I’m not sure anyone can’t be drawn in by John Matthew’s story. Even in earlier books his stoThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
I’m not sure anyone can’t be drawn in by John Matthew’s story. Even in earlier books his story ensnared me. As Xhex came into the picture in previous novels, I knew their potential to be electric was there. So, when it comes to the series, I spent the previous two books eager to get to Lover Mine.
I had planned this read of Lover Mine to be a palate cleanser. I had planned to read a few chapters, then slip back into my current read. I should have known that wasn’t going to be an option. Lover Mine is more reminiscent of early BDB novels in its pacing, and this means I got plenty wrapped up in the story quickly.
John Matthew and Xhex are so perfect for each other, it’s nice to see them get to interact more. And both are stubborn enough to fight the attraction, the emotional pull. Seriously, throughout the book I just wanted to sit these two down and encourage them to quit being dumbasses and look at the potential in front of them. And it’s that undercurrent that makes Lover Mine one you can’t put down.
A caveat, I skipped a few passages. I liked the scenes from Lash’s POV — getting the inside on the doings of the Lessers’ chosen boy — but his detailed description of possessions/threads/etc. got bypassed. As did scenes with the paranormal investigations team. (I read enough to know what it was about, and to get the plot twist with Xhex later.) I was too eager to get back to the Xhex/John Matthew or Qhuinn/Blay drama to read it all.
Lover Mine is one everyone waited for; we’ve wanted to see John Matthew all grown up. We wanted to see him get to protect his female who doesn’t really want or need protection. And I loved seeing Xhex challenge him, and accept the possibility that she might kind of like a guy wanting to protect her. Also, those who have hopes for Qhuay, this is when things start to take off. We shall all continue to wait for that novella. Bring it on, Ward, we’re really for Blaylock and Qhuinn to get their HEA.
There are a handful of books that I go on a recommendation binge with as soon as I read theThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
There are a handful of books that I go on a recommendation binge with as soon as I read the last page. It happened with Unholy Ghosts. It happened with Nightshade. It happened with Blood of the Wicked. And, there’s no question about it: Kristen Painter’s Blood Rights is the latest book that I will be pushing on every reader friend. And this means you, too, VBC readers.
Painter has taken the familiar — vampires, crazy nobility, outcast mentality — and has given us something entirely new.
The Comarré, a special type of human, are similar to geisha in many ways. Their presence is a sign of wealth and status. Comarré are bred to feed vampires, never knowing their mothers and fathers, and trained to be polite and subservient to their future patrons. (There’s quite a bit more to them than this, but to say more would spoil some great twists.) Vampire nobility pay the Comarré’s house for the right to exclusively drink his or her blood. Chrysabelle was the most coveted Comarré, the one with the purest, most powerful blood. And she wanted out. Finding her patron dead, she fled.
A cruel vampire named Tatiana has her sights set on more power and Chrysabelle plays a role. She just needs to find her. We stop in on her point-of-view periodically, and the more you learn about her, the more you hate her. A true villain, worthy of the fear we see in those running from her.
Fleeing from the creatures Tatiana sics on her, Chrysabelle finds herself trying to adjust to the mortal world. She must work with a cursed vampire and his ragtag team for a chance at saving not only herself, but also her aunt. And while she wishes for true freedom, hard truths and dirty secrets keep getting in the way.
The tension between Chrysabelle and vampire Malkolm is gripping and intense. Their interactions brought to mind the strain of Ethan and Merit from the Chicagoland Vampires series. However, when it comes to Chrysabelle and Mal, both think they aren’t deserving of the situation. They both believe the other is rejecting them out of repulsion. There is a strong sense of duty, and both keep coming back together while internalizing a fear of disgusting the other. Given their respective backgrounds, anything else wouldn’t ring true.
Those who love heroines who surprise everyone, will love Chrysabelle. She’s supposed to be this demure thing, to be protected. Woman’s got blades on her at all times and the kind of power in a kick that will take out a steel door. She’s cunning and knows to hide her skills. It’s only through a bout of delirium that she first exposes her real fighting skills to Mal, taunting and taking the man out. She’s a woman who is used to being underestimated, and is reveling in the freedom to speak her mind and throw a blade or two.
