I am going to try extremely hard not to gush about this book, but it will be difficult. Truth is, I’m ho...moreReviewed by Kearstie for www.BookChickCity.com
I am going to try extremely hard not to gush about this book, but it will be difficult. Truth is, I’m hooked. I’ve drunk the kool-aid. The world of Broken Elements seeped into my mind, sucked me into its world, and left me with a serious book hangover. If you can’t tell, I was kind of impressed.... Read More...
After reading and absolutely loving Unholy Ghosts, I was somewhat nervous about reading Unholy Magic. I've been caught out before with a new series, r...moreAfter reading and absolutely loving Unholy Ghosts, I was somewhat nervous about reading Unholy Magic. I've been caught out before with a new series, reading and liking the first book only to be disappointed with the second, but thankfully, this was not the case with Unholy Magic. This book is AMAZING and I am totally in love with this series!
Unholy Magic begins roughly where Unholy Ghosts ended. Chess is still working for the Church of Real Truth as a debunker and popping pills, Terrible is still Bumps enforcer and Lex is Chess' new drug of choice.
To me this book is very character driven, which is one of the reasons I love it so much - you may have noticed that my reviews are character driven too - if I don't like the characters then it doesn't matter whether the plot is good or not, I just won't be able to connect with the book. But I didn't have that problem with Unholy Magic. It has two of the best characters I've read in the urban fantasy genre; Chess and Terrible. However, although this book is very much about the characters there is also an engaging storyline.
I really enjoyed reading about the world Kane has created. Downside is very gritty and dark, where drug dealers and gangs rule, prostitutes and pimps sell you their business and ghosts kill. The ghosts in Downside are scary, evil entities and it's Chess' job as a debunker for the Church of Real Truth to make sure that any claims of ghost sightings or hauntings are legitimate. One such case is given to her by an Elder of the Church for a celebrity who claims there's two ghosts in his house. This part of the story, although secondary to the relationships between the characters, is really enjoyable and we get to see Chess fighting ghosts and banishing them, and using her witchy magic.
In Unholy Ghosts, Chess unwillingly helped Lex with a problem he had and because of this she is now getting most of her drugs for free, which enables her to pop as many pills as she likes, and we see her falling into her addiction even further. The thing with Chess is that she enjoys them. She likes blocking out the harsh side of her life, the memories of her past filled with physical and mental abuse, and losing herself in the freedom the pills give her. Chess understands what is happening but doesn't really want to face her addiction and although she is fairly strong and brave in her job as a debunker, in life not so much. If something doesn't go to plan or if she feels letdown by someone then she leans on her drugs - uses them as a replacement for people. However, even though Chess is a drug addict it doesn't prevent her from doing her job - most of the time.
I heart Chess so much - she is flawed and vulnerable and that's what I love about her, but I can also see strength and determination. She cares about people and desperately wants to help them, even if it's at the risk of her own life. I have a feeling we are going to see Chess grow enormously in future books, there's so much scope for her character and I can't wait to find out how she evolves.
We also learn more about Terrible, which shows him in a softer light and makes him even more loveable. Terrible is so endearing he melts my heart, even though I know he has no qualms about killing someone with his bare hands - I know this and Chess knows this, but somehow it just doesn't matter. Terrible reveals quite a bit about his feelings in this instalment. There's a scene between Chess and Terrible that had my heart pounding in my chest, I just couldn't read the pages fast enough to find out what happened next. I won't go any further but let me just say it's heart-wrenching romance at its best.
Lex is still very much in the picture, although he does take a bit of a back-seat to the growing dynamics between Chess and Terrible. But he's growing on me. I'm still not convinced he's trustworthy, but I like him.
I'm also impressed by the street-speak, or as Kane puts it, "Down-speech". I think it takes a very talented writer to pull-off accents, but Kane does just that. It's different to anything I've read before but it gives the gangs of Downside a very distinctive and original flare.
For me, Unholy Magic has the precise combination and balance of everything I love about the urban fantasy genre: action, romance, complex but likeable characters and world building. I adored this book so much from beginning to end - just perfect.(less)
I have now read all three books of the 'Downside Ghosts' series in quick succession and I am so glad I did. I don't think I could have waited a year f...moreI have now read all three books of the 'Downside Ghosts' series in quick succession and I am so glad I did. I don't think I could have waited a year for each book to be released. I am already having withdrawal symptoms knowing I have to wait until autumn 2011 for book four, it's well...agonising.
This is such a fantastic series. There's enough kick-arse action to keep urban fantasy fans happy, but with the addition of the most heart-wrenching romance between Chess and Terrible, Paranormal Romance fans will be happy too. These books sit very well in both camps.
In this instalment, we see a lot more of Chess in action. Her job as a debunker has her working with an elite group called the Black Squad - the law enforcement of the Church of Real Truth - and she is having to deal with wraiths as well as ghosts and physchopomps. The pace is very fast and keeps the pages turning and I practically breezed through this book without stopping. I love Kane's fluent writing, the descriptions of the fighting and magical scenes are just superb, and I love the explanations of all the magical ingredients Chess needs to cast her spells.
What is slightly different about this instalment is that Chess has to share some of the limelight with another woman, Lauren. In both Unholy Ghosts and Unholy Magic, Chess is pretty much the only female and it is nice to see her interacting with another woman, even if she does hate her. But for me this is just part of the story in this book, it's not a necessity to have other women alongside Chess as she's a big enough character to hold her own, but it was a fresh change.
Chess's drug use takes a bit of a back seat to the action in City of Ghosts. Although she's still popping pills and needing them to get her through her life, it isn't as intense on the reader as it is in the previous books. She also makes a big decision about Lex and Terrible and we see her growing in strength.
After the ending of Unholy Magic, Terrible isn't talking to Chess, in fact he is trying his best to ignore her and is seething with anger at her betrayal. For this reason Terrible is not present for at least the first 160 pages, although he dips in and out, and I really missed him. But what comes is worth the wait...
Things heat up considerably between Chess and Terrible and I LOVED it - Kane has given these two characters amazing dialogue, which has me deeply immersed in their evolving, complex friendship/relationship that when certain scenes *if you know what I mean* occurred I was completely enthralled. My heart raced, my tummy knotted up... so much anguish, sexual tension and passion - just fan-bloody-tastic! Oh...and the ending....it had me in tears!
Unholy Ghosts and Unholy Magic stayed with me long after I read them and it was no different with City of Ghosts. There's so many layers from the complex characters to the awesome world building of Downside. It's full of witchy magic, action and romance, I literally couldn't put this book down until I had read the very last word. I could go on and on about these books, they are just so brilliant! If you haven't started this series, you MUST! (less)
Wow! This book is amazing. 'Angels' Blood' had me enthralled from the first page - I loved it! It fits int...moreI gave this 9/10 on my blog: Book Chick City
Wow! This book is amazing. 'Angels' Blood' had me enthralled from the first page - I loved it! It fits into the paranormal romance genre as well as the urban fantasy genre very well, as there are strong elements of both. It's dark and edgy, and so atmospheric.
The main character is Elena, a Vampire Hunter for the Guild. Her ability is to track vampires by their scent. Angel's Make vampires and the contract states they cannot go their own way until a year is up, but some don't want to stick around, Elena is hired to track them down and send them back to their owners.
Elena is very much an urban fantasy heroine, she a fighter, strong and brave. She's also intelligent and stands up for herself even when she's terrified. She has a dark and painful past which gives her the depth I love in my characters. However, we don't get to know everything and are just given snippets of information and glimpses of her past through her memories which she pushes away as they are too painful to remember. I'm looking forward to finding out out what they are, very intriguing.
Elena is also stubborn, even when her life could be at risk. I loved this about her, it gave her a strength I love to see in my heroines.
"You shouldn't look at me in that fashion, Elena." "Why?" she asked, prodded by some heretofore unknown suicidal streak. "Scared?" He leaned a fraction closer. "My lovers have always been warrior women. Strength intrigues me." She refused to let him play with her like this, even if her body disagreed. Vehemently. "Do knives intrigue you too? Because touch me and I will cut you up. I don't care if you throw me off the nearest balcony." He seemed to pause, as if thinking. "That is not how I would choose to punish you. It'd end far too quickly." And she remembered that this was no human male she was parrying with. This was Raphael, the archangel who'd broken every single bone in a vampire's body to prove a point...And while she knew her worth, she also knew that to an archangel, she was, in the end, expendable.
