Demon from the Dark By Kresley Cole

From Goodreads.com: A dangerous demon she can’t resist… must unleash both the demon and vampire inside him. When he becomes the nightmare his own people feared, will he lose the woman he craves body and soul?MalkomFor them to survive,

Malkom Slaine: tormented by his sordid past and racked by vampiric hungers, he’s pushed to the brink by the green-eyed beauty under his guard.

A maddening witch he aches to claim…

Carrow Graie: hiding her own sorrows, she lives only for the next party or prank. Until she meets a tortured warrior worth saving.

Trapped together in a savage prison…

Ah finally, I got to read all about my beloved drunken, karoke-singing, youtube sensation, warrior witch, Carrow the Incarcerated.  Carrow has been abducted by a group of radical humans called the Order bent on studying/weaponizing/eradicating immortals.  Their latest goal? Capturing the rare demon/vampire hybrid, or vemon, Malkolm Slaine.   Somehow, the Order knows that Carrow will make excellent bait to lure Malkolm to this plane, so they blackmail her with her newly adopted daughter, Ruby.   Carrow must go to Malkolm’s plane, which is bascially her own personal hell, and somehow trick him into following her home.  But Carrow doesn’t realize that Malkolm’s tragic past has turned him into a solitary, brutish monster who immediately recognizes Carrow as his fated female.  Left with no choice, Carrow must follow Malkolm to his cave, where the two have some serious chemistry…once he bathes of course.   Unfortunatley, Carrow still has to betray Malkolm, leading him back to the prison, where she will be betrayed as well.

The Good:  Well, it’s Kresely Cole.  If you have read the other IAD books, that would be all I needed to say.  But if not, allow me to elaborate.  Kresley Cole writes some of my favorite charcters in the genre.  They are all funny and smart, albeit damaged.  But the damage isn’t dwelled upon, it just makes them who they are.  She seemingly worships one of my favorite movies, Aliens, and references it quite frequently.  Her love scenes are oh so steamy, but never the same.  Her heroes and heroines kick serious ass in the action sequences.  And she makes me laugh out loud at least once every book.  THIS book, had all of those things I have come to expect and there is really too much good to get into here.  I felt that this was more of a transitional book though, with the immortal prison setting up stories for several books to come, much like the Talisman’s Hie did in the beginning of the series.  We get to see Regin (POOR REGIN!!) and her beserker, Sabine’s sister Lanthe, and one of the Lykae twins, Uilleam, plus we are introduced to new categories of immortals we haven’t seen yet! Exciting!  I am so ready for Regin’s book I can’t stand it!!  Oh, and I want to get into how much I heart Malkolm, the big vemon scene-stealer,  but I will discuss shortly.

The Bad: ::wince::  I really don’t like saying anything bad about this series, as it truly is my favorite, but i have to vent about this one little thing.  You see, Carrow and the House of Witches reminds me of me and my girlfriends in college, but with less nudity, so they have always been my favorite cameos in the books.  I knew that Carrow’s book would deal with her becoming more un-Carrow-like, but I was hoping the first bits would be filled with the Carrow/Mari/Regin shenanigans I expect to take place in every book.  I was very, very disappointed to jump right into serious, little girl saving, soul mate finding Carrow.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the story of Carrow and Malkolm finding each other and being all damaged and stuff, but I missed the Carrow I had come to know over the past bazillion books.   And then Regin being all serious too!! Sigh…it just wasn’t the same.  But yeah, that’s all I got for the bad.  Here was my fav Carrow moment:

“She surveyed all the tracks scattered over the clearing.  Again, she could make out Malkolm’s prints, but now she saw even lighter boot prints.  Even more demons?

With ten shots of Jack D in her belly, she was convinced that her scientifical mind could read tracks and deduce a corresponding fight.  She was a regular Sacagawea.” 

The Bumpin’ Uglies:  Teeeheee, Malkolm is a naughty little vemon.  He’s all big, and caveman-like and pierced…a  lot!!  Whew…and I thought I was a modern woman! Malkolm Slaine sent me back to the days of lady clubbing (the wooden kind) and I wasn’t even upset about it.  There is this one scene, I think the book calls it Extreme Makeover: Malkolm edition, where there is lots and lots of bathing…in a cave…and they don’t speak the same languages…and mama liked.   And then there was “You Betrayed Me!” angry beach lovin’.  Yummmm.   And then there was the 98% “we’re not done yet! lovin’.  It was awesome.  I heart Malkolm.  Oh, and Carrow was there too.

