Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies: A Novel

Rating: *** – 3 Stars

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

BOOK SUMMARY:R is a young man with an existential crisis–he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.

After experiencing a teenage boy’s memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim’s human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

REVIEWER COMMENTS:  Sweet love between a zombie and a human? Yuck, you might say. Or you might be surprised. Well yes, a zombie can be interesting, somewhat attractive, and capable of loving someone to the point of risking his life-or lack of one- for her. This is what Marion accomplishes in this strangely interesting novel that, while it portrays zombies as it should -disgusting undead with appalling habits-, it manages to evolve them into likable creatures capable of showing humanity and becoming the heroes at the end. Now, that is a hard thing to do.

SEXUAL CONTENT: Kisses, some very short sex scenes, reference to sexual encounters but no detailed description

ADULT LANGUAGE: A good amount of foul language with violence and gore

*Conclusion:  A somewhat convincing paranormal novel and entertaining adventure with a plot that will keep you turning the pages. And a sweet romance too. So, why the 3 stars? While I appreciated the author’s creativity and his interesting approach to zombies, there are other things I very much disliked: I did not care for R’s love interest, Julie, for example, who is portrayed as a teenager with a trucker mouth -an unattractive feature, in my opinion- and an attempted tough attitude which felt somewhat misplaced. And R’s first person account of eating a brain was… ok, so it’s zombies: what should I have expected?

Stealing Shadows (Shadows Trilogy, Book 1) by Kay Hooper

Stealing Shadows (Shadows Trilogy)

Rating: **** – 4 Stars

GENRE: Paranormal/Mystery Romance

BOOK SUMMARY: What if you can enter a madman’s cruel mind as he plans his vicious crimes? What if you can see the terrified face of his prey as he moves in for the kill—but you can’t stop his frenzy once he strikes? Psychic Cassie Neill helps the L.A. police catch killers—until she makes a terrible mistake and an innocent child dies. Cassie flees to a small North Carolina town, hoping that a quiet life will silence the voices that invade her unwilling mind. But Cassie’s abilities know few boundaries. And she’s become certain—as no one else can be—that a murderer is stalking Ryan’s Bluff…

REVIEWER COMMENTS:  This is the first book of the Shadows Trilogy, and it is a mix of paranormal, mystery, and romance. And what a mix! Cassie, the main character, has psychic abilities and she finds herself entangled in a murder mystery, as well as a very sweet romance after she moves to a new town. I really liked Cassie, her strengths as well as her weaknesses, and how she evolves throughout the story.  The minor characters, Cassie’s love interest, and even the villain, are all very well written and interesting. I also loved the plot, which kept me guessing until the very end. And for the romance junkies like myself, the love story does not disappoint. Who knew I would so enjoy a mystery novel? Thank you Ms. Hopper!

SEXUAL CONTENT: Some sensual situations, kisses, and reference to sexual encounters, though none described

ADULT LANGUAGE: Mild language and gore, and adult themes

*Conclusion: If you think mystery is not your cup of tea, well, you might want to give this novel a try. What a pleasant surprise!!

Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires, Book 1) by Chloe Neill

Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires, Book 1)

Rating: ** – 2.5 Stars

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

BOOK SUMMARY:  Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was Merit’s. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker, and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead. Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she’s traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan -Lord of the Manor- Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan’s attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone’s still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war, and there will be blood.

REVIEWER’S COMMENTS: I am always looking for a relatively clean vampire romance, and I thought I found it here. However, while this book is not charged with sexual content and gore as others of the same genre, I did not love the plot, the main characters, nor the romance. In my opinion, Merit is unlikable and so is Ethan. The plot was predictable, and while the author manages to build a sensual tension between the two main characters, which was interesting, it does not go very far for now – I guess we have to wait for the second book for more, but I am not holding my breath.

SEXUAL CONTENT: Reference to sexual encounter, 1 very explicit–but short- bedroom scene of two other characters, and some kissing

ADULT LANGUAGE: Mild

*Conclusion:  This book is very well liked by many vampire romance fans. I am the minority here. So, if you are into the paranormal/vampire adventure novels with a pinch of romance, I encourage you to try out this series.

A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy, Book 1) by Deborah E. Harkness

A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy)

Rating: ** – 2 Stars

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

BOOK SUMMARY: Witches, vampires, and demons outnumber humans at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, where witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont. The orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, Bishop prefers intellect, but relies on magic when her discovery of a palimpsest documenting the origin of supernatural species releases an assortment of undead who threaten, stalk, and harass her. Against all occult social propriety, Bishop turns for protection to tall, dark, bloodsucking man-about-town Clairmont. Their research raises questions of evolution and extinction among the living dead, and their romance awakens centuries-old enmities (from Publishers Weekly).

