Title: Sin Undone
Author: Larissa Ione
Pages: 400 pages, mass market paperback
Genre: paranormal romance
Standalone/Series: Series (Demonica series #5 (last of series))
Release: August 24th, 2010
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Purchased by me
Author info: www.larissaione.com
Spoiler Alert: Small spoilers for previous books, small plot spoilers
GoodReads Blurb: HER TOUCH IS DEADLY
As the only female Seminus demon ever born, master assassin Sinead Donnelly is used to being treated like an outcast. She spent decades enslaved, and now vows she’ll die before she’ll relinquish her freedom again. Then Sin’s innate ability to kill her enemies goes awry: She creates a lethal new werewolf virus that sparks a firestorm of panic and violence.
HIS HUNGER CAN’T BE DENIED
Half-werewolf, half-vampire Conall Dearghul is charged with bringing in Sin to face punishment for the plague. And she’s no stranger: He’s bound to her by blood, and the one sexual encounter they shared has left him hungering for her raw sensuality. Worse, Sin is the underworld’s most wanted and Con soon learns he’s the only one who can help her . . . and that saving her life might mean sacrificing his own.
REVIEW: This is the last entry into the Demonica series and by far one of the best books of the series (though really I love them all). Ms. Ione’s writing is as dark and sexy as the black leather pants her heroine Sin wears. Sin and the Sem brothers are a tough and loyal bunch and the backdrop of Underworld General makes an excellent setting. Sin is the only known female Seminus demon, a hybrid of human and demon genes that shouldn’t exist. Sin’s life has left her with a huge chip on her shoulder and the inability to trust and rely on anyone since everyone she has relied on in the past has left her. She has a hard time with her brothers due to this, her full brother Lore and her half brothers, E, Shade, and Wraith. It also doesn’t help that Sin’s Sem powers let loose a highly contagious plague that affects wargs (weres) that now her brothers are frantically trying to find a cure for before humans start noticing the massive amounts of deaths. Add in a dark and sexy dhampire, Conall, who both wants to destroy Sin for the disease she unleashed and do naughty things to her, and Sin has a lot to handle.
The story does an excellent job of drawing Sin out of her tough and jaded shell as she starts to let go of her hard assassin exterior and remember what it’s like to feel again. Though she retains her sharp wit and even sharper tongue – a characteristic of her I love! It doesn’t hurt that Con is there to help her along this journey in so many ways. And as we learn along the way Con has a dark past and a lot of secrets as well which keep him walled off from most of his friends outside the dhampire community. Con and Sin’s relationship is complicated to say the least and with all the secrets they keep from each other it seems doomed from the start. Though as they dodge the attempts on Sin’s life the action heats up and of course this wouldn’t be a Demonica series book without a lot of action on and off the sheets (they are sex demons so what do you expect..).
The book kept me happy with glimpses of the other Sem brothers and their women as well as an introduction to the Lords of Deliverance – which will be Ms. Ione’s new series based in the Demonica world and comes out early 2011 ( I can’t wait). We also get to see more of Luc – who has been a paramedic at Underworld General since the first book in the series and has generally ended up getting beat down by the world throughout the series. I was happy with his side story and I thought it tied in nicely with Sin and Con’s story though I wish there was a little more Gem in the story since I love the Goth girl half-demon doctor.
Overall 5 out of 5 stars, sad to see one of my favorite series end!
Title: Bayou Moon
Author: Ilona Andrews
Pages: 480 pages
Genre: Rustic Fantasy or Redneck Romance (according to authors)
Standalone/Series: Series (The Edge #2)
Release: September 28th, 2010
Publisher: Ace Received from agent
Author info: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/
Spoiler Alert: small plot spoilers
GoodReads Blurb: Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one. But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life. William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster. When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed ... and survive.
