Fall of Night

I’ll dispense with the pleasantries.  Those who haven’t read Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series up to this point should stop right now.  I finished book #14 earlier today, and your reading experience will be all kinds of spoiled if you continue with this post without reading the first 13 books.  The books in this series thus far are:

You’ve been warned!

For those still with me, let’s get right to it.  Rachel Caine has once again ripped my heart out…or staked me in the chest, if you prefer to stay with all things vampish.  Just when I thought things were starting to get sort of normal for Claire and the gang, a major wrench gets thrown into the works, and everything spirals out of control.  In Fall of Night, the fourteenth book in this addictive series, Claire is finally heading for MIT, but what she thought would be a dream come true is turning into a nightmare.  It seems that dark and scary isn’t exclusive to Morganville…

It isn’t easy for Claire to leave Morganville behind.  Despite the horrors she’s witnessed–and even been part of–she’s grown rather attached to the place, especially her dear friends Michael and Eve, her boss Myrnin, and her boyfriend Shane (even though things are a bit tense with them of late).  She just can’t pass up the opportunity to finally go to MIT, her dream school.  Sure, she’ll be working with Dr. Anderson, one of Myrnin’s former assistants, and eventually returning to Morganville, but this is Claire’s chance to finally prove that she can be on her own and have a life outside of the vampire-controlled town that she’s come to call home.

Almost immediately upon arriving in Boston, Claire wants to return to Morganville.  Things just aren’t what they thought she’d be.  Her friend, Liz, is acting really weird, and working with Dr. Irene Anderson isn’t all Claire had hoped it would be.  In fact, Claire may have gotten herself involved in something more dangerous than living in Morganville could ever be.

When Dr. Anderson gets wind of the machine that Claire has been working on–a machine that could potentially disable the powers of vampires–Claire’s already tumultuous world takes another nosedive.  Friends old and new are in extreme danger, and much of the blame can be laid at Claire’s feet.  How can she deal with what she’s done?  And is there any way to get out of this mess with her sanity, her relationships, and her life intact?  If not, what could it mean for those she loves and the town that means so much to her?  Has night finally fallen in Morganville?  I guess there’s only one way to find out…

So…yeah…I love this flippin’ series.  Even though each book makes my blood pressure go up, I just can’t stop reading them.  Part of me can’t believe that there’s only one more book in the series, especially when you consider how things ended in Fall of Night (major cliffhanger).  I just don’t see how things can possibly be neatly wrapped up in just one more book.

The fifteenth and, at least to my knowledge, final book in the Morganville Vampires series is Daylighters, and it is due for a November 5th release.  The title alone makes me nervous…and that nervousness will make plenty of sense to you when you finish reading book #14.  Given the journey I’ve been on in the past fourteen books, I think my anxiety is totally justified.  What do you think?

Darkness Before Dawn

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope that all of you have had a wonderful day (regardless of whether or not you celebrate this holiday). I spent the majority of the day with my wonderful family, ate WAY too much, took a nap, watched some Doctor Who, and, finally, I finished a book. Not a bad way to spend the day!

The book I’ve been reading the past couple of days is Darkness Before Dawn by the mother-son writing team known as J.A. London. I freely admit that I picked up this book because of the cover–something that has been known to get me into trouble from time to time. The cover reminded me a great deal of the covers for Lauren Kate’s Fallen series (fabulous books, by the way). Well, this book wasn’t quite like Fallen, and I didn’t think the cover really fit the story, but Darkness Before Dawn was a decent book, and the action did keep me turning the page. (I can’t say that about other books I’ve read.) It is a vampire book, and it has some Twilight-esque elements, but it’s much darker than some of the vampire romance fluff that’s out there right now. The tone of Darkness Before Dawn reminded me a little of Bethany Griffin’s Masque of the Red Death (which I wasn’t a huge fan of). Things are very bleak, there’s very little hope, but one girl is doing what she can–even consorting with the enemy–to bring peace to her world.

