Mini-Review: Dead Is…

Dead is the New BlackDead is the New Black and Dead is a State of Mind
by Marlene Perez

Cute, light, easy-on-the-brain supernatural books.  Daisy is a “norm” in a family of psychics.  Her father was also a norm but he disappeared and no one is sure if he’s dead of alive.  Daisy believes he abandoned them but the rest of her family still holds out hope that he’s going to return.  Daisy has a best friend named Ryan on whom she has an unrequited crush and an ex-best friend named Samantha who is a cheerleader and one of the most popular girls in school.

In Dead is the New Black, girls (including several members of the cheerleading squad) are collapsing with unexplained illness, some are even dying.  Daisy decides she wants to solve the mystery, with or without any kind of psychic ability, and she’s so desperate to find out the truth she’s even willing to become a cheerleader.

Dead is a State of MindDead is a State of Mind picks up several months after the end of the first book.  Nightshade High has a new student, handsome Duke Sherrad, and he has his eyes on Daisy.  Daisy’s not interested but her avoidance of Duke is hampered by the fact that Ryan is avoiding her and hanging out with an unknown, gorgeous woman.  On top of that, Daisy’s sister Poppy is dating a ghost and a teacher at her school is found dead with what look like animal claw marks on his skin.

If you’re looking for a quick, fun read, then check these out.  There are definitely plot holes, some things that are overlooked, some things that fall into place a bit too easily, but as long as you go in without super high expectations, you’ll definitely enjoy the ride.

Still to read in the series: Dead is So Last Year

Dead and Gone

Dead and GoneA Sookie Stackhouse Novel
by Charlaine Harris

If you’ve never read a Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire book, I warn you not to read any further but to pick up the first book in the series, Dead Until Dark, and begin there.

Sookie’s in for another wild ride.  The Weres are going public, her soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law is found crucified behind Sookie’s place of work, and there is a war brewing in the fairy world that has spilled over into the human world.  Of course Sookie also has the confusing task of sorting through her feelings for the men in her life.  At the moment, she’s trying to decide whether what she’s feeling for Eric is real or because of their blood bond.  Sookie certainly has a full plate.

Reaction: I once again finished with the need to find out what’s next, and I honestly have no clues.  As in From Dead to Worse, there is a sense of closure for some of the story-lines.  One of the main things that remains open is with whom Sookie will chose to actually have a steady relationship.  I am cheering for Team Eric but I am still skeptical as to how this would logistically work.  Quinn made an appearance.  Bill is ever-present and possibly still in the running if the ending is of any indication, though Sookie would be dumb not to give Eric a chance to explain — you will have to read to see what I mean.  And Sam’s name always gets thrown into the mix.  The end also finds Sookie recovering from, in my opinion, the worst thing that has ever happened to her, and we all know she’s already been through a lot.  I will be interested to see how the experience changes her, if at all.  Like I said, I have absolutely no idea what is next in store for Sookie but I can’t wait to find out!

Vampire Knight

Vampire Knightby Matsuri Hino

Yuki Cross has no memories of her life before the age of five.  Ten years ago, she was attacked by an evil vampire and saved by a powerful, pure-blood vampire, Kaname Kuran.  Kaname took her to live with an ally who opened the Cross Academy where there are two classes, the night class and the day class.  The night class is made up of vampires who have signed a pact not to spill human blood but to live in peace with humans and use a blood pill for nourishment.  The day class is made up of traditional students, humans, who have no idea they share their school with vampires.  What they do know is that the night class is full of beautiful people and are constantly trying to mingle with the night class.  Despite the pact, the night and day class are kept separate.  Since Yuki knows the night class secret, she is one of two people who serve as a disciplinary committee.  She and her partner patrol the grounds and make sure the two classes don’t mingle.  Yuki’s partner is Zero.  Zero has a tragic history of his own.  He was part of a family of vampire hunters and his entire family was murdered by a very powerful vampire.  He came to Cross Academy to live and heal but he is still full of hate.  Yuki tries to keep Zero in good spirits but it is a full-time job on top of all her other duties.  Tensions are high, not only between the classes but between Kuname and Zero who both have their own, strong feelings for Yuki.

