Reviewed by Laney Belle on November 1, 2010
Mockingjay, the third installment of the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins was an action-packed ride that kept me on the edge of my seat, but did not completely satiate my needs. Let me explain…after reading Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I was anxious to know what was going to happen to my beloved Katniss and Peeta! I lived in anticipation while waiting for this final book, and was so excited to get my hands on it in August! Yet, after reading it I didn’t feel that this ‘love story’ was worth all of my devoted enthusiasm!
Mockingjay picks up where Catching Fire leaves off, which is right after the daring rescue of Katniss by the rebels. Katniss has been taken to District 13 to recoup, and Peeta has been taken prisoner by President Snow. Katniss is of course devastated, angry, and starts to feel indifferent towards the war since she thinks that Peeta is most likely dead because of her. Her feelings of ‘indifference’ soon change after a televised segment from the Capitol featuring Peeta himself, proving he was in fact alive! She reluctantly decides to reengage herself in the war by becoming “the Mockingjay”, a symbol of the rebellion against the Capitol. Sounds exciting huh? I must say, Suzanne Collins definitely delivered a clear and detailed storyline filled with intense action and drama.
However, even with the ongoing excitement of the story, my biggest qualm was the character development. For reasons that are well explained in the storyline, our usually charming and charismatic Peeta was not himself. He was angry, viscous, uncaring towards Katniss and murderous at times. I felt like I had been introduced to a new character, rather than reunited with a longtime friend. Then there was Katniss, who was more like a shadow of her former self for most of the book. I was slightly perplexed that this strong, courageous young woman could be so easily broken and almost lethargic after her rescue from the ring. It just doesn’t seem in her character to give up so easily. Gail was just about the only redeeming character in the story, as his role of the warrior and protector of Katniss never faltered. He definitely proved himself during this book.
The love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gail remained in existence; however the romanticism between the characters definitely lacked the luster that embodied the first two books. I mean DAYUM, couldn’t we get ONE PASSIONATE MAKE OUT SESSION?! Is that too much to ask Suzanne?! Still, at the end of the book Katniss finally makes her choice between Peeta and Gail, giving us readers the closure we’ve been waiting for.
Overall, the book was extremely fast paced and entertaining. If this book were a stand-alone, I would probably rate it at a 3.5. However, given the complexity of the series and my love for the storyline, I’m going to give it 4 pumps. I’m taking one pump away for the missing romanticism and pitiful character development of “Panem’s Sweethearts”.
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on July 13, 2010
Wanda Schwartz is human. Quite terribly so. So mortal and ordinary that in any other novel her character may have been the one that readers would likely forget. However, in Dakota Cassidy’s laugh-out-loud paranormal romance,The Accidental Human, Wanda adds an interesting dynamic to a very unique circle of Vixen-like friends.
For starters, Wanda is a successful consultant for Bobbie-Sue cosmetics. She lives and breathes color wheels and is making the world a better place by pinpointing her clients’ exact color auras. She has the kind of girlfriends that every woman dreams of; Nina and Marty, who are always there for her even despite their vast differences. Wanda is trying to get her life on track after her divorce from her D-bag of a husband; however, a recent doctors visit reveals that our fair Wanda is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Like any good human, she isn’t welcoming of the news at first, but quickly discovers that she is given the chance to right some wrongs and live the rest of her days the way SHE wants to – courtesy of her spectacular F*ck-It List! Yet, it is not in her plan to tell anyone about her deteriorating condition.
Heath Jefferson wasn’t exactly part of the plan either! Ahh, dreamy-hunk-o’-white-meat-stick-a-fork-in-him-and-take-a-bite, scrumptious Heath. Yes, that same Heath walks right into Wanda’s life when he answers a classified ad for a job with Bobbie Sue. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “A man selling cosmetics?! Uh, no!” or “He MUST be gay!” Well, just you wait. Heath and Wanda’s chemistry is undeniable; and the hilarity that ensues is quite entertaining. I loved their strange but steamy relationship and how it worked quite nicely with the irony that is Wanda’s world.
It is worth mentioning that Wanda’s best friends are of the paranormal kind. Nina is a hot-headed mouthy vampire and Marty is the semi-sweet and emotional werewolf; and they are both on a journey to live forever with their life-mates. Still, they desperately need their reliable friend Wanda to referee their fights, make lists, and plan group shopping trips. She is the human glue keeping everything paranormal tied together with a pretty pink bow. And back to our man, Heath? Well, he isn’t exactly what he claims to be as Wanda discovers all too soon.
The Accidental Human is the third out of four novels in Cassidy’s series. I picked it up on a whim and can honestly say I don’t feel as though I missed much by not reading the first two books. It is chalk full of Vixen-esque vocabulary that will surely bring out your inner hussy. Cassidy’s humor and saucy language are appropriate, the world she creates for Wanda is very real, the characters are charming, and the sex scenes do not disappoint. Overall, Cassidy earns 4 out of 5 pumps from me. I’m only taking one away for the ending that seemed rather silly and far-fetched in comparison to the tone of the rest of the book.
