If you want a little taste of what the Deacon Chalk series is all about, it’s definitely worth giving SPIDE...moreReviewed by Laura for www.BookChickCity.com
If you want a little taste of what the Deacon Chalk series is all about, it’s definitely worth giving SPIDER’S LULLABY a try. It’s a novella that takes place between Blood and Bullets and Blood and Silver, but to be honest I think you could easily pick it up as a stand-alone. There are a few references, but nothing that would spoil things for you.
The story evolves around one of my reluctant favourite characters. I say reluctant, because as a terrible arachnophobe, I still find it hard to believe I’m reading a book about a were-spider (I’m even glad I had it as an ebook, as I even find it hard to look at the cover!). Yes, that’s right a spider as big as a human, even the idea makes me feel a bit nauseous. Given the rather tongue-in-cheek name of Charlotte, you’ve got to love Tuck’s sense of humour. But dare I say it, Charlotte is rather cool, in an understated chic kind of way. Eight gross legs and all.
The plot theme is familiar to what we’ve seen in all the books to date. Bad guys do something very bad, often affecting someone Deacon cares for, roll on lots of blood and violence, and lots and lots of guns. And of course, the bad guys deservedly get what’s coming to them. But it’s far from a tired format. It’s slick, it’s dark and occasionally a touch of subtle, black humour.
When Charlotte’s egg sac of spider babies *shudder* are kidnapped, along with a dancer from Deacon’s club, you know without a doubt he won’t stop until he gets them back. Of course being were-spider babies you don’t want them hatching without mummy present or things could get decidedly hmmm carnivorous, yes I think that deserves another *shudder*.
There is something almost comic book-esque in Tuck’s writing style. The action is quite cinematic, pulling you right in and depicted in such a way you have a very vivid picture of what’s happening and in particular what a certain character looks like.
This novella is almost non-stop action, barely giving you time to come up for breath. Deacon is a bad-ass with a tender side. He fights because he cares, almost too much. Which makes him not only a great character, but one you want to get to know, to peel beneath the layers.
Tiff makes a big appearance in this book. Emerging from the naive girl she was in Blood and Bullets, to become a fighter at Deacon’s side. The love story between them slowly being hinted at. I just don’t know if I quite get her though, there is something that makes it hard for me to connect with her. And I have to admit, I find it irritating that Deacon refers to her as ‘little girl’ albeit as an affectionate term of endearment.
A great read for urban fantasy fans, Deacon is fast finding his place amongst other monster fighting heroes. Buckle up for the ride because it’s going to get bloody! And yikes there are spiders, hundreds of them in fact. I need to read a romance now so I don’t have nightmares .(less)
Firstly, I disagree with the Goodreads summary. Miriam isn’t trying or maybe she did for about 2-3 senten...moreReviewed by Melanie for www.BookChickCity.com
Firstly, I disagree with the Goodreads summary. Miriam isn’t trying or maybe she did for about 2-3 sentences on page 1 and then she promptly returns to her unlikable, chaotic and danger prone-self.
MOCKINGBIRD starts a year after we left Miriam after the end of book one. She is working as a checkout girl in a touristy store in Long Beach and hating her trailer park lifestyle. Louis is still in the picture but only barely as he continues to travel the country truck driving. Marion has tried to be good but only in the sense of curbing her psychic abilities by wearing gloves. It only takes a few paragraphs before she is drawn to back into need to touch people to see their deaths. She admits she is an addict – a death addict. Her palms itch to reach out to make contact and her breath catches in her throat as she allows her obsession to take control. Miriam shows all the hallmarks of an addict and these scenes make the reader a tad uncomfortable and uneasy. It isn’t long before Miriam gives in to her addiction and is back with full on visions of the death of anyone she comes into contact with.
Wendig really ramps up the horror in this novel when Louis takes Miriam to ‘read’ the death from a friend Katey, of who is a teacher at an all girls school for juvenile delinquents. Miriam sees not only visions of Katey’s death but also those of several girls in the school. Each girl is tortured and murdered by a serial killer and Miriam is determined she is going to to put a stop to it. The murder is particularly barbaric and ritualistic. These scenes describing Miriam’s visions are particularly chilling and her journey to find the killer is much more graphic than similar scenes in the first novel.
