As a tagger and free-runner, the city has been her playground for years, but in one night, it turns into a jungle, and she becomes the prey. When she runs into the police who takes her home only to find her home ransacked, her Mom nowhere in sight, she knows she’s running out of luck. The only way to escape child protective services is to hang out with her grandmother, a woman she barely knows and who kicked her Mom out while she was pregnant.

Traveling to London brings more secrets than answers for Saira. Not only does she discover her family is filthy rich and lives in one of the most gigantic old mansions she’s ever seen, she also finds out she’s different than she could ever imagine. When the same guys who chased her in Vienna turn up in London, she barely escapes with the help of a handsome stranger who introduces himself as Archer and claims he’s no stranger at all. But even with Archer’s help, Saira runs into the wrong crowd again, and this time she ends up in London…in 1888. The London of Jack The Ripper, a terrifying, gloomy version of the London she’s come to know. Having no clue what’s going on, Saira bumps into Archer again. Except he’s now Archer in this time, in the nineteenth century, and he has no clue who she is or what she’s doing this far away from home. What’s even worse is that, just before she managed to travel back to the present using a strange marking on the wall, she sees her Mom, dressed like a proper Victorian lady.

For Saira, the secrets pile up, burying her underneath. Who is she? Why can she travel to the past? She hopes to find answers with her family, but is instead sent to an Academy for Immortals, where she meets two Seers who can see into the future, and can instantly predict they’ll be friends. She also meets a friendly teacher, Mr. Shaw, who can transmorph into a bear. And at the academy, she reunites with Archer, now a Vampire, who’s been waiting for her since they first met in London 1888.

But if Saira wants to rescue her mother, who is being held captive in the folds of time, she’ll have to find a way to travel back in time and meet an ancient evil. But doing so may risk Archer’s life, and the lives of her new-found friends.

As you can see even from the brief synopsis I tried to give, this book is long. Long and complicated, and kick-ass awesome. Let’s start by taking a look at the main character, Saira, who isn’t your typical girl. She prefers to stay as far away from others as possible, mostly keeping to herself. It’s been her and her Mom against the world for as long as she can remember, yet she adapts quickly when necessary. She’s witty and sarcastic but not in an over-the-top way. She’s brave, but not foolish, and she’s intelligent enough to figure out what’s going on. She accepts she’s traveled back in time the moment actual proof is given, which to be was a big bonus. Nothing worse than a character complaining about their powers and how this can’t be happening when they have heaps of proof it is happening. All this together makes Saira quite unique, a refreshing, well-developed, multi-dimensional character I would love to read more than one book about.

Secondly, the other cast of characters. Archer was amazing, except I would’ve liked him to have a bit more backbone. I mean, he loves Saira, and tells her. Great. But I expected, if we went back in history, to see more explanation for this. Of course I understand he liked her back then, but it takes a lot to keep on loving someone for over a hundred years, so I would’ve liked a bit more explanation there, or a bit more love. Anyway, apart from that, Archer totally ruled. As a human in 1888, he’s your typical charming gentleman who blushes when he thinks about sleeping in one room with a girl. In the present, he’s a bit more badass, and I liked the constract. It’s not often that we see a book portraying the changes a human goes through when turning into a Vampire, and what hundred years can do to one’s personality and beliefs. I loved this addition here.

Then there’s Adam. All right, I have to admit, I was kind of cheering for Adam and Saira to end up together. But hey, more books, more hope. Adam is a bit arrogant, a bit cocky, but all in all, a good guy. He knows he’s good looking and charmin and isn’t afraid to use it to his advantage, but that’s all playful and innocent. Underneath is the kind of person you can trust upon, the kind of friend everyone wants to have. And he’s a Seer. I mean, what’s cooler than being able to see the future (except wandering back in time of course). Right, nothing! So Adam definitely has my support. With this, I’d also like to give a thumbs up to Mr. Shaw, who wins the teacher of the year award for saying no to all the rules and doing what he thinks is right. Then there’s also Ringo. I loved him. He’s so genuinely good, especially for a ‘street rat’. I wish I would’ve seen a bit more interaction between Saira and her mother though. I had the feeling we didn’t once see her Mom, only heard about her.

The setting was, of course, amazing. How could it not? We have Clockers who travel back in time, Seers who see the future, and age-old family lineages intertwining and fighting. We have a hatred for mixed bloods, which kind of reminded me of Harry Potter, but was still freakingly awesome. The people with special abilities are descendants of time, and I loved the entire legend behind how they got their powers. I also really liked how the author used the names of streets in London, and used an actual historical figure, namely Jack The Ripper. It made me feel like I was actually thrown back in time.

The plot ruled. When you throw all these awesome things together, it can’t go anywhere other than awesome. I was genuinely surprised by how much this plot sucked me in. I was glued to the book until the very last page, and whenever I couldn’t read, I wanted to read. Badly. That’s what an amazing book will do to you, and Marking Time definitely belongs under the category ‘amazing’.

I can’t wait to read the second book in these series. If I could hold Mrs. White’s pen myself and make her write, I would, that’s how good this is. If you want to read one book and one book only in the new year, pick this one.

Book Review: Destiny Rising (The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters #3) by L.J. Smith

8960483Title: Destiny Rising (The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters #3)

Author: L.J. Smith

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 1 stars

Destined for danger . . .

Elena has faced countless challenges—escaping the Dark Dimension, defeating phantoms, discovering she’s a Guardian. But nothing compares to choosing between the two loves of her life: Stefan and Damon Salvatore. Elena has reunited with Stefan, while Damon, hurt by the rejection, has become dark and unpredictable. Now Elena’s torn between saving Damon’s soul and staying true to Stefan.

But before Elena can decide who her heart belongs to, Dalcrest College’s campus is overrun with vampires determined to resurrect Klaus, the wicked Old One who will stop at nothing to destroy Elena—and everyone close to her.

As Elena learns more about her destiny as a Guardian, a protector against evil on earth, she realizes that before she can defeat Klaus, she has to sacrifice someone close to her. Elena must decide how much—and who—she’s willing to give up before it’s too late. . . .

