Review: Midnight Bites by Rachel Caine

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MIDNIGHT BITES, the new Morganville Vampires short story anthology! It will bring together almost everything that I’ve written in short form about Morganville … though I did leave out some of the original “diary” entries that appeared on an earlier version of the Morganville website, simply because they were just scenes and not stories, and were generally really short snippets. This is all short fiction, and it’s been carefully organized into the timeline, so you can read from the earliest adventures (some of which belong to vampires) all the way through some post-Daylighters goodies.
MIDNIGHT BITES includes a total of more than 50,000 words of brand new content, which makes me very happy indeed (and I hope will also make you happy, too). From stories featuring our favorite bunny-slipper-wearing mad scientist to a mystery solved by police chief Hannah Moses, I think you’ll find this is a diverse group of stories that will shine a little more light in the murkiest corners of Morganville.

This was such a lovely way to wrap up and leave Morganville. I love reading short story collections, and even though they hardly ever meet my love of whole books, they provide such a great way to revisit worlds we know, love and miss.

And this book was just the same. I know that if I ever need a Morganville fix, I’ll go to this alongside my favourites from the series!

‘“Just wanted to remind you that we’re out of milk again. And hot sauce.”
“Why are those two always out at the same time? Because those do not go together.”

These stories were such a mix, and I loved how they were in order of how they would be if they were in the series. Each one seemed to have a new narrator and style, and they each stood out from each other. They all gave me the great atmospheric feeling only Morganville has in that creepy way.

I love the mix of romance, action, humour etc. Each story brought something new, or had a mixture of scenes which was great. Some of the stories were included in my UK paperback editions, so I’d read them as I went and that meant the book wasn’t too daunting for me as a whole as I skipped those. However, the 500+ pages and small font threw me after such an easy to read series!

‘”I suspect Shane. He’d put hot sauce in anything,” Michael said.’

Overall, a great way to finish up this series for me. I’ll be sad to leave this eccentric and brilliant cast of characters behind, it’s been a fun ride!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Daylighters (Morganville #15) by Rachel Caine

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Something drastic has happened in Morganville while Claire and her friends were away. The town looks cleaner and happier than they’ve ever seen it before, but when their incoming group is arrested and separated – vampires from humans – they realise that the changes definitely aren’t for the better. It seems that an organisation called the Daylight Foundation has offered the population of Morganville something they’ve never had: hope of a vampire-free future. And while it sounds like salvation – even for the vampires themselves – the truth is far more sinister and deadly. Now, Claire, Shane and Eve need to find a way to break their friends out of Daylighter custody, before the vampires of Morganville meet their untimely end …Includes a brand new and exclusive Morganville short story. 

Wow, it’s so weird, sad and exciting to be leaving Morganville behind. Although I don’t feel like I’m truly finished with this town as I’ve just picked up Midnight Bites, the short story collection, I know I’ll feel the loss of such a wonderful town and cast of characters.

As we saw in Last Breath and Black Dawn, this book carries on from the last. With the Daylighters being such a threat in Fall of Night, I was ready for this, and expectant. Overall, this book didn’t disappoint, and I found it was layered wonderfully.

‘But if these past years in Morganville have taught me anything, it’s that sometimes you have to just . . . jump.’

Of course, this book focuses on Claire and her friends, but I also enjoyed the little wrappings-up of other characters stories. It really felt like a bittersweet ending to such a long journey. There are so many aspects of this book that I didn’t expect, including the massive part the Hellhounds played. But I think we needed new, fresh ideas to keep the story alive even in it’s final moments.

I was so happy the last book took place almost entirely in Morganville! After a bit of a break in book 14, I was missing the atmosphere of the town I’ve grown to know and love. These books have taken me through many twists and turns, and the town was one of the most atmospheric settings I’ve ever read about.

‘It’s not safe. It’s never safe. But sometimes you have to live dangerously.’

It’s going to be very bittersweet leaving these books behind, and once I’ve got Midnight Bites out of the way, I’m going to be writing about my experience of reading my way through Morganville, the longest series I’ve ever read.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Fall of Night (Morganville #14) by Rachel Caine

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Claire thought she’d never get to leave Morganville, but she can’t pass up the chance to finally attend her dream school, MIT. After all, getting to invent anti-vamp devices with Professor Anderson – a Morganville exile herself – sounds like a dream come true… until Claire realizes there are sinister forces at play, and she’s not the only one with a vampire-related agenda.
Without her friends Shane, Eve, and Michael, Claire finds that surviving a killer schedule may be hard… but with them, it might turn out to be impossible.

