Vampire Seeker

 Samantha Carter believes a vampire is responsible for the brutal deaths of four women in London and finally she has the chance to catch him. Desperate to prove the killer’s identity, she chases him onto a late night tube train. But Samantha doesn’t reach the next station – instead she’s pulled into a very different journey, back in time to the Wild West – where friendship, desire and even love all come hand in hand with deadly danger.

To stay alive she’ll have to work out who to trust – and when to resist temptation. For Sammy’s nightmares are about to come true – vampires are real and more lethal than she ever imagined…

I’d heard a lot of good things about Tim O’Rourke so was quite looking forward to discovering his work.  Having just finished Vampire Seeker, I’ll be honest, I’m quite disappointed.

The story is written in a first person perspective, from the point of view of the female protagonist, Sammy.  Overall, the writing felt immature to me and in too many places it did not flow well at all.  The action felt very jumpy, and I just couldn’t settle into it.  At times, despite the perspective being Sammy’s, the author made assertions about what the other people were feeling, which broke the illusion of first person.

I think the hook of any book is to have characters you love or love to hate, someone you can root for and in all honesty, there was just no-one in Vampire Seeker that I felt this way about.  Even the main character was irritating, thinking one thing then doing the exact opposite the next minute.  If Sammy had been 18 and a bit starry eyed, it might have worked but she was supposed to be 22 and a smart girl.

The plot was convoluted for no apparent reason.  Things just came at you without any groundwork being laid, so it felt as if the author was just throwing things in to make it more interesting but without taking the time to blend it.  There were a couple of attempts at foreshadowing but they ended up being just obvious and clumsy.

I felt the masturbation leading into the only sex scene was actually quite cringe-worthy and on reflection, because there was no groundwork laid for this, apart from a few thoughts from Sammy thinking ‘he’ was a bit hot and some mild flirting, it made me slightly uncomfortable.  That’s on top of it being hurried and unrealistic.

There are some positives, it was a short book so it was easy to read and there were a few moments that made me chuckle.  I am going to read the second book because I’m hoping it might explain what the heck happened in the first one!

I’m sad because I really wanted to enjoy this book but it just didn’t do it for me at all.

Book Information
  • Author: Tim O'Rourke
  • Series: Samantha Carter (1)
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Rating: ★½☆☆☆ 

Shadow of Night

 Fall deeper under the spell of Diana and Matthew in the captivating second volume of the No.1 internationally bestselling ALL SOULS trilogy, following A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

In a world of witches, daemons and vampires the fragile balance of peace is unravelling. Diana and Matthew’s forbidden love has broken the laws dividing creatures. To discover the manuscript which holds their hope for the future, they must now travel back to the past.

When Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont. Now the coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened. Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot. Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…

Shadow of Night is the second book in the All Soul’s Trilogy and follows straight on from A Discovery of Witches.  It opens with our beloved Diana and Matthew having travelled back in time to the year 1590 in search of the mysterious and undamaged Ashmole 782 manuscript.

This book was utterly fascinating and I can only imagine how fertile Harkness’ imagination is, combining documented historical events with her own prose to make something so rich and believable and make you feel as if you were there!

Diana progresses so much in this book, she really comes into her own, as witch, wife and historian. Matthew is a complicated character, having lived so long (and through this time period once already) he does struggle with possessiveness, misogyny and at times needs a good smack on the back of his head. Balancing that out though, he is also extremely loving, clever and underestimates his wife so when she takes matters into her own hands, his reactions can be amusing.

The love they have for each other is undeniably sweet, even when they lose their way a bit, you know that is at the core.

I loved most of the new characters in this book, except Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe, he was just a jealous little toad! Gallowglass, Jack, Annie, the coven were all superb and Elizabeth 1st was awesomely erratic.  I also loved the magic that Diana wields, the threads of life using a skein of embroidery thread and knots to represent different things.  I look forward to finding out just what she can do!

