SERIES REVIEW: Blue Bloods, Masquerade, and Revelations (Blue Bloods #1, #2, #3), by Melissa De La Cruz

Released: April 25, 2006 (Hyperion)
Series: Blue Bloods, #1
Author Links: WEB / TWITTER / GOODREADS / FACEBOOK
Source: Purchased
Buy Now From: Amazon

When the Mayflower set sail in 1620, it carried on board the men and women who would shape America: Miles Standish; John Alden; Constance Hopkins. But some among the Pilgrims were not pure of heart; they were not escaping religious persecution. Indeed, they were not even human. They were vampires.The vampires assimilated quickly into the New World. Rising to levels of enormous power, wealth, and influence, they were the celebrated blue bloods of American society. 

The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapated mansion. Schuyler is a loner…and happy that way. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a popular girl from her school is found dead… drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn’t know what to think, but she wants to find out the secrets the Blue Bloods are keeping. But is she herself in danger?

Released: May 1, 2007 (Hyperion)
Series: Blue Bloods, #2
Author Links: WEB / TWITTER / GOODREADS / FACEBOOK
Source: Purchased
Buy Now From: Amazon

Schuyler Van Alen wants an explanation for the mysterious deaths of young vampires. With her best friend, Oliver, Schuyler travels to Italy in the hope of finding the one man who can help—her grandfather. Meanwhile, back in New York, preparations are feverishly underway for the Four Hundred Ball, an exclusive gala hosted by the city’s wealthy, powerful, and unhuman—a true Blue Blood affair. 

But it’s at the after-party, a masquerade ball thrown by the cunning Mimi Force, that the real danger lurks. Hidden behind the masks is a revelation that will forever change the course of a young vampire’s destiny. 

Rich with glamour, attitude, and vampire lore, this second installment in the Blue Bloods saga will leave readers thirsting for more.

Released: October 28, 2008 (Hyperion)
Series: Blue Bloods, #3
Author Links: WEB / TWITTER / GOODREADS / FACEBOOK
Source: Purchased
Buy Now From: Amazon

Schuyler Van Alen wants an explanation for the mysterious deaths of young vampires. With her best friend, Oliver, Schuyler travels to Italy in the hope of finding the one man who can help—her grandfather. Meanwhile, back in New York, preparations are feverishly underway for the Four Hundred Ball, an exclusive gala hosted by the city’s wealthy, powerful, and unhuman—a true Blue Blood affair. 

But it’s at the after-party, a masquerade ball thrown by the cunning Mimi Force, that the real danger lurks. Hidden behind the masks is a revelation that will forever change the course of a young vampire’s destiny. 

Rich with glamour, attitude, and vampire lore, this second installment in the Blue Bloods saga will leave readers thirsting for more.

My Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)

There is such an onslaught of vampire books nowadays. There used to be a time where only Bram Stoker and Anne Rice ruled the bookstore, with their creepy and terrifying versions of vampires, but nowadays the young adult shelves have been bursting at the seams with new additions. In comparison to what used to be a vampire novel, these books are lighter, full of teenage angst and romance. There isn’t a lot of gore, but these are books for teens, right?

When I started reading Blue Bloods, I liked it immediately. Although it follows the same plotline as other books of its genre, the Blue Bloods series is fresh and intriguing. In Twilight we knew that Bella and Edward were supposed to be together, but by the end of Revelations, I still want Jack and Schuyler to be together – though I still don’t know if they will be in the future. It makes me crazy when I read these books to not know if they can or can’t be together.

There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of name dropping in these books. For some reason, De La Cruz seems to think that readers need to know fashion labels, musician names, etc. I’m interested in the story, not in knowing what kind of t-shirt someone is wearing or what brand of jeans they have on. If it’s not pertinent to the story, leave it out. We get it – they’re all Manhattan elite kids who have money and can obviously afford the best. It is also repeated plenty of times that Schuyler doesn’t wear the top names, but is oh-so-stylish in her second-hand clothes.

We get it.

The whole ordeal with Schuyler making Oliver one of her human familiars reminded me too much of the imprinting process in Twilight. I was annoyed at how attached Oliver became to Schuyler and agreed that she may have made a mistake choosing him. Personally, I liked the old Oliver, not the love-sick Oliver who seems annoyed that Schuyler likes Jack. The threesome reminds me of the Zoey-Heath-Stark threesome of The House of Night novels and I wonder why authors can’t commit a character to another character without all the drama. Is it a common thing for vampire girls to have lots of man troubles? Apparently.

