If you need a book to break you out of a reading rut, pick up Gini Koch’s Touched by an Alie...moreThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
If you need a book to break you out of a reading rut, pick up Gini Koch’s Touched by an Alien. The paranormal fantasy is cheeky, action-packed and sexy. (I suppose that also makes it a perfect summer read, too.)
Kitty, the heroine of Touched by an Alien, endears herself quickly. She’s a bright, skeptical woman with a penchant for rock ‘n’ roll and comfy clothes. She finds herself outdoors when a man transforms into a monster — a legit, scary-trying-to-kill-everyone monster — right in front of her. Instead of turning the other way, she digs in her purse, snags a pen and takes down the damn thing. Men in Black types show up immediately, quarantine the scene and whisk Kitty off in a limo.
As much as the men may want to control the situation, Kitty is too smart for their double-speak. In addition to the standard “this doesn’t seem like the FBI” clues, all the agents are hot. Like male model hot. And as soon as Kitty is pointing out all the holes in the guys’ story, agent Jeff Martini declares he’s going to marry her. Turns out these handsome men want to recruit Kitty to be their newest field agent in a war against alien parasites.
Of course, the agency is made up of humanoid aliens. (The women are just as attractive, but tend to do work as scientists.) Kitty comes in and turns things upside. In addition to stealing the charming Jeff Martini’s heart, she’s fearless and able to tackle problems in ways the agents hadn’t even considered. (Hairspray as a weapon? Of course!)
I won’t give away the plot, but expect double agents, big scary monsters, family drama, unrequited love and the kind of steamy scenes that only happen when one character is an empath.
It’s hard not to enjoy characters that leap off the page. And, admittedly, I always love it when the heroine comes in and shows all the boys how it’s done. Kitty just plain kicks ass in Touched by an Alien — and she gets the guy, too.
Sexual content: Sex including a particularly memorable scene in an elevator.(less)
Hidden by Blood gives you a quick taste (har har) of the Sweetblood series. In the world cra...moreThis review was originally published on Vampire Book Club.
Hidden by Blood gives you a quick taste (har har) of the Sweetblood series. In the world crafted by Laurie London, some humans have blood vampires find remarkably irresistible. As you may have guessed, these people are called sweetbloods. There’s a faction of vampires who corral these types using them as blood slaves, and another faction out to protect humanity and, in general, stop those jerks.
That’s the world we step into with Hidden by Blood. We meet Finn, a former army ranger, who doesn’t know why he’s being held captive or where, but it’s damn painful. A creepy man comes in every few days to take his blood. He’s been trained for torturous situations, but this is different.
When Brenna discovers the guy she used to date has been taken captive as a blood slave, she hurries to free him. He doesn’t know about vampires, much less that she is one. And his sweetblood calls to her almost as much as his damn good looks.
Brenna will need to finally reveal who she is to Finn. This may result in a light love scene that’s totally sweet and a nice taste for the tone of the series. And, we promise, the end of this novella comes too quickly.
You may enjoy Hidden by Blood more if you’re already read Bonded by Blood (Sweetblood #1) and are already immersed in the world, but either way it’s a good taste of London’s stellar writing and a little something to sate your thirst while waiting on the next full-length Sweetblood novel Embraced by Blood.
Kindling the Moon has quick writing, a heroine who can kick ass but is still learning about herself and a hero who sure tries to steal the show. It’s a great read from cover to cover.
Arcadia Bell is a magician on the run. She’s a little different than your normal human doing magic. Cady is able to see Earthbound demons for what they are. Most act like humans, so it’s not really an issue. But she can keep their powers in check by binding them and runs a bar that caters to them. Laying low and running her tiki lounge worked well until her parents showed up on TV. The world at large was sure she and they were dead. Seven years ago, they’d faked their deaths when another magical order framed them for murder — the kind that caught national media attention.
Now the other order is seeking them down. They’ve given Cady two weeks to help find them, or they’re taking her. And that means death of the most unpleasant sort. So Cady seeks out the truth about who really committed the murders. She needs the help of Earthbound demon Lon Butler in finding the mystery demon she’s sure was used for the killings.
