Posts tagged “Vampire

2012 Year in Review!! My top books and series of the year!

If you have any favorite reads for this year please share! 2012 has been quite a year for me. I’ve read some incredible books, some great books, some not so great books, some terrible books.  But overall it contributed to read count of over 131 stories this year. It’s kind of funny because I feel like a slacker compared to some other Goodreads friends who I’ve seen read over 400+ books; one even read over 900. But good or bad, I’ll take it as a victory. Communiting to and from my job takes a good 2 hours of my day, which allows me to and dedicate most of that to reading. A broken iPod has helped quite a bit too, but Christmas kind of rectified that so I’ll have to see how my read count in 2013 compares. But in the meantime, I want to narrow things down and present my favorite urban fantasy/paranormal books of 2012.


Ever After ARC (The Hollows #11) by Kim HarrisonEver After

I debated listing this one because it technically doesn’t come out until 2013, but it rocked my personal socks this year, and I’m sure it will rock yours in January, so I’m going to list it.


All Dorina Basarab novels, including Fury’s Kiss by Karen Chance

Fury's Kiss, Karen Chance, dorina basarab

Though I was fairly familiar with its original sister series, Cassandra “Cassie” Palmer, I was really surprised to find that I love this series infinitely more. It’s got all of the pluses, none of the annoyances. Dory is a riot, but she kicks ass too. It just pains me that it take 2 years between books.


Wicked as They Come (Blud #1) by Delilah S. Dawson

Early on in the year this was my favorite book.  The world was new, interesting and exciting. And Criminy was awesome! I definitely can’t wait for the next book featuring him and Tish, but much like Karen Chance, this author alternates from book to book.


A Perfect Blood (The Hollows #10) by Kim Harrison

A Perfect Blood, Rachel Morgan, Kim Harrison

Yes, the Hollows takes two spots on my list.  In addition to the Ever After ARC, with all of the different publications this year from Into the Woods to Blood Crime to Trouble on Reserve to Trent’s POV from the paperback of A Perfect Blood, two spots can’t be surprising. However, while good, this book wasn’t quite in the same class as Ever After, but I did love it.  And like most Trenchers out there, Trent’s POV left me speechless! Oh and it’s also pretty awesome anytime I can meet Kim Harrison!


Kingmakers (Vampire Empire #3) by Susan and Clay Griffith

kingmakers, susan and clay griffith, vampire empire #3

This was another fantastic finish to a wonderful trilogy.  I was fortunate enough to read the ARC for this series and I loved it! If only there was more!


Dead Morning Sky (Experiment in Terror #3) by Karina Halle

experiment in terror, dead morning sky, karina halle

I wanted scary and I got scary! Just a little more than I bargained for with the weird crap that was happening OFF the pages while reading it.  And funny enough, there was no repeat of that peculiar activity after I was done. I have since stopped here, but there are definitely more books with Dex and Perry’s adventures. I plan to get to them after catching up with the Night Huntress series that I’m currently reading.


Ashes of Honor (October Daye #6) by Seanan McGuire

ashes of honor, seanan mcguire, october daye, toby daye

I read this book at a pretty difficult time. I started reading it and then I got my hands on the Ever After ARC.  I was riding too much of a high for anything else to compare, including this.  But in hindsight, this book rocks and I bet the next book will be my favorite of the series!


Tale of the Vampire Bride by Rhiannon Frater

Tale of the Vampire Bride, Rhiannon Frater

I was gripped from beginning to end on this one. It’s not an easy read, and do not mistake this for a romance. It’s more like one of those train-wrecks that you can’t look away from.  Unfortunately the sequel was nowhere near as good, but I hope this series continues eventually. I would love to read a third book if it could get back to the level of book 1.


Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee

ANGELFALL, Susan Ee, Penryn & The End of Days

I have a bit of an aversion when it comes to the Young Adult genre, but this is an exception. I LOVED this book and I often find myself wondering how long it’d be until the second book is released. That’s definitely a sign of a book worthy of this list. Even better, it’s probably the best $0.99 I’ve spent on a book!


Love is Fear (Valerie Dearborn #2) by Caroline Hanson

Love is Fear, caroline hanson, valerie dearborn 2

Though this trilogy arc is complete, this book is probably my favorite of the three. I finished wanting more, more, MORE!

Honorable Mentions

Iced (Dani O’Malley #1) by Karen Marie Moning – I definitely didn’t inhale this one as fast as the original Fever novels, but it did leave an impression. Honestly though, I just want more Mac and Barrons!

At Grave’s End (Night Huntress #3) by Jeaniene Frost – The review is pending right now because I wanted to post this year in review first, but I did enjoy it the most of the three novels thusfar. This series isn’t really among my favorites, but it seems to be positioning itself in the tier of series that are right below my favorites.  Not a bad place to be. There’s Bones to thank for that.

Fire Baptized (Habitat #1) by Kenya Wright – I inhaled this book as well.  This fresh take on the urban fantasy genre was just what I needed at the time and unlike some series where the sequels don’t measure up, its sequel certainly did and I look forward to book 3!

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion – I enjoyed this book quite a bit, as well as the movie. It presented a different take on the genre that I found refreshing.

A Blood Seduction (Vamp City #1) by Pamela Palmer – an alternate Washington, DC gets some bonus points!  This book introduced a pretty intriguing world. I read it in a day and enjoyed it, so that’s why it gets a mention.  Just beware that this isn’t true romance.  If you go in with those expectations you’ll likely be disappointed.

The Fire Lord’s Lover (The Elven Lords #1) by Kathryne Kennedy – I read this particular book in one day and I loved the world building and build up to the eventual romance. Unfortunately the sequels never really struck the same chord.

So all in all it’s been a good year! This blog has been good to me. YOU guys have been good to me. And I hope 2013 is even better!! The great thing about books is that there’s something for everybody.  I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Awesome Deal! Valerie Dearborn Trilogy (3 ebooks) for $2.99 on Amazon, one day only!

Though you may not have won the giveaway, there is still a chance to get the series (normally $7.99) for the near unbeatable price of $2.99 for TODAY only on Get it as a gift for the holidays or get it for yourself! It’s a wonderful series!

Giveaway Winner Selected!

love is mortal, caroline hanson, valerie dearbornHi everyone! This giveaway has been particularly exciting as we’re giving away THREE books to TWO awesome Your Urban Fantasy followers by the ONE and only Caroline Hanson.  But now the time has come to select our winners!   As always, I want to thank all of you for participating. If you posted in the comment section of the announcement thread, you were entered for a chance (or multiple chances for those following the blog multiple ways) to win. And the winners are:

Dita Škarste

Aly P

Please check your emails, ladies! Hope you enjoy! Thank you everyone for the continued support and I look forward to the next giveaway, and of course there’s more on the way!

Trilogy Giveaway + Author Interview + Review – Caroline Hanson, Valerie Dearborn Series

Love is Mortal Review

Betrayal and redemption are the primary themes in Love is Mortal, book 3 in the Valerie Dearborn series. It also completes the story arc of  Valerie and Lucas.   Stuck  in the land of the Fey, Valerie is desperate to get out of Cerdwellyn’s clutches. Her powers as an empath, while useful, are not enough and she’ll have to work with Lucas  if they have any hope of freedom.  But can she trust him after his betrayal?

I have enjoyed this series quite a bit so it was sad to see this come to the end, though this book was a fitting way to conclude their story.  There’s a lot of character development, particularly on Lucas’s end.  After the devastating revelations in Love is Fear, there was a lot of rebuilding to be done when it came to Lucas and Valerie’s relationship and not a lot of time to do it.  The work around was effective.

There wasn’t as much action this time around as Val and Lucas spend a great deal of time captive.  It’s more of a psychological game.  The the start was a little on the slow side for me because of this, but it does hit its stride and doesn’t really stop until it’s over.

Even though this doesn’t leave on a cliffhanger, there are a lot of questions still left when it comes to the land of the Fey and Cerdwellyn’s past and future, as well as Jack and Rachel, so thankfully we’re not completely finished with Valerie Dearborn world. It’s a fabulous series and I still want more.

*ARC provided by the author.

Author Interview

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Caroline Hanson, author of the fantastic Valerie Dearborn novels. With the third and final book (for this arc at least) now released, Ms. Hanson and I thought it’d be a great opportunity to hold a giveaway as well! But before that I had a few questions for our guest of honor.

1. Could you tell us a little about yourself? Where did you grow up and how did you come to love the Urban Fantasy and Paranormal genre?

I grew up in Fresno, California which is not particularly exciting. The most famous person to come out of our school is Kevin Federline– what’s that tell ya? I’m an only child and had strict parents so I spent a lot of time in my room reading. I moved to England at 20 which should also tell you something about me– halfway around the world from Fresno. Lol.

I loved Anne Rice and Depeche Mode as well as The Cure during high school and always liked paranormal books. But it was reading Laurell K Hamilton several years ago that started me on my urban fantasy obsession.

2. Can you share a little bit of your process with creating the Valerie Dearborn novels? Did you have a three initial books in mind, or were you initially planning one book and then your ideas expanded?

Valerie Dearborn actually came to me as a fairly full-fledged idea and was in response to what I had been reading. I did not like how action-based or mythology-based urban fantasy had become. Very external plot driver whereas Hamilton or even Meyer are all internal plot. I love internal conflict and building external problems to reflect the character’s internal bullshit. Joss Whedon is the master of that type of storytelling.

I also really don’t like the way vampires have been glamorized. That they have become all PC and nice. WTF? They’re killers! Very smart, very manipulative and very beautiful killers. That is what I find fascinating about vampires.

As for heroines, with the exception of Bella, they are usually very kick ass. I don’t relate to that. If a vampire was going to attack me I would probably huddle up in a ball and wait for the end. I wanted to read a story about a normal girl who gets dragged into the vampire stuff against her will. I think Valerie is relatable and that’s what has resonated with people. Or Lucas. Either way they like the books.

3. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Ugh. That’s tough and my answer isn’t very nice. I think in order to be successful, you have to be a little insecure with your writing. I’m an attorney (have you noticed how many successful writers are attorneys?) and I was terrible at law school. My law school was proud of the fact that they would tear us down and try to rebuild us. To succeed in writing one must be comfortable with being torn down. You will be told your writing blows. That’s just a fact. But successful writers  take that criticism and look for the truth in it, even when what they want to say is ‘Go f*ck yourself!’ If you can’t cut your favorite scene or cut out thousands of words and start over again, you probably won’t be successful. And that sucks.

4. Do you have any favorite authors who have inspired you?

Well, as I said a little bit above it would be Laurell K Hamilton and Anne Rice. But I also love Laura Kinsale and Loretta Chase. I met Loretta Chase this last year and went up to her, wanting to tell her how much I loved her stories but I got all teary-eyed and had to leave because I was gonna cry. It was a little bizarre to have such a fan girl reaction.

5.What can we look for next for your future works and the Valerie Dearborn world and other future works?

You know, I’m not sure what’s next. I’ve written three books, two novellas, two short stories and a couple of other random things in the last two years and I like to think that I am now going to take a break. But writers write and I still have to tell Cerdwellyn’s story. Jack and Rachel’s stories are not complete and I have Molly. In my mind, I think I know what that story is. Or at least part of it, but that may change. I really have to let that percolate, because I know people want Valerie and Lucas in there too and right now I’m not sure they have enough conflict to be very interesting in that book. So the next to Valerie book is going to take a while.

I’m working on a few new things, the first of which is a book called A Lady Out of Time and the heroine is a tough girl. She is a soldier who goes back in time to England and meets a very stuffy duke. I’ve read a lot of historicals and am so sick of the virginal, weak heroine that I really want to write something different.

My other series is called Incendia which means to ‘set alight.’  It’s urban fantasy and different than a lot of the things I have seen. I think this is the series that will make the Lucas fans happy. I think they’ll fall in love with Alexander. It will be very emotionally based, have a love triangle, and both men are pretty flawed. It’s got a Roman feel to it but is modern. Mainly.

Thank you again to Ms. Hanson and we look forward to what you’ve got next!


With Your Urban Fantasy Ms. Hanson is holding a giveaway for TWO winners to receive the complete trilogy of this series. It’s perfect for those of you who are new to the series, or for those who still want a chance to read the final book.  It’s a win win!

I am collecting entries through Saturday, December 8th. I will announce the winner the next day.

How to Enter (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY): My giveaways are only open to followers of Your Urban Fantasy who are 18 years of age or older. In order to enter YOU MUST COMMENT ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT POST! If you’re a new member, sign up on the right panel to follow my blog via email and/or Twitter. (Make sure you check your email to confirm your subscription. You should receive a notification immediately, so check your spam folder if you don’t see it right away). Current followers can just say so in their post and your entry will be added. Overall, there are up to 3 chances to win:

  1. Follow this blog via email (THIS IS REQUIRED)
  2. Follow me on Twitter (bonus entry)
  3. “Like” Your Urban Fantasy on Facebook (bonus entry)

While I do appreciate RSS subscribers, I cannot confirm your status as a follower so your entry will not count (sorry!); however, you are welcome to sign up by email and Twitter or Facebook. Good luck!

Kingmakers (Vampire Empire #3) – Powerful, Perfection

Epic doesn’t even begin to describe Kingmakers, the final novel of the Vampire Empire trilogy. Each installment is better than the last; Susan and Clay Griffith have done an amazing job at building momentum to this moment and it really doesn’t disappoint.

Adele leads the war against vampires to the north and Gareth is getting first hand experience with the it, fighting for Adele in the front lines of battle.  But the vampires are formidable opponents and have gained the upper hand, quickly bringing the humans to their knees. Something must be done and Adele’s geomancy powers may be the ace in the hole that the human race needs to win once and for all.

The last novel is jam packed with story, but there’s a lot of action so it gets going much faster than its predecessors. Politics, betrayal, and new revelations are key to Adele and Gareth’s development. They are the heart of this saga after all. But with their seemingly impossible love, can the heart still beat?

Adele has matured wonderfully over the novels and she’s become really admirable. I liked seeing her in a major position of power, strategizing and making difficult decisions that challenge morality. It’s a nice departure from other urban fantasy novels where the heroines start at the bottom and have to work their way up. She’s on a slippery slope as she tries to control her geomancy powers, which may be dangerous to more than solely vampires.

Gareth is as wonderful as always with his selflessness. He’s even adorable at times as he still tries to fully understand human customs and history. His light moments with Adele really gave me the case of the warm fuzzies, if only because it feels so fleeting as the pull of his vampire heritage requires that he finally face his brother once and for all. That, and her powers seriously conflict with his entire being on a biological level beyond their control.

This book has pretty much everything you could ask for and you’ll experience practically every emotion while reading it. The ending is very powerful, enough that you may want to have kleenex on hand, but I won’t spoil it any further. My only complaint is that I want more. I love this world and I’m sad to see it end; though unfortunately that must happen to all good things…

Well done to the Griffiths on their fantastic work! This is definitely one of my favorite trilogies ever.

