Monthly Archives: May 2013

Raised by Wolves Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Many of my early teen years were spent girl-crushing after the feisty werewolf heroine Vivian from Annette Curtis Klause’s Blood and Chocolate. (Please ignore the absolutely heinous cinematic interpretation…) Klause’s prose was so spell-binding, she had a way of turning everything in our ordinary human world into magic. She made me want to be a werewolf.

Raised by Wolves is the first glimmer of similar wolfy magic I’ve seen in probably ten years. 6905534

Bryn is human, but after her parents are killed in a vicious rogue werewolf attack–or Rabid, as they say–she is taken in by a local pack. The Alpha Callum “Marks” her, thus granting protection from the other wolves and giving her over to be raised by one of the were’s human wives.

But when Bryn is 15 she begins to rebel against the male-dominated intense control of the pack. She longs for autonomy. But even as she tries to pull away, she is drawn back in by something unheard of–a new wolf–a bitten wolf. Chase has survived a gruesome mauling, has turned wolf himself, and clues about his attack ring alarm bells in Bryn’s head.

Maybe the Rabid who attacked Chase is the same wolf that killed her parents…

I was very pleasantly surprised with this book. Once again, the YA publishers have allowed a terribly cheese-tastic cover to mar what is otherwise a great story. (Can I just be in charge of the book cover department, please?) I liked that we had a human perspective into the crazy Pack dynamic and it wasn’t just your typical paranormal romance.

There were butterflies and smooching and all that, but it didn’t overwhelm the story or make me want to puke. I consider that a success. Not to mention, that Bryn wasn’t just a woe-is-me-lay-down-and-take-it type of girl. She stood up for what she believed in, even when it was a difficult thing to do.

I just wish that her “power” over her relationships/pack bonds was explained more. I don’t know if it is meditation or part of her “super survivor” thing, but I don’t really understand where it came from or how it works. Why does she have that ability? Hopefully Barnes will explain it in the next installment!

4 paw prints of 5


Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

10429067Grace. Gretchen. Greer. Three sisters, one destiny. They are the identical triplet descendants of the famous Medusa–and while they can’t turn people to stone with their eyes–they do have some pretty interesting abilities of their own. They are huntresses, assigned to bite invading creatures with their venomous fangs and thus send them back to the Underworld. Or wherever they came from.

Too bad they were separated at birth and must find each other before the monsters of myth and legend take over San Francisco. Ass-kicking Gretchen must find tree-hugging Grace and unite with snobby rich girl Greer to fulfill their ancient duty.

I know it sounds terribly cheesy, but it was actually vastly entertaining. I learned a lot about Greek mythology, especially all the random beasts running around. Each chapter was split into a different sister’s perspective and that kept the pace moving along nicely. I liked that there were some little droplets of romantic interest for each of the sisters, but none overwhelmed the story or made it too cheesy/teen angsty.

I admit, I did catch myself drifting in and out during certain parts, but mostly I enjoyed it. I could see the books being translated into one of those 90’s Disney Channel original movies that we all LOVED back it the day. I’m just glad the YA Fiction market has started to drift away from werewolves and vampires–and I love my weres and vamps.

I will definitely be following up with the Medusa Girls series.

4 hypnotic eyes of 5


Undine and Breathe by Penni Russon

Undine and Breathe have been sitting forgotten in the purgatory that is my Amazon wish list for god knows how many years. I’m sure my teenage self was intrigued by the vaporous mystical quality to the front jacket flap.

Undine is a teen girl just discovering her innate hidden magic. She lives with her free-spirited mother and baby half-brother. Trout, her best friend/next door neighbor is madly in love with her. Awkwardddd. And lately she’s had a strange urge to be seaside–not to mention the mysterious voice in her head tell her to “come home.”

undine-penni-russon-hardcover-cover-artThis is totally not an E.T. sequel!

I’m not sure what I was really expecting out of Undine and Breathe, but this wasn’t it. I guess I thought she was going to end up as a mermaid or something. This series seemed more like an existential angsty teen crisis than anything. It was a fairly entertaining and easy read, but I wasn’t captivated by it. There seemed to be a lot more thinking than doing in both books and it gave the whole story a hazy quality–like something half-remembered from a dream.

The whole thing would’ve made a very peaceful and dreamy music video, if you catch my drift.

I didn’t particularly care for Undine and I certainly didn’t like the way she treated Trout. He was so nice and he was so horribly friend-zoned that I felt bad for him. I much preferred Max in Breathe, but then again I was disappointed on how she turned out too. n229924

Apparently there is a third book to the Undine trilogy called Drift, but for some weird reason it’s out of print and pretty much only available as an audiobook. I don’t know if I really care enough to track it down…

3 dead fish of 5

 


Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

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Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a baby back bitch when it comes to scary movies. I can watch one heinous thing and it haunts me for years. Scary books on the other hand… I love. I guess it’s because I feel more in control. Nothing can jump and go RAWWWWRRR in my face, so I feel better about it. On the other hand, since books and words and stories are played out in your mind… they can have a much more all-encompassing effect when they’re creeptastic.

Hence why I was interested in Anna Dressed in Blood and its sequel, Girl of Nightmares. Our protagonist Theseus Cassio Lowood (or “Cas” for short) is a ghost hunter. And no, not the Discovery-Channel-night-vision-camera-*bump*-AHHHWHATWASTHAT?? kind either. After his ghost-hunting father’s untimely demise, Cas is handed the power and responsibility of the athame–a dagger that can “kill” the dead. Or at least send them back to wherever they came from.

