In Review: My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent

Released: 12/29/09
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0373210046

The follow up to My Soul to Take, let me feeling a little eh. Kaylee finally knows what she is, she expects that when someone is close to death she's gonna scream her head off, except when teen pop sensation Eden falls over dead right in front of her and not a single screech escapes her lips something is wrong.

Enter in Addison, former girlfriend of Tod, who is about to experience the same fate, if Kaylee can't stop it. The premise of the story was wonderful. The plotting superb. The visuals, especially those of the Netherworld were excellent, and very creepy.

What was lacking was feeling, it didn't evoke enough in me. Tod's character in the first novel, was very snarky, and entertaining, likable though he acted like he didn't care, which he had none of this time around. And Addison, I didn't care for her plight at all. She was shallow, and she got what she deserved, no need to try to save her, under the pretense that she was really a good person who was just trying to help out her family. I just didn't feel it.

On the other hand, Kaylee and Nash's relationship felt less rushed. There's still plenty of work to be done here, and not just exploring the differences in their social standings. Kaylee was a little over the top in her displays of teenage rebellion, that were suppose to bridge the gap between normalcy and supernatural. Nash seemed little more than her lap dog, his protests feeble and easily set aside. The characters seemed a little flat, they've lost their spark, which I hope is regained in the next one.


In Review: My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Released: 08/01/09 384 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0373210039

The first full novel in Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers is a fun ride, with plenty of twists and turns that leave the reader wanting more.

This time we find Kaylee, again with Emma, sneaking into a dance club. She's enjoying herself, somehow managed to snag a hottie jock from school, Nash, and everything is going really well, right up until the point she begins to have a panic attack. She's trying not to scream her head off, trying not to embarrass herself, as Nash instills her with comfort, driving away the need to scream, to announce the impeding death of a stranger. There's an attraction to him, a desire to confess her soul and her fears, even when she'd never even done so with her best friend, Emma.

But Kaylee is different, and as her death premonitions are confirmed, and fellow students begin to drop around her, she delves into a world she never knew existed, to stop more deaths, with Nash at her side. He has more answers, and unlike her uncle, he's willing to give them to her.

Rachel Vincent always surprises me with how tight her plotting is, and this one was wonderful. The twists along the way were delightful, and the characters well fleshed out. Kaylee's reaction were very much those of a teenager, her emotions running a true gauntlet of fear and excitement over the unknown and untried.


Difficulties in Musing

As if writing weren't hard enough already, my muse is being difficult today. Even moreso than usual. She's testy, and demanding, and so inconsistant today that I'm ready to scream. She's envisioning so many different scenes that my fingers are having difficulty keeping up.

When I was originally bombarded by her, I tried to push her from my mind, tried to keep my distance, but she flooded my head with thoughts of the perfect story, and lulled me into submission. The beginning and the end were layed out, and only the events leading were left to fill in. And fill them in we did. She took me by the hand gently showed me the way. And I wrote, but the characters made decisions that led them onto paths they were never suppose to tread upon. Secondary characters became main characters seducing me into giving them more page time. And main characters pouted, refusing to tell their story. Ultimately I lost control of the little world I created, and that was just the first book. But she wasn't angry.

She wanted more, and faster. And I struggled to keep up. Now, every time I think that book two is flowing nicely, all the pieces are falling into place, the muse steps in and rips it all apart. Will she never be satisfied and just let me tell the story instead of taunting me with the next one?

And I'd say the heck with this one, lets just start on the next one, but she firmly shakes her head, and says "No, you will finish this or I'll not come back!"

I tell myself that I should let her leave, maybe this whole writing thing isn't for me, but I have to know what comes next, and the only way to do that is to calmly sit at her feet and do as she says. Even when I want to run screaming for the hills. So sit I do, and wait for the whispered story. Maybe she'll let me finally finish this story, maybe she won't change everything I already have written, or maybe tomorrow's the day she'll start to behave. I can't go any faster, and she refuses to go any slower. But we do what we must, and I must finish.


In Review: My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent

Released: 7/1/09
Publisher: Harlequin teen
Format: E book
ISBN: 978-1-4268-3867-5

The first short story to Rachel Vincent's new soul screamer's series, and I'm really excited.
Something is wrong with Kaylee, when someone is about to die she can't stop herself from screaming literally. Kaylee is suppose to be shopping with her friend Emma, enjoying herself, when Kaylee begins to scream, and she can't stop screaming though she desperately wishes to.
And it would be the worst day of her life, until she wakes up in a psychiatric ward. She knows she doesn't belong there, but they won't let her out until she gets "better." Everyone thinks she's crazy, except the quiet girl who has a special ability of her own.
This prequel does little more than give a glimpse of Kaylee and her world. Just as with Ms. Vincent's Shifters series the writing is phenomenal, but the character is more likable. She reminds me more of Kacy than she does of Faythe. She's a little headstrong, she wants to help others, and she's a little naive. The best thing of all is that its being offered for free on Ms. Vincent's website, so there's nothing stopping you from trying it out.


