Category Archives: vampires

Secrets

Secrets
by Dawn Kirby
Dark Dragon Publishing
326 pages
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to Bottled Up Memory, Inc., & Illuminated Tours and TeamNerd Reviews for the copy
3.5 / 5 cupcakes

First, let’s address that cover. I’m not sure what we’re going for here, other than some type of barely legal porn. I can assure you that this cover does not begin to tell you the truth about Secrets, and it is unfortunate that this book was saddled with such a lame cover photo.

Having said that, let’s dish about the book.

As I have mentioned previously, I am over the whole vampires and werewolves thing. And by “over” it, I mean I beg – I plead – I am ON MY DAMN KNEES, pleading for writers to dip their toes into another pool of inspiration. For the love of Edward Cullen. Please. Just please.

So here we are, with a book about – you guessed it – vampires and werewolves. Only this one has the decency to be different.

Recently graduated from college, Leah works in a shop owned by her mother, Mia. Their life is fairly tranquil, aside from the fact that Mia refuses to discuss Leah’s father with her. Leah, of course, is curious, having only been told that her father died before Leah was born. She can’t figure out why her mother won’t talk about him, nor can she understand why Mia remains so devoted to the memory of that man.

One of Mia’s business partners, David, comes to town on his annual visit, and Leah wonders why, since they clearly are so attracted to each other, her mother and David don’t date. But later that night, Leah thinks she overhears Mia and David rock the headboard, so perhaps Mia isn’t as devoted to a memory as Leah thought.

David does not come just for some sexy times, though. Mia needs his help: she is concerned that Leah might be in danger. You see, Leah is not your typical college graduate. Her senses are extremely attuned. She can smell things the rest of us can’t, hear things even dogs have trouble hearing, suffers near blindness when the light is bright, and she never gets sick. Not even the common cold. Mia cryptically warns Leah that there are Bad People Out There who mean her harm, and when it appears some of them show up in town, Mia calls on David for help and guidance.

With a title like Secrets, it comes as no surprise that there are many things Leah does not know or understand. As she slowly discovers the truth about her – who her father is, why she has so many sensitivities and why those Bad People Out There want her. Leah’s life quickly turns from peaceful to frantic, unstable and endangered to the point that she goes to live in a safe house of sorts.

It is here that romance comes into play for young Leah in the form of the hot, sexy and mysterious Raine. Their attraction to each other is immediate and intense, and it doesn’t take long for them to get intimate, both emotionally and physically. Raine sure knows how to pleasure a woman, let’s just say. He’s also determined to protect Leah, even if it means alienating people he’s close to. And yet Raine has his secrets, too, and he is not exactly as he appears.

This book is full of action and intrigue. Leah hops from one precarious situation to another, but she is never outwardly overwhelmed; in fact, her almost preternatural calmness in the face of danger is a little much at times. Nowhere in her life has she gained the experience to handle what’s thrown at her, but she does. She has an innate sense of what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

Her battles are not just with outside forces. She also has inner struggles, as she comes to terms with what her mother didn’t tell her, particularly where her father is concerned. When she does find out about him, she is given very little time to process what she now knows. It’s as if she has to say hello and goodbye within the same breath.

Now, I’ve told you all of this, but not once did I mention vampires or werewolves. Well, they abound. I won’t tell you who’s who, because you need to read to find out. But suffice it to say that the werewolves in this book are not the cuddly pups of Twilight. This pack is mean, destructive and out to hurt Leah.  Just as Raine and the others in the safe house discover, there is something special about Leah, and the werewolves want her for themselves. As for the vampires, this brood is not vegetarian, and when they feed, it’s as much erotic as it is sustenance.

This is a long book, almost too long. At times it felt repetitive – there are some lines in here that feel as if they are repeated every few pages or so. Some of the downtime between action scenes moves too slowly and bogs down the tale. But the essence of the story is interesting, even with the vampires and werewolves, and it ends with a huge cliffhanger. It’s a good thing that Dawn Kirby intends this to be the first of a series.

I was given this book in exchange for hosting the blog tour yesterday and for providing this review. As I read it, I wondered how the book will be marketed. Its sex scenes are too graphic for teens or even young adults, but the vampire/werewolf thing risks alienating more mature readers. So I asked Kirby’s blog tour coordinator about this and was told that there is a brand a new genre called “New Adult,” and this book falls into that category:

Where Young Adult is usually centered around characters between the ages of fourteen to seventeen, discussing ‘firsts’ (first boyfriend, first kiss, first sexual encounter, etc), New Adult would give authors who write characters eighteen to twenty-six a place to fit their books and gain a fan base. Characters who are usually found in college type setting, deciding on a career and building a family. Characters who are transitioning from young adulthood to understand how to be a mature adult is where books in the New Adult genre fall under. The genre is also known as ’20 somethings’. To read more about the New Adult Genre check out TeamNerd Reviews.

I had no idea New Adult lit existed, but I think it’s a fine idea.

So, Secrets. Should you read it? Sure, especially if you fall into that New Adult demographic. The story is entertaining, and Leah is a very likable character. It didn’t ignite any passion on my part for vampires or werewolves, but it’s a good read.

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Filed under New Adult lit, please no more vampires or werewolves, sexy times, vampires, what hath Stephenie Meyer wrought

Drain You

Drain You
M. Beth Bloom
Published by Harper Collins
Available July 24, 2012
400 pages
Available for pre-order on Amazon.com
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview.
4 / 5 cupcakes

I’ll admit that I feel as if I’ve had it up to HERE with vampires and vampire stories. Oh, Stephenie Meyer, I do blame you, sister. And I’m sure I’ll blame E. L. James when the inevitable rush of BDSM books comes my way.

So it was with no small amount of trepidation that I started reading this book. Yet before I knew it, I’d been sucked in to the story. GET IT? SUCKED IN? HAHAHAHA. Okay, maybe not. I’d love to say no pun intended, but I intended it.

Anyway.

Quinlan Lacey is on the cusp of her senior year of high school and fighting the malaise of her life: parents who give her way too much freedom, a boring job at a boring video rental store, a best friend who is too blonde and too rich and too equally bored, and a boy who loves her a little too much. She attempts to battle her dull sheen by dressing in quirky styles, whether donning a bikini top to go to work or plaid flannel accompanied by thick black eyeliner. Quinn needs something interesting to happen, otherwise she might just float away on a flotsam of boredom.

But meeting James Sheets may be more than what she wished for, if not more than what she needs. You see, James is a vampire, but he’s a HOT vampire and Quinn falls in love with him.

Unfortunately, he is not the only vampire in town. Some of Quinn’s high school classmates are members of that increasingly not exclusive club, and when her best friend Libby is preyed upon, Quinn decides to rescue her. Doing so, however, puts Quinn, James and James’s siblings, Naomi and Whit, in a whole heap of trouble.

But Quinn can’t help herself. She can’t help that she loves James and not Morgan, her video store coworker who she can’t help taking advantage of, even if she knows it’s hurtful. She can’t help that she loves James and not his brother Whit, who, like Morgan, is HUMAN, and therefore a better bet for long-term romance. She can’t help that she alternately uses and enjoys the friendship of James’s sister Naomi. She also can’t help that she wants to rescue Libby, because that’s what best friends do.

I waited for the fear to take hold and disfigure every sweet vision I had of James’s face into something awful and evil. But the fear didn’t flood my mind as much as the loneliness. I felt lonely for James, for Naomi, for Libby, for myself. Loving James was seriously not okay, and I knew it. His whole life – existence, whatever – wasn’t real. My taste in guys had gone from lame to dystopian.

See, every time you start to hate Quinn and hate this book, M. Beth Bloom hooks you back in with lines like that. Just as Quinn can’t resist James, even though she knows better (Morgan, Whit) is out there, you will not resist this book.

That isn’t to say that it’s good. It occasionally is repetitive – how many times is Quinn going to leave a note for her parents just before driving off in their Lexus – and not many of the characters are all that likable. Then there is the ending. I assume M. Beth Bloom is setting us up for a sequel, because there is no other explanation for how this book ends. Believe me when I tell you that you will scream in frustration.

Teen readers will probably enjoy this a great deal, for both its romance and its characters, whether vampire or human. While much of Quinn’s dissatisfaction may seem off-putting to the grown-ups, it undoubtedly will hit a familiar vein (there I go again) with the teens.

As vampire books go, Drain You is not bad, but it takes work to read it. You need to push through the frustrating, monotonous parts, much like Quinn needs to with her life. It’s worth it, if only to want to wring – if not bite – M. Beth Bloom’s neck.

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The Immortal Rules

Well, here is a new trend in literature: the dystopian vampire novel.

Julie Kagawa takes an apocalyptic view of the United States, with Chicago as a sort of Eden, and mixes it up with vampire bad (for the most part) guys and comes up with the story of Allie Sekemoto, a 16-year-old living on the “fringe,” where she is neither vampire nor protected human. But then one day, Allison gets mauled by “rabids” (vampires for whom the whole vampire thing doesn’t quite stick) and the mysterious Kanin, a Master Vampire, rescues her by offering her a choice: life as a vampire (which really means death) or just plain old death. Allie chooses the former.

Kanin trains her, helping her navigate the vampire lifestyle. But he does so assuring her that, at some point, she will have to go off on her own.

He glanced down at me, his expression softening. “Allison, how you live your life is up to you. I can only give you the skills you need to survive. But eventually, you will have to make your own decisions, come to your own terms about what you are. You are Vampire, but what kind of monster you become is out of my hands.”

Ah, yes. Monster. Allie has a difficult time reconciling that she is a Vampire, the breed she abhors and from whom she spent her life avoiding and hating. And now she’s one of them. She has to feed off of humans, and to do so, she might have to kill them. Allie has a very difficult time reconciling this.

Allie eventually does find herself on her own, and that ushers in a whole new set of problems for her. She winds up sort of on the run with a band of humans who seek Eden, and she has to conceal her Vampire-ness.

And this – this sort of merry troupe of wanderers story line – is where I have some issues with an otherwise enjoyable The Immortal Rules. I’m not sure I ever really understood why Allie went with these people. What did she want to get out of it? Eden? What good is Eden to her? And how did she come to trust them so quickly, when she trusts no one? It didn’t click with me.

The Immortal Rules is part Divergent – the Chicago setting, the warring factions, the different strata of vampires – and part, um, Twilight, in that we have some human / vampire lovin’ going on, and the whole “we are two different people” vibe. This is not necessarily a good thing. While Divergent is just so awesome and addicting – who can stop reading it? – The Immortal Rules is not difficult to put down. When Allie is running around with the humans, I lost interest, mostly because I found her involvement with them to be pointless.

But … The Immortal Rules has its good parts. When Allie is with Kanin, I was captivated. I wanted more Kanin. I wanted more of their relationship, and more of his tutelage of her. He drops out of this book WAY too early. The ending gives me hope that his loss will be rectified. (Clearly, Kagawa intends The Immortal Rules to be the beginning of a series.)

Give me more Kanin, and I’ll keep reading this series. Give me more humans, and I can’t make that same promise. I was far more invested in Allie when she was with Kanin than I was when she was with the humans.

 
Published by Harlequin Teen and available on Amazon.com.
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.

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Filed under dystopian, vampires, YA