Rating: 8.5

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City of Ghosts By Stacia Kane

From Barnesandnoble.com:  

IT’S A THIN LINE BETWEEN ALIVE AND UNDEAD.
 
Chess Putnam has a lot on her plate. Mangled human corpses have started to show up on the streets of Downside, and Chess’s bosses at the Church of Real Truth have ordered her to team up with the ultra-powerful Black Squad agency to crack the grisly case.

Chess is under a binding spell that threatens death if she talks about the investigation, but the city’s most notorious crime boss—and Chess’s drug dealer—gets wind of her new assignment and insists on being kept informed. If that isn’t bad enough, a sinister street vendor appears to have information Chess needs. Only he’s not telling what he knows, or what it all has to do with the vast underground City of Eternity.

Now Chess will have to navigate killer wraiths, First Elders, and a lot of seriously nasty magic—all while coping with some not-so-small issues of her own. And the only man Chess can trust to help her through it all has every reason to want her dead.

Whoa.   I literally just finished this book and ‘Whoa’ pretty much sums up how I feel about it.  I don’t want to recap this book.  There are just so many twists and turns that there is no way I can discuss without giving something away.  And I don’t want to give anything away!  If you read the first two Downside books, you know what to expect, but Stacia Kane really upped the stakes this time.  If the first two books were ‘dark urban fantasy’, this one teeters on horror.  Some of the scenes were downright disturbing to the point where I had to force myself to keep reading.  But it’s not mindless horror like the latest Saw movie, where people you barely know are butchered for cheap thrills.  It’s horrific things happening to you have come to genuinely care about.  People that are so incredibly damaged but still manage to do the right thing…even when they just keep getting beaten down.    You barely make it out of a scene alive and suddenly you find yourself swooning over a huge, ugly hitman and a drug addict witch and praying that they can somehow find a slice of happiness in the Downside.  To me, that’s why these books are so great.  One minute I was reading with one eye open barely hanging on while a fire rages in a slaughterhouse, and the next minute Terrible drops Chess down a tunnel and has me in tears…AGAIN.   I really cannot recall a series that evoked this much emotion.  I would say Harry Potter is the closest thing, but there is absolutely no way to compare the two.   Here is what I can say: this book has it all.  Mystery, horror, fantasy, suspense (Oh the suspense!), and romance all flowing seamlessly.  Some of the best, most though-provoking characters I have ever read.   And the sex…wow.  (Cause let’s be honest, we were all praying for some Chess and Terrible closure.)   I want to discuss that tunnel scene so bad I can hardly stand it!!  To say it was hot would just cheapen it.  There were way too many emotions for ‘hot.’  Gut-wrenchingly satisfying is a much better description.   So to conclude my mindless gushing I will say this: if you read the first two, then why the hell aren’t you reading this one yet?  If you didn’t, then you need some Terrible in your life ASAP. 

Rating:  Off the charts.

Mind Games By Carolyn Crane

From Barnesandnoble.com:  JUSTINE KNOWS SHE’S GOING TO DIE. ANY SECOND NOW.
 
Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem.

Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness—only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.

The blurb above is pretty thorough, but let me expand a little.  Packard is a high-cap, which basically means human plus (think X-Men), who can ‘read’ the make-up of your mind and see how you are wired.  He has used this ability to put together a team of flawed humans that fight crime by ‘disillusioning’ criminals.  Packard teaches people like Justine, who is almost crippled by fear of dying from a phantom vascular disease, to transfer these fears/flaws/urges to criminals, basically driving them to near insanity in hopes of creating a life-changing event.  Transferring Justine’s energy on a regular basis essentially saves her from herself, but Packard failed to mention that she will never be able to stop without turning into a vegetable.  Now trapped with Packard, Justine starts investigating his past in hopes of finding a way out, which leads her to some startling discoveries about him and the new local celebrity, Police Chief Sanchez.

The Good:  I like books that hang out in the gray areas.  Not that I don’t enjoy good ole good vs. evil, but it’s the gray areas that make you think.  Mind Games is firmly in the gray.  Justine and the other disillusionists are severely flawed people (gamblers, alcoholics, hypochondriacs) that basically attack people’s energies.  Their targets are criminals of varying degrees, but instead of striving to prove their guilt, they attempt to reprogram their brains.  Is this legal? Nope.  Does it work? According to Packard it does.  I liked the idea of not-so-great people fighting even worse criminals.  I also liked the idea of transferring your flaws to someone else temporarily.  Actually, I liked a lot of things about this book, especially the characters.  Unfortunately, the good things were overshadowed for me by 2 specific events.