I’m not well versed in history but Deborah manages to bring characters to life that I’d only heard about in vaguely remembered history lessons at school and it even led me to do further reading. Of course that just increased my respect for the author’s talent at blending fact and fiction.

The plot moves along nicely at the same pace as the first book but with an added sense of urgency and tension. It’s not a quick read but it is extremely engaging and hard to put down. The majority of this novel is set back in time with a couple of glimpses as to what is happening with the families back in modern day. I expected those to feel disjointed and jerk me out of the story but actually they happened quite organically.

Now, at the end of the book, they have returned to present day and its time to find out if everything they went through was worth it. It’s time to finish this and open the final book in the All Soul’s Trilogy, The Book Of Life!

Book Information
  • Author: Deborah Harkness
  • Series: All Soul's Trilogy (2)
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Rating: ★★★★½ 

 

All That Bleeds

 Alissa North is a Muse, one of only a few – her magic has the power to inspire humans to achieve greatness for the good of mankind. The Muses are protected in the Etherlin community and have little freedom to be themselves.

Merrick is Ventala, a half vampire, and thus forbidden to fraternise with Muses. Since meeting Alissa years ago he has not been able to forget her and they strike up a secret friendship communicating via letters.

Alissa finds herself betrayed to her enemies by someone in her inner circle and does not know who to trust. With nowhere else to turn she places her trust and faith in the one person she should never be alone with.

The world this novel is set in was never really fully explained and although we were given a very brief  history lesson, I didn’t feel fully invested in it. Having said that, I found myself being dragged further in the longer the book went on and by the last third I was  enjoying it much more.

Alissa is clearly used to getting her own way and as a result is a strong heroine who surprisingly does not come across as spoilt. Merrick is obsessed with Alissa but not in a creepy way, although he does find it impossible to say no to her! There were a lot of characters in this book who played quite major roles and I would have liked more information on them. However, I suspect some of them will get their own books in this series and therefore we will find out their secrets then. There were plenty of twists and turns in the book and as I stated above, it got better as it went along.

There was a lot of action and not as much romance as I would have liked, but overall it was an enjoyable read. I will probably look to read the others in the series as they are released, in the hope I will find out more about this world.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kimberly Frost
  • Series: Etherlin (1)
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Edge of Dawn

 It’s been twenty years since First Dawn and the peace between the Breed and the human race is fragile to say the least. Mira was raised among the ruling body of the Breed nation and is now a Warrior of the Order, having proven herself time and again as worthy of the title.  Since the apparent death of Kellan Archer, her childhood friend and lover, in an attack by rebels, she has been even more determined to eradicate the rebel threat to peace. Unfortunately she does not always think first and with her latest loss of control, the chain of events set in progress bring Mira face to face with the one person she hoped to see again, in circumstances that leave her feeling betrayed to the very core.

Wow! This book drags you back into the world of the Breed as if you have never been away. Twenty years on and the transition is seamless although the world is a very different place. The focus of Edge of Dawn is on the younger generation we saw as children and babies in the previous Midnight Breed books. We still get to see the Warriors and mates that we know and love, particularly Lucan who remains leader of the Order, although most of them are very much in the background.

I loved Mira as a child and I love her as an adult, she is still stubborn and fearless with a reckless streak a mile wide. It is no surprise she grew up to become the first female Warrior leading her own team. Kellan was a bit of a wuss as a child but grew up to become an alpha male worthy of any novel but not as obnoxious as some can be, and I am glad these two were paired in adulthood. It did take some getting used to having individuals I had previously thought of as children falling in love and having sex – hot sex too but we are left in no doubt that these are no longer kids!

Nathan is another Warrior we met as a child and in this book we get an indication of who his life mate will be (I think!). He has a big role in this book as best friend to both Mira and Kellan since childhood and I cannot wait to see him get his story. There were a number of other new faces including ones who were mere bumps or glints in their parents eyes at the end of Darker After Midnight. This gives me hope that the series will continue for many more books!

