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: Charm & Strange – by Stephanie Kuehn

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Title: Charm & Strange
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Genre: YA, Mystery, Fantasy
First published: January 11th 2013
Finished reading: February 20th 2016
Pages: 224
Rating 4qqq

“From what I can tell, morality is a word. Nothing more. There’re the things people do when others are watching and the things we do when they aren’t.”

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Charm & Strange has been floating around on my kindle for a while now, and I finally picked it up the other day because I needed something short and entertaining to get me to read again. Let me tell you: it worked like a charm. Like the title says, this book is without doubt strange, mysterious and very intriguing. What I thought was going to be another fantasy story full of werewolves and romance turned out to be something completely different… And I must say Stephanie Kuehn left me speechless and guessing what was really going on even long after I finished the last page. Win/Drew is a very interesting character with a touch of unreliable narrator, which makes the story into something messy and unique. Reading Charm & Strange was not quite what I was expecting, but in this case in a positive way. The story has a fast pace, reads easily even though you might not know exactly what is going on and I liked the character development. Recommendable!

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Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself. Part of him is Win, a lonely teenager who is forced to attend a remote Vermont boarding school after a family tragedy. He doesn’t want to connect to his classmates and prefers to be alone with his secrets… And then there is Drew, an angry young boy that seems to be under the control of violent impulses. His family seems to have a secret, and when he spends one summer with his brothers and teenage cousins something unthinkable happens. Something that will lead to the family tragedy Win is now suffering from… Andrew will have to battle both the ghosts and pain of the past and the loneliness of the present. And what does the moon and do his wild and dark memories have to do with it?

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This novel by Stephanie Kuehn has truly surprised me. I don’t know what I was expecting, but Charm & Strange turned out to be a truly unique and intriguing story. I’m not sure I actually like all the main characters, but the whole mystery around Win/Drew really makes this into a great read. If you are looking for a fast, interesting and unique read, make sure to give Charm & Strange a go!

BOOK REVIEW: Forever – by Maggie Stiefvater

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Title: Forever
(The Wolves Of Mercy Falls #3)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: July 12th 2011
Finished reading: August 4th 2015
Pages: 388
Rating 3

“People shouldn’t have to earn kindness. They should have to earn cruelty.”

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To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to read this final book of The Wolves Of Mercy Falls trilogy. The first two books didn’t exactly convince me. They were too much of a cheesy romance story and the wolves weren’t scary OR convincing. I guess Twilight fans will probably really enjoy this series by Maggie Stiefvater, but I myself prefer to have my supernatural creatures creepy and dangerous as they should be. Forever was, like the first two books, full of the sappy relationship between Grace and Sam. Werewolf falling for a human; then werewolf turns into human and human into werewolf… And their love is able to survive anyway. Not only tacky, but I’m still having problems with the fact that Grace fell in love with a werewolf in the first place. I mean, they aren’t exacty perfect boyfriend material in the first place, right? I guess the only reason I gave Forever three stars is the scene where the wolves try to escape and those were Cole is trying to figure out a cure. Those were at least kind of interesting. Sure, the prose is easy to read and the pace is fast, but the romance scenes were a huge turn off. But I guess that if you enjoyed Shiver and Linger, you will probably like Forever as well.

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WARNING: do not read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books in the series yet! It will most likely contain spoilers, even though I’ve made sure to keep it short.

When Grace and Sam first met, Sam was a wolf. They fell in love anyway, and Sam was able to find a way to stay human forever. Or at least he thought it was a cure… And they were happy together as long as it lasted. But Grace got sick and the only way to prevent her death is giving in to the poison inside her. Grace wasn’t meant to stay human, and now she is a wolf. But being a wolf in Mercy Falls isn’t as safe anymore as Culpepper is about to avenge his son’s death by organizing a hunt to kill all the wolves of Mercy Falls… And Sam, Isabel and Cole will have to find a way to save the wolves. Will they succeed in time?