To start right off the bat, I pray to God and all that is holy in this world that there will never be another Vampire Diaries book, except if it were one to set right every crap-tastic thing that happened in this one. As you probably know from my previous reviews, I’m a huge Delena fan, and this book completely ruined every chance Damon and Elena ever had. Very well, I could’ve lived with that. What I can’t live with is that in the nine or more books this series has taken, nothing ever changed. Elena starts out falling for Stefan, knight in shining armor, but ever since that moment, her life has been a rollercoaster of action and disaster, yet at the end she comes up with these amazing, over the top, unbelievable powers, a stronger connection with her friends that has turned into an almost unbreakable bond, and yet she’s still in love with Saint Stefan. I thought they were gross in the first book, but that was nothing for what comes up in this book.

The story is pretty simple. Klaus and Katherine come back from the death, because why would someone come up with original villains if they can just summon the old ones back? Originality is so overrated anyway. In the previous book, this Ethan fellow came up with a ritual, and the purpose of said ritual was to bring back the Old Ones. Klaus is still the epitome of all evil, but apparently now he’s also developed some crazy weird crush on Elena, because at some point he kisses her in a totally pscyhopathic way. Can we say “ewww”? Katherine comes back as well, but not to kick some ass, instead she’s regained her sanity by, you know, dying, and is now working for the good squad. There’s a large bomb dropped on us at the end involving Katherine, a bomb I saw coming about seven books ago, but who’s keeping count. Stefan makes some crazy assumptions as to how Katherine doesn’t really resemble Elena completely since her hair is paler, and Elena is this beautiful shining golden orb. I was ready to puke.

The amount of pages wasted on Elena telling Stefan how much she loves him and the other way around, is astonishing. The amount of WTF-moments is almost hilarious. The only good thing is that Elena has finally chosen a match for life, and of course, it’s Saint Stefan. Because the only logical choice – of actually trying to date Damon first, and figure out her feelings for him, since she literally admits she has feelings for him several times over the course of the book – would be too difficult for our little nitwit to understand. While Elena and Stefan are ready to live happily ever after, of course Damon is up to no good again. Being angry because he’s lost the supposed love of his life TWICE to his own brother, he starts drinking human blood. I doubt I was the only one screaming ‘about time!’ and jumping up and down in my chair hoping to see a glimpse of the old Damon Salvatore. Ah, no luck so far. Damon is still a goody-two-shoes, and in the end, as opposed to letting Elena wither and die like he should if he was half the man he was back in the first book, he still goes out of his way to save her, risking himself over and over again. I was sort of hoping he’d open up his eyes and see that girl really isn’t worth the trouble. Heck, even Katherine would make a more suitable match.

Bonnie is barely mentioned, but she does seem to get more useful screentime now she’s dating this werewolf fellow who is so uninteresting I always forget his name. Caroline and Tyler make a brief but disturbing appearance. Matt falls for this girl, Chloe, who gets turned into a vampire and eventually walks into the sunlight, turning into ashes. Damon leaves town, with no plans or hopes for the future. WTF, ghostwriter? So nobody except Stefan and Elena get their happy ending? I’m feeling sorry for poor Matt who finally finds another girl to pine over that isn’t Elena, and then you decide, on a whim, to let her kill herself? Not that Matt was terribly sad – which makes no sense, and shows sloppy writing – but still, did you have to hand him the bad card again? Then next comes Meredith. At some point, I wanted to rip her neck off. When Damon is off feeding on humans again and re-earning some of his lost self-respect and dignity, Elena and the gang stumble upon him and his latest feed. Then Meredith goes all heroic and mentions how next time, she’ll kill him.

What?

No, seriously, what?

You just made me laugh out loud and rip out the page at the same time. Meredith may be a skilled vampire hunter, but in all previous books it was mentioned time and again she was no match for experienced, century-old vampires like Damon, Stefan and Katherine. So what the hell is this? Since when has Meredith, boring old Meredith become the most powerful member of the gang? So Damon, instead of doing the only sensible thing – which would be, rip her head off, or at least threaten to kill her, and then perhaps make a move to kill Alaric since he’s so bloody useless anyway – does absolutely nothing, because he’s reduced to a puppet, like the rest of the gang. Queen Elena rules with an iron fist, especially now she’s supposedly a Guardian. Another great joke. Who in their right mind would want the earth to be guarded by a teenage girl who took seven books and more to decide between which vampire brother she wanted to date for, oh, all eternity? Right. Not me, in any case.

Strange to say my favorite character in this madness-galore, was Katherine. At least she had some dignity. Except at the end, she should’ve ripped Elena’s head off. All right, I may be a bit in a murderous mood today, but at least it would’ve been a better, more happy-ever-after ending for everyone. Or at least, go off into the sunset with Damon or something. But once again, for the ghostwriter and the publisher or whoever orchestrated that L.J. Smith be kicked out and replaced, has decided it’s for the best if nobody except Stefan and Elena have their happy ending. May I note that this is Stefan, the Ripper, who goes ten thousand times more berserk than Damon whenever he doesn’t get what he want? Hypocritical Saint Stefan who dotes over his little Elena and is willing to sacrifice anyone standing in their way to be together, including his own brother, but isn’t honest enough to fess it up. And Elena, superficial high-school prom Queen who doesn’t care if her best friend Meredith lost her vampire hunter buddy, or Damon lost his will to be alive, or Matt lost his new-found girlfriend, as long as she and Stefan are together for all eternity.

I can’t believe I paid ten bucks for this crap. I know I shouldn’t have bought it, since after the disaster called Moonsong, I wanted nothing more to do with these books. But there weren’t many books in the bookstore, and I wanted an ending, and I hoped that, by some Godly miracle, the ghostwriter had redeemed himself/herself and managed to make this into something halfway readable. Not so. The plot has been used before (same old evil to fight, with the same old traits and function, namely next to none). Klaus is hardly as powerful as he appears. The “epic fight” is anything but epic. In fact, I would have had more fun watching YouTube advertisments than reading through those scenes. The characters are cardboard figures meant to annoy us to death. Elena is the most awful, horrible, annoying main character I’ve ever read about. Stefan’s only purpose is to tell her how much he loves her. He’s even more annoying than ever before, and that’s saying something. I could live with the guy, if only he had a personality. So far, I’ve seen nothing.