There's a rogue Archangel on the lose and he's causing bloody destruction wherever he goes. The powerful Archangel of New York, Raphael, wishes to hire Elena to track him. She doesn't know if she can as she's only ever tracked vampires and isn't sure if her ability goes as far as detecting the scent of an Archangel, but she takes the job as Raphael doesn't understand the word no.
Raphael is dark and dangerous, mysterious and so sexy you can't help but fall in love with him, even with his terrifyingly brutal traits. When Elena first meets him she feels his strength and overwhelming dominance, but his beauty isn't lost on her either..
She took a deep breath and a step back before turning to face him. The impact hit her like a physical blow. He was... "Beautiful." Eyes of such pure undiluted blue it was as if some heavenly artist had crushed sapphires into his paints and then coloured in the irises with the finest of brushes.
Yes, he was beautiful, but it was the beauty of a warrior or a conqueror. This man had power stamped on every inch of his skin, every piece of his flesh. And that was before she took in the exquisite perfection of his wings. The feathers were a soft white and appeared dusted with gold. But when she concentrated, she saw the truth - each individual filament of each individual feather bore a golden tip.
The plot is action-packed and fast-paced. The mix of action and romance is very well balanced. The romance which blossoms between Elena and Raphael is just wonderful and will satisfy any romance fan. It's intense and beautiful, and I can't wait to see what book two holds for these two.
As well as Elena and Raphael, the other cast of characters are just as brilliantly written. The devastatingly handsome but deadly vampire, Dmitri; the sweet and sexy angel Illium, who Elena has affectionally named "bluebell" due to the colour of his wings; Michaela, a strikingly beautiful Archangel who has a cold and murderous nature and has taken an instant dislike to Elena, which causes a few problems - all are vividly written and are fabulous to read.
This is an amazing book - I loved the characters, the story, the writing - basically everything. I'm so glad it's part of a series, and I already have books two and three in my possession - Yay! If you haven't started this series yet, don't wait as long as I did, go read it now!(less)
I was kind of sad, and kind of happy when Vincent's Shifter series came to a end. Sad because,...moreReviewed by Laura for Book Chick City. 9/10 on the blog.
I was kind of sad, and kind of happy when Vincent's Shifter series came to a end. Sad because, well, it was the end, and happy because it was nice to see all the threads come together. So I was very excited to see she had a new adult, urban fantasy series out.
'Blood Bound' is entirely different from her Shifter books, set in a completely new world and actually introduces some new concepts and supernatural beings which was quite exciting. Our heroine Liv is a blood tracker, give her someone's blood and she can track them down. This story is set in a world where the city is run by two supernatural mafia bosses, each of whom have supernatural beings bound to work under their command.
Years ago, when she and her friends were twelve and too young to know any different, they swore a blood oath to always come to the aid on one another should it ever be needed. Liv hasn't seen her friends for years, but when Anne turns up and compels her to not only help and kill her husband's murderer, but work with the ex-boyfriend she never quite got over, Liv quite literally has no choice. It's do it or die.
I found myself very angry with Liv's friend Anne at the beginning of the novel for forcing to not only do something against her will, but commit murder. If she was a true friend she would simply have asked. Liv is one fierce heroine, and everything in her rebels against doing something against her will. It took me a little while to warm to Liv's ex-lover Cam too, for the same reasons as he was complicit in Anne's compulsion.
Liv is determined and strong willed to the point of destruction, but very complicated too. She keeps a lot of secrets in the story and makes you wait to find out about them as well!
One of the things that was slightly strange with the writing style was the changing point of views. The story is written in the first person, but is narrated by two people - Liv and Cam. It would alternate quite regularly, even mid chapter, so that there were several occasions when I had to rewind and work out who was actually narrating. But it did make me warm to Cam after his shaky start.
The story is made up of lots of component parts. From the role of the mafia bosses, the murder mystery, the new supernatural world which made a fascinating change, and the slightly painful and broken relationship between Liv and Cam. Which actually surprised me by growing on me and leaving me desperately routing for them to be able to get together again by the end.
This book is so clever, Vincent weaves so many different threads throughout the book, pulling it together at the end like a fine symphony you can't help but sit back and be impressed at how she doesit. I personally think her writing style has definitely improved since her last series.
I am very excited about this new urban fantasy series! A hero and heroine with guts and determination, and clever and inspiring new supernatural world and a plot that leaves you on the edge of the seat. This is well up there as one of my favourite books of the year.(less)
For me, steampunk books can be a very hit or miss affair, with some books trying too hard to be quirky with...moreReviewed by Gemma for www.BookChickCity.com
For me, steampunk books can be a very hit or miss affair, with some books trying too hard to be quirky with its inventions or trying to be “modern” in a Victorian setting.
Thankfully, TARNISHED isn’t one of these books and to be honest should be tagged more as a thriller set in Victorian England, with hints of steampunk technology. This isn’t a bad thing and is actually a very fun read, as you aren’t bogged down with the inventions.
The main plot is centered around a young woman named Cherry St Croix and the double life she leads. By day she is the eccentric daughter of a deceased madman, but by night she is what is known as a “Collector” or what appears to be a bounty hunter. She also has an addiction to opium, mainly due to a dependency that has grown out of a troubled childhood.
It’s this addiction that drives her to take a dangerous job where someone is murdering Sweets, or prostitutes, and stealing their organs in Lower London. At first it seemed that this could have been a thinly veiled attempt at bringing Jack The Ripper into this world, but as the plot progressed we end up finding out that there is in fact two serial killers on the loose.
For a first novel, it was brilliantly paced with just the right amount of world building, backstory and setting up of future plotlines for the series. The setting is amazing and gives a good idea of what this world could be like.
London has split into two, with the poorer inhabitants living on the ground among the smog and dirt of industry. The well to do citizens have used technology to raise large chunks of the city onto large metal pillars above the smog. To move between the two parts of the city, they use various sizes of airships.
I could clearly see this divided city in my mind, yet it was still familiar. I could almost imagine this as London, with familiar landscapes described. It isn’t too far from the truth, with many of the rich leaving London due to the smog and dirt that has come along with the new industries.
As for the main plotline, Cooper manages to tie it up by the end of the novel, but still leaves one major sub plot hanging in the air. Who is this other collector, who was helping the main antagonist in this book to kill the Sweets and take their organs? He isn’t all that he seems, at least to me. What shakes our heroine is the fact that he knows about her double life. He knows where she lives and how she escapes her house to take the mantle of collector below. It’s unnerving, and leaves the reader wanting to find out more.
An important sub plot is Cherry’s romantic love life. Thankfully the author hasn’t “sexed” it up. (Yeah, I hear you all gasping in surprise at this for you know how much I love a good rustle between the literary bedsheets.) Yet, the complex love square is compelling stuff.
In Cherry’s daily life, she is being courted by two men; one who she is clearly attracted to and the other who she sees as a friend, but we can see that he has feelings for her.
His Lordship Cornelius Kerrington Compton is society’s most eligible bachelor and it comes as a complete surprise that he should be attracted to Cherry. His mother despises Cherry and you can’t help wondering if his intentions are true or if he is trying to annoy his mother. What is even more intriguing is the fact that Compton also seems to be leading a double life. Cherry discovers this when she spots him in one of the opium dens in the slums.
Compton is a mysterious guy and by the end of the book I’m not too sure that he is what he seems. I have even put him on my list of suspects who might be the other collector. Either that or he knows who this person is and that is why he is down in the slums.
The other guy who I think likes Cherry in a romantic way is her friend Lord Teddy Helmsley. The only way I can describe him is that he is very similar to Laurie from Little Women. He has an infatuation with Cherry, but she is oblivious to it.
In the long run, I don’t see either being the match to Cherry. That position, I think, belongs to Micajah Hawke, owner of one of London’s most notorious pleasure dens. He is seductive and dangerous, my type of alpha male. Yet, underneath that hard exterior is a deeply hidden moral code. I’m not going to spoil it, but the scene in question left me with a new found respect for the enigmatic Mr. Hawke.
