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)
Readers of the Rhiannon’s Law series know J.A. Saare never pulls punches. Rhiannon makes massiv...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Readers of the Rhiannon’s Law series know J.A. Saare never pulls punches. Rhiannon makes massive mistakes, awful things happen to her, the world spins out of control, everyone makes poor choices and the characters just have to deal. It’s what I like so much about the series. Nothing is easy in these books, and you can never take a sweet moment between characters for granted, because it all could change in the next chapter.
We come into The Ripple Effect a few weeks after the horrible misunderstanding (a.k.a. The Awfulness) between Disco and Rhiannon from the end of The Renfield Syndrome. He wants to apologize, wants to make things right and our girl Rhiannon isn’t having it. Their mutual friends are trying to make them get past this. Again, Rhiannon isn’t ready to forgive him.(I wouldn’t be ready either.)
The Ripple Effect is a book about consequences. And that’s a good thing. Every action has meaning, and everyone must endure as the results trickle in. First, turns out our boy Disco was sheltering Rhiannon from the real vampire world. That means his master is coming to visit and expects to see things a bit more violent and the humans much more subjugated. Imagine Rhiannon’s reaction to this. We find a link between demons and vampires and have to spend quality time at their place, which results in scenes horror fans will love and others will cringe at — but you’ll know who the bad guys are immediately.
As a result of the master vampire visiting, Rhiannon has to play dutiful girlfriend while in private still giving Disco the cold shoulder. This forces them — and Paine — to work out their issues, and to accept one another’s faults as best they can in a stressful situation.
Unrelenting and honest. Dark, deep and a touch dirty. If you like your vampires sexy and scary, The Ripple Effect is a must. Since it’s a Saare book, expect big changes in love, death and a heavy dose of violence — the kind that will captivate you early on.
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.
Chloe Neill said to trust her about the ending of Hard Bitten. Every fan was floored (and many...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Chloe Neill said to trust her about the ending of Hard Bitten. Every fan was floored (and many justly pissed off) when Ethan died. And she promised it would be OK. Within the first couple chapters of Drink Deep, Merit is having dreams with Ethan in them. They feel real. They also happen to be nightmares where he’s torn away from her in some cataclysmic event. This happens a few times in the book. Not often enough to ever feel like Ethan is actually present.
Merit feels plenty of guilt about his death and ruminates on that, particularly as she grows closer to Jonah. In lieu of a partner inside Cadogan House to solve supernatural crises with she turns to the Grey House guard captain and Red Guard member. And he totally wants her to be over Ethan so they can get their smoochies on. The idea damn near gives her stress hives. He’s a hot guy and smart blah blah blah, but he’s not Ethan. No one is Ethan. And this, my friends, frustrates me. I expected to get some Ethan-related satisfaction at least by halfway through the novel, based on Neill’s word, and that wasn’t the case.
The GP has essentially taken over Cadogan House. Their representative goes so far as to ration blood (to vampires, yeah, I know), limit gatherings and put its guards in impossible situations. It’s painful to see the House beat down. They’ve lost Ethan and now they’re losing their identity one rule at a time. Mayor Tate is locked up, but his replacement is very anti-vampire. She’s calling for a registration act (which totally made me think of the first X-Men movie). And when supernatural badness descends on the Windy City yet again, she tells the public it’s all the vampires’ fault.
There’s magic at play, but with more bad press and protesters on the way, Merit has to try and solve someone else’s problem again. She works with Jonah, and gets alternately blamed and praised for the magical goings on that she has no control over. Mallory refuses to help her at all. Catcher is irritated but gives answers. Mostly, her sorcerer resources are damn limited.
I flew through this book, dying for answers. It kept me gripped to the pages, and engaged with the characters. I waited for this big reveal. Things had to be messy right? There was no way this could tie up neatly. And a few hundred pages in and we’d only had a handful of Ethan dreams. Where is Mr. Green Eyes?
I’m doing my best not to give this away for you guys, but Neill employed a deus ex machina. Suddenly it came together, and we get answers, but they just feel sudden and too easy. The resolution wasn’t worthy of the build up. Usually Neill tortures us and Merit. The resolution this time didn’t leave me sated.
Was it worth my Sunday afternoon to read Drink Deep? Totally, but the book left me conflicted. It’s heavy on politics, and was more a foray outside the tone and format of earlier Chicagoland Vampires novels. Additionally, the book just didn’t meet my expectations in terms of the Ethan part of the equation. Merit’s emotions were dead-on throughout the novel, but plot-wise we were still missing some key steps.
This review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club. A quick word of caution: We’re going to reference events in earlier books. If you haven’t read...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club. A quick word of caution: We’re going to reference events in earlier books. If you haven’t read earlier Night Huntress novels, there will be spoilers ahead.
Sometimes you run into an old friend at the mall to suddenly realize just how much you missed seeing them in your daily life. That’s how I feel about Cat and Bones, the lead couple in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series.
This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene FrostIt’s not like I didn’t know how much I love Frost’s sharp, often laugh-out-loud funny writing. Or how much I enjoy the feminine strength Cat exudes and the protective roughness of Bones. Nope, I just didn’t realize how ready I was for more of it until I started reading This Side of the Grave.
All the strong features of the Night Huntress series are prominent in this fifth installment. Cat and Bones are happily married, but dealing with the societal fallout of Cat’s transition to full vampire. One of the ghoul leaders is trying to use her as a rallying point to ignite war between the ghouls and vampires. In the meantime, he has ghouls taking out the weak and master-less vampires throughout the country.
The list of reasons I enjoy reading Frost’s writing is long and spans from her stellar world-building to her defined and endearing characters to her ability to pepper in humor amid death and darkness. The last was particularly strong in This Side of the Grave.
Example: Cat and Bones are meeting with a human who has become aware of the existence of vampires. Here’s a quick little exchange I’m sure you can appreciate:
Timmie gave Bones and me a speculative glance. “Before we go, I gotta know: If mind-reading abilities are real, there’s something else I wondered if fiction got right about vampires–”
“Ask me if I sparkle and I’ll kill you where you stand,” Bones cut him off with utmost seriousness.
We’ll spare you the spoiler-y details, but we’ll hint. With This Side of the Grave you may expect a curious encounter with a ghoul queen, an exciting reaction to new powers for Cat, lots of the undead, a bit of family drama and requisite time with Cat, Bones, Vlad and Mencheres.
In other words, drama, mayhem and vampires. All the things you’ve come to love from Night Huntress novels. (less)
I missed Ethan Sullivan. And after reading Biting Cold I want to leap on the stubborn and oh-so...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
I missed Ethan Sullivan. And after reading Biting Cold I want to leap on the stubborn and oh-so-sexy master vampire all over again. (I won’t because I so don’t want the wrath of a jealous Merit.)
I hadn’t realized how much I missed his cool control and wry wit. I actually came to enjoy Jonah in Drink Deep as a balance for Merit, but he is no match for Ethan. The dynamic between the Cadogan vampire and his sentinel pops on page. However, just because he’s back from the dead doesn’t mean things are easy for them. (Have they ever been?) Ethan has a realistic fear of hurting Merit due to the residual effects from the magic that brought him back. This forces Merit to finally take more control in their relationship. She no longer lets Ethan dictate when they’re on or “halting.”
Biting Cold showcases Merit’s growth as a character. She’s a stronger woman. Her confidence shines throughout the novel. She learned to exist in the worst case scenario without Ethan, and he’s returned to find her more capable than he realizes. Additionally, she isn’t in any rush to forgive Mallory for damn near destroying Chicago. Or for the other craziness she causes in Biting Cold.
When we started this journey in Some Girls Bite, Merit complained about her new lot as a vampire. In Biting Cold we finally see her as a truly powerful, capable woman. Hell, I’d let her lead a House, if I were in the GP.
Speaking of those bothersome vampire politicians, things are still jumbled within Cadogan. The GP isn’t pleased with them and refuses to reinstate Ethan as the Master of the house. (He did die.) Expect political tensions within the vampire world as well as with the fae. We see Claudia, the fae queen, more than once, and she continues to be a fascinating ancillary character.
Chloe Neill delivers another engaging plot, but better yet Biting Cold reminds us this urban fantasy series is about strong, well-developed characters. Ones we can get invested in and wish were real so we could indulge in a pizza and sing-along movie night at their place.
If you’ve been on the border about continuing Chicagoland Vampires, I encourage you to read Biting Cold. Neill has brought the series back to the core we fell in love with — and there’s a lot of Ethan. Shirtless. You do want to read about a Mr. Sexypants Vampire without clothing, don’t you?
Sexual content: Sex (and sexual frustration)(less)
Bloodlines may be a separate series from Richelle Mead’s remarkable Vampire Academy, but it’...moreThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Bloodlines may be a separate series from Richelle Mead’s remarkable Vampire Academy, but it’s set in the same world with some of the same characters. It also takes place following the end of Last Sacrifice, the final VA book. If you read Bloodlines before finishing Last Sacrifice you’ll know some big things — who Rose ends up with, Moroi political stuff, a big Dragomir family secret, etc. If you’ve never read Vampire Academy, you can still completely enjoy Bloodlines. All that said, if you don’t want Last Sacrifice spoiled for you, skip this review.
Having met Sydney Sage in the Vampire Academy series, I wasn’t too sure if I’d want to spend an entire book with her. As an alchemist, her job is to keep the vampire world from interfering on humans. They are big on science and rules and firmly believe all vampires — both Moroi (living, good) and Strigoi (dead, evil) — are unnatural and wrong. The fact they can do magic creeps Sydney out. But we’d always seen Sydney through others’ eyes in Vampire Academy, and I have to say I loved her in Bloodlines.
Sydney is in a precarious situation. She’s spent more time with the vampires than most of her kind, and she’s started to see they aren’t all bad. She kind of, sort of likes a few. She chose to help them in Vampire Academy, and now is living the fallout. No one trusts her. There’s talk of sending her to a “re-education” camp, which no one every comes back from. But as she’s the most familiar with their kind, she’s tasked with protecting Jill, Queen Lissa’s little sister. Everyone is out to kill Jill because if Lissa doesn’t have a sibling, she can’t be queen. (Politics at play.) So, they’ve decided to hide Jill out at a human boarding school in Palm Springs. Along with her come Eddie, her guardian, and Adrian. He has a protective, brotherly outlook on Jill, whom he still calls “jailbait.”