It’s not that easy. The two battle against the clock, their pasts, demons and one very precocious 13-year-old to try and save Cady and her parents. Along the way there are scary demons, kidnappings, movie nights and — oh, yes — sexy times. On that last part, Lon Butler is a new favorite. The single father who is also a badass is going on the book boyfriend list. Yep. That good.
The plot is twisty enough to keep you turning the pages and the characters may become your new best friends. Urban fantasy readers who love a dash of romance will love Kindling the Moon. I promise.
There are a number of things I like about Hexed‘s main character Atticus O’Sullivan. I like...moreThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
There are a number of things I like about Hexed‘s main character Atticus O’Sullivan. I like that he’s confident and actually backs it up with competency. I like that he takes care of the widow in his neighborhood and doesn’t begrudge her a 10 a.m. glass of whiskey. I like that he tells his hound Oberon epic stories. And I really like that even when times are dark and the road ahead murky, he can make me laugh.
Yes, our 2,100-year-old Irish Druid is back in action, and he’s every bit as fantastic as you remembered. In Hounded, Atticus managed to kill gods and played a role in cutting the local coven in half. Now everyone is knocking on his door wanting him to do a little wet works on their behalf. Actually, most want him to kill Thor, and he doesn’t want a thing to do with that mess. He does, however, have to deal with the local fallout from the big showdown out in the Superstition Mountains. First, there are demons on the loose, which escaped during the big battle at the end of Hounded.
Expect the ultimate trickster Coyote to strong-arm our boy into taking out a big bad with nothing but a few arrows. Then, there’s the situation with the witches. They’ve been in talks for a peace treaty, but things get sped up when maenads decide to turn Scottsdale into their new orgy central and another coven comes to town with their sights on taking out both Atticus and the East Valley coven.
In the midst of all that fighting and negotiating, Atticus has to deal with his own gods. Brighid may have promised great things to Atticus, but when she comes knocking with a too-good offer he tells her exactly how it is. He may still worship the old ways, but he’s always been good at looking out for himself and his friends.
One of the great things about reading the Iron Druid series is Kevin Hearne has written this character so masterfully that we know he’s ancient and wise, but he still comes across youthful — exactly as he intends. The dialog is punchy and there is never a lull in the plot.
I’m particularly excited to see the showdown foreshadowed for Hammered (Iron Druid #3). Until then, I assure you Hexed is an adventure you won’t want to miss.
Feed will stick with you. After you’ve re-shelved it and moved on to another title, you’ll stil...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Feed will stick with you. After you’ve re-shelved it and moved on to another title, you’ll still be thinking about Georgia Mason, her brother Shaun, the lives of post-apocalyptic news bloggers, government conspiracies and just how a zombie apocalypse might go down.
It’s a lot to digest, and it is all given fair time in the 571-page Feed. Georgia was born after the Rising. She and her brother were adopted after two miracle cures mingled to create a virus which reanimates the dead. Their generation is accustomed to taking a blood test to enter the neighborhood, vehicle and home. They understood why people didn’t have pets more than 40 lbs., as those animals could had the virus amplify and transmit it to humans.
Georgia and Shaun shouldn’t have been used to open spaces, to small crowds or to spending time outside of safe zones. But they both were. The two are part of a team of news bloggers. Georgia is all facts, she discovers the truth and reports on it. She’s the post-apocalyptic version of a gumshoe. (I’m pretty sure my favorite college professor would love Georgia Mason. She’d run most beat reporters into the ground.) Shaun is more of the Gonzo type. He’s the one who goes out in the field to poke zombies so you don’t have to; leads the dangerous life for you.
And these two, with their friend and partner Buffy, manage to snag the prime placement on the campaign trail of a presidential hopeful. Senator Ryman is young enough to know bloggers are the trusted media these days, and by granting them full access to his campaign he’ll earn the trust of the voters. It doesn’t take long before it’s clear someone has it in for Ryman and his press corps of bloggers. Just who is behind the attacks is the big surprise.
Grant managed to fake me out plenty in this one. Some of my predictions were right, some of them were so very wrong and while I was guessing who was behind the attacks on Ryman, his campaign and the blog team, I never saw some of the big twists coming. Shocking and sad moments are peppered throughout this novel, and both are handled with grace, honesty and a realism that can be a bit haunting.
The landscape presented in Feed feels real. While zombies are a catalyst for much of the plot, really Feed is about fear and what happens if you let it take away your choices. We always have options. They may not be good ones, and may not lead to a happy ending, but we always have a choice.
