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Review: Goodnight Kiss II by R.L. Stine

Friday, September 26, 2014

Goodnight Kiss II
R.L. Stine

Genre: YA SuspenseHorror
Paperback: 208 Pages
Publication: July 1, 1996
by Simon Pulse

Billy has been to Sandy Hollow before. This summer, he's returning to the little resort town, but not for fun in the sun. He is searching for creatures of the night--the vampires who prey on the tourists there. Billy's girlfriend was one of those tourists... until the vampires killed her. Now Billy has vowed to destroy them all.


This time the vampires from Sandy Hollow continue to wreak havoc on the summer tourists. Instead of following them as we did in the first Goodnight Kiss book, we follow a boy named Billy who is intent on destroying the vampires for killing his girlfriend the summer before. Because our protagonist actually knows about the vampires this time around, I was hoping for a stronger story. There were some good things but I wasn't very impressed overall.

For those of you familiar with The Lost Boys, think if the film were told from the perspective of the Frog brothers, the self-proclaimed vampire hunters played by Jamison Newlander and Corey Feldman who fight for truth, justice and the American way. Now imagine if the Frog brothers were a pair of bumbling and incredibly inept vampire hunters. That was pretty much Billy. Even though his girlfriend was killed by vampires and he knows how dangerous they are, it’s amazing to see him being seduced by a vampire and not realize it. He drops hints about reading up on how to kill vampires, and I wanted him to talk about that some more.

Since this was a sequel, I was hoping that the questions I had about the vampires, who referred to themselves as Eternal Ones in the original, would be answered. Unfortunately, they weren’t, and to top it off, I ended up with even more questions. In this book, the vampires refer to themselves as Immortals, which really confused me. Since there are notable differences between young and ancient vampires in my favorite book, I've entertained that as a possible explanation for what was happening here. Either that, or this is one of those Fear Street books that confirms the ghostwriter theory about R.L. Stine.

Because this story predominantly follows the vampire hunter, we don't get to spend time with the vampires. That being said, these girls were very vicious. You may not see them attacking humans, but there are one or two scenes that show them savagely attacking animals for their blood. There are a few attacks on humans that happen off-camera, but they are reported, and kind of gruesomely at that. There are a few tiny characteristics added to the vampires, but nothing that really contributes to their mythos. Personally, I thought that was a big loss. Just as it had come up with the vampires from the last book, I found myself wondering about the girls' origins and how they came to be Immortals in the first place. This would really have helped to make them more interesting as characters.

Maybe it was because of Billy’s ineptitude as a vampire hunter, but this story wavered and floundered even more than its predecessor. There were a few chapters with really lame cliffhangers that could easily have been cut, and because of the inclusion of a subplot involving a play, that made this a really meandering read. A lot of that excess should've been taken out in my mind, even if that would’ve resulted in a shorter book. Adding on to this was a problem with characters who were nothing but names. I think this novel could've worked with the six main characters if they had all been well developed. Most of them were really underdeveloped, and this just made them hard to juggle, especially since we follow Billy so much.

Going off of that, I wanted more on Billy. Yeah, I know, he's our protagonist, what more do I want out of him? Well, besides more on his knowledge on vampire hunting, I also wanted some flashbacks involving his girlfriend. We only know that her name was Joelle and they dated during the summer before. Seeing a few moments with her would justify why he wants to kill the vampires for killing her. He also mentions having spent time in a mental hospital because no one believed his claims about Joelle being killed by vampires, so I wondered if that was when he read up on vampires in the first place. Swapping out the subplot about the play for information on the events from last summer would've been of better use.

Even though I knew about the twist ending, I wasn’t expecting the third-act twist that was thrown in. That one legitimately surprised me and threw me for a really hard loop. The one downside to it is that it was breezed through and we didn't get a good look at its impact. It was really good, but the rush to get on to the next plot point was unnecessary. I would've liked more time exploring this twist, especially because it ties in with the original book.

Those of you who read the review over the last book might be wondering if this really is a sequel to it. (For this review, I read the collector’s edition which has both stories, plus a bonus short story. If you would like to check it out, click here.) To be honest, I saw it as an indirect sequel. It has the same setting and the vampires have the same goals, but otherwise there aren't really any answers to the last book. We only get one returning character from the original Goodnight Kiss and don't find out what results from its twist ending. Both books' endings were bad; this one especially annoyed me because it REALLY felt phoned in. It made no sense and just raised more questions to the already-long list I had from the last book.

