Category paranormal

2013: #7 – Ever After (Kim Harrison)

everafter

Title: Ever After
Author: Kim Harrison
Series: Rachel Morgan #11
Format: ARC Paperback
Pages:  448
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
★★★★½ 

The ever-after, the demonic realm that parallels our own, is shrinking, and if it disappears, so does all magic. It’s up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to fix the ever-after before the fragile balance between magic users and humans falls apart.

Of course, there’s also the small fact that Rachel is the one who caused the ley line to rip in the first place, and her life is forfeit unless she can fix it. Not to mention the most powerful demon in the ever-after—the soul-eater Ku’Sox Sha-Ku’ru—has vowed to destroy her, and has kidnapped her friend and her goddaughter as leverage. If Rachel doesn’t give herself up, they will die.

Forced by circumstance, Rachel teams up with elven tycoon Trent Kalamack—a partnership fraught with dangers of the heart as well as betrayal of the soul—to return to the ever-after and rescue those she loves. One world teeters on the brink of interspecies war, the other on the brink of its very demise—and it’s up to Rachel to keep them both from being destroyed.

My thoughts:

Every time I read one of these books, I get a little sadder because I know this series is winding down to its end. It’s evident in Rachel’s personal story arc. In this book, she doesn’t have any of the people she normally leans on available to her – Ivy’s out of town, Jenks can’t go to the ever-after, and even Al is out of commission. Trent’s help is unreliable, due to other circumstances. So Rachel is left to save not only herself, but the entire ever-after – and magic – as well. Just the fact that she attempts it without a complete breakdown shows tremendous growth in her character. Her actions may seem more reckless, but she’s trying her best to limit the danger to herself.

There are a lot of old familiar faces in this book, some welcome, some not. A few loose ends are tied up, a few long-asked questions are answered. But the book wasn’t perfect. There was some major action, including the death of a significant character, that occurs “off-screen”, and I thought it was a real disservice to that character.  It’s very unusual for such an important plot point to be un-witnessed by Rachel. So why would Harrison do that? Was the book too long, and she needed to cut something? Or is the character not really dead at all? Perhaps that last idea is just wishful thinking.

I’m excited for where this series will go in its last couple of books. Will the ever-after finally stabilize? Will Rachel find a way to save Ivy’s soul? How will her success (or failure) change their relationship? What will happen with Jenks as his children continue to grow and leave the nest? And what the heck will happen with Rachel and Trent? Who will sabotage their truce first?

This is one of the few series (maybe the only!) that still has me waiting anxiously for each book, dieing to read it as soon as possible. The fact that I still feel this way after 11 books is a true testament to the strength of Harrison’s world and character building.

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • “Kim Harrison’s latest in The Hollows series, Ever After, is a spectacular read, combining everything I love about paranormal fiction between two covers is a mean feat but yet again Harrison has come through.”philicityk
  • “Fans are in store for some unexpected things with Ever After and perhaps even for something highly anticipated.My Shelf Confessions
  • “The book as a whole is fabulous. The series arc is moving at a good pace and the book arc was an action packed page turner.”I Smell Sheep

2012: #60 – Into the Woods (Kim Harrison)

intothewoods

Title: Into The Woods
Author: Kim Harrison
Format: Hardback
Pages:  528
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: personal copy
★★★★☆ 

Enter the woods . . . if you dare

For centuries, the woods have been a pivotal part of the wonder and danger of fairy tales, for once you enter anything can happen. Elves, druids, fairies—who knows what you will find once you dare step into the forest?

And now, New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison ventures into these mysterious, hidden lands of magic and mystery in her first short-story collection. Into the Woods brings together an enchanting mix of brand-new, never-before-published stories and tales from Harrison’s beloved, bestselling Hollows series.

The tales here include an original Hollows novella, Million-Dollar Baby, about Trent Kalamack’s secret elven quest in Pale Demon; two original short stories, “Pet Shop Boys” and “Temson Woods,” that explore just what happens when humanity and the supernatural collide; and two novelettes, “Spider Silk” and “Grace,” set in new worlds of imagination and adventure. Into the Woods also contains all of the previously published Hollows short stories—together in one volume for the very first time.

Step into the woods and discover the magic for yourself.

My thoughts:

This book is a collection of already published short stories together with a few new ones. As a big fan of Kim Harrison, I couldn’t resist. I hadn’t read any of the already published stories yet (I don’t read many anthologies), so everything was new to me.

Most of my favorites were, of course, the Hollows-related stories. I liked seeing things from other characters’ perspectives, because normally we see everything through Rachel’s eyes. But the other star of the show was “Grace”, which was a completely new world including a different sort of ability — electricity manipulation. This is the sort of story that I would love to see her turn into an entire series, because it’s unlike anything else I’ve read in urban fantasy. Much preferable to yet another fae story, which is what “Pet Shop Boys” boils down to. I didn’t dislike the story, but it really didn’t excite me like “Grace” did.

On the other side of the coin, dryads don’t ring my bell like they obviously do Harrison’s. I found her dryad stories rather boring, and skipped most of “Temson Woods”  and “Spider Silk” entirely.

Overall, this did a great job of filling in the time gap between one Hollows novel and the next for me. And my ARC of Ever After arrived shortly after I finished, so the timing couldn’t have been better!

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • “Into the Woods is an enjoyable anthology. Fans of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series will love having all the short stories in one place. Recommended.”Badass Book Reviews
  • “In general it’s a nice book I enjoyed yet, whether from my personal dislike of short stories or simply from the stories within, it felt like a rather unnecessary book.”Fangs for the Fantasy
  • “I may be biased, but I think Into the Woods is an absolute must buy for fans of The Hollows, as it gives deeper looks that we don’t get to see in the main series.”A Book Obsession

2012: #42 – The Last Victim (Karen Robards)

lastvictim

Title: The Last Victim
Author: Karen Robards
Series: Charlotte Stone #01
Format: ARC Paperback
Pages:  336
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: ARC from Amazon
★★☆☆☆ 

Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not.

A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Charlie regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes, Charlie desires little else from life—no doubt because when she was sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer’s bloodbath: A man butchered the family of Charlie’s best friend, Holly, then left the girl’s body on a seaside boardwalk one week later.

