Friday, 31 July 2009

The Devil Inside by Jenna Black

"Morgan Kingsley, is an exorcist who precariously walks that fine line between heaven and hell. She lives in a world in which demons co-exist with humans. Normally hailed as heroes, these demons can heal, help, and make strong the willing hosts who gladly accept their corporeal possession? unless a demon steps outside the boundaries of the law. That's where Morgan, comes in. She is an expert in getting rogue demons to leave their unwilling hosts.But now the unthinkable has happened: Morgan's got a demon of her very own sharing - possibly overtaking - her body. But this sexy beast is so enticing that he may tempt Morgan to re-evaluate her prejudice against demons - if he doesn't get her killed first. For a war is brewing in the demon realm, and Morgan has just been forced to take sides"

Morgan Kingsley is an exorcist in trouble. She's hated demons her whole life, both the legal and illegal ones, and made a living from destroying those rouge ones. She's the best in the country at it. But now Morgan's worst nightmare has come alive. She's been possessed. But her demon can't control her, not completely, and can only communicate directly with her in her dreams. That's more than enough for Morgan though, and she'd do anything to get rid of him and the temptation he brings.

As Morgan struggles to find out why and how she was possessed, she finds herself equally targeted by others, both human and demon, and fighting for her life. In desperation she has little choice, but to turn to the demons she's always despised for help.

The first book in the Morgan Kingsley series starts off pretty quick and moves at a decent pace. Morgan isn't the easiest of characters to like and her feelings often contradict her words and actions making you wonder what she's actually feeling or thinking. But the story around her is good enough to keep reading. I didn't find myself sucking particularly, and rather than feeling the ups and downs with Morgan, I felt like a spectator. I feel we were meant to feel bad for Morgan a lot, without really being given a reason to love her enough for it so soon. I also found a few of the secondary characters a bit flat and there wasn't always enough explanation to go with their actions. There is also some graphic S & M and more sex than there really needed to be (both with Morgan and her boyfriend, and a homosexual couple helping her - which really did nothing for me), more there for show than because it had a reason, but I could put up with it.

Overall, none of that was enough to stop me finishing the book within a few days, and I intend to pick up the next one. It's a good enough read, but it's not about to become a favourite of mine.

Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent

"Something is wrong with Kaylee Cavanaugh

She doesn't see dead people, but...

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about the need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next..."

My Soul To Take is the first in the young adult Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent. Kaylee is an almost completely normal teenager, and as far as she knows, she is normal. Except she knows if someone is about to die. And when that happens, she starts to scream and she can't stop it.

She's gone almost a year without it happening, but now it's happening all to often and she doesn't know why. At the same time, the hottest guy in school has started showing a lot of interest in her. And that's what she'd rather focus on, if she can trust him. Nash is hiding his own secrets, like everyone else around her and Kaylee begins to realise that maybe everything isn't as simple as she always thought.

Rachel's first delve in to the young adult genre is a successful one. She's done a good job of capturing the younger mindset and emotions of typical teenagers. But her characters still have plenty of depth to them, and more dimensions appear as the book unfolds. The writing is as good as that of her adult series, Shifters, but has a softer edge to it. It works for the characters and the world they exist in, without taking anything away from the quality of the book.

The story starts off pretty quick and continues at a good pace, revealing twists and turns along the way. It blends together folklore, romance and the paranormal with Rachel's own imagination to create a story that's hard to put down. A great young adult series that could be enjoyed by teens and adults alike. I look forward to the next book with anticipation. 8/10

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead

Spoiler Warning! Unavoidable spoilers from first book Storm Born! I recommend you don't read this if you've yet to read it!