I’m so torn about this novel. I really wished it would’ve been tighter and more concise, but I also liked the viciousness of the vampires and the twist from the third act. The twist ending wasn't necessary, and the questions I had from the last installment went unanswered. I feel like I might be too forgiving of this book because Billy and the deaths of the vampires vaguely reminded me of my favorite vampire film, and because I really liked the twist from the third act. I liked the idea behind this book, but it doesn't quite deliver on its promise. I really think that this sequel could have been done better.

Rating: 2 stars

  1. Goodnight Kiss
  2. Goodnight Kiss II

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Giveaway: Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Salt & Storm
by Kendall Kulper

Genre: HistoricalFantasy
Hardback: 416 Pages
Publication: September 23, 2014
by Little Brown BFYR

A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.


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About the Author

Kendall Kulper writes historical fiction with a fantasy twist for teen readers and knows more about nineteenth century whaling than she ever imagined. Her debut YA novel, SALT & STORM will be published by Little, Brown September 23, 2014. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in history and literature in 2008 and spent several years as a journalist before deciding to write full-time. She grew up in the wilds of New Jersey and now lives in Boston with her husband and chronically-anxious Australian Shepherd mix, Abby.

Connect with Kendall
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Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Monday, September 22, 2014

Exquisite Captive
Heather Demetrios

Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Hardback: 480 Pages
Publication: October 7, 2014
by Balzer & Bray

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?


The world of Exquisite Captive is fascinating. I love the concept of a world of djinn and how the Dark Caravan (the djinn slave trade) links their world with the human world. As the story takes place in our time, it's especially intriguing to see how djinn magic is integrated into modern society. What could have made the story would have been the characters and the story they had to tell. As it is, the story could have used more fleshing out, especially with the characters, their backstory, and their motivations.

Exquisite Captive is told in third-person perspective alternating between Nalia and Raif with the occasional chapter detailing a serial killing of female djinn around the world. I like how the multiple POVs gives us an idea of what is happening on different fronts. Nevertheless, it didn't feel like it was necessary, like I could have gotten the story just as well if only Nalia's perspective had been given. Maybe even better considering how poorly the characters were developed. The addition of Raif's perspective didn't lend extra suspense or mystery to the story. It was just there. And I definitely would have been happy if the killer's perspective was left out. It was *disgusting disgusting disgusting* I get that it's supposed to horrify us, but the grossing-me-out part aside, it felt like a bad sideshow theater that popped up here and there without warning, and it didn't make me feel scared for Nalia until the last two killings, which I guess the earlier killings set up? Anyhow, I just wasn't feeling it.

From the beginning, I never really felt a connection with Nalia, or any of the characters for that matter, the problem being that they are inconsistent. For example, Nalia will feel helpless one second, then stand up for herself the next, only to crumble before yet another obstacle standing in her way. She also doesn't seem to know how she feels about Malek given how one moment she'll hate him for the way he's tormented her in the past and the next she wants to kiss him. Of course, there's also frustrating Raif who unlocks a world of emotion for her from one touch. . . and she's only just met him. As cool as I think Raif is, it definitely would have helped the romance angle if he and Nalia spent more time getting to know each other instead of trying to hate each other. The same goes for Malek. I don't know what that guy is thinking. Honestly, it seems like the author is trying to make him act like a bad guy, so there's a reason for Nalia to choose Raif.

Besides these points, there are a lot of inconsistencies and lack of adequate motivation / explanation for the characters to choose the courses of action that they do. A good example of this is the quest that Raif and his sister are on. They make this item seem like it holds all the potential to save the djinn from the terrible reign of the Ifrit, yet they don't fully discuss the potential consequences of bringing such an item to light. And Nalia. She made an oath that Raif and his sister want her to break, and she thinks about all of the reasons not to break her oath. Then one thought about her brother, and she decides that it's worth potentially damning the rest of the world to save him. In another world, maybe this could have made sense, but it doesn't seem like these characters spend much time thinking out what they want to do. The lack of consistency makes it hard to connect with them.

My biggest problem with this story, character aside, is how there isn't much action. Other than the fact that Nalia spends most of the book trying to figure out how to steal her bottle from Malek, it feels like the story is about the romance, and Nalia trying to seduce Malek to get her bottle is for gratuitous pleasure. I mean, for someone who's supposed to hate Malek, Nalia was pretty quick to jump onto this idea. Even if Malek's sudden interest in her seems to lead up to this, I would've expected Nalia to try and think of some other ideas before choosing this one. On top of that, there isn't much strategic planning or talk of important matters around Raif; rather, their meetings seem to be about the sexual tension between the two and how much they frustrate the other.

Frankly, I considered dnfing this book early on because of the characters, and I probably would have somewhere. However, there was was enough here to convince me to give the whole of the novel a try, and there were pieces that I enjoyed even if the events leading up to them didn't make much sense. While this book ended up being just an okay book, I do see potential for more expansion of the world and characters in the next installment.

An ARC was provided by Harper Collins for review

Rating: 2 stars

  1. Exquisite Captive
  2. Blood Passage
  3. Freedom's Slave

  • Kissing
  • Seduction
  • Violence, torture

Review: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Friday, September 19, 2014

Grady Hendrix

Paperback: 240 Pages
Publication: September 23, 2014
by Quirk Books

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.


Okay, I feel bad for starting out this way, but I didn’t like the layout of this book. I’ll still give the cover major points for creativity, though. Making it look like a furniture catalog is really clever, and the tiny hints in the pictures that reveal it as a horror story are brilliant. That being said, I just felt like the book was really clunky, and it was almost maddening for me that the print only filled half of the pages, leaving a whole column blank. I almost expected something like The Lifespan of a Fact, where there were notes in the margins throughout the whole book, but it didn’t happen. I think that if there had been something like that, not necessarily just notes but also signs in the store or even a few illustrations, it would’ve made the page formatting more understandable.

The only thing I really liked about the layout was the use of illustrations, both the cover art and the pictures featured at the beginning of each chapter. In the chapters, they gradually go from being things you would normally expect to see in a furniture store (couches, chairs, tables, etc.) to torture devices, tying into the big reveal about the store. The slow progression was very smart, and I loved how the objects were featured in the chapters, sometimes without names and it was kind of fun having to go back and figure out which was the "featured torture device," if you will.

As for the story, it was really good; there were moments when it made me think back to some horror films, like the original Night of the Living Dead and Poltergeist. Good as it was overall, I can't really say that applies to the first third or so. It was mostly setting up how bad a day it is for our protagonist, Amy. Honestly, this first part was a major slog to get through, and even though I think the intention was for the reader to sympathize with Amy, she doesn’t come across as very likable throughout this section. Since the novel is told in third person, I was hoping that the narrative would show us what was happening to other characters but it didn’t happen.

I especially would've liked this when all the weirdness started to go down, mostly because I wanted to see the reactions of our other main character, Basil. Where Amy is rash and headstrong, Basil is really rational and a strong rule-follower, and he's also revealed to be a big fan of Dr. Who, so maybe he's more open to the idea of the supernatural than we might be led to believe. Since he is African American and acts as a leader, he reminded me a lot of Ben from Night of the Living Dead, played by Duane Jones. This is all the more reason why I would've liked to have seen things from his perspective, to see how he finally figured out that what was happening was for real.

When it comes to the big reveal, I felt like it wasn’t complete. The less-than-reputable characters are the ones who talk about it, but because they aren’t the most trustworthy, you don’t know whether or not to believe what they say. It turns out to be true, but I wanted to know more. Part of the inside cover ties into the revelation, as do the torture devices featured at the beginning of later chapters, but what was lacking was information about the names and lists that are featured in the inside cover and in one particular illustration in the middle of a chapter.

I also wasn’t sure what to make of the epilogue. It seemed to come to an uneasy resolution, but then the last few pages set up either the possibility of a sequel, or at least of a few more chapters. Or maybe it was meant to show that the predicament was never going to end either way. There's no definite answer, and maybe there is going to be a sequel in the future. That being said, it's still a pretty ominous ending, as could be expected from a horror story either way, but it just felt too uncertain for me.

For the most part, I liked this book. Besides hating the layout and the first part of the story, I loved the rest of it up until the epilogue. There were plenty of good scares, and the suspense was well done. I’m not sure whether or not to expect a sequel, so I have mixed feelings about the ending. Also the physical book itself kind of hurt my overall enjoyment, but it might not bother everyone. All I can tell you for sure is that I'm not going to be stepping into an IKEA store anytime soon.

An ARC was provided by Quirk Books for review

Rating: 3.5 stars

  1. N/A

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  • Violence
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Review: Lailah by Nikki Kelly

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Nikki Kelly

Series: The Styclar Saga #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Hardback: 352 Pages
Publication: October 7, 2014
by Feiwel and Friends

The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely Allie – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.


