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    2011 Reading Challenge

    Fiendishly Bookish has read 3 books toward her goal of 250 books.
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    Wednesday
    Jan192011

    New Fiendish Review: Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

    Book:                    Shadowfever

    Author:                 Karen Marie Moning

    Publisher:             Delacorte

    ISBN/ASIN:         9780385341677

    Rating:                  4.5 Stars

    Release Date:    Out Now!!!

    Check out KMM’s page.

    One can’t help but feel bereft when turning that last final page of Shadowfever. Didn’t Moning give us what we wanted? Aren’t we resolved on so many fronts? And Barrons??!! There was plenty enough moaning and groaning over him on Goodreads, and book clubs everywhere…just as much chatter about him as there was about Terrible (Stacia Kane’s Downside series). We as readers agonized over Barrons.

    Moning’s supreme gift is that she can write men well. That, and of course, she’s a great writer. But her smoking hot males, all in the prime of life, are alphas everyone of them, lip-bitingly, teeth-gnashingly good, indelible and unforgettable. I’d thought Dageus was hot-and even Cian. But Barron’s tops them all. This primordial throwback is the best male character she’s written so far. She’s ruined me for all other male leads.

    I’d read Shadowfever much more for Barron’s than I did for Mac, but the evolution of Mac blew me away in this potentially final chapter of the Fever series.  Mac 5.0, grownup, rawer, and methodically aligned with the LM was a coup. It was amazing reading that metamorphosis.

    Initially when I started the series, the change in voice was off-putting so used to her third-person magic in her Highlander series, but the story hooked me and next thing I knew I was on the Mac rollercoaster ride. Moning has a way of taking something existing…this idea of faery and successfully wielding it into a thing of substance, solid, impactful. And her characters and plot are not trite or retread…The Fever series is epic and entirely her baby.

    Shadowfever is the book we’ve hungered for-for over a year, and I loved it. Some bits not so much (Mac’s inner monologue speculating whether she was the Concubine or the King) and other bits. But overall this book had a cohesion that the others didn’t, something more resembling the tightness of her Highlander’s series, less angst and more action. Mac threw me for a loop, surprised me as a character as did V’Lane who has a nasty, nasty secret. And the verbally challenged Barron’s intimately showed us who he was, what he was.  We found out something tragic about Dani, we were taken on an amazing excursion of Faery through the silvers, to the White Mansion, to the Unseelie King’s castle, embraced its tattered and violent history.  And the Sinsar Dubh…well it was fantastically evil. Loved the K’Vruck/Darroc scene!

    It’s like Moning had a resolution tick list and resolved each and every question for us by going down the list. I felt well-fed, fat and happy after the whole experience. All I know is that when I finished I wanted to read it again. I wanted more. I wanted to hear more about the sexy transformation of Christian MacKeltar, Ryodan, Lor, the Unseelie King and Dani. There are tales to be told and all I can say regarding this is…get cracking on the next book Ms. Moning, your fans rabidly await the next fantastic story!

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)

    Part of the 2011 Book Chick City Horror & Urban Fantasy Challenge

    Monday
    Jan102011

    New Fiendish Review: Taken by the Others by Jess Haines

    Book:                   Taken by the Others

    Author:                Jess Haines

    Publisher:           Zebra

    ISBN/ASIN:         9781420111880

    Rating:                 4.5 Stars

    Release Date:     Out now

    Check out Jess Haine’s site.  Scope out her blog. Read the first couple of chapters of Hunted by the Others, and Taken by the Others.

    Two master vamps and only one city make for a very nasty battleground and a hell of a headache for Shiarra Waynest. In Jess Haine’s sequel to her new debut Others series, Taken by the Others, Shiarra finds herself kidnapped by Max Carlyle, a rival master vamp hellbent on revenge. And that is only part of his agenda.  He plans to wrest control of Alec Royce’s territory, his coterie and his holdings. All will come at a bloody cost thrusting Shiarra in the middle.

    Haines has dialed it up big time with her thrilling sequel. In Taken, Shiarra ends up blood bound to both Max and Alec…and there is one scene where we come very close to losing our heroine.  The kidnapping, the brutality of the vampires, and the sheer body count remind one of the early days of Anita Blake tempered with some Armintrout. Max Carlyle seriously channels some traits of Cyrus’s (from the Blood Ties series)-which means he is pretty despicable and dangerous. We still don’t have a lot of clues as to why Shiarra is always at the centre of the tempest. What is her history, her background? Is she an Other? Haines might be leaning in that direction. There is a possible clue that Shiarra might be of fae ancestry.

    The relationship conflicts also take precedence in Taken by the Others. Chaz and Shiarra have still not consummated their relationship due to the contractual binding that is required in advance, and because of her blood bond to Max and Alec, Chaz is put through the wringer as he watches his potential love interest irrevocably drawn closer to Alec. He must stand by and suffer through the connection. Haines hints that their relationship could be permanently damaged by the blood bond. Shiarra’s fight to dissolve both bonds at great emotional cost forces her to face some feelings about Alec, and herself even though they are steeped in ambivalence.  I expect more will be revealed in book #3 Deceived by the Others out in July.

