This is a compilation of short stories originally written by Kelley Armstrong as a thank y...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
This is a compilation of short stories originally written by Kelley Armstrong as a thank you to fans on her website, which has now been put together as a book with all proceeds going to charity.
It contains eight short stories that complement her 'Women of the Otherworld' series. I actually really enjoyed this as it picked up on stories with some of my favourite characters, namely Elena and Clay, Eve and Kristoff and Paige and Lucas.
The first story Rebirth is the shortest of them all and tells us how Aaron became a vampire and met Cassandra. There's not much to say other than it gives a quick insight into the decisions vampires need to make in order survive.
Bewitched introduces us to a young and somewhat naive Eve Levine, a black witch who wants to make a place for herself and trying futilely to keep out of trouble. Then she meets sorcerer and heir to the Cabal, black magic empire Kristoff Nast. As natural enemies their love story is believable and made me want to go back and read Eve's book 'Haunted'.
Logan was abandoned by his mutt father and has no idea of his werwolf heritage, until he gets a letter with nothing more than a name and address on it. In Birthright he discovers that his future is not going to be what he expected it to be. Logan is a fun character and it's great to see the dynamics between him and Clay who has to work at accepting him into the pack.
Beginnings has to be favourite story of the book. Perhaps because 'Bitten' and 'Stolen' are my favourite books, but I adored finding out how Elena and Clay first met and fell in love. It was so endearing to watch the surly, human hating Clay and the young and a lot more vulnerable than we're used to seeing her Elena. I didn't want to put the book down during this story.
The next couple of stories are only a few pages long. Expectations is quick and fun and shows us how Eve & Lucas first met, and Ghosts takes place after the novel 'Bitten' and is written from pack Alpha Jeremy's point of view, with his feelings on Clay and Elena's relationship.
If like me, you felt like you missed out when you heard that Paige and Lucas had got married and wanted to read the story then Wedding Bell Hell will put a smile on your face. There are lots of fun and games avoiding the manipulations of Lucas's father Benicio. And it's great to see the warm relationship between Paige and Lucas grow.
The final story The Case of El Chupacabra is the story of a case that Lucas and Paige take on. However, the person that stole the show in this was Savannah's half brother and Cabal heir Sean. There are some revelations about Sean's personal life that make you feel for him. I know that the series is 'Women of the Otherworld', but I really, really hope that Sean gets his own book.
All in all I enjoyed this book. Rebirth was probably the weakest of the eight and Beginnings undoubtedly my favourite. The only thing I did find strange, was that in some of the stories the chapters alternated between narrators, which in itself is fine, but in some cases some characters were in first person and others were in third, which disrupted the flow of the narrative.
This anthology is a nice complement if you're a fan of Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series and despite my usual reticence read short stories, I really enjoyed the sneaky additional insight into some of my favourite characters.
This could also be picked up by readers who have not yet read any of Armstrong's books and want to get a flavour of what the books are about. However, if you do wish to read this as an introduction, my advice to you would be to avoid the stories 'Ghosts' and 'The Case of El Chupacabra' as they contain spoilers for the books.(less)
The third book in the Fever series is extraordinarily addictive and the best so far. With...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (9 out of 10 on the blog)
The third book in the Fever series is extraordinarily addictive and the best so far. With its brilliantly dark and complex characters and fabulously sunny heroine, who keeps on going no matter what gets thrown at her, this series is what urban fantasy is all about. Southern belle MacKayla (Mac) is not the girl she used to be. Following her sister's murder she flew to Dublin desperate for answers. Her journey for revenge and justice has led her to discover she is a Sidhe-Seer and about the existence of the Fae, a ruthless and ancient magical race. A race that she is one of the few people with the magical ability to see. After meeting mysterious and dangerous bookshop owner Jerricho Barrons, they have forged an uneasy alliance, but Mac still doesn't know who he is and if she can trust him. The more Mac learns about the Fae, the deeper she becomes entrenched in the darkness that is slowly going in strength, permeating and destroying the human world. Frighteningly it is a darkness that most people haven't even noticed. As parts of Dublin continue to become dead zones and disappear off the maps and unseelie faeries, the cruelest and most corrupt of them all, break from their prison, it is no longer just about finding her sister's killer but saving the world. Mac's mission now is to find the Sinsar Dubh, an insidiously evil, magical book that might be their only chance in stopping the unseelie and preventing the walls between the Fae and human worlds from crashing down. But Barrons and Mac are not the only people after the book, seelie Fae prince V'lane and the evil Lord Master are after it too, and they all turn to the one woman in existence who can sense where it is. You feel Mac's frustration and alienation. As Dublin circles out of control, she does not know who to trust and who she can turn to. Torn between the enigmatic and surly Barrons and the dangerously sexy Fae-prince V'lane. In truth she knows she cannot trust either. Everyone wants a piece of her and she has to fight to not only save the world, but to save her soul. There were times when I got so frustrated with the relationship between Mac and Barrons, wondering what it will take for them to trust one another. Every time there seems to be a glimmer of warmth growing, one of them will say or do something and destroy it. I'm still desperate to learn who and what Barrons is, and there are still so many answered question in this series. The threads of the story keep becoming more intricate and dark. As in previous books, the sexual tension in the book is powerful and on occasion terrifying. The pages flew by, you know when an author has written brilliant characters when you find yourself totally absorbed in their story. As a big fan of Moning's Highlander romance series, it was great to see the MacKelter's again too. And like his uncles, the heroes of the other series, Christian MacKeltar is serious swoon material. But, Ms Moning, how could you leave us with such an awful, awful cliffhanger? And it is a shocker, one that left me wondering how on earth Mac could ever get out of it. The ending is in fact so bleak, the author felt need the need to write an afterword to her readers, leaving us with just a shimmer of hope for our beloved heroine. Well all I can say is thank heavens for ereaders, that enabled me to download 'Dreamfever' and start it immediately! VERDICT: An absolutely fantastic book that I can't recommend highly enough to UF fans. You really need to read these books in order and have the next one at hand to cope with cliffhangers that might just leave you hyperventilating!(less)
***This review contains no spoilers for this book, but there are a couple of small ones fo...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (9 out of 10 on the blog)
***This review contains no spoilers for this book, but there are a couple of small ones for previous books in the series***
This series should come with a warning on it. Because it's about as addictive as any illegal drug and will take over your life until the next book is finished!
After the desperate cliffhanger from the previous book, I was initially quite frustrated when Dani took up the narrative. I NEEDED to know what had happened to Mac and how she was ever going to survive.
At the beginning, our heroine is in a terrible place, consumed by need and no longer in control of her mind or body. Her allies are nowhere to be found and the unseelie Fae have raped her of everything she is. Mac's state is gut-wrenching and shocking and as the reader you are seized by need to find out what is happening, and for her to of course escape.
The story is fast-paced and the darkness continues to spread across the world. As Mac recovers and the walls between the Fae and human worlds are now destroyed, the world is a furiously tumultuous and violent place. But there is a bitter sweetness too, as you know that the Mac who survives her ordeal, can never be the same as she once was, how can she? When the moment comes and she finally, inevitably she emerges from her dark chrysalis it almost gave me goosebumps. Because, quite rightly, this is no longer the woman we knew, this is someone different, darker and desperate.
Part of me missed the shiny, rainbow girl that was Mac. But, at the same time I was also in awe of the woman she has now become. In fact, Mac is a remarkable character. Her development throughout the entire series is a testament to Moning's writing skill. We watch her transform from spoiled, pretty much shallow rich girl, to a women with nothing to lose and a true warrior in her own right. How she manages to pick herself up time and time again after the truly devastating things that keep happening to her is beyond me, but it is brilliantly written.
Then once again, there's Barrons. The slightly strange triangle between Barrons, V'lane and Mac continues, and perhaps I should throw Christian into the mix too, as I wonder what part he will play in the final conclusion?