I’m so glad Morganville picked up again after the disappointment that was the 13th book. I find when any of the gang leave Morganville it can be really hit and miss, but I definitely needed a break from the crazy town after book 13.

Having Claire finally leave to follow her dream of studying at MIT (in one weird way or another) really worked for me. Her standing up and proving to herself, her friends, and us as readers, that she can leave Morganville, gave me new found respect for her. In fact, I spent a lot of this book respecting and evaluating how far the characters have come!

‘In real life, you don’t get a reset,’

I did miss the antics of the other Morganville residents, and the atmosphere of the town itself however, and I was grateful for the different POV showing what everyone was up to back home. I guess I was a little torn between leaving Morgnaville, but when a series is based on a place and is 15 books long, it does need some breathers.

Even though we’d left Morganville behind, of course Claire’s life isn’t without new adventures and dangers. It wouldn’t be this series without a little danger, and at least one mention of vampire bunny slippers, would it? I have to say, Caine also didn’t disappoint with action, adventure and twists and turns that made this book fly by!

‘and you don’t get extra lives, and I got the crap pounded out of me.’

So overall, I’m very happy to say book 14 has picked this series back up off the ground. Bring on the next and final book!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Bitter Blood (Morganville #13) by Rachel Caine

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For years, the human and vampire residents of Morganville, Texas, have managed to co-exist in peace. But now that the threat to the vampires has been defeated, the human residents are learning that the gravest danger they face is the enemy within…
Thanks to the eradication of the parasitic creatures known as the draug, the vampires of Morganville have been freed of their usual constraints. With the vampires indulging their every whim, the town’s human population is determined to hold on to their lives by taking up arms. But college student Claire Danvers isn’t about to take sides, considering she has ties to both the humans and the vampires.
To make matters worse, a television show comes to Morganville looking for ghosts, just as vampire and human politics collide. Now, Claire and her friends have to figure out how to keep the peace without ending up on the nightly news… or worse. 

Maybe it’s because of the 11th and 12th Morganville books being so good, but I was so disappointed with this one! I guess I did expect a bit of a lull after so much action, but this one seemed downright ridiculous.

As with most of the books, it really picked up in the last 100-200 pages. But I keep thinking was it enough? Sure, I enjoyed this book and I’m still loving the series overall. But compared to the recent marvels Caine has come up with, it left me feeling…kinda flat.

“It’s not your enemies who are likeliest to hurt you.”

Not all was bad about these books and as I said above, I still enjoyed it. We had a number of small plotlines happening alongside each other, which was kind of fun and made the pacing pretty quick. I also still enjoyed flicking between different characters POV.

As always, the characters were the best thing about this book. I love the main 4, and we had a new member of the Glass House that gave a completely different and fresh addition I loved. I can see Claire growing up and developing as her own person, and looking back on her at the start of the series makes me feel like I’ve really followed her journey. However, we also had some Morganville visitors which felt flat and just annoying.

“It is, always, those you trust.”

Overall, very mixed feelings about the book itself and it’s definitely the most disappointing yet for me! But I have to say, I’m still enjoying the series and I know I’ll miss it when I finish.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Black Dawn (Morganville #12) by Rachel Caine

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The Morganville vampires are fighting a losing war, and it will fall to the residents of the Glass House: Michael, Eve, Shane and Claire, to take the fight to an enemy who threatens to destroy the town, forever.

For the first time in the Morganville books, this one carries on with the same subplot as the book before it. Usually, the books kind of wrap up at the end of each, and just leave a small something for the next one to continue with. Here, we have two books taking up one subplot, but it really works. The story Caine started in Last Breath definitely needs time to finish!

There was a very emotional aspect of this book that is possibly one of my favourites, if not my absolute favourite part of the whole series. Shane is a big focus in this (trying not to give giant spoilers here!), and I felt so deeply connected to the characters because of it.

‘”News flash, lady. There are no queens anymore,” Shane said. He loaded shells in a shotgun and snapped it shut, then searched for a place to strap it on that didn’t interfere with the flamethrower.’