REVIEW: Hands down Ilona Andrews (a husband and wife writing team) is one of my favorite authors, the worlds they build are starkly beautiful knotted messes that you just want to start pulling on the threads to see where they lead. They have the ability to build books that create action sequences that make you forget how to breathe, complicated but ultimately satisfying romance, biting humor, and worlds you would like to see for yourself. Bayou Moon, the latest book by Ilona Andrew, contains all those things I love wrapped up in a great heroine and hero, Cerise and William, and one of the weirdest and most interesting worlds out there – that of the Broken/Edge/Weird. We were first introduced to this world in On the Edge – though you don’t need to read the first book to understand what is going on in Bayou Moon it was another awesome book so why wouldn’t you want to? – Broken is basically our world with no magic and lots of technology; Weird is a world full of magic; and the Edge is what exists between. The Edge has both magic and some technology but is a hard place to live – like some kind of refugee camp for those trying to escape or where exiled from the Weird but have too much magic to survive in the Broken for long. Therefore the Edge is inhabited with a lot of people who will kill to keep their secrets hidden, distrust outsiders to the point of killing them on sight, and like to take care of their problems themselves. And in the Mire – the part of the Edge Cerise is from and where the majority of this book takes place – those Edge attributes take on a more sinister form since the Mire is basically a gigantic prehistoric deadly swamp with gators the size of houses and 15 foot dead eels piloted by necromancers – so being an outsider there is definitely a one-way ticket to deadsville. The outsider in this story, William, is a tough and deadly sort that could do some damage to those gigantic gators and is no stranger to secrets since he has many of his own to hide. William is sent to the Mire to hunt Spider, his nemesis for many years who leads a team of magically altered spies. This isn’t a pretty alteration either, the spies don’t sparkle in the sunlight or have beautiful wings, no they have tentacles, poison sacs, fangs, scales, and other nastiness. This was definitely a case where I was glad I was reading a book rather than having to see the disturbing images on TV. Unfortunately Cerise and her family become a target for Spider and his team of spies known as the Hand and William works with Cerise and her family to bring them down.
William and Cerise were a great pair from the start – so many hilarious misunderstandings had me giggling throughout the beginning of the book as well as their pet names for each other. The author does an excellent job of conveying that William thinks differently than most people due to his being a changeling and growing up in the equivalent of a harsh military school environment. This difference in the way William thinks led to some great foot-in-mouth moments for him as well. It also gives William a primal edge when it comes to battles and when it comes to what he wants from Cerise as well. Cerise is definitely tough enough and brave enough to attract William’s interest. Her ability to smash things up and to kill are quite the attractive attributes to him. Cerise also has a lot of responsibilities resting on her shoulders as the leader of her family and she has many of the attributes I love in an urban fantasy heroine –strong-willed, non-whiny, sarcastic, witty, deadly, and likes those strong and deadly types of men.
This book is definitely a 5 out of 5 for me, Cerise and William make up a deadly and awesomely entertaining team!
Since there were so many entries to my Blogfest post and many hours spent tabulating entries to figure out winners I decided to do 2 winners!
Winner of the YA prize pack is:
Winner of up to $15 in books at Book Depository is:
Congrats to the winners and you will be receiving an e-mail shortly! Thanks for everyone for entering and telling me which new releases you are most looking forward to - I like to see that I have alot of book choices in common with my readers!
Author: Zoe Archer
Pages: 354 paperback
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance/Adventure
Standalone/Series: Series (#1 of The Blades of the Rose)
Release: September 1st, 2010
Purchased by me *right now on sale at the Kindle store for $4.47 so go get it and pre-order the next three at the same price!
Author info: www.zoearcherbooks.com
Spoiler Alert: Small plot spoilers
GoodReads Blurb: To most people, the realm of magic is the stuff of nursery rhymes and dusty libraries. But for Capt. Gabriel Huntley, it’s become quite real and quite dangerous…
IN HOT PURSUIT…The vicious attack Capt. Gabriel Huntley witnesses in a dark alley sparks a chain of events that will take him to the ends of the Earth and beyond—where what is real and what is imagined become terribly confused. And frankly, Huntley couldn’t be more pleased. Intrigue, danger, and a beautiful woman in distress—just what he needs.
IN HOTTER WATER… Raised thousands of miles from England, Thalia Burgess is no typical Victorian lady. A good thing, because a proper lady would have no hope of recovering the priceless magical artifact Thalia is after. Huntley’s assistance might come in handy, though she has to keep him in the dark. But this distractingly handsome soldier isn’t easy to deceive…
REVIEW: What do you get when you mix Laura Croft from Tomb Raider and Rick O’Connell from Mummy – you get Warrior by Zoe Archer. Though since the story takes place in 19th century England and Mongolia at least where the Laura Croft analogy is concerned there is less technology and other “enhancements”. The book is a great mix of swashbuckling adventure with a dash of paranormal and a very satisfying helping of romance. The protagonists in this story, Gabriel and Thalia, are thrown together as they try to stop the Heirs of Albion from stealing a magical Source. In this story the British Empire is the bad guy as it tries to take over and subjugate the world by finding Sources imbued with magic that if they fall into the wrong hands can be used by the empire to rule the world. The Blades of the Rose, a group that Thalia’s father belongs to, works to stop the Heirs from obtaining the Sources and to return the Sources to their natural protectors, the people or groups that the magic was borne from in the first place to create the Source. Thalia takes up her father’s cause when he becomes too injured to go out on a critical mission and Gabriel comes to her rescue again and again while the attraction that burns between them gets hotter and hotter. Thalia is a great character – she has grown up on the steppes of Mongolia most her life and loves the land and acts and dresses like a Mongol although she was born an English lady. She is no meek English rose to shy away from action or to be outraged at bad language which is good because Gabriel, a former captain in the British Army, has a very filthy mouth. The chemistry between these two was burning hot and made my heart go a-pitter patter as they both fought the passion they felt for each other. And the love scenes Ms. Archer writes are panty scorching hot and fit well in the flow of the story. It was one thing that stuck with me from her Blades of the Rose novella in Half Past Dead (another favorite of mine) is how well balanced the love scenes are with the main story – there is no sacrifice of overall plot to have gratuitous sexy time and the sexy time is just as well written as the action scenes - though it is very descriptive so be warned if you are not a fan of explicit love scenes.
I also loved the setting of the book – I think historical paranormal romance/ action-adventure is becoming a new favorite genre of mine. The settings and descriptions of the Mongolian steppe and Gobi desert were stunning – I found myself looking up pictures of many things described in the book and much of what Ms. Archer described is real. Although I do not have a heightened desire to go riding around on a camel, I now have a new locale added to the places I wish to visit! I’m looking forward to where Ms. Archer takes us in her next books since a new book from the series will be published in the beginning of September/October/November/December. The language of the book is authentic (at least as far as I can tell) and charming as well – now I know how a British soldier might swear or a lady raised on the Mongolian steppes speaks – and it fits the time period of the book and the characters very well. That’s a pet peeve of mine –when the language does not match the character and time period the book is written in – thankfully Ms. Archer’s writing is delightfully British.
Overall a 4.5 out of 5 for me – delightful romance and swashbuckling on the Mongolian steppes!
Title: Cold Magic (Spiritwalker #1)
Author: Kate Elliot
Pages: 384 paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Standalone/Series: 1st of Spiritwalker Trilogy
Release: September 2nd 2010
Publisher: Orbit Received from author for review
Author info: www.kateelliott.com and twitter @KateElliottSFF
Spoiler Alert: In the clear
GoodReads Blurb: 'I was not a bard or a djeli or an historian or a scribe and I was certainly not a sage, but that didn't mean I wasn't curious ...'
Young Cat Barahal thinks she understands the world she lives in and her place in it, but in fact she is merely poised unaware on the brink of shattering events. Drawn into a labyrinth of politics involving blood, betrayal and old feuds, she will be forced to make an unexpected and perilous journey in order to discover the truth, not just about her own family but about an ancient secret lying at the heart of her world.
