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Guarding Angel

GuardingNEW this week!

Guarding Angel by S.L. Saboviec

While guarding reincarnated humans through the 17th century, Enael’s growing love for Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, is tested by the interference of his former lover, a powerful fallen angel.

Opening lines:

My Ward, Daniel Michael Wheaton, was a special assignment, direct from the Council of Seraphim — the highest rank of angel in Heaven — and I was determined to prove myself with him.

I am so excited to be able to finally give my congratulations to author & friend S.L. Saboviec on her debut novel! If you’re a fan of paranormal romance, then this story of good and evil, heaven and hell, angels and demons, fate and free will, and the sacrifices we make for those we love is one for your ‘to-read’ list. Look for it on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Amazon paperback!

What I liked BEST about this novel…

  • I love how the author weaves Enael’s story through real-life historical times and places. Each of Enael’s Wards (the humans she’s protecting) live very distinct lives in very distinct places in time.
  • The relationship between Enael and Kaspen is very realistic. It grows and changes throughout the book, developing naturally over a period of time and fluctuating as the characters face challenges.
  • The ending. I’m going to try not to spoil anything, but even though this book is planned as the first of a series, the resolution was very satisfying.

Heads up: contains some scenes of graphic sex & violence (including rape), demonic possession, and a few instances of strong language

Guarding Angel

GuardingGuarding Angel by S.L. Saboviec

Pub: May 19, 2014

While guarding reincarnated humans through the 17th century, Enael’s growing love for Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, is tested by the interference of his former lover, a powerful fallen angel.

Opening lines:

My Ward, Daniel Michael Wheaton, was a special assignment, direct from the Council of Seraphim — the highest rank of angel in Heaven — and I was determined to prove myself with him.

Full review coming in May!

Overall: An intricate paranormal romance about trust, destiny, and the sacrifices we make for those we love.

Vigilante Nights

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Vigilante Nights by Erin Richards

Pub: 2013

When Lucas’ sister is killed in a gang-related car crash, he sets out to form his own group of vigilantes to take them down.

Opening lines:

Silver’s babbling continued at racecar speed. Seriously, I didn’t want to hear about the target of my sister’s lust.

This book is a bit outside what I normally read, but I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s a contemporary YA, but also has a bit of (ghost/spirit) paranormal and romance.

What I liked: The second half of this book was intense. High stakes, tough choices, desperate characters all made the last hundred or so pages hard to put down. Although the characters definitely didn’t make decisions I would make, they were well-developed enough that I still rooted for them, still liked them despite their flaws. I also liked the subtle paranormal aspect, which added to the story instead of stealing the spotlight.

What I didn’t like: I’ll admit, the first half was a bit hard for me to get into. There was a lot going on in the main character’s life, and at times it seemed rather unrelated. The narrator has a very unique, very descriptive voice (which I liked) but at times the unusual figures of speech made it difficult to understand what was actually going on.

Heads up: gang violence, teen drug/alcohol use, some strong language & racial slurs, some sexual content

Enclave

Enclave

Enclave (Razorland #1) by Ann Aguirre

In a Freak(zombie)-filled post-apocalyptic world, Deuce comes of age in her underground civilization and must team up with outsider Fade when her Enclave exiles her.

I was born during the second holocaust. People had told us legends of a time when human beings lived longer. I thought they were just stories.

I’ve taken a break from YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories, but I happened to see this one again the other day and figured it’s been long enough since my last foray into the genre that I’d give it a whirl.

What I liked: An underground society… zombies… I really liked the enclave aspect and exploring what it’d be like to live underground. The world-building in this first part was really neat, and reminded me a bit of The City of Ember, which I’ve always really liked.

What I didn’t like: Love triangles annoy me, and this one shouldn’t have even been an issue, considering the ‘third wheel’ was kind of a creep. Also, the second half becomes more violent and it ends on a cliffhanger, which I’m not really fond of either.

Heads up: Violence, gore, rape, and other things with the potential make your skin crawl

Overall: Not for the squeamish, but a good read for those still interested in YA dystopian/paranormal stories

The Shining Girls

Shining

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Pub: June 2013

A time-traveling serial killer hunts down girls who “shine” in Chicago from the 1930s to present-day as Kirby, the one girl who survived his attack, tries to stop him.

Opening line:

He clenches the orange plastic pony in the pocket of his sports coat. It is sweaty in his hand. Mid-summer here, too hot for what he’s wearing.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love time travel, which is why this book has been on my to-read list for awhile. The means of time travel that the author sets up is unique, a House in which time seems to fold over on itself, where things happen simultaneously across eras. I liked this concept, more fantasy-based than sci-fi-based, so you don’t have to worry about the mechanics of how it works, it just does.