This book was well worth the wait and was so good I could not put it down, finishing it in a day. I cannot wait to read more about this generation and the new story arc that was introduced – the reveal at the end was not what I was expecting at all!

There is a succinct history lesson in the first few pages so if you have not read the previous ten books you could jump in here and be drawn straight in, however I feel I enjoyed it much more because I had an understanding of the other books.

If you have read and enjoyed the rest of the series you will love this, and even if you have not read the previous ones, give this a try, I guarantee you will then want to go back to the beginning. Well, it is one way to fill the time waiting for the next one!

In summary all I can say is wow, the best one yet!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lara Adrian
  • Series: Midnight Breed (11)
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God Save the Queen

 I loved this book so much! Set in the modern world but with a twist; Victoria is still on the throne and is celebrating her 175th year, the aristocracy are vampires and werewolves with the lower classes being half breeds or humans.  Then there are goblins, a mutation of all the others.  The British Empire is still very much in effect except for the Americas and Canada which were conceded and of course, world history for the last 3 centuries is very different from our own.

Kate Locke managed to pack so much into God Save the Queen but it never felt too wordy or heavy on explanation as to how and why the world is at as it is.  Electricity, computers, cars, motorbikes and mobile phones are all present but are a bit different than what we know.  They are named in keeping with the setting and so well described, you could clearly envision it.  The genetic side was just brilliant, the evolution of vampires, werewolves and goblins, starting from the bubonic plague.  It was clearly laid out and a matter of fact part of life.

Our heroine is Alexandra Vardan, the half blooded daughter of an aristocrat and I absolutely love her.  She’s feisty, intelligent and loves her siblings to the point she would walk happily into danger for them. As a member of the Royal Guard, it’s her duty to protect the aristocracy but as her youngest sister goes missing, Xandra has to go against everything she has been taught, if she has a chance to find her.  What she finds is something that shocks her to her core and suddenly nothing is what it seems.

The pace of the book was exciting and fast but the few quieter periods were well timed and a much needed break for both reader and heroine!  The plot was just phenomenal, I loved it all.  I was actually sad when the book finished but only because I didn’t have the next one!  I also liked how the romantic scenes were not played out in full, it left a lot to the imagination and it suited the story perfectly.  And Vex, he is one sexy scottish wolf!

In terms of genre, I would put this book in Urban fantasy.  It does have the twist of steampunk but the setting and language are modern. I liked how words and phrases had carried on from Victoria but became more modern.  I am also stealing ‘hatters’!

God Save the Queen is a fantastic debut by Kate Locke and I highly recommend it!  A fresh and wonderful voice to Urban Fantasy.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kate Locke
  • Series: The Immortal Empire (1)
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Once Bitten, Twice Shy

 Jasmine (Jaz) Parks works for the CIA as does Vayl who is their top assassin, he also happens to be a vampire from the 18th century. Jaz works alone and has her own reasons for doing so, her own secrets to protect, when she discovers Vayl has requested her to be his partner her solo days are over. What she doesn’t know is, why her?

This is not my usual first choice of book – romance is much more my style but I really enjoyed it. It is not a romance story but there is great chemistry between Vayl and Jaz, and my romantic heart hopes as we go through the series…. The book is written in the first person which means we are privy to Jaz’s inner (often very funny) musings although a couple of times I had to check myself to make sure I had grasped what she was saying out loud and what she was thinking.

I loved Vayl, cute and old fashioned, you could imagine he stepped out of the 18th century and from the moment the words ‘”Jasmine” – (he pronounced it Yaz-mee-na) came off the page I was lost in fantasy. Imagining everything he said in a very sexy accent – I do have a thing about men with accents!

Jaz is feisty, funny and can kick ass with the best of them, a worthy protagonist to Vayl and seems to relish teasing him about his attitudes and ideals.