Wendig uses birds throughout the novel both as symbolism and to advance the plot. Crows and swallows are prominent despite the mockingbird used in the book’s title. Crows are a feature and Wendig uses them to deliver prophecy and warnings to both Miriam and Louis. He exploits the mythology of crows as a symbol of death both in the murders and as a portent for Miriam. There is one particular scene with a crow and Louis that made me feel rather ill reading it. I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling the macabre scene. Ghost Louis makes an appearance in this novel but under a slightly different guise. He has been largely replaced by other ghostly images and again, by a crow. Wendig works this imagery well into the story and it heightens the ‘creep’ factor considerably. He also uses poetry and mythology as subtext to the plot including the poems The School of Broken Dolls and The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot, as well as, the Greek myth of Philomena. This myth is used to explain the significance of the swallow in the murders and in Miriam’s vision. The use of mythology is in sharp contrast to the harsh and vulgar Miriam, but Wendig makes it work.
Miriam’s journey takes her back to her hometown. She is reluctant to visit her mother due to the sad memories of her past but finally drums up the courage to visit. She is surprised to find that her mother has moved away leaving her uncle in the family home. It took a lot of courage for Miriam to face her mother and the memories of her sad, harsh, childhood. Wendig, uses these scenes between Miriam and her uncle to bring out more of Miriam’s past and to give the reader a sense of why she is so self-destructive. You are also given the sense that Wendig has more to say about Miriam and her mother. Perhaps in book 3?
Miriam was very unpleasant in parts of the novel especially to Louis, and there were points in the novel when you actually wondered if she was the good guy. There were fewer opportunities to sympathize with her than there were in the first novel but somehow you still wanted her to win in the end. Wendig ends MOCKINGBIRD with a little cliff hanger just to tease the reader for next book in the series.
MOCKINGBIRD is not a comfortable read and this is down to Wendig’s portrayal of Miriam in this second book. I had to pace myself reading this book and couldn’t read it before bed because it was so gritty, macabre and in some points down right gross. I said that Blackbird wasn’t for the faint hearted and MOCKINGBIRD is definitely not for the faint hearted or anyone with a weak stomach. However, saying that it is an excellent read. Wendig has a unique writing style and successfully weaves symbolism and mythology into a modern setting. (less)
After recently reading a few vampire books in quick succession, which I really enjoyed, I then picked up CR...more Reviewed by Becs for www.BookChickCity.com
After recently reading a few vampire books in quick succession, which I really enjoyed, I then picked up CRIMSON GROVES. I found writing this review challenging as being negative does not come naturally to me.
CRIMSON GROVES is a vampire urban fantasy set in Florida, written from the point of view of the main protagonist Abigail (Abby). Abby is a pretty blonde barmaid that feels sad, desperate and alone. Abby has felt this way after she walked in on her best friend Mandy and boyfriend John sleeping together six months ago.
Abby has many trust issues, which I would expect from anyone who has been cheated on, keeping herself closed off and currently avoiding any relationships. Then into the bar walks an attractive stranger. Talking and flirting with her new customer she finds out that his name is Bronx. Bronx is a gifted vampire and uses his gifts to lure Abby to his home where he seduces and turns Abby against her knowledge and will.
Bronx came across as domineering and sleazy, which I know was the point as he is the villain but I found the kissing scene repulsive.
His kisses grew more urgent and sloppy. I moved my hands from his neck up to his hair and grabbed big handfuls of it, lightly pulling and tugging. Then he slowly moved away from my lips. I gasped, catching my breath. My body was too hot. My heart hammered in a rush. His fingers caressed my cheeks, and his lips slid down my neck. He began kissing and sucking, wetly and sloppily.
Maybe it’s me but I dislike the idea of someone slobbering over me, I found it to be a real turn off. The other problem I had was with the writing style. The sentencing is short and to the point lacking fluidity, which made for a slow reading experience.
The good points, the plot was enjoyable and had a little unexpected twist and I liked some of the characters. Tyler, a psychic human who helps Abby escape, Lily, a human blood donor who becomes a close friend of Abby’s, and Stone, a vampire that owns a vampire bar who helps Abby learn the hierarchy and rules of the vampire world along with teaching her how to fight and use the powers she possesses. These characters help explain the rules of the vampire world and all are pleasant.
