Gifted Gifted is a novella by Kelley Armstrong and gives us two short stories. One from her Cainsville series and one is a pack story from her Women oGifted Gifted is a novella by Kelley Armstrong and gives us two short stories. One from her Cainsville series and one is a pack story from her Women of the Otherwold series. Both are centred around giving that perfect gift for Christmas.
The first story is told from a young boy called Gabriel’s point of view. I have yet to read the Cainsville series, although it is sitting very temptingly on my kindle! So the characters and setting were entirely new to me, although I understand Gabriel is one of the main characters in the books. And we are given an excerpt at the end of the novella from the series that gave me an idea of the man he becomes.
Gabriel’s story is quite a sad one, he is a young boy, the son of a drug addict, poor, hungry and neglected. But there is one saving grace his regular visits to stay with his aunt in Cainsville. Gabriel lives for these visits, the normality, the town and its inhabitants, but more importantly the love he feels for his aunt. This story is about Gabriel’s quest to get her the perfect Christmas present.
This could have been a very sad story, if hadn’t have been for Gabriel. He has guts, steely determination and intelligence. It is this intelligence that allows him to survive, but also propels him to strive for something better outside of the life he has. It’s also very interesting to see the contrast of a Gabriel when he is at home surviving and there is a ruthless streak in him, for a child. To the Gabriel is Cainsville who is allowed to be a child once more.
In many ways this story did exactly what I am sure Armstrong hoped that it would do and has completely wetted my appetite and made me want to start the Cainsville series. I really enjoyed it.
The Puppy Plan
Book two is a pack novel, my favourite of Armstrong’s writing. It is told from the point of view of Elena and Clay’s twin son Logan, who is 9 years old. This book is very sweet and is about family. It’s lovely to see Clay and Elena as parents and also to see this parenting from a 9 year old’s point of view.
Both of the twins Kate and Logan want a puppy. For various reasons, their parents have told them the timing is not right and they cannot have one. What enfolds is a sweet story as Logan finds an abandoned puppy in a sack in the woods and wants to keep it as the perfect present for his twin and hides it away. But he also faces the moral dilemma of not wanting to put his parents in a difficult position.
This is just a cute story that will put a smile on your face, with a charming little twist at the end. Armstrong has created strong characters for Kate and Logan already, it was great to see flashes of Clay and Elena. We also get a guest appearance from Jeremy. There’s hints at another story to come from the pack featuring Logan and Kate and I very much look forward to getting my hands on it.
A fab little Christmas novella for Armstrong fans. Neither of the stories are complicated or anything more than little festive short stories that are little treat for Christmas. My favourite (as always) was the pack story, but of course I am yet to read any of the Cainsville series.
From Dead to Worse is book number 8 in Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, and it’s been a while since I have visitedReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
From Dead to Worse is book number 8 in Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, and it’s been a while since I have visited the little town of Bon Temps. Sookie is back in all her kookiness; she’s still kind of dating Quinn, although he’s missing; she’s still living with the witch Amelia who still hasn’t been able to reverse the spell on Bob the cat; Hurricane Katrina has completely changed the supernatural world; and there are plots afoot in both the vampire and werewolf worlds, which Sookie can’t seem to escape. Enter a Fae Prince who has taken an interest in Sookie and the fact that Sam turns into a lion, yes a lion, and you’ve got a pretty awesome book. Oh and I mustn’t forget Eric, because I’m kind of a little bit in love with him, and well he’s Eric, and he’s fabulous.
Ok, in all seriousness this book was great. But, I did I feel like it took me a while to get into it. I don’t know if it’s just because I haven’t read anything by Harris for a while and she does have a unique detailed style, which takes some getting used to, from her telling you when Sookie does her washing to shaving her legs etc. But, once I got into it, probably about a third of the way through, I was completely immersed.
I did feel like From Dead to Worse was setting a lot of things up for future books in the series. From the change in management on the vampire and werewolf fronts, to developments with the Fae and with Sookie’s brother Jason’s marriage. There were major changes, but the implications of those changes are yet to be realised.
Then there’s Sookie’s love life. I was kind of so over the Quinn thing before I had even started the book if I’m honest. He was never my favourite of love interests for Sookie. He was interesting for a while, don’t get me wrong, but he was kind of as interesting as a smelly fish in From Dead to Worse and it kind of went on for a bit too long too. Eric on the other hand, did I mention I love Eric? *Daydreams for a moment* Oh I have high hopes for Eric, the scene in her bedroom gives me serious hopes. I’m not going to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it, just leave you wondering . Sam was an interesting character in this book too, he was a steady, true friend to Sookie consistently and it made me really respect him. Plus you know the whole lion thing, as I said earlier… Awesome!
Amelia is great as Sookie’s housemate. Also look out for Octavia her mentor. Again, I felt like things were being set up here for the future. I wasn’t sure I was going to like Sookie continuing to have a housemate, but I found Amelia consistently entertaining.
I have mentioned a couple of times that this book feels a bit like a middle book, in that it seemed like it was setting up a lot of plots for future books. But it’s important I state that this didn’t mean it wasn’t a good book. There were some really great action scenes, some pivotal developments and Sookie carries on in her own way, which is such that you can’t help but like her. She’s definitely grown up too. The ending was kind of bitter sweet, but I liked the potential it could possibly create for Sookie and her family.
I just can’t help but like Sookie, her kooky manner, her sense of right and wrong and her Southern manners. There were so many big developments in From Dead to Worse and Harris used hurricane Katrina as a catalyst for change in the plot. It was also nice to have a book set back in Bon Temps, and see familiar characters again such as Sam. I hope that Sookie’s love life progresses more in the next book, because I wanted to see a little more on that front. The big changes should mean that book 9 is very exciting and we should hopefully get to see what they mean for the supernatural world. Another great book in this fab series.
I have been really enjoying Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series and after finishing River Road I had lReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I have been really enjoying Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series and after finishing River Road I had lots of anticipation about where the story would go. Elysian Fields takes off pretty much where River Road left us. Alex is no longer DJ’s partner and she is the solo Sentinel for New Orleans, leaving the door wide open for a potential romantic relationship. DJ and Alex are still worried about how Jake is coping with his transition to a Loup Garou, Jean Lafitte is still as crazy as he ever was and I was pleased to see merman Rene make a reappearance.