Polarizing characters, murder, magic and the need for independence bring Blood Rights to another level. Expect this one to grab hold, pull you to the edge of your seat and leave you, jaw agape, begging for book 2, Flesh and Blood.
Note: While this review is spoiler-free for At Grave’s End, it will give away key points fromThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club
Note: While this review is spoiler-free for At Grave’s End, it will give away key points from earlier Night Huntress novels. If you haven’t entered the great world of Cat and Bones, please read my review of the first novel Halfway to the Grave instead.
Jeaniene Frost has never been one to give her characters a break. One might think after ill-advised sacrifices for love, being kidnapped by one’s own father, impromptu vampire marriage and, well, having to deal with Cat’s mom in general, it’d be hard to find Cat and her husband Bones in worse situations. But, of course, it just gets worse — and I ate up every little bit of it.
I won’t give away the big double-take, freak-out moment. But, in other events, Cat’s mom does admit she wasn’t raped by a vampire, but it doesn’t make her any nicer to her half-vampire daughter. Dear ol’ dad is back in action and thinks taking out his daughter will make the other vampires quit teasing him about siring the half-breed Red Reaper.
In At Grave’s End, Cat and Bones’ relationship is solid and the focus shifts more to their interactions with others — and how those around them deal with C&B as a team. Tate refuses to give up on Cat, and her internal conflict over her good friend making blatant moves on her — in front of her husband — showcases the character depth of this series.
This third book in the Night Huntress series is when the door is opened to more of the supporting characters. We meet additional vampires that will make frequent appearances later including Vlad (yep, that one). The robust characters in this book help keep the reader grounded as the plot takes us to emotional highs and lows.
Dealing with the potentiality and reality of death, what happens when love is one-sided and the importance of knowing who truly has your back are heavy themes, but At Grave’s End handles them with humor and honesty.
You’ll still get Cat and Bones in love, but At Grave’s End is when you get to meet more Night Huntress characters worthy of your love.
David Bridger has crafted something refreshingly different with Quarter Square with great doThis review was originally published on Vampire Book Club.
David Bridger has crafted something refreshingly different with Quarter Square with great doses of escapism, fear of being hunted and a heaping of ‘otherness.’
Our protagonist Joe has just suffered the ultimate shock — his wife in bed with his best friend — and in his pain ends up ditching them, his house, his former life to refinish an old theater. Sounds classic off-the-deep end, right? But Joe isn’t really all that broken up over it. Something had never been quite right between him and the wife, and, well, he’s feeling oddly at home in this run-down building. He hears people in the building late at night, following them through a door that so wasn’t there before. On the other side is a whole other world. A small community with lively music and interesting people. He’s (mostly) welcomed to Quarter Square, where people who are ‘other’ can live. The big distinction here is the people who live in Quarter Square can do magic, but are never really defined as fae. Their skills are varied and it’s a very communal, gypsy-esque lifestyle. (And, admittedly, one I wouldn’t mind escaping to from time to time.)
Along with the interesting, endearing and, occasionally, aggressive folk of Quarter Square, Joe meets Min. He’s immediately taken with her, but realizes he’s in a weird situation. He’s now promised the people of Quarter Square to restore the theater — one of the few remaining portals into the other world — provided the artistic folk are willing to perform in it. He’s just trying to do right by them, but can’t stop dreaming of Min.
I won’t go into more details, as to avoid giving away the plot. But know there is more to the ‘other’ side than just Quarter Square, including The Wild, werewolves, war and enough immortality to go around. Min and Joe are fated to meet, but he’ll have to decide if he should go with his gut or let others make hard choices for him. Additionally, he begins to learn of his own magic, and must determine how to use it.
I don’t know the last time I related better to the male lead in a novel than his female counterpart, but that’s certainly the case with Quarter Square. He’s a honest guy trying to deal with crazy situations and trying to own up to his own role in things. You want him happy, and love experiencing the freedom of Quarter Square with him.
You may be thinking: If I loved the world-building and the protagonist and the conflict so damn much why is it only 4 stars? It’s a fair question. And the reason is this: Once I got to really know Min — when she let her guards down — I didn’t like her as much, and the quick change in her personality was a bit grating. Joe was still all about her, but she just gave me the itch where I wondered if she was really good enough for him. Or even good for him. I expect to make a firm decision on my feelings for Min in the second book. Until then, I’ll be keeping an eye on her.
