Category: vampires

Nothing much to say here. Think I may have a bit of the flu, but I’m getting over it.  No sightings of tall skinny fellas recently, so on to the review.

In light of the trend towards YA vampire titles recently, I was a little hesitant when I started reading Will Hill’s Department 19. Happily my doubts were more or less put to rest rather quickly, this is not a weepy diluted romance novel nor a particularly angst filled rage at the world in general.

Jamie Carpenter’s father was killed two years ago by men in black uniforms, shot down as a traitor to England.  Now his mother has been kidnapped by a terrifying man with abilities that can’t exist, a man who seems to know him.  If Jamie is going to save his mother he’ll need the help of Department 19 the mysterious government agency that protects Britain from the things that go bump in the night.  With that help comes information he may not want to know about his father, Jamie will have to deal with the past to face a monster beyond anything he’d imagined before.

Now for the fun part, this was one of the better YA vampire novels I’ve read so far.  With exception to Larissa, most of the important vampires were of the classic undead near-Dionysian sadist persuasion doing what they wanted simply because they could.  The exceptions were, while sympathetic, minor character.  I was rather caught off guard by some of the language used in Department 19.  It was accurate for the way many modern teenagers speak but with far more profanity than I’ve come to expect from a YA novel.  I personally found this refreshing because it shows that the author knows a bit about how his target audience interacts.  Some of Jamie’s interactions with Frankenstein came across as a bratty kid know-it-all to his Watson, but can be forgiven fairly easily.  He is a brat for much of the book, understandable in that he’s a teenager, but it kind of makes me wonder if he was taught any manners.  I didn’t like the speed at which Jamie mastered the skills needed to fight vampires, but acknowledge that it was necessary to the plot and to keep down page length.  My only serious problem with Department 19 was the sequel hook at the end.  We are talking a near painful jar apart the conclusion sequel hook that makes me wonder if all YA novels are part of a bigger series now.  It loses points for that, but for the quality of writing up to that point and the enjoyment I got out of the parts that Jamie wasn’t being a brat in, I give it a four out of five.

As promised, a new review hot off the word document.  Not really much to say here today, so let’s jump right in.

I’m not really sure how I want to start my review of H.P. Mallory’s Fire Burn and Caldron Bubble.  I could start by talking about how it’s odd for a romance novel because she keeps her main characters kind of separate after the first couple of chapters.  I could also start with the way it feels like a first book both in the case of the series and the author.  When we meet our lovely narrator, Jolie Wilkins, she’s busy being a fortune teller and a serial single.  This all changes with a ghost and a visit from the hottest man she’s ever met.  Suddenly Jolie finds herself with the ability to raise the dead and a lot of unwanted attention from the super natural world.  From there the novel becomes more and more what I expect from a romance novel, lots of mush without much substance until towards the end.

When first we meet Jolie she seems content with her life, yeah she could use a better paycheck but she’s got her best friend and her cat.  Enter Rand, the almost freakishly gorgeous warlock with a job that needs her help.  He needs to find out who killed a client of his’ father, and apparently needs Jolie’s help to do so.  Well, things don’t go quite as planned and the dead guy winds up somewhat less dead than before.  This intrigues all manner of supernatural folks and puts Jolie into a bit of a spot when she finds herself having to pack up her life to follow Rand to England where they will hopefully be safe from dead guy’s daughter and her army of loyal (and terrified) followers.  This leads to quite a bit of day-to-day nothing as Jolie and Rand distance themselves from each other and get her ready for an eventual confrontation with Bella.

So, where does this leave me?  It was good, not spectacular, but something that makes me want to read the rest of the series.  There were spots of purple prose scattered throughout.  At some point in time Mallory decided that one of her characters is a jerk, but hadn’t characterized him as such and then dropped him entirely.  Plus the book is definitely the first in a series; it doesn’t have a really satisfying end.  But my big problem was that Jolie is never wrong about anything or anyone, ever.  That got really old really fast.  So, I’m left wondering why I enjoyed the book as much as I did.  Mallory teases her reader, offering images of what might happen in the future via Jolie’s being a seer.  She hits some genuinely humorous moments with a smartass lead that I kind of wanted to talk to.  Where there’s a little purple prose, the rest is solid and offers a view of how good a writer Mallory can be.  Definitely worth reading, definitely worth continuing.

Because it is Friday, and because I had fun with the book and can, I’m going to post another early review.

Nicole Peeler’s Tempest Rising, is one of those books that I’d seen a few times at the bookstore but hadn’t thought much of.  Later I picked it up at a sale as part of a “buy x, get one” deal.  It had a good review from an author that I already knew that I liked, and the blurb had me expecting something along the lines of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods mixed with a romantic suspense novel.  When I started reading it, I was struck by the narrator.

Meet Jane True, your protagonist and narrator for the evening, she enjoys going on nightly swims in the freezing cold ocean near a whirl pool.  When she discovers a body in the Old Sow, she gets thrown into a world that she never knew existed.  Enter hot vampire Ryu, an investigator for the supernatural world’s ruling body.  Suddenly it turns out that many of the people who were kind to her aren’t human.  The following investigation leads Jane further and further into her mother’s world, and closer to Ryu.

Because Jane is the narrator, we spend the entirety of the book in her head.  This gives the reader a great view of her interests, her opinions on other characters, and a ton of self-pity.  Jane’s thoughts do seem to fit those of an actual young adult, unfortunately this leads to her hitting the same idea a dozen different ways.  At the same time, she is brave, she is clever, but she also seems to get side tracked quite a bit.  Add in Ryu, Jane’s love interest.   He’s attractive, he’s protective, he’s romantic, but he also tends towards trying to protect Jane from things that she really should be aware of.

My only real problem with the book was some of the word use. .  Peeler writes almost exactly like I would expect an English professor to.  She tends to use large words where smaller, more common ones would do, and seems to be trying too hard to get her twenty something protagonist to sound twenty something.  Jane used words in her thoughts that I don’t think I have ever heard anyone use in real life and used a couple of words in rather odd ways.  The story was fairly solid, with a pretty good mix of plot and action, but I had some trouble with some of the descriptions due to them being offered in the form of movie comparisons.   In a rather strange turn I found myself repeatedly reminded of Twilight, but then found that subverted in the next few lines.  For example, Ryu is described as being really well put together, hotter than a match head, the whole nine yards.  He also frustrates Jane a number of times and tends to seem rather temperamental.  The two leads fall for each other almost immediately, but Jane doesn’t call it “true love” or obsess about Ryu.  The series could very easily fall into clichés, but manages not to by mocking some of those very clichés.  I will definitely be reading the next book when it comes out.