Tag Archives: All Souls

Release day: Night Walker (The Night series #1) by Lisa Kessler


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Lisa Kessler’s Night Walker, the first novel in the new Night Series from Entangled Publishing, is now available at your favorite bookseller!  If you missed my review of Night Walker, check it out here and then go pick up your own copy and get to know Calisto and Kate.  If you need to stop for a few, to ogle the cover eye candy, that’s perfectly acceptable.  *grin*

Here are some online purchase links…

Enjoy!

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ARC Review: Night Walker (The Night series #1), by Lisa Kessler

TLDR recap:

Separated from his beloved by a cruel and ironic twist of fate, Calisto sacrificed everything to gain immortality and await her return.  Now, over 200 years  later, she’s back…  and she doesn’t remember him at all.  Although Kate is inexplicably drawn to him, misguided zealots are determined to keep them apart at any cost and Calisto must somehow keep Kate safe while helping her reclaim her memories and the bond that has persevered through so much.

    • Publication date: August 2, 2011
    • Title: Night Walker
    • Series: The Night series – book #1
    • Author: Lisa Kessler
    • Prominent Characters: Calisto, Kate
    • Recommended reader age: 16+
    • Sexual content level: light-to-moderate

Thoughts:

Calisto and Kate are old souls, separated in a past life and still searching for forever with one another.  His entire reason for existing is the chance that he might get to see her again, even though she may not be the same woman he fell in love with.  Hello, über romantic!  Of course, Kate doesn’t realize she isn’t ‘brand new’* so the intensity of her feelings for Calisto are frightening and are ultimately the defining factor for the pace of the story.

It starts off as a leisurely stroll through character introductions and laying out the rules of the universe.  Frequent flashbacks help keep the reader engaged until the plot starts to unfold. Initially, it’s a little difficult to really become engrossed in, but the flow of the story is pleasantly unhurried and, as we learn more about the characters and the circumstances that bring them together, segues nicely into the juicy parts and action scenes.  Oh, you know you want to hear more about the juicy!

The intimate scenes in Night Walker are solidly in the “romance” category, without the vulgar language or extended physicality typical of erotica.  Calisto’s touch is knowing but oh-so-tender, and Kate is passionately generous, letting him sweep her away and protect her from her fears while still participating as an equal.  Their spiritual bond with one another really amps up the intensity of these scenes and gives you that little clench in the chest that tells you you’re experiencing something special.

Ok, so he’s a vampire right?  Yes and no.  Vampires exist in this universe but, while they seem to be technically the same species, Calisto and the one who made him consider themselves to be Night Walkers.  The difference isn’t yet well-defined, but the gist of it is that while Night Walkers can exist mostly peacefully in human society, vampires are inherently evil and are governed largely by their bloodlust and craving for power over weaker beings.  Calisto’s transition into a Night Walker is shadowy and not explicitly depicted, but is definitely not your typical romantic sip-trading, where the new vampire gets to be blissfully dined upon before rising immaculately from the grave.  This transition feels more visceral, but without the horror and gore.

Calisto’s spanish accent and the cadence of his speech are some of my favorite things about him.  I’m a Southern girl.  It is nigh impossible for me to talk without excessively using contractions and employing other rampant word mangling, so seeing a character speak with NO contractions really gets my attention, and it makes it easier to hear his voice.  Now that I have Antonio Banderas on the brain, I would REALLY like to see (erm, hear?) Calisto say “Feed me… if you dare!”  *grin*  When it comes to protecting Kate, Calisto has no inhibitions and is not afraid to embrace what he is. It’s refreshing to see a hero who accepts who and what he is while still keeping that awareness of humanity and respect for life that usually defines the “good guys”.

Ms. Kessler’s musical background (she’s a professional vocalist) really shines in her depiction of the piano scenes. The notes fairly dance and soar off the page and make me wish I could step into the moment to experience it for myself.

With a surprising reveal at the end, the path of the rest of the series is left open to question.  Who is really the villain?  Will Calisto and Kate face more of the same or will there be a new, unexpected, more powerful Big Bad?  Do the events of the story mean more than just to serve their purpose as a plot device?  Luckily, we won’t have long to wait, as the next book in the series is tentatively slated for a December release.  Woo for not having to wait a year or more!

