Hurricane by Jenna-Lynne Duncan

“We can’t change who we are; I knew that more than anyone. But to strive to be good despite what we can’t change is all about who he was.”

I anxiously looked around, my heart palpitating, just in time to see an alligator slink into the green algae covered water that was on either side of us. I swallowed hard, and my heart raced even faster. Alligators were a different type of predator—the one thing I was afraid of. Now I was on my own personal swamp tour. What if my kidnappers left me in the middle of a swamp with five of them creeping up on me? I’ve had that nightmare before and—oh no, if my dreams really are a sign of the future—I couldn’t breathe now.

Adriana couldn’t decide what was worse—that Hurricane Katrina was heading for New Orleans, or that she might not survive her kidnapping to see its potential effects. She had trusted Hayden, even fallen for him, and now he and his brother Luke were taking her deeper and deeper into the Bayou. Why had two of her classmates, the mysterious Boudreaux brothers, kidnapped her? Why had Adriana’s dreams started predicting the future? Most importantly, would she make it out of the Bayou alive…

Personal Thoughts:

After the two typhoons that hit our country I’ve been busy doing some extra errands lately that’s why I haven’t posted much reviews for the past few weeks. Though we are lucky enough to be safe during the disaster there are few people close to me who suffered and seriously need some help. Now, I’m trying to catch up with my reviews and Hurricane is in my list which somehow easy to relate to after the typhoon.

When Jenna asked me if I’ll be interested in reviewing her book I don’t hesitate to accept it right away. Main reason is part of the proceeds of Hurricane will go to a humanitary cause, New Orleans Habitat for Humanity. That alone convinced me to read this book which I’m glad I did because Hurricane delivers much more than I expected.

Hurricane tells the story of Adriana. An only child living with her single father who doesn’t care much about her. Adriana has been dreaming of strangers and dangers every night. When two new students arrived in her school she recognized them from her dreams. These two new students are the Boudreaux brothers, Hayden and Luke. They are mysteriously presents in every classes of Adriana which rises her suspicion. When she realized that her dreams were actually predicting future events, she begun to question her abilities as well as the mysteries behind the Boudreaux brothers.

The mystery behind the Boudreaux brothers is really intriguing. It is obvious from the start that Hayden and Luke has some paranormal identities that they are keeping from Adriana, which keep me guessing along the way. I won’t reveal their identities but to be honest, the revelations isn’t what I expected.

The settings and surroundings were well written. Jenna write descriptively. The way she describes the place before and after the devastating hurricane is simply vivid. I haven’t been in New Orleans but the book description is pretty good to easily imagine the surroundings. The pacing is right and continues which makes this book a quick read.

The ghost back story were quite creepy to read particularly the descriptions from the old article regarding Delphine Lalurie. It was eerily haunting which will make any weak stomach turn. Thankfully it is just a small portion of the book ’cause I’m not sure If I can continue reading more of those sufferings in details.

At some point I pity Adriana for how her father treat her. I hope there is an explanation why her father doesn’t care that much in Adriana. I want to see more arc to that part in the next book. Because if her father simply doesn’t care for her without any deep reason I would be disappointed. It won’t be right for a father to care more about his girlfriend or his girlfriend’s daughter than his own daughter.

Hurricane has a lot of promise. It is so much more than ghost and spells. It has mystery, suspense, romance, forbidden love all in one. There were also other paranormal creatures that haven’t explore much yet and has a potential to provide a different twist to the next books. As well as the intriguing mystery behind Adriana’s capability to know the future events through her dreams. With all that I’m looking forward for the sequel.

This review is based on an e-copy I received courtesy of the author and publisher, Divertir Publishing.

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris

Book Description from Goodreads:

Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out….

Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea.

A fun, fast, funny, and wonderfully intriguing blend of vampire and mystery that’s hard to put down, and should not be missed. (Susan Sizemore)

Personal Thoughts:

I’ve heard so much about The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels by Charlaine Harris. Chai has been trying to lend me her own copies of the series last year but I’m not really interested reading another vampire books at that time. I am also aware that there is an HBO series, True Blood which I haven’t seen yet that is based from these books. When I got my own copy of the first book I decided to give it a try, mainly because of the mystery part. After reading though I don’t understand why so many people have been raving about this book.

The story moved a little too slow for my taste, though there are lot of things happenings it can’t keep me much interested. As if the book is not sure what it wants to be or what it wants to be about. It has a mind reader protagonist, a vampire mythology and mystery killer on the lose. But with all these things the plot doesn’t deliver well. The first few chapters is slow. Reading about Sookie Stockhouse daily routine is not something I would love to read. Even with her ability to read minds she can’t keep me much interested. As a mind reader she has the potential to be an interesting character but this book doesn’t give much depth to her. With the exception Sookie and Bill, the characters are a bit one dimensional. I can’t hardly care about them as if they just all pass by on the story.

