Richelle Mead lays some beautiful groundwork in The Golden Lily that left me dying to read the...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Richelle Mead lays some beautiful groundwork in The Golden Lily that left me dying to read the next novel in her Bloodlines series. Big changes are coming for Sydney and we start to see her change and evolve in The Golden Lily.
Sydney now is the head Alchemist in the Palm Springs area, which means she doesn’t have someone nearby watching her. Her superiors are impressed by the way she’s able to keep a professional relationship with the Moroi vampires she must work with. They impress upon her the importance of seeing them as unnatural, evil things nonetheless. It’s important to work with them to keep the evil Strigoi at bay, but she isn’t to be friends with them. And that’s the problem. She now cares about them.
Adrian, particularly. She still avoids touching the other vampires, but when it comes to Adrian, she sees him as a person. She’s starting to see the others as caring, innocent people — not blood drinkers. And this conflict — trying to remember not to question the teachings of the Alchemists — is what makes Sydney’s journey interesting. She beginning to question her beliefs and that can be agonizing.
Plus, everyone pushes her to date. There’s a very smart boy who is an on-paper good match for her. They have a nice time, but kissing him doesn’t evoke fireworks.
The mystery element in The Golden Lily isn’t as strong as in other Richelle Mead novels, but Sydney and Adrian’s character growth makes up for it. I love that Mead has made it so that I don’t care about Dmitri from the Vampire Academy series being on page as much as I want to see what Adrian is doing or feeling. She’s given him the depth we all knew was there, and someone to really inspire him.
While it wasn’t a single-sitting read, like many of her other novels are, I still really enjoyed The Golden Lily and based on the hints dropped in this book, I am eager to get my hands on book three The Indigo Spell.
Vampire trouble. Werewolf problems. Fairy plotting. Relationship woes. A murder. It must be May...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Vampire trouble. Werewolf problems. Fairy plotting. Relationship woes. A murder. It must be May, because we only get that mix when it’s time for a new Sookie Stackhouse book.
And, yes, the waitress from Bon Temps is caught in the thick of it again.
The main plot in Deadlocked focused on someone making trouble for Eric and Sookie — not in a romantic way. The vampire King of Nevada comes to chat with them about Victor’s death (the epic part of Dead Reckoning), and that means party at Eric’s house with humans for snacking. Through a few mixed signals, Sookie arrives late to find Eric indulging in a snack. A two-ey laced with fairy blood. Meaning she’s got a drunk boyfriend to deal with in addition to the emotional slap. But it all gets put on hold when the girl he drank from is found dead in the front lawn. Someone’s determined to make trouble for him on all fronts and make things more complicated for Sookie.
Charlaine Harris did the mystery in Deadlocked justice. I never would have guessed who was orchestrating the drama here or that person’s reasons. The murder mystery plot was twist-y and roped in more players than I expected. I’d been let down in the last couple novels on the main plot elements, especially the whodunit, and this time she delivered.
On the downside, it took a bit before the book kicked into gear. The first half is more a meandering through Bon Temps. The book checks in with just about everyone you know from the series — including phone call from Quinn, email from Amelia and even quality time with Jane Bodehouse. I love being in Sookie’s world, but it was a bit tedious at times. I kept thinking, aren’t we ever going to talk about that stupid Queen of Louisiana and her silly claim on our Viking, Sookie? Finally, a little over halfway through, that plot thread is picked up. I won’t say it was satisfying, but it moved forward.
If you’re into Sookie for the romance, you’ll be disappointed. Eric is rarely on the page, and when he is Sookie is being too stubborn to talk to him. She’s choosing not to tell him information out of spite. She hates him keeping secrets, but refuses to share her own. She recognizes the backwards nature there, but it’s hard to see Sookie so closed off. She used to be much more direct. Mostly her love life end of things frustrated me.
That said, the ending brought the “no way!” surprise and I finished Deadlocked with a smile. Is it as good as Dead to the World? No. Is it better than the last two books? Yes. If you’ve stuck with Sookie this long, keep with it.
