Hi there! I’m Kay: an opinionated book blogger enamoured with the world of novels. Reader of Speculative Fiction (the posh word for Sci-Fi/Fantasy) and Young Adult (don’t judge, it’s brilliant). Believer in the many uses of the towel, the science of deduction and other fandom in-jokes.

 

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Recent Reviews

Magic Burns by Ilona AndrewsAurelia by Anne OsterlundUprooted by Naomi NovikShadow Study by Maria V. SnyderThis Shattered World by Amie Kaufman, Meagan SpoonerUnited We Spy by Ally CarterAll Fall Down by Ally CarterEve and Adam by Katherine Applegate, Michael GrantHex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Review: Touch the Dark by Karen Chance

Review: Touch the Dark by Karen ChanceTouch the Dark by Karen Chance
Series: Cassandra Palmer #1
Published by Ace/Roc
Pages: 307
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Rating:

Cassandra Palmer can see the future and communicate with spirits;talents that make her attractive to the dead and the undead. The ghosts of the dead aren't usually dangerous; they just like to talk; a lot. The undead are another matter.

Like any sensible girl, Cassie tries to avoid vampires. But when the bloodsucking Mafioso she escaped three years ago finds Cassie again with vengeance on his mind, she's forced to turn to the vampire Senate for protection. The undead senators won't help her for nothing, and Cassie finds herself working with one of their most powerful members, a dangerously seductive master vampire—and the price he demands may be more than Cassie is willing to pay.

Rec for people who love: old-school sexy vampires, and heroines you would actually enjoy spending time with.

First Line:  I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the obituary.

Thoughts: Once I got into Touch the Dark, I really enjoyed it. It has plenty of action, hot vampires and a solid plot. But it did take me a while. After an impressive showdown to start the book, we go through a lot of character introductions that, er, drag. It might not have been quite as noticeable if it hadn’t been for the fact that Chance is introducing us to people I felt I already knew. Being introduced to Cleopatra and Jack the Ripper would likely be a bit more interesting if they weren’t, you know, Cleopatra and Jack the Ripper.

Of course, Chance did make them into more than just caricatures. In fact, making Dracula’s brother one of the main characters actually ended up setting the book apart from the vamp lit that we are currently being inundated with. Unlike some authors who seem determined to turn vampires into aliens/demi-gods/sparkley dildos, Chance is not afraid to incorporate the vamp stereotype.

Moreover, Chance has a really identifiable heroine in Cassie Palmer. I honestly haven’t a single thing to complain about with her – and seeing how hard it is to write a leading-lady that reviewers don’t want to shoot, it’s a rather impressive feat. Cassie has had some seriously horrible stuff happen to her in her short life, but she is not so fixated on getting revenge/answers that she throws away all her sense of self-preservation. In fact, she is probably the least “too stupid to live” heroine I have read in a long time.

Overall, I really did enjoy Touch the Dark. It was another keep-you-up novel with lots of action and a well-crafted plot. The slight romantic element actually got rather explicit without turning Cassie into a slut, or even dominating the plot – keeping the book very firmly out of the Paranormal Romance Genre. I am definitely getting the next three books in the series.

Other Reviews:

Musing Mondays – Series-ly!

Musing Mondays is held by Rebecca over at Just One More Page

Do you prefer to read stand-alone books, or books in series? Do you stick with a series the whole way through or stop after the first installment? Are there any particular series you enjoy?

I have always been a fan of series and firmly believe in sticking them out. Even when they start to run dry. However, I do prefer to know when the end is in sight. If there are going to be 13 books in the series, I would hope to know that by book 6. At least then I know that the author really does have an end in sight, and isn’t just screwing with my emotions for the fun of it.

But because so few authors actually have the ability (aka permission from their publishers/guarantee that X number of books will published), they are bound to either drag a series out or cut it off too short. So, I keep a policy of forgetfulness. If there is a book in a series I hated – I just block it from my mind, and move on to the next. Writing a series is just not the same as writing a single novel, and a bit of leeway should be given because of it.

As for series I am reading, I have a whole list – along with my list of series TBR.

Friday Finds – Sea Witch by Virginia Kantra

Friday Finds is hosted over at Should be Reading where bloggers are asked to explain the growing pile of books on their TBR list by answering “What great books did you hear about / discover this past week?”

I found what looks like a really fun paranormal romance series this week – the Children of the Sea series by Virginia Kantra. It has had some awesomely favorable reviews on-line and is successfully glaring at me from my ever-growing wishlist! Here are the details of the first book in the series, Sea Witch.

Sea Witch by Virginia Kantra
(Book 1 of the Children of the Sea series)


Summary:
For years, Margred has gone without the touch of another. Now, her need has driven her beyond her world to sate her desire. For she is a Selkie-a legendary being of the sea, able to shapeshift into seductive human form. Finally, she has found the one man she wants…

From the land… A burned out veteran of big city streets, Caleb Hunter was only too happy to take a job as police chief on the peaceful Maine island of World’s End. Nothing ever happens in this tiny community bounded by the sea. Until he meets a woman who’s everything he’s ever dreamed of. And more…

To each other… Their passion is undeniable. Irresistible. But when a murderer begins targeting women in World’s End, Caleb must face the terrible possibility that the killings are somehow connected to the mysterious Margred – and that the power of their love may change the fate of human kind.

