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My Soul to Keep (Soul Screamers #3) by Rachel Vincent

“There were a million What Ifs that could have stopped the whole thing. A million things I wished I’d done differently. But in the end, I was left with what actually happened. With my mistakes and his.”

Kaylee has one addiction: her very hot, very popular boyfriend, Nash. A banshee like Kaylee, Nash understands her like no one else. Nothing can come between them.Until something does.Demon breath. No, not the toothpaste-challenged kind. The Netherworld kind. The kind that really can kill you. Somehow the super-addictive substance has made its way to the human world. But how? Kaylee and Nash have to cut off the source and protect their friends—one of whom is already hooked.And so is someone else…

Personal Thoughts:

One of the benefits of joining a reading challenge that gives opportunity for rereading is reviewing a book that I haven’t reviewed before for some reason. Now that I got the chance to re-read My Soul to Keep I also got the chance to put my thoughts into writing. A chance I missed when I marathon the first four books and two novellas of this lovely series.

Going back to Soul Screamers world is always a treat because of its unique setting and strong world building. The netherworld continues to get more complex as Rachel Vincent bring us the darker and dangerous side of the demon world. Kaylee and her team are on quest of fixing her friends addiction to a substance that only exist in Netherworld. A substance that  is more dangerous than any kind of drugs available in human world.

My Soul to Keep is a daring book where Rachel Vincent took the risk turning around Nash character. A major character favorably adore by most of the readers of the previous books of the series. When Rachel Vincent decided to go to the unexpected and unusual route to her plot she took a step higher and riskier. She dare her readers to trust her and her plotting skills. Nothing is the same in the series after this book. The stakes are higher, relationships are tested and danger is everywhere.

I never thought I can hate Nash more than I already did. Rereading this book proves that no matter how I justify all his actions I still despise him. Even Kaylee and Tod contribute a little to Nash problem, in the end it is still Nash choice and decision that counts. Maybe it is not his fault that he was exposed to demons breathe but what he do after, is his own actions. He chose to hide his real condition and never seeks helps even he is aware what it can do to him. He lied to everyone and put everyone around him at risk. He chose all those things and no one is to be blame but him. His actions and wrong doings are quite unforgivable and unforgettable but hopefully redeemable.

Kaylee as usual is the heroine who wants to fix everything for others even how impossible and risky it is. Because of this, sometimes I find her too good to be true as a character. I admire her persistence and eagerness to help but her motivations in saving almost everyone around her is more than I can bear. I love her determination but sometimes I wish she just stay put for once and stay away from trouble. Everytime she decided to help someone she is also putting most of her closest friends & love ones in danger. These persons won’t actually just leave her alone while she goes to netherworld. They are obligated to help her and secure her safety.

With riskier and daring plot Rachel Vincent deals with different issues such as addiction and betrayal. My Soul to Keep is a thrilling, emotional and heart wrenching installment on the soul screamers series that put boundary between the previous books and the next books of the series.

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If I Die (Soul Screamers #5) by Rachel Vincent

“I’m not supposed to feel the fire. I’m not supposed to want it. But I do. I want you, Kaylee like I’ve never wanted anything. Ever. I want the fire. I want the heat, and the light, and I want the burn.” 

The entire school’s talking about the gorgeous new math teacher, Mr. Beck. Everyone except Kaylee Cavanaugh. After all, Kaylee’s no ordinary high-school junior. She’s a banshee—she screams when someone dies. 

But the next scream might be for Kaylee. 

Yeah—it’s a shock to her, too. So to distract herself, Kaylee’s going to save every girl in school. Because that hot new teacher is really an incubus who feeds on the desire of unsuspecting students. The only girls immune to his lure are Kaylee and Sabine, her boyfriend’s needy ex-girlfriend. Now the unlikely allies have to get rid of Mr. Beck…before he discovers they aren’t quite human, either. 

But Kaylee’s borrowed lifeline is nearing its end. And those who care about her will do anything to save her life. 

