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Results 1 - 12 of 12

With the Forts series wrapped up, I've moved onto something else, and believe it or not that something else is getting released in March!

Goats Eat Cans is coming soon!

What the heck is Goats Eat Cans and why should you care about it?Trust me when I tell you that you're going to like this thing.

If you hated Forts and you hate me for writing Forts, you're still going to like this.

Goats Eat Cans isn't Forts. It's nothing like Forts.Nothing at all.

Click the picture below to head over the official Goats site.You won't regret it.


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It's official!

The above image is the final cover for the thirds and final book in the Forts series, Endings and Beginnings!

The OFFICIAL WEBSITE is also in the process of being updated to reflect the look of the new book and I'll be adding some goodies on there over the next few weeks!


1 Comments on FORTS: ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS COVER REVEAL!, last added: 8/21/2011
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3. Uninvited by Amanda Marrone

cover of Uninvited by Amanda MarroneReading Amanda Marrone’s Uninvited is like reading an old school YA horror novel, and I mean that in the best possible way. If, like me, you cut your YA teeth, so to speak, on the YA thriller and horror novels of the early ’90s, Uninvited should be right up your alley.

Jordan is being haunted by Michael Green, her ex-boyfriend. A few nights after he died, Michael appeared at Jordan’s window and asked her to let him in. He’s done this every night for the past three months and turned Jordan into a recluse. She can’t go out anymore because she needs to be home before dark. Because who knows what this undead Michael will do to her if he catches her outside. And Jordan’s loneliness and her twisted conversations with Michael are weakening her, tempting her to maybe, just maybe, invite him in.

Marrone does a great job of setting up the appropriately moody yet believable atmosphere. The early chapters establish Jordan’s isolation, slowly building tension that stems from both the fear of what Michael, now a vampire, wants to do to Jordan and nervousness about Jordan’s psychological state. Jordan can’t tell her friends the real reason she’s unable to go out with them anymore—who’d believe her if told the truth?—and dropped cross country and the fall drama production. It’s strained the few friendships she has, and her relationship with her mother has never been exactly healthy, so the possibility of Jordan giving in to Michael is strong. And Michael. What happened to him, and what plans does he have for Jordan? After they broke up, he seemingly slept his way through half the girls in school, so why haunt Jordan?

Unlike most vampire books you come across these days, in Uninvited, vampires = Bad! Evil!! Bad!!! This, more than anything else, first got me thinking that Uninvited was like the old horror stories I devoured 15 years ago. Add to that the lone girl being haunted by something, or someone, she can’t tell anyone about (although, granted, in most old YA thrillers, Michael wouldn’t be a vampire but some random pyscho with a vendetta against Jordan), the relative lack of blood, the hint of romance, and especially Marrone’s writing style. I can’t be the only one who thinks this is a story that fits right in with D. E. Athkin’s Sister Dearest, Lael Littke’s Prom Dress, and early (back when they were still decent) Fear Street novels, but is at the same time contemporary in its details. (Okay, judging by other reviews, maybe I am the only one.)

My one criticism of Uninvited is that the vampire mythology is rather cliched and not as developed as it could be. And, for anyone considering recommending this to teens, just so you know, there are numerous references to drugs and sex, and a *lot* of drinking. Think Christopher Pike’s Chain Letter books plus Weekend and multiply it by ten or so.

Amanda Marrone has been featured at the YA Authors Cafe and interviewed at Cynsations.

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4. City of Bones

Clare, Cassandra. 2007. City of Bones.

You might not think that witnessing a murder would lead a young teen, Clary Fray, onto an unforgettable journey of self-discovery, but, you'd be wrong. When she witnesses three teens--oddly dressed and strangely beautiful teens--murder a fellow clubber, she is shocked, terrified, and confused. Understandably so. But not for the same reasons you might be thinking. The body? The blood? They disappeared instantly. The murderers? Invisible to the rest of the world. And as one of the 'murderers' pointed out, the police can't arrest people they can't see and charge them with a murder when there is no body and no blood and no 'evidence' or sign of a struggle. These murderers--whom we later learn to be Jace, Alec, and Isabelle--are just as surprised that Clary can see them. Why? They're ShadowHunters. Descendants of the Nephilim, offspring of angels and humans. Their mission? To track down demon infiltrations around the world and eliminate these fiends. All this happens within the first chapter. It was quite an exciting start to what turned out to be a very fast-paced adventure.

