Science Fiction, Fantasy, Supernatural & All Things Out Of This World Book Reviews

Supernatural Series

A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George RR Martin

All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by JR Ward

The Dark Ink Chronicles by Elle Jasper

Elemental Mysteries Series by Elizabeth Hunter

The Fallen Angels Series by JR Ward

The Fallen Series by Lauren Kate

Immortal Beloved Trilogy by Cate Tiernan

The Jaz Park Series by Jennifer Rardin

The Matched Series by Allie Condie

The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris

The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

The Rook by Daniel O’MalleyBook Cover of The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

Read by Natalie February 2012

Natalie recommends as an unusual book with a heap of potential that unfortunately had a somewhat lacklustre execution

I really wanted to like this book, it has such an unusual premise and opened up with a great beginning and to be fair, for the first half I did like it. Unfortunately it then got a bit too bogged down in itself, serving up long-winded passages of information that didn’t really seem to serve a purpose and a bunch of convoluted tangents that were hard to keep track off. Its saving grace however, was the main character and the comedic elements. The Rook begins when Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas wakes up in the rain in a London park sporting two black eyes and surrounded by dead bodies who are all wearing latex gloves. When she discovers two letters in her pocket, both of which are addressed to her, she starts to realise that she has lost her memory and the letters are from her former self, who upon learning of her upcoming amnesia (through various psychic entities) decided to write letters to her future self so she would know what to do. When Myfanwy begins reading these she discovers that actually she is a high ranking member (a Rook) of the Chequy, a top secret British agency that specialises in neutralising supernatural forces within the UK and indeed around the world. Myfanwy also possesses supernatural abilities of her own, but her reluctance to use them in the field has meant she has spent her life in a desk job at the agency. Now however, someone has leached her memories from her head and is determined to kill her, and as her former self warns her, she believes it is a member of the Court, the highest echelons within the Chequy. Faced with the choice of running and leaving behind the life she can’t remember or staying and fighting, Myfanwy initially choses the former. That is until she is attacked on her way to the bank and begins to realise the full extent of her own powers. Electing instead to stay and fight, she must now go into work and do a job that she (a) has no memory of and (b) no idea how to go about. Luckily her former self did leave her a binder of vital information, so as she bungles her way through the days, she also goes about trying to work out who wanted and might still want her dead. Along the way she learns of the extent of supernatural forces around the world, including the centuries old vampire who hatched from an egg and now works for the Chequy; the purple fungus that has engulfed a house in Bath and is proceeding to eat all of the inhabitants; the off-shoot branch of the Chequy in the US and of course the Grafters, the biggest enemy of the Chequy and the group who might be about to stage another invasion of Britain.

The first half of this book was great, really great. I was intrigued by the opening when Myfanwy woke up with a letter that said Dear you, the body you are wearing used to be mine and the subsequent unveiling of the Chequy organisation and what it’s role was. The use of former Myfanwy’s letters to new Myfanwy’s body was an unusual and effective way of communicating a huge wad of information and provided some funny moments in the book too. Unfortunately the second half seemed to spiral a bit out of control with too many creatures and characters introduced, a seemingly pointless storyline involving Myfanwy’s sister and a convoluted and ultimately anti-climactic plot involving Myfanwy’s betrayal and the Grafters. To be honest I didn’t actually care when we found out who the betrayer was because there were so many people introduced to us, that I had virtually lost track of who they even were! Having said that, O’Malley is certainly a talented writer and has a knack for writing sarcasm. The two Myfanwy’s were also nicely different but complimentary, so they were easy to follow and it was fun to read about the new Myfanwy in action. This is O’Malley’s first novel and there is a rumoured sequel in the works (no cliff-hanger ending to this one, but a potential new direction is created). I only hope it gets some tighter editing and tones down the excessive characters which bogged this book down, because there were times when I really struggled to pick it up.

This book was very generously provided to me by Harper Collins, although this did not influence my review