Even Damon doesn’t manage to keep up appearances. He falls down to the same cardboard-figure level of the rest. His usual plans and schemes and manipulations have vanished, and he’s just a broken, rejected little vampire boy without any real purpose. Pathetic. I wish Katherine had an ounce of evil left in her and had told him to man up, and who knows, maybe they could go kill some humans together. Damon eerily reminded me of Spike from Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, when he was stripped of all his awesome vampire-qualities and reduced to a whining wreck in the name of great, almighty love. Ugh.

This series has turned from something that was mildly interesting, even if the characters were cliché and Elena a superficial maggot, into an abomination, a disgrace for the YA genre in general. This book is garbage. It’s not worth the stars I gave it. It’s not worth whatever money you want to waste spending on it. Go buy something else. Give your money to charity. Hell, throw it in the garbage bin, it has more purpose there than being wasted on this book.

Book Review: The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

13447670Title: The Darkening Dream
Author: Andy Gavin
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Vampires
Publisher: Moscherato Publishing
Publication Date: January 10th 2012
Author Website | Goodreads | B&N | Amazon
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for honest review.

The Darkening Dream is the chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter.
Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs.
1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.
With the help of Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?
No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.

Let’s face it. Vampires are sissies, and have been for the last decade. Ever since the paranormal romance genre introduced us to the vampires in love with our heroes or heroines, vampires have been known as goody-two-shoes, true romantics at heart. We’ve forgotten the roots of these creatures. They’re not meant to fall in love or seduce our main characters. They’re meant to be terrifyingly scary, dark and dangerous, bloodthirsty murderers who maim and kill with a passion. No longer do good and evil overlapse in these creatures of the night. Instead, they’re delightfully evil, returned firmly to their roots in the deepest circles of hell. No sparkling vampires if you read The Darkening Dream, and to be honest, aren’t we all glad for that?

Not only did I find the sheer evilness of the vampires – evil just for sake of being evil, in some cases – utterly refreshing from the tame vampire characters we’ve come to know, I also thought this book offered an intriguing view on ancient folklore, and an unique approach to Salem at the beginning of the twentieth century. The main character, Sarah, isn’t exactly what you’d be looking for in a main character. She doesn’t have the typical attributes we usually seek for in a heroine. The turn of the century is a difficult era for the inhabitants of Salem. On the one side, progress happens more rapidly than it did before. On the other hand, people are keen on holding on to the past they’ve come to know and love. Amidst this constant battle between progress and tradition, one of the most ancient monsters this world knows decides to make an appearance: an ancient vampire, with his mind deadset on destroying everyone who crosses his path.

Sarah and her friends, twins Anne and Sam, become friends with Alex, a boy from Greece. Most of the book is written from Sarah’s POV, and other parts are from Alex’ POV. I liked Alex. He was different. Being a Greek immigrant now living in turn-of-the-century Salem, he had an unique look on things that I very much admired. I also liked his relationship with Sarah, and the growing attraction between them.

The Darkening Dream obviously isn’t something thrown together quickly to come up with a story. This is a bulky novel, well-thought-through from start to end, with an impressive backstory and lore. It wraps together vampirisim, ancient Egypt Gods, a magical horn belonging to an Archangel, warlocks, witches and more. Evil is delightfully evil. The worldbuilding is superb. The author obviously did a lot of research before getting started on this book.

It’s hard to classify this book. It’s YA, the main character is a young adult, but it’s not YA like we’ve come to known. It’s unique, even in this approach. The main characters don’t always act like young adults, and this book has such outstanding source material I have no doubt it could be enjoyed by young adults and adults alike. It’s too large to fit in one age category, just like you can’t easily fit it in one genre.

The only reason I didn’t give this book a five-star rating is that, at times, I found the narrative dragged a bit. I had trouble with some of the descriptions, and at first, I had trouble getting into the story. As soon as I delved further into the book, this changed though. It’s hard to get through the start, but this book gradually gets better, so don’t give up right away.

If you’re a fan of vampires or paranormal romance in general, try out The Darkening Dream. It’s new, refreshing, a major improvement from the YA vampire novels currently out there. It’s very dark, and definitely lives up to its name. There’s romance, horror, suspense, mystery, drama, a historical setting, memorable characters and a big bad you’ll never forget. I hugely recommend this to all fans of paranormal novels or vampire novels.

Book Review: A Vampire’s Deadly Delight by Liv Rancourt

13438160Title: A Vampire’s Deadly Delight
Author: Liv Rancourt
Genre: Vampires, Paranormal, Clicklit, Novella
Publication Date: January 11th 2012
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Rating: 3,5 stars
Review copy thanks to Bookish Snob Promotions.
Smashwords | B&N | Amazon

She’s a quiet, unassuming bookstore owner by day, but by night…
Kristen has a deadly secret—when she smells a vampire, she turns into Jai, a beauti-licious babe who makes vamps permanently dead. To a vamp, Jai is like ambrosia. They can’t resist her. She uses this attraction, plus her super strength and her trusty blade, Mr. Sticky, to end their undead lives. The thrill of wearing miniskirts without worrying about cellulite stifles any qualms Kristen might have about killing the undead. Being Jai is the most fun she has ever had—until they come up against the one vampire Jai can’t kill. If he and Jai have a history, as he claims, Jai can’t remember it…or him.
But when her work catches the attention of some old enemies—who won’t hesitate to destroy Kristen if it also means the end of Jai—this vampire may be their only hope. Can Kristen and Jai learn to tell the difference between good and evil in time to defeat Jai’s ancient nemesis? Or will being Jai’s hostess cost Kristen more than just a little sleep?

