ARC REVIEW: Stake-out – by Lily Luchesi

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Title: Stake-out
(Paranormal Detectives #1)
Author: Lily Luchesi

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
First published: May 19th 2015
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Finished reading: January 25th 2017
Pages: 128
Rating 3,5qqq

“Who would’ve guessed that, in this world, there were vampires, werewolves and specters lurking around every corner; that evil witches who lived for centuries were being burned to to death a few miles away?”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I confess I’m normally not a fan of vampire stories and tend to stay away from them, especially since I seem to dislike about 99% of them. But when I was approached with the question if I wanted to read the Paranormal Detectives series, something about the description caught my attention and I decided to give it a go. And even though I’m normally allergic to fanged characters, I enjoyed Stake-out a lot better than I thought I would. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the vampire element didn’t seem to bother me, which can probably explained by the fact that the vampires are properly scary without all the ‘sparkling’ and cheesiness. I found Stake-out quite a refreshing story and I liked that it had other supernatural creatures; the vampire/creature hunting is a very interesting angle as well. The story was both easy and entertaining to read, although I do have to admit the amount of question marks used can get a bit annoying. The plot and characters make up for it though, and I loved the flashbacks/past life subplot. If you like a good paranormal fantasy story that isn’t fluffy or overly romantic, Stake-out is without doubt a great choice. I will be reading and reviewing both sequels soon!

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When Detective Danny Mancini finds out the murder suspect he is following is actually a 200 year old rogue vampire, nobody actually believes him. The department put him on early retirement despite his many years of service, and things are getting worse from there. Then, two years later, the beautiful Detective Angelica Cross shows up at his doorstep and offers him to join a secret branch of the FBI. She wants him to track down Vincent, the vampire that ended is career two years ago. But Danny’s new life will need some time getting used to…

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Stake-out isn’t just another vampire story. Sure, vampires play a big role, but the plot is more about hunting supernatural creatures and following the main character Danny as he slowly comes to terms with his new world working for the secret branch of the FBI. I especially enjoyed the flashbacks and past life elements and I will be looking forward to find out how the story continues.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Coldest Girl In Coldtown – by Holly Black

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Title: The Coldest Girl In Coldtown
Author: Holly Black

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
First published: September 3rd 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: October 15th 2016 
Pages: 419
Rating 4qqq

“Even from the beginning, that was the problem. People liked pretty things. People even liked pretty things that wanted to kill and eat them.”

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I’m ashamed to admit I’ve had this book collecting dust on my shelves for ages, and it was actually on last year’s Halloween TBR as well. Oops?! I’m glad I finally gave in though, because The Coldest Girl In Coldtown turned out to be a perfect Halloween read. I was actually pleasantly surprised to find out that I enjoyed this story that much, because I normally detest vampire stories. Kudos to Holly Black for showing me there are also decent vampire stories out there! Because it doesn’t happen often that I give a so-called ‘bloodsucker’ story such a high rating. Why is The Coldest Girl In Coldtown an exception? First of all, the vampires are actually dangerous like they should be. Their world is still a bit too glamorous to my taste, but I like the background story behind it all. The Coldest Girl In Coldtown is also fast-paced, well written, has a lot of action, not too many romance scenes and the right dose of creepy. In short, a very entertaining Halloween read that has convinced me I will definitely need to read more of Holly Black‘s work in the future.

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Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. There are monsters in the world and they can infect humans with the Cold. If either infected humans or monsters are found, they are quarantined inside those cities, living in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. And once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave… One morning after a party, Tana wakes up surrounded by the corpses of her friends and classmates including her ex-boyfriend. She wasn’t infected somehow, but he is, now tied up in a bedroom together with a mysterious boy with a terrible secret. Tana shouldn’t help the two and just save herself, but she cannot just leave them there. She now enters a race against the clock to save the three of them by facing danger straight on…

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I honestly wasn’t too sure about this book, but The Coldest Girl In Coldtown turned out to be one of the few vampire stories I actually enjoyed reading. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that there is almost no romance involved and the vampires are actually dangerous. I liked the worldbuilding and the story is without doubt well written with a lot of action scenes. It also has just the right dose of creepy and it is definitely entertaining to read. Recommended!

