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Books I Want: December 2012

1 Dec

The Cat’s Meow by Stacey Kennedy (TBA December)

thecatsmeowkennedyIn Charleston, Libby is an Enchantress—a witch gifted by the Goddess to conjure spells. When a magical presence is detected around a recent string of feline slayings, Libby must take the case to discover the reasons behind the odd deaths. Much to her displeasure, the coven has also sent the sexy warlock, Kale, to assist her.

While having the muscle around proves to be useful, fighting the
attraction between them is worse than a hex, especially considering Kale is keeping secrets. Libby has good reason to believe that Kale is there to evaluate her performance as a witch, and fears her job is on the line. But soon, Libby has bigger problems than the elusive warlock and career stability. Her spells are turning up clues that point to something far more sinister than slaughtered cats, leading her to a threat that could shake the very foundation of her world.

Now Libby lands herself in the midst of an uprising. She trusts no one and isn’t safe. Not from the warlocks stirring up trouble. Not from the worrisome rebellion she can’t escape. And certainly not from Kale who is weaving a very dangerous spell over her. Continue reading

Review: The Guardian of Bastet by Jacqueline M. Battisti

22 Aug

The Guardian of Bastet by Jacqueline M. Battisti
Carina Press (August 20, 2012)
ebook: $5.99
ISBN: 9781426894244
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Once again pondering the quirks of fate, I began thinking about not just being a witch, but being a shifter. I realized although it sometimes bothered me I didn’t turn into a full puma like my dad, I had to admit being a housecat didn’t totally suck and I should probably find some kind of appreciation for it. It was a mandatory transformation on a full moon, but I could also change at will.

Other than the whole litter box thing, it could actually be kind of cool at times. I could run around like crazy–doing mad dashes around the house, and then when I got tired, I could just find a nice warm sunny spot and curl up to sleep. There were plenty of toys to play with around my house and Bronwyn was a pretty cool companion. We played chase, we wrestled and bitch-slapped each other, we knocked mice around and did I mention the catnip? It was legal too! Damn that was good stuff.” (p. 37, e-galley)

Cat-shifter Trinity Morrigan-Caine has discovered a demon is killing supernaturals. Magically challenged, she has every intention of letting handsome Alpha werewolf Gordon Barnes handle it. But after a dying vampire gifts Trinity a mystical amulet, she is drawn into the fray as the legendary Guardian of Bastet, a warrior born when the need arises.

Though Trinity initially rejects the role, she warms to the idea when Gordon agrees to train her—and their passion for each other grows as he teaches her to embrace her animal instincts.

As she begins to accept her destiny and believe in her growing powers, Trinity realizes the danger is even closer to home than she ever imagined—and she and Gordon are going to have to face the demon in a fight to the death…

The Guardian of Bastetfollows a woman as she grows in power, faces unexpected betrayal and learns how much she can trust all who surround her. Trinity, the heroine, also matures over the course of the story. She is introduced as a flaky young veterinarian who possesses a hippie like “love and live” attitude. By the final page turn Trinity is a woman who has seen enough to know evil exists and that she must protect those around her from that darkness. The diverse paranormal world began to darken as events unfolded and that sucked me in like a black hole.

I’ll be honest. The first quarter of The Guardian of Bastet irritated the crap out of me. I didn’t like Trinity and thought the tone of the story was silly. It was also predictable. Then things started getting murky and different characteristics of the people in Jacqueline M. Battisti‘s world began showing. Trinity’s mother isn’t so motherly. Her father is more nurturing than the average literary father especially when you consider the fact that he is an alpha shifter. The characters didn’t react in expected ways either. What I mean is that when I thought characters would fight–they accepted. When I thought they would be helpful, well they’d end up doing something which showed they couldn’t be trusted. I’m not saying the story was staggering in its newness. I’m saying I had a good time reading it.

While The Guardian of Bastet has a clear romance thread, it feels more like an urban fantasy than a paranormal romance. I say this because in urban fantasies it isn’t unusual to have heroines who have sex with more than the hero unlike romance novels. I know I’m not the only reader who dislikes heroes (or heroines) who sleep around in my romance books. For some reason I’m willing to give urban fantasy characters a little slack when it comes to their sexual desires. In Battisti’s book, the heroine has a sexual encounter with someone who is clearly never going to be more than a one night stand. For me that kicked The Guardian of Bastet into urban fantasy territory.

I enjoyed the plot and chase of The Guardian of Bastet far more than I liked Trinity. I thought she was stupid. Maybe it’s because she never had true responsibility when she is introduced that she makes immature decisions.  She ignores so many obvious things that she deserves to die. She ignores information given to her by an obviously trust worthy source and puts herself into dangerous situations by being oblivious to reality. Despite all of Trinity’s character flaws, if another book in the series is released I’ll read it. Why? The Trinity who exists at the end of the story isn’t stupid. She accepts responsibility and owns up to some hard to say out loud facts. This Trinity, when paired with another interesting plot, will be a book I look forward to reading.

