Monday, January 31, 2011

Freedom of Speech

I know this is a paranormal blog, but sometimes we wander a bit off the beaten paranormal path. This is one of those times. The current unrest in Egypt is making headlines all over the world. It may be hard to imagine how the issues there impact those of us outside Egypt's borders, but anything impacting the human condition affects all of us, whether we are directly involved or not. Here's one way it's impacting the writing community.

Helena and I started this blog because we love stories. You can't love stories without loving the authors who create them, who give us a world to play in and escape to beyond our own. An Egyptian author, Olivia Gates, has a new release coming out through Harlequin Desire February 1. But she can't promote it online. She can't blog about it or interact with readers. Why? Because the Egyptian Government has shut down Internet communication. Living in a country where freedom of speech is guaranteed by our constitution, it's hard for me to fathom a situation where the ability to work and promote that work is taken away. So this post is for Olivia, promoting the book she worked so hard on only to have political and civil unrest beyond her control hamper her ability to get the word out on it herself.

To Tempt a Sheikh releases February 1, 2011.

Blurb:
He rescued hostage Talia Burke from his royal family's rival tribe and swept her into his strong embrace. But Prince Harres Aal Shalaan soon discovered there was more to the brave beauty than he knew. Talia held information vital to protecting his beloved kingdom…and she had every reason not to trust him.

Marooned together at a desert oasis, Talia couldn't resist Harres. Yet even as his sizzling seduction entranced her, his loyalty to his family and country would always make them enemies. Falling for the sheikh would be her heart's greatest mistake…but she feared it was already too late...

Please help Olivia by posting the information on your blog, your Facebook page or by tweeting a link to Olivia's home page. Let's support an author who cannot access the internet to promote her book.

To read the first chapter of To Tempt a Sheikh, click here.

~Lily

Vampire Killing Kit on Auction



Auction Kings ran a segment with a vampire killing kit from the 1800s, complete with steel tipped weapons, herbs, holy water, and more for your favorite hunting sport. ;p This one sold for $12,000!

~Helena

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hollowland Sequel in the works!

Amanda Hocking posted on her blog a few days ago that she will start working on a sequel to Hollowland. Obviously no release dates have been considered at this point. Figured we would pass on our excitement to fellow readers and gratitude to Hocking! :)

~Helena

Review - Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither is Lauren DeStefano's debut novel and first in her Chemical Garden Trilogy.

Blurb from back cover:

"In the not-too-distant future, because of genetic engineering, every human is a ticking time bomb - males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty.  To keep the population from dying out, girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriages.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine is taken, she enters a world of wealth and privilege that both entices and terrifies her.  She has everything she ever wanted - except freedom.  With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to escape before it is too late."

I am torn on this review.  I love the concept and just recently began delving into dystopian lit as a genre.  As an aside, being in the medical field, the possible reality of this novel is terrifying.  There have been studies (yes I am a nerd) that have deleted certain genes from mouse models in an attempt to eliminate the threat of cancer.  The mice did not get cancer, but they experienced very limited lifespans.  This is because the same mechanisms that allow cancer cells to grow, also work to replenish our normal cells on a daily basis...but I won't bore you with the details that I don't completely know anyways.  I applaud DeStefano for her research, and if this was just an idea then you are one smart cookie ;p.  I also smiled when the term heterochromia graced the pages, but like I said mega dork here.

The novel seems divided into two sections for me, leaving me with vastly different opinions.  There is Rhine pre-escape attempt and Rhine post.  I had a very hard time relating to Rhine in the beginning.  She seemed emotionally distant to me and didn't react as I would expect.  She didn't outwardly express her fear, or act as the fighter that I wanted.  The first half of the novel, I got bogged down in the writing style.  Rhine told us how she viewed people, instead of leading us to agree with her through the actions/words of the other characters.  For example, I never felt resentful toward Linden.  He always seemed to be completely naive of the origin of the girls; more a captor of this situation as well, than a force to be hated.  Rhine and the others were terrified of Vaughn, but I didn't get to fully understand why until the latter half.  For these reasons, I had a difficult time connecting with the characters and the flow of the story was almost disjointed for me as a result.

The second half was completely different.  I loved Rhine's character, her duality to dream of freedom but still think of those she would be leaving behind to the fate of the mansion made her real.  The writing style seemed to change for me too, there was more action, more dialogue, more insight into other characters.  I finally saw and despised Vaughn.  Cecily went from being a static character into a multi faceted one.  Linden still struck me the same, but Rhine finally saw him for what I had all along.  I smiled, I was moved to tears, I sped through the pages.