Clary, seemingly normal teen, can witness things no 'mundie' (mundane human) should have been able to see. The weirdness continues through the next few days and escalates when her mother disappears with only one frantic phone call to warn her daughter of the danger that lurks in her home. Jace, one of the ShadowHunters, just happens to be chatting with her when that phone call comes in. So the two rush home together to face the threat of Darkness that turns Clary's world upside down.

One thing is known, Clary's life will never be "normal" again after seeing the unexplainable, fighting her own demon, and discovering the "truth" about her parents.

City of Bones is perfect for readers looking for a fast, action-packed read. There are all sorts of supernatural creatures--vampires, werewolves, demons, warlocks, wizards, etc--to fill the pages and add suspense.

The book reminds me of many things: Scott Westerfelds' Midnighter series, Holly Black's Faerie series, Melissa de la Cruz Blue Bloods series, Charmed, and Star Wars.

The book, by the way, is the first in the Mortal Instruments series. The next book will be City of Ashes.


1 Comments on City of Bones, last added: 9/12/2007
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5. Dracula

No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and how dear to his heart and eye the morning can be. (46)
I chose to read Dracula for many reasons. But here are the top two: 1) My friend, Julie, is directing Dracula at the local community theater this October. She's been talking about it for weeks. (This is her first time to direct in this community.) And she's been telling me how wonderful it is...and how much I'd love it. How the writing, the language, the imagery, is just incredible. And I do want to be a supportive friend and all. And she's never disappointed me before when she's recommended a book. 2) It is one of the 'perils' in the R.I.P. II Challenge.
All men are mad in some way or the other; and inasmuch as you deal discreetly with your madmen, so deal with God's madmen too--the rest of the world. (115)
Let me say this now, it was SO good and SO different from how I expected. I'll admit that the first chapter didn't hook me. The format--letters and diaries--took a little bit of getting used to. (I'm not used to suspense being dispensed in that way.) But soon enough, I was hooked. I had not realized this story was told through so many narrators--and each one is unique and well-developed. I read most of it on Saturday afternoon/evening in fact. I didn't want to put it down. But I couldn't finish the last hundred pages or so until the next day. But I did finish it last night, Sunday, and it was just incredible. It was so intense, so suspenseful, so teasing, so memorable, so haunting, so tragic, so good. It was just a WOW book for me.

We have been blind somewhat; blind after the manner of men, since when we can look back we see what we might have seen looking forward if we had been able to see what we might have seen! Alas, but that sentence is a puddle; is it not? (300)

7 Comments on Dracula, last added: 9/13/2007
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6. How I Came To Love A Monster

How I Came to Love A Monster:

A Rambling Review of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein

Frankenstein has haunted and followed me around wherever I go. I remember first reading the book in high school. It must have been tenth or twelfth grade because Mrs. Lippe--the dreaded and much afeared Mrs. Lippe was the one who assigned it. I don’t really remember much about this brief introduction to Mary Shelley’s creative masterpiece. I could have hated it. I could have loathed it. I could have been bored to tears with it. I often was with classics at that time in my life. That might have been the end of our acquaintance, if it had not been for a fateful decision in the fall of 1997. I decided that fall, in the month of November, to become an English major. At the time, I was under the instruction of another dreaded and much afeared professor: Dr. Casper. I had not taken the class willingly. It had been thrust upon when a schedule conflict came up regarding another class. But the class did change my life. In a good way, I might add. Up until that point, I had been an education major. I wasn’t a firmly committed student, I wasn’t dying to be a teacher or anything. But I needed to have a major listed. But taking a literature course was new...it was exciting...it was almost thrilling. And the ‘scary’ teacher became my academic advisor. And she really wasn’t that scary if you did your work and behaved. I’m happy to say I got an A despite her first day of class warnings of how she never ever gave A’s to her students. [Now that I think about it, there were horror stories passed around about both of those teachers--my high school teacher, and that college professor. Students would speak in hushed tones and give strangers the warning: beware this teacher...]

