Archive | September, 2010

Review: Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan

30 Sep

Favorite Lines: “She stood over them in the now-pouring rain, blood oozing down her thighs, her hands fisted at her sides, and ground her emotions into them like putting out a cigarette in someone’s arm. She made them feel the fear and pain of every woman they raped and killed, imagining their last thoughts.”  (p. 22)

Able to manipulate people’s emotions, Miranda Grey has become somewhat of a recluse as her ability grew faster than her brain’s ability to process it. Her desire to keep a roof over her head forces out of her small apartment to Mel’s Bar twice a week where she performs in front of an audience.

After one of her late night performances, Miranda is brutally assaulted on her way home and her reaction to the assault leaves her attackers dead. Fortunately for her head vampire David Solomon arrives and cleans up her mess. He is determined to teach her everything she needs to know in order to manage her supernatural gifts because he knows she is one small step away from going mad.

Queen of Shadow by Dianne Sylvan is a book which combines the best of urban fantasy and romance. Sylvan clearly divides the book in two sections: “Pomegranate Seeds” (urban fantasy) and “The River Styx” (romance). With those divisions, it was easy to see the first half of the book would focus on Miranda reaching her lowest point, as well as her introduction to the shadow world, and that the second half would be where she was reborn. (Learn about pomegranate seeds or the River Styx by researching Greek and Roman mythology.) 

Vampires live in the shadows of the world, but David Solomon is the prime, or leader of those living in the urban setting of Austin, Texas. An internal battle taking place in the vampire community which means Miranda is not going to a “happy vampire haven.” There are vampires who feel they have the right to kill humans despite the fact that David banned it. This means that Miranda is exchanging one deadly world for another. 

Queen of Shadows is a book which follows a down trodden woman on a journey of rediscovery. A woman who learns to pull herself out of a filthy alley while creating a better life for herself. This journey would not have been possible without a man, but there are periods in this book where Sylvan pulls him away from Miranda to prove a point. Women do not need a man to save them; in the end every woman must want to save herself. She needs to be comfortable with herself or do everything in her power to become comfortable with herself regardless of her surroundings.

I thoroughly enjoyed book one in Sylvan’s Shadow World series. I don’t know when the next book in the series will be out, but it will be an instant buy for me.

Want to know what other bloggers think? Visit:

Dear Author
Smexy Books
Lurve ala Mode

I ♥ Covers: Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill

28 Sep

I ♥ covers is back with Chloe Neill‘s Hard Bitten, book 4 of her Chicagoland Vampire series which will be released in May 2011.

It features the traditional urban fantasy heroine in skintight leather standing above her city. I would have liked the cover better had Merit (the heroine) been checking out the city instead of watching her back, but I guess if I were a vampire I’d always be wondering who was sneaking up to do me.

Pics of Surprise Packages

28 Sep

So here ya go. All the crazy surprise packages in honor of Scooper Speaks fourth anniversary. I hope to have many more giveaways this year, better content and tons of fun talking to y’all. Congrats again winners!

Stacy, aka Scooper

Winners! I’ve Got Winners

27 Sep

The giveaway has closed and I’ve used Random.org to select four winners of my Facebook and a Giveaway contest. Drumroll, please!

Shelley L. Johnson
Michael Irelan
Danielle Corbisier Waldo
Hoa Le

I’ve got one more surprise…I’m picking an extra winner to kick of my fifth year blogging.

Brandy Byrne

I’ll take photos of the surprise packages later today, so stop back to see what you’ve won. I’ll also instant message all the winners on FB. Congrats winners!

Review: The Sweet Scent of Blood by Suzanne McLeod

26 Sep

Favorite Line: ‘How’d it go with the horny bastard then?’ (p.68) Read a chapter at the author’s website.

Genevieve Taylor is the only sidhe living in London. She’s also a member of Spellcrackers.com, a witch owned business which solves magical problems by neutralizing them. However, living under the protection of witches comes with a price: no contact with vampires. Not really a big deal when you don’t want to deal with the blood sucking undead, but a huge problem when Genny is roped into helping prove a vampire didn’t kill his girlfriend.

Suzanne McLeod has a wonderful imagination as most people who have read her Spellcrackers.com series will verify. She brings new life to vampires, fae, sidhe, goblins and trolls; she makes magic. . .well, magical. I discovered this when I read her introductory book, The Sweet Scent of Blood, which proves not all urban fantasy novels are equal.

