books

C. C. Hunter

Books

Shadowfalls: Born at Midnight (2011), Awake at Dawn (2011), Taken at Dusk (2012), Whispers at Moonrise (2012), Chosen at Nightfall (2013)

Shadowfalls: After Dark: Turned at Dark (2011), Saved at Sunrise (2013), Reborn (2014), Eternal: Shadow Falls: After Dark (2014), Unbreakable (2014), Spellbinder (2015)

 

Shadowfalls

 

Born at Midnight (2011)

Kylie is having what is justifiably the worst day ever.

On top of losing her favorite grandmother and her boyfriend breaking up with her, she comes home from school to discover that her parents are getting divorced. In fact, her father is throwing clothes in a suitcase and storming out.

Plus, her night terrors have returned.

In an effort to take a break from all the crap in her life, Kylie goes to a party. Unfortunately, it ends up being the wrong party, and now she’s being shipped off to a camp for troubled youth.

Could things get any worse?

Yup. The camp is for supernatural youth. As far as Kylie is concerned, she doesn’t have any special powers, but the counselors are convinced she does, and they’re the cause of her night terrors.

One of the things I particularly liked was that there were no easy answers for Kylie, and as hard as it is for a child to be caught in the middle of their parent’s divorce, Kylie learns there is no one bad guy when a marriage falls apart.

Very enjoyable. Even if everything wasn’t completely resolved, it was a solid ending that left you wanting to know more rather than wondering what the heck is going on.
Rating: 7/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Awake at Dawn (2011)

This is the sequel to Born at Midnight.

Kylie Galen is a supernatural. She doesn’t want to be, and she really doesn’t like the way she doesn’t know what she is and how being a “Ghost Whisperer” sets her apart from the other kids at camp. But she’s adjusting, and she’s slowly discovering her powers.

Kylie also doesn’t know what to do with the boys in her life. She’s had a connection with Lucas since they first met when she was five. But Lucas seems to be with Fredericka, and Derek is interested in her, and he’s cute and nice…

The camp–soon hoping to be a boarding school–is still threatened by a group of rogue supernaturals who don’t like the idea of raising kids to follow the law instead of just taking what they want.

I’m enjoying following Kylie and seeing her reactions to the changes in her life, and especially like how she is dealing with her parent’s separation–not that she’s doing a good job of dealing with it at the start of the story, but I think it is a very realistic description, and she is working through it.

There is smooching, and Kylie harbors thoughts of sex, but there is no sex. And amusingly, Kylie’s mother bombards her with sex education pamphlets, which I thought was kinda awesome. And some of the other characters admit to having sex, but nothing on the page.

All in all, another good book. There is of course plenty left unresolved, but nothing horrible and nothing that irked me. I could comfortable stop reading the series here–but I have no interest in doing so.
Rating: 7.5/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Taken at Dusk (2012)

Kylie Galen is still struggling to discover who she is. She believes she is meeting her couple who adopted her father as a baby, and hopes they will have answers to her questions, but the meeting leaves only further questions.

In addition to questions she cannot answer, she has a new ghost. This ghost doesn’t remember who she is, but something pretty terrible seems to have happened to her, and she wants Kylie to do… something. Additionally, Kylie still can’t get her relationships with Lucas and Derek straight.

I have to say that romance was my least favorite part of this book. It doesn’t feel like er relationship with either Derek or Lucas is the slightest bit natural, and the situations into which they are placed seem… contrived at best. I realize she’s only a teenager, but damn–she gets pissed off at Lucas and Derek for all the wrong things, putting up her own imaginary walls between them.

The fantasy portion was interesting, but is starting to feel drawn out. Essentially, this book felt like it could be half the length it was.

The strong points were Kylie’s development of friendships with people besides her roommates and the love interests. Those developing friendships feel far more real that whatever it is she’s supposed to be having with Lucas and Derek.

So, it was okay. I’d like to read the next book, but am in no hurry to do so, because this is looking to be a very long, very drawn-out series.
Rating: 6/10

Published by St. Martin’s Press

Whispers at Moonrise (2012)Whispers-at-Moonrise

Kylie Galen now knows she’s a chameleon, but she doesn’t know what that means. Nor do any of her classmates or teachers at Shadow Falls, her boarding school for the supernatural.

She also doesn’t know what to do about Lucas, the werewolf she’s supposed to be dating, but who doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge her in public.

Plus, her parents are getting divorced, and she is getting pulled into their fighting.

Kylie’s mom had her right hand tucked into the back of John’s jeans pockets. And frankly, the man didn’t even have a nice ass!

I really like this series. Yes, it’s a YA and the characters are teenagers, and yes the characters make a lot of stupid mistakes the way teenagers do, but they are reasonable mistakes–the kind anyone with an ounce of honesty would remember making when they were young. So when she makes mistakes, they’re honest mistakes, and not something you want to smack the snot out of her for.

Kylie is in a bad spot, but she has true friends she can count on, and the two primary adults in her life–Holiday and Burnett aren’t morons. They treat her like the teenager she is: someone who is almost–but not quite–and adult and may be slightly impaired in their decision making.

…(S)he recalled Holiday’s words of wisdom about boys, or rather sex. When you do make that decision, it’s a decision you make rationally and not one you just let happen. You understand the difference?

She inhaled sharply with a sudden realization. If she couldn’t talk about it, she should do it.

And of course it covers the core of being a teenager–feeling like a weirdo and feeling like everyone is talk about you.

One only assumed you wanted to hear what was being whispered about you behind your back.

Yeah, you really don’t.

“I hate feeling like a freak,” Kylie bellowed out. “I hate feeling as if I have no control over my own body.

Well, that pretty much sums up being a teenager.

Mind you, it’s not all serious and angsty. It’s also amusing.

“They were fighting–?” “I said friction,” Holiday corrected. “They were frictioning over me?”

That cracked me up.

One caveat. This part of a series, and this is the penultimate book in the series, so there are plenty of things left hanging, but it wasn’t a cliffhanger ending. Which I liked.

Now I’m waiting impatiently for the conclusion.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Chosen at Nightfall (2013)

Chosen at NightfallThe conclusion to Kylie Galen’s story arc at Shadow Falls.

Kylie has had a rough couple months: she lost her grandmother, her parents are divorcing, she’s discovered she’s a supernatural being, she learned the man she’d called her father her entire life was not, in fact, her biological father, and has met the ghost of her father, whose family wants her to come away with them to both learn more about herself, and to hide from the rest of the supernatural community.

But she’s also made two best friends–a witch and a vampire–and has has two adults who care for her and look after her.

And a boyfriend who has made her happier–and more miserable–than she ever guessed possible.

If you have not read the previous book in this series, don’t be put off by the witches and vampires and werewolves and shapeshifters and fae. One of the main themes of Shadow Falls Camp is for the various supernatural factions to learn to get along–something the groups haven’t always done well throughout history.

Yes Kylie and Della and Miranda are teenagers, and they’re often silly (because they are teenagers). But they aren’t stupid. And the adults in their lives–Holiday and Burnett–aren’t idiots, though don’t treat Kylie as a completely rational adult (which, she isn’t (and most teens aren’t)).

“Say what?” Kylie asked. “Swords can be possessed? Okay…. this is just too freaky for me.” She started dusting off her hands to wipe off any possessed germs.

The romance was my least favorite part of this story, and when I saw where Kylie’s HEA was heading I was highly irritated, but I think she did a good job of making the HEA believable, and certainly made Kylie put a great deal of thoughts into her choices.

One bit I found hilarious. From the first book, it’s made clear that Kylie’s mother has inundated her with information on sex–pamphlets on safe sex and venereal disease and the life. But for all the statistics, Kylie doesn’t actually know very much, which led to some wonderful exchanges.