Reviewed by Piper Grey on April 12, 2010
Wisty! Whit! New Order! Magic! Ahhh, Fire! Prison! Dead girlfriend! Escape! Look a puppy! A.D.D. anyone??? I seriously think that James Patterson and/or Gabrielle Charbonnet are card-carrying members of A.D.D. Anonymous because that’s what reading their sorcery-slash-dystopia novel, Witch & Wizard was like with its 300 pages and about 100-ish chapters! In it, a smart aleck-y 15 year old girl, Wisty Allgood, and her older brother, Whit, are fugitives of the New Order, a newly elected but suppressive political regime that is absolutely con-witch/wizardry. This administration completely changes the world while everyone is asleep one night. …seriously…
Wisty and Whit are unaware of their supernatural abilities until the New Order comes to arrest them for it and Wisty burst into flames. Neat trick, huh? They are eventually overcome and thrown into prison where they have time to explore their new abilities. It also becomes evident during this time that the leader of the New Order holds a personal vendetta against the Allgood family as a whole. Despite the efforts of their “Nurse Ratched” type guards, they escape with the help of Whit’s dead girlfriend (yes, I said dead…she’s a ghost). While attempting to find & save their parents, they encounter group of teenage revolutionaries who are surviving in a holocaust type world. They believe the bewitched duo to be mystical entities and also prophets who will use their power to restore harmony and overcome the New Order.
The cast of characters are potentially colorful but are not completely developed. Examples of the more robust players include the evil “The One Who Is The One” that leads the New Order who has a foreboding and all knowing persona. And then there is Byron, a former schoolmate who is eventually turned into a weasel for witnessing the powers of the siblings and threatening to nark them out. There is also Whit’s dead girlfriend’s ghost, Celia, who helps them escape prison where they are made to run through a hallway lined with hell hounds for their supper. Finally! A diet that works!
The super short, 3 – 4 page chapters and constant switching between Wisty’s and Whit’s perspectives depicted blinky-type thoughts that never really amount to anything substantial. It was like watching a hyper 8 year old bounce around Santa’s workshop. The end result is a lack of depth that keeps the reader from creating a clear picture of the settings. This did, however, allow for an action-packed read with few lulls in the storyline.
So, while this was a suspenseful and vigorous tale, my mature hottie side was left completely ignored and I felt like I had whiplash from the rapid fire micro-chapters switching between thoughts at lightning speed. I also feel that the authors were writing to a strictly middle school aged audience. I would seriously doubt that our fantastically sexy fans could be intellectually (or otherwise, OWW) stimulated by this venture! 3 pumps outta 5, says The Vixen That Reviews!
Reviewed by Laney Belle on March 24, 2010
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, by Rick Roirdon is a totally fun and amazing read! It’s no wonder The Lightening Thief (first book in series) was so successful on the big screen! I’ll confess that these chronicles were intended for a younger audience, which was evident in the cheesy punch lines of a few of the jokes. However, the plot, action-packed battle scenes, and budding romance will definitely keep most adults enticed throughout the series. If you liked the Harry Potter books, or even Cirque De Freak, then you will definitely enjoy the adventures of Percy Jackson.
The story revolves around Greek mythology; creatively bringing ancient Gods and monsters to life in a modern day setting—Manhattan to be exact. Percy Jackson, a dyslexic and highly strung teenager, constantly finds himself in trouble and kicked out of every school he attends. As strange things start happening around him, he discovers that his dyslexia is actually caused by his brain being hardwired for Greek, and his hotheadedness is actually because, well, he’s a demi-god—the son of Poseidon! This discovery leads Percy to Camp Half-Blood, where he takes refuge and trains with other children of the Greek gods. The idea here is that Greek gods have affairs with mortals, and the resulting children are demi-gods. Unfortunately for the readers, there aren’t any details on this god-like hanky-panky! Pity!
Roirdon definitely has a knack for capturing the cynicism and blatant mockery that IS the American teenager. I found this aspect very humorous and quite nostalgic if I’m being honest. Roirdon cleverly weaves the tales of Medusa, the Cyclops, and the Hydra (among many others) into some extremely intense battle scenes. His descriptions of these beasts provide readers with incredible mental images, leaving almost nothing left to imagine. You’ll find this very useful if your knowledge of Greek mythology is a little rusty, like mine.
Aside from Percy, there are many unique and endearing characters that readers will enjoy getting to know. Annabeth, daughter of Athena, is smart, crafty, and strong! She is also the girl of Percy’s dreams, and would make a great role model for young women today. Tyson is an adorably stupid Cyclops with bravado and charm. Grover is a funny young Satyr (half goat, half human) who provides the comedic relief and is also Percy’s best friend. You will fall in love with these characters and witness their struggles with monsters, family, and love. It’s a ‘save the world’ kind of story with a promising romance mixed in.
Overall, I truly loved this series and was sad to see it end. I look forward to seeing more of Percy Jackson on the big screen though, as well as reading more of Roirdon’s work. I give Percy Jackson and the Olympians a 5 outta 5 Pumps, and would recommend this series to any Vixen looking for an extraordinary adventure filled with fantasy, fun and good ol’ fashion principles…well minus the whole affairs with Greek gods part! OOWWW!!!!
Reviewed by Piper Grey on February 5, 2010
What does the death of a child do to loved ones left behind and what happens to that too young lost soul? The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold provides the Salmon family’s answers to just those questions when their eldest daughter, Susie, 14, is viciously murdered in December of 1973! It’s a tragically sad story that is beautifully written and it really makes readers examine their own moral strength.
The book begins with Sebold’s teenage character narrating the story of her brutal rape and murder by a serial killer neighbor as she takes a shortcut through the cornfield on her way home from school. It’s a brutal scene that was hard to get through but it was never crude. After her death, Susie watches over her grieving loved ones from her perch in heaven; specifically, Susie’s personal heaven. She watches as this vicious crime tears her family apart, brings together her community, and alters her friends’ lives forever. I pitied her father, was confused by her mother, wanted to love her little brother, and identified with her sister. And I, of course, wanted a long and painful public quartering for the murderous bastard that caused all of this. In a perfect world, right?
Sebold’s writing style is light and graceful which is odd when dealing with such a tragic subject. Losing a child is neither light nor graceful. The fact that she wrote this entire story from the murdered 14 year olds perspective as a heavenly soul, gives an air that I can only describe as sweet and content. This calmness sometimes resulted in slight boredom for me. But there was a great suspense-filled incident and then, later, a very tasteful and intimate love scene that reopened my interest when I thought it couldn’t be won over again.
The ending was particularly difficult for me to get through. Not because the writing style was bad or it wasn’t interesting, but because of the sad injustice that it presented me with. I certainly wouldn’t call it a happy ending. I believe the moral to the story was “forgiveness and letting go” but I wanted “substantial and committed justice” and “never letting go”! To be honest I’m crying as I type this so there must be something that really resonated with me. I’ll have to dig deep to figure that one out.
My first hair trigger response was to give this book a big fat 2 because of how affected I was by the ending. But after further reflection I’m giving it 4 outta 5 pumps and here’s why: Sebold is a charming and superb writer. I just realized that I simply disagreed with her view of justice and it made me think about my own sense of morals, which everyone hates doing. I didn’t know what I was in for when I pick this book up but I’m glad I did and I believe I’m better for it.
Reviewed by Laney Belle on January 29, 2010
The first sign of a good book is finding yourself literally breathless during the climaxes. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, is definitely that kind of book. It’s wild, creative, totally crazy at times, and had me constantly solving puzzles. For the most part, I couldn’t read fast enough to get through the scenes; I was in a rush to find out what happens next. I should warn you that after reading The Maze Runner, you’ll find yourself in desperate need for the sequel…which isn’t scheduled to come out till October 2010. COME ON JAMES!!! WRITE FASTER!
The book begins when Thomas wakes up in an enclosed lift of sorts. He doesn’t know where he is, how he got there, or even what his last name is. When the lift stops and the door opens, he enters into a place referred to as the glade…and he’s not alone. Standing before him he sees about 40 other boys, from the ages of 8 to 18 just waiting for him. At first glance, the glade seems almost serene, set in a field with big trees and a farmhouse to boot. However, there are 4 humungous doors on either side of the glade that lead out to a giant maze. Every night, at the same time, the doors close on their own, locking the boys inside the glade and keeping the evils that roam the maze at night out! Though, Thomas has no memory of life before the glade, this place somehow feels familiar to him. He feels the need to explore the maze with the other ‘Runners’ (those who are charged with exploring the Maze), but finding a way out of this strange reality proves much more difficult then he ever dreamed!
I have to say, I was definitely surprised at how much I liked the author’s writing style. No offense to GUYS…it’s just that up until now, I hadn’t been very lucky in finding male authors that wrote with the kind of detail and organization that I like in a book. James Dashner did a great job keeping the story focused, and the descriptions vivid.
If there was one thing James could have done better, it would have been the character development. I realize the boys didn’t have memories to reflect on, but more could have been done to help the reader get to know the characters. Unfortunately, I didn’t develop a real attachment to any character in particular. This was a bummer for me, since my favorite aspect of reading is finding new ‘friends’. I know, I’m a huge dork!
Overall, The Maze Runner was an exciting book, and the ending was a total bombshell. The non-stop thriller aspect was a high point for me, and I can’t wait to see what James comes up with for the sequel. I give this book a 4 outta 5 pumps, taking one away for the disappointing character development.
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on January 19, 2010
Welcome to adolescence, boys and girls. Your hormones will go berserk, your body will change in ways you never thought possible and you will hate your parents. One silver lining in all of this is that these years are very short and will be forever cherished. For Connor, Risa, and Lev, being a teenager means something entirely different than what you and I experienced growing up. They are unwinds who are about to be chopped into little pieces and used for spare parts.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman takes place in a time not too distant from ours. The country experienced the Second Civil War called the “Heartland War”; this battle fought both sides of the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice argument. Many lives were lost as a result of this war, yet a consensus was reached in the form of the Bill of Life being added to the Constitution. This bill states that life begins at conception and is protected by law until the child reaches the age of thirteen. At that point, parents can send their teens to Harvest Camp where they technically remain alive, but are preserved in a divided state. Later, their body parts will be used to supplement other individuals who may need heart surgery, be an amputee, or just want a new pair of shiny blue eyes. The only problem is the original owner doesn’t completely disappear….
The main characters of Unwind are quite captivating and dynamic. Connor is the hot-headed, sexy, bad boy who runs away before his parents can have him taken to Harvest Camp to be destroyed. Risa is a ward of the state that is caught in a cross-fire of budget cuts, and unfortunately doesn’t have enough talent or skill worth salvaging. And then there’s innocent Lev, who just happened to be the 10th child in a very religious family who is unwinding him as a tithe to God. These three characters cross paths in a way I never would’ve predicted, and they form a bond that cannot be unwound.
Shusterman’s novel is extremely action packed and filled with possibilities that will completely shock readers. I was drawn into the plot within the first couple of pages and was challenged by some of the events that occurred throughout the story. Personally, I struggled quite a bit with the disposable attitudes and perspectives the adult characters offered. Yet, I found myself rooting for Connor, Risa, and Lev, and didn’t give up hope on a happy ending.
For being a young adult book, Unwind surprised me because it explored areas of our world that are rather adult-oriented. I appreciated this aspect immensely; however, some of the imagery became very emotionally overwhelming for me. I’m giving Unwind 3 ½ out of 5 pumps. I’m taking one away for the author’s choppy writing style that I had difficulty connecting with at times, and I’m taking a half of a pump away for the subject matter that will haunt me for many months, and maybe years, to come.
Reviewed by Laney Belle on October 29, 2009
Inventive, Captivating, and Intriguing are three words that I would use to describe Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. This Young Adult (YA) Fantasy was unexpectedly good, and unlike any other book I’ve read to date. It’s imaginative plot will keep you enthralled, and eagerly awaiting each new original concept.
The story surrounds seven kingdoms: Nander, Wester, Estill, Sunder, Monsea, Middluns, and Lienid. There are two kinds of people in these kingdoms, the villagers and the graced:those who were born with extreme abilities and enhanced traits. Some gracelings are gifted in conventional skills such as sculpting, painting, or cooking; while others have more serious abilities like mind reading, combat skills, wielding knives, or seeing the future. The graced are easily recognizable to others, as they are all born with two different colored eyes. Unfortunately, this “defect”, along with their intimidating abilities, lead most villagers to fear them.
The main character, Katsa, is the niece of the King of Middlun; and is especially feared since she has the most unfortunate gift of all…one of killing (or so she believes). To Katsa’s extreme displeasure, her uncle (the King) uses this fear to manipulate the nobles of other kingdoms, and keep his own villagers in check. While reading this story, I kept thinking how Katsa would just totally RAWK ‘Vixenhood’ and easily make a great role model for young women today; she is courageous, powerful, full of integrity, and a little afraid of love. Although, we could probably teach her a thing or two on the ‘DIRTAY’ factor we all possess! OOWWWW!!!
Po is Katsa’s companion and eventual love interest; He is the Prince of Lienid and also graced. Though their personalities are very opposite from each other, life seems to have dictated their friendship, and they are thrown together to face many dangerous ventures. These two characters had just the right amount of chemistry. It was very easy to get lost in their story; yearning for their next kiss, and hoping to get some juicy deets from their ‘SHAG-Session’. Which, btw was quite disappointing, as they never did divulge the DEED! UGH! But I guess Dems are da breaks when you read a Young Adult novel. Since I’m on the topic of discontentment, I would also have to admit that some of the romantic plot was a bit predictable; Girl meets boy – Girl fights with boy – Girl falls in love with boy. You get the drift…
Aside from her exceptional creativity, Kristin Cashore’s writing style was just about average. I didn’t have any qualms with it, but nothing about her word usage or writing technique stood out to me as exceptional either. That said, I still think it was a great story, and definitely worth your time to read. Overall, I give this book a 3.5 pumps for running my imagination wild, and introducing characters that are just as odd as they are charming!
Reviewed by Piper Grey on October 16, 2009
Halloween has always been my very favorite holiday ever since I can remember. Not the gory / monster part but the ghostly / cemetery part is how I explain it to people. There is just something about the possibilities of ghosts roaming the earth on that one special night that just gets my heart pumping and my imagination soaring. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman gave me butterflies like Halloween was just around the corner. Please understand up front that this book targets an audience of 4th to 8th grade readers but carries great weight & depth; a story that anyone can enjoy. So there is absolutely no hanky-panky, people!
This novel opens with a pretty macabre event. A family is massacred off-screen and the killer searches for the sole remaining family member to complete his gruesome task. The toddler he seeks has wandered out of the house, up the hill, to an old graveyard and into the protective hands of its residents. The babe is given the name Nobody Owens (Bod for short) by his ghostly adoptive mother, Mistress Owens, and is granted the “Freedom of the Graveyard.” This status enables Bod to execute various tricks of the dead like fading and dream-walking. Just give me one day with those little tricks and Diabolical Piper would RULE THE WORLD BABY!
Bod experiences the pains and thrills of growing up through a string of otherworldly adventures. As a result, he discovers various life lessons through his interactions with a treasure-trove of descriptive and beloved characters from various historical periods. These characters include an impish witch, a melodramatic poet, a roman leader, and a shadowy nocturnal guardian (who I suspect to be a vampire but can’t be sure) just to name a few. Readers are first introduced to each ghost through their clever epitaphs engraved on their headstones. This will certainly get you thinking about what might be on your own headstone! Hmm… “Piper Grey – 19(blah-dee-blah) to 20(someday) – Rawkin the Afterlife in Pink Sequins!” Whadayathink??
The villains in this gothic fantasy are all a bit sketchy and vague. One version of the ‘bad guy’ is a coiling, 3 headed serpentine called The Sleer and is the oldest thing in the cemetery. Imprisoned in its tomb, it guards a small treasure and fruitlessly waits for a master to protect. We never get to the history of the creature, the treasure, or the missing master. Another type of villain belongs to an ancient order whose members names are puns off of the name “Jack” but not much else is explained about them.
