Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

After reading urban fantasy novels, I’ve been really wanting to find more books in this genre. It’s so different from high fantasy and stories set in alternate worlds … and it’s really addictive once you get into it! I was super excited to receive this ARC so here is my review:

Greta Helsing is a doctor with a very unusual patient pool: she treats the undead. Whether it is a vocal strain a banshee or entropy in mummies, Greta is known for her skill. After all, this is what she has been groomed for since childhood. But when a sect of murderous monks emerge, Greta is overwhelmed by the deaths of the undead AND humans. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must put her unusual skills to work to stop this cult from ruining her life.

I so so so badly wanted to like this book, you really have no idea! It seemed like the perfect book for me, with its cool protagonist and story setting. However, I just couldn’t get into this story. No matter how hard I tried, it all was just too bizarre. The switching of voices between characters was very jarring and it was hard to keep it straight in my head. One minute, the story seemed like it was set in Victorian times and the next minute, it seemed way more modern. It all just threw me off and I couldn’t enjoy myself. There are a lot of positive reviews on GoodReads so maybe this is just one of those times where I am in the minority. If this book’s premise sounds like something you would like, give it a shot!

Happy reading ~

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Blood Divine by Greg Howard

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

YAY VAMPIRES!!!! As usual, I got super excited when I read the blurb for this novel. Vampires and witches and biblical connections… it’s got everything I’ve ever wanted all rolled into one. And if you haven’t already noticed, I read a lot of fantasy/paranormal/science fiction stories! So here is my review:

Cooper Causey has spent his entire life trying to stay away from his hometown in South Carolina, with its demons and supernatural forces. As it is, it’s all he can do to control his own powers that resides deep within him. But when his grandmother leaves a panicked voicemail to Cooper, he knows he must return. And when he does, it is only to discover that his childhood home is empty – his grandmother is now missing. As Cooper searches for her, he uncovers the truth behind his peculiar ancestry and finds himself a pawn in the middle of an ancient war between two supernatural forces. And the only way to protect those he loves is to embrace his own dark powers and choose the “right” side in this epic battle.

This novel has received a great deal of positive reviews, which, frankly, I’m quite surprised by. It isn’t that this novel is terrible … but I didn’t think it was very good either. The story was fast-paced…. a bit too fast-paced, in my opinion. Things were happening so quickly and not enough of a background was being established. There was just a very simple summary of the existence of these two supernatural races; I felt that there could have been more detail, more discovery about the origins and just a little bit more time for the reader to digest all of the connections. While it was still interesting, the origin seemed too simplistic for me to enjoy.

The main character was funny and foolhardy and definitely in love with his childhood friend. I didn’t mind any of those things. What I did mind was the constant reference to these powers that he apparently has had since he was a child, which he has kept hidden. There were very brief mentions of how it manifested in his childhood, and throughout the entire story, any mention of his abilities made me feel like I was missing out on some crucial detail that everyone else seemed to know.

I love reading about different characters. But there is such a thing as too many characters, especially when they are all thrown into the mix helter-skelter. With every forward movement in the story, there were other characters being introduced. And because of the fast pace and the barrage of new personas, I felt like I didn’t really get a deeper look into each character. Maybe that’s what the author wanted, maybe it was meant to just be taken at face value with nothing deeper going on, but I prefer my characters to have more to them than just what meets the eye.

Overall, this novel overwhelmed me with its rapid pace and its cast of characters. It underwhelmed me with its lack of depth in origin stories and its simplistic and stereotypical plot twists. If you are looking for a quick supernatural story with lots of action, then check this novel out. But if it is depth you want, then look somewhere else.

Happy reading ~

 

 

Crescent Moon by James Fahy – Phoebe Harkness #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the first novel in this series so much, and I am so excited to have had the chance to review this novel as well. With such an interesting protagonist, and such a unique storyline, it was all I could do to finish off my work at the lab and curl up with this book!

In a world where Genetic Others like vampires and werewolves try to coexist with humans, life can be … complicated. Phoebe Harkness, a scientist, tries to stay neutral in the ongoing fights between all of the different factions, especially once she is named as liaison between the Genetic Others and the Cabal, the ruling institution of New Oxford. Her first mission? To negotiate with the Tribals, a group of werewolves that live like nomads. But before she can make any headway, she learns of a series of murders, with signs showing that it was the handiwork of Tribals. The Tribal leader, Kane, insists that his people are not a part of this… and Phoebe believes him. Phoebe, along with her friends, must get to the bottom of these horrific killings – before all hell breaks loose and another war begins.

