Chess needed to grow for the Downside Ghosts series to truly move forward, and Stacia Kane dThis 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....more
Seriously. Hot. Damn. Killer worldbuilding, a heat level Demonica fans would appreciate, an alpha male who isn’t perfect, and a heroine with some steeSeriously. Hot. Damn. Killer worldbuilding, a heat level Demonica fans would appreciate, an alpha male who isn’t perfect, and a heroine with some steel to her spine. ...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.
Jocelyn Levi is a government agent visiting the Rocky Mountains investigating**spoiler alert** This review was originally posted on Vampire Book Club.
Jocelyn Levi is a government agent visiting the Rocky Mountains investigating cult activity. Instead she discovers vampires exist, and she’s destined to be the eternal mate to the one she met just hours ago.
Blood Destiny features two types of vampires, spawned from brothers. One line have souls, but still drink blood and work to balance light and dark. The other line are soulless and murder ruthlessly. Both sides are subject to a Blood Curse. As part of it, each “good” vampire is destined for one human woman in his lifetime. If she does not accept him, his life will be forfeit. This just happened to Nathaniel’s brother. They buried him the day he met Jocelyn, his destiny.
He needs to convince this woman, who he has just met, that they’re soulmates. And that she needs to accept him, love him (oh, and have his kids) in the next 30 days. For his part, Nathaniel seems to understand how insane it is to ask so much of Jocelyn. He wouldn’t force her, but he will do his damnedest to connect with her. The gods have destined them to be together, so he knows once she gives him a chance it’ll work.
Unfortunately, there are added complications with the soulless vampires killing his kind, werewolves arriving to hunt all vampires (and seek to claim Jocelyn, to boot) and the drama of a family of vampires. Nathaniel and Jocelyn’s relationship is reluctant, but definitely unique.
It took me a bit to decide which way to go on this review. Tessa Dawn can write. I like that she crafted a unique vampire mythology. And, I got wrapped up in the main plotline of the story. So, what is my problem? Well, I have two, actually.
First, I’m not one to place boundaries on where fiction can go. If a character’s history or development requires painful, traumatic experiences, I get that. Blood Destiny includes one fairly detailed rape scene and a second attempted rape featuring other characters. Neither are used for titillation, but I’m not sure one was necessary and both could have been done “off camera.” I don’t need the what-goes-where details, especially without the emotional ties that go with it.
My second beef is the big one, and it’s going to require some spoiler-action because it’s about an overall character development. The big part of the Blood Curse mythology that the novel is pegged surrounds the light or good vampires to bond, mate and have children with their destined human woman within 30 days following the blood moon. There is no question as to who their mate is — she’ll have their celestial sign marked on her wrist, etc. Provided all goes to plan, she’ll fall in love, agree to be the vampire’s one and only forever, be converted to a vampire, get pregnant and bear twins. One of those twins will be light (good) and the other dark (bad/soulless). Immediately thereafter, they are required to sacrifice the dark twin to appease the gods. He’ll just disappear, but they must hand the child off. When told this, no one in the story seems to think sacrificing a child is a big deal. Being destined and expected to be with this one guy bothers Jocelyn, but even when she’s pregnant and her twin boys are kicking in her womb she’s not freaking about the fact they’re going to essentially kill her child. I kept hoping that she’d be special and they’d let her keep both boys.
She does have the maternal “I need to keep him” moment right after his birth, but then the baby is passed off and she decides the innocent child must have messed with her mind. I don’t believe any woman could so readily accept the sacrifice of her child. You die for them. You put up a fight. And the fact that no one in the novel even really considers it as an odd or, you know, horrendous act killed the character development for me.
The overall concept of Blood Destiny is certainly intriguing and the prose well-crafted, the over-indulgence in sexual violence and oversight of character reaction to a major event took away from real enjoyment of the novel. This is one where if I were an editor, I would have cut back on a few scenes and had Dawn take a hard look at the characters’ reactions to all the Blood Curse mythology elements. With hard edits, the premise could have lead to something strong that wouldn’t leave readers feeling a bit itchy. As it is, I can’t suggest others pick it up....more
When I think about Archangel’s Shadows, I can’t help but let out a happy sigh. Janvier and AshwThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
When I think about Archangel’s Shadows, I can’t help but let out a happy sigh. Janvier and Ashwini’s story was just what I needed from these two. Insight into Ash’s hardened edge. The unyielding support of Janvier. A nice dose of Cajun romance amid the snowy landscape of New York.
