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The Eternity Cure

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Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyA vampire dominated post apocalyptic world is hard to top as a setting for a book series. In THE IMMORTAL RULES we followed a street smart teen turned vamp on her quest to safeguard a group of humans to the fabled city of Eden and locate a cure to a devastating plague. In THE ETERNITY CURE, she’s forced into an unlikely alliance in her continued search for a cure and to rescue her maker.Zeke was a character who displayed a quite strength in the debut and it was unbelievably compelling to watch the impossible romance develop between him and Allie. In THE ETERNITY CURE, however, he was on the bland side. In theory it was interesting to see a relationship role reversal were the girl was the vampire and the guy was the human, but in this case, Zeke came off as rather feminine and timid and Allie took on the dominant role. Allie’s role would have been fine if there had been someone strong enough to match her, Zeke just didn’t cut it. In fact, I was much more intrigued by the other man in Allie’s life.Jackal. I really loved him in THE ETERNITY CURE (and not just because Julie Kagawa said she based him on my favorite vampire–Spike from Buffy–though I totally imagined James Marsters saying every one of his lines). His smaller role in the previous book has expanded to a lead in the sequel. Mocking, arrogant, self serving, pretty much a jerk but so funny you almost don’t care. And yeah, so he’s basically a ruthless vampire who eats people from time to time, but he was so much like Spike that I loved even his gleeful evilness.The worldbuilding wasn’t as complex this time out, and the romance failed to sizzle, but Jackal was a fantastically fun character thanks to his moral ambiguity and biting wit. I didn’t need the cliffhanger ending to want see how the Blood of Eden plays out, but it does add extra incentive especially for the romance.Sexual Content:Kissing
Clockwork Princess

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Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasySeries enders are challenging because readers expect not just a fresh story and character resolutions, but also answers to every question they’ve asked over the course of The Infernal Devices trilogy. At well over five hundred pages, CLOCKWORK PRINCESS is a large book, which is fitting since it tells not just a large story, but one that satisfies all the demands that the legion of fans this series has garnered have placed on it.With Jem’s health deteriorating at an alarming rate, Will’s love for Tessa and his brotherly love for Jem causing him greater and greater anguish, and Tessa’s heart torn equally between them, readers have come to the sad realization that heartbreak is inevitable. This trio share a love so fierce and consuming that it can’t help but burn them. I love the way Clare has written these relationships with equal weight and therefore equal value in the eyes of the reader. There were no easy solutions, and the resolution that Clare writes in CLOCKWORK PRINCE is one I never would have imagined. It is bittersweet, but satisfying in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible.Apart from the central focus of the Jem/Tessa/Will storyline, all the other characters–and a few new ones–are featured with storylines of their own. For the most part, I enjoyed seeing how these unfolded, but a few were a little tedious and perhaps unnecessary. I did find myself wanting them to hurry along so I could get back to Jem, Will, and Tessa. Clare seemed to have a good sense of what her readers want though, because my impatience never boiled over to irritation before something exciting occurred.As the final book in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy, CLOCKWORK PRINCESS safely carried my heart to a bittersweet ending in what can only be described as an epic romantic adventure. If you plan on seeing the first Mortal Instruments movie, City of Bones, in August, get fully caught up on the prequel series first. You can buy the entire The Infernal Devices trilogy ebook collection nowSexual Content:Kissing. Mild sensuality. References to sex
Spellcaster

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Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyMagic and mystery mingle in a small New England town in Claudia Gray’s SPELLCASTER, the first book in a planned trilogy that is sure to enthrall readers. One of the big attractions has to be the magic system which is incredibly cool and unlike any I’ve ever read before. Nadia doesn’t mix potions over a cauldron or recite Latin incantations, her spells require specific emotions. For example, the first spell she casts calls for:Terror so great it paralyzes. Hope so desperate it aches.Courage so strong it survivesIn order to produce these emotions, Nadia recalls memories. They are always short little flashbacks, but they serve as great ways to reveal Nadia’s backstory without any dreaded info-dumps.And speaking of first spells, I’ll admit the opening was a touch on the unimpressive side, but once Nadia started Casting, I was bewitched. The story doesn’t rely on the myriad of cliches that many YA titles fall back on. There are no unnecessary secrets that divide our couple, no ridiculous miscommunications that create problems where there are none. All of the main characters were refreshingly straightforward, even with themselves.The secondary characters were, unfortunately, pretty stereotypical, but since they weren’t given a ton of page time, that’s a minor criticism. Less easy to dismiss was the underwhelming romance. It never really reached that heart pounding place for me. I’m not sure if it was because of the multiple POVs (there are four) or because of the very real threat of death that hung over them, but the romantic plotline was the least interesting to me. But again, the rest of the book was excellent, including the characters.Be prepared for a hefty cliffhanger at the end of SPELLCASTER. This series has a very clearly defined beginning, middle, and ending. A lot of questions go unanswered and numerous storylines are left unresolved, but it all felt very deliberate. Claudia Gray knows exactly where this story is going and I intend to find out when STEADFAST releases in March 2013, and the Spellcaster trilogy ends with SORCERESS in 2015.Sexual Content:Kissing
Dead Ever After