Personal Thoughts:

The first thing I notice in this book is the title, If I Die which breaks the pattern of the previous books of the series that all start with “My Soul To”, (My Soul To Lose, My Soul to Take, My Soul to Save, My Soul to Keep and My Soul to Steal). So why this fifth book doesn’t follow the same formula? Well, aside from the fact that the title If I Die perfectly describes the whole story, wherein Kaylee is facing her limited borrowed time, If I Die also tend to break the rules. Not just the title but the story itself. Rachel Vincent put everything in a different level, from her characters to the conflicts, and relationships. This is the game changing part of the series, everything you know and you expect will take a different twist and turns.

Even with Kaylee’s limited time there are so many things happening in the story. From Kaylee’s impending death, to the mystery of the new professor in their school, to Nash and Kaylee’s relationship issue. Every page is essential to the story and you can’t help but stuck yourself reading from start to end.

I really like how Rachel Vincent crafted her characters in this series. They were the kind of characters that just grow in you as you read. It is easy to care for all of them even the one you are not supposed to care. They are far from perfect, they make mistakes and do stupid things but you will never hate them because no matter how bad they perform you still care for them.

“I think it doesn’t hurt to let someone else do the rescuing every now and then, when your own armor starts to get banged up.”

Nash is so good in book one (My Soul To Take), and book two doesn’t give me anything to be against him but when I reached the third book I am so pissed with him. In book four he gets my sympathy back for trying to be clean for Kaylee and for wanting Kaylee back as if he can’t really live without her. In this book, I just don’t know what to do with him anymore. I feel sorry for him at one point but I also dislike some of the things he did. But in the end as much as I want to hate him I still want him to be happy whether he end up with Kaylee or not.

Finally Tod got the spotlight. I’ve been waiting for him to be on center stage since book one. This guy is really spot on everytime he appears in the story. If I Die give him the attention he surely deserves. In here Tod is not just the sarcastic, witty and annoyingly charming reaper, he also show his soft side. He shows a lot of emotions and you can’t help but love him more and more.

Kaylee finally knew how Tod feel for her. Though I expected this to happen since book one, I still can’t say that I’m prepared. In fact I think I am not prepared at all, even how obvious it is with all the hints from book four, My Soul To Steal. When I’m reading it from this book, I got a mix feeling. Because as much as I like Tod I don’t want him to be the cause of someone else heartbreak. Like what I said in my review for the first book, My Soul To Take, I want Tod to be the selfless one. I want him to get his happiness without hurting someone he loves.

“You’re not pulling the trigger. But you’re not taking the gun away, either.”

This is really a roller coaster ride for me. At one point I’m cheering for one character then the next I’m cheering the other side. Why they can’t belong in the same team and save my sanity for good. Since book one, I already pick my side. But I choose my side base on the character alone and not as a love team to anyone. So when this book put my chosen character in a battle I can’t help but cheer for him but as much as I want him to win I also don’t want to see his opponent suffer. It’s not that I can’t make up my mind, it is just that I care for all of them that I don’t want any of them to get hurt.

Every actions and decisions they make I go along with them. I feel the tension around these characters. I feel their heartache, confusions and even their delusions. So when Rachel Vincent  put them in this crazy hell ride of personal conflicts I swim to the dept of emotions and almost lost every ounce of oxygen in my lungs to survive.

Filled with humour, heartache, frustration and hope, If I Die is an emotional thrill-ride read. An achingly beautiful addition to the Soul Screamers series. I am really amazed by how Rachel Vincent develop this series, every new addition surpass the level of the previous book. Just when you thought you already read the best you’ll be surprise by the next. As I said this book is the game changing part of the series, it’s like a new series were born out of the big twist that Rachel Vincent delivered. It makes the Soul Screamers more exciting and edgier. I’m really looking forward to the next book, Before I Wake.

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My Soul To Steal (Soul Screamers #4) by Rachel Vincent

“I don’t have you, and without you, it feels like what I do have doesn’t matter.” 

Trying to work things out with Nash—her maybe boyfriend—is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can‘t just pretend nothing happened. But “complicated” doesn’t even begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back.

See, Sabine isn’t just an ordinary girl. She’s a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people’s fears—and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives.

