In The Shadow Of The Lamp

First Lines: I was only fifteen when I went into service.  Scullery maid first, but the master thought me too pretty to hide away in the kitchen.

It was definitely time for a historical fiction and I quite enjoy Susanne Dunlap’s take on historical events and writing style.  This was fun to read (since I knew very little on the subject to begin with) and yet I completely connected with Molly.

Molly was a parlormaid until she was fired for stealing (which she was actually framed for by a jealous friend).  In need of work to keep her family out of the poor house, Molly overhears that Florence Nightingale is looking for nurses with experience to go with her to Turkey to aid soldiers in the Crimean War.  Molly doesn’t have any experience nursing, but that’s not going to stop her.  But what may stop her is that she’s losing her heart to two men she shouldn’t even be seeing.

I got seriously misty-eyed at one point in the book and it stuck with me for a while after that, which was unfortunate because it’s my birthday.  Yay me!  Ok, on with this.  Sorry for the interruption.

Like I said, I know nothing of the Crimean War and very little of Florence Nightingale.  So it was really interesting to read about both.  It didn’t hurt that Dunlap didn’t skimp on the details when she was describing how soldiers were having limbs removed.  Which is odd, coming from me.  In all honesty, I’d probably rather see someone getting their leg chopped off 1854 style than watch a modern surgery.  But I’m nuts like that.

Anyway, Molly is incredibly well-written.  The narrative is completely in her voice.  Even when she wasn’t talking, there’d be words like “hotting” instead of “heating”.  It bothered me at first, but once I realized that was just how Molly spoke, I was fine with it.

And Molly’s two suitors were great guys.  I had my preference, of course (who doesn’t in a love triangle?), but I’m not telling which one I liked best.  I liked them both, but I liked one more.

Fun read.  Very historical.  Lovely characters.  Almost made me cry.

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The Vampire Stalker

First Lines: There was a festive vibe in the air that reminded me of the Fourth of July.  Except I didn’t get this excited on the Fourth of July.

She is, of course, referring to the release of the next book in her favorite series.  That’s a logical jump, right?  Because all of us have stood in line to buy the newest book in their favorite series…right?  HP7, anyone?  I know I wasn’t the only one to do that.

Right.  The story.  Amy is in love with Alexander Banks, a character in her favorite series, Otherworld.  Alexander is brooding, dark, mysterious, and a vampire hunter.  One night, Amy is attacked by something and saved by someone who looks remarkably like Alexander is supposed to.  His arch enemy, Vigo (a vamp), crossed over from Otherworld to Amy’s Chicago.  Alexander needs Amy’s help to keep her Chicago from turning into the Chicago of Alexander’s world.

I love the premise.  In fact, I’m surprised there aren’t more books that have our favorite characters come to life in our world.  It’s a fun idea to toy around with.  Whether or not I’d want it to happen to me, I still haven’t decided.  There were some pretty heavy consequences to having an evil vamp cross over (if it hadn’t been for him, Alexander wouldn’t have crossed in the first place).

But it’s fun to imagine our book crushes being in our world and being able to meet them.  Harry Potter, any of the Weasley boys, Oliver Wood (he’s mine!), Edward, the Cullens, Jace Wayland.  Take your pick.  That would be great fun, no?

Ok, enough crushing.  For now.  I really liked the beginning and middle, where Alexander had to adjust to the new environment around him.  That was pretty humorous.  Amy was a good character, reacting the way most of us probably would if we saw our favorite character on the streets:  “Nice costume.”

What I didn’t like so much was the ending.  It was cheesy.  Not deadly cheesy like Mac & Cheese can be, but like cheese on crackers: refined, but it’s still cheese.  And yes, I totally just made an analogy comparing a book to cheese.

For the most part, though, it was a gripping, engaging read.  I really enjoyed it.

Hexbound (Dark Elite, #2)

First Lines: I stayed absolutely still, my eyes closed, the sun warm on my face.  As long as I didn’t fidget too much, the noon sun was just strong enough to cancel out the chilly October breeze that blew through our part of downtown Chicago.

Just about anything supernatural you could want is in this novel.  Spellbinders.  Superpowers.  Werewolves.  Vampires.  Mutants.  It’s all here.  But it’s probably not what you’re hoping for.

*POTENTIAL SERIES SPOILERS*  Not too big a chance, though, because I don’t remember the first book very well.

Lily Parker’s parents dropped her off at St. Sophia’s, a private school in Chicago, just a few weeks ago to go on sabbatical in Germany.  Lily wasn’t happy about it, but she’s coping, especially since she befriended the enigmatic Scout.  By day, Lily’s just a student.  By night, she’s underground in tunnels fighting Reapers and other supernatural creatures that try to invade St. Sophia’s.  When Lily and her friends find creatures they’ve never seen before, they’re drawn into a dangerous mystery to figure out what they are and why they’re there.

I probably like Lily’s friends more than I like Lily.  I think Jason and Michael are sweethearts.  Scout’s also pretty beast, since she’s not afraid to be who she is.  There’s just something about Lily that just…doesn’t click with me well.  She’s a good character, a good person, but…whatever.

I like the intrigue.  Like what Sebastian wants.  I know there has to be some kind of motive behind his actions, but I can’t figure out what.

Parts of the story just seem to drag on.  They walk the tunnels all. the. time.  It gets old. Plus, I really like Chloe Neill (the author) and I was hoping it would be better than this.  Color me disappointed.

Out For Blood (The Drake Chronicles, #3)

First Lines: Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name?”  Well, my name’s Hunter Wild, so I say: a lot.