"Eugenie Markham is a shaman for hire, paid to bind and banish creatures from the Otherworld. But after her last battle, she's also become queen of the Thorn Land. It's hardly an envious life, not with her kingdom in tatters, her love life in chaos, and Eugenie eager to avoid the prophecy about her firstborn destroying mankind. And now young girls are disappearing from the Otherworld, and no one - except Eugenie - seems willing to find out why. Eugenie has spilled plenty of fey blood in her time, but this enemy is shrewd, subtle, and nursing a very personal grudge. And the men in her life aren't making things any easier. Her boyfriend Kiyo is preoccupied with his pregnant ex, and sexy fey king Dorian always poses a dangerous distraction. With or without their help, Eugenie must venture deep into the Otherworld and trust in an unpredictable power she can barely control. Reluctant queen or not, Eugenie has sworn to do her duty - even if it means facing the darkest - and deadliest - side of her nature..."

Thorn Queen is the second book in the Dark Swan series by Richelle Mead, author of the very popular young adult series Vampire Academy and also has another popular adult series about a Succubus. It picks up a few months after the events of Storm Born, which left Eugenie with an unwanted kingdom in the Otherworld, and power she was determined to ignore, yet unable to avoid. She's still having to deal with most male fey trying to father her first born, intent of fulfilling the prophecy that her first born will take control of the human world once more. Through rape or consent, most of the men after her aren't fussy.

Even without the unwanted attention, Eugenie has guy problems. Her hot, fox-shifter boyfriend Kiyo is increasingly occupied with his very pregnant ex-girlfriend Maiwenn. A Queen herself and confident in her beauty and grace in the Otherworld, Eugenie wonders how she can fit in to Kiyo's life with her and their child. And she's continuously tempted by the darkly seductive king of the Oak Land, Dorian. Who has his own agendas in play as well. A fan of Eugenie's late and greatly hated father, Storm King, he would love to father his grandson. But is that his only reason for wanting her?

The Eugenie we find here in Thorn Queen is an unhappy one. She's avoiding her duties as queen of the Thorn Land as much as she can, unaware of the consequences for the people living there. Riding back to her castle after a necessary trip in the Otherworld, Eugenie learns of multiple girls who have gone missing. It's thought they've been taken. Eugenie doesn't want the girls at risk, and wants to get them back, realising they're innocent victims, but even with her desire to get them back, she's more willing to let the others do a good chunk of the work at her order. Meanwhile, she's trying to learn greater control over more of her powers, despite telling Kiyo and everyone else, that she wasn't interested in it. It ignites a dangerous spark in her she's not sure she wants.

Thorn Queen is well written and as vivid as Storm Born. But it is a different Eugenie we find here, one burdened with more than she seems willing to deal with. There are real sparks of her earlier self, particularly towards the end, but I believe the series has taken on a much darker edge with this book. When I finished it I found myself wondering if I really liked it in the end, but after thinking about it for a few days, letting it sink in, I really do love it. Whatever it was I expected from it after the fantastic Storm Born, this wasn't it. However, it's still a great story and I'm looking forward to the next. 8/10

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Quick Update

Once more apologise for the lack of reviews. Have been reading, but have spent several days on strong painkillers and they make my head to fuzzy to really write coherently. So reviews are really hard work. Should be off the tablets (hopefully) tomorrow and able to form more than a couple full sentences. Bare with me! Next reviews to come: Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead, My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent and The Devil Inside by Jenna Black.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

"Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much - not because she's not pretty - she's a very cute bubbly blonde - or not interested in a social life. She really is ...but Sookie's got a bit of a disability. She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill: he's tall, he's dark and he's handsome - and Sookie can't 'hear' a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting all her life for. But Bill has a disability of his own: he's fussy about his food, he doesn't like suntans and he's never around during the day ...Yep, Bill's a vampire. Worse than that, he hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble - of the murderous kind. And then one of Sookie's colleagues at the bar is killed, and it's beginning to look like Sookie might be the next victim ..."

Sookie is a telepathic waitress. She can hear the thoughts of everyone around her. She's also wanted to meet a vampire ever since they 'came out' to the human population. So when Bill Compton walks in to the bar where she works and sits in her section, she's thrilled.