I’m not a big fan of chicklit, and A Vampire’s Deadly Delight is definitely chicklit. But surprisingly enough, I found myself enjoying the story. It’s a bit short, hence why it’s a novella of course, but this time I wasn’t too bothered with the fact that it was a short book. It’s like you realize from the start that this is meant to be a novella. It’s light-hearted, funny and cute, and just a light read for a casual winter afternoon.

This book actually has two heroines. Tricky part? They both share the same body, which of course leads to hilarious circumstances and events. The body apparently belongs to Kristen, one of these two heroines, and is sometimes inhabited or possessed (whatever term you prefer) by Jai, our other heroine. To help keep things simple, Kristen and Jai’s POVs are in different fonts. They both talk in first person, and they’re actually surprisingly easy to relate to. I found myself likin both Kristen and Jai, and finding it hard to decide who I should like more. Kristen is a shy, quiet and calm book store owner who, duh, loves books. That’s why I could relate to her almost instantly. But then, as soon as she smells the undead, she morphs into Jai, vampire slayer extraordinaire, who reminded me a lot of Buffy, my favorite heroine ever. So deciding between a fellow bibliophile or a kick-ass vampire slayer was a bit too hard, so I settled to like them both.

Of course there are enough hot guys to make this story interesting, and the wit and humor of both the author and characters kept me turning page after page. However, this isn’t just some brainless chicklit. There’s actually a story behind all of it, as Jai’s powers seem to be taning and an old arch nemesis of hers resurfaces. Kristen and Jai have to team up to fight him, and they’ll have to learn how to put their differences aside – something which sounds easier than it is. If you’re looking for a light read that will bring a smile to your face, and sometimes even cause you to burst out laughing, then A Vampire’s Deadly Delight is a great choice.

Book Review: Blood Rights (House of Comarré #1) by Kristen Painter

9571401Title: Blood Rights (House of Comarré #1)
Author: Kristen Painter
Genre: Young Adult, Vampires, Paranormal Romance, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: October 1st 2011
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | Author Website
Review copy provided by the publisher through Netgalley.
Rating: 4 stars

The lacy gold mapped her entire body. A finely-wrought filigree of stars, vines, flowers, butterflies, ancient symbols and words ran from her feet, up her legs, over her narrow waist, spanned her chest and finished down her arms to the tips of her fingers.Born into a life of secrets and service, Chrysabelle’s body bears the telltale marks of a comarré—a special race of humans bred to feed vampire nobility. When her patron is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect, which sends her running into the mortal world…and into the arms of Malkolm, an outcast vampire cursed to kill every being from whom he drinks.
Now Chrysabelle and Malkolm must work together to stop a plot to merge the mortal and supernatural worlds. If they fail, a chaos unlike anything anyone has ever seen will threaten to reign.

Blood Rights is a classic example of excellent worldbuilding. The world Kristen Painter presents to her readers is very similar to our normal, everyday word, yet very different as well. There is a covenant in place protecting ordinary humans from seeing othernatural creatures like vampires, fae, shapeshifters and the likes. This book focuses mostly on the vampire part of this new world, although it occassionally mentions the other supernatural races as well. In the vampire world there are noble vampires, with some very prominent families whose names might ring a bell: the house of Tepes, the house of Bathory, the house of Rasputin, etc., all named after notorious bad guys everybody knows. These noble vampire houses each have a Dominus or leader of a house, in almost all cases a male, and an Elder, two very important positions each ambitious vampire wants to get their hooks on. There is also a class of non-noble vampires called fringe, who are looked down upon by all nobles. Although human blood is appealing to these vampires, what is even more appealing is comarré blood. Comarrés are a special race of people looking much alike humans but different in a way as well. For instance, they gain excessive amounts of blood in their body and can suffer from blood fever when not drained occassionally. They live extraordinary long lives much like vampires and they are stronger and faster than ordinary humans.

Chrysabelle, the main protagonist of this extraordinary book, is a comarré. She served her patron well for over a hundred years but yet when they found him dead, decapitated with a sword no vampire can touch and she has gone missing, all suspicions went straight to her. Although Chrysabelle admits to finding the body, she didn’t kill her patron. She ran away to escape him when he refused to even offer her the choice to leave at the Century Ball – a custom that’s been in place for over a millennium – but she never wanted him dead. As a runaway in a human world, Chrysabelle has no or little means of survival. Luckily enough her long-lost aunt Maris, who once was a comarré as well but fought for her freedom in an ancient ritual called libertas looks out for her. As Chrysabelle looks for aid at an address given to her by a trusted friend of her aunt, she runs into the vampire Malkolm, an outcast noble. Malkolm’s tale is probably as intriguing as Chrysabelle’s as she finds out that he is cursed. Double cursed, actually. He is forced to kill everyone he drains blood from and additionally is haunted by their voices inside his mind. All of the names of his victims are tatooed all over his body, and the constant struggle not to hear their voices is working on his sanity.

But as luck has it, Malkolm is exactly the one vampire on this entire world who could possibly help Chrysabelle as things turn from bad to worse. A powerful and ambitious opponent in the form of vampire noble Tatiana of the House of Tepes has set her eye on finding Chrysabelle, and more importantly, on finding the object she stole from her patron’s house on the fateful night of his murder. This object is the ring of sorrows and it is both notorious and feared as an object of great power, and a possible way to break the covenant. Tatiana will not stop at anything to retrieve this object, not even if that means killing everyone that stands in her way.

Along with Malkolm’s friends, the ghost Fiona – a girl who Malkolm killed and who reappeared as a ghost afterwards – and the shapeshifter Doc – who can only shape to a kitten – and some notorious members of the underworld, Chrysabelle must find a way to stop Tatiana, before she loses everything she holds dear and the world erupts into total chaos.