Loner Cas gets more than he bargains for when he moves to Canada with his mom to find “Anna Dressed in Blood”–a 50 years slain girl who haunts her old house and has a very high body count. It’s up to him and his new pals to stop Anna before she goes too far. But Anna is not what she seems. And strange signs start to lead Cas to believe that his father’s murderer is somewhere nearby… OOooooOOOoooOOOooo

Girl of Nightmares brings us back to Cas and company, and this time his mission is to help save Anna. Hmm…

These were very disappointing books. You’d think that when a book cover says “Stephen King better start looking over his shoulder” it would mean something. I hear that statement and start gleefully rubbing my hands together. Nope. If you are looking for a wise-cracking and very trendy narrator (very similar to a teenage version of the Dresden Files but without the likeability) then look no further.

I’m not saying I hated Cas, but it’s strange to see Facebook and “pwned” referenced in a book. I think Blake’s attempt at casual teen speak was a little too casual, and it made me dislike the characters. Cas was too cocky. And (OF COURSE) there has got to be some love interest crap going on. I didn’t like how out-of-left-field and instantaneous Cas’ feelings were. I didn’t understand it at all. Blegh. The whole thing was just blegh.

Do you guys know of any good books that will actually scare me?

2 bloodstains of 5

 


Dreamhunter and Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox

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Without a doubt, Dreamhunter and Dreamquake are hands down some of the most original YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy I’ve read in AGES. Like seriously. No werewolves, no vampires, no paranormal romance. In Knox’s world (set in 1905), a select few are able to hike into the “Place”–a barren inter-dimensional desert-like wasteland full of dreams. Yep, kiddos, dreams. And in this world, dreams are sold as commodities.

Tziga Hame and Grace Tiebold were among the first Dreamhunters, and are by far the most famous. So, you can imagine how excited Tziga’s daughter Laura is to “Try.” Grace Tiebold’s daughter Rose is also up for her Try this year. To pass your Try, you must simply be able to step over the invisible line that separates our world from the Place. With dreamhunting comes fame and fortune, depending on how impressive your skills are. You can soothe people, influence them, torture them, and even grant their wildest fantasies.

Dream palaces are like hotels that people go to–to pay for the privilege of sleeping near a Dreamhunter. Anyone within their penumbra experiences the same dream. Pretty wild stuff.

But when our protagonist Laura finds out that the government may be using her father’s amazing ability to hurt people, she must find a way to stop them. Because, if you torture the dreamer you’re also torturing the Dreamhunter.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED these books. Some of my new favorites. I liked them so much that I am actually kinda pissed that these have been out for seven years and I haven’t seen ANY marketing or press for them at all. Even their covers are dull and drab. But, read them people! They need a movie for sure. They have crazy dreams, political intrigue, a smattering of romance, magic, and even a SANDMAN. Get it?? Dreams?! A sandman!!? Love it.

There were a few slow moments, for which I am taking away a star, but other than that this duet was unforgettable. Do it!

4 bites of Wakeful of 5

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The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddahartha Mukherjee

emperorofallmaladies1Unfortunately many of us have been touched by cancer, directly or indirectly. A couple months ago we got the news that my boyfriend’s mother may have a pretty serious form of immune/bone marrow cancer called multiple myeloma. *Cue frantic research*

The Emperor of All Maladies is described by Mukherjee as a “biography” of cancer. He treats the insidious disease almost as if it’s a sentient and prolific monster. The expansive novel takes us back several thousand years and wipes away the notion that cancer is a modern affliction. Mummies have been found with painful lumps in their shriveled arms. Ancient skeletons were exhumed and discovered to be riddled with tiny holes–caused by a skin cancer taking root.

By no means is it caused solely by our new lifestyle (although I’m sure fast food, cigarettes, and tanning beds aren’t helping…) Mukherjee explains that many of the diseases that would’ve once killed us a few hundred years ago have been wiped out–thus opening the doors for cells to mutate with advanced age and cancer to form.

“Cancer is built into our genomes: the genes that unmoor normal cell division are not foreign to our bodies, but rather mutated, distorted versions of the very genes that perform vital cellular functions. And cancer is imprinted in our society: as we extend our life span as a species, we inevitably unleash malignant growth (mutations in cancer genes accumulate with aging; cancer is thus intrinsically related to age). If we seek immortality, then so, too, in a rather perverse sense, does the cancer cell.”

This is a very interesting and informative read. It can get a little scientifically dense at times, but as someone with very little previous knowledge on the subject, I found it fairly easy to follow. Mukherjee incorporates personal experiences as an oncology doctor, early experiments, the history of many surgical procedures, and the evolution of chemotherapy. It’s kind of daunting to realize that in the 1940’s doctors were charging at the front line of cancer medicine–sure it would be obliterated at any moment–only to remember now it’s 70 years later and there is still no universal cure to be found.

But that’s not to say there haven’t been any major advancements. In the 1950’s, while doctors puffed on cigarettes during lung cancer operations, they were learning that their own smelly habit was causing the black tributaries of tar and malignant cells. Too bad the knowledge hasn’t stopped everyone nowadays…

I highly recommend this book, to anyone more interested in learning about the disease. It was at once terrifying and enlightening. Don’t expect to find a cure in it’s pages, but you will find hope.

4 stars of 5


Quote of the Day: Roald Dahl

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“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

-Roald Dahl