There are a lot of different takes on vampires. In Cause Of Death:Unnatural by Eliza Ford, the lead character is a vampire and a forensic pathologist. She is like no vampire that I’ve ever read about. Usually when I hear about a book that has a vampire in it I would think it was a horror novel. but Cause Of Death is more of an urban fantasy mystery with some horror elements.
Em is a 1000 year old vampire who has decided to live among humans. She belongs to a clan called The Family which are some of the oldest beings on Earth. Em and the vampires like her, can use dark matter and they are superior to common vampires who only drink blood and they are far superior to other dark creatures. Em is half human so she feels more comfortable living among humans. To sustain herself Em drinks the occasional pint of blood along with eating human souls but she can eat human food as well.
No human knows she is a vampire and the job as forensic pathologist is the perfect job for someone who knows death so well. Lately Em has been investigating some dead bodies that were found near a Night Club that just opened. She finds that the Night Club is operated by a vampire who was a former lover of her father. To make matters worse, Em’s former lover Jarek has come to town to look into the vampire owned Night Club and hopefully lure Em back to him. Em has to find the killer and decide if she wants to keep living among the humans.
Cause Of Death: Unnatural is an original look at vampires. I liked how there were different classes of vampires and I liked the idea that there was a different realm that the beings who used dark matter can live in. I thought it was interesting that Em was in a love triangle with two humans while also trying to decide if she wants to go live with Jarek in the dark matter realm. Another thing that I liked was when Em describes what vampires look for in humans and says some are hamburger and some are steak.
My favorite part of the book was when Em finds a cancer cell in a family member of a friend and is able to kill the cell with her dark matter, she then gives her views on how she feels about humans. There was also a fight scene with Jarek that was excellent. The characters in this book were great and the story was well told but it could have been better.
I would have liked to hear more about Em’s vampire family, it is touched on but more detail would have been nice. I also wanted to know more about how dark matter worked. The story itself was good but a little predictable and the final fight scene wasn’t long enough but I did like her revelation on why she loved humans so much. Even though I had my issues with this book I still liked it and would like to see more of these characters. This is the first book in a series, I like the concept and I get the impression it will get better as it goes along.
It started with a robbery of a grocery store. Joey and Thomas managed to score $196 and kill three people. As they were collecting the money they heard an old man laughing. The man’s name was Louis and he tells the two robbers they can score some real money if they choose to help him get even with his ex-wife and former business partner who framed him and had him sent to jail.
Thomas and Joey decide to help Louis for the promise that they will have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. As the three drive to where the money is, Louis tells them his story of betrayal and he has a few surprises for Joey and Thomas as well. The two will have to choose if they are willing to do the unthinkable and how far they will go before they give up their souls.
Soul Hostage by Jeffery Littorno is a thriller that looks at morality, choosing between good and evil and what someone is willing to do to get what they want. Thomas and Joey have been together for a long time and they are complete opposites. Joey doesn’t have a conscience and does what he feels while Thomas has a moral code and has trouble deciding the best plan of action.
What really made this book good was the relationship between these two characters. At one point Thomas says that he is jealous of Joey because he has no conscience and shows a lot of enthusiasm for everything he does. Thomas even seems to look up to Joey when he kills people because Joey feels no guilt. The story in Soul Hostage is mainly about Thomas deciding if he will give up his beliefs to fit in with his friend or will he choose a different route and not be a part of the evil plan Louis wants them to follow.
Soul Hostage is a philosophical journey with a lot of twists and turns. I liked when Louis talks about bible stories to illustrate his point on why Joey and Thomas should do as he says. In particular he uses the story of the prodigal son to show that even when your evil, god will forgive you. I also liked how Thomas makes the decision on what he is going to do and what is said that makes him decide. I think most people would choose to do what Thomas did even though I was hoping he wouldn’t go that route.
All in all I enjoyed this book but I did think it was slow-moving in spots. I also wondered what happened to Louis between prison and when he meets Thomas and Joey in the grocery store. In addition to that there was a point towards the end where a character is happy to see Louis which had me rolling my eyes.