And Sabine isn’t above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever—and whoever—she wants.

Personal Thoughts:

My Soul To Steal is the fourth book of Soul Screamers series, and this series is just getting better and better each time I read. If you notice, I skip reviewing My Soul To Save and My Soul To Keep which I’ve read way before this. I’ve read those two books consecutively, together with My Soul To Lose, My Soul To Take and Reaper but I’m too overwhelmed to write any review at that time. I don’t want to gush too much about them or worst absent-mindedly interchange the stories. Reading the first three books and two novellas consecutively is just too much to talk about. When I found out that the fifth book will be release I take a pause reading the series and decided to wait till I got a copy of the latest book, If I Die. Now that I’m expecting to get a copy soon, I’m back again in Kaylee’s world.

“Anger is great. It’s powerful, when you need something to hold you up. Something to steel your spine. But in the dark, when you’re alone with the truth, anger can’t survive. The only thing that can live in the dark with you is fear.”

One of the things I enjoy about reading this series is how Rachel Vincent package her characters. They are diverse not just with their special abilities but also with their personalities. I love them and sometimes I get annoyed with them too. Even the hero and heroine do some crazy things that sometimes make them stick into my skin. But never the less I love them with all the craziness and flaws they have.

Sabine, the new addition to the series is so much welcome. I like her, she certainly give a nice kick to the story. Finally Kaylee got a real competition with Nash. Sabine, Nash ex-girlfriend / best friend is a walking nightmare to Kaylee, literally. I admire Sabine’s guts. She knows what she wants and she’ll do everything she can to get it. She’s honest, straight forward, strong-willed, and fearless. But my likeness with Sabine start and end with her alone. I still don’t want her to end up with Nash, I still prefer Kaylee for that place.

Kaylee, I don’t know what to do with her. She is still amazing and I still like her but her indecisiveness sometimes is too much. If she can just be as brave as Sabine I guess I’ll admire her more. I know she’s not afraid facing Avari or any demons from Netherworld but in terms of facing her feelings, she always hold back. She needs to decide what she really wants. She’s being overly logical sometimes. Why can’t she just do what she wants? She’s giving her self too much trouble when in the first place she can be happy if she just learn how to forgive. I’m not saying that she forget what Nash did but she can save the long drill of heartaches for both of them. Her trust issue with Nash is understandable and I like that she make her stand with that but avoiding Nash and not talking to him isn’t fair. She needs to give Nash another chance if she really can’t give him up fully. How can Nash gain back her trust if she don’t even give him another chance.

When Tod was talking to Kaylee about giving up Nash for good, for a moment I thought that she will do just as she is told. Though I don’t want her to just give up Nash as easy as that even Tod is clearly stating that Sabine is the right one for Nash. I want Kaylee to prove to everyone that she deserves what she wants and clearly she still want Nash.

Tod was his normal sarcastic and charming self as usual. I enjoy every moment he pop up in the story. And his progressing ability is really handy at least now he is not the only one who can take advantage of his invisibility. But when he told Kaylee to give up Nash I was totally shock, almost wishing that it was just one of Kaylee’s nightmare or one of Tod’s jokes and there will be a punch line in the end. Because seriously I don’t see it coming from Tod at all. I know he love his brother so much and he also care for Kaylee but how can he think that giving up is the solution?

As for Nash, I feel sorry for him, not that I don’t blame him because he certainly have some faults too and I really don’t like what he did to Kaylee from My Soul To Keep but I feel for him in a way. The withdrawal thing is definitely not easy and having no one there to supports you or just be there with you is just too much for him. He really needs someone to at least stay with him while he battle his inner struggle with frost.

Lastly, there is Alec, who we were introduced to into the previous book, My Soul To Keep. He doesn’t appeal to me the first time but in here he easily grow in me. I enjoy reading his culture shock and adjustments. He is now living at Kaylee’s place, still adjusting in human world after getting stuck in Netherworld for decades. He doesn’t age since then, so basically he has a mind of 45 years old and a body of a teen ager. That combination isn’t perfect but you need to keep an eye on this guy because he got a major participation in the story.