Della chuckled again. “It’s when a guy gets really turned on and is ready to do the deed and then the deed gets canceled.”
Kylie leaned in. “Do their balls really turn blue?”
Della burst out laughing. “I don’t know, I’ve never gotten down there and checked.”

It does get a bit overbearing when Kylie spouts her statistics, but as this is a YA book, I’m totally willing to let it slide.

Overall, I really enjoyed this series, liked the way things were wrapped up, and I look forward to continuing with the characters with Della’s story.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin


Shadowfalls: After Dark

I've put all the Della Tsang stories in this group, even though they aren't specifically labelled that way.

Turned at Dark: A Bonus Shadow Falls Short Story (2011)

Free story that’s an intro to the Shadow Falls series.

It obviously worked, since I then got the first book, Born at Midnight.

Della Tsang doesn’t believe in ghosts, but she has to wonder, when one night she sees her dead cousin.

This story is a very good introduction to her world, and the background on Della was nice when I read Turned and Midnight.
Rating: 7/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Saved at Sunrise (2013)

saved-at-sunriseI’m a fan of C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series, and was introduced to it through the free novella Turned at Dark about Della Tang, who is also the main character in this novella.

Della wanted to go into law enforcement before she was turned, now, she wants to work for the F.R.U. (supernatural FBI), and she’s being given a chance to show them what she can do when she and her classmate Steve are asked to see if they can infiltrate a group of rogue vampires who are possibly killing humans.

Della is excited about the opportunity, but infuriated that Steve (her shapeshifter partner) will just hold her back.

To complicate matters, Steve is very cute, and seems to like Della, but when she was turned she lost her fiance, and the love and good opinion of her family, so she trusts almost no one. With anything.

Della is probably best summed up by this exchange:

“Thank you!” she growled.

“Wow.” He finally spoke. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone express gratitude in such a pissed off, angry tone.”

I quite enjoyed the story, but I was already familiar with Della. I’m not sure if someone who hadn’t read another Shadow Falls story would have the patience for her incredible bitchiness. We see why she’s hurt and stand-offish, but we don’t get to see her loyalty to Kylie and Miranda, which is one of her saving graces in the series.

So I’m not quite sure if this would be a good introduction to the characters or not.
Rating: 7/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Reborn (2014)

RebornThis is part of the Shadow Falls series, but Kylie’s arc is completed, and we now come back to Della, who was the character who introduced me to Shadow Falls in her short story and “Turned at Dark” (still free!) then again in the novella “Saved at Sunrise“.

What is Shadow Falls? It’s a camp for supernatural kids, masquerading as a camp for “troubled” kids.

Who is Della? She’s a half Chinese teen who discovered that vampires exist after becoming one. And in becoming a vampire, she has become estranged from her family.

One of the things I particularly like about the world building here, is that although vampires are slowly being done to death (HA!), she manages an interesting take on vamps, as well as shifters, weres, and other supernaturals.

There is also a good world building that explains how supernaturals have managed to hide in plain sight through the centuries, and how they are trying to manage in a modern world, with ever greater chances of exposure.

Another thing I particularly like about this series is that it isn’t full of absent adults. Sometimes in YA books, the lack of adults is almost grating, but this series manages to have adults who are understanding without being permissive. (Adults who have borders and enforce them–in this case literally).

And of course, there is a great deal of humor in the stories.

Della didn’t think Kylie would take her clothes off in the woods; she was much too proper and smart for that. Being naked in the woods led to chiggers and bug bites in places you really didn’t want them.

Though there is also a recognition of how acute the pain teenagers go through can be.

She didn’t want to cry anymore.

What she wanted was to reach into her chest and yank out the pain.

One of the first things we learned about vampires is that there is a genetic component to susceptibility to the vampire virus. So Della and her cousin both succumbed, and Della discovers it’s possible that her father’s siblings may also have caught the virus. I think it’s a fascinating way to handle vampirism.

We also learn that vampire teens (and adults) are just like other teens and adults–moody and irritable and times, but also just as capable of friendships and love as others. Although Della has a significant amount of trouble in that department. Between her troubled relationship with her family, and the fact that her boyfriend dumped her after her “illness” Della has trust issues.

