Monday, 31 October 2011

Review: The Darkest Prison by Gena Showalter ★

The Darkest Prison by Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Short story set after book three of The Lords of the Underworld series
Publication Date: Jul-2009
Page Count: 180
My Rating: ★


Once, Atlas, the Titan god of Strength, was the Greek goddess Nike's slave. Now, he is her master. And soon these sworn enemies destined to destroy one another will be forced to risk everything for a chance at love...

This book is an eBook. It is included in Into the Dark (a printed book) along with The Amazon's Curse (Atlantis Series) and The Darkest Fire.


Oh dear.

I actually quite like the Lords of the Underworld series so I do feel a bit mean for giving it only one star, but I really did not like this. It was just awful. The best thing about it was that it was nice and short so the pain was over fairly quickly.

Message to Gena Showalter: mean bullies who trick you into sex, incarcerate you, carve their name into your back and kiss other women in front of your jail cell to deliberately hurt your feelings, are NOT sexy!

In defence of Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series (of which I have so far read the first three and plan on reading the rest), this was not really set in the same world as the main series, it didn't feature a Lord, and the only actual connection I can find is that it stars a couple of Greek gods from the series' mythology. So I really don't feel like it reflects the series at all, and if you are reading the Lords of the Underworld series you could skip this and not miss a single thing.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa ★★★★★

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Genre: YA fantasy
Series: Iron Fey series #1
Publication Date: February 1, 2010
ISBN: 0373210086
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★★★


Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six.

She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war.

Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.


This enchanting story follows Meghan Chase, a quiet, simple girl who's just about to turn 16 and lives in Louisiana on a pig farm. Her only friend and closest neighbour is a boy called Robbie Goodfell. Robbie generally seems like the best kind of friend a girl could have: supportive, funny, loyal, protective...mysterious?

Meghan goes through life feeling largely ignored, even by her own family. She deals with it by clinging to the belief that the second she gets a license and a car she'll leave and never look back. That being so, her sixteenth birthday can't come soon enough.

We join Meghan's story on the day before this momentous event. A day that starts out just like any other, but quickly turns into something very different. A day with glimpses of strange shadows in the corner of her eyes, creepy messages scrolling across computer screens, and a younger brother, Ethan, who says he is frightened of the man in the closet who wants to take him to the King...

There are many surprises and twists and turns to this story and we are soon led into the wonderful world of Faery, or the Nevernever as it is also known. Julie Kagawa paints a vivid and vibrant backdrop to this delightful YA fantasy story. In fact, the world-building was so strong I sometimes forgot I was even reading a YA book. It just felt like a good, solid fantasy story with a fast-moving plot and not a drop of teenage angst anywhere in sight.

The differing lands of Faerie feature many creatures we have heard of before: trolls, goblins, nixies, cait sidhes, brownies, gnomes, kelpies and such like. There are also some famous faces whom you might recall from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, such as Puck, King Oberon and Queen Titania. There are two opposing courts in Faerie; the Summer court and the Winter court, or the Seelie and the Unseelie court. As the characters traversed between these different realms we were treated to scene after scene of stunning imagery; from the ice-cold beauty of the Winter Courts, to the lush kaleidoscopic vista of the Summer court. It was truly a joy to read.

A Midsummer Night's Dream isn't the only Shakespearean play that comes to mind when thinking of this story either. I see a potential for a Romeo and Juliet type story. Star crossed lovers from opposing sides. I can't wait to see how that all plays out in later books.

Meghan showed a lot of character growth throughout the book. I found her to be a girl with a tender heart and an iron will. She will not stop trying no matter the personal costs if someone she cares about is in danger. An attitude that is completely bewildering to the Fae. I liked her a lot.

I'm greatly looking forward to the rest of the series, and I hope it lives up to this wonderful beginning.

And may I say the book covers for this series are some of the nicest I've seen in a long time. Click on the picture to have a closer look, they really are beautiful.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Review: Obsession Untamed by Pamela Palmer ★★★★

Obsession Untamed by Pamela Palmer
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Book two in the Feral Warriors series
Publication Date: July 2009
ISBN: 978-0061667527
Page Count: 384
My Rating: ★★★★


They are called Feral Warriors—an elite band of immortals who can change shape at will. Sworn to rid the world of evil, consumed by sorcery and seduction, their wild natures are primed for release . . . Every time she closes her eyes, Delaney Randall suffers another nightmare. A brutal serial killer has found his way inside the tough, take-no-prisoners FBI agent's head. Now she lives the murders through his eyes, from his deadly approach to his victims' screams—until the night he breaks into her apartment and she fears she's going to be the next to die. But the man who snatches Delaney from her home isn't the murderer. He's Tighe, a dangerous Feral Warrior who needs her and her visions to stop the rampages of a creature as inhuman as he is evil. Tighe has little use for humans, but as he and Delaney join forces to track the dark fiend, he falls for the intense beauty and becomes wild with an obsession as untamed as his heart.


In the previous book, Desire Untamed, all of the Feral Warriors had their soles split in half when the mage, Zaphene, had them cloned through ancient mage magic. All of the other clones were killed in the battle at the end of that book except for Tighe's. His clone, for whatever reason, seems to have a higher intelligence and will to survive than the others had, and is currently out waging destruction on the general populous. It seems to know it needs to stay away from Therians, who would be its natural food source, and instead is draining humans. This attracts the attention of D.C detective, Delaney Randall.

I found Delaney to be tough, dedicated, and possessing a warrior's spirit. After an all too close encounter with the clone - whom the public have dubbed the D.C vampire, believing the atrocities to be caused by nothing more than the State's newest and grisliest serial killer - catching the monster becomes Delaney's own personal mission as well as her duty. It also brings back unwanted memories of her mother's untimely demise.