This is really a roller coaster ride. One moment you cheer for one character then another minute you’ll want to smack the hell out of him/her. Rachel Vincent surely knows how to navigate readers feelings. She push all her characters into a more personal level. And it is easy to get lost with them to the point that you also battle your choices and questions your allegiances. Not to forget the Netherworld issue and Avari’s plans to Kaylee and the human world.

If this series continue the path of getting better and better I wonder what Rachel Vincent stored for the next book, If I Die. My Soul To Steal is pretty much has it all already, and definitely the best of what I read so far from this series. It is darker, edgier and more personal. I can’t wait to get my hands on If I Die to find out where the story will go from here.

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Reaper by Rachel Vincent

“Now if you’ll excuse me, Death waits for no man. Except me.” 

Tod Hudson was a typical teenager. He liked girls, sports, food and tolerated his younger brother, Nash. In fact, he had his whole life in front of him–and due to his bean sidhe heritage, it was going to be a very long life indeed. And then the car accident occurred.

Suddenly Tod’s future wasn’t so sure, and he had to make a choice. Life… Death… or something Between….

Personal Thoughts:

It’s no secret that I find Tod Hudson’s character more interesting than any other character that I encountered so far in Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series. After reading Reaper last weekend and written a poem entitled Reaper (read it here) I still can’t skip reviewing this one.

This novella basically tells the story of Tod Hudson before he becomes a reaper. It takes us back to his life before he lose his mortal life and the actions that lead to his death.

It is always fun to read something about Tod Hudson and getting it from his point of view is really a treat. In My Soul to Take I find him intriguing, in My Soul to Save I enjoy his sarcasm as much as his concern with his ex-girlfriend Addy. In this novella he really shines as a self-sacrificing brother. The story shape more dept to his character as it unfold the secrets behind his death. He surely deserves a life after death may it be as a reaper or not. I can’t help but love him more in this novella.

Tod’s wit and sarcasm never fail to entertain me and this novella doesn’t lack of those snarky-funny one-liners from him. His incredibly sarcastic sense of humor can even make upsetting moments really funny. Just reading his lines makes me forget the dark moments in the story what more if he is actually real? I would love to have him around when I’m down (or even if I’m not down) and I don’t care if he is a reaper!

He’s lovely, isn’t he? Who would have thought that a reaper can wear that angelic face? =) And here are some funny lines from Tod

Book Quotes: 

“So, ‘reaper’ is really just a nice word for ‘covert pervert?’ Is that what you’re saying?”

“So you’re saying the afterlife is hard on the libido? FYI, that’s probably not a good bullet point for your recruiting brochure.”

“So, you reap souls and crush hopes? Is that part of the job, or just a service you offer for free?”

“Sorry, but the whole walking corpse epiphany kind of threw me off my game.”

“So,would you say I’m closer to a zombie or a vampire? I gotta know—are my parts going to rot and fall off, or am I forever frozen in youthful perfection?”

“There was just no good way for a dead son to greet his mother almost two weeks after his funeral.”

“This would be so much easier if they actually issued black hoods,”

“Just FYI, in your case, I think it’s okay to fear the reaper.”

“You bet your scythe.”

“He’s not like you, Tod. Aside from a couple of notable exceptions, you tend to think things through, but Nash is ruled by his heart—” I nearly choked on laughter. “I think the organ he’s ruled by is a little farther south, Mom.”

“If I weren’t already dead, I’d be alive with joy,”

Overall

Reaper is a short read that is full of laugh-out-loud lines and has a heart warming moments. It is a story of bond, sacrifices and second chances. A simple story that can make you laugh and teary at the same time. A must read for Soul Screamer’s fans and Rachel Vincent’s followers.

Oh! before I forgot, please don’t forget to vote for Tod on his match with Zachary at YA Crush Tourney.

*disclaimer: The avatar image above is grab from Fiktshun, it is designed by Rachel Vincent’s talented husband.

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My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent

Don’t judge your future based on others’ mistakes.”

She doesn’t see dead people, but

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who’ll be next.

