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?
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
Karina Cooper has taken the primary world building conflict of her Dark Mission series to a newThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Karina Cooper has taken the primary world building conflict of her Dark Mission series to a new level. What was once witches versus witch hunters, now boils with conspiracy within the Mission. We know witches were being made a la super soldiers for the Mission. We know that many of these manufactured witches have died. And we learned some of our key players in the earlier novels are products of GeneCorp.
This time we spend time with Mission Director Parker Adams. She’s still trying to figure out what the hell went on at the old GeneCorp building at the end of All Things Wicked. She’s trying to investigate Operation Wayward Rose, but Sector Three isn’t having it. She knows witches have infiltrated her mission and is trying to figure out which people are truly hers. It’s quite infuriating for her. She is a dedicated and fiercely loyal woman. Her determination—or stubbornness, depending on who you ask—is a defining trait and one that amplifies the chemistry between her and Missionary-slash-Project-Salem-agent Simon Wells.
Simon can’t help but push Parker’s buttons. It’s too fun for him, and he’s running out of time for fun. He works for Sector Three, but is embedded in Parker’s Mission. He isn’t exactly hiding this from her. He can’t hide his feelings, either. As Sector Three turns up the heat, he has to choose between orders and the woman he loves. (Guess which way he goes there.)
Simon and Parker have a dynamic push-and-pull relationship with power plays and smoking-hot sex. Hard not to love that, right? What impressed me even more is somehow Cooper wrote her best hero yet. I thought I was head-over-heels for Silas. Then I was charmed by Phin. In the last book, I was surprised how quickly Caleb became my new favorite. Now bossy, protective, snarky, possessive Simon is my favorite of the Dark Mission heroes. Not kidding, folks. If you enjoy alphas, you’ll swoon for Simon.
Sacrifice the Wicked is heavy on the action and the sexual tension. If you love antagonistic relationships, clandestine meetings and conspiracies mixed in with heart-string-tugging romance, pick it up.
The more I read the Dark Mission series, the more apparent is is: Karina Cooper does paranorThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
The more I read the Dark Mission series, the more apparent is is: Karina Cooper does paranormal romance/urban fantasy crossover right. In the third book All Things Wicked we’re brought back into the bowels of Old Seattle. The dilapidated and crumbling buildings. The damp and the cold. The dark secrets buried amid the earthquake ruins a city just built over.
It’s dirty, violent and cut-throat for Caleb. He suffers the scars from burning the majority of the Coven of the Unbinding back in Blood of the Wicked. It’s been a year, he’s avoided the other witches. A year since he lost his gift. A year with Juliet’s sister’s memories. And then the one girl he promised to save — Juliet — shows up wanting to kill him, to turn him in to as a traitor. This is a man who wants to be punished. He’s aware of the horrible acts he’s committed and promises keep him from telling anyone his real motivations. He thinks it better that others hate him, than be allowed to bring destruction to more lives.
Basically, he’s an egotistical asshole who wants to take care of everyone but does it in the most asinine ways purposefully making others angry. He’s that guy. I’m sure if you remember Caleb from the earlier book, you’re thinking: “This guy is the hero? WTH, Karina?” Within 50 pages I was sold. Tortured soul types work for me, and honestly Juliet needs it. She’s lost, too.
Both want to feel in control and purposefully push the other’s buttons just to get the emotional reaction. Their relationship isn’t built on trust, but mutual prodding. And that’s the big hurdle for the two to cross in order to reach a happily ever after. Getting inside your significant other’s head is difficult if they won’t communicate. Imagine if that person flat-out lied. Caleb has no problem saying he just wants Juliet’s body. Telling her this even when his mind is calling her his Juliet. Life-and-death stakes force these two to move forward and forge a real relationship instead of one built on how others perceive them.
The hero/heroine character development in this one gutted me. I flitted from “I will punch you, Caleb” to “kiss him! Kiss him!” to “You asshole” to “Really, Juliet? You’re the smart one.” back to “Kiss him! Kiss him!” It’s not a straight line to love. It’s painful and complicated and oh so worth it. (And angry sex is hot. We all know it.)
Big secrets including details on the Coven of the Unbinding, Jessie, Juliet, the Mission, even Matilda are revealed in this one. Not everything can stay buried in that trench.