Buy Now

Under The Dome by Stephen KingBook Cover of Under the Dome by Stephen King

Read by Tracy September 2011

Tracy recommends for a tongue-in-cheek look at small town America

I have to say I am not a massive Stephen King fan, I used to be but then got absorbed into James Herbert and his Rats trilogy and after that felt that King was not really in the same horror story genre. I picked this book up as the premise appealed to me. A town is trapped under a dome and can't escape so the intricacies of peoples lives plays out. The town in question is a small American town called Chester's Mill. The dome is invisible like a force field - nothing can enter or leave, well nearly, there is a small amount of air and water able to seep through. On the day the dome arrives we are soon drawn into the lives of the main players in the town which are soon segreated into them and us. Dale Barbara, ex-army but now small order cook who hated the towns' selectmans son (Junior) and his mates after he beats them in a fight and is in the process of leaving town when he finds he is trapped. This is the first storyline and introduces you to Big Jim Rennie who controls everything and nearly everyone in the town and you are then drawn into the antagonism between Barbie and Rennie and in particular Rennie's desire to rule. He isn't unhappy that the dome continues to stay in place and ignores the request of the President to place Barbie in charge with his experience of managing people and combat. The children of Chester's Mill are soon having seizures which advises that halloween is going to be the end for the town and different dreams start to become reality. As Chester's Mill starts to suffer from an enclosed environment i.e. the pollutants start to cloud the dome, the temperature rises and light is reduced, King paints a bleak picture. Of course anything that can happen in nature is surpassed in the political undertones in the book and panic starts to grow which allows those less than normal people in the town to start to follow their insane fantasies. Luckily a resistance group soon forms, which covers a minister, newspaper editor, families, policewomen, medical staff and an old drunk in conjunction with Barbie, who are able to work out the reason for the dome and how to escape it. Unfortunately this comes towards the end and too late for many, although in all honesty you have to say there aren't many redeeming souls to save if you look at how some of the residents believe that the crisis gives them the right to treat people as anything but human. This is a long book (877 pages) and is full of different characters, sometimes too many that they aren't given enough space for their stories. I would love to say this is a fictional book, but somehow think there are many small and even bigger towns out there that have become caught up in the spell of a strong person for good or bad. Although not only are the baddies caught up in political corruption, they are also involved in murder, drugs and theft - you name it, it goes. There is little horror in the book, although King does describe the methods of death in some detail, it is more a discussion about how we all react in a crisis and I can see this book as a TV mini-series or even a movie in the future.

Buy Now

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Book Cover of Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Read by Natalie September 2011

Natalie recommends as a little bit of a slow start to the new series, but I will reserve judgement until more books come out

Bloodlines is the spin-off series of the hugely successful Vampire Academy. Said to be the first in a 6 book saga, Bloodlines is this time told from Sydney, the Alchemist who helped clear Rose’s name in the previous series, point of view. Still paying for her alleged alignment with the vampires, Sydney is awaiting her punishment when she is suddenly pulled from her bed in the middle of the night. Sent on a new mission, this time Sydney has to go into hiding with Jill the only relative of the new vampire queen Vasilisa Dragomir and protect her from those who want to remove Lissa from the throne. Posing as sisters, together with their brother’s Eddie (a dhampir guardian) and Adrian (bitter former boyfriend of Rose) they enrol at school in California and attempt to blend in. As Sydney battles with her feelings towards both vampire and dhampir (human/vampire hybrids) – both are viewed as unnatural by the alchemists, she also attempts to be a normal high school student. However, when a series of murders that appear to be Strigoi attacks are uncovered, together with mysterious new tattoos that appear to be giving Sydney’s fellows students heightened strength and speed, Sydney starts to wonder if more isn’t going on here. Throw in the fellow alchemist Keith, who has mysterious ties to Sydney’s past, Rose’s father Abe who seems to know a lot more than he lets on along with the spirit bond Adrian and Jill now share and Sydney is struggling to just do her job. While not as good as the Vampire Academy series, I will reserve judgement as it is only the first book and I suspect now everything has been set up, the story will progress a lot faster. My biggest gripe is just with how slow everything moves, particularly all the high school stuff, it just doesn't have the excitment or alternate world feel of the Vampire Academy...yet. We do get appearances from characters we loved in the first series, including Rose and plenty of Adrian (there is a clear forbidden romance that is about to develop between Adrian and Sydney – be interesting to see how Richelle pulls that off given Sydney’s hatred of vampires), but I think the best appearance is in the final line of the book when everyone’s favourite – Dimitri Belikov arrives. How he and Adrian are going to work together is going to be a great read when the second book The Golden Lily hits shelves in 2012.

For those not aware, Richelle originally planned to tell the books from multiple points of view,including Sydney, Adrian and Eddie. However, Richelle has since confirmed this wasn't going to work and the series will now be told all from Sydney's perspective.

Buy Now

23 Hours by David WellingtonBook Cover of 23 Hours by David Wellington

Read by Natalie July 2011

Natalie recommends as a gruesome and gritty vampire read

This is one of those cases where I am reading the book thinking, wondering, deciding not to do anything until I finish, where upon I google and discover, yep this is the 4th book in a series where I haven’t read books 1, 2 or 3. Having said that, I’m pretty sure it’s stand alone enough that you can still enjoy it, I certainly did, although I am tempted to go back and read the others to learn more backstory as well as prepare myself for the inevitable and necessary 5th book.

