The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

the-coldest-girl-in-coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was written by Holly Black and first published in 2013. It is a dark fantasy story, set in a world where a vampire plague has swept America. The novel is loosely based around one of Black’s short stories, and the original can be found in the collection The Poison Eaters and Other Stories. However, this story is intended to stand alone and so you don’t have to have read any of her other work to fully appreciate it.

The world changed rapidly after the existence of vampires was revealed. While they had previously kept to themselves, a rogue vampire went out of his way to spread their sickness across the globe. Bitten humans quickly became Cold, rapidly gaining an uncontrollable desire for human flesh. If they managed to consume this, they then transformed into a true vampire. In a bid to contain the infection, the American government created the Coldtowns – quarantined areas where both vampires and Colds could live without fear of being hunted.

Tana is in trouble. She woke up after a party to find that all her friends were dead. While trying to find a way to escape without waking the vampires who feasted on them, she came across a strange scene. Her Cold ex-boyfriend, Aidan, and a strange vampire both chained in one of the bedrooms. Unable to leave them to the mercy of the killers, she tries to rescue both. However, during this escape, she is grazed by a vampire’s fangs. Realising that she may now be infected, Tana drives towards the nearest Coldtown. She knows that she has no choice if she wants to keep her family safe.

Tana just wants to find a place to sweat off her infection, but Coldtown is not as safe or glamorous as the internet feeds make it appear. Most of the population are humans who have thrown away their freedom for a chance at immortality. If these people realise that Tana and Aidan are Cold, they would do anything to force them to complete their transformations. Added is the complication that Gavriel – the vampire she saved – has a history with the most popular superstar of Coldtown. If Tana wishes to survive, she may need to become a monster…

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RoseBlood

roseblood

RoseBlood was written by A.G. Howard and first published in 2017. It’s a fantasy romance story inspired by both Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera (originally published in 1910) and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of the same name. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of Howard’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Seventeen year old Rune Germain is cursed. She has a photographic memory for operatic songs and can recreate what she hears perfectly, yet when she does so she is left weak and drained for days. Certain that her condition is brought about by stage fright, her mother enrols her at the RoseBlood Conservatory – a French academy of the arts housed in an abandoned opera house in the depths of the woods. She’s certain that here Rune will find her voice.

Rune is less than convinced. She’s heard that the opera house one of the inspirations behind the story of The Phantom of the Opera and this plays on her Romani superstitions. Her fears seem justified as on her first day, she catches sight of a masked gardener that no one else seems to know. Could it be that the legends are true and the Phantom still lurks at RoseBlood, a hundred years after his supposed death?

Her suspicions are half right. The teenager she has seen is Thorn – adoptive son to the immortal Erik – who has found himself an accessory to his father’s plans for Rune. The problem is that the more time Thorn spends watching her, the more he falls in love with her himself. Thorn knows that he must find a way to save his love, before the Phantom can realise his sinister plans…

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The Girl in the Steel Corset

the-girl-in-the-steel-corset

The Girl in the Steel Corset was written by Kady Cross and first published in 2011. It’s a science fiction fantasy story, focusing on super-powered individuals protecting Victorian London. The novel forms the first part of The Steampunk Chronicles and is followed by The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (2012), The Girl with the Iron Touch (2013) and The Girl with the Windup Heart (2014), as well as three short novellas that fill in the gaps between them. The version of the first novel that I’m reading from also contains its prequel novella, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne (2011).

It’s 1897 and London is preparing for Queen Victoria’s jubilee. However, Finley Jayne is not in the mood for celebration. Her employer has just tried to force himself upon her, believing her to be as demure as the other maids. Unbeknown to him, Finley hides a dark secret. She has a violent split personality, and her other side is more than powerful enough to beat the man senseless.

While on the run, she’s struck down by a velocycle. The driver turns out to be Griffin King, the wealthiest man in England, who is relieved to find that Finley is unconscious but unharmed. He takes her back to his home to recover, much to the annoyance of his two live-in friends, Sam and Emily. You see, each of them also hides a secret. They all possess strange abilities and realise that the introduction of an outsider to their household could spell danger for them all.

Griffin and his friends form a small secret society in the service of the Queen. They protect the secret of the Organites – microscopic entities with the power to heal any wound – as they know that they will be dangerous in the wrong hands. With a criminal known as the Machinist striking random locations all over London, Griffin knows that they’ll need all the help that they can get. Finley’s strength, speed and heightened senses would make her a valuable addition to the team. If only he could find a way to get her dark half under control…

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One Wish Away

one-wish-away

One Wish Away was written by Ingrid Seymour and is due for release at the beginning of February. It is a paranormal romance novel about a girl who finds herself irresistibly drawn to a djinn. The book is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced. Many thanks to the author for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

Marielle has not had an easy upbringing. Her mother tragically passed away and her father abandoned her, choosing to drown his sorrows in drink. She was instead raised by her grandfather, helping out in his esoteric flower shop, until one tragic afternoon when he too lost his life. Left with no family and shouldering her grandfather’s extensive debt, she is forced to turn her hopes to the unusual object that he left to her. A magical stone.

