Tag Archives: cassie palmer

New John Pritkin short by Karen Chance: A Family Affair

A Family Affair, the new John Pritkin short story by Karen Chance, is now available on Ms. Chance’s website for your viewing pleasure!  Spells will be slung and potions will be flung, so read at your own risk!  *grin*

This short story adventure, featuring everyone’s favorite DSWM (Dirty Sexy War Mage), takes place between the events of Curse the Dawn and Hunt the Moon (books #4 and #5 in the series) and does contain spoilers for the first four books of the Cassie Palmer series, so I highly recommend not reading A Family Affair until after you’ve finished Curse the Dawn!

If you still can’t get enough Pritkin, head over to the John Pritkin Facebook fan group and chat him up with the other DSWM addicts!  It’s an open group, so just request to join!  =)

In other Karen Chance news…

We just received word, Fury’s Kiss, the third Dorina Basarab novel, will be published in July 2012!  We also hope to have another Cassie book out that year; more on that as info becomes available.

To read A Family Affair directly from Ms. Chance’s website, click here!  The story is also accessible via SmashWords and can be downloaded to your mobile device and viewed in your favorite app.

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Q&A with Karen Chance: Cassie & Pritkin & demons, oh my!

Karen Chance, author of the infectiously fun fantasy Cassie Palmer series, posted a new Q&A about the books and characters on her “The Cassandra Palmer Series by Karen Chance” page on Facebook, and in it she answers some burning questions fans had about characters and events in the books.

*** Spoiler note: If you have not read the Cassie Palmer series but plan to, and want absolutely no knowledge of any goings-on before reading, skip down the the “It’s all in the shorts…” section of this post. ***

Fan Q&A with Karen Chance

What exactly is a warlock? 

 Charley Sheen. It can also be a term for a mage who specializes in demonology, can summon demons and can put some of them in thrall.

In Claimed by Shadow, Pritkin confronts Cassie and Casanova in Casanova’s monitoring room, Billy comes in and starts making wisecracks, and Casanova takes a swat at him. Cassie explains that Casanova is able to hear Billy due to “his demon senses.” Pritkin is also in the room, though, and he cannot hear Billy.

They’re both Incubi. I would put it down to Casanova being in a vampire host while Pritkin’s other half is human, but other vampires cannot hear Billy either. Does this have something to do with Casanova being an Incubi possessing a vampire (thus being a spirit, sort of) while Pritkin is a half-Incubi, half-human physically living in this world?

Firstly, Casanova isn’t in a vampire host.  The vampire who calls himself by that name does so because his incubus (or succubus, if you prefer, since he thinks of it as female) used to possess the real Casanova.  But the incubus isn’t Casanova and the guy who calls himself that isn’t either.  Basically, he’s being pretentious.

Secondly, Pritkin isn’t a demon.  He isn’t even possessed by a demon.  He’s a human-demon hybrid, and like all hybrids, he received some of each parent’s abilities while missing out on others.  Some of the incorporeal demon races can interact with non-demon spirits, but Pritkin didn’t inherit that particular talent.

As for Casanova, when his demon is in residence, so to speak, he gains a good deal from it, including extended senses that other vampires do not have.  It’s one of the reasons he made the deal in the first place.  Hope that helps.

What did Pritkin think Mircea thought he was? If this question is a little confusing, I’m talking about Cassie and Pritkin’s conversation in the restaurant. When Cassie tells him Mircea thinks he’s a warlock, Pritkin seems to feel that there was something Mircea wasn’t telling her. What did Pritkin think Mircea actually thought?

Pritkin and Cassie were having two very different conversations in that instance.  Cassie thought they were talking about the recent attacks on her life.  Pritkin thought they were having a discussion about the few times they had…gotten close.  So he wasn’t thinking about Mircea’s claim that he was a warlock, but rather the motivation behind it—namely a reasonable sounding excuse for keeping Pritkin away from Cassie.