Following the horrifying death of her parents, seventeen-year-old Dawn Montgomery has been appointed as the new Agency delegate to negotiate with Lord Valentine, the feared vampire who controls what has become of the city of Denver. It is Dawn’s responsibility to keep the peace between vampires and humans. Basically, this means that she kowtows to the whims and wishes of Valentine, including doing everything possible to increase the city’s blood donations to the vampires they at once fear and loathe. Dawn wishes there were a way to end humanity’s subservience to the vampires, but she doesn’t see a way to get out from under Valentine’s thumb long enough to broker any semblance of a peace deal. All that may be about to change, though…

One night, after a party on the outskirts of town, a mysterious boy comes to Dawn’s rescue. His name is Victor, and he saves Dawn and her best friend, Tegan, from being killed by a pack of vampires. Dawn doesn’t know much about Victor, but she’s grateful to him and oddly drawn to him, even though she has a boyfriend. Soon, though, Dawn discovers the truth of Victor’s real identity. He’s a vampire, and his full name is Victor Valentine. That’s right. He’s the horrible Lord Valentine’s son. But Victor is not the monster that his father is. He, like Dawn, wants a world where vampires and humans can live in peace, and he’s doing all that he can to make that a reality. Victor implores Dawn to see him as more than an evil bloodsucker, and, eventually, she realizes that there is more to him than she ever thought possible. There’s more to her feelings for him, too. As you can imagine, things are about to get really complicated…

As Dawn and Victor fight their feelings for each other while doing their parts to fight for peace, new and unexpected monsters are invading the city. It seems a new breed of vampire is on the loose, one that no one really knows how to fight. One that seems to have Dawn in his sights. What does he want with her? Is she a target because she’s the delegate, or is there some other reason that Dawn is always being watched? And what will happen when it’s revealed that someone close to Dawn may not be who he claims to be? Could there be an even more sinister foe waiting to destroy Dawn’s entire world? Sometimes there are reasons to be afraid of the dark. Find out how Dawn deals with those fears when you read Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London.

When I first started reading this book, I was prepared not to like it. Honestly, I though, “Not another cheesy vampire book!” In a sense, I was right. It was fairly predictable, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. Yes, it was dark and a bit depressing at times. Yes, the story didn’t offer too many answers to questions. (It’s the first book in a series, so that shouldn’t shock me too much.) Everything about this book was easy to anticipate, but that didn’t stop me from turning the next page. I needed to see if my predictions were correct. (They nearly always were.) This is not the loftiest of literature, but it does keep the reader interested, and that’s really all anyone can ask.

Fans of YA vampire fiction will enjoy this book. Be cautious when recommending this book to middle grade readers. There’s some cursing, alcohol use, and a couple of steamy scenes (especially if you have a decent imagination). I’m not naive enough to think that some middle schoolers aren’t familiar with this things, but know your readers and which ones can handle mature situations in the books they read.

For more information about Darkness Before Dawn, visit http://www.jalondon.com/. The second book in the series, Blood-Kissed Sky, is already out. (I’ve already read the first chapter. It was at the end of the first book, which ended on such a cliffhanger that I couldn’t pass up the chance to see what happened next.) The third book, After Daybreak, will be out on June 25th.

Bitter Blood

If you’re a frequent visitor to this blog, you’ve seen this warning before, but PLEASE stop right now if you haven’t read the entire Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine.  Bitter Blood is the thirteenth book in the series (yes, you read that right), and I’m not even going to try to keep this post spoiler free.

If you’re still reading at this point and would like to start at the beginning of the Morganville Vampires series, here are all thirteen books (so far) in order:

So, I’m now officially on my winter break, and I can finally devote some time to Knight Reader (which has been sadly neglected since school started in August).  After the past few months, I really need this escape.  This afternoon, in celebration of my two-week vacation, I finally finished reading Bitter Blood, book #13 in Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series.  It should go without saying that, after thirteen books, I’ve grown rather attached to the characters in this book.  So attached, in fact, that it took me over two weeks to finish this book because I didn’t want to face the bad stuff–even by Morganville standards–that was happening to Claire, Shane, Michael, Eve, and Myrnin (my personal favorite character).  Bitter Blood is a tense, action-packed book, much like its predecessors, but even I was unprepared for exactly how things would play out in this installment.