BOOK REVIEW: Dead Until Dark – by Charlaine Harris

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Title: Dead Until Dark
(Sookie Stackhouse #1)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Romance
First published: May 1st 2001
Finished reading: March 24th 2016
Pages: 326
Rating 3,5qqq

“The world seemed a bad and terrible place, all its denizens suspect, and I the lamb wandering through the valley of death with a bell around my neck.”

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After a few disappointing reads, I was looking for something to bring me back on track. I decided to play it safe and pick up one of the titles on my guilty pleasure list: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. Although I normally don’t really care for vampire stories, this series has turned out to be an exception. I loved the True Blood TV series and this first book is definitely just as entertaining! I normally don’t like watching the movie or series before reading the book, because I want to create my own version of the characters as described in the story. In the case of the Sookie Stackhouse series, I’m finding that the actors chosen for the different characters fit their roles perfectly, so I don’t really mind. Sookie, Bill, Sam, Jason, Eric… While I was reading this book I actually had a lot of True Blood flashbacks. Dead Until Dark is fast-paced, entertaining and just what I needed to fight my beginning reading slump. It might not be the perfect read and the sexy romance scenes aren’t really my thing, but as it normally goes with guilty pleasure reads, I don’t really care. On to the second book it is!

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Sookie Stackhouse works as a waitress in  Bon Temps, Lousiana. Nothing really exciting seems to be going on in the small town, up until the day a vampire shows up at the bar. Suddenly Sookie isn’t the only person that doesn’t fit in… Sookie isn’t quiet and keeps to herself because she is shy or doesn’t feel pretty; somehow she can read the minds of everyone around her. And being able to read someones darkest and dirtiest thoughts doesn’t really help starting many friendships or dating guys… But somehow, Bill seems different. Not only is he a vampire, but Sookie can’t hear a word he’s thinking. And even though she knows she isn’t supposed to date a vampire, the thought of being able to be close to him without hearing disturbing thoughts sounds too good to be true. But Bill might be more dangerous than Sookie thinks…

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I think I already read another book of the Sookie Stackhouse series a few years ago (way before starting this blog), but I don’t remember which one. I’m glad I finally decided to pick up this first book though, because it made me remember how much I loved the TV series. Dead Until Dark belongs to a genre I normally don’t enjoy much, especially when it comes to sexy romance and vampires. Still, somehow this book is an exception. I like the characters, the pace is fast and the overall story is entertaining. I will be looking forward to read more of this series soon!

BOOK REVIEW: City Of Ashes – by Cassandra Clare

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Title: City Of Ashes
(The Mortal Instruments #2)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: March 25th 2008
Finished reading: May 22nd 2015
Pages: 453
Rating 3

“I don’t want to be a man,” said Jace. “I want to be an angst-ridden teenager who can’t confront his own inner demons and takes it out verbally on other people instead.”
“Well,” said Luke, “you’re doing a fantastic job.”

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While I was reading City Of Ashes I couldn’t stop asking myself: how many love triangles does a story need? Seriously, there are so many different love triangles in this second book of The Mortal Instruments series that it’s becoming ridiculous. And I’m not even talking about what is going on between Jace and Clary… THAT is just seriously messed up.. Sure, the story has a fast pace and Cassandra Clare is using a prose that is easy to read and even funny at times. But I’m having serious difficulties with some of the characters and their behavior. I won’t be going into details to avoid spoilers, but those who’ve read this sequel already will probably understand what I’m talking about. There are quite a few plot twists and while some are quite interesting, others are plain cheesy. I already have a copy of the next two books on my TBR shelf, but I’m not so sure I will actually continue this series any time soon…

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read City Of Bones yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

After all that happened, Clary just wants her normal life back. But that is not as easy as it seems, because the Shadowhunter world doesn’t seem to be done with her. With her mother in the hospital with a coma, Luke being a werewolf and her newfound brother Jace being a Shadowhunter, things are just not that easy. Besides, Valentine is still out there planning something evil and he isn’t going to stop until he finished whatever he is trying to do. It’s up to the Shadowhunters to stop him before it’s too late… And they are trying to solve the Downworlder children murders as well. Who can they really trust and will they be able to win the fight against Valentine?