Although this novel is dark at times, the overall message it delivers is one of self-discovery and overcoming fears of experiencing life. Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is a 5 pumper in this Vixen’s opinion. This coming of age story of Nobody Owens has the potential to become a classic…. and would create delight in graveyards everywhere if it were to make its way to the big screen. Here’s hoping!
Reviewed by Laney Belle on September 14, 2009
Riveting; Jarring; Spellbinding; Exhilarating; Unpredictable; Emotionally charged. These are the words I would use to describe Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. I can’t articulate enough how tremendously in love I am with this new series! However, I must warn you as I did with The Hunger Games, that this sequel STILL does not provide you with the closure you’re looking for! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!! If you’re like me, and need resolution, then the ending of this book will have you screaming “COME ON!!! WHAT HAPPENS NEXT DAMMIT?!?!?!?” LOL Fortunately for us, the author MUST be planning a third book for this series, because there’s no way she could leave her fans hanging like this otherwise! HURRY UP SUZANNE!
Before I begin, I want to confess that I had my own theories about what this sequel could possibly be about… and all of them were wrong! I want everyone to benefit from the same feeling of surprise and shock that I got while reading this. Therefore, I’m going to limit any in-depth discussion of the plot. With that said, I will tell you a few things about this book that I loved best, without spoiling anything for you.
Catching Fire doesn’t exactly start out where The Hunger Games left off, but that aspect shouldn’t bother you too much. It takes place a few months after the Games, and after that long train ride back to District 12 where our lovable Peeta confessed his true love for Katniss. This story brings you into their post-Game lives as Victors of District 12; which, as you may have suspected, is not the carefree, easy-living that the Capitol proclaims it to be. Since the Games, a secret resistance against the Capitol has been forming. Intending to squash this new opposition, the Capitol uses the upcoming ‘Quarter Quell’ (the 75 year anniversary of the revolution against the Capitol) to instill fear back into its citizens. With so much at stake, Katniss and Peeta are forced into a variety of life or death situations…all of which will have you gasping for air!
The author’s writing style is seamless, almost as if she never really stopped writing this story, but just divided it into sections and called each one a book. You will feel yourself easily glide right back into the first-person dialect as The Hunger Games, without any awkward adjustments. The writer’s speed and trajectory of the plot is what contributes to the overall excitement and thrill of the story. You will be captured by the first chapter!
Like The Hunger Games, my favorite aspect of this book was its merciless unpredictability. You really never knew what was coming next! There are so many twists and turns and just when you think you’ve got it all figured out…BAM…you’re thrown for another loop! I give Catching Fire 5 outta 5 pumps for its ingenious topsy-turvy plot, incredible character dynamics, and amazingly enticing action scenes!!! I LOVED THIS BOOK!
Reviewed by Piper Grey on August 26, 2009
I’m already a sucker for a good historical romance, but when you throw a little ‘supah-natural’ in the mix, I’m in Heaven! And that, my friends, is where Laura Whitcomb’s The Fetch enters my world. Her enlightened vision of the afterlife follows Calder, a Fetch, whose sole job is to comfort the dying and act as a guide to assist them through their death doors into Heaven. This book is beautifully written and weaves around the tragic story of the end of the Romanov Dynasty during the Russian Revolution of 1917. The mystery that is specifically addressed is, “What happened to the remains of the Tsar Nicholas’ two youngest children, Anastasia and Alexis (Alexei), after the entire family was massacred?”
The plot to this tale gradually reveals itself as the very lonely Calder breaks his sacred Fetch vows by becoming obsessed with a beautiful woman he finds at an infant’s (Alexis Romanov’s) death scene. In order to pursue this woman, Calder breaks into the human world by taking over the dying body of the Romanov family’s mystic healer, Grigori Rasputin. This transition leaves a massive rupture between the worlds that can only be mended by a missing key. Accompanied by the embodied spirits of Anastasia and Alexis, Calder embarks on a long, really long, long journey to find the key. Along the way, they are pursued by Rasputin’s spirit and a whole host of malicious lost souls. But still, the overall voyage tends to be, ah – what’s the word? Oh, yeah… “LONG!” Though, in the end, it proves completely necessary to allow for Calder’s own self-discovery.
Romance creeps slowly into the story-line between Calder and Anastasia. And I do mean ‘creeps’. When Calder dies, he is a 19 year old young man and that is how Anastasia sees him as well; even after he takes over Rasputin’s body. It really is hard to get past this fact when THE WORLD is witnessing a beat up 44 year old mystic falling for a 17 year old girl. Am I wrong here or is “Statutory Rape” not considered illegal in most, if not all, of the known free world? Call me closed-minded but I just couldn’t get past that detail, especially when Calder thought about kissing her or holding her hand. CREEPY!
This would be a great discussion book as it certainly gets readers thinking about Heaven, the afterlife, and the nature of “sin and forgiveness;” so I am giving it 4 outta 5 pumps. Although the plot gets slow at times, Whitcomb’s descriptions of an afterlife are exceptional and well thought-out while the characters are real, introspective, and full of life. Plus the ending will leave you hoping for a happily ever after for The Fetch. It’s come to pass that the remains of missing Romanov children were found in 2007 and DNA testing proved their identities but still … the mystery and speculation surrounding this tragic tale lends it the potential to be a story for the ages!