Imagery throughout the novel is very powerful.  The descriptions of the Gatherers hit on primal fear.  All the books, soap operas, movies portray life as it was before...when everyone had 'normal' lifespans and life was a joy not spent in fear of dying at a young age.  What hit home the hardest for me, was that all these children grow up without parents.  Everyone dies so young, that there is no hope for a child to remember much of their parents.  We have children just to leave them unprotected in a cruel world where they will be expected to reproduce and die at a premature age as well.  Who will protect these young ones, who will make sure they are not extorted in the hopes of finding a cure, who will tuck them in at night?  Who will be left to keep the hope alive?

My favorite passage is when Rhine finds out the meaning of her name; the imagery is simply compelling.
Favorite line:
'The man in white says, "What fate has brought together, let no man tear asunder."
Fate, I think, is a thief.'

Since I have two completely different views of a single work, I decided to divide my rating accordingly.  The first portion I give a 3/5.  Second half earns a 4/5.  I am seriously considering re-reading the first bit to see if my opinion would change now that I know the characters better.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

~Helena

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

From my Kleenex fortress


In light of current medical conditions, this post is brought to you by Kleenex, Afrin nasal spray, and the Mucinex D that I had to sign my life away for.  Seriously people, stop making meth.  I may just send you all my dirty tissues in the mail to prove a point for all the sickies out there like me.  So while I wallow, bitch, and whine...I really am a pathetic baby, I decided to procrastinate more on my school work and bring you an update post.

I finished Shadowfever and it was FANTASTIC!!!  I will be doing a review in the near future.  Another gem that I finally found a copy of and read at breakneck speed was Vampirates.  Yes, the perfect combo to fulfill all my fantasies...too bad its a children's book *wink*.  A review will be done on that one too, because vampires + pirates...awesome sauce!


Just the other day, I downloaded a copy of Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter.  Yes, the title speaks for itself.  It is a Twilight parody with a political satirical twist.  It has kept me amused so far; right now I am at the halfway mark.  Betcha last dollar, you will see a blurb about it when I am done.

The dear mailman dropped off an ARC for me to finish this week.  Lauren DeStefano's first in her Chemical Garden trilogy, entitled Wither.  Really excited to dig in. :)

After I stop being all Sicky McSickerson, be prepared to see a lot more activity from me.
(no, it doesn't)

Keeping my germs to myself, for the most part...

~Helena

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Urban Fantasy Challenge 2011

Dark Faerie Tales, by far one of the most interesting "must read blogs" for paranormal fiction enthusiasts, has announced the Urban Fantasy Challenge 2011.

Rules are simple:
- Read 24 new Urban Fantasy novels in 2011

Um yeah, I think that about covers it ;)

I'll be reading and reviewing for this challenge throughout the year (perhaps even Helena will join in). If you are interested in participating - and you don't have to be a blogger to sign up - please go to this entry at Dark Faerie Tales from more information and instructions. Sign ups will last throughout the year. And, to make things even easier, a reading list of possible titles to chose from has already been posted. What's even cooler? Some of these are already on my TBR pile. First and foremost, Darynda Jones's First Grave of the Right, which I have heard nothing but FANTASTIC things about. A friend of mine who knows Darynda managed to get her hands on an ARC of it. She's been taunting me with it ever since.

So far, the titles I'm planning to read for the challenge are:
1. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
2. Dead on Delivery by Eileen Rendahl
3. Gods & Monsters by Lyn Benedict
4. Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep
5. Ascension by Sable Grace
6. Dead Waters by Anton Strout
7. Master and Apprentice by Sonya Bateman
8. Under Wraps by Hannah Jayne
9. Bloodshot by Cherie Priest
10. Visions of Magic by Regan Hastings
I'll figure out the rest as I go.

24 titles are currently listed, and Dark Faerie Tales will be updating the reading list throughout the year. Happy reading, everyone!

~Lily

Update:  List of read books

Helena - First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Lily - Lover Unleashed by JR Ward

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recommendsday Review - Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


Today's Recommendsday Reading is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I've held off on reviewing this book, mainly because I wanted to like it so much more than I did. But, its time has come.

From Barnes and Noble:
Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

***Spoiler Alert***

Why is it paranormal?
While it doesn't have vamps or shifters (or even one shambling zombie), Outlander does involve time travel. Because the time travel takes the heroine to the past, there is a great deal of Celtic lore and mythology wrapped into the story. There is a brief appearance by a water horse, possibly a changeling encounter, and it's likely the fae caused Claire's timeslip (fae being a far more interesting mode of time travel than a large rock).