As a long-time fan of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, I can’t believe I’m about to say...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
As a long-time fan of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, I can’t believe I’m about to say this. Vlad, the hero of Once Burned, gives Bones a run for his money.
Readers of the Night Huntress series (first book: Halfway to the Grave) have met Vlad — as in the basis for Dracula, but please don’t mention it to him. We’ve seen him flex his master vampire skills — pyrokinesis and mindreading. But he’d never been one to make my knees go all gooey. Apparently that was just because we hadn’t had any time alone together.
Vlad is ruthless and incredibly loyal. These traits assure safety to those under his protection, and that means Leila. She’s clever and engaging as a heroine. I quickly liked her, and liked even more that she pushes Vlad’s buttons. A childhood accident has left her with preternatural abilities. First, anyone who touches her gets shocked with electricity. (Vlad can’t burn, so she can touch him. And she does.) Second, if she touches that person with her right hand, she’ll get a glimpse of his or her past/present/future. She can force these premonitions by touching objects as well.
Vlad understands just how valuable Leila would be to the vampire community. He protects her and encourages her to help him find others hunting her. The plot is twisty enough to keep you curious with a nice mystery element, but the core of Once Burned is Vlad and Leila.
The chemistry between Vlad and Leila is overwhelming and heart-stopping and real. He’s an incredibly protective alpha type. She’s a strong woman used to being on the run. She forces him to listen. He makes her quit running. And there is plenty of “mine” and blood and sexytimes.
If you want a can’t-put-it-down-even-to-eat paranormal romance, pick up Once Burned. Even if you haven’t read the Night Huntress books — which, really, you should — you will get wrapped up in Vlad and Leila’s story. Promise.
Chess Putnam has always struggled with feeling unworthy. Having someone genuinely love her and...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Chess Putnam has always struggled with feeling unworthy. Having someone genuinely love her and tell her she matters is altering. She’s sure she’s living a lie with Terrible. A beautiful lie. He makes her feel something real, something True and she would do anything to keep him happy — and that means staying with him.
Before when faced with the possibility of losing him, Chess did the unthinkable and marked him with magic and killed the creature sent to ferry his soul to the City of Eternity. Now dark magic is sweeping Downside, turning dealers and street men into zombies set on murderous tasks. Terrible, as an enforcer, has to intervene, but the dark magic takes him over. Chess needs to find a way to correct what she’s done to him. To protect him, the way he protects her.
Because he matters. And maybe she matters a little bit, too, because Terrible says so.
For those who love delving into Chess’ anxieties, her difficulty accepting love and just how our Churchwitch’s mind works, Chasing Magic is a win. While Chess still is every bit the flawed heroine we’ve come to love — drugs and all — she’s also growing. She won’t always do the absolute worst thing imaginable (she’ll consider it), but she’ll still dig a deep hole that will have you muttering “Chess. Oh, Chess. No. No. No.”
And, really, would you have her any other way?
Expect epic relationship growth with Terrible, Lex causing problems, zombies, dark magic and Elder Griffin getting married.
Sexual content: Dirty sex — but she makes you work for it(less)
The more I read the Dark Mission series, the more apparent is is: Karina Cooper does paranor...moreThis 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(less)
I always enjoy a heroine who thinks for herself. That’s the case with Izzie. She’s a demon h...moreThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
I always enjoy a heroine who thinks for herself. That’s the case with Izzie. She’s a demon hunter without a reason to kill vampires and the like. She does it because she’s good at it, because the man who saved her from the streets has a vendetta. She knows humans can be just as vicious and cruel, and she only attacks those who make a move on her. And that makes her incredibly interesting to Ryker.
Ryker’s an old vampire and, really, he just wants to be left to live his life. He’s not really the eat a bunny kind of vampire, but isn’t out hunting to kill either. Humans haven’t really interested him, but there’s something about a vampire slayer who doesn’t see every one of them as evil that catches his eye. And, well, he’s a good guy. When is past catches up with him, and pulls Izzie into a dark place with him, he’ll do whatever he can to change things. To save her.
