Spectacle (Menagerie #2) by Rachel Vincent

When their coup of Metzger’s Menagerie is discovered, Delilah and her fellow cryptids find their newly won freedom brutally stripped away as they are sold into The Savage Spectacle, a private collection of “exotic wildlife.” Specializing in ruthless cryptid cage matches, safari-style creature hunts and living party favors, the Spectacle’s owner, Willem Vandekamp, caters to the forbidden fetishes of the wealthy and powerful. At the Spectacle, any wish can be granted—for the right price.
But Vandekamp’s closely guarded client list isn’t the only secret being kept at the Spectacle. Beneath the beauty and brutality of life in the collection lie much darker truths, and no one is more determined than Delilah to strip the masks from the human monsters and drag all dark things into the light.

The second book in Rachel Vincent’s Menagerie series was just as intense and thought provoking as the first. In some ways, even more so. The members of Metzger’s Menagerie had a small respite from their captivity and that taste of freedom made what came next even harder to take.

The description only touches on the horrors that Delilah and her friends and other cryptids had to endure when purchased by the Savage Spectacle. Willem Vandekamp was the perfect villain and his sweet, spoiled wife was even worse. Just like Menagerie, there was a loud and clear message just below the surface. The creatures in Spectacle were much more humane than the humans that not only kept them captive, but used them in horrific ways. The captors also played on their weaknesses and it didn’t take long for Willem to figure out how to play the connection between Delilah and Gallagher to his advantage.

As hard as parts of Spectacle were to read, the intensity, imagery and action kept the pages turning. Delilah never stopped trying to find ways to escape. She refused to give up, even when her punishments came close to breaking her. Watching what her fellow captives were forced to endure was the only motivation she needed. That and her vow to destroy Willem and everything he stood for.

The ending of Spectacle didn’t seem as abrupt as the end of Menagerie, but it still left me wanting the next installment sooner rather than later. The fate of many characters were left hanging in the balance and then there’s the interesting twist…  Needless to say, the last book in the Menagerie trilogy is already on my TBR list 😉

Menagerie (Menagerie #1) by Rachel Vincent

MenagerieWhen 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.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Menagerie was scary and not in the way you might think. It’s not that the pages weren’t filled with monsters, there were plenty of those to go around. The horror came from the fact that the real monsters weren’t the mythical creatures kept captive.

To be honest, Menagerie wasn’t an easy book to read. It was intense, at times gruesome and even though it was total fiction, it held just enough truth to show what can happen if the wrong people are in charge when dealing with the unknown or misunderstood. This book held a powerful message about humanity. Sometimes those are the scariest to read, but the most important.

Beyond the message delivered, the imagery was amazing. Rachel Vincent brought this mythical creatures to life in vivid and unique ways. She made even the scariest among them beautiful in ways I never would have imagined. The alternate POVs added to the understanding of these creatures and a more intense hatred of the people who enslaved them. The fear that was created by a small group of creatures was warranted. What was wrong was labeling everyone that wasn’t ‘human’ as a threat. Can you tell that this book pushed some buttons with me? *sigh*

As intense as this book was, the only complaint that I have is that the ending was a little rushed. I was kind of surprised by the actions of some of the characters near the end and things were wrapped up just a little too ‘neatly.’ Even so, I have no doubt that since Menagerie is part of a trilogy, there is much more danger to come.

On a side note, I’m pretty sure that most readers were introduced to Rachel Vincent’s writing through her Soul Screamers series. This series promises to be just as amazing as that one, but it is definitely NOT another young adult series. It’s a dark fantasy.

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With All My Soul (Soul Screamers #7) by Rachel Vincent – Bout-of-Books 11.0 Review

WithAllMySoulWhat 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.