But, where would Mac be without Barrons? The relationship between them is so complex, and has become even more so with the part he has played in her recovery. There were times when I just wanted to bash their heads together. And with my hopelessly optimistic mind, part of me hopes that they can have a happy ending. Mind you, do they even want one?
Then there's the cliffhanger. And I thought the ending for 'Faefever' was bad, but it has nothing on the ending of this book! This series is pretty much famous for its cliffhangers, so to a certain degree it was to be expected. As a fan, I kind of have a love/hate relationship with them. But, I finished with a gasp and a shout of 'nooooo!', how could Karen Moning leave us like that?! And how I could I wait until 'Shadowfever's' release date to find out what happened? (And I only had to wait three weeks, unlike over a year that some fans have had to wait).
If you have yet to pick up any of the books in this series, you are really missing out. The storyline is compelling and will continually keep you guessing, but it is the dark and well written characters that make it. Be warned, these books will rob you of sleep!
Buy all of them, because as soon as you finish one, you'll NEED the next! I shall be purchasing the fifth and final instalment on its release date. (less)
This is a book many fans have been waiting (a long time) for. The final instalment of the Fever series. Both the boo...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
This is a book many fans have been waiting (a long time) for. The final instalment of the Fever series. Both the book blogosphere and twitter were alive with a frenzy of 'Shadowfever' obsession last week as it was finally released. I was jealous of some people who were able to take the day off work in order to devour it in one single sitting. Sadly, I had to fit my reading around work, sneaking pages in every spare moment I could. I mean... how dare the real world get in the way of my reading! ;-)
It's so very hard to write a review for this book without giving anyway any spoilers, which I'm determined not to, as part of the addiction of this series is the huge mysteries and the careening twists and turns of the plot. I keep thinking of things I want to comment on and realise just a small mention of that event or development will give too much away.
The cliffhanger at the of the penultimate book in this series was a shocker. There were still so many unanswered questions. Who is Mac really? What is Barrons? Who killed Mac's sister? Did her parents survive? What happened to Christian? I could go on, but the the biggest one of all on every fans lips has to be - who is the beast? And as I nervously turned over the first page of this book I prayed it wasn't who I thought it might be.
Thankfully we're not forced to wait for very long, just a couple of pages in and I was gasping. This discovery means that the book begins with a huge sense of disbelief and the reader is submerged in Mac's overwhelming grief. And Mac's grief is indeed a shocking thing. We're constantly reminded that this is no longer the Mac we met in the first book, even she refers to herself as 'Mac 5.0'. But her discovery seems to almost make her lose the plot. For a little while I wondered what on earth she was doing and really not quite liking the path she was taking. But it's not unusual for me to want to give Mac a good, hard shake and this book is no exception.
Clad in leather, the sunny girl with an obsession for pink (a girl after my own heart), has wholly disappeared. This book is full of many highs and lows and that includes your frustration with the characters. But it really is brilliantly written and totally absorbing. Ms Moning knows just how to play her audience, like a fine violinist.
As you reach the final chapters, you realise that every other book has been a pre-cursor to set up this one. In fact, it's virtually impossible to predict the ending. Just when you think you've got everything worked out, another surprise is thrown at you and you can't help but smile at Moning's cleverness. As the complex plot is slowly unwound, a giant light bulb of realisation goes off in your head and you understand just why certain things have happened and how long ago she set them up to do so.
The series is wrapped up with a giant bow on it, it really is the perfect ending. But what I liked so much about this book is through all the twists, shocks and revelations, every character remains true to themselves.
At over 500 pages, it is a lot longer than the other books so far, perhaps some things could have been tied up a little quicker, but if I'm honest I didn't begrudge a single page.
I've read everyone of Karen Marie Moning's books and adored her Highlander series, which are smoking-hot paranormal romances. But this series surpasses them, it is superb and this final instalment has to be my favourite of them all.
If you have not yet managed to pick these books up, I would urge you to do so, Karen Marie Moning is a very talented writer and is without a doubt one of my favourites.
I also really sincerely hope that some of the characters featured will get some spin-off books of their own. The final words "The end....... For now" give me hope.(less)
Reviewed for www.bookchickcity.com Rated on the blog: 8/10, leaning towards a 9/10 - brilliant, couldn't put it down
Meet Rhiannon, foul-mouthed, serio...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com Rated on the blog: 8/10, leaning towards a 9/10 - brilliant, couldn't put it down
Meet Rhiannon, foul-mouthed, serious attitude and kick arse, strip club bartender. She's also a necromancer, a talent she's done her very best to hide and ignore. Unfortunately her luck is just about to run out and the local vampires are suddenly taking a serious interest in her. Before she knows it, Rhiannon finds herself working for the vampires investigating a series of vampire murders.
'Dead, Undead, Or Somewhere In Between', is a fast paced, non stop, urban fantasy. Rhiannon is a character that takes some getting used to, she's unique and fiery and has a mouth your mother would want to wash out with soap. Yet, I liked her. I wanted to find out what made her the way she is. What has made her defensive, tough and isolated from others.
In fact it got to the stage I was kind of desperate to find out about Rhiannon's past by the time it all came spilling out. Despite her cock-sure attitude, Rhiannon also has a surprising innocence and vulnerability about her which made her a fascinating character when you scratched beneath the surface.
At the heart of the book is a great mystery and some seriously dark magic rituals as Rhiannon helps the vampires get to the bottom of the spate of murders. The story has some dark and bloody (literally) parts, which is just how I like my urban fantasy. The story moves at just the right pace, with just the right amount of action, romance and I'm not afraid to say it violence.
Rhiannon aside, there are some great characters, fellow necromancer Ethan, nicknamed 'Goose' by Rhiannon, the fabulously handsome and charismatic vampire Disco and his second in command Paine. Each of them compelling in their own right and for very different reasons. Each of them also having a significant impact on Rhiannon's journey.
The love story in this book is absolutely lovely, more romance really than urban fantasy. At the beginning I suspected a potential love triangle as there were two possible suitors for Rhiannon, but I'm glad the book decided not to go down that route. The love story is a fabulous secondary plot line to the main mystery and surprisingly warm and tender.
Then there's the ending. I so didn't see that one coming! What a fantastic twist, if a killer cliffhanger! In fact it's a route I've not seen urban fantasy take before and I'm totally intrigued as to how the story us going to proceed in 'The Renfield Syndrome'.
I would highly recommend this book for urban fantasy fans, Rhiannon has all the makings of a great urban fantasy heroine that will give many of my favourites a run for their money. (less)
We met Daegus in the previous book in the series 'Kiss of the Highlander' as Drustan's identical twin. It doesn't ma...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
We met Daegus in the previous book in the series 'Kiss of the Highlander' as Drustan's identical twin. It doesn't matter if you haven't read any of the other books in the series. But, I would recommend that you read 'Kiss of the Highlander' first, as it makes for richer reading.
At the end of the last book we were left with a cliffhanger. Drustan had discovered the terrible news that Daegus had broken the rules of the faery compact to save his life, and became possessed by thirteen evil druids.
This book opens with Daegus living in the modern day, desperately trying research a cure for his curse and cling onto his sanity. He works at ruthlessly acquiring ancient texts be it through legal or slightly nefarious means.
Enter Chloe who works at a local museum. Much to her indignation her boss sends her to deliver an ancient text to Daegus's apartment. Chloe is geeky cool and I loved her. Her crazy obsession with ancient relics and books as well as her ability to speak numerous languages, makes her quirky and fun, as well as super clever.
With my weakness for time travel romances, I was delighted for some time hopping with Chloe and Daegus heading back to the sixteenth century in their quest to find Daegus's cure. Hot Scottish men in kilts and castles, how can you go wrong?
There are some cheesy parts to the story. Daegus's need to 'toop' (Scottish for having sex apparently), in order to keep the evil Druids at bay is the main example of this. But if you can put it to one side, and acknowledge it for its cheesiness it doesn't detract from the story. Inevitably and the main reason it was added of course, is that it adds an interesting dynamic to Chloe and Daegus's growing relationship. It's a romance after all.
