Diving into the world Kevin Hearne crafted in Hounded was a treat. When you read as much urbanThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Diving into the world Kevin Hearne crafted in Hounded was a treat. When you read as much urban fantasy and paranormal novels as I do, you tend to find commonalities constantly. But Hounded felt completely fresh with twists on magic and mythology that demanded attention and often left me grinning.
Atticus O’Sullivan is a 2,100 year-old druid. He’s mortal, but by learning magic and making nice with a goddess or two, he’s managed to avoid death. He has fused iron to his aura protecting him from all but the biggest and baddest fae and gods. He can still die, which is why he’s spent centuries staying away from an old Irish love god. He has an ancient item that could help bring about war, and he’d sure like to keep it in his possession. But what happens when the gods start taking up sides and place Atticus, his dog, the local werewolves and his new life in Tempe, Arizona, in the middle? Bloody battles, colluding with potential enemies and working with and against witches to stay alive.
There’s a hint of royal espionage to the tone in Hounded as various gods reach out to Atticus — either to use him or to kill him. He has to play their political games and indulge their questions about the world (like, just how does a blender work). Those around him are used as pawns to force Atticus’ hand, but the beauty to a hero that’s more than 2,000 years old is he’s a determined and brilliant guy. He’s not easily fooled. (Though maybe a bit paranoid.)
If you read this blog often enough, you’ll know I appreciate urban fantasy authors who can appropriately inject humor into what could otherwise be a very dark novel (think: Jeaniene Frost, Kim Harrison and newbie Allison Pang). Hearne does this deftly. His hero Atticus has worked his magic mojo to enable him to communicate with his Irish Wolfhound named Oberon. While they can talk mentally, Oberon is still a dog. So, he’ll be happy to tell you he likes someone simply because they rub his belly. The dog gets fixated on Genghis Khan and Atticus indulges him because it’s a fun dalliance for them both. Maybe I like this so much because I have a hound dog at home, too, and I think he’d behave far too much like Oberon. But I think it’s more a lightness and a friendship that helps keep Atticus grounded and someone to relate to, despite the 2,100-year age gap.
Hearne’s writing is witty, his plot engaging and his protagonist the kind of guy you’d want to grab a pint with. Hounded is a treat, and with the rapid-fire releases of the second and third Iron Druid Chronicle titles — Hexed and Hammered in June and July respectively — it won’t be long until we get more. We suggest pre-ordering the next two as you pick up Hounded. Really, you’ll want more.
Sexual content: One brief, no details sex scene...more
I have had Archangel’s Blade on my shelf for months. And I put off reading it purposefully. It wThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club
I have had Archangel’s Blade on my shelf for months. And I put off reading it purposefully. It wasn’t my typical series anxiety where I’m all “oh, please don’t screw this up” but hesitation. I wasn’t head-over-heels for the last Guild Hunter novel. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the same fiery writing from Nalini Singh’s earlier books. I just wasn’t game for a ho-hum read.
But now I feel like an idiot, because Archangel’s Blade was engaging and heartbreaking and sweet and feisty and, yes, sexy.
Instead of focusing on Raphael and Elena like the previous novels, Archangel’s Blade focuses on Dmitri, the vampire who leads Raphael’s Seven. Dmitri is ruthless and demanding when it comes to his job of policing the vampires and guarding Raphael’s turf. He’s also a bit of a playboy. He has no interest in love. He had it while alive with a wife and children. Nothing will tarnish that memory for him.
And then there’s Honor. She’s a different person after being kidnapped and tortured by rogue vampires. Still, she works as a Hunter. When she’s paired with Dmitri on a brutal murder case, it’s terrifying. She had lusted after him before, but now the idea of being in a room with any vampire scares her.
The dance these two do in avoiding their feelings is intense. Honor brings out feelings Dmitri didn’t know he was still capable of experiencing, and she can’t understand why she feels safe around him. There’s a nice destiny twist in the HEA for these two, and watching them come to accept it is a delight. You’ll fall in love with Dmitri alongside Honor. In addition to the romance, Honor’s character growth is well done and the mystery elements are twisty enough to keep things from ever being obvious.
As a bonus, because this is the first story focusing on Dmitri solo it can be read as a stand alone.
I have a hit-or-miss record with anthologies, especially those including more than five storiesThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
I have a hit-or-miss record with anthologies, especially those including more than five stories. However, Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner consistently manage to pull together a quality collection of short stories. I think part of what helps is the themes. This time out the duo asked their writer friends to write an urban fantasy story with an element of home improvement involved. In some cases, it was home security, others renovations and even fighting with the home owners’ association.
I was excited for a new Sookie Stackhouse story. I like Sook, and I liked Harris’ short story in this anthology. In “If I Had a Hammer,” we found Sam and Sookie helping Tara and J.B. renovate their house in the name of a bit more room with the twins. There’s a bloody back story and a psychic involved. It’s cute and quick, and despite the lack of Eric, I enjoyed it. Though, I must admit, if you weren’t already familiar with Sookie and her world, it would may lack context for you.
