Collection 2: #TopTens – Young Adult Part 1

This time around in my collection of top books I am tackling the Young Adult genre! Young Adult has always been a guilty pleasure of mine and I love to dive deep into this genre whenever possible. Listed below are ten YA books I would highly recommend you pick up, depending on your interests! I’ve tried to include a wide variety of topics and genres within. Stay tuned for part two, because one can never have too many YA novels.

 

1. Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

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The Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole is one of my favourite fantasy novels in the YA genre. I am still currently working my way through the series, but I wanted to include the first book (at the very least) on my top ten list! This is a dystopian novel focused around tarot cards. There’s drama, romance and typical YA insanity within this dystopia. I really love the dark and twisted universe Kresley has created!

Amazon.com – Poison Princess

Amazon.ca – Poison Princess

Briar’s Reviews Book Review Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

 

2. Eighth Grade Bites by Zac Brewer

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The Vladimir Tod Chronicles was one of my faves over a decade ago (it’s hard to believe it has been that long…). Back in the day when vampires were hip and cool, Vladimir Tod was rocking the YA world without glitter! Zac Brewer made a fantastic world that felt real with drama, a splash of romance, a teenage vampire trying to find his way in the world and lots of vampire politics. This book is perfect for those 12-15 year olds looking to get into the genre, or anyone who loves an epic tale! I still love these books to this day!

Amazon.com – Eighth Grade Bites

Amazon.ca – Eighth Grade Bites

Young Adult July Reads Book Review: Eighth Grade Bites by Zac Brewer

 

3. Splintered by A.G. Howard

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Splintered is an epic retelling of Alice in Wonderland! Alyssa seems to be crazy, but there’s something more to her story… This rich series is full of drama, romance and fantasy! This series is finished now, so if you want to binge it go ahead! This is easily one of the best retellings of Alice in Wonderland around (I do have another fantastic one lower on the list though…).

Amazon.com – Splintered

Amazon.ca – Splintered

Briar’s Reviews – Splintered Review

 

4. The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

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This paranormal dystopia created by Rachel Vincent is a stand out novel that blew me away! I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of this book and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel! Demons, exorcists and overall wild insanity is packed tight in this book. I have yet to find a book that compares to this unique thrill ride!

Amazon.com – The Stars Never Rise

Amazon.ca – The Stars Never Rise

Briar’s Reviews – The Stars Never Rise Review

 

5. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

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Yet another retelling of Alice in Wonderland, but this one features zombies! I loved this retelling more than I can say on this page! The unique concept created by Gena in this book takes the reader on a wild ride. This dystopia follows Ali and her friends on a wild adventure against zombies. Throw in a super hot guy named Cole that will set you on fire, an action-packed plot and some epic side characters and you’ve got yourself a real winner!

Amazon.com – Alice in Zombieland

Amazon.ca – Alice in Zombieland

6. Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

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Years ago, I admired this book afar in every book store I passed! I saved up all of my money and finally got my hands on this super cute, extra cheesey romance novel! The preppy girl is a ghost and the goth is a human, and the two of them fall madly in love! This series is a wild, fantastical ride that I still pick up as a guilty pleasure. This book feels more romance than paranormal, but it still has it’s paranormal aspects within it. If possible, pick up this whole series! It ties up quite nicely, if I do say so myself!

Amazon.com – Ghost and the Goth

Amazon.ca – Ghost and the Goth

7. Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

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This is another “classic” from my YA collection that I still pick up to this day! When I have a rough day and I want a cute novel to relax with, this book is it! This series is super sweet and definitely packs on the romance. It is also another vampire book I threw on this list, but the romance is where it hits you. There are two books in this series, and both will have you ready for some tissues, chocolate and everything else girly! I still think Lucius (our male lead) is one of the hottest YA leading males!

Amazon.com – Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Amazon.ca – Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

#BookReview Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

 

8. Almost to Die For by Tate Hallaway

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This vampire romance was another hit in my books! I read this book alongside Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, and fell madly in love with Tate Hallaway! Unfortunately, this series didn’t continue after the second book and I am still upset about it. This YA novel features vampires, witches, fantasy and romance for every Twilight fan who wanted just a little bit more than the glittery yet famous vampires. This book still tops my YA list and I’ll pick it up on a rough day when I want a fun read!

Amazon.com – Almost to Die For

Amazon.ca – Almost to Die For

 

9. Pin Drop by Roz Monette

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Pin Drop is the most unique book on this list. It tops my YA reads since it is not your typical Young Adult novel by any definition. It touches on tough topics and social issues that some YA books run far away from. Mo is sarcastic and is easily relatable for most teenagers since her life is not perfect. If you’re looking for a YA novel that isn’t solely focused on dystopias, fantasy or romance than this book is for you! I’d highly recommend it, it’s fabulous!

