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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.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blood Rock (Dakota Frost / Skindancer series book two) by Anthony Francis


Blood Rock is one of the best books I've read this year. I need to come up with a category for the books that deserve something better than a 10 of 10.

From what I can tell from his online information, Anthony Francis is a scientist as well as a computer geek. And it shows in his writing -- in a good way, of course. If magic were real there would be physics to it, and he gives us the physics of magic like no other urban fantasy author has done before. There are graphomancers who study how shapes interact with magic, there is talk of exothermic vs endothermic where it applies to magic, we get well thought out explanations of why some shapes draw magic in and others spew it out, there is even mention of the Holographic Universe.  Wow. I'm betting that I could talk to this man for hours and not notice the passing of time.

So, obviously, I loved the metaphysics of the book... but what about the story? Genius. Pure, unadulterated, genius.

Dakota Frost is a great hero - unsure of herself at times, working through stuff as it slaps her in the face, but able to kick ass when push comes to shove. She knows right from wrong, she is loyal to her friends, she's damn smart, and she has some exceptionally smart friends. But she's also in a difficult place -- a human living on the edge with the supernaturals, trying to merge both worlds, in a society that doesn't want to merge them. She knows the cops, she knows the supernaturals, neither side likes or trusts the other.

She's still feeling out the relationship with Cinnamon - becoming a mom to a teen isn't like being pushed into the deep end of the pull before you experience the shallow end, it's like being dumped into the ocean during a hurricane before you've experienced the shallow end of the pool... but Dakota is dealing with it. In part because it hasn't been all that long since she was a teen herself, but mostly just because she's a caring and empathic person who isn't afraid to put her foot down when necessary but understands when it's not necessary, too.

The main plot is beautiful. I'm not sure I can do it justice without spoilers, so this is a good spot for the blurb:

Dakota Frost is back, and the ink is about to hit the fan - again. Graffiti comes to life in the dark heart of Atlanta's oldest cemetery, slaying one of the city's best loved vampires before the eyes of his friend Dakota Frost. Deadly magick is at work on the city's walls, challenging even the amazing power of Dakota's tattoos to contain it. The hungry graffiti magick loves to kill, and the Edgeworld is no longer safe from its own kind. Dakota begins a harrowing journey to save those she loves and to discover the truth behind the spreading graffiti - even if that truth offends the vampires, alienates the werekin, and creates police suspicion of her every action. Saving Atlanta may cost her everything, including custody of her "adopted" weretiger daughter, Cinnamon. But failure is not an option. If the graffiti isn't stopped, Cinnamon could be the next victim. Epic Award winner Anthony Francis writes the Skindancer series while working fulltime for "that famous search engine whose name begins with a 'G'."

Blood Rock picks up a few months after the end of Frost Moon; we're told it's been three months since Cinnamon was poisoned. Most of the characters from Frost Moon are present -- We meet Dakota's teacher, we see a decent amount of Savannah/Saffron, we see the various law enforcement officers quite a bit for about a third of the book. And we meet new characters... some nice, some not, and some who don't really fit into either mold.

As for the writing elements:
  • The plot is masterfully woven through the subplots, and has a substantial amount of genius behind it. I don't throw that word around lightly - I love it when a book makes me think, challenges me to wrap my brain around a concept.
  • Pacing is fine. Not perfect, but no complaints on my end.
  • Prose and dialogue are very well done.
  • Character development is stellar. 
  • World Building is well thought out and very detailed.
I gave Skin Dancer a 10 of 10, it's a no brainer that Blood Rock also gets a 10 of 10, and after two books I'm going to give a series rating, too.
  • Book Rating: Blood Rock: 10 of 10
  • Series Rating: 10 of 10
I believe the third book will be titled Liquid Fire, but I have no idea when we might expect to see it. I hope it's not another year and a half, but if it is, I'll wait. 

You can read my review of Skin Dancer here. You should read these books in order, I do not recommend reading the second if you haven't read the first.

1. Frost Moon  (2010)
2. Blood Rock  (2011)
3. Liquid Fire


    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    * Anxiously Awaiting as of mid August 2011


    The red text shows that something is new or changed since the last Anxiously Awaiting list -- a link to Amazon, a release date, an excerpt, etc.  I've also put an (e) next to the books that have an excerpt out, clicking the (e) will take you to my list of excerpts.

    I am pretty excited about One Grave at a Time, the next Cat and Bones book, though I'm much much much more excited about the next October Daye book, One Salt Sea. The end of September and the first of October have a whole lot of books being released, I should try to clear my calendar. Or beg for advanced copies so I can space them out. Yeah, I like that latter idea better.