I have to be honest. I really drug my feet on finishing this series. I’ve loved every single minute of my time spent with Kaylee and company. Saying goodbye to this amazing world was just part of the reason why I was dragging my feet though. The more I read, the more I knew that there was no possible way for things to end well for everyone. These characters had suffered so much loss I wasn’t sure I could endure experiencing any more of their pain and suffering. I was told by more than one reader to put my ‘big girl’ pants on and trust the author to not totally crush me. So, now that I’ve finished the Soul Screamers series, what’s the verdict? *sigh*

These characters have come a long way in a short amount of time. It seemed like years had passed from the time that Kaylee first learned exactly who and what she was. That time frame was put into perspective when Kaylee mentioned that she and Nash had only been a couple for six months. Wow… A lot happened within that year. A lot happened in With All My Soul as well. New demons were introduced, more people were put in danger, sacrifices were made along with decisions that changed everything for everyone. There were times when I wanted to wrap my arms around them all and tell them it would all be okay, even though I knew it wouldn’t be.

So, about that verdict… I can honestly say that With All My Soul falls into that ‘thumbs up’ category when it comes to series finales. Yes, there were tears. Yes, these characters faced more danger and tragedy, but there was a balance to it all. I was amazed at how well things were wrapped up in the end.

SoulScreamers4Even though I’ve read the final book, I still have a few novellas left to read. I’m kind of glad that I held off so I could read With All My Soul as part of Volume 4 in the series. The final volume also includes Fearless, Niederwald and Last Request. See, sometimes procrastination does pay off 😉

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

BeforeIWakeI 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

The closer I get to the end of this series, the more afraid for the characters I become. *bites nails*

Lots of things happened in Before I Wake. A lot of things I never saw coming and more than a few that broke my heart. Yes, there were tears. More than I expected and Kaylee had to make some agonizing choices. For all those reasons I need to apologize for the vagueness of this review. Just know that this book will make you feel… a lot…. so be prepared.

Through all the chaos, her friends and family are there to support her. The thing is that they’re also her weakness and her enemies know that and they use it to their advantage.

Regardless of how scared I am for all the characters, I’m loving this series. I trust Rachel Vincent not to totally break me before it’s over so we shall see. She came very close in Before I Wake, but I’m not going to keep that from not wasting any time picking up the next book. With All My Soul is the final book in the series and I’m reading that as part of Volume 4 along with Fearless and Last Request.

SoulScreamersVol3I read Before I Wake as part of Volume 4 in the Soul Screamers series. I’m really glad I read them that way, especially since once I was done with one book I didn’t have to wait to pick up the next one. Now I have the complete set which will make re-reads extremely convenient… and this is one series that will definitely be re-read. ❤

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Never to Sleep (Soul Screamers #5.5) by Rachel Vincent

NeverToSleepDon’t Close Your Eyes.

Sophie Cavanaugh is not going to let her freak of a cousin’s strange psychiatric condition ruin high school for them both. Not after all the work she’s put into cultivating the right look, and friends, and reputation. But then, Sophie sees something so frightening she lets out a blood-curdling scream–and finds herself stuck in a bizarre parallel world where nothing is safe and deadly creatures lurk just out of sight, waiting for her to close her eyes and sleep…forever.

Could this world be real? Or does insanity run in the family…?

Oh Sophie…. clueless, self-centered, selfish and more often than not, just plain mean. I was really hoping that her knowledge of the world she was oblivious to before would make her a little more likable. I suppose there’s still hope, but it didn’t happen in Never to Sleep.

SoulScreamersVol3I did like this installment in the series though and it was a great segue into the next book because it introduced a new character. It also gave us a personal glimpse into Sophie’s world. I was just really hoping that getting in Sophie’s head would give me some reason to like her. *sigh* Petty, I know, but that’s the only reason that I held back a 1/2 star in my review. LOL!

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

IfIDieThe 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.

Okay, you can tell by the description that this one was intense and emotional and… yeah. I’m not exactly sure how to review this one. So much happens and I don’t want to risk giving anything away. As much as I’d love to ramble on and on and on about how amazing this book was, this review may turn out to be shorter than I expect. *sigh*

Kaylee and Nash are starting to get back into the groove of being a couple. Their days are filled with school, friends, family, work and the normal craziness that is part of their everyday life. Then they find out that one of their teachers isn’t exactly human and Tod drops a bombshell that turns everyone’s life upside down.

Readers spend pretty much the entire book knowing that Kaylee’s living on borrowed time. They even know when, they just don’t know how. That’s not the only thing that keeps you on the edge of your seat while you’re reading If I Die though. It’s the reactions that the characters have to what’s happening. I’m not sure how I would handle the situation that Kaylee found herself in. I gained a lot of respect for her in this book, as well as some of the other characters. Of course, I lost a lot of respect for a few of them too… and not exactly the ones that I expected.

SoulScreamersVol3The events that took place in If I Die change pretty much everything. I’m going to try to hold off a little while before I pick up the next one, but it’s going to be hard. I think I can honestly say that as of this moment, this book is my favorite so far in the Soul Screamers series. It was probably one of the most emotional ones so far anyway. Those emotions weren’t all sad, but there were plenty of teary moments. I pretty much loved every single one of them. This is definitely a series that will be re-read.

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Reaper (Soul Screamers #3.5) by Rachel Vincent

ReaperTod Hudson was a typical teenager. He liked girls, sports, food and tolerated his younger brother, Nash. In fact, he had his whole life in front of him–and due to his bean sidhe heritage, it was going to be a very long life indeed. And then the car accident occurred.

Suddenly Tod’s future wasn’t so sure, and he had to make a choice. Life… Death… or something Between….

Oh Tod… I loved him before I read Reaper, but now… *sigh* I knew there was more to him than the sarcastic, snarky and sometimes annoying Reaper. This short little glimpse into Tod’s past totally confirmed it.

I loved not only spending quality time with Tod, but also seeing Tod and Nash together before Tod’s death. They had a typical brother relationship. Nash was almost a bratty younger brother – at least in Tod’s eyes. The events that took place in Reaper put a lot of things in perspective as far as the dynamics between the characters in the series go. There were also a few things revealed that made me want to go back and re-read some of the earlier books to see if there was anything in them that I missed the first time. (FYI- that’s one of my favorite things about re-reads – you always miss something. 😉 )

Reaper was a great addition to the series and it just made me want to get to know Tod even better. This book is numbered 3.5 in the series, but when you read it as part of Volume 2 it falls after My Soul to Steal (Book 4) and that’s the order I read it. I don’t suppose it matters, but a character that isn’t introduced in the series until My Soul to Steal is mentioned in Reaper. I think I liked this order better, but it’s up to you.

SoulScreamersVol2I read Reaper as part of Soul Screamers Volume 2. Having the 3rd and 4th books along with Tod’s novella all in one place is a great way to read these books. The next book is If I Die. I have it in Volume 3 so I don’t have to wait… although, I’m still a little scared to continue. It’s sure to be as emotionally packed, if not more so than the previous books.

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

MySoulToStealTrying 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.

I mentioned before that the stakes keep getting higher, that observation still applies. No one is safe anymore and it seems like anyone who is anywhere near Kaylee is in danger. That combined with the emotional turmoil that the characters were dealing with in My Soul to Steal turned this into an almost overnight read. I honestly couldn’t put it down.

Kaylee is still trying to keep her distance from Nash until she decides whether or not she can forgive him or not. Before she can come to terms with how she feels about him, Sabine – Nash’s first love –  comes to town. She is a force to be reckoned with and it’s pretty obvious she isn’t willing to play fair. Sabine definitely made things interesting and made me even more frustrated with Nash. There were times that I wanted to yell at him for hurting Kaylee and others that I wanted to hug him because he was hurting too. It’s safe to say that My Soul to Steal was an emotional roller coaster.

The supporting characters are becoming more  important as well. I’m loving Emma and her snarkiness more and more. Her presence was even greater in this book and I hope that the trend continues. Alec was an interesting twist in My Soul to Steal. I’m still not sure how I feel about him, but I think that’s the point. This series has proven that almost anything can happen and nothing is exactly what it seems. Then there was Tod. *sigh* It’s obvious that he came to a realization during this book that promises to make the next books even more interesting.

Things aren’t resolved at the end of My Soul to Steal, but they’ve settled down for the time being. Even though a few things were revealed, there is still a lot unknown. As a whole, this is a great series. The teen characters are smart, witty and still full of enough teenage angst to make them (and their reactions) totally believable. I can’t wait to see what is in store for them next, although I do admit I’m a little scared.

SoulScreamersVol2I read My Soul to Steal as part of Soul Screamers Volume 2. Having the 3rd and 4th books along with the Todd’s novella all in one place is a great way to read these books. The next book on my list is Reaper. I can’t wait to get to know Tod better.

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My Soul to Keep (Soul Screamers #3) by Rachel Vincent

MySoulToKeepKaylee has one addiction: her very hot, very popular boyfriend, Nash. A banshee like Kaylee, Nash understands her like no one else. Nothing can come between them.Until something does.

Demon breath. No, not the toothpaste-challenged kind. The Netherworld kind. The kind that really can kill you. Somehow the super-addictive substance has made its way to the human world. But how? Kaylee and Nash have to cut off the source and protect their friends—one of whom is already hooked.

And so is someone else…

This is one series that definitely gets more intense with each installment. The characters develop more layers and the closer they become to each other the higher the stakes become.

I have to confess that I knew some of what was in store for me when I picked up My Soul to Keep. I’m later than most to this series and the longer a book is out the harder it is to keep from knowing at least a little about what happens – especially when those events bring out strong emotions. Yet, even though I knew that this one was going to be a heart breaker, I wasn’t prepared. Regardless of what happens next, because of the events that took place in My Soul to Keep, noting is ever going to be the same.

As heart breaking as a lot of this book was and as mad as a few characters made me, there was still a lot to love about it. I was impressed most with Kaylee’s strength. She had a lot to face in My Soul to Keep and a lot of really tough decisions to make and I’m glad that she didn’t simply crumble. She wasn’t the only one surprised and impressed me. Todd is turning into one of my favorite characters and I totally didn’t see that coming. Turns out there’s a lot to love about the sarcastic Reaper. 😉

SoulScreamersVol2I read My Soul to Keep as part of Soul Screamers Volume 2. Having the 3rd and 4th books along with the Todd’s novella all in one place is a great way to read these books. The next book is My Soul to Steal. I’m still on the fence about when I’m going to pick it up. I almost continued reading as soon as I finished My Soul to Keep. I think I might just hold off until Soul Screamers Volume 3 is closer to release.

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My Soul to Save (Soul Screamers #2) by Rachel Vincent / Bout-of-Books 6.0 Review

MySoultoSaveWhen Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.

So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn’t wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can’t cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad’s ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend’s loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can’t possibly understand.

Kaylee can’t let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk.

I knew I was making a mistake by letting this series set for as long as I did. There was so much to love about My Soul to Save.  The world building, the romance, the magic, the mystery plus the whole mythological concept made it hard to put down.

Kaylee learns more about controlling and using her powers in My Soul to Save. She also learns more about the Netherworld than she ever wanted to know. There were also moments when she learned things about herself that she wasn’t very proud of. It was all great though because it made her character even more human and relatable. I love it when that happens, especially in a YA read. Regardless of her powers and her moments of selflessness, she still had doubts and she still made poor and reckless decisions. All of her flaws just made me like her character more. *sigh*

Todd played a huge part in My Soul to Save and even though I wanted to scream every time he popped in and out unannounced, he’s kind of growing on me. I have a feeling there’s a lot more to Tod than readers know. I think he may be turning into one of my favorite characters.

The danger in My Soul to Save didn’t let up and the stakes were just as high as in the first book. I think the concept of this one might have been even scarier than My Soul to Take. I think it may have been because a conscience decision was made by the characters to trade their soul. I didn’t become as emotionally invested in the characters as I expected but I still could sympathize with Kaylee’s reason to want to help them.

The rest of the supporting characters were still as strong. I loved Nash and his mom and Kaylee’s dad is trying to make up for lost time. Sometimes he’s trying too hard. I can’t wait to see how all of these relationships develop as the series continues.

I read My Soul to Save as part of Soul Screamers Volume 1. Having the first 2 books along with the prequel in one book makes it so much easier to read. It made it so easy that I picked up Volume 2 to read the next 2 books in the series. The next book is My Soul to Keep. From what I’ve read so far from the book description I’m going to have to be in the right frame of mind to pick it up. I think it might just be an emotional roller coaster.

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