Instead of giving you a play-by-play of Home Improvement, I’ll just hit the highlights. Above all the others, there were three stories that stood out to me as the best: Melissa Marr’s “The Strength Inside,” Patricia Brigg’s “Gray” and Stacia Kane’s “Rick the Brave.”
Melissa Marr gives us a taste of the fae with her tale of Bori sisters raising two littles. The young Bori may look like teenagers, but are developmentally toddlers. Lacking impulse control when it comes to snatching birds and the like in the new neighborhood could be dangerous, and so the sisters seek to build a fence. Unfortunately, the head of the home owners’ association doesn’t much care for them.
The juxtaposition of feral fae attempting to mainstream in the ‘burbs is both creepy and touching. Marr’s “The Strength Inside” had me rapt from beginning to end. It might be worth the cost of Home Improvement: Undead Edition for this story alone.
Patricia Briggs went a different route, while there is a big remodeling project in her tale, “Gray” is really about a vampire seeking redemption from a lost love while claiming what’s hers. There’s a heavy theme of vampire territoriality and a touch of heartache.
Finally, Stacia Kane’s “Rick the Brave” made me all sorts of happy. You don’t need to have read the Downside Ghosts books to appreciate this one, but those longing for a Terrible or Chess fix will be pleased.
Terrible’s hired guys for a bit of no-questions-asked renovation. When Rick and his peer’s work opens a portal to the City of the Dead, the others flee. Rick and Terrible fend off ghosts while waiting for Chess to arrive. In the middle of trying to stay alive, Rick tries to hit on Chess. Terrible isn’t pleased, but you’ll get a laugh out of it. Those who have read through City of Ghosts will enjoy seeing Terrible and Chess interact. Only downside (no pun intended) is the story has me itching for Sacrificial Magic something fierce.
While I read most of this anthology, I skipped “Through This House” by Seanan McGuire. She’s fantastic, don’t get me wrong. Her story features October Daye, and I am not caught up on the series. The opening of the story gave back story that felt spoiler-y, so I skipped ahead. But I’d be willing to wager it’s excellent. I have yet to be disappointed by her.
On a side note, I really would love if they included spoiler alerts in anthologies. Like, just give me a heads up. “This story takes place after book X” would go far....more
If I Die is emotionally brutal — heartbreak, impending death, love — and I want to thank RachelThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
If I Die is emotionally brutal — heartbreak, impending death, love — and I want to thank Rachel Vincent for every painful moment of it. Like with so many of her books, Vincent is able to conjure such character connections as to force readers to experience the highs and lows alongside.
The main element in the fifth Soul Screamer book is Kaylee dealing with Tod seeing her name on the Reaper’s list. (It’s not a spoiler, it happens at the VERY beginning of the book.) Kaylee is told she’s going to die and when. She has six days of knowing it’s almost over, and she does exactly what I’d do: goes into denial. Everyone wants her to cry, to rage, and the like, but she’s trying very hard not to think about the fact she’s supposed to die. She has to try and keep her dad from doing something stupid and noble in an attempt to save her. She wants to spend important moments with Nash, because they’re almost gone. But, mostly, she wants to know everyone she loves will be safe after she’s gone.
Which brings us to a new teacher at Kaylee’s school. Girls all around the area are dying from miscarriages, including one Kaylee knows, and well it just happens that Mr. Beck is their teacher. Sabine is the first to point out he’s not human, and while they aren’t sure what he is they’re convinced he’s trying to make some babies. When Mr. Beck turns his attention toward Kaylee’s best friend Emma, oh it’s on. Kaylee throws herself completely into the distraction of finding out what Mr. Beck is and stopping him.
This means a return visit the mental health facility Kaylee was placed in before she knew she was a bean sidhe. (Did I mention this book brings the emotional heavy?) It also means working with Tod and Sabine more than usual, especially the former which riles Nash something fierce.
The girl is told she has six days to live and, yet, you can’t stop relationship drama when it’s destined to come. I won’t tell you what happens on this front, but it’s perfect. It’s not easy for Kaylee to get there, but the end result feels so right.
If I Die is the heaviest book to date in the Soul Screamers series; it’s also the best. Vincent kept me on edge and constantly muttering “no way” as she threw twist after twist at me. She’s pushed the series in a new direction that will certainly breath life into future books. I’m so ready for more.
Note: If you have not read earlier Georgina Kincaid novels, there may be spoilers below. TheThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Note: If you have not read earlier Georgina Kincaid novels, there may be spoilers below. There are no spoilers for Succubus Revealed, however.
I didn’t think I was ready to say goodbye to Georgina Kincaid — or Seth, Carter, Jerome or even Doug. I like the (mostly) supernatural crew in Seattle. Finishing Succubus Revealed, I feel differently. Richelle Mead brought everything — including the subplots for Carter, Roman and Doug — to a worthy close. After reading the epilogue, you won’t need more Georgina. You may still relive her earlier exploits, but I believe most will feel a sense of closure as the series ends.