So, what’s it about? Well Laura Caxton is a former cop/trained vampire hunter now turned con (the progression to this point is I assume outlined in the first 3 books). Currently serving 5 years in a maximum security prison for kidnapping and torturing a criminal for information, she is soon moved to the isolation wing for her own protection after a minor riot breaks out and Laura manages to incapacitate 4 gangbangers. Being a cop in a maximum security prison is not a good thing, she’s not only hated by the criminals, but also the COs. However, Laura went willingly in there, pleading guilty to her crime and accepting the punishment because that’s the kind of cop she is. Unable to break up with her long suffering girlfriend however, she resigns herself to 1 hour free from her cell a day and one visit from Clara a month. That is until all hell breaks loose when the oldest and last known vampire, Justinia Malvern slips into the prison. These two have a long running feud (something I also assume is outlined in the preceding 3 books) and have battled each other on and off for years. Malvern is hundreds of years old, and while she needs an ever increasing amount of blood just to stay alive, she also has quite a few tricks up her sleeve for getting away. This time however, she strolls into the prison where she now has a buffet of blood to dine on and the convenient situation of Laura being locked up and her girlfriend Clara also visiting. When it quickly becomes apparent that Malvern is using Clara in her game to get Laura to break out of her cell and find a way to rescue her girlfriend, where upon Malvern will convert Laura into a vampire as she has always wanted, Laura soon realises this is an inside job. Determined to rescue her girlfriend and finally kill Malvern, Laura is aided in her plan by her cell mate, the quirky Gert. The two manage to escape their cell when the half-deads under Malvern’s control storm the isolation wing and battle their way to the prison’s hub, fighting a never ending barrage of half-deads along the way. As Clara, a police forensic photographer, who only took the job in a bid to be closer to Laura, also starts to fight back, it becomes a race over the next 23 hours to find Malvern before she manages to once again slip away. While Laura is confused at the game Malvern is playing, she is determined to kill her and end the vampires once and for all. The book is fast paced, raw and quite funny in parts. It is also pretty blunt, both in language and violence, but hey it is a maximum security prison that also has a rogue vampire, so what do you expect. As Laura finally makes her way to Malvern, knowing her girlfriend is safe, she desperately tries to kill her arch enemy. Does she succeed….well there’s actually a bit of a twisty cliff-hanger which leaves you wanting the next novel and definitely made me realise this was an ongoing storyline that I had walked into part way through. A great read if you prefer something a little harder than what the Cullen’s have to offer, I will definitely be getting the next book in the series.

Buy Now

Die For Me by Amy PlumBook Cover of Die For Me by Amy Plum

Read by Natalie June 2011

Natalie recommends this for an original spin on the supernatural genre

Ok, so Die for Me does have some Twilight tendencies and based on the author’s website I can see why. When asked for the inspiration behind her first novel she explained her addiction to Twilight, particularly Edward and after closing all four books for the second time, she sat down to write her own. Only this time she didn’t want to do any of usual supernatural creatures and she also wanted a strong, kick-arse female lead in addition to her romantic male supernatural lead. Well Ms Plum, score points for you, because you certainly achieved this! It would be safe to say that Die for Me is in a league above Twilight. Kate, our mortal female is strong and independent, despite suffering a terrible family loss. Yes ok she does have her angsty moments where she questions a decision, but the difference is, she is the one who made the decision, including at one point, the decision to leave supernatural boy because his life was just too weird (take note Bella Swan). Vincent is a fresh face on the supernatural genre too, a Revenent, he can best be described as a cross between a zombie and a ghost – but in a good way! Yes he has some traits in common with Edward, including a lack of need for sleep, a gorgeous chiselled body and a slightly obsessive/possessive personality. But on the flip (and plus) side he is actually honest with his mortal girlfriend, electing not to hide things from her when she asks, and it is he who is the one heartbroken at her leaving and while he becomes inconsolable at his loss, he still kinda holds his own. He is also swoon-worthy romantic, but at the same time, quite cheeky and funny (unlike for example Edward, who seems to have a pole stuck somewhere it shouldn’t be most of the time). Throw in a gorgeous Paris location complete with river cruises and hot chocolate and well this beats a trip to Forks anyday!

So what’s the book about? Well Kate and her sister Georgia move to live with their grandparents in Paris after the death of their parents. Devastated at her loss, Kate immerses herself in books and art until one day she notices a gorgeous guy looking at her. Running into him at several spots across Paris, she soon becomes smitten even when she learns the truth about what he is. Vincent is a Revenent, a person who died in the place of someone else and as a result, was reanimated back to life for the sole purpose of saving others. Under a compulsion to save people, this can also include dying once again in their place, although always with the knowledge that he will be brought back the next day. However when Kate sees this process first hand, she cracks, unable to deal with it due to the similarity to her own parent’s death. So for the sake of her sanity, she leaves Vincent and tries to forget about him. However, after Vincent’s kindred explain his suffering and a possible solution to their problem, Kate agrees to listen. When Vincent suggests he try to control his compulsion to save people and therefore his risk of dying, Kate agrees to be with him, realising the sacrifice he is making. However, when Vincent’s archenemy comes after him, Kate has to face up to the reality of Vincent dying and possibly not being resurrected again. The book is light and sweet and actually has some beautiful and funny dialogue, not to mention a gorgeous front cover. The first in a series, it doesn’t leave you with the usual cliff-hanger, but you can certainly see where the story might go. Book 2 is out in 2012 and I think it’s safe to say I will be picking it up. Incidently, just like her Twilight counterpart, Amy's website also features the opening pages of Die For Me told from Vincent's perspective.....not bad!

Buy Now

Falling Under by Gwen HayesBook Cover of Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Read by Natalie June 2011

Natalie recommends as although being a bit of drivel at times, it was different to what she expected.

Sometimes I ask myself why I keep reading this stuff, yet always I keep giving them another try! This book had me ready to chuck it in many times, but in the end it did actually redeem itself and although not a huge cliffhanger, there is a sequel out in 2012 which I suspect I will be getting. It’s the usual straight-laced girl, protected by her father, lost her mother, not many friends, ignored by boys despite being beautiful, meets mysterious boy, very hot and slightly wicked, wants girl but always pushes her away type of garbage. Throw in a couple of extras with her crass friend Donny, the “physic” friend Amelia, a cross-dressing/surfer fortune teller and a couple of extra boys for the friends and well I will say that it is different! So the story is that Theia lives with her controlling father. Her mother died giving birth to her and her father obsessively protects Theia believing he can protect her from her mother’s fate. Only Theia is visited in her dreams by the mysterious Haden who also happens to be the new boy at school. Taunting her with his flirting, he is both very sweet to her and very mean to her in the dreams and in real life. Turns out Haden is half demon-half human and depending on which half is talking to Theia depends on how he treats her. He wants to be human, have a soul and stay on Earth, but his mother, the head demon in hell has other plans – she wants Haden to find a human bride and bring her back to hell to provide a spawn and rule the Underworld. Long story short, Theia of course falls in love and tries to save Haden, she gets stuck in hell, he gets stuck on earth as a human with his soul intact but without Theia. Eventually he works out a way to save Theia, bring her back, but it costs both of them and even though they are together, that is where the story ends. The first two thirds were touch and go. Theia bordered on Bella in terms of her annoying pathetic-ness and constant low self-esteem. But the last third was better, maybe because Theia was now evil and the book was now told from Haden’s POV. Yes I will probably read the next book (out January 2012), although I do hope they both get up to some naughty things back on earth before their souls are inevitably saved.

Buy Now

The Night Huntress Novels by Jeaniene FrostBook Cover of This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost Book Cover of Destined for an Early Grave by Jeaniene Frost Book Cover of At Graves End by Jeaniene Frost Book Cover of One Foot by Jeaniene Frost Book Cover of Half Way by Jeaniene Frost

Read by Natalie September 2010-2011

Natalie recommends this as pretty light, fun and interesting.

The Night Huntress novels are the story of Cat, a half-human half-vampire woman who hunts and kills Vampires as revenge for her mother who was raped by one. Hating herself for what she is and constantly reminded of it by her mother, she possesses some extraordinary powers which allow her to surprise and kill the Vampires who try to pick her up. One night she gets more than she bargained for when Bones, a Master Vampire manages to capture her. He doesn't kill her straight away, instead proposing a partnership - training from Bones if Cat helps him hunt and kill Vampires. Bones keeps his motives to himself, and Cat reluctantly agrees, thinking she will eventually kill Bones anyway when she has learnt all she can. Instead of course she falls in love with him and him with her. Trying to keep her relationship a secret from her disapproving mother, they continue to hunt Vampires together and the story behind Bones gradually starts to emerge. Generally the plot of these books is interesting and fun. They don't always go where you expect them too, which is rare these days. This is especially so in the fourth book, when Cat actually changes completely. The fifth book has been my least favourite, as to be honest, it was a little boring. A species war between the Vamps and Ghouls was just a rehash and the steam-factor wasn't even that high (and lets be honest, that's half of why we read them!). This latest book also comes after her two side stories (about Spade and Mencheres), and although you don't really need to read them, the introduction of two new characters might be explained better if you did. The books can sometimes be a little disjointed - ending one chapter with a "tense" moment and then starting the next as if nothing ever happened. However, my biggest gripe is with Bones, who is a 240 year old Brit who has been given a cockney Guv'nor accent by the American author that is at times very over-done and at other times missing completely. Cat is a mostly cool kick-arse Vamp hunter, but at other times she comes off as a bit of an idiot who doesn't actually think before she acts, although to be fair, this has been happening less. It is definitely geared for the older reader and features a fair bit of sex which is pretty full on as Bones used to be a gigolo in his former life and is keen to show Cat everything he can do! I am not sure how much longer the series is going on for, it's rumoured to be a 7 book series. I would suggest wrapping it up soon as it's just getting dragged out a little too much. Still if you're looking for a fun supernatural escape, I would recommend it! For more, check out her website.

Buy Now

Halo by Alexandra AdornettoBook Cover of Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Read by Natalie February 2011.

Natalie recommends reading this if you would like to see how a successful, young, female author manages to push the female gender back into the dark ages.

Dear Alexandra A, just a small reminder that this is in fact the 21st century and not only are men and women considered equals, but most woman actually don’t like acting or being treated like a damsel in distress who must be rescued at all times by the love of their life and simply cannot cope when he is not with her. What makes it even more surprising that you don’t realise this, is that you are a young, successful, female author, who quite frankly is a disgrace to your gender. In writing Halo, you have given us Beth who my opinion is now a full member of the exclusive “most annoying female characters to ever grace the pages of a book” club. Here Beth joins the illustrious company of Nora from the Hush Hush series, Ever from The Immortals Series and of course Bella from the Twilight series. This club is exclusively for pathetic, annoying, submissive, whingers who think that their life will end if they don’t feel the protective arms of their impossibly too good to be true boyfriend holding them safe from the rest of the world. And while Beth is certainly in fine company, you have managed to outdo her even more, because while the other members were only mere mortals being protected by their strong, supernatural boyfriends – Beth is in fact a strong, immortal, supernatural girlfriend with only a mortal boyfriend. On top of this, Beth’s supernatural brother insists on the MORTAL boyfriend protecting Beth at all times…..I mean are you serious??? Well done Alexandra, not only have you managed to successfully ignore all advances made by women in finally being treated as equals, you have also written one of the worst role models for young girls that I have ever read.