In Bloodlines, Sydney must play along with the vampires, pretend to be sisters with one and is still supposed to hate them. The more time she spends with Jill, Adrian and Eddie, the more she understands them and sees their humanity. And she has to make sure no one else recognizes that she’s starting to care for the vampires, because if anyone knows the punishment would be severe. The shock of realizing the truths you’ve been raised with aren’t fact is hard enough, but to have to adjust to that while fearing the realization could end your life? Terrifying.
Adrian plays a big role in the book, and it’s rather beautiful. Sydney is one of the few who really sees Adrian as more than a walking mess. He’s still in agony over Rose breaking his heart. Thoughts of her pain him, and he’s actually trying not to be self-destructive for Jill’s sake. We get much more insight on the Moroi party boy. I think everyone’s always known Adrian had depth, but this is a new level, and I have a lot of hope for him in the course of the series.
There are glimmers of hints at future romance in Bloodlines, but this is really a story about people trying to figure out who they are and questioning what they expect from others — humans and vampires alike.
In addition to the big-time character development, there’s a bit of a murder mystery and a very sketchy, jerk of an Alchemist watching over Sydney’s shoulder. Bloodlines offers a smart heroine, redemption for a beloved Vampire Academy character and the kind of twisty plot one expects from Richelle Mead. Fun and engaging, Bloodlines is certainly a Vampire Book Club recommended read.
On a side note: There’s some set-up to have Sydney deal with body image issues. It feels logical being around size 0 Moroi girls. But I hated hearing her lament being a size 2. Really wish Mead had upped that a smidgen. I’m sure once we delve into it deeper, it’ll make sense that she’s focused on size 0 being perfection, but still hard to read.
Just go ahead and put Cynthia Hand on your auto-buy list now. Hit up Amazon and order Unearthly...moreThis 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. (less)
I couldn’t put down Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade for more than a few moments at a time. After rea...moreThis 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.(less)
One of the reasons I recommend Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts books so often is the remarkable c...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
One of the reasons I recommend Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts books so often is the remarkable character development. Heroine Chess has hard edges, deep-seated issues and a big problem with seeing herself as valuable. While Kane provided more insight into Chess' past in Sacrificial Magic, this new prequel novella lets us to see what Chess was like before.
Not before the damage that pushed her to chemical dependency. But before the pills. Before the autonomy of living in Downside. Before love. Eighteen year old Chess is still working hard to prove herself worthy of being a part of the Church of Real Truth. She agrees to do a week of job shadowing with the Black Squad not because she wants to be one of their elitist club, but because she's frightened saying no will land her ass back in foster care. That she could lose it all.
The pressure of the job and the case she works to help solve -- while earning her dirty looks and nasty comments from the Black Squad team -- pushes her toward familiar coping mechanisms. Kane manages to help fans of the Downside series understand Chess a bit more by giving us this vulnerable view into her youth.
Also, there are ghosts, bitches getting in her way, reference to old religions and sex magic. Expect a trip or two to the City of Eternity in this one. (And, yes, it still skeeves me out.)
This quick read is great way to get insight into Chess before diving into Chasing Magic on June 26.(less)
Cherie Priest has a knack for defying genre. For blurring lines. And for gritty and visceral no...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Cherie Priest has a knack for defying genre. For blurring lines. And for gritty and visceral novels. Bloodshot is no exception and — best of all — it takes badass to a whole new level mostly through main character Raylene.
You’ll often see Bloodshot pegged as a “vampire noir” — yeah, new genre. I may have it labeled under Urban Fantasy for Vampire Book Club purposes, but really the novel is part heist book part vampire drama with a touch of urban fantasy and hints at romance. (You get the picture a romantic angle may come into play down the road, but don’t be expecting a love story here. Raylene does not have time for love or attachments.)
Raylene is a vampire. She’s also a master thief and more than a little paranoid. Though, she’d say she’s careful. After one too many boring jobs, an intense piece of work fell in her lap. Raylene avoids her own kind — too many rules, too much drama — but once she’s heard Ian’s story she finds herself taking on a task that leads to federal agents raiding her house, break-ins at secret government sites, going on the run and spending time with one very impressive drag queen.
The big story will certainly be told in multiple books, but in Bloodshot I just really fell in love with Raylene. I love a strong heroine, and if nothing else Raylene is assertive and resourceful. Also, she sets a new bar for badass vampire chick. And I dig it.
Because of the genre-straddling Bloodshot does, it’s harder to peg who can appreciate it. But, of course, I’ll try. If you love Priest’s other works or if you love high-intensity urban fantasy but don’t mind hitting up several cities, then you will likely get wrapped up in Bloodshot.(less)
In Meagan Hatfield’s paranormal romance Shadow of the Vampire, Alexia is on the cusp of taking over...moreYou can also find this review at Vampire Book Club
In Meagan Hatfield’s paranormal romance Shadow of the Vampire, Alexia is on the cusp of taking over the vampire horde from her mother. She’s powerful, but her mother’s adviser and fiance is far from excited about Alexia taking over. He leads the search for a crystal that will give the vampires total power.
