ARC Mini Reviews: Undeadly, Stray Souls, and Blood Bond

Mini Reviews

You know how sometimes you get so excited when the new ARCs are released that you just have to request them all… but then you have to find enough time to read and review them?  That’s the boat I found myself in this month, so to catch up, I’m sharing three mini reviews about the ARCs I most recently read.

Undeadly by Michele Vail
Book #1 in the Reaper Diaries series
Publication Date: 27 Nov 2012
ARC Provided by Netgalley and Harlequin Teen

Synopsis from Goodreads: The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird…

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper—and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite boarding school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath.

Life at Nekyia has its plusses. Molly has her own personal ghoul, for one. Rick follows her there out of the blue, for another…except, there’s something a little off about him. When students at the academy start to die and Rath disappears, Molly starts to wonder if anything is as it seems. Only one thing is certain—-Molly’s got an undeadly knack for finding trouble….

Christal’s Review – 2 Skulls – C-

I like a good YA read now and then, but UNDEADLY was not it for me.  I just want to preface this review with the fact that I really don’t think I was in the target demographic for this book.  The main character, Molly, had a strong and definitely defined voice.  The problem was that she seemed very young, self-absorbed, and naïve for sixteen and her constant use of slang became grating.  Though her voice did soften by the end of the book, I never really connected to her character.  I did like the Egyptian mythology this book was built on and Molly’s independent study instructor, Rath, is an intriguing character that I would like to learn more about.  I just don’t know if it is enough to draw me into the next book.  I do think readers of the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast would love Undeadly.

Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for providing an ARC copy of this book!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 


Stray Souls by Kate Griffin
Book #1 in the Magicals Anonymous series
Publication Date: 30 Oct 2012
ARC Provided by Netgalley and Orbit Books

Synopsis from Goodreads: ‘Don’t look back. It wants you to look back.’

London’s soul has gone missing. Lost? Kidnapped? Murdered? Nobody knows – but when Sharon Li unexpectedly discovers she’s a shaman, she is immediately called upon to use her newfound powers of oneness with the City to rescue it from a slow but inevitable demise.

The problem is, while everyone expects Sharon to have all the answers – from the Midnight Mayor to Sharon’s magically-challenged self-help group – she doesn’t have a clue where to start.

But with London’s soul missing and the Gate open, there are creatures loose that won’t wait for her to catch up before they go hunting.

Stray Souls is the first novel in the Magicals Anonymous series, set in the same fantastical London as the Matthew Swift novels.

Christal’s Review – 3 Skulls – B

STRAY SOULS had a very interesting premise, but it did take me a little while to get used to the narrative device.  The story is told from multiple viewpoints, with Sharon’s being dominant, and often breaks up the main story with excerpts from the self-help group; some chapters are basically confessionals from the group members.  Though I found it to be pretty original, it did make the overall flow seem a bit choppy.  I found myself skimming through some of the chapters, but never feeling lost in the narrative.  I did enjoy the story once it took off and the group banded together to save the city.  I liked the way it ended and I want to know what happens to each of the characters enough that I will be looking forward to the next release in this new series.  One of my main gripes was not learning enough about the Midnight Mayor, but now I know that Kate Griffin has another series starring him.  I am thinking about reading those books as well because the Mayor was a very intriguing character.  I would recommend this book to readers that don’t mind a little British comedy mixed into their urban fantasy.

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC copy of this book!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 


Blood Bond by Sophie Littlefield
Book #1 in the Joe Bashir series
Publication Date: 20 Nov 2012
ARC Provided by Edelweiss and Pocket Star

Synopsis from Goodreads: A fatal hazing accident thirteen years ago comes back to haunt the families involved in this first full-length novel featuring fan favorite detective Joe Bashir.

Sexy Pakistani-American Detective Joe Bashir is called to a crime scene in the wealthy foothills of California, where politically ambitious Bryce Engler’s dinner party is ruined when a guest’s body is found in a pool of blood. Two days later, Engler’s beautiful wife Gail lies dead at the foot of a cliff on nearby Mount Diablo.

When Joe turns to Gail’s sister Marva for insight into the family history, he discovers that thirteen years earlier, Gail was responsible for the hazing death of a fellow co-ed. Her then-boyfriend engineered a cover-up that deflected blame onto another girl. As Joe searches out everyone who might still hold a murderous grudge, he realizes there was more to the Engler marriage than meets the eye….

Christal’s Review – 4 Skulls – A-

I really enjoyed Sophie Littlefield’s BLOOD BOND and especially the lead character she created, Jamshed “Joe” Bashir.  I appreciate a good mystery and Ms. Littlefield certainly crafted a fine one with this novel.  Though I had my suspects, I thought the reveal of the whodunit was nicely paced and there were enough twists and erroneous information to keep the readers guessing.  I thought the characterization throughout the novel was very strong and I am excited to see what Joe will be up to in the next novel.  I liked hearing about his struggles to fit in to society as a Pakistani-American, as well as learning about his driving reason to become a cop.  The story flowed well and the chain of events felt organic.  I would recommend this for all mystery/police procedural readers as well as those urban fantasy readers who enjoyed Ms. Littlefield’s Aftertime trilogy.  Though the subject matter is very different, it is still a finely-crafted, character-driven novel that should appeal to a wide-range of readers.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Pocket Star for providing an ARC copy of this book!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 


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