As you can probably tell by the fact that this is my second review in a row of a book from this series, I love it.  I’ve actually read all of these before, but I finished all my library books, which meant I had to reread a few until I can get to the library in the morning (look for some good stuff coming soon!).

This one follows Quinn Drake, who is the fourth Drake child, and Hunter Wild, a Helios-Ra member from an elite vampire hunter family.  Hunter begins to see how some vampires are different than others, thanks to her best friend (and practically brother) Kieran.  Repeatedly, she crosses paths with the devilishly handsome Quinn, who likes the way he can unsettle Hunter.  When Hunter needs help to figure out why classmates of hers seem to be dying left and right from a mysterious “flu”, she turns to Quinn.

When I read this for the first time in December, I liked it but it wasn’t my favorite.  Now that I’ve gone back and reread all of them, this really is my favorite.  I didn’t connect with Hunter the first time I read it, but there’s more to her than meets the eye.  I like that.  There’s something about her I just relate to better now than I did 6 months ago.  (Aren’t books awesome like that?)

And Quinn.  Wowzers.  Probably my favorite Drake boy, too.  (Not that Logan and Nicholas don’t have their merits.  Quinn’s just the cutest.)  I completely agree with Hunter’s friend Chloe when she said, “I have got to get me a Drake boyfriend.”

This one had less action than the last two (with bothered me the first time I read it), but there’s more of a mystery to it, although I knew how it would end.  I think it also bothered me that I saw so little of Lucy, but Hunter’s got sarcastic quips to rival her.  I’d love to see them go at it sometime.

Blood Feud (The Drake Chronicles, #2)

First Lines: If Isabeau St. Croix had known it was going to be her last Christmas Eve, she would have had a third helping of plum pudding.

I go absolutely loony over these vampires.  They’re so awesome.  I’d love to be in the shoes of their friend Lucy, who is human.  Talk about fun!

Told from the alternating points of view of Logan Drake and Isabeau St. Croix, we get to see how vampire politics have progressed since the last book (really, only a week has passed).  Isabeau is a Hound, which is like a tribal vampire, for simplicity’s sake.  Needed for a treaty, Isabeau goes to meet the Drakes on their turf.  Logan becomes her unofficial protector, something Isabeau can’t stand.  But they’re going to need to help each other if they expect to stay alive over the next few days.

These vampires are so much fun.  Snarky, sarcastic, tough as nails warriors who, in every book, seem to fall prey to love.  Which is kind of neat, because no couple is the same for obvious reasons.  They have to fight their own battles to make their relationship work.  It’s so much fun.  I don’t know how many times I come out of reading these books laughing.

The lore is extravagant.  How vampires are made is diverse and full of minute details.  If you do X, but not Y, you get Z kind of vampires.  It can be confusing at times, but the first book is great about allowing you to sink easily into their world, the second into the intricacies.

This is such an underrated series.  Virtually no one seems to have heard of it, yet it is absolutely divine.  I love it.

Darkness Becomes Her (Gods & Monsters, #1)

First Lines: Under the cafeteria table, my right knee bounced like a jackhammer possessed.  Adrenaline snaked through my limbs, urging me to bolt, to hightail it out of Rocquemore House and never look back.

O.M.G.  I’d been putting this off because while I wanted to read it, it didn’t sound as interesting as the other books I had.  And it was my last library book.  But I finally picked it up last night about 7.  I finished it by 11:30 because I just could not put it down.

Ari’s always been a bit of a freak, with her weird silver hair that can’t be dyed or cut and bright teal eyes.  A child of the foster system, Ari’s now interested in finding out what happened to her parents.  But the answers aren’t what they seem.  A message from beyond the grave from her mother tells her one thing: Run.  The answers she needs come from New 2 (New Orleans after a series of catastrophic hurricanes), but it’s the last place she’s supposed to go by herself.

It was so ungodly fascinating.  There was always action.  I could open it up to any page and there would be someone getting their butt kicked or Ari finding answers.  Plus, there was a mix of nearly everything paranormal that I enjoy.  I was in heaven.  Actually, I was quite giddy, at one point having to skip/hop into different rooms to burn it off.  I’m not making that up. (Although it is possible the Brownie Batter Blizzard I had an hour or so before that could have played a part…)

I knew from the first page that I liked Ari.  She’s so no-nonsense.  And she has quite the mouth on her.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this much language in a YA book, but it totally worked.  I was glad it was that way.  It let Ari’s attitude shine.

The only downside about having this so action-driven was that the character development fell to the wayside a little.  Some of our main characters are still a bit of a mystery to me.  I know their family history, but I don’t know why they acted the way they did.  That drives me nuts.

Other than that, absolutely fascinating.  One of the most eclectic mixes of paranormal I’ve ever read.  Where’s the sequel when you want it?

Earth (The Book)

First Line: Greetings alien brethren!

I quite adore Jon Stewart’s brand of humor.  I watch The Daily Show religiously because it’s just that awesome.  So when my brother got this for Christmas (you know, on my recommendation), I was curious to see what it was all about.

Basically, it’s a textbook of our planet for aliens, should they arrive in the near future.  But it’s a funny textbook.  If only my actual textbooks were this humorous, I’d probably enjoy class more.

It takes about everything from religion, science, culture, and commerce, dropping sarcasm like rain in a thunderstorm.  The religion chapter was probably the funniest, making fun of religion itself and the lengths we go to to prove our religion, whatever it is, is better than yours.

It’s cute.  It took me a little too long to get through because, while it was funny, it does read like a textbook.  Especially in the commerce chapter, which was like my Econ book.  But I pushed on, finding it wasn’t so bad.