February 2011 Round-Up Post

monthinreview

Reviews and Author Interviews

In February 2011, I read and reviewed 9 books.

  1. Fallen by Lauren Kate – 4/5
  2. Possession is Nine Tenths: Ardeur by Danielle Gavan – 4/5
  3. Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur – 3/5
  4. Dead Man’s Eye by Shaun Jeffrey – 3/5
  5. Claiming The Evil Dead by Mary Abshire – 3,5/5
  6. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White – 4,5/5
  7. Rogue Oracle by Alayna Williams – 4,5/5
  8. Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale by Donna Burgess – 4/5
  9. Behind Green Glass by Amanda Von Hoffmann – 4/5

I hosted 2 Author Interviews:

  1. Author Interview with Alayna Williams – Author of Rogue Oracle
  2. Author Interview with Donna Burgess – Author of Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale

Statistics for February

The most popular posts were:

  1. Waiting on Wednesday (5) – 34 comments
  2. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (7) – 30 comments
  3. Teaser Tuesdays (7) – 30 comments
  4. Mailbox Monday (5) – 28 comments
  5. Mailbox Monday (7) – 19 comments

The highest number of unique visitors was on February 22nd (229) and on February 21st (225). The total number of hits in February was 66640 and the number of pages visited is 16683. I now have a total of 60 GFC followers.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (8)

itsmonday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. It’s where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I recently reviewed

I finished reading, but haven’t reviewed yet

I will read next

In My Mailbox (1) / Mailbox Monday (8)

mailbox

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. (Library books don’t count, but eBooks & audiobooks do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring meme (details here). This month it is hosted by Library of Clean Reads.

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

In My Mailbox

Title: Torment (Fallen #2)
Author: Lauren Kate
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Angels & Demons, Young Adult
I purchased this novel at one of the local bookshops earlier this week. I just couldn’t resist!

Hell on earth. That’s what it’s like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel. It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts – immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students -Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.
At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn’t told her everything. He’s hiding something – something dangerous. What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else? The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series . . . where love never dies.

Title: Glimmerglass (Faeriewalker #1)
Author: Jenna Black
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Faeries, Young Adult
A gift from my boyfriend. He’s making a habit of giving me new books to read.

It’s all she’s ever wanted to be, but it couldn’t be further from her grasp…
Dana Hathaway doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, again, Dana decides she’s had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn’t just an ordinary teenage girl—she’s a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.
Soon, Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone’s trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her newfound friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she’ll never have a chance with… until she does. Caught between two worlds, Dana isn’t sure where she’ll ever fit in and who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again…

Title: The Sevenfold Spell
Author: Tia Nevitt
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Adult
Review copy download for free at the free-on-wednesday-in-february event on Carina Press.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the other people in the fairy tale?
Things look grim for Talia and her mother. By royal proclamation, the constables and those annoying “good” fairies have taken away their livelihood by confiscating their spinning wheel. Something to do with a curse on the princess, they said.
Not every young lady has a fairy godmother rushing to her rescue.
Without the promise of an income from spinning, Talia’s prospects for marriage disappear, and she and her mother face destitution. Past caring about breaking an arbitrary and cruel law, rebellious Talia determines to build a new spinning wheel, the only one in the nation—which plays right into the evil fairy’s diabolical plan. Talia discovers that finding a happy ending requires sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice she’s willing to make?

Title: Twilight Prophecy
Author: Maggy Shane
Genre: Fantasy, Vampires, Dark Fantasy
Review copy provided by Harlequin.

Save the Vampire, Save the World.
According to ancient prophecy, there’s only one chance to avert the complete annihilation of the Undead. Twins James William and Brigit Poe, part human, part vampire, believe that they are that chance. In truth, the key lies with the reclusive—and mortal—scholar Lucy Lanfair.
As Armageddon approaches, anti-vampire sentiment fuels a war neither side can win, driving James to abandon his moral code and draw Lucy into a deadly battle she wants no part of. But Lucy soon realizes that she holds this powerful immortal’s soul in her hands and that it’s her destiny not only to stop a war but to save him from his inner darkness. If she fails, his race will die—and so will her heart. Is the power of love strong enough to save the world?

Title: The Deadliest Bite
Author: Jennifer Rardin
Genre: Fantasy, Vampires, Adult
Review copy provided by ORBIT.

I have two choices. Carve Brude’s name into Hell’s bile-encrusted gates. Or lose my soul.
After an assassination attempt on Vayl, I find myself pulled into a tangled web that takes the gang to Romania. So how will I save a ghost, rescue a demon, and cheat the Great Taker out of a soul he’s slavering for while defeating my nastiest foe yet so that Vayl can, at last, cherish a few precious years with his sons? With careful planning, major violence, and one (hopefully) final trip to Hell.

Title: Forever Vampire
Author: Michelle Hauf
Genre: Fantasy, Vampires, Adult
Review copy provided by HQN Books.

Vail the Unwanted is a pureblood vampire. But raised in Faery, he has neither home nor peace, and when his aid is sought in the recovery of a priceless diamond gown, his price is information. Specifically the whereabouts of his accursed father. His goal is revenge, and the supernaturally sexy Lyric, the icy blond vampiress with whom he must work, is a distraction he can’t afford.
Outwardly as cold as the diamond dress in which she was kidnapped, Lyric has her own secrets. Desperate to break free from her criminal family, she aligns herself with the brooding Vail. Together they seek justice while each secretly works for freedom and a fresh start. For Lyric that means holding herself apart, even from the smoldering blue-eyed Vail. For Vail, it means a battle to the death for revenge—and for a temptress he can’t deny.

Title: Winter’s Passage (Iron Fey)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Faeries, Supernatural
Review copy provided by Harlequin.