I think the reason that I kept trying for so long is because Lailah was originally published on Wattpad (here), and I was curious about what the sensation was. I also give some leeway when reading a debut work. I can certainly see why this garnered an audience. The writing has a mysterious quality to it in places, and the characters are compelling in their own right. However, too many cumulative annoyances piled up, and I had to put this one down.

There's an excess of some things like extraneous talk of dress and appearances, which is fun at first but gets annoying after a while. And there's too little of other things like world building, especially of the human world. (It took me a while to realize we're supposed to assume it's our world with the same general mythologies, and I was caught off guard when an iPhone appears midway into the storyline.) The same goes for the development of character relations—to the extent that I don't feel like I got to know any of the side characters beyond a superficial level.

With paranormal books, I find that they tend to lean either towards a romance focus or a plot focus. This definitely fell on the romance end of the spectrum, which was disappointing as there is a lot of potential in developing the intrigue here. However, the little present that is present in the first half of the book is poorly done. Hints are dropped, meant to build up the suspense and set up the plot for events to come; instead, it's frustrating because there doesn't seem to be a pattern or purpose to the order in which things are revealed. The same goes for the manner with which Gabriel tells Lailah multiple times that all will be revealed. . . eventually. I'd be okay with him withholding things if Lailah didn't keep asking him, but when the protagonist goes looking for answers, I'd like to get something out of it. Maybe not direct answers but at least some plot development.

This is defeinitely a paranormal romance. Lailah has interest in both guys, one is light and one is dark. Sometimes this can work out; however, Lailah's relationships with the two of them aren't fleshed out well, and I ended up being surprised by some of the developments. Lailah, or Cessie as she goes by in this lifetime, keeps thinking about Gabriel while keeping her distance from Jonah, and then all of a sudden she reveals a fatal attraction to dark, dangerous Jonah, who she suspects has shady motives (though she really doesn't know what he wants), and lets him get close to her. I could maybe understand her waverings if her relationships and thoughts about the two guys were better explored, but as it is, it was as if a bomb had been dropped.

And Lailah. At times she seems content with the little that Gabriel offers her whereas at other times she acts brash and recklessly despite the danger out there and her lack of knowledge of what she's charging into. Seriously though, why run into a house overrun with evil Vampires out to get you when you don't even know how to defend yourself from them? Rather than rescuing your comrades, you're more likely to get in their way. What really did it in for me is that she and Gabriel seem to have something between them, except they do a poor job of communicating, and there's a definite lack of trust between them, neither of which bodes well for their relationship. He withholds things from her, and she runs into the arms of another man because she's jealous of the Vampire that clings onto him. Even though he's done nothing to suggest that he cares about anyone more than Lailah.

As it is, I never really felt connected to the story or the characters. First, there isn't a good balance between the romance aspect of the novel and the plot development. Second, it felt as if I was waiting for everyone to figure out what Lailah is and why she is so desired by the higher powers of both supernatural orders. Which means a lot of running and waiting. Midway into the book, it began to feel like this is another first book whose purpose is to set the stage for the second book. While that is generally the purpose of first books, I like for one to have a plot of its own and be able to stand on its own. At the point I dnfed in the novel, it doesn't seem like this one can.

An ARC was provided by Macmillan for review

Rating: DNF 55 % into the novel

  1. Lailah
  2. Gabriel
  3. Untitled

  • Kissing, touching
  • Violence

Review: Generation 18 by Keri Arthur

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Generation 18
Keri Arthur

Series: Spook Squard #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Crime
Paperback: 384 Pages
Publication: September 30, 2014
by Dell


A serial killer strikes every twelve hours. A vampire takes lives at random. At first glance, these tragic incidents seem unrelated. But Special Investigations Unit agents Sam Ryan and Gabriel Stern trace them both back to a military base known as Hopeworth. Is the murder spree part of a cover-up? And are the vampire killings less by chance and more methodical?

The investigation takes an eerie, personal turn when Sam discovers a connection between herself and the victims—and a clue to her own mysterious origins. With the violence escalating and the danger drawing closer to home, the stakes are raised and the mission changes from seeking justice to ensuring Sam and Gabriel’s own survival. And the one person who seems to hold all the answers—about Hopeworth, about Sam’s past—is a mystery man she isn’t sure she can trust. They share a psychic link through her dreams, and he once saved her life, but he may just be the greatest enemy humankind has ever known.