Trapped within the stone is Faris, an ancient djinn who is cursed to grant three wishes to whoever owns the stone. He is only free so long as that person is making their choices. Once voice is given to the final wish, he vanishes again until the stone changes hands. Marielle immediately regrets summoning the djinn. She remembers enough of her grandfather’s stories to know that he can’t be trusted. He will seek to seduce her, doing anything in his power to prevent her from making her wishes so that he can enjoy his freedom.

Yet Marielle’s suspicion blinds her to the truth. Faris is more complex than she gives him credit for and is hiding shocking secrets of his own. Although she has had nothing but bad experiences with men, she slowly starts to trust him. Yet doing so puts her in tremendous danger as Faris’s brother, Zet, makes his presence known. Zet has plans for his older brother and isn’t above hurting anyone who gets in his way…

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The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier novels in the series. You can read my reviews of these books [here], [here] and [here].

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a short spin-off novella which forms part of Stephenie Meyer’s massively successful Twilight Saga. The story was first published in 2010 and describes Bree’s experiences over the three months that she spent as a vampire. The book overlaps with the events of Eclipse (2007), therefore I would strongly advise that you read the first three novels in the series before picking up this one.

For Bree Tanner, every day is marked with uncertainty and terror. Ever since she was first created by the vampire that she knows only as Her, she has spent all of her time trying desperately to stay alive. The other Newborns in her coven are vicious and uncontrollable – prone to tearing off each other’s limbs or lighting each other on fire. She’s smart enough to know that she needs to keep to herself if she wants to live.

Things change when she meets Diego. He’s been a vampire far longer than she has and is rumoured to be Riley’s right-hand man. Although she’s reluctant to trust him at first, she soon discovers that he is genuinely nice and could become her first vampire friend. When disaster strikes and the two of them find themselves stranded at daybreak, it’s only Diego’s ingenuity that saves them both from facing the rising sun.

Yet in doing so, the two of them uncover Riley’s lie. He’s been keeping the Newborns in check by telling them that all the myths about vampires are true but now Bree and Diego know that sunlight can’t harm them. Believing that Riley might be unaware of this himself, the two of them head off to tell him of their discovery. However, they quickly discover that they are pawns in a larger game and that the vampire known as Her has sinister plans for them…

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Bound

Bound

Bound was first published in 2012 and was Sarah Bryant’s first young adult novel. It is a paranormal romance story which focuses on a teenage girl who flees to Scotland in order to escape from the terrible spectres that have haunted her since childhood. The story is the first instalment of trilogy and is followed by Riven (2012) and Morningstar (2014).

Sophie Creedon has never had a normal life. Since she was a child, she’s been able to see ghostly Revenants which haunt her everywhere she goes. Although she tries to ignore them, her odd behaviour has alienated her from others and even caused her parents to send her to therapy. In a last ditch attempt to escape the spirits, she accepts a job offer in the remote Scottish town of Ardnasheen and heads off to spend her gap year as far away from civilisation as she can get.

Yet the town is far stranger than she could ever have imagined. The folks who live there are deeply superstitious and her lodgings turn out to be in Madainneag – the Gothic residence of local laird Lucas Belial. Her first encounter with the laid also ends badly. He seems to recognise her instantly but is oddly hostile, insisting that she leave the town at once.

Sophie finds kinship with local barmaid Ailsa and the charming Sam Eblis but even in the remote Highlands, the Revenants still manage to find her. After an encounter in the woods, Sophie is left convinced that Sam is able to see the spectres as well. Her suspicions lead to her digging into the past of her new friends and in doing so she discovers a shocking secret that links Sam, Lucas and herself…

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Awoken

Awoken

Awoken is Serra Elinsen’s debut novel and was first published in 2013. It’s both a pastiche and parody of a young adult paranormal novel which takes the form of the story of a teenage girl who falls in love with Cthulhu. The novel is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Andromeda “Andi” Slate hates Portsmouth and longs to return to the sun-drenched shores of California. Everything about her new home is dull and she’s generally ignored by everyone but her two closest friends, Vik and Bree. But then she starts having strange dreams about an octopus-faced sea monster and a gorgeous teenage boy. The dreams seem unusually vivid and she wonders what they could mean.