Frankenstein came back into my life several semesters later. The person who re-introduced us was Dr. Palmer. Palmer is many things but scary is not one of them. She’s a gentle soul whose love of books is evident from the start. She speaks in almost a whisper, but she speaks with great enthusiasm about the friends she’s met in books. Some of her “friends” became my friends. But even I didn’t click with the books we were reading, I always respected and appreciated her style. The second time I read Frankenstein was for Dr. Palmer’s British novels class. I was an undergraduate. I was older. I was wiser. (And I had a very good friend in that class.) And somehow or other, I was more aware of my surroundings this time through. I remember finishing it and saying, “Hmm, that wasn’t so bad. I think I almost even enjoyed it.” And the discussions and essays instead of being a chore, weren’t too bad with this one. Again, this might have been the end of the story...we’ve met again. It wasn’t distasteful. But at this point I wasn’t using the word “love” in regards to Shelley’s book or the monster.

The third and fourth times through really, really made a believer out of me. This time, I was in graduate school. Once again majoring in English. (Don’t even begin to ask me what is practical about having a Masters of Arts degree in literature. I still don’t know. But those were fun years out of my life just the same.) One spring--probably the spring of 2001--I read Frankenstein for Dr. Palmer’s Romanticism class. It was a course that followed the lives of both Shelleys (Mary and Percy), Lord Byron, and John Keats. It was a great class. A happy class. Well, as happy as you can get reading some of their poetry--some of it can be a wee bit depressing--and they weren’t always happy guys to be around. But enough about that, the fourth time was that fall. Fall 2001. The horrible, dreadful fall of 2001 that was so overwhelmingly depressing. Yes, I was upset by 9/11. But more upsetting for me was the fact that my grandfather was dying of cancer and in hospice. I was having to go to school and work every day knowing that that day could be the day...that I could get a phone call at any minute telling me that he was gone. The hardest thing for me was to go through the motions of every day life. How could I go on like nothing had changed...when everything had changed. How could I act cheerful and ready to greet the world when I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide? How could I answer the phones with a perky “Good Morning” when all I wanted to do was stay in bed and cry. Maybe it was because of the misery though that I finally and truly fell in love with Frankenstein.

Frankenstein is all about misery. But it is also about what it means to be human. It covers it all. It addresses the “meaning-of-life” type issues in a way that I find most effective. By making a monster appear human and a human appear to be a monster, it challenges and changes everything that you thought you knew about the world. For one thing, it shows that you can’t judge someone based on appearances. You can’t see inside someone’s heart and mind. You can’t read their soul. Something hideous or something beautiful could be beneath the surface, but you don’t always know which is which until it’s too late.

Of course the novel addresses the issue of man playing God. Of man trying to rule the universe. Trying to tamper with things that he shouldn’t be tampering with. Trying to do the divine, be the divine. Not happy to be content with himself, always struggling to be more, have more, do more. Wanting more knowledge, more power, more wealth, more prestige, more honor, more whatever. Ambition can be dangerous. Deadly even, as Victor proves.

But what strikes me most about the novel, and I have reread it--I read it again the last week of July--is the fact that the monster wants what so many of us want. He wants to be loved. He wants to be accepted. He wants to be a part of something. He wants approval. He wants someone to see past the exterior and know him for who he is. And isn’t that what we all want? Someone to love us for who we are. Someone to love us unconditionally. Someone to be our friend. Someone to talk to. To share with. To love. Man was not designed to be alone, to live alone. Man has always needed companionship and love and fellowship. Man has always been a social creature. So when you take away a person’s basic needs--deny him of everything that is good and right and natural--what can you expect but to find a monster? The story of Frankenstein is how one man slowly and surely became a monster. But the ‘monster’ the man creates wasn’t born a monster. He wasn’t born evil. He wasn’t born anything. His only thoughts and feelings were those of an animal. He sought food, drink, and shelter. But he knew nothing of loss, love, pain, or joy. He had no words to speak. No way to communicate. No love. No hate. But he became a man. Surely and slowly he observed, he learned, he grew a soul of sorts. He grew in both head and heart knowledge. He knew what greatness looked like. But he was denied everything based purely on his appearance. He became a monster because that is how people treated him. They were the ones that chased him. They were the ones that tried to kill him. He observed humans behaving as monsters. While, this monster didn’t stay ‘pure’ and ‘good’ and began to act very wickedly, it is easy to understand why. Death became the only way he could communicate. The only way anyone would listen.

