Review: Lailah by Nikki Kelly

Lailah
Nikki Kelly

Feiwel & Friends
I received an ARC from the publisher.
Released October 7, 2014
416 pages
YA / Fantasy / Angels & Vampires

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.

So they can’t all be winners, can they? When I was younger, I used to hate things that were popular just to be contrarian. I would eventually give in and read the popular book series or watch the popular movie or listen to the popular band and would make an opinion based on merit, but I would hold out longer than any reasonable person would. I’d like to think I’ve outgrown that kneejerk desire to hate popular things, so the fact that this has a bajillion million readers prior to publishing didn’t sway my feelings one way or the other. I went into Lailah just knowing that apparently a lot of people enjoyed it and it had angels in it.

Well, a lot of people liked Twilight and you all know how I felt about that book (if you don’t, well, click here).

I could not wait until this book was over. There was a part of me hoping it would get better, that I would stop wanting everyone to just kill each other already, and the story would start being interesting. It didn’t happen. The main, terrible flaw in this book is that the big key moment in the protagonist’s life, the turning point that is supposed to be a slap in the face to Lailah’s person self-discovery and change her entire life, is the prologue. As the reader, I knew this big dramatic reveal and there was no fun in waiting for everyone else to figure it out. There were no other twists or turns for me as the reader to revel in alongside the characters. No, it was just that one thing I learned on page 3 and waiting.

It also doesn’t help that this all reads like glorified Twilight fan fiction, except instead of a werewolf and a vampire, you have an angel and a vampire. You also have a “written in the starts” forever kind of made-for-each-other nonsense that sucks out any of the interest in the love triangle.

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Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Holly Black

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
I received an ARC from the publisher at Comic Con.
Released September 3, 2013
432 pages
YA / Fantasy / Vampires

Find it on Goodreads

Order it from Amazon 

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Thank you, Holly Black, for making vampires creepy bloodthirsty monsters again! If I could only say one thing about The Coldest Girl in Coldtown it would be that it is filled with genuinely creepy monster vampires. That a romance begins between the main character and a vampire that is a scheming bipolar psychopath says more about Black’s leading character than it does about the desirability of the vampires in her world.

This is a world where vampires were pushed into the public eye after centuries of being delegated to the shadows by an ancient code of conduct enforced by the most ancient of vampires. When one of the enforcers has a moment of human empathy and doesn’t kill a baby vamp, that vampire goes on a feeding spree throughout the eastern United States and vampirism spreads quickly and very, very publicly. To deal, Coldtowns have been created – a sort of Hotel California for vampires, vampire sympathizers and people infected with the vampirism-causing virus that makes them crave human blood. It’s the consumption of human blood and the reaction to the virus that eventually kills and resurrects humans to vampires.

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Trailer Park Friday: Vampire Faerie Tales, Batman, WTF & Robot Ballerinas

This week is going to be a short one since some thing have come up, but here are a few interesting trailers/vids I've stumbled upon this past week.

While Byzantium is a name I've seen on film website release schedules for awhile, I never had any idea what it was. Well, now there is a trailer and it's being described as a dark adult faerie tale version of vampires. It will be in limited release starting on June 28.

Cartoon Network is trying to win me back after tragically cancelling Young Justice (and Green Lantern) and they are epically failing with the preschool targeted Tiny Titans. I suppose I'll give Beware the Batman a shot, but if there is no Robin or Nightwing, they may not keep me. It starts on July 13, just in time for the geeks at Comic Con to complain about it loudly at the DC Nation panel.

This next trailer is for The Congress, a trippy looking science fiction movie that is part animation, part WTF. It comes out in early 2014 by Drafthouse Films and was shown at Cannes Film Festival a few weeks ago.

And finally have a short film about robot ballerinas fighting each other at a tryout. It's kind of fun.

 

 

That's what I have for this week. What trailers and vids have captivated you this week? Share them in comments!

 

Trailer Park Friday: It's Up Front Week Which Means NEW TELEVISION SHOWS!

If you stop by regularly, you will have noticed that I've been really off schedule. I blame home improvement project bleeding into the work week and a weird sort of eye infection thing that made extra time on a computer uncomfortable, but things are winding down so hopefully I'll be around more regularly.

This week was Up Front Week. For those of you not obsessed with television like me, it means this was the week when all the networks previewed their new shows for the fall and midseason. Now I can obsessively plan the ridiculous amount of television I will watch in the near future. Here are some of the shows I'm most eagerly anticipating.

First up is the show I am most excited about watching and I can't imagine the trailer not being at Comic Con. That would be, of course, ABC's Agents of SHIELD and it has lots of Coulson awesomeness to go around.

Continuing with ABC, there is Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, which has an awful title that made me incredibly leery of this Once Upon a Time spin off. Then I watched the trailer and it actually looks really entertaining despite it's Suckerpunch-esque conceit. Plus Alice looks like she might be able to handle herself when in trouble, which is always nice to see.

Resurrection looks like a movie, not a series. I don't know how you expand this into a long running series, but it may be worth a viewing.

Now to Fox. They really only have one show that I'm excited about, but I'm REALLY excited about it. Karl Urban + android sidekick = HELL YES! Unfortunately it won't come on until mid-season. It's called Almost Human and makes me very happy.

The CW is packing their schedule with more sci-fi and urban fantasy shows since that's what keeps the lights on over there. Here is a scene from The Tomorrow People for all of you who needs more Arnell in your life beyond Arrow as it stars that Arnell's cousin, Robbie Arnell. It doesn't look like anything new, but it does look kind of cool for second tier network television.

Another CW show, this one is called Star Crossed and is essentially about insanely attractive aliens with facial tattoos getting integrated into a high school. Enevitably the hottest alien boy will fall for the most attractive human female and it'll be some badly veiled metaphor for acceptance. I just hope it's better than the movie version of I Am Number Four.

The CW has a couple of other new shows that sound interesting. Unfortunately the clip for The 100 - about a ship of 100 deliquents being returned to a post-apocalyptic world after 100 years - looks pretty bland. The others are midseason shows and don't have clips available yet (or at least that I've been able to find).

I'm not exactly CBS' target audience and I find most of the shows that have some sort of trigger that may appeal to me eventually become boring and flat. But there is one show coming up in midseason that looks pretty cool and not just because Josh Holloway is going to star in it. He is some sort of spy with uber crazy robot intelligence and of course he's a badass. This show is uncreatively called Intelligence.

And finally there is NBC, which is filling it's slate with cop dramas and horribly generic comedies. They do, however, have Dracula, which looks like it would be much better on pay cable and probably won't last on network television, but I will most likely enjoy the hell out of it while it's around.

There are a bajillion other new shows coming out in the fall. EW has great coverage and all the new trailers and clips. What new show are you most excited about seeing in the fall?

Review: Pretty When She Kills by Rhiannon Frater

Pretty When She Kills
Rhiannon Frater

Self-Published
Released September 12, 2012
278 pages
Horror / Vampires / Zombies

Find it on Goodreads

Purchase it from Amazon

Amaliya Vezorak never believed in happy endings…

When Amaliya harnessed her necromancer powers to defeat her greatest enemy, she believed she had finally found a happy ending with Cian, her lover and the master of Austin. That happiness is short-lived when the vampire ruling over San Antonio attempts a takeover of Austin in order to capture Amaliya and use her power for his own devices.

To make matters worse, Samantha, Cian’s ex-fiancée, is seeing ghosts, the untested vampire hunters of Austin are running scared as a supernatural war looms, a mysterious man is hunting Amaliya with the help of her one time lover, Pete, and Rachoń, the Summoner’s favorite progeny, appears to be out for revenge.

When Amaliya’s grandmother, a powerful medium, experiences terrible visions that reveal there is another necromancer vampire and she is crying out for help, Amaliya realizes happy endings do not come easily…

I failed in my blogging duty last week. I was supposed to have a review of this along with our short Q&A with Rhiannon Frater posted on Friday, but between work commitments and family things, I got way behind on things and didn’t finish the second book in the series in time. So instead you get this review today, three days late. Hopefully Rhiannon won’t mind. Here is

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Blog Tour Review: Pretty When She Dies by Rhiannon Frater

Welcome to part two of the Working for the Mandroid stop of Rhiannon Frater's Pretty When She Kills blog tour. Earlier today Rhiannon stopped by to do a short Q&A with us. Now we have a review of the first book in her Pretty When She series, Pretty When She Dies. Later tonight - fingers crossed - I'll have a review up of the sequel and focus of this blog tour, Pretty When She Kills.

