Review: Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk

Review: Magic to the Bone by Devon MonkMagic to the Bone by Devon Monk
Series: Allie Beckstrom #1
Published by Ace/Roc, Berkley UK
Pages: 368
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Magic in the Blood

Using magic means it uses you back, and every spell exacts a price from its user. But some people get out of it by Offloading the cost of magic onto an innocent. Then it’s Allison Beckstrom’s job to identify the spell-caster. Allie would rather live a hand-to-mouth existence than accept the family fortune—and the strings that come with it. But when she finds a boy dying from a magical Offload that has her father’s signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into his world of black magic. And the forces she calls on in her quest for the truth will make her capable of things that some will do anything to control...

Thoughts: In Magic to the Bone, Devon Monk has created a unique, magical world filled with mysteries I have a feeling will take books to sort out. Plot literally pours out of this book; I feel as though Monk knows her universe inside out and is already laying groundwork for books long to come. Seriously, this woman can plot like nobody’s business.

Although I am usually a character-driven reader, it was the plot twists-and-turns that kept me up all night. I tried to put it aside for a few hours – and then actually came home early because I needed more! Monk used a few great techniques that had me turning pages at break-neck speed: for example, she switched over to a mystery!POV every few chapters giving us just a bit more information than our narrator. Usually that drives me up the wall, but instead I was reading on tenterhooks trying to work out what was going on! Really great stuff.

My only complaint is with the characters. While I liked Allie and Zayvion just fine, I wasn’t too in love with them. Allie wasn’t always the brightest – not to mention that for someone so poor, she took an awful lot of taxis – while Zayvion… well, we never got know him. And their romantic tension was… lacking. You know that twisting feeling you get when your favourite couple finally kiss? Or the way you just want to clutch your chest and jump off a bridge because they just aren’t getting that they are friggin’ soulmates? Well, I get that a lot – even in books I don’t really like. But I got none of that in Magic to the Bone. There were some scenes that I knew were supposed to be heart-wrenching – but left me rather apathetic.

Still, this was a really good first book. I certainly plan on get the next book in the series, Magic in the Blood, and I am hoping that I learn to love Allie as much as I love the verse!

Bottom line? Magic to the Bone is a solid addition to the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance shelves. If you are looking for a brilliant universe with plot-twists that will keep you up all night, look no further!

I read this for the Battle Royale New Author Mini-Challenge – Team Deadline Dames!

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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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.

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Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine HarrisDead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #1
Published by Ace/Roc, Gollancz
Pages: 292
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Dead as a Doornail

Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana, but she keeps to herself and doesn't date much because of her "disability" to read minds. When she meets Bill, Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's the type of guy she's waited for all of her life, but he has a disability, too--he's a vampire with a bad reputation. When one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next.

 I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar.

Thoughts:  I really enjoyed this book. What got me out to the bookstore was seeing the True Blood pilot. I would highly recommend watching it when the season airs and as it totally added to the experience. I bought it mostly out of love for Bill – who reminds me of Edward from the Twilight series despite being nothing like him at all.

Anyhow, this book was so much fun. It was such an amazing look on the whole vampire/human romance because they are all “out of the coffin”. Usually it’s all one big secret, but in this case everyone and their mother knows what Sookie is up to with Bill.

Another thing that I really appreciated was Sookie being just that little bit special and it not being such a good thing. Charlaine Harris deals very well with the fact that a young girl hearing voices in her head is not exactly healthy. Reminds me of the J.K. Rowling quote, Hearing voices no one else can hear isn’t a good sign, even in the wizarding world.

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