Rivals and Retribution

Caution!  If you haven’t read the first four books in Shannon Delany’s 13 to Life series (13 to Life, Secrets and Shadows, Bargains and Betrayals, Destiny and Deception), turn back now.  I just finished the fifth and final book in the series, Rivals and Retribution, and I don’t want to ruin things for you…but I will.

I started reading the 13 to Life series a couple of years ago, and I completed the journey through this series earlier today.  I’ll try not to go into too much detail here just in case you haven’t experienced these books, but I’ll admit that I’m a little sad that the story of Pietr and Jessie (and Max, Alexi, Cat, Marlaena, etc.) is over.  Rivals and Retribution seeks to resolve the many issues and problems that have plagued Jessie, the Rusakova family, and those close to them.  Was this resolution all that I hoped for?  Well, we’ll discuss that in a bit…

Can Jessie Gillmansen’s life ever be normal?  (With her boyfriend being a Russian werewolf, probably not.)  Any semblance of normality dissolves when Jessie is kidnapped by a rival pack who wants to force the Rusakovas, especially Jessie’s boyfriend Pietr, into action.  Action that will, hopefully, force Pietr to once again embrace the wolf that lives just under the surface of his skin.

Well, it works.  Almost too well.  Not only has Pietr regained his wolfish nature, he’s also determined to end any threat to his family.  But that may be easier said than done…particularly when he’s unaccountably drawn to Marlaena, the alpha female of the pack that tried to kill his beloved girlfriend, Jessie.  Why is this girl, this enemy, invading his thoughts?  Why do all of his instincts scream for him to be around her?  And why is he becoming sick the longer he’s with Jessie and away from Marlaena?

Alexi, Pietr’s brother, thinks he knows the answer, but he’ll have to make some unsavory deals and mend some fences to even have a chance to come up with a solution.  Will he be able to solve Pietr’s dilemma–and finally find a cure that lasts–before it’s too late?  Before his family, his life, and his brother’s love for Jessie is destroyed forever?  Read Rivals and Retribution, the conclusion to Shannon Delany’s 13 to Life series, to learn how the werewolves of Junction–and those who love them–finally take control of their own destinies.

For those of you who’ve read this series, I’ll tell you that this final book does answer several questions…but it does leave a few unanswered.  (I’m still not sure what makes Jessie’s blood so special or why Derek’s thoughts kept invading the minds of Jessie, Sophie, and Sarah.  Maybe I’m missing something.)  The action in Rivals and Retribution is super fast-paced, almost too much so.  When I had just a few chapters left, I was really worried because I knew that there wasn’t enough time to get the closure I was looking for.  Was there some closure?  Sure, but it kind of felt rushed to me.  For all of the action in previous books–and even in this one–the ending was a little too neat and anticlimactic.  I hate to say it, but I would have enjoyed a little more violence and blood-letting in this conclusion.  Maybe that’s just me, though.

The 13 to Life series, as a whole, is definitely one worth reading, especially for those who are enamored of all things werewolf, but I have to say that Rivals and Retribution was my least favorite book in the series.  It was a fast-paced, enjoyable read, but I would have liked just a few more chapters with a little more meat to flesh out some plot points.  Do with that what you will.

For those who would like to learn more about author Shannon Delany and the 13 to Life series, visit http://www.13tolifeseries.com.

Published in: on September 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Destiny and Deception

Warning!  You must read the first three books in Shannon Delany’s 13 to Life series (13 to Life, Secrets and Shadows, and Bargains and Betrayals) before proceeding with this post.  I just finished reading the fourth book, Destiny and Deception, and it is not a stand-alone novel.  You’ve been warned!

As you’ve no doubt gathered, I finished reading Destiny and Deception, the fourth book in Shannon Delany’s 13 to Life series, this morning. Like the other books in this series, book four is full of drama, emotion, danger, and supernatural mystery. It’s a great read that had me eager to turn the page. Told from three differing viewpoints, Destiny and Deception shows readers that, though life has changed drastically for the Rusakova clan and their friends, things are far–very far–from normal…

After the tragic series of events that took their mother and forced them into an alliance with the Russian Mafia, the Rusakova’s, particularly Pietr, fought back in the only way possible…they took the “cure” and stripped the wolves from their bodies.  Or did they?  Only Jessie and Cat really know that the cure isn’t exactly permanent, but they soon realize it is strong enough to change things completely.

