Review: My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent

Review: My Soul to Save by Rachel VincentMy Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent
Series: Soul Screamers #2
Published by Harlequin Teen, MIRA
Pages: 362
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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Also in this series: My Soul to Take, My Soul to Keep, My Soul to Steal, If I Die, Before I Wake, With All My Soul

When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.

So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can't possibly understand.

Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk….

Thoughts: My Soul to Save makes it clear what type of series Soul Screamers is… think post-book 6 Morganville Vampire. Episodic with a monster-of-the-week. Which is cool, but you need to know that before you start reading.

I enjoyed My Soul to Save even though I can’t say it was the most, er, gripping of novels. Honestly, when I worked out that the plot was going to revolve around saving pop queens who had sold their soul for fame… well, I was more of the “they deserve what they got” school of mind. But Vincent sold the nobility of the entire scenario and the pop queens actually turned out to be pretty sweet. Thank God, really, because there is nothing worse than hating the guest star.

But while I liked Kaylee (who is super independent but not at all idiotic) and the Netherworld (creepy, to say the least), I wasn’t really moved by this book. Everything was perfectly well written, the dialogue was tight and the plot was even tighter…. but My Soul to Save just felt like it was missing something. When I pick up a new book in a series, I expect something to fundamentally change. There has to be something new, otherwise why bother writing the book? And the truth is that nothing really changes at the end of My Soul to Save – a couple of things are different, but nothing fundamental.

These complaints are really rather minor, though. So while this book might not have been the most riveting, I am expecting earth-shattering things in Rachel’s next book!

Bottom line? Great YA series, good installment. Pick up the Soul Screamers series if you want something different-yet-familiar in your paranormal YA.

Review: Pride by Rachel Vincent

Review: Pride by Rachel VincentPride by Rachel Vincent
Series: Shifters #3
Published by MIRA
Pages: 432
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Stray, Rogue

I'm on trial for my life. Falsely accused of infecting my human ex-boyfriend—and killing him to cover up the crime. Infecting a human is one of three capital offenses recognized by the Pride—along with murder and disclosure of our existence to a human.

I'm two for three. A goner.

Now we've discovered a rogue stray terrorizing the mountainside, hunting a wild teenage tabbycat. It's up to us to find and stop him before a human discovers us. With my lover Marc's help, I think I can protect the vulnerable girl from both the ambitious rogue and the scheming of the territorial council.

If I survive my own trial…

Thoughts: I am SO friggin’ glad I stuck with this series! Because Faythe? The character who I have consistently used as the poster girl for “everything I hate in a narrator”?  The character whose name I’d use as a synonym for “OMG she needs to die”?

Well, I kinda like her now.

People have been telling me for years (literally – I realised I started this series back in 2009) that Faythe gets better and grows up with every book. And they’re right – she does grow up. She’s not yet at the point where I actually would spend more than a half-a-minute with her, but she’s getting there. Because all the things I hated about her – her rudeness, her temper, her impulsiveness, her insistence that it is her-way-or-the-highway – they are becoming the things I love about her. Why? Because Kaci – the tabbycat in the summary – needs these qualities in Faythe in order to keep her protected.  Turns out Faythe can be totally awesome while she’s protecting someone…

Moving on.  The plot is as tight as always. Even though there is a tonne of werecat-political intrigue, there is also a whole bunch of action. All the bloods-and-guts scenes that I felt were missing from Rogue are back in full force. Not to mention Vincent gives us not-one-but-two excellent villains to hate. It’s fantastic…

And then there’s the wonderful-as-always Marc. He’s such a cat in some ways – violent and temperamental – but he’s also so bloody noble that I just want to squeeze him to death.  Love this guy! Ooh, I also adored Elias Keller, the were-bear introduced within the first few chapters. I was intrigued to find out the verse had more were-species, and that Keller turned out be a welcome voice of reason among the pride of kitties made me even happier.

Bottom line?  Pride made me a believer in this series. If you gave up on Faythe during Stray, well, you should stick it out. She may be frustrating, but the series is well worth the effort.

Rachel Vincent Interview & Review of My Soul to Take

Rachel Vincent Interview & Review of My Soul to TakeMy Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
Series: Soul Screamers #1
Published by Harlequin Teen, MIRA
Pages: 368
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: My Soul to Save, My Soul to Keep, My Soul to Steal, If I Die, Before I Wake, With All My Soul

Something is wrong with Kaylee Cavanaugh.