What's great about it?
The depth and dimension of the characters is probably the strongest feature of this book. Claire and Jamie have layered personalities, and Gabaldon does not shy away from showing them at their lowest points. Gabaldon's knowledge of 18th century Highland life is nothing short of impressive. She describes the settings and mores of the time in minute detail. She includes Scottish words and phrases throughout, but uses them in a way that makes sense to contemporary readers without undue explanation. [Blogger's note - this may be the only aspect that doesn't receive undue explanation]

I also like that Claire is an atypical romance heroine. She's older than Jamie by several years in a time when life expectancies were much shorter and a 27 year old woman was nearing middle age. She's sexually experienced and Jamie is not. She's intelligent and capable, but also has moments where her temper gets the better of her and her stubbornness endangers both her and others. She's not perfect and the imperfections make her real.

What's not great about it?
It's a loooong book. I'm not a reader afraid of a book with weight to it, but I felt every one of those 800+ pages. I've seen some reviewers claim they flew through the book, never noticing how long it was. That was not my experience. The extreme detail caused the story to drag for me and I found myself wanting to skip sections of text - something I typically DO NOT do - to get back to the action.

I didn't feel any tension between the life and husband Claire left behind and her new life with Jamie in the past. I didn't believe Claire wanted to return to her own time, or that she really missed her husband. She adjusted to the past and Jamie too easily to be believable.

And here's my biggest problem with the story. I am not averse to graphic depictions of sex or violence, as long as it serves the story. I did not feel this was the case in Outlander. The sex was never quite sexy. If anything, it was unsettling, the big romantic scenes between Jamie and Claire triggering my "ick" receptors. There's a big difference between an alpha male taking the heroine in a way that makes her feel deliciously out of control, and an alpha male taking control of the heroine. With Jamie, although I did like him in a lot of ways, the caveman routine was a major turnoff, especially when he knew how it felt to be forced against his will.

Speaking of, the last 100 pages or so were entirely too much for me. Let me put this in perspective. One of my favorite books is Lover Awakened, in which the hero spends 100 years as a sex slave, abused in every way imaginable until he loses his humanity. So, I'm not necessarily turned off by storylines involving male sexual abuse, even of the hero. But whereas the hero in Lover Awakened walked a long, extremely difficult path towards healing and redemption, none of that was present here. Jamie's abuse seemed completely unnecessary. We already knew the villain was sexually perverted and evil, we already knew Jamie was a hero capable of withstanding the 58 metric tons of bullshit Gabaldon heaped upon him, and we already knew Claire was going to stay in the past. So...what was the point of the extended rape and torture routine? Nothing gained and it completely shaded the entire book for me. Jamie goes from emotionally crippled (duh) to emotionally fine (WTF?) in a hallucinated bout of beating and rough sex that Claire - for some ungodly reason - thought was a good idea. Yeah, I don't get it. At all.

The only excuse I can possibly find for the last 100 pages has nothing to do with the storyline and everything to do with the author (welcome to complete conjecture land, population me). There is a scene, earlier on in the story, where Claire endangers Jamie and his clansmen, and as a result he has to beat her. Is it offensive to my feminist sensibilities? Yes. Can I accept it as a part of the storyline, a part of that time period, and get over the fact that the hero beats the heroine he loves? Sure. I'm reading fiction, I can suspend my belief. I don't know that Gabaldon could get over it, though. Because for hundreds of pages after this scene, Jamie keeps rehashing the beating and/or his reasons for doing it and/or why it's ok for someone to act in that way. He does this not once or twice, but over and over and over

and over

AND OVER

and over again. It's like Gabaldon couldn't come to terms with what she had her hero do, so she had him apologize (to the reader, not the heroine) for the next 400 pages. And then, when all those apologies still weren't enough to purge him of past wrongs, he was punished in a way that made the beating he gave Claire look like a day at the spa. It got old, then ridiculous. I could deal with the beating, but I got so sick of the continued justifications of it I began skipping those parts of the text. I saw no point to the abuse Jamie suffered, and found no believable, tangible healing or redemption that allowed he and Claire to come together for their happily ever after. In short, the last 100 pages kinda ruined the 700 I read to get to that point. There's definitely some fantastic, praiseworthy parts to this story, and I hate that I have such a hard time calling them to mind in light of the way it ended.

I began Outlander with high hopes, having heard little more than praise for the series, and I'm disappointed I didn't enjoy it as much as believed I would. If you can get swept up in the story quickly, than Outlander may be the first of a captivating series for you. For me, it was a decent one-time-read, but I have no desire to continue on with the sequel.

Rating: 3/5

~Lily

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Paranormal Side of Real Life

In the past week, I've encountered this story several times. I know we generally stick to paranormal media on this blog, but I thought this story just may fit the paranormal bill.