REVIEWER COMMENTS: I really wanted to like this book. I really did! It was supposed to be a mix between Twilight and Harry Potter for adults, and that is what drew me in. And a romance between a vampire and a witch was fascinating to say the least. But after liking the first 100 pages or so, and how the relationship between Matthew and Diana starts to develop, I found myself bored with the lengthy historical dialogues and the relationship between the two main character, which started to fall flat. As the chapters move along (and be aware, this is a very long book) I found myself disliking Diana more and more, and how the storyline proceeds. It was drawn on and on, and I had a very hard time finishing it.

SEXUAL CONTENT: a few passionate kisses, some bedroom scenes but no sex involved

ADULT LANGUAGE: mild

*Conclusion: This is a New York Times bestseller, therefore a beloved novel for many critics and readers alike.  So, if you are looking for a clean vampire romance for adults, then you found it. And if you do not mind the long historical narrative, then you might like this book. I am not planning to read the rest of the books in the series, but you might want to give it a try!

Bad Blood (House of Comarre`, Book 3) by Kristen Painter

Bad Blood (House of Comarré)

Rating: *** –3 Stars

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

BOOK SUMMARY: Violent murders occur in Paradise City as counterfeit comarré are systematically hunted. The police and the Kubai Mata have more than enough trouble to keep themselves occupied. As war erupts at home, Malkolm and Chrysabelle head to New Orleans to recover the Ring of Sorrows. Chrysabelle is forced to make a life and death decision and will realize that her relationship to Malkolm may have fatal consequences.

REVIEWER COMMENTS: The third installment begins right where the second book (Flesh and Blood ) leaves off. We are transported into a new adventure that strengthens the bond between Malkolm and Chrysabelle even further. In this book, these two finally acknowledge their feelings for each other, and while Creek is still in the picture, his romantic tie with Chrysabelle dissipates, which I liked.  I found the plot in this book more interesting than the second, but I was still left with some reservations: the story line is often told by too many points of view which make the book hard to follow; Chrysabelle’s character gets even more juvenile and bratty in this book, so I am giving up on trying to like her, but I do love Malkolm, and that really helps. I think he is such an interesting character and I find his struggles realistic and fascinating.  Overall, I still enjoy the world that Painter creates and that holds my interest.

SEXUAL CONTENT: passionate kissing and sensual situations. Reference to bedroom scenes but none described in detail

ADULT LANGUAGE: mild, with mild violence and gore

*Conclusion: A relatively clean paranormal romance novel, which are hard to find nowadays. I would still recommend this series. Be aware that the 4th book in the series will not come out until August 2012.

Flesh and Blood (House of Comarre`, Book 2) by Kristen Painter

Flesh and Blood (House of Comarré)

Rating: *** –3 Stars

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

BOOK SUMMARY: With the ring of sorrows still missing, and the covenant between othernaturals and mortals broken, Chrysabelle and Malkolm’s problems are just beginning. Chrysabelle still owes Malkolm for his help, but fulfilling that debt means returning to Corvinestri, the hidden vampire city neither of them is welcome in. The discovery that Chrysabelle has a brother could mean reneging on her promise to Malkolm, something that might make him angry enough to loose the beast living inside him. And fulfilling her vow could prove devastating for Chrysabelle — especially when you throw in power hungry witches, dead fringe vampires, and the Kubai Mata.

REVIEWER COMMENTS: The second installment begins right where the first book (Blood Rights) leaves off. We are transported into an adventure that strengthens the bond between the two main characters, as well as introduced to new characters and plot lines. I did not enjoy this sequel as much as the first book for several reasons: first, there is a love triangle –now two men fighting for Chrysabelle’s attention- which I found annoying and unnecessary; second, I found Chrysabelle , who I already did not like, even more unlikable; third, the story line is often told by different points of view, which in my opinion, disrupt the story and make it unfocused. Overall, I still enjoy the world that Painter creates in the book and that keeps my interest. Malkolm and his struggles to be “good”, and how his feelings for Chrysabelle deepen, are what keep me hooked. I will definitely read the third book!

SEXUAL CONTENT: a few kisses and sensual situations. Reference to bedroom scenes but none described in detail

ADULT LANGUAGE: mild, with mild violence and gore

*Conclusion: A relatively clean paranormal romance novel, which are hard to find nowadays. I would still recommend this series.