I won’t say if you’ll be happy. Like most novels Mead writes, Succubus Revealed throws emotional curveballs and even when you see the storm brewing, you’ll still feel the pangs alongside Georgie. As most of you will recall from Succubus Shadows, Seth’s sister-in-law is sick. For most this will probably read as a well-written plot device. The family is trying to figure out how to help when there isn’t anything they can do to fix the problem. I’m currently going through something similar, and want to praise Mead on how honest and real Georgina and Seth’s behaviors and emotions ring. Enough that it made parts hard to read for me (though I don’t believe that would be true for the majority of you). I share this for two reasons: first to praise Mead in her character development and, second, to help you understand my emotional reaction to this one may be a bit skewed.
The sad parts, though, are balanced with some serious happiness. More than one character will grow and take selfless actions that will warm you all over — reminding you of the good in people and the power of both love and friendship.
For the last few books I’ve had a running theory on how this all might end, and I’m a little disappointed that I was right. I’m happy things played out as they did, but I had hoped there would be a bigger twist — only because I’ve come to expect big shockers from Mead’s other titles. Even if you’ve long believed a certain ending for Georgina and Seth’s saga, it’s worth reading though. The other characters threw some big surprises and the exact details of how it play out are creative.
And, honestly, the ending to Succubus Revealed just had me grinning. Really, truly grinning.
It feels wrong to label The Iron Knight as the fourth Iron Fey book. This isn’t Meghan’s story,This review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
It feels wrong to label The Iron Knight as the fourth Iron Fey book. This isn’t Meghan’s story, and she’s only in the novel peripherally. It’s more masculine. It’s more quest-oriented. Honestly, it’s more epic. And those are all good things, as this is Prince Ash’s story.
We join the Unseelie Prince, once favored son of Queen Mab, as he seeks a way to become mortal, so he can return to the Iron Realm and his beloved Meghan. You may recall, she banished him from the Realm after she became queen. She did it because she loved him, and as a winter faerie, he had no chance of surviving in the Iron kingdom. He promised to find a way back to her, and The Iron Knight is his journey to do so.
It took me much longer to read The Iron Knight than it did any of the earlier books. (Four days, give or take.) And that’s because the breakneck plotting doesn’t come until the latter half. The early portion of the book offers us familiarity in the banter between Ash and Puck, who has insisted on tagging along. Puck’s important to the tale, because he really knows Ash and is able to prod him along at the right times. Ash is on a quest, and finding the answers about where to go, etc., take some time. So, the first bit is touch meandering, if not familiar.
It’s when Ash gets direction, when they have a goal in sight, that things get complicated. I said before this is Ash’s journey, and it is. While his love for Meghan and his promise to return propel him, this is a book about Ash accepting himself. He needs to deal with his emotions over the loss of his first love Ariella. He vowed to kill Puck over her death, and we caught hints of his sadness over her loss in the earlier Iron Fey novels. This time, though, we learn the truth of her death, of his feelings about her, losing her and whether he compares her to Meghan. Would he want to be with Ariella if it was an option? He must come to terms with that, with what he’s done in the past and with who he truly is before he has any chance of returning to Meghan.
The Iron Knight was rousing and touching. It offered the great honesty we see in truly epic tales. Julie Kagawa made sure we’d see Ash’s soul. We’d understand him. And love him all the more for it. She also made me like Puck much more, which is a feat in and of itself. The quest takes on a heady nature toward the end, and once I hit two-thirds in, I was unable to put the book down. It took a bit to get there, but the ending was worth it.
Note: No spoilers for Iron Crowned are in this review, but we do reference key events from StormThis review was originally post at Vampire Book Club.
Note: No spoilers for Iron Crowned are in this review, but we do reference key events from Storm Born and Thorn Queen. If you haven’t, we suggest you read those reviews instead.
Oh, Richelle Mead, how you like to toy with my emotions. The third book in each of Mead’s series is always a full-on emotional rollercoaster. Usually with big time heartbreak, emotional upheaval and life-altering events. With Iron Crowned, she didn’t leave me in tears but with my jaw dropped followed by muttering “Oh. My. God” repeatedly. Even though I saw part of the big event coming, I sure didn’t see the fallout. You will be shocked. You will be angry. You will say “I never liked [???]“. And you will love Mead all the more for it.
Iron Crowned begins right where we left off with Thorn Queen, with Eugenie and Dorian united in war against the Rowan Queen. The two take turns being with the soldiers on the battlefield, which means they alternate being exhausted. As much as Eugenie would like to see this resolved peacefully, the Rowan Queen’s terms involve giving up entirely and being married off to some cousin. Not happening. That’s when she learns of the Iron Crown. An ancient relic that is near impossible to obtain because the trials one must use to get to it include passing through iron mines, which can be deadly to gentry. While she doesn’t fully get why some stupid crown would scare the pants off everyone, she has to try.
Jasmine backs Eugenie in the war, because she says no one can treat the Storm King’s daughter like that. Somehow the two become almost close. And, I have to admit, I really like her. For a 15-year-old she gives Eugenie the best advice. Of course, since it’s Eugenie, she ignores it.