She doesn't see dead people, but...

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about the need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next...

Thoughts: I really enjoyed My Soul to Take. It had characters that I genuinely liked, a universe that I adored and a focus on family that I found very realistic.

In fact, I found the entire book extremely realistic. For example, there was a great scene where Kaylee decides to Google her supernatural powers and comes to the conclusion that she has a brain tumour. How fantastic is that? I mean, honestly, that is the most logical answer. The idea that she would immediately assume she had inhuman abilities is just silly! As soon as I read that, I knew Kaylee and I were going to get on just fine.

You see, I’d read two of Rachel Vincent’s werecat series (Stray and Rogue) and while I had liked her writing style, I really disliked the main character.  It made me apprehensive about starting My Soul to Take, as I was afraid I’d just be in for some more of the same.  But I’d needn’t have worried, because Kaylee is fantastic.  She stands up for what she believes in, but not to the point where she is making too-stupid-to-live decisions. My Soul to Take proved to me that Vincent can write a main character that I could enjoy – it has made me hopeful for the rest of the werecat series too!

While I liked Kaylee’s boyfriend Nash, I was most intrigued by Tod the teenage grim reaper.  Now really, just the phrase “teenage grim reaper” should be enough to get you into this series.  I am hoping to see more of him (and Kaylee’s BFF Emma) in the rest of the books.

Bottom Line:  An original take on (what has become) the standard paranormal YA action/romance.  Great writing, a unique universe and fantastic characters make this book a must for YA readers.


Rachel Vincent - Author ImageInterview with Rachel Vincent

Rachel was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the Soul Screamers series and her upcoming literary plans.  Here’s what she had to say:

Q. First of all, I am very excited to have your YA series released in the UK. What do you think of the UK jacket covers?

I love them! I think the UK covers are gorgeous, and I love that they capture a different aspect of the books than the US covers do. Both fit the series, but in different ways. 😉

Q. Any chance of a tour in the UK?

Oh, that depends entirely on my publisher. I’ll go wherever they want me to, but to my knowledge, there’s currently no plans for me to go overseas. Travel is expensive…

Q. A lot of Urban Fantasy authors have crossed over into the YA market – with great success. What do you think of this trend, and what inspired you to write a novel aimed at young adults?

I think any trend putting good books into the hands of teens who might not otherwise be reading is a good trend. As for why I’m writing YA, I write it because I like to read it. I love being taken back to a more fantastic, exciting version of my own youth.

Q. Could you introduce the Soul Screamers series to UK readers, new to the books?

The Soul Screamers books are about a sixteen year old high school junior who discovers that she’s a bean sidhe (banshee) who knows when someone near her is going to die. Along with her boyfriend, Nash, Tod the rookie reaper, and a growing and assorted cast of friends/family, she saves lives, returns souls, and battles evil hellions bent on owning her, body and soul. Also, there’s kissing. Lots of kissing. 😉

Q. With your werecat series at an end, will your be Young Adult series become your main focus or do you have something else in the works?

I have a new adult series debuting in the fall in the US, and I’ll be splitting my focus between them for as long as I’m fortunate enough to have both on my plate.

Q. What were your favourite reads as a teen? What YA reads have you recently enjoyed?

Oddly enough, as a teen, I read adult books. I was a huge fan of Stephen King, Robert R. McCammon, and Patricia Cornwell. Now, I read adult urban fantasy and YA paranormal and contemporaries. Recently I loved Matched by Ally Condie [see my review here] and Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers. Both are well-worth importing, if they aren’t shelved in the UK.

Thanks Rachel!

Review: Rogue by Rachel Vincent

Review: Rogue by Rachel VincentRogue by Rachel Vincent
Series: Shifters #2
Published by MIRA
Pages: 394
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Stray, Pride

Okay, so cats don't always land on their feet.

I know that better than most. Since rejoining the Pride, I ve made big decisions and even bigger mistakes: the kind paid for with innocent lives. As the first and only female enforcer, I have plenty to prove to my father, the Pride, and myself. And with murdered toms turning up in our territory, I m working harder than ever, though I always find the energy for a little after-hours recreation with Marc, my partner both on- and off-duty.