Amazon.com – Pin Drop

Amazon.ca – Pin Drop

Briar’s Reviews: Pin Drop by Roz Monette Review

 

10. Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kaye Bowles

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I saved the best for last on this list! Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kaye Bowles is one of my recent favourites! This book also tackles some dark subject matter, which may not be suitable for all YA audiences. Self harm, destructive families, family illnesses are just some of the tougher subjects in this book on top of the typical high school problems. This book might be fiction, but it felt oh so real! This is the book I needed to read in high school to realize life isn’t always picture perfect. While this book tackles darker topics, it does it in a lovely way that opens your eyes to the realistic coming of age most teenagers are facing but in a YA territory. I’d highly recommend this book and I’d consider it one of the most important books to read on this list!

Amazon.com – Down in the Belly of the Whale

Amazon.ca – Down in the Belly of the Whale

Briar’s Reviews: Down in the Belly of the Whale Review

 

And that’s it for round one of my YA top tens! I have way more top tens to come, including Part 2 of YA and Children’s novels! What list or genre do you want to see next? Do you have any books not included here? Comment below or give me a shout out on Twitter (@ReviewAlholic) to let me know what I’m missing!

I hope you found a new book to read and you enjoyed this list, fellow readers! Let me know what you’re reading below!

Briar

xoxo

 

 

 

Photos via Goodreads.

 

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#BookReview Marianne by Ruth Miranda

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This book starts off with a BANG!

Seriously, I couldn’t believe that the book just jumped into the action, like some epic movie sequel! I loved this sweet surprise, since it’s a major change from the books I have been reading lately.

Ruth Miranda, the fantastic author, opens up the realm of fantasy even further in this book. The slow unraveling of this fantastical universe seemed to work really well within the story. I don’t think I would have liked this series as much if she would have thrown all of the elements at us at once. The way she gives us the secrets to this world piece by piece felt… flawless. Each little piece of information that was released made the story slowly fall into place, and gave some awesome added effects. The information about Nora was what really had me in awe – Ruth knows how to tell a great tale.

If there was a con to this point, I’d say that it sometimes felt like those super villain monologues when all of the information was being released. But, for me, it still worked well. I liked the long descriptions.

When looking at the overall book, it’s definitely the darkest of the three. As a reader, if you felt that the last two pushed the limits, then this book might not be for you. It’s past the PG-13 rating for some of it’s deep content, such as the rape scene. So in my mind, it’s a hard R rating. This scene is brutal, but shows some deep insights into the character it’s following. The plot line gets crazier as it goes on, which boggled my mind. The insanity Ruth introduces to the back stories of these characters… One word: WOW. Just… Wow. A good wow, of course!

As the book progressed, I really liked the depth of Marianne and Marcus’s relationship. It’s a unique dynamic, but it held me tight to this book. I wanted to know more about this pair, and I was so tempted to skip to the pages that they were on! If anybody stood out in this novel, it’s that pair! At times you feel bad for them, and then you hate them, but then you feel empathetic… This roller coaster of emotions is from Ruth’s epic writing. Seriously, I haven’t felt this exhausted from my emotions about a book in a LONG time.

In some weird way, I could relate and emphasize with Marianne. The humiliation, the desire to fit in or be loved by someone, and her emotions being painted on the page all hit me in just the right way. I felt like I’ve been there before, in different ways. And, in my opinion, I think this is where the book is really going to draw it’s audience. I don’t often feel and relate to characters in books like this, but with Marianne… There’s something there.

Nora and Cai’s side of the story is also intriguing – the characters are changing throughout the story as they try to find Marcus. While Marcus and Marianne stood out, the journey Nora and Cai go on is a nice parallel. It brings us away from the brutality of Marcus/Marianne, which is much needed in this story. The romance, the drama and the beauty of their story is the perfect mirror! Kudos to Ruth for making this parallel so good!

Overall, this addicting story of pain and growth is mesmerizing! This series is definitely a must read if you want something darker and fantastical. I’d highly recommend it! It’s hard to find a dark series that takes on so many tough topics, and comes out on top!

There is one big con for me, and Ruth said it herself – I wanted to throw this book at the wall when I was done with it. But I was reading it on my iPad, and that is too expensive to throw. So, I didn’t throw the book at the wall, but I would have liked to.

Five out of five stars! Wowza!

I received this book for free from the author Ruth Miranda in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Check out Ruth Miranda on Goodreads

 

Find the first book in this series, Blood, on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Blood

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Blood

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Blood

Find the 2nd book, Scars, on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Scars

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Scars

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Scars

Find more books by Ruth Miranda on Amazon:

Amazon.com – Ruth Miranda

Amazon.com – A Study for Love / Amazon.ca – A Study for Love

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter! @reviewalholic

#BookPlaylist Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles

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Today on my blog we have a wonderful guest, the author Kelley Kaye Bowles! I recently read her book Down in the Belly of the Whale (which will be revealed on my blog on October 10th!!! I can’t wait!!), and I wanted to open your eyes to this author just a little more! Kelley offered to provide a playlist for her character Harper to honor World Suicide Prevention Day!

 

Harper’s Playlist

1. Belly of the Whale Burning Sensations ‘Belly of the Whale’   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZgtKt8K3ho

This is, of course, Harper’s theme song. She feels so isolated in her body – like most teenagers do – that it’s like she is down in the belly of a whale in the bottom of the ocean.

2. Closer to Fine Indigo Girls Indigo Girls – Closer to Fine
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZgtKt8K3ho

Harper‘s mom, Isabelle, introduced her to this song. Isabelle wrote a paper on this song when she was in college, and she’s loved it and the message ever since. Isabelle definitely feels this way—like the more you can go with the flow and roll with the punches, the better off you’ll be. Harper is trying.

3. No Roots Alice Merton
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUdyuKaGQd4

This, again, reflects Harper’s life theme. Since she’s not even sure she’s in the right family, she certainly doesn’t feel like she has roots anywhere.

4. The Man The Killers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3xcybdis1k

 This song is for Harper’s Uncle Pasta—the gay uncle who lives in the basement. He’s hilarious and awesome—totally The Man! 😜

5. Uptown Funk Bruno Mars
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1F0lBnsnkE

Harper can’t help but dance to this song—but she only watches the video wiith all the old movies in it, like all the stuff Uncle Pasta watches.

6. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic the Police The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aENX1Sf3fgQ

Since Harper can envision her glorious future with basketball star Larson McCready—even though she’s never even talked to him—she can imagine him singing this song to her.

7. Breathe Anna Nalick- Breathe (2am)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdRHSuPxgXo

The ability to say the right thing at the right time is an important and as yet unrealized skill for Harper. This song confirms how scary it is to put yourself out there for others to judge, but the song helps her know she’s not alone in feeling that way.

8. Blackbird The Beatles
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdRHSuPxgXo

Harper’s father, Michael, is this intense and driven man with very strong ideas and opinions. He’s the one who introduced her to the Beatles, but he was careful to explain that there are only a certain amount of Beatle songs that are genius, and some bubblegum poppy kinds that are lame. This, thankfully, he considers one of the genius ones because Harper thinks it’s beautiful, and feels like she is only waiting for HER moment to arrive…

9. Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ

Harper and Uncle Pasta like to headbang to this song.

And, for 10., Harper chose Michael Jackson, because, well, any playlist is incomplete without Michael Jackson! Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yURRmWtbTbo

 

 

Find this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Find out more about Kelley Kaye Bowles on:

Goodreads – Kelley Kaye Bowles

http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

Twitter – @kelkay1202

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter to let me know you read it! @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview Elves & The Argo Adventure by Katja Vartiainen

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Elves & the Argo Adventure is yet another funny, satirical, comic about elves created by the fabulous Katja Vartiainen.

This time around, the elves are going on an adventure! It all starts out when the swallows tell/tweet to the elves THAT THERE IS NO COFFEE! It’s a real tragedy, just like it is for us adults in the real world. How can the elves expect to work their five hour work week without some form of caffeine?! The elves resort to alcohol, magical beings, Dolph Lundgrun, and a fishcorn, to name a few.

In regards to the artwork, I’d be lying if I said my favourite picture wasn’t the little lady bugs/lady birds! They are so simple to draw, and yet I always love seeing them! I also thought the eye-phone picture was seriously hilarious!

When you pick apart this book, there’s many themes within it. The entire point of this book seems to be making fun of the human experience – how we’re racist, how we need coffee to survive, how we’ll do anything to get what we want, etc. It’s a nice to be able to look at our worldly problems in a comedic sense – especially in the fantasy setting.

I did have some negatives about this book, and one of them was it was hard to understand some of the phrasing. Most of the jokes were easy to read, but there were a few that either the grammar was off, or the joke went over my head to make me not understand the sentence in general. My other “con” was seeing the link that appeared on every few pages suggesting the reader check out the elves’s real website. I can totally understand trying to market it that way, but it caused me to become unfocused and break away from the story.

Overall, I think this book is a silly read you can definitely manage in one sitting. It’s a great escape book full of colourful artwork.

Three out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Katja Vartiainen in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book Elves & The Argo Adventure on:

Goodreads – Elves & AA – Goodreads

Amazon.com – Elves & AA – Amazon.com

Amazon.ca – Elves & AA – Amazon.ca

Check out Elves Get Organized? another book in this series on:

Goodreads – Elves Get Organized? – Goodreads

Amazon.com – Elves Get Organized? – Amazon.com

Amazon.ca – Elves Get Organized? – Amazon.ca

Or check out Katja’s drawing book Half Done Fun on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Half Done Fun

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Half Done Fun

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Half Done Fun

 

Find out more about Katja on her website: http://www.artist-katja-vartiainen.de/

Or give us both a shout out on Twitter! @KatArtPics & @ReviewAlholic

 

#BookReview Love Revisited by Jannat Bhat

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Love REVISITED is a beautifully written, new adult novel by Jannat Bhat.

This is Jannat’s FIRST book. That had me extremely excited, because that is such an accomplishment!

Now time for a brief summary:

Rose is a recent college graduate when suddenly her life gets uprooted with a move to Washington. She has to leave her life and friends behind and start a new journey! In this new city, there’s a bit of a thrill and mystery in the air. Rose begins having nightmares about Ruby, a name she used to demand she be called as a child. On top of that, Christopher and Alex seem so familiar… The thrills, chills, fantasy, mystery and romance in this novel will twirl you around and keep you hanging on the edge.

Some of the plot line was predictable, or just happens at the perfect timing. Like a psychiatrist, out of nowhere, asking if Rose loves a man in her dreams. There was no talk between them about this type of relationship between those characters, but it just pops up at the perfect time to keep the plot moving. I also found the story lacked some realism at times (I know it’s fictional, but it felt like it was supposed to be in a realistic universe) such as a psychiatrist looking with troubled eyes at a patient or believing in reincarnation (and suggesting it during an appointment). Additionally, a rushed romance where suddenly they are boyfriend and girlfriend, but it didn’t seem to be said to anyone until it randomly happens. As an adult reader, I notice that a lot more. I don’t think the Young Adult audience would have any issue believing those comments.

That being said, the drama was turned all the way up to high. For me, I don’t like too much drama (unless it’s a soap opera), so for me it felt cheesey. If you LOVE excessive drama – this book is perfect for you! The twists and turns felt like the soap operas I tend to watch (it’s a guilty pleasure of mine) and can easily be enjoyed! It felt so dramatic, like Romeo and Juliet in a present day scenario (with a few minor changes, of course). I really do praise Jannat for the constant drama that moves the plot at a nice pace. Some authors can’t find the balance, but Jannat had me hooked at every turn!

The book was labelled new adult, but I think young adult readers could easily pick it up as well. The age group of the characters are college graduates, but high school readers could also read this book and enjoy it. A lot of the quick romance and drama felt like the Young Adult novels I picked up back in high school. So, in my opinion, this book could work well for either Young Adult or New Adult audiences. I would even consider market it to a Young Adult audience, because it felt so right for both audiences!

Also, when considering a genre shelf to put this on – it could be in either a romance or thriller section. It had a nice mix of both to keep the story interesting, but was only labelled as New Adult when I read it. While it was a fictional novel, it had lots of romance scenes and thrilling twists inside it’s pages. There’s also a pinch of fantasy in this novel, but not enough to give it that label.

The writing style and my reading style did not match well, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great book though! I also found the grammatical style to be different than one I am used to, so it took me a while to let myself escape into the book and let myself enjoy it instead of trying to pick it to pieces (I’m a perfectionist, I really can’t help it).

There is switching point of views in this novel. It happens later on in the book, but it’s still there! We follow Rose and Alex throughout their journey, with Rose having more chapters than Alex.

Overall, this book was a fun, dramatic read that will definitely resonate with readers who love thrillers, a splash of fantasy, and Romeo and Juliet-esque romance.

Three out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Jannat Bhat in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Love Revisited:

Rose Scarlet is your everyday girl just finishing college with her best friends Will & Aimee. But when she suddenly moves all the way across the country to a small town called Beacon Hill, normal was a thing of the past, for the city felt eerily familiar to her. How could she end up at the local park without directions when this was the first time she had step foot into town? How will she explain her irrational fears or feelings so strong for someone who is practically a stranger or is he?What was the story behind the burnt house? She felt like her heart wanted to cry every time she was near it.
And who was Alexander Sinclair? She could see that he was disturbingly beautiful, but how did she know things he had revealed to no one? Why had she seen his face in her dreams before ever laying eyes on him? A thousand more questions haunted her as she found the answers to none. Not until charming and handsome Nathan Sinclair walks into her life, whom she hated on sight.
Sometimes when something we love is so brutally taken away from us, our soul remembers what our mind is too afraid to.

Check out this book on:

Goodreads: Love Revisited – Goodreads

Amazon.com: Love Revisited – Amazon.com

Amazon.ca: Love Revisited – Amazon.ca

 

Find out more about Jannat Bhat on Goodreads: Jannat Bhat on Goodreads

Or her blog spot! Jannat Bhat on Blog Spot

 

Give us both a shout out on Twitter! @JannatBhat & @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview Death by Diploma by Kelley Kaye

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Death by Diploma by Kelley Kaye is a fun, cozy mystery that is perfect for binging!

I’ve gotta say, I have been yearning for some teacher centered reads lately (ironically, since school is getting out around now for the elementary school kids in my area). And what is my luck that Kelley Kaye has an awesome mystery series that’s full of teachers, silly antics and loads of thrills!

Our lead Emma working at a new school and meets Leslie, the current head of the English department. While being introduced to her new life as the high school English teacher, she discovers a murder! Leslie, Emma and a band of jolly characters must work together to find out who killed a beloved janitor and all of the secrets he held behind the scenes in his life.

The book is FULL of quotes – Star Wars and Shakespeare just to name a couple! I loved all of the silly references that I understood, and the ones I didn’t I got to look up and find MORE books to add to my never ending to-be-read pile! Add in the comedy that Kelley Kaye is clearly an expert at providing, and you’ve got yourself a fun time! Work your way through this book and try to solve the mystery, or just enjoy the giggles you’ll get from the wacky one liners!

For me as a reader, I couldn’t find much wrong with this book. It was short enough to binge it but long enough to feel fulfilling. It was also packed with everything I love – silly comments, epic quotes and fun characters. There’s drama, a splash of flirtiness and romance, gossip, thrills and chills. It hits all the notes I want in a sweet novel!

I would say this book is for 16+, due to some of the adult comments used in the book. That being said, if you’ve got a mature teen they will have no problem reading this book! It’s not R rated, it just has adult comments that you might not want to read to your children.

Five out of five stars! It was a fun ride that I definitely want more of! I’ll be searching for Kelley Kaye’s books on every bookshelf I can!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Kelley Kaye in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:

 

Check out the first bo on:

Goodreads – Death by Diploma

Youtube – Book Trailer – Death by Diploma

Amazon.com – Death by Diploma

Amazon.ca – Death by Diploma

Find out more about Kelley Kaye on:

Goodreads – Kelley Kaye or Goodreads – Kelley Kaye #2

YouTube – Kelley Kaye

http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

Twitter – @KelKay1202

Facebook – Kelley Kaye

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter! @ReviewAlholic

And comment below! What books do you find “cozy”?

#BookReview The Vampire’s Assistant by Darren Shan

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The Vampire’s Assistant was an excellent young adult novel that is full of thrills and chills!

I watched the movie adaption of this series YEARS ago, and I had been dying to pick up this series. Unfortunately for me, the bookstore is big and full of millions of books so I’d forget what I was looking for the minute I walked in. Luckily for me, I walked into a bargain bookstore and found an old, extremely damaged version of this book for clearance – so of course I bought it! A little water never hurt anybody!

I hadn’t read the first book in this series, but jumping right in was super easy! This book was fun, full of silly frights and awesome character development, and made me remember why I loved vampire novels in my youth!

This book is quick – it moves fast and keeps you interested at every turn. There’s some really creepy bad guys, Evra (the snake boy), a wolf man, and some awesome parental-yet-not-so-parental adults hanging around. It’s definitely the type of horror book I would read as a kid (but it doesn’t scare me at all now – adult me has worse things to be afraid of…like politics and bills…ick).

I highly recommend this book to anyone considering introducing their children to YA books with horror or vampires in it. It’s fun and creepy in all good ways! It’ll keep the adults interested too!

Four out of five stars!

 

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BooKReview Hercufleas by Sam Gayton

Comment below – what is your favourite young adult novel?

Give me a shout-out on Twitter using the hashtag #briarsreviews if you read this review! Briar’s Reviews on Twitter – @ReviewAlholic

And check out Darren Shan:

http://www.darrenshan.com/

@DarrenShan