One of the reasons I love Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series so much is it brings together my favorite genre elements. I’m an urban fantasy girl. I like mystery and action and heroines taking charge. But, if you read this blog with any frequency, you know I also like a heavy dose of the sweet-and-sexy moments. The Guild Hunter series marries these two elements beautifully. We get to see Ash and Janvier on missions, saving lives, trying to track down a murderer, and when they’re in public they are fierce.
…but alone? It gets hot and steamy and Ash is kind of overwhelmed by it. Touch is such a tricky thing for her, but it’s a non-issue with Janvier. And does that man know how to touch. And bite. (Sexy vampire bite scene included in Archangel’s Shadows, you heard it here first!) Their romance is sweet and supportive and selfless. I really couldn’t get enough of them.
Personally, I like when Singh steps away from Elena and Raphael (as much as I love them) to give us new couples finding their mates—and getting better footing on who they are. It’s probably part of why I loved Archangel’s Blade, too. However, this story gives us more glimpses of the other couples. We get time with the other couples and plenty of teases about who might be next. I know you’re all shouting “Bluebell!” right now, but I found myself very curious about Naasir by the end of Archangel’s Shadows, which kind of shocked me. He says something about relationships and their secrets that is beautiful and intriguing and makes me wonder what’s in store for him a few books down the road.
In the meantime, Archangel’s Shadows delivers. High-stakes mystery, insight into both the Tower and Guild side of things, and make-you-weak-in-the-knees romance merge to make one indulgent read.
Bloodlines may be a separate series from Richelle Mead’s remarkable Vampire Academy, but it’This 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.
In Meagan Hatfield’s paranormal romance Shadow of the Vampire, Alexia is on the cusp of taking overYou 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. ...more
Full review will be up at Heroes & Heartbreakers on Nov. 30.
The intensity of the scenes between Craeg and Paradise in Blood Kiss may be liable toFull review will be up at Heroes & Heartbreakers on Nov. 30.
The intensity of the scenes between Craeg and Paradise in Blood Kiss may be liable to melt ereader screens and singe paperback pages. J.R. Ward has again created a couple that craves one another and fights it because they’re stubborn. Only that inherent frustration only makes every interaction burn brighter. Sure, Paradise’s blindness to Craeg’s feelings can make you want to intervene like any good friend, but every moment between those two is palpable, purposeful, and will positively leave you needing more.
Just like Craeg and Paradise.
Blood Kiss will certainly sate fans of the early Black Dagger Brotherhood novels, but it also splits plot time with ongoing threads with Butch and Marissa and vampire societal issues that work whether you’re up-to-date on the series or not. ...more
It's hard to do backstories without bogging down the story. Somehow Ann Aguirre aces this. The depth of the character development and their progressivIt's hard to do backstories without bogging down the story. Somehow Ann Aguirre aces this. The depth of the character development and their progressive arcs as a result make THE LEOPARD KING engrossing.
Add in some epic fights and some dirty romance...and now it's on my "rec to everyone" list....more
Day Shift, like so many engaging mysteries, picks up steam as you delve further into its stoThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Day Shift, like so many engaging mysteries, picks up steam as you delve further into its story. The novel begins at a meander—it took me three chapters before I was hooked back into the world set in Midnight Crossroad. The easy pace at the opening of the novel is a clever deception on Charlaine Harris’s part. She’s such a master of this. She skips from one eccentric Midnight resident to another touching on day-to-day minutiae that give the novel the feeling of a languid character study. Toward the end of the novel, though, you’ll be sprinting to solve mysteries.
The rich ensemble she’s crafted for this series is engaging and curious and Day Shift gives us more. We learn more about each of the characters, what makes so many of them more than human, but questions aren’t easily answered in Midnight. There are far too many secrets for that. And perhaps that’s why I was hooked the second we had chapters from Olivia’s point of view. While Manfred, the key protagonist of the first novel, is again front-and-center, Olivia is equally so this time. She’s engaging and fascinating and has the right amounts of ingenuity and darkness to make me crave every passage with her.
While Day Shift focuses on its characters, the deeper we get into the story, the more the plot winds. More secrets are revealed, and by the end I found myself rushing forward to get the answer of the whodunit instead of simply wanting more time in Olivia’s head.