In Review: Prey by Rachel Vincent

Released 7/1/09 624 pages
Publisher: MIra

Format: Paperback

Grab your tissues, because this is one hell of a ride, that will leave you in tears, until Faythe opens up her mouth again. Book four of Rachel Vincent's shifter series packs quite the emotional punch.

Faythe has problems, surpise surprise, right? Well these ones aren't of her making. She has a teenage tabby whose afraid of shifting because she ate a bunch of people the last time she did, her father's empire is crumbling around his feet, her exiled lover Marc's missing, and she falls into bed with another man. Okay, that last is her fault, and I wouldn't really care, except that it puts that old lopsided triangle back into play with the outcome so grossly obvious its almost pointless and frustrating.

But, of course the most important thing on planet Faythe, after Faythe proving she's a badass, is Marc is missing, but she's determined to find him even though everyone else is preparing for the worst.

After the shocking death, and obvious big brother scheme, this book falls into line with the rest of them. Tabby's are valuable, Faythe can kick some butt, and Marc is her world even though she won't admit it, nor will she ever truly make him happy because that would mean she has to bend, and she can't quite do that.

The action and pace of this book are fantastic, but the bad guys are too cartoonish. No one is able to stand up to Faythe or outsmart her, and they all completely lose it when she questions their manhood. If she is the brightest in the group them I'm surprised they haven't gone the way of the wolves into extinction.


In Review:Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison

Released: 5/26/09 240 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0061718165

The wit and depth that Kim Harrison has brought to her Hollows series is superb, however a young adult series.... I have my reserves. The short story that introduced us to Madison and her death, was good and showed plenty of promise, but was it enough to kick off an entire book? An entire series?

Ye of little faith. This is Kim Harrison we're talking about, and if there was any doubt, with a few strokes of her mighty pen she demolished all my fears.

Madison is equal parts determined, and scared. She's willing to risk herself to protect someone else, all while trying to be a regular teenager. Well, almost regular since Madison is anything but normal. She's dead.

Reapers, Grim and otherwise, Guardian Angels, Seraphs, and Time Keepers all come to play in this fun romp where the lines between good and evil are blurred. Madison just wants her body and life back, but she may get more than she bargained for.

This book is about as perfect as first books can be. There's realism in the characters, you actually care what happens to them. The struggles are not so far fetched even blanketed in fantasy. It's a great read.


In Review: Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper by Kim Harrison

Released: April 1, 2007
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0061253096

One of five short stories in the collection, introduces us to Madison Avery. It's Prom and she's just figured out that she's been set up by her dad, her date is only there as a favor. So what's a girl to do, but leave with a handsome stranger of course.

But this stranger has a secret and a job, he's a reaper and Madison is his mark. In a clash between dark and light reapers Madison may have escaped with her life, but not her body.

The story is fairly quick paced, with a likable protagonist bumbling from one mistake to another. The entire Reaper would is very complex, with its light and dark, timekeepers, and amulets. The writing is not as clean as what's come to be expected from Kim Harrison, but it's a good glimpse into the world she's about to immerse the reader in, in the upcoming Once dead, twice shy.


In Review: Pride by Rachel Vincent

Released: 2/1/09 400 pages
Publisher: Mira
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0778329084

So while Stray and Rogue were rough going, Pride was too, but for all the right reasons. Ten weeks after Rogue, and we find Faythe on trial for Murder, Infection, and Revealing her Species to a human, with the possibility of execution very likely.

Werecats don't have the same judicial system as we do, they're guilty until proven innocent, and with one of the three Alphas overseeing her trial, Calvin Malone, out for her blood the cards seems stacked against her.

Finally it Faythe isn't thinking about just herself, her little tune has changed a bit more, she no longer sees herself as invincible, and finally understands that being a tabby isn't always going to save her, and that maybe daddy was doing the right thing, and not being oppressive.

I love how Marc finally points out to her, that she is the cause of everything that is wrong, the murder, the trial, an exile, even the possibility of her father losing his position as head of the Territorial Council. Marc's still in love with her and slightly retarded, and Jace is still being way too good for her and throwing out all kinds of logic. I admit I'm a Jace girl, but hell, the guy is a little ray of sunshine in these books. Faythe and Marc ending up together looks more and more likely no matter the obstacles, and I'm ok with that because well Jace deserves better.

Yet another tabby is found, and suddenly the whole tabby scarcity issue is moot, now they have a surplus. And new alliances are formed, yay for introducing the Bruin. Ok, he doesn't play a huge part, but it give me hope of seeing Thunderbirds. I know they're coming, they have to be, I just hope Ms. Vincent keeps the momentum she's built.

I applaud Rachel Vincent on this one. She is finally hitting her stride. If she wants to keep egotistical Faythe then she needed to write in someone we hated more than Faythe herself, because even the psychotic Miguel from Stray was more likable than the hard headed Faythe, and he was a kidnapper and rapist. Well, she did just that with Calvin Malone, whom if this book is any indication we haven't seen the last of him.