The book is told from multiple POVs (third person), including that of the serial killer himself. His sections get rather grisly and are not for those with weak stomachs. Kirby, the girl who managed to survive his attack, reminds me of a slightly-less-jaded Lisbeth Salander (from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Overall, it was an interesting concept, and the ‘magical House’ take on time travel was enough to hold my attention and keep me reading, but because of the nature of the narration — jumping back and forth in time with the characters, often re-living the same event more than once — it ends up being too predictable, and the main character Kirby spends most of the book simply researching and asking questions we already know the answer to, which kills any sense of suspense.

Heads up: lots of violence, gore, sex, language

 

The First Phone Call From Heaven

TLCBookTours

FirstPhone

NEW this week

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

Life in a small Michigan town is turned upside-down when people begin receiving phone calls from deceased loved ones.

What would people say?  She didn’t care.  A few words from heaven had rendered all the words on earth inconsequential.

Though I’ve yet to read Albom’s bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie, I did read one of his recent novels entitled The Timekeeper and enjoyed it enough to want to try out this one as well.  With a premise like this — people receiving phone calls from deceased family and friends — you know that you’re in for a book that explores people’s greatest fears, deepest emotions, and the lengths to which they’d go to reconnect with those they love.  Albom totally nails the human emotions — from the devout believer to the skeptic to the outright hostile — and that’s really where the strength of this story lies.

I was afraid I wouldn’t be happy with the ending, but it was resolved in a way that was really satisfying.

The book’s low points were few and minor — initially, I found it difficult to place the characters, as there are many and their situations have such similarities.  For some reason, the names seemed to meld together for me, and I couldn’t remember who was who.

Also, as someone familiar with Michigan’s geography, it did bother me that the author placed Coldwater on Lake Michigan, when in reality, it’s not (unless there’s another Coldwater, MI I’m not aware of?)  At one point, it’s described as “90 miles west of [Alpena],” which would place it another place entirely — also not on the coast.  Not sure why the author didn’t choose a town actually on the coast, or make one up for the story.  Sometimes it’s the little things that bug me, I guess.

Teardrop

Teardrop

NEW this week…

Teardrop by Lauren Kate

2 of 5 stars

After her mother’s death, Eureka is left with a mysterious book, a thunderstone, a locket, and questions about what really happened and who is the strange boy who has been watching her and protecting her since then.

Ander had a choice: fulfill his obligation to his family or– No.  The choice was simpler than that: save the world, or save the girl.

The premise of a girl whose tears have the power to drown an entire continent, and a tie-in with Atlantis sounded really neat.  Unfortunately, it takes Eureka over 300 pages to figure out what the reader is told on the summary on the back of the book.  *sigh*

This sets the entire rest of the novel up as, well, a set-up.  We find out about the angsty PSTD-ridden Eureka.  We hear a lot about her best guy friend who then, after one scene with Eureka, starts taking on an entirely different personality, which then Eureka must explain to us is totally out of the ordinary for him, because, of course, we’ve only had one scene with “normal” best guy friend.  And there’s a mysterious new guy.  And mysterious artifacts.  And we only start to get any answers in the last fifty pages.

Overall: A very long set-up for the series, ending in more questions than answers.

Delia’s Shadow

Delia's

NEW this week…

Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer

3 of 5 stars

With the 1906 San Francisco World’s Fair as the backdrop, Delia is haunted by the ghost of a murder victim as her killer once more terrifies the city.

A murder investigation was a macabre jigsaw puzzle, splashed with blood and the remnants of someone’s life.

This historical murder mystery ghost story borrows from many serial killer investigations, most obviously that of the Zodiac killer (though that occurred decades after the setting of this book), and the grim details and sense of fear are intense throughout the story.  The characters in this novel are particularly well-written, with relationships that felt genuine and strengthened the story.

On the flip side, there were still some unanswered questions that left me feeling somewhat less satisfied at the end of the story:

For instance (highlight for spoilers) –

  • what happened to the other officer who had gone missing?
  • why did the killer target Gabe’s father to begin with?
  • what happened to the killer while at his uncle’s that caused such a change in him?
  • why had Jack’s father kept his mother’s murder secret?
  • who were Teddy & Beryl?
  • how did Aileen know to ask Delia for help anyway?
  • why all the Egyptology?

I also think that the killer may have been a bit too… two-dimensional.  I was sincerely hoping for some sort of twist or shocker ending but was kind of disappointed when they figured out who it was and — sure enough — that’s who it was.  It was almost too easy, and made me wonder why it had taken them thirty years to figure out who it was.

Overall, though, good ghostly murder mystery with a bit of history and romance thrown in as well

The Clockwork Scarab

ClockworkScarab

NEW this week…

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
Stoker & Holmes #1

2 of 5 stars

Sherlock’s niece and Bram Stoker’s sister team up with Miss Adler to solve a mystery when society girls begin disappearing and dying under unusual circumstances.