Meghan Chase used to be an ordinary girl…until she discovered that she is really a faery princess. After escaping from the clutches of the deadly Iron fey, Meghan must follow through on her promise to return to the equally dangerous Winter Court with her forbidden love, Prince Ash. But first, Meghan has one request: that they visit Puck–Meghan’s best friend and servant of her father, King Oberon–who was gravely injured defending Meghan from the Iron Fey.
Yet Meghan and Ash’s detour does not go unnoticed. They have caught the attention of an ancient, powerful hunter–a foe that even Ash may not be able to defeat….
An eBook exclusive story from Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series.

Title: The Lightkeeper’s Ball
Author: Colleen Coble
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Adult
Review copy provided by Nelsen, Thomas Inc. Publishing

Olivia seems to have it all, but her heart yearns for more.
Olivia Stewart’s family is one of the Four Hundred-the highest echelon of society in 1910. When her sister dies under mysterious circumstances, Olivia leaves their New York City home for Mercy Falls, California, to determine what befell Eleanor. She suspects Harrison Bennett, the man Eleanor planned to marry. But the more Olivia gets to know him, the more she doubts his guilt-and the more she is drawn to him herself.

When several attempts are made on her life, Olivia turns to Harrison for help. He takes her on a ride in his aeroplane, but then crashes, and they’re forced to spend two days alone together. With her reputation hanging by a thread, Harrison offers to marry her to make the situation right. As a charity ball to rebuild the Mercy Falls lighthouse draws near, she realizes she wants more than a sham engagement-she wants Harrison in her life forever. But her enemy plans to shatter the happiness she is ready to grasp. If Olivia dares to drop her masquerade, she just might see the path to true happiness.

Book Review: Behind Green Glass by Amanda Von Hoffmann

7740081Title: Behind Green Glass
Author: Amanda Von Hoffmann
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Faeries
Review copy provided by the author. Visit the author’s website.
Rating: 4 stars

“Perched in the maple outdoors she saw a figure, human in shape, animal-like in posture. A smooth expanse of bare muscled chest, light tangled hair, glowing irises. The glass slipped from her fingers…”
Isolde is a shy and artistic sixteen-year-old who moves into a house rumored to be haunted. When she discovers a shard of green glass, a new world opens for her. Through the glass she sees Lyric, who mistakenly believes that he is a ghost, and other ethereally beautiful creatures. As their mystery unfolds, Isolde learns that they are not ghosts, but The Forgotten Ones, fairies cast out of their realm, labeled imperfect for their physical and mental differences. Isolde’s friendship with Lyric and The Forgotten Ones teaches her that sometimes our “imperfections” can also be our greatest strengths.

First of all, I owe you all – and especially the kind and friendly author of this book, Amanda Von Hoffmann – an apology for the tardiness of this review. I have to admit that, for a reason I couldn’t quite grasp, this was one of the most difficult reviews I had to write up to date. I started writing about a dozen times now, then got unhappy about what I wrote, went back and erased it all, and still wasn’t happy. Draft review after draft review was trashed and deleted, and now I give up. I promised the author to post this review probably a month ago, and she has been nothing but kind and patient, which makes me even more ashamed about posting so late. So now I’m done, fed up, angry with myself, and tired of being unable to write this review properly. This time, I’ll just write it down, everything the novel makes me think and feel, and if it makes no sense or my writing style is less than desirable, then I’m deeply sorry but so be it. Anyway, on to the review.

Behind Green Glass focuses on Isolde, a young adult who recently moved to the country with her mother. Isolde is a shy, artistic and kind person but she often struggles with who she is, and wishes she could be more outgoing, like her best friend. Soon after moving to the old countryhouse, Isolde starts feeling like she is being watched by someone or something, and strange occurances happen in her room. Convinced she is being haunted by the ghost of a girl who passed away in that very room – Meredith, Isolde is determined to help the ghost move on to the afterlife. It’s only when she discovers a shards of green glass in her drawer, and sees the ghost of a young boy through this glass, that Isolde realises it isn’t Meredith who haunts her. It’s Lyric. He was in love with Meredith and stayed in her room even after she died, unable to let go of the girl he loved. It doesn’t take long before Isolde figures out that Lyric, and his friends, aren’t really ghosts. They’re faeries. And not just faeries: they are the Forgotten Ones, imperfect faeries cast out of the faerie world.

I can’t begin to explain to you how much I liked Isolde. Right when I was so fed up with always having to read books about feisty, fiery and stubborn heroines who take feminism one step too far, in walks Isolde. Such a refreshing change from the usual: so innocent and kind, and yet so strong and determined. It’s been a while since a character has managed to surprise me in such a nice way like Isolde did. For one, she was an actual human being, with all sorts of contradictory emotions, a desire to be someone else than who she really is, and all the insecurities normal human beings feel. She reminded me a lot of myself when I was that age, and it was pleasant to see that not all fantasy heroines need the same generic personality to accomplish things, and kindness can get you a long way as well.

The other characters were very interesting as well. I simply loved how Amanda von Hoffmann described the imperfect faeries: Fafnir with his stutter, Nola with her childlike behaviour and Lyric himself. The faeries had personalities of them own, but none were the cunning, mischevious and somewhat-evil kind described in mythology, fairytales and recent faerie-related books like The Iron Fey series and Glimmerglass. Von Hoffman’s faeries are kind, friendly creatures, who might be holding a few secrets of their own, but who won’t plan on feeding humans enchanted food or trick them into deals they don’t want. It was so refreshing not having to think about ‘what will the wicked faerie do next, and how will they trick the humans into making a deal with them’, and seeing another aspect of the faerieworld for once. I also like the character of Matt, although I was Team Lyric all the way. Lyric just had that mystery charm working for him that made me like him even more than I liked Matt. That, and he managed to show Isolde some of the strengths she possessed without her even realising it. That gives him additional credit as well.