Their romance blossoms under awful circumstances — lab rat style, folks — so they both have to question if their feelings are real, safe or even right. Rosalie Stanton manages to craft an intense relationship borne of a mix of lust, shared survival and a bit of fate for her hero and heroine. The journey is intense and complex, but also damn hot.
I can appreciate love coming from a dark place, and that’s what we have here. The journey isn’t simple. Points of the plot horrify the characters as well as the reader, but it’s done with purpose. Know Thine Enemy is dark, incredibly sexy and boasts a mile of twists.
Sexual content: Sex and sexual interactions under dubious situation(less)
I was nervous to read Shadow Heir. It’s true. If you read this blog regularly you know a few th...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
I was nervous to read Shadow Heir. It’s true. If you read this blog regularly you know a few things about me. Namely, Richelle Mead is one of my favorite authors and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the emotional rollercoaster she likes to make me endure in her novels. Also, there was a bit of saying goodbye here as Shadow Heir is the final Dark Swan novel. (Mead closed out her other adult series earlier this year.)
The ending of the third book, Iron Crowned, left me agape. I wasn’t surprised about Eugenie being pregnant, but at Kiyo’s behavior following it and the potential for Dorian to really step up and return to Eugenie’s side. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil anything in Shadow Heir.)
So, I let my copy of Shadow Heir stare me down for a bit. So anxious to read it, but worried my favorite of Mead’s adult series wouldn’t give me the closure I needed. When I finally started reading Shadow Heir, there was no stopping. The pacing is breakneck and the gut-wrenching choices pile up. As usual, Eugenie makes choices that infuriate me, but for the most part my fictional BFF Eugenie makes some of her best life decisions yet.
In addition to dealing with Kiyo and the Willow Queen’s determination to kill Eugenie’s unborn children – she’s having twins, remember? – and her in the process, our girl is having a high-risk pregnancy and dealing with some serious drama in the Otherworld. Dorian remains devoted to helping her children, and throughout the novel their interactions ring true for a couple and allies with so much history.
I promised not to spoil anything, but if you were unsure as to if you were ready for more Dark Swan drama, I can promise Shadow Heir wraps you up and never lets go. While I felt Iron Crowned had some obvious plot points, Mead has avoided those moves with Shadow Heir. Some great resolution would happen, and I’d realize I still had 200 more pages to read. Layer upon layer of excellent conflict – and some kickass magic battles – will sate you.
If I’m singing all this praise, why not a full 5-star rating? Well, one of Eugenie’s choices at the very end irked me. The choice is very Eugenie in that it’s not what I want her to do, but more so it left things a bit more open than I expected. When I finished Mead’s Succubus Revealed, the final Georgina Kincaid novel, in August, I felt done with the series. This time I feel a little less closure, but still finished the book a happy lady.
Sexual content: Non-graphic sex scene, kissing(less)
Simply put: The Immortal Rules is Julie Kagawa’s best novel to date. She merges a strong her...moreThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Simply put: The Immortal Rules is Julie Kagawa’s best novel to date. She merges a strong heroine, two kinds of vampires (one dark and complex, the other zombie-esque), a fight for humanity and anti-authoritarian overtones in a masterful way.
Protagonist Allison begins this story as a human living in on the fringe of a vampire-run society. Humans can register with the vampires and in exchange for required blood donations, they get access to food. However, that means the vampires own you. Allison isn’t having that. As an unregistered, she needs to scavenge for food and fight to maintain her home. She live with three others and they work together to keep the group safe. But as things get tense, she’s willing to sneak outside the city walls into the ruins of suburbs to find food. That means dealing with the rabids. The rabids are mindless vampires attacking on sight. They’re quick and dangerous.
I don’t want to give Allison’s journey away, but as it’s included in the back cover copy, I’m going to tell you something that happens a quarter of the way in: Allison gets turned into a vampire. The one thing she hates. The thing she fights. The thing she wants to kill.
And the emotional journey of a young woman accepting her new reality as a monster and fighting to retain her humanity is done with power, care and blinding honesty. Kagawa writes Allie’s journey in such a way, you’ll imagine yourself fighting to keep the Hunger at bay and longing for someone human to still trust you.
