"Dead Until Dark" is the story of waitress Sookie who has what she refers to as a 'disab...moreJOINT REVIEW - Originally posted on www.BookChickCity.com
"Dead Until Dark" is the story of waitress Sookie who has what she refers to as a 'disability', she can read people's minds. Because of this disability, she struggles with personal friendships & relationships and rarely dates. Nothing worse than knowing what your date is thinking of you!
Living in a small Southern town, Sookie is a mix of endearing naïveté, strong morals and a good share of guts and determination. Working at Sam's bar, she is waitress, and takes pride in her work. Her relationship with her grandmother, whom she lives with is lovely and written with real, believable warmth. And her promiscuous and selfish brother, while infuriating at times is still engaging.
I agree, all the characters are interesting and quirky. I especially love Sookie - she's a warm, down-to-earth kind of gal and not the type of urban fantasy heroine I'm used to reading. I really like the TV show, but I must say I like the books more.
If you watch the TV series, you will notice the distinct absence of best friend Tara in the book, in fact she's not even mentioned. While Sam and fellow waitress Arlene are important friends, Sookie does not have a best friend in the book. This adds to her overall isolation and loneliness, brought about by her telepathic ability.
Then enter vampire Bill. Bill's mind is delightfully and blissfully blank and Sookie is immediately fascinated. But with the arrival of Bill, the town suddenly becomes the victim of a serial killer and young women keep turning up dead. Before she knows it, Sookie ends up caught in the middle of the deadly game.
I must admit I was put off reading this series basically because of the TV show. I do enjoy 'True Blood' but I've never really got on board with Anna Paquin and I was worried that this would rub off on the books. When I started "Dead Until Dark" I did unfortunately see Paquin as Sookie, but after about fifty or so pages, the Sookie of my own imagination started to push through and I began to enjoy the book a lot more. In fact I had difficulty putting it down.
I read the first three books in this series years ago and for some reason didn't get around to reading the subsequent books. Unlike Carolyn, I read them before 'True Blood' hit our TV screens, so I wasn't put off by the TV show. But as I started re-reading them I couldn't help make a few comparisons as I wrote my review.
I really enjoyed the southern setting and the way that everyone spoke - I'm a big fan of the southern drawl anyway, so it just made this book even more enjoyable for me. The fact that Sookie is just an ordinary girl (apart from her supernatural abilities), working in a bar as a waitress, making an honest living rather than a gun-wielding, martial arts expert, gave this urban fantasy a fresh twist.
"Dead Until Dark" is an easy read. Charlaine Harris has a unique writing style, which I really enjoy. She often focuses on the detail, but in a way that adds richness to her story rather than coming across as tedious.
There isn't much to fault with this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. If I had just have one tiny complaint, I did feel that Sookie and Bill fell in love just a little bit too quickly. I could understand it from Sookie, but maybe not from a several hundred year old vampire.
CAROLYN: "Dead Until Dark" is a fun and entertaining urban fantasy. It's pretty light compared to some of the other UF series out there, but it's still definitely worth a read. Harris has a great relaxed writing style that made this book a quick and easy read, as well as hard to put down. The characters are great and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
LAURA: A fun and even delightful supernatural mystery set in a small town in the deep South. Sookie is a refreshing and charming lead character. She's not your normal tough, ass-kicking urban fantasy heroine, but I actually loved her even more because of it. As for the TV show... I much prefer the book! :-) (less)
When I began reading “Club Dead” I did wonder if now three books in it would continue...moreJOINT REVIEW - Originally posted on www.BookChickCity.com
When I began reading “Club Dead” I did wonder if now three books in it would continue holding my interest, especially as these books are quite light, although they do hold some serious issues. But “Club Dead” held my attention throughout and I found myself loving Sookie even more than I did in the previous book. It was also nice not to have so much Bill. Although I enjoy his character it was great to see Sookie interact with other men, especially the werewolf and, of course my favourite vamp, Eric.
I wasn't nervous about picking up "Club Dead" at all, I found it was great to be submerged back into Sookie's world again and this series only seems to be getting better. It combines humour with sexiness, all tied up in a supernatural mystery. I also enjoy the fact that these books are very different from other urban fantasy novels and Sookie isn't a tough, gun totting heroine, but she's got guts and I love her anyway.
In this installment we see Sookie getting tougher and definitely braver. But without losing her lovely Southern charm and flawless manners. One scene just sums it up for me, when Sookie has been badly injured and waiting for a strange vampire to heal her, even then she does not forget to be polite. She just makes me smile.
"How de do." Good manners would make you welcome anywhere, my gran always told me.
In the first book 'Dead Until Dark' the focus was very much on Sookie’s home town of Bon Temps. In 'Living Dead in Dallas' she took off to Dallas, which was lots of fun. In this instalment, Sookie takes another trip, this time to Jackson, Mississippi to try and find Bill who’s gone missing. She has also found out that he has been unfaithful although I had my suspicions if this was true, I found the answer at the end of the novel...
The writing is just so wonderful, I can’t seem to stop reading once I’ve started and the supernatural mystery element is so well done, I never really know what’s going to happen, and it also balances well with Sookie’s love life.