Review: Blade Song by J.C. Daniels

30 Jul

Blade Song by J.C. Daniels
Shiloh Walker, Inc. (Aug. 1, 2012)
ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9781617507779
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “It was odd, I decided. I had plenty of scars. Most of them unseen, though; scars on my heart that I’d carried for half of my life or longer.” (p. 247, e-galley)

Kit Colbana—half breed, assassin, thief, jack of all trades—has a new job: track down the missing ward of one of the local alpha shapeshifters. It should be a piece of cake.

So why is she so nervous? It probably has something to do with the insanity that happens when you deal with shifters—especially sexy ones who come bearing promises of easy jobs and easier money.

Or maybe it’s all the other missing kids that Kit discovers while working the case, or the way her gut keeps screaming she’s gotten in over her head. Or maybe it’s because if she fails—she’s dead.

If she can stay just one step ahead, she should be okay. Maybe she’ll even live long to collect her fee…

Need to know information: Blade Song is an urban fantasy ebook, not a paranormal romance. Don’t start reading it with the same expectations you have with romance.

Heroine: Abused as a child, her nightmares revolve around her family. Kit was trained as an assassin which means she has mad fighting skills. The reader meets her when she’s in her twenties and the owner of a private investigations business. She’s short on money and has a weakness for cases that involve children.

Men: Right off the bat it’s unclear who the hero will be. It could be a shapeshifter or a vampire. Both men are extremely masculine and alpha material. They are handsome men filled with immense power. I flip-flopped on who I wanted Kit to be with through the story until it became clear that there really was absolutely no love triangle. As I turned the final page of the book there was no confusion as to who the heroine would hook up with.

Villains: Bad people come in many forms in this story. There are the expected bad guys who are actively involved in the missing children story line. Then there is the unexpected bad guy. Wow. Daniels played me…and I liked it. How? Well, Daniels has two bat-shit crazy characters in Blade Song. One is female, the other is one of the possible heroes. I’m not telling who, but even knowing dude is scary crazy, I want more of him.

Violence: I like my violent urban fantasies and Blade Song is filled with it. The heroine gets her butt whooped, but never once did I think of her as a Sookie Stackhouse who couldn’t hold her own. Kit always managed to get quite a few licks in on whoever was harassing her at the moment. She also had friends in the right places. Friends who had her back.

In the end: Blade Song is a quick read. It’s one of those books you start reading and don’t want to stop until it’s finished. I did get a little annoyed with some of the repetition and hope the next book has a little less of it. The last thought I remember having as I turned the final page of the book was, “when does the next one come out.” I’ve read many books, but not all debut series instill that desire to watch characters grow. My main reason for wanting Night Blade is to follow the budding relationship Kit has with the hero. I expect it to be action packed, involve a good mystery and a little dose of smexiness.

Review: Sin’s Dark Caress by Tracey O’Hara

26 Jul

Sin’s Dark Caress by Tracey O’Hara
HarperCollins/AVON (July 31, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780061783159

Favorite Lines: “Bianca followed him back to the body and dropped to a squat. Dark blond hair was tacky with drying blood that pooled around the dead girl’s head, and her lower abdomen was just an empty cavity.” (p. 6, egalley)

An ancient darkness has risen from the ashes . . . and terror has been loosed upon an unsuspecting world.

Forensic witch Bianca Sin has never seen anything like it: homeless teenage girls torn to pieces by dark magic in the cold shadows of the city. More terrifying still is the symbol written in blood on an alley wall—the unmistakable seal of the Dark Brethren.

Teaming up with NYPD homicide detective Lancelot McManus and an elite task force headed by the shapeshifter Oberon DuPrie, Bianca knows her worst fears have finally come to pass. A new war of annihilation is looming that will plunge the worlds of vampire, shapeshifter, and human into chaos—and two adversarial tribes locked in uneasy truce will need to take up arms together to save the children. Trust will be essential for Sin and McManus, as the hunt forces them to confront their deepest terrors.

For the ultimate evil is no longer approaching.

It’s here.

Tracey O’Hara’s Dark Brethren series gets better with each book. I didn’t fall in love with book one, Night’s Cold Kiss. It was okay, but I didn’t really think about it after I read it. Book two, Death’s Sweet Embrace, felt like a totally different series. I read it quickly, connected with some parts of the story and was entertained by the mystery. Sin’s Dark Caress is even better because it brings something I love. It is dark. Not horror dark, but heavier than the average romance. Evil permeates its pages, but it never lets you forget you are reading a romance. You may want to read the first two books in the series before jumping into Sin’s Dark Caress.