After defeating the terrifying draug–creatures even vampires feared–Morganville should be returning to normal, right?  (“Normal” here means an uneasy peace between vampires and the town’s human residents.)  Well, as is often the case, nothing is going according to plan in this strange town.  It seems that once vampires no longer have anything to fear, there’s not much to hold them back…especially when their very nature demands they prey on humans.  The Founder of Morganville, Amelie, seems to have made a complete about-face and now, along with her closest advisor and consort Oliver, views her town’s human residents as nothing more than a food source…even those like Claire and friends who helped to defeat vampires’ greatest enemy.

Claire, her boyfriend Shane, and newly married Michael (vampire) and Eve (human) know they have to do something to stop the massacre that is sure to come, but it soon becomes clear that they are targets on both sides.  Vampires are less than thrilled (to put it mildly) that one of their own has married a human.  Humans are equally disgusted by the relationship.  They’re not too fond of Claire either, since they see her as a loyal friend and ally to the blood-suckers.  How can these four friends–and their new ghostly housemate Miranda–battle two sides in a war that may not be winnable?  And what will Claire do when her boss and closest vampire friend, Myrnin, decides that it’s all too much and seems to disappear into thin air?

As if Morganville’s current troubles weren’t enough, a crew from a ghost-hunting reality show has arrived in town, and they’re stirring up more trouble than they ever prepared for.  Also, the mysterious Captain Obvious is back and is apparently more determined than ever to drive the vamps out of Morganville for good…by whatever means necessary.  While all of this is happening, it seems that Amelie is turning a blind eye to all of the trouble.  But what if Amelie isn’t the one calling the shots anymore?  What if she’s being manipulated along with everyone else?  Who would have so much power that they could control Morganville’s Founder?  And what could a few humans, a young vampire, a semi-sane (yet totally awesome) older vampire, and a ghost possibly do to turn the situation around?  What sacrifices–unintended or not–will be made to save their town?  Answers will be revealed in Bitter Blood, but they may not be the ones you ever expected…or wanted.

It would be an understatement to say that I enjoy this series.  I was hooked from the first book, and my obsession has only grown with each book.  With Bitter Blood, despite the ominous title and past experience, I kind of hoped for good things to happen to my favorite characters, and, in the end, not everything was bad.  But this book sent me on an emotional roller-coaster, and I’m still trying to recover.  There were moments of absolute anguish that nearly had me curled up in the fetal position.  And I don’t anticipate things getting much better with the next two books…

Book #14, Fall of Night, is due for a May 7th, 2013, release, and it follows Claire immediately after the events of Bitter Blood.  (You’ll realize the importance of this when you finish book #13).  Book #15, Daylighters, which is rumored to be the last book in the series, will be out next November.  I’m hoping for a bit of closure by this time next year, but, if Rachel Caine is true to form where Morganville is concerned, she’ll totally break my heart in the process.  I better start preparing myself now…

The Vampire Stalker

If you’re anything like me, you’ve often wished that the guys in books were actually real.  (I have a long-standing crush on Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy that will probably never go away.)  Most of the guys I encounter just don’t measure up to those I read about…which might explain why I’m not married and have no desire to be.  My fictional boyfriends are too perfect to actually exist…or are they?  In my latest read, The Vampire Stalker by Allison Van Diepen, one girl discovers what it’s like when fiction becomes reality…

Amy Hawthorne is just a little obsessed with the popular Otherworld series of books. These books take place in an alternate version of Chicago where vampires run rampant and have driven out nearly everyone who could make the city a better place. Amy’s favorite character in the books is Alexander Banks, an intense, devastatingly attractive vampire hunter. Amy is so captivated by Alexander that she even writes fan fiction about him.

Amy is so enraptured by this fictional world that she can’t believe it when the living embodiment of Alexander crosses her path.  But this isn’t just some guy who bears an uncanny resemblance to her favorite character.  It actually is Alexander Banks, the vampire hunter from Otherworld.  How in the world did this happen?  Is Amy going crazy, or is something seemingly impossible happening right before her eyes?