As for Cherry, I really liked her from the get go. She is a mixture of the feisty female heroine, mixed with the respectable Victorian miss I love to read in my Regency romance books. She would fit so well into any of the novels written at the time and that is attributed to the authors success in capturing Cherry so well on paper.
Her backstory is interesting and in a way has shaped who she has become. We find out very early on that she was orphaned at young age and somehow ended up as pickpocket, thief and acrobat for a circus owner. It is here that her addiction to opium began and if it hadn’t been through a twist of fate, she most likely would have been on the other side of the pleasure dens.
For all her bravado, Cherry is very vulnerable. She knows that she has to keep her respectability, if not for herself then for her staff. She sees them as her family and would do anything to protect them, which is proven throughout the book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was such a refreshing read and a great start to a new series. There is so much to this book that it is hard to cram it all into this review. If like me, you are fed up with seeing very modern women in books that are supposedly set in Victorian or any other era, then pick this up! Its fantastic and I could almost see the literary character Sherlock Holmes turning up in this book.
Cooper has created a world that is both plausible and yet holds a bit of the fantastical. It’s both brutal and beautiful. By the end of the book you are invested in all the characters. (less)
When I started reading fantasy I decided that a genre was missing, ‘tense fictio...moreReviewed by Melanie for www.BookChickCity.com - 4.5 Stars on the blog.
When I started reading fantasy I decided that a genre was missing, ‘tense fiction’. Books that fit into the ‘tense fiction’ genre have a couple of unique characteristics – they are intense and make you tense! AWAKENINGS is perfect for the tense fiction genre. I was so stressed out for the main characters Cal and Seth that I think I bit off all my finger nails, pulled out some hair and generally felt a bit ill with worry during the first half of the story. This is a fantastic book and I can’t believe that AWAKENINGS is Lazellari’s first novel.
The first few chapters are dedicated to the story of the altruistic New York cop, Cal, and the selfish loser, pornographer, Seth. Both characters find their world turned upside down when they discover that they are being hunted by powerful creatures that are intent on killing them and anyone they love. It is these early chapters that Lazellari really ramps up the tension and lives up to ‘tense fiction’ while these characters fight to survive. The pair is rescued by the mysterious redhead, Lelani, who not only saves them but restores their memories of who they really are and where they came from. Neither Seth nor Cal can remember anything before the age of thirteen and discover, with Lelani’s help, that they were on a mission to save the child that could restore peace to their broken empire. The race is on for Cal and Seth to find the child and save the day.
Lazellari introduces a number of secondary characters to support the story of Cal and Seth and these chapters are written from that character’s POV. These also help to provide the story of Aandor, the world where they have escaped from and their mission to save the child. The backstory is also witnessed from Cal’s dreams where the reader discovers that he has another life and love back in Aandor. This leaves Cal conflicted as drawn both to his old life and love back on Aandor and the love of his wife Cat, who has joined in on their search for the child. There is relatively little back story for Seth and we only learn his role in the mission through one scene where his memories are returned. The characters are battling not just find the child but to find what they have lost crossing over to this world. It is difficult to say too much without giving the plot away.
AWAKENINGS is not an easy read in the respect that the tension is kept high throughout the whole book. You easily become invested in the main characters and spend the majority of the novel worried something bad will happen, even the characters such as Seth, who aren’t easy to like. Lazellari is particularly mean to the reader by leaving them with a Mount Everest sized cliffhanger at the end.
Even if fantasy isn’t one of your favourite genres you are bound to enjoy AWAKENINGS. The fantasy elements are secondary to the main theme of love, honour, and courage, and Lazellari does an excellent job of merging pure and urban fantasy. My one small criticism would be that the plot could be a bit predictable at times and the main reason why I didn’t give AWAKENINGS 5 stars. On balance it is probably one of my top 10 best reads of this year purely on the basis of his ability to create tension and pathos. Others have criticized the ending saying that the story just drops off and in truth had I not known there was another book coming out I would have been a bit disappointed. I am however, eagerly awaiting The Lost Prince but April 2013 seems a long time to wait! (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)
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)
As soon as I read the opening author’s note of GOD SAVE THE QUEEN by Kate Locke and saw the words ‘vampir...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com
As soon as I read the opening author’s note of GOD SAVE THE QUEEN by Kate Locke and saw the words ‘vampires don’t sparkle’, I knew I’d fall in love with this book and I was barely able to put it down.
It begins with half-blood Alexandra Vardan entering the underground den of London’s goblins, desperately seeking news of her sister’s whereabouts. The fact that she has gone to the goblins shows her desperation, as the goblins are the outcasts of Queen Victoria’s society, as they are vicious enough to rip an aristocrat or human to death.
The aristocrats are full-blooded werewolves or vampires, who reign over the humans and use their half-blooded offspring for protection. They are ruled by Queen Victoria, the first vampire monarch who has ruled the British Empire for 175 years. However, the mutated vampire and werewolf genes are unpredictable, with not everyone being able to produce half-bloods despite trying their hardest to reproduce. This makes half-blood gene patterns an interesting scientific study area, which will play an important role later on in the novel.
As for Xandra, her search for her sister leads her to Bedlam Asylum, the only place that scares her as her mother had been sent there before she disappeared. She finds out that her sister has supposedly committed suicide, which the rest of her family are quick to believe but Xandra refuses to believe it and is determined to go to any lengths to find out the truth.
My sister was essentially in hell and goblins felt sorry for me. As far as I was concerned, things couldn’t get much worse.
She confides in her old fighting instructor, Churchill, whom she trusts more than anyone else despite the fact that he obviously treats her more favourably than his other students. Others are doubtful of his preference for her, making the reader doubt how trustworthy he is, willing Xandra not to confide too much in him.
Then there is alpha werewolf Vexation MacLoughlin, who mysteriously turns up on a multitude of occasions before actually interacting with Xandra in a bar. She has always had a crush on him and inevitably ends up going home with him, with Vex then wanting to have a larger role in her life than just a one night stand. Can Vex be trusted, or is he also involved in some kind of conspiracy?
There is no other word that I can accurately use to describe Xandra other than sassy. She was strong, independent, and really knew her own mind. Her confidence exuded from the pages in abundance and I loved reading from her perspective. It was also interesting to see her emotions as the mystery further developed, particularly when her family history was called into question. She is fiercely protective of her siblings, and is very capable in a fight, having been the top student at her training academy.
I will briefly mention Vex as Xandra’s love interest, as he was a very powerful man in the aristocracy and I liked how he wanted to protect her, but at the same time knew when to keep his distance. However, I had a problem with the instantaneous romance that seemed to blossom after their one night stand, as it didn’t feel developed enough for him to take such an interest in her.
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN had a great plotline as the book went on, as I was doubtful about how the disappearance of Xandra’s sister would develop, but the book kept throwing surprises in my direction. There were unexpected plot developments throughout, and I loved how the book ended, as the necessary loose ends were tied up so as not to make the book too much of a cliff-hanger. Needless to say I’m excited for book two!
I absolutely loved this book, and found the author’s writing style to be witty, with humour laced throughout. The heroine was strong and sassy, and really stands up for herself when faced with any adversity. This book had some clever plot twists that kept me hooked and I’m really excited for book two!(less)
'That Thing At The Zoo' is James R. Tuck's debut novel, introducing us to the world of Deacon Chalk. We fea...moreReviewed by Laura for www.BookChickCity.com
'That Thing At The Zoo' is James R. Tuck's debut novel, introducing us to the world of Deacon Chalk. We featured Tuck in our Debut Author Spotlight last month. At 80 pages, it's more of a novella, but well worth your times and a superb introduction into this new urban fantasy series.
Deacon, a man whose entire family was killed by a supernatural monster, now spends his life hunting the things that go bump in the night and killing them. So when Atlanta's zoo animals are being barbarically murdered, it's only natural the police call him in to investigate.
There's something about Deacon that slightly reminds me of a male Anita Blake. He's tough, determined and somewhat ruthless. There's a darkness to him, enhanced by his personal tragedy. This novella only scratches the surface of who Deacon is, there's plenty left unsaid and it's really only just enough to wet your appetite. But most importantly, you can't help but like him as he is seriously, seriously cool.