Sookie is beyond curious about him and his kind. But with the entry of Bill to her life, brings chaos to Sookie's thus far (mostly) quiet and normal life. Bill also brings a silence Sookie's craved. She can't hear his thoughts, and to her, that's enough to put up with the trouble.

Sookie is tough when it comes to danger and protecting those she loves. But she's also a push over. She always seems to say yes to doing things for her friends, whether it's really okay with her or not. Sookie isn't the deepest character either, in my view, and those around her aren't any better. But it's still a decent story, well written and it is entertaining. And maybe I've gotten used to reading more recent UF books where it takes more than half a book for the couple to say 'I love you', but I found it annoying when it happened and wondered where it had come from.

There is plenty of death, darkness and action through out the book, but I couldn't take it completely seriously. I still really enjoyed it though and the not so good parts didn't really detract too much from that. I look forward to reading more of Sookie's adventures. 7/10

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

"Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries. Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world, and would blind her if they knew of her Sight.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries. Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention. But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King and has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost! Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working any more, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything."

Aislinn, Ash to her friends, is a scared, but tough 17 year old who, despite always following the rules and pretending she can't see the darker world around her, finds herself being stalked by faeries. Creatures she's always been scared of, always done her best to ignore. Keenan is playing human, unaware Ash knows what he really is.

Aislinn relies on her friendship with Seth to keep her grounded. To stop her from panicking and running, trusting him to deal with it and not run himself. And while he helps her, he tries to show her he's more than a friend.

Donia is a faerie girl, caught between her love and hatred for Keenan. She can help him, or save herself. The Winter Queen, mother of Keenan, wants to see him fail. No matter who has to suffer for it. As the plot unfolds and Ash finds herself discovering more than she ever wanted to know about the Faerie world around her, she realises that she may not have a real say about what happens.

Wicked Lovely starts a little slowly, but quickly picks up and then doesn't stop. Written in third person, from several different points of view adds to the depth of the world created. Ash and Seth's relationship develops slowly with a heart warming feeling, and you can't help but fall in love with them as well. Keenan is a little childish for someone who's lived for hundreds of years, but you can feel for him to a certain extent. But he isn't enough to distract from a well written and thought out story. I struggled to put the book down and can't wait to read the next two books, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity. 8/10

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Bone Crossed by Patrica Briggs

"Car mechanic and sometime shapeshifter Mercy Thompson has learned, the hard way, why her race was almost exterminated. When European vampires immigrated to North America, they found Mercy's people had a hidden talent - for vampire slaying. Unfortunately for Mercy, the queen of the local vampire seethe has discovered her true identity. She's also furious when she learns Mercy has crossed her and killed one of her vampires. Mercy may be protected from direct reprisals by the werewolf pack (and her interesting relationship with its Alpha), but that just means Marsilia will come after Mercy some other way. So Mercy had better prepare to watch her back."

Bone Crossed pick up exactly where Iron Kissed left off, and it's not long before Mercy is neck deep in trouble again. Her vampire friend, Stefan is in trouble and it's up to Mercy, and the local werewolf pack by association, to help him. But Mercy's own life is in greater danger from those that would see Stefan harmed. Adam, local alpha wolf, is doing everything he can to protect her, but it's not easy.

When Mercy's old college roommate shows up on her doorstep asking her for help with a problem ghost, it seems like the perfect excuse to get Mercy out of town for a little while. Away from Adam's protection, and Marsilia's deadly reach, Mercy must deal with her problems alone. Her problems, and those of Amanda the college roommate, are much bigger than it first appears though and soon Mercy finds herself running again, relying on Stefan and Adam's power to keep her alive.

As well as all the new problems, the lasting affects of Iron Kissed are carefully wrapped in. Handled with empathy, but without shying away, shows Ms. Briggs' talent and Mercy's strength. And the depth of several secondary characters too.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bone Crossed. The darkness that Mercy faced and the lighter moments added in just the right moments adding depth to the overall picture. A fantastic series and I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series when it's out.

