I have to admit, I loved this one, even though my annoyance level was high through most of the book. But that wasn’t Jane’s fault! Please allow me to explain… When book 2 ended, we found our intrepid vampire heroine, Jane, being offered a romantic overseas getaway with her vampire beloved, Gabriel. However, as we start book 3, we soon realize that the trip is going terribly, especially since Gabriel seems to be dashing off to constant meetings, frequently leaving Jane to her own devices, and we know that can get scary…but I digress. Gabriel is also receiving what seem to be love letters, yet he absolutely refuses to explain to Jane what’s going on. So, Jane does the only thing she can think of to do. She goes back home. Without Gabriel. At least her friends Andrea, Dick, Zeb, and Jolene are waiting for her back in Half-Moon Hollow, but if Jane thinks things will be calmer at home, she’s got quite another thing coming!
I suppose I should explain my irritation. Not at Jane, at Gabriel!! I wanted to smack him for about three quarters of this book! I was just as frustrated as Jane that anytime she would confront him about the suspicious notes, he usually ran away. Literally, ran away. Poor Gabriel. So smooth, so handsome, so clueless when it comes to women! No worries, though. Gabriel’s behavior makes sense when you get the whole story, but up until then, be prepared to want a scene where Dick and Jolene hold him down while Jane kicks him. Seriously. But, I love Gabriel and Jane as a couple, and of course would follow them anywhere, plus they can get past a bit of drama, right? Well, at least until said drama starts threatening Jane’s life. Other fun for Jane includes Mr. Wainwright’s simpering nephew Emery, returned to claim some of his uncle’s things, but generally getting underfoot as they try to renovate the bookstore and prepare for the grand re-opening, and more drama (of the good kind) with Zeb and Jolene. Also, Jane joins the Chamber of Commerce, not realizing it’s like a cult of robo-blondes time warped from high school, bent on causing Jane as much misery as possible. Jane comes into her own quite a lot in this one, however, and I also loved how the author really explored the relationships between Jane and her friends, and also her family, which sets up Book 4 rather nicely. I’ll hang with Jane and the gang in Half-Moon Hollow, and hope to be able to visit time and time again! Love this series!
Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men is the 2nd installment of Molly Harper’s wonderful Jane Jameson series, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first! Jane is a relatively new vampire, turned when she was on her way home from Shenanigans after getting fired from her librarian job. Her car broke down, she stumbled into a ditch, and was mistaken for a deer by a passing drunk hunter, and shot. Good thing sexy vamp Gabriel Nightengale followed her home, huh? It’s not the best start to vampirism, but what are you gonna do? In Book 2, she’s getting used to her life as a vamp, working at the rare bookstore with the elderly, eccentric Mr. Wainwright, dating Gabriel, and dealing with her uber irritating family (as usual.)
Things seem to be looking up for our Jane, yes? Wellll, not so much. Her best friend, Zeb, is marrying a werewolf named Jolene. Yay for Zeb! I mean, Jolene is gorgeous and extremely sweet, but human/werewolf unions aren’t very popular, and her (very large and fiercely protective) family is giving poor Zeb a run for his money. Then there’s Zeb’s mom, who always hoped for a Jane/Zeb union. Also, Gabriel is constantly out of town, and being very mysterious about the whole thing, which, for Jane, is tough, since she’s not used to attention from someone like Gabriel, and is still a bit insecure in the relationship. And that’s not all! Jane’s Grandma Ruthie (aka The Black Widow) has met someone new, who may not be what he seems. Will Jane have to wear a horrid taffeta monstrosity to Jolene and Zeb’s wedding? Will Zeb survive his own wedding? Just what is Grandma Ruthie’s new love? And what exactly is Gabriel up to on these numerous business trips? Don’t worry, Ms. Harper will answer most of these questions (gotta leave some for the next book:-D ), and then some! The author’s trademark wit is in full force here, and while you don’t have the same kind of conflict as in the first novel, following Jane and her exploits, alongside her Half-Moon Hollow residents is always great fun! If you love Stephanie Plum, you’ll love this series. I zipped through it in one day and am on to the next! This series just sparkles with charm and will make you laugh out loud. Highly recommended.
