Awake at Dawn by C.C. Hunter

10800916There’s a reason why C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series is on the best-selling lists. Her main character is living every teenage girl’s fantasy. Tall, blond and gorgeous, she’s the prettiest – and most mysterious – girl at Camp Shadow Falls. Two of the camp’s hottest boys are chasing after her – plus she’s got the coolest best friends a girl could ever ask for.  Oh – and did I mention that a side-effect of her hidden super-powers is growing an extra cup-size over night? So not fair…the only things that sprouted on my teenage body overnight were pimples.

If you’re not familiar with the Shadow Falls series, here’s the scoop: Kylie is a camper at Shadow Falls, a place where teenage fairies, vamps, werewolves, shapeshifters and witches can learn how to hone their supernatural powers. They can do some really cool stuff like reading each other’s brain waves, shifting into four-legged beasts, and communing with ghosts..

Unlike her fellow campers, Kylie’s supernatural identity is a total mystery. Desperate for answers, she hires a PI to look into her ancestral past. And as her powers begin to develop, she comes up with more questions than answers. What kind of preternatural species can talk to dead people, run at warp speed, and grow taller and more boobalicious overnight? No one – not even the camp counselors – seems to know.

In this second installment, Kylie is plagued by a new ghost who insists that someone she loves is on the cusp of death. It would be helpful if the blood-drenched spirit could give her more details. But like everything else, Kylie must figure it out on her own. And if that’s not enough, she’s facing some serious boy drama. Lucas, a gorgeous werewolf with smoldering blue eyes, inexplicably skipped town with the world’s bitchiest she-wolf. She wants more than anything to write him off completely, but his love letters and dream-scaping invasions keep her hanging on.

Wouldn't Jared Padalecki make a great Derek?!?
Wouldn’t Jared Padalecki make a great Derek?!?

And then there’s Derek. Don’t let the half-fairy status fool you; this guy is no sissy with sparkly wings. He’s big, buff and completely smitten with Kylie. I have to say that the shower scene is one of the hottest romantic moments I’ve encountered in paranormal teen lit. With his brown shaggy hair, chiseled features and barrel chest, I kept picturing a half-naked, dripping wet Jared Padelecki. Supernatural fans, you know who I’m talking about! Kylie must have some crazy superpowers to walk away from…shall I say…a very promising opportunity.

Considering the formula of YA paranormal love triangles, I’m willing to bet she’s going to end up with the mysterious bad boy, but oh how I wish she could just be with Derek. He’s sweet, romantic and oh-so-very perfect! If the author really wants to give her readers a plot twist, she should make Kylie choose the nice guy in the end.

Aside from the love triangle, Kylie is also helping her friends deal with some serious problems. Miranda is crying into her pillow every night over a bad breakup. Della fears the death angels will make her atone for the sins of her past. And Sara, Kylie’s mortal BFF back home, is no longer returning her phone calls. Aye yay yay – teenage life is tough!

The plot thickens when the prophetic ghost gets more and more demanding. Soon someone Kylie loves will die – and she only has a short window of time to stop it from happening. And if that’s not enough, she’s also being stalked by a rogue vampire who is out killing mortals on the streets.

There’s a lot going on in this book, but the author does a fine job weaving the plot threads into a cohesive story. With every chapter she hits me with a cliffhanger, leaving me with no other option but to tear through the pages to get some answers. Warning: if you have weekend plans or chores to tackle, DO NOT read this book. I took this thing with me on the plane, and it was torture having to put it away when I had to make a connecting flight! All in all, this is one of the best paranormal series out there. If you’re looking for a good character-driven novel filled with plot twists, romance and mystery, give Shadow Falls a try!

Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1) by C.C. Hunter

sundaysIn honor of Sunday – a day I reserve for reading and lollygagging – I bring you a short and sweet book review! 

8705784From the publisher: One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

Why I picked it up:  A friend of mine told me she spent the entire weekend reading three Shadow Falls books in a row! When she told me about the series, I decided to pluck the first book off of my Nook wish list and give it a try. Needless to say, I was hooked from page one. The perfectly plotted pacing, the complex characters, the boy drama – everything about it had me completely enthralled.

Why I liked it: Considering two paranormal hotties are thrown into the mix, I expected this book to center mostly on the love triangle. But surprisingly, there’s so much more to the story! From her parents’ messy divorce, to her best friend’s pregnancy scare, to her newfound ability to speak with the dead – she’s got a lot more on her mind than who she’s going to kiss at the campfire. A good chunk of the book focuses on Kylie’s friendship with her camp roommates: Della, a moody Goth vampire, and Miranda, a bubbly, boy-crazy witch. Despite their differences, all three girls are fiercely devoted to each other – and I can’t wait to see how their bond develops in the next three books!

What irked me: The Taylor Swift lookalike on the cover doesn’t do Kylie justice. She’s strong-willed, quirky, and a tad self-conscious – nothing like the statuesque blonde beauty striking a sulky supermodel pose inside a spooky tree. To be honest, I get annoyed when publishers feature the image of a main character on the cover. I’d so much rather use my own imagination…isn’t that the reason why we read in the first place?

Why I’m on team Derek: Since Lucas and Kylie formed a connection back when they were little kids, it’s apparent they’re destined for each other. Plus with his dangerous back story and James Dean good looks, he embodies all the hallmarks of a paranormal soul mate. But just for this once, I would like the werewolf underdog (pun intended!) to get the girl.  Derek is sweet, protective and an all-around hottie. Plus it’s no mystery that he’s really into Kylie. There’s one tiny hitch: He has the ability to manipulate emotions with his fairy powers. That adds a miniscule element of danger, but there’s no mistaking that he’s the overlooked  good guy. And as the saying goes, nice guys finish last.

Overall: If there is one book teens – and adults – should have on their must-read list, Born at Midnight is it! Fans of paranormal romance and mystery will hurry to the end of each chapter in anticipation of what will happen next. Unfolding at an easy pace, Kylie’s mystical journey of self-discovery had me glued to the pages until the wee hours of the night. Can’t wait to pounce on the second book!