LAURA: This has to be my favourite book in the series so far. Loved it! I think this is hugely helped because I really do adore Eric, Carolyn is right you do miss his sarcasm which always manages to me smile, but nevertheless I still loved him. It also has a fantastic edge of your seat plot with some superb developments for several characters. I can’t wait for the next one!
LAURA’S RATING: 9/10 – excellent, this will remain on my bookshelf forever(less)
With each instalment of this series, the more I fall in love with Harris’s writing style and of course the beautiful...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
With each instalment of this series, the more I fall in love with Harris’s writing style and of course the beautifully endearing Sookie. And also that I need to view both the TV show and the books as two different entities, rather than getting annoyed that the show is becoming so different.
After Dead to the World there were two things this book needed to deliver, what’s next for Jason and will Sookie and Eric end up together? I read them back to back as I couldn’t wait to find out.
When it comes to Jason, we really didn’t have long to wait. In fact, we find out in the very first line of the book.
"I knew my brother would turn into a panther before he did."
Which really does open some interesting possibilities for growth for Jason’s character. But Eric, I did really sort of wish there was more Eric in this book, simply because he really is my favourite character, but I also did just love some of the scenes between him and Sookie in Dead to the World. But the storyline seemed to take a different direction delving deeper into the world of werewolves and shapeshifters instead.
It was nice to have sarcastic Eric back, and it continued to amuse me as Eric kept trying to work out what happened between him and Sookie. But I did really want to see what happened next! I think Harris going to make us wait for another book…
DEAD AS A DOORNAIL takes a distinctively different tack with the story. How does Sookie manage to get involved in all of these deadly situations? She is one unlucky telepath! This book focuses more on the werewolf and shapeshifter communities as they are targetted by a serial killer. We learn a lot more about the delicious Alcide, and unfortunately this also meant that I got slightly irritated by him. He didn’t quite do a Bill, but he did go down in my estimations. I know he has reasons to be upset with Sookie, but I couldn’t help it, he disappointed by me. Especially as he has been the most noble of Sookie’s suitors.
I found the world and hierarchy of the werewolves fascinating, albeit brutal. And the inbred community of werepanthers a touch gross, but interesting too, in a kind of circus freak way. It was refreshing for the storyline to take a slightly different direction and also to enjoy sinking into Harris’s rich world building as we explored another dimension of her supernatural setting. Once again she weaves a tight plot, I had no idea who the killer was right until the last minute!
But then… What is this I see? Another potential low interest for Sookie?! Yes, this did earn a bit of an eye roll. Enter Quinn. I’ve said before that Sookie seems to be collecting love interests like they’re going out of fashion and this theme seems to continue. I knew she’s cute and sweet and all, but seriously? It’s weird, while part of me had a bit of a snort about this part, I actually kind of enjoyed it too. Sookie is so genuine and flattered by it all and what woman wouldn’t want lots of hot supernatural men wanting to date her?
But I do feel like I’m needing a bit of love story resolution. Can we at least have a bit of a leading man beginning to emerge? I did however like Quinn, he’s definitely piqued my curiosity.
Harris’s writing is kind of addictive, once you succumb to those first few pages, you’re lost into their seductive swirl. I didn’t love DEAD AS A DOORNAIL as much as the previous book in the series, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. As a series these books have totally got me hooked, can’t wait for the next one. And I’m also hoping Definitely Dead will give me a bit more in the romance stakes.
DEFINITELY DEAD is perhaps not the best so far, but this still continues to be one of my favourite urban fantasy series. It’s opened up the story for lots of possibilities and I’m intrigued as to how the wider plot will develop now. I’m not totally into the whole Sookie/Quinn love affair and I’m still routing for Eric, a girl can hope!
VERDICT: Despite my few issues with this book, did I mention the suitcase? I think this book was definitely a step up from Definitely Dead. The bomb plot gave us a thrill-ride climax at the end and there were some interesting developments with key characters in the book. Sookie is growing up and might even be developing a bit of a ruthless streak, but time will tell on that one. Bring on book number eight, although I do hope it’s set in Bon Temps. RATING: 4/5
This series has fast worked its way up on my favourite urban fantasy series list. I just love Kate and Curran! If I’...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
This series has fast worked its way up on my favourite urban fantasy series list. I just love Kate and Curran! If I’m secretly a bit honest, I think it would have been quite easy for me to discard this series after Magic Bites, the first book. Because although I enjoyed it, it wasn’t the greatest start. But this is a series that just seems to get better and better with each instalment.
I thought that things couldn’t get any better after Magic Bleeds, I picked up MAGIC SLAYS with a certain about of trepidation, thinking the previous book was maybe the peak. But, oh, the writing team that is Ilona Andrews proved me seriously wrong. MAGIC SLAYS is the best so far!
If you’re a regular reader of my reviews, you will know that I’m a meanie with my ratings. My 4.5 stars are rare and my 5 stars are like gold dust. I’ve given MAGIC SLAYS a 4.5, but it’s teetering on the edge of a 5! I loved the writing, the pacy storyline, the kick-arse fight scenes, the gut-wrenching, sad moments, and did I mention that I totally adored Kate and Curran?
There is something distinctly different about this series, in comparison to other urban fantasy favourites and I think that is because of the setting. The unusual world that crashes between periods of magic and technology is unique, as is Andrews’ vision of vampires, combined with the eerie and malevolent baddie Malcolm, slowly growing in the background. The threat that is Malcolm is building like a fierce storm cloud, I think we have several books to wait, but when it comes it will be ferocious.
Two big things have changed in MAGIC SLAYS. Kate now runs her own investigation business and her and Curran are now in a relationship. I was most worried about the latter. Worried that the sizzle and fun would have left between them, but the writing delivers enough twists to keep them on the toes and keeping the relationship fresh and exciting. I also thoroughly enjoyed how Kate has become integrated into the pack, the fact that she is a tough and independent as she has always been, and that she and Curran clash as much as they always have.
The storyline is non stop… the action, the intrigue, we also learn more about who and what Kate is. It brings in lots of characters from previous books together for a pulse racing, adrenalin-laced, climax. Honestly, I could almost feel the clock ticking moment like in an episode of 24.
Kate’s best friend Andrea has quite a big part to play in this novel and the Boudas. I’m finding Andrea’s love life so interesting, I’d happily read a novel about her all on her own. As I’m writing this review, I’ve just realised there is a book all about Andrea released earlier this year – Gunmetal Magic – guess what I shall be downloading onto my Kindle shortly?!
The best in the series so far, and vying its place for one of my favourite books of the year. MAGIC SLAYS is a must for Kate Daniels lovers and the series should be on all urban fantasy fans reading lists. Action packed, awesome characters, humour and pathos in just the right quantities and a compelling plot. What more could you ask for?
*Warning spoilers for previous books in the series*
I opened ONE GRAVE AT A TIME with a smile, Cat and Bones are back. I’ve said in previous reviews I love their chemistry and their banter and the fact they can seriously keep evil butt! And that hasn’t changed, although I do think there could have been a bit more banter in this book.
ONE GRAVE AT A TIME moves away from bigger political issues and vampire wars, and provides Cat and Bones with a new problem. With her new connection to ghosts, Cat has a few new ghostly friends and can’t resist when one of them implores her for help.
The ghost of witch hunter Heinrich Kramer rises every Halloween to kill and torture even more victims. But it turns out Heinrich is also one very powerful and scary ghost even when it’s not Halloween. Hearing of his horrific exploits, Cat knows that she has to stop him.
The story moves away from the ups and downs of Cat and Bones relationship and the challenging of one another. In this book they are a solid team working together, which was nice to see. I wasn’t totally convinced on the Heinrich storyline, I don’t think it’s the best one we’ve seen in this series, but I still enjoyed the ride. I don’t know, it just lacked some of the grit we’ve seen in other books. The baddie, was nicely evil and difficult to kill, but I miss those colossal battles and vampire politics.
There were some interesting developments with Cat’s old team that hint at interesting times ahead. After the painful death of her uncle in This Side Of The Grave, changes are afoot, there is a new guy (Jason Madigan) in charge with his own agenda. He has that snotty quality about him that just makes you want to slap him silly. You know he’s going to continue to cause Cat and Bones some serious trouble, but at some point we all know he will get his just comeuppance, we just need the patience to wait for it!
The book brought with it some new characters, from a ghost busting team to the rather humorous Tyler, the very camp, dog loving, medium. I loved him, he was funny and cool and I hope this is not the last time we see him! As well as some old favourites namely Spade, Denise and Ian who never fails to make me laugh.
As always the story delivers plenty of action, steamy sexy scenes and a good few belly laughs. Cat and Bones never fail to entertain. If they were real, I would so want to be friends with them, although it might invest in a bullet proof vest first!
I have to admit ONE GRAVE AT A TIME wasn’t my favourite in the series. But that is judging it by the series’s standard, I know how fab Frost’s writing can be. It was still a great book and I would continue heartily recommend the series. I so cannot wait to pick up Vlad’s book *rubs hands together in anticipation*.
VERDICT: There were times when Chess did drive me a little crazy in this book, but I’m still a big fan of this series and would definitely recommend it to urban fantasy lovers. Chess and Terrible are unorthodox, infuriating, exasperating, but… completely absorbing. I do hope we see a bit more of them in Chasing Magic.
I’ve been a huge fan of Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series for ages, but while I have read her Alpha and Omega series and...moreReviewed 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.
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...moreReviewed 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.
'That Thing At The Zoo' is James R. Tuck's debut novel, introducing us to the world of Dea...moreReviewed 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. (less)
'Reckoning' takes place before 'Halfway To The Grave' the first book in the Night Huntress...moreReviewed 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. (less)
I was exceedingly excited about reading "Blood and Bullets" after reading 'That Thing At The Zoo' in January. Deacon...moreReviewed 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 (less)
Overall I absolutely loved this book. I was very close to giving it a 9 and I plan to bu...moreJoint 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
HARD SPELL read like an American cop TV show with a supernatural twist. The book follows Stan Markowski a Detective...moreReviewed 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.
BLOOD AND SILVER is book two in James R. Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series, a man whose family were murdered by a supernatu...moreReviewed 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.
If you want a little taste of what the Deacon Chalk series is all about, it’s definitely worth giving SPIDER’S LULLA...moreReviewed 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.
I think anyone who has read the Anita Blake series has quite strong emotions on how the story with Anita and her imm...moreReviewed 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…
I’m finding it quite hard to summarise what I feel about ONCE UPON A NIGHTMARE. I think it’s easier if I split the b...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I’m finding it quite hard to summarise what I feel about ONCE UPON A NIGHTMARE. I think it’s easier if I split the book into two parts. The story and plot which really is superb, but then there’s the violence which to be honest is pretty horrific.
Let’s start with the first element. ONCE UPON A NIGHTMARE is a gruesome, frightening murder mystery. Our main heroine is Sara. The book opens with Sara feeling an intense sense of foreboding, followed by a horrendous nightmare where she is raped and murdered. As the plot unravels it soon begins to become apparent that Sara’s nightmares are some sort of clairvoyant gift, as she discovers each of them begin to come true, starting with the murder of someone she loves dearly.
The writing is tight and pacy, the twists of the serial killer plot are brilliant. Moylan throws in several red herrings, by the end I was suspecting everyone, but had no idea who the awful killer was. In fact, I would have put my money on someone else. The scenes were gripping and the sense of terror and escalating horror palpable. It was a complete thrill-ride.
The relationships between the characters were cleverly portrayed and added further depth to the growing tension and horror. Isolation and fear surrounded Sara as the novel progressed. Which only grew worse as she begins to suspect everyone, along with the realisation that the killer is someone close to them all.
But then there’s the violence. To be clear, I read what I believe to be quite a lot of violence in the genres I like to read. I’ve read scenes of gore, torture and rape. But ONCE UPON A NIGHTMARE seemed to take things to the next level. It’s important to state that this book is in no way suitable for younger readers. The violence is abundant, explicit and quite hard to take.
The scenes that were hardest for me were the rape ones. There are scenes of very, very graphic, violent rape. I’m talking the killer keeping his victims awake, raping and mutilating them at the same time. There were a couple of occasions where I had to put the book down, because I felt faintly nauseated and needed a break from the writing.
This is my major criticism of the book, I think the violence could have been taken back a little bit and still have the same impact. But the level of it tipped over to gratuitous. On a personal level, it was just too much for me.
This is what makes this a hard review for me to write. The writing is great, it’s horror and thriller combined brilliantly. The characters are multi-layered, engaging and dark. But violence is shocking. And it’s making it virtually impossible for me to rate this book. The story would be a 4/5, but the violence would be a 2/5, but I don’t think the book deserves a 3, so I have compromised on a 3.5/5.
A scary, well written thriller for people with stomachs of steel! If you’re not a fan of violence don’t even think about picking it up. If you don’t mind it, then this is great, gory, page-turner.
THE WITCHES is a horror novel that was originally published in 1960 and tells the story of a school mistress (Miss M...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
THE WITCHES is a horror novel that was originally published in 1960 and tells the story of a school mistress (Miss Mayfield) who goes to teach in a small town in Kent, where things are not quite as they seem. The story is written by Peter Curtis, who isn’t fact a man, but a pseudonym for Norah Lofts.
The 1960s setting gives the book a slightly old fashioned, if not historical feel. But actually suits the tone of the story and mystery perfectly. There were a few points that made me chuckle, forty described as middle aged for instance, at only eight years away from it myself I viewed this a combination or horror and amusement.
The story begins when Miss Mayfield begins to suspect one of her students is being abused. The discovery leaves her to suspect something much more sinister is going on. The book is as much a psychological one as a physical one. The isolation of Miss Mayfield is a single woman in a town where she doesn’t know anyone, doesn’t know who she can trust and subtly begins to be manipulated by those around her until she’s questioning her sanity is chilling.
"She had a second in which to taste fear to the full, time to think that there was such a thing as Evil which could take palpable and visual form, and that she was here alone with it."
The tension builds slowly, with a real eeriness that really did give me goosebumps at times. The feeling that something very dark and sinister is lurking underneath the veneer of this pretty village was potent.
Miss Mayfield is a slightly weepy heroine, I understand that it was related to the fact that she wasn’t sure if she was losing her mind during certain sections of the book, but she was a big change from my usual kick-arse urban fantasy favourites. But by the end of the book she showed sheer guts, determination and bravery in her own prim way.
The story has you guessing until the very end about who is involved in the dark plot and who isn’t. I had my suspicions, but it didn’t fail to surprise me. Because of the era the book was written in, you have to read between the lines a little bit during the end, as the writing is not as explicit as we’re used to in more modern writing. For example:
Then she lifted the cup and, saying, ‘Here is his blood,’ offered it to Granny Rigby, who did with it something so degrading that Miss Mayfield shut her eyes…
Now my imagination took me to a few places about what could be that degrading, but that was explicit as things got, you don’t actually know what she does that is so awful, you can only guess. And if you’re a modern horror reader this is quite a step change. It didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all, it was just stylistically different.
A classic, chilling horror novel where the atmosphere and psychological games are as scary as the actual final events. THE WITCHES is a chilling tale of evil that has corrupted a small picturesque Kent village and the one woman who dares to challenge it.
33 A.D. is not the usual type of book I would pick up if I saw it in a bookstore. But, one thing reviewing does do i...moreReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
33 A.D. is not the usual type of book I would pick up if I saw it in a bookstore. But, one thing reviewing does do is open you up to new stories and writers. 33 A.D. takes us back to a world where vampires are evil, vile, frightening creatures in a vision that would make Stoker proud.
The setting of the book is the part I found particularly clever and unique. Set in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus Christ, it rewrites the events leading up to Jesus’s crucifixion with an evil, vampiric twist.
33 A.D. is one of those books that makes me regret that I opted out of Religious Studies at school. Because I know that McAfee has without a doubt used some creative licence in his retelling, it does after all include vampires, but I cannot tell you how closely he knitted it to the original. The writing is original, fresh and unique. The concept of the novel cleverly crafted. The plot is a jagged, crooked thing of unexpected events and plenty of gore. Although it did meander on occasion.
The story is told from various character’s point of views, beginning with Ephraim, the vampire converted to religion after an encounter with Jesus. Then we have Theron the vampire assassin, Marcus the Centurion, Taras the Roman soldier and secret assassin, Mary the Jewish merchant’s daughter and Gordian, also a soldier under Marcus’s command. Each of them playing their part and their stories threading through to the end.
What I struggled with the most was this jotted narrative style. It was not immediately clear, perhaps not even until the end, who the hero of the book was. And even then the hero is a complicated character who plays his own part in Jesus’s death. As a reader I very missed the idea of a central hero, some of the characters I liked more than others, but at some time or other in the book I disliked each and everyone one of them. This was a real sticking point in the story for me, I lacked someone to identify with at least at some level and truly route for. I think it would be fair to say I didn’t really care for any of the characters, with perhaps the exception of Taras, which meant the story did fall a little flat at times.
The conclusion is a bloody, deadly affair, so bloody I wasn’t sure if it was going to give a Shakespearean tragedy a run for its money. I had kernels of hope for some of the story lines but McAfee takes things in an entirely different direction to the way I expected.
I don’t think that this is a series I will continue on with. A lot of this is down to personal taste, this is not generally a genre I read often. But that aside, to coin a Bonnie Tyler phrase, ‘I need a hero…’ and 33 A.D. had a bit of an empty void where one should be. But it was an interesting concept, a clever rewrite and it’s nice to read about vampires back in the nightmare arena once in a while.