There is a bridge called the Overtoun Bridge, near Dumbarton in Scotland, where dogs jump to their death.

That's the one purely factual statement I am able to make about this story, because all other details are either disputed or conjecture. Some say the first "dog suicide*" occurred in 1950. But other articles trace the weird occurrences back to the bridge's construction a century earlier. Some say 50 dogs have leaped to their death from the bridge. Some put that number closer to 600. Some blame paranormal phenomena, some blame human emotions of depression or despair that dogs are able to sense and react to, and some blame the repeated deaths on the local mink population.

We are so bad ass

The only thing the majority of articles agree upon is that this site, over the centuries, has witnessed a great deal of human tragedy. A number of articles also cite reports of unexplained phenomena occurring on or around the bridge. And, in Celtic mythology, Overtoun is known as a "thin" place, or place where the divide separating Earth and the spiritual realm is thinner and more easily penetrable.

I do not know why dogs are jumping over the Overtoun Bridge. I don't really believe dogs are mentally capable of premeditating their own deaths in a way that could label what these dogs have done "suicide." [Note - I have a dachshund, the most depressed, evolutionarily-challenged breed in existence. If dogs were capable of suicide, mine would have found a way]. But something is causing these pets to leap over the bridge. Is it paranormal or scientific? What do you think? Personally, I can't wait for resident veterinarian Helena to chime in.

The Face of Dog Depression
I have 3 inch legs and a 39 inch spine.
I bottom out on stairs. I can't scratch my own ears.
Kill me please.


If you are interested in learning more about this story:
History Mystery
Wikipedia
Slightly Warped
Cracked.com

~Lily

Friday, January 14, 2011

In the Name of all that's HOLY, part 2

Last time, on Holy Mother of Twilight Fail, we showed this picture of a egg-donor mom and her faux-tramp enstamped infant. Yes, it was the very definition of "Made of Fail."

Until now.

Oh, that's right. We've found an even greater "What the F@#K!" picture, where the tattoo is actually real.

***WARNING - HAZARDOUS TO HUMAN DECENCY***


There are so many issues of WRONG here that I can't begin to tackle them. I just...words are failing me.

~Lily

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shadowfever Spoiler Excerpt

Karen Marie Moning has released the first two chapters of her upcoming release Shadowfever. These chapters were leaked by a distributor without ill intent. As a result, Moning decided that all the fans should get access and decide for themselves if they want to know the answer to the big question. If you have read the series so far, you know exactly the question I am referring to. If you are still interested, click here.

Situations where book material has been leaked are not a new thing. I remember when Stephanie Meyer revealed that she would be taking a break from the writing of Midnight Sun due to leakage. You can read her partial draft online as well.

It is heartbreaking to me that these situations have ruined the experiences for readers and authors alike. Accidents happen and those are unavoidable; however, intentional posting of spoilers for unreleased works is just plain wrong. Even spoilers for released books bother me; that is why Lily and I are so diligent about posting huge warnings before putting any spoilers in any of our posts. The authors work too hard and the readers anticipate each installment too much for their hard work and enjoyment to be ruined.

*off mini soapbox*

~Helena

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Recommendsday Review - Love Bites by Lynsay Sands


Today's Recommendsday Review is Love Bites by Lynsay Sands.

There was a time when I loved Lynsay's Sands' stories, and this is one of the stories that made me fall for her. Unfortunately, our love affair was meant to be brief, but this story is still worth a reading if you're looking for a fluffy vamp tale to enjoyably pass some time.

***Spoiler Alert***

The second in the Argeneau Vampire series, Love Bites tells the story of 300 year old, vampire computer nerd Etienne Argeneau and coroner Rachel Garrett. From the back cover:

"Etienne Argeneau's three hundred years of bachelorhood were at an end. Either that, or he'd be forever alone. He could only "turn" one human in his lifetime, and most of his kind reserved that power for creating a life mate. If he turned the wrong woman . . . But what choice did he have? He had to save Rachel Garrett. He didn't know her very well, but the beautiful coroner had saved his life. To save hers he would make her immortal.

Rachel Garrett awoke surprised. All she'd wanted was to get off the night shift at the morgue; now here she was staggering to her feet naked and in a strange place. But everything would be all right. She'd just make like a bat out of- Then she saw the man of her dreams emerging from his...coffin? And the look i his bright silver eyes said they'd be spending a lot of time together. She just hoped he tasted as good as he looked."

Etienne, despite being 300 years old and as close to immortal as anyone becomes in Sands' world, is nothing if not a slightly inept nerd. He's created the best-selling vampire computer game in existence, yet finds himself unable to deal with a pesky, bumbling human named Pudge who wants him dead.

