I’m always fascinated by the many variations of vampires out there in the literature. In Red-Headed Stepchild, vampires are descendants of an illicit...moreI’m always fascinated by the many variations of vampires out there in the literature. In Red-Headed Stepchild, vampires are descendants of an illicit union between Cain and Lilith. Most people are familiar with Cain, but let’s take a few minutes to talk about Lilith, who is one scary lady in the folklore. Lilith was known as a night demon. When infants died in their sleep, Lilith was to blame. She appears in a lot of the literature written at the time of the Bible. When Jaye Wells used Lilith as an explanation for the vampire race, I thought it was a very clever idea. Anyhow, back to our book…
The vampires in Red-Headed Stepchild had red hair as their mark of Cain. The darker the red, the older the vampire. Our heroine Sabina Kane had red and black hair signifying her mixed heritage: she is half vampire and half mage.
This book is a little heavy on the politics. Basically, the vampires do not get along with the mages. Being half vampire and half mage is not the ideal condition since interracial relations were not approved. Sabina is not allowed to serve in the Dominae’s Temple because of her mixed heritage. This is another cool aspect of the book where the author adds a religious dimension to vampirism.
I loved Sabina’s character. She is one likable, kickass heroine and a pretty effective assassin, too. Part of what makes this book so enjoyable is the nice touches of humor. What’s the password to the hip vampire club Selphucher? Count Chocula. Yup, got to laugh at that one.
There are other comedic moments in the book. Gighul the demon is sent to assassinate Sabina but ends up inadvertently as her minion. Unable to return home, he hangs out at her apartment watching Jerry Springer and ordering all sorts of stuff from the Home Shopping Network.
Sabina learns a lot about herself in this book and a few family secrets are revealed. I’m looking forward to reading The Mage in Black soon.
Imagine a world where comic book heroes walk amongst us fighting the age old battle of good vs. evil. In The Taste of Night, the battle is between the...moreImagine a world where comic book heroes walk amongst us fighting the age old battle of good vs. evil. In The Taste of Night, the battle is between the Light and Shadow forces, each divided into a corresponding sign of the Zodiac. Their actions are chronicled by two comic book writers who publish manuals for both the Light and the Shadow sides of the Zodiac.
Set in Las Vegas, the author built a world that is not out of the realm of possibility. Las Vegas provides a rich and colorful background, full of sounds, lights, and action. Also a comic book hero would probably not stand out in Vegas.
This book picks up right where the last one ended. Our heroine, Joanna Archer is masquerading as her dead sister Olivia Archer. (I shall now refer to Joanna as OJ). OJ is trying to reconcile her mixed heritage as both Shadow and Light. The Shadow leader wants OJ to join their side. The Light side does not really trust OJ, and do not tell her much. OJ also has a need for revenge. She is after her rapist Joaquim, a most slimy character. OJ becomes a bit of a loose canon, and both sides have difficulty with her.
Meanwhile, the Shadow side has released a plague on Las Vegas and people are dropping like flies. You’ve got to hand it to those Shadow agents, that was a very creative plague dispersal system.
OJ’s relationship with her step-father was often stormy when she was Joanna. As OJ, she shares a quiet father/daughter moment reminiscing about Joanna. I found it amazing that he could not tell that Olivia was really Joanna.
When OJ finally meets the Tulpa (head of Las Vegas’ Evil Central and her real father), I was surprised by the “loving” father role he took on. The Tulpa’s goal has always been to get OJ to join his side, and his methods were surprisingly pleasant. I loved the descriptions of the Tulpa. The author really has an interesting sense of humor.
There were a few things that bugged me. The Light side behaved a little unrealistically for me. They followed rules of engagement, did not cheat, and just acted a little too purely for my tastes. They did not trust OJ, nor did they tell her the full extent of her powers. OJ was also the only agent able to read both Light and Shadow manuals. Why not use that to your advantage? I found the leader of the Light side to be a wuss. I felt like he had no business being leader.
I enjoyed this book way more than the first. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to read it. (Thanks, Steph!) The action was literally non-stop. And, whoa! There were some really good bombshells revealed. I can’t wait to read the next book to find out what happened.
A really fun read! I barely finished the first chapter when I went online and quickly ordered the next 2 books in the series.
There is so much to like about Kevin Hearne’s book Hounded, book 1 of the Iron Druid Chronicles. Take a look at the cover. Nice. Read the blurb on the back cover. Amusing. Hounded is the story of Atticus O’Sullivan, a 2100 year old Druid living as a 21 year old in Arizona. Atticus is in possession of a magical sword Fragarach, The Answer. A whole slew of characters want the sword; the very imposing and scary Aenghus Og at the head of the line.
