Note: Spoilers lie ahead. Normally, we avoid them like the plague, but it’s j**spoiler alert** This review was originally posted on Vampire Book Club.
Note: Spoilers lie ahead. Normally, we avoid them like the plague, but it’s just too much fun to talk the finer points of this one. However, we have flagged the big “damn, why’d you tell me” moments, if you want to brave it.
I’ve always named Dead to the World as my favorite of the Sookie Stackhouse (née Southern Vampire Mysteries) books. (My two other favorites are series opener Dead Until Dark for its world-building and All Together Dead for generally WTF awesomeness.) This is for a few reasons, but there are two particular reasons.
First, Dead to the World is a game-changer. Events in this book forever change characters — Sookie, in particular. There’s no going back after the events of DTTW, and I liked being taken there. By the fourth book both the readers and Sookie are immersed in the supernatural world. We’ve accepted the good and the bad. We know vampires are political and self-serving, but sure know how to protect what they deem theirs. We begin to understand werewolf and shifter pack dynamics. And Sookie, while not a part of these groups, is still a part of their world. That revelation means she needs to play by their rules, and we begin to see her transition into the Sookie who went through hell in Dead and Gone.
It’s also when we meet the witches. Magic begins to flow through the series and opens the gates for new help and friends for Sookie. Before our Bon Temps waitress had a toe in the water, with Dead to the World Sookie really wades into the supernatural world.
The other reason Dead to the World tops my favorite Sookie books, and it’s shameless (and a spoiler, so cover your eyes or whatever) but that shower scene. Hell. I’m going all spoilery here, because it’s a re-read review. So, again, I warn you, continue with caution. Bill was always kind of a dick, but was devoted. Every time Eric hit the pages, I kept thinking “I wonder how that would do down.” And we got it. Now, usually I don’t go into the detail about sex scenes in novels, but I have a vital point to make, so do go with me here. I know a good number of you are joining me in re-reading Dead to the World prior to the premiere of True Blood’s season 4 and as part of our monthly group read. And, I know many of you have said how you hope they get the aforementioned shower scene right in the TV show.
But, you know what? We all remember that scene far dirtier than it was. It was hot, don’t get me wrong. Soapy, amnesiac, Viking goodness. Then fangy femoral artery hotness later. Very good. But in talking with several people, we (myself included) injected a lot more detail in to that scene. (Kind of like how everyone remembers Eric running down the road in the book’s opening either naked or in red briefs. (He’s wearing jeans, ladies. I wanted to remember him in those bright red undies, too, but our Viking vampire can work jeans, too.)
Short version: Dead to the World opens the supernatural floodgates, lets us into the altered mind of Area 5′s sheriff and might curl your toes a time or two. ...more
Short version for those already in love with the Vampire Academy series: Spirit Bound is on par with Blood Promise, which I hold as the best in the seShort version for those already in love with the Vampire Academy series: Spirit Bound is on par with Blood Promise, which I hold as the best in the series.
If you have not read Blood Promise, do not read the following as it contains references to events occurring in that book. If you're up-to-date with Vampire Academy series, you're safe to read this. No Spirit Bound spoilers -- and trust me, there are surprises in the book -- are in this review.
Rose will always be torn. She's born into a world where she is expected to protect others -- them first, always them first. She's proud to do so. She has the skill, the strength and a strong sense of duty. It's both what she wants and what tears her from her desires. Throughout the series this is the easy line to draw -- her dhampir status is what keeps her from living a free life.
But that's not the point any longer. Rose's sense of duty is what keeps pulling her into emotionally and physically torturous situations. Her former instructor and lover Dimitri (who she attempted, unsuccessfully, to kill in Blood Promise) is still an evil and vicious Strigori, killing for pleasure and power. He's hunting her now. Knowing she needs to finish what she started in Russia, Rose still can't help but seek out a way to save him for real. If that's even possible.
The danger involved in finding those answers means Rose must bring her beloved BFF Lissa into the way of danger. All she has ever wanted was to guard Lissa. Keep the Dragomir Princess safe. Them first.
Duty to protect Lissa and duty to free Dimitri pull at her. To make matters more complicated (and aren't they always?), Adrian loves her and she wants so much to be with him completely. He continually surprises her, and us, with his understanding about her need to "save" Dimitri, though he wishes she would let it go and be wholly invested in him.
Spirit Bound is about choices. Duty, life and love will always reign within Rose, but can she move forward without letting go of one of the forces binding her?
Catherine Crawford kills vampires. She’s been hitting the bars to find undead to slay since sheThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Catherine Crawford kills vampires. She’s been hitting the bars to find undead to slay since she turned sixteen and her mother finally told her what she is: half-vampire. Incredibly rare, Cat’s mom was raped by a vampire. She holds the vampire part of her daughter against Cat. That means our heroine is doing her damnedest to take out everyone of those murderers she can. As a half-vampire, Cat has increased speed and senses, but you won’t find her drinking blood for sustenance.
Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene FrostThis plan worked just fine until the night she met Bones. The master vampire pegged her as hunting his kind immediately. On the upside, he also kills vampires. The bounty hunter strikes up a partnership with Cat. He’ll train her, make her stronger and she’ll get to kill vampires — just the ones he picks. Cat’s on board, but spends the weeks of training hating Bones. In the process, though, Bones challenges Cat to recognize who she is and accept that being part vampire isn’t a bad thing. She has this strong prejudice built in for their kind, often at the expense of her own self-esteem. Bones makes her question her life, who she is and forces her to decide if she can really love herself. Oh, and he’s super hot. Bonus.
Jeaniene Frost crafts characters you want to know in real life — or in the case of the big bad, maybe you’re happy he’s fictional. Both Cat and Bones come with baggage. They’re real, and it makes it that much easier to fall for them. The romantic story arc is natural and progresses with plenty of questioning. This isn’t a paranormal romance where the heroine blindly falls for the hero. Cat makes him work for her trust, her love, and the readers reap the benefits.
Halfway to the Grave is action-packed, funny and sexy. It’s the paranormal trifecta. Jeaniene Frost should be on your auto-buy list. I promise, after reading Halfway to the Grave, you’ll want to immediately read the rest of the series....more
I couldn’t put down Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade for more than a few moments at a time. After reaThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
I couldn’t put down Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade for more than a few moments at a time. After reading the majority of the 450-page book in a single sitting, I looked at my husband and just mumbled, “Wow.” Following a curious look from my better half, all I could say was Nightshade is by far the best YA novel I’ve read this year. (Yes, better than Spirit Bound. Yes, better than The Iron Daughter.) It is just a phenomenal read.
Calla is the alpha of the young wolves in her pack, the Nightshade pack. They, and other Guardians (both wolf and human, able to shift at will), protect a sacred site in Colorado. But the time is coming for a new pack to be formed. Since her birth Calla has known she will be the mate of the Bane pack alpha Ren. That is tradition and her duty. She had accepted it. But much more is expected of Calla than Ren in terms of their pre-union behavior. She must remain pure — not even kissing Ren until she’s ‘his.’ He can do whatever with whomever without any consequences, and he does.
It all becomes more complicated when a human boy, Shay, enters Calla’s world. She’s drawn to him, but interacting with him is forbidden as are the strong, unfamiliar emotions Calla feels for Shay. He pushes her to find answers about who she is and why she follows orders, particular the one about being Ren’s mate.
The love triangle in Nighshade is gripping and, at times, overwhelming. The fact is Ren isn’t a bad guy. He wants Calla to want him because he cares for her. She has feelings for him, but also doesn’t believe she has a choice not to be with him. Shay offers her freedom and romantic love. He wants her to direct her own destiny. (It’s hard not to love Shay.)
Nightshade isn’t just another werewolf book. It isn’t just another teen love story. Nightshade is about women controlling their own lives, about being free to love, about investigating truth for one’s self… and it is utterly sexy without any sex.
Also, for those who want strong prose that keeps your mind working while devouring page-turners, Cremer’s word choices are beautiful. The writing is lovely alongside the powerful story....more
In Unholy Magic, we dive deeper into the two worlds Chess exists within: The Church of Truth and Downside.
Prostitutes in Downside are being murdered iIn Unholy Magic, we dive deeper into the two worlds Chess exists within: The Church of Truth and Downside.
Prostitutes in Downside are being murdered in heinous ways with the tinge of dark, sex-tinged magic hanging over their mutilated and branded corpses. The moment her official dealer Bump has the chance, he calls in ‘his’ churchwitch to figure out the cause. Chess has maintained her booty call/drug connection with Lex, so she ends up agreeing to work the same job from rival dealer Slobag’s side, too. She’s wedged between warring drug lords, where one wrong step could lead to death, not just hers.
All the working girls are convinced it’s a specific serial killer’s ghost. The ghosts they’re focused on has been in Church prison for years. As such, we get to see more inside the Church of Truth headquarters. Stacia Kane paints the scenes vividly, particularly when Chess ventures into one of the deepest Church ghost prisons to confirm the serial killer is still caged. Her description of our heroine’s descent into this man-made hell for ghosts is startling, adding to the overall understanding of this alternate future Kane has created.
In Unholy Ghosts, Chess was without anyone in her life. No one relied on her or was invested in her welfare for altruistic purposes. In this series we see lots of people use Chess, but we start to see a real connection form between Chess and Terrible. She has trouble accepting the possibility of trust, but wants it. Her loose relationship with Lex begins to weigh on her. She crashes with him, lets him supply her drugs and keeps it all from Terrible. She finally has to begin looking at what damage she could be doing to these potential friendships, a first for her.
That worry though, can’t overcome her addiction. In Unholy Magic we see the depths of Chess’ addiction, the truth that functional addiction is an unrealistic hope. As a result, we also see more clearly how easily Chess can be manipulated. She’s lost control – not just to her addiction, but also to her freedom. She’s miserable and sees the steps to regaining her life as giving up. In Unholy Magic she has to face the truth of her situation and make the decision if her life with the Church, with friends, with lovers is worth a change.