Just as with the first novel in this series, I fell in love with the story line and the main character. Phoebe continues to be my favorite character of all time, with her witty, humorous remarks, and her penchant for danger. All of the other characters stay stable, keeping the same dynamics as with the first novel. I liked that this story introduced werewolves while still sticking to the main overarching story from the first book. However, there were parts of the story that left me wanting more. I wanted more of a buildup of the backstory, I wanted more depth to the evil characters, I wanted Phoebe to probe deeper into the mysteries and ask more questions. I felt like there were a lot of things that were left loose-ended, and I have no idea if the author will be addressing any of them in the next book. While I still laughed and was drawn to my seat, the story didn’t feel complete and I was just a tad bit disappointed with how some things were just written off. The antagonist continues to have really cheesy dialogue, which makes it hard for me to take the plot seriously. Hopefully that will be improved in the next novel. I enjoyed the science aspects, and there was definitely more biology in this book than in the previous one – and it was ACCURATE!!!! All in all, this was a good sequel that got me pumped, and I am eager to read the next installment!

Happy reading ~

 

Hell’s Teeth by James Fahy – Phoebe Harkness #1

Why did I decide to read this novel? Well, I received the sequel on NetGalley without realizing, and I knew that in order to give a proper review, I would have to read the first book in the series. Otherwise it would not have made any sense. Also, I have always been particular about reading novels in order, whenever possible. Anyways, I went on the hunt for the first book. And trust me when I say that it was NOT easy. My local bookstore does not carry this book. My library does not carry this book. Amazon wouldn’t ship this book. Finally, I gave in and created a Kindle account and downloaded the book through Kindle Unlimited. While it was a hassle to get to this novel, after reading it, I must admit that it was worth the effort!

The world has gone through a war that it could never have imagined. Humans created a monster, The Pale, a subhuman, vampire-like killing machine that was supposed to become a military weapon. But when they lost control, it took every single person – both human AND non-human to band together to fight against these aberrations. 30 years after this war, humankind now reluctantly coexists with Genetic Others, a group of many subspecies. It is an uneasy truce that is controlled by the government influence of the Cabal, a powerful organization. But when Phoebe Harkness, a scientist, receives a phone call in the middle of the night, she realizes that the world she has lived in is not as peaceful as she once believed. She reaches her lab, only to discover that her supervisor has gone missing – and all that is left of her is her teeth. Phoebe finds herself going undercover to find out who is behind this atrocious crime, and what their motive is. But she must be careful, lest she become that person’s prey herself.

This novel reminded me of the Sookie Stackhouse series with its descriptions of vampire clubs and the split opinions on integration of vampires and Genetic Others into human society. However, the comparison stops there. This novel was interesting, unique, and had a good blend of science, technology, and adventure to keep me going. I literally did not put this book down once, and finished it in a record 4 hours!

The main character, Phoebe, is a force to be reckoned with. She is smart, funny, and spunky as hell – she was the ultimate badass. She reacted like any sane person in times of danger and always had a witty comeback. In essence, she was an amazing protagonist that anyone would love. The other characters in this story worked very well in conjunction with the protagonist, and complimented her in the right way. The only character sketch that I didn’t enjoy was that of the main antagonist; it was a little too “mob” like for my taste. But even then, it just added to the comedy of the scene, and didn’t take away from the story.

While the story was quite humorous at times, there was also enough seriousness and intrigue to keep me from dismissing this story as “fluff.” Genetic experimentation, military weaponization, secret rituals… this novel had a bit of everything and developed them very well. Every time something new was discovered, I wanted to know how Phoebe would deal with it, what the aftermath of this knowledge would be, and how this fact would be used to take the story further. And the author delivered on all of those counts.

Overall, this novel is funny, intelligent, and intriguing. I am so glad that I decided to read this book, and I am extremely excited to read the sequel! If you are looking for an urban supernatural story with a lot of wit and and suspense, then don’t pass on this novel!