What’s this book about? Well if you insist on reading this mindless drivel what you will get is a story about a group of angels sent to tiny Venus Cove to watch over and steer it back towards the path of love and righteousness. Forbidden to form attachments to individual humans, Beth, the youngest of the angels manages to not only fall in love with the handsome high school captain, but completely neglect her friends and family in doing so – choosing instead to spend every waking moment in his arms. When they aren’t together she is either on the phone to him or lamenting how boring and uninteresting her life is when he isn’t there. Her reaction to their first fight is so pathetically embarrassing I actually nearly threw my book across the train carriage. Please, someone hand me a bucket, because this is just disgusting. Furthermore, after going on and on about how great God is and how He is the almighty ruler of the world and Creator of everything on Earth and that Church is the divine place for people to come together and that love and tolerance are the only righteous ways to live – you go and make God such a bully to the angels that they have no free will, no life whatsoever and even consider falling from heaven just to escape Him. I can’t even bring myself to finish this review I am just so annoyed by your book. The first in a trilogy, you can be rest assured that I will not be wasting my money on the next two books and am heading straight for the second hand book store to offload this one.

Alexandra Adornetto was fourteen when she published her first book,The Shadow Thief, in Australia. The daughter of two English teachers, she admits to being a compulsive book buyer who has run out of shelf space, and now stacks her reading “in wobbly piles on my bedroom floor.” Alex lives in Melbourne, Australia; Halo marks her U.S. debut. Read her full macmillan authors profile.

Buy Now

The Replacement by Brenna YovanoffBook Cover of The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Read by Natalie January 2011

Natalie recommends this as interesting with a lot of potential that just didn’t quite deliver.

This is an interesting book, quite original and well written (mostly) but I am still not 100% sure how I feel about it. It is the story of Mackie Doyle, who is a Replacement, a substitute left in place of the real Mackie Doyle when he was just a baby. The Replacement is a “monster” of sorts who never should have survived, but somehow he did, probably from the acceptance and love he received from his sister Emma when she found him in the crib in place of her real brother. What’s even weirder about all of this is that this kind of behaviour is common place in Gentry. Every 7 years a child goes missing from its bed. It is replaced by something else, a child that looks similar but isn’t quite right. Usually that Replacement dies and is buried with the family mourning the loss of their child. In return, the town thrives when other towns around it don’t. No one questions what protects the town and no one talks about what happens to all the children who are taken. However one day, Tate loses her baby sister and instead of mourning her, she seeks revenge. Her first task, find out from the Replacement Mackie Doyle what’s going on. Only Mackie is intent on saying nothing, keeping himself invisible and hidden. He knows he is not normal (he has fatal allergies to iron, blood and consecrated ground) but through some unspoken agreement with his family and friends, if no one else mentions it, neither will he. Tate doesn’t take this advice though and pushes and pushes until Mackie is left with no choice (although truth be told, some of his stupid behaviour also leaves him in the same predicament). Eventually he learns the truth about what he is and where he has come from. He learns about the hidden House of Mayhem and House of Misery right under the town of Gentry and he learns the fate of all the missing children. As he attempts to rescue Tate’s sister, he unwittingly draws in his own sister and friends. In giving up his own life for Tate’s sister though, he finally discovers that he can fit in and be normal. The problems I had with the book were mainly due to characterisation. There were some major characters and their relationships with Mackie who weren’t drawn out enough – a classic example is his mother, who herself was taken, only to be returned later on – this and her resultant feelings towards her “son” are never fully explained. Also, Mackie himself is both popular and a freak and somehow this doesn’t quite fit. Having said that the book is certainly quite original, and as the story is not conclusive by the end, I suspect we will be getting a sequel at some point.

Buy Now

Glass Houses by Rachel CaineBook Cover of Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Read by Natalie December 2010

Natalie recommends this as ok, but there are better Vampire series out there

I was lucky enough to get a free copy of this book which is touted by Richelle Mead of The Vampire Academy Series fame as one of her very favourite vampire series. Naturally I had high expectations, given how much I love her work. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed. This is the first in a so far 9 book series called The Morganville Vampires. Set in the small Texas town called Morganville, it is unbeknown to the outside world actually full of and run by vampires. Here people are either under the Protection of a vampire or are open fodder for them. Enter Claire, the brilliantly smart 16 year old who has fast tracked her University career and ended up in this dump of a town because her parents think she is too young to head off to any of the Ivy League Universities that have been trying to recruit her. Bullied viciously in her dorm, she decides to seek alternate accommodation after a mishap leaves her nearly dead and no one else in the dorms seems to care. Enter Eve, Shane and Michael, members of The Glass House, a gothic looking mansion and Claire’s new roommates. After Eve informs Claire of the circumstances of this town, she gradually starts to learn a few more secrets, especially about her roommates – Shane who for some reason came back to this town and doesn’t seem to work, Eve who is a goth and seems to openly insult the vampires and Michael, who sleeps all day and only shows up at night. Lacking her own Protection, Claire’s safety is jeopardised and it is up to her and her new roommates to fix it. While the story was interesting and fun, I just found there was too much going on. Not to mention Claire’s easy acceptance of the town she lives in and her willingness to jump right in and challenge the vamps. An easy book that I knocked off in a day, just a little bit weak in my opinion. Not sure if I will read any more of the books in the series, there are better Vampire stories out there.