The fictional world that Amy loves has quickly become a reality that she’s finding hard to handle.  While she’s kind of thrilled that Alexander is now a part of her life, she’s not at all happy about the fact that Alexander’s nemesis, the horrible vampire Vigo, has also entered her world and is terrorizing everyone in Chicago, including people close to Amy.

Can Amy and Alexander track Vigo down before he unleashes unspeakable horror on the city?  Can they figure out why Alexander and Vigo crossed into this world in the first place?  And what will Amy and Alexander do when the circumstances that brought them together threaten to tear them apart…forever?

While I’m totally in favor of the premise behind The Vampire Stalker–and I even kind of understand the concept of “literary physics” presented in this book (authors are just tapping into other dimensions when they write “fiction”)–the story itself was less than stellar.  Yes, it was a quick read, and it was entertaining at times, but something about this book just seemed a little off to me.  I can’t really put my finger on why this book didn’t really do it for me.  It just didn’t.  Maybe you can clarify things for me when/if you read Allison Van Diepen’s The Vampire Stalker.

For more information about The Vampire Stalker and author Allison Van Diepen, visit http://www.allisonvandiepen.com/, follow the author on Twitter @allisonvandiepe, and check out the book trailer below!

Jessica Rules the Dark Side

Spoiler alert!  You MUST read Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey before proceeding!  You may also want to read The Wedding of Antanasia Jessica Packwood and Lucius Valeriu Vladescu, an online novella available on the author’s website here.  This post will be all about Jessica Rules the Dark Side, which takes place shortly after the events of the novella.

After reading both the preceding book and novella, I had super-high hopes for Jessica Rules the Dark Side.  In some ways, those hopes were realized.  In others, though, this sequel just didn’t live up to the first book.  I liked how Jessica grew into her role as a leader, but I wanted to smack her in the face a few times for being monumentally stupid.  She was such a strong character in the first book that it was almost painful to see her weakness at the beginning of this one.  Yes, I understand that there’s probably a lot of pressure involved in being a Romanian vampire princess, but the first part of this book was kind of difficult to take.  Jessica was almost as whiney as Bella Swan (and that is saying something).

The honeymoon is over.  Now, it’s time for Lucius and Jessica–otherwise known as Princess Antanasia–to rule their contentious vampire clans.  But not everyone wants them to take the throne.  When one of their primary adversaries ends up dead, and all evidence points to Lucius, it is up to Jessica to make the hard decisions and step up when her dear husband is incarcerated for a crime she’s sure he didn’t commit.  Jessica doesn’t know what she’s doing, and, worse, everyone knows it.  How can she possibly find a way to clear her husband’s name and convince everyone she’s fit to be the queen…especially when she doesn’t think she’s queen material herself?

Jessica enlists the help of her best friend Mindy–who’s dealing with her own brand of failure–and Lucius’ best friend Raniero–who is hiding some pretty dark and disturbing secrets.  Jessica has complete faith in Mindy, but she’s not quite sure of Raniero’s motives…and when the truth is revealed about his past, she’s even more unsure.  Eventually, she trusts Lucius’ faith in his friend and seeks Raniero’s guidance and help in proving her husband’s innocence.  Jessica is still not entirely certain of who around her is ally or enemy, but it’s becoming crystal clear that a plot is afoot to remove Lucius–and her–from their rightful places.  But who would go to such great and horrifying lengths to destroy Lucius and Jessica?

The answer is closer than even Jessica knows, but time is running out.  Lucius’ time in prison–without the life-sustaining blood he needs–is causing him to grow ever weaker.  If Jessica cannot find out who is framing her husband soon, both of them will face certain destruction.  Who is friend?  Who is foe?  And can Jessica learn to tell the difference before she loses everything?  Will Jessica find a way to save her husband and assert her own power before it’s too late?  Or will the traitor that framed Lucius find a way to destroy Jessica too?  Uncover the mystery when you read Beth Fantaskey’s Jessica Rules the Dark Side.

It was clear to me from the very beginning who was behind the shenanigans in the Vladescu manor, but several of the characters in this book–with the possible exception of Jessica’s best (human) friend Mindy–were blind to what was obviously going on around them.  It was all so predictable.

