Tag Archives: ya

Fantasy Book Review: Alex Van Helsing: The Triumph of Death

Alex Van Helsing: The Triumph of Death by Jason Henderson

Alex Van Helsing teams up with a new classmate (who happens to be a witch) after discovering that a vampire queen is planning an apocalypse that will turn the world dark. Then vampires would have free reign of the world. And only an old painting holds a clue to her upcoming plans.

Alex is still struggling with a bit of teen angst and relationship problems, while dealing with school, his strange powers that he still doesn’t fully understand, and working and training as a vampire hunter. Henderson’s imaginative characters and historic literary foundation are a springboard for a wild ride of action-packed adventure, mystery, and fast-paced thrills. The creative twist on classic gothic novels are not only a fascinating center point for the story, but make me want to re-read the classics such as Dracula and Frankenstein again.

I read that this exciting third installment in the Alex Van Helsing series is supposedly the last. The Triumph of Death is certainly my favorite of the series. And the main story arc begun in the first book does have a huge twist that resolves in this climactic ending. But there is quite a bit that is left open and unanswered. I would love to see the more in the series simply because I love the characters, and I’m a sucker for a creative take on the vampire/Van Helsing story.


Alex Van Helsing: The Triumph of Death releases from HarperTeen on July 24, 2012.

Fantasy Book Review: Dreamless

Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

Helen Hamilton has been traveling to the Underworld every night, trying to find the Furies and put an end to the scion curse of vengeance. But she is unable to sleep, and the lack of rest is taking its toll on her. Helen thought she’d have to do this alone, but suddenly she meets a young man who rescues her one night in the Underworld. The mysterious scion has been sent to aid her search and protect her. Meanwhile, someone has been plotting against Helen and watching for her to be at her weakest to attack.

Helen’s relationship with Lucas has become unbearably complicated. They believe that they are first cousins, yet the thought of incest doesn’t seem to bother either of them. Ick. Even if they aren’t actually related, just the thought of it should be a turn off. Instead, their lack of maturity and teenage hormones overpower any common sense. Their chemistry fizzled to nothing for me in this book. Though, the arrival of Orion came just in time. Orion’s bright personality and sense of humor won me over and made Lucas disappear. Angelini will have to work really hard in the next installment to make me change from Team Orion to Team Lucas. I don’t see it happening – even if we get the BIG REVEAL that Lucas and Helen aren’t really related. Damage is done.

This is the 2nd installment in the Starcrossed trilogy. Starcrossed was unique and spellbinding. Dreamless is a solid sequel with well-paced adventure and drama. I haven’t read Starcrossed in over a year, so I worried that I would be confused with the characters. But Angelini has created such memorable and complex characters, that they quickly came back to me. And a recap wasn’t even needed. Full of intense suspense, dramatic twists, and a bit of humor to lighten the dark setting – this fantasy flawlessly brings ancient Greek mythology to modern day.

SciFi Movie Trailer: Robot & Frank

Robot & Frank opens in Theaters August 24, 2012

Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank’s son chooses a different option: against the old man’s wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health. What follows is an often hilarious and somewhat heartbreaking story about finding friends and family in the most unexpected places.

TV Tie-In Book Review: On Fire: A Teen Wolf Novel

On Fire: A Teen Wolf Novel by Nancy Holder

Scott McCall is no longer a normal teen. After getting bitten by a werewolf, Scott now has to control his inner wolf whenever his emotions run high. Scott’s relationship with Allison has just begun, but her family hunts Scott’s kind. So, keeping his secret is crucial. Recently, Jackson, the popular rich kid and Captain of the lacrosse team, skipped school and seems to be missing. With only a cryptic note and the ability to trace his cell phone from an app, his friends search for him. Jackson’s phone trail leads them to the woods late at night. Not only do they need to find Jackson, but Scott needs to make sure he and Allison avoid the mysterious Alpha werewolf who turned him. Or Allison may be the one in danger.

On Fire is a tie-in novel based on the new hit show Teen Wolf from MTV, apparently set about early to middle of the first season. MTV’s Teen Wolf is only loosely based on the beloved, original movie of the same name starring Michael J. Fox. This Teen Wolf is much darker, less comedic and blends mild horror, mystery, drama, and romance.

I wondered how a tie-in novel would work with such a fast-paced show, where a lot progresses over the course of just a 12-episode season. But On Fire works well as a mid-season story where there is a lot of mystery that has yet to be revealed. And fans are treated to a riveting backstory of Derek, the brooding werewolf who mentors Scott, but wants vengeance for his family more than anything. Jackson’s mystery is incredibly suspenseful, but unfortunately ended a bit too abruptly without much explanation. I would love to see this series continue in novels and see it either continue this storyline or jump forward to the present storyline. These are fantastic characters; and Holder does a great job of weaving a new mystery and remaining true to the characters.


On Fire will release from MTV Books on July 17, 2012.

SciFi Book Review: Insignia

Insignia by SJ Kincaid

Tom Raines can’t seem to keep up with school while his dad gambles his life away, and keeps them constantly on the move. Tom excels at one thing – games. And after one particular VR game scenario, Tom is told that he has been watched. And is recruited by the government for their elite military academy. Tom is taken to the Pentagonal Spire where he will have the chance to possibly help his country fight in World War III. WWIII is a war fought entirely in space via virtual reality, where no lives are lost. But Tom will quickly learn there are many secrets in this political war.