Buy Now

Hush Hush Series by Becca Fitzpatrick Book Cover of Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick Book Cover of Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Read by Natalie 2009-2010

Natalie recommends this as easy reading

This is yet another book series on fallen angels and although I read the first book, Hush Hush in one day, I didn't enjoy it as much as Fallen. Another young love story featuring Nora, a girl with no time for boys and Patch, the mysterious new "boy" at school who always seems to show up in the same place as Nora. This also coincides with something dangerous or terrifying happening to her. Ultimately these two fall in love and Nora discovers what Patch is, a fallen angel looking for a human sacrifice (descended from the Nephilim) so that he can become human himself. I think what was disturbing for me was that for a long time Patch's plan was to kill Nora. Sure, he resisted, actually declined Nora's body, fell in love with her and became her guardian angel, but hey that's like having a crazy serial killer after you who suddenly remembers he loves you? Anyway, that small fact aside, it is very easy reading and I did for the most part enjoy it.

The second book, Crescendo however, annoyed me. I have to say, I am becoming increasingly annoyed by books where the supernatural boyfriend thinks the only way to protect his mortal girlfriend is to tell her nothing. This then results in mortal girlfriend becoming a bigger idiot than she already was, acting irrationally and then dangerously. Of course when supernatural boyfriend wakes up and "tries" to tell girlfriend what's going on, she doesn't listen, chaos ensues and eventually he rescues her and all is good. These are books written by women who insist on making the female characters complete idiots and Crescendo is no different. In the second book, Nora and Patch are together and in love. Of course as soon as Nora declares her feelings to Patch, he withdraws, she picks a fight, breaks up with him and then goes completely crazy stalking him. Patch however is no saint himself, making minimal effort to tell her what's really going on, despite insisting he isn't a rule follower, so he could quite easily just come out and say it. Throughout all this, Nora learns the truth about her past, Patch once again goes rogue, despite getting his wings back, saves Nora again and they eventually get back together. Just when things are looking up (ie: they might actually have sex!), in step the Nephilim once again and the book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. Despite some inconsistencies with the writing, some annoying character traits and a few plot devices that were unnecessary, the book was again light reading. The 3rd book Silence is out July 2011, where this time Patch and Nora have to stick together to battle something that threatens the very relationship they've been fighting to have.

Buy Now

Lament by Maggie StiefvaterBook Cover of Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

Read by Natalie November 2010

Natalie recommends this as being ok...just

This is from the same author who brought us the beautiful Shiver (see review below). I had high hopes based on Shiver and I have to say, was left disappointed. Lament is the story of Dee, a musical prodigy who remains invisible to all her peers, except her best friend James. One day the mysterious Luke, a boy who is too good to be true, shows up and together he and Dee win the music concert by making beautiful music together! After this, weird things start happening when Dee starts finding clovers everywhere and seeing strange things. As it turns out, Dee is a Cloverhand - a person who can see The Fae (fairies!). Luke has been sent as the Fairy Queen's Assassin to kill Dee because her musical talents are a threat to the Queen. Luke however, has been forced into his role as an assassin and despite having killed many over the thousand years the Queen has held him, refuses to kill Dee. Why? Oh well, surprise surprise, he has fallen in love with her. Of course Dee manages to fall in love with him too, rescue his soul, free him from his role as assassin as well as overthrow the Queen. Not bad for a 16 year old who doesn't even have her licence and seems to take the whole seeing fairies thing (and newly disocvered mind reading) in her stride. I just found this book to be a little over the top. I know this is the supernatural genre, but you do want a tiny bit of reality built into the fantasy! This, just had none. There is a sequel Ballad, which follows James' story (FYI - he was secretly in love with Dee too) and I presume will also involve some kind of rescue for Luke who despite getting his soul back, was only given one night before he joined the Fae world for good.....Oh I guess I will have to read it and find out!

Buy Now

Lord of the Underworld Series by Gena Showalter Book Cover of Lords of the Underworld Series by Gena Showalter

Read by Natalie September 2010

Natalie recommends these as ok, an escape for a few hours!

I have only read the first in this series, The Darkest Night. Each book is going to feature a different warrior who is possessed by a Demon straight from Pandora's box, a punishment after the warriors destroyed the guardians of the box over simple jealousy. The first is Maddox, possessor of violence, who is filled with a rage he can barely control. Of course it takes a woman, possessed by her own voices who is able to tame the demon and Maddox in return can silence her voices. It's the usual formula for "paranormal romance" which features heavy on the bedroom action and some side stories with other characters and an attempt at a plot. However, you know it's going to be a happy ending with an opening for the next warrior's story, so honestly, if you just want an escape and not to think too much, just pick this up and put aside a couple of hours!