The book focuses a lot on their developing partnership and how much they rely on each other for protection and support without losing itself in romance. the plot was pacey, interesting, humorous in parts and lots of things were revealed about the background of our two main characters. We were also introduced to other individuals who will clearly feature in later books and I look forward to seeing more of them.

In summary not something I would usually choose to read but found it very enjoyable and cannot wait to read the rest of the series. So even if you are a romance lover like me, do not discount this paranormal story with a humorous angle and great characters.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Moon over Soho

Overall Moon over Soho was worth the effort, there’s some character progression, further twists to the overall story arc, and enough laughs, smiles and chuckles to get through the pain.

I really enjoyed Rivers of London, the first book in this series, and I had pretty high hopes for Moon over Soho, the second outing of DC Grant.  DC Peter Grant does for London Coppers what Dresden did for Chicago Private Investigators.  In Rivers of London Grant discovers that he’s got hidden talents of the magical variety, luckily for him, there’s a special division of the London Metropolitan Police that covers that kind of thing.  However, it turns out it’s a one man band, so when DC Peter Grant joins he doubles the size of the entire department.

Moon over Soho picks up a short while after the first book and deals with the repercussions of the case DC Grant solved.  However, our protagonist doesn’t have to wait long before he’s involved in a new investigation, and the continued development of a case that started in the previous book.  I do like the way Ben Aaronovitch ties the books together, these are clearly part of a broader story.  However, despite that, and despite the case being quite interesting – I really struggled through the first two thirds of Moon over Soho (well, perhaps 3/5ths).

The case revolves around mysteriously dying Jazz musicians, and as well as having quite a sluggish pace, DC Grant fails early on to spot the massive white elephant in the room.  It’s sometimes okay for authors to pretend their protagonists are dumb, and sometimes it’s enjoyable for readers to shout ‘he’s behind you’, but DC Grant isn’t stupid.  It felt entirely out of character that he didn’t spot the critically important elements in the investigation, where-as the writing made it entirely obvious to the reader.  I’m skirting the subject, because I don’t want to spoil the book too much if you do read it, but essentially within a few moments of meeting a key witness in the case, it was obvious to me what was going on.

Not the fine detail, that gets worked out at the end (more on that in a bit), but certainly the broad brush-strokes of what was happening.  I took no pleasure in finding out I was right, and I didn’t enjoy watching Peter stumble around building up a picture of something that should have been crying out at him very early on.  Either Ben didn’t realise readers would pick up on it so easily, or he had hoped to introduce some element of feeling worried for Peter.  Sadly, I just spent most of the first part of the book being angry.  It felt like Aaronovitch was using Peter’s stupidity or blindness as a plot device.

However, I stuck with it, the rest of the case is still engaging, the dialogue and writing is still witty, and in general, there was enough to keep me interested and carry me through to the final third of the book.  Which is a pretty good thing, because that’s where Ben hit his stride and the story really gets going.  As with the first book there are really 2 or 3 cases going on here at once, and Peter slides between them as required.  When the pace begins to accelerate in the later section, we see some characters in a new light, get to experience some truly powerful magical demonstrations and watch DC Grant cause untold mayhem (again).

I like the introduction of real Police behaviour in this book (and the last), and it’s good to see that being blended with the magic, rather than just ignored because it’s inconvenient.  Overall Moon over Soho was worth the effort, there’s some character progression, further twists to the overall story arc, and enough laughs, smiles and chuckles to get through the pain.

The book ends as it starts, with Lesley, and a startling revelation.  Hopefully the third book will be more consistent, and show more respect for the ability of the main character.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Ben Aaronovitch
  • Series: Rivers of London (2)
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
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Vampire Academy: A Graphic Novel

I’m not a huge fan of comics and graphic novels but there are a few I love, generally ones that have been created from books I love.  When I heard a graphic novel of Vampire Academy was being made, I was excited and had a lot of hopes for it.

I’ve just finished reading it and quite honestly, it exceeded my expectations.