"You look like hell yourself, man. What are you going to do?" I held my gun up. "Suck it up. Keep moving. Finish this."
Tuck has a fantastic turn of phrase. There is a college kid coolness about some of his language, but you can also vividly pull into your mind the image he is trying to depict. Then there are some descriptions that amongst the blood and gore you cannot fail to smile at. Don't get me wrong this is far from a comedy, in fact the story is very dark and hints at further darkness yet to come, but there is also a hidden wit.
'The priest lifted scar tissue masquerading as an eyebrow while he lit another cancer stick. His Zippo clicked open with a metallic chime, flared a one inch spout of orange flame, then clacked closed. He worked the smoke around in his mouth like a pipe-smoker, tasting it, enjoying the flavour.'
'His hair out of the constrains of the hat was the biggest freaking mullet I have ever seen. I grew up with some white trash family members. I have seen mullets. Jimmy the zookeeper's mullet was absolutely epic.'
The story itself is a page turner, a mash of action, gore and horror with a super evil creature and plenty edge of your seat scenes. And lots and lots of guns, again reminding me of Anita. But all of this pivots around Deacon, Deacon makes the book. We are briefly introduced to some other members of his team in one scene. A scarred priest (mentioned above) and Kat the owner of Deacon's strip club, who are equally fascinating, and I found myself wanting to know a lot more about them as well as Deacon's background.
This novella really just gives you a flavour of what is to come, it sucked me right in with supernatural magnetism. I want to learn more about the world and more about the characters. So Tuck has achieved I'm sure exactly what he set out to achieve with this story. Made me want to read more!
'That Thing At The Zoo' introduces you to a new series and even better hero. I truly can't wait to get my hands on the first full novel of the series 'Blood and Bullets'. Fans of gritty urban fantasy will love this one. (less)
‘Shadow Ops: Control Point’ creates a beautiful blend of fantasy, magic and military, mixing the pressure...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com
‘Shadow Ops: Control Point’ creates a beautiful blend of fantasy, magic and military, mixing the pressures of war with the pressures of understanding a new manifestation of magic. The opening chapter didn’t draw me in magnificently, despite starting off with an action scene, but it really picked up after the first chapter, so I’d advise anyone to stick with it!
The plot may seem like a fairly common occurrence in fantasy fiction, with the main character developing magical powers, but the presence of the military influences really creates a unique plotline. Our main character, Oscar Britton, is a member of the SOC (Supernatural Operations Corps), a military group deployed to subdue ‘Selfers’ (those who manifest with magical powers but can’t control it, or those who manifest in a forbidden art). After the mission of the first chapter, to subdue a teenage girl, Britton himself then manifests with the forbidden magical power Portamancy, which allows him to open gates to The Source world, the supposed ‘source’ of all magical power. Knowing that the SOC will hunt him down and kill him, Britton goes on the run.
Of course, Britton is then captured and sent to a military base in The Source, with an added implant in his heart, a bomb that will be detonated if he steps out of line and tries to escape. Trapped in this world, Britton has to learn how to properly control his magic, but should he co-operate with the military or continue his futile attempts to escape?
Oscar is a highly likeable character, with the author giving us a brilliant sense of his emotions as he tries to cope with the manifestation of his magic, and also of his conscience. He is a character who knows how the military system works, and so understands their tricks to brainwash the others, demonstrating the right amount of paranoia for someone in his position. Cole has created a character with a good amount of conscience, with Britton always wanting to do the right thing and save everyone who deserves to be saved. He can’t abide by the military’s wrongful killing and capturing, longing to bring the organisation down from the inside and find a different way.
The Source world is unique in its mixture of fantasy and reality, with the humans at the military base accompanied by ‘goblins’. There are good goblins that live and work in the base, but the majority are bad goblins, launching attacks on the base every night to deter the military from taking over their world. Marty is a goblin who is considered a friend by Britton, providing help whenever he needs it, and demonstrating more compassionate human nature than anyone else at the base. Through this character, Cole can also that Oscar’s good nature is for everyone and not just humans.
Oscar Britton’s forbidden art of Portamancy is accompanied in his military ‘Shadow Coven’ by Simon Truelove’s magic of Necromancy (raising the dead) and Sarah Downer’s Elementalist art of controlling all four magical elements. These characters are agreeable, but I felt that there could have been a little more focus on each of them, as not much is revealed about their lives before they manifested. There is more focus on the nasty commanders of the base than on Oscar’s actual friends, which I suppose adds to the sense of entrapment felt by the protagonist.
Part of what spoiled the book for me was the author’s constant use of military abbreviations, some of which aren’t explained in the context of the book and force you to look in the handy glossary of terms included at the back of the novel. This glossary is useful for understanding the book better, but at the same time I found it dreadfully frustrating having to keep disrupting my reading to turn to the back. Another tiny criticism is that sometimes the action scenes were so action-packed that it got a little confusing trying to keep up with everything that was going on, and who was attacking who.
I won’t give too much away, but there are some brilliant plot twists towards the end, keeping you on the edge of your seat as you read what happens next, and forcing you to doubt everyone you meet. One important event is also wonderfully left open for the next book in the series, which I really look forward to reading as there is so much that can be done with this magical world and the military operatives within it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which surprised me, proving that this is a case where you really can’t judge a book by its cover. The book was fast-paced and exciting, and if you can get past the frustrating use of military abbreviations it is a great read and you won’t be able to put it down. (less)
Wow, I didn't see this book coming - "Kitty's House of Horrors" is a pretty depressing instalment due to the sheer number of dead bodies, but it's als...moreWow, I didn't see this book coming - "Kitty's House of Horrors" is a pretty depressing instalment due to the sheer number of dead bodies, but it's also one of the best. It's jam-packed with action from practically the first chapter and doesn't let up until the last page.
Kitty is invited to participate in a reality TV show full of supernaturals. As Kitty is quite fond of the lime light and revels in publicity for her show, she agrees. When she enters the house, which is situated in a gorgeous cabin miles from anywhere, she meets the other contestants. I was wondering how the book would read without her love interest, but I didn't miss her Alpha mate one bit!
It was great to see a few characters return from previous books, such as Tina a psychic and paranormal investigator, who we first meet in 'Kitty Raises Hell'; Jeremy a TV psychic who Kitty works alongside in 'Kitty Goes To Washington'; Odysseus Grant a true magician who Kitty meets for the first time in 'Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand' during her trip to Las Vegas.
There were many others in the house too: Lee, a were-seal; Anastasia, Gemma and Damian, two vamps and their human servant; Jerome, a werewolf and pro wrestler; Ariel, Priestess of the Night, talk-radio show host; and last but not least, Conrad, a human and a disbeliever in all that is supernatural.
After the introductions everyone settles in. What I noticed more than any other novel is that Kitty likes to ask lots of questions of others, but when someone asks her a question she gets annoyed. I must admit that Kitty did irritate me a little in this instalment. She puts herself out there and then wonders why people think she's an expert, she roles her eyes and gets annoyed when people look to her, but always places herself in danger - she's in danger of becoming a martyr and I didn't really like seeing that side of her. However, with such great writing and fast-paced storyline, this was a small niggle I could handle.
After a few days Kitty begins to have suspicions about some of the other participants, beings to create conspiracy theories and one morning the contestants wake up to find that the producers and staff of the show have left, there's no electricity and the phones are dead. As Kitty leaves the cabin to try and find out what's going on, she finds the first body...
However, there was a big leap of faith on my part with regards to the believability of the plot. A house full of werewolves, vampires, magicians, psychics, were-seals (who can be surprisingly violent as it happens, and have very sharp teeth) are being hunted by three mortal men. Yes they have guns, silver bullets, explosives and silver tipped arrows, but surely the fast moving vamps with their hypnotic eyes could have snuffed them out in a matter of minutes?
Despite these few niggles I thoroughly enjoyed this instalment - it was a very entertaining and exciting read. This series seems to get better and better with each novel. I really appreciate Vaughn's easy writing style and punchy storylines and her characterisation is second to none.
