House of Cards by Ilana Waters

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

Summary: Eighteen-year-old Sherry has just begun her newly
independent life in Paris when she is kidnapped by a group of vampires.
They hold her hostage in the House of Cadamon, their catacomb lair beneath the
city, ruled with an iron fist by a leader known as ‘the Master.’

The only thing keeping Sherry alive is her ability to tell
vampire fortunes through tarot cards, a task she is forced to perform night
after night. She finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a four-hundred-year-old
reluctant blood drinker who is as much a prisoner of Cadamon as she is.
Things get even more complicated when Sherry and Lucas begin
falling for each other—hard. Will they be able to keep Sherry alive long enough
for them both to escape the House of Cadamon? Or will the Master and his band
of evil minions succeed in controlling the lives of the young lovers—by
whatever means necessary?
With its breathtaking Parisian setting,
fast-moving plot, and strong-willed heroine, this paranormal romance will
keep you spellbound!

My Thoughts: When I found this book waiting for me in my inbox this morning, it occurred to me that I had about three hours before I had to leave. Obviously, I spent my time devouring the entire book. It’s your typical paranormal romance (though I admit, I’m still not quite familiar with the genre), albeit not too typical. The sexy, troubled vampire has become an overly used stock character lately, and I was sorry to see that Ilana has made her lead (Lucas) little more. You also have the Master and his followers, including a puppy-dog loyal female vampire and I guess that all does sound very typical. I just think that dismissing this book with a simple, “I don’t like vampire romances.” would be silly; while it does have some of the stereotypes, it is unique in many ways!

First, when reading these new style of teen / YA paranormal romances, I’ve always noticed how fine these girls seem to be with the idea of vampires, the knowledge that the guys they so love are supernatural creatures. It all seems highly unrealistic, and so, incredibly shallow – by giving Sherry a certain vague idea beforehand of the existence of the supernatural, inexplicable abilities of her own, Ilana has managed to make Sherry’s experience at the House of Cadamon and her reactions very convincing. I really liked Sherry. I liked the idea that the reason for her loneliness, her feeling lost is explained and it couldn’t be more realistic – losing her sister to an accident, not having managed to let go of her even after six years. The emotions are dealt with wonderfully and it is more than ‘just another teenage problem’. The romance that slowly develops between Lucas and Sherry is not just out of attraction or infatuation but has more to do with finding someone to be close to and finally moving on. It’s one of the reasons why I liked the book.

Lastly, I have to admit, I still do like Ilana’s middle grade fantasy a lot more, but probably only because it’s more of a my kind of genre. Obviously, the one thing that stood out to me the most in this book, was the writing style. It is very fluid and the descriptions of Paris are fantastic. The dialogue is really well written, every character has their own way of talking and it tells a lot about them. But most of all, the writing is just delightfully witty. It genuinely makes you laugh! And who wouldn’t want to read such a book? Grab your copy right here!

Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

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

Summary (partly from here): Since
the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver
brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species. Lanore Vesta
is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens
shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire
only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop
having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress,
she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to
stop finding dead bodies in her apartment. Enlisting help from her
Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she
is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence
sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her
The book has a fast pace, it begins with action, rather than
an introduction to this new world we’re in. The characters are strong and
realistic, in that, in spite of the stereotypical traits, they do manage to
surprise you. The book deals with race and gender and discrimination in a clear
way, without overdoing any of it. I found the romance, sex and the love
triangle a bit overdone, unnecessary and irritating, but that may just be
because I don’t like romance novels. I couldn’t say the idea of this book
is different or new, because I can’t really confirm that, but it is genuine. It
makes sense and it seems complete and well thought out. It also creates a
perfect place to set a series in, with endless possibilities. I would love to
find out what happens next! 
Let me just say: this is not the kind of book that I usually
read. I can think of many people who can overlook the problems I had with it
and find it amazing. If you’re a fan of paranormal romance, urban fantasy fiction,
contemporary fiction, do make it a point to read this book – it’s one of the
better ones. For me, though, it’s both good and bad at the same time. It’s the
first book in a series, and the one thing that makes me lean more towards
calling it good, is the fact that I definitely want to read the sequel. And I hope you do too, because Book Two, titled The Burning Book is coming out in mid-September.  
You can buy Fire Baptized (Book One) here. Go read it before the next one comes out! For more reviews, visit Goodreads.