As the story centres around Sookie travelling to Mississippi to rescue a kidnapped Bill, you don't see very much of Sam or Sookie's friends in Bon Temps, but we are introduced to some fab new characters, most notably the introduction of werewolves. Alcide, the werewolf Eric assigns to protect Sookie when Bill goes missing is certainly very yummy, and there's an interesting amount of chemistry bubbling away between him and Sookie.
Just as Carolyn says the writing is wonderful, Harris is a very talented lady. This book has plenty of action, poor old Sookie seems to get injured a lot in this series. But lots of humour too. I enjoyed the return of Bubba, the mentally damaged vampire who used to be the South's most famous popstar and also has a thing for cats (don't ask!).
As mentioned by Laura, there is a new character addition in the form of a yummy werewolf, Alcide. He’s such a great character, and just for a moment I wanted Sookie to let down her guard and give in to the temptation to be with him and forget all about stiff ole Bill. But then I remembered I wanted her to end up with Eric *I love me some Eric* and although I very much liked Alcide, I like Eric more.
We get to see a real soft side to Eric and it melted my heart, I can’t think why Sookie hasn’t been swept off her feet by him. I really love Sookie and Eric’s banter though, it’s funny. Sookie is a feisty chick even with a very old vampire who could snap her in two with just two fingers, but I love seeing her mouth off in her cute southern way - I can totally understand why all these men fall for her.
I am very disappointed in Bill. His betrayal of Sookie cuts deep and I’m not sure how she’s going to come back from this. In just a few months her life has been turned upside down, she’s been beaten, nearly raped and fed upon violently, and yet she tries to keep chipper and not give in to self-pity. She really didn’t deserve Bill’s treatment of her, and I for one hope this gives her the reason to forget Bill, and give Eric a chance!
It looks like we both fell a bit for Alcide *quickly fans oneself* ;-) I like that we see a marked change is Sookie's attractiveness in this book. While I've always believed her to be very pretty, she's been a bit of a pariah amongst human men who are frightened by her abilities. In this book there's the potential for not only a love triangle, but a love square and that's without including Sam who isn't really in this book. Sookie's a popular lady! But with her usual polite demureness, Sookie is charmingly baffled by this, rather than letting it go to her head.
As Carolyn said, Bill went down in my estimations in this book, in fact I felt like he needed a bit of an ass-kicking! There is one scene I'm not actually sure I can forgive him for. And Sookie was perhaps a little too polite about it all. But in the long term it didn't matter as I just fell in love with Eric a little bit more. And you get to see a lot more of him in this book - hurrah! I hope in book four she realises just how super hot he is!
CAROLYN: This series is consistently great. "Club Dead" was a fab read from start to finish. I love the relationship dynamics and I just can't wait to see what happens next!
LAURA: Once again a fantastic book, I have long been a fan of Harris's quirky writing style, having read two of her other series aswell. I whizzed through "Club Dead" in no time at all. If you're a fan of the TV show you'll see a lot of similarities between that and the plot of series three, but be warned it's also markedly different in places too. (less)
There's something about Sookie that just makes me smile. The telepathic waitress who is...moreJOINT REVIEW - Originally posted on www.BookChickCity.com
There's something about Sookie that just makes me smile. The telepathic waitress who is dating the town's local vampire. She is so genuinely warm and wholesome and the last person at all you would expect to end up with a vampire. But it's these qualities that make the books so engaging.
I've read three of Charlaine Harris's series and her writing has a unique, quirky style to it. But they're also funny, laugh-out-loud so at times. The second book is similar to the first in that at the core of it is a supernatural mystery, with Sookie once again playing the unwitting sleuth.
Although the TV series, ‘True Blood’ does keep some of the aspects of the book, there are many differences. Therefore, it was easier for me to read “Living Dead in Dallas” without drawing too many comparisons, I tried to keep them separate and read the book on its own merit. Reading it this way is actually much more enjoyable. I do like the TV show, but I’m not sure on some of the castings therefore I would rather imagine the characters, especially Sookie as my imagination intended.
However, as with the first book, ‘Dead Until Dark’, I found this a wonderful, easy read. Harris has a great writing style that’s witty and charming and I read this book with relish. I'm with Laura on Sookie, she's is a fabulous heroine. I love her warmth and wholesomeness, but she's also quite feisty, which is a definite plus.
Sookie's relationship with the vampires continues to grow, when Sookie is attacked by a Maenad she & Bill have to turn to them for help. But nothing in life ever comes for free and before she knows it she is on her way to Dallas, rented out by Eric to help the vampires there with a missing vampire case. In typical Sookie style, her favour comes with a condition, that the vampires do not kill anyone she helps to bring to justice. As Carolyn says this is part of Sookie's feistyness that you can't help but love her for.
The book does dot about quite a bit as there are two stands to the story. We have a murder mystery at the beginning, when Sookie discovers the dead body of one of her co-workers. Then Sookie's attack and visit to Dallas, followed by her return home when the original murder mystery gets picked up again.