Reaction: I am four volumes into this series and I’m pretty much hooked.  I love Zero’s angst and I’m still trying to figure out Kaname.  Yuki is, of course, cute and innocent and does not realize Zero or Kaname’s feelings for her.  Some of the plot twists are predictable…like the appearance of the mysterious new vampire in the third volume, of course I knew who she was, duh!…but it still sucked me in.  I am waiting for something to happen regarding Yuki’s unknown past but so far no hints.  And I can’t say who I would rather see Yuki with.  Both Kaname and Zero have their positives and negatives.  I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of this series.

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Darkside

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Darksideby Beth Fantaskey

Jessica knows that she was adopted and that her name at birth was Antanasia, but what she doesn’t know is that she is actually a vampire and that she was betrothed to another young vampire when she was only a baby.  Her betrothed, Lucius Vladescu, has come to collect his bride and bring her back to Romania where their marriage will end the war between their two high-powered families.  But Jessica is sure that he and her adoptive parents are just delusional.  She is too practical to believe in anything like vampirism, and where are her fangs?  All Jessica wants is to continue being a mathlete and possibly date Jake, the farm boy from down the road.  Soon, though, Jessica begins to feel an ache in her gums, can sense blood in a way she never has before, and has a hunger that cannot be assuaged by any food or drink she knows of, but is it too late?  Lucius is showing incredible interested in the heartless and popular cheerleader, Faith.  Has Jessica lost him forever?  And what about the war between their families?  Jessica finds herself having to making hard decision to try and save vampire family members she has never met and the young vampire she is beginning to love.

Reaction: Much more than I expected.  I really liked Lucius.  He is so arrogant and annoying in the beginning, I just wanted to smack him, but then you learn that his life has been horrible.  His uncle raised him by beating him into submission.  Lucius was raised to think of himself as regal and entitled but he was also raised as his uncle’s pawn.  He grows a lot during his time in America when he learns about freedoms he never thought possible.  I also liked that the specifics of vampirism aren’t the main focus of the story.  Yes, Jessica and Lucius and several other characters are vampires, but it is more about their relationships–Lucius and Jessica, Lucius and his uncle, Jessica and the family she never knew–though vampirism does play an important part in shaping who Jessica ends up being.  There are definite weak points.  I wish that Jessica’s transition from despising Lucius to loving him as well as her transition from American teenager to vampire royalty had been a bit more developed .  I found the ending a bit rushed, though it was by no means a short novel.  Overall, I think Jessica’s Guide is a good addition to the ever-growing collection of vampire stories out there.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Darkside

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Darksideby Beth Fantaskey

Jessica knows that she was adopted and that her name at birth was Antanasia, but what she doesn’t know is that she is actually a vampire and that she was betrothed to another young vampire when she was only a baby.  Her betrothed, Lucius Vladescu, has come to collect his bride and bring her back to Romania where their marriage will end the war between their two high-powered families.  But Jessica is sure that he and her adoptive parents are just delusional.  She is too practical to believe in anything like vampirism, and where are her fangs?  All Jessica wants is to continue being a mathlete and possibly date Jake, the farm boy from down the road.  Soon, though, Jessica begins to feel an ache in her gums, can sense blood in a way she never has before, and has a hunger that cannot be assuaged by any food or drink she knows of, but is it too late?  Lucius is showing incredible interested in the heartless and popular cheerleader, Faith.  Has Jessica lost him forever?  And what about the war between their families?  Jessica finds herself having to making hard decision to try and save vampire family members she has never met and the young vampire she is beginning to love.