After surviving the attack she starts to have visions of the clone as he's making his kills. Visions that previously Tighe was receiving through his own connection with the clone. Tighe realizes the visions are now being intercepted by the Fed when, instead of seeing a murder, he sees Delaney suffering one of the paralysing visions instead. He could really use those visions back because killing the clone is the only way to get the other half of his sole back. He therefore has no choice but to track down the cop.

This book had a very different feel to it than the last book. Instead of focusing on magical rituals and destinies, this was more of a romantic suspense, a serial killer manhunt with paranormal aspects and hot, HOT love scenes.

I learned some more details about some of the other members of the Feral Warriors in this book and have a better overall sense of the mythology Palmer has created. Sure, I've read shapeshifter books before, but each author always brings something new to the table and Palmer is no different. I find her take on them very imaginative and a nice mix between the tough, battle-ready warriors and the honourable male immortals who treat their females like precious treasures..

I found the plot really gripping and unpredictable again, and the method of delivery felt fresh and original. The way they were able to track the killer through the visions - even though they only provided glimpses of whatever the clone looked at and were therefore frustrating as often there was nothing there to determine location - was really well-executed. They just needed to catch that one break; to see a building or landmark they recognised to pin him down. And it was a race against time for Tighe, because no one, not even an immortal, can live without half their sole.

The relationship between Tighe and Delaney had good chemistry but it didn't draw me in quite as much as Kara and Lyon's relationship did in the previous book. Their future seemed doomed at times and I had no idea how it could possibly work out; an immortal warrior and a human already her thirties and not getting any younger? I just couldn't figure out a HEA for them at all. I will say that I was satisfied with the conclusion, even as a major bombshell is delivered to the warriors right at the end of the book leading us to wonder what's going to happen next in Paenther's book, Passion Untamed.

4 Stars! ★★★★

Review: Green-eyed Demon by Jaye Wells ★★★★★

Green-eyed Demon by Jaye Wells
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book three in the Sabina Kane series
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
ISBN: 031603777X
Page Count: 400
My Rating: ★★★★★

The clock is ticking for Sabina Kane. She has to save her sister from her mysterious captors. And in order to do that, she has to broker a deal between the mages and the vampires before all hell breaks loose.

But as much as Sabina is focused on surviving the present, the past won’t be ignored. Before she can save those she cares about, she’s got to save herself from the ghosts of her past. Because the past is haunting her. Literally.


My favourite plot line of the three books so far, the great rescue attempt!

At the end of the last book, after the battle had died down and they we able to count casualties, it became known that Maisie, Sabina's long lost twin sister, had been taken by Lavinia (Sabina's grandmother and ruler of the vampire race) during the fight. Now Sabina will stop at nothing to get her back and to kill Lavinia once and for all. It's way past time for granny to die!

Just thinking about the conditions her sister is being kept in is enough to send Sabina into a killing rage. Maisie, who unlike Sabina is rather soft hearted, almost naive in nature, is just not mentally equipped to deal with the foul evilness of the vampire side of her family. So even if they manage to rescue her, they cannot be sure the Maisie they get back will be the same girl that they lost.

Naturally, these are tense times for everyone. Luckily, Sabina has sexy Mage Adam Lazerous by her side. His formidable magic abilities as well as just the strength she derives from his confident, calming presence is all that's going to get her through this hunt. She also has Giguhl, aka Mr. Giggles, her demon familiar (and the star of these books if you ask me) as well as some interesting new characters: a human voodoo priestess, a drag queen who goes by the name of Pussy Willow, and a female werewolf.

It's a tough battle they face. As we know from book one, Lavinia and her followers have access to Mage blood which makes them doubly hard to kill. An ancient vampire is one thing, a magic-wielding ancient vampire is so much worse. It's going to be the biggest battle yet and not everyone may come out the other side in one piece.

There was a short story available in between this book and the second book in the main series, The Mage in Black, entitled Violet tendencies. I actually didn't read this as I couldn't find a download for it here in the UK for my eReader, but it is available from Amazon Kindle or from the Sony Store in the US. I don't think it's imperative to read it, I certainly was able to follow what was happening without it. The only thing to note is that, as you'll recall in the last book, Giguhl, the lovable Mischief demon was madly in love with the female Vanity demon, Valva, and then all of a sudden in this book, she is nowhere to be found and is referred to has "she who must not be named". Basically, poor Giguhl has had his heart broken for the first time. Bless his little cloven hooves. Luckily for us that doesn't mean we don't get some brilliantly funny lines from him in this book as we've come to expect, and in fact, he's even able to dole out a helping of relationship advice for our Sabina, which, lets face it, she kinda needs!

There were some very sweet scenes with Adam and Sabina in this book. I even had to blink back a few tears at one point. For readers of this series this is one not to miss!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Review: The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells ★★★★★

The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book two in the Sabina Kane series
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
ISBN: 031603780X
Page Count: 352
My Rating: ★★★★★


Sabina Kane doesn't have the best track record when it comes to family. After all, her own grandmother, the leader of the vampire race, just tried to kill her. When she arrives in New York to meet the mage side of her family, the reunion takes the fun out of dysfunctional. On top of that, the Hekate Council wants to use her as a pawn in the brewing war against the vampires. Her mission will take her into the bowels of New York's Black Light district, entangles her in mage politics, and challenges her beliefs about the race she was raised to distrust. And Sabina thought vampires were blood thirsty.


Since the stand off at the end of the last novel, Dominae supporters, who all now believe Sabina to be a traitor, are out for her head. They have been trying to off her for the last several days during her road trip from LA to New York, just for the chance of getting in Lavinia's good graces by being the one to bring her her granddaughter's head. She finally makes it to LA in one piece, only to face a trial of a very different kind: meeting her long lost twin!