Without giving any of the clever twists away, I was shocked to discover that the Midnight, Texas world coincides with that of the Sookie Stackhouse one. An ancillary character everyone will recognize makes an appearance in this book, and fit right in with the Midnight crew. It was curveball, and at first I balked a bit, but quickly everything fell in to place and I understood the decision. Plus, it’s like an Easter Egg for the Sookie fans.
Harris continues to be a master at the character-driven story. Day Shift has a cast worthy of your investment and intrigue piled upon intrigue. I’m eager to get back to Midnight, Texas just to unearth more of their secrets....more
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
Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood was refreshing for me. It’s not light and it doesn’t sThis 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.
Archangel's Enigma is everything I love about the Guild Hunter series: brilliant, unique, honorable characters who fight for what's right and the peopArchangel's Enigma is everything I love about the Guild Hunter series: brilliant, unique, honorable characters who fight for what's right and the people they love. Badass fights, wicked verbal showdowns, big threats and bigger gains, and a romance that melted my heart.
Powerful psychic Serra finds herself forced to work for a mysterious high-blood businessman. HeThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Powerful psychic Serra finds herself forced to work for a mysterious high-blood businessman. He wants her to help find his missing daughter, but there is so much more going on than she expects. Fane can’t be away from Serra. When she disappears, he tracks her. The high-blood might not want his help, but he’s going to get it. Secrets of The Sentinels world are revealed and there are some surprises for Serra as the mystery unravels throughout Blood Assassin.
While the mystery plot is certainly worth your time, the real star of Blood Assassin is the electric energy between its hero and heroine.
The sexual tension between Fane and Serra pops. There’s no question these two have chemistry, and it’s the energy when they’re both on the page that kept me moving through Blood Assassin at a quick pace. I started the book at 2 a.m. one night and read the first 200 pages before my body cried for sleep. There is a hitch, though, to the energy between these two characters. They keep getting in their own way. As a romance readers, it’s something we’ve certainly encountered before, but it’s a big source of frustration. From the beginning of the novel, it’s clear that Fane wants Serra and Serra wants Fane, but they aren’t together. He says he can’t be with her because of obligations. When she finally accepts that, he realizes he can’t live without her. So now she’s keeping him at arm’s length.
Despite the hero and heroine delaying their fated togetherness, it was still super sexy. When they’re together—and not denying their feelings—I was wrapped up in the scene, in their romance, their love. Plus, I love Fane. Just. Gah. He’s a deliciously stubborn alpha who knows how to assess a situation and take control. He can, when required, even let others help. He was my favorite part of Blood Assassin, but I expect no one is surprised by that.
I did not read the first Sentinels book prior to reading Blood Assassin (I’m a rebel), and I never found myself lost or wading through a world I couldn’t comprehend. Alexandra Ivy does a nice job of quickly laying the groundwork and introducing her characters. Tonally, Blood Assassin may remind you of a Guild Hunter novel. Plenty of action and a nice dose of steamy romance. - See more at: http://vampirebookclub.net/?p=9871&am......more
Cassandra Clare knows how to give us what we like. Clockwork Angel is full of vampires, steampuThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Cassandra Clare knows how to give us what we like. Clockwork Angel is full of vampires, steampunk, urban fantasy and oodles of mystery. The first novel in The Mortal Instruments prequel series, Clockwork Angel is set in the same world of Shadowhunters (those who keep the law between Downworlders like demons, vampires and the like and humans). But book one in The Infernal Devices series is 100 years before TMI and in London.
Tessa came to London from America. Her aunt just passed away and her brother, who recently moved to London for work, sent for her. However, things don’t go as planned. Upon arrival in London she’s kidnapped and told her brother is being held, too. She’s told if she doesn’t do as she’s told her brother will be murdered. She complies for his sake. Eventually, she finds herself in the care of the Shadowhunters, who agree to help her look for her brother. They’re sure Downworlders are breaking the law by taking him and will help her seek him out.
But things are not as they seem, and Tessa has more power than she knows. Yet, she’s still human. Isn’t she?
All the others at the Institute are orphans, too, and there’s this firm sense of family — even with the requisite bothersome little sister. Tessa isn’t sure she can trust them after her earlier experiences in London, but she doesn’t have any other options.
Victorian Shadownhunters? Oh yes! But they aren’t all gentlemanly, because we all like the difficult boys. You thought you loved Jace from The Mortal Instruments series (and, really, we all do), but we promise you’ll have trouble deciding which guy in this one is best for our heroine. Tessa is fantastic and both Will and Jem will have moments where you’ll just be screaming, “Kiss her! Kiss her!”