Not unlike other series (think Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series), vampires are ruled by different houses all of which seem to have a secret agenda. Vampires are sneaky, so what they want and when they will let the rest of us know could happen at any point in time. McLeod does introduce the idea of vampire venom being similar to crack. Basically at the same time a vampire sucks blood, it is injecting an addictive venom into its victim’s blood. The venom, V1, increases red blood cell production and kills off disease. It also makes a person reliant on being bitten.

But what truly makes this urban fantasy stand out are the descriptive introductions of  paranormal creatures and the world in which all the creatures cohabitate. With descriptions like “muscle bound child”… with a “liver spotted face,” McLeod ensures her readers have  clear picture of the paranormal city of London.

Despite the great world building and quick pace, I had one issue with the story. I kept feeling like I was missing something. Kind of like a ghost hovering out of eyesight, the niggling feeling that I wasn’t getting an important part of the storyline about drove me crazy. In the end, I think McLeod did this on purpose to interest her readers in the next Spellcrackers.com book where several story lines will need to be addressed.

If you are a rabid reader like I am, you might find the setting to be a convenient part of The Sweet Scent of Blood; I did. Simply because the books are originally released in the UK before being exported to North America. What does this mean? Well you can purchase The Sweet Scent of Blood at Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon, but you can’t get book 2, The Cold Scent of Death in North America until May 2011, and book 3, The Bitter Seed of Magic until May 2012. Which is why I bought book 2 from The Book Depository and will pick up book 3 in November 2010 from there as well. (Can you say free international shipping? You can buy a book for $2 and get it shipped to you for free.)

If you buy the UK version keep in mind word spellings will be different.

Read other reviews at:

The SF Site
Dear Author
My Favourite Books

And check out Marta’s interview with Suzanne at Vampire Wire.

I ♥ Covers: Whedonistas

23 Sep

Welcome to the first episode of I ♥ Covers. Today I bring you Whedonistas. Awesome comic book exterior which will house a collection of essays written  by a ton of strong female UF and fantasy writers like: Sharon Shinn, Jeanne Stein, Seanan McGuire, Elizabeth Bear, Cathryynne M. Valente, Maria Lima, Jackie Kessler, and Sarah Monette.

I love that there is a woman of color on the cover holding a stake and the “wanted” like poster of Joss Whedon. It is the best looking book of essays I have ever seen. I can’t wait to get my hands on this sucka. The Barnes & Noble website says it will be released in March 2011.

Review: Shadow Chase by Seressia Glass

21 Sep

Favorite Line: A psychic vampire and a …whatever Yesara was, which was probably something close to a “peace angel,” a being with the ability to filter out unpleasant thoughts and emotions, usually as a person slept. (p. 57)

Kira Solomon is a Shadowchaser, a being who protects the world from the dark. She is also the Hand of Ma’at, the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Order. She is not a “regular” Shadowchaser though. When she touches an item she is able to see its history. But she can touch the Nubian warrior Khefar without seeing anything.

Khefar has lived for thousands of years attempting to make up for the many people he killed. With the help of a demigod he has lived only to serve the goddess Isis. One of the lives he needs to save to help balance the scale is Kira’s. Kira who makes him feel human emotions again.

Kira is still unsettled by the knowledge of the shadows living in her when her mother, the head of the Shadowchaser organization, asks her to investigate the case of a missing Shadowchaser in London. With Khefar by her side, Kira begins a hunt which will end with a dead colleague or one who will never patrol the streets again.

Shadow Chase is book two in the Kira Solomon series. Book one, Shadow Blade, introduced Kira and Khefar, the demigod Nansee, and Kira’s friends Wynne and Zoo. Everyone makes an appearance in this installment, but for the most part Shadow Chase focuses on Kira and Khefar in an attempt to begin the healing process on the damaged main characters and clean up the fallout from the first book.

Shadow Chase is a book which combines urban fantasy with Egyptian lore. Glass brings to life ancient gods and goddesses along with their ancient battles to be number one.

The theme of Shadow Chase is “there must be balance in life.” It is touched upon with the main characters seeking to do good deeds to make up for the past wrongs they committed. Toward the end of the book the theme becomes more than obvious as Glass begins to beat her readers over the head with it. When you read the book you will understand, but to avoid spoilers I’ll leave it alone.

Overall: I was a little bored with the story; I didn’t like visiting Egypt with the characters. Yeah, I still like Khefar, but Kira’s incessant attitude worked my last nerve. The ending is filled with foreshadowing an event to come in the series, so I’m interested in reading the next installment. I don’t see myself reading this book again.