In Review: Rogue by Rachel Vincent

Released: 4/1/08 400 pages
Publisher: Mira
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-07787329145

The second outing of Rachel Vincent's Shifter series, still doesn't have me completely sold. The writing and plotting of this book was much tighter, but it seems like I'm having the same information shoved down my throat constantly. I get it that the females of the species are rare and precious, but why does that mean that this particular one has to be not only selfish, but borderline retarded. None of the rest of them seem to be. I get it, she thinks she can take care of herself, that she doesn't need anyone, but she can't be more worng. And what is the point of an Alpha if he and every other male involved is ineffective against one single female?

It's been 3 months since the first book, Stray, and not a whole lot has changed. Faythe is still Faythe, making messes and mistakes all the while thinking that she is in the right. But she's starting to grow, just enough to give you hope.

She now an enforcer, hired muscle, for her father, and she's partnered up with Marc in every way possible, and there's are killers on the loose, killing Toms and strippers who look a lot like her. Are the two connected, or is that just coincidence? Well of course they're connected, why mention them otherwise. An ex boyfriend rears his ugly head, and her relationship crumbles because she isn't willing to give Marc an inch when he's given her miles. After an ultimate Faythe moment he walks out on her, and I found myself thinking "Finally! For a dominant cat he lacks a backbone or common sense in anything Faythe related. It's not rose colored glasses, just delusional."

Ms. Vincent does a good job of following up on the bread crumbs that she sprinkled through the first one turning them into a solid trail here. This second book was miles ahead of the original, delving the reader far deeper into the world, with research, twists and finally showing that you can be tough and have a head on your shoulders like Faythe's mom. And paves the way for the next book.

What happens when Faythe commits one of the few capital crimes punishable? Especially in light that there's a new tabby in town, with no ties, and willing to bear children? I know the tabby isn't going to replace Faythe, but maybe just maybe it'll open up her eyes to the possibility that she isn't as valuable as she thinks she is. Here's looking forward to the trial.


In Review: Stray by Rachel Vincent

Released: 6/1/07 624 Pages
Publisher: Mira
Format: Paperback
When one of your favorite authors tells you to read an up-and-coming author because she is incredible, and more imagnitive...far better than me," you listen and read as you're told, but that whole better part is still up for debate.

Rachel Vincent's first novel doesn't exactly run out of the gate, but it almost fools you into believing it does with a quick fight scene with a Stray werecat, one not borne but infected, at the beginning of the story. However Ms. Vincent does consistantly throughout it, create a rich, believable atmosphere with characters that are truly flawed and human with just enough pretty faces to keep you distracted. Because, I've said it before and I'll say it again a pretty face in the right situation can overcome many flaws in a story. It's not an exact science, and hell, many accomplished writers don't believably pull it off or they oversaturate the scene with pointless nudity, but Stray is a good example of pulling it off.

Enter our "heroine," Faythe Sanders. She's young, perky, tough as nails, which I love, but she has a selfish streak wider than an ocean. And since the entire book is from her point of view she takes the whole me me me attitude to a brand spanking new level. See, Faythe was born a werecat, a nice little ball of sharp claws and black fur, but she's special because she's a tabby. These cats are gold, they're the lifeblood of their families, their Prides. These girls are the ones who will determine who will rule simply by marrying and baring, well, kittens. And they are in short supply, only 8 in the country of childbearing age, one in each Pride. But Faythe doesn't want to hear that, she doesn't want to hear much unless it's someone saying that she's right, but she almost never is. All she wants is her freedom, no matter what the cost, which in this case is her entire family, because without her they lose everything. So when someone snatches one of the other Pride's tabby cats she is forced to return home from college, while they search for the missing girl and catch the culprit.

And the one to drag her home is the guy she left at the altar, as she smashed his gorgeous heart into little pieces, Marc. He's attractive, and temperamental, strong and passionate. He's also the one that her father pushed her towards before she realized what he was doing, grooming them both for the future, the one who smothered her with his love. Of course, when she gets home, what story would be complete without throwing in a lopsided love triangle? This one comes in the shape of the equally gorgeous, a possibly better catch, whose only flaw seems to be who he loves but doesn't really have a chance with, Jace. He's not alpha material, but she claims to not want the responsibility, so it really shouldn't be an issue.

Faythe causes calamity wherever she steps. She's argues for the sake of arguing, she says she doesn't want to hurt anyone, but that's all she does. Her heart is made up from the start, she's already chosen, no matter the circumstance, but her head is too stubborn to admit it.

The story at times feels forced, the action is stop and go until the last 1/3 of the book, and Faythe is the least likable character. her antics at time make you want to slap your forehead in disbelief, like when she gets kidnapped. Because a girl in danger, in the middle of the night should always leave her protectors to take a walk. Everyone saw that one coming a mile away, except Faythe. You want to root for her, because you know you're suppose to, but she goes out of her way to make it so hard to do so. But she did make a deal with Daddy to work for him for the next 2 1/2 years, so it's likely she'll have time to outgrow her selfishness. Don't get me wrong the girl has potential, but she really needs to be able to see beyond herself.

From the begining you can see where the story is leading, where the series is headed, but the twists and turns, the very subtle hints are what make the ride enjoyable. So while I'm not sure that the story is "better than," as I was told it would be, it was a pretty good start, and I will be picking up the next book to see where it takes Faythe.


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