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Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy**SPOILER FREE**There is a specific cadence to the Sookie Stackhouse series, one that is simple and straightforward, and oddly sweet, just like Sookie herself. After thirteen books, I was anxiously awaiting the happily ever after that she so richly deserved. DEAD EVER AFTER may be the book that finally puts the stake in the series, tying up loose ends, resolving relationships, and giving fans a clear vision of the future…it just isn’t the future that many fans were hoping for.Series enders always garner backlash to some degree, and with a series like Sookie Stackhouse where fans were vehemently divided about who should win Sookie’s heart, I expected grumbling from the loosing team. But at the time of writing this review, DEAD EVER AFTER was averaging 2 stars based on over 600 reviews. Ouch. I knew this going in, so while I’m disappointed by the way the romance ended, I’m not wholly surprised by it either.In typical Sookie fashion, murder and mystery muck up the lives of Bon Temps characters we either love or hate by this point. Sookie ends up in prison and a few big names end up pushing daises. It’s a pretty standard storyline for the series, not my favorite, but not my least favorite in that respect either. There is even a point in the book towards the end where someone remarks at how convoluted everything was and I have to agree.As for the romance resolution that has everyone up in arms, Bill, Eric, Alcide, Quinn, and Sam all interact with Sookie in varying degrees (she kisses three of them). I’ll admit I had my guy picked out long ago, but I think I could have been okay with a few different guys if I felt adequately led in that direction with enough emotional build up. In the end though, I feel like both Sookie and I settled. I also don’t really like how the runners up fared since I think one in particular deserved a less ignominious fate.At any rate Sookie has her ending. Not the one any of us deserve, but it’s her ending and the one Charlaine Harris has given us. I still love this series and the characters Harris brought to life. Do I hope that Harris revisits Sookie and Bon Temps in the future? Absolutely. Am I outraged by this finale? No, just a bit wistful for what could have been a true bright spot on an otherwise bloody good urban fantasy series.Sexual Content:A brief sex scene.
Soul Screamers Volume One: My Soul to Lose\My Soul to Take\My Soul to Save

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Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyWITH ALL MY SOUL is the final book in Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series, and it’s an ambitious, go for broke, book. Half the characters have died and been brought back in some form or another, others have been violated and deceived in inexcusable ways, and the few that have managed to grab on to love have left a trail of bitter broken hearts in their wake. And yet, this is the book that promises, and mostly delivers, a happy ending.With so many personal conflicts left to resolve in WITH ALL MY SOUL, it was surprising how dense the plot was. It would have been ambitious on it’s own without having to pull double duty as a series ender. That being said, I wish the balance had been more skewed towards the characters and less on the plot. As it was, there were a lot of pow-wows. The cast of characters is pretty extensive at this point so all the planning/discussions were pretty drawn out and unfortunately a little repetitive. And the character interactions weren’t as rich as I was hoping and consisted mostly of reassurance conversations. Sabine really does have people who love her, Nash really is loved by Tod, Emma really is the same person she always was, Kaylee really isn’t to blame for all the bad things that happen to everyone, Tod really is the brother that Kaylee wants, and on and on.The core relationships in this series have always revolved around Kaylee and the Hudson brothers. For a little more than half the series, Kaylee was with Nash, then for the second half, Tod. As much as I liked Tod and rooted for his HEA with Kaylee, I found myself less and less satisfied with their romance in this book in particular and more and more wishing for Nash again. It didn’t help that Sabine has been, and continues to be, one of the most unlikeable characters ever. Every fiber in my being recoiled when Nash was near her and the resolution between them was extremely forced on me.As for the other character resolutions, I think it’s going to come down to personal preference. I found it rather depressing in a lot of ways. The price Kaylee ends up paying for her ‘happiness’ is so high, so devastating, that it’s hard to move past. And the result is something that divides her from her friends and family in a way that I found incredibly sad. It just made me focus on how stuck she is. That being said, the way the plot unfolded tied the entire Soul Screamers series together extremely well and offered a few juicy twists and turns that made the ending both surprising and satisfying. In the end though, Kaylee has had an incredibly crazy ride. She’s lost and gained so much. I’m happy that she found happiness in the end, I just wish she didn’t have to pay so dearly for it.Sexual Content:Kissing. References to rape. References to sex
The Program