Interestingly, much of Della’s growth in that aspect occurred in the previous books in the series, where she learned to trust Kylie and Miranda. This might be problematic for new readers, simply because they won’t have recognized how far Della has come (and how far she still has to go).

It’s an interesting series, and I look forward to the next book.
Rating: 8/10
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Eternal: Shadow Falls: After Dark (2014)

EternalThis is the second full book of Della Tsang’s story (although she has been the center of several novellas, one of which is the reason I started reading this series).

Della coming to terms with being one of the Reborn, and also dealing with her continued guilt over the death of her cousin Chan.

She also has to deal with the two boys who are interested in her, which is something she doesn’t particularly want to do, since she hasn’t wanted to care about anyone since she was turned. She’s come to care about her friends, but a romantic relationship is something else entirely.

Della is a very prickly personality, because she has been hurt (and continues to be hurt) by those who she loves.

She’s also a smartass.

He looked appalled at the idea of communicating with spirits, as if she’d asked him for a recommendation on which tampon to use.

I love the world building in this series. She has an interesting take on the supernatural, and having teenagers as her main characters allows us to see those supernatural entities as little different from other teenagers except in abilities–abilities they need to learn to control and hide from the general populace.

It’s a series I’m continuing to enjoy, and I can’t wait for the concluding book in Della’s series.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Unbreakable (2014)

unbreakableChase Tallman appeared in the Shadow Falls series, and although we know he’s in love with Della, we don’t know much else about him. This story gives us a glimpse into his life–when he was first changed, and how it happened.

First, I do enjoy how CC Hunter writes teens. Chase is 14 in this story.

Unlike most of his friends who were into computer games and denied their fascination with the opposite sex, Chase gave up his denial. He’d rather study a pretty girl than get to the next level of Battlefield 4 any day of the week. Hell, he’d rather touch or kiss a girl than play baseball. And he really liked playing baseball.

His sister Mindy is 15.

Before he knew what Mindy intended to do, she hugged him. They hadn’t hugged each other since his mom stopped making them hug to make up after a fight.

This story makes Chase much more relate-able than he appears in Della’s stories.

However.

I skipped large portions of this story, and won’t read it again.

But it’s not the fault of the author or the story. It’s just that the bits about Chase are interspersed with the “news reports” about the plane crash that killed Chase’s family–and the alpine rescue attempts after the crash.

I just could not read those without being thrown back to when my cousin died. Which is totally my problem and not the author’s problem, but it’s also why I’m not going to rate this book, because I can’t give it an objective rating.

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Spellbinder (2015)

SpellbinderThis is a Shadow Falls novella, and gives us some of Miranda Kane’s story.

Plus Della and Kylie.

“…And then she fell to her knees like in that epic movie, Gone to the Breeze, I think that was the name of it, where the heroine yells out, ‘I shall never go hungry again.’”

“Gone with the Wind,” Miranda corrected, then stood dumbstruck hearing Della’s description of the events.

“Breeze, wind, same thing,” Della said.

I’ll be honest, I’ve always liked Miranda as a character, but never found her interesting, except for her interactions with Kylie and Della. She has always been very much a stereotypical teenage girls, and although there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not something I find interesting.

Unfortunately, Miranda has seem very big and very unpleasant surprises in this story.

Mom told me all the fuss was about the cookies.”

“Cookies?” Kylie asked and grinned. “And you believed her.”

“Hey, I was three. Cookies were a big deal.”

Although that bit is hilarious, it’s also very true to how we often accept things were are told as young children and never reconsider then until someone questions us about them.

Of course a three-year-old would accept that her mom and another woman would fight over cookies. And if the subject didn’t keep coming up regularly, it would just set there in her mind as fact, without further critical thought.

I found some parts of this story to accept, so I won’t say it’s anywhere near as good as the other novellas and stories, but it does have a giant revelation about Miranda.
Rating: 6/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin