Author: Rachel Vincent

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Menagerie by Rachel Vincent – Review

September 1, 2015 Review 0 ★★★★

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent – ReviewRelease Date: September 29, 2015
Title: Menagerie
Series: Menagerie #1
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Source: NetGalley
From the Publisher: From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent comes a richly imagined, provocative new series set in the dark mythology of the Menagerie…

When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger's Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she's forced to "perform" in town after town.

But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other "attractions"—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she'll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed.

Renowned author Rachel Vincent weaves an intoxicating blend of carnival magic and startling humanity in this intricately woven and powerful tale.
4 Stars

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.

I didn’t think it was possible to do so, but Rachel Vincent has created in Menagerie a world that I’ve never before seen in my reading. While no single aspect of this world is unique, the way that Vincent has expertly woven various mythologies into a single universe left me feeling as if I were stepping into a new universe for the very first time.

While the book takes place in the United States – specifically Oklahoma and Texas – it is not the United States that we know. In this alternate version, every kind of creature you’ve ever imagined or read about co-exists with humans. Mermaids, minotaurs, fae, sirens, werewolves, skinwalkers, thunderbirds – there are simply too many to name. They have all of the same rights and privileges that humans do. They work with humans, they live next to humans, and they exist peacefully with humans.

Until the reaping.

One night in 1986, millions of human children were systematically murdered by their parents. In every family, a single six year old child remained alive. It was soon discovered that those six year old children were not human; six years prior, some 30,000 children were born but never made it out of the hospital. They were replaced with surrogates.

Because of the reaping, these non-humans – cryptids – were stripped of any and all rights and privileges. Millions lost jobs and homes. They became property. And the world of the Menagerie was created.

Delilah is thrust into this world when she displays some rather unusual characteristics while touring the Menagerie. After twenty-five years of believing she’s human, Delilah’s world changes in the span of a few seconds.

As I read, I found myself relating to Delilah in ways I didn’t expect. I was at once both captivated and disgusted by the Menagerie. Captivated by the mysteries it contained, yet disgusted by the treatment of those in captivity. The monsters weren’t the ones locked in the cages.

At it’s heart, Menagerie is a story about humanity and whether or not being human is a pre-requisite (spoiler: it isn’t). The story that Vincent tells is intense, vibrant, and – at times – heartbreaking. But what I liked most about it is that it wasn’t predictable. I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen, how the characters were going to interact, and how the first book of this trilogy was going to end. I was wrong.

I like being wrong when it comes to the predictability of what I’m reading.

I do have some concerns about things being “too tidy” – and perhaps a bit too easy… but thankfully Vincent has more books coming to muddy the waters again.

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Review: With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent (Soul Screamers #7)

June 11, 2013 Review 1 ★★★★★

Review: With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent (Soul Screamers #7)Release Date: March 26, 2013
Title: With All My Soul
Series: Soul Screamers #7
Author: Rachel Vincent
Pages: 377
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Owned
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: What does it mean when your school is voted the most dangerous in America? It's time to kick some hellion butt...

After not really surviving her junior year (does "undead" count as survival?), Kaylee Cavanaugh has vowed to take back her school from the hellions causing all the trouble. She's going to find a way to turn the incarnations of Avarice, Envy and Vanity against one another in order to protect her friends and finish this war, once and forever.

But then she meets Wrath and understands that she's closer to the edge than she's ever been. And when one more person close to her is taken, Kaylee realizes she can't save everyone she loves without risking everything she has...
5 Stars

How do you begin to say goodbye to a series that you have adored for years?

That’s something I’m going to have to do many times this year, and this is the first book I took the plunge with. While there have been others that I haven’t yet been able to read, this is one that even while in the midst of my hermitude I went straight to the store and bought on the day of release.

I read it in a single sitting. Well, sort of. I kept putting it down to prolong the reading.

And then I cried like a baby when it was over.

Kaylee was a main character I didn’t like in the first book. Especially since my introduction to this series was via audiobook. I thought she was whiny, immature, and stupid. Then when Rachel @ Fiktshun started a reading challenge for the series, I thought I’d give actually reading the series a shot. And it was a completely different experience. I fell in love with all of the characters – including Kaylee. Over the course of the series her character grew from the whiny, immature girl into someone who would give everything to save those she loves.

When it came time to read the final chapter of the series, I wasn’t ready to let go. I trusted Rachel to do right by the characters – she’s never steered us wrong – but saying goodbye is always so damned hard. And then she had to go and introduce a brand new character in the last book! Who does that?! Ira was quite the character. He reminded me quite a bit of Al from The Hollows series by Kim Harrison, truth be told. That means he was a demon I liked and wanted to see more of. But since we didn’t meet him until the final book, I probably won’t get my wish.

This book had everything we’ve grown accustomed to in a Soul Screamers novel – kidnapping, threat of death, impending doom, Avari stalking Kaylee, creeper vine wounds, demons, succubi, and above all – friends and family banding together to best evil.

All in all, this was a beautiful and fitting end to the story. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.

But ya know – just because this series is over and done with doesn’t mean this has to be the end of this world. Hear that Rachel? I hear a spin-off just calling your name…

Other Reviews:

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Review: Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent (Soul Screamers #6)

June 27, 2012 Review 1 ★★★★★

Warning! Spoilers from If I Die appear in this review! You have been warned.

Review: Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent (Soul Screamers #6)Release Date: June 26, 2012
Title: Before I Wake
Series: Soul Screamers #6
Author: Rachel Vincent
Pages: 352
Source: Owned
Available: Barnes and Noble

From the Publisher: I died on a Thursday—killed by a monster intent on stealing my soul.

The good news? He didn't get it.

The bad news? Turns out not even death will get you out of high school…

Covering up her own murder was one thing, but faking life is much harder than Kaylee Cavanaugh expected. After weeks spent "recovering," she's back in school, fighting to stay visible to the human world, struggling to fit in with her friends and planning time alone with her new reaper boyfriend.

But to earn her keep in the human world, Kaylee must reclaim stolen souls, and when her first assignment brings her face-to-face with an old foe, she knows the game has changed. Her immortal status won't keep her safe. And this time Kaylee isn't just gambling with her own life….

5 Stars

Getting this book the way that I did is one of the highlights of my year! If you don’t know – check out my BEA recap post. I was prepared for it to be fabulous – I just didn’t expect it to be as fabulous as it actually was.

If I gave out ratings higher than a 5, this one would definitely achieve it.

With each new installment of this series, Rachel Vincent opens up this world a little bit more. The characters continue to grow and evolve, including the bad guys. And she isn’t afraid to write death. I won’t tell you who – or how – but expect to be surprised and expect to mourn. When Kaylee died in If I Die, I was shocked – but I never mourned because I always knew she’d come back somehow. She is the main character after all. We’ve lost many characters in the series – Aunt Val, Meredith, Doug, Addison… just to name a few. But I was never affected by it until this book.

Expect to feel emotional when you read this – and not just because there is death. I got overwhelmed for Kaylee when she had to deal with her classmates back at school. I wanted to reach through the pages and throttle them.

Tod continues to be my favorite book crush (for now). And Sabine continues to annoy the ever lovin’ snot out of me. But she’s growing on me.

I have to say – it’s rare for series to get dramatically better with each new book, but Rachel Vincent accomplishes that with this one. There’s one book left – With All My Soul – and then we’ll be finished with this world. I am sad, but really excited to see how it ends.

Other Reviews:

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Review: If I Die by Rachel Vincent (Soul Screamers #5)

May 15, 2012 Challenges, Review 0 ★★★★★

Review: If I Die by Rachel Vincent (Soul Screamers #5)Release Date: September 27, 2011
Title: If I Die
Series: Soul Screamers #5
Author: Rachel Vincent
Pages: 342
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Owned
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: The entire school's talking about the gorgeous new math teacher, Mr. Beck. Everyone except Kaylee Cavanaugh. After all, Kaylee's no ordinary high-school junior. She's a banshee—she screams when someone dies.

But the next scream might be for Kaylee.

Yeah—it's a shock to her, too. So to distract herself, Kaylee's going to save every girl in school. Because that hot new teacher is really an incubus who feeds on the desire of unsuspecting students. The only girls immune to his lure are Kaylee and Sabine, her boyfriend's needy ex-girlfriend. Now the unlikely allies have to get rid of Mr. Beck…before he discovers they aren't quite human, either.

But Kaylee's borrowed lifeline is nearing its end. And those who care about her will do anything to save her life.

Anything.
5 Stars

This is one of the most spoilery reviews I’ve ever written.
If you have not read this book, PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

What is this I don’t even.

Yeah, so that was pretty much reaction last night when I finished. I was left completely speechless by the turn of events. It was one of those books that had me grinning like a goof and then at the end I was making all of these incoherent sounds that were very positive- I swear. Not that anyone who heard me last night would believe me.

Let me first say- I still hate Sabine. A lot. And that makes me happy. And isn’t completely shocking, considering how much I hated her in the last one.

But in what is a shocking turn of events, I am now 100% irrevocably Team Tod. And I never thought that would happen. Ever.

In a million years.

But it did. I still don’t completely understand it. I can’t pinpoint a moment the moment it happened.

Oh wait- yes I can.

“There’s a good kind of crazy, Kaylee,” he insisted softly, reaching out to wrap his warm hand around mind. “It’s the kind that makes you think about things that make your head hurt, because not thinking about them is the coward’s way out. The kind that makes you touch people who bruise your soul, just because they need to be touched. This is the kind of crazy that lets you stare out into the darkness and rage at eternity, while it stares back at you, ready to swallow you whole.”

“I’ve seen you fight, Kaylee. I’ve seen you step into that darkness for someone else, then claw your way out, bruised but still standing. You’re that kind of crazy, and I live in that darkness. Together, we’d take crazy to a whole new level.”

Seriously, where the hell did that come from?

It doesn’t matter. I loved it. And quite frankly, the ending was one of my favorite endings ever.

This is, hands down, the best book in the series so far.

Other Reviews:

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Review: My Soul to Steal by Rachel Vincent (Soul Screamers #4)

May 11, 2012 Challenges, Review 1 ★★★★

Review: My Soul to Steal by Rachel Vincent (Soul Screamers #4)Release Date: January 4, 2011
Title: My Soul to Steal
Series: Soul Screamers #4
Author: Rachel Vincent
Pages: 343
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Owned
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: Trying to work things out with Nash-her maybe boyfriend-is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can't just pretend nothing happened. But "complicated" doesn't even begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back.

See, Sabine isn't just an ordinary girl. She's a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people's fears-and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives.

And Sabine isn't above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever-and whoever-she wants.
4 Stars

I didn’t think a book in this series could be more infuriating than the last one. I was wrong.

Nash has begun to redeem himself. But I was so obsessed with hating Sabine that I almost didn’t see it. That girl is a real piece of work. And yet, I understand her. I admire her for the strength and determination she has when it comes to getting what she wants. I don’t have nearly the balls she does. But I hated her for how she treated Kaylee. There is no other word to describe her than bitch.

Tod is getting close to crossing a line. It’s becoming more and more evident that he has feelings for Kaylee (like I haven’t seen that coming since the first book). And telling Kaylee to let Nash go was so self-serving that I’m not sure what I think about it. On the one hand, he made some very logical points (as did Sabine) about why Kaylee and Nash shouldn’t be together.

But dammit- LOVE IS NOT LOGICAL.

Trying to use your head and think about love is just about one of the worst things you can do.

And sure- I do think Tod and Kaylee could make a good couple; I just don’t want them to because, despite his mistakes, I adore Nash. Plus, I’m not sure Kaylee would ever be able to see Tod that way.

The most annoying thing about the book, however, is that I have a suspicion that I’m going to end up liking Sabine in future books.

And I am not okay with that.

Other Reviews:

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