Pudge, however simple he may be, does manage to twice land Etienne in the coroner's office. The first time it's a bullet to the heart. The second time ends in a fire that renders Etienne unrecognizable. But it's Pudge's third attempt at vampirecide that sparks the romantic plot of the story. When Pudge storms Dr. Garrett's office with an axe, intent on ending Etienne's long life once and for all, the lovely coroner feels compelled to protect what she believes to be a dead body. No, it didn't make sense to me either, and all Rachel manages to do is get herself mortally wounded. To save her, Etienne does the only thing he knows how...he changes her into a vampire.

What follows is a comedy of errors wherein Etienne attempts to woo Rachel, and Rachel convinces herself she's delusional. The tension is weak, the sex is sugary sweet, and the plot is pushed forward through a series of minor misunderstandings and family meddling that eventually leads Rachel and Etienne to their happily ever after. It's light, it's fluffy, and if you're not a fan of the darker urban fantasy tales, it will probably amuse the pants off of you.

And take heart! If you like Love Bites, you're in luck. The next 6 books in the series have roughly the same plot and characters, just with different names and professions.

Rating: 3/5

~Lily

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book By Its Cover - Paranormalcy


Today's Book By Its Cover is Kiersten White's YA debut Paranormalcy.

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Evie's job is bagging and tagging paranormals. Possessing the strange ability to see through their glamours, she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. But when someone--or something--starts taking out the vamps, werewolves, and other odd beasties she's worked hard to help become productive members of society, she's got to figure it out before they all disappear and the world becomes utterly normal.

Normal is so overrated.


Lily's Thoughts:

I think the cover is lovely; the darkened sky, the cattails bowing in the wind. Even so, I can't get over the creepy similarity the model bears to Scarlett Johansson. Seriously. It can't just be me seeing this, right? I imagine this is what a young, paranormal Scarlett Johansson would look like...if, you know, someone stole her soul leaving her dead eyed and hollow.

*Shudder*


Helena's Thoughts:

I love the cattails blowing in the wind and the stormy sky background. The girl is just a little weird. What is with the completely vacant stare? And her dress looks exactly like my dog's Halloween costume. Yes I dress up my animals and yes she has been a pretty in pink princess complete with hat and train for years. :) I agree with the statement that normal is overrated. I don't quite get why the girl is so glamorous looking if she works with a secret paranormal agency. I would expect more of a black leather tough exterior...maybe that was the whole idea though, to drive home that things are not always what they seem. The story sounds pretty neat but typical of the genre. I am really not sold on the cover but it does have its cool points.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's a Good Night

Auburn just won the National Championship!!! That's makes this a pretty awesome night. I'm celebrating, Helena's celebrating, and what better way to celebrate than throwing toilet paper into trees, um, blogging?

What? Celebrations become far lamer once you leave Auburn. And no, rolling Toomer's is not lame. It's a tradition. It has history. It's...BACK OFF.

Ahem. What I mean to say is, congrats to the Auburn Football Team and the entire Auburn family. Much like ZombieCat, our happiness cannot be contained.

Told you.

War Damn CAM Eagle!
~Lily

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shopping Spree

I was in Target this morning and picked up a new notebook!



Then at Bath and Body Works, this gem caught my eye:


I love finding random paranormal goodies.  Happy hunting!

~Helena

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Supermodels vs Zombies


I saw this on DicE Magazine. Not sure if it originated there or not, but it is funny.

~Lily

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Recommendsday Review - Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning


Karen Moning's Fever Series is four books deep with a fifth slated for release on January 18th.

I acquired the first novel, Darkfever, as a free promotion on the Kindle back in July.  Quite a few of my friends have vehemently demanded that I read the series with the impatient promise that "we have much to discuss."  Much like Jericho Barrons' character, my friends would not explain the reasoning behind their obsession, just that I must join them.  So, finals ended leaving me with a void of time to fill; finally, I caved in and started reading.

Darkfever introduces us to MacKayla Lane, a young twenty-some years old, bubbly, "pink and rainbows" girl with the typical self-centered and free-spirited personality of many of our current generation.  We join Mac soaking up the summer sun at her backyard pool jamming out to "It's a Wonderful World."  This wonderful world shatters when Mac's older sister, Alina, is murdered.  Mac is determined to find her sister's killer and dole out a heaping dose of revenge.  She hops on a plane to Ireland and traces her sister's footsteps, leading her straight into a world she never knew existed and into a side of herself she was completely unaware of.  The Lane sisters are sidhe-seers, capable of seeing the Fae in all their gore and glory.  Dublin is overrun with the dark and sadistic fae, hellbent on consuming all that the city has to offer.  Joining ranks with Barrons, a mysterious otherworldly bookstore owner, Mac gets sucked into a harrowing plot to stop the fae encroachment, fueled by her desire of revenge for her sister.