The tone of this book is darker and dare I say it, sexier. Quite frankly some of the scenes my have you reaching for something to quickly fan yourself. Daegus has a harder edge to him than Drustan, compelled by desperation, but with the same amount of nobleness and honour. His sacrifice for his brother makes him all the more compelling as a hero, and he ended up being my favourite of the two.
Let's face it, this book, or series even isn't going to win any serious literature awards. It's corny, predictable and will make you giggle at some of the scenes. But at the same time it's hugely entertaining. My advice, just suspend your disbelief and enjoy. It's a warm, cosy indulgence that paranormal romance fans will lap up. (less)
I don't know why, but I have a bit of a weakness for time travel romances, and Karen Moning has written more than a...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I don't know why, but I have a bit of a weakness for time travel romances, and Karen Moning has written more than a couple of good ones to satisfy my habit. This book and the sequel with Drustan's brother Daegus are two of my favourites from her Highlander series. For fans of Moning's Fever novels, this is the first book about the MacKeltars.
Gwen Cassidy has led a bit of a boring life and even when she decides to live a little and books a dream holiday to Scotland, she gets it wrong and ends up on a coach with a group of pensioners. But, just when she's given up hope of adventure an unexpected hiking accident finds her falling upon Highland Laird Drustan, cursed into a magical sleep for nearly five hundred years. Despite his smouldering good looks, Gwen thinks the best thing to do is take the obviously crazy man back to his family.
Drustan is the last in the line of a family of Druid warriors, tasked with protecting an ancient and magical secret. When he awakens in the twentieth century he knows he must find a way to travel back in time.
Both Gwen and Drustan are fantastic characters. The dialogue between is snappy and engaging. I liked Gwen for her intelligence, sass and sense of humour. She is without a doubt an equal match to Drustan. But, above all, Karen Moning really knows how to put together a hero. Drustan is smoking! Ok, so there are a couple of roll your eyes moments, a scene that comes to mind is Drustan being too well endowed to fit into modern men's jeans! But it's written with such wry humour you can't help but laugh.
The novel has a great mix of romance, sexiness, intriguing plot and wit. I like my romances with a decent storyline, and with lots of time travelling, a mystery and supernatural subplot this book did not disappoint. The time travelling element could have been quite messy, especially with Gwen and Drustan travelling back to Drustan's past, with the risk of paradoxes, but it is handled cleverly and humorously.
The ending was fabulous, a vibrant cocktail of sadness and love, which will give you more than a couple of reasons to contentedly sigh.
If you are a fan of Moning's Fever series, be warned that these books are not the same in tone, they are lighter, funnier and are definite romances. But, for very different reasons just as good.
This book sucked me in from the start and given this now about the third time I've read it, that's saying something. Escapism at its finest.(less)
Do you ever have a book that sits there for ages and you put off reading it? 'Passion Fish...moreReviewed for www.BookChickCity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
Do you ever have a book that sits there for ages and you put off reading it? 'Passion Fish' was one of those books for me. I think it's because I'm quite fussy about my genres, for example I like romance books, but have recently gone off what I would class as 'chick-lit'. And, from reading the back cover, this book seemed more chick-lit than romance. However, while it has a touch of chick-lit about it, I would say it is more romance and I actually ended up really enjoying it.
Eve is a curator for the Santa Barbara museum which is applying for a $3million grant to build a new wing, and is just about to go on a business trip to Boston as part of the application process. But her personal life is a bit of a mess after escaping from a bad relationship and a seriously creepy ex.
Before she goes her friends plan a night out and decide to make Eve the victim of their favourite game passion fish. This game requires Eve to be blindfolded while her friends choose several hot guys to kiss her anonymously, in order to remind her that passion still exists out there. But the rules of the game state that the chosen men must leave the club and not pursue things that night.
After two icky kisses, fish number three is sweet, but fish number four completely blows Eve's socks off. This begins a new journey for Eve, as her career takes on a new track with the grant application process and her love life for the first time in years takes on a very exciting new twist.
While Eve is the central character to the book, but the novel is much about her friends lives as it is hers. It circles around Eve, Skylar, Josie and Noelle, all of which work at the museum with Eve, with the exception of Noelle who is a nurse, and their loves and lives.
While we have Eve's love story which is more sedate and a slow grower, I did actually really enjoy the fact they did not fall into bed straight away, like you see in a lot of romances. Skylar's story is completely the opposite and complements Eve's perfectly, the more cautious versus, the wild and bold. And if you're a lover of sizzle in your romance, then Skylar gives you plenty of that!
Underpinning the story is the role of Eve's nasty ex, who moves from creepy to scary stalker type in his unrelenting pursuit of her. This adds an element of suspense and drama to the book.
I do have a couple of criticisms, overall I think the book was slightly longer than it should have been, this maybe because it covered the lives of four women, two in detail and two at a peripheral stage. But in general the story just needed tightening up a touch. There was a lot of two-ing and fro-ing and also a lot of wrapping up at the end. This book was obviously written by two authors who loved their characters and wanted to give them all the endings they deserved, but it felt just slightly too long to me. That being said, it didn't affect my enjoyment.
Additionally the back blurb states 'Passion Fish is one part romance and one part heart pounding thriller'. While it did have some great suspense parts to the story, I'm not sure I would call it a 'heart pounding thriller'. I think a little bit more could have been made of Eve's ex and I would have loved a bit more of the thriller part. This probably says a bit more about me and my reading tastes, but I would like things to have got a bit bloodier ;-)
Apart from my two criticisms, this is a really entertaining and readable romance, I found the pages turned quickly and I enjoyed each of their personalities of the four women featured and their partners. At times it was funny, sexy and dark and there are plenty of scenes to make a romance fan's heart melt.(less)
I've read so many raving reviews about this series that I knew I had to read it. Stacia Kane has created a very unique urban fantasy world, with ghost...moreI've read so many raving reviews about this series that I knew I had to read it. Stacia Kane has created a very unique urban fantasy world, with ghosts as the monsters, but more compelling is her unique characterisation.
Strangely, the very thing that I eventually loved about this book was also the reason it took me a little while to get into it a first. Our two lead characters are Chess and Terrible and they're more like anti-heroes than heroes. The creation of these characters by Kane felt like a brave move and puts this series apart from other urban fantasy series.
Our heroine, Chess is a debunker for the church, responsible for hunting ghosts and investigating hauntings. She's also a drug addict. Chess is a raw character, a mix of pain, too many issues to mention and at the same time brave and believes in the purpose of the church and protecting innocent people. She's fascinatingly complex, and despite her addictions it's a testament to Kane's writing that I couldn't help but both fall and route for her.
The two other lead characters worth of mention are Terrible (yes Terrible) and Lex. Both men are heavily entrenched in the drug underworld of Downside and work for rival drug lords. Unwittingly Chess's drug debts lead her to become involved and indebted to Terrible's boss Bump. Before she knows it she's up to her elbows in a ghost investigation that is most definitely not sanctioned by the church and could end up with her losing her job or worse.
Enter Lex, who is naturally working cross purposes to Bump and Terrible's motives. Against her will, Chess ends up in a dangerous situation somehow needing to work to both gang's demands and still remaining true to her role at the church.
Again Terrible's characters demonstrates Kane's clever writing ability, here with a hero that is described as terribly ugly and is Bump's top enforcer. A job that involves killing, murdering and torturing Bump's enemies and yet I still really liked him! Lex, equally as ruthless, but the opposite to Terrible in outward appearances, he's rather hot! Which adds an interesting dynamic to the story.
The overall mystery of the book is great too, I didn't guess who the baddy was and it's always nice for that to be a surprise, the action is fast, gritty and evenly paced. Making sure I did not get bored at all!
This is a fantastic start to a new urban fantasy series and despite all her flaws I loved Chess. Roll on book two... (less)
Book two in this great urban fantasy series and the writing has definitely got better in this instalment. This book focusses on the two faces of Chess...moreBook two in this great urban fantasy series and the writing has definitely got better in this instalment. This book focusses on the two faces of Chess as she bridges two worlds. The junkie with connections to the drug underworld of Downside, and the respectable church debunker who has been commended for her investigations.