Although the storyline evolves around a little of different things:the possible haunting, Isolde’s issues with her mother homeschooling her, her relationship with Matt, the journey to the faerie realm, etc., I had the feeling Behind Green Glass is mostly a sort of coming-of-age story. We see how at first, Isolde is filled with concerns and insecurities. She isn’t happy with the person she is, and wants to be stronger and more outgoing. As the story develops, and Isolde is forced to make some harsh decisions and to rely on her own strength and courage to not only save herself, but also the friends she cares deeply about, I could see her personality developing as well. It was quite clear and easy to see, and I love it when a character manages to grow throughout the story, and become a better person in the end. This growth process is wonderfully written and shown, and in some ways it made me feel very proud of Isolde. By the end, I was going all ‘You go, girl!’.

I really enjoyed reading Behind Green Glass. I thought the writing was spot-on, the characters had interesting personalities, and the entire take on the faerieworld was refreshing, new and innovative. The storyline itself was fast-paced and original. If you want a light and easy read, but a well-written one with a more original take on faeries, then Behind Green Glass is definately an excellent option.

Book Review: Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale by Donna Burgess

9972389Title: Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale
Author: Donna Burgess
Genre: Horror, Supernatural
Rating: 4 stars

Halloween night, twenty years ago, college student Susan Archer watched as her beloved twin brother was brutally murdered at the hands of a stranger she invited into their home. Still haunted by the guilt of that night, Susan is now a tough but bitter cop in a nowhere town, trying as best she can to lead a normal life. When she is nearly killed during a wild shoot-out, she realizes she is not as strong as she first thought.
Fearing a breakdown, she flees the confines of her safe boyfriend and familiar surroundings to find salvation in the arms of “Deathwalker” Devin McCree—the very man who killed her brother.
But things aren’t always what they seem and she quickly realizes Devin was not the monster she originally thought, but a kind of guardian angel instead.
On the run from a crazed Nazi vampire-hunter named Kasper, she and Devin must find a way to endure the dreary urban landscape of a dying metropolis and escape Kasper’s wrath.

Twenty year ago, on the night of Halloween, Susan’s brother Peter got killed. It was an accident – of sorts, but she had to live with the guilt for what happened ever since. The man responsible for her beloved twin’s death, Devin McCree, vanished off the face of the earth. That is, until now. Because now, only two weeks after Susan shot a man to death in cold blood and lost her unborn child in the process, Devin has returned. And he wants her. What dark and evil creatures of the night want, they usually tend to get – and this time is no different. After she is killed and turned into a Deathwalker by Devin, the man whom she trusted, Susan is left with little choice but to leave her old and familiar life, and her partner Michael, behind, and run off to a new future with a man she hardly knows.

But things are not always as they seem, as Susan’s new found freedom might bring her into even greater trouble. Because Devin and his roommate John both have secrets of their own. Dark and dangerous secrets, that might even treaten the lives of Susan and her fellow Deathwalkers. That’s not to mention that her previous partner, Michael, has no intention of just giving up on her. In the mysterious ghosttown of Dunwich, the time is almost near for a final showdown, as the past has finally caught up with Devin, and his previous tormenter is determined to destroy everything the Deathwalker loves. Including Susan.

Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale is a mix of horror, supernatural and more guts and gore than the average slasher movie. Really, I was very surprised to see how graphic and gruesome some scenes were described, and my stomach twisted and turned several times throughout the novel. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed these terrifying scenes – enjoy just isn’t the appropriate word – but I thought they gave an edge of brutality and evil to this story that I haven’t come across in many vampire novels as of late. The thing is that, if you read too many novels in which vampires have a soft side and fall in love with human heroines, you lose track of the fact that they are, by their own nature, vicious and violent creatures capable of murder in the first degree. Some of the Deathwalkers that appear throughout this novel, hold true to these traits, and it’s a refreshing change from the sparkling vampires I’ve seen too often.

I had a little trouble with the personality of the main characters. Susan has a lot of issues, her most important one being that ever since her twin brother’s death, she is uncapable of opening up to anyone, not even her partner. Although she is in a loving and caring relationship, she has no trouble throwing all of that away for a short fling with Devin. Now, whereas there were some personality traits of Susan I didn’t quite relate to, I’m not saying the character wasn’t written well enough. The author portrayed all of her characters with the utmost care, making them feel very human and realistic. It’s just that I probably wouldn’t get along with any of the characters. 😛

At first, I thought of Michael as being the weaker of the two men in Susan’s life. Desperately clinging on to a relationship doomed from the start, a doctor rather than a fighter, I was pretty sure he stood no chance against Devin. But as the story developed, and Michael risked his own life to save Susan in the miserable old town of Dunwich, his personality changed dramatically as he was forced to deal with his own darkness and the possibility that it might already be too late to save his beloved. He became stronger, which was portrayed beautifully in the novel, and the man Susan ran into later on, was not the man she had left behind anymore. That definately earned him some credit. Now Devin, on the other hand…Well, he’s another story.

I wasn’t convinced with Devin from the start. For a vampire, he has some rather unmanly personality traits, and I couldn’t help but think of him as a coward. He has spend more than half of his immortal life on the run from another vampire named Kasper, and not once has he stopped and turned around to actually do something about it. He watched as Kasper killed every single person he ever loved – and still he could do nothing to stop him. Now I know some torturer/victim of torture relationships may be messed up, but this one definately was. Yet, I was still crossing my fingers for Devin to finally face his demons. No such luck though, and I was starting to wonder halfway through the novel why Susan ran off with Devin in the first place. I mean, sure he’s mysterious and got the whole immortal thing working for him, but apart from that? He is a weak, pathetic excuse for a vampire. And not because he refuses to kill another human being except when they really deserve it (read pedo’s, murderers); but mostly because he’s too afraid to face Kasper.

