It really says something about an author when she can deliver a 10-book series and keep the story exciting. Each Chicagoland Vamp book is packed with...moreIt really says something about an author when she can deliver a 10-book series and keep the story exciting. Each Chicagoland Vamp book is packed with action, mystery, and romance without becoming carbon-copies of each other. These books have an edge of individuality to set each one apart, and Blood Games is no exception. The latest installment in the series, Blood Games picks up after Ethan has challenge the GP for control. While the Cadogan House vamps wait for the GP leader Darius to make a move, Chicago finds itself with another murderer on its streets. The first victim points to vampires, but as the crimes continue, it's clear that something else is at work. Merit and Ethan not only have to track down the murderer but also deal with the rise in political troubles surrounding the GP and Ethan's challenge.
Blood Games contained two major plot lines, the GP arc from the previous book and a new mystery arc. I love how Neill interwove the two so seamlessly. For fans of the series, you know how a day in the life of Merit goes, and it's never complete with a little drama and a touch of death. The GP hasn't said a word about Ethan's challenge and he and Merit aren't about to wait around. Ethan wants to move the action to the GP head Darius, but the situation changes when they find Darius in Chicago, acting nothing like his usual self. They have to find Darius and figure out what's wrong with him before someone else does. At the same time, the son of a good friend of Merit's grandfather is murdered and put out on display for the public. What initially appears to be vampire work soon turns into a hunt for the magically inclined. Together, these two arcs keep Merit hopping around the city, consulting at crime scenes and going out on investigative field trips to track down the murderer. The plot never lacked for action or tension and kept me hooked with the familiar "what's going to happen next?" feeling.
Now since Blood Games is #10 in the series, most readers already know the characters pretty well. Merit, as always, has enough sass for the entire book -- and I love it! Between her "eye-searing neon orange" shoes and her love of bacon (because clearly that's the perfect answer to what a vamp should live for), you can't help but like her. She's equal parts kickass Sentinel and loving girlfriend, caring for Ethan when he needs it and pushing his buttons when he really needs it.
Merit's BFF Mallory makes an appearance for a decent amount of this book, which was exciting. Despite the dark part between them after Mallory lost control of her magic, the two are on the mends and returning to their former wonder-team duo. And with Mallory comes Catcher. He might give Merit a run for her money when it comes to sarcasm, but you don't see him as much so it's hard to tell. But Mal's man candy isn't just a Lifetime movie junkie. He bakes. In an apron. With knitting cats on it. Can I get a recipe for those madeleines?
Finally, for the prime man candy candidate: Ethan. Not only is this Master vamp being threatened and blackmailed, he's running a house full of vamps, dating Merit (enough said), and challenging the GP. Way to go! In typical Ethan fashion, he's intense, arrogant, confident enough to be annoying to everyone around him, and in love. It makes for a pretty potent combination. His romance with Merit continues in a semi-steady fashion as they're both plagued with the troubles of the vamp community, Chicago, and Ethan's past. Despite it all, they pull through, as always. I think Ethan and Merit are one of my favorite paranormal couples. Unlike many series, there's no love triangle dragged out across 6 books. They're not separated every time the author needs a plot twist. Instead, they work together, Master and Sentinel, boyfriend and girlfriend, to get through whatever comes their way and still come out strong.
So the romance was good, the plot was good, but were there any issues?
No book is perfect, and while I've never found inconsistencies with Neill's books before, this held a couple. Both centered around a lack of detail. A missing sentence or two that threw me off while reading. The scene would start with a description and bounce to the characters interacting and mentioning those descriptions, but they'd focus on something and I'd look back and be like, "Wait, when did they mention glittery pink weapons?" It happened later on as well with a scene regarding a murder victim's gender that Merit just "knew" despite nothing being said. Other than that, however, I can't fault the rest of the book for anything.
I won't say that the Chicagoland Vampires is my favorite paranormal series but I still love the books. They're fun books that have a little of everything in them. There is some adult content and language, so I don't recommend the books to younger readers, but to everyone else, go to your local bookstore and pick these books up. And if you're just a Novitiate Chicagoland reader, check out Some Girls Bite, book 1 in the series.
Well I'll be damned...this book sucked me in like a black hole. Much like the first book, the beginning took some time to get through. I honestly coul...moreWell I'll be damned...this book sucked me in like a black hole. Much like the first book, the beginning took some time to get through. I honestly could've done without the first few chapters altogether, as well as those from Jesse's point of view. Once I got past that, I never put it down. Abe drowned me in the world of Lora and Armand (who is way better than Jesse, in my opinion). The Deepest Night was a fantastic sequel to The Sweetest Dark (review) and left me wanting more. To quote myself from the night I finished it:
We have our dragon girl Lora, back once again but now at the end of the school year. Faced with being sent to who-knows-where for the summer and not being able to return to Iverson, Lora only has a few ideas until rich-boy Armand makes the decision for her. Spending a summer with Armand? How dreadful! I was definitely excited that we got to see more of the duke's son in this book, and even some scenes from his viewpoint. Lora and Armand have chemistry from the start, something which Lora doesn't want to admit to right away. I liked that her new relationship was more developed. She took the time to get to know Armand despite their initial draw to each other and his obvious infatuation as compared the love-at-first-sight (or perhaps "song" would be more accurate) with Jesse.