For a lot of the book it feels as though Chess is life is becoming unravelled, life without drugs an impossibility, but at the same her addictions could very well lead her to lose the job that sits at the core of her existence. This does at times makes for painful reading, you begin to realise just how deep Chess is in with her drug addiction, and the messes it leads her into left me with a mixture of feeling the need to shake or weep for her.
In her addition her relationships in particular with Terrible and Lex become more complex. There are some truly lovely scenes with Terrible and some absolutely heart-breaking ones. What was just the hint of an unusual romance is 'Unholy Ghosts' began to sweep me away in 'Unholy Magic'. We learn more about Terrible, the good as well as the violently ugly. And as the reader just like Chess, I fell for him and began see the man beneath the dark and tough veneer.
Lex is a character I have failed to connect with as much as Terrible and Chess. But he is also exceedingly important to the story. But I am so far struggling to see the motive behind his actions, are they driven because he genuinely cares or is there a more sinister ulterior motive?
The ghosts in this book are as nasty as before. But I also find myself becoming more and more uncomfortable with the church's role in society. There are so many stark comparisons in this book between the seemingly respectable life and rule of the church and the bloody and unpredictable life of the poor in Downside. I couldn't help but notice that both are equally ruthless in their own way. The boundaries just different. Who needs hell when the church can torture your ghost in the afterlife? Which then makes me wonder which society is in fact worse?
As with book one, I take my hat off to Stacia Kane for her excellent characterisation. Her excellent written, dark and complex characters are what makes this story. Couple this with a vividly drawn urban fantasy world and you have a book you'll struggle to put down. (less)
This is book three is Stacia Kane's Downside Ghost series and I've read all three in as many days. The writing has got better with each book and this...moreThis is book three is Stacia Kane's Downside Ghost series and I've read all three in as many days. The writing has got better with each book and this is most definitely my favourite so far.
In 'City of Ghosts' despite her addictions and complicated life, Chess's career has taken a leap forward and it's clear she has an excellent reputation in the church. She is recruited to help the elite Black Squad with a case and has to work with a female partner Lauren. Just like Chess for a lot if the time I wanted to give Lauren a bit of a smack. In many ways she's everything Chess is not and this is not always a good thing!
The action in this novel is so far past paced, I barely had time to take a breath. After all the beatings she took, I had no idea how Chess managed to pick herself up and keep going. But like every good tough, urban fantasy heroine she does.
Despite the absolutely fantastic action and brilliantly carved plot, it was the romance that stole the show in this book. After the heart-breaking elements of 'Unholy Magic' it was painful to read Terrible's totally cold and almost cruel treatment of Chess. And for our messed up heroine to realise that she has probably made the biggest mistake of her life.
But like the characters their relationship is complex, dark and gritty. There are some parts the are off the scale hot and others that are simply hard to read. I just wanted to bash their heads together! Then comes the ending, I shall say no more other than in Chess and Terrible's own way it was just perfect!
Lex was a surprise in this book, I expected him to potentially fade into the background, but he really grew on me. It became clear that he had genuine feelings for Chess and I liked the twist at the end that saw him taking on an unexpected partnership to help her.
My favourite book so far. This series demonstrates Stacia Kane's unique writing skills from her characterisation, dark world building and also worthy of a note the very clever Downside dialect she has invented. It should be a must on every urban fantasy lover's bookshelves(less)
The story of 'Shadowbound' wasn't really what I expected looking at the cover and reading the back slip. I expected it to be more of a fantasy I guess...moreThe story of 'Shadowbound' wasn't really what I expected looking at the cover and reading the back slip. I expected it to be more of a fantasy I guess.
There were some things that really worked for me, but at times I got frustrated with the pace and found myself not quite looking forward to picking it up again.
The prologue is great and builds the element of mystery around the 'shadowman' well, Talia's abilities are interesting and I liked the fact that they were different to those I have encountered in books before. Talia does seem to run away a lot and I do like my heroines with a bit more gusto to them, but I can see that changing for the second instalment in the series as she gets braver towards the end of the book.
Adam the male lead and romantic interest is a complex character and probably my favourite of the two, from his relationship to his brother, his role in the battle against the wraiths and also all of his pent up rage he makes him quite fascinating.
Overall this is a good debut book by a new author and start to the series, it didn't totally hook me in, but it's got a lot of potential and I think the second book can only improve. (less)
When I picked up this book I actually expected it to pick up where the first book left off and resume with Adam and Talia's story. But it doesn't, the story actually picks up two years later from where the first ended and our hero this time is Custo, Adam's best friend. For those that have read it, Custo died in the first book, tortured to death in order to save Adam and Talia's life. His noble sacrifice has earned him a place in heaven as none other than an angel.
But Custo has no time for the angelic duties, he knows that there is a traitor working at Segue, the agency Adam owns, and that Adam is still in terrible danger and is obsessed with finding a way to get the message to him.
Dragging his way through the shadowlands back to earth he encounters beautiful ballerina Annabella. Annabella is such a gifted dancer that when she dances she slips into the shadowlands, but that has brought her some unwanted attention and she is now being stalked by a dangerous magical wolf who wants to posses her. As soon as Custo sees her he is entranced and has to save her.
The writing in this book has definitely improved since the last one, the pacing and characterisation are much tighter making the overall narrative flow better. Custo was a really engaging lead character, although I liked Adam in the first, I liked Custo even more. There was something about his noble, self-sacrificing personality that appealed to me. While Annabella wasn't a tough heroine, she had strength and determination and I could see the beauty of her dance in my mind as it was written. I didn't quite get hooked into Adam and Talia's story in 'Shadow Bound' but I found Custo in particularly more engaging which drove the story for me.
We get to meet more mystical creatures in this book, as well as some interesting interweaving of Greek myths. Once again Shadowman makes several important appearances and I find the development of his story fascinating. I've seen that book three in the series is about him and I actually really want to read it as I have been hooked by his forbidden love story and believe that he deserves a happy ending.
If you're desperate for a dose of Adam and Talia, don't worry, Adam in particular makes plenty of appearances and you get an update on the development of their story.
The ending itself was a little strange. I wasn't quite sure how it all got there and the overall implications for the characters, but it certainly was an interesting twist.
If I'm honest I wasn't particularly taken with the first book into this series and if I hadn't been sent this one for review, I may not have picked this one up. But the author's writing has really improved and I thoroughly enjoyed Custo and Annabella's story.(less)
Just like the first book in this trilogy, 'Futile Flame' is a dark, dark tale of obsession...moreReviewed for www.BookChickCity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
Just like the first book in this trilogy, 'Futile Flame' is a dark, dark tale of obsession. While the book begins and ends with Gabriele and Lilly our main characters from the first novel, this is Lucrezia's story.
I found Lucrezia slightly aloof in the first book, but her tale is a bitter and terribly painful tale of survival and in the end I enjoyed it far for than Gabriele's. There are lots of elements in this book that does at times make it uncomfortable reading. With scenes of abuse, incest, rape, violence, murder and gore be warned it is not for the squeamish. But despite the difficult elements explored in this book it was very readable and un-put-downable, even, in certain sections.
Lucrezia's story opens in sixteenth century Rome, set in the Vatican. The daughter of a corrupt Pope, she falls victim to her brother's macabre and brutal seduction. Lucrezia is so terribly innocent that her journey from abused young girl to woman is a painful one. This is a relationship that ends up defining her very existence, and one even in immortality she is unable to escape.
The narrative is a turbulent ride, you cruise from watching Lucrezia the victim, to Lucrezia the stalker, vampire and murderess. Perhaps one of the least savoury parts was Lucrezia's change from rape victim to rapist herself. But the clever nature of the writing is that there is something compelling and seductive about witnessing this transformation. Interestingly, despite the dark nature of the vampire, at the heart Lucrezia still wishes to be a good person.
