BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Monday, February 28, 2011

ARC Review: Pretty Souls by Julie Particka

Publisher: Decadent Publishing

Book Blurb: Print - Feb. 14, 2011 digital - soon

More info: goodreads

Book Blurb: Elle hasn’t been afraid of the things that go bump in the night since she became a werewolf. She'd happily give up her inner monster to get her family back though. Hell, she'd give up the beast for nothing. Of course her foster sister doesn't get it. After all, she doesn't battle with her own darker half, but vampire blood can do that to a person. 

Their nightly patrols have become more habit than necessity—until a demon spawncomes to town, ripping souls from strangers, enemies, and friends alike. When it threatens her foster mom, Elle's peaceful life is shattered, but she's not going to give up without a fight. Fighting the beast for control at the same time is more than she can handle though. Armed with more attitude than experience, Elle and her sister have to track down the demon spawn before it collects enough souls to fulfill its birthright and open a doorway to hell. 

For the first time in years, Elle is scared. She's willing to lose herself in the beast if that's what it takes, but saving the world could cost her soul.

My Thoughts:

Pretty Souls is Julie Particka’s debut novel under that name but she has several published works as Seleste de Laney. “Pretty Souls”, her first YA and the first in her Paranormal Response Team series, continues her interest in the paranormal. This book has werewolves, vampires, demons and zombies, oh my!

Pretty Souls tells the story of two foster sisters, Elle and Cass, who are not your average teenage girls: Elle is a werewolf and Cass is a vampire. They met and clicked immediately. In an unlikely series of events, they stay together through several foster families, all the while trying to blend into the human world and not draw attention to themselves. (NOTE: that was my understanding of the story but on IM, Particka says they met at their current foster home. I didn't read it that way, but I can't swear that it's not in the book.) They’ve found foster parents that they like and try to do all the right things so they can remain in a safe, loving home.

Elle and Cass sneak out at nights to patrol the town for supernatural beings but are startled when they encounter peers and other townspeople who have been turned into living zombies. These zombies are not dead nor are they rotting; their body remains unchanged but their souls are gone. The girls start to hunt for the being or beings responsible and quickly encounter more suspects than they know what to do with. Additionally, their school work suffers from their nocturnal activities and as a result they find themselves saddled with tutors. Unsurprisingly, there is more to the eye concerning the tutors than the girls first believe. Cass appears to be head over heels for her tutor, Corbin, a college student, while Elle has feelings for Jax, her tutor and a new kid in town. Elle believes that she is less attractive than her blond, tiny, and perky sister and is convinced that Jax is attracted to Cass; she worries that Cass is interested in Jax and is prepared to step aside despite her own feelings for him.

Things aren’t always what they seem in this novel, there are more secrets than they realized. Their foster parents begin to act suspiciously, and overheard whispered conversations only raise more questions for the girls. The villain they hunt lays down numerous false trails and pretty much everyone around them is a suspect. As they fumble around in their investigation, we see them learn about themselves both as supernatural beings and teenage girls. They make their share of mistakes during their hunt for the zombie maker, whom they eventually realize is trying to find a way into Hell. They feel real and are likable, even when being stupid or unreasonable.
They struggle with their feelings towards each other as sisters and as supernatural beings, with their interactions with teenage boys, and just generally fitting in, something most teens struggle with. Just like normal teenagers, they deal with family issues, school, friends, peers, and emerging romantic and sexual feelings.

The story is told in first person by Elle. She narrates the events and we get a close up look at her struggles to control the beast inside her, cope with the mundane activities and concerns of an American teenager, and her feelings for her foster family including Cass. Their devotion to each other is demonstrated time and again but is never saccharine; just like real-life siblings, they squabble and argue. Particka makes them seem real and her world is believable. The story moves along but never feels rushed and she takes her time in developing her characters. Even the minor characters that are on page briefly are fleshed out; you can imagine that you know them or could know them.

The one real quibble I have is the author's habit of being sparse with details. Actually, I mostly like that as I am not one who needs a great deal of detail about a character's looks, clothes, house, etc. However, there were several times in the story when I was confused, primarily where and when the sisters met (see above) and where the story takes place. I eventually figured out that it was in the Midwestern part of the US but some clarity would have been appreciated. To be fair, I was sick when I read it and had a killer headache so I could have missed some of the informtation.

The story ends after they find the zombie maker but not all of the loose ends are tied up. The ending makes it clear that there is another book to come. I look forward to reading it.

NOTE: The author and the reviewer are friends.
I received this as a PDF ARC from the author for review.

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