Almost immediately, Jessie notices changes in her beloved Pietr.  He’s somehow less than he was before.  He’s lost his spark, his fire, and, seemingly, his interest in her.  Jessie is trying to get used to the “normal” Pietr, but what if the Pietr she loved with all her heart was stripped away along with his inner animal?  Can she learn to love the boy he’s becoming?  Does he even care?

Alexi Rusakova, adopted brother and guardian to his siblings, is dealing with his own turmoil.  Now that his family is no longer under the protection of whatever agency wanted them, they must find a way to support themselves.  Yes, his younger siblings can get jobs, but will that be enough?  Alexi will have to sacrifice even more–including his own happiness and pride–to ensure that his family stays strong and together.  But when a new threat arrives on the scene, even Alexi’s sacrifices may not be enough to save everyone…

Marlaena is an alpha female who embraces the wolf within her.  “The Wolf is the Way,” and anyone who disagrees is, quite frankly, wrong.  She and her pack have settled in the town of Junction, and Marlaena is looking for a way to unite with the Rusakovas.  She knows their inner wolves are lurking just under the skin.  They may just need a little “help” to get out.  What is she willing to do to provide that assistance?  Well, there’s not much Marlaena won’t do to remain top dog…

As Jessie tries to hold on to the Pietr she once knew, Alexi struggles to provide for his family, and Marlaena fights for dominance, there is even more going on in the small town of Junction that anyone truly realizes.  Can anyone put together the puzzle pieces before something bad happens?  Or is it already too late?  Find out when you read Destiny and Deception by Shannon Delany!

Just when I think that things might be looking up for some of my favorite characters, I’m thrown a curve ball.  Jessie and the Rusakovas just can’t catch a break!  I knew that the “cure” wasn’t the solution everyone thought it would be, but I was not prepared for how it effected Pietr.  Neither was Jessie.  I’m hoping he regains his spark in the next book because, to be honest, I found him kind of boring in this book.  (So did Jessie.)

The introduction of Marlaena and her pack definitely throws a wrench into the works for Jessie and the Rusakovas.  I can say with all honesty that I do not like Marlaena, and the last few pages of this book only cemented that opinion.  I’m definitely anxious to see how things play out in the next book.  Maybe Jessie and company can finally have things go right for once.  Or maybe that’s wishful thinking.

Speaking of the next book…Rivals and Retributions is set to be released on August 7th of this year, so the wait isn’t too terribly long.  I just read the synopsis on Goodreads, and book five looks like it’s going to take us on yet another roller coaster ride.  So much for good things happening to these characters…

Oh, well.  If you’d like more information on Shannon Delany and this awesome series, visit http://www.shannondelany.com/joomla/.  Peace out.

Published in: on February 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bargains and Betrayals

If you haven’t read the first two books in Shannon Delany’s 13 to Life series (13 to Life and Secrets and Shadows), read those before continuing with this post about book three, Bargains and Betrayals!

So, I finished reading Bargains and Betrayals by Shannon Delany last night, and it totally lived up to the previous two books. How can you go wrong with a book that has mental institutions, conspiracies, werewolves, and the Russian Mafia? (There was actually one part I could have lived without. One word. Zombies.)  This book is extremely dramatic, tense, and action-packed, and it kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.  (And how glad am I that the fourth book, Destiny and Deception, is already out?  I started reading it as soon as I finished Bargains and Betrayals.)

Bargains and Betrayals picks up right where Secrets and Shadows left off.  Jessie is being taken to a psychiatric facility, Pecan Place, “for her own good.”  Jessie is not happy about being away from her werewolf boyfriend Pietr, and she’s even more unhappy when she discovers that Pecan Place is not exactly what she thought.  After all, would a real mental institution have zombie guards and dead bodies in the basement?  Would a real psychiatrist murder a patient?  I’m thinking no.

While Jessie is dealing with a bunch of craziness at the mental institution, Pietr is struggling with how he can free the two people he loves the most–Jessie and his mother.  Time is running out for everyone, and Pietr makes a drastic decision that could help to save everyone but may just destroy him.  But Pietr will pay any price, sacrifice almost anything, to save the people he loves.  Will it be enough?

Jessie and Pietr aren’t the only ones having issues.  The entire Rusakova clan is facing an uncertain future.  Jessie’s friend Amy is learning to live and trust again after enduring an extremely abusive relationship.  People are dying all through the town of Junction, and an agency that may or may not have government ties seems to be responsible.  What can Jessie, Pietr, and their families and friends do to stop the madness that is invading their lives?  What bargains will they have to make (and with whom)?  Who will be betrayed so that lives can be saved?  Uncover the truth when you read Bargains and Betrayals by Shannon Delany!

I’ve enjoyed the entire 13 to Life series so far, but I must admit that Bargains and Betrayals is now my favorite (so far), despite the zombies.  I was not prepared for the twist at the end of the book, and I think it will be very interesting to see how that plays out in Destiny and Deception.  Luckily, I don’t have to wait to find out since book four is already out, and I started reading it last night.  I hope to finish it this weekend.

A word of caution:  Bargains and Betrayals deals with some mature themes (sex, violence, rape, etc.), so I would not recommend this book to readers under the age of 16.  Of course, maturity levels vary, so do with this what you will.

If you’d like more information about author Shannon Delany and the 13 to Life series, visit http://www.13tolifeseries.com/index.html.

Bloodrose

Spoilers ahead!!!  I finished reading Bloodrose, the third book in the Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade trilogy last night.  If you keep reading this post and haven’t already read Nightshade and Wolfsbane, you will be sorry!  Sorry, I tell you!

After you’ve read these two books, then you should proceed directly to Bloodrose!

War is looming. Calla Tor and her pack of Guardians (aka werewolves) are uniting with the Searchers to finally defeat the evil Keepers who have oppressed them for as long as anyone can remember.  The primary weapon in this war is Shay, the Scion (and, quite possibly, the love of Calla’s life), who can only defeat the bad guys if he obtains every piece of the Elemental Cross (two kick-butt swords made out of four pieces empowered by earth, air, water, and fire).  Finding the pieces of the Elemental Cross is treacherous, but it is a journey that must be made if this war is to be won.

As if waging war isn’t tough enough, Calla also has to tread the dangerous waters of her own love life.  After saving Ren, the guy who was supposed to be her alpha mate, Calla is worried about Shay’s reaction and what it could mean for the battles ahead.  Calla must deal with her feelings for both guys.  She thought everything was so cut and dried, but what if it’s not?  What if she really is meant to be with Ren?  What if Shay’s role as the Scion places him forever out of her reach?

Even though Calla is torn between the boy she’s always known and the one she gave up everything for, she has to put her own desires aside to face the difficult journey ahead.  She must step up as the alpha of the pack (since she can’t choose her mate at the moment) and lead her fellow wolves and their Searcher allies into battle.  They will face horrors that make them want to give up, they will encounter former friends who have become their enemies, and they will lose people they’ve come to care about. 

These warriors will dive headlong into certain death in order to break the hold the Keepers have on them and everything they hold dear.  Will they be successful?  Do they have any hope of winning this war when it’s not clear who is friend and who is enemy?  And if they do drive the Keepers away, what does it mean for Calla and her pack?  Will Calla finally choose her mate, or will that choice be taken out of her hands?  Do the wolves even have a place in a world without Keepers?  Read Bloodrose, the final installment in Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade trilogy, to discover the sacrifices that must be made in war and in love.

Like so many before it, I don’t think this post has done justice to the breathtaking story that is Bloodrose.  It was a fantastic book, and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading.  (I almost called in sick to work yesterday so that I could finish the book.  I didn’t, but I did rush home after school and immediately began reading.)  There was a surprising amount of humor in this book when you consider that it’s a tragic love story set in the midst of a supernatural war.  I was also gripped by the love triangle in Bloodrose (and the other two books in this series).  I felt torn right along with Calla, and, for a large portion of this book, I wasn’t sure if I wanted her to end up with Shay or Ren.  (She had some steamy scenes with both of them.  So steamy that I would recommend this book for ages 16 and up.)  In the end, though, I was very satisfied with how the Nightshade trilogy concluded.  I mourned the loss of a couple of characters while I celebrated the demise of others.  I felt like everything happened as it should, and, at least for a while, the world of the Guardians and Searchers is at peace.  A great end to a great series.