In Touch the Dark, when Pritkin and Cassie first make eye contact in the Senate’s chamber, “something that looked almost like fear crossed” Pritkin’s eyes.  What was it he saw that shook him up?

You need to recall why Pritkin was actually there.  He said it was to claim Cassie on behalf of the Circle (since she was a human magic worker, the vampires had no real right to her).  But in reality, that wasn’t his mission at all.  Of course, the Circle would have been happy to have the vamps merely hand her over, but they didn’t really expect it. And Pritkin was hardly the man they would have sent for a diplomatic mission in any case.  He was there to investigate Cassie, and if she was determined to be a serious threat, to eliminate her.  In other words, he was there in his usual role as an assassin.

The Circle thought it was being clever.  It would kill two birds with one stone—get rid of a pythia who was outside its control and remove one of Jonas’s chief supporters at the same time.  Because the vamps would almost certainly kill Pritkin after he took out Cassie.  It never entered their minds that Pritkin might have a problem going through with the assignment.  He was, after all, a well-known demon hunter.  But killing dangerous rogue demons is a little different from killing A) a human being, B) a woman and C) someone who was about the same age his late wife had been when she died.

Of course, Pritkin hadn’t really thought about it, either.  He was focused on the logistics of the mission and the fact that he was going to have to deal with the Senate, which never made anybody’s day.  But then he came face-to-face with the reality of his situation.  Which was a young, unarmed human female with big blue eyes, tumbled blond curls and a happy face t-shirt.  Who was staring down Jack the Ripper despite having absolutely no way to defend herself.  She was tiny and delicate and courageous and vulnerable and obviously mental for not cowering in a corner and…

And he was appalled.

He was also afraid, because he’d never had a target like this.  And because, to protect the Circle, he might be called upon to kill another young woman, this time on purpose.  And because, for the first time in his career, he wasn’t sure he could do it.  So, since he was Pritkin, he proceeded to act like a dick to hide his fear and to steel himself against her.

Are demons that are incorporeal on Earth (like incubi) corporeal in their own realms in Hell?

First of all, it depends on which realm you mean, because in my universe, “Hell” is a human catch-all name for many, many different areas.  Are you familiar with Buddhist cosmology?  Because if so, the Cassie Palmer universe is structured something like that.  Basically, lots and lots of hells, each one different from the others.  And some of them can support corporeal life (because some demons are born with bodies), but others would be toxic for anything other than a spirit.

Second, it depends on which demon.  Some of the usually incorporeal types can save up enough power to form themselves a body (like Saleh).  Others are spirits wherever they are (like the incubi, except for Rosier, who’s special like that).  And still others are what is called two-natured and can take either form (like Sid).  See “A Family Affair” for an explanation of how it all works.

Pritkin got a pretty nasty wound from a Fey weapon while he was in Faerie. Will it leave a scar?

No.

In HTM, Mircea told Cassie that he borrowed the limo from a friend during their date in London? Who did he contact?

A member of the European Senate who lives there.  Her name—and you knew it was going to be a woman, didn’t you?—is Marsilia.

It’s all in the shorts…

If that wasn’t enough Cassie Palmer goodness, there are three  new “coming soon” shorts listed on Ms. Chance’s “Freebies” page on her site.  The cover art for all three is there, and we get to see two delectably smoldering cover images of everyone’s favorite dirty sexy war mage, John Pritkin, and one of the inimitable master vampire Mircea Basarab.  Check ’em out below and drool to your heart’s content (tip: click to open the full-size image in a new window for optimal ogling)

Not yet a fan of the Cassie Palmer series by Karen Chance?

You’re missing out on some seriously hair-raising, skin-of-your-teeth, preposterously droll fast-paced action and a witty, charming, steamy, riot of a good time!  Want to learn more?  Check out Ms. Chance’s Cassie Palmer website and meet all your soon-to-be-favorite new characters.  Or you could just pick up Touch the Dark and get started RIGHT MEOW!  You should probably do yourself a favor and just go ahead and get all 5 books while you’re there, and save yourself an impatiently harrowing trip back out after you finish the first one in record time.  Seriously, good luck putting these down to do something so annoying as, oh, sleep or eat!