The narrative voice is wonderful. Told from Atticus’ point of view, the main character is very likeable and witty. Atticus has some distinct observations of modern society and a great sense of humor. Most of the books I’ve encountered in the Urban Fantasy genre so far have been written by women and have a woman’s point of view that this book was a refreshing change.
The lore is well researched and detailed. The magic and spells feel authentic. Each supernatural creature (and there are many) seems to come alive. I liked how the author melded the mythologies and magic of the fae and druid together and juxtaposes them with current cultural references.
For dog lovers, there’s Oberon, the talking Irish wolfhound. Oberon is a loyal companion with a thing for French poodles. Oberon has a almost a child-like view of the world and is totally lovable. Who can dislike a talking dog that quotes Cartman from Southpark?
Eccentric characters abound in this book. Atticus’ neighbor, the widow is a hoot! She has no problem keeping bodies buried in her backyard. Atticus entertains powerful goddesses and sleeps with them too. His lawyers are a vampire and a werewolf.
What a great start to a series. I can’t wait to read the next book Hexed! (less)
Eerie, haunting, and definitely spooky, The Restorer is unlike any ghost story I’ve read before. The Restorer is part ghost story, part murde...more4.5 stars
Eerie, haunting, and definitely spooky, The Restorer is unlike any ghost story I’ve read before. The Restorer is part ghost story, part murder mystery. There’s a touch of voodoo and witchcraft in it along with a mysterious secret order. Add in a pretty eccentric cast of characters and there you have it – a compelling read.
Amelia Gray sees dead people. She’s seen them for most of her life. Amelia follows a strict set of rules to help her cope with her ability so that no ghost will attach to her and drain away her energy.
Amelia’s chosen occupation is rather unusual. She cleans up old abandoned cemeteries. Amelia is well known in her field and blogs about her work. She is known as “The Graveyard Queen” by her fans. Her work also attracts the attention of the Charleston Police Department and she is hired on as a consultant.
John Devlin of the Charleston Police Department is Amelia’s love interest. Devlin is haunted by two ghosts and Amelia is torn between breaking her strict rules and falling for Devlin. Devlin has some sort of effect upon Amelia and she is physically drained after spending time with him.
There is so much to love about this book. The writing style is lovely, evoking images of the steamy South. The main characters were surrounded with a quirky ensemble of secondary characters that ranged from humorous to dark and downright evil. The main character was so different from the usual heroines in this genre. She was practical and efficient rather than kick ass. Devlin provided strong support, yet he had his own past to deal with.
I loved this book and I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, The Kingdom.
Hunted by the Others is a solid start to Jess Haines’ H&W Investigations series.
Shiarra (Shia) Waynest is a private investigator. She ha...more3.5 stars
Hunted by the Others is a solid start to Jess Haines’ H&W Investigations series.
Shiarra (Shia) Waynest is a private investigator. She has avoided taking on cases for the Others, mainly because they terrify her. However, bills must be paid and Shia is hired by The Circle to find a small object thought to be in the hands of the local vampire master Alec Royce.
The author’s incorporation of the supernatural world with the human world was well done. In this book, The Others – vampires, werewolves, and magi – came out into the open on 9/11, using their enhanced senses to find survivors and their cash reserves to jumpstart the economy. Their patriotism allowed them to gain a sort of acceptance into human society.
I chuckled when the vampires and werewolves were included under the Americans with Disabilities Act for daylight impairment and monthly furriness. I found it funny that most of the Others’ interactions with humans required some sort of legal document. For example, if a human wanted to consort with a vampire or werewolf, they were required to sign a contract to avoid wrongful death suits. Clever.
I had a little trouble relating to Shia’s character at first. I found her a little impulsive and seriously lacking self-preservation skills. People needed to constantly point out that she wasn’t safe at home, at work, at friends’ homes, or at her family’s home. She is also a little wishy-washy relationship-wise, telling off her ex-boyfriend in one breath, and then having second thoughts about the breakup a little later.
Shia is in her glory the moment Arnold gets her properly outfitted to meet the vampire. She puts on the Hunter’s belt and suddenly I like this Shia much better. The Hunter’s belt is a cool item – it includes a sentient being that speaks to Shia. I hope we get to see more of it in the next books.
I loved the secondary characters. Arnold was a great addition as a geeky magi. He had the right mix of arrogance, sarcasm, and drama queen while being exceptionally knowledgeable in both magic and computers. Chaz played the extremely handsome ex-boyfriend well. As an added bonus, his status as an Alpha was very useful to Shia. I was intrigued by Royce and I hope to see him in the next books.
I’m looking forward to reading Taken by the Others (book 2) and Deceived by the Others (book 3).