The Bad:  So here I am, really liking this book, until about 65%.  **RANT ALERT**

I will give a mild spoiler here:  this is the part where Justine is kidnapped and almost violently raped by her latest target.  This part was so irritating to me, that I almost had another DNF on my hands.  I felt that this horrific situation was dealt with way too lightly, and that’s a lot coming from me!  So Justine manages to get free, zap her target with all her nervous energy and call for backup.  When back up arrives, she seeks NO retribution against this man who had her drugged and tied to a bed.  No calling the cops, no castration, oh no.  Disillusionment is enough for this guy; let’s just get him started on alcoholism sometime next week.  Ummm…I’m sorry, but I have huge issues with this.  I really don’t care for books that involve rape as I look to books for escape, but if it has to be dealt with, at least make it a pivotal plot point, not something that is just breezed over with almost sympathy for the attacker.   I mean, I get that these characters barely function as it is, but at least defend yourself or something!!  Okay, rant over.  Well maybe not.

The Bumpin’ Uglies:  **RANT PART 2**  Packard and Justine.  Such lovely sexual tension throughout the book.  And then…a crime against all smuttiness is committed.  Not only do Packard and Justine NOT act on this tension at any point in the book, but with 10ish% left in the book, Justine falls for another character out of nowhere!  Ugh.  To be fair, Justine and other guy have some super steamy scenes involving hot tubs and offices and such, but still!! I was all ready for Packard!  The path to redemption can only lead to a hot love triangle in future books, I will accept nothing less.  But if Packard/Justine is abandoned entirely? Not cool. 

Disclaimerlicious:  I realize I ranted a good deal about this book, but these were purely personal opinions about events in the book, not bashing the book as a whole.  Like I said earlier, I liked a lot of things about this book, and I know others really enjoyed it.  So check it out, and then come back and let me know what you thought.

Rating: 7

Dark Obsession (Shadow Destroyers #4) By Sydney Somers

From Goodreads.com:  Scorching desire…fatal consequences.

Demon slayer Rae McAvoy refuses to let anything stand between her and getting the job done. Especially her ex. Loving Parker nearly destroyed her, and if partnering with him one last time means he’ll be reassigned and out of her life for good, bring it on.

If Parker was the only threat to her heart, tracking down one rogue scientist would be a snap. Except the scientist in question is Rae’s father, and his experiments are hitting much too close to home.

Parker Walsh hasn’t forgotten the passion that once burned between them, and he’s determined to remind Rae every chance he gets. But giving in to more than just lust could mean surrendering to the darkness inside him—the same darkness that once drove her away.

Riding the edge of their rising desire pushes them to the breaking point, until an explosion of passion raises the stakes even higher. Especially when long-buried secrets force them to break the last links to their past—or else be consumed by an obsession so dark it could tear them apart for good.

Disclaimerlicious: The author asked me to review this book.

Bare with me, since I came in on the 4th book of the series, my plot synopsis may not be great.   Shadow Destroyers are humans gifted with a gene that allows them to acquire a demon’s abilities once they are ‘initiated’ or first encounter a demon.  The abilities gained depend on the type of demon; lust, storm, telepath, etc.  Parker Walsh was initiated by a lust demon (rawr!), and he also happens to be Rae’s ex-live-in-boyfriend.  Rae is…something else entirely.  When Parker is reassigned to Rae’s area to investigate a string of missing children cases thought to be Shadow related, he decides he has to try to win her back.  Unfortunately, due to the HORRIFIC nature of their break-up, Rae is not interested.  Of course, when they start traveling cross-country following leads on the missing kids, Parker kind of makes himself…unavoidable. 

The Good:  Two Words come to mind for this book: Sexual Tension.  I felt like I could slice it with a knife it was so thick!  Parker and Rae’s history, jaded feelings and remaining (and unwelcome) lust is the heart of this book and I was very affected by it.  Actually, anyone who has ever survived a serious break-up will probably be affected by this book.  It was slightly more somber than the PNR I am used to because of the heavy break-up discussions, but I appreciated this, as it really made me pull for them as a couple.  There were some lighter bits, like Rae’s devil cat that hates Parker, that I loved.  Nothing sucks worse than your pet trying to take out your lover in his sleep!  I also really liked the whole humans becoming like demons thing, what a cool idea.  Best way to fight demons? Steal their powers! Makes so much sense! 

The Bad:  The only thing I can really say here is while the books could stand alone, I really don’t think they should.  I really only say that because there are several of supporting characters that I could tell hooked up in previous books, and it sorta drove me crazy wondering about them.  I got a little lost on the whole Shadow Destroyers mythos as well, I felt I really could have benefitted from more back story.