This time DJ is on the trail of a psycho axe murderer brought back for the dead. Add in the complication that her Elven heritage is now public knowledge, she’s also been ordered to train with Adrian, a wizard she can’t abide, then there’s the fact it would seem the very murderer she is trying to track down has been sent to kill her. As usual DJ’s life is more than a little bit of a hurricane the like of which New Orleans is still recovering from.
In Elysian Fields we start to learn a lot more about the Elven world and how it’s ruled as DJ becomes more and more sucked into it. The mystery surrounding her slightly strange neighbour Rand is revealed and the more I learn I really don’t like him! The main story evolves around the murder plot as DJ tries to work out who is trying to kill her, which also leads to some great action scenes. I find DJ’s solution to problems and crazy elf staff magic issues immensely humorous.
Unlike others, I’ve never been a huge fan of Jean Lafitte, but he really grew on me in Elysian Fields. His humour and sense of chivalry, he was seriously fabulous in this book. Jake’s a complete wildcard, there’s a big change for him and I’m really interested as to where Johnson is going to take his character. Alex is no longer officially DJ’s partner, but that’s just on paper and he and Gandalf still manage to rescue her from her various situations and *ahem* fires.
We finally get some major developments in DJ’s love life, 3 books in and it’s about time . And I have to say this is the part of the book where I felt a little bit letdown. It’s been building for ages and ages, the chemistry, the love triangle or is it a square or even a pentagon? Then after some angst between DJ and the suitor (I’m trying very hard not to slip who it is here!) decide to take things forward and then said suitor has second thoughts. I mean, are you kidding me?! Let’s not forget the five year gap between books one and two, they’ve had plenty of time to think about it! It really frustrated me and if I’m honest killed some of the chemistry for a while.
The romance did pick up and improve towards the end of the book and I did enjoy it, but I felt like the dip took away from the yummy at least, squee feeling you get normally when a couple you’ve wanted to see together after the author has made you wait for quite a while.
Elysian Fields changes the pace of the books and Johnson really moves the plot on, opening up the larger plot for significant development for DJ, these developments are really exciting and could mean some series life changing implications for her. This in itself really makes me want to read the next one.
One last thing, I never did work out why the book was called Elysian Fields? Did I just simply miss it?
I am most definitely still very much enjoying this series, but this book dipped slightly in the middle for me. Not enough to ruin my enjoyment, but it did mean it didn't rate quite as highly as books one and two. The bigger plot developments however bode well for the series, I just hope DJ’s love life doesn’t get too messy.
MY VERDICT: I did really enjoy Lover At Last, and managed to devour near 600 pages in 4 days, which at my rate of reading is some going. It’s certainly not the best book in the series, mainly because it just had far too much story crammed into one book, even a rather big book. But it was still a rollercoaster of a ride with some fantastic action, smouldering sex scenes and great character development. I wish we had seen a little more of Quinn and Blay and a little bit less of some of the other characters, but I still cannot wait for next book in the series and love that Ward is going back to the beginning with Wrath and Beth.
Frost Burned is book number 7 in the Mercy Thompson series and this is one series that delightfully has not lost itReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
Frost Burned is book number 7 in the Mercy Thompson series and this is one series that delightfully has not lost its spark over time. Over the last two books Briggs seems to have cleverly changed the setting or scenario so that the writing remains fresh and interesting. I should also add that it was most definitely better than River Marked, the last instalment.
The storyline centres around the kidnapping of the whole pack (yes all of them) as Mercy, with the exception of snarly werewolf Ben, remains un-captured. Leaving Mercy with the task of finding and rescuing the pack, as well as protecting anyone else affiliated with them from harm, including Adam’s daughter Jesse.
I really enjoyed the fact that I felt like we saw what I would describe as some old-school Mercy in this book, as she works on her own to solve the problem. Don’t get me wrong, I love Adam and we even get some scenes from his point of view too, which was awesome. Really awesome actually, to see his feelings and emotions and also what it’s like to be a powerful wolf, his love for Mercy. But I do also like it when Mercy’s on the back foot working her way out of a situation too.
Stefan’s back yay! But we also get lots of Ben, Kyle and Tad. Ben always has been an interesting character, Tad I hadn’t written thought much of really before other than as a secondary character, but he was a great and quite funny and I hope we see more of him. It was also fab to see more of Kyle, if not for his fashion sense alone.
For readers of the Alpha and Omega spin-off series, (very) old werewolf Asil guests in Frost Burned. I had a big grin when he appeared, there’s something about him I find quite fascinating. He’s the darkest of all of Briggs’ werewolves, silently rocking on the edge of sociopath-ness (yes I know that’s a bit of a made up word ). I could happily read a book all about him and his past. The interactions between him and Mercy were amusing and he made a great addition to the overall cast of characters.
The plot was a wily, twisty thing giving me several unexpected twists. The abduction plot itself ended up being quite far reaching. But this something I completely love about Briggs’ writing she throws in plenty of surprises and there’s plenty to keep you guessing. The unsettled political landscape seems to be growing in momentum with the wolves and the fae now ‘out’ in the open, what will become of the vampires? The sense of unease and growing unrest within the the fae is going to hopefully bring some great storylines in future books.
The great thing about seeing some of the story from Adam’s point of view was getting a real deep insight to his feelings for Mercy. The love they have for one another is a really lovely thing and it only added to the romance in the book. Despite their marriage and the end of the love triangle, not one part of the chemistry between them has lots its sizzle at all.
A great book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I adored as always the romance between Mercy and Adam. Mercy is one of the top urban fantasy heroines in my opinion and this book reminded just why. All these great elements were bound together in a superb plot that’s as twisty and bendy as a yoga instructor.
Deacon is back! Blood and Magick is book number 3 in Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series (if you don’t count the additional nReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
Deacon is back! Blood and Magick is book number 3 in Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series (if you don’t count the additional novellas), and as always within the first page you’re thrown into a serious, edge of your seat action scene. This series gives you very little time to breathe, there are just too many evil, bad guys. Witches it would seem this time.
Deacon is an occult bounty-hunter and ruthless to the point of brutal. After his family were murdered and he was saved by an Angel, he’s got some extra powers he never had before, and is bent on stopping evil at all costs. He doesn’t pull any punches or guns for that matter.