Rating: 9/10

No Review, kind of an update

Apologies for the lack of reviews. I've been not so well lately and not reading much as a result. Doing better now and picking books up again. Will try and get to reivews of Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr and Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs tomorrow, and hopefully some more by the end of the week. That's the theory anyway!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

My Soul To Lose by Rachel Vincent

My Soul To Lose is the free prequel to Rachel Vincent's forthcoming young adult series, Soul Screamers, about a young Banshee. The first book is due out 1st August and is titled My Soul To Take.

"Kaylee Cavanaugh's trip to the mall ends with a brutal panic attack and a brainscrambling shriek she can't stop. Her secret fear is exposed. It's the worst day of her life.

Until she wakes up in the psychiatric unit.

But the hospital isn't a safe place for Kaylee, and getting out won't be easy because everyone thinks she's crazy. Everyone except Lydia, who has a secret of her own..."

There aren't many short story's that draw me in quite so well as Rachel does here. You can't help but feel for Kaylee, who has no idea what she is or why she screams like she does. The stint in the psychiatric hospital really tugs at your heart, in sympathy, pain and shared embarrassment, and not only for Kaylee, but for Lydia as well. There are some great dynamics between Kaylee and various other secondary characters shown already, even in the shortness of this story, and leave you with a lot of questions you want answers to. And they're not limited to Kaylee. Rachel has created another vivid, three dimensional world here with apparent ease.

I will freely admit I was only planning on reading the first Soul Screamers book because I thoroughly enjoy Rachel's adult series, Shifters, and thought it probably wouldn't be bad. But having read the prequel to the series and the first chapter of MSTTake I am hungry for the first book. Rachel's great writing seems to flow just as easily for a YA series as an adult one. Bring on August.

My Soul To Lose can be found free on Rachel's website (there are other formats available, for the Kindle for example, but I'm unsure if these are all free as well). 8/10

Carpe Corpus by Rachel Caine

"In the small college town of Morganville, vampires and humans lived in (relative) peace—until all the rules got rewritten when the evil vampire Bishop arrived, looking for the lost book of vampire secrets. He’s kept a death grip on the town ever since. Now an underground resistance is brewing, and in order to contain it, Bishop must go to even greater lengths. He vows to obliterate the town and all its inhabitants—the living and the undead. Claire Danvers and her friends are the only ones who stand in his way. But even if they defeat Bishop, will the vampires ever be content to go back to the old rules, after having such a taste of power?"

Carpe Corpus is the 6th book in the Morganville Vampires series, and after what (I felt) was a slightly slow and lackluster 5th book, this is a return to form. We finally get a whole lot of answers and discover a lot about how the town or Morganville works, including the portals Claire learnt to use.

Carpe Corpus is set a few months after Lord Of Misrule (book 5) and Morganville is much the way it was left. Half destroyed by a tornado and the vampires under Bishop's rule, humans in the town are more scared and careful than ever. And as always, those behind the university walls are clueless, but at risk all the same. Claire is living with her parents again, trying to find a way to get Shane out of jail, while having to do Bishops bidding against her will.

I really enjoyed this book, and struggled to put it down. It moved along quickly with a lot of twists and turns, plenty of action and some good character development. Life has changed in Morganville and is set for more change. The ending was a really good conclusion to just about everything that's happened so far in the series. Not everything ended the way it was supposed to for certain characters though, and I like that. You couldn't have predicted the final outcome. I look forward to reading the next book (Fade Out, due in November in the States) to see how life will continue for Claire and her friends now.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

"'It wasn't hard to follow the scent of blood to the living room where the fae had been killed. It had been a violent death, perfect for creating ghosts.'

Mercy Thompson enjoys life as a mechanic, but life is never simple given her increasing closeness to the local werewolf pack, and her ability to change into coyote form at will. And when a member of the fae community calls in a favour, needing her skills for a covert murder investigation, she jumps into the hunt. But the dangers multiply and she clashes with shadowed creatures of great power. When her old boss Zee is charged with a brutal assassination, Mercy find herself fighting alone. There are those who love her, who would keep her safe, but she is wary and holds her freedom precious. Until, that is, she has nothing left to lose but her life ..."