The Bumpin’ Uglies:  I could sum this entire section up by saying: Sex or almost-sex in inappropriate places.   🙂   Parker attempts to seduce Rae in the strangest places: Against the vending machine, kitchen floor, you get the gist.  I loved this! I thought it was hysterical and really HOT.  I think I remember public-ish sex being a problem in the Pendragon Gargoyles series as well, must be a running theme….one that receives the Kindlelicious Stamp of Approval.   And then after said PDA episodes, seeing Darcy the Telepath have to filter Parker’s thoughts was hilarious:

“He might have even gotten her up on the edge bar where he could have worked her pants off and started the whole process over again, much, much lower.

‘Parker!’

Yanked from his thoughts, he straightened in his chair.

‘Dial it down buddy’, Darcy tapped her temple.  ‘At least go with the PG version if you feel compelled to think so hard.”

I thought Parker and his lusty demon ways were really hot.  His confidence (arrogance?) and those silver eyes were yummy.  If you are looking for some fun, steamy PNR, then I recommend adding Sydney Somers to your list.

Rating: 8

 

Pendragon Gargoyles Review

Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts #2) By Stacia Kane

From Barnesandnoble.com:  ENEMIES DON’T NEED TO BE ALIVE TO BE DEADLY.
 
For Chess Putnam, finding herself near-fatally poisoned by a con psychic and then stopping a murderous ghost is just another day on the job. As an agent of the Church of Real Truth, Chess must expose those looking to profit from the world’s unpleasant little poltergeist problem—humans filing false claims of hauntings—all while staving off any undead who really are looking for a kill. But Chess has been extra busy these days, coping with a new “celebrity” assignment while trying on her own time to help some desperate prostitutes.

Someone’s taking out the hookers of Downside in the most gruesome way, and Chess is sure the rumors that it’s the work of a ghost are way off base. But proving herself right means walking in the path of a maniac, not to mention standing between the two men in her life just as they—along with their ruthless employers—are moving closer to a catastrophic showdown. Someone is dealing in murder, sex, and the supernatural, and once again Chess finds herself right in the crossfire.

Okay.  *Deep Breaths*  I will not gush.  I will write a decent review of this book.  *Deep Breaths*

Unholy Magic picks up a few months after its predecessor.  We find that Chess is still pretty much just existing in a pill-induced haze, while still sleeping with Lex and being “friends” with Terrible.  She gets roped into to working for two different cases, one for the Church and one for Bump, her drug dealer.  The Church sends her to a TV celebrity’s house to invcestigate a haunting, while Bump wants her to investigate a string to dead hookers.   In typical Chess fashion, both cases get her in serious trouble.   Her lifestyle habits become a serious issue, she is caught in a very dangerous love triangle, and she continues to make bad choices. I don’t really want to say more about the plot because there are lots of twists and turns and I am trying to avoid spoilers. 

What I can say, is this is hands down the best book I have read so far this year.  Sometimes, overly dark and gritty books bother me, but these characters are just so fascinating, I cannot wait to learn more about them.  Honestly, if I met Chess, Terrible or Lex in real life I would walk the other way.  All 3 of them are essentially criminals, living in the bowels of society and yet, you just want something good to happen to them so badly it hurts.  I found myself cheering on Terrible as he beat some money-owing druggie senseless: “Go Terrible, you break his leg! …did I just think that??”  At one point, Chess is without her pills and I was all “Oh God! Someone get Chess her pills!! …wait what?”  There were times I wanted to strangle Chess, but then I wanted to give her a big hug and tell her it would be okay.  And Terrible! Oh, Terrible.  We learn so much more about him in Unholy Magic, and if I didn’t think I would confuse the hell out of people, I would proudly sport a custom made “Team Terrible” shirt.   I love him that much!  But oh did he break my heart in this one.  I want to quote him so badly but it would give it all away.  He made me cry not once, but twice!  Actually, the entire book was extremely emotional, I had a hard time sleeping when I finished.  So…seriously…guys, girls, trannies, whatever, you NEED to read this series.   It’s very dark (so much so that I don’t recommend eating while reading at some points), but so different, intriguing, gut-wrenching, thought-provking…okay I will stop.   Just know that the 3rd book, City of Ghosts, comes out July 27th.  Longest. Two Weeks. Ever.

