Too Many Vampires? Or Can We Manage Another Edward Cullen?

Maybe I have already given you my answer on that: after Edward Cullen, The Morganville Vampires, The Vampire Diaries and many many more I am definitely suffering from vampire fatigue. Some of them are good, don’t misunderstand me, but I’m bled dry by now. Anyway, I have just read a novel, the first in a series of books about humans and vampires, and I’m going to let you decide whether you still have an appetite for the beautiful undead people:

Midnight Terrors (Knight Blood 1), by Crimson Sterling

IxBryn is fleeing from an experiment she has been participating in after a violent attack has left everybody but her dead. She is finding a safe haven, she erroneously believes, with her cousin, who works for the Order (an organisation aiming to keep the relationship between humans and vampires as smooth as possible). There is also Zarrod Kingsbury, a vampire with the power only a very old Ancient can carry, and as if that was not enough there are the Rogues – evil vampires who break all rules set up by the Order and eager to amass their own power. IxBryn, with her special blood and powers of her own, is thrown into the mix and war is brewing.

 

This is a dystopic science fiction novel with a supernatural element that should attract interest from a wide range of readers. However, I am left with a feeling of only just having started on a novel, after a very lengthy introduction that almost made me put the book down, to find I have reached the last page. The plot, when it thickens, is just that bit too slow and the story too long-winded to entice the reader in me.

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Or, you can bring two books on that holiday

Hannah wakes up from a coma and finds herself back where the first novel in the series, Finding My Escape, set off. Her parents have been murdered in their home and the police believe the intruder was a common burglar. Hannah knows better: her parents guarded a secret, thousands of years old, and the enemy, desperate enough to kill, is closing in.

 Finding My Way Back

This is the second book in a series by author Fran Veal. The third is on its way and despite suffering quite badly from book-series fatigue, I recommend taking the time to read these books.

Hannah’s best friend, Matt, who she fell in love with as Josh in the dream world she visited in the first book, turns out to be her personal bodyguard in this world. Being her bodyguard also means any romance is out of the question and Hannah is smarting from all the secrets her own family and friends have been keeping from her. And now it is too late to find the truth, as the only two who knew what the secret was, are both dead. Things are becoming more complicated as Hannah cannot trust what is real and what is only happening in the dream world of Valeria…

 

The second book in the series is fast moving and as compelling to read as the first. Some of the mystery element from the first book is gone and there are bits that are pushing the limit for what is believable, but the reader still ends up with a very good sequel; the plot is well crafted and the style is spot on.

As the book ends on the edge of that proverbial cliff I will have to wait for the third book to find out what is really going on in Hannah’s life as I, the reader, am kept equally confused as the main character about what is real and what is nothing more than a dream.

 

If only allowed one book on your holiday

Finding My Escape, by Fran Veal

When Hannah wakes up in hospital she is forced to pick up life after having walked in on the most horrible of crime scenes: the murder of her parents. The police believe it is an ordinary burglary gone wrong but Hannah knows about the Box – and the dangerous secret her parents kept. What she does not know is what the secret is and just how dangerous.

Moving in with her aunt and lucky enough to have a good friend in Matt, a senior in high school, Hannah has to cope with her loss and the suspicion that the murderer is looking for her and the secret. As if this is not enough Hannah visits a parallel world in her dreams: a world that is uncanny and at the same time strangely real. This is also where she meets Josh. Whereas Matt is her best friend Josh is the kind of boy you fall in love with. As time goes by nothing seems to be what it set out to be and Hannah is worried she is losing her mind and she is not the only one who is worried.

 

From a slightly hesitant start this book evolves into one of the most promising in recent years. The reader is drawn into a well-crafted story, sharing Hannah’s worries about what is real or not. There is a sequel and, despite suffering slightly form “YA series fatigue”, I am genuinely looking forward to continue with the next instalment. The plot, its twists and turns, and the warm and heart breaking story about Hannah’s loss, lift the novel to a higher level and together with a careful eye to language and style this is a novel to enjoy.

 

New Detective Duo Hits the London Crime Scene

Knightley and Son, by Rohan Gavin (published 2014)

Dressed in a Donegal tweed walking hat and a herringbone coat, Darkus Knightley visits his Dad every week to discuss Knightley senior’s cases; Knightley senior worked as a private detective and, when he wakes up from the coma he has been in for the last four years, he finds he has a new partner – his thirteen year old son. Now that he is awake Alan Knightley can actually participate in the discussions and he has to admit Darkus’ ideas cannot be ignored; in fact, Darkus’ intellect is so advanced only one other person can compete with him – his stepsister Tilly, whose help is vital for solving the case.