I was not completely sold on Darkfever.  The novel was so hyped up from my friends that I think I expected more than I got.  I also had a hard time connecting with Mac.  She was just too spoiled, self centered, and perky for my liking.  Barrons was easier for me to connect to, which makes me wonder a tad about myself, haha.  I continued with the series because I wanted to know what captured everyone's attention so raptly.  I am so glad I did. :)  Rating: 3.5/5

Bloodfever is the second in line.  The story takes on a darker air which sucked me right in.  The action is crazy fast and nerve racking!  Tension between Barrons and Mac rises, V'lane, a fae prince, becomes a larger player on the chessboard of this plot.  Mac's personality develops and we get a sense of what she is actually made of.  I adore this new change and started to connect with her.  Her plight became my plight, her confusion and frustration with Barrons and V'lane became mine.  Bit by bit, Moning reveals facts, deceptions, and secrets of the Fae-Dublin collision course.  Mac learns that there are many things to fear, including the fae, shadows, mobsters, and parts of Barrons himself.  Make sure to read Mac's journal at the end of each book, it helps to remind yourself of key plot points and build more cohesion in your quest for the answers Mac seeks.  Rating: 4.5/5

Faefever comes in third.  This series seriously gets better with each installment; easily portrayed in my increased ratings. I am vague about plot points on purpose, I really do not want to spoil this series for those that have not started it.  I will have a small spoiler section about my anticipations for Shadowfever at the end of this entry so be forewarned.  Mac continues to grow as a character, gaining more crimson and black and less of the bubblegum pink sweetness.  V'lane and Barrons continue to be major influences on Mac's actions; and continue to act as her personal saviors, yet their own personal agendas do not go unnoticed.  As Mac's powers grow, she realises more and more how big her role is in the fate of our world.  The ending to this one is not for the faint of heart.  I felt powerless, reading in horror; feeling for Mac in a way that I never would have anticipated when I read Darkfever.  Rating: 5/5

Dreamfever the fourth installment picks up right where Faefever left us hanging. The intensity between Barrons and Mac is palpable and heart wrenching.  Mac is stronger than ever, with new found powers that make her nearly invincible.  Juggling all her contacts, friends, and allies, Mac is crazy busy and still not quite sure who she can trust completely.  The action sequences are great.  World building deserves an A plus.  Despite my attempts to savor each chapter, I found myself flying through the pages.  I loved this novel.  Mac is far from the princess she appeared to be at the beginning of the series; I find myself actually wishing for some of the carefreeness back.  If she isn't careful, the dark world will completely mold her into something I don't want to even consider.  It makes me want to send her a mini rainbow or something lol.  Ending is excruciating.  I am so glad that January 18th is close!  Rating: 5/5

 And as promised:

*WARNING: SPOILERS  SPOILERS  SPOILERS*



Ye have been warned!

The following is a text conversation I had with one of my friends privy to the series:

Helena: What?!  No!  Son of a bitch!  Damn you fever series!
Friend:  Lol I told u
F: It's f*cking horrible
F: At least we only have to wait 19 more days
H: I was happily reading thru at 91 percent done on my kindle.  So I was like, ok still have about 5 percent left of story.  Then bam I hit the next button and was like woah woah woah not cool ahhhh
F: I know.  F*cking cliff hanger
F: And the worst too.  Bc I keep thinking it's barrons
H: I dunno.  I mean she heard the monster when he was right there in the garage.  Im wondering if its dreamy eyed boy.  I gotta find the one passage at the bar and read it again.  If you read his entry in her journal at the end of dreamfever it sounds strange.  But nothing is certain with that series.  It could be V'lane, Barrons, apparitions of her family, or Alina, too many possibles
F: I know. Gah
H: And Ryodan told her not to look and to run.  So he knew.  Geez not fair lol.  It's bittersweet though that it's the last novel of the series.
F: I know.  And it was actually written really well too
H: It was.  I didn't really like the first book, but then it picked up and hooked me.  I wanna know who her dad is.  I bet its a doozy.

Coming into this series so late in the game, I was granted the reprieve of not having to wait for cliff hanger resolution.  Now I am clinging to the edge of a precipice with nails chewed down to the quick.  Ahhh!  Come on Moning, I am dying here!

My mind is swirling with questions.  Who is laying at her feet?  Who is her father?  Where is the LM?  What are Rowena and the other sidhe seers doing?  Where is Christian?  Where/Who is Barrons really?  Will Mac and Barrons finally admit their feelings for each other?  What happened to V'lane?  Are Mac's parents ok?  What is the LM's ultimate goal?  And where/what is that freaking book?!


