Tag Archives: vampires

The Passage – Justin Cronin

Ok – so I while I enjoyed this book and it really did keep me entertained for its 700+ pages, I ultimately found myself underwhelmed by it. I’d first heard of The Passage when it was published in 2010. After reading a glowing review about it, I quickly added it to my reading ‘Bucket List’. […]

Archangel Novels

Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh  I didn’t think that there would be a better series than the Psy-Changeling novels by Nalini Singh, but if you liked that series, then do yourself a favour and read the Archangel novels.  Archangel’s Blade is the fourth book in the series. It starts with Angel’s Blood, followed by Archangel’s […]

The Spider Goddess

Tara Moss continues her paranormal book series with a second book, The Spider Goddess. In this story the reader is taken further into the life of Pandora English as she has some fun with knitwear, designers & supermodels while battling it out with the supernatural weirdness that has plagued her life since moving in with her great aunt Celia. With the help of her great aunt and a good looking ghost named Lieutenant Luke, Pandora starts to understand that she is the heir to a great gift & posses the ability to submerge into the other world.

This second novel is even better than the first as it hints at more to be revealed about the supernatural, its every bit as fun as the first only creepier! There are scenes that made my skin crawl & if you have a particular phobia of spiders you should be prepared that there are some spine tingling moments.

While Tara Moss gives her central character, Pandora, the main focus the supporting characters are also developing nicely. The reader will learn more about Lieutenant Luke’s visits, great aunt Celia’s strange relationship with the undead & exploration and reference to ancient legends and mythology.

It’s an amazing reinterpretation of the classic horror characters & the names like Pandora, Morticia & Deus provide an additional spooky element . This series can be read by all ages & dabbles in various genres – supernatural, chick lit, historical fiction, fantasy and thriller so it can be enjoyed by many. I think if you liked the first one, you will love this second installment. I can’t wait for the third book :-)

Paranormal Romance

 SHUSH…I’M READING Who doesn’t love to read a good romance and even better is a romance with a paranormal twist. Just imagine the hottest guy you know, now make him stronger, faster and with a code of honor that is unbreakable. (Okay, you may be able to tweak the code of honor a bit, but […]

Let Me In….

Not Twilight, not Vampire Diaries, not True Blood but a completely different take on the vampire life! This is Let Me In, a film adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvists’ novel. How does it differ from the above vampire book to screen adaptations? Rather than romanticising the vampire lifestyle, Let Me In explores the vampire curse. It portrays the vampire life as a sad, lonely, violent and evil existence.

The story opens up with Owen, a 12 year old boy who is being bullied by three other students at his school. Owen is a feeble, quiet boy who is struggling to fit in so he is a prime target for the bullies. He has no friends until a strange girl, named Abby moves in next door. There is something really weird about Abby but Owen ignore this and the two become friends.

When a number of grizzly murders take place Owen learns the truth about Abby, she is a vampire. This terrifies him of course but she is the only friend he has to talk to and she has given him the confidence to stand up against the school bullies.

They both know the friendship is wrong but their attraction is too strong for them to resist. Yes, ok this is starting to sound like your typical human-vampire love fest but give it a chance and you will see the romance is totally downplayed. Instead it’s Owen’s sad adolescent existence and Abby’s evil vampire lifestyle that really come through in the story.

I have not read this book but I was completely absorbed by the film. The struggle of good vs. evil, light vs. dark is really compelling viewing. It definitely has a Hitchcock feel. I couldn’t help sympathising with Abby, the vampire. I enjoyed this movie and recommend it to people who are into the vampire genre but are over the Twilight euphoria.

The Kiss of Death for Fantasy Friday

Friday again … and Christmas Eve! What better pre-Christmas present than a fantasy review for Fantasy Friday with extra added vampires. So festive!