The visuals in Clockwork Angel are very strong. You’ll picture yourself inside the walls of Dark Sisters’ home. You’ll imagine walking down the hallways of London’s Shadowhunter Institute. You’ll bite you lip seeing a clockwork automaton the first time. And you might just get taken away by the surprising beauty of a nighttime walk in foggy London.
It’s not a quick read (it edges up near 500 pages), but with such a finite and encompassing world it’s easy to drop yourself into any character’s shoes in Clockwork Angel.
In short, with Clockwork Angel you’ll get Shadowhunters, snarky guys, strong women, deviants (human and vampire), cool transformations, vampires, magic, romance and even see a parasol used as a weapon. Clare continues her reign as a queen of YA urban fantasy.
Bonus: You do not need to have read any of The Mortal Instruments novels to read Clockwork Angel. So, dive in!
Sexual content: A make-your-toes-tingle kiss...more
Any author who can weave wit, subversive undertones and clever world building into a novel getsThis 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.
Simply put: The Immortal Rules is Julie Kagawa’s best novel to date. She merges a strong herThis 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.
Tayla hunts demons. While out taking out some particular underworld nasties, she’s injured andThis 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.
There are a number of things I like about Hexed‘s main character Atticus O’Sullivan. I likeThis 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.
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
I'm a big fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope, and this one has it in spades. That said, their issues do repeatedly interrupt them right before sexy acI'm a big fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope, and this one has it in spades. That said, their issues do repeatedly interrupt them right before sexy action. It's purposeful frustration, but I did reach a point of saying "just do it already!" aloud.
That said: BOWEN. So alpha. So tortured. So delicious. ...more
Lauren Dane is a master of female friendships and nuanced small-town romances. When she merges the rural, Southern charm of a small-town with fiery wiLauren Dane is a master of female friendships and nuanced small-town romances. When she merges the rural, Southern charm of a small-town with fiery witches and the werewolves who love them in Protected she hits all the right notes to captivate both paranormal and small-town romance fans.
Also, it’s hot.
Full review coming at Heroes & Heartbreakers....more
Full review to come, but stellar work from Jeaniene Frost. I liked this one even better than THE BEAUTIFUL ASHES, and found the chemistry between IvyFull review to come, but stellar work from Jeaniene Frost. I liked this one even better than THE BEAUTIFUL ASHES, and found the chemistry between Ivy and Adrian to be electric. The internal conflicts were standout for me as was the romance.
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
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.
Every time I finish one of Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines novels, I clamor for the next one. The FieThis review was originally posted on Vampire Book Club
Every time I finish one of Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines novels, I clamor for the next one. The Fiery Heart isn’t an exception. No, for those who read the Vampire Academy series, I say: Remember when you finished Shadow Kiss and you needed Blood Promise in your hands with every fiber of your being? Yeah, that’s the end of The Fiery Heart.
The Fiery Heart indulges in the connection between in Adrian and Sydney. Hell, it relishes in it. As a reader, I found myself damn-near languid after their interactions and yearning for their stolen moments. They finally admitted their feelings for one another in The Indigo Spell. But with Sydney’s little sister moving in and bringing along piles of Sage and Alchemist baggage, it’s difficult for the two to enjoy their relationship. Their meetings are stolen moments. They text on special cell phones. And they are so in love it hurts.
Why am I harping on the romance angle? Other than the fact it’s smoking hot and just—gah—so good? Fine. This is the first time I’ve read a book by Mead (and I’ve read them all) that read like a romance novel. The main focus of The Fiery Heart is Adrian and Sydney’s relationship and the goal of them being together. To make this even clearer, we spend half the novel in Adrian’s head. His points of view were brilliant and insightful. He continue to struggle with the consequences his spirit use, but wants to be a better man for Sydney. Look, the short story here is you’re going to swoon. And maybe cry. Mostly swoon, though.
The book isn’t all steaminess between these two. We also have big progress on the magical front, on working to break the tattoos that force Alchemists to behave and even on the spirit use against Strigoi. Pretty big strides there, but I just can’t spoil that for you.