    08/23/11 The Renfield Syndrom (Rhiannon's Law series book 2) by J.A. Saare (e
    08/30/11 The Sookie Stackhouse Companion: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris
    08/30/11 One Grave at a Time  (Cat & Bones #6, Night Huntress) by Jeaniene Frost (e)
    09/06/11 One Salt Sea (October Daye, Book 5) by Seanan McGuire
    09/06/11 Archangel's Blade (Guild Hunter series) by Nalini Singh (e)
    09/09/11 Blood Rock (Dakota Frost / Skindancer series book two) by Anthony Francis (e)
    09/20/11 Heat Rises (Nikki Heat book 3) by Richard Castle (e
    09/20/11 Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions (anth) by Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, and others
    09/27/11 Spider's Revenge (Elemental Assassin, Book 5) by Jennifer Estep (e)
    09/27/11 Darkness Unbound (Dark Angel series - new Risa books) by Keri Arthur (e)
    10/04/11 Better Off Undead (The Bloodhound Files book 4) by DD Barant 
    10/04/11 In Charm's Way (A Bewitching Mystery #8) by Madelyn Alt
    10/04/11 Angels of Darkness by Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, Sharon Shinn
    10/04/11 Down These Strange Streets by Patricia Briggs, Carrie Vaughn, Charlaine Harris, Diana Gabaldon, etc.
    10/18/11 Double Dexter (Dexter book 6) by Jeff Lindsay (e)
    10/25/11 Darkness Rising (Dark Angel/Risa book 2) by Keri Arthur
    10/25/11 The Bite Before Christmas Jeaniene Frost, Lynsay Sands
    Fall/11 Unnamed Kate and Curran Novella from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (e)
    ??/??/11 Demons at the Gates (Phoenix Chronicles, Book 5) by Lori Handeland
    11/01/11 Magic on the Line (Allie Beckstrom Book 7) by Devon Monk
    11/22/11 Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum) by Janet Evanovich
    11/29/11 Killing Rites (Black Sun's Daughter Book 1) by M.L.N. Hanover (e)
    11/29/11 Virtual Virgin (Delilah Street #5) by Carole Nelson Douglas
    11/29/11 Fate's Edge (The Edge series) by Ilona Andrews (e)
    12/06/11 Bound by the Vampire Queen (Vampire Queen Book 8) by Joey W. Hill (e)
    12/06/11 Head Rush (Justine Jones Disillusionist Book 3) by Carolyn Crane
    01/03/12 Raven Cursed (Jane Yellowrock, Book 4) by Faith Hunter  
    01/10/12 Lothaire (Immortals After Dark book 12) by Kresley Cole
    02/07/12  Fair Game (Alpha and Omega Book 3) by Patricia Briggs
    02/12/12 Angels' Flight (Guild Hunter short stories) by Nalini Singh
    02/21/12 A Perfect Blood (Rachel Morgan / Hollows book 16) by Kim Harrison
    02/28/12 By a Thread (Elemental Assassin book 6) by Jennifer Estep
    02/28/12 Trail of the Spellmans (Spellman Files #5) by Lisa Lutz
    03/06/12 Doubletake (Cal Leandros Book #7) by Rob Thurman
    03/27/12 Once Burned (Night Prince, Book 1, Vlad and Leila) by Jeaniene Frost
    03/29/12 Tangle of Need (Psy/Changelings book 11, Adria and Riaz) by Nalini Singh
    04/03/12 Magic Without Mercy (Allie Beckstrom Book 8) by Devon Monk
    05/01/12 Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12) by Charlaine Harris

    06/05/12 Untitled (Anita Blake #21) by Laurell K. Hamilton
    06/05/12 Unnamed Psychic Eye Mystery by Victoria Laurie 
    ??/??/12 Liquid Fire (Dakota Frost / Skindancer series book3 ) by Anthony Francis (e)
    ??/??/12 Tempest’s Fury (Jane True Book 5) by Nicole Peeler 
    ??/??/12 Unnamed Jaime story (Women/Otherworld Bk 13) Kelley Armstrong
    ??/??/12 Kitty Steals the Show (Kitty Norville Book 10) by Carrie Vaughn
    09/01/12 Daemon's Angel (Dark Hunters) by Sherrilyn Kenyon 
    09/01/12 Ashes of Honor (October Daye, Book 6) by Seanan McGuire 
    09/28/12 The Mammoth Book of Ghost Romance (Anth) with an Elemental Assassin story by Jennifer Estep (e)
    11/??/12 Unnamed Allie Beckstrom, Book 9 (Final book) by Devon Monk
    Spring/13  Unnamed Mercy Thompson Book 7 by Patricia Briggs
    09/01/13 The Chimes at Midnight (October Daye, Book 7) by Seanan McGuire
    10/01/13 Alpha (Dark Hunters, Daria's story) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

    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.
    * Meredith Gentry series by Laurell K Hamilton (taking a few years off)
    * Bronwyn the Witch series by Candace Havens (teaser in email about upcoming news)
    * Caruthers Sisters series by Candace Havens (teaser in email about upcoming news)
    * Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
    * Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
    * Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton
    * Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

    Below are series I follow, but it is unclear whether there will be more books in the series:

    * Nadia Stafford series by Kelley Armstrong
    * Nature of Desire series by Joey W. Hill

    * Daughters of Arianne series by Joey W. Hill
    * Felix Gomez series Mario Acevedo
    * Spellman series by Lisa Lutz (Spring 2012?)
    * Anya Kalinczyk / Embers series by Laura Bickle
    * Master of None series by Sonya Bateman

    * Shadowchasers by Seressia Glass

    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 -- and now I'm hooked on a few of those series, just waiting for the next book.


    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    * Excerpts, First Chapters, and Sneak Peeks

    Some of the books on my Anxiously Awaiting list have excerpts available at the author's or publisher's websites. I've listed the excerpts and snippets below.

    I would love to have an ARC for any of the books on this list, or on my Anxiously Awaiting list. See my Review Policy for more information about sending books for review.

    Seanan McGuire has a page up for  One Salt Sea (October Daye, Book 5) that says a sample chapter is coming soon.  Due to be released 9/6.

     In case you haven't read them yet, there are also some excerpts up for books released in 2010, and 2011 to date: