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Review: Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

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Hearts at Stake (The Drake Chronicles #1) by Alyxandra Harvey
Paranormal Romance, Young Adult, Vampires
Trade Paperback (WALKER BOOKS, 256 pages, $9.99)
ISBN# 0802720749
On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.
Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.
Even fans of the genre who’ve seen it all will find a fresh read with kick-butt characters and family dynamics that ring true for all brothers and sisters—vampire or otherwise.

Author Site:

Hours at Stake: Don't Waste Yours! (2 stars)

On her sixteenth birthday, Solange Drake will become a vampire. If everything goes right. Forget being a normal teenage girl, having cake and a party on her sweet sixteenth birthday. As the first Drake born female is over seven centuries she's a rare commodity. The Helios-Ra want to kill her because she's a Drake family member, Lady Natasha wants to kill her because Solange is the central figure in a prophecy that dethrones the would-be vampire queen. If the change itself doesn't kill her one of the others will gladly do it themselves. Unless of course one of her seven older brothers or her best friend Lucy have a say in the matter.

Everything I had heard about this book suggested it was going to be really enjoyable. Unfortunately I found the writing to be of poor quality and the lack of well-thought-out world building for this vampire mythos was a total disappointment.

The book's chapters are divided between those narrated by Solange and those told from Lucy's perspective. This might have been a good move if there were any distinct difference in their "voices". If each chapter had not been clearly labeled with their names it would have taken me reading several paragraphs to catch for sure who was telling the story in each section. At times the "timestamp" for each jumped back and forth as well causing more confusion as to the actual order of events from one chapter to the next.

Jumping directly into the plot without any decent build up to it left little time for a well explained mythology. Even after reading the entire book I was left trying to figure out how there were different kinds of vampires and how they related to one another. At times things like Lucy and Solange's friendship itself seemed a little unlikely considering one attends public school and the other is homeschooled. The way it is all explained away (as happens frequently when these roadblocks pop up in this book) is transparent and feels false. I, as a reader, struggled to get past these moments.

I am sure this book will be suggested to tweens and teens looking for vampire romances. There are indeed two quickly obvious romances that form. One of them makes obvious sense, the other seems a bit forced. I'll let you be the judge should you choose to read it. Unfortunately, I would not recommend this book to any reader looking for vampire books or vampire romances above the age of thirteen. There are far better books in this genre out there and I wish I could get the hours I spent reading this one back!


Review: Prey by Rachel Vincent

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Prey (Werecats #4) by Rachel Vincent
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Shapeshifters
Mass Market Paperback (MIRA, 400 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0778326810
Sometimes playing cat and mouse is no game…
Play? Right. My Pride is under fire from all sides, my father's authority is in question and my lover is in exile. Which means I haven't laid eyes on Marc's gorgeous face in months. And with a new mother and an I-know-everything teenager under my protection, I don't exactly have time to fantasize about ever seeing him again.
Then our long-awaited reunion is ruined by a vicious ambush by strays. Now our group is under attack, Marc is missing and I will need every bit of skill and smarts to keep my family from being torn apart. Forever.

Author Site:

This one will be hard to top! (5 stars)

Picking up the threads of chaos where Pride left off, Prey continues the fast-paced story-telling fans of this series love. The pride cats are divided. The alpha of each North American territory has a choice to make. Whether to back Faythe's father as the head of the council or not. Meanwhile Manx is to go on trial for her crimes, Marc has been exiled and Kaci refuses to shift back to her cat form.

While taking Manx to her trial might be unpleasant in and of itself, getting to see Marc is a plus. Until the pride cats are attacked by a groups of strays. Strays working together in such large numbers is unprecidented and Faythe is about to face her most grueling adventure to date.

Oh how I want to give away soooo much plot in my little summary. But I behaved. I'm a huge fan of this series, have been since the first book was an impulse buy based on cover art, and was nervous as to where the series would go from the end of Pride. Fortunately for myself and fellow fans Vincent hasn't lost her touch. I might even go so far as to say she's starting to hit her stride!

You already know and love the characters, (if you don't I suggest getting the first three read before bothering with this one) now you're going to see them put in harm's way to the point it hurts. Maybe other readers don't like Jace better than Marc but I do and he really gets a lot of development in this book for better or for worse. Vincent will have you sweating bullets over many of the places she takes Marc, Faythe and even Jace, I've always seen it as a semi-love triangle so if you didn't sorry if it's a little spoilerish to say I think that's where this is going.

The story never gets slow and just when you think there can't be anything more packed into it we're left with an awesome, jaw-dropping, heart-stopping cliff-hanger ending that has me rabid for Shift's release! I'm not sure I could gush any more about how great this book was so if you read this series and haven't had time for it yet clear your calendar, you won't regret it.


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