To be honest, I found Kasper’s personality the most interesting one of them all. There is something morbidly fascinating about looking into the mind of a serial killer, an individual who likes torturing others, a creature with no remorse. I also really liked the setting: the town of Dunwich, a ghost town really, nearly abandoned yet inhabited by Deathwalkers, and creatures who didn’t make the full transition. It had me thinking about Silent Hill, a movie and a game I enjoyed thoroughly a couple of years ago. I imagined the town a bit like Silent Hill as well, I have to admit, with this silent, creepy and eerie feeling to it. The flashbacks to the 1940s were interesting as well, especially to discover some more of Devin’s and Kasper’s past. The storyline itself was intense, dark and creepy at all times. What gave me the most goosebumps, were the scenes with Sandra and Michael (I won’t get into detail for the sake of spoiler free reviews!).

Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale is a dark, supernatural horror story, with some greatly disturbing scenes (a must in this genre), and some uniquely-crafted characters. Although Devin annoyed me at times, the other characters were a lot more interesting, the story is fast-paced, intense and gripping, and all in all, it’s a captivating book that will keep you terrified from the start till the end.

Book Review: Rogue Oracle by Alayna Williams

8543695Title: Rogue Oracle
Author: Alayna Williams
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4,5 stars

The more you know about the future, the more there may be to fear.

Tara Sheridan is the best criminal profiler around – and the most unconventional. Trained as a forensic psychologist, Tara also specializes in Tarot card reading. But she doesn’t need her divination skills to realize that the new assignment from her friend and sometime lover, Agent Harry Li, is a dangerous proposition in every way.

Former Cold War operatives, all linked to a top-secret operation tracking the disposal of nuclear weapons in Russia, are disappearing. There are no bodies, and no clues to their whereabouts. Harry suspects a conspiracy to sell arms to the highest bidder. The cards – and Tara’s increasingly ominous dreams – suggest something darker. Even as Tara sorts through her feelings for Harry and her fractured relationships with the mysterious order known as Delphi’s Daughters, a killer is growing more ruthless by the day. And a nightmare that began decades ago in Chernobyl will reach a terrifying endgame that not even Tara could have foreseen…

Tara used to work for The Little Shop of Horrors, a Special Projects division of Homeland Security in the USA. She quit the job after an incident where she herself became the target of a psycho killer called The Gardener. A survivor of the attack, but badly scarred both outside and inside, Tara says goodbye to her job in an effort to lead a less dangerous life. Although there is a reason why Tara’s life can never be fully without danger: apart from being a former agent, she is also an oracle. A cartomancer to be more precise, a person who can predict the future by using tarot cards. Plus, then there’s also Harry Li. Her former love interest and agent of the Little Shop of Horrors himself, Harry must ask for Tara’s help in a case neither his office nor any other office knows what to do with. Former cold war spies, all linked to one project called Rogue Angel, have vanished off the face of the earth, leaving behind all their clothes, wallets and personal belongings. It’s almost like they just seized to exist. Following the trail of a possible serial killer or even a terrorist, Tara and Harry must do whatever it takes to capture the person responsible for the abductions. Even if that means taking a leap of faith, and trusting in the power of intuition.

I always have a lot more trouble writing a review for a novel I thoroughly enjoyed than for a novel I thought was mediocre. Rogue Oracle definitely belongs in the first category. This is fantasy the way it should be. Original, fast-paced, suspenseful and very surprising. First of all, the setting isn’t some fantasy world still stuck in the Middle Ages, or Earth fifty years from now when all demons roam free. No, the setting is the world as we all know it: with the economy crashing, terrorist attacks, radiation poisonings, nuclear bombs. Take all of that and throw in the one aspect that makes this novel so original: Oracles. Now I can safely say I’ve read my fair share of fantasy novels, but never before have I come across a novel that both focuses on Oracles, and uses the present time as a time frame. It was a refreshing change for once, one that was warmly welcomed after reading perhaps a bit too many fantasy novels focusing on vampires, demons and the likes.

Rogue Oracle doesn’t read like a fantasy novel though; it reads more like a thriller, a suspense story, and literally keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. I loved the character of Tara – her strong and stubborn personality, her intuition and the way she relies on it, and her nearly unconditional love for Harry and Cassie. She is the sort of heroine who keeps reappearing in your mind, even after you’re long done reading the novel. The kind of person you can’t help but admire, because she finds strength even in her own weaknesses. On the other hand, the villain of this novel, Galen, received a lot of my sympathy as well. Rather than an “official bad guy” whose only purpose is to inflict evil upon other people, Galen really is a tragic figure. Made what he is today by a series of traumatic events in his past, sabotaged by humanity itself, he is left all alone in the world. A monstrosity. A creature that shouldn’t mean to exist – yet human error caused him to exist anyway. The way the author reveals Galen’s background story, piece by piece, and makes him seem so fragile and so very human when doing so, made me not regard him as an actual villain, but more like a person who got a terrible fate thrown upon him, without his own consent or even knowing, and is now tortured so much by the faults of others than he has practically no choice but to be who he is – a person out for revenge, driven by the need for vengeance and retribution. One of the most memorable villains I’ve ever come across.

