Review: Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

Review: Succubus Blues by Richelle MeadSuccubus Blues by Richelle Mead
Series: Georgina Kincaid #1
Published by Kensington Publishing Corp. on August 1st 2010
Pages: 368
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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Also in this series: Succubus Dreams

When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants, the wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid's life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven't stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess getup complete with whip and wings. And she can't have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy's life. At least there's her day job at a local bookstore--free books; all the white chocolate mochas she can drink; and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can't.

But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle's demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won't help because Georgina's about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny...

Thoughts: Before I started Succubus Blues I had thought the following had to be true:
  • Books with a sex-demon lead would never turn out to be about love.
  • A succubus could never be funny hysterical.
  • I could never relate to a character that deals with sex casually.

Needless to say, Richelle Mead proved me wrong.  Succubus Blues is nothing like the book I thought it would be.  It’s hysterical and heart-breaking, filled with a thousand shades of ethical grey, and stars one of the most complex heroines I’ve ever read.  Georgina is far from perfect – she can be superficial and self-serving.  But she has so much potential for growth.  Even after 400+ years on the planet, she still has a lot to learn.

Mead has also created one of my favourite love-interests ever in Seth.  He’s your average best-selling novelist: introverted, smart, and extremely wity on paper.  I never expected to fall so quickly for this beta-hero, but everything about him had me clutching my heart.  The secondary characters in this book are stellar – complex characters who stride a blurred line between good and evil.  Every single one of them I wanted to read more about – especially the angel Carter and his demon!BFF Jerome.

Demon BFF? I told you, seriously blurred lines.

Alas, this book didn’t get a higher rating from me because of one very unfortunate character *cough* Roman *cough* who I just couldn’t like – no matter how suave.  And Georgina liking him made me want to shake her (and the book) in despair.

Bottom line?  Succubus Blues is brilliant.  Sitting firmly on the line between PNR and UF – it had me laughing, crying and occasionally disturbed by the paranormal evil.  Everything you could want in a book!

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: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. CrowStrange Angels by Lilith St. Crow
Series: Strange Angels #1
Published by Quercus Books, Razorbill
Pages: 293
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Gifted from someone with/without taste, Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Betrayals

Dru knows that The Real World - peopled with ghosts, suckers and zombies - is a frightening place. She's ready to kill first and ask questions later, so it's going to take her a while to work out just who she can trust.

Dru Anderson has been 'strange' for as long as she can remember, travelling from town to town with her father to hunt down things that go bump in the night. It's a weird life, but a good one - until in an icy, broken-down town, a hungry zombie bursts through her kitchen door. Dru is going to have to use every inch of her wit and training. Can she stay alive long enough to fall for one - or both - of the guys hungry for her affections?

The summary above sucks. It is the least spoilery one I could find (most give away the first half of the book). But it paints Dru in completely the wrong light. I mean, sure, she is capable of kicking ass – but she is not kick-ass. They made Dru sound like Rose from Vampire Academy – and she is so NOT ROSE.

A better summary? You know the show Supernatural? Well, imagine a less-cocky, teenage, girl!Dean – without the baby brother – hunting evil around the US with his Dad. There you have (at least the start) of Strange Angels.

Thoughts: Strange Angels is a really great addition to the YA Paranormal scene. Lili St. Crow paints a much more realistic picture of a teen living in an unreal world. Although absent, Dru’s parents play a big role in her life – and both they (and her safety) trump whatever guy she is supposed to mooning after. Strange Angels is violent, tragic, and really enjoyable – although it does go downhill towards the end.

I loved the first half of this book.  But in it, Dru is miserable – I mean, I’m-almost-an-alcoholic-teenager!miserable – and her world thoroughly sucks. Despite the temptation to just curl up and die, she is trying desperately to plough through the misery. It was amazing to read, even though it was utterly tragic. Really made me appreciate her strength. I also loved her inner Dad!voice. She would constantly think of what her Dad would say or do in a particular situation (which often involved killing things).  It made me love the guy without ever spending that much time with him.

Graves, the first boy she meets in this book – well, he’s ok. I haven’t quite worked out if I really like him, but I do appreciate how much he helps Dru. Graves has had a really hard-knock life – hell, the guy is practically homeless – but has amazingly managed to keep his head above water. I’d like to find out even more about his background in Betrayals.

Mid-way through the book, we are introduced to Christophe. He is tough, scary and not-so-human… and yeah, I really liked him! But as soon as Christophe came into the picture, Dru started to edge into the too-stupid-to-live category. There was one particular scene where Dru refused to do something for no apparent reason. I mean, it shouldn’t even have been an issue, but Dru decides it is the perfect reason to pitch a fit – and it completely blows up in her face. It was really frustrating, and I wanted to just reach through the book and shake her! (Although Graves I wanted to smack, as he agreed with her insanity.)

The last half? – maybe 3 stars. But the first half was just so great (well, actually it was miserable, but a great read) that I had to keep the rating up. I am looking forward to Betrayals and have a feeling Dru will straighten her head out a bit in that book… I am also looking forward to more Christophe!

Bottom Line? A great addition to the YA Paranormal Scene.  If you are a fan of the Morganville series then this will be up your alley!

I read this for the Battle Royale New Author Mini-ChallengeTeam Deadline Dames!

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle MeadVampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 331
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Frostbite, Blood Promise

St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school--it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's - the very place where they're most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi - the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires - make Lissa one of them forever.

Thoughts: This is – truly – a brilliant book. I had thought all the hype around it was over-the-top… I was so wrong.

Vampire Academy is not like most YA novels – hell, like any novel I’ve read. Although there is plenty of teenage realism – mean girls, cliques, and inappropriate kissage – the characters are at the same time very, very different to us. What we consider normal is not what they do – and where we place our priorities also differs from them. It’s odd, to not agree with a character but still understand them.

In fact, there was a lot of that in this book. Our main character, Rose, is exactly what I wasn’t in high school. She flirts with everyone, goes out partying all the time, and makes out with guys she doesn’t even care about – just for the thrill. This reckless edge does settle itself a bit in Vampire Academy, but it is still there even when she is behaving. You could say she is of the “punch first, ask questions later” variety. And even though I don’t personally understand this, I understand her.

It’s weird.

Another really unique feature of Vampire Academy was the relationship between BFFs Lissa and Rose. You get this right from the start as Mead opens with a scene of the two of them. Although I literally swooned over both Dimitri and Christian, the Lissa/Rose bond was by far the strongest in the book.

The vampire universe also had a really nice twist to it. Mead managed to incorporate all sorts of issues – politics, drug abuse, and social class – into the verse without it seeming too contrived. She also managed to work in discussion about mental illness – which was an unexpected surprise. It is something I am very sensitive about, and I really appreciate authors who make an effort to get things right when they include it.

Bottom line? An amazing, addictive read. Mead creates gives a unique twist on vampires, and creates kick-ass characters to boot. Even if you are not a YA fan, go get yourself a copy!

This was the my (and final) read for the brilliant League of Reluctant Adults Mini-Challenge hosted over at Literary Escapism.  It’s been really fun – and I plan to do a little a wrap-up post to celebrate. ♥

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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