I would be remiss if I didn’t admit the ending is wicked. Good wicked. It’s what needs to happen for this journey to move forward correctly. There are so many possibilities as to what might happen next and I need answers. In the meantime, I’ll be happy I devoured The Fiery Heart. It was by far my favorite book in the Bloodlines series and Vampire Academy fans will probably put it in the same league as Shadow Kiss, which is definitely an epic compliment.
I was a long-time fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series. I stuck with it though all thirteen books. That’s a long series, and over the course of the series my engagement was driven by the love of the characters and the desire for plot resolution. Normal stuff.
This May, though, there wasn’t my usual Sookie release. Instead there was a new novel in a new series set in Texas, and I had to decide if I was ready to dive back in. Was I game to make the commitment? I’m so glad I decided to make the leap.
Midnight Crossroad reminded me why I fell in love with Charlaine Harris’s writing originally. As I read this novel, I felt the same connection I had when I read Dead Until Dark all those years ago.
Midnight Crossroad could probably be labeled magic realism, but for our purposes I’m going to call it paranormal mystery. Honestly, though? It’s a the story of a tiny Southern—in this case Texas—town, the people within it, and how they deal with secrets, loss, and friendship. The paranormal elements—yes, there’s a vampire—are considered matter of fact by the residents of Midnight, Texas. There’s a psychic and witch. Everyone has a reason for living in the remote, one-stop-sign town, and they all know better than to pry into others’ lives. However, when one of them is accused of murder, hard truths are exposed and the community has to become stronger because of it.
Harris has a skill for portraying the small-town dynamic in a real, honest, and engaging way. It almost made me homesick for the small town I grew up in. The characters are fleshed out, and by the end I found myself craving more of their stories. I want to unearth more of the secrets in Midnight, and you can bet I’ll be reading Midnight Crossroad‘s sequel next May.
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
Emma is half-vampire, half Valkyrie. Raised by the powerful warrior women, she was taught toThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Emma is half-vampire, half Valkyrie. Raised by the powerful warrior women, she was taught to hate vampires and only drink blood out of a glass. At 70, she’s very young for a vampire, and finally decides to search out her father. Her mother and father had lived in Paris, and so she starts there.
Lachlain has been imprisioned for 150 years. The vicious vampires captured him and have tortured him in the catacombs below Paris. Fire burns him alive, only for him to regenerate. Though he’d attempted before, escape appeared impossible. That was until he scented his mate — the one woman he is meant to live for, who could save him — walking the streets above. After searching for her for hundreds of years, he manages to break free to seek her out.
Unfortunately, the woman he finds is a vampire. Her people tortured him and drove him mad, but as she’s the one who is supposed to calm his beast, he needs her near. So, being of old tradition, the werewolf kidnaps Emma and coerces her into returning to his ancestral home in Scotland. Early on in the book Lachlain is purposefully cruel, and uses Emma’s fear to get her to agree to sexual situations. He does not rape her, but she’s scared he will, and the exchange of promised freedom/phone calls for indulging him make you want to break the guy’s jaw.
He’s not the only one looking for Emma, though. Her Valkyrie aunts want her back and demons are attacking all the strongholds. Over time Lachlain comes to accept that Emma is his true mate and wants nothing more than to make her happy, but his early action terrified her. As he gets his beast under control, he vows not to touch her without her permission again. He promises to protect her — and he does. But he also fears the damage may already be done and worries she may never love him back.
I loved the world Kresley Cole created in A Hunger Like No Other. The interplay between vampires and werewolves is often seen, but the added element of the Valkyries was brilliant. The structure of the supernatural society — with periodic Ascensions with war — is intriguing and reason enough to continue reading the series. Additionally, Emma makes some nice, albeit rapid growth and gets in touch with both her warrior and vampire sides.
The problem here, for me, is how conflicted I felt about wanting a happily ever after here. Cole makes you want Emma and Lachlain together. You like them both, understand what motivates their actions. But, you see, even knowing the reasoning behind Lachlain’s early behavior, the idea of wanting a HEA between a kidnapping and sexual assault victim and her attacker makes me a little queasy. (And, to be honest, I want to know why no one warned me about that.) We get insight into why Lachlain behaved the way he did, and Emma lets it go, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth.
That said, I’m game to read more Immortals After Dark books. Provided the next book doesn’t go the “rape her into loving him” vibe, I think I could really enjoy the series. The characters are intriguing, the world inviting and the romantic interplay steamy.
Sexual content: Graphic sexual scenes, some of which fall under “dubious consent”...more