*ARC provided by the publisher

Cover Reveal: The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire Trilogy #3)

ImageDid I spaz like a teenybopper at a Justin Bieber concert when I saw this?  Maybe just a smidgen.  I SO can’t wait to get my paws on this! If there’s anything I regret most with this series, it’s that I didn’t wait for all books to be released when I started it.

Anyway, the cover looks fantastic! Adele looks badass, too! This is probably my favorite cover with her. I liked his pose more on the second one. But I like the background the best here with the vampires. Looks scary!

Mercy Thompson Graphic Novel: Moon Called Vol. 2 – Eye candy extraordinaire

moon called volume 2, patrcia briggsIt took me a little while to get around to reading the second and final volume for the Moon Called graphic novel.  What with no bookstores nearby, I wasn’t totally sure if I wanted to pay for a comic that I couldn’t see.  The first volume was beautifully illustrated, but I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy the story.  For me the Mercy Thompson series definitely suffers from FBS (first book syndrome), but seeing the story illustrated mitigated the experience immensely.

Volume 2 picks up directly after Volume 1. Adam’s daughter, Jesse, has been kidnapped and Mercy tries to help track her down.  She has to enlist help from her vampire friend, Stefan, whose camarilla may have information on where to find her.  She has to manage this on top of figuring out whose been experimenting on weres. Facing a lot of danger, Mercy has to work with vampires, werewolves and faeries while she tests her own boundaries to see where she fits into it all.

The comments from my first review remain steady when it comes to the artwork. If anything I think it’s even better than the first volume.  The story is the weakest part of this entry, but I can’t say if it’s because I was never really interested when it came to the written novels or if it was because it’s difficult to grasp the whole story when you’re limited to speech bubbles.  Sometimes it was hard to follow and I noticed a couple of continuity issues from frame to frame.  Even still, the art exceeded my expectations when it comes to this series.  I have a new way to imagine the characters.  I was really happy to see Stefan this time around and he has a significant presence. I feel like the illustrator probably liked drawing him. He’s quite the looker!  I like Mercy and Adam together, but I honestly wouldn’t have minded seeing her with Stefan in the books, and the graphic novel only makes it worse now, haha!

So all in all, I do recommend this if only to admire the beautiful illustrations, but you will definitely need Volume 1 as a companion to know everything that’s happened.



Giveaway to celebrate the big 10K: Love is Darkness (Valerie Dearborn #1) by Caroline Hanson

Love is darkness - Carolyn Hanson - Valerie Dearborn 1

To tie in (in part) with Your Urban Fantasy’s 10,000 views celebration, Caroline Hanson is offering her Valerie Dearborne novel “Love is Darkness” for FREE today and tomorrow through Amazon.  If you didn’t get a chance to nab it soon after my review, here’s another chance! I really enjoy this series and I’m definitely looking forward to book 3!  Thanks again to all of you guys and thank you, Ms. Hanson,  for this offer!

The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire Trilogy, Book 2) – I read it in the day, it was just that good!

The rift walker by Susan griffith and clay griffith, vampire empireThe Rift Walker (Book 2 in the Vampire Empire series) takes place a number of months after first book, The Greyfriar. Adele is trying her best to stall her wedding, and in turn stall the impending war against the vampires, which would come at a much higher price than Adele is willing to pay. Lucky for her she has Greyfriar who returns to her side, putting us on pace for another swashbuckling adventure, and then some. They are on the run with her nation, her husband-to-be are on their trail, leaving her home vulnerable to enemy vampires’ advances.

Over the course of this novel Adele’s powers of geomancy are increasing to an end that no one can predict. Her love, The Greyfriar, is determined to stay by her side anyway, even if it’s to his own detriment, and the loyalties of a choice few in her court are tested as they also stand with the princess through much adversity.

First off, the model for the covers of these books totally reminds me of Mitchell the vampire on BBC’s Being Human, played by actor Aidan Turner.

I figured this was a good pic to use since the costuming is fairly close, though that’s from a photoshoot for The Hobbit.

As for the story, there was a lot of ground covered in this book with many significant developments. I was told that I should wait for the 3rd and final book to be released before reading this series; I though I’d be fine. But I’ve become quite attached to the characters and this world now. I am anxious to see how this saga ends so I sort of wish I heeded that advice.

Adele and Greyfriar’s love seems more and more impossible by the page but they are still fighting hard for each other and that’s really admirable to me. I just have a bad feeling about it, even though I want to be as hopeful as the two characters seem to be.

I still love Adele and Greyfriar the most, but her cat, Pet, is certainly up there. Their moments are super adorable with the little fur ball and (along with Adele and The Greyfriar’s moments) I admit it gave me the warm fuzzies.

Unlike the first book where it took the 50% mark to get me hooked, this book got going around the 33% mark, though the beginning is still fairly slow. At this point slow starts can be considered a pattern for this series.

Like the first book there is a blend of action, world building, and character development that really rounds out the story. It’s all well done, despite the boring politics. I really look forward to September, or maybe earlier if I’m lucky enough to nab an ARC. This series is a gem and it’s quickly become a favorite of mine. I read this in a day and I implement a 5-star policy for any full-length novel that can keep me engaged enough to read it that quickly. I suspect when the third and final book is released, it will be the same.