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Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyFans of the Delirium Trilogy, look no further than Suzanne Young’s THE PROGRAM for the next unbelievably heartbreaking dystopian. This book delivers a story with a deeply unsettling premise and a devastating romance. Powerful, provocative, and unputdownable.Dystopian fiction works only as well as the corruption that defines it. In THE PROGRAM, it’s the supposed cure for the suicide epidemic that is claiming the lives of one out of three teens. Teens are monitored for any kind of emotional outburst. If they cry or get mad or get ‘flagged’ for any number of reasons, they get dragged from their homes, their classrooms and shipped off to The Program. When they return six weeks later, it’s like the invasion of the body snatchers. They don’t look the same and they have had their memories wiped of ‘infected’ memories and people.There are countless wonderful and terrifying moments in THE PROGRAM including the achingly tender romance that grows between Sloane and James. Every moment is made all the more acute because it could be lost forever. There is a desperation about their love because they are each the only thing keeping each other from an increasingly irresistible death. Talk about epic.THE PROGRAM sucked me in with a frightening world and a with a hurts so good love story that is as tragic as it is wonderful. The is the kind of book that lingers. Beautiful writing, pain and passion mixed with near perfect results. I can’t wait for the next book in The Program series.Sexual Content:Kissing, sensuality, multiple references to sex. References to sexual misconduct
Requiem

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Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyREQUIEM is told in alternating chapters from both Lena and Hana’s point of view. What ended up surprising me the most about REQUIEM was that even though the Delirium Trilogy has been Lena’s story, in this final book, it was Hana’s chapter’s that I couldn’t get enough of. Lena’s story continues in the Wilds and focuses on the Rebellion as well as reconciling her feelings for Julian and Alex. Hana’s story, for me at least, was the more gripping of the two girls as it follows her, now Cured, preparing to marry the newly elected Mayor.Hana’s story feels very much like the first Delirium book. It’s sort of like what Lena’s life might have been like if she had been Cured and gone along with the life that was planned out for her, despite mounting misgivings. Hana has been Cured and paired amazingly well. Except, her Cure didn’t work completely. She’s plagued by feelings of guilt and uneasiness. Worse her husband to be is starting to drop the smiling facade he wears on TV and hint about Hana’s fate being similar to his mysterious first wife if she steps out of line. Hana begins seeking answers about the first wife and discovers horrific truths not just about her own future, but the plans to eradicate the Invalids and any who are sympathetic to their cause.The Delirium Trilogy has taken it’s frighteningly intriguing world where love has been declared a curable disease and followed it’s protagonist from a girl terrified of becoming infected by love before she’s old enough to be cured–like her mother, through her struggle and ultimate embrace of feelings she’d always considered an illness, to her slow ascension within the ranks of the Rebellion even to the front lines of the final battle. Not all the characters we’ve come to care about survive, and fewer still emerge unscathed, but Lauren Oliver concludes her lovely and lyrically written trilogy with both promises and hope without eliminating all the uncertainty that realistically remains. I for one will anxiously look forward to seeing how this world and these characters translate to the small screen in Fox’s TV adaptation starring Emma Roberts as Lena and Jeanine Mason as Hana.Sexual Content:Kissing
Gameboard of the Gods