I did like how this book gets into philosophy and the characters were all great. Another thing that stuck out was that there were so few characters in the story. The dialogue in the story was what really made the book interesting and more characters would have ruined it. Also the ending was unpredictable and this is what made Soul Hostage a great read.
Some adults look at YA novels and are turned off by them because they think they are more geared towards kids. This is not true the only thing that makes YA novels different then adult novels is that they don’t have as much adult content and usually the main characters are young people. This doesn’t mean that YA novels don’t have great stories or fascinating characters. One example of this is Frontier Incursion by Leonie Rogers.
Humans crash landed on a planet they named Frontier 300 years ago. Life was hard on the planet, there were several species of dangerous animals that live there and some of the plant life was also deadly. The humans survived and adapted to the environment and built small settlements. They always said they would return to the stars some day but they liked their new home.
One of Frontier’s inhabitants is a teenage girl named Shanna, she lives on a farm with her family who breeds and raises starcats. Shanna is at a point where she needs to decide how she will contribute to society, so she decides to become a Frontier scout. The scouts job is to explore Frontier and help people in need when disasters happen. One day when Shanna and some other young cadets are exploring, they discover aliens called the Garsal creating a hive . The Garsel have plans on taking over this world and the inhabitants of Frontier suddenly find themselves in a war with a race that they know nothing about.
There is so much going on in Frontier Incursion that it’s hard to give a short description of the plot. At the heart of this book is a coming of age story. You see Shanna at the beginning as a young girl helping her parents on the farm and then you see her join the scouts. She then teaches other cadets on training starcats, learns how to deal with difficult people and learns to live in the wild and to survive under harsh circumstances. Also to a lesser extent the book follows her brother Kaiden as he learns how to master archery and take on more responsibility.
Leonie Rogers did a great job of creating some deep characters and she does an excellent job of world building. As you follow Shanna’s story, you learn more about the world they live in. You also get a look at the other people who live there and I loved how the cadets all had starcats to accompany them wherever they went. The starcats are panther like creatures with glowing marks on them which make great companions.
Frontier Incursion is an excellent science fiction fantasy tale that people of all ages will enjoy. My only issues with it was that it could have used a little more action. What this book lacks in action it makes up for in great characters and the description of a new world.
My favorite part of this story was how the inhabitants were raised to believe that it is their destiny to go to the stars again but you see how many of them don’t want to return to space and are happy on Frontier. I also liked how small glimpses are given of the Garsel, leaving the reader to realize that life is about to become hard for the people of Frontier. If you like epic Science fiction check out Frontier Incursion.
Life Is A Balance: It Isn’t Only About You by Phillip Nork continues the story that began in Misguided Sensitivity. In this book we see Phil in his late teens in 1979. He feels like he needs a new start and a friend suggests that he go reconnect with his father. Phil is trying to abstain from sex after the lessons he learned in Misguided Sensitivity but that becomes hard as he meets some girls on his way to Florida. Along for the trip is Phil’s brother and they eventually arrive on the doorstep of their father.
In Florida they receive a warm welcome, Phil gets involved in a party lifestyle and gets into drugs, alcohol and meeting more girls. In this book you see Phil go through a lot of ups and downs. He deals with people who are not who he thought they were, the death of someone close to him, he also marries and has a son. Much like the first book you see a very different Phil at the end of the book then at the beginning and it was fascinating watching him go through these changes.
I felt like Life Is A Balance was a better book than Misguided Sensitivity. This one shows an older and wiser Phil but it shows him as a person who is still making mistakes and has a lot to learn. I liked the part where his ex-girlfriend shows up at his workplace saying she was pregnant. I also liked when Phil meets his dad for the first time in several years. Life Is A Balance is a good coming of age novel that young adults will get a lot out of. Phil takes on several personalities in this book such as Disco Phil, A sensitive ladies man and an insecure person who feels empty. This book is a look at Phil’s journey to self discovery. It’s an interesting read that gets deep into one man’s meaning of life.