I’ve said it before (in nearly all my Deacon reviews sorry!), but I will say it again, Deacon really reminds me of a male Anita Blake. In Blood and Magick he seemed even more hard-line than before. You just don’t cross lines in Deacon’s world, even a little bit of grey might find you with his gun pointed at you. He seems even harder in this book than previous instalments, Deacon always has been a tough man, who leads a brutal life, but I did feel in this book that his edge took on a sharper tone.
Tuck himself has described Blood and Magick as a ‘game changer‘ in the book’s afterword:
"The book is the game changer. From here on out things only get wilder in the Deaconverse. I definitely want you to hold on tight."
So be prepared for some serious plot developments. I can’t really say much more than that without giving too much away, but the development did leave me quite surprised and really intrigued about where the series is going to go next. Honestly there are multiple changes for many characters, as well as previously unknown occult government division and religious order. Also Deacon’s magical abilities seem to be growing and as yet have not been fully explored.
I’ve also grown used to Tuck’s plot style. Instead of expecting a mystery element like you see in a lot of urban fantasy books, you generally know who the baddie is upfront. Which means the story centres around how Deacon and co. are going to stop them, usually with a lot of fight scenes and oh yes guns . Tuck obviously still does have a lot up his sleeve, you can see different threads being sewn into the larger plot, as well as more to learn about existing characters. I for one would love to know more about Father Mulcahy for starters.
I’m still on the fence about the Deacon/Tiff relationship, although reading other reviews for previous books, I think I might be in the minority on this. Tiff has most definitely grown up and got a hell of a lot tougher. Her injury and loss of an eye in Blood and Silver has added texture to her character, adding both vulnerability and strength. It’s not even that I don’t like her as a character, I really do. I have especially enjoyed her character development, but there were periods when I enjoyed the relationship between her and Deacon, and periods when I wasn’t sure it worked. But, I do enjoy seeing the softer side of Deacon when he’s with her. There is however a tiny part of me that still has hopes of a mini Charlotte and Deacon romance, who was sadly noticeable by her absence in this book, I do hope she returns for next instalment.
One thing that niggled me a bit was a plot continuity issue. Before a pivotal scene with a key character Deacon’s shoulder was badly injured, then afterwards in the last battle scene when he’s fighting with a rather bad-ass sword and it’s like the injury is totally forgotten. Perhaps it’s because I was reading an ARC, anyone else notice this?
A good, solid addition to Tuck’s urban fantasy series. I feel like the series is now on the cusp of something big. The introduction of an occult government agency alone leaves some really great possibilities for plot development, I also wonder where Deacon’s magical abilities are going to take him as well as his relationship with Tiff. If your a fan of quite violent, gritty urban fantasy I recommend you pick this series up.
I think anyone who has read the Anita Blake series has quite strong emotions on how the story with Anita and her immReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I think anyone who has read the Anita Blake series has quite strong emotions on how the story with Anita and her immensely complicated love life has developed. The series has taken a very different route than many fans expected. I keep reading the books because I loved the early ones so much and have read them about four times. I thought all was lost and then I read Hit List, it was like a refreshing step back in time. Edward and Anita and a serious amount of guns. Oh yeah!
So I had a lot of great expectations for KISS THE DEAD. I’m in two minds about the book, first there was the police investigation and the action scenes, this has always been where Hamilton excels as a writer. The opening paragraph takes us straight in with Anita at a crime scene, crazy vamps and hostages. Immediately I was excited.
But then came the scenes with the dreaded boyfriends, and I say dreaded because this is how I began to feel about the pages when I knew they were approaching. I found myself thinking ugh she’s going home, cue melodrama. It’s gotten so crazy I actually could not tell you who are her boyfriends and who aren’t, or how many are in the final total. Oh, but there is a girl now and her youngest lover while eighteen, is still at school. Then there’s Asher. Actually the least said about Asher the better. Anyone got a stake?
I don’t really mind that Anita is polyandrous. Well, I guess I do, as the extent is a bit crazy. But, I understand the books are as much about her seduction by her powers and the darkness surrounding her, as it is about her being a vampire executioner. There was also a theme in the book of Anita realising that there are just too many men in her life. I did feel at times like Hamilton is trying to cleave the story back to the action, and the police work that originally made this series such a success. But the crux of it is the scenes with her partners rarely seem to go anywhere. The plot surrounding them is overblown, repeating the same themes and they have become painfully tedious rather than interesting and sexy.
The crime scenes and police work were great. I am intrigued by the addition of Brice the new executioner on the block. I smiled at the interactions between Anita and Zebrowski. I hissed at the prejudiced investigators. I loved the guns and the gore and the adrenalin. This is where I wanted to see more of and is where those pages kept on turning.
Stylistically the book seemed clumsy, there seemed too many streams of repetitive description. More so than normal. I also did not understand the need to be continually reminded of how tough or how tall Anita is. We all know she’s tough, that’s why I love the books. I lost count of the amount of times she or others inferred she was a monster.
'I’m better at killing the monsters, because I’m one of them, is that it?'
As much as I know it’s an important element of Anita’s journey, it seemed to be repeated over and over. There were whole paragraphs that should have hit the editing table, because they just weren’t needed. Sadly, I just wanted more from this book and I think it could have been better.
My problem with KISS THE DEAD is that I know Hamilton can do better. I’m so frustrated with the boyfriend problems, and want more action and more bad guy hunting. Will I pick up the next one? Probably, but I doubt I’ll rush to the shops…
If you want a little taste of what the Deacon Chalk series is all about, it’s definitely worth giving SPIDER’S LULLAReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
If you want a little taste of what the Deacon Chalk series is all about, it’s definitely worth giving SPIDER’S LULLABY a try. It’s a novella that takes place between Blood and Bullets and Blood and Silver, but to be honest I think you could easily pick it up as a stand-alone. There are a few references, but nothing that would spoil things for you.
The story evolves around one of my reluctant favourite characters. I say reluctant, because as a terrible arachnophobe, I still find it hard to believe I’m reading a book about a were-spider (I’m even glad I had it as an ebook, as I even find it hard to look at the cover!). Yes, that’s right a spider as big as a human, even the idea makes me feel a bit nauseous. Given the rather tongue-in-cheek name of Charlotte, you’ve got to love Tuck’s sense of humour. But dare I say it, Charlotte is rather cool, in an understated chic kind of way. Eight gross legs and all.