The relationships in this book are at best strange, the revelation at the end of book one about Gabriele and Lilly is addressed and when Lilly discovers it, she doesn't appear to be in the least bit bothered. I found I struggled more with this than reading the scenes of incest between Lucrezia and her brother.
Of course, the whole point of Lucrezia retelling her story is to find out who the demon stalking Gabriele and Lilly is. And the last chapters of the book take a very unexpected turn. There is little I can say here without giving away too much, but it does move the story into a place you could never guess it would go, it's also quite surreal. I'm not quite sure how I felt about it, it felt perhaps a little too far fetched for me. Yes, I know I'm reading a book about vampires! But, I think the scenes will become more defined and hopefully make more sense in book three.
I do have to comment on a quote on the back cover of this novel: "Recommended for fans of the Twilight saga." Other than the fact that this book is about vampires, it is in no way like 'Twilight', in fact I believe it is totally unsuitable for a young adult reader.
This trilogy is a different twist on the vampire story. Vampires are put firmly back in the horror genre, they are a species to be feared and are above the normal rules of society. Despite some of their horrific acts, you are seduced and absorbed into their lives. A book I would definitely recommend to horror lovers.
I'm very much looking forward to finding out how it all ends in 'Demon Dance'. (less)
There is one thing that makes this series really work for me. That is Cat and Bones. As a couple they make me lau...moreReviewed for on www.BookChickCity.com
There is one thing that makes this series really work for me. That is Cat and Bones. As a couple they make me laugh out loud, grip the edge of my seat and sigh happily all in the same chapter. They really are one of my favourite supernatural couples.
Their relationship is slightly more grown up in this book, now married they still have their issues, but Cat is working very hard to work as a team and not run off and get herself in crazy trouble when Bones’s back is turned. Although I did kind of miss the old reckless Cat, and wanted her to go off and do something crazy just so that Bones could go and rescue her. But I also love how obvious their love and dedication to one another is. The dialogue between them is brilliant, snappy and witty. Their bickering always amuses me. Cat’s comment below on Mencheres and Kira’s relationship did make me chuckle and sums up the banter between her and Bones.
"“See?” I’d whispered to Bones, nudging him with a grin. “He never argues with her. Isn’t that sweet?” A snort proceeded his response. “Keep dreaming, pet.”
I also have to say look out for the flying scene… Just brilliant!
Of course the book wouldn’t be complete without the threat of all out war and Cat sitting right in the middle of the trouble. Her supernatural abilities causing her problems even after she has been turned. As expected this book is no exception. But the danger comes from the ghouls this time for a change.
As well as Cat and Bones, the secondary characters in this book are also pretty awesome. We’ve got Mencheres, Spade, Tate and Cat’s old team all adding to the story and as rounded as the main characters. In particular I have to mention Vlad (if you’re wondering, yes that Vlad!) who was fabulous in this book, genuinely laugh out loud funny. I hope like Mencheres and Spade he gets his own spin-off.
Interestingly, this book has a very human tragedy written into the novel, mixed in with supernatural. Becoming used to living in the supernatural world, managing the threat of war and evil, suddenly Cat has to face up to human mortality and disease. Which leads to some terribly sad scenes, that you may just need a tissue or two after. There is perhaps less action in this book than we have seen in others in the series, but don’t worry the end finale won’t leave you disappointed.
Another fantastic instalment to Jeaniene Frost’s excellent series. If you’ve not yet picked up ‘Halfway to the Grave’ I would urge you to do so, it mixes love, wit, super hot chemistry with page turning action and characters that will stay with you after the last page is turned.(less)
I adore Catherine Anderson romances and have read all of them more than once. 'Phantom Wal...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
I adore Catherine Anderson romances and have read all of them more than once. 'Phantom Waltz' is worthy of a quick comment as it's my favourite and is really magical. Nearly all of her heroines have a large obstacle to over come in their lives in order to be able to love. This is her writing style. She's written about abuse as well as mental illness and physical disabilities and each time she has it has been well researched and written with absolute compassion. This book is no exception.
Mandy has cared for her blind brother, who was blinded by a terrible accident she blames herself for, since she was fifteen. The pair have suffered a miserable life from their mother's abandonment, to the terrible abuse inflicted on them at their father's hands.
Luke has never come to terms with his blindness or learned how to cope with it. His reliance on Mandy is making them both terribly unhappy and their relationship is no longer a healthy one.
An unexpected bulletin on the local news leads Mandy to local horse trainer Zach. Zach has recently started training a mini horse as a guide for the blind and Mandy sees this as a chance to change things for her and her brother.
This book was a frustrating at the beginning. Mandy's brother's behaviour is foul, I would go as far to say that I initially despised Luke. At nineteen, he's a grown man, not a child and behaviour towards Mandy is deplorable. I also got cross at Mandy for allowing herself to be treated that way, as if she were nothing more than a servant and a doormat. Thankfully, Luke redeems himself as the novel progresses, but he still remained to be one of my less than favourite characters and I struggled to always feel sympathy for him.
I would describe this novel as more contemporary fiction than romance. Which doesn't mean it wasn't good or well written, Catherine Anderson continues to be an excellent author, but perhaps not what I expected.
The romance itself was very slow in coming, nearly 300 pages for the first kiss even. What I usually love about Catherine Anderson's books is the mix of romance with a rich story, but I'm afraid the romance part was slightly lacking. As a couple, Mandy and Zach were very sweet. Zach the gorgeous, cowboy hero. Mandy however, was a little (sorry), of a wet blanket. There were occasions when I just wanted her to grow a bit more of a backbone. But I still enjoyed their story and was fully routing for them come the end of the novel.
What I did find interesting was the elements about Zach's mini horse training, it could have been boring, but it really wasn't. The details of his horse rearing business were warm and fascinating. There was also a nice unexpected mystery at the end of the book, that made sure the momentum continued to roll throughout the novel. Overall, this book actually has a lot of story packed into it, and while I did miss some of the romance I was certainly never bored.
Unfortunately this is not my favourite Catherine Anderson novel, but I'm judging this by her standards which are very high. It is still however a very good and well written book and an entertaining read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.(less)
I listened to 'How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire' as an audiobook earlier in the year, th...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
I listened to 'How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire' as an audiobook earlier in the year, the first book in Sparks' 'Love At Stake' series and had a few issues with it. So I picked up 'All I Want For Christmas Is A Vampire' to review, without having read any of the interim instalments, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Sparks' writing has really improved.
The book does assume to a certain extent that you have read the previous books in the series, so I did feel a little bit like I was playing catch up. A lot of the events referred to what had happened in the first book, so I was able to keep up with what was going on, but I'm not sure I could say this worked entirely as a stand-alone novel. But perhaps the author did not intend for it to do so.
Ian is a vampire who was changed at the age of fifteen. So although he is hundreds of years old, he has been trapped in an adolescent's body. In an earlier book in the series he took a drug that aged him twelve years, so he could finally look like a man. I've said this before in previous reviews, I do wish when big events like this have happened we can at least read about them in the prologue. But, the story gives enough detail to still make the story work and I immediately liked Ian as a hero.
Toni, our heroine is a mortal woman who is on a mission to prove that vampires exist in order to spring her best friend, Sabrina from a mental hospital. She's managed to get a job guarding them in the day time, but can she betray the vampires she's come to know in order to get the proof Sabrina needs?
The storyline is slightly madcap, but fun. Finally looking like the man he is, Ian sets out on a quest to find his true love. An advert on an online dating site later and much craziness ensues. Ian is determined he wants a vampire for a mate, and Toni certainly does not want to date a member of the undead. You can see where this is going ;)
Sparks has created some great characters and it's these characters that make the story, from the Scottish security guards in lovely kilts, to Toni's next door neighbour, adding some great subplots and humour.
Of course with it being Christmas, I wanted a nice bit of festive spirit in my story too. And there is a nice scene with Secret Santas that made me feel all jolly!
