melissa darnell


Here’s a selection of some of the new YA novels hitting the shelves this week (25th - 31st August). For more on new releases and all things YA lit, visit our website, follow us here and on Twitter, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: August 27th
Golden boy Ezra Faulkner loses his athletic career and his social life when an accident shatters his knee. No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe and learns how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release date: August 27th
The epic conclusion to Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Confessions of a Hater by Caprice Crane
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: August 27th
Hailey Harper has always felt invisible, but when she stumbles across a journal titled “How to Be a Hater,” things start to change. Will she and the other Invisibles dethrone the popular mean girls? After all, they deserve it. Don’t they?

Consume (The Clann #3) by Melissa Darnell
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: August 27th
Tristan Coleman has survived the change from Clann magic user to vampire, much to Savannah Colbert’s joy – and despair. By changing the Clann’s golden boy and newly elected leader, even to save him from death, she has unleashed a fury of hatred and fear that they cannot escape, and now they face a new threat.

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Release date: August 27th
Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes. Keeping up the deadly charade will test her in frightening new ways. Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 27th
At the turn of the twentieth century, Spiritualism and séances are all the rage in Cambridge, England. While mediums dupe the grief-stricken, a group of local fringe scientists seeks to bridge the gap to the spirit world by investigating the dark corners of the human mind. Each running from a shadowed past, Kate, Asher, and Elsie must illuminate what the scientists have not, and open a window to secrets taken to the grave—or risk joining the spirit world themselves.

Deception (Defiance #2) by C.J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: August 27th
Baalboden has been ravaged. The brutal Commander’s whereabouts are unknown. And Rachel, grief stricken over her father’s death, needs Logan more than ever. But soon their problems intensify tenfold: someone is sabotaging the survivors, picking them off one by one. In this daring sequel to Defiance, with the world they once loved forever destroyed, Rachel and Logan must decide between a life on the run and standing their ground to fight.

Descendant (Starling #2) by Lesley Livingston
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: August 27th
The last thing Mason Starling remembers is the train crossing a bridge. An explosion… a blinding light… then darkness. Now she is alone, stranded in Asgard—the realm of Norse legend—and the only way for her to get home is to find the Spear of Odin, a powerful relic left behind by vanished gods.

Don’t Look Now (PERSEFoNE #2) by Michelle Gagnon
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: August 27th
Having outsmarted the sinister corporation Pike & Dolan, Noa and her friend Zeke are on the run, protecting runaways before they become test subjects for P&D’s horrific experiments. Then, in an explosive confrontation, Noa and her team are trapped in the one place they thought was safe. It will take everything Noa and Peter have to bring down the corporation before it gets them first.

The Fall of Five (Lorien Legacies #4) by Pittacus Lore
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: August 27th
The Garde are finally reunited, but do they have what it takes to win the war against the Mogadorians? The six of them are powerful, but they’re not strong enough yet to take on an entire army. When the Garde receive a sign from Number Five they know they are so close to being reunited. Time is running out, and the only thing they know for certain is that they have to get to Five before it’s too late.

Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release date: August 27th
Sam has the rules of slackerhood down: Don’t be late to class. Don’t ever look the teacher in the eye. Develop your blank stare. Since his mom left, he has become an expert in the art of slacking. Then his English teacher begins a slam poetry unit and Sam gets paired up with the daunting, scarred, clearly-a-gang-member Luis, who happens to sit next to him in every one of his classes. Slacking is no longer an option – Luis will destroy him.

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: August 27th
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. All Caroline wants to do is escape – both her family and the reality of Gram’s failing health. So when Caroline’s best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram’s side, or go to the party and live her life. The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline’s fate into two separate paths – and she’s about to live them both.

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release date: August 27th
Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything – her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.

The Liberator (Dante Walker #2) by Victoria Scott
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release date: August 27th
Dante has a shiny new cuff wrapped around his ankle, and he doesn’t like that mess one bit. His new accessory comes straight from Big Guy himself and marks the former demon as a liberator. Despite his gritty past and bad boy ways, Dante Walker has been granted a second chance. Dante will have to go somewhere he never thought he’d return to in order to accomplish the impossible: save the girl he’s been assigned to, and keep the girl he loves.