In the last book we learned that Sabina has a twin. A twin that her new "friend" Adam, the mage, has known for his entire life. Her sister, Maisie Graecus, is almost the exact polar opposite of Sabina. Where Maisie is soft and sweet; Sabina is hard and deadly. Maisie has been raised as Mage royalty in the gentle, loving embrace of the remaining members of her Mage family. Sabina, on the other hand, had the delightful experience of being raised by Lavinia Kane, one of the cruellest, coldest women you could ever meet, and who also just happens to be the leader of the entire vampire race.

Although being in New York is infinitely preferable to being back in LA, that doesn't mean to say she is settling in without a hitch. There are some very notable differences between life in LA and life in New York. Firstly, you are not allowed to feed directly from humans - a rule that Sabina breaks almost immediately through her own ignorance. This lands her in trouble with "The Shade". A mysterious vampire who has set himself up as leader here through sheer brute force, and to whom she now owes a blood tax. She also manages to get on the wrong side of the local Were pack, embarrass herself in front of the's really not going well.

There were lots of funny moments and great one-liners to be found in this book, and a wee sprinkling of romance, too. The humour was not something I was expecting to find much of in this series if I'm honest, especially considering Sabina's upbringing and her profession, but it really is hilarious at times. Particularly Giguhl, her pet demon/cat/familiar/whatever he is. I adore his character and I'm so glad he seems to be in it to stay.

The story culminates into a very exciting end battle scene which I really enjoyed. And there is a cliffhanger (of sorts). You'll definitely want to grab the next one straight away.

All in all another great instalment. I highly recommend it.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Review: Broken by Kelley Armstrong ★★★

Broken by Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book six in the Women of the Otherworld series
Publication Date: 2005
ISBN: 0553588184
Page Count: 480
My Rating: ★★★


In this thrilling new novel from the author of Industrial Magic , a pregnant werewolf may have unwittingly unleashed Jack the Ripper on twenty-first-century—and become his next target. Ever since she discovered she’s pregnant, Elena Michaels has been on edge. After all, she’s never heard of another living female werewolf, let alone one who’s given birth. But thankfully, her expertise is needed to retrieve a stolen letter allegedly written by Jack the Ripper. As a distraction, the job seems simple enough—only the letter contains a portal to Victorian London’s underworld, which Elena inadvertently triggers—unleashing a vicious killer and a pair of zombie thugs. Now Elena must find a way to seal the portal before the unwelcome visitors get what they’re looking for—which, for some unknown reason, is Elena.


The story opens with Elena, who, at 5 weeks pregnant, is about to Shift for the first time since she found out about the pregnancy. She is terrified that in doing so, she will potentially lose the baby. And it's not as if there is anyone she can ask for advice. Currently, Elena is the only female werewolf in existence. Female werewolves throughout history have been rare, and female werewolves reproducing with their human mates, even rarer. Two werewolves reproducing? It's never happened. At least, not as far as the records can tell. So naturally Elena is finding the whole thing daunting and unsettling.

On the other hand, not Shifting isn't really an option either. In Kelley Armstrong's world, werewolves have to Shift regularly or they'll go mad, which would mean having to be to be locked away. So she really is in quite the predicament.

Clay's protective nature is out in force in this book. Not only has he got a mate to protect, but an unborn pup, too. Clay, having always been closer to his animal side than any other werewolf I have read about, is ruled by his natural instincts, and yet I thought he was showed considerable restraint at times during this novel. Giving Elena the space she needs and trying not to pressure her in any way. It really was nice to revisit this couple.

The action comes into play when Elena gets a call from Xavier, who was one of the people who held her captive 3 years ago, (see Stolen) who claims she still owes him a favour. She swiftly tells him what he can do with that idea, but then he offers to help her locate a rogue wolf that the Pack have been tracking for months to no avail, in return for this new favour, which is to retrieve a letter that was purportedly penned by none other than Jack the Ripper, and something that only a non-human can do.

Now, if I'm honest, I found the premise to be a little bit silly. And I'm usually all for high fantasy, and don't mind far-fetched storylines, but I just wasn't expecting it from a Clay and Elena book. I'm used to getting a gripping suspense-filled mystery from them instead, so it was a bit of a head scratcher as to why Armstrong went down that route this time. Nevertheless, it was still well written as usual, and it was nice to see how they are coping with the pregnancy, etc.

All-in-all this one didn't rock my world quite like Bitten or Stolen, but it was still a good read.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Review: Shiver by Magie Stiefvater ★★★★

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA paranormal
Series: Book one in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series
Publication Date: August 2009
ISBN: 9780545123266
Page Count: 390
My Rating: ★★★★


The Cold.

Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf -- her wolf -- watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why.

The heat.

Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace . . . until now.

The Shiver.

For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human -- and Grace must fight to keep him -- even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.


This story is incredibly sweet, beautifully written, and like a breath of fresh air after all the darker, more violent urban fantasy novels I mostly read.

The writing style is very lyrical. I love the way it swapped POV's between Sam and Grace throughout. I thought that worked perfectly for this book.

Stiefvater's werewolves are very different to anything I have read and I really liked her take on them. This has actually somewhat restored my faith in YA books in general. There really are still books out there that adults can enjoy. Unfortunately, they are most likely buried underneath the pile of over-hyped tosh that's currently also on the shelves.

I recommend this book to all. You couldn't get a boy and a girl more perfect for each other than Sam and Grace. Just gorgeous.

Review: The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons ★★

The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons by Katie MacAlister
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Book two in the Light Dragon series
Publication Date: May 3, 2011
ISBN: 0451233441
Page Count: 352
My Rating: ★★


Even an ancient dragon can learn how to multitask…

Ysolde de Bouchier is a woman beset with trials. The dragon part of her buried deep for centuries is still making itself known, but in ways that just don’t make sense. She’s continuing to have visions, but now they involve events she wasn’t present to witness.