Books I Want Releasing October 2010

20 Sep

I know it’s a little early, but I’ve been thinking about books releasing next month which I’ve got to have. Books I’ve jotted down in my planner because I refuse to put notes in my phone. Of course the majority of my books are fantasy or paranormal romances, but I’m not opposed to a few good romantic suspense stories. If you have suggestions for my list let me know.

Harvest Moon by Cameron Haley: Really, it’s an anthology which includes stories written by Michelle Sagara, Mercedes Lackey and Cameron Haley.

A Tangled Web by New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey

Kidnapping Persephone should have been an easy task. But in the Five Hundred Kingdoms, nothing’s ever simple—and the wrong blonde goddess is stolen by mistake, leaving Prince Leopold without his new bride. At least until he braves the realm of the dead to get her back….

Cast in Moonlight by New York Times bestselling author Michelle Sagara

Barely a teenager, Kaylin Neya is a thief, a fugitive and an attempted assassin. She also has a smart mouth, sharp wits and mysterious markings on her skin. All of which make her perfect bait for a child prostitution sting in the city of Elantra—if she survives her first meeting with the Hawks!

Retribution by Cameron Haley

In the underworld, there are tricks to killing. Like executing rivals at crossroads so ghosts won’t follow you home. But sometimes retribution is hard to avoid—and now a supernatural hit man has a contract on Domino Riley’s life. Luckily she knows a thing or two about death….

Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

Not even death can save her now.

As a grave witch, Alex Craft can speak to the dead-she’s even on good terms with Death himself. As a consultant for the police, she’s seen a lot of dark magic, but nothing has prepared her for her latest case. When she’s raising a “shade” involved in a high profile murder, it attacks her, and then someone makes an attempt on her life. Someone really doesn’t want her to know what the dead have to say, and she’ll have to work with mysterious homicide detective Falin Andrews to figure out why…

Geist by Philippa Ballantine

Sorcha, powerful protector of the Empire against malevolent hauntings, is called to a small settlement. But more is occurring there than “geist” activity. It’s a conspiracy of evil that reaches back to her own Abbey. Even if she survives, what hell would she be returning to?

Styx’s Storm by Lora Leigh

To save innocent, young Storme Montague from the claws of Breed slave traders, Wolf Breed Styx is forced to claim her himself-on the condition that Storme will no longer be a virgin by night’s end. And though Storme’s defenses are up, Styx will free her-in ways she never expects.

Ecstasy in Darkness by Gena Showalter

Growing up poor on New Chicago’s meanest streets, Ava Sans had two options: be the predator or be the prey. No contest. Now, working for Alien Investigation and Removal, she’s been ordered to capture the biggest, baddest warrior of all—a vampire too beautiful to be real, with the ability to manipulate time. Once the leader of the entire vampire army, McKell has been deemed savage and unstable, spurned even by his own kind. To McKell, humans should be nothing more than sustenance. Yet the petite, golden-skinned Ava is a fascinating contradiction—vicious yet witty, strong yet vulnerable, lethal but fiercely loyal. Against his better judgment, McKell craves that loyalty, and much more. When the chase leads to seduction, McKell and Ava will race to discover the truth about his past. But the answers will come at a price, even for a woman who thought she had nothing left to lose.

Eternal Hunter: Mark of the Vampire by Laura Wright

A dark and sexy debut paranormal romance

In the dark, fear and desire are one…

Alexander Roman wants nothing to do with those of his vampire breed. Fate places him at the door of Dr. Sara Donohue, who is dedicated to removing patients’ traumatic memories. But as their world’s collide, Sara and Alexander are bound by something even stronger as one becomes hunter and the other, prey. And Sara’s only chance of survival is to surrender to the final-and most unimaginable-desire of her life.

Blood Heat by Maria Lima

The summer heat wave that’s hit Rio Seco, Texas, has even the vampires complaining, but now that Keira–the Kelly Heir–is home from Vancouver, the weather isn’t the only thing too hot to handle. Keira should be setting up her court and planning the big reception at which she and her consort, vampire ruler Adam Walker, will receive the magical leaders from the local area, but pomp and circumstance just aren’t Keira’s thing, especially not with trouble smoldering in her domain.

A werewolf couple has mysteriously gone missing from a local pack, and when Keira is asked by their leader to investigate, she finds that some dissatisfied neighbors may have been taking, well, strong action against the wer community–action that could be repeated and could involve Keira and those she loves. With the reception looming and danger fast blazing out of control, the pressure is on Keira to keep Texas safe for supernaturals. Sometimes, it’s just not that great to be Heir….