Pretty When She Dies: A Vampire Novel (Unabridged) - Rhiannon FraterAlso remember that we're giving away an e-book copy of both books over on the interview with Rhiannon, so make sure to go enter. If you'd prefer to listen to Pretty When She Dies, it has just recently become available as an audio book. You can find it through audible to the left.

 

Pretty When She Dies
Rhiannon Frater

Self-Published (2008)
226 pages
Adult / Horror / Vampires

Find it on Goodreads

Purchase it on Amazon

Amaliya wakes under the forest floor, disoriented, famished and confused. She digs out of the shallow grave and realizes she is hungry...

... in a new, horrific, unimaginable way...

Sating her great hunger, she discovers that she is now a vampire, the bloodthirsty creature of legend. She has no choice but to flee from her old life and travels across Texas. Her new hunger spurs her to leave a wake of death and blood behind her as she struggles with her new nature.

All the while, her creator is watching. He is ancient, he is powerful, and what's worse is that he's a necromancer. He has the power to force the dead to do his bidding. Amaliya realizes she is but a pawn in a twisted game, and her only hope for survival is to seek out one of her own kind.

But if Amaliya finds another vampire, will it mean her salvation... or her death?

I have to admit up front that I’m a bit biased when it comes to Rhiannon Frater’s vampire, necromancer, zombie series that starts with Pretty When She Dies because a predominant portion of the books take place in Austin. My life also predominantly takes place in Austin, so a lot of the backdrops used are places I’m well acquainted with and so I felt more submerged into the story than someone not as familiar with the Austin area might feel. Often Frater got really specific about minute locations that might seem a little random or unnecessary to a reader not as familiar with the local quirks of the area, but I found it to be an added fun element.

This is not a YA series. Scenes often quickly turned from action or drama into graphic vampire sex. The violence is equally graphic, and sometimes the two things merge into one giant not-young adult friendly ball of crazy. But in a good way. Frater is fantastic at managing to throw in numerous elements of urban fantasy and then balancing all these elements so nothing is wasted or forgotten. In this one book, we have vampires, vampire rivalries, secret frat orgies, zombies, zombie armies, reluctant vampire hunters, grandma mediums and necromancers. That’s a lot of pieces to put together into one cohesive and comprehensible story and Frater is fantastic at it.

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Author Blog Tour: An Interview with Rhiannon Frater, Author of Pretty When She Kills

In celebration of the release of Pretty When She Kills, award winning author Rhiannon Frater is traveling the blogosphere talking about vampires, necromancers and all things horror. I've recently had a chance to read Pretty When She Kills and the first book in the series, Pretty When She Dies, and they're both really good. And it's not just because they're set in Austin either! I'll have reviews of both of those books later on today. You can see the entire list of tour stops on Rhiannon's blog.

As part of the tour, the Bookish Brunette is hosting a giveaway where you can enter to win vampire teeth necklaces, a paperback copy of Pretty When She Kills, and signed bookmarks. Also stick around until the end of this tour post to enter to win an e-copy of both books in the series so far.

Now please welcome fellow Austinite Rhiannon Frater to Working for the Mandroid.

 

What inspired you to first start writing?

I was born a storyteller. From the moment I could talk, I was trying to tell stories to anyone who would listen.  When I learned to read and write, I automatically started writing.  I finished my first book, which was a sci-fi fan fiction piece, when I was twelve. My mother was surprised with how good it actually was and encouraged me to continue. I have no idea where the inspiration came from. I think it was just always a part of my makeup.

Plus, my imagination is so vivid I have to do something with the stories that are born in my dreams and nightmares. PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES and PRETTY WHEN SHE KILLS were both born out of very intense nightmares.

Who have been your biggest writing influences? Why?

Bram Stoker, Charlotte Bronte, and Agatha Christie were probably my biggest influence when I was younger. Agatha Christie’s longevity and success as a female writer was very inspirational. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre completely captivated me and drew me into that world. I wanted to write something that would have that much power over my own readers. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is probably the most beautiful book I’ve ever read. There were descriptions in the book that completely immersed me into the narrative and terrified me.  I long and hope to capture a bit of the essence that helped all three of those authors create long-lasting and beloved works.