This plotline is just epic, and I was once again kept guessing and on the edge of my seat. I think it’s just getting predictable again, and then Caine will throw me a massive twist that makes me react out loud. What a feat. And alongside this, we had numerous subplots (romantic, political, etc) that kept me interested.

These books might be fun and I do love them so much, but they’re not without their problems. Sometimes I struggle to find the things that keep the group tied to Morganville, especially in the middle of chaos like this. Like why not just leave? Even though my niggles have explanations, it doesn’t stop the annoyances sometimes.

‘”No queens, no kings, no emperors. Not in America. Only CEOs. Same thing, but not so many crowns.”’

I think it’s because this series is so long that despite my small annoyances, Morganville always feels like coming home. I can’t quite believe I only have a few books left, because I’ll definitely be sad to leave it behind completely!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Last Breath (Morganville #11) by Rachel Caine

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Claire finds out that vampires aren’t the top predators. There’s something worse that preys on them. So if Claire and Morganville want to live, they will have to fight on to the last breath.

Wow. So this book turns Morganville on it’s head, and I’m impressed. Caine’s ingenuity is amazing, and the fact she keeps coming up with new and refreshing ideas for this small town astounds me.

There’s definitely something different about this book that the series really needed in my opinion. I’ve been feeling the tension throughout the whole series, but it ramps up so much in this one. There’s an overall feeling of hopelessness, and of real possibility of loss. I think the fact we now have multiple viewpoints puts everyone’s life on the line, and it’s kept me so interested in the series.

‘”Yes,” she whispered back. “I promise.”‘

Without giving away any massive spoilers, something massive happens in this book. Something I never saw coming, and made me question the comfortable routine I’ve got into with this series. Because the series is so long, it’s easy to expect everything will be okay in the end. But honestly, not anymore. I was shocked. I gasped out loud.

Talking of those other points of view, I loved them! Not only do we have our group of friends, but also an insight into Amelie’s head, the Founder of Morganville. She’s one of those characters you never know how to feel about, and it was great to find out more about her inner workings. Despite her flaws, I really love and admire her as a character!

‘And she kissed him, and kissed him, and kissed him, while the sun came up and bathed Morganville in one last, shining day.’

This series, that I thought had found it’s gentle rhythm, has been revitalised for me. What an awakening, and a new taste of a great series.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Bite Club (Morganville #10) by Rachel Caine

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Claire has come to realise that the undead of Morganville just want to live their lives. But there’s a new extreme sport being broadcast over the Internet – bare-knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against one another – or, worse, against humans. What started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville.

I feel like these books almost alternate from being about a wider enemy, to being about something happening inside Morganville that brings the humans and vampires together. As you may have guessed from the synopsis, this is one of the latter and I really enjoyed it!

I actually think it’s a great way of writing about Morganville that manages to keep the tension for such a long time and for so many books, but I do enjoy seeing everyone working together.

‘”You think that because I want to do what’s right, because I want to make things better, I’m weak,” Claire said.’

The emotional scenes from Ghost Town continued in this book, and I really liked that. This book focuses on Shane, which was great. He’s a character with a really intriguing background that is discussed a lot throughout the series, and it was interesting to see more about his feelings in depth.

One way Caine showed this was through different viewpoints of the different characters. This is the first time in the whole of Morganville that we’ve seen multiple points of view, and it helps so much. Due to the books being in third person, it’s not so jarring when the viewpoints change, and in fact we just learn more as a reader without Claire having to physically be in every scene!

‘“Or that I’m stupid. But I’m not. It takes a lot more strength to know how bad the world is and not want to be part of that, give in to it.”‘

Unfortunately, Morganville still isn’t perfect, and I want to take this chance to warn you all again that it’s definitely a guilty pleasure series. Although I find them less trashy as the series carries on, there’s still a certain degree of cringe. Luckily, I love them for the entertainment value!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Ghost Town (Morganville #9) by Rachel Caine

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While developing a new system to maintain Morganville’s defenses, Claire Danvers discovers a way to amplify vampire mental powers. Through this, she’s able to re-establish the field around this vampire-infested Texas college town that protects it from outsiders. But the new upgrades have an unexpected consequence.