Once again, I found myself hooked in by the action and intrigue. It's a bit spotty for the better part of the novel with the SIU trying to make sense of the evidence. As the pieces come together, however, the action really gets going, and I couldn't tear my eyes away from the pages.

I still find it hard to connect with Sam and Gabriel. There's a lot that we don't know about them, mostly because we follow them as they proceed along this investigation. It's all about the work with no time for play for the partners, and little of their thoughts and backstories was worked into the novel. That's why it's pretty jarring whenever Gabriel's family makes an appearance in the story. Becauase they rarely warrant a mention otherwise. As for Sam, I understand that she doesn't know any of her potentially living relatives and that she has a big memory gap in her past, but I feel like there should be ways of letting the readers get to know her outside of her attitude at work and towards her partner.

The characters aren't the only aspect that could use more fleshing out. There's a lot of potential for more plot development. As it is, we just follow the partners from one lead to another, and the pieces just somehow come together. Given how rashly the partners act (once again, Gabriel walks right into a trap he saw coming, and once again, Sam acts against her partner's better judgment), it's also surprising that they manage to come out of everything in one piece. Cross that. They walk out because they happen to have special powers that emerge when they need them. As much as I like the intrigue and action that's already present in the novel, it could have been a lot better if I believed that the partners might not make it out alive, if I really felt the danger. The mystery was also pretty straightforward and could have used more twists. I'd also like to see more resolution to the case. Once again, things just happen, and we're expected to believe that the current investigation has been wrapped up nicely.

That said, I do have questions coming out of Generation 18. From Gabriel's words and from similar situations taking place in The Damask Circle books, I thought that shapechangers only loved once in a lifetime. So why the growing connection with Sam? (And why is Gabriel okay with having casual sex with someone he doesn't particularly care about?) What's going on in the military? What are these secrets projects that Sam seems to be connected to? Also, while this novel is titled after one of the military's secret projects, the project itself doesn't play much of a role in the novel. It would have been nice if more intrigue around the project was built up and if it'd played a larger role in the novel.

Though questions have been raised about Sam's past since Memory Zero, book one, it doesn't feel like much has been done about it in the installments. While we're closer to the truth, it just feels like it's put on the back burner until things happen to raise questions. There's a lot going on here, and I'm not sure if they can all be answered in another 400 or so pages in the next installment. Nevertheless, for all the complaints I have about Generation 18, I've enjoyed this book and the series thus far and will be reading Penumbra to see how this all wraps up.

An ARC was provided by Random House for review

Rating: 3 stars

  1. Memory Zero
  2. Generation 18
  3. Penumbra

  • Violence

Review: The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Indigo Spell
Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines #3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Hardback: 401 Pages
Publication: February 12, 2013
by Razorbill


Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives.

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she struggles to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she finally tracks down the elusive, enigmatic Marcus Finch – a former Alchemist who the organisation denies exists, and who lives in shadows, on the run. With Marcus's help, Sydney realises that the group she's been loyal to her whole life has been hiding the truth from her. Is it possible that her golden lily tattoo might have more power over her than she thinks?

As she struggles to come to terms with what that might mean, Sydney is compelled to use her growing magical powers to track down an evil magic user who is targeting powerful young witches. Using magic goes against everything she always thought she believed, but she realises that her only hope is to embrace her special blood – or else she might be next.

Forging her own way is harder than Sydney ever dreamed. Maybe by turning off her brain – and following her heart – she'll be able to finally figure out where she belongs.


I am totally, shamelessly admitting that my reason for reading these books has been the epic romance between human and Moroi. It has to be when my reason for reading the first three books through The Indigo Spell has been to see Sydney and Adrian finally get together.

I can't talk enough about how much I love them. I'm not usually one for going for the bad boy, and yet Adrian is one of my few everlasting book crushes. Okay, he's not the stereotypical bad boy, but he does have his vices: smoking, drinking, and he has a bit of a playboy partyboy history. At the same time, he's just so darn charming and full of witty remarks, he's just irresistible. I love seeing the effect he has on straightlaced Sydney, who is struggling to reconcile her Alchemist beliefs and what her heart tells her. They're just so cute and perfect together. It's obvious they were meant to be. And I love the swoonworthy romantic scenes that The Indigo Spell delivers.

