Archive for 4 Points: I would make dinner for this book.
The Body Finder
The Last Echo
Genre: Teen Paranormal
Other Info: For some very bizarre reason, (that probably made sense to me at the time), I’ve only reviewed Desires of the Dead on this blog. I would like you to know that, despite that fact, I am current with this series.
Description and link from Goodreads):
Violet thought she’d made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers…that is until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team Violet works for have no intention of letting her go.
When someone close to Violet becomes a suspect in a horrific murder, she finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a madman with an army of devoted followers. Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself.
Now I’m an “adult,” I sometimes reconnect with old, childhood friends. I’m always delighted to see them and I always enjoy the time we spend catching up. After we part ways, I have pleasant memories and, while I’ll likely say to myself, “It would be nice to see him/her again,” I won’t be counting down the days until we are reunited. I think about those friends occasionally and tell myself I should call them, but mostly, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Until the next time, when I’m just as thrilled to see them as I was before life swept me up in its busy tide.
I have much the same relationship with The Body Finder books. I know that Kimberly Derting will always show me a good time, and I know I’ll want to read her books as they are published, but my liking for her lacks the urgency I feel for, say, Kelley Armstrong’s YA novels. Which is a shame, really. I always think I should appreciate The Body Finder books more than I do but, hey, if I don’t feel it, I don’t feel it–right?
Dead Silence follows the same formula as the previous books–Violet senses an echo and is unable to resist following it. So far, despite her ability to sense and hear echoes, Violet has kept her school life at school and her crime-fighting life…not. This time the murders bring Violet’s two worlds to a collision point. And it doesn’t help that Rafe and Gemma have enrolled in her high school.
The collision of Violet’s two worlds is further emphasized by her relationships with the two males in her life. Jay, her best friend and boy friend is a constant–always has been, always will be. But then there’s Rafe. Dead Silence flirts on the edge of the idea of a love triangle and goes not a step further. There’s obviously some connection between Violet and Rafe but what it is and what it means for her relationship with Jay is murky at best. I’m getting mixed signals from Derting. One minute Violet’s world is complete with Jay. The next, Rafe has dug up a dead body to help Violet. Can Violet have both boys? I’m starting to wish it was possible. And if I had to pick the main characters in these books, they’d be Violet and Rafe, not Violet and Jay.
While Dead Silence is another solid entry in this solid series, I’d label it as its weakest. The story didn’t really go anywhere and even the emotional arc felt muddled. I found myself wondering if Derting herself knew where her series was headed. Furthermore, I had a really hard time remembering the details of Violet’s school life and friends, which made it difficult for me to care about the storyline with her best friend, Chelsea. At this point, even Jay is starting to blend into the background. Too many characters and flitting in and out of the story and I fail to become emotionally invested.
What I think (or maybe just what I’d like to see) is an end to Violet’s story (or maybe a firm direction for it). Then I’d like Rafe to have a story of his own. Rafe is clearly the male lead and the male lead needs to get his girl. If it’s not going to be Violet (and I sure hope it’s not Chelsea) then he needs a story of his own. I’d totally read that.
Questions to nibble on:
- Do you agree that Rafe is the male lead?
- What would you like to see happen next in this series?
- Why do think we saw so little of Jay in Dead Silence?
- If you haven’t read the book yet: How do you feel about a love interest that isn’t the male lead?
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Source: Received from the publisher for review.
Status: First in the Game of Shadow series by Thea Harrison.
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Reincarnation
Other Info: Harrison is also the author of the Elder Races books, which are completely wonderful. Also, tomorrow, I interview Thea–there’ll be a giveaway!
Description and link from Goodreads):
In the hospital ER where she works, Mary is used to chaos. But lately, every aspect of her life seems adrift. She’s feeling disconnected from herself. Voices appear in her head. And the vivid, disturbing dreams she’s had all her life are becoming more intense. Then she meets Michael. He’s handsome, enigmatic and knows more than he can say. In his company, she slowly remembers the truth about herself…
Thousands of years ago, there were eight of them. The one called the Deceiver came to destroy the world, and the other seven followed to stop him. Reincarnated over and over, they carry on—and Mary finds herself drawn into the battle once again. And the more she learns, the more she realizes that Michael will go to any lengths to destroy the Deceiver.