I give credit to any author who can make a murderer into a hero. Cooper does this beautifully in All Things Wicked while staying true to her characters. It’s certainly my favorite of the three Dark Mission novels, and a must-buy.
Sexual content: Sex scenes, including a borderline dubious consent scene...more
I did not want Body of Sin to end. I was actually sad when I hit page 378, because I wantedThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
I did not want Body of Sin to end. I was actually sad when I hit page 378, because I wanted more — more Lokan, more Bryn, more of the Underworld. Body of Sin was just that good.
Our hero and heroine are forced to come clean about who they truly are, what they mean to one another as they journey through the Land of the Dead together. Lokan awakes in purgatory alone. He’s given a guide to help him navigate the 12 Gates, and it’s his daughter’s mother Brynja. The two had fallen into a casual comfort while raising their daughter Dana, but when the immortal Lokan was murdered (using the term loosely, go with it) both are shocked to realize how it’s not just Dana that brings them together, but one another. Unfortunately, the person who killed Lokan will go after his daughter. As he’s the only one who can protect her, Bryn entrusts Dana to her brothers and enters the Underworld to guide Lokan back to the Topworld.
They have to work together, to strip away the lies, to be tested repeatedly in order to get back and keep Dana safe.
It’s a harrowing journey of self-sacrifice, transformation and love set to the backdrop of Egyptian mythology. The plot is gripping, the characters are endearing and the writing offers powerful visuals. Those who have read the earlier Otherkin novels may think they’ve picked a favorite character. You’re wrong. It is impossible not to be drawn to Lokan. Even in his confusion about who and what he is, he always has his priorities straight with Dana and Bryn at the top.
Brilliant use of Egyptian mythology, soul-exposing honesty and love as only Eve Silver can do it. Also, expect sizzling and plot-driven sex scenes and (unrelated) a ridiculous amount of snakes.
You could read Body of Sin without having read the earlier Otherkin novels. It will work on its own. However, the book does tell you who “killed” Lokan and how he ended up in Purgatory. That was all revealed in Sins of the Flesh, the third Otherkin novel. Please know that going in. The other books are remarkable reads, as well, and I highly suggest reading them.
**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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Every time I finish one of Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines novels, I clamor for the next one. The FieThis review was originally posted on Vampire Book Club
Every time I finish one of Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines novels, I clamor for the next one. The Fiery Heart isn’t an exception. No, for those who read the Vampire Academy series, I say: Remember when you finished Shadow Kiss and you needed Blood Promise in your hands with every fiber of your being? Yeah, that’s the end of The Fiery Heart.
The Fiery Heart indulges in the connection between in Adrian and Sydney. Hell, it relishes in it. As a reader, I found myself damn-near languid after their interactions and yearning for their stolen moments. They finally admitted their feelings for one another in The Indigo Spell. But with Sydney’s little sister moving in and bringing along piles of Sage and Alchemist baggage, it’s difficult for the two to enjoy their relationship. Their meetings are stolen moments. They text on special cell phones. And they are so in love it hurts.
Why am I harping on the romance angle? Other than the fact it’s smoking hot and just—gah—so good? Fine. This is the first time I’ve read a book by Mead (and I’ve read them all) that read like a romance novel. The main focus of The Fiery Heart is Adrian and Sydney’s relationship and the goal of them being together. To make this even clearer, we spend half the novel in Adrian’s head. His points of view were brilliant and insightful. He continue to struggle with the consequences his spirit use, but wants to be a better man for Sydney. Look, the short story here is you’re going to swoon. And maybe cry. Mostly swoon, though.
The book isn’t all steaminess between these two. We also have big progress on the magical front, on working to break the tattoos that force Alchemists to behave and even on the spirit use against Strigoi. Pretty big strides there, but I just can’t spoil that for you.
I would be remiss if I didn’t admit the ending is wicked. Good wicked. It’s what needs to happen for this journey to move forward correctly. There are so many possibilities as to what might happen next and I need answers. In the meantime, I’ll be happy I devoured The Fiery Heart. It was by far my favorite book in the Bloodlines series and Vampire Academy fans will probably put it in the same league as Shadow Kiss, which is definitely an epic compliment.
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
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.