More links!

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Review: Hunt the Moon (The Cassie Palmer series #5), by Karen Chance

TLDR recap:

With her coronation quickly approaching, Cassie Palmer would give anything short of the power of her office for a reprieve from the danger that perpetually dogs her, so she can sort out the many political and emotional complications in her life.  As usual, there’s to be no downtime for our spunky little Pythia, as a new Big Bad sets its sights on her, forcing her to push herself to her physical, emotional, and magical limits yet again, learning a few handy new tricks along the way.

    • Title: Hunt the Moon
    • Series: The Cassie Palmer series – book #5
    • Author: Karen Chance
    • Prominent Characters: Cassie, Pritkin, Mircea
    • Recommended reader age: 16+
    • Sexual content level: moderate

***** This review is spoiler-free.  However, if you are new to this series, I recommend skipping this review until you have read the first four books, to avoid inadvertently learning too much! *****

Thoughts:

For readers of the Cassie Palmer series, almost dying really does never get old…

My name is Cassie Palmer, and I’ve cheated death more times than anyone has a right to exect.  In the past two months, I’ve been shot, stabbed, beaten and blown up a few dozen times, and that doesnt count all the magical ways I’ve almost been killed.  I’d have been dead a long time ago if not for my friends, one of whom had just jumped off the cliff after me.

I’d have been more appreciative if he hadn’t pushed me first.

How can one woman get into so much trouble?  How can one woman get into so much trouble and still survive?  How can one woman get into so much trouble and STAY SANE?!  Heavy on the accidental slapstick with a healthy helping of sarcastic wit  and a side of genuine bleeding heart, Cassie Palmer stories are a whirlwind of hair-raising close calls fraught with near-constant mortal danger and comedic relief.

Hunt the Moon has a few giganto-sized action sequences, stuffed with the usual deadly peril and seemingly-unending frustration on Cassie’s part.  These sequences are a large part of what defines the series and makes it as incredible as it is, but they also seem to be growing in length and intensity as the series progresses.  One sequence in particular lasts for nearly a third of the book, and I thought ” OH MY GOD, JUST DIE ALREADY!!!” right as the bad guy turns around and says the same to Cassie.  That’s either an eerie coincidence, or further proof of Ms. Chance’s story-telling skills and ability to gauge and guide her audience (I vote for option #2!).

The relationships binding our three favorite characters all get a romantic boost, culminating in a conclusion no one expected… okay, a conclusion *I*didn’t expect! As usual, I can’t want for the next one, to see where all craziness this is headed.  Does anyone else have trouble deciding who they like more, Pritkin or Mircea?  Ugh, what a tough choice!!  Can’t a girl just keep both?  The answer to that, of course, is “no, not with these two!”

Memorable quotes:

The irony of escapism is that you can never truly escape…

I started to pull off my t-shirt.  It was far too flimsy for where I’d been, but the saying on the front fit my moond perfectly: “I keep hitting escape, but I’m still here.”

Stamina… needs more stamina!

Marco patted my shoulder.  “It’s okay.  You aren’t my type.”

“What is your type?”

“Someone who gets in less trouble… I decided I was wrong.  I don’t like the wild side. I ain’t got the master’s stamina.”

“I don’t require stamina.”

“Babe, you require a freaking tank.”

The great Brit-American beer debate…

“I thought you Brits liked it hot.”

“Hot beer?” Pritkin looked revolted.

“That’s the rumor.”

“Because we don’t drink it iced over, thereby leaching right out whatever flavor you Yanks accidentally left in?”

You know what they say about a man’s hands.  You know, about how refined they are…?