As I already mentioned, the worldbuilding in this book is nothing short of spectacular. That said, besides the main characters, we don’t get to know a lot about the other character’s personalities. I especially would have liked to learn more about Doc and Fi than their simple in-short life story. The main characters do have compelling personalities though. On the one side we have Chrysabelle, who reminded me of a calm river in spring time. She has a calming and soothing presence even when in the face of danger. Although at first-hand she appears to be pampered, being a comarré, living in a mansion and spending most of her days worrying about being entertaining, beautiful and pure of blood, but that turns out not to be the case. In fact, all comarrés are trained in secret to become powerful and strong enough to take out their masters when necessary. I have the feeling that this is towards a greater good or some goal, but as to what purpose we will have to wait till book two to find out. Chrysabelle is not only a skilled warrior, she is also the purest blood of her house, and her house is the purest of them all. So yes, when it comes to purity, Chrysabelle pretty much has got it all. But she’s not a Mary Sue character at all. Chrysabelle has a great many flaws as well. She trusts the wrong people, she lived a sheltered life that left her oblivious to human emotions such as love and attraction, and she spills around secrets like a highschool teenager. She practically spilled half of the century-old comarré secrets to her newfound friends in the course of only a couple of days.

Malkolm on the other hand, our resident vampire and love interest, is a different case alltogether. With his double curse weighing down heavily on him, he is dark, moody, mysterious and evidently attractive. It’s sad to say, but Mal really carries this book. Without him or his dark and haunting past, Blood Rights wouldn’t be have as interesting since Chrysabelle isn’t the most likable or entertaining character ever. Mal has very few people he trusts and enormous issues with getting a decent blood supply. So when a comarré – the purest blood imaginable – shows up at his doorsteps, you would think that he would be thrilled. And even if he couldn’t drain her like any decent vampire, because that would result in him killing her, he could at least drink her blood when served in a glass. But it’s more complicated than that. Her blood makes him more powerful and soothes his bloodlust alright, but it doesn’t last very long. The continuous battle between Chrysabelle and Mal about whether or not he should drink her blood makes for a lot of sexual tension. Did I also mention that afterwards they have to kiss, since Chrysabelle needs Mal’s saliva to remain powerful and young? The kisses are quite a dissapointment though. I was hoping that they would both at least enjoy it, but the first time all Mal feels is anger and the second time they both find the experience awkward. Pleasant, yes, but awkward. Not exactly the feeling I was hoping for.

What I do like about Mal and Chrysabelle’s relationship is that they step out of the regular patron-comarré submissive relationship, but that Mal threats her as an equal. Additionally, their relationship doesn’t develop at lightning speed, something that always annoys me. Main protagonist meets love interest and they hook up twenty pages later. Uh. Well, if real life worked that way we sure would have a lot of deep, meaningful relationships in our lifes…Sarcasm much, yes. Anyways, this is definately not the case in Blood Rights. The relationship between Mal and Chrysabelle builds up slowly and gradually, although the underlying tension is there from the moment they meet.

Now let me get to the two strong points of this novel, and the very reasons why I gave it a four star rating, besides the outstanding and original mythology. The first comes in the form of the book’s main villain, Tatiana. My god, does she make an intriguing and interesting villain. At least a fifth of the book is written in Tatiana’s point of view, and although I’ve heard some reviewers complain about this, those parts were actually my favorite parts of the book. Tatiana has a deep and dark past filled with guilt and shame and to get over that, she does with every self-respecting villain does. She aims for power, the highest power imaginable, and she’s willing to go through great lengths to achieve this, even putting herself in excruciating pain at the hands of immortal demons. She is a tragic character indeed. It is as if to get over her painful past she has to put herself at the top of the pyramid, as if so many wrongs have been done to her that’s the only way to make it right. As we learn more about Tatiana and the ruthless, cruel woman she is, we also learn more about why her greatest goal in life is the ambition to become the most powerful vampire of all. I have to say that by the end of the first book, I was both cheering for her and feeling sorry for her. Of course I’m not a fan of killing people or torturing them, like Tatiana occassionally does, but I am a fan of her personality, and in terms of villainy, she simply rocks.

The second strong point of this novel is the way it is written. I have difficulty describing the way Kristen Painter works her magic with words and sentences, but she turns them into this large flow of words that work perfectly together. She has a very distinct writing style that I could probably tell apart from other authors in a minute. I found her writing style very entertaining and enthralling, and it pulled me right into the story.

On the downside, as I already mentioned, some of the characters lack personalities or quircks that set them apart from others. This book is mostly plot-driven, but that doesn’t mean that some characters should behave or be portrayed like cardboard figures. On top of that, the storyline is pretty predictable. There are some twists and turns I didn’t see coming, but I knew the end result from halfway through the book. However, that didn’t keep me from reading though. Additionally, the setting is in the distant future, 2067 or something, and although some electronic devices of our nowadays world are still in use like cellphones and elevators, some stuff has been updated as well. However, the fact that this book is set in the future added little or nothing to the story. The characters still fight with medieval weapons like swords and crossbows, whereas they could be shooting high-tech pistols with silver bullets, or some originally devised weapons that could blast vampires into a million pieces. I did like the clash between vampire society – based on ancient rituals, alchemy, magic and powers, obviously still stuck in a world of centuries ago – and the human world, updated, new, fresh and advanced.

As a sidenote, I did put this book in the young adult category, since it can be read perfectly well by young adults. However, I have a feeling that this might not be the case for the other books in the series. The relationship between Mal and Chrysabelle is practically non-existent now, and besides some sexual tension and kisses, nothing more has happened, but I have a feeling this migth change.

Blood Rights is a perfectly enjoyable book for fans of urban fantasy or paranormal romance – although the romance isn’t that pertinent in this book, the fondation of romance is clearly present. The mythology and worldbuilding is nothing short but amazing and the plot is entertaining enough to keep you turning page after page to the end. Add a kick-ass heroine, a tormented, dark and mysterious love interest, some interesting side characters and a villain who could give Cruella DeVille a run for her money. I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a good vampire story, and I’m definately looking forward to reading Flesh and Blood, the second book in the series.

This book counts towards the TBR Reading Challenge, Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge and Immortal Reading Challenge.

Manga Monday: Review – Vampire Knight Volume 1 by Matsuri Hino

mangamonday
Manga Monday is a weekly meme on I Heart Reading in which I review a manga novel. This week I’m reviewing the first volume of my favorite manga series of all time, Vampire Knight.