We are introduced to 'The Fellowship of the Sun' an obsessive, anti-vampire church who I can only imagine will continue to have significance as this series progresses.
Sookie’s ‘abilities’ of listening in on people’s thoughts is hired out by Eric to vampires in Dallas. Sookie and Bill, once there find themselves mixed up with The Fellowship of the Sun, a cult of vampire haters. There’s a few twists and turns that keep you wondering, and new characters and supernaturals are introduced.
As with ‘Dead Until Dark’, there’s enough intrigue to keep the pages turning and although Sookie isn’t the typical kick-arse urban fantasy heroine, she uses what she has to her benefit, including her sassy southern mouth.
“Living Dead in Dallas” is somewhat darker than the previous book, but it’s still a fairly light read. There’s something about Harris’s writing that makes these books addictive reading without having to go into too much detail.
I'm with Carolyn these books definitely make addictive reading. Harris's writing style cleverly mixes a lightness with the dark undertones you come to expect in urban fantasy.
This book introduces new species and characters. I had a real chuckle at Bubba, the mentally challenged vampire who used to once be a famous rock star. But above them all, I'm fast becoming an Eric fan, *swoon* and I do hope Sookie ditches Bill for him. While I enjoy the romance between Sookie and Bill, I am beginning to find him a little bit boring. Kind of like the equivalent of vampire slippers.
There is a truly superb scene when Eric attends a sex club with Sookie to 'protect her' that will make you want to laugh and fan yourself all at the same time.
Fans of the TV series will notice similarities between this book and the second series. But the TV show also diverges quite significantly in parts. But this means it's very easy to enjoy both. I love the TV show, but so far I love the books even more. Carolyn references the casting of the series earlier and it's a really interesting point. Paquin and Moyer are not how I imagine Sooke and Bill to be at all, however, I think that Skarsgard is superb as Eric. Or maybe I just have an Eric fixation! ;-)
Sookie is by far my favourite character, and so she should be being the main character and narrator. She’s sweet, naive at times but endearingly so, but she also has a strength that shines through and makes me smile fondly. I would love to befriend Sookie.
Next in line is Eric. Yummy Eric *sigh* I’m not usually into blonde guys, but I do like the bad boys so I am drawn to him. I know there’s a sensitive side to him too which makes him all the more alluring. Bill is a little stiff for my taste even if he is tall, dark and handsome. There’s just something about Eric’s humour that gets me. I’m hoping that something happens to Bill so my favourite character can get it on with my second favourite character! Sorry, Bill...
LAURA: As good, if not better than the first book. This series will appeal to fans of both murder mystery and supernatural genres. It's a quick read, you could easily get through in a day. I love the mix of dark, supernatural mystery, with romance and warm humour.
CAROLYN: A great instalment to the series. I'm crushing on Sookie and Eric and hope things go in the direction I want it too in subsequent books. An easy read with great characters combined with mystery and romance makes "Living Dead in Dallas" a definite win!(less)
LAURA Sookie’s off on her travels again in ALL TOGETHER DEAD this time she heads off to a...moreJoint Reviewed by Laura & Gemma for www.BookChickCity.com
LAURA Sookie’s off on her travels again in ALL TOGETHER DEAD this time she heads off to a vampire summit in Queen Sophie-Ann’s entourage. Which meant there were lots and lots of vampire politics. The book was definitely a step up from Definitely Dead, and I enjoyed it much more. There are some great twists and turns. Sookie’s love life seemed to take a bit of a back seat, there were some developments but not as much as I had hoped and I’m afraid to say Quinn is starting to bore me a little now.
I do miss the Bon Temps characters when Sookie’s away and this is two books in a row now. But at least their first part of the book is set at home. Amelia is a rather cool houseguest and welcome addition to the regular cast. There were the beginnings of some very interesting plots with her, in particular an unusual love interest that could make for great entertainment!
GEMMA After Dead to the World, ALL TOGETHER DEAD is my second favourite in the series. True, a lot of the Bon Temps crew are missing, but for me, this book gives a much better understanding of how vampire politics work. The main streaming is apparently a facade to how ruthless the Vampires can be. Poor Sookie is thrown into it big style. A fish out of water and far from home.
As for Quinn, he is also cooling off for me. He started out pretty interesting and I kind of rooted for him to be with Sookie, but now I’m not too sure. He seems to be as deeply in bed with the vampires as Sookie is, but not in a good way. I’m not sure of his motives and I can see it all ending in tears before the series ends.
LAURA Yep, I’m with you Gemma I think there are tears ahead for Sookie and Quinn, especially with the unexpected development revealed at the end of the book. That certainly took me aback slightly. Sookie seems to be developing a slightly ruthless streak! But also it’s clear she does not know Quinn quite as well as she thought she did.
I was struck by how naive she was in this book though. Despite warnings from her friends and fairy godmother, she does look ahead to the implications of the Sophie-Ann comprehending just how powerful her gift could be to the Queen. I find I am slightly afraid for Sookie’s future after ALL TOGETHER DEAD.
