Friday, October 21, 2011


Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns...

Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.

Or not.

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student ... an attraction that could jeopardize everything.
-Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

So, this is book one in the Killer Unicorns trilogy. Yup. Killer unicorns. That almost put me off the series, and I'm really glad it didn't. This book is a ton of fun, with a diverse and engaging cast of characters led by one kick-ass unicorn hunter. The mythology is fascinating, the action exciting and tense, and Peterfreund even raises issues of gender, environment, and violence without ever seeming boring or preachy. Astrid is one of my new favorite heroines, and happily the second book (Rampant) is out and the third is on the way. 

Hex Hall

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. 

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. 

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her. -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

I liked Hex Hall, but I can't say I loved it. The setting was promising, the mystery is absorbing, and Sophie's pink-loving, reluctant-vampire roommate makes for a great best friend character. Those aside though, the book fell a bit flat for me. I was hoping for a bit more world-building, or at least more magic...? I'm not sure. Either way, not a fav.

I have heard this book described as a cross between Harry Potter and Twilight, which I think works. If you're looking for a school story, a paranormal romance featuring a witch instead of the normal line-up of vampires and werewolves, or if you're a bit nostalgic for Sabrina the Teenaged Witch, you might want to give this one a shot.


Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, 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 still. Normal.

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.
-Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

Oh, *bleep*! I loved this book! Evie is a fantastic narrator: quippy and fun, but still sympathetic and believable. How could you not love a girl who divides her time between hunting spooks and devouring fluffy teen dramas with her mermaid best friend, all while slinging impressive amounts of snark? So. Much. Fun. For any fans of Buffy, Hellboy, Vampire Diaries, The Killer Unicorn trilogy, or if you're just looking for some fun paranormal fare, this is a must-read.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Replacement

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.
-Plot summary borrowed from Good Reads

This was a great atmospheric, creepy read. The author does a fantastic job of establishing the rust-belt, something's-not-quite-right feel of Gentry, and puts some great new twists on fairy lore. I also love when a book seems tied to a certain time of year, and this book just felt so Octobery to me. It makes you want to pull up your collar and rush home, looking over your shoulder at shadows. Mackie is an especially likable protagonist who never lets his angst get too Emo, and his quest to find his crush's baby sister is gripping. I'd definitely recommend this one.

(For other dark fae fiction, you might also want to check out Tithe by Holly Black, or The Good Neighbors graphic novel trilogy by the same author. )

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.

In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death? -Plot summary borrowed from Good Reads

I started this book at around 11 pm, thinking I would read a few pages before falling asleep. Two hours later my eyes were glued to the page and my heart was pounding. Not only was I really pulled into the story, but I'm not too proud to admit that I was pretty sure the zombie apocalypse was about to begin, and I wasn't about to be caught napping. This is one tense and scary read, especially if you're a bit of a zombie wimp like your's truly.

Ryan's world-building is also exceptional and I loved the thought of a post-apocalyptic puritanesque village trying to survive in a zombie-ridden landscape. Also, the zombie scenes? Chills. This one is a great choice if you're looking for something with more bite (sorry!) than the fluffy paranormal romance stuff.

If you enjoy this one, you're in luck! There are two more in the series: The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Autumn always feels like the perfect time for some spookier fare, so for this season I've decided to focus on books with a paranormal bent. Ghosts, werewolves, vampires, changelings, zombies, slayers, etc etc etc. There is just so much to choose from, especially in the post-Twilight wolrd of YA fiction. So sharpen your stakes and plug in your nightlights, it's time for some supernatural stories!


It's been awhile since my last post. I was trying to wait out on more mermaid book I had on hold (Lost Voices by Sarah Porter) before I started on my new theme, but alas, no luck. Oh well. I hope you enjoyed this summer's theme; I know I did. Overall I have to say my two favorites were Forgive My Fins (it's just so fun and bubbly, doesn't take itself too seriously, but still tells a relatable story) and Mermaid: a Twist on the Classic Tale (fantastic imagery and a much more literary feel). If any of you read one of the books I reviewed, please feel free to weigh in with your opinions! I'd love to get more discussion going here. ^_^

And now, a new theme!