But wait…there’s more!  There’s currently a Nightshade novella, Treachery, available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon, which tells Ansel’s story.  (You might recall that he is Calla’s little brother.)  There will also be a prequel to the Nightshade trilogy, Rift, which should be out on August 7th of this year.  For more information about these extras and the entire Nightshade series, visit http://www.nightshadebook.com/.  Enjoy!

Published in: on January 10, 2012 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sweetly

Notice:  Sweetly is a companion novel to Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce.  It is not absolutely essential to read Sisters Red first…but it would help.  And since Sisters Red is awesome, you should really read it anyway.  The cover alone is reason enough to pick this one up.

Now, moving on to Sweetly…like Sisters Red, it is a retelling of a familiar fairy tale.  Where Sisters Red gave us a new way to look at Little Red Riding Hood, Sweetly gives us a new view of Hansel and Gretel.  (In my review of Sisters Red, I mentioned that I was not a big fan of Little Red Riding Hood.  Well, the same is true of Hansel and GretelSweetly may have changed that.)  And again, readers are blessed with a cover that does its part in drawing us into the story before we even get to the first page.

Sweetly begins twelve years ago with a brother and two sisters in a forest. They are looking for the witch that a book said lives in the woods. Unfortunately, they find more than they bargained for.  The book may have been right, and a witch–or something even more sinister– comes upon the children in the forest, and this mysterious yellow-eyed thing begins to chase the young children.  They try to stay together–holding hands as tightly as possible–but they have to let go to run faster.  When they reach their home, it immediately becomes clear that every child did not make it.  Ansel made it, Gretchen made it, but Gretchen’s twin sister never returned home.  Ansel and Gretchen know the witch took her, but no one truly believes them…and the two siblings have to live with the knowledge that the witch is still out there, waiting, watching, while a family is slowly torn apart.

Fast forward twelve years…Ansel and Gretchen are on their own after their stepmother throws them out.  They are all alone and trying to start a new life away from the pain of the past.  The brother and sister make a long journey from the only home they’ve ever known in Washington to a small town near the coast in South Carolina, a town where outsiders are viewed with contempt.  Only a few people treat the siblings with kindness.  One of those people is Sophia Kelly, the local candy maker, who is dealing with her own problems with the people of Live Oak, South Carolina.  Sophia takes the two young outcasts in and makes them feel welcome in her home.  They had only intended to stay a night, but a night quickly turns into a week, a week into a month.  Before they really know how it happened, Ansel and Gretchen have found a home, one that is far removed from the past they are running from.

But is it really?  As everyone knows, small towns tend to have secrets, and Live Oak is no exception.  It seems, though, that the secrets in Live Oak revolve around one Sophia Kelly, the girl who has befriended Gretchen and bewitched Ansel.  The townspeople blame her for their daughters leaving and never returning.  They don’t visit, they don’t call, they don’t write.  In fact, no one ever hears from them after they attend Sophia’s annual chocolate festival.  Could Sophia have something to do with their disappearance, or is she as innocent as she seems?  Gretchen knows that Sophia is keeping secrets, but she just can’t believe that the girl who has become her only friend could have anything to do with girls vanishing from the face of the earth.

Gretchen reevaluates her views, however, when she encounters the very thing that has haunted her for twelve years.  She discovers it wasn’t a witch that captured her twin sister.  It was a werewolf…more specifically, a Fenris.  When Gretchen narrowly escapes one of these monsters, with the help of the mysterious Samuel Reynolds, she is determined to learn more about these horrible beings and what they have to do with the missing girls of Live Oak.  What do they want with the girls, and how is Sophia involved?  The truth may be more than Gretchen is prepared to handle, but handle it she must.  Gretchen must face her own fears if she has any hope of preventing other girls from vanishing like her sister did.  Is she strong enough to face an evil that has ruined nearly everything she holds dear?  And can she face her dearest (and only) friend’s role in the horror surrounding her?  Join Gretchen as she learns that living in a candy shop isn’t as sweet as it seems.