Plot-wise, The Indigo Spell fell short of my expectations. With all the anticipation build up regarding Marcus Finch—and with him featured on the cover—I was expecting to see more of him. However, he doesn't really seem to play much of a role in this book except to provoke Sydney into investigating more deeply into Alchemist affairs. The witch plot failed for me as well. I think there's just too much going on here for one book, and it's been a struggle trying to bring the vampire and witch worlds together. With all these things going on, I don't know how Sydney's managed to stay sane. What I can say is that I like how she deals with things, and I approve of her decision at the end.

With all the plotlines competing for attention, many of the side characters lost out as well. Other than Sydney and Adrian, the other characters don't get much page time, which was disappointing as I like a lot of them, excepting Marcus and co. I miss the "family time" from Bloodlines and The Golden Lily. All we really get to see here is that. . . well, it's complicated, and Sydney is glaringly missing out on a lot of things.

Despite my feelings on the plot, I'm still very much in love with the VA world. I am feeling all sorts of feels and am desperately want to see a happy ending for Sydney and Adrian. As expected, Richelle Mead delivers a complicated turn of events at the end. I'm going oh no oh no oh no and am yearning to get started on The Fiery Heart so that I can find out what happens next. I've heard great things about the book and have high expectations for it!

Additional Information
  1. Bloodlines
  2. The Golden Lily
  3. The Indigo Spell
  4. The Fiery Heart
  5. Silver Shadows
  6. The Ruby Circle
Similar Books
  • Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
  • Kissing
  • Violence

Favorite passage
There are some swoonworthy moments in this book. Some very swoonworthy elements. However, Adrian is just so full of charm, wit, and sarcasm. I don't think anything can beat an Adrian retort.

Such as. . .
“You're not as much of a lost cause as she was. I mean, with her, I had to overcome her deep, epic love with a Russian warlord. You and I just have to overcome hundreds of years' worth of deeply ingrained prejudice and taboo between our two races. Easy.”

Oh, Adrian. . . you really know how to live on the positive side of life. I think his situation with Sydney may be even more complicated than with Rose, though it's certainly easier to woo a lady when her heart isn't taken already.

Now, I ask you. What are your favorite Adrian moments?

Review: Goodnight Kiss by R.L. Stine

Friday, September 12, 2014

Goodnight Kiss
R.L. Stine

Genre: YA SuspenseHorror
Paperback: 216 Pages
Publication: June 1, 1992
by Simon Pulse


Summer means plenty of beach tourists…and plenty of fresh blood after months of deprivation. But this year the Eternal Ones have decided to spice things up with a little bet: The first to seduce a hot date of the human variety, and then turn him into a fellow creature of the night, wins. The catch? In order to successfully turn their prey, they must take only three small sips of blood on three different nights. If they take too much blood on any night, the human will die and the bet will be lost.


I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in any of my previous reviews, but I LOVE vampires. As in I’ve been obsessed with them since I was seven years old. So naturally, I was excited to find out that R.L. Stine had written a vampire book for teen readers (the first Goosebumps book I remember reading was Vampire Breath). I vaguely recalled hearing about this book and seeing it in classrooms when I was a kid, but never got around to reading it until now.

The plot was relatively solid. Not tight since it meandered and floundered at some points, but nothing too distracting. However, I wasn’t terribly crazy about the way this book was structured. There were times when I thought chapters were cut too short just so they would end on cliffhangers, which really wasn’t that necessary. Another problem I had was with wordiness; a lot of things were repeated, like the vampires' hair color and the seductiveness of their eyes and lips. These reminders weren't necessary at all and only made the prose more awkward and clunky.

The human characters were bland for the most part. This might be because they're just pawns for the vampires to play with, but there wasn't really anything that made them memorable. The only one who somewhat stands out is Matt, whom I remember as the guy obsessed with horror movies and whose girlfriend gets frustrated with him. There's also the easy-to-spot dated references: the theater in town is showing a Friday the 13th triple feature, there's a photo shop, and no mention of cell phones. This isn't bad, but it also got me wondering if Stine had just watched another 80s horror classic, An American Werewolf in London, while writing this since one of the characters meets a fate similar to a character from the movie. Nothing lycanthrope-related but if you've seen the movie and read this, you might catch the reference.

I have to admit, I love classic vampires. I do like some re-imaginings, but sometimes there’s no topping some of the classic lore: no reflections, no crosses, no garlic, no going out until nighttime. These are the kinds of bloodsuckers we’re dealing with, and I like them… for the most part. The vampires don’t refer to themselves as vampires, but instead as Eternal Ones. It’s not clear why they’re called eternal; I assumed that it's because they stay however old they are when they’re transformed, but that theory was knocked off when a vampire describes how he has to put effort into looking youthful again. We're never given a reason for this, and the curiosity bothered me while reading.

Maybe it's because they stick so close to classic vampire traits that Stine may have felt it unnecessary to dive more into the mythos of these Eternal Ones. For me, this was a huge lost opportunity and probably the biggest disappointment of the book. Because we spend so much time with the vampires, I would've loved to have known more about them and how it is that they came to become Eternal Ones. One of them reflects on how she doesn't remember her human life at all, while the other notes that the soil surrounding his coffin is the only thing left of his homeland. This brought up a lot of questions that I hoped would be answered at some point but never were.

Then there’s the twist ending. I liked it, but it felt like it was thrown in just for the sake of having a twist. There is a sequel though, and the twist might tie in to what happens in the next book. (For this review, I read the collector’s edition which has both this story and its sequel, plus a bonus short story. If you would like to check it out, click here.) It honestly has me split down the middle: everything seemed all fine and good, but then came the twist in the last chapter. The one plus I see to the twist is that it sets you up for a sequel, where hopefully we get answers to the questions that came up during this book.

Like I said in my last Stine review, try going into this book with the sort of mentality you’d have before watching a cheap horror movie. As was mentioned earlier, this had a good, if sometimes rambling, plot. The vampires are melodramatic almost to the point of being funny, though this may be Stine's personal touch (he was a comedian to start off with, after all). These vampires are kind of sexy but still relatively tween friendly; they're not meant to be totally romantic and do have moments when they're actually kind of scary. Bad prose and lack of vampire mythology aside, this was a quick and fun read. Not the best out there by any means, but still pretty okay.

Additional Information

  1. Goodnight Kiss
  2. Goodnight Kiss II

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Lois Metzger: Some Things I Learned While Writing A Trick of the Light + Giveaway

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Today, I'm delighted to have Lois Metzger on the blog today to talk about . A Trick of the Light was one of my favorite reads last year. It's a FANTASTIC book that I recommend to young readers. It talks about some very important concepts, particularly about boys and eating disorders. This is a book that I would want my children to read.

You can read my review of the book here and an interview I had with Lois Metzger when the book first came out here. You can also enter to win a signed copy of the book on this very post!

Lois Metzger: Some Things I Learned
While Writing A Trick of the Light

The sheer numbers of people with eating disorders: the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) estimates that 30 million people in this country have eating disorders at some point in their lives. At any time, 10 million people have eating disorders, and at least 10 percent are male, which means at least one million men and boys—who are less likely to seek out or find treatment because eating disorders are still considered “girl diseases.”

My book is fiction, but the narrator—also known as the “eating-disorder voice” or the “anorexic voice”—is very real. I’ve seen it described in other books (fiction and nonfiction) as an ever-present “green, scaly creature with a large beak,” “the dictator,” “the beast,” “a drumbeat, a howl,” and a voice that “didn’t seem to be me doing the talking. Not any part of me I’d ever encountered, anyway.”

People with eating disorders often have food rituals. In my book, Mike eats only five bites per meal and arranges food on his plate so it resembles a clock face. While researching eating disorders, I spoke to young men who chewed food and spit it out, who only ate at night and never during sunlight hours, who only ate burnt toast.

Many people with eating disorders suffer from “body dysmorphia”—believing that one’s appearance is hideous and flawed, and ruminating about this for more than one hour a day. They may look in the mirror and actually see a distorted image. A healthy body can appear grotesquely overweight. Even an emaciated body can appear “fat.”

People may want to lose a few pounds in order to look good or feel fit. When people with eating disorders lose weight they endanger their health. Their hair and eyelashes may fall out, and cuts and bruises don’t heal. They may get a soft coat of fuzz on their faces, backs and chests (because of a lack of food, the body can no longer produce heat, and this hair is the body’s attempt to keep warm). They have trouble sleeping because the body won’t let them rest—it goes into starvation mode and stays alert because it wants to find food and eat. Due to a lack of calcium, they may develop osteoporosis. They can’t stand up straight and their bones can break from a simple fall. Too little potassium can result in weakened heart muscles, which can lead to a heart attack (in fact, the mortality rate for eating disorders is as high as 20 percent). So the intent—to look good and feel fit—has been lost. They are cold all the time, and hungry all the time, and can’t sleep, even while they protest that they are not freezing, not famished, not exhausted.

Which was something else I learned. People with eating disorders lie a lot because they have to hide the fact that they have eating disorders. This is why the narrator of my book—the “anorexic voice”—lies all the time. It is the quintessential “unreliable narrator.”