An enjoyable supernatural romance that will make a great stocking filler. Fun characters, an evil villain, a cute love story and a nice dose of festive cheer! (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)
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Christine Feehan books. I have been a fan of...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (5 out of 10 on the blog)
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Christine Feehan books. I have been a fan of her for a long time, and to put things into perspective I have read every one of her books. But of late, particularly with her Carpathian books, I feel like they have been losing their way. Then last year I read 'Dark Slayer' and was pleasantly surprised at the improvement in writing and characterisation. Sadly, 'Dark Peril' seems like a step backwards.
The two main characters are Dominic and Solange. Dominic is the oldest of the Dragonseeker lineage, determined to get to the bottom of the vampire plot he has ingested vampire blood in order to infiltrate their ranks as a spy. He believes it to be a suicide mission, but an honourable way to die.
Solange is one of the last surviving women of the jaguar people, she is described a tough, physically scared from her battles and a warrior in her own right. And has dedicated her life to freeing women from her evil father Broderick, who believes jaguar women are only good for breeding and abuses and terrorises them. Solange is intent on stopping her father once and for all even if it means her own death.
The premise of the book is a good one, so I was very much looking forward to this story with two very strong characters. I've also been enjoying that the back story around the darker vampire plot that we have seen in recent books in the series too. But it all seemed to get a bit lost in this book.
I felt like Solange lost all of her toughness and personality as soon as she entered the relationship with Dominic. She went all meek and barely spoke to him at first. I wanted sass and fire between them.
Dominic sensitively decides not to push Solange into sex too soon into their relationship given her past. But, instead we get these strange scenes where he gets her to dress up in these sexy outfits, which seems like an uncharacteristic thing for a battle-scarred woman to do. Then there are scenes when he gets her to relax in and out of a bath while he washes her hair and gently touches her and it literally goes on and on for chapters. And I didn't find it sexy or climactic, unfortunately I just got bored.
This is really the crux of the problem of the book, it focuses far too much on the relationship between Solange and Dominic with endless chapters of nothing much really happening at all at the expense of the plot. There is very little action - only at the beginning and the end and no twists or suspense to keep the reader intrigued. In want of a better word, it was all a bit blah. Which is a shame as I know Christine Feehan can do much better.
Also, while this book is 400 pages long, 60 pages of this is appendices at the end with details of the Carpathian language and healing chants. I do appreciate that this is the 21st book in the series and that Christine Feehan has put a lot of time, research and passion which I commend her for. But this seemed very excessive for a paranormal romance and if I'm honest I looked at it in disbelief, but did not read it at all.
As a fan of this series, I was really disappointed with this book. I felt like it lost its way and I would have liked to have seen a bit more story and action and yes, I know it's a romance, but a bit less of the love story which seemed to go on just too much.
Yet despite all of this, I'm already intrigued by Zacarias who was introduced in this story and know that I'll be reading his story and really cannot wait for Dimitri and Skylar's book, but I beg you Ms. Feehan re-read some of your earlier books and go back to your roots, remind me why I used to love this series so much.(less)
'Ruthless Game' is book nine in Christine Feehan's Ghostwalker series. Ghostwalkers are men and women who have been...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
'Ruthless Game' is book nine in Christine Feehan's Ghostwalker series. Ghostwalkers are men and women who have been genetically engineered to have their psychic powers enhanced. But the scientist, Witney, who headed up the experiments is cruel and ruthless. Forcing ghostwalkers into breeding programmes in order to create the ultimate soldier and ruthless pursuing them and experimenting on them, even those who have escaped, to see how they will behave and react.
Rose spent years in a laboratory under Witney's care where she was forced to breed with our male hero Kane in order to produce a baby super soldier. Although I've read a lot of the books in this series, I've skipped a few and the actual consummation happened in a book I haven't read. So I can't comment on the start to Rose and Kane's relationship. But as a consequence at the beginning of the book they are both already a little in love with one another. I would have liked these scenes to have been a prequel in this book rather than just referred to, I think it would have helped with the chemistry and suspense of the love story.
'Ruthless Game' will appeal to fans of both paranormal romance and action romance books. It had some fantastic action scenes. Edge of the seat stuff, guns, grenades, knife fights, helicopters, car chases you want it, you've got it in this book! I also enjoyed the fact that Rose was a tough lady, a fighter and warrior in her own right, an equal match to Kane. There is an element of mystery with a traitor in the camp, you've also got more baddies than you can shake a stick at. With Witney's men and also a drug cartel who Rose and Kane managed to upset, all trying to hunt them down. One disappointment is that I did work out who the traitor in the camp was straight away and I knew who it was as soon we met them! But maybe I was supposed to.
The chemistry between Rose and Kane was great and they were a lovely couple. It was also nice to see them as parents, and see that part of the storyline fitted into a paranormal/action romance, which is quite unusual.
I did, however, have a few issues. Our heroine is 8 months pregnant at the start of the novel. Perhaps, the problems in the story were more profound for me as I was heavily pregnant when I was reading it. But despite being 8 month pregnant, she enters into a gun fight, jumps out of a speeding vehicle to avoid going over a ravine and hikes several miles across the desert. The fact she manages to do so without needing to pee is a miracle in itself! ;-)
Then there are the love scenes, because she is breastfeeding, let's just say things get a bit messy! It didn't really strike me as very sexy! And Kane seemed to like it a bit too much.
There were two characters in the book that really intrigued me - Javier and Rhianna. Straight away I wanted to know more about them. I hope they will get their own book soon.
As with a lot of Feehan's more recent books, 'Ruthless Game' was a mixed read for me. Good parts, great parts and then parts that didn't quite work.(less)
This is one of those books that I have had sitting on my ereader for quite a while now but...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
This is one of those books that I have had sitting on my ereader for quite a while now but have never quite got around to reading it. Then as soon as I started it, I wondered why I'd left it so long as it was thoroughly enjoyable. Moira Rogers is the name for a writing team of two ladies, Bree and Donna, in their words: "a former forensic science and nursing student obsessed with paranormal romance and ... a computer programmer with a passion for gritty urban fantasy." And a great writing team they make too.
Our heroine is Mackenzie, a frightened woman on the run from a crazy stalk who claims they are destined to be together. A man that wherever she runs to seems to eerily be able to find her. His pursuit of her is violent, unrelenting and terrifying and she has nowhere left to turn.
Ending up in New Orleans, working in a bar, she has stumbles upon a supernatural underground she didn't even know existed. As her crazy stalker's behaviours escalates it appears that she needs to find out about her past and where she fits into this world.
This book is like a cross between a paranormal romance and an urban fantasy novel, kind of sitting on that wavy line between the two genres. There's darkness, horror, mystery and preternatural creatures as well as a warm and sexy romance. The action in the book keeps the pages moving and there are enough plot surprises to keep you guessing.
While Mackenzie is frightened and vulnerable, there is a tough core to her which made her likeable. It would have been very easy to make her a simpering female overwhelmed with her supernatural discovery, and I'm so glad this wasn't the case. Scared yes, but willing to stand on her own two feet and learn to fight too.
There was something about Jackson I just couldn't help but like. A rugged, supernatural PI, with a nice hint of gentlemanly manners. He accepts Nici's request to investigate Mackenzie as a favour, but protects and helps her out of honour and of course as the book progresses a growing attraction between them.
This book has created a world of supernatural beings which were rich and fascinating, and I felt as though we hadn't really scratched the surface of where the story could take it. The politics and the hierarchy system of the shape shifters alone left me intrigued and we were introduced to many characters I would like to read more about. I would go as far as to say the secondary characters were as interesting as the two main leads.
A great book that will appeal to shape shifting fans. If you're not normally a romance fan, but love urban fantasy, I would urge you to give this a go as I think you will enjoy it. It's a romance book with a bit more grit in it and a great start to new series.(less)
'In Enemy Hands' was a little inconsistent for me. I swung between enjoying it and getting frustrated with the pace....moreReviewed for www.BookChickCity.com
'In Enemy Hands' was a little inconsistent for me. I swung between enjoying it and getting frustrated with the pace. Set in the future, Moon is a scientist working on a ground-breaking project to re-animate dead stars. But, most of the Galaxy is controlled by the brutal and uncompromising Republic where failure would mean death, or even worse exile.