With increased intensity, Kane delivers an action-packed, dark urban fantasy novel that will leave you reeling for days after finishing it. (We actually pre-ordered the third novel, City of Ghosts, the day after completion of Unholy Magic because we don’t want to waste even a day not knowing what will happen with Chess, her job, the love-triangle and the others within Downside.) ...more
This review is also posted, along with other Downside Ghosts reviews, at Vampire Book Club.
After we finished Unholy Magic, the second Downside GhostsThis review is also posted, along with other Downside Ghosts reviews, at Vampire Book Club.
After we finished Unholy Magic, the second Downside Ghosts book, we said how it was even better than the series opener Unholy Ghosts (review). Stacia Kane has again taken her dark urban fantasy series to new depths with City of Ghosts.
Chess still has a crime to solve, this time working with the police wing of The Church of Truth, a team called The Black Squad. But City of Ghosts is more about our flawed heroine growing as a person, accepting that needing to connect and rely on another person isn’t inherently bad. She’s striving for that redemption. She wants to prove herself. She’s a talented witch and she sure as hell isn’t going to let some bitch from the Black Squad otherwise. More than that, though, she wants to prove herself trustworthy to Terrible.
Those who have caught Terrible Fever from the earlier Downside books know he feels betrayed by Chess. He isn’t going to make things easy for her. He’ll avoid her. Say hurtful things. She wallows in it. In fact, you don’t get much Chess-Terrible interaction for the first two-thirds of the novel. He’s there with her out of duty to Bump, but make no mistake he’s hurting. But when he becomes prominent in the book again, it’s worth the wait. (Really, really worth it.)
It’s Chess’ desire to fix things with him, to protect him, to keep Downside safe and the emotional growth she experiences through that process that truly elevates City of Ghosts.
We don’t want to give anything away, so, here are 3 reasons you must read this book as soon as you can get your hands on it:
You’ll get more than one intense, amazing Terrible fix. The ‘big bad’ Kane introduces this time out is complex and will keep you trying to piece things together until the end. You’ll see why Chess never works with other people. Entertaining. The emotional heavy that is City of Ghosts is worth experiencing. Kane can craft such heady situations, you’ll feel like you’re with Chess pleading with Terrible, trying to escape a burning building, being attacked by ghosts, etc.
We wouldn’t dare call Downside Ghosts an escapist series, but these books will bring you into Downside. We promise, you’ll spend the next several days thinking about scenes from the books, thinking about why something happened the way it did or just blushing remembering things that happen in the tunnels.
Just go ahead and put Cynthia Hand on your auto-buy list now. Hit up Amazon and order UnearthlyThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Just go ahead and put Cynthia Hand on your auto-buy list now. Hit up Amazon and order Unearthly now, because — and we’ll put our rep on this one — the book is top-notch.
Unearthly by Cynthia HandClara is part angel. She’s still new to the whole thing, but when she begins having visions of a boy amid burning trees she knows something is up. Her mom (also part angel) is so excited, because her daughter is receiving her purpose. While Clara’s mom won’t reveal what her purpose is or was, she’ll work with her daughter to figure out what Clara is meant to do. First step: figure out where the vision is taking place.
It’s the second step that makes thing complicated for Clara and her family: move. Any teenager is going to hate picking up and moving away from their friends, but Clara has been assigned a task by God. You can’t really shirk that resposibility.
Clara quickly runs into the boy from her dreams, and he’s stunning. In addition to being gorgeous, Christian is also kind …and off limits. He has a girlfriend, and, you know, she’s an angel sent to probably save his life. Imagine meeting the boy of your dreams — to feel an amazing connection to him — only to continually be told there’s no hope and you should focus on your job. Frustrating doesn’t being to describe it.
Even as she begins to get closer to Christian, she finds another “not her type” guy grabbing her attention. What if her purpose is to be with Christian? Can can even want to be with someone else?
Add in a couple polar-opposite friends (one who knows way more about angels than Clara does), a resentful little brother, sometimes secretive mom and a popular girl who wants to rain hell down upon the girl catching Christian’s eye and you can see why being a part-angel teenager is complicated.
The beauty in Unearthly comes from choosing your destiny, learning to make the hard choices and knowing when your heart should rule those decisions.
I love an emotional ride. Good novels evoke genuine emotion in their readers. Great novels more often surprise readers by cultivating the unexpected response. Unearthly appears straightforward, but Hand’s writing so enamors the reader that one is confused, anxious and exhilarated as the plot coils tighter. At the end you’ll wonder how this delightful journey brought you here, and start begging for more. ...more
Damn you, Karen Marie Moning. I know you like cliffhangers. I know you like to torture your chaThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Damn you, Karen Marie Moning. I know you like cliffhangers. I know you like to torture your characters, but that ending? C’mon! (No, readers, I won’t spoil it for you. That would be mean. I’ll just say the ending reminded me of how everyone thought their DVR had cut off the finale of the Sopranos. It was that kind of ending.)
Frustration at the ending aside — and I am frustrated — I loved Dreamfever. If you haven’t read the earlier books, I’m going to reference events at the end of Faefever here in a second. You’ve been warned.