Eugenie is like a good friend. You see her making choices you disagree with, but she seems to confident you’re willing to go along. And then you feel bad because you didn’t warn her, “Honey, that’s going to blow up in your face.” Or, more importantly, “That guy’s a douche bag. You can do way better.” (Actually, both Jasmine and her demonic minion tell her that one fairly often.) And maybe that’s part of what makes Iron Crowned so tense. You can sense the trouble brewing, but push past it because of our heroine’s confidence.
I don’t want to spoil the events of this one — it’s full of big turns — but I’ll tell you the things I know you want to know. Yes, you’ll see Kiyo again. Yes, there will be big drama relationship drama. Yes, Eugenie becomes more tied to the Otherworld, but don’t expect her to give up on her human roots. (I don’t think that last part will ever happen.) Yes, there is a cliffhanger.
Finally, the big shocker at the end floored me. I want to know if you saw it coming. How’d you react? Hit me up on Twitter @VampBookClub to chat in detail.
Sexual content: Sex, but not as much as previous novels. Adults only....more
Note: We always go for spoiler-free here, but this review will assume you’ve read the first DarThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Note: We always go for spoiler-free here, but this review will assume you’ve read the first Dark Swan novel Storm Born. If you haven’t, please check out that review instead.
In Storm Born (Dark Swan #1), Eugenie learned who she was and who some say she’s supposed to be. Thorn Queen is about her making choices and really accepting her new role as a part of the gentry world. Before her blood and her heritiage tied her to the faeries’ Otherworld, but now, she’s bound to the land as the Queen of the Thorn Land.
She would like to ignore it, but her changing of Aeson’s geography to that mirroring the Southern Arizona desert has left the people of the Thorn Land without knowledge to survive. She wants to help her people — show them how to live in the desert, find water. Plus, now a part of her being is tied there. The both she and the land suffer when apart.
It’s her drive to help the people of the Thorn Land that brings out the main investigation in Thorn Queen. She learns someone is kidnapping gentry girls, but only from her border towns. And her quest to find them and punish the culprits leads to a very dark place, broken allegiances, broken trust and a soul in need of mending. Richelle Mead has never been one to pull the emotional punches.
Some of Thorn Queen is both incredibly heavy and undeniably dark. You love Mead’s characters enough to go through the pain with them, and see brighter horizons later. (Ooo, ominous without being spoilery. Scared yet?)
We must, of course, add relationship drama on top. Kiyo continues to want her to cut ties with the gentry, the Otherworld and most of all her magic. His disapproval is all the more difficult to bear as he spends much of the time with his former lover the Willow Queen as he prepares to have his child. (Fret not, Team Dorian, he offers aid and friendship to Eugenie with plenty of innuendo.)
Dark urban fantasy fans will love the action in this one including big battles, power struggles and Eugenie brewing storms. Amid all that fighting emotions run high, and setting up a kingdom is emotionally taxing especially when your boyfriend is gone all the time.
If you liked the first book, expect to love finding out how Eugenie tries to balance her human life with the new role as queen in Thorn Queen. (And complications with Kiyo and Dorian will keep your head spinning.)
Sexual content: Sex, rape (focus is on the emotional side)...more
Note: If you have not read the previous Succubus Diaries novels, we suggest you read our reviewThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Note: If you have not read the previous Succubus Diaries novels, we suggest you read our review for the first novel Gentlemen Prefer Succubi as we’ll be including spoilers from the previous novels in this review. However, if you’ve read books one and two, read on, it’s spoiler-free for book 3.
When it comes to the Noah versus Zane debate, I come down firmly on the side of the vampire. Yes, this could be that I tend to like those undead creatures of the night. It’s more likely that fallen angel Noah is a little too noble for me. Give me the dark, snarky man instead. So, My Fair Succubi gave me what I needed — Jackie and Zane together.
Of course, if you remember the end of Succubi Like It Hot, you know those two together isn’t going to be easy. The guys wanted her to choose, and Zane took himself out of the running to protect Jackie from the queen. Well, now the queen is in need of Jackie’s help yet again. She wants her first in command, Zane, to help, but forbids him from touching Jackie.
This time out we get feverish sexual tension, nearly every character in peril, Joachim being especially problematic, the reappearance of jailbait succubus Delilah and — oh yeah — she’ll end up with either Noah or Zane by the end of the book. Really.
Again, Jill Myles has given us a fun book with a strong thread to tug you through the novel at a rapid pace. Between the mounting relationship tension and some strong new secondary characters, we can promise you’ll be pleased with this latest release in the Succubus Diaries series.
A Brush of Darkness is dark, funny, plenty sexy and a little heartbreaking and surprisingly heaThis 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....more
Jackie woke up in a dumpster with a homeless guy claiming the only reason he took her purse wasThis review was originally posted to Vampire Book Club.
Jackie woke up in a dumpster with a homeless guy claiming the only reason he took her purse was she was dead. For a day. The formerly frumpy museum docent (a.k.a. tour guide) finds herself transforming into sexual catnip.
Struggling with her new need for sex and being forever bound to the Serim (fallen angel) and vampire who brought about her immortal existence may have Jackie distracted, but it isn’t long before she is bogged down in a preternatural political quagmire, endangering her friends, her masters and her life.
You know, making a succubus story super romantic isn’t an easy thing. Succubi need to feed off sexual energy of men. Ergo it’s not unusual for a tale featuring these unique demonesses to have men diluted to their base instincts. And, sure, that’s true for the humans in Jill Myles’ Gentlemen Prefer Succubi, but the two leading men both work to treat our heroine Jackie with nonstop respect. Neither of the polar opposite guys wants to take advantage of her Itch.
It’s just damn hard not to like vampire Zane’s playful nature or to let loose wistful sighs at Serim Noah’s protective and doting nature. Basically, Myles has given us two of the fallen — bad boys who could be users — working to be good and, well, gentlemanly.
Jackie is likable and her interactions with fellow succubus and new BFF Remy can be outright funny. But more impressive is the strong chemistry with vastly varied tones we find between Jackie and each of her love interests.
I couldn’t put down Gentlemen Prefer Succubi. It’s an accessible, sexy and, despite some of the darker events in the second half of the book, is still a genuinely fun read. I plan to start the second book Succubi Like It Hot very soon.
Sexual content: Graphic sexual content…and flashbacks…and piles of innuendo....more
Things were already tense for Rachel Morgan at the end of Black Magic Sanction (The Hollows #8)This review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Things were already tense for Rachel Morgan at the end of Black Magic Sanction (The Hollows #8). Now she’s got the chance to be absolved for using black magic. All she has to do is get to California in one piece and hope that the necessary people keep their words. Things are never that easy, though, and the Coven would really like it if she just didn’t make it.
She sure can’t get through security at the airport, so the only option is to take her mom’s Buick cross country. And going solo? Hardly. Our favorite pixy Jenks, vampire BFF Ivy and even that scheming elf Trent come along for the otherworld version of the Great American Road Trip.
Kim Harrison has a great way of using mundane situations to propel her characters and the humor. We all know spending days cooped up in the car with your family — and there’s no doubt Jenks and Ivy count as family here — can make tension percolate. Add in being hunted, fire, ancient evil and tons of running for our lives and you have so many of the pieces that make this series so strong.
We’re keeping this review spoiler-free, but we promise there are several moments that will have you shaking your head, muttering “oh no” and begging for a bit more. In other words, we promise Pale Demon is freaking amazing.
Overall, Pale Demon is impressive in that nine books in Rachel Morgan has grown a crazy amount and we love her all the more. The plot twists were perfectly placed and the darkness always balanced with just the right amount of pixy swearing to lighten the mood. Sometimes longer series lose their relevance and core connection, but Pale Demon does just the opposite. If nothing else, it further invigorates the series and characters. We have no clue where Harrison will take the series next but we’re already dying for more.
Sexual content: Allusions to rape and a few sexual scenes...more
Chelsea: As with every Southern Vampire Mystery book, I liked getting to spend a few hundred pages with Sookie in Dead Reckoning. But this there were moments where she didn’t really behave like the Sookie I’ve come to know. She was freaked out about things she’s already come to terms with and doesn’t get into enough of an uproar about others. She just felt off.
Kristin: I agree. It took me about 85 pages or so to really get involved in the story, and my normal patience for Sookie’s puttering wasn’t quite as high in this one. Although, Ms. Harris did start the book off with a bang (literally) with the firebombing of Merlotte’s, and Sookie’s glimpse of the mysterious figures behind it.
Chelsea: The action scenes in Dead Reckoning were certainly the highlights. Harris is always great at choreographing action sequences with the right amounts of violence, fear and plot purpose.
Kristin: Her action scenes are always great, and I love it when we get visits from Bill (who is still close to my heart), and Bubba, which we do in Dead Reckoning. Unfortunately, Sookie also gets visits from some old enemies, adding just one more problem in the ever growing threat list. It also doesn’t help that things are coming to a head for Eric and Pam, and vamp politics are again threatening to take over Sookie’s life.
Chelsea: There’s always some otherworld politics at play! In addition to dealing with an Eric/Pam standoff, we have Victor’s vendetta against them.
Plus, Harris begins to lay groundwork for more faerie drama (when are they not up to something?) but she doesn’t do a whole lot with them other than hint at something big on the horizon. I wish we would have gotten a bit more movement on that subplot in Dead Reckoning.
Kristin: I definitely would have liked to learn more about that, but I suppose we’ll have to wait for that in the next one. That’s not all we’ll have to wait for! The fate of Sookie and Eric’s relationship is certainly up in the air, and I’m not at all sure I like Sam’s newest love interest, Jannalyn, although she is fierce! I’ll admit I always had hopes for Sam and Sookie, but alas…
Chelsea: Eric and Sookie’s relationship hit some spikes, again, for forthcoming events, but really their personal interaction is limited in this latest installment. When some big decisions need to be made or things get sketchy, I found myself wondering where the hell Eric was and just what was more important than Sookie. And why she didn’t seem to be bothered that he wasn’t around all that much. I can’t say if that’s supposed to hint to something, or if Harris was just wanting to focus on the ‘someone’s out to kill you’ end of things. Sookie was shocked by some of Eric’s behavior, but it’s the same type of behavior that freaked her out in Dead in the Family. Vampires can be callous, and at some point she’s going to have to truly come to terms with that.
All that said, I had a really good time reading Dead Reckoning. It was when I finished that I noted all the pieces that fell short for me. Worth the read for fans, who I think will be pleased it’s stronger than Dead in the Family.
Kristin: Oh, I certainly had a wonderful time with it too! I think there’s just so many things I’d like to tie up in a bow, and I’m not known for my patience! Sookie is one of my all-time favorite characters, and I always feel at home in her world, among her friends, family, and lovers. It was certainly stronger than Dead in the Family, and I highly recommend it to fans of the series!...more
This review was originally posted as part of a review of the anthology Winter Wishes on Vampire Book Club.
I loved this story. Hands-down the best of tThis review was originally posted as part of a review of the anthology Winter Wishes on Vampire Book Club.
I loved this story. Hands-down the best of the three. No Angel was my first glimpse at Vivi Andrews’ writing, and I’ll definitely be seeking out more of her novels and novellas after this one.
No Angel was romantic and sweet focusing on the redemptive power of love. When a half-demon is called back into hell by his mother — Lucifer’s wife — he fears he has lost his only chance at love. He hadn’t intended to fall in love with a mortal, he tried hard to be good for her, but he never told her about his demonic side.
When he’s pulled away before his lover’s eyes, she is given the chance to descend to hell and save him. Can she redeem this demonspawn and will she want to once she knows what he’s been hiding?...more
Carina Press pulled together holiday-themed novellas from three great paranormal romance authorThis review was originally posted on Vampire Book Club.
Carina Press pulled together holiday-themed novellas from three great paranormal romance authors – Vivian Arend, Vivi Andrews and Moira Rogers. With Christmas parties, angels and demons and lots of snow, Winter Wishes will surely heat up a winter afternoon. Plus, those who enjoy shifters will particularly enjoy this anthology as two of the three stories feature weres (panthers and wolves).
Tangled Tinsel by Vivian Arend
Kyle is happy to revel in the sexual nature of being a werepanther. El has long suppressed her similar nature. When she takes him into protective custody, he does what he can to open her eyes to her shifter nature. Taking him home to spend the holidays with her family does more to open his eyes to what real connections could be.
Tangled Tinsel is a steamy read with both shifters learning their stances on relationships and their natures need a change. Vivian Arend adds in a light crime subplot, but the core of this novella is character development. Readers will like seeing El and Kyle come together.
No Angel by Vivi Andrews
I loved this story. Hands-down the best of the three. No Angel was my first glimpse at Vivi Andrews’ writing, and I’ll definitely be seeking out more of her novels and novellas after this one.
No Angel was romantic and sweet focusing on the redemptive power of love. When a half-demon is called back into hell by his mother — Lucifer’s wife — he fears he has lost his only chance at love. He hadn’t intended to fall in love with a mortal, he tried hard to be good for her, but he never told her about his demonic side.
When he’s pulled away before his lover’s eyes, she is given the chance to descend to hell and save him. Can she redeem this demonspawn and will she want to once she knows what he’s been hiding?
Freeze Line by Moira Rogers
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. ...more
You want more Raphael? Nalini Singh delivers plenty of our unapologetic alpha hero in ArchangelThis review was originally posted to Vampire Book Club.
You want more Raphael? Nalini Singh delivers plenty of our unapologetic alpha hero in Archangel’s Consort. Readers will love seeing him adjust to being a bonded pair with Guild Hunter-turned-newly-made angel Elena.
Archangel's Consort by Nalini SinghThe Archangel of New York isn’t used to having his orders questioned, but Elena isn’t one of his Seven. As his consort, she fights to remind him that she’s still a Hunter and won’t live in a cage. He seeks to protect her, what’s his, sending Dmitri, Venom and Illium to watch over her whenever she’s away. A huge component of Archangel’s Consort is defining their new relationship, learning more about one another and both working to be fully open and trusting of one another.
Singh digs deeper into the pasts of our hero and heroine, which leads us to Elena meeting the ultimate in scary mothers-in-law. (Really, it’ll make you feel much better.) Raphael’s mother is the “big bad” for this third Guild Hunter novel. There is talk of Caliane awakening from a century of sleep. Unfortunately, the archangel went mad prior, she’s ancient and before she began to slumber she nearly killed Raphael. To say he is conflicted is a massive understatement. Add in Elena’s guilt about her mother’s death, and you have a strong emotional core in Archangel’s Consort.
The drawback here is the opening of the novel drags. While Singh peppers in sexy scenes early on, the plot is slow-moving until more than 100 pages in. She’s setting the stage for more character development, but if you didn’t already love Elena and Raphael, you might not push through. The latter portion is worth it, but this novel definitely took longer to read than it should have in my hands.