The story is under-pinned by its usual mystery. There is a murder and a bomb plot that makes for a spectacular, edge of your seat finale. The best I think we’ve seen so far in the series. But there was one thing that just kept on bugging me… The unclaimed suitcase Sookie was asked to collect. The suitcase started to drive me bonkers! Why did noone check the damn thing?! Surely it’s danger was obvious!
GEMMA Sookie is gaining a bit of a back bone in this book. She seems to be realising how dangerous it is turning out to be entangled with the vampires and their complex politics. It did kind of show a darker side to Quinn that took me completely by surprise. After the incidents with Sookie, Alcide and Debbie Pelt, I didn’t get the warm and fuzzies at all. True, it was to save Sookie, but the ramifications will be felt in the long run.
What really got me was the fact that Sookie did ignore all the warnings from her friends and her fairy godmother. Its like she is blinded by her loyalty, for a the lack of a better word, to Bill and Eric. True, they both have held her heart but I’m wondering how much of this is due to the blood bond between each pairing.
The Bomb plot was one of the better ones I have read in the series and I really didn’t know who was behind it. I even had it pinned on some of Sophie-Ann’s accusers at one point. It was cleverly woven, except for the suitcase as you said. It was also a nice touch to pull in the real-life events of Hurricane Katrina. The fact that its devastation was not swept under the carpet and we saw how weak Sophie-Ann’s position was, spoke volumes about how the vampires will attack and try to conquer.
I’m on tender hooks to find out where the story will take us next and who has survived the bomb blast.
LAURA I think Quinn’s actions in this book will ultimately lead to the demise of his and Sookie’s relationship. I don’t think Sookie will be able to deal with its implications. Relationship dynamics seemed to changed fast in the book too. As much as I was annoyed with Bill there was a sadness at the fracture between him and Sookie. I’m not even sure about how things changed between Eric and Sookie in ALL TOGETHER DEAD either. Although I am still rooting for them to get together, the growing blood bond between them as Gemma mentioned seems to be altering the chemistry they share.
Then there’s Barry the Bellboy who makes a return, not as a love interest thankfully, although he does admit an interest. But a telepath for a rival vampire. While Sookie seems excited at the potential of a friendship he just proves himself to be a bit of an idiot and a coward. Back in Bon Temps friendships have shifted too with Arlene, Tara and Jason making decisions that could make Sookie even more isolated from the human world. In general quite a few of Sookie’s friendships and relationships are rapidly changing while others are off kilter.
Due to the setting of the book, if I had one major criticism it would be that there were too many characters in this book, I found it a little hard to keep track of who was who and this did make the mystery plot a little confusing. Although the bomb plot really was a good one.
GEMMA I agree with Laura; there are WAY too many knew characters to keep track of in this book. Plus I found that there were some characters who were just getting interesting, only to be killed off or assumed to be dead at the end of the book. I think there could have been an interesting conflict between Eric and this other character, had they not met the ‘True Death’.
What I really found interesting, was the apparent change in Sookie’s loyalty. She is really bedding in with the vampires now and the fact that she has been helping Sophie-Ann is a turn up for the books, especially due to her cousin Hadley’s death.
I’m still pretty open on who I think Sookie will end up with, but I agree. Quinn is not going to be on the shortlist. While both Eric and Bill have their own baggage, Quinn just has something about him that I ended up not liking. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but he just seems bad news.
It was nice to see the return of Barry the Bellboy, but the fact that he is working for an opposition group of vampires had me suspicious of his motives in befriending Sookie. I mean, Sookie trusts this guy over her friends who warned her not to go? Really?
I must admit, I didn’t pay very much attention to the goings on in Bon Temps as I was busy trying to figure out who was behind the bomb plot. Even by the end of the book I was still a bit confused. Don’t get me wrong, I did like the twist.
LAURA Despite my few issues with this book, did I mention the suitcase? I think this book was definitely a step up from Definitely Dead. The bomb plot gave us a thrill-ride climax at the end and there were some interesting developments with key characters in the book. Sookie is growing up and might even be developing a bit of a ruthless streak, but time will tell on that one. Bring on book number eight, although I do hope it’s set in Bon Temps.
GEMMA I agree with Laura on this. ALL TOGETHER DEAD is a big step up from Definitely Dead. This is my second favourite book in the series, after Dead to the World, the plot in this much more tightly written. It’s a turning point for Sookie and it begins to show what she will do in order to survive. Sookie is trying to rely less on the vampires, knowing how deep she has already got herself into their politics. Here’s to book eight….
LAURA It was with eager anticipation that I opened my copy of SACRIFIC...moreReviewed by Carolyn & Laura for www.BookChickCity.com - 3.5 Star on the blog.
LAURA It was with eager anticipation that I opened my copy of SACRIFICIAL MAGIC I’d read all three in the series back to back last year, my love of the series growing with each book. Chess and Terrible are such unorthodox characters, that each time I enter their lives I want to applaud Kane on her guts to be different and her vivid characterisation.