Characters: Almost all the characters are intentionally or unintentionally hiding something. Some don’t know–on a molecular level–who they are. Others are transitioning. Change is not always good and there is plenty of change happening in book three of the Dark Brethren series.

We met vampires and animalians (shifters) in the first two books. In Sin’s Dark Caress we get to know witches and the fae. Other paranormals are still around, but the focus of the book is witches. We also get to see the birth of a battle between good and evil.

Sin’s Dark Caress feels like the start of a new chapter for the series. The first two books had things in common, but for the most part they brought up a “case,” solved it and ended with a couple finding love. At the end of book three, I feel like future books will consistently get darker as the characters attack a worse and worse evil. I also expect to learn more about a couple of mobsters that intrigued me in Sin’s Dark Caress.

Review: The Darkest Day by Britt Bury

28 Jun

The Darkest Day by Britt Bury
Grand Central Publishing/Forever Yours(June 28, 2012)
ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9781455523290

Favorite Lines: “I love you, Izel. You are the most precious thing ta me. Above all else, it’s you.” (p. 218, e-galley)

ALL-CONSUMING DESIRE . . .

Izel Campbell was raised to believe she is an immortal Fionn with the magical skills of persuasion. But when she travels to Scotland to visit her ancestral home, Izel discovers that she is actually the world’s last living human. Forced to run for her life, Izel crosses paths with Kelvin Kerr, the Campbells’ greatest foe-and the most magnificent warrior she has ever seen.

BURNS BRIGHTEST . . .

A thousand-year-old battle chief of the Kerr clan, Kelvin lives only to avenge his father, who died at the hands of the bloody Campbells. Honor demands he kill the Campbell heir, but when he learns that the lovely Izel is both Campbell and human, Kelvin is torn between duty and desire . . .

Debut author Britt Bury has created a new world in which no pure humans exist in her soon-to-be released paranormal romance story The Darkest Day. It has all the amenities of modern society, ie. cell phones and cars, but is manned by vampires, witches and shapeshifters to name only a few of the supernatural creatures. What sucked me into the world though was the Scottish pookah who spoke with a burr. That burr made me so happy. But it didn’t make me happy enough to ignore the dumb ass heroine.

Izel, the heroine, is not new to the supernatural world. She is new to the idea of being one of the extinct humans. This irritated me because she acted like she was ignorant of the supernatural. She kept putting herself in dangerous situations and acting out like a child. I’m understanding of some of it, hell, she felt no emotion for 25 years, but I’m not willing to overlook Izel’s reactions to her emotions. I wish I could give you examples, but I don’t want to give away anything and will let you find (or not find) those scenes.

What I liked:

  1. I liked the idea of pure humans not existing. A place where humans are the minority was exciting because so often I read about paranormals hiding or living in human society where humans are the majority.
  2. Getting a hero who was a pookah was a nice change from vampires (Don’t worry, I still love my vampire heroes).  The hero also knew how to apologize and admit wrongdoing.
  3. The sexual tension was great. It was instant, but slow burning. When Kelvin turned alpha on the prowl for sex, whew! Good stuff. He was about pleasuring her and not acting on his animal urges…for a while. 🙂
  4. The Scottish burr…

What I didn’t like:

  1. The TSTL heroine.
  2. The predictability of the story.

Overall opinion: I liked The Darkest Day. No, it’s not perfect but I had to have it after reading the blurb. It’s reasonably priced and book one in The Immortal Heat series. It’s a sensuous book that hints at the events to come in future books. I think the series will stay focused on romance while getting more violent. I’ll be reading the next book in the series.

Coming Soon: Blood Winter by Diana Pharaoh Francis

12 Jun

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: Coveted by Shawntelle Madison

24 May

Coveted by Shawntelle Madison
Random House/Ballantine Books (April 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780345529183
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “I had come to terms with the fact that hoarding had negative side effects. Buying ornament after ornament wasn’t normal behavior, but somehow part of me felt that it was right. As I gave the Home Shopping Network my credit Card number, I reveled in the delicious shiver within my belly when I knew my holiday cheer was on its way.” (p. 65, e-galley)

For werewolf Natalya Stravinsky, the supernatural is nothing extraordinary. What does seem strange is that she’s stuck in her hometown of South Toms River, New Jersey, the outcast of her pack, selling antiques to finicky magical creatures. Restless and recovering from her split with gorgeous ex-boyfriend, Thorn, Nat finds comfort in an unusual place: her obsessively collected stash of holiday trinkets. But complications pile up faster than her ornaments when Thorn returns home—and the two discover that the spark between them remains intense.
 