Overall, though, we get just what we want: a heavy focus on Raphael and Elena with greater insight into both characters and in-air sexytime. (We know you wanted to know that one.)
Shadowfever is intense. It’s not just that the stakes are high in this final book in the FeverThis 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....more
(NOTE: We will reference events in book 3 My Soul to Keep. Spoilers from earlier books are neceThis review was originally posted to Vampire Book Club.
(NOTE: We will reference events in book 3 My Soul to Keep. Spoilers from earlier books are necessary, so you’ve been warned!)
Broken trust is hard to repair. Kaylee and Nash both want things to go back to how they were before the Demon’s Breath, before she’d be used. Before things fell apart at the end of My Soul to Keep. But you can’t just erase the past. My Soul to Steal, the fourth Soul Screamers novel, focuses on what it takes to move forward. The goal alone is tough to attain, but add in the catalyst of Nash’s first love arriving in town to make Kaylee all the more insecure.
My Soul to Steal (Soul Screamers #4)Forgiveness and acceptance are hard fought, but letting go of the fears is much harder when every night deep-seated terrors of being lost, unwanted, betrayed and unworthy fill Kaylee’s dreams. And Sabine, Nash’s ex-girlfriend and living nightmare, is happy to fuel them.
Sabine quickly makes it plain to Kaylee she plans on taking Nash back by any means necessary, and she has no problem playing on their fractured trust and Kaylee’s fears for the future. Sabine also has no problem throwing her sexuality around and making obvious plays for Nash.
Nash only has eyes for Kaylee. (Which pleases us immensely.) She may be battling her inability to trust him, but he’s at war with his guilt and offering any supplication to regain what he’s lost with her. (Tod backs Kaylee on this one, and is his usual wonderful reaper self.)
In typical Rachel Vincent fashion, My Soul to Steal will spark frustration at the characters and you’ll hate as you start to sympathize with Sabine. While there is action in this Soul Screamers novel, the main focus is the internal war raging within our banshee couple. Can they overcome their fears? Can they both grow and stay a couple? We won’t give you the answers, but we’ll tell you My Soul to Steal promises a heavy emotional journey that will have you questioning you allegiances. ...more
Damn you, Karen Marie Moning. I know you like cliffhangers. I know you like to torture your chaThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Damn you, Karen Marie Moning. I know you like cliffhangers. I know you like to torture your characters, but that ending? C’mon! (No, readers, I won’t spoil it for you. That would be mean. I’ll just say the ending reminded me of how everyone thought their DVR had cut off the finale of the Sopranos. It was that kind of ending.)
Frustration at the ending aside — and I am frustrated — I loved Dreamfever. If you haven’t read the earlier books, I’m going to reference events at the end of Faefever here in a second. You’ve been warned.
At the end of Faefever, Mac was attacked by Unseelie princes. Raped. And, as we all feared, she was turned Pri-ya. She was hollowed out and seeked only physical attention. She had been saved by Dani and the sidhe seers, but Rowena doesn’t trust her. Barrons saves her. Again.
Early on, things are a bit different because we have Dani narrating. MacKayla isn’t really up to it. I wasn’t much for it at first, but the kid grows on you. Eventually, Mac comes back stronger, but now the walls between the mortal world and Faery have come crashing down and we’re all left wondering if there is any way to save the world.
Expect unexpected alliances, breaking through wards, surprise trips to Faery realms without a fae in tow and evil at every turn. (We’re purposely avoiding details, because the plot is a constant surprise in Dreamfever and we’re not about to ruin it.)
Brutal, deep and leaving us with heaps and heaps of questions, Dreamfever is an undeniably great urban fantasy. Mac gets tiny answers, but gets even bigger questions in exchange. Is she destined to save the world or destroy it?
Now, we sit on the edge of our seat dying for answers to questions. The fifth and final Fever book, Shadowfever, comes out this January. We’re thinking pre-ordering it may be necessary....more
Everyone in Dublin would like a piece of MacKayla Lane. Having accepted her gift as a sidhe seeThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Everyone in Dublin would like a piece of MacKayla Lane. Having accepted her gift as a sidhe seer, or one who can see through fae glamour, she’s focused on getting answers about her sister’s murder and trying to fulfill her last request — to find and protect an ancient faery relic. She’s made an alliance with the strong, rough Jericho Barrons. He’s helped her this far, and that isn’t going to change.
In Bloodfever, Seelie Prince V’lane works to convince Mac to help him and his queen. (Barrons really hates this, though we don’t know the details why.) In addition, Mac seeks out other sidhe seers only to discover they will only accept her if she vows obediance to them and hands over the only tool Mac has to kill the dark fae.
And those are just the “good” ones. Add in a detective convinced Mac had a role in his brother-in-law’s death, the Lord Master is still on the loose and what sure looks like the Grim Reaper hanging out just past her window.
Mac has to sort out who she is now, her role in this war against the fae and who, if anyone, is safe to trust.