Happy reading ~

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz – Book One

My first experience reading a novel about vampires was Twilight. At first, I got swept up in its popularity but I soon found myself hating it. After that, I didn’t think I could ever get into that theme again. But then this novel came along. I didn’t really expect too much from it if I’m to be honest. But when I read it, I fell in love with it and was excited to read the rest of the novels in the series. At that time, the rest of the novels hadn’t been written yet so I forgot about the series completely. When the novel popped up on my recommendations list, I decided to reread it and see if it matched my standards today. So without further ado, here is my review:

Schuyler Van Allen has always felt at odds at her prestigious New York City private school, Duschesne. Although her family tree is just as impressive as the other students in the school, Schuyler does not have the sizeable inheritance that comes with it. While she is an outcast among the popular students, she has a true friend in Oliver Hazard Perry, who has been her best friend since childhood. When a student is found dead, the whole school is in shock. This leads to a rapid turn of events, and Schuyler finds herself invited to join “The New York Blood Bank”, better known as “The Committee”, a select group comprising of the most influential and elite families of New York. And it is at her first meeting of The Committee that Schuyler discovers that she and all the other members are vampires, fallen angels cursed to be born again and again to walk the Earth. In this way, the vampires or “Blue Bloods” find themselves living a series of different lives. But this “life” may prove to be the most dangerous, as something begins to kill the newly awakened vampires one by one. But is the threat really from something unknown? Or does the danger lie within the Blue Bloods themselves?

Just as before, I found myself swept up by the story. I couldn’t stop reading it and loving every inch of detail. This novel reads like Gossip Girl but has enough fantasy and mystery to give it substance. I loved getting a glimpse into the life of Manhattan’s elite but I also loved that the quintessential “gothic” vampire image was maintained. The idea of “cycling” or reincarnation was quite interesting and just made all of the character connections that much more appealing. Schuyler is a great protagonist; although she is initially presented as being quiet and unobstrusive, she soon emerges to be a strong-minded and courageous teen that anyone would love to be friends with. This book was a great teaser that sucked me in and left me wanting more action and more secrets. Now that the series is finally complete, you can count on it that I will get through it all and write a review for each book! So if you are looking for a good teen/adult vampire fiction, this should definitely be on your list!

Happy reading ~

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

I was really excited to read this novel because this is the same author that wrote Eleanor and Park, which made me cry my eyes out and was just fantastic. I had really high hopes for this novel, especially because it involved fantasy – and we all know I love fantasy novels!

Simon Snow is the Chosen One – but he has no idea what that means. He is a terrible wizard and can barely rein in his power. His roommate, Baz,  constantly reminds Simon that he is a failure. To make matters worse, Simon’s girlfriend  breaks up with him and there is monster prowling the magical world creating blank pockets that are void of all magic – and it looks exactly like Simon. Now, it is up to Simon and his friend Penelope to put all of the pieces together and figure out a way to get rid of this monster – while still managing to graduate from the Watford School of Magicks!

To be honest, this novel was like a fan fiction of Harry Potter. There were so many elements that were similar that it was hard to take this novel seriously as an independent and unique idea. I mean, we’ve got Penelope with frizzy hair, and Simon is the “chosen one” who is an orphan (sound familiar?) and he has a mentor who is the headmaster of the school (cue Dumbledore). There were also parts of the book that described events in the past that made me wonder if this was a standalone or if it had a prequel. Things only really turned around in the middle of the story when the relationships between the characters became more complex. Overall, this novel was a bit of a let-down as it wasn’t as unique as I thought it would be and seemed a bit scattered throughout. I haven’t given up on this author, however, and I will definitely give some of her other work a try!

Happy reading ~

The Quick by Lauren Owen

Lately, I’ve been really into Victorian-esque novels so when I read the description for this one, I thought it would be worth a shot.

Charlotte and her brother, James, have always been inseparable. Their mother’s death had led to their father spending more and more time tending to his business, leaving them all alone in their house save for a few staff. When their father passes away and their aunt takes them under her wing, their lives change considerably. James is sent to boarding school in the hopes that he will grow up to be  fine gentleman of society while Charlotte stays with her aunt to act as a nurse. As time passes, James yearns to go to London and explore life to its fullest. He gets his wish and is soon living in an apartment with his roommate and former classmate, Christopher Paige. For a while, life is simple; James spends his days writing plays and poems and Christopher entertains him with his hilarious adventures. Gradually, they end up in a clandestine love affair, one they know will be disapproved of by everyone. In an attempt to escape society, they plan to run away together to Italy. But misfortune strikes, and they are attacked by a stranger. Meanwhile, Charlotte is growing anxious and hasn’t heard from her brother. She decides to make the journey to London to find him, only to discover that there is much more happening than meets the eye.

Sounds intriguing, right? Well this was just the first part of the book. When the second part began, I was confused beyond belief. It felt so disjointed from the first part! In fact, the whole book seemed to be disconnected and in pieces. There were random journal entries that didn’t seem to make any sense at first and required a lot of patience on the part of the reader. To be frank, when the book ended, I didn’t see a point to it all. I was highly dissatisfied with the experience. This book let me down A LOT. I’m still in shock and can’t fathom what it was that I read.

Happy reading ~