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Review: Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady

1 Aug

Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady
Kensington (Aug. 7, 2012)
Mass Market: $6.99; ebook: $5.99
ISBN: 9781420124569

Favorite Lines: “I will carry you when you grow weary…I will warm you when you are cold…I will shelter you when you seek refuge…I pledge my body to your protection, my soul to your happiness,  and my heart to your keeping.” (p. 327, ARC)

Nurse Kayla Friday has dedicated her life to science and reason. But for her, Seattle is a place of eerie loss and fragmented, frightening memories. And now the only clue to her sister’s murder reveals a secret battle between two ancient mythologies…and puts Kayla in the sights of lethally-sexy werewolf mercenary Hart. He’ll do whatever it takes to obtain the key to the Gate of the Land of the Dead and free what’s left of his soul. But seducing the determined Kayla is putting them at the mercy of powerful desires neither can control. And as the clock ticks down to hellish catastrophe, the untested bond between Kayla and Hart may lead to the ultimate sacrifice.

Book one in Kira Brady‘s romantic Deadglass trilogy, Hearts of Darkness, is a new take on the paranormal world. In Brady’s world there are dragon shifters (Drekar) who lack souls and feed on humanity and shapeshifters (Kivati) on the verge of extinction who are battling the dragons. The shifters are also supposed to protect humanity, but that’s not high on their priority list.

Hearts of Darkness combines Babylonian, Native American and Norse mythology to create a world on the verge of destruction. Though set in the present day, the world has a steampunk feel due to the monocles, steam engines and clothing worn by the Kivati. There is a crack in Seattle’s Gate to the Land of the Dead. Damned ghosts and evil wraiths slip through the crack into Seattle longing to touch and feel again. Those spirits are capable of possessing humans, turning them into walking zombie-like creatures.

The paranormal aspects of life in the corrupt city of Seattle remains unknown to most of humanity, but Kayla is not allowed to keep her head in the sand. She want to find her sister’s killer and her very human attempt at compassion has placed her in debt to the Kivati. She is given three days to find an item her sister hid or face the consequences of not upholding her side of an agreement with the Kivati. She’s not what I consider a kick ass heroine, but an everyday woman thrown into a “crazy” situation. Kayla is pretty naive for being the woman who always cleaned up after her little sister. She takes things at face value, never looking below the surface which kept placing her in danger.Especially when it comes to the book’s hero, a Kivati man named Hart.

Hated by his fellow Kivati, Hart is enslaved to the leader of the Drekar. He is filled with self-loath and has little choice in many of the actions he is forced to take. He clings to threads of honor, unwilling to become completely warped by the evil he has been associated with for over 15 years. Hart wants to be a better man, however until his debt is paid off, he can do nothing but follow orders.

Hearts of Darkness is filled with suspense and action. I never became enamored with the romance thread though. I know Kayla and Hart were attracted to one another, but I didn’t see the appeal for more than a sexual relationship. It’s a book in which a man can earn redemption and love can be found and recognized in the darkest of situations. I enjoyed both the suspense and the happy ever after ending despite my ambivalent thoughts on the romance. I will be reading the next book, Hearts of Shadows, because its main characters (Grace and Leif) really interest me.

Movie: ParaNorman; You Know You Wanna See It Too!

13 Jul

Coming Soon: Black Lament by Christina Henry

6 Jun

I can’t wait for book four in Christina Henry‘s Black Wings series. It’s available for pre-order at Amazon and will be released in October 2012.

Review: Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane

12 May

Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane
Random House/Del Rey (March 27, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780345527509
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “I chose you,” she managed, choking out the words in a strangled, warbly sounding whisper. “I chose you, I chose you all but I chose you, I love you soo much and I chose you–” (p.300, e-galley)

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss-who also happens to be her drug dealer-to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity:Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead-and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks. 

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.

Sacrificial Magic is hands down my favorite book in Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghost series. It hits so many emotional buttons while managing to keep the action flowing that I couldn’t put it down. Once again Chess is battling her inner demons and questioning her worth when she is dragged into what may be the beginning of a possible gang war. On one side is her lover, the other side a former lover.

There are so many layers to Sacrificial Magic. A deep look into Chess and Terrible’s (one of my favorite urban fantasy men) relationship is taken. We get to see some of Chess’s childhood where an understanding into her inability to trust can be gleaned. New characters are introduced and the plot just continues to get deeper and darker.