When Vik comes into possession of a copy of the Necronomicon, the group ignore all the warnings about its curse and read it out loud. Moments later, Andi runs into the same boy from her dreams. It turns out that he’s the new exchange student, Riley Bay. He seems do nothing but glare at Andi but for some reason, he still seems to relentlessly stalk her wherever she goes. Andi is quite rightly baffled by this behaviour. Could it mean that he likes her?

But boys aren’t all that Andi has to worry about. The stars will come into perfect alignment on the night of the Pumpkin Ball, giving evil cultists a chance to summon Great Cthulhu from his slumber to destroy the world. To do this, they need to get their hands on two books. The rare and precious Eldritch Grimore…and the Necronomicon.

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Sun Poisoned

Sun Poisoned

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Sunshine. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Sun Poisoned was written by Nikki Rae and first published in 2013. The novel forms the second part of The Sunshine Series, preceded by Sunshine (2013) and followed by Sun Damage (2014). As this novel carries on directly where Sunshine left off, I’d advise reading the stories in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

Sophie Jean’s life is looking up. She’s finally managed to move out of her parents’ home and now lives in central New York with the rest of her band. Myles has set them up a regular gig playing at a nightclub called Midnight and, best of all, people seem to love them. All of her dreams have finally come true and for the first time in her life she’s truly happy.

However, things can’t last. She finds it hard to adapt to a life surrounded by vampires. Although Myles has started to be more open about his supernatural side, there are still many things that he hasn’t shared with her. As Sophie hangs around with Ava, Evan’s human girlfriend, she starts to learn that Myles is keeping some huge secrets from her. Ones that could put her life in danger.

When tragedy strikes, Sophie is forced to question just how strong her relationship with Myles is. She loves him but is it possible to be with someone who only seems to tell half-truths? Sophie though that she’d put her dark past behind her but the monsters have followed her and now they’re more dangerous than ever…

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Elsker

Elsker

Elsker was written by S.T. Bende and first published in 2013. It’s a paranormal romance story about an eighteen year old girl who finds her destiny bound to that of a Norse God. The novel forms the first part of series and is followed by Tur (2013), Endre (2013) and Tro (2014).

Kristia Tostenson has never been the most adventurous of people. She’s quiet and has been ostracised from others in her hometown because of her strange visions. On an impulse (and with a little push from her best friend Ardis) she applies to spend a year studying at a university in Wales. She doesn’t believe it will change much but she has to do something – anything – to escape small-town Oregon and see the world.

It’s not long after she starts her Mythology course that she first meets Ull Myhr. Ull is handsome and strapping but seems to hate her. He does nothing but glare at her during lectures and Kristia has no idea what she could have done to offend him so. Yet when the two eventually talk, they immediately hit it off and a whirlwind romance follows.

Yet there is a problem. Ull is a Norse God, destined to sacrifice himself at Ragnarok to save humanity. He’s torn between his duty to his people and sacrificing his divinity to be with Kristia. Not wanting to force Ull to choose, Kristia frantically searches for an alternative. The only way that she can think of is to become a Goddess herself, yet this means she must make a difficult choice. To become an Asgardian means that she must leave her human friends behind and risk her own life at Ragnarok…

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Soldier

Soldier

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels [here] and [here].

Soldier was written by Julie Kagawa and first published in 2016. It is the third novel in The Talon Saga and follows Ember, Garret, Riley and Wes as they continue to battle against both Talon and St George. The story follows on directly from where Talon (2014) and Rogue (2015) left off and so you really need to read the books in order to fully appreciate them.

Following his split from Ember, Garret travels to London to pursue his suspicion that something is not right within the Order of St George. What he finds shocks him. The Patriarch – the highest ranked soldier of the Order – is taking orders directly from Talon. While the Patriarch justifies his treasonous behaviour, he does not realise that he is being played by the dragons. Talon are using him to target rogues and dissidents, making their organisation stronger than ever.

When Garret learns that St George have been directed towards Ember and Riley, he rushes back to America to help his friends escape a deadly trap. But doing so reawakens feelings that he would sooner put behind him. Try as he might to get over Ember, he still loves her dearly. Ember is also torn in half by her feelings. Although the dragon in her yearns for Riley, there is something about Garret that still confuses her deeply.

Unbeknownst to all of them, Talon is putting its master plan into action. Dante has been put in charge of managing the vessels – an army of dragon clones. The creatures have been bred to follow orders to the letter but possess no free will or empathy of them own. With their clone army and St George under their thumb, Talon is stronger than ever and will soon be able to take control of the world…

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