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I actually liked the prequel trilogy The Infernal Devices way better and I don’t think I will continue The Mortal Instruments series any time soon. I found the characters and their actions really annoying and I don’t think I can take any more love triangles for now. I’m not saying this is a bad read and it’s actually quite well written and funny at points, but I think there are way better YA fantasy series out there that I would prefer reading instead. This one turned out to be too much of a cheesy romance novel for my taste…

BOOK REVIEW: Vampire Academy – by Richelle Mead

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Title: Vampire Academy
(Vampire Academy #1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: August 16th 2007
Finished reading: April 28th 2015
Pages: 332
Rating 2

“The greatest and most powerful revolutions often start very quietly, hidden in the shadows. Remember that.”

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I already knew I probably wasn’t going to enjoy reading Vampire Academy before I actually started reading it. I’m normally not a fan of vampire novels, especially when they include teenage vampires and cheesy romance scenes. But since I needed a Forgotten Fridays Pick for my Bookish Bingo Spring challenge and I already had a copy of this novel by Richelle Mead on my shelf, I decided to give it a go anyway. I must admit I nearly ended up DNFing Vampire Academy. The main character Rose is such an annoying, arrogant and despicable pain in the *** that I had a really hard time concentrating on the story itself. The idea of having different types of vampires itself is interesting and I like the idea of the teenagers having to go to an academy to train. Lissa being different from the other Moroi (living vampires) didn’t bother me and the bond between Rose and Lissa could have been something special. But the fact that I absolutely despised the main character completely destroyed this story for me. I was frustated up to the point that I almost threw my kindle against the wall… And that would have been painful. As you might have guessed, I would definitely not recommend reading this one.

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The Strigoi, very dangerous undead vampires, are always looking to kill the still living Moroi vampires. Moroi have control over magic, and they learn more about how to control and use that magic at St. Vladimir’s Academy. This school is hidden away from normal humans and it’s the place where vampires and half-humans are trained to protect and fight the Strigoi… The half-humans or Dhampirs will be future bodyguards for the Moroi vampires.

Rose is a dhampir and has a special bond with her best friend Lissa. Lissa is a Moroi princess who hasn’t specialized her magic power yet, but she and Rose are connected in a way dhampirs and moroi haven’t been for a long time. When something dreadful happened two years ago, Rose and Lissa decided to escape the academy to protect the princess from harm. But they are discovered in the end and brought back to the academy. Soon the two friends find out that someone in the academy knows Lissa’s secret… Will Rose be able to protect her this time?

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I already saw it coming before actually reading Vampire Academy, but I just couldn’t enjoy this novel. It wasn’t even because of the vampires, because I actually liked the idea of having different types of vampires and the magic the Moroi vampires have. But the main character Rose… I. Just. Couldn’t. Stand. Her! The sappy romance scenes didn’t help either, but Rose alone made me almost DNF this novel. The rest of the story might just be a case of not-for-me, but the main character is a different matter. Not recommended unless you enjoy teenage vampire stories and don’t mind a despicable main character…

BOOK REVIEW: Interview With The Vampire – by Anne Rice

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Title: Interview With The Vampire
(The Vampire Chronicles #1)
Author: Anne Rice
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy
First published: 1976
Finished reading: November 19th 2014
Pages: 342
Rating 2

“In the spring of 1988, I returned to New Orleans, and as soon as I smelled the air, I knew I was home. It was rich, almost sweet, like the scent of jasmine and roses around our old courtyard.”

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I was really tempted to DNF this novel. I’m not sure if it was because of the incredibly slow pace, if it was just a typical case of not-for-me or if Interview With The Vampire is really that bad. But what I can say is that it took me ages to finish a book this short and I cannot say that I enjoyed the ride. Sure, some of the prose is actually quite beautiful, but the pace is so slow that I kept wondering if I shouldn’t start a different novel instead. (Which I actually did at one point.) The story of the vampires Louis, Claudia and Lestat itself is quite interesting but just couldn’t connect to Anne Rice‘s writing; therefore my hours reading Interview With The Vampire became something close to torture. I can honestly say I only finished it for the Bookish Bingo challenge, and I’m not sure if I want to read more of Rice‘s work in the future. (Although Lestat has been recommended to me!)