As if that isn’t enough, she’s caught up in a tangled web of plans that seem to grow more complex each day. Not only does she have to work out peace between her Light Dragon mate Baltic and the weyr, she also has to free his friend, convince an archimage to lift the spell controlling her magic, figure out what it is that the First Dragon expects her to do, rescue a half-dragon damsel in over her head, and once and for all clear Baltic’s name of murder charges that continue to plague him.

No one told Ysolde that dragon love would be so hard…


The beginning of this novel was extremely confusing. It had been around 6 months since I'd read the first one, so naturally I was a bit rusty on the details. But even with the recaps that were provided, there was just so much going on and so many different dragon colours that I couldn't remember which Septs liked each other and which didn't, or why. I very nearly gave up all together. There is quite a large cast and several different subplots, so this only added to my confusion. It took until around the halfway point until I actually felt committed to the story. And even then I was often having to urge myself to continue because I'd already gotten so far, and also because the first book was so good I felt sure any minute now that past magic would emerge. It didn't.

I was also not really feeling the love towards Baltic in this one. I forgave him his high-handed ways in the first book because of what he'd been through and because he'd been alone for so long, and so naturally he would insist Ysolde stay constantly by his side now that he'd found her again, etc. But in this one his rants just got on my nerves. I know the Wyvern are meant to be all domineering and the mates submissive and obedient and all that jazz, but I just don't know how Ysolde can handle it. I found it unrealistic that she would discover that her mate had been bald-faced lying about where he had spent the last couple of days one minute and in the next instance, when he ever so kindly says that he will "allow" her to do erotic things to him, she thinks he's all wonderful again. I'm sorry, what? I realize it's meant to be so over-the-top bossy that it's funny, but mostly I just found it annoying.

Another thing that annoys me with Baltic is his refusal to tell Ysolde anything; either with regards to his plans and whereabouts as mentioned before, or things to do with the past. Poor Ysolde has had her memory altered and has to rely on flashbacks and visions to help her recall things from their previous life, so any little nugget of information about past events would be helpful. But Baltic remains tight-lipped on anything he deems upsetting to her, or if it's something concerning another male, he withholds through jealousy or some other bull**** reason. I wanted to slap him on more than one occasion.

I really hope Katie MacAlister does something to restore this series to the former glory of book one. It showed so much promise and was so much funnier and more romantic than this one.

Colour me disappointed.

Review: Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur ★★★★

Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book one in the Riley Jenson series
Publication Date: 2006
ISBN: 0553804588
Page Count: 304
My Rating ★★★★

In this exciting debut, author Keri Arthur explodes onto the supernatural scene with a sexy, sensuous tale of intrigue and suspense set in a world where legends walk and the shady paths of the underworld are far more sinister than anyone envisioned.

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….Easier said than done as the city pulses with frenzied desire, and Riley is confronted with a very powerful–and delectably naked–vamp who raises her temperature like never before.

In matters carnal, Riley has met her match. But in matters criminal, she must follow her instincts not only to find her brother but to stop an unholy harvest. For someone is doing some shifty cloning in an attempt to produce the ultimate warrior–by tapping into the genome of nonhumans like Rhoan. Now Riley knows just how dangerous the world is for her kind–and just how much it needs her.


Now, I'm not usually a fan of free-loving ladies who think monogamy is some sort of cream-coloured paint. And I don't usually like books to have more than 2-3 sex scenes in them or I start to get annoyed and/or bored senseless. And I also don't usually like for my leading ladies to have more than one lover on-the-go at once (fussy, aren't I?). However, although this story has much more sex in it than my usual quota, it also had enough of a plot to back it up with that I could accept it as integral to the story.

I think possibly the other reason I can tolerate it in this book, is that our main character, Riley, is very clear on the fact that it's just sex. So there aren't pages and pages of dithering monologue before and afterward, wondering should I have done that? What about the other guy(s)? Does he love me? Do I love him? None of that nonsense. The werewolf race in this series sees sex as a celebration, not something to be limited, rationed or ashamed of in any way. And indeed, in the week leading up to the full moon, it's something they can't avoid or they'll go crazy....literally.

Anyway, removing my mind from the gutter for one second, the plot centred around cloning and cross-breeding of the various non-human races and was fascinating and had good pacing. I can see possible plot lines for future books and am looking forward to Riley realizing her full potential in the books to come.

So, in essence, this is a good, fast-paced Urban Fantasy only with LOTS more sex scenes in it than your average UF. I just hope she will settle down with that side of things in the next book, assuming that one will not be set around the time of the full moon, or it might become tedious.

Review: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells ★★★★★

Red headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book one in the Sabina Kane series
Publication Date: April 1, 2009
ISBN: 0316037761
Page Count: 352
My Rating ★★★★★


In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina Kane has the only profession fit for an outcast: assassin. But, her latest mission threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races and Sabina must scramble to figure out which side she's on. She's never brought her work home with her---until now. This time, it's personal.


I really enjoyed this book. It had everything I love in an Urban Fantasy: a likeable, kickass heroine; a reluctant, teasing, burgeoning romance; suspenseful, vivid action scenes; shocking plot twists, and surprises. It was a really fun read. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy Kim Harrison, Karen Chance, Jennifer Estep and the like.

Let me tell you a little bit about the world Jaye Wells has created here. There are several different supernatural species. You've got vamps, mages, werewolves, faeries and demons. The latter two come in many different variations, shapes and sizes. You can also have mixed-blood hybrids, although this is extremely rare.

Our leading lady is Sabina Kane. A mixed-blood vamp/mage hybrid. She has been raised solely in the vampire society and has been brought up to believe that the mage half of her heritage wants nothing to do with her. She was raised by her Grandmother, Lavinia, who just happens to be a member of the Dominae - the three female vamps that rule the entire vampire race. Although this trio of leaders is supposed to be on equal footing, it quickly becomes evident that Lavinia is the one who really rules. She is extremely cold and ruthless (that would be putting it mildly) and she holds no great love for the mage race as she believes them ultimately responsible for her daughter's (Sabina's mother) death .

So what kind of person has Sabina become having been raised by a woman like this? Well, she's the Dominae's top assassin, that should tell you quite a bit. She is definitely someone with whom one does not mess. She also has an almost child-like yearning for love and acceptance from her grandmother; doing anything and everything that is asked of her in the vague hope she might receive even a small scrap of praise. She's been made to think that she should be grateful that her grandmother raised her at all given that she is such an abomination. And yet, despite all this, she is unerringly loyal to the Dominae, forsaking all others. This is put to the test in the opening scene when we learn that her latest assignment is to kill her only friend, David, who is accused of treason. A mission that despite her hesitation, she carries out. As is her duty.

There is a very well-written and executed mystery plot to the rest of the novel. Sabina shows great character growth throughout and leans some life-altering things about herself. She has to go undercover in enemy territory, and the suspense was nail-biting; wondering just when her subterfuge would be discovered.

Her loyalties are tested when she meets a mage named Adam, who seems to know more about her than she does herself. He is a delightful character and I really enjoyed the teasing banter in their scenes together.

Let me just sum up with a few things that immediately come to mind when thinking of this book: interesting word-building and mythology, great fight/action scenes, great characterisation and development, unpredictable plot twists, and a little grin-worthy sprinkle of romance.

I highly recommend this series to all Urban Fantasy fans.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Review: Desire Untamed by Pamela Palmer ★★★★★

Desire Untamed by Pamela Palmer
Genre: Paranormal Romance (Shapeshifters, magic, mages, fated mates, several sex scenes)
Series: Book one in the Feral Warriors series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Avon Books
Country: USA
Publication Date: June 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-166751-0
Page Count: 363
My Rating: ★★★★★


They are called Feral Warriors—an elite band of immortals who can change shape at will. Sworn to rid the world of evil, consumed by sorcery and seduction, their wild natures are primed for release . . . Kara MacAllister's quiet small-town life is transformed forever the night a powerful stranger rips her from her home, claiming she is the chosen one—the key to his survival. Spiriting her away into the rain-soaked night, Lyon reveals a truth Kara can barely credit. She's immortal, and the only one who can save his race. And deep within her, he arouses a fierce, primal hunger beyond anything she's ever imagined. But only when their lives are threatened by an ancient evil will Kara and Lyon realize they have found a love they would risk their immortal souls to claim . . . and a powerful desire that could never, ever be tamed.


First off, let me just say that it's very rare for me to give a paranormal romance five stars. I usually don't find the plots strong enough to warrant it. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. Not only was it scorchingly hot, but it also had me on the edge of my seat following the action and drama as it unfolded. My attention was glued to the pages, and I felt restless all day at work wanting to get back home to pick up where I'd left off.

(Darn real life getting in the way of my reading again!)

Having said that, in the first 20 pages or so I did have a momentary panic that I was noticing way too many similarities to other paranormal series I've read... the band of warriors living in a mansion together, the funny names/nicknames, searching for a female that bears the "mark". All these things have been done before in various guises, so, as I said, I was starting to get a little worried. But I needn't have feared. About 50 pages into the book the author throws us a complete curve ball and from there on the plot proved unpredictable and totally gripping.

We start out right in the thick of the action and are quickly introduced to the nine Feral warriors: Lyon, Vhyper, Tighe, Paenther, Wulfe, Foxx, Jag, Hawke and Kougar. Cheesy names, I know, and I don't care! Although I did keep wanting to sing "Thundercats are on the move. Thundercats are loose". But maybe that's just me...

There is a sense of hopelessness amongst the Feral Warriors at the beginning of the book. They are so long without a Radiant - a female of their race and their sole source of power - that they are no longer able to Shift. The leader of the group, Lyon, must use his super duper sensing powers to find the next Radiant before it's too late and their race dies out all together.

Lyon's search takes him to Kara MacAllister's kitchen. Their chemistry is instantaneous, but I'm pretty sure he could have worked on a better opening line than "Bare your right breast" ...I'm just sayin'. It certainly got her attention, though! Yet when Lyon attempts to take her with him back to Feral House, he soon learns she's a woman with ideas of her own.

Kara was very likeable. Despite the fact her entire world has been turned upsidedown, she manages to keep her head. Even when it seems that every other second another shock is sent her way, or she's told of another archaic ritual she has to participate in. I liked her a lot

Lyon is strong, yet gentle. Not a tortured hero, exactly, but definitely a lonely man. Something he hadn't really realised until Kara came along. The author describes the longing and strength of feeling between these two really well. Although their connection came quickly, I found it was believable.

The romance was very hot, leaning slightly more towards the erotica side of the scale than the pure romance side. Although that's not to say I didn't find some of the scenes romantic, I did. In essence, there was a good balance between the heated, blush-inducing scenes and the heart-warming scenes. But if I'm being totally honest, the public sexual rituals I found to be a bit icky.

All in all, this was a fantastic read. I'm so glad to discover this series, and I can't wait to get onto the next one, Obsession Untamed.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Review: City of Ghosts by Stacia Kane ★★★★★

City of Ghosts by Stacia Kane
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book three in the Chess Putnam series
Publication Date: July 2010
ISBN: 978-0345515599
Page Count: 416
My Rating: ★★★★★


The third book in this gritty, sexy, urban fantasy trilogy. Rogue spirits and psychopomps are terrorising people, and now someone is planning to open the gates to the City of Ghosts and unleash the dead on humanity. Faced with her greatest challenge yet, Chess has to travel to the spirit city to finally lay all her ghosts to rest.

Wow. Just, wow. I want to read it again! In fact, I think I may just have to go back a revisit a couple of select passages before I can move onto another book as they are whirling around in my head, so if I re-read them, it might make them stop!