The vampire’s enemies are the dragons who live high in the mountains. When dragon lord Declan is captured, Alexia is ordered to torture him for information on the crystal. Instead she falls in love. Something about him draws her to him over and over. He can’t resist her either, even though he came to vampires to take revenge for his parents’ deaths.
Hatfield writes vivid love scenes that keep readers rapt. Her attention to detail for all senses is notable and helps immerse the reader in the world she’s created.
The strong cultures of both the vampires and dragons help paint an intriguing world for the characters of Shadow of the Vampire. One that, despite the book’s flaws, I would be interested in seeing more of, with or without the same characters.
There were two things that held me back from truly enjoying Shadow of the Vampire. The first relates to characterization. We’re given good background on the characters in the novel. This, of course, is a big plus. The problem comes in when some of their reactions don’t ring true given said background. My real problem is that Alexia has been a victim of rape, yet early on reacts positively to the idea of being helpless during sex. Declan is sensitive to the idea and he’s mindful of not being overbearing in that way, which fits with his character (and what readers want from him), but Alexia’s reactions just don’t fit. Later, sure, but from the get-go? No, I felt like Hatfield was just placating readers’ enjoyment, mine included, of that type of interaction. The scene I’m referring to would have been great if I didn’t already have this knowledge about our heroine’s past.
Secondly, the book drags on a bit. Certain chapters, particularly toward the end of the novel, have prompt pacing but you had to work to get to them.
Shadow of the Vampire shows promise, strong characterization and Hatfield has the command of prose that can really grab readers, if you can get past the pacing issues. (less)
Jessica McClain could use more females on her side, and I’m game because after just one night w...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Jessica McClain could use more females on her side, and I’m game because after just one night with her—oh, Full Blooded was must-devour-at-once read—I need another book or three with her as the main character.
In Jessica’s world werewolves are par for the course. They’re also always male. Her dad is the Alpha of his pack. Her brother is ferocious, too. And, well, she grew up with them as the human sister. Werewolves aren’t supposed to have female children, but when she didn’t shift into a wolf at puberty, folk calmed down. She moved away, took an alias and became a P.I.
Apparently, she was just a late bloomer. At 26, Jessica shifted for the first time. The first female werewolf in existence. Maybe more. And it scared the crap out of everyone in the supernatural community. They need to try and hide it, because the supes think her turning is damn near a sign of the apocalypse. Only keeping that a secret isn’t all that easy, especially when you have a woman who fought so hard for her independence. Jessica’s not willing to be hidden away, and she craves the fight.
Quick writing and a heroine women will love make Full Blooded a delight to read. Jessica McClain manages to be one of the boys and fiercely independent. She’s at times girly, at others positively feral. The dynamic is engaging.
It doesn’t hurt that our Jessica might have a thing for a guy that should be sooooooo off limits. And readers will love him. I did. (See how I’m not telling you which guy it is? Spoiler-free review FTW!) Trust me, though, Jessica has excellent taste in men. Nom.
The plot thread opened at the end will leave you clawing for book two. Really. It may involve the aforementioned Captain Hottie. Despite that, the ending isn’t a burn the bridge cliffhanger, and I loved every bit of Full Blooded. You will, too. I know these things.
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)
Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood was refreshing for me. It’s not light and it doesn’t s...moreThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood was refreshing for me. It’s not light and it doesn’t shy away from creeping you out a bit. It tackles the ghost story and urban legend tale from a different angle.
The wry wit of protagonist Cas prevades the novel, and even when he’s scared the snark level remains high. He knows he’s putting on a front of being calm, but his confidence keeps Anna from being scary and instead remains rooted in character development and progressing the mystery plot.
Cas is a ghost hunter. His dad was a ghost hunter. And the family tree continues on thusly. His mom is a witch and does her best to be supportive of Cas killing ghosts. She helps clean his athame — the same one his dad used — while generally coming off as a cool mom. Cas has come to Thunder Bay to kill Anna. The legend is huge, a young girl who dismembers those idiotic enough to come into her house. She’s always seen in a simple white dress dripping with blood. Only no one really knows her story. There are bits and pieces, but just who killed Anna and why remain elusive.
Anna has killed everyone who entered her home since her death, but she doesn’t kill Cas. She can’t explain it either. She’s more powerful than any ghost he’s met before, and she doesn’t want to kill. Their loneliness unites them and while both fear one another — the goals are on the table: killing one another is what’s supposed to happen — there’s a sense of security when near each other.
Anna Dressed in Blood is part ghost story with chill-inducing descriptions, two parts murder mystery (not just Anna’s) and a touch of romance. The wry tone will draw you in, you’ll stay for the clever Cas and the enigmatic Anna.
Shadowfever is intense. It’s not just that the stakes are high in this final book in the Fever...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Shadowfever is intense. It’s not just that the stakes are high in this final book in the Fever series — Mac’s trying to save the world. And it’s not just many of the character’s all-or-nothing outlook. Each chapter of Shadowfever ratchets up the stakes. Just when you think you have an answer and something starts to go our way, it gets worse. There is nary a moment when readers will not be gripping the book thinking either “no way,” “oh my God” or “what?!”
Basically, it’s nearly 600 pages of Karen Marie Moning mentally fucking with you. And, really, would you have it any other way? Barrons sure wouldn’t. He likes intensity, and when it comes to the man we met at Barrons Books & Baubles in Darkfever, he exudes intensity.