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on August 19, 2009
How do I begin to describe the whirlwind that is Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife? This book knocked me off my feet and filled my heart with powerful emotions. Henry DeTamble is the time traveler in this book, however, his adventures are not by choice. Henry has a genetic disorder that instantly forces him to abandon the present and thrusts him into the unknown. During his travels, he cannot take anything material with him. Therefore, he is often naked which is quite the treat for us Vixens! Regardless of Henry’s unique existence, he remains very normal. And yet, what he wants more than anything is the one person he is always leaving; his wife, Clare.
Clare Abshire chronologically saunters through life like everyone else; everyone but Henry that is. She meets Henry when she is 6 years old while playing in the Meadow on her parent’s property. Henry is in his thirties and instantly finds himself conversing with this inquisitive child. No, he’s not some sick pedophile! Believe it or not, he’s actually only 8 years older than Clare! Using a journal filled with dates populated by Henry, Clare prepares herself for a life filled with Henry’s comings and goings. In an excerpt Clare says, “It’s hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he’s okay. It’s hard to be the one who stays.”
The reader will quickly become engrossed in this book’s storyline. Each chapter outlines the dates and ages of the characters making it easy to catch on to the recurring theme. A detail that readers learn to appreciate is that Henry cannot alter the future with his presence. There is also a lot of foreshadowing in this book, so pay special attention to the particulars! Still, what I enjoyed most was the abiding love that radiated from the text. Henry and Clare’s relationship can only be described in one word: epic. Epic amidst all of the typical lifetime experiences such as: friendship, discovery, passion, and unrivaled intimacy. Although, I must say I am quite disappointed in Niffenegger’s uncanny ability to end a chapter just as the clothes were flying off! I’ve got two words for you: Twilight Sex. C’mon Audrey, that was not very Vixen-like of you!
Nevertheless, TTTW nurtures the soul of the hardcore romantic. Niffenegger introduces a unique element to relationships and eradicates the barriers of time. Even with this challenge, she stunningly untangles the often confusing journey with ease. Personally, I know I’ve enjoyed a book when I turn the last page, examine myself, and discover that I look like something out of a Rambo film! Can someone please remind me to invest in waterproof mascara?!
Because I am such a sucker for love stories, and since I can’t stop thinking about Henry and Clare, I give this incredible book 4 ½ outta 5 pumps! I’m only taking a half pump away for the pseudo-Twilight bedroom scenes that left me biting pillows of my very own!
Reviewed by Laney Belle on August 7, 2009
Talk about a wild ride! Desire Untamed, by Pamela Palmer was full of unanticipated bombshells and interesting twists! There were many times when I caught myself staring outrageously at the book, jaw wide open. Though, I’ll admit that the overall theme of the book was similar to other things I’ve read in the past, the storyline itself was actually quite different. And ladies, I certainly can’t forget the passionate segments. Oooo-la-la, is all I have to say about that. Ok so I’m lying…I have MUCH more to say about it, but let’s wait a couple paragraphs shall we?
This tale is not one of Vampires…but rather shapeshifters; an entire band of them actually. Not quite like a band of Merry Men or a Rock band per say… more like a band of brothers. There are six of these brothers, each one chosen to fulfill their warrior destiny. They are the protectors of their race, trying to keep away an Ancient Evil enemy. If this is starting to sound a little familiar, that MUST be because you read my review on the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series, and you are detecting the similarities between the two. Don’t let that deter you from reading this book though! You will still enjoy the unique developments that take place within the storyline.
The man-treats…errr, I mean leading characters in this book are all shapeshifters, each one bound to their own specific animal. Moreover, they are all completely plain and ordinary looking—Pssshhhaw! Of course not, they are drop-dead gorgeous beasts with rock-hard bodies to boot. The leader (or King) of this brotherhood is named Lyon and I’ll give you two guesses on what animal he is bound to shift into (wink). But don’t fret, the other characters don’t follow such an obvious naming pattern.
Now…onto the good stuff! If you’re looking for the kind of sizzle you find in a Denny’s frying pan, look no further! The sex scenes were SMOKIN! I literally put my book down after reading through one steamy scenario just to text the other Vixens about it. The problem, you ask? I was just too damn out of breath to call them, if ya know what I’m saying… OOWWW!!!
Lastly, I should tell you that this book is actually the first in a series of Feral Warrior Novels, so I can’t yet vouch for the others. However, I do plan to read and review them all separately; so watch for my posts! If the next books are as fun and sexy as this one I’m sure I’ll enjoy them just as much. With all that said, I give Desire Untamed 3.5 pumps for its attention grabbing twists, and hussylicious content! I took one pump away for the overall theme being too similar to other books of this genre. The other half of a pump was taken away based on the author’s audacity to name her leading character Lyon…who, (now I don’t want to spoil it for you) is actually a lion!
Reviewed by Laney Belle on July 16, 2009
If you’re looking for a series to capture both the male and female audience, The Black Dagger Brotherhood is it! This series is filled with intense action scenes, light-hearted comedy, and the kind of sex scenes that leave your tongue draggin the pages and heart racing at each climax. You smellin what I’m cookin?!
The Black Dagger Brotherhood is an erotic, paranormal romance series by J. R. Ward. This chronicle surrounds six vampire warriors who are bound by brotherhood and sworn to protect their race against the Lessers: de-souled humans who threaten their kind. This ongoing war between the Brotherhood and the Lessers is your typical good vs. evil scenario with romantic love stories intertwined. Each book is focused on a specific warrior and his saga, yet the ensuing war drives the plot to thicken with each book; coincidentally, so does the warrior’s ‘size’, if you get my drift!