As you'll recall from book two, Terrible found Chess and Lex in the graveyard in an extremely compromising position. His initial reaction was overshadowed by the events towards the end of the last book. Now that things have settled with the ghosts, the full extent of Terrible's anger and bitterness becomes evident. And boy, is he mad! It's horrible to read through (in a good way). I don't know why I was as surprised by it as I was. I mean, I've known right from the start that Terrible, as a drug dealer's Enforcer, has the ability to be both cold and ruthless when dealing with non-payers for Bump, but never would I have expected the extent of the callous bitterness he showed towards Chess in this book. He's always been so good to her! Sure, I understand his anger, and feel he is entitled to it to an extent, but...ouch! That boy can be mean when he's hurting!

Chess' character is such a hot mess, and I don't like a lot of the decisions she's made up until this point, but she really didn't mean to hurt Terrible - it wasn't done maliciously - so you can't really feel as angry towards her as he does. She's trying to deal with the ghost situation as best she can, whilst being forced to be in Terrible's company once again. I felt very proud of her ability to remain calm and collect in the face of Terrible's volatile countenance, and in reaction to his caustic comments...until. Yeah, until. That scene is the one I want to read again!

I recommend these books on audio for two reasons: one, the lady that does them is excellent and did a fantastic job; and two, trying to actually read the "Downside speak" yourself, will likely make your eyes fall out. Probably. It could happen. Okay, not really, but it's certainly easier to have it read to you, that's for sure. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing it this way this time.

The next book in this fabulous, original series is Sacrificial Magic, out 27th March 2012. Can't. Flipping. Wait!

Review: Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane ★★★★

Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book two in the Chess Putnam series
Publication Date: July 2010
ISBN: 978-0345515582
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★★


ENEMIES DON’T NEED TO BE ALIVE TO BE DEADLY. For Chess Putnam, finding herself near-fatally poisoned by a con psychic and then stopping a murderous ghost is just another day on the job. As an agent of the Church of Real Truth, Chess must expose those looking to profit from the world’s unpleasant little poltergeist problem—humans filing false claims of hauntings—all while staving off any undead who really are looking for a kill. But Chess has been extra busy these days, coping with a new “celebrity” assignment while trying on her own time to help some desperate prostitutes. Someone’s taking out the hookers of Downside in the most gruesome way, and Chess is sure the rumors that it’s the work of a ghost are way off base. But proving herself right means walking in the path of a maniac, not to mention standing between the two men in her life just as they—along with their ruthless employers—are moving closer to a catastrophic showdown. Someone is dealing in murder, sex, and the supernatural, and once again Chess finds herself right in the crossfire.


Oh, Chess, what the hell are you doing, girlie

The main feeling I'm left with after finishing this book is despair at the pitiful decisions Chess makes. Usually, when a character makes such poor judgements I would chalk this up to her suffering from the surprisingly common condition of TSTL (too stupid to live) syndrome. An affliction that often affects Urban Fantasy heroines, forcing them to thrust headlong into dangerous situations or to make cringe-worthy decisions concerning their personal relationships . In Chess' case however, it felt to me more like she makes her decisions based on the belief that she doesn't deserve any better from life. Or rather, it's more like she lets others make decisions for her.

Take this Lex character, for example. In book one he has her kidnapped by his men and threatens and bribes her - not something that would inspire tender feelings in most people - but because he showed an attraction to her, and because she found him at least physically attractive, she allowed him to talk her into starting a casual, no-strings-attached, sexual relationship. Even though she feels nothing towards him.

On the other hand, there's Terrible. She has a sweet friendship with him; respects him, enjoys his company, and yet she won't even consider pursuing anything more with him because there's the chance that she could actually come to care for him. How messed up is that? And how utterly riveting is it to read about? Very, is my answer to that.

I did enjoy the ghostly plot for this one as well, although perhaps not as much as book one. Chess is a "Debunker" by profession. A Church witch with the ability to entrap and banish spirits. The Church, for reasons I'm not totally sure on, have pledged to provide monetary recompense for any families suffering from a haunting. A Debunker is sent to investigate claims of hauntings. A lot of these turn out to be hoaxes - attempts to try and fool the Church so as to receive the compensation money - but occasionally she encounters a genuine spirit and is then charged with dealing with it. Ghosts are sent back to "The City" (an underground dwelling for banished spirits), or in the case of particularly malevolent ghosts, to the Church's "jail". Chess seems to be very good at what she does. One of the strongest members of the Church magic-wise. It seems to be the one thing in her life she feels proud of.

The consequences of Chess' drug addiction become much more evident in this one when she is forced to go without for a period of time. This was very harrowing to read through. And when, after suffering all that, she went right back to it, I wanted to slap her silly. Her life is a total train-wreck, but one I just can't help watching.

Terrible discovers something about Chess in this book that causes an explosive reaction. It's really something to behold and I'm not sure what the future holds for the tentative yet compelling friendship they had started to build. I am really looking forward to the next book to found out.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Review: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane ★★★★

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book one in the Chess Putnam series
Publication Date: May 2010
ISBN: 978-0345515575
Page Count: 352
My Rating: ★★★★


THE DEPARTED HAVE ARRIVED. The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Consequently, there are many false claims of hauntings from those hoping to profit. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully-tattooed witch, freewheeling Debunker, and ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for nailing human liars and banishing the wicked dead. But she’s keeping a dark secret from the Church: a little drug problem that’s landed her in hot and dangerous water. Chess owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump. And Bump wants immediate payback. All Chess has to do is dispatch a very nasty species of undead from an old airport. But the job involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and crossing swords with enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.