Tom is a likeable and relatable teen. While he’s smart and strong-willed, he’s a more than a bit naïve when it comes to girls. Kincaid’s version of the future is a world controlled by companies that have a monopoly on the Earth’s food and water supplies. Countries (by extension of those companies) are at war in space for other world’s resources. But mostly the politics and relationship between the companies, the government, and the general public come into play in this remarkable debut.

From the start, the story had the feel of one of my favorite films The Last Starfighter or Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. But after Tom gets recruited, the similarities fade. Part scifi adventure, part YA coming-of-age story, part political thriller – this ambitious novel has a fantastic blend of suspense and drama. Fast-paced and full of mystery and adventure – Insignia is an enjoyable and riveting read for science fiction fans of all ages.


Insignia releases from Katherine Tegen (Harper Teen) Books on July 10, 2012.

Dark Days of Summer 2012 Blog Tour

As a part of the Dark Days of Summer 2012 Blog Tour, I’m hosting SJ Kincaid and her novel Insignia.

Today, Harper Teen has given me this question to answer:
Like all book lovers, you choose your vacation destination based on what you’re reading.
Lucky you— a magical genie is granting you and your copy of INSIGNIA a summer trip. If you could read INSIGNIA anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Well, if I was offered a free summer trip where I could read all day, I would automatically pick a warm, sunny, beach location. Maybe Hawaii. Nothing beats a breezy shore, sand, and a good book for relaxing.

But related to Insignia specifically, I think it narrows my choices down to Washington, DC or Las Vegas. DC would be ideal for the politics in the book – it would be an immersion in the setting. But Las Vegas for the gaming aspect. Tom Raines, the main character in Insignia, excels at games – specifically virtual reality games. It would certainly be an experience to get immersed in a virtual reality game in between occasional breaks in reading. I’m sure I wouldn’t be good enough to get noticed by the government. So there’s no chance I’d get recruited to any branch of military where they need my gaming skills. But that’s what books are for. A chance to escape everyday life for an exciting adventure where there are no limits!

Click here for a chapter excerpt from Insignia!


Be sure to check out Insignia, on sale July 10th.

Stay connected to all things Dark Days on the Pitch Dark Facebook page, including exclusive content features every Wednesday!


Leg 2 of the Dark Days of Summer 2012 Blog Tour Continues:
6/12 Aprilynne Pike at Books with Bite
6/14 Dan Wells at Hobbitsies
6/19 Veronica Roth at The Mod Pod Bookshelf
6/21 SJ Kincaid at SciFi Chick
6/26 Aprilynne Pike at Books with Bite
6/28 Dan Wells at Hobbitsies
7/3 Veronica Roth at The Mod Pod Bookshelf
7/5 SJ Kincaid at SciFi Chick

Insignia

Fantasy Book Review: False Covenant

False Covenant by Ari Marmell

Widdershins has taken over running her late friend’s bar, but isn’t having much success. So, she still relies on her occupation as a thief with the Finders Guild. But even after destroying the evil demon plaguing the city, she still isn’t trusted within her own guild. When a strange creature with seemingly mystical power begins attacking innocent people throughout the city, Widdershins immediately wonders if it’s another demon. When it seems that everyone is against her again, Widdershins needs her patron god Olgun more than ever in order to face this horrific creature out of nightmares.

Already having setup Widdershins’s backstory in Thief’s Covenant, this story focuses on the present time, without having to jump around in time, which made for smoother reading. More character development with supporting characters and a fantastic new plot made this sequel enthralling. It’s easy to get caught up in Widdershins’s adventures. The mystery and suspense makes for an exciting read. With plenty of drama and a bit of humor and several surprises along the way, this dark fantasy series is decidedly charming.


False Covenant releases from Pyr Books on June 26, 2012.

Fantasy Book Review: The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group

The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks

Found in a dingo pen at the wildlife park, Toby wakes up in a hospital with no memory of what happened. Nothing seems to be physically wrong with Toby, and the doctors have no explanation for the episode or than possible epilepsy. When a strange note left on Toby’s hospital bed says that a priest claims to know about Toby’s affliction, his mother thinks the priest is crazy. But when a young man named Reuben claims to have the same condition, Toby’s denial slowly turns around when meeting a group of Reuben’s odd friends. And when Toby is kidnapped by violent men, he realizes the truth too late – that he’s a werewolf.

Toby and his friends are rebellious teens with a penchant for home-made explosives and mischief. But when Toby is kidnapped and thrown in a cell, he gets serious and uses his cleverness to try to escape. Suddenly his life is changed, and with it, his priorities. My only complaint is that we never experience any werewolf actually transforming. There is no “wolfing out” in this story. It’s only referred to. But after Toby is kidnapped, there is no lack of excitement and suspense. This is a sequel to The Reformed Vampire Support Group, but this is a separate story, and I didn’t find it confusing at all. Those that have read the first will just know several of the minor characters a bit better. With plenty of humor, mystery, and heart-pounding suspense – The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group is an entertaining read for fans of werewolf and vampire novels.