Also, a word of warning for your time-management, once you hit about page 250 prepare to run the gauntlet. It’s the point of no return; the shift when you realize you will not be stopping for more than a bathroom break for the next few hours. It’s masterful work.
One of the things I love best about Shiloh Walker’s writing is the very thing that made reading...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
One of the things I love best about Shiloh Walker’s writing is the very thing that made reading Hunter’s Fall difficult at times: She’s too good at making the complexities of human emotion come alive. Walker never shies away from the hard, painful aspects of life — they are the very things that can later bring joy. And Hunter’s Fall gives us both true emotional pain and real, honest hope.
It was an emotionally taxing ride, but well worth the fare.
Nessa is the most powerful witch among the Hunters. (For those not familiar with the series, Hunters are supernatural types who take out bad paranormal folk.) She’s also spent the last 500 years of her life searching for her husband. He died in her arms centuries ago after townspeople discovered her as a witch. He vowed to return to her. And she’s waited. But years of loneliness and heartbreak put a strain on Nessa. And after battling a young witch with a nasty taste for blood magic, she finds herself now living in Morgan’s body with the blood witch’s ghost clinging to her. She becomes depressed and Morgan’s memory antagonizes her into reckless behavior.
Dominic has always dreamed of Nessa. Even before he was turned vampire and joined the Hunters, he’s dreamed of her. For years they were together in his dreams, but lately he’s forced to watch her make stupid decisions and is unable to touch her. He thinks he may be going crazy, but a trip to the Hunters’ HQ finds him picking up her scent and learning that not only is his dream woman real, but is his wife from a past life.
Unfortunately, Nessa’s gone missing. She doesn’t remember who she truly is and the only person who can find her is Dominic. The question is: When he gets there will she remember who he is? Will love be enough to pull her away from dangerous actions? And what happens when you give up hope, only to get the one thing you’ve longed for?
Early on, I thought Hunter’s Fall might have a predictable pattern. (No fault to Shiloh, but when you throw in amnesia….) But, of course, I was wrong. Sure, I predicted a few of the early twists, but Walker didn’t make things easy for Dominic or Nessa. She forces them to confront fears, and sometimes those reactions aren’t ideal. That said, and it’s not a spoiler because it’s paranormal romance, you will get your HEA.
And while you do not need to have read any previous Hunters novels to read, appreciate and love Hunter’s Fall, those who have will definitely enjoy the big doses of Malachi and Kelsey.
Angel Burn surprised me over and over. Admittedly, the first bit had me wondering what I’d gott...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Angel Burn surprised me over and over. Admittedly, the first bit had me wondering what I’d gotten myself into, but L.A. Weatherly’s unique take on angels had me curious enough to keep going. And I’m thankful I did, because the concept is fascinating and once the two main characters connect the novel manages to become both more grounded and fantastical.
In Angel Burn, angels aren’t the good guys. These aren’t celestial beings in the traditional sense, but creatures from another dimension who can feed off humans. While in the act of feeding they reveal themselves, and to the human it feels like a heavenly experience. Left in a state of euphoria, the human now thinks the angel saved him. But soon he’ll start developing health issues and, more commonly, mental issues.
The angels have latched on to this, creating churches and compounds where humans can come to them to experience the angels.
Alex hunts them and has since he was a child. He’ll get a text with the location of an angel, and he’ll take them out. Only he was sent to Willow, and she’s something different. He would have sworn she was an angel, but she’s also human. He has to question where his orders are coming from and why they want this girl dead.
Willow has always been different. She can see others’ futures. And it doesn’t help that her fashion sense isn’t mainstream and her mom isn’t all there. But she’s always made the best of it. When she sees a vision of another girl’s life being ruined by an angel, she tries to step in. And that’s when everything changes.
Alex and Willow are forced together to save one another’s lives. Only he treats her like something that might need to be killed, and she blames him for the hell raining down on her life. Yet somehow these two can work together. The more Alex sees Willow’s kind nature, the more he realizes he may have been given false information.
This puts them both on the run, coming to terms with liking someone you’re supposed to hate and discovering the people you’ve always trusted may no longer be on your side.
Angel Burn is part fable on the perils of blind trust, part learning people don’t always fit into some box and part teen love story. Yes, Angel Burn is largely teen Bonnie and Clyde, couple on the run. And it works because the relationship between Willow and Alex progresses naturally and honestly. Their actions, insecurities and conversations are genuine and ring true for YA characters, but are done in a way an adult audience will equally appreciate.
Note: This review is spoiler-free, however it does reference events of the previous novel Frida...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Note: This review is spoiler-free, however it does reference events of the previous novel Friday Night Bites. If you haven’t read the second Chicagoland Vampires novel, continue at your own risk.
Chloe Neill knows how to get me all riled up. The woman writes ridiculously tense scenes. She crafts realistic drama. And sometimes you just want to injure her characters for the stupid things they say and do.
And I love it.
With Twice Bitten I was emotionally invested to the point I keep muttering about how I want to slap Ethan, kiss Ethan, then slap his egotistical Master vampire cheek again. And, don’t worry, there were plenty of times I wanted to shake Merit, too. Vampires or not, Neill’s characters continue to feel like real people and the chemistry between them reels you in so swiftly there’s no chance of you finding a stopping point while reading.
At the end of Friday Night Bites, Ethan had managed to snag one searing kiss with Merit. She ended things with Morgan. Got her ass handed to her by Celina. And post-battle with Ethan went through the vampire transition again. So, to say she had a lot on her plate at the beginning of Twice Bitten is putting it mildly.
But much of it has to take a backseat to politics. The shifters are all coming to Chicago to meet, and Ethan wants to play nice. He agrees that he and Merit will act as security for the big leader of the packs. Ethan’s goal is to have some sort of alliance. Celina is planning something, eventually war will come to their doorstep, and they need the shifters around as backup. Few are pleased about vampires being a part of Pack dealings, and before long assassination attempts are underway. Merit works to figure out the source, keep Cadogan House safe and tries to deal with her changing relationship with Ethan.
While we won’t spoil the big story (that’d be mean), we will tell you the one thing we know you’re dying to know: Merit and Ethan will have it out. Things will change. Also, their chemistry may ignite a few pages of the novel.
Twice Bitten is volatile, tense, a bit heartbreaking and brings two Chloe Neill musts: humor and some kick ass action scenes. When it’s over, the power dynamic may have shifted and you’ll be ready for more. The fourth Chicagoland Vampires novel, Hard Bitten, was released May 3.
Sexual content: Kissing and an adult sex scene.(less)
Lately I’ve been trying to make time for the highly recommended books on my to-read shelf. The...moreThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Lately I’ve been trying to make time for the highly recommended books on my to-read shelf. The ones I bought on a friend’s recommendation and then got so busy with new review books that I didn’t sit down and, you know, read them.
The list of people who recommended Dragon Bound to me is long. I first purchased it after Kelly from Reading the Paranormal gave it her “you must, you must” push to me. Then associate VBC reviewer Candace said the most recent book had the hottest sex scene she’d ever read. I moved it to the front of the line. Really. My mom devoured the series and looked aghast when I told her I still had then on my Kindle waiting to be read.
Shame. On. Me.
Y’all were right. This is the kind of book I love and I’m not sure anyone can stop me from reading the whole series in rapid succession. I sure as hell loaded up the Kindle with the remaining books when I finished Dragon Bound.
The writing is spry and witty. Even when characters are in peril, there’s the equivalent of a wry smile in the prose. It’s enchanting. The characters are well-developed and refuse to fall into obvious romance tropes. This may be what impressed me most about Dragon Bound.
Here you have characters in the more common problem of we need to stay together to stay safe and the hero is the most alpha of alphas. Drogos only gives orders. Pia knows how to make him say please. His sentinels are floored. However, every time the plot starts to take a traditional course, Thea Harrison lets us get far enough to think she’d actually have her characters do the obvious then flips it on it’s head. Pia is smarter than your average paranormal romance heroine. Drogos is more adaptable than most alpha males, while maintaining the strength and masculinity that attracts us to him.
With such strong main characters it’s not really surprising the sex in Dragon Bound is epic. And plentiful. While it never it used just for sex’s sake, the romantic interludes draw these two closer and force them to drop barriers—magical and otherwise.
Paranormal romance that turns tropes on their heads? Hell yes. Sign me up for more.