Reaction: Much more than I expected.  I really liked Lucius.  He is so arrogant and annoying in the beginning, I just wanted to smack him, but then you learn that his life has been horrible.  His uncle raised him by beating him into submission.  Lucius was raised to think of himself as regal and entitled but he was also raised as his uncle’s pawn.  He grows a lot during his time in America when he learns about freedoms he never thought possible.  I also liked that the specifics of vampirism aren’t the main focus of the story.  Yes, Jessica and Lucius and several other characters are vampires, but it is more about their relationships–Lucius and Jessica, Lucius and his uncle, Jessica and the family she never knew–though vampirism does play an important part in shaping who Jessica ends up being.  There are definite weak points.  I wish that Jessica’s transition from despising Lucius to loving him as well as her transition from American teenager to vampire royalty had been a bit more developed .  I found the ending a bit rushed, though it was by no means a short novel.  Overall, I think Jessica’s Guide is a good addition to the ever-growing collection of vampire stories out there.

Shadow Kiss: A Vampire Academy Novel

Shadow Kissby Richelle Mead

So, I’m not really going to describe what’s happened in this novel seeing how it’s book three and so much hinges on what has happened in books one and two.  Just know, the story continues to build.  The Strigoi are becoming a bigger and more puzzling threat that will definitely add to the action and suspense in future installments.  More elements of the special bond between Rose and Lissa will come to light, with some frightening consequences for Rose.  Of course, the relationships (or lack-there-of) between Rose and Dimitri and Lissa and Christian keep things interesting, and adding the element of Adrian, the spoiled royal Moroi who is also a Spirit practicer, has consequences on both relationships.  Plus, there is a HUGE ending…and you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Reaction: When I started the book, I was really excited.  I had been waiting for this for what seemed like forever though it was only a matter of months.  Then, about 200-250 pages in, I started getting impatient and a little annoyed.  There didn’t seem to be much development.  Little things, sure, and now that I have read the whole things I realize how essential many of these little things were to the story as a whole and also how they could potentially be important in the future, but I was beginning to feel like this book was just going to rehash things I already understood–Rose’s devotion to Lissa but the scary consequences of their bond and the fact that Rose may never have her own life; Rose’s frustration over her relationship with Dimitri; Lissa’s need to practice Spirit despite the many negative consequences; etc.  Once I hit page 335, though, it was full throttle to the end.  WOW!  Let me say this, I cried like a little baby with snot and all.  I have become very emotionally invested in these characters, mainly Rose, and she has gone through so much hurt already…but there is so much more to come.  Despite how I was saddened by parts of the end, I was also heartily relieved by other parts and very glad to see the quest that Rose is about to embark upon.  She needs this!  Ok, that’s all I’m going to say, well, except for this: READ IT!

What’s Next: A yet-to-be-named 4th and 5th installment slated to be out in 2009 and 2010, but when specifically, that’s what I want to know!  I guess we will all have to continually check Richelle Mead’s website to find out.

Other Reviews: From another V.A. fan, The Story Siren.

The Morganville Vampires Series

by Rachel Caine

The sleepy town of Morganville, TX is not all that it seems.  It’s the home toTexas Prairie University (TPEwwww), a school where partying rules and academics are an after-thought, and not much else.  Claire is 16 and smart.  She graduated high school early with acceptances to prestigious colleges such as MIT, Yale, and Caltech, but her parents were worried about her being so far at home so they forced her to go to TPU.  Claire’s miserable at TPU and is counting the days until she can transfer out.  Classes are not a challenge and she’s having some difficulties socially.  She’s always been a bit of an outcast — being super smart and really short can do that to you — but she has never encounter problems like those at TPU.  Unwittingly, she made a very bad enemy of popular girl Monica and therefore Monica’s entire crew.  Monica has a cruel streak that has Claire actually fearing for her life.  If Claire only knew that Monica isn’t the only threat to her life!  In an attempt to flee Monica, Claire seeks off campus housing.  She finds a home and a pseudo family at the Glass House.  Owned by Michael Glass, a young musician who mysteriously disappears during the day, and inhabited by not only Michael but Michael’s friends Shane and Eve, Claire finds a pseudo family at the Glass House.  But her new roommates may also be crazy because they tell her that vampires exist and they rule this town.  Hadn’t she ever wondered why so many people transfer from TPU?  All too soon, Claire learns the hard way that vampires are in fact real and they are very, very dangerous.

