Review: Bite Club by Rachel Caine

Review: Bite Club by Rachel CaineBite Club by Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #10
Published by Allison & Busby
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Glass Houses, The Dead Girls' Dance, Midnight Alley, Kiss of Death, Ghost Town

After discovering that vampires populate her town, college student Claire Danvers knows that the undead just want to live their lives. But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble.

There's a new extreme sport getting picked up on the Internet: bare—knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against each other—or humans. Tracking the remote signal leads Claire—accompanied by her friends and frenemies—to discover that what started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville...

Thoughts: Just a warning: this review is more of a rant than anything else.

My dislike of Shane/Claire has morphed into a burning hatred. He is turning her into a wimpy, cowing version of Bella Swan (sorry, Bella) – and it is so much worse because I KNOW Claire can stand up for herself. But when it comes to Shane, she is happy to roll over and let him call all the shots. In Bite Club, it went from bad to abuse.

While I understand that Shane was “damaged” during this book, I felt like a lot of his behavior was his “natural” behavior. It was like seeing Shane drunk: his inhibitions lowered and he turns violent. I am having the same Nash/Kaylee (Soul Screamers Series) problems with their relationship – but unlike that one, I know Shane/Claire one won’t end as happily for me. Loathe loathe loathe loathe.

In a way, it all comes down to Myrnin. I love is Claire and Myrnin’s mutual appreciation for each other’s intellect, and I think their partnership is fantastic. Midnight Alley remains my favourite book in the Morganville series almost entirely because it is a Myrnin/Claire book. That Claire has continued to work for him despite Shane acting like a nutcase is my only source of hope. Whenever Shane would start to rant about Claire working for Myrnin, I felt like I was witnessing a 1950s husband telling his wife to quit her job: it’s unfair, selfish and reflective of his own insecurities.

And I really don’t know where everything went wrong. I used to adore Shane and Claire together – he was protective, but not psychotic. I really thought I could “trust” Shane with Claire; that he would value her intellect and respect her choices. I am really starting to doubt that now.

So why am I still giving this book 3 stars? Well, unlike the last Morganville installment, this book certainly inspired emotion. That’s a step forward in the right direction… that they were negative emotions? Not so good.

Bottom line? Bite Club is a horrifically frustrating book. I keep reading on based on the strength of previous installments and in the (vain) hope of improvement.

Review: Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine

Review: Heat Stroke by Rachel CaineHeat Stroke by Rachel Caine
Series: Weather Warden #2
Published by Ace/Roc, Allison & Busby
Pages: 335
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Ill Wind

Review is spoiler-free - the summary is not!

Accused of murder, Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin was chased across the country—and killed—by a team charged with hunting down rogue Wardens. Five days later, Joanne had a lovely funeral and was posthumously cleared of all charges. Her human life was over, but she had been reborn in Djinnhood. Now, until she masters her enhanced powers, Joanne must try to avoid being "claimed" by a human. But when a hazard that only a Djinn could sense infiltrates Earth's atmosphere, Joanne must somehow convince someone to do something about it—or the forecast will be deadly. So who said being all-powerful was going to be easy?

Thoughts: When I started Heat Stroke, it had been over a year since I read Ill Wind, the first book in Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series. And while I had geniunely enjoyed Ill Wind, and I could remember as much, I couldn’t remember anything that had happened in it. I vaguely recalled the ending, I remembered the main character had a thing for fast cars, and… that was it.

So, needless to say, this book started off a bit rough. There were a lot of characters dealing with the emotional fall-out of the last book – and that really meant nothing at all to me. But soon enough, Caine ramped up the action and I no longer had to worry about what I didn’t remember. There were are new problems to worry about!

Heat Stroke reminded me of what I adored about the first 6 books of the Morganville Vampire Series: the out-of-nowhere twists and turns. Rachel Caine is not an author to stick with the status quo. She’ll set you up in one direction and then – BAM – she’ll move you into another. Heat Stroke was filled with twists and turns – all of them utterly realistic.