If your interest has been piqued at all by this post, I strongly urge you to make both Sisters Red and Sweetly part of your holiday reading.  They’re awesome books with strong, yet flawed, female characters, and they turn the “fairy tale” idea of a helpless girl who has to be rescued by the handsome prince on its ear.  (Don’t get me wrong.  There are handsome guys in these books, but these strong ladies could get along just fine without them…most of the time.)

According to Jackson Pearce’s website (http://jackson-pearce.com/), there is going to be another companion book to Sisters Red and Sweetly (and given the way that Sweetly ended, I expected this and even predicted which fairy tale would be retold next).  The book is Fathomless, a retelling of The Little Mermaid, and will be released in August of 2012.  I’m very interested in the connections between these three stories, and I hope Fathomless answers some of the questions that popped up at the end of Sweetly.  At any rate, I know I’m in store for another great story from Jackson Pearce and, I hope, another fantastic cover to grace my bookshelf.

Wolfsbane

Caution!!!  You absolutely MUST read Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade before reading Wolfsbane.  (Even if you have read Nightshade, it might be a good idea to re-read some of it.  I wish I had.)  Wolfsbane will make no sense at all if you don’t know what happened in the first book.  Trust me.

It is no secret that I loved Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.  The characters were rich and complex, the story itself was intense and gripping, and the writing was poetic and beautiful.  When I finished reading it, I couldn’t wait for the next book, but wait I did…nearly nine months.  I forgot a lot in that amount of time, so it was a bit jarring when the sequel, Wolfsbane, picked up almost immediately where Nightshade left off.  I went back to my review of Nightshade to refamiliarize myself with a few things.  I even skimmed through the first book, but I simply lost a lot of details.  While reading Wolfsbane, though, things gradually came back to me, and I was again enraptured with Calla’s story and her struggle to do what is right while trying to figure out what she really wants.

As Wolfsbane begins, Calla is awakened by screams.  It takes her a while to realize the screams are her own.  She is in an unfamiliar room, and she is just beginning to realize the implications of leaving everything she’s ever known behind.  Why did she do it?  To save Shay.  Was it worth it?  Only time will tell.

Calla is now in the realm of the Searchers, sworn enemies of the Keepers and their werewolf Guardians.  Calla is uneasy around the Searchers.  She’s unsure of their motives, and she wonders why they are so interested in her and Shay.  Why would Searchers want anything to do with a couple of Guardians?  Well, it turns out that Calla and Shay–Shay, in particular–are essential to the Searchers’ plans to wage war against the evil Keepers.  Calla is intrigued by what is being suggested, but she is also determined to get back to her pack.  Can she convince them to join in the war against the Keepers, or do they feel betrayed since she left them to save Shay?

While Calla is wrestling with thoughts of who she can or cannot trust, she’s also torn between two loves.  She loves Shay and does not regret saving him, but she can’t forget Ren.  He was destined to be her alpha mate, and he risked his life to help her save Shay.  What has become of him since her escape?   How could she leave Ren and her pack to face the consequences when she left?  Calla does not have the answers, and her guilt is eating her alive.  She can’t truly be with Shay when her feelings for Ren and her packmates still cloud every thought.

As tensions mount, Calla and the Searchers unite to save her pack and battle against the Keepers that have imprisoned them.  But all may not be as it seems.  There is betrayal in unexpected places, sacrifices that tear lives apart, secrets that have long been buried, and friendships torn asunder.  How can Calla and those around her cope with everything hitting them at once?  Who can they trust?  It’s hard to say, but, despite all of the turmoil in her life, Calla is sure of one thing.  She will do whatever it takes, even if it means sacrificing herself, to save those she loves.  Read Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer to discover how far one young woman will go to make things right.

Like many second books in a series, I felt that a lot of Wolfsbane was transitional–a way to bridge the gap between the first and last part of the story.  A few questions were answered, but dozens more popped up to replace them.  The story was full of turmoil and angst, and there wasn’t a tidy ending.  Not that I expected one.  This book did exactly what it was supposed to do…it whetted my appetite for more.  I wish the third book, Bloodrose, was in my hands right now.  I want to know where Calla’s story goes from here and how Shay, Ren, Calla’s pack, and the Searchers fit into that story.  I’m invested in this world, and I can hardly wait to find out more.

FYI, Bloodrose is expected to be released on February 21, 2012.  Too long.  But the first chapter is up on Andrea Cremer’s website at  http://nightshadebook.com/.  Also, check out the cover of this highly anticipated book.

I just know this book is going to be worth the wait.

Published in: on August 4, 2011 at 12:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Forever

Warning!  This post will be about Forever, the third and final book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series.  If you have not read Shiver and Linger, you may want to do that before proceeding.  That is all.

 

I almost hate to write this post because it means that this series, which I have grown to love, is officially finished.  I feel like I’ve gotten to know Sam, Grace, Isabel, and Cole, and I hate to say goodbye.  But life goes on, and, like these characters proved in Forever, it may not be what you always thought it would be…

In Shiver, we got to know Sam as both human and wolf, and we saw the depth of his connection with Grace.  In Linger, while Sam was getting used to the possibility of a future with Grace, Grace was facing life as a wolf, a life she never expected.  Now, in Forever, Sam and Grace are fighting to stay together, in whatever form that takes.  They have many obstacles to face–hunters determined to eliminate the wolves of Mercy Falls, people thinking that Grace is missing and Sam is to blame, a rogue wolf bent on destroying anyone who gets in her way, the cold that forces the wolves to shift and tears Sam and Grace apart–but they, as well as their friends Cole and Isabel, are determined to everything possible to overcome the trials that face them.

Sam must confront his own past.  Why did Beck choose him?  How would his life have been different if he’d been allowed to grow up without the wolf inside of him?  Would he change things if he could?  And how can he hope to save the wolves without unleashing the beast inside himself?

Grace must come out of hiding and let people know that she’s still alive.  She can’t let Sam be blamed for something beyond his control.  Will her parents accept her vague explanations?  Will anyone find out what she really is?  Can she build a life with Sam when so many people are determined to come between them?

Cole is confronting his own demons and trying to find a cure for the “disease” that plagues him and those he’s come to care about.  Can he get past his own issues and save himself and his new family?  Will he be able to do what everyone has told him is impossible?

Isabel finds herself in the middle of a war.  On one side is her father, determined to wipe out the wolves that he believes killed his son.  On the other side are her friends, the very wolves her father wants to kill.  What can she do to stop her father from committing murder?  How can she help her friends–including Cole, a guy she’s coming to love–without losing her family?

As Sam, Grace, Cole, and Isabel fight to save the wolves of Mercy Falls, they find help in unlikely places, but will help come in time?  How can they look to the future when the present is so uncertain?  Will Sam and Grace be able to have the forever they’ve always dreamed of, or will forces conspire to keep them apart?  Find out when you read Forever by Maggie Stiefvater.

Like I mentioned before, I am sad to see this series end, but I will say that this final installment was kind of satisfying.  While there wasn’t a crystal clear resolution, some questions were answered, some relationships were resolved, and there was at least a possibility of happily-ever-after.  That’s the kind of ending I like–one where the author doesn’t try to tie up every single loose end and leaves something to the reader’s imagination.  All in all, I am happy with Forever and how this series concluded.  I will miss the wolves of Mercy Falls, but I know that I can revisit them anytime I want…or I can continue their story in my own mind.

If you’d like more information on the Wolves of Mercy Falls series or author Maggie Stiefvater, I encourage you to visit http://maggiestiefvater.com/.  She has a new book, The Scorpio Races, coming out in October that looks pretty interesting.  If it’s as good as the series I just finished, I will be one happy reader.

Published in: on July 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Vesper

I really identified with the main character in my latest read, Vesper by Jeff Sampson.  Emily Webb is a sixteen-year-old geek who gets way too engrossed in books and movies, doesn’t have many friends, stays at home most of the time, and never tries anything new for fear of rocking the boat or looking like an idiot.  I feel like I’ve just written a short autobiography.  I’m just like Emily (except, you know, twice her age), and, like Emily, I often have the urge to jump out of my shell and go a little crazy.  (I never do.)  Well, Emily is about to do what I’ve never had the guts to do.  She’s becoming an adventurous party girl, but she’s not all that thrilled about it…

By day, Emily Webb is still the same geeky, unassuming, often forgotten, run-of-the mill teenager who is simply counting down the days until the next superhero movie.  (Wow.  The similarities never stop.)  By night, however, Emily morphs into a fearless, reckless thrill seeker who lets nothing stand in her way.  What caused this sudden change?  Why does Emily let go of her inhibitions only at night?  And why does this weird transformation begin on the night that a girl is mysteriously killed just blocks from Emily’s house?

Emily knows she should be worried about her sudden personality shifts, but, at the same time, she kind of likes Nighttime Emily.  She likes not worrying about what people think of her.  She likes dressing to impress instead of hiding her figure behind oversized hoodies.  She likes being the daring girl she’s always wanted to be.  But when her transformation takes an unexpected turn, Emily realizes that something is seriously wrong with her.  She doesn’t know why this is happening to her, but she knows that there are others out there like her.  She just has to find them.

After doing a little research, Emily soon figures out that her freaky new self is somehow connected to the death of the other girl, also named Emily, and the attempted murder of another classmate.  What is happening with the teenagers in her small Washington town?  Will Emily be able to reconcile her daytime and nighttime selves long enough to figure out what’s going on?  And can she do it before becoming a killer’s next target?  Read Vesper by Jeff Sampson to find out!

I’ve left a lot about Vesper out of this post, and that was completely intentional.  I don’t want to ruin this book for anyone because, quite honestly, it went places I wasn’t completely prepared for.  At first, I wasn’t thrilled about these unexpected turns, but, as the story progressed, I accepted them and grew to anticipate where the story was taking me.  I look forward to reading more of Emily’s story in the second book of this Deviants series.  That book is Havoc and is scheduled for release January of 2012.  In the meantime, I encourage you to visit the author’s website at http://jeffsampsonbooks.com/ for more information on this exciting new series!

Secrets and Shadows

Spoiler alert!  If you haven’t read 13 to Life by Shannon Delany, proceed with caution!

If you follow this blog at all, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a fan of the supernatural–vampires, werewolves, fairies, unicorns, etc.  It should come as no surprise, then, that I love Shannon Delany’s 13 to Life series which features a family of Russian werewolves.  Earlier today, I finished reading the second book in this series, Secrets and Shadows.  (I would have finished it earlier, but I was at a librarian conference for the past three days where, oddly enough, I didn’t have any time to read.)  Secrets and Shadows, like many second books in series, was frustrating and even infuriating at times, and it ended with such a shocker that I can’t wait to see how the series proceeds.

Not too long ago, Jessie Gillmansen’s eyes were opened.  She discovered not only that the boy she loved was a werewolf but also that her town is overrun with the Russian Mafia and the CIA.  Not so normal for a teenager, right?  Well, things are about to get even more abnormal for Jessie.  After a dangerous encounter with some unsavory types, Pietr, Jessie’s sort-of boyfriend (even though he’s actually dating Jessie’s often-psycho friend Sarah), begins to pull away from Jessie.  He makes it clear that he no longer wants to be around her.  He doesn’t want her involved in his life or the lives of his family.  Jessie doesn’t know what’s going on, but she’s not going to let Pietr push her away that easily.  She still cares for him despite his insistence on being a jerk.

Jessie is also dealing with another boy–Derek, the popular football star, who Jessie had a major crush on before Pietr entered the picture.  Suddenly, Derek is always around and makes it clear that he’s very interested in Jessie.  But there’s something not-quite-right about Derek.  Why the sudden interest?  What is he really after?  And what could he possibly be hiding?