What are your questions/theories/musings about this series and the upcoming Shadowfever release?

~Helena

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Vampires vs Zombies: Battle for the Guinea Pigs

As Lily mentioned in her review of Flip This Zombie, guinea pigs are no longer just a timid squealing childhood pet.  These critters are hitting the zombie streets; as well as tantalizing the taste buds of vampires.  That's right folks, vamps enjoy rodent blood.

*drum roll, please*

Enter Catherine Jinks' novel The Reformed Vampire Support Group!

(Ta da!)

Blurb from amazon:
"Nina Harrison has been 15 years old since 1973. That's because she is a vampire. She and the members of the Reformed Vampire Support Group break the mold when compared to the accepted vampire lore that has been around since the time of Count Dracula. They are not beautiful, strong, powerful, rich, or in control. Instead they are sickly, struggling just to stay alive, living on the blood of the..."

Wait for it...wait for it...
 
"guinea pigs" (LMAO YES!)  


"...they keep, and making the best of their affliction. They have vowed not to drink human blood or be responsible for the creation of another vampire. Nina hates her boring, uneventful life, which changes drastically when Casimir is staked and the group, realizing that the killer knows who and where they are, all move in with Nina and her mother, a nonvampire. With only a silver bullet as a clue to track the vampire slayer, Nina, Dave, and Father Ramon, who sponsors the group, set out on a dangerous journey. Along the way they rescue a werewolf from an illegal fight ring, deal with a villainous father/son team, and discover that their immortal lives might have more to offer than they ever thought."

Recently our posts have centered around zombies, so I figured the vampires deserved the chance to reclaim their blog. :)  Now I am off to find other items for my amusement.

~Helena

Book By Its Cover - Dust



Today's book by its cover review is Dust by Joan Frances Turner.

Synopsis:

Nine years ago, Jessie had a family. Now, she has a gang.
Nine years ago, Jessie was a vegetarian. Now, she eats very fresh meat.
Nine years ago, Jessie was in a car crash and died. Nine years ago, Jessie was human.
Now, she's not.


After she was buried, Jessie awoke and tore through the earth to arise, reborn, as a zombie. Jessie's gang is the Fly-by-Nights. She loves the ancient, skeletal Florian and his memories of time gone by. She's in love with Joe, a maggot-infested corpse. They fight, hunt, dance together as one - something humans can never understand. There are dark places humans have learned to avoid, lest they run into zombie gangs.


But now, Jessie and the Fly-by-Nights have seen new creatures in the woods - things not human and not zombie. A strange new illness has flamed up out of nowhere, causing the undeads to become more alive and the living to exist to the brink of death. As bits and pieces of the truth fall around Jessie, like the flesh off her bones, she'll have to choose between looking away or staring down the madness - and hanging onto everything she has come to know as life...

Helena's thoughts:

I love this cover.  The leaf is gorgeous and stuck in that limbo that all zombies are...between life and death, between green and crispy.  The title is pretty nifty for a zombie novel.  Although I don't really like the weird white fuzzy figure at the bottom; reminds me of the abominable snowman.
Oh lord!  Can you imagine?  What if the crazy yeti was a zombie?!  I smell a wonderfully awful tongue in cheek story idea! ;p  Looking forward to reading Dust and enjoying the top half of this cover.

Lily's thoughts:

Cover, schmover. This book is about ZOMBIES! Zombies may not hit the same hot scale that vampires, werewolves, and shifters (oh my!) do, but they are completely kick ass all on their own. They don't need to be hot. Why? Because they're fucking AWESOME, that's why.

Ok, now that I've gotten that out of my system. As for the cover, I'm afraid it doesn't really do much for me. As simple as it is, the images that are there conflict. I like the leaf, slowly disintegrating, because it speaks to the same process of life, death, and decay that all things experience, including zombies who take those steps a bit out of order. But then the bottom of the cover kills the symbolic imagery at the top. What is it supposed to be? Fog? Steam? Mist? Wind? Condensation on a shower door? I just don't get it and instead of adding to the simple yet powerful image of the decaying leaf, it detracts with its confusing nature.

Love the concept of the book. Can't wait to read about zombie gangs. Not a fan of the cover.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Review - World War Z by Max Brooks

I've hesitated to review this next book. And by "hesitated," I mean I've been putting it off for several years. It's easy to review books you hate. You make a few snarky remarks, warn others to dodge the bullet you've taken, and move on. It's easy to review books you like. You chat them up a bit and encourage your friends to check them out too. But books you truly love, books that haunt your memory years after the initial reading, those are always difficult to review. How can you succinctly explain the awesome power of a work that came out of nowhere and grabbed you, refusing to let go? It's difficult, to say the least. Even so, I'm going to try.