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Forever was a not so expectacular end to a not that interesting series. Don’t get me wrong, I really loved Maggie Stiefvater‘s prose and I will read more of her work in the future. But this series just didn’t do it for me. There are too many romance scenes involved to my taste; the story could have been much more interesting with more realistic werewolves. If you compare the three books, I honestly feel the author could have told the story in about half the words by just leaving out a lot of innecessary and sappy romantic dialogues… Although I know a lot of people probably think otherwise. In short, if you are a YA romance and fantasy fans and don’t mind not so realistic werewolves, you will probably love this series. But I don’t think I will revisit Mercy Falls OR read the fourth book and stand alone Sinner any time soon.

BOOK REVIEW: Linger – by Maggie Stiefvater

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Title: Linger
(The Wolves Of Mercy Falls #2)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: July 13th 2010
Finished reading: July 12th 2015
Pages: 360
Rating 3

“And some days I just can’t live with that. But I do. Because that’s life, Cole. Life’s pain. You just have to get over as much of it as you can.”

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To be honest, I wasn’t going to continue The Wolves Of Mercy Falls series any time soon. I wasn’t really impressed by the first book Shiver; it was too much like a sappy romance story for my taste and it seriously lacked action and more ‘credible’ werewolves. But since I promised myself to read a sequel for every new series I want to start and I already have a copy of both Linger and Forever, I decided to pick up my copy of the sequel anyway. Maggie Stiefvater uses the same easy-to-read prose and the pace is fast, but yet again I wasn’t convinced. I agree that overall the sequel is better than the first book and it actually has a few more convincing werewolves scenes. Still, there were way too many cheesy romance scenes included and let’s be honest: werewolves aren’t exactly supposed to be boyfriend material in the first place, right? I guess Twilight fans will probably love this series, but unfortunately I’m not one of them.

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WARNING: do not read this summary if you haven’t read Shiver yet! It will most likely contain spoilers, even though I’ve made sure to keep it short.

Grace and Sam have finally found each other, but life is not that easy. They will have to fight to stay together as both their futures are not so certain… Sam used to be a werewolf and he is not so sure the cure actually works. And the werewolves that attacked Grace all those years ago might have left their mark afterall… Meanwhile, Sam has to take care of the new wolves as well now Beck probably won’t shift again, and that is not as easy now he doesn’t shift himself. Sam is not sure how to handle all of it… What will happen to Sam, Grace and the new wolves?

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I can’t deny Maggie Stiefvater‘s prose is more than excellent. Unfortunately, I’m not really a fan of the story itself. It’s actually more of a cheesy romance story with a twist than a proper tale about werewolves. The worst part is that many of the ‘plot twists’ are actually quite predictable as well. Like I mentioned above, Twilight fans will probably love this series, but I ended up being disappointed by it. Definitely a case of not-for-me!

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: Shiver – by Maggie Stiefvater

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Title: Shiver
(The Wolves Of Mercy Falls #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: August 1st 2009
Finished reading: May 8th 2015
Pages: 390
Rating 3

“As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air.”

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I confess; this is my first Maggie Stiefvater read. Somehow I have never read any of her work before, which is strange because she is a very popular YA author. I had really high expectations for this first book in The Wolves Of Mercy Falls series, and to be honest I ended up being slightly disappointed by Shiver. It’s not like it’s a bad read, but it was just too… I don’t know, sappy?! I felt the story lacked action and the werewolves could have been made more dangerous. I mean, Sam isn’t supposed to be the ideal friend and boyfriend material right? There was too much focus on the romance scenes and the wolves weren’t scary it all. I had serious Twilight flashbacks and let me tell you: that’s not a good thing. I’m just glad Sam and his friends at least didn’t sparkle. 😉 The prose is easy to read and the pace is fast, so all in all Shiver is an easy and quick read. I own a copy of book two and three, so I will probably end up reading them at some point. Still, I think I prefer finishing other series first. Or maybe try The Raven Boys by the same author to see if I like that series better…

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Grace has an obsession for the wolves in the woods behind her house ever since some attacked her when she was little. One of them, a yellow-eyed wolf, rescued her and seems to be watching over her in the years that follow. The wolf turns out to be more than a simple animal… Grace is shocked when she meets Sam, a boy whose eyes are a carbon copy of the wolf.