Alongside all that agonizing edge-of-your-seat stuff are answers piled on answers. Unfortunately, you also have to endure a lot of the wrong answers. Mac has to come to things in her own time, and some of the hard truths she learns will be unexpected.
The downside for me was the loose ends. I’m guessing — though I honestly haven’t read anything that says so — Moning is planning a spin-off that will take care of several gaps. The big picture is taken care of, but there were a couple things after the big emotional ride I took through the five Fever books that I wanted more finite closure on. On the upside: one of those things is NOT Barrons. You will get answers. Promise.
To avoid spoilers I’ll say you will get to learn who killed Alina, what is Barrons, Mac’s background, Darroc’s role and bunch more about the Fae. As to what those answers are, pick up the book.(less)
In Magic Bites‘ Atlanta magic is everywhere. And so are the shifter...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars
In Magic Bites‘ Atlanta magic is everywhere. And so are the shifters and the vampires. The Order keeps the peace on the magic end, but Kate Daniels would rather not deal with them. Despite her formidable magic abilities, Kate works as a mercenary instead. Doing jobs for money instead of being a part of the all-or-nothing Order. But when her mentor and key member of the Order is murdered, she finds herself investigating his death on their behalf.
He was found slain alongside a vampire, but both showed signs pointing to just about everyone. The shifters and the vampires now want in on the investigation because they’re sure the other is out to frame them. And the killer now has sights on Kate. She’ll be forced to pick sides, work with the powerful Lord of the shifters Curran, fight bloody battles and consider just who is she really.
Curran reminds me of Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. Not in actual behavior, but in that he’s one of those heroes you’ll see readers swooning over. Magic Bites doesn’t have a romance angle. (Though, it lays groundwork.) Yet, there is this undeniable magnetism that cloaks Curran through the novel. He’s powerful, loyal and a fierce warrior.
And Kate can stand up to him. The girl walks in to meet the Beast Lord of the city — the shifter so strong no one can beat him — and calls out “here kitty, kitty.” Inside she’s scared, but Kate knows how to put on a show of strength and always backs it up. She’s the kind of woman you’re proud to know, even when you’re shaking your head at her occasional misstep.
Magic Bites is a great start to a new series. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it sets the stage for something great by setting up this world that could run parallel to our own and by allowing us time to get to know a full cast of characters. By the end of the novel all I could think about was the way Kate and Curran play off one another. I want to see that progress (and we all know it does). Kate will be formidable, and Ilona Andrews put us in place to see the beginning of the fireworks. (less)
Before we discuss Afterlife, the final Evernight novel, it’s important to remember where Hourgl...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Before we discuss Afterlife, the final Evernight novel, it’s important to remember where Hourglass (Evernight #3) left us. Claudia Gray did what we would have never imagined and let our lead characters die. Of course, in the paranormal world dead isn’t dead. Former half-vampire Bianca is now a wraith (aka ghost) and her nee vampire hunter boyfriend Lucas has been turned into a vampire, his greatest fear.
I spent the months since finishing Hourglass contemplating how Gray could turn things around. How can Bianca and Lucas move forward? Love can make people overcome insurmountable problems. So, in Afterlife, we find our star-crossed pair fighting for their love as their world comes crashing down.
Bianca has abilities most wraiths do not — she can manifest corporeal form and she can move from place to place with a thought — and the other wraiths want her help. Mrs. Bethany, the Evernight headmistress, is hunting wraiths. So many are captured and going mad inside Evernight’s walls as a result of her seek-and-destroy mission.
Dismissing the wraiths’ requests, she makes her focus Lucas and aiding his adjustment to vampiric life. Her goal is to help him retain who is amid his new bloodlust. And to keep him safe and make this process easier, there is only one place Bianca can take him: back to Evernight Academy.
Now Bianca is hunted. Lucas has to rely on Balthazar, the guy who wanted to be with his girlfriend, and his mom — the leader of the Black Cross — isn’t about to accept her newly vampire son back into the fold.
We’re keeping this one spoiler-free, so we’ll get to the point. Afterlife gives us just what we need: nonstop action, a realistic fight for love and lots of answers. We’re talking why Mrs. Bethany is the like that (oh, you’ll be shocked), why the wraiths wanted Bianca so badly and whether or not Lucas and Bianca will actually make it.
Gray managed to move this story along so quickly with enough turns for minor whiplash, and it works. It has the action I adored in Hourglass and emotional needs and secrets we were first introduced to in Evernight. We promise, Afterlife is a fitting end to the Evernight series.(less)
Damn you, Karen Marie Moning. I know you like cliffhangers. I know you like to torture your cha...moreThis 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.(less)
Merit has a chance to reinvent herself, and that would be great if she’d had a choice in the ma...moreThis review was originally posted to Vampire Book Club.
Merit has a chance to reinvent herself, and that would be great if she’d had a choice in the matter.
She’s fought her entire life to remain independent, to avoid being used as a political pawn. She’s one of the Chicago Merits. Her father is wealthy, powerful, buddies with the mayor and overall far more concern with collecting capitol and clout than the happiness of his youngest daughter. Her desire to spend her days in grad school working on a lit dissertation make her the scourge of the family. She doesn’t bother with the money, and lives her own life as apart from that realm as possible.
Until she’s attacked on campus by a vampire. Another swoops in and changes her. He saved her life, but she had never wanted to be a vampire. She was supposed to get to choose. That’s what they said when they’ve come out of the figurative coffin. Now she has seven days to decide if she’s going to swear her allegiance and submit to the Master vampire of one of the vampire Houses. (Think feudal England.)
Ethan is gorgeous, but egotistical and expects full loyalty and subservience from all his vampires. He and Merit clearly have chemistry — which both of them can’t understand and fight as much as possible. She’s already much stronger than many other vampires, and she has the power to resist his pull. Except for the overwhelming attraction.
Chloe Neill has crafted a stable of engaging characters in Some Girls Bite. Merit’s strong-willed, cerebral nature make her easy to root for as a heroine, but we also loved the biting dialogue between her and her best friend and roommate Mallory. Add in a cocky sorcerer named Catcher (one of my favorites in the novel), a seasoned cop grandfather, a sexy alt rock vampire suitor from another House and a young shifter, and you’ve got an ensemble fans of Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series can appreciate.
Merit spends this first Chicagoland Vampires novel coming to terms with being a vampire, developing her new skills, trying to decide if she can swear an oath to Ethan and trying to figure out why she’s attracted to such an asshole.
Some Girls Bite is a fun, often laugh-out-loud funny opener to what’s sure to be a great urban fantasy series. It’s a must for fans for Jeaniene Frost and Kim Harrison. Expect a well thought out world that flows easily, smooth prose, characters to care about and enough sexy boys to make you consider moving to Chicago. (less)
If you love an angst-y read, Blood Before Sunrise is for you.
Get wrapped up in yelling at the heroine making infuriating and dangerous decisions? You’ll love Blood Before Sunrise.
Enjoy seeing a heroine handing big tough men their asses in fights? Oh, you need Blood Before Sunrise.
In the Shaedes of Gray, heroine Darian discovered she wasn’t the only one of her kind. She started to learn not only who she is but also what she is. Just as she began to understand her new role as a Shaede — she can fade into shadow, nothingness in the dark — an ancient prophecy changed things.
Now Darian is something else, more. She can disappear in the light and the dark, feel the passage of time. And she’s powerful. She still trains with Raif, but he can’t keep up with her. She’s powerful and gets accustomed to the idea she’s the biggest, baddest thing on the block.
Not only does her ego put her in danger when trying to find Raif’s daughter and while she tries to determine what her new-found obsession with the passage of time means, but it wreaks havoc on her relationship with Tyler. He isn’t just her boyfriend, remember. Tyler is a jinn, and his job is to protect Darian. The only hitch is he has to obey her wishes. She’s worried about protecting him, and though she doesn’t recognize it, she behaves in a way that illustrates she doesn’t need his protection or want it. Expect big relationship drama on this front.
I love books that are an emotional challenge. Ones where by the end of the book the main character has truly grown. There’s no question we get that with Blood Before Sunrise. There are moments when you’ll grip your book and pretend to be shaking some sense into Darian. Don’t expect easy answers in this novel, but I can promise one hell of a journey with lush descriptions. Even when Darian is making poor decisions, I want to be her friend.
This review was originally posted as part of a review of the anthology Winter Wishes on Vampire Book Club.
Moira Rogers has a knack for putting togethe...moreThis review was originally posted as part of a review of the anthology Winter Wishes on Vampire Book Club.
Moira Rogers has a knack for putting together characters who both challenge and bring out the best in one another. That’s the case in Freeze Line. Shane does his best to avoid his werewolf attributes. He lives far above the freeze line, where the earth is frozen and magic is weak. It can’t pull on his beast. He puts on a human front around the others in the nearby village, but for the most part lives a solitary life.
Then he finds Nadia on the side of the road. She’s not equipped for the frigid weather. He quickly learns she was kidnapped by humans wanting to torture and test on her because of her ability to use magic. The knowledge alone spurs his instinct to protect her. But the lack of magic in the earth is killing her. He agrees to take the woman south, to save her. The closer they get to the magic, the stronger she gets and the more wild he becomes.
He may be worried about his beast hurting her. His past tells him he can’t be trusted around others when his wolf takes over. Nadia is stronger than he knows, and the two can’t help but bond.
Freeze Line is a fun, quick romance read with the best paranormal elements of the three in the Winter Wishes anthology. Moira Rogers is able to focus on the ‘otherness’ is a complete way, even in the shorter form of novellas.(less)
Any author who can weave wit, subversive undertones and clever world building into a novel gets...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Any author who can weave wit, subversive undertones and clever world building into a novel gets my attention.
Cassie Alexander demanded my attention with Nightshifted. She took a scenario that could become very campy very quickly — namely a nurse working in the supernatural ward of a hospital — and molded it into a tale of self-strength, desperation and noble causes.
Edie works the crappy shift at the bottom-run hospital. She’s new to working on Y4, the secret ward for supernatural types. And she’s only doing to because the beings in charge agreed to keep her drug addict brother clean. Her work there finds her embroiled in vampire affairs, trying to save a child-like vampire girl.
But she’s not doing it because she wants to save the world. Just this one girl. Because something deserves to go right here. Atonement is Edie’s game.