Maybe I was just too excited to pick it up, but it actually took me a while to sink back into. The Downside speak which had seemed so natural before took me a while to get back into its rhythm. I was desperately eager to see more of Chess and Terrible after the events of City Of Ghosts and it seemed I was going to have to be left waiting. Waiting, longer than I hoped to be honest with the narrative focusing initially on Chess’s investigation rather than the love life that had me eagerly turning pages before. It wasn’t what I would call a slow start, but at the same time it was a start that left me wanting.
CAROLYN I also read the first three books back to back and loved them all SO much. After City of Ghosts I couldn’t wait to get my hands on SACRIFICIAL MAGIC. But like Laura, when I eventually received a copy and began reading I found it difficult to sink back into the Downside world, speak and characters, and yes, even Chess and Terrible. It took me until about half way through the book to finally find my rhythm. I will admit that my first thoughts were, ok so this is a bit of a let down.
The reason being is that Kane left me totally spent and in bits after City of Ghosts, and I suppose I wanted to literally begin this book where the last one ended. Instead I got Chess, doing her job, getting rid of ghosts, with no real thoughts on what had happened previously. It was as though Kane had purposefully decided not to mention Chess and Terrible, and make us wait. And wait we did… I also had a few issues with Chess that I just couldn’t shake off as I read the book.
LAURA Once more Chess is torn between her job for the church and her complicated relationship with her drug dealer Bump. Left investigating a dark magic ritual murder for Bump and a haunting in a Warehouse in the other side of town, and of course Lex’s father Slobag’s territory. She knows it could cause her a whole world of trouble. The different elements in Chess’s life seem to be becoming more and more disparate as she desperately tries to juggle her job, her addiction, her love life and her friendship with Lex. It was exhausting watching her do it and at times oh so painful.
The mystery element of the plot was great, I cannot fault Kane’s writing here. It was tight, twisty and kept me guessing. There were times I had no idea how it was going to end and the suspense and ghosts were chilling. Just like Chess’s life it also really crystalised the difference between life in Downside and the Church. There are developments in SACRIFICIAL MAGIC that will also have shocking consequences for the rest of the series.
CAROLYN Kane’s writing is tight and descriptive, and keeps me on my toes, whether with the mystery aspect to the plot or the relationship dynamics. The mystery is great as always, but this time I felt as though it was definitely the focus of the novel rather than the characters and their relationships. Not a bad thing as this is categorised as an urban fantasy, but considering Chess and Terrible were such a huge part of the first three books, I did feel as though this novel had taken a different turn, which is probably why I felt a little cheated when we didn’t get much of Chess and Terrible until later in the book.
LAURA I’m really not quite sure what happened to Chess is this book. We all know she has problems, her addictions a part of what makes this series so appealing and unusual. But she seemed to lose sense of herself. She became whiny and full of self doubt. I wanted to give her a good old shake. At one stage she went on a complete kamikaze ride of destruction leading to a brutal scene between her and Terrible I could hardly bear to read. Oh it was so painful. But at the same time it really didn’t need to happen. I think Kane was trying to demonstrate just how volatile and on the edge Chess really is. She is a drug addict for a reason is she not? But I hate to say it, but she just ended up irritating me. I hope after the final scenes of the novel that in the next book we can see a new, wiser Chess.
CAROLYN As previously mentioned I had a few issues with Chess, especially with regards to some of the decisions she makes. With everything that has gone on between Chess, Terrible and Lex, I thought she would have the sense to stay away from Lex for a bit. But the moment she chooses to agree to see Lex in his bedroom, I knew that things wouldn’t end well. Nothing happens between them, but Chess feels she needs to tell Terrible to keep things out in the open. There were pages of Chess thinking and analysing, and instead of getting an insight into Chess, she just annoyed me. The way she acts is desperate, which I suppose she is, but I wanted her to have grown a bit more, gotten a little stronger, it is book four after all.
I could have forgiven her for going into Lex’s bedroom, as nothing happened, but then she goes and does the most stupid thing when Lex kisses her by surprise – she kisses him back!!!! OMG Chess! You have Terrible. HAVE. Don’t throw it all away! I know people are attracted to other people sometimes when they are in relationships, but the fact Chess’s relationship with Terrible is new and exciting and HOT, why on earth would she feel the need or even want to kiss Lex. This disappointed me. Chess disappointed me. And I hated it.
Then we had to go through all the anxiety of having to tell Terrible, again, but this time it’s about something that did happen – the kiss, and how sorry she is.. yadyada. I’m not sure I could trust her again if I was Terrible. I get that she’s messed up. She’s had a shitty past and she has to take drugs just to get through each day. But she’s an adult now, and the choices she makes are hers alone. I’m looking forward to the day when she realises that. I’m looking forward to seeing Chess tell herself NO to another pill. To being strong, to knowing and believing she’s worth something, deserves Terrible’s love, and not keep on self-sabotaging her relationships because she thinks it’s only a matter of time before it ends anyway *breathes*
LAURA Oh yes don’t get me started on the whole Lex thing! Why oh why did she keep going back to him?! Argh! I had more than a few teeth grinding moments. As I said before Chess did seem to be on a bit of a self destruct mission in SACRIFICIAL MAGIC. It was evident she did not believe she deserved happiness, so set about destroying all chances of that herself. Will we ever see a clean Chess? I’m really not sure we will. But there were times reading the book where I thought to myself if the romance ends up going the way it seems to be I’m going to be very tempted to throw the book out the window.