The Morning Star (Katerina #3) by Robin Bridges
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 27th
Katerina thought she had bound Konstantin to the Greylands, the realm of the dead, but he has found a way out. Now he is searching for the Morning Star, a sword that will allow him to command a legion of supernatural warriors. Katerina must find the sword before Konstantin does. Russia’s fate will be determined by whoever wields the Morning Star—and delivers the final blow.

Origin (Lux #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release date: August 27th
After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, Daemon is facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. But their most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?

Overpowered by Mark H. Kruger
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 27th
When Nica Ashley gets sent to live in a small town with the father she barely knows, she’s in for a bit of a culture shock. Barrington prides itself on being a sleepy, family community with the lowest crime rates in the state of Colorado. But secrets are well and alive, and as Nica and some of her new friends discover they have abilities best described as “super,” they also realize that Barrington might not be so safe.

Rein It In (The A Circuit #4) by Georgina Bloomberg and Catherine Hapka
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Release date: August 27th
Only the best of the best qualify for “Indoors,” a series of fall horse shows. And of course, Tommi, Kate, and Zara are the best. Tommi’s still riding the high of selling the horse she’s been training all summer, but ego threatens to get in the way of her riding. Kate and Fitz are still the golden couple at Pelham Lane Stables, but will a new guy at school tarnish her relationship? And Zara has a lot to learn about East Coast schools…and boys.

Relic by Renee Collins
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release date: August 27th
In Maggie’s world, the bones of long-extinct magical creatures such as dragons and sirens are mined and traded for their residual magical elements. Harnessing these relics’ powers allows the user to wield fire, turn invisible, or heal even the worst of injuries. But when the mysterious fires reappear in their neighboring towns, Maggie must discover who is channeling relic magic for evil before it’s too late.

Taste Test by Kelly Fiore
Publisher: Walker Children’s
Release date: August 27th
If you can grill it, smoke it, or fry it, Nora Henderson knows all about it. When she’s accepted to Taste Test, a reality-television teen cooking competition, Nora can’t wait. But as mysterious accidents plague the kitchen arena, protecting her heart from one annoyingly charming fellow contestant in particular becomes the least of her concerns. Someone is conducting real-life eliminations, and if Nora doesn’t figure out who, she could be next to get chopped for good.

The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away by Frances O’Roark Dowell
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 27th
Marylin knows that, as a cheerleader, she has certain obligations. But there are also rules about whom she’s allowed to like – and Benjamin, the student body president, is deemed unacceptable. Kate, of course, finds this ludicrous. She is going to like whom she likes, thank you very much. But only one of the two girls can get her way. Ultimately, though, is it even her way? Or are both girls pushing for something they never really wanted in the first place?

To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story by Sonya Sones
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 27th
Fifteen-year-old Colette is addicted to lying. Her shrink says this is because she’s got a very bad case of Daughter-of-a-famous-movie-star Disorder. When Colette meets a sexy biker named Connor she lies to him about her age, and about who her mother is. But what Colette doesn’t know is that Connor is keeping a secret of his own.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 27th
Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds, take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record. The two boys become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites – all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

Battle Lines (Department 19 #3) by Will Hill
Publisher: Razorbill
Release date: August 29th
Secret government unit Department 19 is recovering from evil vampire Valeri Rusmanov’s deadly attack on their base. The Department’s newest member, teenage operator Jamie Carpenter, is tasked with training up a new squad. The timing couldn’t be worse for a coordinated, global attack on a number of maximum security prisons and hospitals – with the already-dangerous inmates now on the loose and turned into vampires.

Untold (The Lynburn Legacy #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Release date: August 29th
On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. Now the powerful Lynburn family are back and gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?

Book Review: Crave by Melissa Darnell

Why do I keep reading books like this? Why, I ask you? [Note: This is ranty].

Thanks are due to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for allowing me to pre-read this title.

