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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Shadow Chase (Shadowchasers Book 2) by Seressia Glass

I rated Shadow Blade, the first book in the Shadowchasers series, a 10 of 10. I had a little bit of concern about book two, Shadow Chase, measuring up. Turns out, book two is just as good as book one. The clever use of mythologies and pantheons, the knowledge of Ancient Egypt, the travel, the action, the emotions. Shadow Chase is a very entertaining book.

Here is the blurb for Shadow Chase:

As a Shadowchaser, Kira Solomon has been trained to serve the Light, dispatch the Fallen, and prevent the spread of chaos. It’s a deadly job, and Kira knows the horror of spilling innocent blood. But now she has a new role, as the Hand of Ma’at, the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Order, and an assignment that might just redeem her.

A fellow Shadowchaser has gone missing, and so has a unique artifact imbued with astonishing magic. Unless the Vessel of Nun is returned, it will cause destruction beyond anything the modern world has seen. Kira’s got a team at her back, including Khefar, a near-immortal Nubian warrior who’s already died for her once. But as complicated as her feelings for him are, they’re nothing compared to the difficulties of the task she faces. And the only way to defeat the enemy is to trust in a power she can barely control, and put her life—and her soul—on the line.

We learn a lot more about Kira's history, a good bit more about Balm, and a little more about the construct of the world that Kira inhabits. 

I appreciate that Kira is still growing and learning and figuring things out. And I like that she's learning to trust more people. Kira learns a good bit about her history during the course of Shadow Chase, but there is still an important piece of information missing, and I have a feeling that will be pretty important in future books.

As for the story elements:  plot is once again exceptional, and there are mutliple plots going on, the longer term series arcs as well as the plots that get nicely tied up within this one book. The pacing had some issues, which is really too bad with as much action as there is in Shadow Chase. The prose and dialogue were well done, and character development is very well done. The world building in this series is incredible.

I'm going to give Shadow Chase a 9 of 10, knocking off a point for pacing. The series will get a 10 of 10, though, as this is a kick-ass series.

Book Rating: Shadow Chase: 9 of 10
Series Rating: Shadowchasers: 10 of 10

 Unfortunately, I do not see where the author has announced the name of the third book. I truly hope there will be a third book.

1. Shadow Blade
2. Shadow Chase

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eternal Kiss of Darkness (Night Huntress World, Book 2) by Jeaniene Frost


I've been waiting for Eternal Kiss of Darkness for some time. I mean, really waiting for it. Mencheres fascinates me. The ultimate man of mystery. Right? And all of that power wielded without emotion. Someone that Bones, the ultimate bad ass, is in awe of.  He's supposed to be one of the good guys, but he was still scary.

I was a bit disappointed by First Drop of Crimson, and I was afraid I would feel the same way about Eternal Kiss of Darkness. How do you write a book about a strong man of mystery without blowing the whole reason everyone is fascinated by him? I mean, if you answer the questions, let us get to know him, he's not a mystery anymore. Right? Well, yes. Mostly. But after getting to know him, I still like him. And I have a feeling there is still much we (and Kira) don't know about him. Eternal Kiss of Darkness is much, much, much, better than First Drop of Crimson.

Here's the blurb:
An immortal war has been brewing in the darkness...and now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.

Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she's only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he'd seen it all. Then Kira appears - this fearless, beautiful....human who braved death to rescue him. Though her burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.

Who makes an appearance in Eternal Kiss of Darkness? Well, obviously Mencheres is a big part of the action. We also see Vlad a decent amount, and Bones and Cat, of course. As well as a couple of the Law Guardians.

As for the writing elements breakdown: The plot was good, something a bit unexpected that worked well to give a lot of action around the budding romance. The pacing had some pretty big issues for me. Prose and dialogue were very well done, that's never a problem with Jeaniene Frost's writing. Character development was exceptionally well done, and the world building is consistent with what we've learned in earlier stories. There was something that bugged me (a world building continuity thing) when I was reading the book, but I've skimmed back through it to refresh my memory and I can't remember what it was, so it must not have been that big of a deal.

I'm going to give Eternal Kiss of Darkness a 9 of 10. It's a good story, but there were some pretty significant pacing issues, and some issues with the ending. I mean, the ending told us what we needed to know, but it was... well... we never really get to see how the couple interacts in a normal day, when there aren't people trying to kill them. The ending came faster than I realized, and I felt a bit cheated out of seeing what happens when the threat is removed.