Now, the last time I wrote enthusiastically about a vampire novel it was My swordhand is singing back in July. And The kiss of Death by Marcus Sedgwick is a sequel, of sorts, set more than 100 years later and 900 kms to the west of the cold forests of Romania. At the north-west tip of the Adriatic Sea is a shallow lagoon, protected from the sea by narrow strips of land. And the jewel at the heart of the lagoon is Venice – a city unlike any other.

Marko has ventured to Venice, from across the Adriatic, in search of his missing father, and discovers that his absence is tied up with a curse on the Bellini family – their home is referred to as the House that Kills. Simono Bellini is dying for lack of sleep like his father before him, and his daughter Sorrel lives in fear that this curse will pass to her. Marko is not at all what she had hoped for as a hero, but the two young people find that they must work together if they are to evade the malevolent minions of the Shadow Queen, discover whom they can trust and save both their fathers.

Sedgwick writes for teens, and has a deceptively simple style. Although this novel does not have a great many actual vampires in it, I’m pitching for quality over quantity, and evocative descriptions of the twisted streets of the early 18th century city, and the tainted beauty of La Serenissima (a city that seems to float serenely above the lagoon, even as it rots and sinks slowly into its own waste) perfectly set the scene for this tale of gothic horror. Here’s a sample:

Then there was screaming, and it was real screaming , which sank deep into the sleeping heart of Marko’s brain, and was flung across the early morning waters of the lagoon, where it would hang for hours before finally evaporating.

And with that lovely imagery of a scream hanging, like mist over the water, I shall wish any and all of book coasters readers a very happy holiday. I hope you get to spend a good part of it reading.

The Radleys..a vampire family

The Radleys by Matt Haig

Yet another vampire story that deserves 5 stars, its all engrossing and very well written. I love this genre! This book caught my attention as its is similar to Twilight, a series I really enjoyed. (I’m not a fan of the movies). So in The radleys, an apparently average family who are actually abstaining vampires, each have their own reasons for not wanting to drain the blood out of unsuspecting humans. The parents, Peter and Helen, want to obey the law and live a normal life, and the children are unaware of their vampire heritage. However, they all suffer incredible cravings and vivid nightmares that lead to a ghastly, violent act that puts the whole family in danger. Their secret has been revealed! The family seeks out refuge with Peter’s brother, a loud and proud vampire who simply refuses to change his vampire way of life. The family struggle living with the brother and it’s a constant battle for each of them as they are torn between their blood sucking cravings and their desire for a normal life. This book includes a bit of Twilight, a bit of True Blood and a bit of The Brady Bunch all mixed into one compelling fun story.

The passage …a new, much improved vampire saga!

Tired of vampires? Not another vampire saga you say…I know I know enough already? Well not so fast. This is a different kind of vampire book. (no sparkles and no teen romance here!) Instead its a post apocalyptic story based around the Virals, which are essentially vampire like creatures and very scary. A fast spreading virus has turned everyone into Virals, all except for a group of survivors. This group, they call themselves The Colony, band together against the Virals in hope of one day restoring the human race. The Colony have a simple government system set up, everyone has a role they have been trained to fulfil. The point of it all is simply their own immediate survival. Except that the lights that come on every night run on battery power. And batteries were never designed to last for ever. The lights will be going out and when they do, there will be bloodshed. Everyone has seen the effects of those taken by the Virals. Death is hoped for, the alternative is unimaginable.

This book reminded me of The Stand by Stephen King, where Cronin scores better than recent King, in my opinion, is the greater depth he provides to his characters. Much of the book’s length is spent adding detail that makes the characters real, and makes their characterisation stick. You really do care about these people! The ending is abrupt but striking, and opens things up for the next instalments. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the other two books that complete the trilogy, coming in 2012.

Dexter does it again…really delicious!