Moon is assigned the extraordinarily clever Srin Flerovs as her research partner. So intelligent is Srin, that he is the equivalent of a human computer. But Moon soon discovers that the Republic's reign has no bounds. After they realised nearly twenty years ago that they could no longer control Srin, they began chemically erasing his memories every forty eight hours. And this has been his empty, cyclical life ever since.
The premise itself is a clever concept. Not the sci-fi setting or even the omnipotent dictatorship, but the way the Republic control Srin. It raised not only ethical issues, but added an interesting twist to the budding romance between him and Moon.
For a lot of the book I found Moon quite naive. For a very clever woman, she seems to miss a lot of what is going on around her. But she did have the endearing quality of wanting to always see the best in everyone and everything. But it was Srin that stole the story, from the complexity of his condition, to his switch between happy-go-lucky to brooding intelligence.
The sexual chemistry seemed to ebb and flow, building and then dissipating as though it was never there. I think this was because of Srin's disappearing memories. There was one scene that comes to mind with Moon. Now, how to put this delicately.... when she relieved her own sexual tension, *ahem*. I don't believe I'm a prude, but the whole thing seemed to come out of nowhere, there just wasn't enough budding sexual tension in the narrative to make it work and the whole scene made me cringe and quickly flick the page over.
There was a lot of scene setting in the book, details of Moon's past, the science experiment, her relationships with other members of the ship's crew and this did slow things down. Then came 'the great escape' which was crammed into a few chapters in the end.
However, the last few chapters did have lots of great pace and adventure, but unfortunately they were just too short. I wonder if this is the beginning of a new series, because there is no way the ending can be considered in any way a conclusion.
An inconsistent novel with promise. I did have a lot of problems with it, but for the most part I enjoyed the story. Srin was a fantastic, charismatic hero. But I wonder if this might have been a better novel focusing on his predicament, with the romance just being a small part of the story.(less)
I read 'Crux' the first book in this series back in January and really enjoyed it, but 'Crossroads' was even better!...moreReviewed for www.BookChickCity.com
I read 'Crux' the first book in this series back in January and really enjoyed it, but 'Crossroads' was even better! Although this book focuses on two new main characters - Nick and Derek, the storyline continues on from 'Crux' with all of the same characters, so I would recommend that you read it first.
Nick is the equivalent of werewolf royalty, daughter to the ruling alpha she is expected to marry for political gain and produce heirs. It is a fate she has spent most of her adult life running from, relocating to New Orleans and running a bar instead.
Derek has watched Nick from afar for years, fighting his physical attraction to her. Since he was bitten by a werewolf two years ago he has struggled to control his wolf and come to terms with his new life. In werewolf society a bitten wolf is viewed as inferior. But just as Derek and Nick are finally ready to admit their feelings for one another, Nick's life gets thrown upside down with the arrival of her twin sister she would do anything to protect, and some shocking news.
This book very much sits on that line between paranormal romance and urban fantasy, it is darker, grittier and tougher than a romance which is part of the reason why I think I enjoyed it so much.
The attraction between Nick and Derek is so tangible and so believable that from the start I was fully sucked in and engrossed in their story. About two thirds of the way through I couldn't see how they could possibly end up together and the pages whirled by as I willed the book to give me that happy ending. But that happy ending doesn't come without a price, there are some shocks and sorrows along the way that makes the story all the more engaging and left me with a ball in my throat. Although I did read this book on holiday, I finished it in less than a day.
The romance between Nick and Derek is, well, steamy would perhaps be an understatement! This is fuelled by their mating instincts as two wolves, but it felt right and added to the growing love and wild passion between them that they had both tried to ignore for so long. It also adds to the desperation as the extent of the trouble Nick's sister is in becomes apparent and looks as though it will drive them apart.
This is a fantastic book and a really exciting new paranormal romance series. If this is a genre you love, then I would recommend you pick up both 'Crux' and 'Crossroads' when you next get the chance. I can't wait for 'Deadlock'!(less)
What if your soul was 'tagged' by heaven or hell before you even died? Based on a series o...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
What if your soul was 'tagged' by heaven or hell before you even died? Based on a series of decisions you make, even quite early on in your life and once you're tagged it's almost impossible to reverse? This is the concept in the world created in 'Personal Demons'. Each side have recruiters, demons and angels, who each have the responsibility of recruiting souls for heaven and hell.
But catholic girl Frannie, is a bit different, there is something special about her that both sides will do anything to have her tagged for their side. So demon Luc and angel Gabriel are both sent to tag her before it's too late.
I really enjoyed 'Personal Demons' it's a classic tale of good versus evil as they fight for possession of Frannie's soul. At the heart of this book was a love triangle, of course the resolution of that triangle has more consequences for Frannie than she can possibly realise. As the reader you would have thought you'd want Frannie to make the obvious choice, but it is well written and the both sides are equally appealing choices. For once I did not find myself routing for one guy over the other. I was just content to sit back and see how the story unfolded.
The story has some great twists, particularly towards the end. It is told from Frannie and Luc's point of views, I would have liked to have had Gabriel's point of view added into the mix to have understood more about him. But the alternating views does make the book more fascinating. I liked Gabriel from the offset, but with Luc I vacillated between liking him and wanting him to leave Frannie be, but be warned he is sneaky and seduces you just as he does Frannie as the pages turn.
'Personal Demons' is the beginning of a series, and I want to find out more about Frannie's family as it is hinted that there is more to them than meets the eye, and where Frannie's destiny will take her. There are some exciting possibilities ahead.
This is a young adult book, with the story played out in high school, but is on the older side of young adult and includes some smoking scenes and I'm not talking just about the brimstone!
An easy to read, page turner with a classic love triangle and a battle between good and evil. I very much enjoyed and would recommend 'Personal Demons' and look forward to picking up 'Original Sin'.(less)
Book six in what has shaped out to be one of my favourite all-time urban fantasy series and it's great to have Mercy back! She is a fabulous heroine....moreBook six in what has shaped out to be one of my favourite all-time urban fantasy series and it's great to have Mercy back! She is a fabulous heroine. It's easy to worry with a series that you love that the writing will lose its way and not have the same punch the early books did, but Patricia Briggs continues to keep this a fast paced, gritty and entertaining urban fantasy series.
I love the fact that Mercy has been allowed to grow up throughout the series, and was very excited that we got a wedding! And a wedding not shrouded by disaster, other than Mercy's mother's insane planning! This book was very much about Adam and Mercy's relationship as they become husband and wife and working together as a team. It's great that the author has had the confidence to allow Mercy to choose her mate and break away from the will they, won't they storyline that many UF books fall into. And also have the courage to resolve the painful love triangle with Sam, although I very much enjoyed reading about it in the earlier books.
Of course, just because the wedding goes smoothly, don't hold your breath for the honeymoon! Mercy's inexplicable habit for running into trouble or need help people is not going to leave her just because she's married now. There is one scene at Wal-Mart which didn't fail to make me laugh as Mercy convinces Adam to leave her shopping alone: "I've been shopping at Wal-Marts for most of my life, and I've never been assaulted in one." You just know she's doomed for trouble!
The biggest development in this book is Mercy discovers more about her part Indian heritage, her father and what it means to be a walker. There is some great Indian folklore interwoven into the story as well as some new characters, Coyote and Gordon Seeker are worthy of a special mention. I hope we see some more of them in future books.
If you love the series's supporting characters, Samuel, Warren, Jesse and Zee to name just a few, you may be slightly disappointed with their absence. As this is mainly about Mercy and Adam's honeymoon we get a few phone calls, but other than that it's just about the two of them. I enjoyed this difference, but want the characters back for the next book please.