Bottom line: Great characters throughout and fantastic world-building make Quarter Square an excellent paranormal read.
Remember how you fell in love with Brystion in A Brush of Darkness? I didn’t think anyone woThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Remember how you fell in love with Brystion in A Brush of Darkness? I didn’t think anyone would be more appealing to me in Abby’s world.
I. Was. Wrong.
So very wrong. We come back into Abby’s world eight months after the end of the first book. Brystion broke up with Abby because it “just wouldn’t work” with him being an immortal succubus and her being a human, albeit one with serious fae ties. Moira placed her brother Talivar as Abby’s bodyguard. And they fell into a complementary friendship — both caring for Moira’s son.
Talivar is emotionally wounded, an outcast and recognizes Abby’s strength. And, honestly, after spending more than 350 pages with him — I just want to climb the guy like a tree. I love the way he interacts with Abby and the obvious burdens that come with being the unwanted royal.
A Sliver of Shadow isn’t about Talivar, though. It’s about a struggle for power. (Isn’t it always with the fae?) Once again, Abby’s found herself mixed up in the Fairy Court’s troubles. In order to help, she has to challenge her past. She’s given access to missing memories and reconciling the truth and the implications on her life forces her into a more mature role.
All the characters are dealing with regret in A Sliver of Shadow. Many want to wish away past deals, others past hurts and most of all those past actions that read like betrayal in hindsight. There’s a beautiful story arc of Abby — and others — making the move to make peace with her life, without foregoing the snort-induing one-liners.
After you’ve finished, you’ll love Abby even more. You’ll care about Taliver and Ion. You’ll be enraptured in the drama of the Crossroads. And you may be tempted to immediately re-read.
Snarky, sexy and action-packed, A Sliver of Shadow is a must-read.
Sexual content: Sex and plenty of sexual references (Phineas is around, after all.)...more
Chloe Neill said to trust her about the ending of Hard Bitten. Every fan was floored (and manyThis 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.
Let’s just admit the cover art alone would be reason enough to read Diana Rowland’s My LifeThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Let’s just admit the cover art alone would be reason enough to read Diana Rowland’s My Life as a White Trash Zombie. Luckily, the book’s content exceeded expectations of a cheeky zombie novel.
Rowland manages to make becoming a zombie a soul-searching event. The book is still filled with snarky dialogue and dark humor, but at its core its about a woman reinventing herself – with a big push from the undead.
Angel was a high school dropout. She couldn’t keep a job, mostly because she didn’t care enough. She and her boyfriend Randy were on-and-off and their relationship consisted of drinking, popping pills, fighting and makeup sex. Her boyfriend’s “help” in getting a new car, lead her to a felony conviction for possession of stolen property. To say things were not great for Angel wouldn’t cover it.
She wakes up in the emergency room convinced she’d been in an accident – complete with memories of blood and broken bones – but there’s not a scratch on her. To make matters worse, the nurse tells her she was brought in naked from an overdose. Angel wants to argue. She doesn’t remember trying to kill herself or taking that many pills, but if someone were going to OD, it totally could have been her.
A mysterious letter arrives telling her she now has a job at the morgue and if she doesn’t want her probation officer to hear about the OD, she better start up her new gig. She takes to the new job with as much fervor as expected, but when she starts craving brains left out post-autopsy, she’s sure she’s going nuts.
While there is a mystery subplot (people are being decapitated), the heart of this story is Angel’s progression. In My Life as a White Trash Zombie, Rowland has given her main character the ultimate wakeup call. This is her second chance. She may have to eat brains now, but she finally has a job she cares about, people who care about her and no interest in drinking or drugs (they only cause her to need to feed sooner).
Equally gross and heartwarming, disgusting and riveting, My Life as a White Trash Zombie is a clever read. If you like to see a flawed heroine pull herself back up, and can handle visceral imagery, it’s a brilliant book. Fans of Carolyn Crane, Stacia Kane and Allison Pang will dig on this one. Big time.