Serial killer Dexter is back with a vengeance in Dexter is delicious, book 5 in this gripping series by Jeff Lindsay. Dexter, a dad now is trying to move away from his homicidal way of life. He absolutely loves his little girl and wants to be a good role model father. This book explores the development of emotions in the sociopathic Dexter and its really quite fascinating. However, no matter how much he wants to be rid of his deathly encounters he can’t help becoming bored. He starts to get strong guilty urges to kill again, especially when he is asked to investigate a suspicious disappearance.

During this investigation he meets a group of wanabe vampires, one of which is a young girl who has gone missing. It turns out that this group aren’t blood-sucking vampires at all but something far worse (I won’t give it away as to not ruin it for you avid Dexter readers – but the title might have already given it away!!)

Although the dark and dangerous Dexter definitely comes out to play it is Dexter the doting dad I find myself attracted to now. It’s funny and very witty like all of the previous books and manages to include a level of suspense….. I still have to keep reminding myself about his rationalisation “that he only kills bad people”. I would recommend this read for anyone who enjoys crime fiction with a twist, of course its better if you have read the first 4 books in the series but if not this fifth book provides enough of a basic back story of each character to enjoy the story. The Gold Coast Libraries have all 5 books available to borrow. Check the catalogue out now.

My swordhand is singing

My swordhand is singing by Marcus Sedgwick.

What a fantastic title!

That alone would have sold me on this book. But when I read a recommendation for it on an online list about great vampire stories that also included Sunshine by Robin McKinley, which I loved, I couldn’t place a hold fast enough.

Then I got to thinking, hmmm, I remember really enjoying another book by Sedgwick ages ago….so I looked it up, and found it was The book of dead days. I also found out that My swordhand is singing won the 2007 Booktrust Teenage Prize and was shortlisted for a Carnegie Medal in 2007. That made me even keener to read it.

When it arrived on the hold shelf for me, I thought WOW!! Look at that cover! I love it!

So my expectations for it were, by now, sky-high.

And it didn’t disappoint.
This story completely kicks 17th century Transylvanian undead butt!

It is a teen novel but there’s not a sparkly, sulky or sultry vampire in sight. Hooray! These vampires are hardcore traditional – if you want a movie visual bypass that Pattinson boy completely and don’t even think Bela Lugosi in a dinner jacket, this is much more like the original 1922 Nosferatu: cadaverous, bloated with blood, terrifying.

My swordhand is singing is the coldly atmospheric story of what happens when an itinerant woodcutter, the drunkard Tomas, and his son, Peter, cease their wandering and settle down near the village of Chust. Peter doesn’t understand why his father chooses a lonely spot outside of the village to build their hut, where two rivers meet. Nor why his father insists on digging a trench between the rivers to place their home on an island.

But Tomas know what he’s doing, although he’d rather not. He is haunted by his memories and seeks refuge in the oblivion of alcohol. He refuses to tell Peter anything. Mysterious events pile up, ratcheting up the tension, until Peter’s ignorance is nearly the un-death of him.

I don’t want to discuss the plot too much, because it really is worth uncovering yourself. I will say that I loved the way Sedgwick has incorporated so many aspects of traditional vampire lore, and Romanian folk culture, into this story. Read it, if only to find out about the Nunta Mortului and the Miorita and why you shouldn’t go for a walk in the Transylvanian woods without a pocket full of millet. (Oh, alright, go and Google them! But I warn you, you’re missing out….)

one of my favourite vampiresAnd if My swordhand is singing inspires you to find out more about vampires before they went all cool and sexy and post-modernly ironic, put a hold on this little non-fiction gem: Slayers and their vampires : a cultural history of killing the dead by Bruce A. McClelland. It offers very well researched insight into the beginnings of Eastern European vampires and the social politics of their destruction.

McClelland draws some interesting parallels between the hysteria surrounding vampire ‘plagues’ in Eastern Europe and the witch hunts busily burning and hanging thousands of, mostly, women in the west of the continent, both of which occurred during the period of history known as the Age of Enlightenment. But I suppose that’s one of the problems with the use of an isolated source of light – it makes the shadows that much deeper and darker.


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