The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire #1) – Slow start but it’s worth the investment

greyfriar, susan griffith, Clay griffith, vampire empire trilogyThe Greyfriar (Book 1 in the Vampire Empire Trilogy) was my first proper introduction to the steampunk genre. In this bold alternate universe authored by husband and wife team Susan and Clay Griffith, vampires are vicious, powerful, and wisely feared by the human population. 150 years ago, vampires and altered the course of history as they emerged and destroyed much of human civilization toward northern territories, forcing survivors to move south. But humans are resilient beings and with time they become determined to fight back and restore their glory.

Part of that fight includes Princess Adele of Alexandria, a young lady poised to marry American Senator Clark in a political move that will unite their people and allow a full scale war against their fanged enemies. All goes according to plan until Adele is captured by the enemy and held prisoner in the northern lands. All hope seems lost, but there is The Greyfriar, a mysterious and legendary masked warrior that’s able to take on the vampires and win. He aides Adele, helping to keep her alive in this hostile territory.

I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I will say that the beginning started out really great and action-packed, but then it hits a bit of a slump for me becoming riddled with politics and side characters that I know are important, but I found myself not caring about it very much. In short, I was bored for a good deal of time. I liked Adele and Greyfriar’s point of view and wanted more of that, so I was considering giving up on the book until it hit the 50% mark. After that I was really hooked and finished the book being really happy that the second book was available.

There is a lot of world building, but it’s really pretty fascinating as it incorporates airships, special weapons, and even a unique sense of wardrobe which really drives home that steampunk feel.

Adele makes mistakes, but overall for me she was a likable heroine. She is not the same person by the end of this book as she was in the beginning, so it was a satisfying evolution that promises even more as this trilogy unfolds.

I want to say a lot about the Greyfriar, but I found a pleasant surprise as I read the book, though I will not spoil it in this review. All I will say is that his character also experiences significant evolution. He was probably my favorite character. It’s nice when the title character can accomplish that, especially for me because I’m usually the type of reader who often follows a series for the sake of the side characters.

There’s a lot of action, a real sense of adventure, and a building romance that really make this book a success. I wasn’t expecting to become attached to these characters, but by the end I found myself completely invested in what would happen next. The book isn’t perfect, but I finished reading it being really glad that I invested in it.

Love is Fear (Valerie Dearborn #2) – Even better than the first book!

“He was on the ground, unmoving, bloody ropes of intestine surrounding him.  He needs those, she thought stupidly and rushed to him, trying to stuff them back into his stomach.”

In the latest Valerie Dearborn novel by Caroline Hanson, Love is Fear, we’re finally delving into the supernatural world that we merely heard about in the first book.  The playing field evens out as Lucas, Rachel, Valerie, and Jack are thrust into the land of the Fey where vampires are even more vulnerable.  This is actually Lucas’s plan as he desires to bring them back and restore balance because he feels that vampires have become too powerful. Of course, there’s the small issue of him being responsible for their near extinction and current dormancy in the first place, so they likely won’t be chummy with him upon their return.  Not to mention the amount of tension that’s bound to flare up among our 4 “heroes” all trying to work together without killing one another.  That proves to be a difficult enough task in itself.

Book 2 is even better than the first one.  Valerie starts to come into her own a bit more as an empath—the defacto mediator between supernatural creatures—and I must admit that I quite enjoyed the power play between her and Lucas, especially since it is a part of her nature.  Their relationship goes from hot to scorching!

There are a lot of huge developments that make this installment a must-not-miss.  Everything is turned upside down as character dynamics drastically shift and secrets are revealed.  I don’t know whether I should he happy that Hanson didn’t waste a lot of time getting to the good stuff or upset because we didn’t get more settled into the the former way of things.

Shippers, start your engines!  Somebody somewhere determined that love triangles and quadrangles and polygons are a must-have for urban fantasy books and Hanson is certainly following suit, much to my personal chagrin.  But I am enjoying the series so much that I will muddle through it…somehow…someway… Alls I know is that I’m Team Lucas.  9 times out of 10 I side with the vamps when it’s a viable option (the exceptions being The Hollows and maybe the Cassie Palmer series).  Of course, that shouldn’t be very surprising when you see my username.  All of her suitors (yes, it is now “all” instead of “both”) have their a-hole ways, so I’ll settle on the one with the most chemistry.  It’s only the second book after all and it’s very obvious that the author as a lot more in store for Valerie Dearborn’s world.  I am expecting that to include a lot of evolution and character growth.

I was hoping that with a slightly higher price tag of $3.99 the author would fix the spelling, formatting and grammar errors, but they are just as rampant as they were in the first book.  I guess they won’t be fixed until the books are printed.

Errors aside, while we only get a taste of the new (though traditional) supernatural beings that will be thrown into the fray, it still makes for a satisfying read.  Like the first one, expect plenty of action, plenty of smut (which one could argue is its own kind of action), and—most importantly—plenty of laughs with a good story somewhere in between.  Along with the likes of The Hollows and Kate Daniels, this is definitely a quotable series!  I have high hopes for Book 3 which I hope will be released later this year.  You’ll know when I know!