When we first meet Sam Thornton, he’s in the midst of being assigned his next job, one that will prove a little more than the status quo. Sam is a soul collector, which means he collects the souls of the wicked and sends them off to whatever hell they’ve been assigned to. This new job sounds pretty cut and dry. A young girl, Kate, was caught in the midst of slaughtering her entire family. I mean, she was caught red-handed, so there really can’t be any question of her guilt, right? However, after Sam makes the jump into a newly deceased body, and attempts the collection, he knows right away that Kate can’t be guilty. When Sam decides to spare Kate, he irritates some pretty powerful folk. We’re talking angels and demons here, but Sam is determined to protect her, at all costs, even if, for him, it means eternal torment…
Dead Harvest was just a pleasure to read, through and through. Yes, our hero collects souls, but you’ll see, through interludes that detail how Sam came to be a collector, just how he got where he’s at, and trust me, you probably would have done the same thing. He’s a very sympathetic character, and just plain likable. Told in Sam’s voice, Dead Harvest reads like a smooth shot of bourbon, and you’ll find yourself happy to go along with the ride as he and Kate battle demons and angels alike. Is Kate really innocent (you’ll want her to be, for sure)? Could there be a war brewing between the angels and the demons? All of these questions get answered, but I also liked how nothing was really black and white, which kept me on my toes. In fact, Sam finds allies where he least expects it, and the addition of a fellow collector, Bishop, out to complete the job that Sam wouldn’t, makes for some truly creepy moments. Bishop is damaged, any humanity he once had completely gone, and the ability they have to jump from one body to another makes him all the more terrifying. Dead Harvest is a relatively uncomplicated story (not too many extraneous storylines to worry about, which is kind of refreshing), and that’s certainly not a bad thing. Chris Holm’s smooth writing style and rather charming characters (yes, Sam is charming, so there), made Dead Harvest a pleasure for me. I’m anxious to see what comes next for Sam, and I think Urban Fantasy fans will enjoy this start to what looks to be a wonderfully entertaining series!
The year is 1966, and a screenwriter from the states travels to Hammer studios in the UK, where he is given 5 days to come up with a new horror script for consideration. So begins the story of the Arkangel, a big, dark, beast of a train that travels through Eastern Europe during the horrors of WWl, collecting souls for harvest. Four rather unlucky passengers will meet on the Arkangel and will be put to the test; a test that will dictate the fate of their lives, and their souls.
Hell Train was a change of pace for me, and I’m so glad I picked it up. The story begins with a young girl finding a game in her family home containing a mechanical train and game pieces representing the passengers. In spite of her trepidation, she places the passengers on the train and winds it up. We then join our four main characters on the Arkangel. There is Isabella, a beautiful girl from Chelmsk, eager to get away from her arranged marriage and the increasing darkness of her village, Nicholas, a handsome rogue with a shadowy past, and a vicar and his scheming wife. They will encounter a number of horrors aboard the Arkangel, including a casket with a very nasty inhabitant, killer beetles, a lady in red who is as dangerous as she is beautiful, zombie soldiers, and much more. They’ll be forced to confront the darkest parts of their hearts and face their deepest fears if they’re to survive the Arkangel’s descent into Hell.
Christopher Fowler is a pro, and it certainly shows in Hell Train. It’s very well plotted, moves along at a breakneck pace (fitting for a book about a Hell Train, yes?), and his references to classic horror and horror greats, such as Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee will make any horror fan smile. Don’t be fooled by the somewhat campy cover (which I love, by the way). Hell Train covers some serious and disturbing territory, but the author manages to do so without sacrificing (sorry about the pun) the fun that was ever present in classic horror. There are some gruesome scenes, as well, but you’ll have fun cringing (and you will cringe), and rooting for the heroes to escape with their souls intact. Hell Train is a helluva fun ride and not to be missed by horror fans. Even if you don’t consider yourself a horror fan, give this one a try. You just may be surprised!
It’s 2023 and the world has been devastated (and reduced to mostly islands) by killer tsunamis. 24 year old Kathryn O’Malley (aka Tsunami Blue), lives by herself with her dog Max and takes to the airwave where she uses her gift to warn whoever is listening, when a tsunami is on its way. You see, the ocean speaks, and Blue can hear it. Her hopes of saving as many lives as possible keep her going in a world that’s seemingly gone to hell. Constantly on the lookout for pirates (aka Runners) who would capture Blue and use her for her gift (to pillage and plunder), Blue is always on alert, and knows how to protect herself, so when a handsome stranger washes up on her shores, all her barriers come crashing down. Gabriel Black looks like an angel, albeit a dark one, and at first, Blue takes him for dead. She manages to get him back to her cabin and eventually nurses him out of hypothermia, only to find out he’s a dreaded Runner. Or is he?
I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed this little gem! I kinda fell in love with Blue, in spite of myself. She’s stubborn, untrusting (for good reason), and often bites off a little more than she can chew. But! She’s also refreshingly innocent (having been by herself for so long), is killer with a knife, and has a heart as big as the tsunamis that she predicts. A big part of the appeal of Tsunami Blue is the playout between Blue and Gabriel. In spite of his seemingly sinister background with the dreaded Runners, he’s determined to protect Blue at all costs, and seems to already harbor a serious crush on her. Blue, in spite of the undeniable attraction, is just determined to steal his boat and escape. Gabriel, excruciatingly so, manages to hold on to his mysterious origins, and the reasons for kidnapping Blue, for almost the whole book. So frustrating!! Yes, but it’s totally worth the payoff. Trust me on this one!