This isn’t just any vampire story. Or just another YA dystopian novel. The Immortal Rules is a book that will gut you, warm you and keep you up until 4 a.m. just to get more of Allison’s story. (The hot boy doesn’t hurt either.)
If you like your books dark with young women worthy of admiration, The Immortal Rules will strike a chord with you. And even if you haven’t dived into the post-apocalyptic and dystopian trend, you need to read this one.
Chess needed to grow for the Downside Ghosts series to truly move forward, and Stacia Kane d...moreThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Chess needed to grow for the Downside Ghosts series to truly move forward, and Stacia Kane didn’t disappoint. Sacrificial Magic pushes on Chess from all sides. She needs to evaluate her position at the Church of Real Truth and what the trust she’s earned there means. She fights her own nature to attempt a relationship with Terrible.
At the crux of Sacrificial Magic is Chess rebelling against her self-imposed isolation and self-hatred. She’s still the Chess who sees little value in herself, but she’s trying to reconcile that with the realization people might care for her as more than a means to an end.
As one of the Church’s debunkers, it’s not surprising when they ask Chess to take up a sensitive case. It’s not even all that surprising they’ve passed a case on to her that another debunker failed with – actually, he went missing after the case. But nothing is ever simple for her. Three books have proved that. The case has Chess spending a lot of time in Slobag’s territory among less-than-helpful witnesses who hate the Church for prohibiting their culture.
At the same time, Bump has his favorite Churchwitch looking into arson on his side of Downside – and it looks like ritual sacrifice is part of the problem. When more ritual murders pop up in Downside – on both sides of the drug territory – Chess has to solve things quickly. She doesn’t want Terrible thinking she’s spending time with Lex when she’s really working a case.
That’s just the tip of the Chess and Terrible drama. Kane gives us more insight into Chess’ trust issues and a much more expansive examples of her neuroses. Chess is someone who has never been truly loved. She’s never had a relationship where her partner wasn’t using her for something. Terrible caring for her simply for the strength of her being confounds Chess, and at the same time the possibility of losing it terrifies her. And, because she’s Chess, that means she does idiotic things to try and prove herself. This isn’t an easy relationship, but one that’s worth the trouble and necessary pain.
Chess will infuriate you. She will break your heart. She will surprise you. And by the end you’ll be both exhausted and sated. Sacrificial Magic is dark, and brings the requisite Downside craziness of sex, drugs and magic, but it’s also the most introspective of the novels to date. Clever plot twists, character surprises and brutally honest writing make Sacrificial Magic a must read.
And, because I know several of you want to know, “Chessiebomb” makes a return and Elder Griffin dispenses dating advice. No, really. It’s awesome.
Sexual content: Sex, sensual scenes and Chess contemplating the relationship of sex and trust.(less)
Some books you just devour, and I ate up Angel of Darkness in nearly a single sitting.
The first in Cynthia Eden’s new The Fallen series, Angel of Darkness focuses on Keenan. As an Angel of Death his task was to kill with a touch and remove the designated souls. He was fine with that until he encountered Nicole. He just didn’t want her to die. So he broke the rules and killed the vampire who sought to rape and murder her.
He burned for it and fell to earth. Slowly memories have come back to him about who he is, but all he knows is he needs to find Nicole. It’s been six months, but she knows she’s the key to everything. When he finds her, he learns she’s no longer the coy school teacher. She’s been turned vampire — but she does her damnedest not to kill. He also discovers he wants to protect her.
These two are bound, and while Nicole isn’t much for trusting anyone too many people are after her — demons, shifters, other vampires. She doesn’t know why everyone wants to kill her, but having a second set of eyes around might not be all bad. And it doesn’t hurt that the eyes come on a body that’s pure perfection.