The plot theme is familiar to what we’ve seen in all the books to date. Bad guys do something very bad, often affecting someone Deacon cares for, roll on lots of blood and violence, and lots and lots of guns. And of course, the bad guys deservedly get what’s coming to them. But it’s far from a tired format. It’s slick, it’s dark and occasionally a touch of subtle, black humour.
When Charlotte’s egg sac of spider babies *shudder* are kidnapped, along with a dancer from Deacon’s club, you know without a doubt he won’t stop until he gets them back. Of course being were-spider babies you don’t want them hatching without mummy present or things could get decidedly hmmm carnivorous, yes I think that deserves another *shudder*.
There is something almost comic book-esque in Tuck’s writing style. The action is quite cinematic, pulling you right in and depicted in such a way you have a very vivid picture of what’s happening and in particular what a certain character looks like.
This novella is almost non-stop action, barely giving you time to come up for breath. Deacon is a bad-ass with a tender side. He fights because he cares, almost too much. Which makes him not only a great character, but one you want to get to know, to peel beneath the layers.
Tiff makes a big appearance in this book. Emerging from the naive girl she was in Blood and Bullets, to become a fighter at Deacon’s side. The love story between them slowly being hinted at. I just don’t know if I quite get her though, there is something that makes it hard for me to connect with her. And I have to admit, I find it irritating that Deacon refers to her as ‘little girl’ albeit as an affectionate term of endearment.
A great read for urban fantasy fans, Deacon is fast finding his place amongst other monster fighting heroes. Buckle up for the ride because it’s going to get bloody! And yikes there are spiders, hundreds of them in fact. I need to read a romance now so I don’t have nightmares.
BLOOD AND SILVER is book two in James R. Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series, a man whose family were murdered by a supernatuReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
BLOOD AND SILVER is book two in James R. Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series, a man whose family were murdered by a supernatural evil and since then has dedicated his life to stopping them. The writing has definitely much improved in this book in comparison to the first. Ok, there were times when you can tell that Tuck is quite a new writer. For example there were several parts of the back story that were repeated on more than one occasion. However, overall it’s definitely tighter.
The story is a bloody, gritty and violent urban fantasy fest. Weapons, bombs, guns and explosions galore. What has really moved on is the world building, it’s worth reading just for the imaginative different were-creatures Tuck keeps coming up with. Just when I thought he’s come up with the best with a were-shark, he chucks in the ultimate terrifying were-baddie in the finale. I’m not telling you, you have to read it
The book opens with a bang, Tuck certainly knows how to grab your attention and I was sucked in within minutes. Submerged into the action. Chalk is a great, dark hero. There are times he really reminds me of a male Anita Blake, even with some of his lines:
I stared back, deep inside the cold place that lets me kill.
Hamilton fans might find that it sounds familiar? He’s a hit first type of guy and very much wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s the kind of guy who will die for his friends and those he believes needs protecting. And most importantly he’s cool.
When he comes across a pregnant shifter in desperate need of help, you know that Chalk will blow up everyone in his way in order to do so. Even if by doing so he ends up pulled right into the middle of a were-animal war. Luckily he has plenty of grenades ready for the job!
He’s got a great group of sidekicks too. Now I’m a huge arachnophobe, but I found myself growing very fond of Charlotte the were-spider. Never thought I’d say that! It was great to see Larson back in a new mature form, we met him in book one where he was terribly injured. He’s moved on and found his place in the group. I’m not sure where he got all of his medical skills from, but in the end it didn’t really matter.
One part of the story I’m not totally convinced on is the love story. Chalk is one hell of a man, and Tiff just seems too young for him. I like the fact he is moving on, but I feel like he needs more of a woman. Now a Charlotte/Chalk love story that could be interesting…! I suspect though that Tiff may be here to stay, and developments at the end of the story might help her become the woman I want for him.
Fans of gritty urban fantasy should have their eye on Tuck. Deacon Chalk is a dark, violent and caring hero that gives the baddies a reason to be scared. I suspect the writing in this series is only going to improve as it progresses. I look forward to book three.
I read Royal Street, the first book in Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series last year and joint reviewed it witReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I read Royal Street, the first book in Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series last year and joint reviewed it with Carolyn. I loved it, Carolyn not so much. It just goes to show how differences of opinions on books varies.
River Road actually takes up five years after the events of Royal Street, which felt a little bit unsettling at first. On reflection, I think as the events took place during hurricane Katrina it needed to in order to prevent the story getting sucked into too much of the hurricane clear up, which could have potentially ended up being tedious. It allowed the story to move on, but more importantly New Orleans to recover. From a storyline point of view this also allowed Jake to come to terms with being a Loup Garou and put him back into the narrative with credibility.
In this time, in order for in particular love stories not to have developed without the reader witnessing them, Johnson has put in reasons why DJ’s love life hasn’t progressed. Jake has been recovering, Alex and DJ are partners and have agreed to maintain a platonic relationship for professional reasons and DJ and Jean Lafitte seen each other since the events in the Beyond. A pinch of salt is needed and perhaps a small eye roll. I mean who wouldn’t have caved and at least slept with Alex in FIVE whole years? And can you honestly believe that Jean Lafitte hasn’t called in his debt in this time?
We open quite similarly to book one with DJ paying a visit to the roguish ghost and notorious pirate Jean Lafitte, who requires her help with a merman feud. He continues to be a funny and lascivious suitor for DJ, although I personally don’t trust him as far as I could throw him, I do think he’s starting to develop genuine feelings for DJ.
The merman feud naturally turns out to be much more than it appears on the surface and ends up throwing DJ and Alex into the middle of supernatural murder investigation. The plot is full of magic, wizards and shapeshifters and left plenty of room for guesswork from the reader’s side. I love it when the story has plenty of turns and room for speculation as to who the bad guy is. The murder mystery itself had plenty of pace and gore.