Then she remembers who killed her during her last life, nine hundred years ago…Michael.
Thea Harrison is awesome. I mean–seriously–let’s just get that out of the way. That said, and while I know comparisons are odious, you need to know that Rising Darkness is no Dragon Bound. I enjoyed it, it’s an engrossing story, and I’d recommend it to any Nalini Singh fan (especially those who enjoyed the Guild Hunter series). However, it lacked the entrancing magic of the Elder Races series. I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series, though, and I sincerely hope that Thea writes more in this universe. In particular, I hope we get to see something of the other couples–what an inadequate word!–like Mary and Michael.
Rising Darkness is a road romance. At the beginning of the story the heroine, Mary, is living a somewhat normal life. She’s a doctor, which keeps her busy, but not too busy to keep in touch with her ex-husband. The two of them are friends; their marriage was something of a failed experiment. Mary wasn’t really that into the sex and her husband hadn’t been ready to admit that he was gay. Now that the marriage is over, they’re much better friends. Good enough for Justin to pester Mary into seeing his doctor boyfriend when he thinks she isn’t feeling well.
Mary, wanting to avoid this, leaves her apartment. This turns out to be the best decision she ever made (and not, sadly, her ex-husband’s). It turns out that the dreams that have haunted Mary since childhood aren’t just dreams. She’s part of a half, and it’s a man named Michael who will hep her create the whole. Unfortunately, meeting each other (in this life) won’t fix everything. The Deceiver is after Mary, and he’ll stop at nothing to get her on his side. Mary and Michael meet just in the nick of time–and hit the road together. It’s a journey into their past lives together as much as it’s a trip in search of a safe haven.
This brings me to my favorite part of the novel. I liked Mary and Michael a lot (and their chemistry is phenomenal), but the villain of this piece was the one I turned pages in order to see again. He’s diabolical, methodical, cunning and funny. Even when he was doing despicable things, I was making excuses for him. Think Damon from The Vampire Diaries. Think Reseph from Larissa Ione’s Lord of Deliverance series. Except possibly less redeemable. Luckily there’s a book two. Villains can’t change in a day!
My last thought on Rising Darkness–the delightful read that it was–has to do with a personal preference. This is a duology, meaning the story will arc over two books. The way I like series books best is when each volume is a contained story in itself, and together the entire set tells a larger story. While Rising Darkness does tell a contained story–Mary and Michael’s finding each other again–it relies a bit too much on there being a future second novel. I’m fine with not having all the answers, but certain areas of the mythology could have been explored in this volume. Of course, I’m presuming more will be revealed in book two.
None of this stops me from suggesting that you read this book ASAP. Rising Darkness is a book no Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy fan should pass up!
Don’t miss my interview with Thea Harrison! It’ll be posted tomorrow–along with a Rising Darkness giveaway!
Narrator: Allison Ryan
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Source: Audible (purchased by self)
Status: First in Lisa McMann’s newest series.
Genre: YA Paranormal
Other Info: Lisa McMann created one of my dearest book boyfriends, Jacian Obregon, for the delightful Cryer’s Cross.
Description and link from Goodreads):
If what you see is what you get, Jules is in serious trouble. The suspenseful first in a series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Wake trilogy.
Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that.
What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode…and nine body bags in the snow.
The vision is everywhere—on billboards, television screens, windows—and she’s the only one who sees it. And the more she sees it, the more she sees. The vision is giving her clues, and soon Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it’s someone she knows. Someone she has been in love with for as long as she can remember.
In this riveting start to a gripping series from New York Times bestselling author Lisa McMann, Jules has to act—and act fast—to keep her vision from becoming reality.