Blood Rights (House of Comarre`- Book 1) by Kristen Painter

Blood Rights (House of Comarré)

Rating: *** 3.5 Stars

GENRE: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

BOOK SUMMARY: Born into a life of secrets and service, Chrysabelle’s body bears the telltale marks of a comarré — a special race of humans bred to feed vampire nobility. When her patron is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect, which sends her running into the mortal world…and into the arms of Malkolm, an outcast vampire cursed to kill every being from whom he drinks. Now, Chrysabelle and Malkolm must work together to stop a plot to merge the mortal and supernatural worlds. If they fail, a chaos unlike anything anyone has ever seen will threaten to reign (Amazon.com Book Description)

REVIEWER COMMENTS:  The world portrayed by Kristen Painter in this paranormal romance is interesting and entertaining. I found the male main character, Malkom, multifaceted and very well developed. His inner struggles to be “good” are realistic and compelling. The sensual tension between the two main characters is well developed and Painter has a writing technique that draws you in. My problem with this book was that I did not like Chrysabelle, which is a big deal, because she is the protagonist of the story. I found her often childish and stubborn, and she had an over-the-top tough attitude which, in my opinion, did not fit, and made her unlikable.

SEXUAL CONTENT: references to sexual encounters, some kissing

ADULT LANGUAGE: mild profane language

OTHER NEGATIVE ELEMENTS: some violence and gore

*Conclusion: As far as adult vampire romances go, this is one of the few I found out there that is overall clean. While the romance did not take center stage, it likely will in the following books.

Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson, Book 2) by Darynda Jones

Second Grave on the Left

Rating: **** – 4 Stars

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

BOOK SUMMARY: When Charley and Cookie, her best friend slash receptionist, have to track down a missing woman, the case is not quite as open and shut as they anticipate. Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally.) has left his corporeal body because he’s being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can’t let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they’ll have a portal to heaven. And if they have a portal to heaven…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty.

REVIEWER COMMENTS: In this second installment, we continue to follow the adventures of Charley Davidson, a.k.a. beautiful grim reaper wearing stilettos and an attitude. This second book picks right after the 1st leaves off, and it follows in the same footsteps. Charley is solving some more crime mysteries while trying to find out more about the love of her life and how they can be together, which becomes more and more difficult as time goes on. There is less romance and more mystery in this one, but the same witty dialogues and suspenseful adventure make the second book in the series another of those you will not want to put down.

SEXUAL CONTENT: some kissing and sensual situations

ADULT LANGUAGE: mild language and mild violence

*Conclusion: A relatively clean paranormal romance filled with humor. However, there are also some serious themes that deal with a somewhat skewed view of theological issues such as life after death and Satan himself. Be aware, this book ends with a enormous cliff hanger. So, you might want to wait until the third one comes out before finishing this one.

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, Book 1) by Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right

Rating: **** – 4 Stars

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

BOOK SUMMARY: Charley sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

REVIEWER COMMENTS: Let me begin with saying that this writer is like nothing I have ever read before: she has a writing style that is funny, witty, and extremely clever. As you begin getting through the first few pages, you will find yourself laughing out loud. And that will continue throughout the book. The story of Charlie Davidson, a beautiful and funny grim reaper, is also extremely smart and entertaining. In the first book in the series we get to know about Charley and her adventures as she tries to solve some crime mysteries while coming to terms with her feelings toward a man who has unusual origins and powers. There is an equal mix of mystery and romance that I believe will gratify fans of both genre. This is one you will not want to put down!

SEXUAL CONTENT: Kissing, sensual situations, and one short sexual scene toward the end of the book

ADULT LANGUAGE: Mild language and mild violence

*Conclusion: A relatively clean paranormal romance which is very comical. However there are also some serious themes that deal with a somewhat skewed view of theological issues such as life after death and Satan himself.

Fateful by Claudia Gray

Fateful

Rating: **** – 4 Stars

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

BOOK SUMMARY: Eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, troubled family she serves. It’s 1912, and Tess has been trapped in the employ of the Lisles for years, amid painful memories and twisted secrets. But now the Lisle family is headed to America, with Tess in tow. Once the ship they’re sailing on—the RMS Titanic—reaches its destination, Tess plans to strike out and create a new life for herself. Her single-minded focus shatters when she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets of his own.  Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves exist and are stalking him—and now her, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over (Amazon.com Book Description)

REVIEWER COMMENTS: If you love the Twilight saga, then you will love this book. It is a love story between a human and a “non-human” and the trials they face to be able to be together no matter the circumstances surrounding who (or what) they are. The romance is strong and so is the historical component. Gray shows accuracy in the description of the customs of the time as well as the many historical elements surrounding the Titanic. The main characters are likable, the adventure is interesting, and in the end, love conquers all.

SEXUAL CONTENT: None (only a few kisses, however, there is a reference to a bedroom scene but no description)

ADULT LANGUAGE: Mild

*Conclusion: A relatively clean fantasy romance. Great combination of adventure, love, and a pinch of paranormal. My kind of book!