Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

From Hicklebee’s Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

I’ve been sitting here staring at the screen for five minutes. I have written no less than three opening lines for this review and deleted them. I left, made myself a cup of coffee with one of those cheap festive creamers and am still at a loss.

What does one write about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer?

You see, my problem is this. Hodkin has created something new, something dark and twisted that stalks down the YA halls like the black mist from Lost. Is it a thriller, or a paranormal, or a dark contemporary with a psycho protagonist?

Something bad happened to Mara Dyer and she hasn’t been the same since. Her family uprooted themselves and moved to swampy Florida hoping that Mara would have a better time forgetting the death of her two friends and boyfriend at a new school.

She knows her friends have died, but she doesn’t know how. Mara has repressed those memories, and over the course of the book we learn more about that night through vision memories that Mara has while she is sleeping.

Mara tries hard to fit in at her new prep school. She tries hard to snatch at any life line she can grab. If she doesn’t straighten out her mother will send her back to therapy – back to pills, and possibly to live in a mental institution until she can feel better. Enter Noah.

Oh, Noah. Y U SO PERFECT!? I really wanted to dislike Noah. He was forceful and it seemed he was used to getting everything he wanted and he seemed like a total douche-canoodle. However, he really does have Mara and her wellbeing at the center of his heart. And over the course of the novel we learn just how much crap Noah has been dealt in life, it really makes sense he tries to put on an abrasive front.

I am so happy this is a series. I cannot wait to see what happens next. Its like Hodkin took my Nancy Drew and Paranormal obsessions and combined them into one amazingly smart book that caters to both mystery and the speculative.

If you haven’t bought The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, please do so now. You can thank me later. If you haven’t and you haven’t read it, today would be the perfect day for some creepy thrills and chills, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer has those in spades.

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Review: Nocturne by Syrie James

From Goodreads: When Nicole Whitcomb’s car runs off a Colorado mountain road during a blinding snowstorm, she is saved from death by a handsome, fascinating, and enigmatic stranger.

Snowbound with him for days in his beautiful home high in the Rockies, she finds herself powerfully attracted to him and soon comes to realize that the feeling is mutual. But there are things about him that mystify her, filling her with apprehension—and Nicole can’t shake the feeling that he doesn’t want her there.

Who is Michael Tyler? Why does he live alone in such a secluded spot and guard his private life so carefully? What secret—or secrets—is he hiding?

Nicole has secrets of her own and a past she is running from—but Michael understands her better than anyone she has ever known. Soon, she is falling as deeply in love with him as he is with her.

But as the sexual tension between them builds, the clues mount up. When Nicole learns the terrifying truth—that her host is an ages-old vampire who is torn between his love for her and his desire for her blood—there’s nowhere for her to run but into the blizzard raging outside, and he’s the only one who can save her life.

Filled with unexpected twists and surprises, Nocturne is a page-turning, haunting, and deeply romantic story of forbidden love that will grab your heart and not let go.

I am becoming such a fan of Syrie James. I first read her Dracula, My Love back in the summer and fell in love with her romantic paranormal writing style. Syrie constricted her words to hold true to the original Dracula then, but this new novel Nocturne shows the soft side of paranormal that I really love to see in a book.

Nicole at first is not a very likable character, to me at least. I have absolutely nothing in common with her, and I abhor the snow and being cold. As the book progresses you somehow realize that you aren’t harboring the same feelings for this character as you did in the beginning of the book.

Michael is everything a vampire should and shouldn’t be. He has an amazing depth of character and it was him who kept me coming back for more of this story.

Nocturne is such an incredibly quick read and is a masterful piece of paranormal romance, I shudder to call James’ book out to this genre because I think it is oh so much more but alas I have no better genre to put it in. I cannot say thriller because the plot and the arc are both completely character driven.

You get an early look at Nicole’s racy side on page three of the finished copy:

The wedding had taken place high atop a ski slope at Steamboat Springs, with the bridal party in formal wear and everyone on skis. After the ceremony, most of the people had ridden the chairlift back down, but Nicole–on a dare from one of the grooomsmen–had blithely skied down the mountain. It had involved tucking her long bridesmaids’s dress into her thermal leggings, which Chloe had laughingly insisted was scandalous and beneath the dignity of a twenty-nine-year-old woman. But Nicole hadn’t cared; she couldn’t resist the challenge.

A lot of us who read vampire fiction never really seem to think about the type of human it would take to truly love a beast. Romanticism aside Syrie shows us that you need a bit of a wild hair and a little less care for your mortal life than a regular Joe has.

Michael has lived alone in his mountain-side for well a long time, he was loathe to even save Nicole’s live, of course not knowing hat he would fall madly in love with her and that love would have him second guessing everything he is and wanted to ever be:

He had absolutely no wish to open his house to strangers. It might well be like opening Pandora’s box. His sense of privacy and tranquility would be shattered, possibly forever. He wasn’t equipped to host, much less feed, anyone. And more to the point, he thought bitterly, their safety would be in question every minute. page 13.

Michael does open his home to Nicole, and slowly these two semi-emotionally-broken people opened their hearts to one another. By page ninety-four we had some major passion!

