The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark – Book Review

The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark
Published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House

Since Callie was little, a strange man has always visited her in her dreams. A prince, she once believed him to be. Perhaps it was this nightly visitor that inspired her love of fairy tales and Gothic literature, even the subject of her best-selling book, The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers. Thanks to her book, Callie has gotten a position at Fairwick College’s folklore department. With her new job and the new house she’s bought, the man who used to haunt her dreams is back. This time, though, the dreams are graphic, and starting to suck Callie’s energy away from her. Callie is, it appears, being haunted not by simple dreams, but by an incubus, and he’s not the only mythical creature in Fairwick.

Callie’s midnight romps with her incubus get to be a bit much towards the beginning of the book, but once she starts to realize that something strange is going on and trying to figure out exactly what that is, it picks up. By the time I was about a third of the way through the book, I was thoroughly entranced (heehee) by the magic and academia. The Demon Lover reminds me somewhat of A Discovery of Witches, but with a slightly different bent.

Altogether a great start to a trilogy. Recommended.

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Changeless by Gail Carriger – Book Review

Changeless by Gail Carriger
Published by Orbit, an imprint of Hachette

This is the second book in the Parasol Protectorate series, I have previously reviewed the first book, Soulless.

Just because Alexia is now the Lady Woolsey, wife of Conall Maccon, Earl of Woolsey, doesn’t mean that Conall necessarily bothers to tell her much of anything. When Conall marches out of the house yelling at the top of his lungs, he neglects to tell Alexia anything that is going on, leaving her to discover for herself the regiment of werewolves camped out on their front lawn. In addition to the soldiers, it seems that the British Isles have suddenly been plagued by something that is negating the powers of supernaturals, including exorcising ghosts. As an adviser to Queen Victoria, Alexia is tasked with uncovering the secret behind why everyone is Changeless.

I thoroughly enjoyed Soulless, the first book in this series. Changeless, however, held a bit less magic for me. Part of the issue, I think, is the lack of interplay between Conall and Alexia. The two spend much of the novel apart, and the frolicking fun of Soulless, which depended so much on their tumultuous relationship, is much less evident in Changeless.

Overall, Changeless just really failed to grab me. For most of the book I was planning to give up on the series here, although some events at the end of the book do have me tempted to go on to Blameless. Still, I think I need some convincing from those who have read this series as to whether or not it is worth continuing.

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Source: Personal.
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Soulless by Gail Carriger – Book Review

Soulless by Gail Carriger
Published by Orbit Books, an imprint of Hachette

This is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series.

Being a soulless, half-Italian spinster doesn’t exactly put Alexa Tarabotti at the top of the height of the Victorian social scene. Basically ignored and disdained by her mother and flouffy half sisters (think Cinderella’s evil stepsisters, but too stupid to be truly evil). Even though she isn’t exactly sought after, she still is not used to being attacked by vampires at dinner parties. A normal vampire would know better than to attack someone who is soulless, since the soulless negate the powers of the over-soulled paranormal creatures like vampires and werewolves. Next thing Alexa knows, she is working with the Lord Maccon to discover what is happening to the plethora of missing werewolves and vampires, as well as the strange new creatures which have been wandering around London.

Soulless is a highly entertaining, quite funny paranormal steampunk romance:

Her mama thought her a bluestocking, which was soulless enough as far as Mrs. Loontwill was concerned, and was terribly upset by her eldest daughter’s propensity for libraries. – p. 17

If the description of ‘paranormal steampunk romance’ makes it sound like Soulless suffers from an excess of genres, that may in fact be the case, but Carriger pulls all of them off quite well, neither taking them too seriously nor making them too ridiculous. Alexa Tarabotti is a strong-willed young woman who makes for a fantastic protagonist, but perhaps even more interesting than Alexa was Carriger’s alternate Victorian era, which was molded quite well from the world with which we are familiar:

Miss Tarabotti shook her head in sorrow. The narrowmindedness of it all! She knew her history. The puritans left Queen Elizabeth’s England for the New World because the queen sanctioned the supernatural presence in the British Isle. The Colonies had been entirely backward ever since: religious fingers in all their dealings with vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. It made America into a deeply superstitious place. Fates only knew what they’d think of someone like her! -p. 102

All in all it makes for a very enjoyable romp of a read. I definitely plan on continuing in this series.