Love is Darkness (Valerie Dearborn #1) – I think I’ve found a new series that’s *dear* to me!

Love is darkness - Carolyn Hanson - Valerie Dearborn 1Correction, I think I must thank Val for throwing it in my face how good this series is.  This is the best 99 cents I’ve spent yet! Of course the price has increased to a whopping $1.99, but I can assure you it’s worth breaking the bank for this one.

Valerie Dearborn has spent her life trying to avoid her destiny.  As a child, she watch her mother meet a tragic end at the hands of a vampire.  That unfortunate turn of events changed her life forever.  Her father, with a help of Jack—a young man left orphaned after a vampire slaughtered his family as a child—have made it their life’s mission to hunt these evil bloodsuckers. They’re pretty good at it too! Or so they think.  Except one night they bring Valerie along and she meets Lucas, a 1600 year old vampire King who knows that Valerie is no ordinary human.  She is part Empath, a believed-to-be extinct species that makes vampires vulnerable to their emotions. Using her family as leverage he recruits Valerie to help him on his quest to find others like her, as well as werewolves and fae, who were supernatural adversaries to vampires long ago.  He also really really wants to get in her pants because he’s been emotionless for so long and wants to “feel” again.  Let’s not stray away from that not so little plot point.  Of course Valerie wants a normal life, but it is obviously not in the cards, or this book would be really boring.

Valerie as a heroine is pretty cool.  I have no real complaints since I understand that this is the first novel and she hasn’t yet gone down the road of self-discovery.  I sense a lot in store for her as the books continue.  This series is not in first-person tense, but Valerie’s own humor and personality shine through in a number of scenes.

I admit that for a while I just hadn’t been coming across super sexy badass vampires.  If they weren’t of the “emo” variety then they merely talked the talked.  Well, Lucas walks the walk.  He has a valid reason for his attraction to Valerie.  None of that “I have lived for 900 years and never met a strong, fearless woman who speaks her mind!” and similar lame, unbelievable crap.  It’s attraction on a cellular level, literally.  Their chemistry is all kinds of crazy.  I was liking Jack in the beginning, but after Lucas it just doesn’t compare for me.  I think what really impressed me was his display of complete power and dominance against enemies.  He is King and he knows it, he doesn’t doubt it, and it’s his way or the highway.  He could be as ruthless or as gentle as the moment calls for and he makes no apologies.

As for the writing, while I love Caroline Hanson’s style, there are a number of spelling and formatting errors which interrupts the flow for me at times.  But this tends to be pretty common for the cheap or free Kindle books.

There isn’t a whole lot of story, but I see a lot of promise.  The character interactions are very intriguing and there are a number of action-pact scenes to keep things moving while not being overbearing.  While Love is Darkness not surprisingly has “dark” undertones, there’s a lot of humor as well which is always a plus for me.

There are a few sex scenes as well so this is certainly NOT of the YA variety, but if you’re in the mood for a more mature story (or about as mature you can expect a college girl moving abroad to be) then this one may be for you.  Favorites don’t come easy for me, but I really connected with this series and was left wanting more…a lot more.  Highly recommended.

Hellbent – A Hell of a Good Time!

Hellbent by Cherie Priest Cheshire Red ReportsSay it ain’t so!! So I find a series that I genuinely enjoy. No mopey heroine (okay, maybe she’s a little obnoxious, but at least she’s fun about it), no emo vampires, just lots of action and fun. While it wasn’t a cliffhanger, I finished this book thinking there would be more in store. Well unfortunately Cherie Priest was only contracted for two books, meaning this may be the last we see of Raylene and friends unless the books sell more. So I guess I’m doing my part and recommending you guys read this one if you enjoy light urban fantasy series.

I read Hellbent (Book 2 of the Cheshire Red Reports) before the first and I believe it works well as a standalone. Raylene, our favorite professional vampire thief, is settling in well at her new digs after her old warehouse/home was raided by the Feds. She’s picked up a couple of new roomies too: blind vampire Ian Stott and my personal favorite Adrian deJesus, ex-Navy Seal and Drag Queen extraordinaire. While unconventional, a sense of domesticity is established as Ian helps mentor the orphan siblings Pepper and Domino who we met in Bloodshot. Adrian is still primarily focused on finding his sister who had been abducted along with Ian for that top secret government experiment that left him blind.

There is more development with that plot point, clearly establishing it as an overarcing storyline in the series. Aside from that, the master of Ian’s house has been murdered and he’s slated to take his place. This doesn’t sitting right with his brother whose been waiting in the wings to take control. Ray must protect Ian from the target on his back while taking on a side quest to collect powerful ancient artifacts.

While the books feel like more of the same, I actually think I liked the second book a bit more than the first. The characters are becoming more familiar with each other and beginning to settle into a dynamic. Who am I kidding, I liked that there was more Adrian. He’s a great sidekick for Raylene and even though she’s more powerful as a vampire, his skills, wits, and determination, allow him to keep up with her fairly well. The series doesn’t have a lot going on in the romance department, but it seems like the author wants to test the waters between both Adrian and Ian. Though her chemistry with Adrian is even stronger in this book and almost non-existent with Ian.