Imagine. Victor Frankenstein plays both a Creator role (God if you will) and a father role. He is the one who worked and slaved and labored obsessively to create this being. It was his ‘brilliant’ idea from start to finish. Yet the moment his brilliant work is finished. The moment it is a notable “success” what does he do? He fears, he rejects, he runs, he panics, he does everything a parent shouldn’t do. Imagine being “born” into the world and being rejected from the start. Not a welcome, not a hello, not instructions, not encouragement, not love, not acceptance, not a kind word.

Here is the thing that has always always puzzled me about Victor. How could you work on a creature for however many months or years and not know what it was going to look like? If the creature looked scary or spooky alive, wouldn’t you think that it would look spooky before? How could he have pieced him together and sewn him and whatnot and given him form from dead mangled bodies and not known he was hideous and ugly? Why did it take the breath of life to make “ugly” terrifying? Did he not see with open eyes day after day what the creature was? Was he so blinded that he didn’t see? Or did he think his chances of success so low that he never considered that it might just work after all? Is that why he was so shocked? So afraid? Did he expect to fail and so never considered the consequences and ramifications of his creation working? What did he expect? What did he hope to gain? What was his purpose? There certainly wasn’t a demand for ugly ill-formed freakish monsters to fill Europe and the other continents.

Here is my other pondering about Frankenstein...why did he have to piece together a human? If he had the so-called secret of regeneration that would cause dead bodies to come back to life, why didn’t he just use that knowledge, that secret, to raise a whole person, a human being. A ‘creation’ that wouldn’t be a monster in appearance? I suppose the answer could be that Shelley thought the other was more frightening... But I guess this goes back to man’s search for immortality. Man searching for ways to prolong and lengthen his life. Perhaps man searching for ways to save his loved ones. To keep his loved ones with him forever. Surely the reason he started this experimentation was to bring back lost loved ones from the dead...but I guess his ultimate lesson is that death comes to everyone great and small. And you can’t cheat death in the end. It’s the one sure thing we know about the world. There is a 100% mortality rate.

The thing about reading Frankenstein is that I learn something new each time. I grow in awareness. I notice new details. Make different connections. Have a different reaction or response. That doesn’t happen often with fiction. Usually, there aren’t that many “layers” or “levels” of depth. But with Shelley, I think it’s a masterpiece you could explore for a lifetime.

This time round, my realization was relatively simple. I had always noted the similarities between Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein. But this was the first time I noticed that he also had a bit in common with the monster as well. He was a blend of the two. So he could ‘see’ himself and ‘know’ himself as both. Anyway, I have always liked the framework of this story. How Victor’s shambled life became a parable of sorts for this man-in-need of a wake up call.

8 Comments on How I Came To Love A Monster, last added: 10/11/2007
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7. Vampirates: Tide of Terror

Somper, Justin. 2007. Vampirates: Tide of Terror.

Last Halloween, I reviewed Justin Somper's Vampirates: Demons of the Oceans, now for Carl's R.I.P. II Challenge, I bring you the sequel: Vampirates: Tide of Terror. (Although truth be known, I would have read the book challenge or no challenge. But still it's nice to find a book that so easily fits a challenge.) When we left our brother-sister duo of Connor and Grace they were 'safely' aboard the pirate ship Diablo. But much as they enjoy being reunited, Grace cannot forget the Vampirates. She expecially can't forget one Vampirate, Lorcan. Thoughts of him and the captain the crew fill her dreams day in and day out. And while her brother has a wonderful, wonderful time learning how to be a pirate and practicing about with his sword, Grace can't help but wonder what it would be like to be far, far away. In all honesty, she'd rather be with Lorcan than watching her brother become a pirate prodigy. And after the death of one of her brother's friends, Jez, her feeling that this ship isn't a "safe" haven becomes any stronger. If only there was a way to get her brother to give up this pirate nonsense. Enter pirate school. Or should I say pirate academy? When an opportunity to visit and attend classes at the pirate academy is made, Grace convinces her brother that they both should go and see for themselves what it is like. It appears Connor will have a choice to make: to continue learning how to be a pirate aboard a ship, or perhaps have a scholarship to the pirate academy and learn it all in the classroom by the textbook. The Academy awes him. He is quite taken with it all: the students, the books, the teachers, the environment. It is unlike any place he's ever known. But Grace, Grace will have her own choice to make in the days and weeks ahead. This novel is all about choices.