Great fun! Automatons, bullet-proof corsets, explosions, and more!
Eliza Braun loves her weapons and her dynamite. Wellington Books prefers to hide awa...moreGreat fun! Automatons, bullet-proof corsets, explosions, and more!
Eliza Braun loves her weapons and her dynamite. Wellington Books prefers to hide away in his basement offices at the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. When these two characters are forced to work together, sparks fly – literally.
Phoenix rising is the first book in Philippa Ballantine’s and Tee Morris’ Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. This is steampunk done right, down to every last detail. Set in Victorian London, Phoenix Rising has all the requisite clockwork, brass, and steam contraptions.
The integration of the steampunk elements into the world and the narrative is extremely well done. This book has some of the most interesting steampunk contraptions out there. I was especially intrigued by Book’s Analytical Engine, a machine used by Books to catalogue the many cases and items archived in the basement. This machine was a fascinating bit of technology, running on pulleys and gears. It was also able to function as a primitive GPS device as well. There was even a barmaid contraption, able to serve drinks. And what steampunk would be complete without automatons and mechamen? These automatons even served dinner!
Located inside an import/export company, The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences is a top secret organization that investigates strange cases, a sort of Victorian spy agency. There’s even a group of Clankertons who work for Research and Design, reminding me a little of James Bond’s Q.
Books and Eliza were delightful together. Books, the “…dashing hero of history” was the Chief Archivist at the Ministry. Books was very serious about his work – you could call him fastidious. Around women, Books was extremely shy and Eliza’s brashness just flabbergasted him. Eliza was a loose cannon, literally preferring to shoot first and ask questions later. Eliza seemed to enjoy shaking up Book’s world at first. Eliza wanted Books to leave his office and go out in the field and enjoy his life. The banter and dialogue between these two characters was hilarious. At times, they even behaved like a married couple.
I enjoyed Eliza’s character. Her perspective of the world made me laugh. Upon attending a long and boring opera she remarked that it would be greatly improved with dynamite. Eliza was a fierce fighter, a crack shot, and generally someone you would want on your side. I also loved the fact that she was fiercely independent. While Eliza comes across as tough and irreverent, she also has a softer side. Eliza has a crack team of informants called The Ministry Seven. The Seven are a group of street urchins that she has taken under her wing.
Phoenix Rising is one of my favorite reads so far this year. The sequel The Janus Affair will be out May 29. If you’ve been hesitant to read a steampunk book, this is a great start. The book is action packed with edge of your seat excitement.
“Pushing manners to teeter on the precipice was where she found an equal euphoria to that of demolitions and covert operations, and Wellington sometimes resembled a pom caricature – full of fuss and feathers. Watching him squirm did blunt the serrated edge of her punishment slightly.”
“My ample bosom broke my fall.” She broke out into a cackle as she threw her arms around Book’s neck. “And this- “she chortled, rapping her knuckles against her corset. Standard issue for female agents. “It’s bulletproof.”
“You know, if I didn’t know any better, I would swear we were actually married.” “I can’t think of anything more off-putting.” Wellington placed his hand in the small of her back as he continued, “than being married to a walking armoury. You, my dear Miss Braun, are a living, breathing advocate for bachelorism.”
Note: The authors have a great website with lots of information about the series and steampunk.
The Pinterest site has great pictures of all things steampunk.
A fresh take on zombies. No eating of brains occurs in this book.
My first impressions of this book were that it was different from most of the urban...moreA fresh take on zombies. No eating of brains occurs in this book.
My first impressions of this book were that it was different from most of the urban fantasy books I’ve read. Different, in a good way. Working Stiff is a completely new take on zombies, a far more sinister take than the usual fare.
The premise seems straight out of those medical conspiracy thrillers with Big Pharma as the evil bad guys. Paranoid, secretive characters and evil henchmen round out the cast.
A large pharmaceutical company inadvertently develops a drug that reanimates corpses. Returne must be administered daily or the person decomposes rapidly. And yes, the drug is really expensive.
The book starts off with our heroine Bryn Davis’ first day of work at her new job at a funeral home. Bryn experiences the absolute worst first day of work ever and ends up dead…and revived. Apparently the funeral home was a black market point of sale for the drug. Bryn is put to work to find the source.
So begins an exciting, action packed thriller. Bryn works with the James Bond-like Joe Fidelis, husband and father of three and contractor to Patrick McCallister. Patrick is the head of security for Pharmadene, the drug company.
It was hard to connect with Bryn. She seemed a little stilted and mechanical. Perhaps it was her recent military exposure in Iraq, I’m not sure. I did enjoy Joe and Patrick as her handlers. Patrick had a rather interesting background that involved a “stately Wayne Manor” complete with an Alfred-like character, Liam. I loved Manny and Pansy and I wish that they had more time in the story.