Abby has formidable powers and feeling invincible with her new abilities, she decides that Lily needs rescuing. Abby plans to rescue Lily alone, so as to avoid risking the lives of Tyler or Stone. However, someone has betrayed her trust and she ends up as Bronx’s pr`isoner one more. Abby needs to somehow escape again, but can she do it and who can she trust to help her?
The biggest problem for me is that I found Abby’s personality to be inconsistent. One minute she is crying for no reason, the next she’s brave and strong. She is naive and trusts the wrong people, in some situations she holds a grudge, and in other circumstances she forgives freely, even protecting that person. I became frustrated at the pace of the book and didn’t connect with the main character.
This is Robertson’s first book and I do feel that she may have something to offer a reader in the future, so I will be picking up her new release, Unguarded, soon.
Overall a disappointment, for me CRIMSON GROVES lacked fluidity and was full of short sentencing that distracted me from the flow of the story. It was the writing style rather than the plot that I disliked the most and in an oversaturated vampire market CRIMSON GROVES just didn’t excite me. (less)
BLOOD AND SILVER is book two in James R. Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series, a man whose f...moreReviewed by Laura for www.BookChickCity.com - 3.5 Stars on the blog.
BLOOD AND SILVER is book two in James R. Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series, a man whose family were murdered by a supernatural evil and since then has dedicated his life to stopping them. The writing has definitely much improved in this book in comparison to the first. Ok, there were times when you can tell that Tuck is quite a new writer. For example there were several parts of the back story that were repeated on more than one occasion. However, overall it’s definitely tighter.
The story is a bloody, gritty and violent urban fantasy fest. Weapons, bombs, guns and explosions galore. What has really moved on is the world building, it’s worth reading just for the imaginative different were-creatures Tuck keeps coming up with. Just when I thought he’s come up with the best with a were-shark, he chucks in the ultimate terrifying were-baddie in the finale. I’m not telling you, you have to read it
The book opens with a bang, Tuck certainly knows how to grab your attention and I was sucked in within minutes. Submerged into the action. Chalk is a great, dark hero. There are times he really reminds me of a male Anita Blake, even with some of his lines:
I stared back, deep inside the cold place that lets me kill.
Hamilton fans might find that it sounds familiar? He’s a hit first type of guy and very much wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s the kind of guy who will die for his friends and those he believes needs protecting. And most importantly he’s cool.
When he comes across a pregnant shifter in desperate need of help, you know that Chalk will blow up everyone in his way in order to do so. Even if by doing so he ends up pulled right into the middle of a were-animal war. Luckily he has plenty of grenades ready for the job!
He’s got a great group of sidekicks too. Now I’m a huge arachnophobe, but I found myself growing very fond of Charlotte the were-spider. Never thought I’d say that! It was great to see Larson back in a new mature form, we met him in book one where he was terribly injured. He’s moved on and found his place in the group. I’m not sure where he got all of his medical skills from, but in the end it didn’t really matter.
One part of the story I’m not totally convinced on is the love story. Chalk is one hell of a man, and Tiff just seems too young for him. I like the fact he is moving on, but I feel like he needs more of a woman. Now a Charlotte/Chalk love story that could be interesting…! I suspect though that Tiff may be here to stay, and developments at the end of the story might help her become the woman I want for him.
Fans of gritty urban fantasy should have their eye on Tuck. Deacon Chalk is a dark, violent and caring hero that gives the baddies a reason to be scared. I suspect the writing in this series is only going to improve as it progresses. I look forward to book three.(less)
THE CITY’S SON by Tom Pollock is a fast-paced urban fantasy, set in the modern str...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com - 2.5 Star on the blog
THE CITY’S SON by Tom Pollock is a fast-paced urban fantasy, set in the modern streets of London, revealing the city’s secret war that lurks within its streets.
The book begins with a chapter that is a bit confusing, as it is told from the first person account of a character we haven’t been introduced to and details a hunt for a creature we know nothing about. This wasn’t the best start to a book I’ve ever read, and I could easily have made the decision to put the book straight down.