However, there were some lovely, tender moments. Chess and Terrible are a thrilling couple, when they are working together I love them so much. I love that Terrible accepts her for who she is drugs and all. They are unusual and goose shiveringly good. But there just did not seem to be enough of them together in the book. I know it’s not a romance series, but their relationship really is the core of what got me addicted to Kane’s writing. I kept flicking through pages with a frown thinking when are we going to see more of Terrible? The book focused a little too much on Chess’s investigation and not enough on the romance in my opinion.
CAROLYN There are a few sweet moments between Chess and Terrible, I agree, unfortunately they are too few and far between for my liking. Their unique relationship has me totally captivated. When they are together I forget everything around me and I’m totally absorbed in their lives, even when it’s a train wreck. They are also a couple I haven’t come across before in any other urban fantasy series I’ve read, which makes them all the more special and exciting. I can’t wait for more Chess and Terrible in Chasing Magic.
LAURA There were times when Chess did drive me a little crazy in this book, but I’m still a big fan of this series and would definitely recommend it to urban fantasy lovers. Chess and Terrible are unorthodox, infuriating, exasperating, but… completely absorbing. I do hope we see a bit more of them in Chasing Magic.
CAROLYN As with all preceding books, SACRIFICIAL MAGIC had my emotions all over the place. Kane has an emense talent at pulling my heart in all directions. Terrible is such a sexy untraditional hero, and I love that he loves Chess for who she is, drug addict and all, it’s just sad that Chess can’t see that too. Their romance, however, is one of the most intense, stressful but beautiful I’ve ever read, and although I have some issues with Chess in this instalment, she and Terrible are still two of my favourite characters and couples in urban fantasy fiction, and this series is still one of the best. (less)
"Royal Street" slowly sucked me in. The first 100 pages did take a while...moreJOINT REVIEW - Originally posted on Book Chick City - 7/10 on the blog.
"Royal Street" slowly sucked me in. The first 100 pages did take a while to get going, but the tension building as well as the inclusion of a real life natural disaster was cleverly done.
Set in New Orleans just as hurricane Katrina is about to hit, many chapters are prefaced with a real-life news headlines from the disaster. This should of made me feel uneasy, but I thought it was an interesting and powerful writing technique. This combined with the inclusion of the local's belief that Katrina was going to amount to nothing gave me chills.
"...the weather guys always freak everybody out and then the storms pass us by."
Then, after those first 100 pages though, I was totally addicted! It was one of those books where I just NEEDED to know what was going to happen next! As a consequence, I found myself sneaking in pages when I shouldn't have been. Obsessively devouring the pages until I ended up finishing it in less than a day.
Our heroine is Drusilla Jaco (DJ) a junior wizard and deputy sentinel for New Orleans. In the opening scene we see her tricking notorious ghost and rogue pirate Lafitte back to the beyond. Which set up very quickly some great characterisation. As well as plenty of supernatural creatures, Johnson also writes in some clever 'real-life' ghosties including Jean Lafitte, Louis Armstrong and Marie Laveau. She certainly has a sense of humour.
"Royal Street" is a really well written debut. I enjoyed Johnson's writing style, it's smooth, easy to read, and I loved the descriptions of New Orleans. I totally agree with Laura in that the descriptions of hurricane Katrina and the devastation she caused were excellently written and I could see, smell and hear everything through Johnson's words.
I found for the first few chapters I zoomed along and thought they were very exciting and pulled me into the story with ease.
And with an opening such as this, I was definitely intrigued.
A secluded Louisiana bayou. A sexy pirate. Seduction and deceit. My Friday afternoon had the makings of a great romantic adventure, at least in my theory.
Nothing about the pirate looked safe. Tall and broad-shouldered, he had dark-blue eyes and a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth as he watched me set two glasses and a bottle of dark rum on a rickety wooden table. A tanned, muscular chest peeked from his open collar, and shaggy dark hair framed a clean-shaven face. A jagged scar across his jaw reminded me the so-called gentleman pirate also had his ruthless side.
Ok, so who's with me in thinking this pirate sounds sexy and dangerous? Perfect combo!
I was hoping for the same with this novel... thinking this could possibly be one hell of an urban fantasy. However, after a while the pace started to lag and "Royal Street" lost all its momentum.
The story read like a supernatural mystery. As DJ returns to New Orleans post Katrina devastation, she is set the task of finding her missing mentor Gerry and also becomes involved in what looks like a Voodoo serial killer case.
Having only watched the devastation of Katrina through my TV screen, it was gut-wrenching and poignant watching it retold by a writer who had witnessed the events first-hand. Even if it was wrapped up in an urban fantasy novel.
As she's only a deputy, against her wishes and much to her consternation DJ gets assigned an FBI partner - Alex. This is where things started to get interesting! Alex is a whole load of yum, as his cousin Jake whom we meet shortly after.