A great addition the the Kitty series and one of the best in my opinion. I can't wait to read the next book 'Kitty Goes To War', I have no doubt it will be a bumpy, but enjoyable ride.(less)
"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)
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)
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)
THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD is a unique novel, contradicting typical vampire fiction to mix together a wealt...moreReviewed by Rebecca for www.BookChickCity.com
THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD is a unique novel, contradicting typical vampire fiction to mix together a wealth of different supernatural elements whilst keeping true to a murder mystery. The novel is exciting and fresh, with McLeod creating a heroine strong enough to take on whatever the vampires, witches and other beings can throw at her.
Genevieve Taylor is a sidhe fae, a kind of faerie, and the only one in London. She works for Spellcrackers.com, a witch company that removes unwanted spells for its clients – as long as they aren’t vamps. The ongoing witch vs. vampire feud is never fully explained in the novel, but there is an animosity between the species with Genny stuck in the middle, not fully belonging to either side.
The vampires are like celebrities in the human world, so when one of them is accused of murdering his girlfriend it hits the front page, with the vampires trying to sweep it under the carpet. However, when the vamps start coming to Genny asking her to discover the truth behind the murder, her life becomes more and more complex as she struggles to hide her own secrets whilst trying to uncover everyone else’s. It doesn’t help that her sidhe blood is more attractive to the vamps than a humans, not enabling her to properly interrogate any of her key suspects without becoming a vamp snack. Will Genny make it out of this investigation alive?
Our heroine, Genny, is an incredibly strong protagonist, trying to hold her own against all of the strong males she comes up against. It is clear that she has a lot of murky secrets in her past that she tries her best to cover up, with the reader only given inclinations to some of these secrets throughout the book. Hopefully the author will reveal more about her past in future novels in the series, because it certainly sounds like her past could fill a whole novel by itself, and I’d love to hear more about it.
Genny has a number of interactions with men in the novel from a variety of different species. However, there is not a single man whom she appears connected to the most, as her attention is very much divided between two. First we have her co-worker, Finn, who is a different species of fae and as such there is a magical bond between their fae blood that draws them together. Finn is gorgeous (aside from having horns!), and takes a special interest in Genny, looking out for her during the investigation. It is clear that his affection is not purely the result of their fae connection, but can Genny really take the risk in spilling her secrets to him?
Her next lot of male attention comes from vampire Malik Al-Khan, an incredibly attractive vampire elder who takes a particular interest in both Genny and the investigation. He has the power to manipulate Genny into doing whatever he wants, as well as using his vampire powers to put mind locks on humans and even become invisible. He wants control over her, and like all the other vamps he lusts for her blood. However, is he just flirting with her for information, or is there something else behind his manipulation?
As much as I loved the characters of this novel, there were still some things about main character Genny that irked me. For one, despite her blood and magic being to blame for attracting male attention, it feels like every male in the novel is interested in her, regardless of their species. This wouldn’t be so frustrating if we hadn’t already been told that her appearance is far from human, with her eyes being ‘amber-coloured, with oval pupils, rather like a cat’s’, and her hair a matching shade of amber. Another thing is that she seems to find herself losing her clothes at every opportunity, with there being a number of naked scenes when it doesn’t seem to fit with the plotline for any specific reason. There were times when I just wanted to scream at Genny to put some clothes on!
Overall, I did thoroughly enjoy this book, as I love any good twist on the vampire legend that keeps vampires as being scary and seductive. The heroine was smart and powerful, and there were some truly surprising twists when the truth of the murder is revealed. I look forward to finding out more about her past in subsequent novels, and really hope that the series continues to be as exciting as this first novel!
I really enjoyed this book, the series kicking off to a great start with some fantastic characters to draw you in. I loved how the sidhe fae element contrasted with typical vampire fiction, with McLeod putting her own spin on vampires that works brilliantly. Her vampires are sexy, scary and shocking, and combined with the murder mystery the book is truly brilliant. (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….
There has been quite a lot of buzz about “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” so I’ve really been...moreJOINT REVIEW - Originally posted on Book Chick City.
There has been quite a lot of buzz about “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” so I’ve really been looking forward to reading this one.
The Otherworld Taylor has created, named Elsewhere, is mysterious and intriguing and the characters are imaginative and fun. The angels are frightening but beautiful and the Chimaera strange and complex, and Karou is a fabulous heroine.
As I read through each chapter, “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” just got better and better. The world building more vivid, the characters more captivating. I had difficulty putting this book down. Taylor’s writing is smooth, descriptive and easy to read. I glided through each chapter effortlessly and was so mesmerised by it that I hadn’t noticed when two hours had passed.
What starts out as a good, but not unfamiliar story, about a young girl at school, with a loyal best friend, immersed in the supernatural, soon turns into a completely different young adult novel, one which I haven’t come across before, making it unique.
Like Carolyn, I've seen this on the book blogosphere, with people commenting that it is probably one of their favourite books of the year. So I was rather excited about picking it up. Although is it just me or do you sometimes find when a book has been so revered by others, it's easy to get swept up in the buzz and then be a little disappointed by the story itself?
And I did find this was the case very slightly with "Daughter of Smoke and Bone". Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it, but it's perhaps not the best I've read this year.
I totally agree that the book got better and better with each chapter, I thoroughly enjoyed the clever and unique world building Taylor has created, it is rich and fascinating. Set in Prague, it tells the story of Karou, a human girl who has been raised by otherworldly creatures, the chimaera. The chimaera can only be reached through secret doorways scattered about the globe, which enables Karou to transition between the two. The concept of the secret doorways totally captured my imagination! In some respects it had the same appeal as a modern day Secret Garden.
I agree with Laura that sometimes a book can be hyped up and then not meet expectations, I hate it when that happens, but I didn't feel it did with this book. Although it's probably not the best book I've ever read, it is one of my favourites of 2011 and definitely one of the best young adult novels I've read.
Karou is a talented artist studying at art school in Prague. Brought up by the charismatic but aloof Brimstone who deals in teeth and wishes. Karou transports from her life in Elsewhere to her life in Prague via portals from one world to the other.
Karou, being young and impulsive, is a little frivolous with her wishes. Most of the time she uses her necklace of wishes given to her by Brimstone for harmless things to help her along in life, such as wishing to speak Czech so she could study in Prague, as well as twenty other languages, unlocking her door when she’s forgotten her keys or wishing the eyebrows of the girl who slept with her boyfriend to become overly bushy…
Her best friend, Zuzana is fab – she really lightened the tone. But when she finds out about Karou and her life the story jumps forward three months so we never get to see Zuzana's surprise or disbelief and then her realisation that what Karou told her is true. Because of this I really had to keep reminding myself that three months had passed and that was why Zuzanna was so easy breezy about the angels and chimaera and all the other supernatural oddities that were happening around her.
The one aspect I noticed and really enjoyed was the limited amount of angst. There really isn’t much of it and Karou and Zuzanna are pretty mature for their seventeen years, especially in the latter part of the novel.
The story moves along at a good pace and I was completely engrossed. I enjoyed Karou’s world, friends and magic. The fight scenes are pretty good too and Karou can kick some serious butt. I liked that one of Karou’s weapons were devil eye tattoos on the palms of her hands and she gets satisfaction from her weapons, especially when she buys a new set in China!
I liked how the narrative set up Karou's life and how she balanced it between that as a human, studying art in Prague and life as Brimstone's ward. I find it interesting that you described him as charismatic Carolyn, as I found him really intriguing, probably one of my favourite characters in fact, but more monstrous than charismatic. He balanced on a strange edge between fatherly on occasion and at other times quite chilling.
My favourite part has to be Brimstone's occupation as a wish bearer. Trading wishes for teeth. Karou's frivolous wishes did make me smile. Who wouldn't want to make the eyebrows of the girl who slept with your eyebrows bushy? And there's a great scene scene when Karou is doing life drawing, but I mustn't say anymore!
I felt that the story was pacey, but did not really begin to pick up speed when Karou's world comes crashing down. When the doors to elsewhere close leaving Karou cut off from her other-worldy family, she suddenly finds herself amidst a war she didn't know existed. On one side the chimaerean and the other the seraphim or angels.
Interestingly, there is no clear division between good and evil in this novel. There are people that commit evil deeds, but one side is not necessarily better than the other. You could easily think the chimaera are the baddies due to their magical powers and unorthodox appearances, but as the book progresses you see that things are not that clear cut. And this was a concept I found cleverly portrayed. If there is no good and evil, how do you define right and wrong?