Because of the information Charlie gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground. She kept to herself her eerie postmortem visions of Holly and her mother. And even years later, knowing her contact with ghosts might undermine her credibility as a psychological expert, Charlie tells no one about the visits she gets from the spirit world.

Now all-too-handsome FBI agent Tony Bartoli is telling Charlie that a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. Bartoli suspects that after fifteen years, the Boardwalk Killer—or a sick copycat with his M.O.—is back. Time is running short for an innocent, kidnapped girl, and Bartoli pleads for Charlie’s help.

This is the one case Charlie shouldn’t go near. But she also knows that she may be the one person in the world who can stop this vicious killer. For Charlie—whose good looks disguise a world of hurt, vulnerability, and potent psychic gifts—a frantic hunt for a madman soon becomes a complex test of cunning, passions, and secrets. Aiding Dr. Stone on her quest to catch a madman is a ghostly presence with bad intentions: the fiery spirit of seductive bad boy Michael Garland who refuses to be ignored, though in his cat and mouse game they may both lose their hearts.

Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. And she sees the Boardwalk Killer coming for her.

My thoughts:

This book had its good points and its bad points.

THE GOOD: I liked Charlotte (enough, at least), and I thought her ability to see ghosts was interesting. I also liked Bartolli, and the way they worked together. The murders were gory, but the premise was compelling, and the connection to Charlotte’s own life unmistakable. I didn’t even mind Garland, the dead serial killer, being attached to her. He added a needed bit of difficulty to her life.

THE BAD: Charlotte’s “relationship” with Garland is more than a little skeevy. I don’t mind her being somewhat attracted to him – handsome guys can be serial killers too – but when she acts on that attraction things get really weird.

There’s a sequel in the works, and I’m torn about whether or not I’ll read it. I think it will depend on where Robards intends to go with Garland.

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • The Last Victim starts out strong but really fades off.”fiction vixen
  • “It’s a shame because there were other elements of the story I enjoyed yet I can’t get past the romantic relationship and I can’t recommend The Last Victim for that very reason, though others seem happy to overlook it, given its average 4 star rating on Goodreads.”Book’d Out
  • “While I was fan of Ms. Robards earlier work, I’m afraid that this particular installment wasn’t what I have come to expect from her.”Smexy Books

2012: #37 – Deadlocked (Charlaine Harris)

deadlocked

Title: Deadlocked
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #12
Format: Audio
Audiobook length: 9 hrs 29 min
Release Date: May 01, 2012
Publisher: Ace
Source: personal copy
★★☆☆☆ 

It’s vampire politics as usual around the town of Bon Temps, but never before have they hit so close to Sookie’s heart…

Growing up with telepathic abilities, Sookie Stackhouse realized early on there were things she’d rather not know. And now that she’s an adult, she also realizes that some things she knows about, she’d rather not see—like Eric Northman feeding off another woman. A younger one.

There’s a thing or two she’d like to say about that, but she has to keep quiet—Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), is in town. It’s the worst possible time for a human body to show up in Eric’s front yard—especially the body of the woman whose blood he just drank.

Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s set out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

My thoughts:

This book was pretty much on par with the other recent Sookie novels. Okay, but not great, or even particularly good. On the plus side, at least one major plotline (about the fae) in the series has been wrapped up, and none too soon, in my opinion. In a series already full of vampire and were- politics, did we really need fae politics on top of it all?

Sookie’s love life is still a mess, and at this point I’m not sure where I want her to end up. She is feeling a little lost, and so is this book.

One big problem Harris continues to have is the constant need to either repeat things that the reader should already know (especially this far into a series) or to go on and on and on about the day-to-day drivel of Sookie’s life. I get that she wants to insert some normalcy into her life, but I really don’t need to read about everything Sookie does to get ready to go visit her lawyer.

Overall, I enjoyed it enough, but the series doesn’t excite me as much as it used to. I listened to it on audio, and I probably would have been more bored with it in print.

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • “I’m struggling with whether or not I truly liked this book, as a stand alone novel, or if I’m just biased because of my attachment to the Sookie series.” — From Left to Write Book Club
  • “After all of that, I wouldn’t say I did not enjoy the book. I’m just sad about the outcome.” — the literary life of the well-read wife
  • “For me, Deadlocked was a thrilling read. Some fans are exasperated with the series, but not me.”Mina Burrows

2012: #33 – The Taken (Vicki Pettersson)

taken

Title: The Taken
Author: Vicki Pettersson
Series: Celestial Blues #01
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432
Release Date: June 04, 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: ARC from the publisher
★★★☆☆ 

Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was back when gumshoes hoofed the streets . . . and he was still alive. Fifty years later, he’s an angel, but that doesn’t make him a saint. One small mistake has altered fate, and now he’s been dumped back onto the mortal mudflat to collect another soul—Katherine “Kit” Craig, a journalist whose latest investigation is about to get her clipped.

Bucking heavenly orders, Grif refuses to let the sable-haired siren come to harm. Besides, protecting her offers a chance to solve the mystery of his own unsolved murder—and dole out some overdue payback for the death of his beloved wife, Evie.

Joining forces, Kit and Grif’s search for answers leads beyond the blinding lights of the Strip into the dark heart of an evil conspiracy. But a ruthless killer determined to destroy them isn’t Grif’s biggest threat. His growing attraction to Kit could cost them both their lives, along with the answer to the haunting question of his long afterlife…

My thoughts:

This was the first Vicki Pettersson I’ve read, and I did so on a recommendation from Kim Harrison, whose books I LOVE.

This wasn’t bad, but she’s no Kim Harrison. There were a number of things about this story that set it apart from the usual paranormal/urban fantasy books out there. The angel stuff was new and interesting, and I also liked the focus on the rock-a-billy lifestyle. Really, the rock-a-billy stuff was necessary in order for Grif to be accepted with few questions, and I liked the “film noir” feel it gave the story. The mystery went in directions that I didn’t expect, so that was good. Las Vegas is also the perfect setting, because there no one raises an eyebrow at things that would be considered quite odd elsewhere.