At the end of Faefever, Mac was attacked by Unseelie princes. Raped. And, as we all feared, she was turned Pri-ya. She was hollowed out and seeked only physical attention. She had been saved by Dani and the sidhe seers, but Rowena doesn’t trust her. Barrons saves her. Again.
Early on, things are a bit different because we have Dani narrating. MacKayla isn’t really up to it. I wasn’t much for it at first, but the kid grows on you. Eventually, Mac comes back stronger, but now the walls between the mortal world and Faery have come crashing down and we’re all left wondering if there is any way to save the world.
Expect unexpected alliances, breaking through wards, surprise trips to Faery realms without a fae in tow and evil at every turn. (We’re purposely avoiding details, because the plot is a constant surprise in Dreamfever and we’re not about to ruin it.)
Brutal, deep and leaving us with heaps and heaps of questions, Dreamfever is an undeniably great urban fantasy. Mac gets tiny answers, but gets even bigger questions in exchange. Is she destined to save the world or destroy it?
Now, we sit on the edge of our seat dying for answers to questions. The fifth and final Fever book, Shadowfever, comes out this January. We’re thinking pre-ordering it may be necessary....more
**This review will reference events at the end of the second BDB book, Lover Eternal, and doesThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
**This review will reference events at the end of the second BDB book, Lover Eternal, and does not recap the world built in book one, Dark Lover. If you haven't read the earlier books, please check out the reviews of Dark Lover and Lover Eternal.**
Zsadist is the brother everyone avoids in the early Black Dagger Brotherhood novels. He can be cruel and downright scary. The jagged scar crossing his face, coupled with the tattoos and piercings, make him look the part. He only feeds from humans, and the rumor mill says he tortures and maybe kills them. The Brotherhood, who are known for their loyalty to one another, purposely keeps females away from Zsadist.
But, as we learned in Lover Eternal, Bella seeks out the "scarred brother." She wants him, to be with him. But after he kicks her out, she's captured by the leader of the lessers (vampire slayers). Early in Lover Awakened, we learn Mr. O wants to pretend Bella is his dead lover. While he doesn't have sex with her, he wants to physically fight with her, hold her and pretend she's his wife. (It's even creepier than it sounds.)
Zsadist makes it his personal mission to find Bella and make those who took her pay. His brothers don't understand, but he spends time at her home, protecting it and feeding her fish.
Zsadist is sure Bella shouldn't be around him. He's convinced he'll taint her and repeatedly pushes her toward his twin Phury. She refuses and makes it clear she only wants to be taken care of by Zsadist, and no matter how callous he wants to be, he's unable to say no to her. (Or to stop from bonding with her.)
Your heart will go out to Zsadist, and when he opens up to Bella -- telling her the true horrors of his past -- you will melt. Giant puddle just wanting to help. Bella is perfect for him. He can't scare her away and, after the events of her abduction, she understands him more than any of his brothers can.
It'd be wrong to give any more details than that, but you'll quickly understand why so many fans of the BDB series say Zsadist is their favorite brother. In Lover Awakened, J.R. Ward has found a perfect blend of action, edge-of-your-seat pacing and character development that leaves you aching for these people. Bonus: Ward always brings the bedroom heat.
Oh, and it'd be wrong not to warn you: There will be another cliffhanger to build up to the next storyline. ...more
Things were already tense for Rachel Morgan at the end of Black Magic Sanction (The Hollows #8)This review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Things were already tense for Rachel Morgan at the end of Black Magic Sanction (The Hollows #8). Now she’s got the chance to be absolved for using black magic. All she has to do is get to California in one piece and hope that the necessary people keep their words. Things are never that easy, though, and the Coven would really like it if she just didn’t make it.
She sure can’t get through security at the airport, so the only option is to take her mom’s Buick cross country. And going solo? Hardly. Our favorite pixy Jenks, vampire BFF Ivy and even that scheming elf Trent come along for the otherworld version of the Great American Road Trip.
Kim Harrison has a great way of using mundane situations to propel her characters and the humor. We all know spending days cooped up in the car with your family — and there’s no doubt Jenks and Ivy count as family here — can make tension percolate. Add in being hunted, fire, ancient evil and tons of running for our lives and you have so many of the pieces that make this series so strong.
We’re keeping this review spoiler-free, but we promise there are several moments that will have you shaking your head, muttering “oh no” and begging for a bit more. In other words, we promise Pale Demon is freaking amazing.
Overall, Pale Demon is impressive in that nine books in Rachel Morgan has grown a crazy amount and we love her all the more. The plot twists were perfectly placed and the darkness always balanced with just the right amount of pixy swearing to lighten the mood. Sometimes longer series lose their relevance and core connection, but Pale Demon does just the opposite. If nothing else, it further invigorates the series and characters. We have no clue where Harrison will take the series next but we’re already dying for more.
Sexual content: Allusions to rape and a few sexual scenes...more
Those who read this blog regularly know I flit back-and-forth between obsessions with urbanThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Those who read this blog regularly know I flit back-and-forth between obsessions with urban fantasy titles and paranormal romances. I like darkness and grit. I love sizzling chemistry. And, above all else, I love seeing realistic characters, especially realistic relationships. And — damn — Karina Cooper hits all of the above and more with her first Dark Mission novel, Blood of the Wicked.