The best part of this book? Armand! Ok, that's not completely true but from a character-fandom standpoint, I've been Team Armand since the first book and was happy to see him (much) more in this book. He's not a spoiled brat like your other typical dukes' sons. He cares for Lora, more than she knows, and isn't afraid to do what it takes to protect her. He's finally found someone to be with and isn't lonely--I was so happy for him, regardless of their romance being obvious from the last book. Instead of those chapters from Jesse's point of view, I would've liked to see more from Armand's for sure.
I found the writing in The Deepest Night was much better too. As I said, I enjoyed reading this book over the first. I felt like it flowed better and not only was the plot action-packed and fast-paced, you learned more about the characters in a way that the first book didn't cover. There were several questions I asked myself when I finished that I hope will be cleared up in the third installment of the series (which this book definitely sets up). I'm definitely interested in learning more about the drakons and their history as some strange changes happen during Lora and Armand's trip across Europe.
If you weren't a big fan of the first book, don't despair! The sequel, unlike how it usually goes, is better! Fans of young adult, fantasy, and romance will love this continuation of Lora's story as one of the last drakons. The Deepest Night adds more action and adventure to her tale and, despite the slow start, is worth sticking with through those first couple chapters. I can't wait to read book three!(less)
After reading The Copper Witch (book 1 of the Broken Line series), I was curious where Adela would go next. Instead, I found that The Porcelain Child...moreAfter reading The Copper Witch (book 1 of the Broken Line series), I was curious where Adela would go next. Instead, I found that The Porcelain Child (book 2) is the story of Adela's daughter, Mary. While a tad disappointed with the change, I decided to go in with an open mind, expecting similar aspects from book one in the sequel. The Porcelain Child is Mary's story of her entrance into a world of politics and schemes between the royalists and current parliament, with her acting as the figurehead queen of a rebellion. Manipulated on all sides, Mary doesn't know what to do and is forced to go along with what the people want instead of what she wants. As the daughter of the (infamous) Adela Tilden, she's accepted her role as a pawn, but don't think that stops her from keeping a head on her shoulders.
Now I mainly read romances, and I'm not ashamed to admit that, but I wouldn't classify The Porcelain Child as a romance by any means. There's a little wooing by a certain Mr. Rich Webb, and the sweet affection from Lord Kedington (William), but mostly politics. Lots of politics. I can't fault Dall's writing as her scenes flowed seamlessly, as did the story, but I just couldn't get into it. I finished Porcelain quickly (in a few hours, roughly) but I'm not excited to read the next book, nor do I care much for the characters or what happens to them next. I never became invested in them, which may be due to the fact that the point of view constantly shifted from one character to the next. While the story focused on a smaller group within the novel cast, there was so much going on that I never grew to love any of the characters. I felt dislike for Rich, liked Will, and could deal with Mary, but I took nothing away from the story upon finishing. No memories from getting caught up in the world. Nothing. Which is a shame, really.
Part of my neutral position on this book may also stem from the issues I had with the formatting. The version I received was hard to read and the sentences broken up at odd places, and almost every line at that. While it may only be my version, it made reading difficult and a challenge.
While the characters didn't hit par with me, the plot was fast-paced and rich with intrigue. Mary never had a moment of piece. Thanks to her mother, who was off working on her own agenda across the sea, Mary ended up being the target of the parliament. The poor girl wanted nothing more than peace and quiet -- as if that was possible for Adela's daughter. If there's one thing I did feel for the Porcelain protagonist, it was pity. Her mother essentially abandoned her to cause trouble elsewhere. That's sad on its own. Then she's taken this place and that because the country is splitting itself in two over how the government should be organized, and she's right in the middle of it all. It's a tough life. It's one of the few things that kept me reading, to see if life got better for Lady Mary.
So don't get me wrong, Porcelain was a decent read, but I didn't feel the same reader "spark" as I did with The Copper Witch. I was interested to read, however, that Dall has written a novella to fall between these books telling the tale of Adela and Antony as they're off in the world. As far as sequels go, I don't think The Porcelain Child really carried the same energy from book one but it certainly did not fail the series. If you enjoyed The Copper Witch, check this book out and maybe it'll surprise you.(less)