This is a great start to a series. It's full to bursting with fascinating characters and great world-building. I like this for all the reasons I usually don't like others. I'm often known to say I don't like my Urban Fantasy series to be too dark; this one is set in a very dark, seedy world full of the most pitiful, drug addicted and otherwise battered and tortured characters you could imagine. I also have been known to say that I need some kind of levity and humour to balance out the action and violence in my Urban Fantasy; this one has no humour to speak of, really, other than the odd light-hearted bit of dialogue. Frankly, the characters lives are too darn depressing and awful to find much to laugh about.

So why, do you ask, do I like it then? Simple. This series features some of the most interesting, complex and original characters I've ever encountered. They may be drug addicted with little or no sense of self-worth and make horrendous life choices, yet they somehow remain in possession of an iron strong will and an unshakable sense loyalty.

I liken it to car-crash T.V. only with a book. You don't really want to watch them make another awful decision, but you can't quite look away either. The characters just draw you in with their raw, unfiltered emotions and refuse to let you go.

I fell in love with one character in particular in this book. An Enforcer (read: hired thug) by the name of Terrible. His character, and my desire to now know absolutely everything about him, is what's going to keep me reading this series. I would still have enjoyed the plot anyway, but I have to be honest and confess that ghosts are my least favourite type of supernatural creature/entity to read about, so without this amazing character I might not have been quite so satisfied as I closed the book.

The speech and dialect took some getting used to as well. This is a common concern with this series from what I gather from other reviews. It's a bit of a love it or hate thing. But by the end of the book I totally got it, aye?

Let me give you a little example of what I mean. Here's a quote from Bump, Chess' drug dealer, who is one of the worst offenders:

"Ain't can believe we here," Bump drawled. "Thought we had us some fuckin' trust, yay? You an' Bump. Thought we had us some fuckin' understanding. Hurts Bump, this do. An' Terrible ... Dig me, Ladybird, think you putting the fuckin' hurt on he, hard. Why ain't you just give me the fuckin' tell, yay? An' end this, so's we can be fuckin' friends again. Ain't you like bein' Bump's friend?"

Now I know that probably looks like complete gobbledegook, but bear in mind that Chess, who is the main "voice" of the novels (even though it is written in third person, but I'll get to that in a minute), doesn't speak like this. She might say "aye" occasionally, but that's about the extent of it from her.

It's mainly the men in her life - Terrible, Lex, Bump, etc. The ones who reside in the heart of Downside - that speak this way. I got the impression that the vernacular is something that has evolved naturally over time since Haunting Week, 23 years ago, which is the point at which our world and Stacia Kane's world veer off from one another, and the setting for her alternate future society takes over.

Basically, 23 years ago a large percentage of the population perished when ghosts broke free of their spiritual bonds and killed them in their homes. After this catastrophe, the vastly reduced population that remained reformed, the government fell, religions were squashed, and people forgot how to speak normally. Tragic, really...

Our main character is Chess, or Cesaria, Putnam. A drug addict, as I mentioned before, but other than that she's a level-headed, logical and likeable girl. She just happens to have had one of the crappiest childhoods you could imagine, and has got herself hooked on pills to get her through the day.

One thing that did confound me is why this story was written in third person when it is solely from Chess' point of view throughout. I only expect to find third person perspectives when I'm reading a book with multiple narrators. Why then, was this written in third? It must just be Ms Kane's personal writing preference, I guess, but it really stood out to me. Every time it said "Chess thought", or "Chess knew" I wanted to grind my teeth thinking how much better it would have sounded with "I thought", "I knew." since Chess was the only one talking. Oh, well. Each to their own, I guess.

To sum up, I highly recommend this book. If you think the speech is going to drive you nuts, check out the audio version. The lady that reads it does a stellar job.

Review: One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★

One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book one in the October Daye series
Publication Date: September 6, 2011
ISBN: 0756406838
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★★★


October "Toby" Daye is settling into her new role as Countess of Goldengreen. She's actually dating again, and she's taken on Quentin as her squire. So, of course, it's time for things to take a turn for the worse.

Someone has kidnapped the sons of the regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist. To prevent a war between land and sea, Toby must find the missing boys and prove the Queen of the Mists was not behind their abduction. Toby's search will take her from the streets of San Francisco to the lands beneath the waves, and her deadline is firm: she must find the boys in three days' time, or all of the Mists will pay the price. But someone is determined to stop her-and whoever it is isn't playing by Oberon's Laws...


The fifth book in October Daye series, One Salt Sea, picks up one month after the events of book four, Late Eclipses. Someone has kidnapped the children of the Duchess of the undersea courts of Saltmist. Toby only has three days to find the kids, and in doing so, clear her Queen’s name and stave off a war between the land and sea Fae.

One of the things I love about this series is the incredibly detailed worldbuilding. I've read many series involving the Fae but this one seems particularly vivid and vibrant to me. Perhaps because in this one they are the only focus - we are not distracted by having to learn of other races, vamps, werewolves, etc. And incredibly, the worldbuilding in One Salt Sea is even more expansive than in most of the previous novels, largely due to the introduction of a new realm: Saltmist, home of the undersea Fae.

I'll be honest, I was slightly dubious about this upon reading the summary. I've seen many books featuring mer-people and other sea-dwelling folk and always thought "hmm, how does that work then?", and never bothered with them. Since this is the continuation of one of my now favourite series, not reading this particular undersea adventure wasn't even a possibility. And how wrong I had been to dismiss books based on my own preconceptions. McGuire made me feel like I, too, was diving into the big deep blue for the first time. It was fascinating. Although I'm glad it wasn't this setting for the majority of the book, as I would have severely missed my landlubbers had I been denied access to them for too long.

Speaking of which, the full gang was out in force in this one, with equal time dedicated to all of my favourite characters. Obviously, if it were up to me I would have Tybalt on every page, but being slightly more realistic for a second, I can concede that he was probably in it just the right amount, considering what's going on in Toby's personal life currently.