Lisa McMann appears to be one of those authors people either love or hate. People have pretty dichotomous opinions of the Wake Trilogy, for example, and that’s one of the major reasons that I haven’t tried it, despite owning book one. However, I read (and loved) Cryer’s Cross, so I’ve been eager to try some more of McMann’s work. Crash seemed like the perfect compromise–a brand new slate–a book I hadn’t spoiled for myself by reading conflicting reviews.
Crash tells the story of Jules–middle child, loner and, most recently, seer of visions. Her parents own the second-best pizza place in town, so most of her free time is spent working–either in the restaurant or in the giant meatball truck. She’s close to her older brother and younger sister, but otherwise keeps her head down, socially speaking. Growing up, she was good friends with the son of the absolute pizza place in town; a friendship that ended because of family rivalry. Since 8th Grade, Jules and Sawyer have hardly spoken, but that doesn’t mean Jules has stopped caring.
Which is why, when the visions of the crash show Sawyer in a body bag, Jules knows she has to act. She knows she might be crazy–after all, it runs in the family–but she can’t sit back and do nothing. When warning Sawyer doesn’t work (surprise, surprise), she decides to delve further into the visions and find a way to stop the accident from happening. What follows is Jules skirting the line between sanity and insanity, choosing to look crazy because it’s the right thing to do and, for the first time, deciding not to take the path of least resistance.
One thing this book does really well is explore the thin line between paranormal and crazy. In stories where the MC is introduced to the paranormal for the first time, there always comes a point where the characters are required to suspend disbelief. It’s so easy for authors to get this wrong. To have the MC become a believer too quickly or not quickly enough can make or break a story. McMann nails it; Jules’ feelings and thoughts about her visions are just what I’d imagine my own to be, and that makes them awesomely authentic.
McMann also creates a compelling family dynamic, from the close relationship between Jules and her older brother, Trey, to their dysfunctional parents. Less successful is the romance between Jules and Sawyer. As a love interest, Sawyer definitely has potential (and their star-crossed love is inherently interesting), but the two don’t get enough screen time. Er, page time? At any rate, most of the story is dedicated to questioning Jules’ sanity or her figuring out how to prevent the crash. I’m willing to forgive a little since this is the beginning of the series, but it would be nice to see non-crash related stuff fleshing out future stories.
I’ll definitely be checking out the next book in this series. McMann was able to mix the expected with the unexpected at the end, and what happens next should be interesting. I’m also looking forward to catching up with Jules’ siblings!
Genre: Paranormal Romance, The Fae
Other Info: Hunter’s Season takes place between Oracle’s Moon and the upcoming Lord’s Fall. It takes place in the realm of the Fae, where Niniane presides, with Tiago as her consort, husband and personal sex god. Whoops, said that out loud, didn’t I?
Description and link from Goodreads):
Only Thea Harrison could make me excited about a Fae story. I mean, seriously, the woman is a writing goddess. Her heroines kick butt and make me laugh and her heroes are alpha males capable of compassion and tenderness. So, when Ms. Harrison revealed the cover for Hunter’s Season, my feelings were mixed. Half of me was all, “Aw, man! What’s with the pointy ears!” And the other half sat back and pointed out that this was Thea Harrison. Fae or no, this was going to be a hero to swoon for.
I admit, though: initially, I was afraid that Thea Harrison had let me down. Hunter’s Seasonstarts off a little slowly. We’re treated to Xanthe’s return to the land of the Dark Fae in homey detail. It’s the kind of stuff that I’d love in a full-length novel. In a novella? Every word needs to count. I wanted to jump ahead to the action. The good thing about the slow beginning, though, was that we got to revisit Niniane and Tiago right away–which was fun and funny. Niniane’s proclivity for floofy lingerie makes an appearance and Tiago is as indulgent (and protective) of his “Faerie” as ever.
More so than the other novellas, Hunter’s Season is light on the action. There is a sort-of mystery, but it’s solved off-screen and not by the main characters. The resolution is neither forced, nor left unexplained. And yet…I was disappointed by it. The romance is sweet (okay, smokin’) and I wanted it for both Xanthe and Aubrey, but that’s all this story really was–a romance. I prefer the fullness of Dragon Bound and Oracle’s Moon. I don’t think I’d ever pass up an opportunity to read a Thea Harrison book, but for my money? The full-length novel is where it’s at.