Vampires. Pirates. Vampirates. This book is full of thrills, scares, and chases. Lots of blood drinking as well. It is an exciting ride. Although, if I'm being completely honest I enjoyed the first one just a bit more than this installment. The third novel in the series, Vampirates: Blood Captain, is set to be released in June 2008. (September '07 in the UK. November '07 in Australia.)


3 Comments on Vampirates: Tide of Terror, last added: 10/11/2007
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8. Bloodline

Cary, Kate. 2005. Bloodline.

Set in France, England, and Romania during World War I, Bloodline is the story of four young people: the brother and sister team of John and Lily Shaw; Mary Seward, a young nurse who falls in love with John; and Colonel Quincey Harker, John's Commanding Officer and Lily's love interest. The story is told through diary/journal entries and/or letters of all the characters involved. When John arrives at the front and meets his new Commanding Officer, he has little idea what torments await him in the following weeks. It is more than the war. It is the horror of watching the twisted cruelty of humanity. John gets the feeling that there is something not quite right about Colonel Harker. He's mysterious. He's dangerous. He seems to have superhuman strength and an uncanny ability to return always unscathed from his nighttime raids and skirmishes. Witnessing a few scenes AND being injured, he ends up returning to England and becoming a patient in a sanatorium delirious with trench fever. His ravings and mumblings convince doctors he's mad--crazy, delirious. But what no one suspects is that his nightmares are rooted in truth--a dangerous, horrifying truth. Mary is the only one who senses there may be something to his suspicions about Colonel Harker. She's the only one who distrusts him when he comes to visit...and when he moves into the Shaw household. Is there really something dark and sinister lurking beneath his charming, charismatic persona? Will Harker endanger them all?

This war is as bad for the mind as it is for the boy. In the fog of combat, we aren't always able to see things for what they really are. (26)

My dear daughter, I fear an old enemy has returned. An enemy my friends and I had hoped our children would never know. He turned to John. "My boy," he said, "I do not believe your testimony of Quincey Harker's demonic activities is that of a fevered mind. For I have encountered such behavior before. From what you have told me, I believe Quincey Harker must be descended from the same evil, parasitic presence I helped remove from the world thirty-five years ago. One Count Dracula... (151)

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9. Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind...

Smith, Cynthia Leitich. 2007. Tantalize.

Quincie Morris is not your average teen girl. For one thing, her first love and best friend, Kieren, is a werewolf. Another thing that separates her from the crowd: she's being wooed by a vampire. Yes, life for Quincie Morris is not your typical, ordinary one. She's an orphan being raised by her uncle. Together they are running the family restaurant. Due to some recent competition, the restaurant is being rejuvenated and going theme. The theme? vampires. So of course the head chef would need to at least pretend to be a vampire to attract customers. But when murders become an almost weekly occurrence in the neighborhood, Quincie doesn't know what to think. Is the restaurant attracting real vampires? Or is her best friend a serial killer? Who can she trust? Is anyone she loves a suspect? No one is safe in this thrilling vampire tale of murder and seduction.

P.S. The vampires in this novel are very, very bad. Not your blood-abstaining sort.


Want to read more? Enter to win an autographed copy of Tantalize here. Contest ends April 30, 2007. So rush off now before it's too late!

7 Comments on Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind..., last added: 4/18/2007
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10. Sunshine

McKinley, Robin. 2003. Sunshine.