263145Title: Vampire Knight Volume 1
Author: Matsuri Hino
Genre: Manga, Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Drama
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Publication Date: January 9th 2007
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy purchased by yours truly.

Cross Academy is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At twilight, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorm, they cross paths with the Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, protecting the Day Class from the Academy’s dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires!
Yuki Cross has no memory of her past prior to the moment she was saved from a vampire attack ten years ago. She was adopted by the headmaster of Cross Academy, and now works alongside Zero to guard the Academy’s secret. Yuki believes that vampires and humans can coexist peacefully, but her partner has different ideas..

Vampire Knight is the manga that actually got me addicted to…manga. And anime. Not only is this a successful, still ongoing manga series in Japan and the rest of the world, it also served as the base for an intriguing anime series existed of two seasons: Vampire Knight and Vampire Knight: Guilty. Each season has thirteen episodes of anime goodness. If you’re a fan of vampires you definitely shouldn’t miss out on this series. Even if you’ve never read manga before or if you’re not generally an anime fan, this story definitely has all the goodies vampire fans will swoon over.

The setting is Cross Academy boarding school, a school for both regular teenagers and vampire teenagers. The school is divided into two separate classes: the Day Class existing of regular teenagers who occasionally swoon over their vampire counterparts and the Night Class where said vampires reside. Like in any self-respecting vampire series, the vampires are all equally gorgeous, Kuran Kaname the most handsome one of them all. That’s because, as is revealed quite early in the story, he is actually a pureblood vampire, whereas the other students of Cross Academy are only nobles. Although this faintly reminded me of Harry Potter and the entire pureblood drama, it can’t really be compared. In the universe of Vampire Knight there are only a handful of purebloods left and since they’re supposed to be the rulers of the vampire world, this naturally causes a lot of trouble.

The story starts with a young girl who’s standing outside on a snowy night and who is suddenly attacked by a vicious vampire. Luckily enough, the evil vampire is stopped by…yet another vampire. This time a more gorgeous one, local pureblood vampire Kuran Kaname. He saves the little girl and brings her to Cross Academy. This little girl is actually a younger version of our current fifteen year old heroine, Yuki Cross, prefect and school guardian. It’s her job to keep the Day Class students as far away as possible from the Night Class students. This gets extremely hard around the time the Day and Night Classes switch, since all teenage girls keep on swooning over the vampires and would do everything humanly possible to touch them. It’s actually more serious than it sounds. But whereas none of those unfortunate girls even get the chance to come remotely close to any of the vampires present, we see Kaname asking Yuki if she’s alright after she is thrown on the ground by the over-enthusiastic teens. It’s revealed practically right away that Yuki has a huge crush on Kaname, since she blushes feverishly when he talks to her.

So now we got to know one part of this epic love triangle, in walks the second part of the love triangle, Kiriyu Zero. He is the other school prefect and the only other person apart from Yuki and the headmaster who know about the existence of vampires and their presence at Cross Academy. A flashback teaches us that Yuki was raised by the headmaster of Cross Academy after she was brought there by Kaname on the faithful night he saved her from the vicious vampire that tried to kill her. A couple of years later, Zero is brought to Cross Academy as well after he witnessed his entire family getting slaughtered by a vampire. Needless to say, Zero is not a big fan of vampires. On the contrary, he hates them.

As the basis is set for the most epic love triangle you will ever come across. Most love triangle immediately point out one of the potential love interests as their favorite, but Vampire Knight refrains from doing so, pointing out both Zero’s and Kaname’s strong points. Yuki Cross is obviously stuck in the middle, except that she’s clueless about most of the things going on around her. Even though she’s madly in love with Kaname she has not the faintest clue that he likes her as well. And although she occasionally stresses the fact how much Zero means to her, she doesn’t realize the depth of her own feelings let alone Zero’s feelings for her. This obvious lack of insight could make Yuki an annoying character who makes the reader want to bump their head on the keyboard, but this isn’t the case here. Her innocence actually has a disarming effect, making the reader – at least, this happened to me – like her instantly. It’s not that Yuki’s a complete moron, it’s that she has two troubles. Lack of self-confidence leads her to believe that Kaname couldn’t possibly care about her in the slightest, and the fact that Zero is a master at hiding his feelings causes her not to see past the facade her fellow prefect has put up.

The supportive cast of this novel is impressive as well. The vampires, although hard to distinguish at first – some of the male vampires look remarkably alike – each seem to have different personalities, some of them well-developed, others still enhanced in mystery. Of course, this is still the initial setting so I suspect to learn more about the supportive cast as well, even if only gradually. There were some additional scenes in this manga that made me want to jump up and down in excitement. For instance, there is a racy exchange between Yuki and Aido Hanabusa, Cross Academy’s resident bad boy vampire, that hints at an erotic subtext missing from the rest of this volume. The flashbacks to the night when Yuki and Zero met are haunting and touching. Yuki’s interactions with her best friend indicate that there is more to this supposedly innocent and blatantly kindhearted protagonist than what meets the eye. She can be stubborn and resolved as well, and she’s obviously not afraid to fight for what she loves.

As a side note, the volumes are broken into Nights, rather than chapters. Chapter One is conveniently called Night One. I thought it was definitely an original thought. Secondly, the artwork for Vampire Knight is simply amazing. I read in other reviews that some people don’t like the artwork, or that it takes some time to get used to, but from all mangas I’ve read after reading this one, I still have to say I liked Vampire Knight’s art the best. The glassy eyes of some characters give this book a supernatural and ethereal appearance whereas the occasional cute chibi form adds a hint of humor to a manga that doesn’t shy away from dark themes and angst.

Each of the main characters has an interesting back story that explains why they display certain personality traits. For instance, we understand quickly why Zero is hateful towards all vampires in general, and we instantly feel for him when one of his darkest secrets is revealed in chapter four. On the other hand, we learn that Kaname cares for Yuki, but we’re still in the dark as to why exactly. The secrets and mysteries pile up and suck you right into the story. The characters were complex and enthralling enough to keep me on the edge of my seat, thanking God and all saints in heaven that I bought more than one volume of this manga. If you like reading about vampires, don’t dare to pass out on Vampire Knight. Although the first volume serves mostly as a way to set the mood and introduce us to the characters, it already holds a fair share of suspense, reveals some devastating secrets and some surprising plot twists, and makes the reader yearn for more.