‘Scuze me, have you entered my
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Status: Second in the Razorland series, following Enclave. The third book in the series, Horde.
Genre: Teen Paranormal. Mostly YA Thriller.
Other Info: There is also a short story, Endurance, about Deuce’s “brat-mates,” Stone and Thimble.
Description and link from Goodreads):
Outpost picks up Deuce’s story some time after the ending of Enclave. The four teenagers: Deuce, her partner, Fade, Stalker and Tegan have been in Salvation long enough to settle in a bit. Deuce, though she’s been fostered with a nice older couple, feels like a fish out of water in peaceful, segregated Salvation. It’s a place where her role as a Huntress isn’t respected, where she doesn’t know the rules, and where she isn’t allowed to do the one thing she knows best: fight. And, to add insult to injury, Fade isn’t talking to her.
If you read Enclave, you’ll remember that the misunderstanding between Deuce and Fade began in the last book. Fortunately, just as I was preparing for some serious eye-rolling that could have been cleared up by a simple conversation, they sat down and talked things out. I was kind of worried this was going to be the conflict for this novel. Sadly, even as this worry dissipated, it gave way to a new one: Fade started to irritate me. I like an alpha hero who is territorial, but Fade’s “back off” attitude comes off as insecurity, which is not attractive in a guy. Moreover, this was not the Fade I remember from Enclave. That Fade was swoon-worthy, if a bit of a doofus in the last half. This Fade was pesky and wee bit helpless.
Which brings me to Stalker. In any other book, I’d write him off as no love interest at all. I kept thinking that Stalker was hero material, not runner up material. Then I’d shake my head and remind myself that he’s a rapist. I remember having mixed feelings about Stalker at the end of Enclave, and Outpost merely increases my confusion on the issue. I tend to think pretty black-and-white around the subject of rape–It’s just wrong!–but Aguirre had me doing some pretty serious second-guessing. I think I’ll have mixed feelings regardless of who Deuce chooses. And there’s a large part of me that can’t fathom her choosing Stalker at all.
In large part, my Stalker-confusion was a result of Deuce’s ruminations on the concept of not knowing any better. Basically, the question is this: if you’re raised to believe that something (e.g., rape, murder) is a necessary evil of your society, are you to blame for your actions? I would argue that, socially acceptable or not, if your conscience tells you “NO!” then it doesn’t matter what your society says. However, what are we but a product of our culture? Isn’t that how we develop our sense of right and wrong? And, if I’m supposed to suspend disbelief long enough to forgive Deuce for killing someone because her society raised her to believe it was right (and just), then how can I not do the same for Stalker? Even having finished the novel, I don’t have an answer to this question. I don’t even know if Aguirre is proposing one. What I can tell you is that I love that Outpost encouraged me to think about it. Critical thinking for the win!
An additional point that I want to bring up is that, while I liked that Deuce’s society had evolved in a way that is vastly different from Salvation, I’m bummed that Aguirre succumbed to the tradition of a male chauvinistic society. It makes sense to me that, after a time of uncertainty and despair, people would turn to a Higher Power. But there are other religions, and other ways to believe. Witness the bizarre way that Deuce’s enclave had evolved . I’d like to see Aguirre put some of that original world-building into the topside settlements, too. Hopefully, in further books, Deuce will visit other communities with other philosophies. There’s a wealth of possibility that I can’t wait to explore.
I found Outpost an easy read, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did Enclave. In the first book, I remember feeling like there was a pretty significant divide in how I felt about the first half versus how I felt in the second. I didn’t have that feeling in Outpost. Here, there were parts that I liked and parts I didn’t throughout the novel. I liked that Deuce finds a family. I didn’t like the way that Tegan pushed Deuce away in the beginning of the novel and then did a 180 halfway through. Although my feelings are mixed, they make me no less excited to read Horde. Anne Aguirre is nothing if not a talented, thought-provoking writer.
‘Scuze me, have you entered my