Jennifer the Damned
Young Adult / June 5, 2017

Author: Karen Ullo. Summary: When a sixteen-year-old orphan vampire adopted by an order of nuns matures into her immortal, blood-sucking glory, all hell literally breaks loose. Yet with every rapturous taste of blood, Jennifer Carshaw cannot help but long for something even more exquisite: the capacity to experience true love. As she struggles to balance her murderous secret life with homework, cross-country practice, and her first boyfriend, Jennifer delves into the terrifying questions surrounding her inhuman existence, driven by the unexpectedly human need to understand why she is doomed by a life she never chose. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Jennifer the Damned was marketed as an anecdote to modern vampire stories. It was supposed to hark back to Dracula and the other original horror tales. I was surprised and disappointed, therefore, at its ‘highschool YA feel’ and writing style. It felt like a YA vampire book + Catholicism, which is certainly more interesting than a straight vampire novel – but nothing like Dracula. To be fair, the Catholic element adds an entirely new layer to the entire story. Jennifer has never been baptized, ​but she learned to believe the Catholic truths from her vampire mother, who could, unlike any human…

Why Vampires?
Outside the Reviews / June 4, 2017

Trends and fashions generally move through books at about the same speed as they do in clothing; perhaps a little slower. And just like clothing trends, most of the time they’re completely harmless, but sometimes they go all weird and pear-shaped, and readers find themselves looking back and wondering “Just how did we end up with seventeen supernatural books following the same angelic plot line published over the same two years?” One of the weirder trends that’s doing a good job of sticking around is the vampire novel. Stories of revenants date all the way back to the 12th century, and by the 16th and 17th centuries they were blood-drinking; these walking dead entered literature through Gothic Horror around the 19th century, and the rest, as they say, is history. Only… it isn’t. Not really. In the first place, the vampire novels are hardly history – they’re still being published. But in the second, the series coming out today are very, very different from the early horror novels. They do still pull their traditions from the same source, though, and the result is what makes them odd. Early vampires were the incarnation of evil. Literally soulless, constantly murdering, driven away…

Young Adult / August 17, 2016

Paranormalcy #2. Author: Kiersten White. Summary: Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be…kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees. But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself. So much for normal. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Almost nothing happens in this book, especially on-screen. Evie goes to school and complains about how boring normal life is after all; she lies to Lend about any number of things and goes on a couple of dates with him; and gets nearly killed several times in company with Jack, but this is nothing new. I was quite disappointed with the loss of interest. Content Review: Sexual content: Some kissing, mostly off screen….

The Immortal Rules
Young Adult / August 7, 2016

Blood of Eden #1. Author: Julie Kagawa. Summary: Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters. Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for… again. (Published summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: A hug. Two kisses. Female walking out alone on a couple different occasions is approached by men whom, she is aware, have dishonorable intentions (nothing of the sort actually happens, although a few fight scenes incur.) Language: 40 d***, 22 derogatory terms, 13 scatological terms, 11 hell, one rude hand gesture. Violence: Three ‘criminal’ teens are hung. Character punches another in…

The Fifth Elephant
Adult / July 23, 2016

A Discworld Novel. Author: Terry Pratchett. Summary: When duty calls, Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork constabulary answers—even if he doesn’t want to. Now, he’s been invited to attend a royal function as both detective and diplomat. The one role he relishes; the other requires, well, ruby tights. Of course, where cops (even those clad in tights) go, alas, crime follows. An attempted assassination and a theft soon lead to a desperate chase from the low halls of Discworld royalty to the legendary fat mines of Uberwald, where lard is found in underground seams along with tusks and teeth and other precious ivory artifacts. It’s up to the dauntless Vimes—bothered as usual by a familiar cast of Discworld inhabitants (you know, trolls, dwarfs, werewolves, vampires, and such)—to solve the puzzle of the missing pachyderm. Which, of course, he will . . . after all, solving mysteries is his job. (Published summary.) Content Review: Sexual content: 4 instances of innuendo. Language: 31 d***, 18 bloody, 17 hell, 13 derogatory terms Violence: Robbers ambush a coach; several are shot with arrows in the arm and leg, one in the throat. A man’s death by assassin suggested, but the scene is cut short. Character…

The Truth
Adult / July 18, 2016

A Discworld Novel. Author: Terry Pratchett. Summary: There’s been a murder. Allegedly. William de Worde is the Discworld’s first investigative journalist. He didn’t mean to be – it was just an accident. But, as William fills his pages with reports of local club meetings and pictures of humorously shaped vegetables, dark forces high up in Ankh-Morpork’s society are plotting to overthrow the city’s ruler, Lord Vetinari. Content Review: Sexual content: 6 instances of innuendo. Language: 36 d***, 9 hell, 8 bloody, 5 derogatory terms. One character keeps saying “—ing” as though it were a blanked swear word, but a few chapters in it becomes clear it’s printed as is: “Why does your partner keep saying ‘ing’?” Violence: Vampires punches four men unconscious. Second-hand account of a man being stabbed. A dog bites a man. Burning oil splatters multiple people. One man shoots another with a crossbow. Character accidentally stabs another with a spike, the second man dies.

Young Adult / June 23, 2016

Paranormalcy #1. Author: Kiersten White. Summary: Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours. But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal. (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: Let’s do things backward for a change – we’ll start with the ugly, move on to the bad, and then to the good. The Ugly: The fairy. Reth, with his glamor and apparent power to seduce at a single touch, was *extremely* creepy, and not in a good way. The Bad: The plot’s clichéd, the almost-instant-love more so, and the main character far too fluttery. Okay, that was a harsh summation, but I’d say it’s fairly correct. I’m really tired of beautiful main characters falling in ‘love’ mostly over appearances. In their defense, though, they did actually talk together about themselves and their interests. A little. Now, the main character, I think some people will really connect with. It’s a personal…

Drink, Slay, Love
Young Adult / May 27, 2016

Author: Sarah Beth Durst. Summary: Sixteen-year-old Pearl is a vampire. She’s got a sparring partner/boyfriend in one, a favorite human source of blood, and the Fealty Ceremony, her introduction to the adult world, coming up. Everything is great. It all starts to go downhill when she meets a unicorn one night, which stabs her through the heart. Of course nobody believes her; unicorns are mythical, after all. But the facts are unavoidable. Pearl can walk in the sunlight now, she’s starting to have a flicker of a reflection, and worst of all, a pesky thing known as conscience seems to be awakening in her. Her new abilities only bring more trouble. Now that she can walk in sunlight, she can go to the local high school and locate enough humans to feed the king and his retinue when they show up. The only problem is… Pearl’s beginning to like these exasperating humans. My Thoughts: A very light, fluffy read with a touch of redemption. The development of Pearl is well-done; we don’t see the main character as a pure vampire for very long, but it’s just long enough that we can see her transform over the course of the book…