However, I persevered with the reading, in which we are introduced to Beth Bradley, a teenager who roams the streets at night graffitiing London with her innermost thoughts. Her best friend is Pen Khan (short for Parva), who accompanies Beth on her nighttime exploits, with our first example being a graffiti piece of their teacher on the school playground.
Of course, they are caught for this and Beth is expelled, being forced to deliver the news to her dad, who is catatonic and sits in a dream-like state lamenting the death of his wife some years earlier. Her father gives little inclination that he has understood this news, with Beth escaping the confines of her melancholy home to find solace on the streets. She then finds herself in the midst of a fight between two railwraiths, train-like beings that gain energy from the railway tracks.
She is saved by Filius Viae, the son of legendary street goddess Mater Viae, and prince of the streets. He lets her see his view of London, where other creatures exist, such as Gutterglass, a being formed out of rubbish; creatures that are like walking light bulbs; statues that can move; and possessed barbed wire. Sound strange? You’d be right. There seemed to be a whole host of creatures throughout this book, and at times it felt like too much, like the author was trying to cram everything in and expecting the reader to be swept along with it.
Together Filius and Beth are trying to recruit an army to take on ‘Reach’, an entity we don’t know much about until the ending, and even then I’m not sure what to think about it. It is the being responsible for the presence of skyscrapers in London, the supposed ‘King of Cranes’, which appears to be an embodiment of capitalism to some degree, and the long-term enemy of Filius’ mother.
Beth was an interesting main character, as her background is tragic, with her mother dead and father stuck in his grief. She is strong and fiercely independent, going her own way all the time, often going against Filius’ advice. However, the one thing I didn’t like, both about Beth and the other human characters in the novel, is that she easily accepts the world she is thrown into, and there is little resistance or unwillingness to believe. I understand this is a fantasy novel, but I would still expect a certain degree of bewilderment instead of total yielding.
Filius was similar to Beth in the amount of emotional stress he was under, as he is pressured to lead an army in the name of a mother he doesn’t remember, and to be as great as she once was. Of course, he falls for Beth, but what I didn’t like was that it was almost instantaneous, with very little build-up. There is little affection or attraction between the two, they are just suddenly together, with an almost sex scene, which I think places the book at the older end of the YA spectrum.
With the YA reader in mind, I understand that this book is set on the London streets but both Beth and Filius use phrases such as ‘bloody’ and ‘bleedin’’ far too much in their speech, with the c-word almost being used on several occasions (i.e. we get ‘cu-’ and ‘cun-’ being cut off mid-word). As a YA novel I understand the presence of some swear words, but felt that this hinted c-word was going a bit too far for the YA market.
Another thing that I was disappointed with was the focus on the other characters in the book. I liked the multiple perspectives that allowed Pen and Beth’s dad be focused on, but I felt that there wasn’t enough focus on them, as I often found myself looking forward to their segments more than Beth’s and Filius’. Pen’s character was a little too underdeveloped, as it is strongly suggested that one of the teachers is abusing her, but that story is never delved into, and I have a feeling it is being saved for a future book.
After reading this book I could take it or leave it, as it was starting to drag in places, and after the shocking twist of an ending, it could just as easily be a standalone novel instead of a series. I’m not sure how the series will develop, as there a few plotlines left open for the sequel, but there was no major cliffhanger to draw me in.
This book is an action-packed urban fantasy, but despite all the action and supernatural creatures it just felt a bit like overkill on the action scenes. I liked the heroine, but didn’t like how accepting all the characters seemed to be of the hidden world of London’s streets. The use of language in the book also made me feel like this book is targeted at the older scale of the YA market, and I’m sorry to say that this book didn’t pull me in as much as I’d hoped.(less)
CURSED by Benedict Jacka takes place a few months after the events of Fated, cont...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com - 3.5 Star on the blog.
CURSED by Benedict Jacka takes place a few months after the events of Fated, continuing the tale of shop owner Alex Verus, a mage with the power to see probable futures.
This second book in the series sees Alex trying to continue his life as before, simply running his shop day-to-day and training his apprentice, Luna, with the help of giant spider Arachne. Of course, this peace can’t last for long, as trouble finds both Luna and Alex.
Alex is affiliated with neither the Light mages nor the Dark mages, and the beginning of the book sees him working a hired mission to recover a barghest, a mythical dog-like creature which is believed to have been terrorizing the locals. Alex leads the team to it with no trouble, but it’s already dead when the find it which a suspicious cause of death – all the magic has been sucked out of it. This sparks our protagonist’s suspicion, as trying to absorb another mage’s magic can send you insane or kill you, but has it ever been tried on a magical beast before?
Mysterious newcomer, Martin, could also pose a threat, as he seems overly keen to learn about magic and magical artifacts, taking a particular interest in Luna. After a visit to Alex’s shop, where he asks after rare items, he walks away with a monkey’s paw, a very powerful item. Despite Alex’s warnings of the dangers of using it, Martin ignores him, taking Luna along with him. The monkey’s paw is an item that can grant five wishes, but no-one has ever survived using it to tell the tale. Does Martin really have Luna’s best interests at heart, or is Alex right not to trust him?
With Luna out of the picture for a while it falls to Alex to investigate the magical harvesting incidents alone. That is, until the attractive Meredith brings an assassination attempt to Alex’s door, forcing him to step in and save her. She is a temptress, with magic enabling her to persuade and seduce people, leaving Alex unsure whether his choices are his own or down to Meredith’s influence.
Several assassination attempts later and Alex and Luna become further involved in the mysteries surrounding the dead barghest, with their spider friend Arachne in potential danger from magic draining. Calling on the help of their friend Sonder from the first book, will Alex be able to solve the mystery this time?
Again with this series it took me a while to get into the book, and I still feel that it is missing some kind of spark to get me hooked. I was hoping for more of an insight into Alex’s past, as again his past with the Dark mage is hinted at but nothing more is revealed. I did like the fact that more of his Diviner gift was explored, and we did get to see more of a sensitive side to him.
“And when it came right down to it, I hate turning someone away who’s come to me for help. It’s not that I’m especially selfless or anything, but I know what it’s like to be alone and hunted and afraid.”
We also saw more to Luna’s character, and her past was further hinted at in this novel, but like Alex’s it still hasn’t been explored. I get the feeling that both of their pasts are intriguing stories, and I am a little frustrated at having to wait until later in the series to find out what it is. However, as for this novel, there are a lot of action scenes with guns and fighting, and a lot of scenes are reminiscent of an action film. I enjoyed it more than Fated, but I’m still waiting for this series to have a spark to really draw me in.
I enjoyed CURSED more than Fated, and really feel that Alex and Luna grew as characters in this book, with their bond becoming stronger. I also felt that the plot was better, with more of a direct focus on a particular enemy rather than holding as much mystery as the previous book. However, I was disappointed at that there was no further exploration of Alex’s past, as I still get the feeling there is an interesting tale waiting to be told!(less)
DARK SHADOWS: ANGELIQUE’S DESCENT by Lara Parker is based upon the old Dark Shadows TV series, and detail...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com
DARK SHADOWS: ANGELIQUE’S DESCENT by Lara Parker is based upon the old Dark Shadows TV series, and details the history of witch Angelique, and her relationship with vampire Barnabas.
Having never seen the Dark Shadows TV series, or the recent Dark Shadows movie starring Johnny Depp, I was a little confused when starting this book, as it seemed as if background knowledge of the characters was needed in order to fully connect with the story. There is very little introduction to the character of Barnabas or Angelique, with the book delving straight into the complex plot.
It begins with Barnabas in his present time, apparently having been recently cured of his vampirism and learning to adjust to life as a human once more. He is reminiscent about the past, thinking of Angelique and her influence over his life despite the fact that as a new reader I hadn’t been introduced to her character at this stage.
When he spots a shadowy figure in the grounds of his estate, he enters the uninhabited old house which he hasn’t entered for many years. Here he is overcome with emotion and burns the house to the ground, returning to his own mansion. The morning after, when the ruins are examined, he finds a diary which belonged to Angelique, and it is here that our story really starts.
We are thrown straight into Angelique’s history, which begins when she is taken from her mother at the age of nine and forced to follow her father to a sugar plantation. Here she is dressed as a goddess, where the African slaves pray to her whilst her father keeps her locked away in a tower. She is violently mistreated during her time at the plantation, making many escape attempts in a bid to flee her father.
Her story is interrupted with flashes to the present, with Barnabas reading the diary, but there are details mentioned in this present time that aren’t at all explored. The story is all Angelique’s, but I found myself not caring for her story, and would have liked to see more of Barnabas.
The book did pick up slightly after Angelique’s escape from the plantation, as she then meets Barnabas and we discover how he became a vampire, but I still wasn’t drawn into her story. She has the qualities of a sorceress, being able to cast spells similar to voodoo, with her magic using more dark qualities than light. It is often used to hurt others, and yet still I wasn’t interested in her character, despite this emotional drama.
After enduring a slow read to reach the end of the book, I started asking myself why I wasn’t more interested in Angelique, as her story is harrowing and emotional but was missing something. Partly I think this was because I had no prior knowledge of the characters, but there was something else that frustrated me more than that. This was the description used by the writer. It was overly excessive, with every point exaggerated too far. This was good at the beginning of the book for world-building, but then I found myself going several pages and wondering what was actually happening throughout all the detail.
Jasmine twined profusely through the iron enclosure, sweetly perfuming the air, and there was another aroma, of gardenias, tropical and heavy in the mist, blooming waxen on black bushes by the gate.
This is just one example of the description, and as you can see, this is all one overly long sentence. The book is full of descriptions like this, and when looking back at the events I found that they could have been summed up in a couple of sentences rather than pages, and the story wouldn’t have lost any of its value.
Overall the plot of this book didn’t impress me, as I didn’t form a connection to the character of Angelique. If there had been a page or two as a prologue to detail the events of the TV series then I might have fared better, but I feel like this book is better aimed at fans of the show.
I didn’t really enjoy this book as it dragged, making my reading very slow and laboured. The plot was erratic, jumping to different stages of Angelique’s life, and I found that I didn’t particularly care for the character or what was happening to her. Perhaps if you’ve seen the Dark Shadows TV series this book might be more appealing, but as a newcomer to the series I wasn’t impressed.(less)
This is a short story prequel to Carlson’s full length debut novel, Full Blooded, released this coming September from Orbit. I was really looking forw...moreThis is a short story prequel to Carlson’s full length debut novel, Full Blooded, released this coming September from Orbit. I was really looking forward to reading BLOODED as I’ve seen some excellent reviews and comments about it, and I’ve also been major excited about Full Blooded ever since I saw it in Orbit’s upcoming books catalogue.
Jessica McClain is our heroine, a nineteen year old dealing with the fact that she is the only female and human in a pack of wolves. Not only that be she cannot shift, making her a freak in the eyes of all the other pack members, combine all this with a prophecy that says she’s evil, and her life pretty much sucks.
The opening is an action packed scene with Jessica fighting a much larger pack member for hierarchy. This is my kind of urban fantasy! Bloody action, snappy writing and snarky heroine. The action scenes are very well written and I could feel every bone crunching punch and bloody split lip.
There are a few other characters we are introduced to. Jessica’s twin brother, Tyler, who’s a werewolf, and Nick, her best friend and werefox, who was adopted into the pack years ago. I’m intrigued by these characters and wonder if Nick will be a love interest in subsequent novels.
Jessica is also at loggerheads with her father, the 500 year old Alpha of the pack. She wants to leave the pack as she doesn’t feel safe there any more, but her father wants to keep her close. With the pack getting more and more hostile towards Jessica, leaving may be the only option…
I am left with a few questions though that I hope will be answered in Full Blooded. Why is Jessica the only female? And why is she the only human? And if no females are born then how do the wolves procreate? Do they use human women to bear their pups?
For such a short novella, Carlson manages to give the story depth and the characters individual personalities that are instantly likeable (or unlikeable in certain instances) and has a great writing style. I really enjoyed this snippet into Jessica’s world, and now I’ve had a taste, I can’t wait to read Full Blooded.
Although short, BLOODED is a great little taster to what I hope will be a fab new urban fantasy series.(less)