I loved how Alayna Williams included the drama at Chernobyl in this novel, and carefully crafted a story around that. I was born four years after Chernobyl, and I can say firsthand that we hardly pay any attention to what happened there anymore, although we should. In high school, we are taught about World War II and the terrible tragedy caused by people looking the other way rather than facing what’s right in front of them, and we are warned that humanity should never make that mistake again. Even though so, we stay ignorant for other devastating catastrophes caused by humans, like the tragedy of Chernobyl. I can safely say that, although not an uneducated person, I hardly know anything about what happened on that faithful day. No one ever mentions it anymore, and on the rare occasion that they do, it is simply overlooked. But Chernobyl, more than anything, is another prime example of human ignorance – we basically choose to ignore what happened there, even today. Not because we don’t know what happened, but simply because we focus on other things, and disregard the fact that something like that might happen again someday. Rogue Oracle pointed that out in so many different ways, that it actually was very touching. The novel focused on the tragedy that occurred there, and placed it in a spotlight it hasn’t been in for a very long time now. At some point during the novel, Tara goes to look at photographs taken after the tragedy, and that scene nearly made me cry. It’s important to realize that things that happened in the past – even if already 25 years ago – can still have effects on the world today. That message is beautifully woven in the story of Rogue Oracle.

The storyline itself is fast-paced, with some carefully crafted cliffhangers along the way, and it doesn’t lose it appeal once in those 300 and so pages. It was also a welcome change from the fantasy novels I’m used to read: the theme was original, as was the world-building. I thought the explanation of the Tarot Cards and their use in Rogue Oracle was very interesting; I’ve never been one for fortunetelling, but it does make an intriguing addition to the story.

Perhaps the only thing I wasn’t particularly fond of, was the character Cassie. I don’t know why exactly, but every time the story focused on her I just wanted to skip those pages and go right back to the “real” action with Tara and Harry. I just couldn’t relate that much to her, I guess.

If you’re tired of reading the same fantasy novels over and over again but in different format and with other titles, or you rather stake a vampire than read another love story with vamps in the lead role and you feel like declaring war on both hell and heaven so you could just kill every demon and angel alive, then Rogue Oracle really is the novel you are waiting for. A fast read, entertaining, original, and it doesn’t let you go until the end – and even then, you’ll have some trouble getting away from it. Even if you’re still a huge fan of vampire love stories and demons still hold a special place in your heart, you’ll enjoy Rogue Oracle nevertheless. Because it’s really everything fantasy should be like, but all too often isn’t.

Book Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

7719245Title: Paranormalcy
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: Paranormal, Supernatural, Young Adult
Rating: 4,5 stars

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shapeshifter and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours, but still. Normal.

Only now paranormals are dying and Evie’s dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She begins to suspect there is a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths, and even worse, that she is at the centre of a dark prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

Evie desperately wants to be normal. Except that she isn’t, or well, not entirely. Although she has no supernatural abilities of her own, she can see through paranormals’ glamours, making her a very interesting and useful addition for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. When she’s not busy hunting down vampires, werewolves or other paranormals, Evie’s chatting with her best friend Lish – a mermaid working for the Agency, her supervisor Raquel, or watching teenage drama series on television and wishing to be just like every other normal teenager. That is, until she meets Lend. After being caught trespassing in the Agency, Lend is captured and locked up in the containment cages. Because he’s a shapeshifter of the kind she has never met before, and because he’s of her own age, Evie immediately feels herself being drawn to him. At first as friends, but later on their relationship might become something more. Although that is without taking into account Evie’s ex-boyfriend Reth, who isn’t completely done with her yet and has several plans of his own. While a series of mysterious murders on paranormals rises a stir within the Agency, Evie must discover who she really is and where her alliances really lie, before she can stop the thing that’s killing her friends. One by one.

Back in 2010, Paranormalcy was really one of the “hype” novels of the year, accompanied by other bestsellers like The Iron King, Unearthly and Fallen. Although I’m a bit of a rebel myself, and don’t necessarily agree with the opinions of others, I couldn’t help it that I desperately wanted to read this book. Not only is the covel breathtakingly gorgeous, but the synopsis grabbed my interest as well. How must it feel like to be the only non-paranormal creature between paranormals? Although you can’t exactly say that seeing through paranormals’ glamours is normal…I have no regrets reading this book, in fact, for once I have to wholeheartidly agree with the general opinion of Paranormalcy: this novel is simply amazing.

The opening scene features our heroine, Evie, attacking a vampire called Steve. In the scene, Evie describes her blinged-out pink taser called Tasey in detail, and really steals my heart. I’m used to heroines being fiery and feisty, stubborn beyond belief and convinced they’re always right while the rest of the world is wrong. Evie is nothing of the kind. She’s a very caring and loving person, fun and cheery, with real fears concerning her position at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, and a very real and understandable wish to be just like every other teenager. It’s refreshing to see how a heroine so different from the kind I’m used to, can also grab my attention and admiration. Evie was just a person I could relate to, something else entirely from the generic herione often featured in fantasy stories, and it was a refreshing change.

What else is so captivating about this novel? Well, for once, the love triangle is actually interesting and both love interests for Evie have their own weaknesses and strengths. I hate it when readers get introduced to a love triangle, where it’s obvious that one of the two suitors already has a great advantage, and it’s clear from the start who the heroine will eventually choose. In Paranormalcy the choice isn’t clear right away, and both Reth and Lend have some obvious teenage-girl-heart-warming qualities. Lend is the boy every teenage girl with a minimum amount of intelligence level can fall in love with: he is caring, loving, someone you can count on, true boyfriend and serious relationship material. Reth on the other hand is the fantasy and faerie equivalent of a bad boy. Cunning, michevious and attractive, with a secret agenda of his own. Although at first it’s not clear if Reth really likes Evie, or simply uses her for his own purposes, it’s safe to say that throughout the novel it’s obvious he has atleast some feelings for her. For once, I don’t have a clear preference for one of the two possible love interests, they both stole my heart utterly and completely. If I had to choose though, I would pick Reth, because his intentions are still a mystery, and I’d like to find out more about them.