While reading this book, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to that other vampire couple.  You know, the sparkly one.  The relationship between Lucius and Jessica is very similar to the one between Edward and Bella.  No, they didn’t have some weird, creepy mutant child, but their dynamic was basically the same.  Lucius is the powerful one who seems secure in his role as a ruler.  He’s dominant, formal, and protective.  Jessica is new to this whole thing and is very insecure and whiney.  She eventually grows into her power, but it takes a very real threat to make that happen.  By the end, she is Lucius’ equal, but the journey was not easy for her, and she had to overcome her own urge to run in order to truly rule.  Very much like Edward and Bella in Breaking Dawn, no?

I was a big fan of Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, but I’m afraid this sequel didn’t quite live up to my expectations.  It was okay, but a few surprises would have made it a much more exciting read.

If you’d like to learn more about author Beth Fantaskey and her books, visit http://www.bethfantaskey.com/.

Black Dawn

Spoiler alert!  This post is about the book #12 in Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series, Black Dawn.  I know it’s asking a lot, but please read the first eleven books before proceeding.  Thanks a bunch!

So, it’s been a long week, and I haven’t been able to read nearly as much as I wanted to.  It didn’t help that some genius decided that she should schedule a third book fair three weeks before school gets out for the summer.  (For those that don’t remember elementary school all that well, book fairs are a BIG DEAL.  They’re also a ton of work.)  Anyway, I haven’t had a lot of time to read this week, but I did manage to finish one highly-anticipated book:  Black Dawn by Rachel Caine.  If you paid any attention to the warning above, you know that this is the twelfth book in the Morganville Vampires series, and Claire and crew are once again fighting for their lives…

The draug (water vampires, or at least something similar) have invaded Morganville.  Vampires and humans alike are disappearing, and Amelie, the Founder, has been infected.  After being rescued from the draug, Michael went all vampire-in-a-frenzy, and he fed off the love of his life—and a human—Eve.  Things are bad for everyone in Morganville, but those remaining are determined to fight the invaders that have all but taken over the town.  But are they prepared to pay the price of the battle to come?  Lives will be changed and even lost, and Claire, Shane, Michael, and Eve must decide if they’re willing to risk everything—even each other—to rid Morganville of the horror that is spreading.

The human and vampire residents of Morganville must work together and use some rather unconventional methods to destroy the draug.  Things don’t go well for everyone, and plans are being made to make things even worse for some—especially Claire.  She is the only person who can see Magnus, the master draug, so Oliver (the town’s second-in-command) and Myrnin (Claire’s mad-vampire-scientist boss and my personal favorite character) decide to use her as bait.  Unfortunately, they don’t exactly let her—or anyone else—in on the plan.

Will Claire and company be able to defeat the draug while remaining together?  Will this fight tear them apart?  And what will they do when the town they’ve worked so hard to save becomes even more dangerous than ever before.  They may be working to eliminate one enemy, but more may be stepping up to the plate, even those they once counted as friends.  Who is a friend?  Who is a foe?  It’s hard to tell in a town like Morganville…

So, yeah, I had high hopes that things would get a little better for Claire, Shane, Michael, Eve, and Myrnin in this book.  (They’ve had a rough time of it in the past eleven books.)  Well, it’s not looking good.  This book may have resolved one bit of drama, but several more are waiting to take center stage.  (Yes, I know I’ve used both baseball and theater metaphors in this post.  Just call me well-rounded.)  I did enjoy Black Dawn.  Like the other books in this series, it was full of action, humor, and a dash of steamy romance.  It’s also filled with angst, tension, and heartbreak.  It’s a bit like a vampire soap opera (but not a cheesy one like Dark Shadows). 

And like any good soap opera, the drama just keeps on coming.  The thirteenth book in this series, Bitter Blood, will be out on November 6th this year.  For more information on the upcoming book or others in this addictive series, visit http://www.morganvilletexas.com/The_Morganville_Vampires_series_by_Rachel_Caine/Banner.html.  You can also follow the author on Twitter @rachelcaine.  For those who are still paying attention to this rambling post, check out the official book trailer for Black Dawn:

Finally, if you’re still reading this and haven’t read the entire Morganville Vampires series, you might want to check out these posts on the series.  (Yes, they are in order.)