Karen Marie Moning picked up the pacing with Bloodfever, and it works. There’s this constant feeling that you need to hurry forward in the novel, because something dark is nipping at your heels. Barrons takes a stronger protector role, which Mac fights the entire time. Their chemistry is palpable and I am dying to see what happens when they really give in to it.
(We’re officially on board with the Fever series. As a matter of fact, we were happy to be reading the book on our Nook so we could download Faefever (Fever #3) the second after finishing Bloodfever.)...more
Angelfire is full of potential and by the end of this series opener, I knew I’d want to read moThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Angelfire is full of potential and by the end of this series opener, I knew I’d want to read more.
Ellie thought she was the middle-of-the-road teenager. Not crazy popular, but with good friends. Her big concerns were her jerk of a dad and school. Until she started having nightmares of being murdered by monsters. It was then that a super hot guy started showing up everywhere she went. He was there to protect her as she rediscovered her memories and learned her true role as the reincarnation of an ancient warrior sent to protect the world from demon reapers.
She wasn’t particularly athletic, but now Ellie must re-learn to use swords, call fire to her blades and discover a way to keep everyone safe. Will helps her memory along, and it doesn’t take much before she’s ditching her friends for him nightly.
Courtney Allison Moulton has crafted a new “hot boy with sword” archetype in Will. While the other HBWS guys we’ve fallen for (yeah, we’re talking about Prince Ash) have been bad boy types, that’s not true with Will. He’s brusque, sure, but his sole purpose is to keep Ellie safe and it quickly becomes clear there is no sacrifice he wouldn’t make for her. We know she once saved him, but all we see is this stoic — and super hot — guardian willing to help her discover who she really is …and how to wield a sword like no other.
The chemistry between Ellie and Will is undeniable and will make any reader take notice. You’ll quickly be thinking, “they should just kiss already.” But I assure you, their relationship is more complicated than one could imagine. With great twists on the Ellie/Will front at the end of the novel, we’re already dying to know what will happen with the two in the future.
The only downside to Angelfire was it took me quite a bit to warm up to Ellie. (Though, a part of me wonders if this is just because it’s been awhile since I was a teenager.) The first half of the book, Ellie is very focused on her expensive new car (her friends are very focused on it being an Audi, as well). For me it was distracting to have the barrage of brands peppered through. Ellie is wealthy — I get that — but all the focus on items made it hard to connect with her early on.
However, as she begins to discover who and what she is, it becomes easier and easier to like and care about her. Her interactions with Will make her far more intriguing and worthy of readers’ devotion. She begins taking her duty to kill reapers seriously, we get to see her evolve into a strong, powerful woman. Her fight scenes are extraordinary and the use of flashbacks to previous lives and memories are what lift this novel above so many other debuts in the YA paranormal genre.
Moulton’s fresh take on angels in Angelfire gives us explosive fight scenes, sizzling chemistry and a guy you’ll add to your “book boyfriend” list in a heartbeat. Once you’ve read it, you’ll be watching for when book 2 in the series comes out....more
Just go ahead and put Cynthia Hand on your auto-buy list now. Hit up Amazon and order UnearthlyThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Just go ahead and put Cynthia Hand on your auto-buy list now. Hit up Amazon and order Unearthly now, because — and we’ll put our rep on this one — the book is top-notch.
Unearthly by Cynthia HandClara is part angel. She’s still new to the whole thing, but when she begins having visions of a boy amid burning trees she knows something is up. Her mom (also part angel) is so excited, because her daughter is receiving her purpose. While Clara’s mom won’t reveal what her purpose is or was, she’ll work with her daughter to figure out what Clara is meant to do. First step: figure out where the vision is taking place.
It’s the second step that makes thing complicated for Clara and her family: move. Any teenager is going to hate picking up and moving away from their friends, but Clara has been assigned a task by God. You can’t really shirk that resposibility.
Clara quickly runs into the boy from her dreams, and he’s stunning. In addition to being gorgeous, Christian is also kind …and off limits. He has a girlfriend, and, you know, she’s an angel sent to probably save his life. Imagine meeting the boy of your dreams — to feel an amazing connection to him — only to continually be told there’s no hope and you should focus on your job. Frustrating doesn’t being to describe it.
Even as she begins to get closer to Christian, she finds another “not her type” guy grabbing her attention. What if her purpose is to be with Christian? Can can even want to be with someone else?
Add in a couple polar-opposite friends (one who knows way more about angels than Clara does), a resentful little brother, sometimes secretive mom and a popular girl who wants to rain hell down upon the girl catching Christian’s eye and you can see why being a part-angel teenager is complicated.
The beauty in Unearthly comes from choosing your destiny, learning to make the hard choices and knowing when your heart should rule those decisions.
I love an emotional ride. Good novels evoke genuine emotion in their readers. Great novels more often surprise readers by cultivating the unexpected response. Unearthly appears straightforward, but Hand’s writing so enamors the reader that one is confused, anxious and exhilarated as the plot coils tighter. At the end you’ll wonder how this delightful journey brought you here, and start begging for more. ...more