    I was thrilled, excited by the action, the schism between the White Hats and Shiarra, and the interesting backstory of Alec and Max. I especially want to see Athena unveiled in Deceived by the Others. The conflicts, the relationship triumvirate, and the introduction of a few new characters (Mouse, Tiny and Dawn) really proves that Haines pulled a fantastic smash and grab for this installment, particularly the Other fracas which was teeming with all the subtlety of a mob war. Highly recommended, this series just keeps getting better and better.

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)

    Part of the 2011 Book Chick City Horror & Urban Fantasy Challenge 

    Tuesday
    Jan042011

    New Fiendish Review: Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines

    Book:                    Hunted by The Others

    Author:                 Jess Haines

    Publisher:            Kensington/Zebra

    ISBN/ASIN:           9781420111873

    Rating:                  3.75 Stars

    Release Date:    Out now

    Check out Jess Haines and dive into the first chapters of her engrossing H&W Series.

    What exactly does it take to be a heroine in today’s paranormal genre?

    Guns? Check. Knives and Swords? Check. Superpowers? Check. But what if our heroine in question doesn’t really have all of these…yet?

    The draw to Jess Haines’ new series  Hunted by the Others is its very ordinary, mousy heroine. For those with jaded tastes and who adore souped-up urban fantasy and paranormals, Shiarra Waynest could prove to be a bit too vanilla…but I found her and her exploits to be quite refreshing. And that should not deter anyone from diving feet first into Jess Haines’ world. Hunted by the Others was an engrossing feast that I gorged on. And I want more!

    If you have read a lot of pnr/uf, you will notice the similarities that have become part and parcel of the genre: the great reveal….the natural conflict between weres and vampires….pesky magick users, and a heroine that has a destiny to be realized. This has become the template for the pnr  genre and Haine’s debut series is no different. But there is a subtle twist to Haines’ writing….an earthiness that appeals more than the typical pretentiousness that can be found between the pages of a similar novel. That earthiness, and genuine normalcy is what the reader identifies with, and I was immediately drawn in.

    When Shiarra finds herself accepting an offer from The Circle to acquire the Dominiari Focus from sexy alpha vamp Alec Royce, she doesn’t know that her quiet PI career is going to plumb new depths. The focus which was lost long ago, has the ability to control Others and their actions. And everyone wants it. For those who are big Kim Harrison fans, you will recognize the similarities in the Hollow’s series with regard to Rachel Morgan’s quest to wrest the focus from competing factions.

    Shiarra, in many ways reminds one of Sookie in the early days….wet behind the ears, bumbling, innocent and ignorant. And that shows when in one particular scene, Alec Royce manages to manipulate her into signing a blood contract. Her natural fear and spinelessness could have worked against her but it doesn’t. Readers have to remember that this is a character evolving.  It’s the journey that this character has to go through and Haines has dropped many hints throughout the book that Shiarra has a destiny to fulfill: the prophetic statements that Arnold makes when he throws the dice, the reason why The Circle chose Shiarra for the job, the affinity the belt has for her, and the obsession of the White Hats to join their cause. All of these clues point to Haines and the fact that she’s got plans for Shiarra. And hopefully scrumptious Alec Royce.

    What are the ultimate goals of a pnr novel? To entertain, to seduce, to thrill, to transport, and to create a desire for more.  Hunted by The Others has won on all fronts. Jess Haine’s easy-peasy Rachel Ray-writing style made it easy to breeze through Hunted, and readers will revel in this infectious romp as a fiery haired Shiarra plays hardball with the baddies. It’s genuinely enjoyable and addictive! I enjoyed every minute of it. 

    I cannot wait to jump into more of this fun series. Haines’s sequel Taken by the Others is out today (which I am dying to dive into) and the third book in the series Deceived by the Others is out in July. Sweet.

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)

    Tuesday
    Nov162010

    New Fiendish Review: Sparks by Laura Bickle

    Book:                     Sparks

    Author:                  Laura Bickle

    Publisher:             Pocket

    ISBN/ASIN:          9781439167687

    Release Date:       Out Now!!!

    Rating:                  4 Stars

    Check out Laura’s page here.

    Laura Bickle has definitely upped the ante with her sequel to Embers. Anya and Sparky are back in Sparks, with more ghosts, more creepies, and more bang for your buck. There is also a new fabulous baddie is in their midst….shyster Hope Soloman who runs Miracles for the Masses in Detroit who is intent on wreaking havoc, despair and destruction.  You name it, she either wants to break it or rule it and she’s giving Anya a run for the money. Anya might have defeated Sirrush and Mimiveh in Embers, but now she may be way in over her head.