The setting of the story truly adds to the excitement, as it takes place in the heart of modern-day Boston, giving it that dark and edgy feel. The depiction of the surroundings gives the reader an eerie sense of anxiety throughout, especially when the Brothers are out on the prowl, hunting for their next victim (or love interest, whichever it may be). Whether they’re in a trendy downtown club, or a hoity-toity suburb, the author’s choice of location is perfect for each scene.
The vampire warriors in the Brotherhood are totally entertaining and deliciously tempting! J.R. Ward had me rolling at the hilarious repartee that goes on between the warriors throughout the series. She also does a great job of capturing the essence of ‘man-talk’; none of that cheesy “Fabio” crap that sometimes interferes with your sexual fantasy, errrr (COUGH)… I mean visual representation of the story. This author should win a prize for her ability to create characters that embody every girl’s ‘dream man’ six times over! I’m not going to lie and say that I fell in love with these beefy man-treats, but I definitely fell in ‘lust’ with them! The steamy sex scenes had me literally coming up for air afterwards, and panting like the ‘Twigar’ I am! Raaawwrrr!
The Black Dagger Brotherhood is definitely a series I would recommend to any vampire loving girlfriend of mine. It will keep you thoroughly entertained for weeks since there are nine books altogether. If I’m being honest though, the individual storylines do get a bit predictable by book three. But I’m not your Momma, so let’s not pretend that you’re going to be reading these books for the plot! OOOWWWW!!! NAUGHTAY! So with all that in mind, I give this book a 4 outta 5 Humps…I mean Pumps! Yes, four incredible, everlasting Pumps! Whew! Anyone got a cigarette?
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on July 9, 2009
Do you close your eyes or change the channel when a scary movie crosses your television screen? Well, you are in good company with me! I am the last person that should be reading anything related to the supernatural because I get so freaked out that I can’t sleep for weeks! However, A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb, is anything but your typical spooky ghost story.
In the beginning, the reader is introduced to Helen, a young woman who refers to herself as a spirit of the Light; a soul floating in the midst of the Quick, or living humans. She died nearly 130 years ago and has been clinging to human hosts to “haunt” ever since. Helen is not a scary ghost; instead, she acts as a shadow or a proud guardian to her host. The man she is currently following is a high school English Teacher named Mr. Brown. The reader is captivated by Helen within the first two pages of the book when a student actually sees her standing in the classroom! Yet, this student is unique because he is being claimed by another spirit of the Light who goes by the name of James.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly due to James and Helen’s relationship and the world that separates them from each other. Helen desires nothing more than to be with James every second of every day. Their emotions and interactions with one another made me feel as though I was re-living my days with my first love again. The high-charged emotions I felt and the love that I will forever cherish, were reignited by this odd couple. Furthermore, the underlying story of why Helen has not made her journey to heaven kept me intrigued and demanding answers. Throughout the book, Helen begins to see glimpses into her life before she was Light. What she remembers chilled my bones and left me feeling anxious for her.
Laura Whitcomb creates a world that invites the reader in. She made me reconsider what is important in life, and will likely do the same for you. Even if just briefly, take a moment to appreciate your lover’s scent, the taste and crunch of a juicy apple, or the sensation that you feel in your heart when it is filled with love or sadness. Whitcomb reminds us that these are the precious moments in life we should never forget. Also, the last 20 pages provides readers with all the answers that they need. Whitcomb shatters our hearts into a million pieces, but somehow manages to put them back together again like a beautiful mosaic. This book gets my full stamp of approval with 5 out of 5 pumps! A word to the wise: toward the end of the book be sure to keep a full box of tissues at arm’s reach, because you will need them!
Reviewed by Piper Grey on June 30, 2009
Really, Stephenie Meyer? A “remarkable debut”? I can’t for the life of me figure out how such a brilliant author, could call Wings by Aprilynne Pike a “remarkable debut”. Stephenie goes on to comment “…the ingenuity of the mythology is matched only by the startling loveliness with which the story unfolds.” Okay, that statement is so over-thought, it’s not really a solid statement is it? Probably just an attempt to be kind to her fellow Mormon’s “astonishingly dull” debut. That’s Piper Grey’s quote!
The first three quarters of this book were agonizing to get through! This book is about a “perfect” 15 year old teenager, Laurel, who was found on the doorstep of her adoptive parents home when she was a toddler; was home schooled until they had to move to ensure the families financial security and starts public school as a sophomore…..a “perfect” sophomore who struggles with her perfection. Did I mention that she’s perfect? Seriously! I find it hilarious that the moral of this story was “everyone struggles…even the teenage hotties”!
The ridiculousness of this story grows, as Laurel eventually undergoes a drastic physical change that results in a perfect flower sprouting from her back. Surprise! It’s not wings! Of course this discovery leads to the revelation that Laurel is a fairy. This sounds like an interesting concept, however, the way it’s delivered is seriously boring and tedious! I gave this book to an 11 year old to read after I was finished and I swear she actually said to me: “So far this is the most boring book I’ve ever read.” And she is a booklover! Okay, I admit, she’s a brilliant 11 year old ……. with great taste in books.
Another thing that I wasn’t too enthused about was that the main character, Laurel, embodies the ‘vision of perfection’ that teenage girls everywhere develop self esteem issues trying to achieve. Who could feel good about giving young impressionable girls another “perfect” idol they could never live up to? I am not a feminist by any means but messing with our blossoming vixens developing psyche in this way is unforgivable. Instead of burning our bras, maybe we should take every copy of this book off the shelves and make some good old fashioned compost! Maybe then this world would see some benefit of its existence!
I must admit that the last 80 pages or so (of this 300 pager) were somewhat exciting and eventful. The author introduces trolls into the mix; big slimy smelly grotesque trolls that were the most appealing part of the story! Nevertheless, the fact that trolls were needed to peak my interest speaks volumes about the agonizingly dull plot.
Even though Wings was written for a younger audience, I felt that it was poorly done. I was seriously open-minded to the young-adult genre when I opened this book due to the outstanding review from Stephenie Meyer. It was a serious disappointment! Sorry Steph, but Young Adult is no longer my favorite flavor. 1 outta 5 pumps for this clod hopper ‘fairy’ tale!
Reviewed by Laney Belle on June 30, 2009
The Sookie Stackhouse Series, by Charlaine Harris is an absolute MUST READ for vampire lovers everywhere!! BE WARNED though—The vampires in this exciting series are not like the swanky, glamorous, vegetarians that you find in Twilight.
The Sookie series takes place in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana; a backwoods, redneck location. At first I was taken back by this setting, allowing my bias for the usual sexy, urbane vampires take over. However, once I got to know the delightfully-tacky people of Bon Temps, I completely fell in love! Their tendency to resemble what most people would call “typical trailer trash” surprisingly became the heart of my enjoyment. The setting truly adds to the unique charm and continuous comedy in the series.
The readers enter on a BANG, starting with a news broadcast of a scientific breakthrough among the medical community. You go on to learn that the Japanese have invented a synthetic blood substitute, TruBlood, in hopes of alleviating the demand for human blood donors in hospitals. Of course, the secret race of vampires see this is as opportunity for them to ‘come out of the closet’ and announce to the public that they are real! They go on to claim that this new invention of TruBlood will enable them to live among society with humans, on account of they won’t have to kill anymore to survive.
The nine books continue to revolve around the adventures of a barmaid named Sookie, who is anything but your average girl. Sookie has the gift of telepathy, though she refers to it as her disability. Relationships are not easy for Sookie, as she is always aware of what everyone is thinking. But something happens the day she meets her first vampire; Sookie discovers that her disability doesn’t pertain to this recently “outted” race, and with that she finds the peace of mind she’s been longing for. As her relationships grow with the second-natured so does her status among them. This humorously presents just as many challenges as benefits. Sookie’s uncanny ability to attract danger at every turn helps form the series overarching plot which will keep you constantly entertained.
Vampires are not the only fictional characters introduced in this series; each book holds new surprises and enticing drama to boot. The character development is flawless, allowing the reader to really appreciate each individual’s circumstances. Charlaine Harris has an incredible knack for using humor during moments that would seem too intense to most authors. Using heavy sarcasm, she is able to maintain a light hearted feel even during the darkest hours.
In reading these books, you get to experience Sookie’s many exciting escapades in which love is formed and lives are always at stake! It’s definitely my favorite adult vampire series thus far! I give this series 5 outta 5 pumps for being full of imagination and unique flavor.
Reviewed by Piper Grey on June 30, 2009
Did you love reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? Did it give you a warm fuzzy when Dorothy got to go back home to Kansas; a better person for her experiences and the characters she met in Oz? If your partial to cute little munchkins and fairies, then Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire will utterly creep you out, but in a good way! If you’re like me, and crave a bit of the ‘unusual’ from time to time, then you’ll enjoy it immensely. This book describes the trials of Elphaba’s (The Wicked Witch of the West’s) life, and how those trials morphed her into such a bad egg. It also entices the reader to ask the question, “Was she really that bad or simply misunderstood?” I know, deep, right? I had no idea the answer to that very question could be so bizarre and intriguing.
This prequel to the Oz series encompasses steamy adultery, favoritism, political and economic unrest, racism, parental abuse, terrorism, gruesome murder and yes, true love for the wicked Elphaba. This very adult story-line takes place in a world made up of whimsical characters like talking animals, trolls, dwarfs, munchkinlanders (some of which are extremely promiscuous, yes promiscuous munchkins – kinda creepy, huh?), and even humans. I liked the authors use of descriptive writing; it made this world and its characters materialize so easily in my mind. I even enjoyed the shock-factor and would catch my flabbergasted expression in the mirror as I read about a particularly awful murder or bestiality scene.
This was certainly a surprisingly enjoyable read that has me empathizing with what L. Frank Baum portrayed as the epitome of evil. In this book, she has a name instead of a title and she takes on the role of heroine. I felt compassion for Elphaba because of her inability to control the worlds reaction to the physical traits she had been dealt in life. It added fuel to my own belief that environment certainly has an imprint on how your life turns out! Not all inner complexities are responsible for that or natural tendencies. I mean, come on, she was born with green skin and shark teeth! Not easy to hide THOSE anomalies.
I think that if you are open minded with a cynical twist, you’ll really enjoy this book. It’s received glowing reviews by literary genius’ who love to dissect great works as well as odd girls who are interested in tall tales that don’t leave them feeling ‘warm’ in anyway. There are no surprise endings here because we all know what happened to poor Elphaba when Dorothy showed up. Leave it to those girl-next-door types to give the smart, sexy women a bad rap. I give it 4 outta 5 Pumps, taking one for the lack of sexy vampires, of course!