The writing is nothing remarkable but since the book is slim it pass as a short read. The world building is well built. There were vampires, synthetic blood, shape-shifter and mind reader. One thing that helps me finished this book is the curiosity to know who is the mysterious killer in Sookie’s little town. I want to find out if my speculation is correct. But the mystery part of the book took a back seat, almost makes me lose my interest. The mystery ending were stumble across rather than working out logically by the characters. Too bad Sookie’s mind reading ability doesn’t contribute much in knowing the killer.

I know there are lot’s of readers who adore this book, but it doesn’t really work for me. This is the first Charlaine Harris novel I’ve read and I’m not sure if I still want to pick up the next book of the series. I might try her other books though.

Houglass by Claudia Gray

“Neither Here nor There, Neither Alive nor Dead.”

Synopsis From Book Jacket:

After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas take refuge with Black Cross, a fanatical group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at its hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend — the vampire Balthazar — hiding is no longer an option.

Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run again, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel, Bianca can’t escape her destiny.

Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything… but can it survive what’s to come?

Personal Thoughts:

When I started a book I owe myself to finish it and that rules also applies in reading a series. That’s basically the reason why I am on the third book of Claudia Gray’s Evernight series.

The setting is more on the city where we see Black Cross hunters move from one to another for hideouts. We now learned more about the Black Cross organization. A few history, how they function as vampire hunters, their rules, routines and operations. It’s more clear that they are absolute on their views that all vampire are evil and they are willing to kill all vampires to protect the humanity.

The characters are finally now sinking to me. Bianca and Lucas are growing up and maturing. There are still stupid and compulsive decisions on Bianca’s part but at least somehow she shows improvement. And there are still room for her to grow up. On the other side, Lucas grows up faster than Bianca in this book. He did a great job ensuring Bianca’s safety. Compare to his actions in Stargazer he improves a lot. Vic and Ranulf are back too, which is one of the best thing in this book. They simply add touch of humour which lifts the occasionally gloomy plotline. Maybe if they got more part of the book, Hourglass is more entertaining.

As for the plot twist, it surprised me – the part of what happened to Bianca in the end. It’s not that I didn’t see it coming, I just didn’t want it that way. I think Gray could actually make something better than that. When I’m reading that part my first reaction was in denial. I even said to myself that maybe it’s just part of Bianca’s dream, but I knew better, the fonts are clearly saying me it’s all real. And I feel sorry for Bianca and Lucas for that turn of event. It’s just so lame to have it that way. As for Lucas being a vampire, that’s quite expected already too bad that it just didn’t complement much to Bianca’s ending. Unless the next book, Afterlife can make something out of it than pure melodramatic plot.

To wrap all this up, Hourglass is fast-paced and well written but nothing really went on outside of the relationship of Bianca and Lucas. Nothing much new is added that we haven’t already know or anticipated. Ms. Bethany’s motive is still unknown. Charity is still the mysterious cardboard villain. Black Cross is still unsettled. As a third book, it doesn’t add so much information to the series which lives everything to the final book, Afterlife.

Stargazer by Claudia Gray

“We have to remember that life is to be lived one day at a time. You cannot worry about past or future. Happiness is in the now.”

Synopsis from book jacket:

The vampire in me was closer to the surface…

Evernight Academy: an exclusive boarding school for the most beautiful, dangerous students of all—vampires. Bianca, born to two vampires, has always been told her destiny is to become one of them.

But Bianca fell in love with Lucas—a vampire hunter sworn to destroy her kind. They were torn apart when his true identity was revealed, forcing him to flee the school.

Although they may be separated, Bianca and Lucas will not give each other up. She will risk anything for the chance to see him again, even if it means coming face-to-face with the vampire hunters of Black Cross—or deceiving the powerful vampires of Evernight. Bianca’s secrets will force her to live a life of lies.

Yet Bianca isn’t the only one keeping secrets. When Evernight is attacked by an evil force that seems to target her, she discovers the truth she thought she knew is only the beginning…

Personal Thoughts:

I found this book better than the first book, Evernight. It is much more action driven and more engaging. The writing is as good as the first book, it’s still quick pace and flowing. The paranormal element is much better. There is another supernatural element added into the plot, the wraiths. The mythology of wraiths and vampires, and why they’re natural enemies is unique. It gives more details to Bianca’s heritage and the story of her birth. The plot is continues but there weren’t any truly big shockers or twist. Everything happens so fast that you don’t have the time to really anticipate what next.

The characters are still flat and underdeveloped. But honestly I don’t care much about it anymore. It’s like that it already grows in my system. Too bad I don’t care much about them. If there’s one character I like to explore that would be the new character introduced in this book, Charity (Baltazar’s younger sister). She adds a lot of drama to the story. Given her villain persona, I think there are so much to discover about her. Somehow I felt that she’s a misunderstood person/vampire with a deep history left behind. A history worth digging and telling.