The real interesting piece in Angel of Darkness is the way Eden slowly cultivates fallen angel Keenan’s understanding of emotions. As an angel, he’d never truly felt any emotions. When he fell, they slammed into him. Lust is exciting — and leads to a handful of excellent steamy scenes — but more that than, he has to learn to recognize what’s motivating his actions. He doesn’t immediately think of love when he knows he’d rather die than let harm befall Nicole. He doesn’t know what that is to recognize it. It would have been easy for Eden to let him fall into new emotions easily, but instead she makes it the tumultuous experience it should be. As a result, the sweet parts are sweeter and the sexy parts hotter.
Fans of Moira Rogers’ Crux will absolutely fall for Angel of Darkness as will those who like heroines who don’t need saving but get a little swoony when the boys do it anyway.
This review was originally published at Vampire Book Club, where it was given 2.5 stars.
Right now you’re looking at that star rating and thinking what...moreThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club, where it was given 2.5 stars.
Right now you’re looking at that star rating and thinking what on earth happened. And that’s a fair question. I was over-the-moon excited for A Perfect Blood. The longer running the series, the more often we see waning character growth or tired plots, but I was sure The Hollows series was free of a shift into banality after reading Pale Demon. As a matter of fact, the last Hollows book was one of my favorites in the series and pivotal.
A Perfect Blood does not carry on the series growth in the way Pale Demon did. It misses the wry humor — though some of Jenks’ swearing is excellent this round — and Rachel has taken an emotional step back. Some of her inner turmoil is to be expected. She’s now a demon, and doing her damnedest to hide from the demon collective. By using charmed silver, she’s able to shut off her connection to their magic. Only that stunts her abilities, too.
Humans are being mutilated in ways that look to be demonic. Both Interlander and human agencies suspect Rachel, the only known demon on this side of the Ever After. They agree to let her, Ivy and Jenks in on the operations to catch the people behind it with the condition that if she doesn’t do so, they’ll just pin the whole thing on her.
The plot twists were clever enough. Quickly we learn a hate group is behind the acts, but that only further complicates things. Without the ability to use her magic to act, she’s getting beat up more and needing to rely on physical abilities much more. It’s nice to see Rachel kick some ass, but also painful to see her miss what a reader sees as obvious clues.
The book isn’t bad, but I more slogged through it than read it. Typically, Hollows books are a single-sitting read for me, but A Perfect Blood took a week. With identity issues and conflicted feelings about Trent (lots of thoughts about their one shared kiss juxtaposed to remembering Kisten) regresses much of Rachel’s recent emotional growth, especially in regards to Ivy.
I’m willing to call A Perfect Blood a breather book and keep my fingers crossed the next book will have her back on track, accepting her demon nature and maybe giving Trent a proper chance.
Sexual content: References to sex, lots of thinking about a past kiss
…and, no, I can’t believe I just had to give a The Hollows book less than three stars. (less)
If you liked Karen Mahoney’s The Iron Witch, be prepared to love The Wood Queen. While the f...moreThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
If you liked Karen Mahoney’s The Iron Witch, be prepared to love The Wood Queen. While the first novel introduced us to Donna’s world, the latest entry into the world of alchemy, fae and magic brings in heavier complications, more answers (leading to more questions) about the alchemy Orders and a better connection with Donna.
Oh, and Xan is shirtless in most of his scenes. You may not be happy with his behavior — even while shirtless — but like Donna, you won’t be able to avoid appreciating the view.
Much of The Wood Queen focuses on the fallout of Donna’s actions from the first book. Navin isn’t talking to her. She’s been on house arrest, so no Xan either. And the four alchemy Orders have convened for a hearing (and to dole out punishment) for her destruction of the last bits of the elixir of life. The authority figures in her life aren’t the only ones reacting to the change. The Wood Queen, who Donna foiled in the destruction of said potion, now wants a sitdown. She’s ready to leverage Donna’s loved ones to get the meeting — and that’s just the beginning.
Donna is in a difficult situation. Her options are limited, each offering only less favorable outcomes. Sometimes it’s better to work within the system to tear it down. Donna will learn that someday. Until then, enjoy the journey of self-discovery and the lengths one goes to for friendship.
Sexual content: Make-out scene, references to sex(less)