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Louis is ready to tell the story of how he was made a vampire and what happened to him afterwards. He is being interviewed by a human, and slowly we get to know more about him and the city of New Orleans where he lived. A vampire named Lestat turned him into a vampire in search of Louis’ money and property. Louis cannot accept his new life and hates himself for having to kill humans to survive. Lestat isn’t the best vampire teacher around and cares more about living comfortably than actually explaining the fundamental things about vampire life. Just as Louis wants to leave, Lestat turns a little girl, Claudia, into a vampire. Louis hadn’t killed her when he took Claudia’s blood, and Lestat turned her so Louis was forced to stay and take care of her.

Claudia is more vampire than Louis will ever be, and soon she is becoming tired of Lestat. She wants to escape to Europe with Louis, but first they have to get rid of Lestat… Which is difficult since he is immortal. They finally go to Europe anyway in search of more vampires… And encounter quite a few on the way. One of their final stops is Paris, where Louis meets Armand and other vampires. Louis is enchanted by Armand, but Claudia doesn’t like him nor the other vampires… And because she is afraid Louis will leave her, she forces him to turn a woman into a vampire. They aren’t as safe as they thought though; a surprise is waiting for them when they visit the theatre Armand owns…

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Like I explained before, I just couldn’t enjoy this novel. The pace was so slow that I had to force myself to keep reading… Even when some of the prose is actually quite beautiful. Maybe this was just a typical case of a book that wasn’t for me, since it has actually a high rating on goodreads, but I wouldn’t recommend reading Interview With The Vampire to anyone. But hey, that’s what different opinions are for, right?

BOOK REVIEW: Clockwork Angel – by Cassandra Clare

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Title: Clockwork Angel
(The Infernal Devices Trilogy #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA, Steampunk, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: August 31st 2010
Finished reading: November 13th 2014
Pages: 479
Rating 4,5

“One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”

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I’ve read the book City Of Bones by the same author a while ago, and have a few sequels of The Mortal Instruments series waiting for me on my TBR pile. When I needed a steampunk book for my Bookish Bingo challenge, and someone suggested reading Cassandra Clare‘s first book of the prequel trilogy, I knew I would probably enjoy it as well. So I decided to pick up a copy of Clockwork Angel, and I have to admit I enjoyed this first book of The Infernal Devices trilogy even better than the actual series. Maybe it was because of the historical London setting, maybe it was because of the many  book quotes or maybe it was even because of the automatons and vampires. But I liked the story and characters way more than in The Mortal Instruments series. The role of Mortmain was surprising and I loved Tessa as a character!

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The story starts when Tessa Gray is invited by her brother to leave New York behind and travel to Victorian London. What she doesn’t know is that her brother Nate was forced to write that letter and as soon as she arrives she is held prisoner by the Dark Sisters. It turns out she is not an ordinary girl; she is actually a shapeshifter who, after some training, can change into anyone she wants by just holding something that belongs to them. The Dark Sisters say she is promised to the Magister, but she manages to escape on time with the help of a Shadowhunter named Will.

Shadowhunters are demonslayers and protect the mundanes (humans) from harm. They give Tessa protection, understanding that in the wrong hands she could be a powerful weapon… And they also realize something big is going to happen soon. A secret organization named the Pandemonium Club is out to destroy the Shadowhunters and take control over the British Empire. They are trying to create an army of clockwork creatures supposedly almost impossible to kill… Vampires, demons, warlocks and humans working together to finish them on time. And there is the case of Tessa’s brother, who is still missing… Will the Shadowhunters find Nate on time and prevent a war with the Pandemonium Club?

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I enjoyed this prequel way more than the actual series, and I will definitely be reading The Infernal Devices trilogy before continuing the actual series. Clockwork Angel was easy to read with interesting characters and historical references. I’ve never read a steampunk novel before, so I cannot make proper comparations, but the automatons added a nice touch to the plot and Tessa’s necklace sounded awesome. Some of the characters were a bit annoying (especially Jessamine), but the rest of the story definitely makes up for it. Definitely recommended for YA Fantasy fans! If you haven’t started The Mortal Instruments series yet, I suggest you to read this prequel trilogy first… Although I have to warn you the series might disappoint you after reading the prequel.