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen the personalities of every character in the love triangle developed so thoroughly, and it was really refreshing. The additional characters, Raquel and Lish, had well-developed, interesting personalities as well. I felt sorry for Lish though, being a mermaid and being trapped in a fish tank. It strikes me as a very sad fate, and I was hoping she would somehow escape and live happily ever after in one of the seven seas. Raquel behaved towards Evie with a mix of motherly care and annoyance. There were times when I just wanted to slap her in the head, while at other times I was just ‘awww’ and loved her for trying to be somewhat like a mother towards Evie.

The story is nothing short but amazing. It’s original, fast-paced and doesn’t get boring once – in fact, it encouraged me to keep reading until the very end. I simply could not put this book down, no matter if it was in the middle of the night, or if I had to catch a train. I couldn’t. The storyline is so addictive, interesting and surprising that it pulled me in and refused to let me go. All the characters are strong and appealing in their very own way, the narrative mixes between joyful and fun and suspenseful and tense, in a wonderful mix of fantasy adventure. A must-read for every self-respecting fantasy fan.

Book Review: Claiming The Evil Dead by Mary Abshire

10054449Title: Claming The Evil Dead
Author: Mary Abshire
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Adult, Vampires, Demons, Erotic Romance
Rating: 3,5 stars
Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours.

Half-demon Jessie Garrett is searching for an evil vampire that’s been preying upon children. She wants to claim the rogue vamp’s soul and send it to hell. To find the dead man walking she must partner with another bloodsucker, Drake, even though she doesn’t trust him. While Jessie works with Drake, she learns not all vampires are killers and discovers the cold-blooded vamp is a temptation too difficult to resist.

After the fiend abducts another child and Jessie has a near fatal experience with vampires, she turns to Jeremy, a demon she bumped into at a club, and makes a deal with him for his help. Drake disapproves, and Jessie soon finds herself wedged between two volatile creatures. When the chance comes to save the child’s life and claim the evil vamp’s soul, she must decide whom she can trust—a vampire who cools her feverish desires, or a demon hell-bent on seducing her.

Jessie is half-demon: her father is none other than the Devil himself, and her mother was a fragile little human being. Not only is she a rarity in the demon world with her gorgeous blue eyes, but the powers she possesses are unseen as well: she can breathe in spirits and send them straight to hell. Working together with some of her close friends in a paranormal investigators team, she enters haunted houses occupied by the spirits of deceased murders, consumes them and sends them right into the arms of the Devil. Although she’s a supernatural creature herself, Jessie stays away from others of her kind as often as possible. It’s no surprise that when a vampire walks into a bar and requests her help, she has second thoughts about it. Even if said vampire is willing to pay her a huge amount of cash in order to get a job done.

Her job is to track down and kill – or well, capture the soul of – an evil vampire named Alexander who likes to kidnap, torture and kill little children. Her right hand during this job? The mysterious vampire she comes to know as Drake. Although Jessie thinks vampires are nothing more than revolting bloodsuckers, she does feel an attraction towards Drake. And he towards her…
But then there’s also the evil vampire they have to slay, the appearance of a demon called Jeremy, and a lot more that could keep these star-crossed lovers apart.

Claiming The Evil Dead is a nice and entertaining read. I liked the storyline, with a half-demon and a century-old vampire chasing another vampire in an attempt to destroy him and stop his evil doing. The character of Jessie was…interesting, to say the least. I can’t say that I was terribly fond of her – I didn’t understand half of the choices she made, and found her to be rather superficial. For instance, she wants Drake based solely on his good looks, but fails to notice the man behind the looks. She is also way too eager to put her own superstitions towards vampires aside only because Drake looks so damn good. Priorities, people. Anyway, I have the faint suspision that the author didn’t want to turn her main character into a serious person held back by a bunch of principles, which is a nice description for Jessie. She’s more of a free-spirit, and although that’s not the kind of person I would get along with, I can see how it would appeal to others.

The only character I found intriguing and wanted to know more of, was Drake. The tragic vampire, tortured by his own evil doings in the past, who now strives to do good and save humans to retribute for his previous sins. He reminded me a lot of Angel, back in the days when Buffy The Vampire Slayer was still the TV hype. I didn’t like Jeremy: he was too shallow, superificial and immature to really strike my interest. I would have liked to get into the mind of Alexander a bit more, to define what turned him into a killer and maybe then figure out some of the reasons why Drake could avoid such destiny. I think some more psychological insight in the characters would have made them seem more appealing to me.

The story is fast-paced and suspenseful, but it never really kept me on the edge of my seat, and some twists and turns were pretty predictable. The writing is decent, although not outstanding: this isn’t the sort of novel that is going to keep you awake all night reminiscing about it. It’s a nice and entertaining read, but that’s all it is. It would have perhaps been more interesting had the characters had more depth and personality. The love triangle in the novel, between Drake – Jessie – Jeremy could have been better developed. It was clear from the beginning who Jessie would choose and why; perhaps if Jeremy had some more attractive personality traits, or appeared in the picture a tad bit more often, he would have stood a greater chance, and the love triangle would have been a lot more interesting.

It’s not to say I didn’t like Claiming The Evil Dead. I did enjoy the story, but I have the feeling this is one of those novels that should have been a novella. Get rid of a hundred or so pages, and the story would have been a lot more interesting, the characters would appear less superficial (no need to dig out everyone’s dirty secrets in a novella) and I wouldn’t have had the feeling halfway that I should cling on to the novel to keep reading – the clinging would then probably come naturally. There were also some things that just didn’t work out. For instance, Drake pays Jessie a huge amount of cash so she can hop in on his little plan, but then it turns out he has no plan whatsoever. Also, in my opinion, the relationship between Drake and Jessie developed too fast to actually made me really like them as a couple. They seemed more like two horny teenagers than like two people actually liking each other. All in all, if you want a fun read, this novel is a nice option – just don’t expect too much from it.

Book Review: Dead Man’s Eye by Shaun Jeffrey

9369354Title: Dead Man’s Eye
Author: Shaun Jeffrey
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Review copy provided by the author. Visit the author’s website.

A corneal transplant does more than correct Joanna Raines sight. It allows her to see something that doesn’t want to be seen. Something evil. Something that threatens mankind. The only trouble is that no one believes her, and by the time they do, it might be too late …

Seeing is believing. Now Joanna just has to convince everyone else.

I have to admit that at first, I thought Dead Man’s Eye would be a lot like the scary movie called The Eye with Jessica Alba in the lead role. I liked that movie – didn’t love it to pieces, but that’s sort of difficult when it comes to horror movies anyway – but I did rather enjoy it, and thought it was fairly scary. Now in the movie the girl portrayed by Jessica Alba undergoes a cornea transplant (which basically means she gets a new and shiny pair of eyes) but ever since, she notices things lurking in the shadows. Evil things. She has visions of people dying, etc. In an effort to figure out what the heck is going out, she travels to Mexico to find the person who the cornea first belonged to, where she does a whole lot of things but eventually cannot forsake her destiny. I had a faint suspicion Dead Man’s Eye would be somewhat along this line. There are a lot of similiarities, but there are also some huge differences.

Joanna recently underwent a cornea transplant, and although her life should look a whole lot brighter now (no pun intended); it doesn’t. Because either something went wrong with the transplant or she has gone insane and started seeing things that aren’t there. Like black smoke crawling into a man who just fell under a train, and is now missing an arm due to that freak accident. Concerned that something is wrong with the transplant, Joanna goes to a check-up with her doctor, who convinces her that everything is fine and her cornea is working properly. Meanwhile, she finds out that strange things are happening at the hospital. These strange things are courtesy of Malachi, the demon who chose to inhabit Lincoln, the man who fell under the train. Although Malachi himself isn’t all too happy with his new body (especially with the fact it’s missing an arm, and the previous owner tries to regain control every once in a while), he does use it to summon his brethren. The plan? Well, rule the world, ofcourse. How? By inhabiting dead people’s bodies. Who can stop them? Joanna is the only one who can see the demons, but what can one woman do against an entire army of demons?

I have to state first of all, that I admire people who write novellas. It can’t be easy to develop believable and relatable characters, build a solid world around them, and then craft a storyline as well in less than 40,000 words. Like it takes a certain talent to write captivating short stories, I think it takes a particular gift to write successful novellas as well. Shaun Jeffrey managed to do such a remarkable thing with this mix of horror, thriller and the supernatural. I liked the characters, especially Joanna. She proved herself to be a strong, capable and intelligent woman who isn’t afraid to meet danger head on when needed. Her boyfriend, Stephen, is a remarkable person as well, and although he might not have supported her at first, I think that’s quite the natural reaction when your love interest suddenly tells you half of the people you work with have turned into demons. I also liked the way the author described the demon Malachi and his personality. It was a tad bit dissapointing that the supportive characters were nothing more than names on paper, with no personality whatsoever, but then again it’s normal to focus only the main characters in novels of this size.

The storyline was interesting. I certainly didn’t expect to see demons pop up in this novel, but they did nevertheless. Now the problem I have with demons is quite simple. They don’t scare me. I can’t help it: perhaps I’m immune because of an overdose of Buffy kicking demons action while I was younger, or because the good witches in Charmed always managed to defeat the evil demons, but for some reason as soon as the world “demon” pops up, I’m no longer scared. Same goes for vampires, by the way. I blame the media for enforcing the image of loving and caring demons and cuddly and shiny vampires in our mind. I’m convinced that if the shadows Joanna noticed wouldn’t have been works of a demon, but rather ghosts or something along those lines, I would have been a lot more scared by this story. Although I must admit that somewhere halfway Dead Man’s Eye, when Joanna was being chased by a couple of demons, I did have to surpress a feeling of dread and anxiety. Blame it on Shaun Jeffrey’s marvellous way of describing Joanna’s feelings during this chase.

There was one other thing about this novel that had me totally confused. When Joanna finds out that her cornea lets her see demons, she goes to find the person who has the other part of the cornea. A search which turns out to be totally useless, and made no sense to me in the first place. Personally, I would have gone to search for the reason why I was seeing things I shouldn’t be able to see, and I would try to track down the person the cornea belonged to originally. If that person had some connection with the demon world, it might have helped Joanna fight the demons. I have to admit that we do eventually discover who the cornea belonged to at first, but it’s an answer I find quite random, and it just seems a bit far off to me. The story would have been more interesting to me, had there been a more valid reason why the original owner of the cornea could see demons, and had it focused more on Joanna’s search for the reason why she can see demons all of the sudden. Ofcourse I know that’s a lot to cramp into a novella, especially considering the main character spends half the novel being chased by demons, but it would have added some more suspense to the story.

What I loved the most about Dead Man’s Eye, was the ending, without a doubt. Trust me when I say it ends in a blast, and with a nice twist at the end of an entertaining read. If you want some fun entertainment, or a scary story that isn’t going to give you some sleepless nights, but will instead put you on the edge of your seat during the entire experience, then Dead Man’s Eye is definately your kind of novella.

Book Review: Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur

172764Title: Full Moon Rising (Riley Jenson Guardian Series #1)
Author: Kerri Arthur
Genre: Paranormal, Vampires, Werewolves, Adult
Rating: 3 stars

In this exciting debut, author Keri Arthur explodes onto the supernatural scene with a sexy, sensuous tale of intrigue and suspense set in a world where legends walk and the shady paths of the underworld are far more sinister than anyone envisioned.

A rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf, Riley Jenson and her twin brother, Rhoan, work for Melbourne’s Directorate of Other Races, an organization created to police the supernatural races–and protect humans from their depredations. While Rhoan is an exalted guardian, a.k.a. assassin, Riley is merely an office worker–until her brother goes missing on one of his missions. The timing couldn’t be worse. More werewolf than vampire, Riley is vulnerable to the moon heat, the weeklong period before the full moon, when her need to mate becomes all-consuming.…

Luckily Riley has two willing partners to satisfy her every need. But she will have to control her urges if she’s going to find her brother….Easier said than done as the city pulses with frenzied desire, and Riley is confronted with a very powerful–and delectably naked–vamp who raises her temperature like never before.

In matters carnal, Riley has met her match. But in matters criminal, she must follow her instincts not only to find her brother but to stop an unholy harvest. For someone is doing some shifty cloning in an attempt to produce the ultimate warrior–by tapping into the genome of nonhumans like Rhoan. Now Riley knows just how dangerous the world is for her kind–and just how much it needs her.

Riley Jenson and her twin brother Rhoan are what people would call hybrids. They are half-vampire, half-werewolf, an unexpected result from one night when their mother (who happened to be a werewolf) was raped by a newborn vampire. Although cast out from their pack because of their differences, Riley and Rhoan manage well in the outside world. They share an apartment together, and both work for an organisation that specialises in Other Races. However, Rhoan is a guardian within the organisation, where Riley chose not to be. She isn’t a killer, or so she claims. But when she finds a naked – yes, a covered in mud, but otherwise naked – vampire at her front door, and her brother goes missing, Riley believes it’s time to take action. Teaming up with the previously-naked-but-now-clothed vampire named Quinn, she is determined to find her missing brother. But someone is after Riley as well, and an attempt on her life, makes her suspect she’s in even more danger than she at first had anticipated.

Had the story stopped there and gone on with the detective/solving mysteries/locate the missing brother vibe, I would have definately rated it a 4. Full Moon Rising is fast-paced, action-packed and leaves you on the edge of your seat a lot of times. Although I had some trouble throughout the middle part of the story to keep on reading – the action slowed down a bit there, to be replaced by talking, and other stuff I will get to soon enough – but I have to admit that this story has some nice twists and turns, some original plotlines and a nice cast of characters. But, then there’s the other half of this book.

Actually, the title says it all. Full Moon Rising. Which means that most of the events, no matter how unlikely because there is so many stuff happening, all happens in the course of one week, namely the week before the full moon. Now, try to keep up with me while I explain this to you the best I can. In Keri Arthur’s series, the week before the full moon, werewolves don’t get extremely bloodthirsty, or feel like killing every animal or human that stands in the way; nor do they suffer from some unexplained illness or have access to superior strength. Oh, no. The week before the full moon werewolves get horny. Yes, you read that right. Horny. Every single moment of every single day they feel like having crazy, kinky sex. Doesn’t matter with who. Since our main character is a werewolf, you can already guess what’s going on. Half of this book is filled with countless descriptions of our heroine having intercourse with one or another partner – did I also mention that they don’t take monogamy that seriously in the werewolf community? No, it is actually mentioned that one of the werewolves had up to seven partners. Guess they never heard of aids or other sexually transmittable diseases in werewolf-land. Our heroine Riley keeps it rather simple, as she keeps to two or three mates. Cheers, people, because you know, reading about a main character basically having sex with everyone she meets during this novel, is highly entertaining. Not.

Now, I’m not old-fashioned and I read a lot of adult romances, but this one is just over the top. Had the novel focused more on the possible relationship Riley/Quinn, it would have rated higher on my score list. I’m also thinking one werewolf mate would have been quite enough, why would you need several? Moon heat, as it is called on numerous occassions throughout the novel, just sucks, people. I mean, you can barely go to work, or hang out with friends, or even watch TV for an entire week every month simply because you’re in moon-heat-phase. Damn, I wouldn’t want to be a werewolf. Rather give me a walking corpse that hasn’t showered in over a century then.

I did like the story. I thought it was original, the writing wasn’t spectacular, but it was decent, and when you skipped through all the uncomfortable passages – but I have to tell you, there are a lot of uncomfortable passages, and sometimes I was actually saying “what the hell…” while I was reading – this is actually a pretty interesting novel, if not a very interesting one. But for some reason the author went totally over the top with the sex scenes, the multiple partners, and the casual way people talk about all that stuff. Plus, do you have to keep dressing our heroine like a hooker? I mean, come on. I don’t like reading a novel when the main character has to degrade herself to dress like a hooker in order to slip into factories or gain information – especially not when said heroine doesn’t mind at all. A little self-respect, Riley. Please.

Another thing I noticed about this novel, is that there are hardly any humans in it. No human character is ever mentioned, and everyone is either a vampire, werewolf or something inbetween. Humans are mentioned occasionally, but that’s it. This wasn’t exactly bad, as I did enjoy the entire supernatural-races-club-thing that was going on.

Nevertheless, I will probably read the next part in the series, Kissing Sin. Why? For starters, as I already mentioned, the story does have some original points of view, and I would like to know what happens next. And secondly, maybe I’m just another silly little human being with a dirty mind.