Shotgun Sorceress by Lucy Snyder

BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE

For Jessie Shimmer, everything changed when she went to hell and back to save her lover, Cooper Marron. After tangling with supernatural forces and killing an untouchable spirit lord, Jessie finds herself gifted—or perhaps cursed—with dark powers. And when she and Cooper make love, her pleasure throes light the whole house on fire. What is a sorceress to do?

Jessie is about to find out. The circumstances of her birth, the mystery of a father she never knew, and the help of a cuddly ferret turned fearsome monster have made Jessie not just an outlaw from mundane society, but an accidental revolutionary in the magic realm. Encountering portals stitched into thin air and a fiercely sexy soul harvester, Jessie rushes headlong among enemies, horrors, wonders, and lovers into a place of self-discovery—or destruction.

Review: Fatal Circle by Linda Robertson

18 Sep

Favorite lines: “”He embodies things you fear, things you envy, and things you cannot comprehend, but he is not a liar.” Before Johnny could protest, she raised her hand and added, “Oh, you can argue he twists facts to suit himself, but what he truly does is so much more than that. He can instantly take all the information he’s acquired and accurately discern which words–and in what order–will produce the best advantage for his purposes.”” (p. 28)

Persephone Alcmedi is a witch and the Lustrata. The prophesies say she will be the one to bring together the vampires and the werewolves, but she will settle with being able to survive. The fairies are demanding the vampire Menessos, to whom she is bonded, be turned over so he can be killed after he saved Persephone’s life. If Seph’s bond becomes known, the witches could strip her ability to use magic.

Seph will need to play a deadly game to keep Menessos alive. Only with the help of reluctant waerewolves will there be a chance of surviving the threat posed by the fairies. Because the fairies won’t stop with just his death.

Fatal Circle is book three in Linda Robertson’s Circle series. It is not a stand alone, so read Vicious Circle and Hallowed Circle before you attempt this one.

There are several story lines going on in Fatal Circle, but honestly, the one I care about is the one between Menessos and Seph. They were bonded in book one, but it isn’t until Fatal Circle that their relationship is poked with a stick explored.

If you’ve been reading the series you know there is, for lack of better words, a love triangle going on between a witch, vampire and waerewolf. The history of the vampire and waerewolf is all brought to light in Fatal Circle. In a way, it’s a stepping stone book. You can’t move forward in the series without the information Robertson gives in this book. It is more than just background information on the male characters; it’s possibly fatal information about the Lustrata.

The Lustrata’s ability to make changes resides in her ability to perform magic. But because some witches don’t believe in or want the Lustrata to succeed, there’s a chance they could strip Seph of her magic. Thankfully, she has the blessing of her mentor.

In Fatal Circle, Seph will be forced to make several  major changes in her life. Changes which will affect both her home life and the way the world perceives her.

Robertson will have you crying and your blood racing as you ride the roller coaster with Persephone. Her urban fantasy novel is filled with vampires, waerewolves, fairies, and witches and the possibility of an epic battle which will either protect Earth or be the end of the world as they know it.

Offensive or True: Male writers are better than women?

16 Sep

Wow, I just finished reading a post at the Huffington Post’s site and had to scratch my head in wonderment because I don’t understand why women feel the need to knock other women down. The article is filled with wide sweeping comments aimed at a complete group of writers and their work. I think what bothered me most was when its author Koa Beck wrote, “Commercial books do not deserve serious critique because, generally, the writing does not merit it.”

I want to know what type of “commercial books” Beck read to form her opinion. Sure, there are books which don’t deserve “serious critique.” Occasionally I’ll get irritated enough to write about all the reasons a book is an epic fail. However, I would never generalize an entire writing genre or community because of one or two bad books.

According to Beck, “The recognized style of commercial books is cheaper, less authentic, more formulaic, and more predictable, known for comfortable endings and neatly packaged characters that function more as cartoons than representations of actual people. When it comes down to fiction writing — solid, genuine fiction writing — that attempts to push boundaries and say something unique about our nature or the way we live, commercial lit doesn’t have that kind of reach.”

Do you agree or disagree? Why? What book do you think proves her comment to be ignorant or true? I’d especially like to hear from authors.

Edited to add: The title stems from the section of Beck’s article which states “With the exception of a few female literary giants who are regulars in The New Yorker and the New York Times, it seems that even when a big publication does take note of a compelling female voice, she isn’t nearly as strong a writer as her male colleagues.”