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Source: Personal copy.
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Forever by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press

This is the third book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. This review may contain spoilers for the first two books, Shiver and Linger. I also have a giveaway going on now for Forever.

Ever since her brother Jack was presumed to be killed by them, Isabel Culpepper’s father has had it in for the wolves of Mercy Falls. Of course Isabel knows that the wolves aren’t really wolves at all, but humans who spend time in wolf form, and that they didn’t kill Jack so much as turn him. Luckily Sam is human again these days, as is Cole most of the time, but Grace is finally turning, and has been a wolf all winter. Frankly, Sam has enough to worry about as a suspect in Grace’s disappearance, without worrying about Mr. Culpepper getting together a hunt and directly threatening her life, and the life of the rest of the pack.

There are some really interesting threads of story going on in Forever, particularly in Cole’s development. He is a much more multifaceted character than he was in Linger, especially as he begins to care for Grace and Sam – or at least for what they have together. By this point, Cole and Isabel really get to tell a great amount of the story, especially with Grace spending so much of her time as a wolf.

I think it was the fact that Grace was narrating out of a wolf’s brain so often that made me less enthused about Forever than about Shiver and Linger. Of course I love Sam, how could anyone not? And Isabel and Cole are certainly fascinating and relatively well-developed secondary characters, but it seems that Grace is the anchor of the series for me. With her a relatively small part of the book, narration-wise, I had much less emotional investment in this portion of the story. Luckily it was still strongly-written with an engaging plot, but it just didn’t do quite as much for me as the first three.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the third book in the series, I do recommend the Wolves of Mercy Falls series as a whole. Although secrets are kept and parents defied, the relationship between Grace and Sam is built on familiarity, respect, and affection, and it is much more romantic than certain relationships between certain klutzy girls and sparkly vampires, and much more the type of relationship I would like to read about myself and share with teens

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Source: Publicist.
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Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review, With Notes on the Audio Production

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Note: I first read this book last fall and really enjoyed it. More recently I listened to the audiobook as a refresher before reading “Linger,” which I will be reviewing next week (also look for a giveaway of both Shiver and Linger).

Being attacked by the wolves six years ago hasn’t lessened Grace’s love of the majestic creatures in her backyard – particularly the wolf with the haunting yellow eyes. Unfortunately, another boy was attacked by wolves lately, in a manner that has gotten the entire town of Mercy Falls, MN up in arms against the wolves. When a boy with haunting yellow eyes shows up on Grace’s back porch with a gunshot wound, she knows immediately that, somehow, he must be her wolf. The two fall in love quickly, but what does their future consist of if Sam will soon be a wolf again forever?

Isn’t the cover of this book gorgeous?  I love how it is a tangled forest, but if you look closely, the leaves look like hearts. Very apropos for this book.

I actually really enjoyed “Shiver.” It is to me all of the things that people say they like about “Twilight” but without some of the things I disliked about “Twilight,” (misogynism, bad writing, stalker-ish relationship). I was slightly annoyed by the way Grace’s parents didn’t seem to know or care much about what was going on in her life, but that is a problem that many YA books have and is not limited to “Shiver.”

I thought that Stiefvater’s take on werewolves was very interesting, I liked her mythology as to when and why they changed between their wolf and human forms and the fact that they were either wolves or they were humans, but they were never monstrous hybrids. Stiefvater’s mythology of the wolves also gave me a better explanation for the immediate connection between Grace and Sam – a relationship that otherwise might have really annoyed me.

I wasn’t really pleased with the audiobook, however, when I used that for the reread. I thought the narrator for Grace’s sections sounded a bit too young and ended up overemphasizing her naiveté. Sam, on the other hand, sounded far too old to play a teenager and I didn’t really care for his narration style. They weren’t bad narrators, but they didn’t match up well with the book for me.

This is a fun, engaging YA series, but I would really only recommend it in print, not on audio.

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