But I wasn’t overwhelmed. Things moved quite slowly at times, and it took me a long time to get into the story. I found I was more invested in Grif than in Kit, when it should have been at least equal.

I would definitely read Ms. Pettersson again, but I’ll be hoping her other books are a little stronger.

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • “Fans of Pettersson will certainly enjoy THE TAKEN, but with its toned-down fantasy and more cheerful heroine giving the story broader appeal, I think many more readers will be taken with Pettersson.”Urban Fantasy Land
  • “Definitely for adults, due to the violence and some sexual situations, The Taken is a unique voice in the paranormal mystery/romance genre.”Bibliophilic Book Blog
  • I thoroughly recommend this to fans of dark & gritty Urban Fantasy lovers with an engaging plot that keeps so on your toes failing to solve the mystery. – Miss Vain’s Paranormal Fantasy

2012: #18 – Once Dead, Twice Shy (Kim Harrison)

Title: Once Dead, Twice Shy
Author: Kim Harrison
Series: Madison Avery #01
Format: Audio
Length: 6 hrs 3 min
Release Date: April 19, 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Categories: young adult, paranormal
Source:  personal copy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Back of the book:

Madison’s prom was killer—literally. For some reason she’s been targeted by a dark reaper—yeah, that kind of reaper—intent on getting rid of her, body and soul. But before the reaper could finish the job, Madison was able to snag his strange, glowing amulet and get away.

Now she’s stuck on Earth—dead but not gone. Somehow the amulet gives her the illusion of a body, allowing her to toe the line between life and death. She still doesn’t know why the dark reaper is after her, but she’s not about to just sit around and let fate take its course.

With a little ingenuity, some light-bending, and the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys! Maybe . . . ), her cute crush, and oh yeah, her guardian angel, Madison’s ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her.

Well, if she believed in that stuff.

My thoughts:

This is Kim Harrison’s first series since her Rachel Morgan series, and being such a huge fan of that one I had to give this a shot. This is a young adult series, so I expected the tone and writing style to be different. It was, but the things that make Harrison’s writing so good were still there – color characters, interesting sidekicks, and a compelling new world.

At first glance, Madison’s world is just like ours. Except, she’s dead. Now, she’s trying to keep from the clutches of the dark reaper who didn’t finish his job, all while learning how to become a reaper herself.

In many ways, this reminded me of the (much too short) Showtime series Dead Like Me, about a group of reapers out to save the souls of the recently departed. But not completely. Madison is a softer lead character than the bitter, sarcastic George of the TV series, and there is more of a good vs. evil feel to the book.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to this, but I do have one major complaint. When the book opens, you are thrown into the story without any real explanation of what’s going on. This is something Harrison does very well in the Rachel Morgan series, but in this case I just felt like I was missing something. So much so that I double-checked that I wasn’t listening to the second book by mistake. I really could have used a slower introduction into what was going on.

I’m not sure if this will end up being as fantastic as the Rachel Morgan series, but I will certainly read on!

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • “Absolutely fantastic – Madison Avery just might be my new favorite YA Urban Fantasy heroine. An engaging, original read and easily a notable read of 2009. Highly recommended.”The Book Smugglers
  • ” If you can make it through the slower first part of the book, I think you’ll really enjoy this read.”The Sweetie Chronicles
  • “Where is the strongly written, fully fleshed out female heroine I know Harrison is capable of writing?  I can barely believe Kim Harrison wrote this.  I want to make a thousand excuses for her – editing pressures, rushed deadlines, misleading advice?”The Blog of Litwits

Past reviews:

2011: Rocket Surgery Made Easy (Steve Krug)
2010: Anthem (Ayn Rand)
2009: China Lake (Meg Gardiner)
2008: Triptych (Karin Slaughter)
2007: Fool Moon (Jim Butcher)
2006: Incubus Dreams (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2005: The Big Bad Wolf (James Patterson)

2012: #16 – Agents of Light and Darkness (Simon R. Green)

Title: Agents of Light and Darkness
Author: Simon R. Green
Series: Nightside #02
Format: Kindle
Pages: 240 (2012 total – 3,859)
Word Count: 54,758 (2012 total – 1,038,983)
Release Date: October 28, 2003
Publisher: Ace
Categories: mystery, private investigator, paranormal, young adult
Source: personal copy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Back of the book:

I’m John Taylor. I work in the Nightside – the gaudy, meon noir, secret heart of London, where it’s always three in the morning, where gods and monsters make deals and seek pleasures they won’t find anywhere else.

I have a gift for finding things. And sometimes what I’m hired to locate can be very, very dangerous indeed.

Right now, for example, I’m searching for The Unholy Grail, the cup that Judas drank from at the Last Supper.

It corrupts all who touch it – but it also gives enormous power. So I’m not the only one hunting. Angels, devils, sinners, and saints – they’re all out there, tearing apart The Nightside, seeking the dark goblet.

And it’s only a matter of time until they realize that the famous John Taylor, the man with the gift for finding things, can’t lead them straight to it . . .

My thoughts:

I thought this second book in the series was much stronger than the first. The first had altogether too much world-building, but this time we get right to the meat of the story. The Unholy Grail (a cup that Judas drank from that grants its holder great power) is supposedly on the loose in the Nightside, and everyone knows about it. Including the Angels, both from above and below. Taylor is brought in to find it — hopefully before the Angels tear the Nightside to pieces.

Since this is a YA book, it’s a relatively quick read. I felt more connected to Taylor and his unusual associates this time around, and will likely continue with the series.