Jessie doesn’t know who to trust anymore.  Should she stick with the struggling Rusakovas, a family of werewolves who are trying to remain strong while searching for their mother and dealing with startlingly short life spans?  Or should she follow the path that everyone seems to be pushing her toward–a “normal” life with the popular Derek?  Is normal even possible for Jessie anymore now that she’s glimpsed the darkness that lives in the hearts of monsters and men?  Join Jessie on her journey, and find out who she can truly trust in Secrets and Shadows by Shannon Delany.

Even though this book was frustrating at times, I really enjoyed it.  It reminded me a little of Stephenie Meyer’s New Moon, especially the push-pull relationship between Jessie and Pietr.  It definitely mirrored the struggles that Bella and Edward endured in New Moon–but with a little less whining.  I think Jessie is a strong character who wants to protect those she loves and will do everything she can to make sure they’re safe, even if the cost is her own happiness.

Secrets and Shadows definitely ended on a cliffhanger, so I’m eager to see where the story will go from here.  The next book, Bargains and Betrayals, is scheduled for release this August, and I am definitely eager to get my hands on it!

For more information about the 13 to Life series and author Shannon Delany, visit http://shannondelany.com/joomla/.  I hope you enjoy this new series as much as I do!

Published in: on March 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sisters Red

I’ve never really liked the story of Little Red Riding Hood.  The girl in the story has always seemed incredibly stupid to me.  I mean, how can you not realize that a furry creature with big teeth, yellow eyes, and a growly voice is not your dear old grandmother?  (Although, now that I think about it, my own grandmother does growl on occasion…something to think about there.)  Anyway, the story of Little Red Riding Hood is turned on its ear and given a complete, and much needed, makeover in Jackson Pearce’s Sisters Red.  This book is a dark and hauntingly beautiful tale of the bond between two sisters and the horror that is both bringing them together and tearing them apart.

When Scarlett and Rosie March were young, a wolf stepped into their lives…and destroyed them completely.  The monster known as a Fenris killed their grandmother and would have killed the two girls, but Scarlett stepped up and defended Rosie from the monster.  Scarlett was brutally scarred in the attack, but she discovered at that moment what she was born to do–hunt and kill the Fenris that destroyed her world before they can do the same to anyone else.

As Scarlett and Rosie get older, they and their friend Silas, a young woodsman, work together to hunt and kill the Fenris that come into their small Georgia town.  The hunt is what drives Scarlett, but both Rosie and Silas want something more out of their lives.  But how can Rosie abandon her sister when it was Scarlett who saved her life?  She owes her sister everything.  The two sisters seem to share the same heart.  Thinking about a future apart from Scarlett is not an option.  Scarlett will not understand Rosie’s dreams of a different life, especially one with Silas, Scarlett’s most trusted friend.

Plans for the future, however, must be put on hold for a while.  Packs of Fenris are swarming into the nearby Atlanta area, and Scarlett, Rosie, and Silas know they must find out what they want and try to stop them from getting it.  Why are there so many Fenris in one area?  Who or what are they hunting?  And can Scarlett, Rosie, and Silas stop the threat around them while hiding so much of themselves from each other?  Read Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce to learn what happens when Little Red Riding Hood decides to stop taking crap from the monsters around her.

I know this is not one of my better posts, but it’s difficult to summarize this story in a few short paragraphs.  Suffice it to say that I loved Sisters Red, especially the wonderfully strong character of Scarlett.  She’s the epitome of a flawed hero (and I’m not talking about her physical scars).  She’s complex, she has jealousy issues, and she’d really like to be as oblivious as those around her.  But she’s not, and she knows she has to do something about the evil around her because no one else will.  I can really get behind a character like that.  (I also think I relate more to the character of Scarlett because I’m an older sister myself.  Even though my sister is an adult and six inches taller than me, part of me will always want to keep her safe.)

I hope you enjoy Sisters Red as much as I did, and I hope you’ll let me know how you think it stacks up against the original Little Red Riding Hood.  FYI, I just found out that a companion book to Sisters Red will be released in August.  It’s called Sweetly and is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel.  Score!

For more information on Sisters Red and other books by Jackson Pearce, visit http://jackson-pearce.com/.

Published in: on February 3, 2011 at 10:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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