There is chemistry between them in spades and plenty of snappy banter.
' "The fight wasn't over," I said through gritted teeth. "I'd have won it." Probably. "Right," he said. "And something just flew past your window. It was oinking." '
The mystery is paced nicely, I certainly didn't have time to get bored! Mixed in with the spicy chemistry and some painful self discoveries for DJ the book really is a page turner. It also pulls together some strong and powerfully portrayed emotion, from grief and tragedy to jealousy and attraction. I felt each in the pit of my stomach. Which is all accentuated by the fact that DJ is an empath.
I agree with Laura, in that the mystery aspect to the story was good. There was a little twist I didn't see coming with regards to DJ's mentor and boss, Gerry. I liked the twists and turns along the way, which kept me reading.
I also liked the addition of DJ being an empath as well as a green congress wizard ('the geeks of the magical world, hell on rituals and potions but always last to get picked for wizard dodgeball, so to speak'). It gave her depth that she would have otherwise lacked.
Ah yes there was a definite geekish quality about her, which is always a good thing in my opinion! It was actually the characters that made this story for me. DJ is a great heroine. I wasn't sure if at first I was going to find her a bit lacking in the butt-kicking department. I wanted her to have some slightly better powers, her ritual magic seemed to be lacking on the cool side. But as the book develops I fell for her ingenuity, sense of honour and resilience.
I thought I had become bored of love triangles, feeling that with recent trends particularly in YA, they had been done to death. So this one totally took me by surprise and I loved it! Both heroes are dark, handsome and broody yet individual in their own way. I also found that, again to my surprise, I didn't have a favourite. It gripped me in a way that I was desperate to see how it concludes, my heart breaking for the guy who doesn't succeed. Sadly I think I may have a few books to wait yet!
Interestingly, like Carolyn I did fall for Lafitte and his super dark sexiness, but I was more drawn into the Alex and Jake love story. I wasn't quite sure how I felt about a human/ghost love story.
After such a great opening with the cheeky, undead pirate, Jean Lafitte, who also oozed sex appeal and fun, I was anticipating a wild ride, well in the romantic department anyway. Unfortunately, Lafitte, wasn't actually in the book very much at all and I felt that one of the most interesting characters wasn't given enough page time.
When Alex, a hunky FBI agent, was introduced I thought, I can see a potential love triangle happening - a sexy agent and an undead pirate makes it very interesting indeed, but then along comes Jake (Alex's cousin). For me, this is way too many potential love interests in a first book of a new series. I can just about deal with a love triangle, but a love square - overkill.
That being said, all three men are gorgeous ;)
DJ is a witty, interesting, and occasionally, feisty character, with an intriguing backstory. So with such great characteristics why didn't I love her? Well, she just didn't stand out enough for me. With so many strong urban fantasy heroine's in the urban fantasy genre, I felt she wasn't strong enough a character. Along with a slow pace there's also not enough action - I was hoping that DJ and Alex would kick some serious butt, but unfortunately nothing much happened.
Also, DJ's relationships with Alex and Jake are formed far too quickly. Within a matter of days both men are vying for her attention and DJ is undecided which of the two guys she likes the most. And that's not forgetting the sexy pirate (who I seriously hope has more of a role in the next book).
Lastly, I just have to mention Charlie, DJ's magical staff that follows her around, I hope we see more of him, (it?) too ;)
Overall I absolutely loved this book. I was very close to giving it a 9 and I plan to buy book two as soon as it's released. There's nothing more exciting than a new series that completely hooks you in! "Royal Street" will be going on to my favourite urban fantasy shelf.
Oh and I forgot to mention the staff, I want to see more of Charlie too! ;-)
RATING: 8/10 - Brilliant, couldn't put it down, leaning towards a 9
"Royal Street" was an enjoyable read, although not a stand out urban fantasy for me. There's potentially a great cast of characters, especially with rascal pirate, Lafitte, which I hope will be further developed in 'River Road' the next book in the series.
KITTEN-TIGER & THE MONK by Carolyn Crane Reviewer: Gemma
Reading shorts in an anthology can be a hit or a miss at times. You either have the short stories, which are part of a series that read like they are deleted scenes and you really need to be up-to-date with that series to have a Scooby on what is going on. Or you have the other short stories, that although they take part in the same universe, the story either concentrates on characters that you meet in the main series, but gives them a bit more screen time or it’s a stand-alone story with the main character is completely unrelated plot to the main series.
For me, on first impressions, this story falls into the character/own story short and thankfully it meant I wasn’t lost having never ready the parent series.
The author manages to give you just enough detail on the world in which this story is set. It comes across as kind of near-future/x-men type of world, where normal people develop extra-ordinary abilities. In this case, our main protagonist is Sophia. She has the ability to wipe and re-write someone’s short term memory. She is in search of a person named The Monk, who can effectively give her a clean slate after some of the more dodgy assignments she has taken. Unfortunatly for her, she has to go through an ex, named Robert, who she really wronged in the past.