It looks like a great paranormal alternative to the vamps that have taken over the genre – not to say I am through with vamps quite yet, though!

Review: The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson

Review: The Scent of Shadows by Vicki PetterssonThe Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson
Series: Sign of the Zodiac #1
Published by Harper Collins on 2009-10-13
Pages: 464
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Rating:

When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.By rights, she should be dead.Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset—a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow—seeking answers to whom or what she really is . . . and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.But the nightmare is just beginning—for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful shadows want her for their own . . .

Rec for people who love: tortured heroines, completely unique universes, and a fair bit of blood and guts in their books!

Thoughts: I first saw this book at a second hand store over a year ago, and left it there because I couldn’t quite make out where it fell in the genre. No vampires, no witches, no werewolves. What exactly were these Shadow things supposed to be, anyhow? So I put it back, despite Kelley Armstrong’s quote claiming it would keep me up past my bed time.

A year later, same second-hand store, and they still hadn’t sold it. Marked down to 50p, I figured I could afford to give it a shot. And let’s just say, I wish I had picked it up when I first found it.

Pettersson throws us straight into the action – leaving us to work out the universe as Joanna does. It is a complicated one too, as we have zero frame of reference to go on. Put simply, this series is about a war between two superhero factions: the forces of Light and Shadow. Their battles are depicted in comic form after the fact, then sold to humans as fiction.

Had I understood this before starting, I likely wouldn’t have continued. While I appreciate the whole superhero thing, it just wouldn’t have enticed me enough to read it. But boy, would I have been wrong. Vicki Pettersson is a brutal writer. The blood, the sex, the cruelty just seeps out of the novel, unabashed and unashamed – much like Vegas itself. The setting is more than ideal for the horror of the novel, in fact, it might not have worked set anywhere else.

Joanna is a tortured heroine – for a change – and is damaged beyond belief. It makes her both tough and endearing, an odd combination to say the least. Considering the horror Pettersson subjects her to, you will be as surprised as I am that she does not spend the entire book in tears.

The action is brilliantly described, the writing nearly flawless, and the universe-building is gratifyingly natural. Joanna’s troupe is made up of very complex, unique characters – each with a story of their own. It’s a refined book, if one can say such a thing about horror, and a definite must – especially for those of you hoping to try something a bit new.

Other Reviews:

Review: Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur

Review: Full Moon Rising by Keri ArthurFull Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
Series: Riley Jenson #1
Published by Piatkus
Pages: 320
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Rating:

A rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf, Riley Jenson and her twin brother, Rhoan, work for Melbourne's Directorate of Other Races, an organization created to police the supernatural races-and protect humans from their depredations. While Rhoan is an exalted guardian, a.k.a. assassin, Riley is merely an office worker-until her brother goes missing on one of his missions. The timing couldn't be worse. More werewolf than vampire, Riley is vulnerable to the moon heat, the weeklong period before the full moon, when her need to mate becomes all-consuming.…

Luckily Riley has two willing partners to satisfy her every need. But she will have to control her urges if she's going to find her brother…

Rec for people who love: Universe building as an excuse for idiotic sex.

Thoughts: Riley Jenson gets a fairly decent introduction, where she saves a bunch of humans from vampires despite the fact that she is utterly terrified. Physically strong, but emotionally normal. Identifiable. Believable.

And then the entire book goes to hell.

Instead of focusing on the fact that her twin is missing for the first half of the novel, Riley puts on a brave face and gets on with the day-to-day. Huh? Why isn’t she curled up in a ball sobbing? Why isn’t she taking off the heads of people getting in her way to find him? Why isn’t this taking up her every waking moment?

Because she is horny – that’s why.

The moon is calling to her, so she must have sex right now, and I mean rightnowmusthaveGRR. In Arthurs’s world, all werewolves spend a week a month having non-stop sex with anyone until they meet their one-true-love. Uh-huh. Sure. How very practical.

But whatever. So she is sleeping around while searching for “the most important person in her life” – I can get over that. My issue is with the, er, three (?) times Riley was forced to have sex because she was drugged/kidnapped/on a mission. Apparently, this is only slightly unacceptable in Riley’s deluded mind. Why? Because with the insane plot device that is the “moon heat” she would have been unable to say no anyways. So really, it isn’t too big a deal.

And when it’s all over, is she overcome by her desire for revenge? Nope. When she is betrayed, physically and emotionally, by people she trusted for years – does she feel the need to visit a shrink and let all her emotions pour out? Of course not – that would be completely against her lack-of-character.

Honestly. Despite 300-odd pages in her POV, I don’t know Riley. One minute she is all touchy-feely “oh gosh, I hate to kill”; the next she is eagerly dressing up as a prostitute while psychically forcing two guys to rape each other (and no I don’t care if they deserved it). What was going on in that fictional brain of hers, who knows. Although I imagine if I had, this review would have been significantly more explicit.

*sighs*

That being said, the writing itself was decent enough, and what Arthur lacked in character consistency she made up for in the snappy dialogue. Nevertheless, you couldn’t pay me to read the next book in the series.

Bottom line? No. No. NO.

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