Other than the characters, there are also other concept that is underdeveloped. Like the Black Cross. There existence and the purpose they serve is already told in the first book, but we haven’t see any details of them. They are simply vampires hunters, it’s not clear how they functions or if there are any rules they actually follow. There are also some inconsistency like in the first book. Bianca professes to be shy in Evernight, but she never really acts shy and all pretense of being so is dropped by into this book.

Overall, Stargazer is a is a nice addition to Evernight Series and a huge improvement over Evernight (book 1). But it doesn’t make me eager to read the next book, Hourglass even if I already have a copy of it.

Evernight by Claudia Gray

“If you loved someone, you couldn’t let lies come between you. No matter what happened—even if you’d already lost each other forever—you owed each other the truth.”

Synopsis from Book Jacket:

Bianca wants to escape.

She’s a new student at Evernight Academy, a creepily gothic boarding school where her classmates are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn’t fit in.

Then she meets Lucas another loner, who seems fiercely determined not to be the “Evernight type.” There’s a connection between Bianca and Lucas that can’t be denied. She will risk anything to be with him, but dark, ancient secrets are fated to tear them apart… and to make Bianca question everything she’s ever believed to be true.

Personal Thoughts:

I’ll just make this a quick review.

Evernight basically is a story of star-crossed lovers in the dark world of vampire and human set in middle school academy. Is that something new? No not really. At first it looks promising, imagine Romeo and Juliet in Twilight world with Hogwarts school in it. Great combinations right? But given that formula Evernight wasn’t successful giving a well crafted story.

The setting is another gothic school that doesn’t quite appeal more gothic other than the presents of gargoyles. The characters were kind of flat and inconsistent especially Bianca (explanation below). The chemistry between Bianca and Lucas was quite unbelievable. Their romance, while beautifully written, just happened way too fast without much interaction between the two. They’ve only met a handful of times, there’s no real foundation to the relationship and their deepening feelings, which makes the whole romance feel somewhat fake and forced. And the ending is slightly less climatic.

My main problem with this book actually is the plot twist or let me say the narration of it. Given the fact that this book is about vampires and human it is quite expected that one the main characters is a vampire and the other is not or at least not yet. So the main question is – Which of the main character is the vampire? The answer is quite unexpected but it also makes the narration unbelievable. It throws a lot of inconsistency to Bianca’s narration. She discovers that she was a vampire all along when she accidentally bit some of Lucas’ blood and then after awhile she’s telling how she was actually raised as a vampire by her vampire parents. She’s telling about how she drinks a cup of blood with every meal since young and how her parents have been telling her that something like this would happen eventually. Okay, maybe the author meant for this reveal to be a nice surprise and twist, and for the most part it was. However, I think it could have been executed better.

If there is one thing that is good in this book I think is the writing. We’ll it’s not superb but at least it’s not bad either. The pacing is quick which makes this an easy read.

So what’s the verdict? There’s are some flaws obviously but it’s not without a promise. Bianca and Lucas are an intriguing couple, to say the least. There are still questions left unanswered which hopefully explains better to the next installment. This book seems to serves an an introductory part of the series, hopefully Stargazer is better.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

Amazon summary:

Fans of The Twilight Saga will be enthralled by the riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits. In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

Personal Thoughts:

I finally decided to pick up Stephanie Meyer’s The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner an Eclipse Novella. It’s an easy read book which can be finished in a couple of hours though nothing much really in it. Since we already know from Eclipse what will be Bree’s ending, this book is just a little sidenote of being a newborn vampire from Bree’s perspective. It’s nice to read part of the Twilight Saga world other than Bella’s point of view, and I especially want to hear the story from a vampire’s perspective. More likely the mind reader point of view. But since Midnight Sun is still hanging I have to settle first with Bree, a newborn vampire who doesn’t last long enough to give us more details of the vampire world. But for Bree’s credit, she is more straightforward compare to Bella, she doesn’t have angst, she’s pretty-logical and more objective. Her story give more justice to newborn vampires, they are not just soulless bloodsucking vampire after all.

Bree’s description of Edward as “redheaded one” confused me that I have to check again eclipse to see who is she’s referring to as redheaded one. But then realizing that Bree is a newborn vampire, she can’t give much details with the other vampire’s around her because she is so much consumed with the thought of Bella’s sweet blood at that time. Compare to Bella who is in love with Edward, naturally Bella is more detailed on Edward appearance.

Other than the life of being a newborn vampire, this book also offers two interesting revelations. First. Jane and her entourage actually visit Victoria and give her five days to enact her battle plan before the Volturi would destroy the newborn army. Second, Bree manages to figure out that Edward reads minds and conveys to him that the Volturi weren’t entirely on the Cullens’ side. I just wish to know what Edward was thinking while Bree is dishing to him the dirty work of the Volturi. After reading the novella, I had this feeling that I’ve just finished reading a fan fiction, like what I usually read online for some of my favorite mangga stories.

If you haven’t already read Eclipse this novella won’t make sense. This book is for Twilight fans and not for someone who hasn’t read the saga.