Through moments where I wanted to smack Chess and pages where I cried and wiped snot on my sleeve, I fell further into Kane’s Downside world. It’s no place I’d ever want to visit in reality, but the pain and the hope of Chess possibly finding salvation hold me in thrall. There is more to the Downside world than a drugged out, damaged heroine.

Each book revolves around some type of mystery that Chess needs to solve. Sacrificial Magic is no different. In it, mysteries set in different sections of Chess’s world become entangled threatening to expose some of her secrets. For example, she needs to debunk a haunted school set in her ex-lover’s gang territory, solve a murder in her current lover’s gang territory and discover what befell a former Church debunker.

I do not recommend readers beginning the series with this book. This series is progressive. Each books builds upon the events of previous books and I can’t wait to get my hands on Chasing Magic (book 5) which is due to be released in June 2012.

Review: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

8 May

The Prophet by Amanda Stevens
Harlequin/MIRA (April 24, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780778313397

Favorite Lines: “But I could already feel the exchange of energy, the stealthy siphon of my warmth as Devlin unwittingly replenished his life force with mine. One of the ironies of falling for a haunted man. My haven protected me from his ghosts, but hallowed ground couldn’t shield me from him.” (p. 230, e-galley)

My name is Amelia Gray.

I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I’ve broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.

In order to protect myself, I’ve vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.Now I’m faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.

The Prophet is book three in Amanda Stevens’ Graveyard Queen series and so far is scheduled to be followed by an additional three books. It returns the reader to the creepy world introduced in book one, The Restorer.

The ghosts in Stevens’ world are leech like. They feed on human energy and only some people can see them. The heroine, Amelia, was taught to ignore ghosts when she was a child, but began breaking the rules after meeting a detective named, Devlin. I never understood Amelia’s interest in the detective, but it’s back in full force in The Prophet.

I’ve got to tell y’all that The Prophet is my least favorite book of the series primarily due to Amelia’s interest in Devlin. I don’t like her unhealthy obsession with Devlin and really don’t get her lack of self-preservation. She seems to have a death wish and it interfered with my ability to enjoy The Prophet. I think Michele at GoodReads put it pretty good when she said, “Amelia’s grating personality, her annoying, repetitive inner dialogues, and her inactions when it mattered.”

Despite my irritation with the Devlin/Amelia relationship story line I found myself enjoying parts of the book. Never enough to make this a book I’d read again, but I wanted answers and I got some. Mysteries surrounding Devlin’s deceased wife and child and semi-solved, places visited in book one were re-visited and a “power” was discovered. There is definite fallout from the events of The Prophet to come in future books. I’m just not interested enough to read them.

Stacia & Stacey Giveaway Hop

20 Mar

The winner is…laura588!

When Cat at Addicted 2 Heroines asked me if I wanted to participate in the Stacia & Stacey Giveaway Hop I had to say yes. Not just because my name is Stacy, but because both of the women are authors I read and enjoy. You may be wondering what the two series have in common other than releasing at the same time. I can clear that up for you. While Stacia Kane‘s series is set in a world where ghosts are a menace and Stacey Jay‘s series is set in a world with violent faeries, both feature a heroine who has a problem with addiction.

The heroines, Chess and Annabelle, both manage to pull it together long enough to save humans (and themselves) from death, but they haven’t kicked their chemical addictions. One is dependent on alcohol, the other on pills. It’s more than a habit or stress reliever. It’s a necessary tool needed for each woman to function. Above the women hang the lingering question: is either character capable of living a sober life?

I’m not sure I’d recognize either woman without their addiction. The traumatized heroines are far from perfect and that’s part of what makes them such great characters. I’m able to feel morally superior while rooting for them both to love themselves and take better care of themselves throughout the series. Kane and Jay’s characters are more realistic and avoid easily being placed in a generic “cookie cutter” type mold.

Stacia and Stacey are both releasing new books on March 27. Stacia is releasing book four in her Downside series and Stacey is releasing book two in her Annabelle Lee series. To celebrate I’ve put together a Vice Gift Package to giveaway. In it the winner will find a bottle of Jim Beam wing sauce, a metal pill box and some mints. To enter simply leave a comment and tell me if you read either series. If so–what you think about the series’ heroine. The giveaway begins now and will run until 11:59 pm March 27 and is open to those with mailing addresses in the US or Canada. 