UK Cover

And now that I write that, I realise that that is exactly it. I’ve read 10+ Caine books and now I’ve finally worked out why she is such a joy to read! It’s not just that she puts in great twists into her books, it’s that the twists feel completely natural. A lot of excellent fantasy novelists put in mind-blowing twists into their books (Rachel Vincent and Richelle Mead, I’m looking at the two of you), but they always feel like twists. Your reaction to them will always be “Wow, I can’t believe that author did that!”. But with Caine, you don’t even feel it. She creates characters and universes so complete within themselves that they can drive the show all on their own. It’s fantastic.

I can officially say that Heat Stroke took me from just being a Rachel Caine fan to being a Weather Warden fan. Apparently, Rachel Caine can write a main character in love with more than one leading man without turning the novel into a migraine inducing disaster. She can writes 3D villains who you can both pity and wish dead. She’s also one of the few authors I’ve read who “abuses” her male characters just as much as her female ones. In short, she’s fab – there is a reason she has so many fans!

Bottom line? Read the Weather Warden series! It is extremely enjoyable, highly realistic, kick-ass urban fantasy filled with fast cars and physics.

Review: Ghost Town by Rachel Caine

Review: Ghost Town by Rachel CaineGhost Town by Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #9
Published by Allison & Busby
Pages: 479
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Glass Houses, The Dead Girls' Dance, Midnight Alley, Kiss of Death, Bite Club

While developing a new system to maintain Morganville's defenses, student Claire Danvers discovers a way to amplify vampire mental powers. Through this, she's able to re-establish the field around this vampire-infested Texas college town that protects it from outsiders.

But the new upgrades have an unexpected consequence: people inside the town begin to slowly forget who they are-even the vampires. Soon, the town's little memory problem has turned into a full-on epidemic. Now Claire needs to figure out a way to pull the plug on her experiment- before she forgets how to save Morganville...

Thoughts: I really cannot believe I am writing a non-glowing-verging-on-negative review for a Morganville book. This series has consistently been one of my favourite reads – I thought that there could be no such thing as a bad Morganville book. But after reading Ghost Town, I remembered the problems I had with the first book in the series (Glass House). Namely, it just didn’t make me care about the characters.

Claire and the gang are, as usual, in the midst of another action-packed drama – this time centred around Claire and Mrynin’s experimental new machine. Now, that should make my knees turn to jelly, because a) I am head-over-heels in love with Myrnin, and b) I absolutely adore the Claire/Myrnin relationship. And yet their dynamic in this book is pretty much centred around Ada – which was just one of those characters I wish Caine would drop already. Seeing Myrnin – of all people – so love-crazy (instead of regular crazy) just annoyed me. There were a few scenes between them at the start of the book that I loved, but then it was all downhill.
Same goes for Amelie and Oliver – usually two kick-ass characters who seemed to spend this book going on and on about their unbelievable emotional angst. Not to mention the fact that they have been having the same argument about Morganville for nine books. Every time they brought it up, my eyes would start to glaze over. I get it already! Geez.

As for the Glass House residents, I have been growing less and less attached to them with each book. Shane/Claire used to make my heart pitter-patter, and now I feel like skipping through all their lovey-dovey business. I guess they’ve reached that point in their relationship where the camera would usually fade to black and display a “happily ever after” banner. It’s great for them, but not so interesting for us readers. Not that I want angst, per say, but some kind of development would be nice.

Bottom line? Depressing installment to a great series. I remain a fan, but have lost my faith in the series.

Review: Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine

Review: Kiss of Death by Rachel CaineKiss of Death by Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #8
Published by Allison & Busby, Penguin on 2010-04-27
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Glass Houses, The Dead Girls' Dance, Midnight Alley, Ghost Town, Bite Club

A new chapter in the New York Times bestselling Morganville Vampires saga. Vampire musician Michael Glass has attracted the attention of a big- time producer who wants to cut a demo and play some gigs-which means Michael will have to enter the human world. For this, he's been assigned escorts that include both a dangerous immortal as well as Michael's all-too-human friends. And with that mix of personalities, this is going to be a road trip from hell...