If you are looking for something different for your zombie reading pleasure, try Working Stiff.
This is book 1 of the series. The expected publication date of book 2 Two Weeks’ Notice is August 7, 2012. I can’t wait!
I like steampunk. I’m always fascinated by the creativity and usefulness of all those wacky stea...moreThat was different.
Matics, Witches, and Weres, oh my!
I like steampunk. I’m always fascinated by the creativity and usefulness of all those wacky steam powered contraptions and gadgets. I’m not too keen on Westerns. I usually don’t seek out that genre, unless there is a sexy cowboy involved. But I digress.
This is a hard book for me to review. I enjoyed it immensely once I got into it, but I recognize that it may not be for everyone. Dead Iron was different from the other books in its genre – no corsets and no airships. At times it felt like I was watching an old Western movie or perhaps an episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle – I kept seeing the bad guy as Snidely Whiplash. But there are also elements of magic, The Strange, a witch, and a werewolf – things I did not expect to see in this book.
There’s a lot going on in this book and I often wondered how the author would put everything together. The author manages to capture the Wild West feel and infuse it with magic and steam powered matics.
The characters fascinated me. I loved Cedar Hunt, the bounty hunter from out East. Cedar is cursed and becomes a werewolf at the full moon. The Madder brothers were quite mysterious. I’m still not sure what they are exactly, except that they want a favor from a few characters. The women in this book are strong, independent and unconventional. Mae Linson was a witch. Rose Small had dreams of becoming a deviser and creating contraptions of her own.
Shard Lefel was an oily character, pure evil. His quest to return home at any cost resulted in the recurring death of Mae’s husband Jeb. Not sure if Jeb was a zombie or what he was exactly, I just felt bad for the man. Shard’s matic creations were frightening creatures powered by steam and other scary things. Shard’s henchman was just as frightening.
This is the first book in Devon Monk’s The Age of Steam series. The next book Tin Swift is scheduled for publication in July 2012. I’m looking forward to reading it when it comes out.
A little disclaimer here – I am not a fan of zombie books. I do not actively seek them out. I’m squeamish. I tend to shy away from undead cre...more4.5 stars
A little disclaimer here – I am not a fan of zombie books. I do not actively seek them out. I’m squeamish. I tend to shy away from undead creatures that are afflicted with rotting body parts. (Why is it that their teeth seem to never fall out?) Zombies are not, and never could be, as seductive as vampires. Zombies just don’t have the muscular physique of the average were. Zombies just aren’t attractive – and definitely not sexy.
Imagine my surprise when I decided that I liked this book. Yes, it does have that Eww!!! Factor, but I could live with that. The story drew me in.
Aftertime takes place in California some time after wars, bioterrorism, plagues, nuclear bombs and other nastiness. The author doesn’t really go into too much detail aside from the world’s food sources were destroyed by bioterrorism. The population needed to eat something so a plant called Kaysev was developed. The unfortunate souls who ate the blue Kaysev plant soon became infected with some sort of Zombism and those zombies are now called Beaters. They run around all over the place terrorizing the humans that remain.
Government is gone. Lawlessness gives rise to all sorts of fringe groups and new types of societies. You have your survivalists, the loners that refuse to leave their highly fortified homes. The Rebuilders are a scary militia group. The Resistance is a secretive group made up of regular people who want to live in peace. There is also a quasi-religious cult with some pretty freaky customs.
I liked the main characters, Cass and Smoke. Both characters are flawed, bringing a lot of baggage from their lives before. Cass was a real survivor. Her background is a little sad. Abused as a teen, she suffered from addiction problems which resulted in the loss of custody of her child. Throughout the entire book, Cass remained focused on reuniting with her daughter. In her previous life, Cass was an outsider – she had few friends. I was surprised how easily she made friends and supporters in the aftertime.
Smoke’s character was a little more mysterious. I loved how he took Cass under his wing, protecting her on her quest to find Ruthie. He is a natural leader. I hope that we get to learn more about him in the next book.
One of the things that struck me about this book is its message of hope. Even though the situation seemed dire, there were signs of hope – a small sequoia seedling showing that the earth was healing itself. Some people were developing immunity to the zombie infection, another sign of hope.
The series continues with a novella – Survivors and the next book Rebirth.
An enjoyable read, great characters, and an interesting plot. I like the arrogance of Jace and the sensitivity of Simon. Magnus is also a very enterta...moreAn enjoyable read, great characters, and an interesting plot. I like the arrogance of Jace and the sensitivity of Simon. Magnus is also a very entertaining character.(less)