Stacia/Stacey Giveaway Hop:

1. Addicted2Heroines
2. Goldilox and the Three Weres
3. Miss Vain’s Paranormal Fantasy
4. Underworld Love Addiction
5. Vanesmate the Bookaholic
6. Gizmo’s Reviews
7. Yummy Men & Kick Ass Chicks
8. Pages of Forbidden Love
9. Claire’s Book Corner
10. The Book Nympho
11. RhiReading
12. Booking It With Hayley G
13. The Bookaholic Cat
14. Nocturne Romance Reads

Review: The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

19 Mar

The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens
Harlequin/MIRA (March 27, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780778312772
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Did I cross his mind now and then? Not that it mattered. He was a man haunted by his dead wife and daughter, and I was a woman who saw ghosts. For as long as he clung to his past–and his past clung to him–I could not be a part of his life.” (p. 8, egalley)

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town…My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I’ve been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I’m coming to think I have another purpose here.Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I’ve discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town—this withering kingdom—and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.

The Kingdom is Amanda Stevens follow-up book to the creepy book entitled The Restorer. Both are part of the Graveyard Queen trilogy. According to Stevens’ blog she has just sold another trilogy in the Graveyard Queen series to MIRA. It will follow the same heroine, Amelia.

The story picks up months after Amelia was almost murdered. She has resumed her life as a graveyard restorer and accepted a job in a small town called Asher Falls. Once there, she learns she is not alone in her ability to see ghosts and discovers her hidden past.

The book is not as creepy as The Restorer, but it is full of slow burning tension. Unlike the first book, it doesn’t take long to realize where the danger is coming from. I was okay with that because I knew there was something going on that would hit Amelia on a personal level–much deeper than a possible new romance with a man named Thane Asher.

While book one felt like cold breezes in a silent night, The Kingdom felt like the intro to a new horror movie. The horror is in the descriptions used to instill a sense of dread. There were no OMG bloody sections, but it was the mind games sort of horror. I’m not a fan of horror, but Stevens managed to suck me in and hold my attention. That said, I had a huge issue with the heroine.

I don’t remember Amelia being quite so angsty. And I most definitely don’t remember Devlin the way she did:

“I wasn’t over Devlin, might never be over him, and an attractive stranger could do nothing more than momentarily ease my intense longing.”–p.15

Yes, she was interested in Devlin, but she didn’t have much time with him and she knew going in that he was haunted and harmful to her continued existence. I don’t get why all of a sudden Amelia is so obsessed with him. Devlin is blatantly unhealthy for her and the new love interest isn’t any better. It feels out of character for a successful woman who has had to be on guard all her life to fall for dangerous men within moments of meeting them during a few months time. There was never any information about that being a habit of hers. You’d think she’d be more careful after the events of book one.

Overall, I liked the slow burning tension in The Kingdom. I was happy Amelia was away from Devlin and hoped she’d learned sometimes what you want isn’t good for you and you have no choice but to stay away. I’m not so sure she came to that realization. As Amelia’s family history unraveled it became clear that much more was going on than the reader was exposed to.  I’m looking forward to reading the conclusion of the trilogy, The Prophet.

Review: Blood Rock by Anthony Francis

12 Oct

Blood Rock by Anthony Francis
BelleBooks (July 2011)
Trade: $15.95; ebook: $12.95
ISBN: 9781611940138
Favorite Lines: “”I’m so sorry, Miss Frost,” Isaacson said. “I think your daughter has Tourette’s.”” (p. 143, egalley)

Book Two in the Skindancer series.

Dakota Frost is back, and the ink is about to hit the fan-again.

Graffiti comes to life in the dark heart of Atlanta’s oldest cemetery, slaying one of the city’s best loved vampires before the eyes of his friend Dakota Frost. Deadly magick is at work on the city’s walls, challenging even the amazing power of Dakota’s tattoos to contain it. The hungry, graffiti magick loves to kill, and the Edgeworld is no longer safe from its own kind.

Dakota begins a harrowing journey to save those she loves and to discover the truth behind the spreading graffiti-even if that truth offends the vampires, alienates the werekin and creates police suspicion of her every action.