The vampire politics were interesting and ended up being the center of some of the best action. The humor is as strong as ever and I found myself laughing out loud a number of times. The characters are all likable in their own way…even Ray’s new kitty cat. The ending is predictable, but it makes sense. Overall, Hellbent is and enjoyable ride, but what bring the series down a bit is that it should have been structured as a duology if there was a risk that so many loose ends would be there when it’s all said and done.

If there is a book 3, I want it right away. But if there isn’t I do plan to follow Cherie Priest’s steampunk series because she’s a good writer and I like her style.

*ARC provided by NetGalley

Bloodshot – Tons of fun and tons of funny

Bloodshot Cherie PriestSometimes you really need a light Urban Fantasy series that checks all of the usual drama and headaches at the door. When you’re in the mood for that then you should check out the Cheshire Red Reports by Cherie Priest. Bloodshot (Book 1) introduces us to vampire Raylene, a very independent, efficient, and hilariously neurotic professional thief.

Her skills catch the attention of Ian Stott, a fellow vampire who needs her help. He hires Raylene to locate top secret files about an experimental program that caused him to go blind. This requires her to travel throughout the country, eventually landing in Atlanta where the fun really begins. It turns out Raylene is a potential target for this program as well, so she must evade this organization as well as the Feds who want to take her down. This of course makes her job a little more difficult.

She ends up meeting a peculiar drag queen named Adrian. There’s definitely more to this character than meets the eye and he ends up partnering with Raylene. It turns out he’s an Ex-Navy SEAL and he’s searching for his sister, who he believes was also a part of the experiment. I can tell you right now that I totally loved this character, even more than Ian. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d say one of my favorite characters is an Ex-Navy SEAL who moonlights as a drag queen, but there it is. Normally humans are boring, but I enjoyed his chemistry with Raylene even more than Ian.

There are other supporting characters as well that I liked, including a kid brother and sister team who live with Raylene. They are orphans but they’re pretty crafty at times, making them useful to Ray. They’re also at the center of a number of hilarious lines.

There’s a great mix of action, comedy and mystery that makes this a fairly quick read. Raylene’s not the typical self-loathing and emo vamp (like many that have begun to saturate the genre), making this series a breath of fresh air. I actually ended up reading the second book first, but I enjoyed that one so much that I went back to see how it all began. Based on the structure of the story, it seems as if the books in this series can work well enough as a standalone.

Overall I recommend this book if you keep in mind that it’s not to be taken that seriously. Sometimes you don’t need that for a good read.

Mercy 2 Finds a Groove

Blood Bound (Mercedes Thompson Book 2) by Patricia Briggs

The second installment of the Mercy Thompson series shifts focus from the werewolves to the vampires.  This time her vampire friend, Stefan, decides to call in a favor from Mercy.  She risks life and limb to thwart an evil sorcerer-turned-vampire (as if vampires weren’t evil enough on their own) causing numerous deaths all around the city.  The supernatural cream of the crop are all involved to take this sucker down, from head vampires to head werewolves.  And even still,  somehow Mercy’s abilities prove useful to help save them all.

While I’m still not totally hooked, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.  This book is a lot better in terms of action and the characters are more established, so I could relate to them a bit more.  The love triangle (or maybe quadrangle?) is definitely kicked up a notch and confirmed here.  Adam seems to be becoming my Were of choice, but there is enough argument for her other suitor(s?) as well, so I will just see how Mrs. Briggs decides to develop that angle. I liked the incorporation of ghosts this time around, and their use is quite intuitive and sensible.  The vampire politics are somewhat more interesting than the first book since I didn’t find myself zoning out quite as much.

Stefan, has potential to be an extremely interesting character as the series progresses.  It’s hard to tell what motivates him which will only keep everyone guessing.  That’s a good sign of complexity considering that vampires are inherently evil in this series.

So all in all, it was certainly better than Moon Called, but I don’t really have the urge to want to inhale it like I’ve had with some of my favorites. Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing since I can be a much more productive human being, but this doesn’t necessarily need to be shot up to the top of your TBR list, even though it’s a decent read.  I am still interested enough to want to continue and see what unfolds for Mercy and her friends, so that’s a good thing. Onto Book 3!

This series may need to grow on you

Moon Called (Book 1 of the Mercedes Thompson Series) by Patricia Briggs

Moon Called is the first book to kick off the very successful Mercedes Thompson series. While it follows the urban fantasy formula through incorporating vampires, shapeshifters, fae, and ghosts, it has the opportunity to differentiate itself with high quality world-building.

The main character, Mercy, isn’t the prissy princess nor is she the leather-clad potty mouth badass. She works as a mechanic, getting her hands dirty the blue-collar way. She’s not quite human though. From her Blackfoot Indian heritage she has inherited the ability to shift from human to coyote. The official term is a “walker”, but she likes to keep this knowledge low-key as there are very few of her kind left.

Unable to care for her as a newborn, her mother turns her over to a werewolf family to raise her. While she shares certain similarities with their kind, she isn’t quite as bound by their laws which makes for and interesting slippery slope as she works together with them throughout this series. In this particular book, the Were community runs into significant problems as someone is illegally creating new werewolves and performing experime

nts on them. Mercy calls upon the help of all of her supernatural friends to get to the bottom of it, so we learn a bit more about the vampires, fae, and were alike.