This is the first book in this series to reduce me to tears. McGuire is some sort of evil genius, to be sure. Just when I was starting to appreciate certain characters and find a level of grudging acceptance where they were concerned, she goes and rips the rug out from under me. Before this book, this turn of events might have made me happy, but now? Now I'm just a blubbering mess, that's what.

And do you know what else makes me sad? That I now have to wait twelve stinking, agonising months until the next book, Ashes of Honor. On the plus side though, after such a long time I'd simply have to do a re-read prior to it coming out, wouldn't I? *evil grin*

Well, as you'll no doubt have guessed by this point, I am in love with this series. It's right up there with my other UF favourites: Kate Daniels, Horngate witches, Cassie Palmer, Mercy Thompson, etc., and I recommend it to ALL.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Review: Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book four in the October Daye series
Publication Date: March 2011
ISBN: 978-0756406660
Page Count: 400
My Rating ★★★★★


With Blind Michael and his Hunt safely behind her, October "Toby" Daye is doing her best to settle back into a normal routine—or as normal of a routine as she can manage, with her personal Fetch now paying half the rent. Still, things seem to be mostly under control...until the events of a single night send everything reeling. Now, with the Queen of the Mists watching her back and the Lady of the Tea Gardens deathly ill, Toby has no choice but to get involved, no matter how much she wants to avoid it.

The trials ahead will be some of the worst faced by Toby and her strange band of allies, and not even Tybalt will be able to escape totally unscathed. What's worse, the Luidaeg is unavailable to help them. This time, they're on their own.

And people keep making Toby wear dresses, which is just adding insult to dangerous injury...


I love the quip in the summary (taken from the author's website) about making Toby wear dresses. It's so true! Toby's getting unwillingly dragged into Royal and Courtly politics. Can you think of anything that is less Toby's cup of tea than pomp and politics? Neh, me either.

And why? Why are people trying to get her entangled in that world? What is to be gained from it? Well, if your name is October Daye, nothing good, that's what.

Our Tobes has a hard time in this one. It was suspense-filled, dramatic, romantic, heartbreaking and definitely one of the better books of the series so far. There are great developments for Toby in her personal relationships. At a test, you'll see just who comes through for her, no matter the cost.

As usual there is an ongoing mystery to be solved, which is hard to do when Toby is not feeling herself. There's an overlying theme of treachery and betrayal throughout this novel. And we find out a great deal more info on several character's back-stories as well.

“I wouldn’t take aid from you if you offered it. Never from you, daughter of Amandine, last and latest child of the great betrayal. You’ll see the end of us all, and you won’t be content until you know the gates are locked and sealed; your own death will refuse you. You’ll destroy your beginnings and forsake your heart’s desire, and there will be nothing for you but what’s already been turned aside . . .” 

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read. I inhaled this book at break-neck speed and I just can't seem to get enough of this wonderful series. Seanan McGuire, I salute you.

And can I just say, I'm very proud of myself for not making this entire review about Tybalt this time. I don't think I get the credit I deserve for my incredible restraint, personally. But I will just say one thing: do you see that leather jacket on the cover? That's Tybalt's! Squeeeeeee!

Ah, that feels better.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Review: One Grave at a Time by Jeaniene Frost ★★★★

One Grave at a Time by Jeaniene Frost
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book six in the Night Huntress series
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
ISBN: 0061783196
Page Count: 384
My Rating:★★★★


Having narrowly averted an (under)world war, Cat Crawfield wants nothing more than a little downtime with her vampire husband, Bones. Unfortunately, her gift from New Orleans’ voodoo queen just keeps on giving–leading to a personal favor that sends them into battle once again, this time against a villainous spirit.

Centuries ago, Heinrich Kramer was a witch hunter. Now, every All Hallows Eve, he takes physical form to torture innocent women before burning them alive. This year, however, a determined Cat and Bones must risk all to send him back to the other side of eternity–forever. But one wrong step and they’ll be digging their own graves.


*Deep contented sigh*

It is always so nice to revisit these characters and the Night Huntress world. Cat, Bones, Spade, Denise, Fabian....the whole gang. There was only one significant absence, however. No Vlad! And I absolutely adore him (even if Bones doesn't), so it was such a shame he didn't feature. Obviously he's off having amazing and wild adventures which we can all read about when his new spin-off series: Night Prince, starts in March 2012. We did, on the plus side, meet a fabulous new character by the name of Tyler, who I am desperately hoping and praying is going to become a permanent fixture in the series. He was so great and provided many great one-liners and lots of sass and attitude. I couldn't help seeing Lafayette from True Blood whenever he was in a scene. My favourite quote from him:

“That face, that body . . . and you know he’s packing, look at the angle of that dangle!.”

The story revolves around a nasty, evil spirit who has a history of violence against women. Death hasn't improved his personality much. Of course, it's down to Cat and her powers left over from the previous book, and Bones (because where she goes, he goes) to fix the ghostly problem. It was nice to see them working together like this. They are now an unbreakable pair, no longer running off on their own to try and save the other without thinking through any of the consequences. Who says you can't teach an old vamp new tricks, eh?

I did very much enjoy this book, yet I have to say there was a slightly more sedate feel to it than past efforts. When you compare it to the drama and turmoil of books 1-4, the last one and this one have both been a lot calmer and slightly slower-paced. Perhaps this is a natural evolvement because the character's relationships are more settled now, and as a positive, it's also easier to read in terms of my blood pressure now that they are, BUT, I almost want to throw a spanner in the works just to make the next book a bit livelier. Wicked, aren't I? Mwah ha ha!

Anyway, I'm sure the next one will kick it up a notch, and I can't wait to read the synopsis for it.

I'm liking the new cover model. I liked the last one too, and she will probably always be my mental picture for Cat, but this one is very pretty too. And Cat's cat (snort) Helsing plays quite a big roll in the book so it's good that it features on there too!