But not all of my mistakes are behind me. We re beginning to suspect that the dead are connected to a rash of missing human women and that they can all be laid at my feet--two or four, take your pick. And one horrible indiscretion may yet cost me more than I can bear...

Thoughts: It’s been over a year since I read the first of Rachel Vincent’s werecat series, but I remember the book as clear as day. The werecats series is probably one of the most inventive UF verses out there – packed with catty violence and some rather terrifying villains. But that’s not why I remember it with such detail – mostly, I just remember hating the hell out of the main character Faythe.

Well, character-wise, Rogue is certainly a huge improvement. Faythe thinks out her actions a bit more than she used to. And although she still manages to grate on my nerves, her gradual transition from a five-year-old into a mature adult is realistic and in character. So, YAY! At this rate, I might actually like her by book five.

But on the other hand, Rogue was a let-down from Stray. One of the reasons I decided to stick with this series was because of the amazing action. Stray is packed with bloody, terrifying scenes described with more finesse than anything I’ve ever read. Rogue, however, was a series of conversations. Sure, important character-driven conversations – but still. Even though a lot was revealed, not all that much happened.

Bottom line? A solid sequel to Stray. If you are looking for kick-ass UF, Vincent’s werecat series has it in spades. But don’t expect to actually like anyone.

Review: Stray by Rachel Vincent

Review: Stray by Rachel VincentStray by Rachel Vincent
Series: Shifters #1
Published by MIRA
Pages: 624
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Rogue, Pride

The difference between the movies and reality? In real life, I was the monster.

Faythe Sanders looks like an ordinary student, but she’s hiding a dark secret: she is a werecat, a powerful supernatural predator. Yet headstrong, independent Faythe resents her power, heading to college to escape her family and her overprotective ex, Marc.

That is until a stray – a dangerous werecat without a pride or territory – catches her scent. With two werecat girls already missing, Faythe is summoned home for her own protection.

But Faythe will do whatever it takes to find her kidnapped kin. She has claws – and she’s not afraid to use them.

Rec for people who love: Cats, kick-ass females, and cats (loving cats is kinda key for this book).

First Line: The moment the door opened I knew an ass–kicking was inevitable.

Thoughts: Let me start out by saying that I did enjoy this book. Quite a bit by the end. But I am still pretty conflicted about the main character, Faythe. The book opened with her being as a rebellious werecat, pretty flighty and, erm, completely irrational. The only thing that made me feel better was the fact that she realized how juvenile she often sounded – but was just unable to hold herself back.

Also, her relationship with Marc, the overprotective ex in the summary, was bizarre. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Marc. He is exactly the type of traumatized-but-noble hero that I fall in love with. But she just kept flip flopping between being furious with him (for no particular reason) and being completely understanding. It drove me slightly mad.

Her behavior towards her family – her father in particular – was also irrational. Especially considering how much danger she knew she was in. While I understood that she felt like she was trapped by her family – and she was, literally at times – she also understood their motivation. To me, if you understand the motivation and even agree with it, shouldn’t you approve?

Well, I continued reading the book despite this rather intense dislike. I felt they really couldn’t do anything to make me dislike her any more, so the only way forward was up.

Let’s just say I was right. Without giving away too much of the plot, Faythe grows up quite a bit by the end of the 600 page novel. It’s a natural development that keeps her tough-as-nails personality intact – which even I appreciated. By the end of the book, I actually liked Faythe – so if you dislike her while reading, I would recommend you stick it out.

On a different note, this was a pretty violent book. Death, rape, kidnapping, torture – the whole shebang. I expected it to be since, hello, werecats? But I know that some people will be pretty disturbed by a lot of the themes. Some of which – women in cages, raped and brutalized – will probably resonate more with female readers. Vincent does an amazing job describing violence without loosing the reader – to either the fear or to the plain old “but I thought he had a broken arm” confusion. I could really visualize what Faythe goes through from the sound of breaking bones, to the smell of blood. Let’s just say the excruciating pain seeped naturally out of the pages. But unlike some horror authors, the trauma was bearable and won’t turn your stomach.

At least, hopefully it won’t.

I will be getting to the next books in her series. Although I might wait a month or so. There is only so much werecat I can take.

I really am more of a dog person.

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