Because people with eating disorders deny they are ill, and because eating disorders can escalate so quickly and are so deadly, friends and family have to take action. A good first step is to call NEDA: 1-800-931-2237.

About the Author

Lois Metzger, author of A Trick of the Light, was born in Queens and has always written for young adults. She is the author of three previous novels and two nonfiction books about the Holocaust, and she has edited five anthologies. Her short stories have appeared in collections all over the world. Her writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and Harper's Bazaar. She lives in Greenwich Village with her husband and son.

Connect with Lois
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

About the Book

A Trick of the Light
by Lois Metzger

Genre: Contemporary
Paperback: 208 Pages
Publication: September 23, 2014
by Balzer + Bray

Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they're getting confusing at school. He's losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he's a mess. Then there's a voice in his head. A friend, who's trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that's holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.


Thanks to Lois, we have a signed paperback of A Trick of the Light to offer for one of our readers. To enter, all you need to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below telling us what you learned from Lois's post / if you have anything to add and why you want to win her book.

● Open to the United States
● Giveaway ends September 25th
● Full contest terms and conditions found on Rafflecopter

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Review: The Mist by Stephen King

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Mist
Stephen King

Genre: SuspenseHorror
Paperback: 240 Pages
Publication: October 2, 2007 (originally 1980)
by Signet


It's a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist...creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project---the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you're forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light?


I think a lot of people might be familiar with the film adaptation of this that came out a few years ago. Since I haven’t seen it all the way through, I’m not too sure how faithful it is to the story, but I can tell you that this novella works well on its own.

The best developed characters of this book are our narrator David, his young son Billy, and the antagonistic Mrs. Carmody and Brent Norton. Part of me suspects that this may be because of the length; we are talking about a novella, after all. However, this could’ve been avoided if it hadn’t been overstuffed with minor characters. There are a few of these who are actually memorable, but not for the best reasons. David is a great narrator because even though he flat-out tells the reader that he is afraid, he doesn't let that fear control him. The antagonists were great as well, particularly Mrs. Carmody. Where David didn't let fear take control of his mind, she used fear to gather followers for her more... outrageous beliefs, for lack of better words. I can tell you I was really glad to see her get her comeuppance towards the end.

The suspense was amazing in this book. Even though the beginning was sluggish, everything started to pick up when the mist literally rolled in. When the people are trapped, my mind went to Night of the Living Dead. Not because there are zombies or anything but because these people are trapped and have to find their way out while dealing with a threat that none of them understands. No one knows what this mist is or where it came from, nor how far it’s spread and if there’s a way out of it.

Specifically, this story is a creature feature. Even though we don’t see all of the monsters, they and their actions are described enough to make them terrifying. The mist itself becomes a character in the story, mostly because of the focus on it throughout. One thing that did leave me a little disappointed but gave the story a greater sense of dread were the mentions of the Arrowhead Project. We aren't given any details about it other than that it involves the government, and possibly some messing around with other dimensions, but other than that, the project remains a mystery to the people trapped by the mist. The speculation that it may be the source of the mist and the monsters it brings only serves to amp up the mystery of it and the suspense factor in the story overall.

The ending to this book was very different to that of the film. Where the film had an ending that had just such a hardcore feeling of devastation, the book does it slightly better. It has the grim tone of the movie’s ending, but it has some glimmer of hope. Even though it’s practically dripping with uncertainty, there is still that bit of faith in David that they can come out of the whole ordeal alive.

Legendary horror author HP Lovecraft once said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” If there’s anything King plays up severely in this story, it’s that fear. Not just the fear of not knowing what kind of monsters are hiding in the mist, but also fear of the nature of the mist. No one knows where it comes from, nor how to get away from it. Additionally, because we don't know any of the specifics about the Arrowhead Project and the people who could talk about it are dead, the fear about the nature of the mist just increases that much more.

This was a really great read. I didn’t find it so much scary as it was suspenseful. Sure, the moments with the monsters made for great scares, but the suspense was positively fantastic and, in my mind, the best element of the book. (For this review, I actually read the story in the collection Skeleton Crew, which you can check out here.) Whether or not you've seen the film, pick this up, even if it's just for the end. Again, the film's ending left me feeling incredibly upset when I saw it, but this one makes up for it. That one little glimmer of hope proves to be worth fighting for, and that, I think, is a far better message and ending.

Additional Information

  • N/A

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