In the strictest sense, Blood of the Wicked is a paranormal romance novel, but I was impressed by the urban fantasy elements. The novel is set in New Seattle. Magic caused a great chasm to take much of the original city into the ocean. Instead of moving in-land, they’ve build on top of the ruins (again). What has been created is a physical manifestation of the social class structure. A layer cake where the poor and seedy elements live far underground where light can’t reach, middle class have the center levels (high enough to get a greyish natural light), and the most wealthy live topside in a world of glass and metal. She’s also maintained the ruins of Old Seattle, and diving into that catacomb is dark, nasty and dangerous.
Because witches’ magic is blamed for collapses all over the world, The Mission hunters seek out and kill all witches. Their belief is the magic always corrupts, always leads to evil. And magic is in the blood, so as soon as anyone — man, woman or child — is identified by blood he or she is executed. So, it’s not surprising that Jessie has been on the run her whole life. She does her best to keep the magic locked in, and skips from one strip club bartender gig to another. Her main goal is avoiding attention, but she also has spent years trying to find her little brother Caleb. While Jessie’s gift is to see the present, her brother inherited her mother’s ability to see the future. He gave her premonitions about her death, then left telling her to never look for him.
That was until Silas finds her. He’s a member of the Mission sent to New Seattle to find Caleb. The witch and his coven are killing people. Lots of people, and Silas knows for sure Caleb has killed five already in torturous rituals. His goal is to find Jessie and get her to help him bring in Caleb. He has no idea Jessie is a witch, too. She’ll come along, but only so she can save her brother before the missionaries take him in.
Silas and Jessie have instant attraction to one another, but they both know just how bad of an idea it would be to get together. Jessie knows what he is and that Silas would kill her if he found out she was a witch. She hates his kind and, hell, the bastard wants to kill her brother. Silas, on the other hand, sees Jessie as an innocent girl. He doesn’t want her involved in this and doesn’t want to be putting her in danger. He also doesn’t particularly like lying to her. He knows he’s going to kill Caleb, but paints on the lies to try and keep her help.
These two give into each other physically while still tangled in all the lies. When feelings start to arise they have to make some big decisions. Should they admit the truth? When the truth comes out about them both, will they be able to overcome it? Will Silas kill her if he finds out she’s a witch?
Oddly, the relationship built on lies feels real to me. It’s easy to go into something assuming it’s frivolous. Neither one thought they’d have feelings. Sex wasn’t supposed to matter between them. Just a little fun and then moving on to another city. But once that spark is lit, one has to decide if they want to back up and give themselves fully — including admitting early lies — or cut their losses. Choosing to make yourself vulernable to rejection is hard enough, what happens when that rejection will come with a death sentence?
A beautiful blend of darkness, love and acceptance, Blood of the Wicked goes to the top of my paranormal romance recommendations list. The writing is bone-deep with honesty and the action scenes crackle with tension and fury. Urban fantasy fans, if you’ve been avoiding paranormal romance, now’s the time to put a toe in. You will love this book.
Note: This review is spoiler-free for this title, but mentions key plot points from the endThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Note: This review is spoiler-free for this title, but mentions key plot points from the end of One Foot in the Grave. If you haven’t read the first book, please check out this review.
One Foot in the Grave is one of my favorite reads, and the reason goes back to something I said when reviewing the first Night Huntress book: Jeaniene Frost creates a real romance and relationship for her hero and heroine. In Halfway to the Grave she made them work for it. Bones refused to let Cat relegate him to something shameful, to let herself hate the part of her that was like him (vampire). And — I really am going to tell you what happens at the end of the first book, so really, you should have read that warning above — she makes a stupid choice to cut him out of her life out of nobility and love. The smart, tough-girl thing might have been to take a stand, but she just wanted him safe. So she took on the heartache and pretended Bones was killed, then disappeared with the federal supernatural hit squad.
And this is why we love Cat. She makes those stupid choices that we’d make. She may be stronger, faster and generally more badass than you or I, but she makes real mistakes. And when we meet her in One Foot in the Grave it’s been four years since that big mistake. Oh, you read that right. YEARS. And she’s ached and longed and missed Bones, because she truly loved him. She likes her new job, and she’s very good at it, but it’s not the same.
But fate couldn’t keep these two apart. Bones has spent four years searching for her. We all know he’s not really one to let things go. And when they reconnect, there’s no going back. But vampire slayer back with her master vampire boyfriend doesn’t exactly bode ease for anyone. There’s a hit out on Cat (but really, we’re not all that surprised). Expect to see the hit squad in action, get a glimpse at just how powerful Bones is and be reminded why they call Cat the Red Reaper.
To those who have yet to read One Foot in the Grave, you may often see Night Huntress fans making reference to Chapter 32. That infamous segment is from One Foot in the Grave. You may be thinking, “I don’t remember chapter numbers of events.” But this is different. Frost knows how to write action and conflict. And she put them both in the bedroom. Chapter 32 is one of the most scorchingly hot, well-written vampire sex scenes. There are strategically placed bites. (Insert wistful sigh.) It’s unforgettable, and serves a plot purpose.
In short, One Foot in the Grave amps up the action, the love story and even the vampire abilities. Plus, there are always new twists and some of the revelations at the end will have you shaking your heard....more
When I read the first Dark Ink Chronicles book, Afterlight, I knew Elle Jasper was going to take us someplace awesome. And, oh man, does she. I also considered the first book an urban fantasy with a heavy romantic element. This time out, though, Eli and Riley’s relationship is clearly the crux of the story. We get serious action sequences — we’re talking training, free running, vampire fight club, throwin’ knives, etc. — but at the heart of Everdark is the bond between these two, and the pressures put on it.
And I was fine with the shift. In the first book I was swept away by vampire Eli. His protective, all-or-nothing nature is even stronger this time out, because Riley is his. Unfortunately, after the actions of the Arcos brothers at the end of the first book (remember, they were the evil Romanian strigoi vampires), Riley now has tendencies, and they’re strigoi tendencies. She’s fast and strong, and Eli isn’t complaining about a boost in her sex drive. However, her new mental connection to Victorian Arcos is less than appealing. He comes into her dreams, telling her how they’ll be together. It creeps Riley out, but Eli hates it even more as he doesn’t like sharing.
Oh, and Victorian isn’t the only one slipping into Riley’s mind. There is another murderer out there, a vampire, who is killing one woman after another while Riley is forced to watch. Expect the Dupré vampires, Preacher’s Gullah magic folk and another vampire family to band together to take out a slew of new vampires and hunt down the one tormenting Riley. And, of course, Eli takes particular interest in stopping Victorian from getting all mentally sexy with his girlfriend.
You would all hate me if I didn’t mention this, but Jasper brings the Riley/Eli heat early and often in Everdark. We’re talking on the beach, in the ocean, in a tent, then back home, etc. And it’s awesome, because you love these two so much. And now Riley’s strength can challenge Eli’s, they’re on a more physically even playing field. Also, I just really love them. It made me happy to so quickly see them happy together.
I will warn you Everdark ends on a “damn it” cliffhanger, and you’ll be happy they slipped the first bit of Eventide (Dark Ink Chronicles #3) into the back of the book. I don’t usually read those excerpts, but I did this time. It made me feel much better.
If you were drawn to the relationship between Riley and Eli in the first book, you will love Everdark. Additionally, Jasper keeps her setting vibrant and we can always feel the brine in the air whenever Riley is outside.
Sexual content: Several graphic sex scenes....more
If I Die is emotionally brutal — heartbreak, impending death, love — and I want to thank RachelThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
If I Die is emotionally brutal — heartbreak, impending death, love — and I want to thank Rachel Vincent for every painful moment of it. Like with so many of her books, Vincent is able to conjure such character connections as to force readers to experience the highs and lows alongside.
The main element in the fifth Soul Screamer book is Kaylee dealing with Tod seeing her name on the Reaper’s list. (It’s not a spoiler, it happens at the VERY beginning of the book.) Kaylee is told she’s going to die and when. She has six days of knowing it’s almost over, and she does exactly what I’d do: goes into denial. Everyone wants her to cry, to rage, and the like, but she’s trying very hard not to think about the fact she’s supposed to die. She has to try and keep her dad from doing something stupid and noble in an attempt to save her. She wants to spend important moments with Nash, because they’re almost gone. But, mostly, she wants to know everyone she loves will be safe after she’s gone.
Which brings us to a new teacher at Kaylee’s school. Girls all around the area are dying from miscarriages, including one Kaylee knows, and well it just happens that Mr. Beck is their teacher. Sabine is the first to point out he’s not human, and while they aren’t sure what he is they’re convinced he’s trying to make some babies. When Mr. Beck turns his attention toward Kaylee’s best friend Emma, oh it’s on. Kaylee throws herself completely into the distraction of finding out what Mr. Beck is and stopping him.
This means a return visit the mental health facility Kaylee was placed in before she knew she was a bean sidhe. (Did I mention this book brings the emotional heavy?) It also means working with Tod and Sabine more than usual, especially the former which riles Nash something fierce.
The girl is told she has six days to live and, yet, you can’t stop relationship drama when it’s destined to come. I won’t tell you what happens on this front, but it’s perfect. It’s not easy for Kaylee to get there, but the end result feels so right.
If I Die is the heaviest book to date in the Soul Screamers series; it’s also the best. Vincent kept me on edge and constantly muttering “no way” as she threw twist after twist at me. She’s pushed the series in a new direction that will certainly breath life into future books. I’m so ready for more.
I was really nervous to read The Renfield Syndrome. The ending of the first Rhiannon’s Law bThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
I was really nervous to read The Renfield Syndrome. The ending of the first Rhiannon’s Law book, Dead, Undead or Somewhere in Between, was a jaw-dropper and a huge game-changer. I was scared about how I’d react to Rhiannon being zipped 101 years into the future. Would she have to lose all the progress she made at opening up to people? She’d just found love, and now she was going to be screwed over, right?
Totally. The demon who sent her into the future to deliver a message screwed her over royally. Rhiannon arrives to find that the city is near destroyed. The vampires, led by a half-demon, run everything. Humans are near extinct and those who do live are more like blood slaves than anything else. The world is dark and cruel. And she just wants to find Disco, her lover. Once she delivers him the demon’s message, the deal is complete and they’ll both be free of him.
But it’s not that simple. Lots of things have changed in the world, turning it into a hellish nightmare that Rhiannon can’t escape until she’s solved a few big problems. The plot takes one crushing turn after another, each more surprising than the last. I never knew what was coming next, but continued to get my hopes up on Rhiannon’s behalf. The plot was clever and new. I can’t call it refreshing, because it’s very dark, but The Renfield Syndrome took me over. Captured by a heroine I love forced to grow amid terrible circumstances, I found myself increasingly involved with the plot.
Now an important note. While I liked Dead, Undead or Somewhere in Between, for me Rhiannon was the star of that book. She’s what I liked most. Disco is great and all, but he wasn’t nearly as remarkable a character as Rhiannon. And maybe that’s part of why I adored The Renfield Syndrome so much. This is Rhiannon’s story. This is her life not on the context of interactions with a hunky hero, but the emotional end. It’s still about love, don’t get me wrong, but the shift is all heroine. The romance angle gets complicated as well, and come time for The Ripple Effect (Rhiannon’s Law #3) there will be some big decisions to be made. I say all this because if you loved the first book only for the delicious Disco, he’s not the focus of The Renfield Syndrome. The tradeoff is worth it, though.
I suggest clearing a weekend to read The Renfield Syndrome, though. Once you’re knee-deep, there’s no stopping.
Feed will stick with you. After you’ve re-shelved it and moved on to another title, you’ll stilThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Feed will stick with you. After you’ve re-shelved it and moved on to another title, you’ll still be thinking about Georgia Mason, her brother Shaun, the lives of post-apocalyptic news bloggers, government conspiracies and just how a zombie apocalypse might go down.
It’s a lot to digest, and it is all given fair time in the 571-page Feed. Georgia was born after the Rising. She and her brother were adopted after two miracle cures mingled to create a virus which reanimates the dead. Their generation is accustomed to taking a blood test to enter the neighborhood, vehicle and home. They understood why people didn’t have pets more than 40 lbs., as those animals could had the virus amplify and transmit it to humans.
Georgia and Shaun shouldn’t have been used to open spaces, to small crowds or to spending time outside of safe zones. But they both were. The two are part of a team of news bloggers. Georgia is all facts, she discovers the truth and reports on it. She’s the post-apocalyptic version of a gumshoe. (I’m pretty sure my favorite college professor would love Georgia Mason. She’d run most beat reporters into the ground.) Shaun is more of the Gonzo type. He’s the one who goes out in the field to poke zombies so you don’t have to; leads the dangerous life for you.
And these two, with their friend and partner Buffy, manage to snag the prime placement on the campaign trail of a presidential hopeful. Senator Ryman is young enough to know bloggers are the trusted media these days, and by granting them full access to his campaign he’ll earn the trust of the voters. It doesn’t take long before it’s clear someone has it in for Ryman and his press corps of bloggers. Just who is behind the attacks is the big surprise.
Grant managed to fake me out plenty in this one. Some of my predictions were right, some of them were so very wrong and while I was guessing who was behind the attacks on Ryman, his campaign and the blog team, I never saw some of the big twists coming. Shocking and sad moments are peppered throughout this novel, and both are handled with grace, honesty and a realism that can be a bit haunting.
The landscape presented in Feed feels real. While zombies are a catalyst for much of the plot, really Feed is about fear and what happens if you let it take away your choices. We always have options. They may not be good ones, and may not lead to a happy ending, but we always have a choice.
Also, a word of warning for your time-management, once you hit about page 250 prepare to run the gauntlet. It’s the point of no return; the shift when you realize you will not be stopping for more than a bathroom break for the next few hours. It’s masterful work.
Remember how you fell in love with Brystion in A Brush of Darkness? I didn’t think anyone woThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Remember how you fell in love with Brystion in A Brush of Darkness? I didn’t think anyone would be more appealing to me in Abby’s world.
I. Was. Wrong.
So very wrong. We come back into Abby’s world eight months after the end of the first book. Brystion broke up with Abby because it “just wouldn’t work” with him being an immortal succubus and her being a human, albeit one with serious fae ties. Moira placed her brother Talivar as Abby’s bodyguard. And they fell into a complementary friendship — both caring for Moira’s son.
Talivar is emotionally wounded, an outcast and recognizes Abby’s strength. And, honestly, after spending more than 350 pages with him — I just want to climb the guy like a tree. I love the way he interacts with Abby and the obvious burdens that come with being the unwanted royal.
A Sliver of Shadow isn’t about Talivar, though. It’s about a struggle for power. (Isn’t it always with the fae?) Once again, Abby’s found herself mixed up in the Fairy Court’s troubles. In order to help, she has to challenge her past. She’s given access to missing memories and reconciling the truth and the implications on her life forces her into a more mature role.
All the characters are dealing with regret in A Sliver of Shadow. Many want to wish away past deals, others past hurts and most of all those past actions that read like betrayal in hindsight. There’s a beautiful story arc of Abby — and others — making the move to make peace with her life, without foregoing the snort-induing one-liners.
After you’ve finished, you’ll love Abby even more. You’ll care about Taliver and Ion. You’ll be enraptured in the drama of the Crossroads. And you may be tempted to immediately re-read.
Snarky, sexy and action-packed, A Sliver of Shadow is a must-read.
Sexual content: Sex and plenty of sexual references (Phineas is around, after all.)...more
Note: While this review is spoiler-free for At Grave’s End, it will give away key points fromThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club
Note: While this review is spoiler-free for At Grave’s End, it will give away key points from earlier Night Huntress novels. If you haven’t entered the great world of Cat and Bones, please read my review of the first novel Halfway to the Grave instead.
Jeaniene Frost has never been one to give her characters a break. One might think after ill-advised sacrifices for love, being kidnapped by one’s own father, impromptu vampire marriage and, well, having to deal with Cat’s mom in general, it’d be hard to find Cat and her husband Bones in worse situations. But, of course, it just gets worse — and I ate up every little bit of it.
I won’t give away the big double-take, freak-out moment. But, in other events, Cat’s mom does admit she wasn’t raped by a vampire, but it doesn’t make her any nicer to her half-vampire daughter. Dear ol’ dad is back in action and thinks taking out his daughter will make the other vampires quit teasing him about siring the half-breed Red Reaper.
In At Grave’s End, Cat and Bones’ relationship is solid and the focus shifts more to their interactions with others — and how those around them deal with C&B as a team. Tate refuses to give up on Cat, and her internal conflict over her good friend making blatant moves on her — in front of her husband — showcases the character depth of this series.
This third book in the Night Huntress series is when the door is opened to more of the supporting characters. We meet additional vampires that will make frequent appearances later including Vlad (yep, that one). The robust characters in this book help keep the reader grounded as the plot takes us to emotional highs and lows.
Dealing with the potentiality and reality of death, what happens when love is one-sided and the importance of knowing who truly has your back are heavy themes, but At Grave’s End handles them with humor and honesty.
You’ll still get Cat and Bones in love, but At Grave’s End is when you get to meet more Night Huntress characters worthy of your love.
There are a handful of books that I go on a recommendation binge with as soon as I read theThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
There are a handful of books that I go on a recommendation binge with as soon as I read the last page. It happened with Unholy Ghosts. It happened with Nightshade. It happened with Blood of the Wicked. And, there’s no question about it: Kristen Painter’s Blood Rights is the latest book that I will be pushing on every reader friend. And this means you, too, VBC readers.
Painter has taken the familiar — vampires, crazy nobility, outcast mentality — and has given us something entirely new.
The Comarré, a special type of human, are similar to geisha in many ways. Their presence is a sign of wealth and status. Comarré are bred to feed vampires, never knowing their mothers and fathers, and trained to be polite and subservient to their future patrons. (There’s quite a bit more to them than this, but to say more would spoil some great twists.) Vampire nobility pay the Comarré’s house for the right to exclusively drink his or her blood. Chrysabelle was the most coveted Comarré, the one with the purest, most powerful blood. And she wanted out. Finding her patron dead, she fled.
A cruel vampire named Tatiana has her sights set on more power and Chrysabelle plays a role. She just needs to find her. We stop in on her point-of-view periodically, and the more you learn about her, the more you hate her. A true villain, worthy of the fear we see in those running from her.
Fleeing from the creatures Tatiana sics on her, Chrysabelle finds herself trying to adjust to the mortal world. She must work with a cursed vampire and his ragtag team for a chance at saving not only herself, but also her aunt. And while she wishes for true freedom, hard truths and dirty secrets keep getting in the way.
The tension between Chrysabelle and vampire Malkolm is gripping and intense. Their interactions brought to mind the strain of Ethan and Merit from the Chicagoland Vampires series. However, when it comes to Chrysabelle and Mal, both think they aren’t deserving of the situation. They both believe the other is rejecting them out of repulsion. There is a strong sense of duty, and both keep coming back together while internalizing a fear of disgusting the other. Given their respective backgrounds, anything else wouldn’t ring true.
Those who love heroines who surprise everyone, will love Chrysabelle. She’s supposed to be this demure thing, to be protected. Woman’s got blades on her at all times and the kind of power in a kick that will take out a steel door. She’s cunning and knows to hide her skills. It’s only through a bout of delirium that she first exposes her real fighting skills to Mal, taunting and taking the man out. She’s a woman who is used to being underestimated, and is reveling in the freedom to speak her mind and throw a blade or two.
Polarizing characters, murder, magic and the need for independence bring Blood Rights to another level. Expect this one to grab hold, pull you to the edge of your seat and leave you, jaw agape, begging for book 2, Flesh and Blood.