I was going to be subjected to simpering young men and gossiping ladies simply so Miss Holmes could look for beetles?  The most dangerous and exciting part of the night would be to avoid getting my feet trod upon or a lemonade spilled upon my gown.

Every once in awhile I enjoy a fun steampunk, especially when it promises such exciting characters as Sherlock Holmes’ niece and Bram Stoker’s vampire-slaying little sister.  When it comes to Victorian steam-era meets alternate history, this book has it all: clockwork devices, vampire hunters, the power of deductive reasoning, buildings anchored to the sky with helium balloons, Egyptian superstition, and time travel.

Unfortunately, its strong points also end up being its downfall.  Much like a clockwork itself, this book contains so many elements meshed together that it becomes jammed and ineffective.  Had this story finished off with a perfect final piece, a conclusion that would connect everything together and bring resolution, then I would have highly recommended it, but as it stands, that piece is missing and the whole thing suffers.  I feel as if the author wrote a much, much longer story that involved all of these elements, and that this is just the first 300 pages of that.  Too many mysteries are left unsolved, too many relationships hinted at but undeveloped, too many subplots not even touched on (no, we don’t meet a SINGLE vampire in this novel, despite the fact that one of the main characters is a vampire hunter!).  Despite it’s length, it just wasn’t enough.

Also, stylistically, I’ve come to discover that I don’t particularly care for multiple first-person POVs. Evaline and Mina are interesting enough characters, but their fierce independence, stubbornness, and determination make it difficult to distinguish their voices.

Overall: A smorgasbord of steampunk elements thrown together in a mystery (or two or three) that never really ends up completely solved.

Weekend Ramblings: Signs You’re in a YA Supernatural Romance

Inspired by the post “Signs You’re in a Love Triangle” at NovelIdeaReviews.com and my recent reading of Teardrop by Lauren Kate, I’ve put together a list of signs that you need to look out for (especially if you’re a teen girl) that will indicate if you’re in a supernatural romance.  This might indicate that you’re actually the offspring of some sort of supernatural or paranormal being*, or that you might be falling in love with one, but either way, watch out.  These things don’t tend to end well.

*examples of such beings include, but are not limited to: vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, demi-gods, mermaids, zombies, ghosts, fairies, or centaurs (though really, you’d think that one would be pretty obvious)

paranormalYA

Keep track of your answers; scores will be tallied at the end.

Part I: Multiple Choice

  1. You were named:
    a) something pretty common, nothing special
    b) after a deceased relative
    c) something incredibly unique, which had special meaning to your parents
  2. Your parent(s):
    a) are still married, are pretty ordinary, and tend to get along pretty well with you and each other
    b) are divorced, distant, and/or just simply don’t ‘get’ you
    c) died or disappeared under inexplicable circumstances which everyone else chalked up to a freak accident
  3. People tend to describe you as:
    a) pretty normal
    b) “just like your mom” or “just like your dad”
    c) quiet, introverted, yet with some unique feature that seems to draw them in
  4. Your best female friend is:
    a) pretty much just like you
    b) loyal to a fault
    c) promiscuous, rebellious, and quirky
  5. Your best guy friend is:
    a) nonexistant… your close friends are all girls
    b) “just like a brother” to you
    c) really attractive (or nerdy, but cute), and has been acting really strangely lately, for no apparent reason.
    twilight

Part II: True or False

6.  You live in a small town where everyone knows everyone, but you’ve never felt like you really belong there.  T / F

7.  You’ve just met a new guy who’s incredibly attractive and to whom you feel a compulsive, irresistible magnetism or electricity.  T / F
mortalinstrum

8.  A beloved family member has just left you a strange item or book and you have no idea what it is or why they gave it to you.  T / F
Beautiful Creatures 9

9.  Recently, you’ve felt like you’ve been followed, or have been unsettled by the presence of a mysterious band of people/creatures/magical entities.  T / F
WARM BODIES

10.  You’ve been in mortal danger more than twice in the last two weeks.  T / F

Scoring:
Part I –
Add no points for (a) answers.  Add 1 point for every (b), and 2 points for every (c).

Part II –
Add 2 points for every “true” response

Results:
0-4 points = You’re definitely not in a YA supernatural romance.  Get on with your life; there’s no need to worry about vampires or werewolves.

5-9 points = You’re probably not in a YA supernatural romance.  Sure, you might have some weird stuff going on in your life, but chances are, there’s nothing supernatural or romantic about it.

10-14 points = You just might be in a YA supernatural romance.  Or, it might just be a regular YA romance, or a YA dystopian romance.  Be on your guard against any sort of magical elements, though… and that new guy — he’s probably a jerk.

15-20 points = Brace yourself.  You’re in a YA supernatural romance.

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