So I’m 9 books in and I think I’m about to write my first 5 star Morganville rating! I’ve been loving these books so far but they definitely can come across as lacking depth sometimes. Well, this all changed in Ghost Town for me!

Caine tackled so many new subjects in this book. Claire finally kills the inevitable and faces the guilt that comes with it. Claire is then faced with a difficult decision, and chaos ensues shortly after (because, of course, periods of quiet are rare and short lived in this town).

‘”Stop it! Claire screamed, and put herself in front of Shane,’

My favourite thing about this series is always the group of friends. Claire, Shane, Michael and Eve are one of my favourite YA friendship groups, and the fact they stick together for so long really shines through. Each of the group are different, wonderful and complicated in their own ways and I love them for it.

I always flick through these books wanting and longing for the quiet moments between friends, which are often must needed respite between tense action scenes. For the first time in the series, Ghost Town seemed to combine the two, with the action and tension being based mainly on what is going on between the friends.

‘like she could protect him from words the way he protected her from fists.’

Without giving away loads of spoilers for this book, the emotion and depth is at 100%. I nearly ended up in tears in some moments, and it was the first time I felt such a deep connection to the characters. Caine’s writing has definitely developed since book 1 and it shows so much here!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Kiss of Death (Morganville #8) by Rachel Caine

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Claire Danvers has a few things on her mind. First of all there is the laundry, which is now an unfortunate shade of pink. Then there is her boyfriend, Shane, who is never too far from her thoughts. Finally there is her best friend Eve’s relationship problems. As if life as a student wasn’t complicated enough, Claire just happens to be studying in Morganville. A town run by vampires. Trouble seems to follow Claire and her friends like a shadow and tonight is no exception to the rule. They must find the most difficult documents for a vampire to acquire; people passes that will allow ‘bad ass’ Morley and his friends to leave Morganville. But it’s proving incredibly difficult, and with the odds seemingly stacked against them, the biggest question of all is…Will they survive?

This book was so unexpected and different. We definitely needed an answer to the ‘why can’t we leave Morganville?’ question, and Caine gave us a whole book. Without giving any spoilers, this is a road trip book with a twist. After the group being trapped in Morganville for so long, they are finally given a chance to see the outside world.

I loved this one, it may have been my favourite book yet! Seeing Claire and her friends outside Morganville was so fun, but not without it’s troubles and tension.

‘My dad used to say that life’s a journey’

As usual, this book was jam packed with action, twists and turns and I still found it gripping! Having said that, we did have a few well needed breaks and emotional scenes. I love that these books also tackle Claire growing up and moving away, and the scenes with her parents really bring this series back down to earth.

I have to say though, I did miss Morganville and the people in it. Which I guess is what the reader is supposed to feel as Claire finds herself missing home too, so also a clever play on Caine’s part as I’m looking forward to getting back into familiar territory.

‘but somebody screwed up and lost the map.’

Overall, a great idea to mark the halfway point in this series. The series has become pretty predictable for me after so many books but I’m still finding them really entertaining!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Fade Out (Morganville #7) by Rachel Caine

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Life has changed dramatically in Morganville. The resident vampires have made major concessions to the human population and with their newfound freedoms, Claire Danvers and her friends are starting to feel comfortable again – almost.

Are you fed up of Morganville yet? You would have thought I would be, but here I am 8 books in and still enjoying the very entertaining lives of Claire and her friends.

Fade Out was definitely a bit of a change of pace, and didn’t pack in the action quite as much as the previous books in the series. However, I still really enjoyed it, and valued the differences. When we’re 7 books in and everyone keeps dying over and over, the little breathers are pretty welcome most of the time.

‘”Because you’ve got guy parts, you’re automatically a better mechanic than me? I don’t think so,”‘

For me, I’ve always loved the characters in these books and they’ve been so important to me. Because of the nature of this plot, the book was very character heavy and I loved that. The friends banded together to save each other from something, and some of the scenes that came out of it were priceless.

That being said, of course Caine kept up on the twists and turns and I was still kept on the edge of my seat. Other characters, such as Amelie, also kept the tension high and I found certain scenes with them so interesting!

‘Eve said, and bailed out of the passenger side.’

All in all, this is definitely different to the rest so far, but I still enjoyed it. Having more personal battles to fight worked for me and kept me close to the characters I know and love. A slower but also enjoyable part of the Morganville series.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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