Personal Thoughts:

My Soul To Take is the first book in Rachel Vincent‘s Soul Screamers series. There is a prequel novella entitled My Soul To Lose which I already read before this one. The novella is more an introduction to Kaylee, the main character of the series. In My Soul To Take you will see Kaylee discover her unusual ability and the secrets behind it.

Kaylee can sense when someone near her is about to die. She saw shadows around the person before this person dies. When Kaylee see the shadows she has an uncontrollable urge to scream and once she starts screaming she just can’t stop no matter how hard she tried. An incident of her screaming has already landed her in a psychiatric ward and she will do anything she can to avoid going back in there again. When Nash and Kaylee had an encounter in a bar she was worried that Nash will discovers her secret. But Nash has a secret of his own and he seems to know more about Kaylee than she knows about herself. As Nash helps Kaylee to discover what she is, they were also confronted with series of deaths. Female teenagers start dropping dead (literally) for no reason and only Kaylee knows who will be next.

My Soul To Take is surprisingly beautiful. Rachel Vincent crafted a a unique paranormal story with this one.  Imagine yourself getting premonition of someone’s death few minutes before she dies. Isn’t that horrible? Specially when you can’t do anything about it.  But the story isn’t just about  predicting someone’s death, there were more mysteries and secrets that is worth exploring in this book.

My knowledge with Irish mythology and folklore is too little. I’ve read a few Irish myth from some fiction books but I never encounter anything about bean sidhes or banshees. So when the story introduce the bean sidhe mythology I absorbed everything about it as a fresh read. The world that the author created in here is imaginative as well as believable. The netherland, the grim reaper and the afterlife possibilities explored in this book were pretty interesting.

The story is engaging & fast-pace. There were lots of things happenings, from Kaylee’s self-discovery to her family’s history and secrets and to the mystery behind the sudden death of teenagers. The constant action and tension as you never knew who might drop dead next will drive you reading from start to end.

Kaylee and Nash were charming characters. Kaylee is caring, thoughtful and strong. With all the things that she went through you can’t help but sympathize with her. From her extreme fear of being crazy to her relief at finding out that she isn’t, even if that means that she’s different; and then having to come to grasps her ability that is both dangerous and powerful. Nash on the other hand is a perfect partner for Kaylee. He supports her and give her answers in time of confusions. He is also protective and caring to Kaylee. There’s really nothing not to like about him in this book.

The development of Kaylee and Nash relationship though happens just in few days doesn’t feel forced. I haven’t really notice that the entire novel happens in less than a week. I’m too absorbed with the story that I didn’t really care about the timeline.

Tod the reaper is my favorite character. In fact he is the main reason why I am reading this series in the first place. After Fiktshun’s solid campaign for him in YA Crush Tourney I am really intrigue with Tod. Though I have to admit, if I haven’t read Tod description from the tourney, Nash can easily get my interest. Tod in this book is funny, sarcastic and very intriguing character which makes me more eager to know him better. I know there is a novella entitled Reaper that is solely dedicated for him which I’ll be reading soon.

If I have to choose between Tod and Nash, I’ll choose Tod in a heartbeat, no second thought. But I love Tod in this book as a single character and not as a third party to Nash and Kaylee’s relationship. I’m not sure where the story goes after this book but obviously there is a potential for Tod to be Kaylee’s love interest. But for now I like the relationship that Kaylee and Nash shared as much as the bond between Tod and Nash. As much as I love Tod I don’t want him to be the caused of Nash heartbreak. I’d rather see him as the selfless brother than the third party of Nash and Kaylee’s relationship.

Another interesting character is Kaylee’s Uncle Brendon. Though he didn’t appear much in the beginning of the story, he gain my respect towards the end. I even like him better than Kaylee’s father. Because he treated Kaylee as a family, almost as if she was his daughter. He cares and love Kaylee as much as his own daughter Sophie.

My Soul To Take was thoroughly enjoyable which offers a different take on paranormal reads. It has a right amount of mystery, humour and dark elements that will grab you from start to end. I’m excited that I got the next three books and another novella to devour after this book.

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