I definitely agree with Laura that Brimstone balances between being a loving fatherly figure and something a little more deadly, however, I definitely found him fascinating, which is probably why he is also one of my favourite characters in the book.
I enjoyed Brimstone's occupation too and I liked the idea of trading teeth for wishes. I did have my suspicions as to what the teeth were for and my thoughts were proven right when all was revealed near the end.
If I had one negative it would be how quick Karou and Akiva's love for one another grew. Akiva has been a hostile, cold angel devoid of emotions for centuries, and to just get his feelings back in a day after meeting Karou was a little unrealistic.
However, once I got over this blip, I really enjoyed their interactions with each other and the romance is an intense, sweeping love story that fills the heart. My favourite part of the novel was the last third of the book. The flashbacks to another time were just fabulous, which I won’t go into as I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but let's just say I can't wait for book two!
This book has definite crossover appeal and I would highly recommend it for adults as well as teenagers. Taylor’s imagination is just superb, and the world of Elsewhere is amazing. I loved reading about the Chimaera, a strange bizarre combination of animal parts, and the Angels, born of fire who are anguished, tortured beings. I am also intrigued to find out who, and what, Karou is.
Karou is a fascinating lead character, with her blue hair and tattoos. She does come across as quite young at first, but very quickly progresses in maturity. Determined and tough, but equally sensitive and vulnerable.
I'm impressed Carolyn guessed the significance of the teeth, as it kept me guessing for a long time. As did the reason why these creatures had raised a human child, what was her significance and what happened to her family?
The book is also comprised of some truly creative characters. From Karou's chimaerean family, I wanted to delve into Brimstone's mind and find out what exactly made him tick, to, as Carolyn has already referred to, the warm and very lifelike friendship portrayed between Karou and her human best friend Zuzana.
Of course I must not forget to mention the angel Akiva. As this book would not be complete without a love story, and going with recent trends, Karou's love interest is Akiva, a lost Angel. No longer sure of his path and tortured by his past, but it does make for a compelling story that is easy to get absorbed in. As Akiva and Karou become ever closer, the horror of the war dividing them becomes only more paramount. I didn't struggle so much with Akiva's transition from an angel devoid of emotions to one devastatingly in love, as I felt there was enough back story to cover this change. And found I got more sucked into the star-crossed lovers aspect of their story.
CAROLYN: “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” is a wonderful combination of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, with an amazing heroine and unique secondary characters. A new and refreshingly original world and a fantastic beginning to a new trilogy. I will definitely be continuing this series and wait with bated breath for the next instalment.
LAURA: "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is a uniquely drawn novel, rich and creative. For me it's pulled into two parts: before the doors to elsewhere close, and after. With second part of the novel by far having the grittier storyline. Marketed as a YA novel, I think this book would appeal to readers who normally only pick up adult novels too. (less)
Meriwether Storm, daemon summoner extraordinaire, is one of the most satisfying, well-render...moreReviewed by Kearstie for www.bookchickcity.com - 4.5 Stars
Meriwether Storm, daemon summoner extraordinaire, is one of the most satisfying, well-rendered, beautifully driven characters I have had the pleasure to read about in a very long time. And that praise is putting her in some very good company, my friends.
Meri’s parents were brutally murdered when she was young, leaving behind a legacy of power and vengeance that has been driving their daughter since the day she found them, puddles of little more than blood. She has taken up their mantle as a Daemon Summoner, living outside the control of the Corporations, which took over when the government fell. Meri is very good at her job, and is nearly covered with the marks of the daemons she’s summoned and overpowered. But she lives every day with one simple truth: all summoners eventually meet their match. There’s a good reason that there’s no such thing as an old summoner.
Before Meri meets her inevitable fate, she is determined to find and take justice on her parents’ killer. When she receives an offer that seems a little too dangerous, even for her, she’s ready to turn it down, until she finds that the reward is worth the risk: they are offering the name and summoning details of her parents’ killer. And so Meriwether Storm is swept up into a job that will leave her more changed than she could have ever imagined.
Bundy has built a world so intriguing, and characters so likable, that they suck you in, rock your world, and leave you panting for more when it’s over. Oh, and her sex scenes are like that, too.
Azimuth, the leading man in our story, is closed off and distant at the beginning, but as you learn more about him, you can’t help but understand why Meri falls for him. I thoroughly enjoy that Bundy allowed Meri to start with attraction, and then move on to lust, before jumping into love with Az. It made the relationship read as more organic and believable than many similar pairings in the genre. And the fact that Az was the only one who never gave up on Meri really kept me invested in him during the times that their relationship wasn’t at the forefront of the plot. I really loved their dynamic, and was rooting for them throughout the story.
Despite my love for Azimuth, I was extremely happy that Bundy chose to make their growing relationship just a part of the story, instead of at the center. No, Meri got to keep her mojo in this book, and I think that’s what kept me so enamored. She doesn’t forget who she is, or what her goals are. Her need for vengeance doesn’t disappear because Azimuth is sex on a stick (oh, and he so is). Her life flipping around doesn’t keep her down long, and she has no desire to listen to anyone trying to keep her on the sidelines.
It’s Meri’s strength of will and sense of self that truly drive the story, and are really what make her such a formidable foe for the daemons. Even when the fighting is in her own brain, you know that Meri stands a fighting chance. Have I mentioned how much I love her?
I also really enjoyed the secondary characters in this book. They each had their own special traits and quirks, and were well fleshed out. Bundy’s character building is really just superb.
Now, you may be asking yourself why this glowing review didn’t land The Daemon Whisperer a well-deserved 5-star rating. It almost did. But I couldn’t overlook a few things that really irked my nerves, and therefore had to downgrade to 4.5 stars.
First, there were a lot of editorial mistakes in the copy I was given of this book. It speaks very highly of the beautiful story writing that I was able to ignore the spelling and grammar mistakes, because there were many. But hey, it happens to the best of us, right? Second, there was a name change about 2/3 of the way through, and I did not like it. At all. It threw off the consistency, and I did not think that the name fit the character as well as the original name, which I loved. I’m trying to be vague here, to not give anything away, but you’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it. Which you hopefully will, because the book is awesome, regardless of my nitpicks.
And my final complaint is that I get the feeling that the next book in the Liminals series WILL NOT BE ABOUT MERI. Growl. Have I not waxed poetic enough about how much I love Meri and company? These characters wormed their way into my heart, and there is room for so much more story there! I will be exceedingly sad if book two doesn’t at least catch us up on what my favorite characters are up to.
The Daemon Whisperer, despite its flaws, was a solidly enjoyable story filled with kickass characters and a vibrant backdrop of politics, daemons, sex, and intrigue. Sometimes all at the same time. In short, I loved it. A lot. Go buy it. I’ll wait.(less)
"Blood Bound" is a fun, action-packed read with a great story line. I really enjoyed this instalment. Mercy is c...moreOriginally posted on Book Chick City.
"Blood Bound" is a fun, action-packed read with a great story line. I really enjoyed this instalment. Mercy is creeping up my list of best urban fantasy heroines – she’s feisty but not cocky, she’s sassy but not annoying. I love the fact she’s a coyote and not the typical werewolf or vampire too.
There’s lots of twists and turns and lots of different plot lines that really kept me engaged. Mercy's vampire friend, Stefan, requires her help and draws her into a complex situation.
Stefan has gone missing along with Adam and Sam and Warren has been violently beaten and is in a really bad way. As usual Mercy finds herself in the thick of it and sets out to find them, along with vampire Andre, while others take care of Warren.
There’s also a newly-made vampire containing a demon on the lose and it’s causing deathly havoc. It murders several people and nobody can kill it. It’s having a negative effect on the werewolves, who are all becoming a bit more growly with it in their town.
I really feel as though I'm following Mercy through her life. We get to be with her when she’s eating breakfast, what she’s going to wear and while she's working on a car in her garage, as well as all the supernatural shenanigans she has to put up with. I thought this would become increasingly annoying, but in fact it’s becoming one of the aspects I love about this series. I really get a feel for who Mercy is and I’m feeling more connected with her with each book I read. I hope it continues.