Book Rating: Eternal Kiss of Darkness: 9 of 10

I loved the peek we got of This Side of the Grave. It looks like This Side of the Grave is going to happen in the same time frame as Eternal Kiss of Darkness.

Night Huntress Novels
1. Halfway to the Grave (2007)
2. One Foot in the Grave (April 2008)
3. At Grave's End (December 2008)
4. Destined for an Early Grave (July 2009)
5. This Side of the Grave (Feb 22, 2011)

Night Huntress Universe 
1. First Drop of Crimson (Feb 2010)
2. Eternal Kiss of Darkness (July 27, 2010)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Master of None by Sonya Bateman


I've found a couple of great new series by reading debut novels. In order for new authors to be published these days, most of the time they've got to be really exceptional. With Master of None we have a nice concept, and something a bit different -- Djinn instead of vampires and werewolves. Unfortunately, it didn't really work for me. For one thing, there were inconsistencies - in the beginning it's possible to magic up some beer and cigarettes, but later on it's impossible to magic up some water, because all you can do is create illusion, turning dirt into water would still make it taste like dirt. Well, if that's the case then how did the beer taste like beer? Too many times the rules of magic just seemed to fit the plot at the time, and not the rules as previously explained.

Here's the blurb:
ONE UNLUCKY THIEF. ONE UNLIKELY GENIE. ONE VERY ODD COUPLE.Gavyn Donatti is the world’s unluckiest thief. Just ask all the partners he’s lost over the years. And when he misplaces an irreplaceable item he was hired to steal for his ruthless employer, Trevor—well, his latest bungle just might be his last. But then his luck finally turns: right when Trevor’s thugs have him cornered, a djinn, otherwise known as a genie, appears to save him.Unfortunately, this genie—who goes by the very non-magical name of “Ian”—is more Hellboy than dream girl. An overgrown and extremely surly man who seems to hate Donatti on the spot, he may call Donatti master, but he isn’t interested in granting three wishes. He informs Donatti that he is bound to help the thief fulfill his life’s purpose, and then he will be free. The problem is that neither Donatti nor Ian has any idea what exactly that purpose is.At first Donatti’s too concerned with his own survival to look a gift genie in the mouth, but when his ex-girlfriend Jazz and her young son get drawn into the crossfire, the stakes skyrocket. And when Ian reveals that he has an agenda of his own—with both Donatti and the murderous Trevor at the center of it—Donatti will have to become the man he never knew he could be, or the entire world could pay the price. . . .

While the concept was good, there were two times in Master of None where I seriously considered putting the book down and not finishing it. I did finish it, and I can see that it's a good set-up for the series to follow, but I have no interest in reading any of the rest of the series.

The plot was very good, the pacing was terrible, the prose was well done, dialogue was well done, character development was good (though again, there were inconsistencies that bothered me), world building was exceptional in concept but the continuity issues were a problem.

Book Rating: Master of None: 6 of 10

Master of None qualifies as another book in the Debut Urban Fantasy Challenge I'm participating in.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Masters of the Shadowlands - Books 3 and 4 by Cherise Sinclair

Book three of the Masters of the Shadowlands series is Breaking Free, and book four is Lean on Me. When I reviewed the first two books of this series, I gave them a 9 of 10. And, I called those two books "BDSM Lite".

The first two books in this series worked for me because of the D/s, not because of the BD or SM elements. Unfortunately, an entire series of broken submissives who need to be "fixed" by a club full of near perfect über-doms... four such books back to back is a bit much, and the third and fourth books just didn't work as well for me.Once you know the formula, all of the books in the series are basically the same - insert different names and different psychoses or hangups, and you've got them all, in a nutshell.

Here is the blurb for Breaking Free:

A sadistic husband left Beth scarred, inside and out. Only at the Shadowlands BDSM club does she feel like a woman. But her fears limit her to Doms who won't overwhelm her--the very ones who cannot arouse her. The Master of the Shadowlands gives her an ultimatum: accept the Dom he assigns or lose her membership. The last thing Beth wants is a ruthless, powerful Dom, but that's just what she gets.

Asked to take on a problem sub, Nolan sees the issue immediately--although truly submissive, the little redhead is too scared to relinquish control and her Doms have let her get away with it. That will change right now.

As Master Nolan takes Beth under command, compelling her submission, she's terrified, but the experienced Dom brings her pleasure, not pain. His only demand is that she never lie to him. Under his capable hands, her body comes alive, and she begins to heal. As he pushes her limits, she learns to trust…and then to love. And she realizes he is beginning to care for her in return.