The artwork is beautifully rendered by Emma Vieceli and I think she caught the characters really well.  I sometimes wonder if an illustrator has even read descriptions of  main characters let alone read the books, but I think a lot of attention was given to getting it right in this graphic novel and the characters matched the images I have in my head.  Lissa, Christian, Rose and Dimitri were all captured perfectly.

The scenes from the book were well chosen and adapted by Leigh Dragoon, it tells the main story of Vampire Academy neatly and has the key scenes which I would say were essential to making this a great experience and an enhancement to the first book.  Definitely one I will read again and again.

Whether a fan of graphic novels or just love the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, this adaptation is a must.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Illustrator: Emma Vieceli
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Bound to Shadows

A beheaded vampire is found outside a Melbourne vampire club and an already testy Riley is sent in to investigate.  As the body count starts rising, Riley has her work cut out for her to find out who, or what, is behind the murders.  With civilities between the local vampire and human population breaking down it’s only a matter of time before violence breaks out.  Dante Starke, the owner of the club is a vampire with an aura that makes even a Guardian nervous, but Riley has to get answers.  Two human women are found dead in their beds, with no discernible cause of death and Riley feels there is somehow a link.  How or why is something she has to figure out, even with the distraction of her hated soul-mate Kye making a reappearance.

I’ve hugely enjoyed the previous books in the Riley Jenson Guardian series.  They are easy to read, exciting, erotic and action packed yet Bound to Shadows takes it to the next level.  The emotions inherent throughout the book seemed more real, more tangible.  Fear, rage, lust, love and sorrow and the latter is what got me in the end.  It made me cry.  Without spoiling anything, the big kick in the gut was something I knew might happen and something I knew had to happen but the way that whole section was written was just perfect, right to the last word.

Riley is definitely up there as one of my favourite urban fantasy heroines.  Conflicted often by her half-vampire, half-wolf soul, she tries to do the best she can for each but also stay true to herself.  She’s fierce in everything she does whether it’s loving or fighting and while diplomacy might not be her best trait, she achieves what she needs to sometimes at the cost of herself.  Brilliantly and consistently written.

I loved that we saw more of Quinn in this book and the bond that is between him and Riley.  They are a great foil for each other and while you learn more of his history and how powerful he can be, I sense that there is a lot more to come and it won’t necessarily sit well with Riley.

I still love the interactions with her twin brother Rhoan and his mate Liander, they make a great couple and the big question they ask Riley, something she never thought would be possible brought a tear to my eye.

I can’t really say much more (and I really want to!) without spoiling it so I will just say this; Bound to Shadows – Read it… just read it.

If you are new to the series then get started as this is book 8,  Find ‘Full Moon Rising’ and get going!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Keri Arthur
  • Series: Riley Jenson, Guardian (8)
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Midnight’s Daughter

For Dorina Basarab, being a dhampir is not easy.  Half-vampire, half-human and reviled by the vampiric community for being an abomination.  Unpredictable due to blackout rages and short life spans, dhampirs usually go insane but Dorina manages to hang on to her sanity by being near her null friend Claire and unleashing her fury on those she believes deserve it.  Dorina isn’t just any dhampir however, she’s also Mircea’s daughter.

I’m a big fan of Karen Chance’s main series, the Cassandra Palmer books, and I was keen to read this offshoot and I ended up quite disappointed.  I didn’t gel well with the lead character of Dorina, she irritated me and really, the only thing that made the book worth reading were the rare appearances of Mircea.  That’s not to say the book wasn’t well written or the story not interesting but it just didn’t have the charm and magic that the Cassie books do in abundance.

From an author whose work is usually outstanding, this is pretty average.  There is one interesting thing I quite liked however, there is a very subtle but brief moment where Midnight’s Daughter melds with the first Cassie book.  I won’t spoil it by saying any more than that but it is very subtle and a friend and fellow fan had to point it out to me the first time!

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Karen Chance
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