Overall, I started out really interested and then my interest sort of waned and it really began to slow down. Surprisingly enough, I was more engaged with development of the Were community instead of the vampires, though the vampires certainly seem to have their own qualities to stand apart from other series. I hope that I am more interested in the future books.
Even with Mercy’s sort of bland personality, I think there’s definitely potential for greatnes

s. The ingredients are all there, especially a good supporting cast. I can see myself becoming a fan of the local Alpha, Adam Hauptman. Some of my favorites series start off with less than stellar beginnings, so that won’t keep me from giving the next book a read.

This, my friends, is how you do a graphic novel adaptation

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson Volume 1) by Patricia Briggs

I originally read this comic as an ARC and then decided to purchase it immediately before I even finished it. Since I was reading the series via ebooks, I wanted something for Ms. Briggs to sign for when I meet her at San Diego Comic Con this July. I was going to try to get through the ebooks as fast as I could so that I could then also purchase a paper copy of my favorite installment. After seeing this comic, there’s no longer a need. And even better, it fits in with the theme since it’s about the comics at Comic Con (well, it supposed to be anyway). I’m now super excited so I can spaz to Ms. Briggs in person about how wonderful of a job the artist did. I can already tell this is one of the best. Talk about doing a series justice!

No doubt this graphic novel adaptation accomplishes the most important goal of all; it’s very visually very pleasing to look at! That’s the point of a graphic novel at all, right? I actually enjoyed the comic much more than the actual book. The book comes off as somewhat bland in parts (though the series gets better with every book), but seeing the action come to life on the pages gets my adrenaline pumping. The drawing style is fabulous and not over the top. I love the coloring and shading and spent a few panels simply admiring the images. I feel like it truly captures the Mercy Thompson world. Mercy’s gorgeous, Adam’s sexy, and Sam actually looks much better than I assumed he looked in the books. I thought the artist was very good with expressing the characters’ emotions as well. A few of the transformation scenes were a little awkwardly drawn, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

I like that it’s close to the book. I think that made me read it much faster. Unlike the book, it kicks off with action to draw you in. It was a nice technique to keep it engaging. I felt the pacing was just right. There wasn’t a moment where I was bored and yet it stayed true to the plot.

I always have this trepidation of looking at fictional characters outside of the reading medium. 9 times out of 10 it just doesn’t capture the images I’ve conjured up in my mind. I am so pleased that’s not the case here.

We get a bonus section that’s by a completely different artist. It’s a completely different style that doesn’t portray the dark urban fantasy feel, so I didn’t really connect to it as much. Also, some of the proportions and angles were off. I recall at one point a character was drawn cross-eyed.

It ends with short of a narration of the panels to see how the artist conceptualized the panels. It was pretty cool to see their process, but not really necessary. My biggest enjoyment was in the meat of the story. I wish we could have seen Stefan, Warren, and Kyle in this volume though.

Because these look so good and flow so well, I plan to follow the comics for this series in conjunction with the books, as long as Ms. Amelia Woo continues to illustrate. It’s very rare that I can say I prefer any other medium to the original, but in this case I very much prefer the comic to the novel.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

Green-Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells

Green Eyed Demon (Sabina Kane Series, Book 3) by Jaye Wells

Destination: New Orleans

The third novel of the Sabina Kane series focuses on the kick-ass mage/vampire on a mission to save her twin sister, Maise, whose been kidnapped by their vampire grandmother. Sabina and her trusty demon and mage sidekicks, Gighul and Adam, travel to New Orleans to get her sister back and do away with her grandmother once and for all. No, this is not your typical nuclear family. There is not much love lost between the twins and grandma, who can’t accept her grandaughters’ mage heritage. The stakes are high and Sabina’s patience is low with her sister’s life on the line.

I have not read the previous two books for this series, but from what I could gather, Sabina’s character experiences a bit of growth. Throughout the book she learns to trust her teammates, open herself up to love, and become a more effective and powerful mage.

I didn’t feel as if I missed much from the first two books. I’m not sure if it’s because this book rehashed plot points well enough, or if it’s because this series isn’t much different from other urban fantasy books out there. While it was an easy read for me, it came off as formulaic and predictable. Sabina’s character isn’t very unique. She’s got a chip on her shoulder, yet being surrounded by her teammates and coming to terms with her past mistakes, she experiences changes for the better.  Sound familiar?  Yeah, I thought so.

This book has a lot of action which helps move the story along. There are many quirky characters and Dark Races between fae, werewolf, mages, vampires, demons, you name it. No one really came off as a favorite in terms of personality, but I liked trying to imagine how Gighul looked.

Would I recommend this series? It certainly isn’t the worst, but at this point, I didn’t really feel compelled to want to go back and read the first two or continue on to book 4. For me, at this point it’s forgettable, but it’s not a bad read for someone new to the Adult Urban Fantasy genre. Actually, I think it’d be a good transition series between the Young Adult and Adult genres.

(eARC provided by NetGalley)

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