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • Recommendation: It’s an interesting place to visit, that’s for sure.”My Years of Reading Seriously
  • Agents of Light and Darkness is a quick, easy read. Don’t read it under the covers at night with a flashlight, though, especially with a vivid imagination.”Jandy’s Reading Room
  • “Verdict:  Check it out from the library.  I’ll say if you like Supernatural Paranormal Urban Fantasy pick it up.  You’ll like it.”Ravenous Biblioworm’s Book Reviews

Past reviews:

2011: The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner)
2010: Ivory Tower Cop (George Kirkham & Leonard Territo)
2009: Full Speed (Janet Evanovich)
2008: Dead Until Dark (Charlaine Harris)
2007: Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews)
2006: Blue Moon (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2005: The Austere Academy (Lemony Snicket)

2012: #9 – The Dead Girls' Dance (Rachel Caine)

Title: The Dead Girls’ Dance
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires #02
Format: Kindle
Pages: 256 (2012 total – 2,470)
Approx. Word Count: 64,000 (2012 total – 695,504)
Release Date: April 03, 2007
Publisher: Signet
Categories: young adult, urban fantasy, vampires
Source: personal copy
Rating: 4 out of 5

Back of the book:

Claire has her share of challenges. Like being a genius in a school that favors beauty over brains; homicidal girls in her dorm, and finding out that her college town is overrun with the living dead. On the up side, she has a new boyfriend with a vampire-hunting dad. But when a local fraternity throws the Dead Girls’ Dance, hell is really going to break loose.

My thoughts:

This book picks up exactly where the first left off. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good if you’ve read the first book recently, because it means no waiting! But if it’s been over two years (like with me), it leaves you a bit disoriented until you can get up to speed again. I actually wonder if these first two books were actually just one that the author was forced to split in two.

But, once you do get up to speed again, this is a decent little book. Claire and her roommates really only want one thing — to be left in peace. But Shane’s father has other ideas, and once the  vampires find out his plans, someone has to pay. I like the group of roommates, though Claire does tend to get on my nerves a bit. She makes some really stupid decisions. I do have to give her a little benefit of the doubt. Just because you’re smart doesn’t necessarily mean you have common sense. (I might just know this from experience.)

Overall, I think this is a good series. I’m interested in seeing where it is going. Maybe this time I won’t wait two years to read the next one.

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • “DEAD GIRLS’ DANCE is one of the best books in the series and the shocking ending will leave you panting and begging for the next installment.”Karin’s Book Nook
  • “This review has probably come across as a bit harsh and while I didn’t enjoy The Dead Girls’ Dance as much as Glass Houses I didn’t totally hate the book either so don’t let me put you off reading it if you are so inclined.”Love Vampires
  • “The Dead Girls’ Dance was an interesting book that moves the story and the characters forward.”Fluttering Butterflies

Past reviews:

2011: Charm City (Laura Lippman)
2010: Forbidden Falls (Robyn Carr)
2009: Amelia Peabody’s Egypt (Elizabeth Peters)
2008: The Copenhagen Connection (Elizabeth Peters)
2007: Birthright (Nora Roberts)
2006: Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
2005: E is for Evidence (Sue Grafton)

2012: #8 – Master of Ecstasy (Nina Bangs)

Title: Master Of Ecstasy
Author: Nina Bangs
Series: MacKenzie Vampires #01
Format: Kindle
Pages: 358 (2012 total – 2,214)
Approx. Word Count: 89,500 (2012 total – 631,504)
Release Date: December 29, 2003
Publisher: Dorchester Lovespell
Categories: paranormal romance
Source: personal copy
Rating: 3 out of 5

Back of the book:

WARRIOR, HIGHLANDER, VAMPIRE

Meet the MASTER OF ECSTASY. Darach MacKenzie is everything dark, dangerous, and delicious. His voice is a tempting slide of sin, and he’s the primitive need that lives in every woman, no matter how much she denies it. But even five hundred years of sensual knowledge haven’t prepared him for the woman who awaits him in his clan’s ancestral castle.

HAPPINESS IS HER BUSINESS

In a distant future, Blythe works for Ecstasy Inc. to make people happy. That’s her job, and she does it well. Company policy forbids the use of sensual solutions to cure unhappiness, and Blythe agrees that sex is a short-term fix. When her abilities are called into question, Blythe travels back to the Scottish Highlands of 1785 to prove that she can make anyone happy. She hasn’t counted on a centuries-old vampire for a client.

Darach believes that sexual pleasure is the key to happiness. Blythe thinks that Ecstasy Inc. has all the answers. Neither one considers love as an option. They’re about to discover how wrong they can be.

My thoughts:

Master of Ecstasy is a paranormal romance that lean towards erotica without actually being erotica. It certainly has its share of sex, but I don’t think it has anything more than a lot of other romances I’ve read. What it also has is its fair share of humor, which cuts the sexiness quite a bit. The world-building is very odd, a mixture of 1700s Scotland and the future. I’m not sure that I’ll read any more in the series. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t really hold my interest much.

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • “When it comes to combining sexy situations and humor, Bangs has it nailed.”RT Book Reviews
  • “This was a great start to the Mackenzie Vampire series.”Book Love

Past reviews:

2011: Crazy Hot (Tara Janzen)
2010: Tongue in Chic (Christina Dodd)
2009: The Stupidest Angel (Christopher Moore)
2008: Loyalty in Death (J.D. Robb)
2007: Tokyo Woes (Bruce Jay Friedman)
2006: The Surgeon (Tess Gerritsen)
2005: One for the Money (Janet Evanovich)

2012: #6 – Tempting Danger (Eileen Wilks)

Title: Tempting Danger
Author: Eileen Wilks
Series: The World of the Lupi #01
Format: Kindle
Pages: 320 (2012 total – 1,584)
Word Count: 99,200 (2012 total – 474,004)
Release Date: October 04, 2004
Publisher: Berkley (MM)
Categories: paranormal fantasy, werewolves
Source: personal copy
Rating: 3 out of 5

Back of the book:

Lily Yu is a San Diego police detective investigating a series of grisly murders that appear to be the work of a werewolf. To hunt down the killer, she must infiltrate the clans. Only one man can help her–a were named Rule Turner, a prince of the lupi, whose charismatic presence disturbs Lily. Rule has his own reasons for helping the investigation–reasons he doesn’t want to share with Lily. Logic and honor demand she keep her distance, but the attraction between them is immediate and devastating-and beyond human reason. Now, in a race to fend off evil, Lily finds herself in uncharted territory, tested as never before, and at her back a man who she’s not sure she can trust ….

My thoughts:

This is pretty much your run-of-the-mill paranormal romance. Lily is human, for the most part. She does have some psychic powers. Rule is not only a werewolf, he’s the prince of the local dominant pack. Of course, sparks fly, and angst ensues.