The book wouldn't be complete without a decidedly evil baddy and the need for Mercy to save the day, get beaten up and escape by the skin of her teeth. Don't worry there are scenes in 'Rivermarked' that will keep you on the edge of your seat and the writing is as pacy and engaging as ever. And yes, the baddy is grimly evil and definitely needs a good killing ;-)
If you're a fan of Urban Fantasy and haven't got around to reading three books yet, where have you been?! It would be easy to think that a shape-shifting, VW mechanic is a bit of strange heroine, but she remains to be one of all time favourites. For existing fans of the series, this book does not fail to disappoint, so enjoy!(less)
This isn't a sweet or even an easy reading romance. Set in Afghanistan, Kaylea Cross addre...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
This isn't a sweet or even an easy reading romance. Set in Afghanistan, Kaylea Cross addresses some of the harsher realities of the Iraq war. With the treatment of hostages, torture and barbaric deaths included, to the plight of the people living there and the everyday struggle for survival amidst poverty, terrorist rule and brutality. So this may not appeal to some romance readers, but fans of military romances and stories with a bit more grit in them will undoubtedly like this story.
I got slightly muddled with the order of the books in the series, thinking this was the first book, but it isn't. While there were some references to events in the previous book, it didn't affect my enjoyment at all.
Our two lead characters are Sam (Samarra) and Ben. Sam is a civilian communications expert for the CIA and Ben is an ex-army ranger working on the team she is on. The book opens with Sam believing she is being followed either by a terrorist cell or the CIA, panicking she flees for her life and sets of a sequence of events that means that people in her team believe her to be a traitor.
When Sam's cousin, the person she cares most about in her life is kidnapped by a terrorist group she has to return to her team and prove her innocence and help save her cousin's life. Sam is in a very difficult position, her team and Ben continually question her loyalty throughout the book. Whenever something goes wrong during the rescue mission, it is Sam's integrity that is interrogated. A bitter pill in any circumstance, but even more so during a burgeoning romance.
'No Turning Back' is pacy, engaging romance. The chemistry between Sam and Ben is electric. But there is also some great additional characters in the story. I in particular liked Ben's brother Rhys, and can already see his story being set up for the next book, which I very much look forward to reading.
Despite enjoying this book, I had a few issues with the plot. For example, at the beginning of the book when Sam believes her apartment is bugged she goes to Rhys and Ben for help. But, when she thinks she is being followed she decided she can no longer trust them and runs, leaving her a woman on her own, with no military training in Afghanistan? Hmm.
Then there was the reason she has to accompany them on the mission. She jets dragged up the Afghanistan mountains, through an Al Qaeda hot zone, again with no training (she doesn't even know how to fire a gun!), inevitably barely able to keep up and I wasn't really sure why she needed to be there. Other than of course for the developing romance between her and Ben.
Finally, Sam had no qualms declaring her love for Ben, and I don't have a problem with one of the characters confessing their love and then we have to wait for the other one to catch up, but she kept saying it! She'd say it and then he'd say nothing and then a few hours or a day later, embarrassingly she'd say it again. I mean .... would you? Say it once then keep your pride in tact until it's reciprocated... surely? Or am I just cynical?
Plot misgivings aside, this really is a great suspenseful and gritty, military romance. I haven't come across Kaylea Cross before, but I will be reading more of her books in the future.(less)
'Relentless' is the second book in Kaylea Cross's suspense series that I have read. Having...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (8 out of 10 on the blog)
'Relentless' is the second book in Kaylea Cross's suspense series that I have read. Having picked up 'No Turning Back', book number three in the series, earlier in the year. Each of the books reference the different characters in the other and our two leads for 'Relentless' are Rhys and Nev (Neveah), who were important characters in 'No Turning Back'. But I still think you could pick this up as a stand-alone novel in its own right, although perhaps having read the former would give you a slightly richer reading experience.
Nev is a doctor and in 'No Turning Back' was working to set up a hospital for the poor in Afghanistan, when she and her colleagues were kidnapped by Al Qaeda terrorists. Here she was tortured and suffered a horrendous ordeal until she was rescued by an elite armed forces team. Rhys was one of the soldiers that rescued her, but just as they were trying to escape his vehicle drove over a land mine, setting himself on fire and giving him severe neurological damage. As a doctor on the scene, Nev then saved her rescuer's life.
'Relentless takes off as Rhys is finally released from hospital following on from his injuries. But almost as soon as he's released his his boss calls him to let him know that a terrorist cell has been activated in Vancouver, which also happens to be where Nev is due to give a speech at a medical conference and he knows that he must go to protect her, whether he's physically ready or not.
Both Rhys and Nev are great characters. They have both suffered both physical and psychological ordeals during their time in Afghanistan, but while this makes them vulnerable, they are both very tough and resilient at the same time.
Rhys has been a solider all of his life, and when he's not protecting civilians and his fellow soldiers, he is protecting his twin brother Ben. Additionally Cross's physical description of him, despite his scars, had my mouth watering on several occasions! Rhys believes himself not capable of love and his resolved himself to a single life:
"He'd always known he'd spend his life alone. He wasn't cut out for relationships, let alone one that ended with happily-ever-after."
Which makes the romance all the more sweet, and the romance in this novel really is absolutely captivating, I so wanted Rhys and Nev to come together.
Nev is intelligence, tough and brave. Despite everything that has happened to her she is determined to get on with her life and not let the terrorists win and I couldn't help but admire her for that.
The plot is a perfect mix of suspense and sizzling romance as Nev and Rhys fall for one another and the terrorist plot unfolds around them. I was impressed with the couple of surprising elements Kaylea Cross managed to throw in that I genuinely didn't see coming at the end.
If you're a fan of romantic suspense, then I would definitely recommend you add Kaylea Cross books to your reading list. I enjoyed this book much more than 'No Turning Back' simply because I had some issues with the heroine's decision making in that book! But this really is a fab read.(less)
This is a paranormal romance with a real difference, in fact it has quite a fantasy feel about it. School teacher Sh...moreReviewed for www.BookChickCity.com
This is a paranormal romance with a real difference, in fact it has quite a fantasy feel about it. School teacher Shannon Parker gets much more than she bargained for when she buys a vase at an antiques sale. Suddenly she finds herself transported to another universe where she is a goddess. A goddess that also happens to be a bit of a b*tch too.
I loved the originality of this book, the new world with goddesses, magical powers and mythical creatures. But also the twist of Shannon being transported into this world and only her handmaiden knowing that she's any different.
Shannon is a fun and determined character, she embraces her new life and all of the responsibilities this includes. The plot takes a little which to take off, the whole antiques buying thing was a little too long, but once it got into its swing I was absolutely hooked. Shannon soon discovers that life as a goddess is not all gorgeous clothes, beautiful jewels and luxuries. With the threat of war and a small pox outbreak, as well as the bizarre need not her to do a topless ceremony every two weeks (I'm not quite sure what that was all about), the story is engaging and the baddies perfectly, hideously creepy.
The other big part of the book is of course the romance. When I first started reading, I was slightly nervous about it. The hero is a centaur - top half man, bottom half horse, and for a while the mind boggled! I'm sure you know what I mean! But thankfully I needn't have worried, it all worked out fine. Actually by the end of the book, I quite fancied a hot centaur of my very own, even if he did have a weird name - ClanFintan.
One thing that slightly annoyed me was Shannon's habit of referring to her friends as 'girlfriend', this may be a culture thing, as it's not really an English turn of phrase.
There were some superb characters in this book, and Shannon's real world friends and family were cleverly written into her new reality, although often with a twist. The impact of Rhiannon's selfishness (the goddess Shannon had swapped place with), often making Shannon's job a difficult one. But they are written so well you become engaged with many of their fates and not just of Shannon and ClanFintan's.
The book is not simply a romance, in fact the impending war with the vile Fomorians, and the reality of their brutality does add a nice horror edge that I very much enjoyed.
A really fantastic book, I loved it and was sad when it finished. I hope to be able to read the next two in quick succession. Shannon was a great, witty heroine and ClanFintan the perfect, chivalrous hero any girl would want."Divine by Mistake" is a fab mix of romance, fantasy, paranormal and horror. (less)