World War Z:An Oral History of the Zombie War kicks ass.


Well, I think that about wraps it up...

You want more? Oh, ok. How about I let the book speak for itself?

From Barnes and Noble:
"The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”"

The synopsis doesn't lie. World War Z reads like a collection of firsthand, survivor accounts of a fictionalized time when an undead menace nearly overtook our world. Each story is powerful in it's own way, whether it's a foreign smuggler's recollection of those first panicked weeks when the infection spread, or a suburban housewife's tale of the living dead crashing through her living room window. Some are personal tales, an individual person's encounter with the undead, and some take on a more global perspective, like the Australian astronaut who remained in space to keep necessary global satellites operational, but was forced to watch the destruction of the planet from afar.

I can't review each individual tale. Just read them. Read all of them. Then store the book on your shelf because in a little while, you're going to want to read them again.

I know this review sucks, but what can I say? This book is at once tragic, and hopeful, and funny, and more than anything else it makes you think. It takes a fictional menace and presents it in a way that makes it seem not just plausible, but utterly, terrifyingly real.

In short, World War Z kicks ass.

Rating: 5/5

~Lily

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review - Flip This Zombie by Jesse Petersen

I think it only fair to warn you the original title of this blog post was "Holy F**king Sh*t! Tales of zombie guinea pigs and more!"

I know, I know. Watch your language. It's something I've heard since fourth grade when a teacher first overheard me calling a little boy on the playground a dickhead. In my defense, he was a dickhead. In my further defense, the book I'm about to review makes full use of the terms I'm most frequently chastised for...and several of the main characters, including an 11 year old boy with a potty mouth to rival South Park, are also frequently admonished to watch their language.

And besides, who can pay attention to something as silly as language when there are zombie guinea pigs to be discussed. Can you sense my excitement?

Zombie. Guinea. Pigs.

(Note: do NOT do a google image search of "zombie guinea pigs" without filters. There are some sick people out there.)


Where do I even start? How about with the title. I just finished the second installment of Jesse Petersen's Living with the Dead series, Flip This Zombie. The first in the series, Married with Zombies, is a delightful comedic romp the lovely Helena reviewed just last month. Flip This Zombie picks up right where Married left off, charging full speed ahead through a series of twists, turns, and zombie mayhem that will have you finishing the book in one sitting.

Sarah and David, the formerly dysfunctional couple who opened Married on the brink of divorce, have found zombieland capable of doing what their marriage counselor couldn't - repairing their relationship and forming them into a team. A team of happily married zombie exterminators, to be exact. Together they prowl the badlands of Arizona, picking up the odd zombie extermination job, when they encounter something far more deadly than your average, run shamble of the mill zombie. The zombies, it seems, are evolving. But who, or what, is behind these newer, stronger, "bionic" zombies? And what happens when the greatest danger of all is not the undead, but the twisted desires of the living?

Flip This Zombie is a fast read. I finished it in one sitting, and enjoyed every moment. While it has it's share of funny, sarcastic humor, it is also touching in places. Sarah and David are real people, with real flaws and faults, who sometimes let their pride and stubbornness get in their way. But they also realize their short comings, and try to make the best of a life spun far out of their control. So, as much as this is a lighthearted comedy, it also has a strong message about hope and the endurance of humanity even at the brink of extinction.

If anything, I wish the story was longer. I also wish it fleshed out the "bionic" zombies, and their abilities, a bit more. The resolution came quickly after a long build up, but it was satisfying nonetheless.

And seriously, zombie guinea pigs. Do you understand how hard it is NOT to spoil the final scene with the zombie pigs? Squeaking, ferocious, undead rodents, intent on human flesh but still trapped within tiny, fur-covered bodies. The mental pictures, they amuse me.

Go forth. Buy this. Read this. Comment here about your love of the series. If you still have reservations, you can read the first chapter for free courtesy of Jesse's website. Then you too can fall in love only to be tortured by the 6 month wait until the third installment, Eat, Slay, Love, becomes available in June.

Rating: 4.5/5


~Lily

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

The makers of J├Ągermeister would like to invite you to party like a zombie this new year. We at Vamps R Us endorse this message (as long as you're of legal age).



I don't know why zombies would insist upon ice cold shots of jager, and frankly I prefer not to think too much about it (it brings up imagery of other zombie preferred snacks, like brains), but I enjoyed the sign at my local liquor store and felt compelled to share.

Here's to partying like a zombie, and NOT feeling like one the morning after!

Happy New Year,
Lily
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