Cold Magic is a captivating mix of high fantasy, steampunk, romance, alternative history, mythical creatures, mysteries, epic betrayals, and adventure - all surrounded by a wall of ice. If you feel a little intimidated by the mix don’t worry – Kate Elliot is an excellent story teller (she’s been one of my favorite fantasy authors for years) and her main heroine Cat quickly draws you into the story. The story revolves around Cat as she deals with very personal betrayals and faces a world turned upside down though thankfully as her name implies – she’s a cat and always lands on her feet. Even though Cat is young and just coming into her age of majority (twenty years old) she has already had a difficult life since her parents passed away when she was very young and the only way she has to connect to her father is through his travel journals which she still has. She also belongs to a social group, the Phonecians, that is much maligned in her society and has learned to be a fierce defender of her heritage as well. Cat faces many of these challenges with her best friend and cousin Bee. Though Bee is more like a fanciful teenage girl with her crushes on boys at school, both girls are very loyal to each other and thankfully don’t fall into the trap of many YA heroines do by bemoaning and complaining about the unfairness of life. Through the course of reading the book you definitely get to see the girls grow up as the world they thought they knew changes completely and irreversibly.
Another favorite part of this book is the world building. The Romans, Celts, and Phonecians have a much different historical trajectory than what we are used to in our world’s story and these familiar names exist alongside things such as trolls, cold mages, ghouls and otherworldly portals. I am not a big history buff so I enjoy books that play with what I know and twist the story a bit. Another big theme the story highlights is that history always favors the victors. With that in mind, there is great upheaval in the world Cat lives in when people who have nothing left to lose decide it's time to fight back against those "victors". I loved the story of the cold mages and I am looking forward to learning more about the world Cat lives in where zeppelins rule the skies and cold magic trumps technology.
5 out of 5, I can’t wait for the next part of Cat’s adventure!
Today is Blogfest 2010 - over 250 blogs are giving away just about everything - books, jewelry,candles, gift cards and tons of other fabulous gifts! Don't forget about the massive BlogFest 2010 grand giveaway! Head on over to http://ajourneyofbooks.com/blogfest/ to use the exclusive tracking site. Once there you can register with a valid email address (to be used solely for the purpose of contacting the winner for the Grand Giveaway). This site will allow you to track your progress through BlogFest 2010! You can log on from anywhere at any time and continue where you left off. The best part is that every blog that you visit and mark off through this tracking site will give you one entry into the massive giveaway! You can also find out more about the giveaways at http://ajourneyofbooks.halfzero.net. We have a great collection of books, goodies and other swag that is looking for a new home!
I am number 216 on the blog list (when I last checked) if you are keeping track and you should check out the giveaway over at http://peacefulreader.blogspot.com number 217!
The Giveaway is International! If you are from the US there are two options: you can win the YA book prize pack or choose the fabulous International Prize pack where you can chose up to $15 in books from the list here (some of my favorite September releases) anywhere book depository delivers. For those International entrants you can only chose the International Prize pack.
YA Prize Pack
- Leave a comment that includes (1) name; (2) e-mail; (3) Release coming up that you can't wait for!
- Extra entry - blog follower (+1) but you do not need to be a follower to enter!
BlogFest goes from midnight September 10th to midnight September 12th. If you get a chance check out the blog while you're entering and I hope you enjoy the festivities!
Title: Cruel Enchantment (Dark Magick #2)
Author: Anya Bast
Pages: 336, paperback
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
Standalone/Series: Series (#2)(see my review of Wicked Enchantment here)
Release: September 7th
Publisher: Berkeley Sensation
Received ARC from author
Author info: http://www.anyabast.com/
Spoiler Alert: Small plot spoilers
Blurb: Even the most powerful hands need a delicate touch… Emmaline Gallagher is a master of wielding personal glamour. As a free fae who lives among humans, she must hide her true self at all times as she works undercover within the powerful Phaendir—for if certain factions within the Phaendir gain control, the fae will be wiped from existence. Now, an object of fae power lies within a locked ancient box. And there is only one fae who can forge the key. Known as “the Blacksmith” Aeric O’Malley can create or destroy almost anything with his forging skills. Emmaline has come to him in need, but he and Emmaline have a past—and he has spent centuries wanting to take revenge on her for her transgressions. But now that he has her within his grasp, something about her keeps him from exacting his vengeance—or is it merely her glamour blinding him? Trapped by fate, Emmaline must hope that she can reach Aeric’s furious heart before it’s too late…
Emmaline has been trying to atone for her past sins as the Summer Queen's assassin many centuries previously by trying to find a way to destroy the detention center that the Phaendir built to imprison the fae - Piefferberg. Emmaline's ability to use personal glamour has allowed her to avoid being imprisoned in Piefferberg and to get close to the Phaendir who run the prison to gain a way to enter and exit Piefferberg in the guise of a human Faemous crew member (the fae "Entertainment Tonight" equivalent that resides in Piefferberg). Emmaline uses this "in" to seek out Aeric the Blacksmith to ask him to build a key that will hopefully unlock a relic that is needed to tear down Piefferberg's walls. Unfortunately for Emmaline, Aeric hasn't forgotten or forgiven her for murdering his fiancee centuries earlier while she was the Summer Queen's assassin. Quickly Emmaline's trip to Piefferberg changes from asking Aeric to build a key to asking Aeric to spare her life.
I loved the main character Emmaline! She is a survivor and isn't afraid to kick a little ass. Since Emmaline has been living on her own away from other fae for centuries one of the scenes that really struck me in this book was when she first steps in Piefferberg. She expects it to feel like a prison but is surprised by the connection she feels with the land and many of the things she's missed from living away from the fae for so long. That revelation was the first of many for Emmaline during her adventures in Piefferberg - the second was that Aeric put the equivalent of a magical lo-jack on her to know the instant she stepped inside the fae prison. Though Aeric captures Emmaline with the intent to kill her, his life instantly gets more complicated as he begins to have conflicting feelings about killing Emmaline and learns more about the situation surrounding his fiancee's death. Of course Aeric faces these conflicting emotions like any grumpy alpha male does by drinking some whiskey, smashing stuff up, and stealing some kisses that end up leaving him more conflicted. Thankfully things change from comflicted to more steamy as Aeric begins to forgive Emmaline for her past mistakes and starts to see her as a woman rather than an assassin.
The bad guys in this book are truly evil. Gideon, the Phaendir member who we first meet in Wicked Enchantment, is still trying to take over the leadership of the Phaendir and is eliminating those who stand in his way by any means necessary. He really is a creepy character who practices self-flagellation to such an extreme that he nearly passes out from blood loss afterward and justifies the murders and foul acts he commits by saying it's his god's will. Another big bad guy from Emmaline's past is Lars who we learn shaped Emmaline into an assassin when she was just a teenager. What Emmaline went through at Lars's hands was truly terrible and helps explains many things that happened in her past. Though the biggest bad guy in this book is the Summer Queen, as we get further into the series the more evil and questionable the actions of the Summer Queen are - she seems like she should belong to the Black Tower with all her underhanded dealing and tricks.
The overall story is complex and engaging as we delve into Emmaline and Aeric's past and developing relationship while following the parallel story lines of Gideon and the Human's for the Freedom of Fae, the organization that Emmaline works with on the outside. We also get glimpses of the hunt and the rulers of the Black Tower and the Unseelie court, who we met in the first book, though I don't think it's necessary to read Wicked Enchantment to understand what is happening in Cruel Enchantment, but it will help to understand the back story of some of the characters.
Overall this book is a 4.5 out of 5 stars for me, Emmaline is a tough heroine who earned her chance at love with the sexy blacksmith Aeric.
I love all books snarky, sexy, or action-packed! My favorite genres are urban fantasy and paranormal romance though I read a little of everything. Please feel free to contact me at darklyreading (at) gmail (dot) com