Tsunami Blue’s world is a cross between Mad Max and Waterworld (yes, I liked that movie, feel free to comment on that below), and I thoroughly enjoyed the engaging, fascinating characters that the author populated it with. The Runners are absolutely terrifying, and Blue is not afraid to get her hands dirty when engaging with them. She fights for her life right along with the best of them, and is a force to be reckoned with. The sweet romance with Gabe makes a nice counterpoint to the relatively dark world and that our hero and heroine are living in. However, Tsunami Blue is no frou frou romance. The worldbuilding is great, the fighting is fierce, and the perils are terrifying. You’ll zip through it wanting to know what happens next right now, not to mention wanting Gabe and Blue to get together already! Loved this one, and hope you will too!
I’m very excited to have the lovely Kendra Leigh Castle on the blog today! Kendra is the author of Dark Awakening, and the recently released Midnight Reckoning, both in her Dark Dynasties series, and both books I adore. She was also kind enough to answer a few of my questions, so please welcome Kendra to the blog! (Click the title to go directly to the post!)
Today I’m thrilled to have the awesome Robert Jackson Bennett on the blog! Robert is the Philip K. Dick and Edgar nominated author of Mr. Shivers, The Company Man, and The Troupe (out tomorrow!!) If you’d like to read my review of The Troupe, go right ahead, we’ll be here when you get back. Anyway, he was nice enough to answer a few of my questions, and there’s also a pretty killer giveaway, so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post! (Click on the title to go directly to the post!)
I should totally be ashamed. I read Midnight Reckoning before reading Dark Awakening, the first book in the series, but it turns out that’s ok! There are characters in Midnight that are from Dark Awakening, but the book certainly stands on its own, so no worries. The stars of Midnight Reckoning are Jaden Harrison and Lyra Black. Jaden is a Cait Sidh and a vampire, so yes, that makes him a shape shifting vamp who spends a bit of time as a rather large cat. Purrrrr. Lyra, on the other hand, is a werewolf. So, both are shapeshifters, but that’s where the similarities end. When Lyra is attacked by an overly amorous were with a mean streak, Jaden happens to be on hand for a rescue, but Lyra is less than thrilled. See, it’s time for Lyra to be matched to her mate (weres bond for life), and her dad, the Thorn Pack’s Alpha, is determined to find her the perfect strong match, but Lyra has other ideas. Lyra is determined to compete in the Proving, which could give Lyra a chance at Alpha. However, were packs aren’t so forward conscious in their thinking where women are concerned, and the chances of this happening are slim to none. Lyra is stubborn though, so her father hires Jaden to teach her his fighting moves, in order to give her a better chance of survival. I think we both know where this is going, don’t we?
I loved this book. Flat out loved it. I couldn’t stop thinking “Romeo and Juliet” while reading it, and I fell in love with both Jaden and Lyra’s characters almost immediately. Jaden is a 200 year old vampire that cooks, and there’s a vulnerability about him that is just heartwrenching, especially since he’s spent quite a bit of time as a slave in the hands of the Ptolemy. Speaking of which… There are hierarchies of vamps, with each being able to change into different animals (cat, bat, etc), and the leader of the Ptolemy, Arsinoe, is one mean mamma, and she’s a little ticked that a bunch of her cats have run off with a new leader (Book 1 covers this, I promise). She’s not above sending assassins out for any wayward kitties that she may want back, and this provides a nice subplot (not to mention some pretty nifty fighting scenes.) Lyra is stubborn, smart-mouthed, and strong of will, but there’s something about Jaden that she just can’t resist (this won’t be hard for you to believe, trust me), but it’s kind of like that line in Ghostbusters, remember? Something about dogs and cats living together? In the world of the weres, it’s Just. Not. Done. Vampires aren’t so picky about it, but if Jaden and Lyra’s relationship is revealed, she pretty much might as well sign her own banishment papers. Kendra Leigh Castle creates a fascinating world populated by some of the coolest cats (literally), the toughest weres, and the wiliest vamps that I’ve read about in a long time. She keeps the pace up, and you’ll keep wanting to read “one more chapter.” I mean, come on…shape shifting vamps? Yes, please!! Like I said, I started with this one first, and the author does a great job of bringing you up to speed on the events so far, but it never hurts to start with Dark Awakening. I finished this one, and immediately reached for it-that’s how much I wanted to dive back into Kendra Leigh Castle’s awesome world. Paranormal romance fans will love this, but urban fantasy fans will like it too, I think, since it has enormous crossover appeal (in my opinion). Snag a copy as soon as you can, seriously, and grab Dark Awakening while you’re at it!