Happy reading!

City of Lost Souls

Warning!  There may be City of Lost Souls spoilers ahead!

After work on Tuesday, I rushed to the closest Barnes & Noble to pick up a book I waited on for far too long—City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.  I started reading it as soon as I got home, but, sadly, I wasn’t able to finish it until yesterday.  (Lots of things kept getting in the way—work, my regular TV schedule, meetings, and my need for naps.)  But finish it I did, and I was absolutely blown away.

Like the other books in Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, and City of Fallen Angels) and her Infernal Devices series (Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince), City of Lost Souls had me hooked before I even opened the book.  And I think a part of me was reluctant to finish the book, partly because I wanted to prolong the time I spent with my favorite characters, and partly because I knew this book would end on a cliffhanger, and I’d have a long time to worry about how things would be resolved.  How right I was.

I’m not going to tell you much about what happens in City of Lost Souls because I don’t want to spoil things for you.  This series means too much to me to ruin it for other fans.  I will say, however, that I am an emotional wreck after reading this book.  Sacrifices and deals are made—or at least considered—that change the entire fabric of this world.  The relationships between the characters have me tied up in knots, and I’m hoping against hope that things get better for everyone in the next book, City of Heavenly Fire.  I even found myself hoping that there was some way to “fix” Sebastian.  When you read this book, you’ll see why that hope was rather short-lived. 

While reading City of Lost Souls, I was always for clues about what might happen in Clockwork Princess.  (For those that don’t know, Clockwork Princess is the third book in the Infernal Devices, the prequel trilogy to Mortal Instruments.)  I think I may have found at least one clue, but it’s so out there that I don’t want to say anything in case I’m wrong (but I don’t think I am).  I also looked for things we might see in the next Shadowhunter series, Dark Artifices, which will take place a few years in the future at the Los Angeles Institute.  Based on things I’ve heard from Cassie Clare and the YA blogging community, I encountered a few characters that I know I’ll see again.

In short, I LOVED this book just as much as everything else Cassandra Clare has written.  I am totally invested in what happens to these characters that I’ve come to love and think of as my friends.  (Most of my best friends are fictional characters.)  I am eagerly anticipating the final book in the Mortal Instruments saga, City of Heavenly Fire, which won’t be released until March of 2014.  (Yep.  You read that right.  Nearly two years away.  Let the temper tantrum begin.)  Clockwork Princess will tide me over for a bit, but it won’t be out until March 19th of next year, so I’ve still got about ten months to stew.  Curses!

There is, however, something I’m looking forward to that will ease the pain of waiting.  Cassie Clare is coming to South Carolinain November!!!!  I got to meet her late last year during her Clockwork Prince tour (and she’s as awesome as you’d think she would be), and I was thrilled this week when I heard she’d be coming back to my fair state.  She, along with dozens of other bestselling authors—including Holly Black, Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman,  Margaret Stohl, Andrea Cremer, Kim Derting, and too many others to name—will be coming to Charleston for YALLFest (http://yallfest.org/), the Charleston Young Adult Book Festival.  The event will be November 9-10, and I am so there!  I’m so excited about this that I can barely contain my joy!

So, while the wait to find out what happens to Jace, Clary, Simon, Alec, Magnus, Isabelle, and even Sebastian, is way too long for me, there’s plenty going on that will tide me over (including hearing more about the middle-grade series by Cassie Clare and Holly Black that’s currently in the works). 

If you’d like more information about all of Cassandra Clare’s amazing books, check out her website (http://www.cassandraclare.com/), her tumblr site (http://cassandraclare.tumblr.com/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/cassieclare), and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Cassandraclare).  You may also want to check out my favorite fansite, Mundie Moms (http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/).  Also, if you haven’t seen it already (I’ve watched it about five thousand times), here’s the official City of Lost Souls book trailer.  If this video doesn’t make you want to read this outstanding book, nothing will.  Enjoy!