DJ’s love life gets more and more complicated as the book progresses, with as many as four potential suitors emerging. We of course have Alex, Jake and Jean Lafitte. But in River Road I could also see merman Rene who I think has potential. Johnson knows how to inject witty dialogue into her writing, and there are some scenes with DJ and Rene that caused a genuine chuckle. I know lots of people are in the Jean Lafitte camp when it comes to love interests, but I’m not convinced and would much rather see something develop with Alex or Jake, or as a third choice Rene over Jean Lafitte. He doesn’t seem to have quite the same appeal to me, too roguish, plus there’s the whole ghost thing. I mean honestly, sex with a ghost…? Really…?
We also begin to learn more about DJ’s elven heritage. Well, only scratch the surface really, I think we’re going to have to wait for the next couple of books to really get to the gritty details. But it hints at some exciting possibilities to come and a interesting greater story arc across the series.
A really great book and definitely better then the first book in the series. I love the supernatural mystery as well as the sexy chemistry and will they won’t they possibilities between several members of the cast and DJ. This series has firmly made its way onto my auto-buy list. A cracking urban fantasy novel, a fest of wizards, shape-shifters, hot mermen and more sexy leading men than you can shake an elven stick at!
HARD SPELL read like an American cop TV show with a supernatural twist. The book follows Stan Markowski a DetectiveReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
HARD SPELL read like an American cop TV show with a supernatural twist. The book follows Stan Markowski a Detective Sergeant on the Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit, a man with a particular hate for vampires, but had his own personal reasons for doing so.
A stolen magical book, some dark black magic sacrifices and vampire killings leaves Stan teaming up with a vampire, much to his distaste. Stan and his very likeable partner Karl, are left desperately trying to stop the sinister killing spree before anything even worse happens.
The book is quite masculine in its tone, this is not a criticism more a comment on style. It’s just a step away from book I usually pick it up, that have a strong female heroine. Stan is one of the good guys, a straight and honourable cop with a wry sense of humour. He has his issues, but in a way that does not make him too troubled or dark, it just flavours his outlook and gives him an edge.
HARD SPELL opens with a tragedy which doesn’t add to the overall story, but gives us a greater understanding of Stan’s character, but also the challenges faced work on the ‘Supe Squad’. It takes a serious amount of guts and a certain degree of creativity! (apologies in advance if you’re offended by swearing, as both my quotes include them):
As we hurried back to the police lines, Paul said, “I ain’t gonna ask if you’re fucking nuts, ’cause I already know the answer to that one. You’re going to try something tricky, right?”
Gustainis seems to be aware of the cop show feel to it, and even digs lightly at the style:
“You know, vampires and wizards and shit – that’s weird enough. But now, we’re in the middle of a fucking ‘buddy cop’ movie.”
The kind of CSI/ Supernatural/ Lethal Weapon (without the comedy) cross worked for me.
Part of the writing that was unusual was the lack of chapters. While there were distinct narrative breaks, I missed my good old friend the chapter as I think it affected the pacing of the novel. The story seemed to move around a lot also with crime scenes in different jurisdictions, getting lost in a little bureaucracy etc. I’m not really sure what the point of this was, perhaps other than the need to introduce different characters, I don’t think it would have detracted from the story to have them all in one place.
I’ve read a few book lately with cracking endings and HARD SPELL is definitely one of these. An explosive, fast paced adrenalin fix with a nice twist to boot. By the end of it, I found myself thinking I definitely will be picking up book two in the series, even if I wasn’t so sure in the middle of it.
HARD SPELL was a nice sojourn from my usual urban fantasy style. Gritty, dark, with a mystery that kept you guessing. I really liked Stan and his sidekick partner Karl, I also would like to see and learn about Stan’s daughter Christine in the next instalment. An enjoyable read for urban fantasy and police drama fans alike.
Overall I absolutely loved this book. I was very close to giving it a 9 and I plan to buJoint review with Carolyn from www.bookchickcity.com
Overall I absolutely loved this book. I was very close to giving it a 9 and I plan to buy book two as soon as it's released. There's nothing more exciting than a new series that completely hooks you in! "Royal Street" will be going on to my favourite urban fantasy shelf.
RATING: 8/10 - Brilliant, couldn't put it down, leaning towards a 9
Gunmetal Magic is a spin-off from Andrews' Kate Daniels series, putting her best friend Andrea as the lead character. As with the Kate Daniels books,Gunmetal Magic is a spin-off from Andrews' Kate Daniels series, putting her best friend Andrea as the lead character. As with the Kate Daniels books, it's an example of brilliant action, a love story and mystery all rolled into an awesome urban fantasy package.
On request of the pack, Andrea is called in to investigate that murder of four shapeshifters at a reclamation site. A site owned by her ex-boyfriend and the man who broke her heart Raphael. The deaths are unusual as all of the shifters have been positioned, and it takes a serious amount of poison to kill a shifter.
This leads to a really action packed story involving snakemen, gods, and more insight into the shifter world. Which also requires Andrea to make some serious decisions about her future. Ascanio the teenage bouda makes a funny sidekick and we also see plenty of Roman the dark Volv.
It was great to see things from Andrea's point of view, even her perception of Kate. The story wraps up a lot of threads about Andrea that have been sewn in the main series. So much so that I would recommend you read this in order of the series and not as a standalone novel. We learn about her past and what made her into the woman she is, it was also nice to have a heroine who is a bit more indestructible as it really adds something to the fight scenes. Andrea is seriously kick ass.
The on/off love story between her and Raphael has also been well catalogued in the main series, it really did need it's own book it do it justice and give it a proper resolution. Her retaliation to Raphael's prank is seriously funny and the love story sexy and heart warming.
The Magic Gifts Kate Daniels novella which comes free at the back of this book. It takes place simultaneously as the same time as Gunmetal Magic, I would actually recommend you read Magic Gifts first, I had already read it previously as I think it makes sense to read them this way around. But it's also a great read, you can read my earlier review here.
Awesome book that accompanies that Kate Daniels series perfectly, highly recommended for fellow fans. I hope we get another book from Andrea's point of view, and maybe one from some of the other series characters too. ...more
I was exceedingly excited about reading "Blood and Bullets" after reading 'That Thing At The Zoo' in January. DeaconReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I was exceedingly excited about reading "Blood and Bullets" after reading 'That Thing At The Zoo' in January. Deacon Chalk is the kind of hero that urban fantasy was invented for. Tough, scarred and on a blaze of vengeance following the murder of his wife and children by an evil monster.
Tuck continues to have the cool turn of phrase I enjoyed so much in 'That Thing At The Zoo' and the beginning got off to a really good start:
'Some nights are destined to go to hell. Not literally, at least not usually. From the start of them, you know they are going to turn on you like a rabid dog. I was having one of those nights.'
Action, vampires and plenty of blood and bullets just as the title promised. Deacon epitomises the word Bad-Ass and his team of sidekicks are equally tough and interesting. From the dangerous priest, to the tough, damaged strip club manager. I also like the fact that Deacon has a softer side, there are a couple of scenes where we see him cry and it only adds to his characterisation, rather than detract from his tough guy image. This book is not for the squeamish, it's immensely violent and gory. I didn't mind it, but it may not appeal to some.
Tuck is obviously a lover and a fan of the urban fantasy genre and this shines through in his writing, in fact some of the more famous ones even get their own mention:
'There are few proclaimed vampire slayers and they range all kinds. Anita out in St. Louis, [...] Cat and Bones run their crew killing vampires and do a fine job of it. [...] The black guy and old man combo [...] Sam and Dean ...'
You get the idea. This made me smile and endeared Tuck to me as a writer. Although I'm not sure I have quite forgiven him for the were-spiders *shudder* ;-), but it does add originality to the story. I don't think I've come across were-spiders before.
While there are many aspects of this novel that are great, there is one major thing that let it down. And that is the middle. The plot just seemed to loose its way for a time. It lacked deeper intrigue and twists that other writers in this genre deliver so well. I felt a little like the story went oh here's a baddy let's kill it and, oh here's an even badder baddy let's kill it too. But wait, we might need some bigger guns.
And oh yes, the guns. Tuck is seriously into his guns. Usually I don't mind this, I like knowing what weapons my heroes are carrying on them. This is a common facet of urban fantasy heroes, but it got a little bit tedious in the end. Page long paragraphs on guns, just when the plot really needed to move on.
But... And it's a big but. Then came the ending. Just when I was getting somewhat disillusioned with the story and a little frustrated because I wanted this book to be so good, Tuck completely pulls it of the bag. The ending is ... awesome!
Appollonia is the ultimate evil vampire and Deacon the perfect adversary. The fact that he doesn't really care if he lives or dies adds to the darkness of the plot's climax.
'But I have a secret. I don't give a damn if I die. It's fine with me. That means I get to go be with my family. If today was the day I cashed in my ticket, then so be it.'
We have the ultimate showdown, a very interesting religious twist, and a complete adrenalin churning, page-turning action fest. Suddenly I was hooked back in and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen. It completely redeemed the novel.
While it lost its way a little, "Blood and Bullets" has serious potential as a new urban fantasy series. I loved Deacon and eagerly anticipate his journey both as vampire hunter, but also as an individual recovering from a tragic loss. I'm looking forward to the release of 'Blood and Silver'.
RATING: 7/10 - Very good, would definitely recommend ...more
'Reckoning' takes place before 'Halfway To The Grave' the first book in the Night HuntressReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (6 out of 10 on the blog)
'Reckoning' takes place before 'Halfway To The Grave' the first book in the Night Huntress series, before Bones and Cat have even met. It's a novella set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. The book sits firmly in the urban fantasy/horror genre, with Bones on the trail of two gruesome ghoul serial killers.
The book focuses mainly on Bones, I enjoyed learning more about Bones before he met Cat. But at the same time it was a little strange seeing him not only without Cat, but dating someone else. The writing did not quite have the spark of the Night Huntress books and I think this is merely because I simple missed the romance and spark of Cat and Bones' relationship. I actually think if you haven't read the books you're better off picking up the first in the series initially and then reading this novella retrospectively as it was written.
Also with the Night Huntress books there is always a slight air of mystery around Bones, you don't always know what he's thinking and what clever plan he's going to come up with, and that wasn't there in this book. And because of this, I hate to say it, but he came across a bit less cool. Although of course he's still Bones, so he is still awesome, but perhaps not quite as awesome as normal.
We meet a new character Ralmiel, whom I loved despite the fact he was trying to kill Bones! Several times throughout the story he just made me grin. I do hope he makes an appearance at some point in the series books.
The ending is equal parts sad and gruesome, if you don't like a little gore you might want to skip some pages!
A nice novella if you like Bones, not as good as the Night Huntress books, but a quick read for fans of the series. ...more
Magic Gifts is a great novella in the Kate Daniels series. It is included with Gunmetal Magic, the Andrea spin-off (Reviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
Magic Gifts is a great novella in the Kate Daniels series. It is included with Gunmetal Magic, the Andrea spin-off (which I really must read). I was however, sent it separately for review. It takes place after Magic Slays, the latest instalment, but before Gunmetal Magic.
The story begins with Kate and Curran going out for a dinner date. But as ever for things with Kate and Curran things don’t quite go to plan. It ends with a woman dying, a fight with some vampires, an evil necklace and a small child seriously in need of some help.
The main plot evolves around Kate and Curran in a race against time to save the small boy who has an evil necklace stuck on his neck draining the life out of him. Even for a hundred pages, this story packs a punch. It has everything I’ve come to love about this series, witty dialogue, great interplay between Kate and Curran, fun characters, super action scenes and of course evil, dead things. There is also some brilliant dialogue between Ghastek and Kate, he really should know better than to bet against her!
We get some new characters in the shape of Vikings, who quite frankly like to get drunk and start fights all the time. They are completely hilarious! Look out for the scene with Curran walking naked through the Viking camp. Yes, yes, I did say naked, I told you this was a good story.
Magic Gifts also gives a big of an insight into The Guild and how it is run and Kate and Jim’s relationship. I’ve since seen that Jim has his very own novella – Magic Dreams, which I shall fast be making a purchase of!
The ending ties everything up nicely, but also manages to deliver a clever plot development I didn’t see coming. This is a great series accompaniment for fans, but I wouldn’t say it’s a good introduction for newbies. But if you haven’t read book one yet, I highly recommend that you do so.
A completely superb novella to accompany one of my favourite urban fantasy series. Funny, sexy, action packed. If you love Kate and Curran and you haven’t read this yet, go and download it now. I promise you won’t be sorry.
'That Thing At The Zoo' is James R. Tuck's debut novel, introducing us to the world of DeaReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (8 out of 10 on the blog)
'That Thing At The Zoo' is James R. Tuck's debut novel, introducing us to the world of Deacon Chalk. We featured Tuck in our Debut Author Spotlight last month. At 80 pages, it's more of a novella, but well worth your times and a superb introduction into this new urban fantasy series.
Deacon, a man whose entire family was killed by a supernatural monster, now spends his life hunting the things that go bump in the night and killing them. So when Atlanta's zoo animals are being barbarically murdered, it's only natural the police call him in to investigate.
There's something about Deacon that slightly reminds me of a male Anita Blake. He's tough, determined and somewhat ruthless. There's a darkness to him, enhanced by his personal tragedy. This novella only scratches the surface of who Deacon is, there's plenty left unsaid and it's really only just enough to wet your appetite. But most importantly, you can't help but like him as he is seriously, seriously cool.
"You look like hell yourself, man. What are you going to do?" I held my gun up. "Suck it up. Keep moving. Finish this."
Tuck has a fantastic turn of phrase. There is a college kid coolness about some of his language, but you can also vividly pull into your mind the image he is trying to depict. Then there are some descriptions that amongst the blood and gore you cannot fail to smile at. Don't get me wrong this is far from a comedy, in fact the story is very dark and hints at further darkness yet to come, but there is also a hidden wit.
'The priest lifted scar tissue masquerading as an eyebrow while he lit another cancer stick. His Zippo clicked open with a metallic chime, flared a one inch spout of orange flame, then clacked closed. He worked the smoke around in his mouth like a pipe-smoker, tasting it, enjoying the flavour.'
'His hair out of the constrains of the hat was the biggest freaking mullet I have ever seen. I grew up with some white trash family members. I have seen mullets. Jimmy the zookeeper's mullet was absolutely epic.'
The story itself is a page turner, a mash of action, gore and horror with a super evil creature and plenty edge of your seat scenes. And lots and lots of guns, again reminding me of Anita. But all of this pivots around Deacon, Deacon makes the book. We are briefly introduced to some other members of his team in one scene. A scarred priest (mentioned above) and Kat the owner of Deacon's strip club, who are equally fascinating, and I found myself wanting to know a lot more about them as well as Deacon's background.
This novella really just gives you a flavour of what is to come, it sucked me right in with supernatural magnetism. I want to learn more about the world and more about the characters. So Tuck has achieved I'm sure exactly what he set out to achieve with this story. Made me want to read more!
'That Thing At The Zoo' introduces you to a new series and even better hero. I truly can't wait to get my hands on the first full novel of the series 'Blood and Bullets'. Fans of gritty urban fantasy will love this one. ...more
It was with a hint of sadness that I turned the last page of Kelley Armstrong’s 13 as it brings to a close her WomenReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
It was with a hint of sadness that I turned the last page of Kelley Armstrong’s 13 as it brings to a close her Women of the Otherworld series. One I have read from the beginning buying each book almost as soon as it was released. 13 is the third book with Savannah as the narrator.
The story takes off where Spell Bound left us, with the supernatural world on the cusp of war. Savannah’s brother gravely injured and a deadly virus about to be unleashed on the world. This book reminded me why I love Armstrong’s writing and why I have loved this series so much. There have been some ups and downs, some books not as good as the others, but straight away I knew this was going to be a good one. It might have had something to do with the arrival of Eve. What can I say about Eve? That woman is wicked in more ways than one.
13 has enabled Savannah to go full circle from the child we met in Stolen to a full grown woman, her relationship with her mother Eve and her love for Adam finally reaching some much anticipated closure in this instalment. I think after so many books of building the romance it would have been nice to see this part of the story expanded a little more, it seemed to be over in the blink of an eye and a touch unsatisfactorily, although it still gave me a happy smile as I have so wanted them to get together.
What becomes apparent as the story unfolds is how many different plot-lines Armstrong has been building throughout the series. So many characters and threads all culminate into this grand finale. There were some characters when I had to give myself as moment as I thought..who? Before I connected the plot and book together rustily in my head.
It plays homage to all of the favourite (female) characters of the series, with each of them getting at least one chapter to narrate from their point of view. I always struggle when the narration switches between first and third person narration and I think it would have been easier if it was all first first, just switching narrator, but it was nice to touchbase with the characters again.
Talking of favourites, I can’t write a review of 13 without taking about Elena. I love the werewolves and the pack, and I love Elena even more. Bitten and Stolen are undoubtedly the best in the series. So I was a bit sad about how little we saw of Elena in this book. Armstrong does warn us in the foreword, but even still.
"While some would say it would be fitting to return to Elena for this final story, I’ve always had another plan. Back in Stolen, I introduced a twelve-year-old Savannah, and I dreamed that the series might run long enough for her to become an adult narrator."
There is a short story From Russia With Love tagged on at the end of the book, but why couldn’t this short story be turned into book fourteen the end of the series? I think I may begin a petition! There was a thread with a surprising reintroduction of a character I never expected to see again in 13 that didn’t really get concluded that gives me hope.
This aside, I still did really enjoy this book, Savannah is a great narrator and has grown into a fab heroine, a different person even to the woman she was in Waking the Witch. Her character development something I’ve very much enjoyed witnessing. The plot was virtually non-stop action, with one threat and disaster after another. From bombs, drugs, viruses and rampaging werewolves to demons. A total urban fantasy thrill fest. It was not quite the end to a series I wanted, but it was still a really good one. The ending itself was not quite and ending, but actually more a new beginning which surprisingly I really liked.
13 gives an explosive (literally) end to one of my all time favourite urban fantasy series. I can’t help but be disappointed that a) it’s the end and b) we didn’t see more of Elena. BUT... It was still a really fantastic book. The most action packed so far. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, you really must, it really is one of my favourites.
I’ve been a huge fan of Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series for ages, but while I have read her Alpha and Omega series andReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I’ve been a huge fan of Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series for ages, but while I have read her Alpha and Omega series and enjoyed them, I’ve not loved them quite as much. That was until this book! FAIR GAME was a bit of a game changer for me, I finally fell completely in love with Charles and Anna.
The main premise of the book is Anna and Charles helping the FBI looking for a serial killer targeting werewolves. This in itself is a really interesting backdrop. The mystery, but also the overall politics of how the world is dealing with the revelation that werewolves and other supernatural beings now exist. The politics between the FBI and various different government sectors, combined with the fae and werewolves is well written and is developing a great longer term storyline.
Anna and Charles have such a lovely relationship. With Charles being so powerful, old and wise he could easily over power and dominate Anna. But he doesn’t. It’s Anna who is the expert for the FBI, Charles is just her bodyguard. He strives to encourage Anna to be the best she can be, while still getting away with quite a bit of that alpha maleness we all love so much!
Anna is an unusual heroine. She’s certainly not kick-ass, but she is a survivor and she’s definitely grown throughout the series. She’s got stronger and people continually underestimate her. She has a gentle and kind nature, but is clever and works hard to help others.
FAIR GAME has plenty of action scenes and the plot is well developed. You have the strands with the FBI, but you also have Charles with his own ghost problem and the greater exploration of how Charles and Anna’s marriage works. I really enjoy how Anna and Charles’ wolves have wills and personalities of their own within the characters. It adds an extra dynamic to things. I’m also a fan of Charles’s Indian heritage and find it equally fascinating the inclusion of magic along with their werewolf skills and abilities. Briggs is a brilliant world building and I aways adore her characters. They live and breathe in a way you can envisage them walking down the street next to you.
The story mixed action, mystery, suspense and romance beautifully. The ending is a shocker, but not in the way you think it will be. It delivers something unexpected and is a significant development for future books. I honestly cannot wait to see how that unravels.
Loved this book, couldn’t put it down and the pages just kept on turning. If you’re a fan of Briggs’ Mercy books, I would urge these books a go and if you haven’t read either you definitely need to go on a book buying expedition.
**Warning this review contains spoilers for the first book in the series**
If you thought 'Dead, Undead, Or Somewhere In Between' couldn't get any better, then you're in for a treat. J. A. Saare has excelled herself in 'The Renfield Syndrome'. Taking off where the previous book left us, in a twist you couldn't possibly have foreseen.
Rhiannon finds herself one hundred and one years in the future, in a world ravaged by demons, vampires and werewolves. With humans fast becoming on the extinction list. She has a deal to deliver on and just fourteen days to do it, before a demon claims her soul. But the future is unlike she could ever have imagined, and she suddenly finds there are more things than just her soul to fight for.
Rhiannon is back in all of her kick-ass glory, and maybe just slightly less foul-mouthed! As much as she is occasionally outrageous, she has definitely grown up in this book, becoming a fantastic urban fantasy heroine. There are scenes when I thought my heart would break for her as she navigates through the new futuristic world and the implications of the decisions she has to make.
This book has so many twists and turns with characters doing things you do would not expect them to, that it keeps you completely on your toes. There are parts where it's completely un-put-downable. Some characters totally surprised me with their actions, some in a good way, others in an awful way. You will certainly look at Paine and Disco differently by the end of the story.
Saare has cleverly combined some of the latest literacy trends for dystopia in with classic urban fantasy. I was sucked into the new world and absorbed by her vision of a demon ravaged future. But it also added an unusual dynamic to the story. I've said before how much I love time travelling romances, but I think this is the first time I've read it in urban fantasy and I loved it. In fact, I loved the entire book. It's gritty, dark, action-packed urban fantasy. Just the way I like it!
A superb second instalment in the Rhiannon's Law series, Saare has written an even better book than the first, which left me desperately wanting more. The last page arrived far too soon! Is 'The Ripple Effect' ready yet?!...more
"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is a uniquely drawn novel, rich and creative. For me it's pulled into two parts: before the doors to elsewhere close, and after. With second part of the novel by far having the grittier storyline. Marketed as a YA novel, I think this book would appeal to readers who normally only pick up adult novels too. ...more
Atticus and Oberon are back with aplomb. I do think that Oberon is one of the best urban fantasy sidekicks out thereReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
Atticus and Oberon are back with aplomb. I do think that Oberon is one of the best urban fantasy sidekicks out there! I just love the relationship between him and Atticus and the way they can speak mind to mind. This time it's not Celtic Gods picking fights with Atticus, it's witches, and we all know how much Atticus likes witches! (if you haven't read the first book, a lot trust me! )
There are some super evil German witches for Atticus to contend with this time. Which requires him calling in some reinforcements in the shape of lawyer vampire Leif and Indian witch Lakasha.
Once again Hearne delivers some absolutely cracking one liners that will leave you chuckling away. If they're not from Atticus or the aforementioned superb Oberon, they are probably from Atticus's delightful old lady widow neighbour. And Atticus trying to modernise Leif's speech caused more than a few chortles.
Atticus now has Granuaille as his apprentice, which adds a new dynamic to the Atticus and Oberon mix. I do like Granuaille, but I wished Hearne had done some more with her in this book. I feel like she's become a bit of sex object, although there is perhaps potential for romance later on in the series, I think she could have been developed so much further.
Atticus just works for me as a hero, I love how genuinely clever he is and that it is often his intelligence that gets him out of trouble rather than sheer luck or brawn. Don't get me wrong he can wield a sword big time when he needs to, but he is a fast, strategic thinker. Although he does seem to have some rather strange sexual encounters.
This book is a fun romp that mixes humour, action and brilliant characters that are drawn so well they are almost living and breathing. The grand finale did not have the same pizzaz as it did in 'Hounded'. There is a good fight and plenty of drama, but it didn't seem to grab me as much. I think to a certain extent it is setting up elements of the story in preparation for the next book. But, that certainly doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, 'Hexed' still has the un-put-downable quality of 'Hounded' and at times I even think it was funnier.
This series works really well as an audiobook, helped by one of my favourite audiobook narrators Luke Daniels. It really is very well produced and executed, a good series to try if you've not given listened to an audiobook before.
'Hexed' does not have quite the same spark as 'Hounded', but it is still filled with Hearne's excellent and witty characters and is now on my auto-buy list. And I'm already excited about 'Hammered', Atticus versus Thor... Bring. It. On! ;-)