Mercy is spending a relaxing evening with her friend (and werewolf) Warren and his boyfriend Kyle watching a movie, when she gets a call from her former boss and mentor Zee. He's fae and he needs her nose to sniff out a killer in the fae reservation. Taking Mercy in there isn't all that safe for her, but she agrees to help and soon enough picks up the trail.

But before the killer can be taken care of quietly, someone beats the fae to it, and Zee finds himself behind bars and accused of the murder. A murder too violent for human hands. One Mercy is convinced Zee didn't commit and she's determined to prove it. Not an easy job though. The Grey Lords (rulers of the fae) don't like outside help and they're very dangerous people to deal with. And all the while she's having to fight with her heart of the men in her life, Adam or Samuel. She can't keep bouncing between the two dominant wolves or things are going to get messy.

Iron Kissed is a fantastic follow up to the first two books in the Mercy series, Moon Called and Blood Bound, and the series just keeps getting better. As with Blood Bound, there is a very good balance between the romance and the main plot, even though there is more romance in this than the previous book.

Where the previous book taught us a lot about vampires in Mercy's world, here we're shown the fae world and get a deeper look at the pack and how it functions again. The extensive world built is engaging and well thought out. There aren't extras added on all the time, just Mercy discovering more of it. And it doesn't pull any punches. It gets nasty at the end as the killer is revealed. And the conversations near the end, particularly between Ben and Adam, show real sensitivity and strength, and the depth of Ms. Briggs' talent. It was heart wrenching, in some ways beautiful, intense and left me in floods of tears. The cliffhanger ending left me desperate for me and I was very, very glad I had book 4 sat on the shelf beside me already!

Rating: 10/10

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

"'Like most people who own their own business, I work long hours that start early in the morning. So when someone calls me in the middle of the night, they'd better be dying...'

Mechanic Mercy Thompson is woken at 3am by a vampire calling in a favour. He has to deliver a message to a fellow undead and needs a witness that won't be noticed - and Mercy's shapeshifting abilities make her the perfect candidate. But the assignment turns into a bloodbath and Mercy attracts the attention of not just a powerful vampire, but the even more powerful demon possessing him. She can count on the supernatural community for protection - and alpha werewolf Adam would like her to rely on him in other ways too - but when it comes to being proactive, she's on her own."

Blood Bound is the fantastic follow up to Moon Called. I liked this a lot more than Moon Called. The plot felt tighter and there were fewer secondary characters to keep straight, and those there were, felt much more solid to me. Several of the characters had been met in Moon Called, but we're given a lot more on them here. Wolves and Vampires alike.

And we're not the only ones learning more. Mercy is learning a lot too. She knows a lot about werewolves having been raised by them, but she's discovering that she has never been told the whole deal. And other than knowing vampires = evil, she doesn't really know anything about them when she's called in to help her friend Stefan, that quickly changes and she learns more about what she is as a walker in the process.

Mercy is very good at finding herself in bad situations, and her curiosity and determination to do the right thing brings her close to being killed on many occasions. But she does have back up in the form of dominant wolf room mate Samuel, and local Alpha (and neighbour) Adam. Both of whom are equally interested in having a different relationship with Mercy to what they have. And Mercy is determined she's not going to lose her independence to a dominant wolf by becoming the mate of either of them. Doesn't stop the romance from growing though.

The bad guy in this book is seriously scary. And had me squirming as I read certain sections, something that almost never happens. Ms. Briggs doesn't shy away from the rough stuff. There were several twists that caught me completely by surprise. There are a few lighter moments that stop the book from being to dark and nasty. And the romance is nicely handled. There isn't a whole lot of it, and what there is, fits in very nicely to the story. It's a good ongoing subplot that doesn't take any time away from the main story. Left me wanting a whole lot more of Mercy's story.!

Rating: 9/10