Rating:  10

Tracking the Tempest By Nicole Peeler

From Barnesandnoble.com:  Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and Ryu – Jane’s bloodsucking boyfriend – can’t let a major holiday go by without getting all gratuitous. An overwhelming dose of boyfriend interference and a last-minute ticket to Boston later, and Jane’s life is thrown off course.

Ryu’s well-intentioned plans create mayhem, and Jane winds up embroiled in an investigation involving a spree of gruesome killings. All the evidence points towards another Halfling, much to Jane’s surprise…

 Jane is a half-Selkie, who is dating a vamp, spends most of her time with a Gnome and is now being stalked by another halfling who is convinced they are soul mates.  Needless to say, these books are different but in a good way.  Jane is hilarious, here is one of my fave quotes:

“Ryu knew damned well that humor could overcome any emotion, even lust.  I couldn’t help laugh s he helped to my feet and pushed me to the wet room.  Meanwhile, I began strategizing all the various ways in which I would destroy him later.  And he’s afraid of a little Gorgon, I thought as I wondered what, exactly, Iris has packed from my dirty drawer.  Game on Vlad, I thought, wriggling my own eyebrows at my vampire’s back as he went to get my suitcase.  I’ll show you an ‘impaler.

I also have to include this quote because I know one certain fellow blogger who will appreciate this:

 “Before executing my culinary genius, I first poked ay Ruy’s iPod, set in his state-of-the-art sound dock thingie, until I found the Killers and put them on shuffle.  I was officially obessesed with the Killers, not least because of the lead singer’s slightly spastic-yet-strangely-sexy dance moves.”

Tracking the Tempest was action packed and hilarious from start to finish, kind of like a summer blockbuster for books.  However, I have two complaints. First, I learned very quickly that the series is also forgettable.  I had a really hard time remembering supporting characters (besides the Gnome, who I am moderately obsessed with) from the first book.  It wasn’t a huge deal, and it didn’t ruin the fun, but since these are kinda short reads, they just don’t stick with you.  Second, Jane talks a big game about all the dirty things she has planned for Ryu, but then we skip over the actual scenes.  To this I say, BOOO!  You can’t refer to Jane’s dirty drawer repeatedly and then not show the contents in action!  Alas, I am not really crazy about Ryu anyway, so I was excited to see the little love-triangle brewing with Anyan.  I am firmly on Team Anyan at this point.  Ryu is just too pretty. 

Rating: 8 (with bonus love for the super cute covers!)

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) By Ilona Andrews

From Goodreads.com:  When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.  Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

The Good:  Let me start by saying after I made it through the first 50 pages or so, I liked this book more than I thought I would.  I liked most of the plot, espcecailly the fresh take on vampires and the need to be piloted by a human.  It was refreshing to see vamps as gross, not hot and/or sparkly.    I liked Kate, and I really liked Curran.   But what I liked most was the setting.  You see, I have lived in Atlanta my entire life, so reading about all these landmarks and even suburbs (I live very close to the Shifter compound, btw) of Atlanta was great!  There was also a quote that I just have to include because it was so nice to see: 

“‘Lovely morning isn’t it?” he said, the unmistakeable harmonies of coastal Georgia vibrating in his voice.

“Shouldn’t it be ‘ain’t it?'” I said.  My voice sounded weak.

“Only if you are an uneducated fool,” the man said. “Or if you wish to appear country.  And I’m too old to appear anything that I’m not.'”

THANK GOD.  I love this because it’s almost as if the authors were warning you up front to not expect any hick jackasses just because it’s based in Atlantan which I appreciated.

The Bad:  I think the worst thing about this book was the lack of explanation.  At some point, something happened and magic started causing problems for technology.  We don’t really know what happened, and it’s hard to understand why the “tech goes out.”  I just felt that there wasn’t enough background on the current atmoshpere as well as the characters to feel a connection.  It’s obvious that Kate has a lot of secrets, and I am sure we learn about them as time goes on, but I needed a little more for her.  The villain was confusing, I had to re-read sections to make sure I understood what exactly has was.  And be warned, his scenes are grusome and distrubing.  This is pretty dark urban fantasy.  The level of detail was a little much for me, I found myself skimming a lot in this one. Honestly, if I didn’t already know the series gets a lot better (and really enjoyed The Edge series), I probably wouldn’t continue reading.  Liked Kate and Curran, but don’t really care at this point.

The Bumpin’ Uglies:  Le Sigh.  No one bumps the uglies in this one.  I know it’s not PNR, so not required, but it might have been nice for Kate to have one lighter scene to break up all the darkness.   But I am keeping my eye on Curran, he has potential.

Rating: 6.5

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