Buy Now

Blood Ties Series by Jennifer Armintrout Book Cover of All Souls by Jennifer Armintrout Book Cover of Ashes by Jennifer Armintrout Book Cover of Possession by Jennifer Armintrout Book Cover of The Turning by Jennifer Armintrout

Read by Natalie September 2010

Natalie recommends books 1 and 4, but not so much books 2 and 3

The Blood Ties series is at times amazingly good and at times throw your book against the wall frustrating. It is the story of Carrie, a woman who has sacrificed what little life she has to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor, only to have it all taken away from her 8 months later when she visits her John Doe patient in the morgue. Turns out John Doe is actually Cyrus, one of the most evil vampires on the planet, who attacks her and leaves her for dead. Flat-lining and in the hospital for months, Carrie eventually emerges as a vampire herself, and seeking answers she comes across Nathan, a member of the Voluntary Vampire Movement, who is willing to help her. Of course this means she either needs to join the Movement which hunts down and kills naughty vampires (such as Cyrus) or face the pointy end of a stake. Carrie is attracted to Nathan and he is to her, although both are unwilling to face this fact. Carrie is also unwilling to be forced into a decision, so she sets out to find Cyrus for the flip side of the story. Cyrus lures her in although the connection is masked by the blood tie they share, which allows Cyrus to manipulate and abuse her as he wants and which Carrie seems to both despise and enjoy and is unable to break free of. A series of events happen which sees both Carrie and Cyrus re-sired, relationships strained, destroyed and rebuilt and Cyrus' father (the Soul Eater and Nathan's sire) plotting to take over the world. There were times when this series was really hard work and I would even go so far as to say books 2 and 3 are a waste of time, adding nothing to the story. Carrie is maddeningly frustrating and self-centred but then suddenly amazingly strong and self-sacrificing. The author does her no favours though, making her out to be stupid, self-obsessed, insecure woman who wouldn't know a good thing even if it staked her right through the heart. Nathan on the other hand is unbelievably patient and kind to her whilst also trying to overcome his own heartache, yet she throws in it his face over and over again. It's not until book 4 that Carrie finally grows up and realises just how good he is. On the positive side, these books are definitely unpredictable and not your mainstream vampire series which makes for an interesting read. It is full of blood, guts, violence and sex and doesn't hold back on any of it - for some, this might be too much. The final ending may be cheesy to some, but I thought it was perfect, the only resolution to the story. While I did enjoy these books, I would recommend reading them with a drink at hand, if only to buffer yourself against some of the stupid directions the author insists on taking you.

Jennifer has a website where she has a snippet of her new book American Vampire which I am sure Natalie has on her radar.

Buy Now

The Immortals by Alyson NoelBook Cover of Blue Moon by Alyson Noel Book Cover of Ever More by Alyson Noel

Read by Natalie August 2010

Natalie recommends these as ok, something to read when you don't want to think or even really be awake

The Immortals is a new YA series that tells the story of Ever and Damon. In the first book, Evermore, Ever (who gives Bella a run for her money in the most annoying character stakes) is recovering from the death of her entire family in an accident that she believes was her fault. Sent to live with her aunt in LA, she becomes the freak at her new school after her near death experience has allowed her to hear people's thoughts and see their auras. Trying to limit her contact and interaction with everyone at school (except her only 2 friends Haven and Miles), Ever tries to avoid the gorgeous new boy Damen, despite the attraction and familiarity she sees in him. Of course what transpires is that Damen is an Immortal, over 600 years old who also turned Ever into one after saving her life in the aforementioned car accident, which was actually the fault of Damen's evil ex-wife Drina! At first Ever is angry about this and weirded out by her boyfriend's abilities, but of course she soon falls in love with him, kills his ex-wife (only after she tries to kill her), makes peace with the death of her family and starts to embrace immortality. The second book Blue Moon, sees new boy Roman come to school. Everyone seems to like him, including Damen, yet Ever can't help but feel there is something wrong about him. When the whole school, Damen, included start to turn against Ever, she must try to work out what Roman is doing and reverse it. Discovering the art of time travel on the night of a blue moon, Ever decides maybe she should go back to before her family was killed, forget about Damen and just start again (even though logic from the first book means Drina would kill her eventually, as that's what she has been doing to reincarnate Ever for the last 400 years). Of course this doesn't work and faced with a dying Damen instead, Ever acts like a stupid idiot and falls for Roman's antidote to save Damen. Save him it does, but it also means they can't touch, kiss or OMG, do the deed (which has been a central part of the whole story, as Ever gets killed every time they plan too). Of course, given Ever is only 16, this is a ploy by the author to conveniently stop the decision on her having sex. The first 2 books are very light and extremely easy to read, but as I said Ever is impossibly annoying at times and the whole thing can be a bit over the top and drawn out. There are 2 more books in the series and I guess I will probably read them when I just want to switch off for a while, but suffice to say, there are better YA supernatural books out there. Alyson Noel has her own website and is also the writer of Young Adult Fiction including Fly Me To The Moon, Radiance and other Singles Titles.

Buy Now

Jacob by Jacquelyn FrankBook Cover of Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank

Read by Natalie 2010

Natalie recommends this as fairly crap, I mean the cover alone should have told me that.

This is the first in the Nightwalker series and focuses on Jacob, the Enforcer of the Demon race. Despite their name, in this book the Demons are kind, misunderstood souls who only want to live in peace with the humans, but it's the Vampire and Werewolves who don't. However, every now and then, spurred on by the full moon, a Demon will get a little bit crazy with lust and try to seduce a human - and that's when Jacob steps in to enforce. All this is going great for Jacob, for 700 years he has done this and despite the isolation, he is fairly happy trundling along. Then he meets Bella (yes, Team Jacob fans, in this book, Bella and Jacob actually are a couple!), and she stirs something in him. Jacob fights this, knowing he cannot be with a human, although there is something slightly strange about Bella - she doesn't seem fully human. This was of course a convenient little ploy by the author to allow some action in the bedroom and it was a little too much to be honest. As usual, this is also a story of two lost but beautiful people, who stumble across each other, are reluctant at first, but finally succumb, only for the man to become oppressive and dominant and the woman to become a pathetic, submissive idiot by the end. Yep, that's exactly what happened in this book and it was painful to read in the end. Giving Bella strength by sucking energy from Jacob was a poor excuse at making her a strong female figure - I certainly won't be reading any more in the series.

Jacquelyn Frank has a website

Buy Now

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret StohlBook Cover of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Read by Natalie 2010

Natalie recommends this for if you have trouble falling asleep at night.

This book is just painful. It's written by 2 authors and although it's quite seamless with writing style, it seems as though they both came up with a bunch of different ideas, couldn't decide which ones to include and which to leave out, so just crammed them all in there instead. It is so long and drawn out with huge chunks of text that just goes nowhere and tells you nothing. It is the story of Ethan and Lena, 2 young high school students who find themselves drawn to each other both in dreams and real life. However, it seems Lena might be turned to darkness and between the two of them, they must try to work out why, all the while battling their families and the town's people, who don't want them to be together. One unique angle is that the story is told from the perspective of the male lead, however given he is 16 and the two authors are 30+ year old women, this just doesn't work. Clearly they are out of touch with the way teenagers, particularly male ones think and speak. On top of that we have yet another young love situation where a 15 and 16 year old fall impossibly and irrevocably in love.....how plausible is that?? Still, it's enough to generate a sequel, Beautiful Darkness which came out October 2010.

Buy Now

The City of Bones by Cassandra ClareBook Cover of The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Read by Natalie 2010

Natalie recommends you don't lose too much sleep over this one.

This is a series of 3 books (The Mortal Instruments Series), although I have only read the first one. The book had so much potential, with the blurb on the back reading like a great fantasy novel with a parallel universe existing superimposed over NYC and full of loads of characters including vampires, werewolves, shadow hunters, fairies, demons etc. Its biggest problem was writing for the young adult. I just can't buy a 15 year old falling in love, staying out night and day, returning home covered in blood and this not being a problem? If the characters had been older this would have been a much more believable and entertaining book. I mean come on, what parent lets their 15 year old daughter go to a Manhattan nightclub (strictly a teen nightclub apparently...?) on a Sunday night before wandering home at midnight? Also, there was just too much going on, like the author forgot she was writing 3 books and tried to cram it all into one. Oh and don't even get me started on the relationship between the main characters...

Keep up to date through Cassandra Clare website. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is being made into a movie.

Buy Now

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper FfordeBook Cover of Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

Read by Natalie 2007

Natalie recommends this as a good sequel to The Eyre Affair (see review below)

This is the follow up to The Eyre Affair and focuses on Thursday investigating the eradication (as in he now ceases to exist!) of her boyfriend by a corrupt multinational company. To do this, she must moonlight as a Prose Resource Operative in the secret world of Jurisfiction, the police force inside books. In doing this, she is apprenticed to Miss Havisham from Great Expectations where she learns to book-jump between books. In doing so she is told that if she can retrieve a vanquished enemy from the pages of Poe, then she may just get the love of her life back. Trouble is, this requires a number of side trips into various other books and a series of coincidences start appearing which may just spell the end for Earth. I did enjoy this book, although there is a lot of rehashing of information from the first book, so I may have read them too close together. Again, there is great play on words and literature.

Jasper Fforde has a website which is full of information, including details on his other series (Nursery Crime, Shades of Grey and Last Dragonslayer).

Buy Now

The Eyre Affair by Jasper FfordeBook Cover of The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Read by Natalie 2007

Natalie recommends this as a very clever and entertaining book

This is Jasper's first book and what a cracker! It is the start of the Thursday Next series, about a literary detective (Thursday) working in a surreal version of Great Britain in 1985. In this version of the world, literature is taken very seriously, with people getting lost (literally) in poems and militants heckling Hamlet performances. All of this is policed by the Special Operatives in Literary Detection, which suddenly has a new assignment for Thursday, where she must solve a series of kidnappings, involving characters from major works of literature. This culminates with Jane Eyre being taken from Bronte's novel and now Thursday has to jump into the book herself to avert disaster, including giving the book its rightful ending. The story is very very clever, with excellent play on words (character names include Jack Schitt) and literature. It is probably helpful to know the story of Jane Eyre (painful reading if you ask me) as well as quirky things about Britain, but all in all, a fantastic book. For more, check out Jasper's website.

Jasper Fforde has a website which is full of information, including details on his other series (Nursery Crime, Shades of Grey and Last Dragonslayer).

Buy Now