Sam has lived two lives ever since I was attacked. During the summer he is like any other teenager his age, but as the weather turns colder he shifts into something else… He is a werewolf. During the cold winter months he is forced to live in the froze woods with a pack of fellow werewolves, and unlike others he doesn’t like living his life as an animal. He has been obsessed by Grace as well, and when he finally meets her he desperately tries to stay human so he can be with her. But will he be able to beat the cold?

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There was too much romance involved for my taste and the plot lacked action. Sure, Grace and Sam were cute together, but I wasn’t convinced by the general story. Then again, I’m not really a sucker for the romance genre. Still, it really shows that Maggie Stiefvater is an excellent writer and the prose itself was good. I just wished the werewolves would have been more… Animal. All in all Shiver was a good read, but I guess expected something different. Still, I would definitely recommend this read to fans of the YA fantasy and romance genre.

ARC REVIEW: Under Dark Skies – by A.J. Scudiere

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Title: Under Dark Skies
(The Nighshade Forensic Files #1)
Author: A.J. Scudiere
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fantasy
First published: 2014
Finished reading: February 3rd 2015
Pages: 378
Rating 4

“Regret for things he had not yet done reminded him why he was here. Though he had personal goals, those didn’t change the fact that the job was to tip society back toward the sane, the safe, the wishful.”

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

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I always seem to enjoy crime/thriller/mystery novels, so when I was contacted with the question if I would like to read Under Dark Skies, I immediately said yes. It’s the first time I’ve read something by A.J. Scudiere, and I must say I’m impressed. There are so many crime novels out there, that it is hard to stand out from the rest. But I think that with this first book in The Nightshade Forensic Files she is able to do just that. A.J. Scudiere combines a supernatural touch with a fast pace and easy-to-read prose which makes you just want to keep on reading. Missing children, murder, forensic investigation, werewolves… The different elements go together so well I would say she nailed it. The characters weren’t all exactly to my liking, but the other elements make up for it. Definitely recommended for crime/mystery/thriller and fantasy lovers!

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Eleri Eames suffered a mental breakdown while she was working for the FBI and she was forced to take some time off. But one month before her planned release, the FBI contact her again. They want her to be part of a special FBI dvision called Nightshade, and they need her right away. Eames doesn’t seem to have a choice in her own early release… Her new boss introduces her to her partner Donovan, a former medical examiner with a shocking secret. Together they have to try solve their first case: the leader of a cult called the City Of God seems to be involved in various old kidnapping cases, and the FBI wants him. But can Eames trust her partner and her boss for that matter? Both men seem to hide something.

Slowly they try to discover more about the true location of the City Of God and the missing children. One of the cult members shows up dead, and Donovan is using is very unusual skills to track down the location of the cult. When he rescues one of the kids in his true form, Eames starts to suspect something is off. Suspicions that are confirmed when she visits Donovan at his place… Eames has her own secret though, and together they try to find a way to use their special gifts to solve the case. Will they find the location and the missing children on time?

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The supernatural elements in Under Dark Skies make the novel stand out from other forensic crime novels and it is without doubt a refreshing read. The crime and fantasy genre are both among my favorites, and this novel by A.J. Scudiere is a perfect blend of both. The pace is fast and the forensic and fantastical elements are mixed together in a way neither becomes boring. The novel is full of action and while I couldn’t connect to all the characters, the rest of the story makes up for it. I am definitely looking forward to the release of the second book in the future!