 

Together they face the most difficult case Alan Knightley ever faced as a private eye– an elusive crime syndicate named the Combination and the detectives find that their opponent is stopping at nothing to avoid being caught.

 

This is a classic detective novel 2.0 for the 21st century and Knightley and Son is a well-written, fast-paced and witty novel and I hope it will get all the readers it deserves. I know this book is for 9-12 year olds, but let’s not be ageist but enjoy a good read wherever we find it. Does a label of “suitable for 9-12 year-olds” mean I shouldn’t read it if I’m thirteen or even older?

What Heaven can offer a young person who might worry about what comes next (no, not after graduation)

Perhaps this is a too dark novel for the happy student at uni or college?

I found this novel,  Beers in Heaven, by Ford Forkum – honestly, I can’t remember who recommended it so I can’t thank the person or give you any other advice than buying, borrowing or begging it off someone who is lucky enough to be in possession of a copy. 

I went in not knowing what to expect and closed the book (well, not really as I read it on my kindle) with a smile on my face. Zack Preston finds himself in modern day Heaven, where he is processed with the help of computer software and is allocated a cloud furnished with flats, parks and bars and restaurants where he can buy beer. To help him come to terms with his life (and untimely death) he has a confused giraffe and a professional guide. Only too soon is the reader made aware that Zack is struggling and his worst fear is to be sent downstairs… I found I had to make myself continue the read initially, but as the suspense grew I was drawn into the novel. Zack is as loveable as a stray dog and his struggle at life together with the very comic parts of the book makes it a story I cannot but recommend. It is written in the same crazy style as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. 

Oh, and by the way, it has nothing to do with religion so no one should have to feel offended. I also believe the author has written a book about zombies, but after having read the worst book ever involving zombies I’m not going to give you a link to it. 

Detroit superheroine is back to save the world

Happy New Year and I hope you were given/bought yourself/otherwise acquired an armful of books to enjoy. For my part I’m working myself through my stack one by one and I have found a new series of novels, by Colleen Vanderlinden, and I am sharing the review I wrote for the second book in the series. (Not aimed for younger teenagers).

 

The vigilante and self-appointed saviour of Detroit, the twenty-something Molly whose social skills are not always up to scratch, has turned a heroine for real in this second instalment of Colleeen Vanderlinden’s Broken series.

If the reader thought our heroine’s workload was heavy before it is nothing compared to what she is expected to accomplish now: save the world and stop the villains from flattening Detroit in the process. To help her in this quest she has an assortment of creatures, and there is especially one who is more than eager to help her get over the loss of her first love in life. The growing gang around Molly that is working to save young girls from evil now has to stop the whole of the Greek mythology from rampaging urban USA.

 

The author is taking her main character in a direction I had not anticipated and at first I felt disappointed. Maybe the heroine is becoming too almighty – and the supporting characters too weak – to deliver the kind of gasps of fear lest things go horribly wrong for the good guys; there is a lack of suspense that I want from a novel like this. At times it veers dangerously close to the fantasy romance, but maybe this is what Vanderlinden intended all along.

 

Luckily the end more than makes up for any doubts I might have had and I could not help but smile at the clever twist the plot takes. The unforeseen ending and the extensive (and unorthodox) use of Greek mythology that is added to the motley crew of weres, vampires and witches add something new and exciting to the genre. 

Stocking filler from Detroit

Lost Girl: Hidden Book one, by Colleen Vanderlinden

Day-time Molly Brooks goes to her boring office job but night-time she turns into a superhero vigilante, who finds missing girls and women. Detroit, a city in decay, is not only populated by evil humans who cause each other harm but also a whole underworld of vampires, witches and demons, and Molly’s special powers turn out to be much more than normal superhero stuff.

This is a compelling read – fast paced and witty – with a main character who is so right in today’s climate where women are as far removed from a damsel in distress as a vampire is from tofu. Molly is a character I liked immediately – quirky but lovable – and I am looking forward to the sequel.

This is a perfect book for the festive season whether it is spent on the beach or in front of a log burner when you have run out of vocabulary for another game of Scrabble (maybe not Scrabble if you have chosen the beach alternative. Please feel free to exchange for scuba diving/sun bathing).