Abby Sinclair has her hands full. She’s taking care of Moira’s half angel/half faerie son Benjamin while Moira is off on the Queen’s business, her bodyguard Talivar (also Moira’s brother) is showing more than a passing interest in doing a little more than just guarding Abby’s body, she’s becoming more and more proficient in the Dreaming, while also fielding “Dear Abby” letters from the OtherFolk of Portsmyth. See, Abby is Moira’s TouchStone, which gives Moira the ability to stay in the mortal world without limitations and travel the CrossRoads of Faerie at will. Abby is also a KeyStone, which means that she can be TouchStoned to someone without a contract, just by physical contact. Abby’s also still reeling a bit from her breakup with Brystion (incubus and full on hottie.) Full plate! Things start getting really weird when a kidnap attempt is made on Benjamin by a woman claiming to be the new Protectorate of Portsmyth. That’s a big problem, since the current Protectorate is Moira. So, where exactly is Moira?
Unfortunately, that’s not all that’s gone wrong. The Queen is not acting like herself, and some pretty severe steps have been taken, which are taking their toll on Faerie, and war may be brewing between daemons and faeries. I really enjoyed A Brush of Darkness, but Allison Pang really brings the awesome with this one. Still have questions about Abby’s past ( I know I did)? Don’t worry, lots of those will be answered here, and then some. Were you hoping for a sweeter love story for Abby, as well? Talivar certainly fits that bill. I could go on a bit about Talivar…but I digress. I mean, Ion was hot, but fickle, and sometimes a bit of a jerk, but what do you expect from an incubus? If you love Faerie, again, you’ve come to the right place. The author’s world building is nothing short of excellent. Seriously, it was good in the first book, but it’s awesome in this one. Abby will not only have to navigate her new and delicate relationship with Talivar, but she’ll also have to do it while navigating the labyrinthine intrigues of Faerie, including a rather memorable trip through the outskirts of Faerie and some sticky negotiation with the Unseelie. Court intrigue abounds, and the author is expert at weaving in some pretty cool pop culture references while tying together multiple plot strings with some pretty intricate knots. I mean, she references Portal…how cool is that?
Abby is one of my favorite characters in urban fantasy right now, and her supporting cast is almost as awesome. Phin, your favorite wee, ass-biting, panty wallowing unicorn is back in all his glory, and shockingly enough, you get to see a more serious side of that rude little guy in this one. It’s kind of…disconcerting, yet also very cool. Allison Pang actually takes the time to really flesh out her minor characters and you find yourself caring about them almost as much as her major players. How she does it, I don’t know, but she’s captured magic in a bottle twice, and I’m also counting on the third time being a charm. Trust me, at the end of this one, your jaw will drop and you’ll begin the countdown for the next book. Very, very highly recommended!
Knight’s Curse begins when Chalice is just a young girl, living with Maronite monks in a Lebanese villages. Orphaned, this is the only family Chalice has ever really known, and not only have they raised her, but they’ve also taught her some rather unusual skills. When a man thought to be her father comes to claim her, Chalice knows something is wrong, but is forced to go along with this menacing stranger. She is taken to live with the Vyantara, a group of magic users who use Chalice, and others, to steal cursed and magical objects for their own nefarious means. Chalice has become a skilled thief, but she’s got a secret that tethers her to her kidnapper, Heinrich, and the Vyantara, and she’s desperate to be free.
Knight’s Curse was not what I expected! I expected pretty run of the mill urban fantasy, but the characters and world that Ms. Duvall has created really are rather unique and refreshing. The curse in the title refers to Chalice’s binding to a gargoyle (foisted upon her by Heinrich, to keep her under control). They must maintain close contact or Chalice will actually turn into a gargoyle herself. It’s not a pleasant situation, especially since her particular gargoyle was once a human, who also happened to be a psychopath. Aydin, the handsome sorcerer that is also a member of the Vyantara (but on her side), is also bound to a gargoyle, but theirs is a very different relationship. Knight’s Curse is told from Chalice’s point of view and is very much a tale not only of magic, but of self-discovery. She discovers that she is descended from an ancient order of female Knights (the Hatchet Knights), and may be destined for greater things. First she has to escape her curse and her evil captor. This was such a fun book, and Chalice and Aydin’s love story added a certain sweetness. Loved the magic and otherworldly creatures in this one and can’t wait to explore Chalice and Aydin’s romance and adventures further in the next book, Darkest Knight!