There are differences, of course, from all of the vampire literature that’s out there. Rather than someone being a vampire for the rest of their “life,” the vampires go through century long cycles, where they are born again as a vampire but in a different body. This is one reason why Mimi and Jack, who are supposedly connected through each other, have been born again as twins. Kind of creepy on the offset, but when you know that their souls aren’t actually related to one another and that they’ve been together for centuries, it’s not so bad.

Of course, the problem with this series is that everyone seems more into money, fashion, and social status than anything else. It’s very Gossip Girl-meets-vampires. The characters seem to be very superficial and there’s not a whole lot going on. While I’m kind of peeved that the House of Night series is so badly set up as a series, I kind of like those books better because there was more action. There’s probably a lot more action going on in Twilight, too.

If you like the kind of books that are deliberately set up for a series – or if you like books that are constantly name dropping the latest fashion trends – then you’ll love these books. From the looks of it, there are still a few more books coming out in the Blue Bloods series. I’m interested to see what happens in the storyline!

BOOK REVIEW: Let the Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist

RELEASE DATE: October 28, 2008
AUTHOR LINKS: WEB / GOODREADS / FACEBOOK
PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Griffin (an imprint of MacMillan)
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
BUY NOW FROM: Amazon

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night. . . .

Sweeping top honors at film festivals all over the globe, director Tomas Alfredsson’s film of Let the Right One In has received the same kind of spectacular raves that have been lavished on the book. American readers of vampire fiction will be thrilled!

MY REVIEW (MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS)

A while ago, my husband and I watched the movie Let the Right One In, which was based on the book written by John A. Lindqvist, on the recommendation of a favourite singer of mine, Terami Hirsch. The problem was that we had a version of the movie that had English dubbing, rather than subtitles. I thought this would be a good thing since my husband is very anti-subtitles (I, on the other hand, can handle foreign films), so I didn’t think it would be that bad.

Boy, was I wrong.

The dubbing was the worst English dubbing I had ever heard for a movie. Some of the male characters sounded like girls and it all seemed too much like a version of Coronation Street – light and fluffy – rather than one of the best horror movies of the year.

So, when I bought the book, I was hesitant to read it. I picked it up a few times, but immediately put it down in favour of something else. When the day came that I decided to read Let the Right One In, without putting it down, I couldn’t have been happier. From page one, this was an amazing book.

I had never read any older vampire books. I do have some Anne Rice and some Bram Stoker on my shelves, but I have definitely been pulled into this genre by way of young adult fiction. That being said, while I saw the movie, I was still not prepared for what I was about to read.

There is a fair amount of gore in the novel, though it’s not an obscene goriness – in a way it’s almost tasteful (if that’s possible). I learned not to read this book while eating because Lindqvist can get very descriptive. However, the book is balanced out nicely by both humour and a love story.

Oskar, a young boy who is constantly bullied at school is longing for a backbone so he can stand up for himself. He finds a knife and decides to take out his anger on a tree in the courtyard of his housing complex. One day he meets Eli, a young girl who moved into his complex who is drawn to Oskar. Even though Eli tells Oskar that they shouldn’t become friends and that Oskar should stay away from her, the two become friends, seeing each other nightly in the courtyard and talking via morse code through the walls of their apartments. Of course, it is later found out that Eli isn’t what she says she is.

It’s almost romantic, in a way, when Eli talks to Oskar about why she has to kill people. While she says that Oskar would like to kill the boys who bully him if he had the chance, Eli says that she has no choice. She needs to kill people in order to live. She says she is not a vampire, but rather lives on blood. This doesn’t seem to bother Oskar too much until Eli’s blood-getter servant, Håkan, gets caught trying to capture a boy for blood and Oskar is the only person Eli has to turn to while Håkan – horribly disfigured after dousing himself in 100 proof acid – turns into some kind of zombie with a permanent hard on. Oskar’s’ main concern is to protect Eli while other peoples’ worlds crumble around them as Håkan is on the pursuit to also find Eli.

Love, mystery, murder, vampires, zombies, coming of age, bullying, terror, gore, humour – Let the Right One In has it all. I didn’t find the story to be too slow – there’s a lot going on that keeps the reader interested. Even though I had seen the movie, I was on my toes during the last half of the book, wondering what was going to happen.

Shortly after finishing the novel, I decided to watch the real version of the movie with English subtitles. I absolutely loved it. When it was over, I was sad to have lost that connection with Eli and Oskar, but happy that I found a new movie to add to my favourites. A few things confused me, though – Why did the movie makers decide to change Virginia’s name to Tania? Or Jonny’s name to Conny? And why did Conny seem so … feminine? Why did they leave out one of my favourite parts in the book – when Oskar is close to being killed at the pool and Eli has to ask someone to invite her in in order to save him?

The ending also confused me. In the movie, it seemed that Oskar was not a vampire, but instead decided to leave with Eli as a friend. In the book, it seems vague on whether or not he was turned into a vampire. The book and movie were both wonderful – all the right parts (minus the real “let the right one in” part at the end of the novel) were present in the movie. I’m leary to think of what will happen with such a beautiful book AND a beautiful movie when they are transformed into an American version (which usually ends up as hit or miss), but I’m hoping that it translates well. I still can’t understand why the name is being changed to Let Me In – I had read that it was changed because the name was too long, which confuses me since movies with titles like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford are allowed to have long titles. Do fans of the horror genre come across as not having enough brains to be able to remember a movie title? But I digress.

I will say this – Twilight will seem like unicorns and fairies compared to Let the Right One In. Read only if you’re ready for a REAL vampire story.

BOOK REVIEW: Getting Rid of Matthew, by Jane Fallon

Released: November 3, 2007 (HarperCollins)
Author Links: WEB / GOODREADS / FACEBOOK
Source: Purchased
Buy Now From: Amazon

A fabulous debut about a long-suffering nearly 40-something woman, Helen, and her affair with a family man named Matthew, who is not so surprisingly her boss. Just at the moment she decides it’s time to dump him and get on with her life, she opens the front door to find Matthew on her doorstep. “I’ve done it” he announces triumphantly. “I’ve left her. I’m yours” he tells her, and proceeds to move in. She is not brave enough to throw him out. She then discovers how much she can’t bear him. Wherein ensues a zany plot that involves figuring out that the best way to get rid of Matthew is to befriend his wife and convince her to take him back. The only problem is that Helen discovers she really likes Sophie, Matthew’s wife, a lot more than she likes Matthew. And on top of that, she has a rather dishy stepson. Light as a feather but about real issues, GETTING RID OF MATTHEW is a deliciously funny novel that proves the peril of getting what you ask for.

My Review (May Contain Spoilers)

I don’t know what it is about Jane Fallon’s books, but I believe that they represent some of the best chick-lit out there. It had been a few years since I read her first book, Got You Back, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw her second novel, Getting Rid of Matthew, at the used book store. It had been on my wish list over at Amazon for quite some time and I just hadn’t gotten around to buying it.

From the first few pages, I loved this book. At first glance, Jane Fallon’s books look like they’d be long and tedious to read, dragging on and on, but this was not the case. Even though the entire book was devoted to Helen trying to convince her married boyfriend (who left his wife, Sophie, to be with Helen) that he should go back to his family, it doesn’t come across as being repetitive or boring.

I loved the whole premise for the book – Helen’s having an affair with Matthew, constantly telling him to leave his wife and be solely with her, but then when he actually does leave his wife, showing up on Helen’s doorstep saying that he’s hers now, she doesn’t want him!

Helen comes across as funny and charming, even though she’s the girl who stole another woman’s husband. I ended up falling in love with her and wanting her to get the best – which was what Matthew was not. Helen befriends Sophie, Matthew’s soon-to-be-ex-wife – first in an attempt to just see who Matthew’s wife was, but then gets to know and like her – and as a reader I really wanted their friendship to last. Helen even falls for Matthew’s son, Leo, a restaurateur who wants to use Helen for PR purposes (even though she’s not really a PR person – a lie she told to make up a different life while befriending Sophie).

Of course, it’s hard for either of these relationships to go public because of Matthew, but in the end all I wanted was for Matthew to be gone – not to have Sophie or Helen – because he didn’t deserve either women.

Jane Fallon has such a knack for writing – she’s funny in both PG-13 and R-rated ways, but then she can warm your heart just like that. She can make you fall for characters you might not have thought you would have liked, and she can really make you dislike another character. Her books may be long, but I was intrigued the whole way and thought the ending was perfect. The reader is left feeling good and loving all the characters, except for Matthew who continues to dig holes for himself.

This was a great read! I can’t wait to see what Jane Fallon releases in the future.