Book Review: Red Winter by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays

12983470Title: Red Winter
Author: Clark Hays, co-author Kathleen McFall
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Western, Novella
Publisher: Pumpjack Press
Publication Date: August 13th 2011
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Smashwords | Author’s Website

The year is 1890. Sheriff Early Hardiman has seen a lot of bad things in his life, but nothing could have prepared him for the first Vampire to visit the Old West. Fans of The Cowboy and the Vampire know that LonePine will see its share of Vampires in another 120 years. But in 1890, no one had yet imagined the kind of terror Jericho Whistler brings with him to Wyoming when he hunkers down for a long winter of feasting on humans.

Red Winter is an eBook novella set in the universe and time period of the first published novel of writers duo Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays: The Cowboy and The Vampire. It’s perfectly readable as a stand-alone book as well, the way I did it. I’m planning on reading The Cowboy and The Vampire as well, because I thoroughly enjoyed this novella, but time issues are currently holding me back. Anyway, let’s get going with the review!

At roughly 30 pages, Red Winter is a fast read, but it’s definitely not an easy read. The authors have a large vocabulary at their disposal, and they’re not afraid to use complicated words when necessary. Also, they have mastered that typical western-language perfectly and it shows in this novella. You feel like you’re thrown right back to the time of cowboys, Billy the Kid, Lucky Luke and who ever else wanders around in that era. They catch the vibe of the era so perfectly that I felt ready to go find my rifle and kill some vampires.

I can’t give you much background story without giving away the entire plot, but I’ll give it a shot. We meet Sheriff Early who is asked to go take a look at a dead body. Now, dead bodies are pretty common in the far west, but this one looks particularly gruesome. Back at home with his wife Grace, Early meets a stranger named Jericho Whistler. They play a game of cards until Early is told there has been another murder. This time a hooker was slaughtered in her bedroom, the corpse so heavily mutilated even Early has trouble not spilling the contents of his stomach. The town’s people are certain now: there is a murderer in their midst. All strangers are suspects, and Early gets an especially eerie feeling from Jericho Whistler. Then Jericho attacks Grade, Early’s wife…

Since it’s a short book this review will be pretty short as well. I liked the characters. Sheriff Early was like this typical western hero and Jericho was an excellent villain with no remorse whatsoever. There isn’t much character development, which is common in a book this size. The book is mostly plot-driven as well, and I liked the plot. There were definitily some unexpected twists and turns that had me gasping in awe. The writing is superb as well.

If you like vampires, you should try out Red Winter. It’s a short but eerie and gruesome story that fits right into the horror category. Gone are the silly sparkly vampires, back is the vampire who scares even the bravest souls. I will certainly read The Cowboy and The Vampire after reading this eBook novella. My only complaint? I wanted to read more about this, so I would’ve liked Red Winter to be longer! In any case, definitely recommended for everyone who likes vampires the way they should be – cruel, vicious, mean and deadly.

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Book Review: Crave by Melissa Darnell

11164626Title: Crave (The Clann #1)
Author: Melissa Darnell
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Witches, Vampires, Young Adult
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Publication Date: October 18th 2011
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Rating: 2 stars
Review copy received by the publisher through Netgalley.

Savannah Colbert has been shunned all her life by the kids of the Clann. And when she undergoes some drastic changes after a strange illness, Savannah learns secrets about the group and about herself—dangerous secrets. For the Clann are powerful magic users, and Savannah herself is half Clann and half vampire—a forbidden, unheard of combination. Falling for Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman isn’t just a bad idea—it could be deadly if anyone finds out. But her attraction to Tristan—and his to her—isn’t something either of them can resist for long.

Crave is one of those books that left me with mixed feelings and the constant urge to hit my keyboard with my head. The latter is not advised by the way, not because it could hurt your head, but mostly because your keyboard will probably not appreciate it. And if there’s one person/thing you don’t want to mess with, then it’s your keyboard. Especially not if you want to play WoW later on, write a review or even write some assignments for university. The reason why I have mixed feelings about this book is because I liked two things about it: 1) the synopsis and 2) the cover. Let’s admit it once and for all, covers are important, even if we all claim that they’re not and that we’re intellectual beings who are not persuaded by superficial things like cover art. I know that sometimes the greatest stories are hidden behind the ugliest covers imaginable, but still I get excited when I see a gorgeous cover. However, the opposite is true equally as many times as well, and sometimes you can find one of the most boring and unoriginal stories behind the most gorgeous cover imaginable. Don’t believe me? Try out Crave.

I have to add that Crave isn’t that bad. If you haven’t read a ton of YA fantasy/vampire fiction books already, then you might actually enjoy it. On the other hand, if you’re as familiar with the genre as I am, then you’ll be astonished by the amount of clichés author Melissa Darnell manages to put into one book. Let’s talk about the main character, Savannah first. Savannah holds a lot of resemblences to our dearly hated and well-known Bella Swan. Not appearance-wise, but personality-wise. I always go on and on about how Bella Swan could be replaced by a cow or another animal and the story wouldn’t even change, because she has the personality of a cardboard figure and is just about as interesting as watching reruns of Dawson’s Creek for the seventh time. Savannah Colbert, main character of Crave, is a Bella Swan in disguise. Although she pretends to be halfway interesting by being a vampire (big deal…), in all honesty she isn’t. She hasn’t got a single personality trait that makes her special or unique or even remotely interesting. Why she has friends to begin with is a giant mystery to me. She has no spine, no backbone, no real hobbies besides going to school, nothing at all that makes her anything more than a standard cardboard figure. I couldn’t help it, but I didn’t like her at all. That’s not to say that I didn’t try. But the endless descriptions of how ridiculous she supposedly looks (carrot-orange curly hair that she can’t do anything with, pale skin) obviously served as a replacement for any actual personality traits she might have had. Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less if Savannah was a gorgeous blonde with a flawless tanned skin or a redhead with zits, pimples and glasses the size of Timbuktoe. I care about who people are, not what they look like.

However, that’s not where the author’s obvious preferences for superficial qualities ends. She goes through great lengths to describe Savannah’s crush, Tristan as being the prince of Jacksonville, the typical hot sportstar every girl swoons over. Yes…Let’s disregard the fact that he’s also the biggest jerk walking around school, a total pushover who does everything his parents tell him to do, has absolutely no leadership qualities whatsoever and has the emotional level of a baby. Seriously, Tristan, you have to grow a pair. Excuse me for stating it so bluntly, but that’s basically the only way I can describe it. Tristan is apparently once of those people who’s still stuck in kindergarten even though he’s in highschool. He supposedly has feelings for Savannah and has had these for a while now, but because the Clann told him to stay away from her, he happily obliges. Yeh…That would really make me swoon all over him. Not. Apparently for Savannah it’s no biggie though. Although this is the guy who she was best friends with until fourth grade and who turned his back on her from one day on the other without even giving an explenation, she continues to fantasize about him and convince the readers every once in a while of how hot he actually is. Yes, well I’m unconvinced. He could be looking like Ian Somerhalder (my favorite actor at the moment) and I still wouldn’t go for him, because he has the personality of a zebra. Really. One day he’s black and all ‘must follow clan rules’, the other day he’s white and all ‘I love Savannah nanananana’.

But hey, it’s not over yet. Suddenly Savannah meets a guy named Greg who is supposedly the best boyfriend material anyone could wish for. He’s the kind of guy your mother would approve instantly – not an easy task to accomplish. Not only is Greg polite, kind, generous and caring, he’s also good-looking, intelligent and has a nice sense of humor. Brilliant, right? By now every person in their right mind would have jumped on the Greg bandwagon in a heartbeat. Not Savannah though. No, because Greg doesn’t threat her like crap, doesn’t ignore her whenever he feels like it, and isn’t one big push-over. He’s just not Tristan, she occassionally muses. Ofcourse he’s not. He’s about one million times better than Tristan, but Savannah fails to see that. By now, I felt like throwing my entire laptop at that girl and knocking some sense into her.

Hold your horses. The fun isn’t over yet. Remember how I told you that Savannah is supposedly a vampire? Well in fact, she’s a half-vampire, a dhampire if you want. And she’s also a half-witch. In any other book that would mean insane superpowers, the ability to save the world from the apocalypse or the destiny to fulfill some ancient prophecy. Hahaha, but not in Crave! We were wrong all along, ladies and gentlemen, because the number one superpower you get by being a half-vampire/half-witch hybrid? You grow boobs overnight! Yes, you can go from a size A to a size C in just one night! Isn’t that bloody amazing? And you know what happens when these boobs just miraculously appear? You get male attention, all of the sudden. Yes. Tons and tons of horny teenage boys come knocking on your door because HEY you got boobs now! Isn’t that amazing? It’s like the coolest superpower ever! Spiderman and his spider senses can go screw themselves, here’s Superboob to protect the world from harm…and to turn all teenage boys into horny sex slaves!

Yes, I used a lot of sarcasm in the previous paragraph, but you have to admit how stupid it sounds. If the only thing I initially got from being a hybrid was to grow two boobsizes overnight, I would be anything but amused. It gets worse though. Savannah can now enchant boys just by looking at them and turn them into drooling stalkerzombies. Although the concept seems hilarious it’s more enervating than anything else.

And what about Tristan and Savannah’s love affair, you ask? What can I say about it except that it’s the most unrealistic unbelievable crap since Twilight. Savannah never even questions why Tristan didn’t talk to her for well over seven years, it’s left unexplained why the sportstar shows interest in the freak girl all of the sudden (why not three years sooner, for example?) and Tristan never grows the backbone needed to be an actual asset to this relationship. They’re such a mismatch that they’re worse than Luce and Daniel from the Fallen series, Bella and Edward from Twilight and Elena and Stefan from The Vampire Diaries together. There is nothing that could explain why they’re drawn to eachother, no mutual interests whatsoever, except this strange, unexplainable love they cannot deny. Been there, done that, it never works out well, not even in fiction. I would love it if a psychiatrist could get his hands on Tristan and Savannah and finally knock some sense into them.

As you probably realized by now, Crave is just one cliché on top of the other until it forms a giant mountain of clichés that even the best writing skill in the world couldn’t undo. The book isn’t totally bad though. Melissa Darnell has an interesting and enjoyable writing style, and I’d like to see her write something else but using the same style. If she managed to step away from the clichés and write about a believable, interesting romance then she really has potential. The pace was fast through-out the entire novel, but sometimes it dropped significantly and seemed to drag on a bit. However that’s to be expected from the first book in a series so I didn’t really mind it that much. Overall the premise of this book was intriguing, and it could have been a real success-story had the characters been less like cardboard figures, had their romance been more believable and if the book had a more promising plotline overall. It started out promising enough but near the end when nothing major or apocalyptic-like had happened, I sort of felt dissapointed. If you write an entire book with as only goal to bring two characters together and you don’t even manage to do that right, then you’re obviously doing something wrong. I always enjoy it when something else is going on in the background, like some epic battle with the entire world at stake or something along those lines, but here there was…well, nothing.

I expected a lot more from Crave and in all honesty it delivered very little. The only characters worth mentioning where Anne (now she has some personality!) and Greg. Please make these two the main characters of the next book in the series, and I might believe in The Clann series again. For now, I do believe in Melissa Darnell’s writing skills and that she could write a magnificent piece of fiction one day, but only if she steps away from clichés and works a lot on adding actual personality traits to her characters. For now, I’m not sure if I would recommend this book to anyone. However, a lot of people on Goodreads rated it highly, so it must have something that works for some people. You’re free to give it a shot, but don’t come knocking on my door with an angry mob if you don’t like it or if you ruin your keyboard by smashing your head into it while reading this book. I do believe the author has a lot of potential, and I wish her good luck with her future works. This book just wasn’t for me.