But now her cruel husband has found her, and Master Nolan discovers she's been lying and lying and lying.

And the blurb for Lean on Me:

Andrea wants to submit, but not to just any so-called Dom. He has to be tougher than the slum-bred bullies she grew up with. She’d given up finding a true Dom when her friend finagles her a place as a trainee in an exclusive BDSM club with the powerful Shadowlands Masters. Andrea’s thrilled...and terrified.

Forced to accept an unknown submissive into his carefully run trainee program, Master Cullen is furious. Not only is the young woman new to BDSM, but she’s unsuited to her role--armoured in leather like a Domme, she’s more liable to punch a Dom than kneel. He decides to push her right back out the door. But as he ruthlessly intimidates her, punishes her, then comforts her, his glimpses of the woman inside the emotional armour intrigue him and her utter surrender captures his heart.

Although Master Cullen is famous for his unfettered lifestyle, Andrea believes he might be interested in her, until she discovers he’s not just a bartender--he’s a cop. Maybe he’d overlook her past brush with the law, but when another trainee accuses her of stealing money, Andrea's sure she’s lost the Master she wanted with all her heart.

For me, I'm going to have to give both of these books a 6 of 10. And I can't call these books realistic BDSM, either. Not because the BDSM is so far fetched (it is not), but because the relationship is too.... too... it just wouldn't happen that way.  The Doms are, can't say Mary Sue for them... Marty Stu, I guess. A good BDSM relationship is about communication, not about the Dom just knowing what is wrong without any communication.

As for story elements: plot in both books is good, pacing has issues but isn't horrible, prose and dialogue were very well done, and character development is also very well done.

Book Rating: 6 of 10

Cherise Sinclair is a good storyteller, and I feel bad about rating these books a 6 of 10. But that's how I feel about them, it's what I must put out there if I am to be honest. Others, those newer to the ideas of BDSM, would probably rate them higher. Perhaps that is Ms. Sinclair's intended audience.

1. Club Shadowlands
2. Dark Citadel
3. Breaking Free
4. Lean on Me

* Masters of the Shadowlands (contains Club Shadowlands and Dark Citadel)
* Breaking Free

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Glimpse of Evil (Psychic Eye Mysteries, Book 8) by Victoria Laurie


I have had issues with the Psychic Eye Mysteries in the past, enough that I almost dropped the series. The previous book in the series, Doom with a View, was pretty good and gave me hope.  A Glimpse of Evil once again did not disappoint. Once Victoria Laurie stepped out of the formula that wasn't working, it seems to have given the series new life. That's a good thing.

Abby and Dutch are moving to Texas, and Abby will be working for the FBI now.  It was a bit painful to watch Abby walk into a room full of FBI agents assigned to work cold cases, and who are all majorly skeptical about the psychic they've heard will be joining their department. But Abby handled it okay, and she had two people batting on her side. (Which, BTW, brings me to a major sticking point with me -- how believable is it that someone can move from Michigan to Texas and have her entire social circle move with her? Right, not very likely. But we have Candace and Agent Harrison and the handyman and even Milo joining them in their new city. It was a huge stretch for me.)

Back to the main part of the discussion: Abby has Dutch and Agent Harrison on her side, but a whole lot of other agents who are a bit hostile at first. Until she starts to work on the cold case files and shows she's the real deal, but that's pretty predictable, right?

The majority of the story involves a rocky relationship between Candace and Brice (Agent Harrison), Abby trying to deal with working for the FBI in a corporate environment. (No candles, all florescent lights, official paperwork, lots of rules, boxes and boxes containing oodles of files, etc.). We don't really get into the crime part of the plot until we're a decent ways into the book, but I guessed the culprit soon after realizing which of the crimes the plot was going to center on. So, I guess that annoyed me, too. I mean, Abby's telling the story, which means we have the same information she has, so should we really be able to figure it out so much sooner than she does?

Here's the blurb:

Professional psychic Abigail Cooper has received a cold welcome from some prickly investigators at the FBI. But that won't stop her from following her intuition...even if it brings her eye to eye with acts of true evil.


As the FBI's newest civilian profiler, Abby Cooper has a tough job ahead of her. Not only does she have to use her powers of intuition to help solve a backlog of the bureau's cold cases, but she must also win over a frosty group of seasoned investigators and teach them how to develop their own perceptive abilities.

