Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand

Author: Cynthia Hand
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Pages: 435 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Call number: Y Hand
Read in March 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Read my thoughts here

Brightly Woven, by Alexandra Bracken

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Pages: 368
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Call number: Y Bracken

Goodreads summary: Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.

In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.

Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed—that no curse, not even that of Wayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry.

Reviews within, no spoilers

Other, by Karen Kincy

Author: Karen Kincy
Publisher: Flux
Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery/Romance
Call number: YPB Kincy (this book will be published in July, so look out for it soon!)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (really liked it)

The appealing characters and genre blending won me over in this debut teen novel. Other takes place in a slightly different modern world, in which Others (supernatural creatures) have come out of the closet, so to speak, and are living publicly among normals. Gwen, the protagonist, lives in a Washington backwater where the locals view Others with suspicion and fear, so she hides her identity as half-pooka (a Welsh shapeshifting spirit – Gwen can become a horse, cat, owl, and other animals), even from her uber-Christian boyfriend Zach. Then Others around town and in surrounding areas like Seattle start being murdered, including a close friend of Gwen’s, so this coming-of-age novel turns into a serial killer mystery. Romance develops between Gwen and a cute boy named Tavian, who happens to be a kitsune (Japanese fox spirit), after Zach flips out when Gwen tells him the truth about her being half-pooka.

Very minor spoilers

Book News: Cassandra Clare’s new series

Here at EW’s Shelf Life, they have the first look at the cover for Clockwork Angel, the first book in Cassandra Clare’s new series, Infernal Devices. This is the companion series to her Mortal Instruments series, a hugely popular urban fantasy series about a group of demon hunters, called Shadowhunters, living secretly in New York City. (If you haven’t read this action-packed, romantic series, starting with City of Bones, give it a try. A fourth book in the series, City of Fallen Angels, will be out next spring.)

Here’s what EW has to say about the new series:

“In the new series, Clare brings us back to this Shadowhunter-Downworlder universe—and back in time to Victorian-era England. Infernal Devices revolves around Tessa Gray, an orphan who heads to London in search of her disappeared brother and, like Clary, falls deeper and deeper into an alternate magical reality. Along the way she finds two good friends in Jem and Will (who graces the new cover), and also crosses paths with some familiar names and faces from the Mortal Instruments saga.”

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Pages: 392
Call number: Y Stiefvater (new YA fiction section)

As a child, Grace was attacked by the wolves living in the woods behind her house and almost killed. Her memory of the event is hazy, but she remembers the yellow eyes of the wolf that saved her, and since then she’s seen him every winter lurking just outside her backyard. In the summer, however, he’s conspicuously absent, and she misses him keenly. Sam, the wolf in question, is a werewolf, and while he watches over Grace as a wolf, as a human he can’t get up the courage to speak to her. When a boy from Grace’s school is killed by wolves, she interrupts the hunting party that forms, but not before wolf Sam is shot and, turned human by the injury, ends up bleeding on her back deck. Once they finally meet, their long-held interest in each other turns to romance, but staying together looks unlikely as Sam’s time as a wolf approaches.

Stiefvater offers a unique take on the werewolf mythology in this supernatural romance. Rather than changing with the full moon, her wolves change with the temperature: they are wolves in cold weather and humans in warm weather. The longer they are werewolves, the less frequently they change back and forth, eventually becoming a wolf for good. The temperature required to change varies, as does the length of time they have before losing their humanity for good, but in general the younger werewolves change with the seasons more often and have more time as humans ahead of them.

Continue the review, no spoilers

The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire

eternal_kissEditor: Tricia Telep
Authors: Karen Majoney; Melissa de la Cruz; Maria V. Snyder; Holly Black; Sarah Rees Brennan; Kelley Armstrong; Libba Bray; Rachel Caine; Cecil Castellucci; Cassandra Clare; Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie; Lili St. Crow; Dina James
Publisher: Running Press/teens
Genre: YA Short stories/Horror/Romance
Call number: YPB Eternal (in the new teen paperbacks)

Overall, this is a decent anthology of vampire stories that will easily find an audience among the vampire-crazed. It’s got a stellar line-up of A-list teen authors, many who write urban fantasy/paranormal romance. However, there were enough stories in this anthology that I either didn’t like or felt “meh” about that I can’t say it’s a wholly successful collection. Yes, the vampires in the stories are diverse, ranging from terrifying to romantic to just plain folks, and the lore (whether they combust in sunshine, look beautiful or hideous, can or can not turn into bats, etc.) varies from story to story as well, but that’s not enough to make this whole collection a stand-out.

Click here to see the rest of the review

Evermore, by Alyson Noel

evermoreAuthor: Alyson Noel
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Call number: YPB Noel

After Ever survives the car accident that kills her entire family, she moves to Southern California and starts over at a new school, where instead of being the beautiful and popular cheerleader she once was, she hides under baggy clothes and iPod headphones blaring loud music. This is because Ever is suddenly able to see the auras and hear the thoughts of people around her, and she can’t cope with the noise. Then a mysterious, gorgeous new boy starts at her school, and Ever is surprised when she can’t read his thoughts at all. Even weirder, when Damen touches her, the noise of everyone else’s thoughts quiet as well. Drawn together, Ever and Damen begin a relationship, but others are determined to stand in their way.

Quick verdict: I’ll be honest with you guys, I didn’t much like this book. However, that’s just me. Overall, this book will do well with paranormal romance readers and I would recommend it to readers who liked Twilight and want to read something similar. Eerily similar.

Review here, but beware the spoilers