Nicole began to sway under the powerful feelings he stirred in her, her head falling back slightly, her eyes closing. Her heart thundered violently in her chest. Her breath came in little gasps as she felt him plan kisses along the sensitive skin at the side of her throat. Heat suffused her. Perspiration broke out on her brow. She was just about to spin around and fold herself into his embrace when suddenly, to her dismay, sh e heard him curse under his breath.

Obviously Michael has some issues to work out and I don’t want to ruin anything but we get to see him internally work through a lot of issues. One way Michael sorts through his feelings and feels less lonely is taking care of his two awesome horses:

“Aren’t you going to put a saddle on her?” Nicole asked.
“I have saddles,” Michael shrugged, “but I rarely use them. Riding with a saddle is like riding a bus. You’re not actually driving the bus, you’re just sitting on it as a passenger. If you really want to ride a horse, you have to feel the horse with your legs. You have to ride bareback.” page 196

Syrie James is such a fantastic plot weaver I really hope you do get a chance to pick up Nocturne and read it for yourself.

Why Teens Will Love It:

Think Twilight but actually emotionally stable. Micheal having a lot of traits that Edward displays, such as not wanting to hurt the girl he loves and what not, actually pulls it off without the annoying or creepy factor. I think teens will really enjoy reading a romance whose ending is heart breaking instead of ridiculous and the heroine actually has a brain and a tiny shred of care for her life.

Why Adults Will Love It:

Who doesn’t want to be trapped in the snow with a hot vampire writer with a soul? Michael is everything you would want and need him to be and eventually I came to terms and learned to love Nicole too. You will never see vampires the same again.

I gave this book 4.5 stars instead of 5 only because of my personal aversion to snow and being without food. Ridiculous yes but it kept me from delving into the story and connecting with Nicole as deeply as I would have liked to.

I received this book from the publisher, it was a finished copy.

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Review: Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Goodreads: Avery Hood is reeling from the loss of her parents–and the fact that she can’t remember what happened to them even though she was there.

She’s struggling to adjust to life without them, and to living with her grandmother, when she meets Ben, who isn’t like any guy she’s ever met before.

It turns out there’s a reason why, and Ben’s secret may hold the …more Avery Hood is reeling from the loss of her parents–and the fact that she can’t remember what happened to them even though she was there.

She’s struggling to adjust to life without them, and to living with her grandmother, when she meets Ben, who isn’t like any guy she’s ever met before.

It turns out there’s a reason why, and Ben’s secret may hold the key to Avery finding out what happened to her parents…

But what if that secret changes everything she knows about–and feels for–Ben?

I am a bit late with my review of Low Red Moon, I was supposed to have this up on the 13th so please do accept my apologies.

I read Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin in the space of a few hours. I was caught up in the story and Avery’s reactions to everything. I loved the fact that the heart of the forest chose to speak through Avery and she chose to allow it. Low Red Moon isn’t full of paranormal suspense. It is more like a diary of what Avery herself can see and understand.

Avery wakes up with a deputy in a pool of blood. It takes her a while to realize the blood is from her parents and they are dead. She is only seventeen so she has to move in with her Grandmother Renee while the murder is investigated. Avery doesn’t know her grandmother well, her dad was peeved at her a lot due to the fact that Renee wanted more for him than living in that town and writing at the Podunk paper.

Devlin paints a love story inside Low Red Moon and most of my reading focused on the story of Avery and Ben. When she finds out Ben is a wolf and could be a suspect for the murder of her parents she puts that past her and tries to trust and love him.

This book isn’t like your run of the mill paranormal. With the paranormal bits thrown few and far between on the pages it can seem a cross from para to contemp at any given page.

If you like Holly Black’s Modern Faerie series you will love Low Red Moon.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher.

Win Low Red Moon from the Publisher! (U.S. Only)

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Review: Prophecy of Sisters by Michelle Zink

An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-
One Good.
One Evil.
Who will prevail?
Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in an prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents’ deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.
Lia and Alice don’t know whom they can trust.
They just know they can’t trust each other.

Michelle Zink has captured my attention and added yet another series to my ever growing list. Lia is a great character and so easy to relate to that even though at times the stories mysteries were at least to me predictable chapters in advance, I was able to look past that and just enjoy the story and enjoy watching Lia’s reactions to the bumps and tumbles along the way.

I read a lot of great reviews for this book when it came out and that is one of the things that kept me from it. However I was coaxed into reading it by @CatherineHaines of On The Nightstand. I will be forever in Catherine’s debt for convincing me this book is worth the hype.

Comparable to but vastly outshining Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle Trilogy, I find my mind going back to this book and trying to decipher what will happen in book two. The writing style is perfect. Perfect timing, perfect flow. I finished the book in under five hours and am left with the feeling of wanting more.

If you haven’t read Prophecy of Sisters yet then I suggest you hop to. It was a fun and fantastically dark read and perfect for those of us waiting on spring.

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Pitch Black: Are you a lover, fighter or a biter?

Harper Teen Publishing has this really cool site Pitch Black for their paranormal YA books. Most of you have probably seen it before but it has been revamped and updated with more titles. You can take quizzes on your favorite novels and find out how easily a vamp can sink his teeth into you… for me I am an idiot loner who doesn’t pay attention… aka vamp bait!

So check it out and let me know if you are more clever than I am, or if you are vamp bait also!

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