If that weren't challenging enough, Abby's sure that several of the cold cases are connected, but she's the only one who's convinced. Things go from bad to worse when Abby and another agent are suspended for not following protocol, leaving Abby and her old partner, Candice, to investigate on their own. To discover how these pieces fit together, Abby will have to call on every intuitive bone in her body...before she's the one put on ice. 

As for my usual rundown: there were multiple story lines, some of which were better than others, but the main plot was too obviously solved (in my head, not in the book) too early on. Pacing was well done, not really any slow points, which is good. Prose and dialogue were good. Character development is fairly well done.

In other words, the various elements don't win any awards, but the story, the entertainment value part of it, was higher than the individual elements would lead one to believe.

I'm going to give A Glimpse of Evil an 8 of 10, and I will raise the series from a 7 of 10 to an 8 of 10. The end of the book gives us a good idea of what the next book, Eye Spy, will be about, and we even get a preview of it. I'm looking forward to reading Eye Spy, when it comes out.

Book Rating: A Glimpse of Evil: 8 of 10
Series Rating: Psychic Eye Mysteries: 8 of 10

1. Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye
2. Better Read Than Dead
3. A Vision of Murder
4. Killer Insight
5. Crime Seen
6. Death Perception<>
7. Doom with a View (Sept 2009)
8. A Glimpse of Evil (July 2010)
9  Eye Spy (2011)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

* Anxiously Awaiting as of Early July 2010

The next Kitty Norville book will be called Kitty's Big Trouble, and Kate 5 will be Magic Slays. I've marked the other new finds in red, in case you're just looking for the new stuff. I've also put an (e) next to the books that have an excerpt out, clicking the (e) will take you to my listing of excerpts.

