Review: Hexbound by Chloe Neill

Review: Hexbound by Chloe NeillHexbound by Chloe Neill
Series: Dark Elite #2
Published by Penguin on 2011-01-04
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Firespell

Lily Parker is new to St. Sophia's School for Girls, but she's already learned that magic can be your best friend-or your worst enemy. That's why Lily has to learn how to control her newly discovered paranormal abilities while fighting the good fight with her best friend Scout as they take on Chicago's nastiest nightlife-including the tainted magic users known as Reapers...

Thoughts: After I read Firespell last year, I was practically salivating for more Dark Elite books. Seriously, after finishing the final chapter I immediately went online to find out when the next book would be released – only to discover I had to wait an entire year. God, it was painful. But I waited, and the longing grew rather distant, and by the time I actually got a copy of Hexbound I could only vaguely remember the consuming desire for moremoremore I’d had after Firespell.

But surely, I thought, since Firespell was so fantastic I’ll have nothing to worry about. How wrong I was. The first 80 or so pages of this book are just such a disappointment – it felt like P.C. and Kristin Cast had taken over Chloe Neill’s characters. Instead of facing down evil with a smirk, Scout and Lily were too wrapped up in their blah-crushes to focus on the real evil that was going down. Not only was this boring as hell, it was also slightly soul-crushing. I mean, where were the fierce BFF’s from the first book? Who had swooped in and replaced them with these bobbesy twins?  I really considered putting this book down right then and there.

But I kept on, and I am glad I did. Because am soon as love interests Micheal and Jason were gone (yes, there is a God), Neill got down to the good stuff: what’s going on with Lily’s parents? Is Sebastian really evil? Is the Dark Elite even evil? Where should Lily’s loyalties fall in all this mess?

In other words, the book started to have a, er, plot. Because the good guys being good while fighting the bad guys who are bad… it’s kinda boring. It was Sebastian’s apparent ability to straddle the line between good and evil that made this book worth the read. Especially as his advice and character began to effect Lily’s own decisions.  Not to mention the guy is totally swoon-worthy.  If you’re looking for another redeemable bad boy in YA, look no further.Only problem was… there wasn’t enough of him!

Bottom line? Disappointing follow-up to Firespell, but there is still a whole bunch of potential in this series. I hope that the next book (Charmfall, 2012) will be better!

Dear publishers: When I shell out money for the hardcover, I expect someone to have edited the thing first. I’m pretty sure the characters meant to say “don’t beat me” and NOT “don’t bean me”. Although I admit, the latter scenario is far more amusing.

Review: Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill

Review: Friday Night Bites by Chloe NeillFriday Night Bites by Chloe Neill
Series: Chicagoland Vampires #2
Published by Gollancz
Pages: 357
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Ten months after vampires revealed their existence to the mortals of Chicago, they're enjoying a celebrity status usually reserved for the Hollywood elite. But should people learn about the Raves-mass feeding parties where vampires round up humans like cattle-the citizens will start sharpening their stakes.

So now it's up to the new vampire Merit to reconnect with her upper class family and act as liaison between humans and bloodsuckers, and keep the more unsavory aspects of the vampire lifestyle out of the media. But someone doesn't want peace between them-someone with an ancient grudge...

Thoughts: That I love Chloe Neill is not much of a secret.  Her YA debut Firespell made my Top Ten of 2010, and the first in her UF series, Some Girls Bite, made me long for Merit’s BFF and her asshole-Mr. Darcy.  Friday Night Bites is a solid sequel to the aforementioned UF book, but not as good as her other works.

Friday Night Bites really deals with Merit accepting her new position in the vampiric world – she makes decisions based on what the responsible vampire action would be and it’s all very grown-up.  But Merit starts to change in this book, and while it is not a bad change, we start to worry (and as does she) that she might lose herself to her new job.  As someone who does that all the time, that really struck a chord with me.  When does the responsible move become the move that suppresses your true nature? Great stuff.

I also liked how Merit’s relationships developed in this book – some for better, some for worse.  It wasn’t what had changed that I liked, but how Neill went about the change.  We all lose touch with people we love and we all find unexpected relationships.  There doesn’t have to be a death or a betrayal to spark a dramatic change… time does that all on its own.

Unfortunately the action left quite a bit to be desired.  Even though I have never read Neill for her action-packed baddies, in Friday Night Bites she dropped the ball. The evil!plot was rather coincidental, and a few of the non-central characters behaved like plot devices.  I know it’s hard for series writers to come up with Big. Events. for every book, but this one was particularly poor.  I really wish I could give more explicit details – because there are a couple that made me really roll my eyes – but I don’t want to spoil all of you who are expecting fab stuff.

Bottom line?  Fabulous writer, great characters, great series – but just an OK novel.  I am hoping for bigger and better things from Neill in her next books!

Review: Firespell by Chloe Neill

Review: Firespell by Chloe NeillFirespell by Chloe Neill
Series: Dark Elite #1
Published by Penguin on 2010-01-05
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
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Also in this series: Hexbound

New Girl. New School. Old Evil. From the author of the Chicagoland Vampires novels. A new series about a boarding school filled with something worse than homework. Lily's parents have sent her to a fancy boarding school in Chicago filled with the ultra-rich. If that wasn't bad enough, she's hearing and seeing bizarre things on St. Sophie's creepy campus. Her roommate, Scout, keeps her sane, but keeps disappearing at night. When one day Lily finds Scout running from real-life monsters, she learns the hard way that Scout is involved in a splinter group of rebel teens. They protect Chicago from demons, vamps, and dark magic users. It's too bad Lily doesn't have powers of her own to help. At least, none that she's discovered yet...

Thoughts: Wow!

I picked up Firespell for the Debut YA Author Challenge – and boy am I glad I did! I had heard of Chloe Neill’s Adult Series, but nothing about them seemed to pique my interest. So I thought I’d test out her YA debut before I dove into the Chicagoland books.

Unlike a lot of YA out there right now, Firespell is based more around Lily and her new universe – rather than around her relationship with a boy. Although there is certainly a love interest  (and I think I am right in foreseeing a future love triangle), her relationships with her BFF Scout and her absent parents take center stage.

Although I loved the universe and whatnot, what stole the show for me was Lily.  She is insanely awesome – a sarcastic, sensitive, vegetarian, fashionista. If people call her a weirdo, she’ll just role her eyes and make some fabulously insightful comment. And her banter with Scout made me laugh out loud countless times!

Scout was another great character – a punky, funny, wanna-be-politician.  She talks tough but is an amazing softie. Lily and Scout make the perfect duo.

But gosh, there are so many mysteries left by the end of the book. And although we get a nicely wrapped up ending – no cliffhangers here – there are still so many things I want to know! I cannot wait for the next book… and the book after that…. and the book after that…

Bottom line?  This book is a must for all readers! Especially if you liked Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires Series! (BTW, anyone who compares it to the HoN series is out of their mind – completely different!)