Things on the romance front are awkward for her. She tends to be a one-night-stand type of woman, which is working just fine. Until it isn’t. And she meets a zombie — not the rotting kind, but a kind fireman. And he cares. And maybe she cares. And it’s complicated. And messy.
The merger of dark tone and wry humor make Nightshifted a must read for fans of Jaye Wells, Stacey Jay and Stacia Kane. I’m eager to read the next book, Moonshifted, to see how Edie progresses.
Tayla hunts demons. While out taking out some particular underworld nasties, she’s injured and...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Tayla hunts demons. While out taking out some particular underworld nasties, she’s injured and knocked unconscious. She’s taken to the Underworld General Hospital, where all things underworld are taken to get patched up. She awakens in enemy territory with a super hot doctor taking care of her. She’s all about it until she realizes those taking care of her are the demons, vampires and shifters she kills on sight.
Eidolon built UGH from the ground up, including putting in policies that say no one comes to harm within its walls. And when a slayer comes in, well, that doesn’t make him the most popular guy. A type of incubus, he’s been searching for a mate, because in the near future he’ll come into a new stage of maturity. The new stage will have him trying to procreate constantly, unless he finds someone to bind with for life. And, so far, that hasn’t been going well. He really doesn’t need the drama of saving a slayer and being incredibly attracted to the lethal woman.
Tayla has a false view of demons. Blinded by hatred it’s so hard for her to accept that Eidolon might be doing something for altruistic reasons. As she catches him in moments of care and sincerity, her faith in her demon slaying Order is shaken. She had a dark past that bolster her outlook that all demons are evil. The undeniable sexual chemistry between the two continually brings them back together to help open Tayla’s eyes. I do wish we saw more growth and challenged ideals for Eidolon, but Tayla had enough on her plate to make the Pleasure Unbound a robust tale.
While these two do immediately fall into bed together, there’s still a strong relationship story arc that shows the two slowly — almost begrudgingly on Tayla’s side — learning to trust one another. It’s hard not to enjoy a novel that provides hot bedroom scenes, characters you can care about and relationship growth.
Larissa Ione’s Pleasure Unbound will give you goosebumps and keep you turning pages for more. As we’ve said before, the Demonica series is perfect for fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
A Low Down Dirty Shane is set in the same, wild world of Sierra Dean’s Secret McQueen series. M...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
A Low Down Dirty Shane is set in the same, wild world of Sierra Dean’s Secret McQueen series. Main character Shane works for the namesake of the urban fantasy series. While fans of Secret will get a kick out of it, you do not need to have read those books in order to enjoy this novella.
You read that right. A Low Down Dirty Shane is a standalone urban fantasy novella. Snappy, snarky and sexy—it completes the trifecta of what makes a shorter story work for me. If you regularly read this blog, you know I’m picky. Or maybe greedy is a better word. When it comes to novellas, I typically find myself wanting more. With A Low Down Dirty Shane, sure, I want more of Shane because nom, but the plot left me sated. I flew through the pages and reached the end content. I love when that happens.
The novella features Dean’s signature no-holds gross monsters and fight scenes (yay!) and the kind of steamy scene you expect from her. The story focuses on druids and fae in the forefront and the “holy crap, I actually like you” romance of Shane and Siobhan right alongside.
Sexytimes and ass-kicking, people. What more do you want?
Megan Chase is a hell of a psychologist. So much so that she was drafted to take up a side gig a...moreThis review is also available at the Vampire Book Club
Megan Chase is a hell of a psychologist. So much so that she was drafted to take up a side gig as a radio therapist. While her desire to keep a jerk colleague from landing the job in her stead was part of her motivation for accepting the on-air role, she also liked the idea of helping more people. At her core, Megan wants to save others.
Of course, doing so on a radio show can be hard when your boss is forcing you to ask each caller “how can I slay your personal demons?” and setting up reporters to tail the station’s new “demon slayer.”
Part of what makes Megan such a gifted counselor is that she’s a mind-reader, literally. When she drops her shields, she can slide into her patient’s mind and see the thing he is (or isn’t) describing. She tries to only use this skill to help those paying her to do so, but when she arrives home after a flustering first night on the radio to find a tall, chiseled man on her doorstep, she goes for the read. Only Megan can’t read him, and the look on his face says he knows it.
The mystery man is Greyson Dante, and Megan is convinced he’s some sort of lawyer. (Though, he never admits to it.) Eventually, he informs her that demons are real and, more importantly, alerts her that the subset of personal demons — those which encourage humans to do destructive acts — are out to get her. They took her show’s tagline seriously and now the word is out: End Dr. Megan Chase before she ends us.
Megan is thrown into a world she didn’t believe in, and set between two men she’s not sure she can trust. On the one side is the devastatingly handsome Greyson. He consistently protects Megan, including drumming up bodyguards for her, but she can tell he’s keeping things from her. The more she can see demons surrounding her, the more she knows she’s out of her league. On the other side is Brian, a reporter who is doing a “week in the life” story on the city’s new demon slayer. He’s a reporter. Megan hates that. She doesn’t want her life on the page, and Brian is just a bit too insightful. He culls old articles and finds Megan was suspected of murder as a teen. His new allegations make her wonder if he’s working for more than the newspaper.
