Book Review - Jessica Rules the Dark Side

Author: Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Audience: Young Adult
Source: ARC for review
Reviewed by: Kate
Fiction * Paranormal Romance

Description from GoodReads:
It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?

Jessica’s journey is about what happens after the happily ever after. She’s surrounded by men (befanged men) and politics, and in the way of most people starting a new life, needs to find this ‘new’ self. Is it all of the old self, just in better attire? or is it parts of the old self, with new thrown in? 

This was a highly anticipated sequel for me. I am completely in love with the journey I took in Beth Fantaskey’s first novel, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. Beth’s characters are three dimensional. I really enjoyed getting to know them as they got to know each other. I couldn’t imagine what would be next for Jessica and Lucius.

Fantaskey answers this question in Jessica Rules the Dark Side. The tone and mood is unexpectedly a lot darker. I had a bit of trouble getting into the change but I was soon rewarded for my patience. This new direction gives us readers a great chance to see Jessica come into her own as a woman and as a princess. She is dropped in the middle of this world full of old traditions, rituals, rites, and grudges. Jessica is forced to navigate these new waters on her own terms. Will she succeed? Don’t despair, dear readers. Beth gives Jessica some new friends along with her wise-cracking, no-nonsense, bit grumbly best friend, Mindy for help; keeping any Fantaskey fan avidly reading along as Jessica challenges this new world.

Here’s a heads up. Keep a lookout for Raniero, especially. I love characters and Raniero is definitely one to cherish. When you meet him, cliches will abound but persevere. He was one of the best book friends I meet last year. YES, I have book friends. Doesn't everyone?

**Check out The Wedding Chapters for the scoop on Jessica and Lucius’ paranormal and unconventional Wedding, found here:

For more information about author Beth Fantaskey, check out her website here:

Or you can follow her on twitter: @bethfantaskey

*Quote above used with permission

Book Review: Fateful + ARC Giveaway

Author: Claudia Gray
Published: Harper Collins (September 13, 2011)
Audience: Young Adult
Source: For Review
Young Adult  * Paranormal Romance * Historical

Description from Goodreads:
 It's about a servant girl named Tess in 1912, who wants to escape from the house where she works, and most particularly the lecherous young lord of the manor. But that's not her biggest problem. While on a voyage to America, where she plans to escape and start a new life, she meets Alec, who's ruggedly handsome, fabulously wealthy, intelligent and yet so clearly troubled that she'd rather not fall for him, but she does. That also is not her biggest problem. Alec, it turns out, is a werewolf ... one cursed to change every night, unless and until he surrenders his independence and joins the Brotherhood, a pack of violently misogynistic werewolves who have been tracking him for months. You'd think that would be their biggest problem, wouldn't you?

But no. Their biggest problem -- though they don't know it yet -- is that they're aboard the RMS Titanic.

As a huge fan of Claudia Gray's Evernight series, I was very excited to read an advanced copy of her new book, Fateful. This new book is a stand-alone (as far as I know) and it's very different from her Evernight series. Firstly, this is historical paranormal fiction, instead of contemporary, and Claudia Gray does historical so well. Reading Fateful, it was very obvious that Gray had researched the period well. The dialogue, the clothing, the description... everything felt true to turn of the century London. She describes the lifestyle and the environment so well that I felt like I was immersed in the time period. Also, having seen the movie Titanic countless times, I could catch references to different real-life people like Margaret Brown and Mr. Andrews. You don't have to know a lot about the Titanic story to enjoy it, but I think history buffs (or fans of the movie) might get even more out of it.

Another really interesting aspect of the story was the werewolf element. It was handled in an original way, with an interesting twist on the typical werewolf pack, changing in the moonlight, and all the obvious werewolf myths. I also loved the villain in the novel. He was scary and manipulative and everything I want in an antagonist. The characters in general were very well-done. The wealthy family Tess works for is deliciously snobby and unkind and secondary characters, like Irene, Layton, and Myriam are very multi-dimensional and well-written.

Alec, however was my favorite character. His spirit was great, and I think he offered the most complexity. He and Tess had amazing chemistry and with all the obstacles preventing them from being together -- class/status, the fact that Alec is a werewolf, lurking danger of the villain, and their potential deaths when the ship eventually sinks -- their romance was sweet and light. It was very wel-done.

Overall I liked the story.The ending felt a bit rushed, and the plotline with Alec and the werewolves that are hunting him (which was great!) would have probably been developed better if it didn't have to work around the limitations of a short ride on a ship that would eventually sink. I would recommend this book, though, to fans of Claudia Gray's superb writing and people interested in history and/or werewolf mythology.

Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn't choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn't), because I'd always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven't) or even because I'm hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.

I am a full-time novelist based in Chicago. So far, in life, I've been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing. You can follow her on twitter: @claudiagray or on her blog:

Her official website is:

Complete the form below for a chance to win an advanced reader copy of Fateful. Please read contest rules carefully.


1. Please do not enter any personal information in the comments section (it will be deleted if you do), you must complete the Entry Form to officially enter the contest.
2. The contest runs from August 28 to 11:59 PM Pacific Time on August 31, 2011.
3. You must be 13 or older to participate in this contest.
4. If you are selected as a winner, I will notify you by e-mail. If you do not respond within 48 hours, I will select a new winner.
5. This contest is open to the  U.S. and Canda.

Book Review: Starcrossed

Author: Josephine Angelini
Published: HarperTeen (May 31, 2011)
Audience: Young Adult
Source: Purchased a copy
Young Adult * Paranormal Romance * Greek Mythology

Description from Goodreads:

How do you defy destiny? 

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

There has been a lot of hype about Starcrossed. I've seen it explode everywhere, from the book-blogosphere to Goodreads, to dominating shelves in Borders and Barnes & Noble, so to say that I was a little intrigued would be an understatement. I started this book a few days ago just as something to pass the time while I packed, so I could get all the early boring backstory out of the way and dive into the meaty stuff while on vacation.... except the book never made it on the plane. I devoured Starcrossed in less than 24 hours. I was that absorbed by it. It was a very cute paranormal romance, but it also had some great fresh elements that made it stand out from the crowd -- especially the roots in Greek mythology.

One of the coolest things about this story was the Greek mythology. The protagonist, Helen, and her love interest, Lucas, are intertwined -- starcrossed lovers, actually, if you'll allow me the pun -- in a way that involves the old Greek stories. I won't spoil it for you, but I thought it was a very original concept, especially since Josephine Angelini didn't rely on the old vampire/werewolf/fallen angel/faerie standby. You don't have to know anything about Greek mythology to appreciate the story, but if you are familiar with some of the stories then you might catch some subtle references that the general reader might miss. As someone who knows very little about Greek mythology, I loved that every new plot development caught me by surprise and I wasn't able to anticipate where the story was going. (And when I did start to "figure it out," a few chapters later, I realized I was wrong.) My favorite element of young adult literature is usually the budding romance, but this is one of the few paranormal romance novels wherein I actually found myself more drawn to the plot action and world of the story than the boy-girl interaction.

I say this, but I also loved the Lucas-Helen interaction. I liked that their relationship didn't start off as a love at first sight scenario, when two days later they are professing the inability to breathe without each other. The relationship has a rather interesting start and grows at a believable pace, and they have such great chemistry on the page. I was particularly fond of Lucas and his story. Helen was also interesting, especially in how she comes to realize that she is part of the "paranormal" (or "Greek") world. Her hallucinations are genuinely creepy and information is revealed slowly, rather than building up to a "big reveal" chapter.

I just loved how Angelini paced the novel, always keeping you guessing, but never frustrating you... unless it was absolutely necessary. The characters were very interesting, especially in Lucas' family -- I loved Hector probably more than Lucas even -- and there are several exciting things that happen at the end that leave me on the edge of my seat. As someone who reads a lot of teen paranormal romance, I will admit that there were some elements of the romantic plotline that were similar to a couple other novels I've read, which is probably why I preferred the action plot that was totally unpredictable. I wouldn't call this a cliffhanger ending per se, but Starcrossed definitely ends as things are kicking up several notches. Just remembering those last 50 or so pages gets my heart racing. I really enjoyed this and highly recommend, especially to fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, Maggie Stiefvater's The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and Shannon Delaney's 13 to Life series. A must-read for fans of paranormal romance, looking for something a cut above most and wildly original.

Josephine Angelini is a Massachusetts native and the youngest of eight siblings. A real-live farmer's daughter, Josie graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in Theater, with a focus on the classics. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Starcrossed is her first novel. You can follow her on twitter: @josieangelini or on her blog:

Her official website is: