Monday, September 27, 2010


by Chloe Neill

All her life, Lily Parker has lived with her parents in a small town in New York.  When her parents get the opportunity of a lifetime to take a sabbatical to Germany for their research, they inexplicably send Lily to a very expensive boarding school in Chicago instead of taking her with them or leaving her with her best friend's family.

Now Lily has to learn how to live life on a tight schedule, in a building build like a maze, led by a hard-nosed matron, in a small school smack in the middle of Chi-town.  And she has to wear a uniform!  Ugh!

Of course, being a new junior in a school full of girls who've known each other for years is tough.  And figuring out the people to hang with is even tougher.

Goth girl with attitude or brat packers with fashion style?

Then there's that whole secret teen magic society determined to save others in the city from soul-draining sorcerers thing.  That's a little much to get used to in the first week.

Final thoughts:  I read this book on my Kindle in the hopes of staving off withdrawals from Neill's Chicagoland Vampires and Merit, the awesome vamp.  However, this book was SUCH a disappointment.  It's almost all exposition.  Even the little bit of action is just jammed in there to explain things.  There's not much plot here and the word-magic is missing.  I'm hoping the next book, due in January 2011, is better.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Twice Bitten

Twice Bitten
by Chloe Neill

The third book in the Chicagoland Vampire Series finds Merit finally reconciling her vampire self with her former human self and her personal life with her professional one.

Of course, that kind of thing is never easy and having to do it while shape-shifters gather in Chicago for a huge meeting makes it all the more difficult.

Cadogan House, of which Merit is the Sentinel, has been asked to help out with the event and keep order if things get hairy... literally.  It's the first time vamps have been involved in shifter politics and many of the shifters are not as welcoming as Merit would like.

Compound that with a dalliance with the Master of the House and a visit from that same Master's old flame, and things are just "peachy" for Merit, thank you very much.

What else can go wrong?  

Oh... yeah... The invitation for Merit to the super-secret Red Guard that wants her to join them.  They're kind of like the Internal Affairs department of the vamp world and joining them would mean turning against her House and her oh-so-sexy Master if things get ugly.

Should be a cinch!

Final thoughts:  Ok.  I've become an addict.  And waiting until May 2011 for the 4th book may very well drive me insane.  At least I've got the first book in her new series to keep me company while I wait.  As a happy bonus, this was the first book I read on my new Kindle and, except for the fact that bouncing back and forth to read the best parts is much more complicated, I'm liking it.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation

Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation
by Matt Myklusch

For the last eleven years, Jack has been raised at St. Barnaby's Home for the Hopeless, Abandoned, Forgotten, and Lost ("Crushing the spirit of childhood since 1898").  He was found on the doorstep with the name "Jack" on the cradle and no last name.  So now Jack is Jack Blank, victim of bullies and evil teachers everywhere.
But Jack isn't a wimp and he's not one to let the daily grind of extra chores get him down.  On a day when the rest of the orphanage is going on a field trip to Mount Dismoor Maximum Security Prison, Jack chooses to hide out in the library with his secret stash of comic books.  Of course, he couldn't go on the field trip even if he wanted to (which he doesn't) because he seems to always make mechanical things stop working, so he's been banned from riding the bus.

Basically, Jack is trapped at the orphanage and is usually pretty bored.

All of that changes on this field trip day when a Robo-Zombie that Jack has only ever seen in his comic books appears and tries to kill him.  Soon after that, another man shows up and tells Jack that he doesn't belong at the orphanage and he is taking him to Imagine Nation, where all his comic book stories are true and almost anything can happen.

Unfortunately, instead of a happy reunion with people just like him, Jack is discovered to have been unknowingly harboring an enemy and now there are many who want him dead, including the Robo-Zombie.

Can Jack find out who and what he is before it's too late?

Final thoughts:  This is a fun read and a definite story for boys who love comic books.  The whole land of Imagine Nation is carefully crafted and easy to see in the mind's eye.  If you have boys around who need a little push to get reading "real books", this is just what you need.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Friday Night Bites

Friday Night Bites
by Chloe Neill

Just two months after unwillingly becoming a vampire, Merit is moving into Cadogan House to live with her fellow vamps and be closer to the person she's supposed to guard: the deliciously gorgeous Master, Ethan Sullivan (a.k.a. Darth Sullivan).

There's definite chemistry between her and her boss, but there's also chemistry with the new head of Navarre House, Morgan.  So now Merit has a dangerous choice to make: date the boss or date the leader of the House that could be a real danger to the boss.  Of course, they're both gorgeous, so that doesn't help/hurt at all.

In addition, there's been some talk of "raves" taking place where vamps drink humans straight from the vein, and where not all humans make it out alive.  And a little bird has warned the vamps that a new human reporter is looking into the story and threatening to publish an exposé.  Definitely not good for vamp publicity.

Worse for Merit is the fact that she knows the upstart journalist, so now she has to go back into that world of the rich and privileged, a world she ran from years ago, and get them to trust her so that she can help Ethan stop the story.

And to top it all off, the vamp Merit almost staked to a dusty end was released and is out to get a little revenge.

Nah!  Being a vampire isn't hard at all...

Final thoughts: Quick, fun read.  Merit's snark and the reactions of those around her are so spot-on fun that people can't help but side with her and wish others would just lighten up a bit.  Great sequel to Some Girls Bite.  I'm so running out to get book 3.

Rating:  5/5

Friday, September 10, 2010

Among the Ghosts

Among the Ghosts 
by Amber Benson

Noleen's mother died minutes after she was born and her father is always gone on research missions, so Noh's never really had a regular childhood.  Now that she's about to start at New Newbridge Academy, she's going to have to use that unusual childhood for unusual things.

It seems that New Newbridge is filled with ghosts.  They are all over the place.  They've died from bees stings, horse-riding accidents, fires, chopped off fingers, and more.  And it turns out that Noh can see them.

It's as new and surprising to the ghosts as it is to Noh.  But just as she's making new friends, they are disappearing.

Can Noh solve the mystery before they all reach the light?

Final thoughts:  While I love Amber Benson the actress, I can't say much about the author.  The writing was choppy and often felt as if it was written as a stream-of-consciousness attempt.  There just wasn't a cohesive story that made any sense.  The ending hints that this is the start of a series, but if the writing doesn't improve, I don't see it going far.

Rating: 1/5

Thursday, September 9, 2010

One Night that Changes Everything

One Night that Changes Everything
by Lauren Barnholdt

It's the weekend and Eliza's parents are out of town, so what does Eliza do?  She spends all night following the instructions of the secret high school club that is holding her personal notebook of fears hostage until they feel she's punished for ratting out her ex and possibly preventing him from getting into a college he doesn't even want to attend.


Months after breaking it off with Cooper after finding out he dated her as part of an initiation into a secret high school prank group called the 318s, Eliza is forced to perform tasks reflecting the secret fears that she had been putting in her purple notebook since the seventh grade.

She now has to somehow complete the tasks before they post the notebook online and share her secrets with everyone.  And some of those secrets are better left unknown.

Final thoughts: This was a really good read about how fear can stop a person from doing things that could really be fun, while also showing how scary high schoolers and the Internet can be nowadays.  I loved Eliza's POV, but would have loved it more if she'd been able to see the obviousness of some of the things around her a little earlier in the narrative.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Distant Waves : A Novel of the Titanic

Distant Waves : A Novel of the Titanic
by Suzanne Weyn

Jane Taylor was never in what might be called a "normal" family.  Her mother is a professed medium whom many believe can contact the dead and let them speak through her.  Her older sister, Mimi, is an non-believer who can't be in the same room during séances because she's always rolling her eyes.  Her younger twin sisters have a strange bond in which one seems to have the predictions, but can't talk, and the other talks for both.  And her youngest sister just wants to get out of their crazy town and live the high life.

Of course, it's not really a normal time.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writes about Sherlock Holmes and believes that all spiritualists are real.  Harry Houdini works to demonstrate that all spiritualists are frauds.  And Nikola Tesla is running around experimenting with electricity, vibrations, and time travel.

Unfortunately, all the spirits in the universe can't stop events from leading to one of the biggest maritime disasters in history.  And nothing can stop Jane and her sisters from being there to witness it all first-hand.

Final thoughts:  This is a poorly written piece of historical fiction.  The pacing keeps changing from slow to rushed to slow again and it often feels like a high school research paper gone horribly wrong.  Reading it is like witnessing Weyn's personal discoveries.  Ooh!  Tesla did this cool stuff, let's make him central.  Here's some interesting things about spiritualists of the day; I'll mix those in.  Houdini and Doyle would be great to have as cameos and it will prove I've done tons of research!  
Only read if you can read it for free.  (Though I will admit that the cover is hauntingly beautiful.)

Rating: 2/5


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