There is one major flaw. I felt that you’re thrown into the story a bit suddenly. The book opens with the murder scene, and there you are in the middle of everything with very little world-building. It took me several chapters to feel like I had a handle on the world and its various creatures and politics. I was so confused I actually checked to make sure this was indeed the first book in the series. This meant it took me that much longer to connect with the characters.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad read, it just could have been better. I’m sure I’ll read more in the series.

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • “In the hands of a less skilled writer, Tempting Danger probably would have been fairly mind numbing.”The Romance Reader
  • “I can’t wait to read the next book in the series”Badass Book Reviews
  • “This is definitely a series with great potential.”A Book Obsession

Past reviews:

2011: The Cypress House (Michael Koryta)
2010: Little Children (Tom Perrotta)
2009: Summer (Edith Wharton)
2008: Dead Witch Walking (Kim Harrison)
2007: Between Friends (Debbie Macomber)
2006: The Rule of Four (Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason)
2005: D is for Deadbeat (Sue Grafton)

2012: #1 – A Perfect Blood (Kim Harrison)

perfectbloodTitle: A Perfect Blood
Author: Kim Harrison
Series: Rachel Morgan (The Hollows) #10
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Pages: 448 (2012 total – 448)
Approx. Word Count: 134,400 (2012 total – 134,400)
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Categories: urban fantasy, witches/magic
Source: Publisher (via Amazon Vine)
Rating: 5 out of 5

Back of the book:

New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison returns to the Hollows with the electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed Pale Demon!

Ritually murdered corpses are appearing across Cincinnati, terrifying amalgams of human and other. Pulled in to help investigate by the I.S. and the FIB, former witch turned day-walking demon Rachel Morgan soon realizes a horrifying truth: a human hate group is trying to create its own demons to destroy all Inderlanders, and to do so, it needs her blood.

She’s faced vampires, witches, werewolves, demons, and more, but humanity itself might be her toughest challenge yet.

My thoughts:

New year, new format! I’m trying this on for a while to see how it feels…

I was super excited to get my hands on this advanced copy. This is my absolute favorite paranormal/urban fantasy series, which is why I have a hard time giving it anything other than full marks.

The book opens with Rachel and everyone else in her life trying to adjust to the new “normal”. Rachel, now an official demon, is finding that even the most mundane tasks are next to impossible when you aren’t considered to be human anymore. Even worse, she has voluntarily cut herself off from the ley lines in order to hide from the demon collective, leading her to rely on only potions and her wits to get by. And, to make things more complicated, her mother has sent a bodyguard to live in her tower, and Trent is acting strangely… familiar. Jenks is also adjusting to live as a widower and unwilling protector of a wingless fairy, and Ivy continues to try to find balance in her life, this time with FIB agent Glenn.

Rachel is unexpectedly recruited by the IS to find out who is killing witches in rather demonic ways. It’s not long before she discovers that the culprits are a human hate group, twisted enough to use the very things they hate in order to reach their ultimate goal — the destruction of all Inderlanders.

If Rachel is going to survive without her ley lines, it’s going to take every last wit and resource she has, even the ones she wishes she didn’t have to use.

This series could very easily have become stale by now, but Harrison has kept it fresh by giving us fully-realized, complex characters that continue to grow and change throughout each book. No one escapes unscathed, and the possibilities are endless.

A Perfect Blood will be released on February 21, 2012.

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million |IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

“It’s good enough to make me want to re-read the series and is a worthy successor to Pale Demon.” – Book Goggles
“A Perfect Blood is romantically charged and brimming with action” – Fiendishly Bookish
“Perfect Blood is exactly what fans want and love about the Hollows” – Diary of a Book Addict

Past reviews:

2011: Senseless (Mary Burton)
2010: The First Rule (Robert Crais)
2009: Eclipse (Richard North Patterson)
2008: Innocent in Death (J.D. Robb)
2007: Acceptable Risk (Robin Cook)
2006: Conspiracy in Death (J.D. Robb)
2005: The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)

2011: #73 – Dead Beat (Jim Butcher)

deadbeatBook #73 was Dead Beat, the seventh book in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. The back of the book reads:

Harry Dresden must save Chicago from black magic and necromancy — but first, he must locate the Word of Kemmler. Just as soon as he figures out what that is. It’s all in a day’s work for the city’s only professional wizard … assuming he can live to see the end of the day.

I listened to this WAY back around Halloween, when zombies were timely. Thankfully, there’s really no wrong time to listen to a Harry Dresden book.

When the book opens, Harry has found himself in a bit of a weird place in his life. His newly-discovered half-brother is still sleeping on his couch, one of his hands is essentially non-functional, and Murphy is jetting off to Hawaii with none other than the mercenary Kincaid. Harry is still dealing with that last piece of news when vampire queen Marva pays him a visit and saddles him with a nasty piece of blackmail: if Harry doesn’t find a mysterious book called the Word of Kemmler, Marva will frame Murphy for murder.

It’s hard to define what follows as anything other than a "romp". Harry is chased throughout the city by various unknown wizards and various undead things. With him is the medical examiner Waldo Butters, who is in danger because he has unwittingly learned too much. And they are on the clock, because the big bad is going down on Halloween. Harry once again is at the end of his rope and frankly, this ending is one of the most entertaining in the series.

I like to read about Harry’s personal life as much as his magical one, and I was glad that he had a bit of a love interest other than Murphy in this book (though he continues to feel conflicted about her). It’s too bad that his new lady wasn’t quite what she appeared to be.

I have especially enjoyed this series since I switched over to listening to the audiobooks. If this is a series you have been the slightest bit lukewarm about, I really recommend them.

Other reviews:

Fangs For The Fantasy: Review: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher, Book 7
Dead Beat (The Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher : Book Review
Bitten by Books » Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
What Cheesy Reads: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

Audiobook length: 15 hrs 14 min | Word count: 144,413 (’11 total: 7,234,048)

2010: Metro Girl (Janet Evanovich)
2009: Naamah’s Kiss (Jacqueline Carey)
2008: Undead and Unwed (MaryJanice Davidson)
2007: Something From the Nightside (Simon R. Green)
2006: The Penultimate Peril (Lemony Snicket)
2005: Cause of Death (Patricia Cornwell)

2011: #71 – Grave Secret (Charlaine Harris)

gravesecretBook #71 was Grave Secret, the fourth book in the Harper Connelly series by Charlaine Harris. The back of the book reads:

Lightning-struck sleuth Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver take a break from looking for the dead to visit the two little girls they both think of as family. But as they travel to Texas, memories of their horrible childhood resurface. Family secrets ensnare them both, as Tolliver learns his father is out of jail and Harper finally discovers what happened to her missing sister Cameron so many years before. And what she finds will change her world forever.

This is the final book in in the Harper Connelly series, and it’s more about Harper’s family than any sort of mystery. Not that Harper’s family isn’t already swallowed by the mystery of her sister Cameron’s disappearance. Harper and Tolliver take their budding (unconventional and unpopular) relationship to Texas to visit their little sisters, but an unfortunate incident means that they are going to be stuck there a while. Is someone after Harper? Or is Tolliver the target?

I thought Harris did a good job of wrapping up this series. Questions that have been unanswered for the previous 3 books are finally answered, and in ways that make sense but are also surprising. The only part that seemed a little too convenient was the seemingly unconnected hiring of Harper by some people with a tie to her past. This is one of Harris’s odder series, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I’m glad she wrote (what I think is) the final book and closed it out.

Other reviews:

Books Lists Life: Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris
Book Chick City: Audiobook Sunday: ‘Grave Secret’ by Charlaine Harris
“Grave Secret” by Charlaine Harris « Mike Finn’s Fiction
Grave Secret (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 4)
Rex Robot Reviews: Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

Audiobook length: 9 hrs 55 min | Approximate word count: 72,000 (’11 total: 6,998,435)

2010: The Black Ice (Michael Connelly)
2009: Do Not Deny Me (Jean Thompson)
2008: Hold Tight (Harlan Coben)
2007: Mr. Perfect (Linda Howard)
2006: Just One Look (Harlan Coben)
2005: Secret Prey (John Sandford)

2011: #56 – Dead End Dating (Kimberly Raye)

deadenddating Book #56 was Dead End Dating, the first book in Kimberly Raye’s Dead End Dating series. The back of the book reads:

BITING IS SO LAST SEASON.

A vivacious vampire with a flair for accessorizing, Lil Marchette is unlike most of her kind. She prefers lively shades of pink to dismal black (soo not her color), plus she’s a hopeless romantic. In need of a steady paycheck to support a compulsive cosmetics habit, Lil starts Dead End Dating (DED), a Manhattan-based matchmaking service that helps smart, sophisticated singles like herself find eternity mates–and may even help her stake a claim to her very own Count Right!

When Lil meets geeky vampire Francis Deville, she knows he’s the perfect first client. If she can hook up Francis–after a little revamping, of course–she will prove her skills to the vampire community and turn DED into the hottest dating service in the Big Apple. But just as her business takes off, Lil meets the (literally) drop-dead gorgeous bounty hunter Ty Bonner, who is hot on the chase of a serial killer. Instantly drawn to the luscious vamp stud, Lil really wants a taste. But as a made vampire, Ty can’t procreate–and Lil will settle for nothing less. Luckily, between “vampifying” Francis and helping Ty solve his murder mystery, Lil has no time for silly romantic entanglements . . . even if Ty is all that and a Bloody Mary chaser!

This was a fun read, but there’s not a lot of substance to it. You can draw some comparisons between this and MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series, but not a lot of them. Lil and Betsy are really only similar in that they are very style conscious. Otherwise, Lil is *much* less annoying.

Raye’s vampires are either made or born that way, and there isn’t a lot of mixing between the two. And the general population has no idea they exist. Lil is a born vampire who believes in love, and she’s backing up her belief by starting a dating service, much to the chagrin of her entire family. They are more traditional, believing that matches should be made on the basis of who is most fertile, not this silly love business.

Unfortunately, there is a serial killer who is targeting women using dating services, and that’s what brings bounty hunter Ty into Lil’s office. Ty is a made vampire, but Lil can’t help finding him just a little bit irresistible.

This is more paranormal romance than urban fantasy, but it’s not a bad ride. The serial killer storyline is almost secondary to Lil’s struggle to get her business off the ground. I’ll probably continue the series – it’s good for when you need a quick distraction.

Other reviews:

Book Review – Dead End Dating by Kimberly Raye
Review: Dead End Dating
Dead End Dating by Kimberly Raye

Page count: 352 (’11 total: 15,406) | Approximate word count: 88,000 (’11 total: 5,453,870)

2010: Chenxi and the Foreigner (Sally Rippin)
2009: Dark Places (Gillian Flynn)
2008: How I Live Now (Meg Rosoff)
2007: Basket Case (Carl Hiaasen)
2006: Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
2005: Hard Eight (Janet Evanovich)

Used in these Challenges: 2011 TBR Pile Challenge; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #42 – Moon Called (Patricia Briggs)

mooncalledBook #42 was Moon Called, the first book in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. The back of the book reads:

Mercy Thompson’s life is not exactly normal. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a VW bus for a vampire. But then, Mercy isn’t exactly normal herself.

I didn’t know much about this series when I started this book, other than a few mentions here and there about it being good. It definitely lived up to the good things I’ve heard.

The world Briggs has built is a little bit different than the typical urban fantasy/paranormal universe. There’s vampires and werewolves, but there is also a whole class of fae that includes creatures other than faeries. There’s goblins and all sorts of "lesser" fae, and then there’s Mercy, who is a skinwalker. She’s sort of like a werewolf, but she turns into a coyote and she can do it whenever she wants; she isn’t slave to the moon.

Mercy was raised by werewolves, so she quickly spots the young man who comes to her shop looking for work for what he is — a were on the run. It’s her understanding of the weres and their politics that helps her survive the events of the novel.

Mercy is a strong lead, but she’s not reckless. She doesn’t take unnecessary risks, which puts her above some other strong leading ladies. Usually they’re assertive, but have a tendency to think with their emotions rather than their head.