The only aspect I would say that the author hasn’t got quite right yet is the romance. There are a few more Mercy thoughts in this instalment than there were in the first book and so I know a bit more how Mercy is feeling about Adam, but Sam is still a bit fuzzy. In fact in this book she’s kissed by three men! She’s a popular girl!
Of course it is always great to have scenes with Adam and Sam and I like them both a lot. I do feel as though I’m leaning towards Adam with respects to Mercy’s love interest as I know his liking her comes from his heart and not from the fact that Mercy can possibly produce live young, which is how Sam sees her. Although, things are clarified a little with regards to Sam and his feelings towards Mercy at the end of this book, which leaves me guessing.
"Blood Bound" is a fabulous second instalment in this series, which is fast becoming a favourite. Mercy is coming into her own and I'm loving her character more and more. I would definitely recommend starting this series if you haven't already! (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)
Eugenie Markham is half human and half faery and is still trying to balance her life of two worlds and two lovers. Now she is the Thorn Queen of Thorn...moreEugenie Markham is half human and half faery and is still trying to balance her life of two worlds and two lovers. Now she is the Thorn Queen of Thorn Land and life is getting more difficult as she is spending more time in the Otherworld. Her powers are getting stronger and more deadly. But is this what she wants?
Thorn Queen is the second book in the Dark Swan series and having just read the first, Storm Born, I was able to drift straight back into the story with ease. The writing is easy going and the story grabs you from the first few pages. As with the first book the worlds described are vivid and the characters are well rounded and likable. There is plenty of action, in the bedroom as well at out of it, as well as lots of suspense. Eugenie grows into her powers more, although she is still uncertain if she actually wants them.
Thorn Queen is a bit more serious than Storm Born, there are a few humourous touches but not many. It is slightly darker too, but this only adds more depth to the story and I found myself becoming further involved with Eugenie's character and subsequently liking her more and more.
Eugenie is a terrific heroine; feisty, strong and sexy too. I look forward to reading more about her as the series progresses. I definitely recommend this book. It's a really great read!(less)
What a brilliant debut novel. I loved it. The characters, the story, the world... There's lots of action too, wh...moreOriginally posted on Book Chick City .
What a brilliant debut novel. I loved it. The characters, the story, the world... There's lots of action too, which is suspenseful and engaging. I couldn't put this book down and read it in one sitting.
Charley is fantastic – I love her character. She’s sassy, brave and keeps getting herself into trouble. She’s smart, funny, witty, and I love her snark. Charley is a grim reaper who can see and talk to the dead. She’s also the light, the portal to the other side and helps them cross over.
But as being a grim reaper doesn't pay the bills, Charley also works as a private investigator and helps her uncle and the police with certain cases, using her ability to talk to ghosts. Of course most of the police thinks she's nuts, but her uncle believes in her and she's been right too many times for it to be fake.
I loved all the characters in this book, especially Charley’s best friend, Cookie, she is such a hoot. She’s also fun and loyal and I loved her to bits. It’s great to see an urban fantasy heroine have a loyal friend who she can talk to about anything. It’s refreshing since so many of our urban fantasy gals are loners. Don’t get me wrong, I love the loner heroine who’s gritty with a dark past etc, but I must admit it was a breath of fresh air to meet Charley.
There's also Angel, a cheeky boy-ghost who acts as her informant and Mr Wong, a chinese ghost who hovers in the corner of her living room and hasn't moved for years.
Although her uncle knows she can talk to the dead, he doesn't know the full extent of what Charley is. Charley hasn't told anyone about her Grim Reaper status, but she decides it's time to have a least one person in her life that knows. There is a great scene with Charley and Cookie when she reveals who and what she is, and why she keeps disappearing at short notice. I really enjoyed the fact that Charley was opening up to her best friend, but Cookie's acceptance of the whole scenario was a little bit quick. However, now that Cookie know's I'm wondering if she will get mixed up in Charley's world a lot more.
With such a sexy, funny and interesting character as Charley, there undoubtedly had to be a little romance involved. And there is, but not too much which is just how I like it. There are two love interests who are both totally hot but very different in their own way.
Reyes is a dark, sexy, mysterious entity who keeps entering Charley's dreams to seduce her, and materialising when she's in danger to protect her. He's a great character and there's so much we don't know about him - I'm very intrigued.
Then there's Garrett, a handsome policeman who's skeptical about her abilities and who doesn't believe in the supernatural. I didn't particularly like Garrett at first but he definitely grew on me. Their banter is great and I started to feel chemistry between them. He's as stubborn as hell, but a complete match for Charley's sarcastic nature. I'm looking forward to seeing how their relationship evolves.
A fresh new voice in the urban fantasy genre and a must read for any urban fantasy fan. I can’t wait for the next book in this series! (less)
“Fated” is a very clever and imaginative story. It’s quite different from what I usually read, and although I enjoyed this authors previous book, ‘Bre...more“Fated” is a very clever and imaginative story. It’s quite different from what I usually read, and although I enjoyed this authors previous book, ‘Breathers’, I thought “Fated” was much better in every respect.
Fate is disillusioned with his five and a half billion humans. He’s fed up with watching them make mistake after mistake and waste their lives, diverting from the path he has set out for each of them.
However, one day he meets Sara, a human and falls in love. Which means his broken rule #1 – never get involved with humans.
The story takes us through his relationship with Sara, which is touching and funny. I really liked Fate, also known as Fabio when on Earth. He’s endearing even when he scorns his human herd.
I thought the way the author integrated Destiny, Death, Gluttony, Sloth among others, and even God, (known as Jerry), into the story was brilliantly done. They all had personalities which went along with their name.
I loved the whole idea of how Jerry made the universe and how all the planets including Earth came to be, although it isn’t an original idea, it was skilfully composed which had me smiling.
“Fated” is a satirical novel, which did occasionally turn a bit preachy. Some passages where Fate was venting his anger about the stupidity of his billions of humans went on a bit too long. I was also saddened to see that all the humans were portrayed as pretty awful.
There was one particular passage where Fate was in a church and he could see the futures of all the people that were there – he listed them: adulterers, pedophiles, school drop-outs, unhappy housewives. Not one was happy or good or kind. Humanity is bad but surely not that bad!
However, because of what happens to him, which I won't go into as I don't want to give any spoilers, Fate does eventually realise that humans aren’t as bad as he first thought. He begins to understand what it is like to be human, he realises that by being immortal and able to transport at the speed of light didn’t really give him the empathy he needed to understand them. It was touching to see him grow and learn and ultimately see hope.
The ending I didn’t see coming for a long time, but I did eventually begin to have my suspicions. I was really hoping to be wrong, but I wasn’t, the ending is slightly disconcerting and I can’t say I liked it. But as I found with ‘Breathers’, Browne doesn’t write nicely wrapped up happy endings, which actually makes his novels deliciously unpredictable.
“Fated” is a unique and well written novel. It's also funny, quirky, warm-hearted and hugely entertaining, which made this book hard to put down. I would definitely recommend it! (less)
"Deadworld" is a rollercoaster of an urban fantasy book with characters that have so ma...moreReviewed by Gemma for www.BookChickCity.com - 9/10 on the blog.
"Deadworld" is a rollercoaster of an urban fantasy book with characters that have so many issues, even Freud would have been lost in helping them. It's one of those books that you realise you have been reading for nearly two hours, without any breaks and you're still dying to find out more!
Before starting "Deadworld", I was expecting the usual run of the mill paranormal romance, where the big brooding alpha male would end up saving and falling for the tough as nails female, who ends up as putty in his hands due to the usual plot devices that are thrown into the growing market of books in this genre. But by the end of the prologue, I was eating my words and scolding myself for judging the book by its cover, as this is most definitely an urban fantasy.
The first chapter is creepy and unnerving due to the fact you only have the name of a boy who has run away from home due to his parents fighting. By the end a sense of dread washes over the reader, only to see the brutal outcome in chapter two.
It's from here we are introduced to the main characters.
Jackie Rutlidge, who the series is named after, is an FBI agent, who to be honest has so many issues ranging from a troubled past, to a serious drinking problem that results in her making very dubious choices, in both bed partners and dealing with a troublesome work colleague. She isn’t your typical lead female and I found myself really feeling pity for her. She put me in mind of Salander from “The Girl…” Trilogy by Steig Larson. In fact both Jackie and Salander could be long lost sisters due to how much emotion baggage they both carry.