The cover - while prettyish - is nothing exceptional. It’s like a Twilight meets Shiver meets every other YA paranormal romance cover mash-up.

Title: Crave

Series: The Clann Series (Book #1)

Author: Melissa Darnell

Publication Date: 18 October 2011

Publishing House: Harlequin Teen

Opening remarks: some books I read and love. Other books I read and think “Why does this book even have to exist?” Crave unfortunately falls into the latter category. It seems, like so many books of this genre, like a gimmicky re-hash of the story we’re all sick to death of.

I’m going to try to keep this review short, because (as you will know if you’ve read other reviews of mine) I get a little out of hand talking about books I didn’t particularly like.

Savannah Colbert is a seemingly average, clumsy, pale, thin teenaged girl - her parents are separated, and she lives the existence of a high-school “loser” with her mother, grandmother, and best friends. Tristan Coleman is a “gorgeous” NFL hopeful whose parents want him to become the leader of a powerful coven of witches known as The Clann. Close to the start of the novel, Savannah discovers she is actually a half-witch half-vampire hybrid. (Seriously? Yes. Seriously). Oh - and also that she really really wants to join the school dance team. (Again - seriously).

There was nothing original about this book. From the ridiculous premise to the poor execution to the “clumsy,” pale main character to the golden-haired black hole of personality that serves as love interest, I read this entire book with the growing sense that I’d seen it all before. Again, and again, and again. It’s the kind of book that makes my wonder why it seems to be that everything is a series. The only original elements in the book are just so poorly explained and quickly cast aside that all we have is a ridiculous story about a vampire girl who thinks about nothing but cheerleading and making out.

The story is, in a word, shallow. That said, MANY readers of YA fiction (especially paranormal) LIKE THEIR BOOKS SHALLOW. They are satisfied with mere escapism. I am, sadly, not. I like a story to have some meat, some soul. I like to feel I’ve grown or learned something from reading a book. I’m not satisfied with three hundred pages of The Ups and Downs of the School Dance Team.

I like to be entertained, too. It’s just that this book didn’t entertain me that much, either. I felt the novel to be ludicrously simple-minded. 

(That, my friends, is what we call scathing criticism).

As far as characters go, if I blew on them they’d probably fall over. You know those cardboard standees of Justin Bieber? You know - the ones advertising his new perfume? Yeah. Those cardboard Justin Bieber standees have more “dimension” than Savannah and Tristan. I don’t even want to talk about how weak-minded and shallow the “heroine” of this novel is. Savannah is concerned only with making out with a boy who, despite being attractive, has nothing intelligent to say, and completely obsessed with some dance team at her high school - when we are supposed to believe her life is under constant threat! She takes everything in stride. The focus is on the dance team! What the heck! She’s turning into a vampire! Does nobody care?! 

The answer is no. No, they don’t. They’re thinking about the dance team. And I found the extensive portion of the novel spent on the dance team eye-numbingly boring. 

Abby - Savannah’s best friend - was a promising character at the start. She had a little sass, and more development than a lot of those this-is-the-main-character’s-only-friend characters. But she was quickly discarded, much to my dismay.

The writing was capable, but not brilliant. It was serviceable. It was not grating and it was not riddled with flaws and I did not take issue with it. But it was certainly not exceptional.

However. That said, the blend of high-school nonsense and “romance” (I put that in quotations) will appeal to the current YA readership. It just will. While I find this slightly worrying, the publisher has no grounds to be nervous. I’m sure the series will be very lucrative. If you’re a fan of stuff like this, with the vampires and the drippy teen angst and the “love” (again - in quotations) I’m sure you’ll really enjoy it. There’s a lot of positive buzz out there.

As far as enjoyability goes, let me just say this: all in all, I can’t even bring myself to hate this book. 

Final Breakdown:

Premise/Originality: 0 Stars

Plot: 0 Stars

Characters: 0 Stars

Writing: 0.5 Stars

Enjoyability: 0.5 Stars

Total: 1 / 5 Stars


Books more people should read
» The Clann by Melissa Darnell «


Savannah Colbert has never known why she’s so hated by the kids of the Clann. Nor can she deny her instinct to get close to Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman. Especially when she recovers from a strange illness and the attraction becomes nearly irresistible. It’s as if he’s a magnet, pulling her gaze, her thoughts, even her dreams. Her family has warned her to have nothing to do with him, or any members of the Clann. But when Tristan is suddenly everywhere she goes, Savannah fears she’s destined to fail.

For years, Tristan has been forbidden to even speak to Savannah Colbert. Then Savannah disappears from school for a week and comes back…different, and suddenly he can’t stay away. Boys seem intoxicated just from looking at her. His own family becomes stricter than ever. And Tristan has to fight his own urge to protect her, to be near her no matter the consequences….

Click here to read more about the underrated book project

Savannah Colbert has never known why she’s so hated by the kids of the Clann. Nor can she deny her instinct to get close to Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman. Especially when she recovers from a strange illness and the attraction becomes nearly irresistible. It’s as if he’s a magnet, pulling her gaze, her thoughts, even her dreams. Her family has warned her to have nothing to do with him, or any members of the Clann. But when Tristan is suddenly everywhere she goes, Savannah fears she’s destined to fail.

For years, Tristan has been forbidden to even speak to Savannah Colbert. Then Savannah disappears from school for a week and comes back…different, and suddenly he can’t stay away. Boys seem intoxicated just from looking at her. His own family becomes stricter than ever. And Tristan has to fight his own urge to protect her, to be near her no matter the consequences….

It is both human and apparently vampire nature to want to hold on to that which you love with every ounce of strength that you possess. But if you truly love someone, that is the only real way to love them. To love loosely is the hardest love to learn. But it is also the strongest and most self less form of love you can give another.
—  Consume, Melissa Darnell
Head or Heart?


by Melissa Darnell

From the velvet-wearing sun-challenged to the sparkly, vampires are a well-covered territory.  So is the myth of vampires versus witches.

But what if a vampire and a witch defied the rules of their warring societies in order to be together…and had a child?

What would that hybrid evolve into?

I love to play with incredible scenarios of both emotional and physical conflict.  The YA genre calls to me so strongly because it’s a time of heightened conflict with the least amount of individual control.  On the one hand, there’s your family and teachers setting and enforcing the rules.  And yet you’re also being taught to think for yourself and to question peer pressure, history, government policies, and even life itself.  Add to that a whole set of rules from two opposing paranormal societies and unpredictable abilities made even harder to control and hide in the face of raging hormones and emotions, and it’s a powder keg!

by Melissa Darnell

Rating: C-

Savannah has always thought that she was just a regular girl. Then she found out that her dad is an incubus and her mom is a witch, making her a dhamphir. Equipped with this new piece of information, she now understands why the members of the Clann (group of witches that founded the town) hate her so much. And even though she knows she should stay away, she can’t fight the urge to get close to Tristan even if he puts him in danger. 


I really wasn’t a fan of this book. I thought it was boring and I just couldn’t connect to any of it. Savannah was an okay main character, but she was whinny and selfish. I mean, I can understand her being upset about the fact that her parents have been lying to her for her whole life, but there is only so much woe-is-me I can take. Tristan, on the other hand, was a little bit more bearable, because, yes, this book does switch perspectives. However, I could easily mistake him for a lesbian that plays football because sometimes his parts had a slight feminine undertone. 

I think that the biggest problem was that there wasn’t enough supernatural stuff in it for me. I mean, yeah you’re not human, and yeah the guy you like is a witch, but they really don’t use much of their powers for a huge chuck of the book. Savannah spends most of her time trying to avoid making direct contact with anyone so that they don’t become a stalker. Meanwhile, Tristan doesn’t want to embrace his powers and the only reason he starts training is so he can use spells to prevent Savannah from dating other people. 

I thought the book was well written and even funny at times, but it just wasn’t for me. I skimmed the first couple of pages of Covet, the second book in the series, and it seemed okay, but I don’t think I’ll be reading it. 

-Review by A.M.