Glass HousesBook One: Glass Houses

The beginning.  Claire goes to live in the Glass House and learns the truth about Morganville.  Just because she lives off campus now does not mean she safe from Monica or the Monikettes (Monica’s crew).  Monica has a vampire protector, as do many of the people who live or are from Morganville, and her protector is after Claire at night just as Monica is out for Claire during the day.  After a particularly nasty incident with a particularly nasty vampire named Brandon, Shane makes a pact with the vampire; Brandon can take some of Shane’s blood in return for the safety of Shane’s friends, specifically Claire.  Claire feels horrible about the sacrifice that Shane is making for her sake.  She vows to find a way to release him from the deal.  The only way seems to be to find a special book the vampires have been searching for for years.  No human knows what’s in the book but it would be an amazing bargaining tool.  Claire hopes to find the book and free Shane from his obligation but will she survive the search and, if she finds the book, will it help or make things even worse for Claire and her friends.

Dead Girls DanceBook Two: Dead Girls’ Dance

Shane’s father is in town and he’s bent on revenge.  He and his gang of unruly biker friends have decided to take on the vampires.  Though Shane doesn’t think his father’s plans are wise he cannot help but be drawn to his father and his father’s cause.  When Shane is found at the scene of a vampire murder, he is taken into custody and sentenced to die.  Claire knows Shane is innocent and will do whatever it takes to save him and hopefully bring Shane’s father, the true murderer, to justice.  On top of that, Eve’s deranged brother, Jason, has been released from jail.  Eve is the one who testified against him and put him in jail, so understandably Eve is worried what Jason will do to her now that he’s free.  Jason’s m.o. is murdering young girls and soon girls are turning up dead.  Is it Jason or just a coincidence?

Midnight AlleyBook Three: Midnight Alley

Claire has signed a contract of protection with the most powerful vampire in town, Amelie, the creator of Morganville.  In return, Amelie wants Claire to study with Myrnin, a very intelligent scholar but very sick vampire, as well as take advanced classes.  As volatile as Myrnin can be, part of Claire is really excited to be learning about new and challenging topics, especially after the relative ease of all of her typical freshman courses, but soon she learns that studying with Myrnin is a death sentence.  Myrnin continues to decline and his mind is going; often he only sees Claire as a meal not a student, but with Amelie calling the shots is there anything Claire can do to protect herself?  Also, Jason is still on the loose and more young females are turning up dead.  Jason is becoming bolder and is beginning to threaten Claire and Eve.  The question is, why isn’t anyone trying to stop him?

Congratulations, you’ve made it this far!  What a long post this will be.  Keep reading and you’ll get my reaction.  I’ll try to be brief! :)

Reaction: I devoured these.  I was hungry for a good vampire series and these certainly fit the bill.  I like that they are different from many of the other vampire series out there since in this series vampires are the villains, though there certainly are a lot of humans who are also villainous.  I also like that the main characters, specifically the main characters involved in a romance, are human.  Vampires play a very important role in human lives but the main characters are very human (well, most of them).  I admired Caine’s creativity, specifically regarding the idea of protection contracts and the bracelets that would show which human belonged to which vampire.  This definitely showed the humans’ subservient position to the vampires.

My dislikes were few but not enough to keep me from recommending the series.  My biggest gripe was the fact that so much happens in so little time.  I read three of the current four books but I think maybe only a month passed from the beginning of the series through book three.  You read the summaries I wrote (I’m assuming), a lot of things happened in so little time!  I wanted to tell Caine to slow down or at least give these poor characters a few weeks to recover between life-shattering, near-death incidents.  The short time frame also cheapen the romance to me.  They never get to spend any time together so I feel like it is a romance of convenience and circumstance rather than reality.  The Morganville Vampires books are not the best written but they stand out in an ever-growing group of vampire series.

What’s Next: Feast of Fools, which is out now, Lord of Misrule, slated for January 9, 2009, and any others Caine decides to write.  I have Feast of Fools but I needed a break.  While I really enjoy the series I was reading them too fast so I’m waiting and will read Feast of Fools as a treat in the coming months.

Don’t just take my word: TheYaYaYas take.