The book was a little heavy on world-building and were politics, but that’s not unexpected in the first book of a series. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I will definitely be reading more in the series.

Other reviews:

Patricia Briggs: Moon Called – Book Review
strange and random happenstance: Book Review – Patricia Briggs Moon Called
Book Review: Moon Called « Obsessed With Books
Book Review – Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, book 1) by Patricia Briggs
REVIEW – Moon Called by Patricia Briggs — Babbling Book Reviews

Page count: 336 (’11 total: 10,665) | Word count: 97,103 (’11 total: 4,069,953)

2010: Strawberry Shortcake Murder (Joanne Fluke)
2009: Tribute (Nora Roberts)
2008: Curse of the Spellmans (Lisa Lutz)
2007: The Fiery Cross (Diana Gabaldon)
2006: The Footprints of God (Greg Iles)
2005: Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer)

Used in these Challenges: Countdown Challenge 2011; 2011 E-book Challenge; New Author Challenge 2011; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #41 – Dead Reckoning (Charlaine Harris)

deadreckoning Book #41 was Dead Reckoning, the 11th book in the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. The back of the book reads:

With her knack for being in trouble’s way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. Sookie suspects otherwise, but her attention is divided when she realizes that her lover Eric Northman and his "child" Pam are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, Sookie is drawn into the plot-which is much more complicated than she knows…

I felt pretty good about this book. I’ve been lukewarm about a lot of the books in the latter half of this series, but here we had a little bit of an old fashioned whodunit, rather than a lot of vampire/fae politics. Of course, we can’t get away from the politics altogether. I’ve always preferred action over talk in this series, and there was plenty of action here. Sookie makes some interesting decisions in this book, and I quite enjoyed the return of Bubba. It was enough to keep me interested in the next novel.

Other reviews:

Dead Reckoning (True Blood) by Charlaine Harris : Book Review
Book Review: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
Candace’s Book Blog: Book Review: Dead Reckoning
Review of “Dead Reckoning” by Charlaine Harris « Rhapsody in Books
Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris « Book Monkey

Audiobook length: 10 hrs 23 min | Approximate word count: 84,000 (’11 total: 3,972,850)

2010: So Much For That (Lionel Shriver)
2009: Drop Shot (Harlan Coben)
2008: Creation in Death (J.D. Robb)
2007: Final Jeopardy (Linda Fairstein)
2006: All Through the Night (Mary Higgins Clark)
2005: The Count and the Confession (John Taylor)

Used in these Challenges: Countdown Challenge 2011; 2011 Audiobook Challenge; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;

2011: #36 – Blood Rites (Jim Butcher)

bloodritesBook #36 was Blood Rites, the 6th book in Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden Files. The back of the book reads:

For Harry Dresden, there have been worse assignments than going undercover on the set of an adult film. Still, there’s something more troubling than usual about his newest case. The film’s producer believes he’s the target of a sinister curse-but it’s the women around him who are dying.

Harry’s even more frustrated because he only got involved with this bizarre mystery as a favor to Thomas-his flirtatious, self-absorbed vampire acquaintance of dubious integrity. Thomas has a personal stake in the case Harry can’t quite figure out. But Harry is about to discover that Thomas’ family tree has been hiding a shocking revelation that will change his life forever…

I had burned out a little on this series, but thankfully, there’s a cure for that ailment: a fantastic audio production. James Marsters (known by some as Spike from Buffy/Angel) is the narrator, and he does a superb job. He breathed life back into Harry.

Another thing that helped is that this book departs a bit from the giant “save the world” tasks of the last few novels. Harry’s looking for a way to pay the bills, so when his vampire “friend” Thomas comes to him and asks him to help his porn-producer friend, Harry finds it hard to resist. Even though the chivalrous side of him isn’t very comfortable with learning how porn is made.

But don’t worry, it doesn’t get very hot and steamy for Harry. Instead, he ends up in the middle of a family squabble turned turf war, and he’s connected to it more than he ever expected.

I’ll definitely be continuing the series on audio. I can’t resist a great narrator.

Other reviews:

Blood Rites (The Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher : Book Review
Sunday Review: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher (Orbit) | NextRead.co.uk
Strategist’s Personal Library: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
What Cheesy Reads: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
Bitten by Books » Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

Audiobook length: 13 hrs 11 min | Word count: 121,290 (’11 total: 3,526,450)

2010: Dark Entries (Ian Rankin)
2009: Matilda (Roald Dahl)
2008: The Unlikely Spy (Daniel Silva)
2007: Trouble in High Heels (Christina Dodd)
2006: The Mummy Case (Elizabeth Peters)
2005: North and South (John Jakes)

Used in these Challenges: Countdown Challenge 2011; 2011 Audiobook Challenge; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011; Four Month Challenge – Part 6;

2011: #27 – Pale Demon (Kim Harrison)

paledemonBook #27 was Pale Demon, the 9th book in Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series. The back of the book reads:

Condemned and shunned for black magic, Rachel Morgan has three days to get to the annual witches’ conference and clear her name, or be trapped in the demonic ever-after . . . forever after.

But a witch, an elf, a living vampire, and a pixy in one car going across the country? Talk about a recipe for certain disaster, even without being the targets for assassination.

For after centuries of torment, a fearsome demon walks in the sunlight—freed at last to slay the innocent and devour their souls. But his ultimate goal is Rachel Morgan, and in the fight for survival that follows, even embracing her own demonic nature may not be enough to save her.

What do you do when you’re 8 books into a series and you need to shake up the character dynamics a bit?

You take all of your main characters and shove them into a Buick and make them drive cross-country in three days.

Harrison could have written an entire book just about that road trip. Friendships and alliances are tested, and new alliances are formed. Along the way they’re challenged by elves, pixies, and one particularly nasty demon. But some of the most interesting things happen once they reach their destination.

Not only are the interpersonal dynamics in flux, but Rachel also changes a lot. She’s forced to look very hard at herself and make some decisions, once and for all, about what it means to be a white witch or a black witch. And the result of it all could be a sea change for the series

I am still in love with this series. I’ve enjoyed how Rachel has grown and matured, even if she still slips into old behaviors from time to time. Trent is a particularly intriguing character in this book, though I did guess his big secret almost immediately. He could have easily been written off as bit player early in the series, but instead he’s  more important than ever. The one big criticism I do have has to do with his quest. I understand that the point of view the book is written in doesn’t allow us to go on the quest with Trent without Rachel going along, but there were still things about it that bugged me. Like, how in the heck did they get back to San Francisco in that amount of time? Ah well.

Harrison has left us at a very interesting crossroads in The Hollows, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

This book was a review copy.

Other reviews:

The Book Smugglers » Blog Archive » Book Review: Pale Demon by Kim Harrison
Literary Escapism » Pale Demon by K. Harrison
Pale Demon by Kim Harrison : Book Review
ARC Review: Pale Demon – Kim Harrison | Wicked Lil Pixie Reviews
A Book Blogger’s Diary: Review – Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

Audiobook length: 17 hrs 54 min | Approximate word count: 112,000 (’11 total: 2,587,602)

2010: Rest in Pieces (Rita Mae Brown)
2009: Vampire Academy (Richelle Mead)
2008: Ice Trap (Kitty Sewell)
2007: The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
2006: Betrayal in Death (J.D. Robb)
2005: Open Season (Linda Howard)

Used in these Challenges: Countdown Challenge 2011; 2011 Audiobook Challenge; ARC Reading Challenge 2011; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011; Four Month Challenge – Part 6;

2011: #17 – Black Magic Sanction (Kim Harrison)

blackmagic Book #17 was Black Magic Sanction, the eighth book in Kim Harrison’s wonderful Rachel Morgan series. The back of the book reads:

Rachel Morgan has fought and hunted vampires, werewolves, banshees, demons, and other supernatural dangers as both witch and bounty hunter—and lived to tell the tale. But she’s never faced off against her own kind . . . until now.

Denounced and shunned for dealing with demons and black magic, her best hope is life imprisonment—her worst, a forced lobotomy and genetic slavery. Only her enemies are strong enough to help her win her freedom. But trust comes hard when it hinges on the unscrupulous tycoon Trent Kalamack, the demon Algaliarept, and a lowlife ex-boyfriend-turned-thief.

There are few series that have captured me the way this one has. I’ve been thinking about this review for over a week, and I’m afraid the only way I can explain is in fractured points.

I love that Harrison throws us directly into the action.  We’re mere pages into the book when things start to go south for Rachel. This isn’t one of those series you can just jump into at any point and understand.  And that’s perfectly alright.

If you *do* jump in without reading the books before, Harrison is adept at weaving in the relevant back story without it feeling ham-fisted, forced, or completely out of place. It’s also a nice reminder for when there’s a year or more between the reading of volumes.

I love that Rachel is far from perfect.  She repeats her mistakes. She has questionable taste in men (though I happen to like Pierce). She’s protective of others to a fault. She has irrational attachments. She’ll push forward with plans she should know won’t work. She sometimes trusts in the wrong people. And she has an infuriating stubborn streak, not to mention her inability to see in shades of gray instead of black and white. Even though she sees that white magic can be just as dangerous as black, she still treats black magic (and those that practice it) as the scum on the bottom of her shoe. But a lot of the enjoyment of this series is watching what she does and then yelling at her for it. I wouldn’t have her any other way.

I love Trent Kalamack.  Yes, the ruthless, conniving elf is one of my favorite characters, even more than Ivy. His relationship with Rachel has many levels, and I’m not sure either of them really understand it. But he won’t rest easy until she’s under his thumb.

I’ve even developed a certain amount of respect for the demon Al.

Most of all, I love Rachel’s fight. Even when she’s misguided and wrong, tired and hungry, hurt and lost, she never stops fighting.

A bonus is Marguerite Gavin’s incredible narration on the audiobook.  She will always be the voice of Rachel for me.

Other reviews:

Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison : Book Review
Literary Escapism » Black Magic Sanction by K. Harrison
SciFiGuy.ca: Review – "Black Magic Sanction" by Kim Harrison
Black Magic Sanction – The Good, The Bad and The Unread
Bitten by Books » Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

Audiobook length: 19hrs 6min | Approximate word count: 144,000 (’11 total: 1,612,552)

2010: Outrageous (Christina Dodd)
2009: Kiss of the Night (Sherrilyn Kenyon)
2008: Relic (Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child)
2007: At Bertram’s Hotel (Agatha Christie)
2006: Cerulean Sins (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2005: The Hearing (John Lescroart)

Used in these Challenges: Four Month Challenge – Part 5; 2011 Audiobook Challenge; Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011; What’s in a Name 4 Challenge;

2010: #100 – The Strain (Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan)

strainBook #100 was The Strain, the first book in the Strain trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.  The back of the book reads:

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing…

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city–a city that includes his wife and son–before it is too late.

It’s been a few weeks since I finished this, and I’m still not completely sure what I thought about it.  On one hand, it was a interesting, creepy twist on the vampire.  No brooding looks or sparkling skin here, just gore and horror. On the other hand, you could really tell that a screenwriter was one of the authors.  Things jumped around A LOT. There were many times when I just wanted to get back to our main heroes: Eph, Nora, and Setrakian. The reason we were following some of these secondary characters became clear in the end, but I still think some of the other scenes could have been cut. The book does end on a cliffhanger with little to no resolution, so that’s something to keep in mind before you pick it up. I liked our core team of protagonists, so I’ll probably pick up the second book to see what happens to them.  It’s hard to imagine a way for New York to get out of this mess.

Other reviews:

That’s What She Read: REVIEW – The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Fantasy Book Critic: "The Strain" by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan : Book Review
Patricia’s Vampire Notes: The Strain – Vampire Book Review
MariReads: Book Review- The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Page count: 608 | Approximate word count: 152,000

2009: Practical Demonkeeping (Christopher Moore)
2008: The Dirty Secrets Club (Meg Gardiner)
2007: Fantasy Lover (Sherrilyn Kenyon)
2006: Final Target (Iris Johansen)

Used in these Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge; Pages Read Challenge Season 2; Four Month Challenge – Part 5; Countdown Challenge 2011;

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