07/20/10 Dark and Stormy Knights (Anthology) by PN Elrod, Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, Carrie Vaughn, etc. (e)
07/27/10 Shadow Chase (Shadowchasers Bk 2) by Seressia Glass (e)
07/27/10 Eternal Kiss of Darkness, Mencheres' book (Night Huntress World, #2) Jeaniene Frost (e)
07/27/10 Waking the Witch (Savannah) (Women/Otherworld Bk 11) Kelley Armstrong (e)
08/03/10 Death's Excellent Vacation (Anth) by Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost, etc.
08/03/10 Burning Up (Anth) Nalini Singh, Angela Knight, Virginia Kantra, Meljean Brook
08/03/10 No Mercy (Dark Hunters #19) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (e)
08/24/10 Demon from the Dark (Immortals After Dark Bk 10) by Kresley Cole
08/24/10 Kisses from Hell (Anth) by Kristin Cast, Richelle Mead, Kelley Armstrong, etc.
08/31/10 Sparks (Anya Kalinczyk / Embers book 2) by Laura Bickle
09/07/10 Dexter Is Delicious (Book 5 of the Dexter series) by Jeff Lindsay
09/07/10 Vampire Trinity (Vampire Queen Book 6) by Joey W. Hill (e)
09/07/10 An Artificial Night (October Daye book 3) by Seanan McGuire
09/14/10 Wicked Appetite (Diesel, Book 1) by Janet Evanovich (e)
09/28/10 Venom (Elemental Assassin Bk 3) by Jennifer Estep (e)
09/28/10 Naked Heat (Nikki Heat Bk 2) by Richard Castle (e)
09/28/10 Bayou Moon (The Edge series Book 2), by Ilona Andrews (e)
09/28/10 Double Cross (Justine Jones Disillusionist Book 2) by Carolyn Crane
10/05/10 Never After (Anth) by Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie M. Liu, etc.
10/26/10 Haunted by Your Touch (Anth) by Shayla Black, Jeaniene Frost, Sharie Kohler, etc.
10/26/10 Side Jobs (Anthology of Dresden short stories) by Jim Butcher
Fall/2010  Blood Rock (Dakota Frost / Skindancer series book two) by Anthony Francis (e)
11/02/10 Marked By The Moon (Nightcreatures #9) by Lori Handeland 
11/02/10 Play of Passion (Psy/Changeling #9, Indigo's Book) by Nalini Singh (e)
11/02/10 Magic at the Gate (Allie Beckstrom Book 5) by Devon Monk (e)
11/30/10 Vicious Grace (Black Sun's Daughter Book 3) by M.L.N. Hanover
11/30/10 Silver Zombie (Delilah Street #4) by Carole Nelson Douglas
11/30/10 Counterfeit Magic (Women of the Otherworld Novella) by Kelley Armstrong
11/30/10 Killing the Cobra-Chinatown Trollop (Felix Gomez-Comic), Mario Acevedo, Alberto Dose
12/28/10 My Fair Succubi (Succubus Diaries Bk 3) by Jill Myles (e)
12/28/10 Deep Kiss of Winter by Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter (e)
12/29/10 Tempest's Legacy (Jane True Book 3) by Nicole Peeler 
Late/2010 Puppy Love 3: Reawakening by Jeff Erno
Late/2010 Safe Words (Deviations book 5) by Chris Owen and Jodi Payne
01/04/11 Mercy Blade (Jane Yellowrock, Book 3) by Faith Hunter (e)
01/04/11 Home for a Spell (Bewitching Mystery, Book 7) by Madelyn Alt
01/25/11 River Marked (Mercy Thompson, Book 6) by Patricia Briggs
??/??/11 Risa book 1 (Dark Angel series) by Keri Arthur (e)
??/??/?? Eye of the Tempest (Jane True Book 4) by Nicole Peeler
02/01/11 Invincible (Chronicles of Nick Volume 2) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
02/22/11 Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter Book 3) Nalini Singh
02/22/11 This Side of the Grave (Cat and Bones #5, Night Huntress series) by Jeaniene Frost
02/22/11 Pale Demon (The Hollows Rachel Morgan, Book 9) by Kim Harrison
03/01/11 Blackout (Cal Leandros, Book 6) by Rob Thurman
03/01/11 Moon Cursed (Nightcreature Novels, Book 10) by Lori Handeland
03/01/11 Late Eclipses (October Daye, Book 4) by Seanan McGuire
03/15/11 Steel  by Carrie Vaughn
03/29/11 Ghost Story (Dresden Files, Book 13) by Jim Butcher
03/??/11 Demons at the Gates (Phoenix Chronicles, Book 5) by Lori Handeland
Spring/11 Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, Book 5) by Ilona Andrews (e)
??/??/11 Psy/Changeling #10 (Hawke's book) by Nalini Singh
04/26/11 Mercy Burns (Myth & Magic Bk 2) by Keri Arthur
06/11/11 Kitty's Big Trouble (Kitty Norville Book Nine) by Carrie Vaughn
0/??/11 Dead Letters (Sookie Stackhouse Bk 11) by Charlaine Harris
07/??/11 Eye Spy (Abby Cooper #9) by Victoria Laurie
FALL/11 Alpha and Omega series, Book 3 Patricia Briggs
09/11/11 The Brightest Fell (October Daye, Book 5) by Seanan McGuire
10/01/11 Alpha (Dark Hunters, Daria's story) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
??/??/12 Unnamed Jaime story (Women/Otherworld Bk 13) Kelley Armstrong
09/01/12 Daemon's Angel (Dark Hunters) by Sherrilyn Kenyon 
??/??/?? Virtual Virgin (Delilah Street #5) by Carole Nelson Douglas
??/??/11 Supernaturals on Vacation (Anthology)

Not all of the series I keep up with have another book listed as coming out. The authors have stated there will be more, but to my knowledge they haven't said when, or given a title name. I've listed those series below.

* Caruthers Sisters series by Candace Havens
* Meredith Gentry series by
Laurell K Hamilton
* Daughters of Arianne series by Joey W. Hill
* Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton
* Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich

Below are series I follow, but it is unclear whether there will be more books in the series:
* Bronwyn the Witch series by Candace Havens
* Nadia Stafford series by Kelley Armstrong
* Nature of Desire series by Joey W. Hill

* Felix Gomez series Mario Acevedo
* Spellman series by Lisa Lutz
* Queen Betsy series by MaryJanice Davidson

You can read an excerpt of many of these books, to see my list of excerpts please go here

If someone wants to send me an ARC of one of the books on my Anxiously Awaiting list, I will read it within a day or two of it arriving (assuming I'm home and I'm not sick or anything), and will get a blog post up of it as soon as I've finished reading it. You may send me a digital version at chained lightning at g mail dot com, or to send a hard copy you may contact me at that email address to ask for a shipping address. If you have an ARC you would like to send that is not on my Anxiously Awaiting list I will attempt to read and review it in a timely manner but it may not be placed topmost in my TBR pile. Feel free to email me to see if I'd be interested in reading something, as well. I've found a few authors this way that I may not have read had I not received a review copy from the publisher. And now I'm hooked on a few of those series, just waiting for the next book.