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Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyRichelle Mead has proven herself to be a fantastically creative author time and again writing impossible love stories, dynamic characters, and sweepingly epic stories. But GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS, which promised to deliver Mead’s trademark excellence, fell so completely flat and tedious that I can hardly believe it’s the same author.I scarcely know were to begin with defining the genre of GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS. It’s quasi futuristic with different gadgets and holograms as well as scientific advancements including genetic manipulation and enhancing implants. But it’s also semi dystopian with new countries and extreme laws (like no religions allowed, and hyper class-ism). And then there are the gods–sort of. We don’t even learn anything about the notion of gods until more than halfway through the book, and even then it’s so vague and poorly explained as to mean almost nothing until the very end. I guess I’d call it a bloated sci-fi thriller with very slight paranormal elements.Honestly, the entire worldbuilding was so confusing and complex. There are all sorts of ideas and terminology that are never fully explained so that I ended up reading the book in a state of semi confusion half the time and then just sheer boredom the other half. Even the parts that made some kind of sense seemed to serve little to no purpose in the narrative.There are three shifting point of views, and I’d be hard pressed to tell you which one I cared about less. The rakish addict who goes around debunking the fringe religions that spring up all while secretly hearing voices telling him he’s some kind of prophet, the enhanced super solder who gets tasked to protect him while nursing her broken heart, or the teen girl who gets plucked from the slum filled Panama to attend school in the elite RUNA. There is very little cohesion between the three characters,in fact the teen served no purpose that I could see apart from forcing the rake to deal with parenting issues.What a boring, indecipherable mess. At no point while reading GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS was I engaged mentally or emotionally. It was a chore to keep reading and I only finished this one because I have such respect for Mead’s other series. As far as GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS is concerned, game over. I forfeit and don’t ever want to play this ‘game’ again.Sexual Content:Several non graphic sex scenes, an attempted rape.
Transparent

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Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyPure fun. That’s what Natalie Whipple’s TRANSPARENT is. Universal themes regarding identity and independence are explored alongside twisty fun supernatural abilities like flight, the protagonist’s invisibility, and all the way down to seemingly trivial powers like fear induced stink. More series issues arise thanks to Fiona’s crime lord father and ‘jobs’ he literally charms her into carrying out for him.The invisibility metaphor is one that has been explored before, especially in relation to those awkward teenage years, but Natalie Whipple’s take is fresh and refreshingly devoid of depression laced prose. On the contrary, Fiona is bright and confident in her own skin–even if she can’t see it. That’s not to say she doesn’t deal with insecurity, she just doesn’t let it define her. She really doesn’t even let her invisibility define her. She demands that anyone who truly cares about her see her for who she is not what she is.Fiona is a genuinely likable character. Her situation–both being invisible and being forced to work for her father–is immediately easy to empathize with because of the way she reacts to it. She doesn’t constantly bemoan how she misses out on things by being invisible or wallow in self-pity, rather she is practical and resourceful and brave in a completely admirable way. And more than one guy notices her.When so many YA novels default to insta-love after a few paragraphs of holy hotness appraisal of the other’s physical attributes, TRANSPARENT eschews that type of romance. Yes, Fiona notices that guys are attractive, but she doesn’t define them based on appearance since she won’t let anyone define her that way. The result is an organic romance with plenty of realistic missteps and sweet intimate moments. There isn’t any info regarding a sequel, but I’d be first in line to read it if one comes along.Sexual Content:Kissing
A Kiss of Blood: A Vamp City Novel

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Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyI was a tad disappointing by decidedly less dark story in A KISS OF BLOOD. Part of what made A BLOOD SEDUCTION so intoxicating was the unbridled ferocity of it’s characters and world. Vamp City is literally a place were vampires rule, and these vampires feed on more than just blood. Emotions like fear, pain, and pleasure are sought after with equal abandon. The result was terrifying and tantalizing in turn. In A KISS OF BLOOD, all those depraved and delicious moments are somewhat sanitized.The Arturo from the first book was half villain, half hero, and I don’t think he always knew which side of him would prevail in any situation. He was the kind of character who evoked equal parts lust and loathing (a trembling combination). I was a little let down by the decidedly more noble vampire in this sequel. Instead of taking what he wanted and making no apologies fore his baser desires, he spends the whole book trying to prove himself to Quinn. I still liked him, but he became much more like a standard PNR hero than the intoxicating bastard from the debut.On the plus side, Vamp City is still one brutal place. Vampires, werewolves, demons, and fae are all pretty terrifying most of the time (especially fear vampire Cristoff and pleasure vampire Fabian). Nothing that happens here is safe or easy. These vampires know no restraint and the consequences are sometimes shocking. Don’t expect an HEA in this one (is that even possible in Vamp City?), but Pamela Palmer says there will be at least two, possibly three more books in the Vamp City series. I’ll certainly be back, hoping for a darker story next time, but all the same excitement and danger that I’ve enjoyed so far.Sexual Content:Sex scenes, a briefly described orgy, attempted rape
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