You've explored vampires in the Pretty When She Dies and Vampire Bride series and zombies in the As the World Dies series. What other supernatural creatures or tropes would you like to explore next?

I have plenty of monster stories banging around in my head. Some are traditional monsters; some are of my own making.  I’ve written about vampires, zombies, werewolves, robots, mummies, necromancers, and ghosts in both my short stories and novels, so I’ve had a lot of fun with traditional monsters. It’s the non-traditional that have a hold on me at the moment. In the book I am writing now, Dead Spots,  fear is the monster. 

What is your ideal writing location and atmosphere? Include choice of snacks if necessary.

It depends on the book. It depends on the time of the year.  I usually write at night in my office unless it’s too hot like in the summer.  If I’m really struggling, I take my laptop to another room in the house, or head out to a coffee shop.  If I’m having a lot of trouble concentrating, I put on music and lose myself in the world of my imagination.

As for snacks, I like diet coke and popcorn.

Do you have a particular routine to get you in the mindset of writing such great horror and urban fantasy stories?

I consider myself to be a horror writer, so I just open up the part of my imagination that scares me most and dive in. I like to push myself and the readers into scary territory.  I want readers to be slightly uncomfortable, afraid, and not too sure what is going on. I also gleefully destroy tropes or turn clichés on their head.  I think that is why I will never be able to really write a true Urban Fantasy novel or a Paranormal Romance. I want to go to the darker side and see what lurks there.

I think that is what made the PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES trilogy so fun for me.  I take tropes from UF and PNR and break them apart in a horror setting.  I’ve been really pleased with how much people have embraced the series even though I’ve done my best to write something outside the norm.

Faeries or Ghosts

To write about, I would prefer ghosts. They’re much more disturbing. But to share my house with? Definitely faeries. Unless they pinched my Betsey Johnson jewelry.

 

Thanks for visiting with us, Rhiannon! We'll have reviews up of Pretty When She Dies and Pretty When She Kills later this evening. In the meantime, enter to win an electronic copy of both Pretty When She Dies and Pretty When She Kills, courtesy of Rhiannon.

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Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the AS THE WORLD DIES zombie trilogy and the author of several other horror novels.  She was born and raised a Texan and presently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets).  She loves scary movies, sci-fi shows, playing video games, cooking, dying her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes. 

You can find her online at:

Website: rhiannonfrater.com & astheworlddies.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/astheworlddies

Twitter:  twitter.com/rhiannonfrater

Blog:  rhianonfrater.blogspot.com

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/rhiannonfrater/

Email: rhiannonfrater at gmail.com

 


 Pretty When She Dies

Amaliya wakes under the forest floor, disoriented, famished and confused. She digs out of the shallow grave and realizes she is hungry...

... in a new, horrific, unimaginable way...

Sating her great hunger, she discovers that she is now a vampire, the bloodthirsty creature of legend. She has no choice but to flee from her old life and travels across Texas. Her new hunger spurs her to leave a wake of death and blood behind her as she struggles with her new nature.

All the while, her creator is watching. He is ancient, he is powerful, and what's worse is that he's a necromancer. He has the power to force the dead to do his bidding. Amaliya realizes she is but a pawn in a twisted game, and her only hope for survival is to seek out one of her own kind.

But if Amaliya finds another vampire, will it mean her salvation... or her death?

 

Pretty When She Kills

Amaliya Vezorak never believed in happy endings…

When Amaliya harnessed her necromancer powers to defeat her greatest enemy, she believed she had finally found a happy ending with Cian, her lover and the master of Austin. That happiness is short-lived when the vampire ruling over San Antonio attempts a takeover of Austin in order to capture Amaliya and use her power for his own devices. 

To make matters worse, Samantha, Cian’s ex-fiancée, is seeing ghosts, the untested vampire hunters of Austin are running scared as a supernatural war looms, a mysterious man is hunting Amaliya with the help of her one time lover, Pete, and Rachoń, the Summoner’s favorite progeny, appears to be out for revenge.

When Amaliya’s grandmother, a powerful medium, experiences terrible visions that reveal there is another necromancer vampire and she is crying out for help, Amaliya realizes happy endings do not come easily…