    This time Anya must track down Hope who is capturing entities into spirit jars, and essentially controlling them-forcing them to maim and kill-and she’s leaving a trail of corpses all over Detroit. The ultimate source of power that Hope is after is the reputed Pandora’s Jar that is currently on loan to the Detroit Institute of the Arts. Anya suspects that it could it be an enormous spirit jar. With such an artifact at her disposal, Hope could possibly command thousands of ghosts to do her bidding and eventually tip the power of Hell itself. And Anya must do whatever she can to stop her.

    Armed with the eternal Charon (who is a hottie), Sparky and a brood of newly hatched salamanders, Anya might finally be on the path of fulfilling her destiny-the hints of Anya being one of Ishtar’s chosen ones is thrilling and hopefully Bickle will pursue this next. One of the most important clues we get in Sparks, is the real truth behind the devastating fire that killed Anya’s mother, as well as her mysterious father, and some harsh truths about Brians’ character. 

    There is little to no romance in Sparks, and Bickle might be hinting that Brian is on his way out (yes…breath a sigh of relief). With the introduction of Charon who is ready and willing to help, I can only wonder…will he be the next in line? There is also the interesting take on the A.I. that Brian develops (ALANN) at the university with a captured soul at its technological core-this concept reminds me strongly of Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series and evil Ada who was the ghost in Myrnin’s machine.

    Bickle has done herself proud with Sparks, because this time around there are more shades of Anya, and readers get closer to her as a character. There is also the added bonus of new forays into Detroit’s underground which lends Sparks a great edgy, gritty, darkness. Anya ventures to Hell, the astral plane, Michigan Central Station (the way station of the ghostly realm), and even sewers…all great backdrops to the action and suspense that Bickle has mapped out. And that earlier indecisiveness and unsteady footing that might have been present in Embers is missing. In its place, is a competent writer who has realized her vision with this series, plunged head first to write an exciting and visually stunning sequel. Bravo!

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)

    Friday
    Nov052010

    New Fiendish Review: Embers by Laura Bickle

    Book:                 Embers

    Author:              Laura Bickle

    Publisher:          Pocket Books

    ISBN/ASIN:       9781439167656

    Release Date:    Out Now!!!

    Rating:                3.75 Stars

    Check out Laura Bickle’s Webpage and her Blog

    There’s fire magick in the air with Laura Bickle’s debut paranormal investigation series Embers, which combines the realistic and politicized environment surrounding the urban decay of Detroit, interesting paranormal elements, and a heroine that realizes that her death might actually save the city.  Devil’s Night will have new meaning for Detroiters if a slumbering elemental is let loose on the city.

    Ember’s heroine is Anya Kalinczyk, a reluctant loner heroine who moonlights as a spiritual Lantern for the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers (DAGR) and by day reports in as an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department. With her trusty salamander Sparky, aka a fiercely protective hellbender, she is hot on the trail of an arsonist whose intent is to raze the city to the ground.

    Lanterns have the ability to consume wayward ghosts and demons, conjure fire-and yes, summon nasty beasties. Just think more along the lines of “I eat dead people” instead of “I see dead people”.

    Thoughtfully written, Bickle has great potential and fuel for Anya and while she might have her plot lens focused, Embers at times struggles to be grander than it is-which can be a problem when the plot and the sidekick overshadow its bland heroine.

    Embers has some great plot development, complete with a Sumerian deity called Mimeveh who has taken root in Anya (an exorcism gone wrong), a scorching attraction to her enemy, Drake Ferrer, and ancient elemental, Sirrush who slumbers under the very streets of Detroit. If awakened, thousands of victims will churn in the flaming wake, a conflagration that will burn Detroit to the gritty end. All that remains in question is how will Anya stop it? And must she sacrifice herself do it?

    Despite these pivotal plot plots, Bickle needs to dig down deep and dirty into Anya and present us with an unforgettable character in vivid shades. By comparison, Sparky, her trusty sidekick, is utterly unforgettable with a vibrancy that jumps off the pages.

    The highlight of Embers is the lovely sense of wicked anticipation regarding the erotic play between enemy Drake Ferrer and Anya. Bickle has done her job enticing her readers and the buildup is almost scorching. Does Anya want the nice and steady type of guy like Brian, or is she instantly gravitating towards her enemy, also a Lantern, who can intimately relate to her and understand her?

    From a readers perspective Brian seems a bit vanilla, certainly not worth the effort as a solid match to Anya. Which is why readers will give the thumbs up for
    Drake. I know I did. Two thumbs up for Drake (slurp), I’m flicking my Bic right now as I write this.

    Embers was a good read and I already have Sparks queued up (see? I believe in this series), but I couldn’t help but feel it needed more. More spice, more zing, perhaps more internal fleshing out for its heroine so she would pop off the page with some searing permanence. The setting is great, the relationships are reality driven, the conflict is well-done, thought out and very, very believable.

    Embers was a great debut by a promising author (she also writes as Alayna Williams) so be sure to check out this promising new series.

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review and one grumpy cat