Sophia is a very complex character and at first I felt some sympathy towards her as it was clear she wanted out of her current life. The novelty of using this gift to get the outcome you wanted had waned and she wanted to start over.
This changed as you began to delve deeper into her past and especially with what she did to Robert, the supposed love of her life. It was so cleverly done, and though I knew that Sophia’s family wasn’t the pillars of saint-hood, the revelation on how she was involved in their dodgy dealings was still a shock.
I’m glad to see that she was redeemed and that her actions in her past were not down to sheer greed. Also, her refusal to leave Robert to his fate with a group of sleep-walking cannibals that lived underneath a structure called The Tangle, showed that she did truly care for him.
My only real criticism of the short was the fact I couldn’t get any feeling for the character of Robert. Yes, he has a really horrible life, but there was nothing in his character that made me root for him. His sole purpose seemed to be to provide the catalyst for Sophia to change her life. Maybe if it had been a full novel, we would have learnt a bit more about him. For the purposes of this short, it wasn’t desperate, though I do hope that in the novels we will see more of the characters.
VERDICT: I really enjoyed this short and it was a great insight into the series. In a few short pages, Crane managed to cram in a hell of a lot of story and plot development. So much so, I think this series may go on to my wish-list. 3.5/5
VIXEN by Jill Myles Reviewer: Laura
I knew my slightly sheltered self was in trouble within the first few pages of picking up this story:
Miko jerked the door open, about to snarl something unpleasant through the screen. [...] Every hormone in her body went on instant alert. Both men were gorgeous…
I suddenly realised this was going to be no ordinary romance! I wouldn’t really class myself as an erotica fan. I read romance, but for me that is about the love and the happy endings, they have to have a good story and the sex scenes are a bonus of the chemistry and spark I’ve enjoyed along the way.
VIXEN was more erotica than romance. And well as you might have guessed from the quote it was about two guys (Sam and Jeremiah) and one lucky lady (Miko). The story was short and sweet (and filthy!!). There was some actual plot with were-fox Miko needing protection from fox hunters, but much of it was about them flirting and the build up to the big *ahem* climax.
The sex scene was well.. erm, phew, yes well, *fans oneself*! Rather raunchy to say the least! But Miko’s a were-fox and they need more then one man to keep them happy, so everyone was happy! It caused me amusement and blushes in equal measure.
VERDICT: This was a fun and sexy book, perhaps not a genre I would particularly read again, I think I prefer monogamous relationships. But it made for an entertaining evening read. And I might even be tempted to pick up something by this author again. 3/5
THE BLUSHING BOUNDER by Meljean Brook Reviewer: Carolyn
This is the first piece of writing I’ve read by Meljean Brook, and I liked it. It did feel as though it was part of a larger work but for the most part it was engaging, the characters had surprising depth for such a short story, and the steampunk world was intriguing.
In this world, humans are called Bounders, and Hordes are infected with tiny machines they call bugs. These bugs were used by the Horde to control everyone in England until a revolution.
Temperance is our leading lady who’s fallen in love with a gentleman she met in the park. Unfortunately Temperance is terminally ill with consumption and has decided to live out her remaining months/years in a sanatorium. On the morning of her departure her gentleman friend, Edward Newberry, grabs her and kisses her passionately in the presence of her family and passers by in the street. Of course, this may be an alternative America, but when it comes to being ‘a lady’ things haven’t changed much and kissing in public by anyone other than your husband is not the done thing! Temperance is forced to marry Edward.
Temperance and her new husband, Edward, move to London where social etiquette is more relaxed, and Edward is a police constable. After a few weeks and much thought, Temperance comes to the conclusion that her beau kissed her with the purpose of securing her inheritance, and with a broken heart resigns herself to living her last remaining years unhappily.
However, one night she witnesses a murder and things change between her and Constable Newberry, and there’s also a chance of a cure for Temperance, but it would mean being infected with the bugs…
Brook manages to pack a lot into such a short story. I will admit to being a little confused at times and having to read through certain paragraphs more than once to let this new-to-me genre sink in. Steampunk, as with most genre, has its own jargon, and I found it interesting but harder to get into than I would say a PNR or UF. This is probably why it felt it was part of a larger body of work, but the combination of romance and mystery within a steampunk world was a really great mix and one I would definitely like to investigate more.
VERDICT: Brook has a great writing style which I liked and I enjoyed meeting the characters. I would definitely read more from this author. THE BLUSHING BOUNDER is a taster to Brook’s steampunk romance series, The Iron Seas, but can be read as a stand alone novella, but only just. 3.5/5(less)
When Carolyn suggested that we read The Artist Trilogy for our next Joint...moreReviewed by Carolyn (3 Star) & Gemma (3.5 Star) for www.BookChickCity.com
When Carolyn suggested that we read The Artist Trilogy for our next Joint Review, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The book’s cover and the summary seemed to hint this could be the run of the mill contemporary romance novel. By this I mean naive young woman, meets seductive alpha male, who undergoes a journey of self-discovery, both in terms of emotional maturity, sexual awakening and down and dirty mad monkey sex... Read More...