On top of it all, the jerk colleague Megan so detests is convinced she’s agreed to work at his clinic with him. The longer she’s around him, the more terrifying he becomes. The flashes of death, her past and what lurks beneath her colleague’s eyes shake Megan.
She’d much rather handle things herself, but as things turn for the worse, she can’t help but accept help from those she didn’t know existed a mere week ago.
To sum it up (and keep it all spoiler-free): While it takes a bit to get attached to all the characters in Personal Demons, Stacia Kane does an excellent job crafting a series starter. By two-thirds of the way in, I already knew I’d be picking up the second novel in the Megan Chase series, Demon Inside. Also, I may just have to add Greyson Dante to my list of favorite male characters. Intriguing.(less)
Dead on the Delta features a vivid world, one where people try to ignore how dark things have b...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Dead on the Delta features a vivid world, one where people try to ignore how dark things have become. It’s a place where fairies are real — they’ve mutated and want to feed on humans. When bitten by a fairy most people go insane, a handful die immediately and an even smaller percentage are immune. That’s Annabelle Lee. She’s immune. That means when something happens outside the iron grid that holds her little Louisiana town in from the tiny vicious creatures with the sharp teeth, Annabelle is the one heading out into the swamp.
It also means when little local girl’s body is found outside the wall, Annabelle has to be one on the scene. She’s not police, but she has to collect the samples and bring the girl in. And it’s horrific. Annabelle already has baggage with the death of little girls and a hard backstory that includes dropping out of medical school (eventually you’ll find out why, and it makes the tale sadder). She’s a tough woman, who no one would guess was ever raised as a debutante. She lives in a shotgun house, despite having more money than most in her town, and decides to use alcohol to cope with a particularly bad day.
One that only gets worse when the FBI show up after a small mixup on her end. Because one can never underestimate the ingenuity of people wanting to get high, there are those in Dead on the Delta who mix fairy poop with bleach to make Breeze …which they then snort or inject. It’s the fairy version of meth. And someone is definitely making it in her town.
So, now Annabelle is assisting on a murder, drug bust and trying her damnest to keep her ass out of a sling. But battling the big problems isn’t enough. No, she’s in a relationship with one of the top cops. Cane is fantastic. He’s loyal and he loves her. He’s also over her trying to pretend a year and a half relationship is “casual.” She’s thinking about running, because she’s still nursing the pain of a bad breakup six years ago. And, Mr. Bad Breakup Ex? Oh, he’s one of the FBI agents investigating her and her friends. Things are volitile for Annabelle. Mistakes are made. Lives are changed. And the struggle to figure out what’s best for her is utterly entrancing. Seriously, I read this nearly 400-page book in a single day. I kept setting it down — especially after Annabelle, Cane or Hitch did something frustrating — and then picking it back up wanting more.
The story is intense, the emotions, visceral, and Dead on the Delta is just damn good. Those who love flawed heroines not quite ready to own up to having problems, who love small towns with dark secrets and those who want to see fairies in a very different light must read Dead on the Delta.
Also, while Stacey Jay describes her fairies as tiny and humanoid, each time they attacked I kept imagining the tooth fairies from Hellboy II. Cute before they try to rip off your flesh.
Sexual content: References to sex, awesome makeout scene(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.
A Brush of Darkness is dark, funny, plenty sexy and a little heartbreaking and surprisingly hea...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
A Brush of Darkness is dark, funny, plenty sexy and a little heartbreaking and surprisingly heartwarming. In short, it’s an urban fantasy must-read.
When I first read the back cover copy for A Brush of Darkness, I stopped at the words “miniature unicorn.” Let’s just say I fall firmly on “Team Zombie.” That’s still true, but the perverted magical creature in this novel is a complete delight. He’s tiny but ballsy and can’t seem to keep from playing in Abby’s underwear drawer.
The fact is there are a lot of elements that could make A Brush of Darkness fluffy — faeries, elves, mini unicorn — but the way this urban fantasy is laid out, you’ll see these beings in a new light. Sometimes cheeky, but nearly always with depth.
Abby’s boss Moira left four months ago with a note telling her to cover things. But this isn’t your standard work relationship. Moira is the faery equivalent of a justice of the peace — helping resolve issues between the Light and Dark paths (think angels and demons) — and mortal Abby is her contracted connection to this world, called a TouchStone. Here’s the thing, though, Abby is brand new to this whole TouchStone thing, and with Moira missing she’s stuck winging it. She doesn’t know about her abilities, what she’s supposed to do and just why Moira would leave her without telling anyone else.
Then Brystion walks in the door. The incubus is in need of help. His sister has gone missing and with Moira gone, too, Abby is his only resource for finding out who has taken her. Abby doesn’t want to deal with the emotional drama of being turned on by the walking sex god, but he’s delicious. To the reader, it’s quickly apparent that he is falling for her and she’s the one making things difficult. And I loved that. Abby’s game for a metaphysical sexual throwdown, but it’s not like she wants to fall for an incubus.
Allison Pang strikes the perfect balance between a dark, edgy plot and laugh-out-loud moments. Readers will be shocked by a heavy emotional blow one moment and uplifted by snappy one-liners the next. It’s a hard thing to do well, and makes A Brush of Darkness a must for fans of Jeaniene Frost and Kim Harrison.(less)