I didn’t know what to expect from Sunshine. I knew it was a vampire novel. I knew it was either a YA book or an adult book with crossover appeal. I knew that it was supposed to be less romantic and conform more to traditional ‘vampire lit’ than Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. But I didn’t know quite what to expect. It was exciting. It was interesting. I’m glad I read it, but I still don’t know what to think about it now that I’m finished with it. It was good. But I wasn’t blown away with it. I enjoyed it. But it left me wanting more. I guess that says more about me than the book. Has Twilight spoiled all other vampire books for me? Am I expecting every vampire to be as dreamy as Edward? Every heroine as likeable as Bella? Maybe so. But here is a little summary of Sunshine.
Sunshine is a young woman--who has been out of high school for at least a year or so--who finds herself kidnapped by vampires. She is given as a ‘sacrifice’ to a vampire, Con, who is being held prisoner. What their captors don’t know is that Sunshine is not an ordinary human. She is part-Other. She can change objects. She changes a pocket-knife into a key and unlocks the cuffs that hold her. Not content just to rescue herself, she sets the vampire free as well. Now they must work together to gain their freedom. With their combined powers--somehow, she has the power to protect him from bursting into flames in the sunlight--they make their way home. Her life is forever changed, and she can’t help but wonder if that’s the last she’ll hear of her vampire-hero. It wouldn’t be much of a book, if she didn’t. It turns out that their miraculous escape is only the beginning of the troubles ahead for the unlikely duo. Survival means depending on the one person you thought you’d never be able to trust.

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11. Enter Three Witches

Cooney, Caroline. 2007. Enter Three Witches.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Act IV, Scene I

Caroline B. Cooney's latest novel, Enter Three Witches, is rich with Shakespeare. Told from the point of view of a young girl, Mary, the reader gets a new perspective of the ever-required play MacBeth.

I don't know about you. And I certainly can't speak universally, but I can tell you this. If you're in Texas, you read MacBeth in high school. I also remember being *introduced* (note how I did not say forced or subjected) to Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet. And as an English major, I had the pleasure of reading this particular Shakespeare play twice. (For a total of three times in my lifetime.) That being said, my memory is a bit fuzzy. Sure, I remember the witches. And I remember all the blood and murder. So I looked at Enter Three Witches as a mini-refresher for the play. Granted, I'd have to reread the play to see just how much Cooney takes liberties with it. But that's a task I'm not particularly willing to take on at this point. It's summer. I'm surrounded by stacks of brand new books...and the thought of tackling such a gruesome play. Not so appealing.

Back to Enter Three Witches. (I promise I can stay on task this time.) Mary is a young girl, a daughter of one of the characters who is accused of treason and executed. She had been "adopted" for a time by the Macbeth family and had been staying with them for quite a while when the book (and play) opens. We first meet her visiting and chatting with the servant girls/kitchen staff. Although Mary has not revealed it to another soul, she's been experiencing weird tingles in her thumbs. She's almost convinced it's a sign. A sign that only the three weird sisters could interpret. But everyone is scared of the witches, right? Yet her curiousity leads Mary to be in just the right place to overhear a prophecy--a deadly prophecy given to Macbeth. (The reader will notice that this happens to Mary a lot. She always happens to be in the background, the shadows, listening and watching as all the big drama happens.)

What can I say about Enter Three Witches? It blends original characters with classic Shakespeare characters. It quotes a bit of Shakespeare now and then. While it is told mainly through Mary's point of view, it also includes a bit of the young prince's point of view--Fleance. It is very dramatic. Of course it has its dark moments. Lots of blood. Lots of schemes. Lots of villains.

Other reviews:

1 Comments on Enter Three Witches, last added: 7/9/2007
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12. Masquerade

de la Cruz, Melissa. 2007. Masquerade.

Masquerade is the sequel to Blue Bloods, a fast-paced vampire adventure released in 2006. The book begins roughly a few weeks or months after the conclusion of Blue Bloods. In the first book, our main character Schuyler promised to go to Venice to look for her grandfather. It was her grandmother's last request. This book, Masquerade, opens with her on her last days of her trip in Venice. Her quest to find her grandfather, Lawrence Van Alen, is just the first step she must take if she's to restore peace and order in this coven of classy vampires. The book also is narrated from Mimi's point of view and Bliss's point of view. Both characters from the previous book. The story is exciting, fast-paced. And one unfolding mystery. As such, I'm not going to describe the plot in ANY detail whatsoever because I don't want to spoil it.

I recommend this book to those that love vampire lit...and for fans of YA drama/adventure in general.

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