Thoughts: I remember reading that Rachel Caine had had a 6-book plan set out for the Morganville series when she started out. Kiss of Death is book 8 – and her lack-of-overarching-plan is kinda starting to show.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed Kiss of Death. Caine’s verse is as addictive as ever.  I love these characters and their angst – so, really, how could I not enjoy another visit into their world? But Kiss of Death was definitely a step down from some of the other Morganville books. If I weren’t such a fan, I probably would have been less than impressed.

Kiss of Death takes place outside of Morganville. This is a first for the series which had had the characters literally confined to the city in previous books. Whilst a road trip might sound like a happy-go-lucky time for the gang, things never work out that way for Claire and co. So, there are plenty of new vamps, some kidnapping and, oh, a car chase or two.

Pretty cool… but also pretty pointless. Kiss of Death felt very episodic and monster-of-the-week. A cool monster, sure, but I couldn’t help thinking “… so?”  It was a far cry from the epic cliff-hangers of the first 5 books that literally stopped your heart.

Not to mention the most important failure: the epic lack of Myrinn. *cries softly whilst wearing vampire bunny slippers*

However, I do have hope for Morganville books of the future. Fade Out was friggin’ fantastic (and with plenty of Myrinn goodness) and managed to remain self-contained to a single book.

Bottom line? The Morganville Vampires series is fantastic – I highly recommend it. That said, Kiss of Death was not it’s greatest instalment.

Note to the UK publishers: Did something break when publishing Kiss of Death? My cover was in pieces after one light read – not to mention the book was littered with typos.  Not cool.

Review: Ill Wind by Rachel Caine

Review: Ill Wind by Rachel CaineIll Wind by Rachel Caine
Series: Weather Warden #1
Published by Allison & Busby
Pages: 337
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Heat Stroke

Joanne Baldwin is a Weather Warden. Usually, all it takes is a wave of her hand to tame the most violent weather. But now, she's trying to outrun another kind of storm: accusations of corruption and murder. So, she's resorting to the very human tactic of running for her life...

Her only hope is Lewis, the most powerful warden known. Unfortunately, he's stolen not one but three bottles of Djinn-making him the most wanted man on earth. Still, she's racing hard to find him-before the bad weather closes in fast.

Thoughts: I am a hardcore, unapologetic Rachel Caine fan. Her Morganville series? Pretty much the most addictive YA series ever written. In short, Rachel Caine = Awesome.

Ill Wind proved to me that Caine’s awesomeness does indeed translate over into adult fiction.  It has plenty of action, fast cars, biblical storms and some brilliantly 3D characters.  Although not as addictive as her Morganville series, I have high hopes for the rest of the Weather Warden books.

Jo is feisty as hell and has no less than three guys after her heart.  She drives a mustang and can start a hurricane – she’s on the lam, but she ain’t no sheep.

One of the things I love about Rachel Caine is her ability to write smart characters who still make plenty of mistakes.  Jo is smart – she has to be.  Because, unlike other superpowers, being a weather warden is not just about having the talent – you have to learn how to use it.  And what does that mean?  Well, it means an awful lot of atmospheric physics!   *swoons*

Despite Jo’s obvious book smarts, she is still fallible.  She makes mistakes and misjudges people – she’s only human!  Unlike a lot of authors, who have the token genius who never makes a mistake, Caine writes realistic smart people.  Just because a character has an IQ of 150 doesn’t mean they have to be boringly predictable – Caine lets her smarties get into trouble.

And go to the beach.

Bottom line?  Ill Wind has it all: action, mystery, romance and rain.  Pick it up if you are looking for some UF without all the traditional baddies.

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