*A cookie to the first commenter who can identify that reference!  Ok, maybe a virtual cookie… no?  Bragging rights will have to suffice.  *grin*

Memorable quotes:

Who needs to learn to drive when you know how to fly?

“Where are you parked?” Kate asked.
“I am not.”
“You’re not? Did you take a cab or something?”
“Something…”

If you like Night Walker of The Night series…

If you enjoyed Night Walker check out the Dark series (starting with Dark Prince) by Christine Feehan.  Her Carpathians are similar to the more vampire-traditional feel of the Night Walkers, and the flow of the stories and relationships between the characters have a comparable sentimentally impassioned ambiance.

You might also enjoy A Discovery of Witches (the first book in the All Souls trilogy) by Deborah Harkness.  Discovery is a little more epic, but the chivalrous undertones and the unexpected quick emotional bonding of the main couple is similar.  The pace of Discovery is also slower at the start, taking time to let the reader get to know the players before plunging into the mystery and action.

Final thoughts:

If you like your romance with strong bonds and heartfelt emotion, with tenderness and a sedate pace, with a strong, determined hero and a heroine who isn’t afraid to take chances, put Night Walker on your “to read” list.  I’m looking forward to watching this series develop, especially as the characters learn more about their abilities and we (hopefully) get to meet more Night Walkers… and maybe a few vampires too?  *wink*  The great thing about Night Walker being the start of a continuing series is that no matter if the upcoming stories focus on Calisto and Kate or on other characters, we’ll still get a peek into their continuing journey as a couple and as immortals, and that’s a happy thought!  =)

*Thank you to Entangled Publishing for allowing me to preview this book!

Rating:
4.0 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://lisaslair.com/ (Night Series website)

http://lisakessler.wordpress.com/ (Author blog)

http://www.christinefeehan.com/ (The Dark Series website)

http://deborahharkness.com/ (A Discovery of Witches website)

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Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls trilogy novel #1), by Deborah Harkness

TLDR recap:

Diana Bishop doesn’t want to be a witch and she tries very hard to avoid using her magic, but after she accidentally breaks a powerful protection spell and uncovers an ancient manuscript, her life will never be the same.  This is a smart, classy, heart-warming tale of witches, daemons, and vampires, and the ties that bind them.

    • Title: A Discovery of Witches
    • Series: The All Souls Trilogy – book #1
    • Author: Deborah Harkness
    • Prominent Characters: Diana Bishop, Matthew Clairmont
    • Recommended reader age: 15+
    • Sexual content level: Very light, nearly none

Thoughts:

Starting out, I expected not to like this book.  I’m not sure why – I just had a “bleh” feeling about reading it.  Maybe it was the length.  Maybe it was my fondness for smutty novels (which this absolutely is NOT).  Maybe because it was assigned to me as part of a book club (and I generally dislike authority *grin*).  Whatever the reason, I am SO GLAD I stuck this out and committed myself to reading it!  I was told this before I started, and I’m verifying it now by passing it on: unless you are the scholarly type who enjoys hanging out in libraries, the first quarter of the book is slow.  Very methodical.  Very Diana Bishop, actually, who is the first-person voice for the story.  I skimmed much of the pre-Matthew chapters, which I wouldn’t actually recommend because I missed out on some critical information and had to go back and re-read.  That said, once I realized there was a relationship blooming between Diana and Matthew (I went into this with as little information as possible), it was  much easier reading.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for romances!  =)

‘A Discovery of Witches’ (ADoW) is The Da Vinci Code meets The Fellowship of the Ring (complete with three subnovels, albeit unlabelled as such), The Pillars of the Earth meets Angels and Demons.  If the Twilight Saga (TTS) weren’t obviously written and released first, I’d think *it* was a teenage adaptation of *this* book, minus the witches and daemons.  I know, *GASP!!*, but hear me out and think about it.  There are many similarities between ADoW and TTS: the forbidden relationship between a vampire and his human love & the war that ensues, the families closing ranks to protect them and wage that war, the evil council determined to pry them apart (for political gain & maneuvering) by any means possible, the slow pace of the sexuality in the relationship and the prospect of a child who is like neither and both parents, the frail heroine who grows into her own strength and power so she can protect her mate and family.