Before Nat can sort out their relationship, she must face a more immediate and dangerous problem. Her pack is under attack from the savage Long Island werewolves—and Nat is their first target in a turf war. Toss in a handsome wizard vying for her affection, a therapy group for the anxious and enchanted, and the South Toms River pack leader ready to throw her to the wolves, and it’s enough to give anybody a panic attack. With the stakes as high as the full moon, Nat must summon all of her strength to save her pack and, ultimately, herself.

I’m not sure how I feel about Coveted, book one, which is also the title of Shawntelle Madison’s new urban fantasy series. In some ways it is much different from other series on the market. It features a heroine with a diagnosed mental illness who yearns for the soon-to-be new alpha of her local werewolf pack. That man has some pull, but he is not in charge and thus can’t do all that I would like for a love interest to do.

Despite the large focus on the heroine’s love life, the series is not a romance. It is an urban fantasy. Do not expect a happily ever after. (Do expect the makings of a possible love triangle.) I think that’s part of the problem for me. I don’t see how this heroine could ever be happy. Mental illness does not just go away and its presence makes me question her acceptance by all who surround her. Madison attacks attitudes like mine in the book, but I’m imagining long-term effects and am not sure I want to stick around for the journey.

That said, I enjoyed many of the characters I met just as much as I hated a few. I wanted Nat to succeed. I wanted to kick ass for her. I wanted others to see the good in her and step up. I wanted her to find her backbone and stand proud. A reasonable amount of my wishes were granted by the time I turned the last page of the book, but I never felt good reading Coveted. I never felt an adrenaline rush or connection to anything or anyone.

I rated the book a three on GoodReads because it is so different from what I normally read and that I finished it. I never considered stopping even though I didn’t love the story. I liked little about the first half of the book, but the second half  picked up speed nicely. There was more action, but not enough to hook me.

Ending Thoughts: If I was out of books to read, and could borrow book two, Kept, from the library, I’d read it. Otherwise my journey into Nat’s world will be at an end.

Review: A Blood Seduction by Pamela Palmer

23 May

A Blood Seduction by Pamela Palmer
HaperCollins (May 29, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780062107497
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “I own you, tessoro. I can watch you whenever I like.” Cristo! The wrong thing to say to a woman he wished to calm. “Someday, you will trust me, Quinn Lennox.” Though that was probably a lie. And not his first.” (p. 82, e-galley)

Vampires live only for lust and pleasure in the eternal twilight of Vamp City. But the city’s magic is dying. The only person who can restore it? A beautiful woman from the mortal world…one who knows nothing of the power she wields.

Quinn Lennox is searching for a missing friend when she stumbles into a dark otherworld that only she can see—and finds herself at the mercy of Arturo Mazza, a dangerously handsome vampire whose wicked kiss will save her, enslave her, bewitch her, and betray her.

What Arturo can’t do is forget about her—any more than Quinn can control her own feelings for him. Neither one can let desire get in the way of their mission—his to save his people, hers to save herself.

But there is no escape from desire in a city built for seduction, where passion flows hot and blood-red. Welcome to Vamp City…

This is an urban fantasy, not a romance. If you read A Blood Seduction expecting a romance you will be disappointed. As it is, the series is not going to be what people are expecting. I think that works. There can be no tedious “as normal in UF” reviews on this one. I think some people are going to say there is shock factor for the sake of shock. I didn’t feel that way.

I was shocked, but I feel each time I felt that way I learned something or a fact about a character was reinforced. I felt like you could never let your guard down ’cause you didn’t know what was coming. That edged the story above the norm.

Characters: I’m glad Palmer made Quin (the heroine) a character who cannot forget what she sees. So you know bad things can’t be wiped from her memory. There is no he beat her, wiped her memory and now they’re in love. Wait for it…until her memory miraculously came back. The hero–Arturo–is a major anti-hero who I spent equal time loving and hating. He is definitely not a romance hero and I don’t know how he could ever be the heroine’s love. Lust, yes. Love, no way. He’s all about saving and satisfying himself. He knows his place in vampire society and is not willing to risk it for Quin. Then there’s the bad ass nasty vampire who was so scary evil that I was finally happy. He is no washed out villain. He is truly a vamp to fear. In addition to vampires and magicians, there are shapeshifters.

Conclusion: I was left with many questions at the end of A Blood Seduction. Those questions revolve around the survival of people, places and things. I have to have the next book. The ending of A Blood Seduction cinched my “like” of the book. I was so shocked that I had to love it. Palmer took a chance and I think it paid off.

On a side note: I didn’t like the airy, romance tinged description of the book. It did not match the horror-like feel of the story.

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.