Saving Atlanta may cost her everything, including custody of her “adopted” weretiger daughter, Cinnamon. But failure is not an option. If the graffiti isn’t stopped, Cinnamon could be the next victim.

The Skindancer urban fantasy series revolves around magical tattooist Dakota Frost. The marks she tattoos come to life. I recommend you read book one, Frost Moon, before attempting to read Blood Rock, the latest installment in the series.

The story picks up a few weeks after the events of Frost Moon. Dakota is trying to get her soon-to-be adopted daughter enrolled in school, but since the girl is obviously werekin, she is having trouble. One of the things I like about the series is how Francis makes it clear that family is much more than blood. In Blood Rock, Dakota’s family is Cinnamon. She would do anything for her and is forced to go to major extremes for her. That isn’t to say Dakota doesn’t have blood relatives. Her father makes an appearance–I didn’t like him.

Blood Rock is an action packed, non-stop book. I mean as soon as things start popping off, there is no break from the action. I hate to say it–but too much happens. So many things are crammed into the pages that I wanted the author to slow down and investigate a little bit. For example, Dakota’s love life is a hot mess. We all know she’s bisexual. However in this book, she’s kinda in relationships with two different men and her past relationship with the queen of the vampires is a minor secondary plot. But nothing is really explored in-depth. The author explains that Dakota never sees her boyfriend SPOILER, so they break up. END SPOILER I want to tell you more, but it would ruin the shock of your life.

I guess what I want you to know is that the story will RUN you from place to place until you’re exhausted. It’s fun. It’s intriguing. But it’s superficial. There is no time to  find the meaning in the events or to pick up on the foreshadowing. That is a minor complaint when compared to the concept of graffiti that eats people. Yep, I said it. Man eating graffiti. I could visualize it consuming vampires, which is positive. I like being able to see events in books take place. Francis gave that to me…in fast forward.

In the end, the book was okay. Had it been a little slower paced, I might have felt different because the book would have had meaning while being entertaining. The one time I found something to connect to emotionally, Francis ripped it away. While I read the book, I thought about how fast things happened, but it really didn’t bother me until later when I thought back on the story.

Book 1

Review: Grave Dance by Kalayna Price

11 Aug

Grave Dance by Kalayna Price
ROC (July 2011)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780451464095
Excerpt: Click here

Favorite Lines: “Then he kissed me, his lips taking possession of mine as if everything that hadn’t been said could be passed through our lips, tongues, breath.” (p. 370)

After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil, thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L”-word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge.

The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City. The strange part: There are no corpses–only fragments of them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure the only thing she finds is a dead end–her own.

Grave Dance is book two in Kalayna Price’s Alex Craft series. The first book, Grave Witch, introduced us to Alex, her world and her family. Grave Dance picks up a month after Alex almost died. Of course, things are never simple with Alex so expect tons of drama, confusion and complexity.

The Alex in Grave Dance has matured but is dealing with the effects of being part fae. She can’t handle being around iron and is hiding her true nature from those around her. Well, she’s trying to hide her nature. This book places Alex’s friends in danger, teaches Alex what she is capable of and explores possibilities surrounding Death and Falin. Yep, there is a love triangle in full effect. (Still not lovin’ Falin. I’m all for Death.)

I know a hell of a lot more than I did when I picked up the book. By the end of the story, I was satisfied with the knowledge that nothing had been resolved. I don’t know what to think about Death, Falin or Alex’s dad. Fairy is a political battlefield. And being Alex kinda sucks. She is surrounded by drama…and love. I’m more intrigued than ever with the series and am looking forward to the next book.

Fiction Vixen
Mystifying Paranormal Reviews
Ruby’s Reads
Reflections of Reading Romance

Review: South of Salem by Janni Nell

25 May

South of Salem by Janni Nell
Carina Press (May 30, 2011)
e-book: $4.99 (66,000 words)
ISBN: 9781426891670

Favorite Lines: “”The Sir Galahad Award for Honorable Treatment of Women.”

I didn’t ask whether he was serious. I could tell by his expression that he was. Curious, I asked, “Who are the other nominees?”

“Henry the Eighth, Caligula and Jack the Ripper.”” (p. 108) Continue reading