ADoW has a fairly deep cast of characters, in both the sheer number of them and the level of development given to some of the secondaries.  Many romance-centric novels focus on the hero and heroine to the detriment of most of the other players.  Ms. Harkness skillfully weaves in enough personality and details about many of the secondary characters to help the reader accept them as an integral part of the story.  As the book goes on, it becomes more of an ensemble cast (including the house itself!), providing a nice warm fuzzy family base for the primary couple.

Aside from the strange mix of first-person and omniscient narration (which is ideal for the characters’ individual personalities), the scientific talk of DNA and such was just understandable enough to be interesting without being offputting.  There were some thought-provoking passages during the DNA discussions and explanations, alluding to things like how our lifestyles and choices throughout our evolution directly affect our DNA mutations as a species across time.  That’s some high-brow stuff and should be discouraging to many people who aren’t schooled in that science, but I found Ms. Harkness expressed these ideas clearly & simply enough so that I could both follow along and still make my own leaps of thought.

Memorable quotes:

I love the allegory in this… on so many levels!

“There’s more to the game than protecting your queen,” Hamish said.  “Why do you find it so difficult to remember that it’s the king who’s not expendable?”

“The king just sits there, moving one square at a time.  The queen can move so freely.  I supposed I’d rather lose the game than forfeit her freedom.”

Aww, humans are special too!

“<Vampires> have strength and long life, you have supernatural abilities, daemons have awe-inspiring creativity.  Humans can convince themselves up is down and black is white.  It’s their special gift.”

Imagination, the spark of life…

Remember, Diana: ‘The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.  It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and science.  Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.”


If you like A Discovery of Witches…

Ok, this is a tough one.  Most of the books I review really aren’t anything like this one.  It would be easy to fall back on my standard “Read Cassie Palmer!” (because she time travels and people are trying to kill her too), or mention one of my other traditional favorites (Cat & Bones, Black Dagger Brotherhood), but honestly, ADoW is not nearly as similar to those series as it is to others that are outside the genres of paranormal romance and urban fantasy.  I mentioned a few above, and since I thought of them while reading, I’m going to recommend those instead.  Now I know some purists may be offended at my comparing this book to any work of Tolkien.  Yes, I know, Tolkien is something special and rare and making offhand references to Fellowship is sacrilege… yeah yeah, whatever!  The truth (as I see it) is, if you liked Tolkien’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, then you will appreciate the level of detail and thought that went into building the universe and storyline of this novel, and that is a pretty high compliment to Ms. Harkness.  Personally, I prefer the narrative style of ADoW to the  excruciatingly-specific-and-flowery Fellowship passages since it makes it easier to read.  Yep, I’m a blasphemer!  *grin*

ADoW also reminded me a little bit of the Dan Brown novels ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Angels and Demons’.  Again, that’s probably a controversial comparison, but think about the depth of the mystery here and how rooted it is in existing history, science, art, and lore.  Ms. Harkness is a decorated scholar and historian, and that really shines through in this novel.

Finally, I referenced The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.  This is another work of fiction (which does NOT focus on a primary couple romantically) that is rich in history and intrigue.  It is set in the middle ages, during the age of the great cathedral builders, and is a stimulating journey through the life struggles, politics, and construction of the majestic structures of the period.

Final thoughts:

‘A Discovery of Witches’ is cleverly compelling and affectionately engrossing.  It is a rediscovery of the senses and the intellect, a celebration of indulgence through science.  This is the kind of story that can inspire a new generation of aspiring scholars or speculative conspiracy theorists.  It tugs at the heart strings with a cast of characters and plotline that is rich in such diversity of race, nationality, sexuality, and culture that it’s nearly impossible not to enjoy.

I would like to give this novel 4.75 or 5 fangs, but the first quarter put me to sleep a few times until I finally got into it.  In light of that, I’ll give it a solid 4.5 fangs and two enthusiastic thumbs up.  With all the curveballs Ms. Harkness sent our way and with all the new possibilities that opened up in the final chapters, I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Rating:
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://deborahharkness.com/

http://www.tolkien-online.com/

http://danbrown.com/

http://ken-follett.com/

http://www.karenchance.com/ (Cassie Palmer)

http://jeanienefrost.com/ (Cat & Bones)

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/ (Black Dagger Brotherhood)

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