The only difference is that Jackie has the emotional support of her partner and best friend Laurel, a medium who can sense the dead. She too has her own personal demons that come to the surface through the progression of the story. Laurel is Jackie’s moral compass and she tries her best to keep Jackie grounded. For a secondary character, Laurel is very well developed and you end up sympathising with the fact that she is fighting a number of feelings in order to keep Jackie as her friend. What I thought was a really brave move by the author, was having Laurel coming out as a lesbian in a way which is both ballsy and heart wrenching.
The awkwardness between both characters is neither forced nor is it brushed under the carpet. For the rest of the book we see how this revelation has changed their friendship. An excellent example of this is the introduction of a love interest for Laurel, in the shape of the male leads partner Shelby.
Out of all the characters, Shelby seemed the most out of place for me. Sure she is strong and tough, much like Jackie, but at times she seemed to be there only for convenience and added little to the plot. I think the author was trying to make her the equivalent to Nick, or hero, as Laurel was to Jackie. Sometimes it was a hit, sometimes a miss, though it didn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the book.
On the subject of Nick, I loved his character. You can tell that he is at the end of his rope, ready to throw it all in and give the villain of the story what he wants if it will end the guilt he feels over the casualties that have resulted in their 100 year cat and mouse game. He is a guarded and distant character, though when I found out why he was this way, it really brought a tear to my eye.
The plot is tightly bound and I never found myself waning over it. The tension is wracked up as we realise that the villain is speeding up his timetable and we witness his next victims demise. One victim had me really going “OH MY GOD!” only due to the fact that I didn’t see it coming at all.
By the end of the book, you have been put through the wringer. There are casualties and the showdown at the end leaves our characters having to deal with some life changing results. You don’t feel that it will be concluded in the next book. In fact I didn’t even know that it was part of a series till I checked Amazon. NOTE:- DO NOT READ THE SYNOPSIS FOR BOOK TWO AS IT HAS A MAJOR SPOILER FOR THIS BOOK!
I must mention that there is the beginning of a romance between both Nick and Jackie, but due to the events in the book it doesn’t progress very far. I think this may be the slow building relationship that will develop over the next few books, but both Nick and Jackie will have to overcome their own pasts before they can truly get together. Think of Castle and Beckett (Castle the TV show is even mentioned in the book) or Booth and Brennan from Bones.
On a final note, I didn’t know that the author was male. This shouldn’t be an issue, but what surprised me was how he managed to capture the female psyche so well. Duncan is now on my must read list and I have ordered both book 2 and 3, as well as the origin story of Nick called 'Blood Justice'.
"Deadworld" was a surpise hit for me due to the fantastic plotlines, complex characters and edge of your seat tension. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wants a bit of a change from the usual urban fantasy, or fans of Jim Butcher and M. L. N. Hanover (The Black Suns Daughter series). For a first book in a series it is one of the best I have read. (less)
This is the first in the new Dark Swan series by Richelle Mead, author of the incredibly successful Vampire Academy and Succubus novels.
Eugenie Markh...moreThis is the first in the new Dark Swan series by Richelle Mead, author of the incredibly successful Vampire Academy and Succubus novels.
Eugenie Markham (aka Odile) is a head-strong and independent character who is instantly likable. The opening few pages quickly sucked me into Eugenie's life as a Shaman with humour and combat as she fights to banish a spirit from a haunted running shoe! This book is full of action and for the most part the plot is fast-paced and when one fight ends another one begins or passion ensues with one or the other of her lovers. The portrayal of the different worlds she travels in and out of are vivid and realistic.
Her love interests: Kiyo, a sexy shapeshifter and Dorian, a bondage-loving Fairy King, are well written with love scenes giving just enough detail to tantalise without being too explicit. The only criticism I have is that the romance between Eugenie and Kiro occured too quickly. It would have been nice to get to know Eugenie first without her being in a relationship so soon in the story. The affair with Dorian, however, flourished at a much slower pace and when they eventually got together it was more satisfying.
This is urban fantasy at it's best. Strong female lead, magical lands, sexy and a plot that twists and turns until the very end, leaving you longing for more. I enjoyed this book immensely and I am really looking forward to reading more. A great start to a new series. Highly recommend it!
“Grave Witch” is an amazing first book to a series. I loved all the characters, the world-building and wri...moreOriginally reviewed on www.BookChickCity.com
“Grave Witch” is an amazing first book to a series. I loved all the characters, the world-building and writing style. It was my kind of book and I really enjoyed it.
Alex Craft is a witch who uses ‘grave sight’ to speak to the dead and hover between the corporeal world and the world of the dead. She’s headstrong, sassy, interesting and very independent. She doesn’t get on well with her father, who absolutely hates that she uses magic, and a sister who looks like she’s getting into something that’s way over her head and asks Alex for help. Thus creating a fast-paced mystery aspect to the novel that combined brilliantly with Alex’s personal life.
The guys in her life (and potential love interests) are also great… and very hot! The first is Death, delicious and mysterious, who pops in and out of her life unannounced, especially when she’s in trouble, and Falin Andrews, a detective who’s working on a case she’s involved with. What I love about this relationship is its love/hate aspect – my favourite kind
Death I liked pretty much instantly, but Falin was a slow burner. But after many enjoyable head-butting sessions with Alex, Falin grew on me, and I was very happy when their frustration with each other moved to the bedroom!
The plot is fairly intricate Alex dealing with dark magic and murder, but Price’s writing flows effortlessly. This is the kind of writing style I love. It’s descriptive, full of depth and warmth, easy to visualise and very easy to read.
Although “Grave Witch” doesn’t end on much of a cliffhanger, there are a few little twists, and certainly leaves you with the need to grab a copy of ‘Grave Dance‘ immediately.
A fantastic start to a new urban fantasy series – great writing, great characters, great world-building. What more could you possibly want?(less)
*Warning - while this review contains no spoilers for this book, it does for the first book in the series*
I really enjoyed 'Hex Hall', the first book in this series, so was really looking forward to 'Raising Demons', known as 'Demonglass' in the US. (On a personal note I'm curious as to why the two different titles for the UK and US?). The story pretty much picks up not far along from where the first one left us. Sophie is still reeling from her discovery that she is not in fact a witch, but a demon and the boy she had desperately fallen for was in fact a spy for an agency that are intent on killing her.
The setting of the book moves to the UK as Sophie finally meets and goes to stay with her powerful father, striking a deal to take best friend Jenna with her. Being English, I always find different countries/author's perceptions of what life is like here interesting, thankfully other than a few large words added to Sophie's father's vocabulary the book didn't slip into any awful clichés. And I loved the setting of the large, beautiful, British mansion.
On her arrival Sophie meets Daisy and Nick and immediately knows that they are demons too. But demons can only be made and not born, and the spell to make one is meant to have been lost years ago, which leaves many concerning questions.
As the story is such an easy read you could easily dismiss it as perhaps slightly and predictable. But it really isn't. There were a couple of plot turns that I did not see coming in the slightest. It was well written and perfectly thrilling.
Jenna had to be one of my favourite characters of the story, I actually would have loved to see more of her. How can you not love a vampire with an obsession for all things pink? Do you think if I ask nicely enough she might get a spin off?
I thoroughly enjoyed 'Hex Hall' for its wit, and while this book is definitely still funny, Sophie has some fab lines, the tone itself is darker and more intense in 'Raising Demons'. The pace is fast and it's an addictive read.
There seems to be a real trend in young adult books for love triangles. I know we could blame 'Twilight', but I loved it, so I shall refrain. And while we didn't see one in 'Hex Hall' this changed in 'Raising Demons'. I actually think that the story would have been better without one. The forbidden love angst was plenty to keep my on the edge of my seat, without throwing in another potential love interest. But while it made me frown a little, it didn't detract from my enjoyment.
The book had a bit of a killer ending, if you loathe cliffhangers, you might want to wait until book three is released.
A fab second instalment to the series, which I personally think was slightly better than the first. But perhaps because I enjoyed the slightly more sinister tone. I can't wait to see where the next book takes us. (less)