Pritkin’s hands were oddly refined compared to the rest of him: strong but long fingered, with elegant bones and short-clipped nails.  They always looked like they’d wandered off from some gentleman, one they’d probably like to get back to, because God knew they weren’t getting a manicure while attached to him.

A good life-philosophy…

“Tarot is an indicator, not an absolute.  Nothing about the future is decided until it happens.  We create it every day by the choices we make, good or bad.”

It’s good to have a plan…

“Do we have a plan?”

“I need to touch her.”

“That is not a plan, dulceata; it is an objective.”

Just to set the record straight…

“Candy is candy.  Chocolate is therapy.”

Home is where the… crazy… is?

This was Dante’s.  Crazy was what we had for breakfast when we ran out of Corn Flakes.

If you like Hunt the Moon of Cassandra Palmer series…

If you enjoyed Hunt the Moon and the rest of the Cassie Palmer series for its insane action sequences and over-the-top bad guys, check out the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning (beginning with Darkfever).  Mac may start off a little vain and princess-y, but she has as much spunk and spine as Cassie, and her two suitors are just as enthralling (mmmm, Barrons!!).  The Fever series is the only series I have read to date that actually matches the Cassie Palmer series in the scale of the action scenes, and the magnitude of the offensive potential of the Big Bads.  Addicting, addicting, addicting!!!

The Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton (starting with A Kiss of Shadows) and the Southern Vampire Chronicles (Sookie Stackhouse) series by Charlaine Harris (see Dead Until Dark) are also similar to the Cassandra Palmer books.  The Merry Gentry series is set mostly in Faerie (and Meredith’s Fae are no less dangerous than Cassie’s version!) and involves significantly more sex, both in frequency of occurrence and graphic detail.  Sookie tends to deal more with politics than sex (although she has her share too, just not as graphic) and seems to get into trouble nearly as often as Cassie.  Both series are excellent reads and will keep you laughing, crying, and jonzing for more!

Final thoughts:

Ms. Chance has definitely found the magic formula for keeping readers engaged, enthralled, entertained, and eagerly coming back for more, book after book!

It is extremely tempting to give Hunt the Moon a perfect score, considering its wealth of action, adventure, humor, warmth, and quirkiness, but two of the major action sequences drag on just a little too long for my tastes.  I found myself skipping through a few pages to get to some sort of conclusion, in order to keep myself from stressing out over all the “almost”s and close-calls.  That, and the fact that Cassie STILL hasn’t learned better control over her powers… for the majority of the book at least.

I LOVE Cassie Palmer books.  LOVE LOVE LOVE them!!  However, they always leave me feeling exhausted, mentally and emotionally, and I feel like I need a break from books for a while after finishing one.

Rating:
4.75 fangs: SAVOR IT! 

Related links:

http://www.karenchance.com/ (The Cassie Palmer series website)

http://www.karenmoning.com/ (The Fever series website)

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/ (The Merry Gentry series website)

http://www.charlaineharris.com/ (The Sookie Stackhouse series website)

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Review: Shadowfever (The Fever series #5), by Karen Marie Moning

TLDR recap:

Rainbow Mac 1.0 is long gone, leaving a more hardened, determined, black-leather-wearing Mac 5.0 to unravel the final mysteries surrounding the Sinsar Dubh and the King of all the Fae.

***** There are no outright spoilers in this review!  If you have not read the first four books in this series and want absolutely no information or hints about what will happen in them, then do not read this review.  While there are no actual spoilers, there are some vague hints that are intended for readers who have already finished up through Dreamfever.  *****

    • Title: Shadowfever
    • Series: The Fever series – book #5
    • Author: Karen Marie Moning
    • Prominent Characters: Mac Lane, Jericho Barrons, V’lane
    • Recommended reader age: 17+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate, somewhat explicit

Thoughts:

This series really grabs you and takes you along for a mysterious, dark, and sexy ride!  In my review of Darkfever (the first book in the Fever series), I complained about all the self-indulgent “I’m so pretty” commentaries the reader is forced to endure from Mac as she learns her way around Dublin and starts investigating her sister’s murder.  Thankfully, we see the last of that in the third book (and it is much less prominent after Darkfever anyway) when Mac is forced to deal with some very traumatic circumstances of her own.  By book 5, Mac is a weapon forged of diligence, suffering, and self-discovery and she is more determined than ever to get to the bottom of the chaos her world has become.

For a series with such a violently and sexually volatile male lead, there is a whole lotta sexual tension and buildup.  How does Mac keep her hands off Barrons for so long?!  Barrons is the ultimate alpha male, seemingly invincible and terrifyingly reliable at keeping Mac alive.  After the shocking events at the end of book 4 (Dreamfever), I raced online to download Shadowfever and find out what would happen next.  This book does not disappoint!  It successfully resolves multiple plot questions and hanging threads, while continuing to drive the main storylines and relationships.

There is OH so much more I’d like to say about this book and the characters in it, but I’m trying really hard not to post spoilers, so we’ll leave those discussions for the comments below.  Consider yourself warned!  *grin*

Memorable quotes:

Conversations with the Sinsar Dubh…

TIME IS THE ONLY TRUE GOD, AND I AM FOREVER.  THEREFORE, I AM GOD.

Your logic is flawed.  Time is not forever.  It is always.  Past, Present, and Future.  There was a time in the past when you did not exist.  Therefore, you are not God.

Arguing with Barrons is either sadism or foreplay…

I didn’t say I didn’t like you.  ‘Like’ is such a puerile word.  Mediocre people like things.  The only question of any significant emotive content is: Can you live without it?

On parental wisdom…

Daddy told me once that we believe others are capable of the worst we ourselves are capable of.


If you like Shadowfever of The Fever series…

If you enjoyed Shadowfever and the Fever Series, you may also like the the Cassandra Palmer series (starting with Touch the Dark) by Karen Chance. Cassie shares the same “it’s a good day when no one is trying to kill me” philosophy, and also frequently finds herself in amusing-yet-dangerous situations where she has to use her wits and still-developing special skills to prevail.  Both are more urban fantasy than paranormal romance, and both focus on a central young strong female character who is instrumentally necessary in solving some big world-wide crisis.

If you enjoy the intensity of Barrons and are looking for more male leads with his authority and style of presence, check out the Black Dagger Brotherhood stories by J.R. Ward, starting with Wrath’s book, Dark Lover.  The brothers typically each get a book, meaning less time with each couple, but their storylines arc throughout the entire series, making it a really compelling ensemble piece.

If you like Barrons for his cheeky wit and prowess in bed, definitely read the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost, starting with Halfway to the Grave.  Bones is sexy, smart, loyal, powerful, and has a British accent – just about everything you could ask for in a hero.

Final thoughts:

If you have not read this series, START IT NOW!  Barrons makes even the Black Dagger Brotherhood males pale in comparison to his intensity and authority.  Bold claims, I know… but true!  It probably helps that Barrons and Mac get a whole 5 books devoted to their journey, and the journey is not (like so many other series in this genre) based around their relationship, but rather world-changing catastrophic events and consequences.

The Fever series is an addicting coming of age story in a world where nothing is as it seems and secrets are the new currency.  From books 3-5, I literally could not stop reading!  I was on a two-week Pacific Northwest vacation getaway and all I could think about was finding out the next shocker in Mac’s journey.  I was initially drawn to the series when Barrons beat out some other major male players in the paranormal romance/urban fantasy genres in an online “alpha” competition.  The rabid loyalty of Barrons’ fans piqued my interest (he’s more popular than Bones!), and I am SO glad I chose to read this series.  Here’s what I recommend: find some down time, a week or so, and read the Fever Series start to finish.  Don’t get discouraged in the first one (which is still excellent, just annoyingly narcissistic) – read all the way to the end of book three (Faefever), then just TRY to put it down!  *wink*

Rating:
5.0 fangs: BITE IT! 

Related links:

http://www.karenmoning.com/ (The Fever series website)

http://www.karenchance.com/ (The Cassie Palmer series website)

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

http://jeanienefrost.com/ (Night Huntress series website)

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Review: Darkfever (The Fever series #1), by Karen Marie Moning

TLDR recap:

After learning of her sister Alina’s mysterious murder, MacKayla Lane (better known as  just Mac) heads to Ireland determined to find out what happened and get her retribution.  At the tender age of 22, she doesn’t exactly have a plethora of survival skills but there just might be some fairly handly super-secret abilities that even she doesn’t know about.  On her quest to track down details of her sister’s sudden death, Mac teams up with an unlikely (and sometimes suspiciously nefarious) yet darkly appealing partner.  Chaos ensues as they begin the dangerous journey to finish Alina’s final task among the unsettling Unseelie fae.

    • Title: Darkfever
    • Series: The Fever series – book #1
    • Author: Karen Marie Moning
    • Prominent Characters: Mac Lane, Jericho Barrons
    • Recommended reader age: 15+
    • Sexual content level: Very light

Thoughts:

After reading several fast-and-furious style novels lately, the slower pace of this one was a pleasant change.  It’s a series starter, so I knew going in that it would be somewhat more leisurely getting to the point, but it turned out to be more of an adventurous journey than a romance or action-driven storyline.  Darkfever is the story of Mac Lane, who treks off to Ireland from her home in the states to solve her sister’s murder and get some retribution from the responsible parties.  To give some perspective on Mac, she is a 22-year-old Barbie doll of a bartender from a upper-middle-class American family who, according to her own narration, is beautiful and enviable, yet has no real life skills to speak of other than mixing drinks and schmoozing with patrons.  If you think you caught some snarkiness in that last comment, you did.  Mac comments WAY too frequently about how attractive she is… how soft and golden her skin, how long and lustrous her blond hair, how smooth and shapely her legs,  how stylish and cute her wardrobe & accessories… that she comes across as obsessively vain.  At first it didn’t bother me – I saw it as a vehicle for helping define her character in order to better develop and progress it later.  However, after about the 3rd reference to her youthly perfection, I wanted to punch her.  Maybe put some unsightly knots in that Barbie doll hair.  Replace her wardrobe with something gray and drab from a thrift store.  Seriously!  Ugh.

Anyway, back to the important stuff… Even with the slower pace, the story still progresses well and is entertaining to follow.  It doesn’t feel the need to rush through and pack in action scenes.   Instead, Ms. Moning gives the reader a plethora of clues and directional markers that allow us to form our own opinion of where Mac is headed and what might be in store for her.  Nothing is force-fed to us but important details are (generally) also not withheld for the sake of surprise and drama.  There is also a good amount of sarcasm and humor in the story, making me literally laugh out loud in a few parts.  The main supporting character, Jericho Barrons, is a successful mystery.  By that, I mean that the author does a respectable job of making him appealing and acceptable as an almost-lead character without giving away too much of his background… or really much of anything about him other than his vast financial wealth.  Usually by the end of a book, even the starter book in a series, the lead male character (or soon-to-be at least) will have been at least partially vetted and presented for reader approval.  Barrons is nearly as much of a mystery at the end of the story as he is when we first meet him.  Of course, some clues are inevitably dropped in the telling, but nothing that is too fast or too much… just enough to keep us speculating.

Darkfever, being a starter novel for the multi-book Fever series, is laid out well with good plot definition and pace, sporting an enjoyably motley cast of allies and baddies (ok, mostly baddies… of the fae variety).  It is entertaining and light enough for casual reading, with the promise of more intense and riveting developments in later installments.  I’m looking forward to getting started on number two in the series, Bloodfever.

Memorable quotes:

Hang on to your hats!  This book is infinitely quotable, so I pared it down to only eight.  *grin*

Tough crowd?

My philosophy is pretty simple – any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day in my book.

Oh, the bloom of immortal youth…

We were going to live forever.  Thirty was a million light-years away.  Forty wasn’t even in the same galaxy.  Death?  Ha.  Death happened to really old people.

Why books will always be better than the movies made from them…

I love books, by the way, way more than movies.  Movies tell you what to think.  A good book lets you choose a few thoughts for yourself.  Movies show you the pink house.  A good book tells you there’s a pink house and lets you paint some of the finishing touches, maybe choose the roof style, park your car out front.

In Gaellic, a rose is not just a rose…

“‘Dubh’ is ‘do’?”  I was incredulous.  It was no wonder I hadn’t been able to find the stupid word.  “Should I be calling all pubs ‘poos’?”

On the perils of philosophy…

I’m a bottom-line girl.  I barely managed Cs in my college philosophy courses.  When I tried to read Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, I developed an unshakable case of narcolepsy that attacked every two to three paragraphs, resulting in deep, coma-like fits of sleep.

Heroes are over-rated.

Peraonally, I’d never had any desire to save the world.  Decorate it? Yes.  Save it? No.

The sad reality of the “entitlement generation” (EG)…

The EG is made up of kids who believe they deserve the best of everything by mere virtue of having been born, and if parents don’t arm them with every possible advantage, they are condemning their own children to a life of ostracism and failure.  Raised by computer games, satellite TV, the Internet, and the latest greatest electronic device – while their parents are off slaving away to afford them all – most of the EG believe if there’s something wrong with them, it’s not their fault; their parents screwed them up, probably by being away too much.  It’s a vicious little catch-22 for the parents any way you look at it.

On the value of playing “hard to get”…

Distinguish yourself, my mom had told Alina and me, in an age where girls often make themselves too available to boys, by making him work a little for your attention.  He’ll think he’s won a prize when he gets it, and he’ll work that much harder to keep it.  Boys turn into men and men put a premium on what’s hardest to get.

If you like Darkfever of The Fever series…

If you enjoyed Darkfever, you may also like the the Cassandra Palmer series (starting with Touch the Dark) by Karen Chance. Cassie shares the same “it’s a good day when no one is trying to kill me” philosophy, and also frequently finds herself in amusing-yet-dangerous situations where she has to use her wits and still-developing special skills to prevail.  Both are more urban fantasy than paranormal romance, and both focus on a central young strong female character who is instrumentally necessary in solving some big world-wide crisis.

You may also enjoy A History of Witches, the first novel in the new All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness and the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Chronicles series (starting with Dead Until Dark) by Charlaine Harris.  Both of these are also first-person narratives from a female heroine’s perspective, and both are also somewhat slower paced stories.

Final thoughts:

This was a fun read.  It probably won’t ever be one of my go-to favorites for a rainy day or a nice cozy fireside read, but it was an entertaining and effective series starter.  The stage is set, the characters have been introduced, and all that remains is for the real action to begin.  Give this one and Bloodfever, the second book in the Fever series, a try and see what you think!

Rating:
4.25 fangs: BITE IT… 

Related links:

http://www.karenmoning.com/ (The Fever series website)

http://www.karenchance.com/ (The Cassie Palmer series website)

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

http://www.charlaineharris.com/ (The Sookie Stackhouse series website)

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Review: Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse series novel #11), by Charlaine Harris

TLDR recap:

Sookie’s fairy kin are secretive and devious.  Sookie’s vampire friends are secretive and edgy.  Sookie’s old enemies are secretly still gunning for her.  Sookie’s family secrets finally see the light of day.  Secrets, secrets, everywhere, in Dead Reckoning, the 11th offering in Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Chronicles.

    • Title: Dead Reckoning
    • Series: The Southern Vampire Chronicles (Sookie Stackhouse) series – book #11
    • Author: Charlaine Harris
    • Prominent Characters: Sookie, Eric, Pam, & co.
    • Recommended reader age: 16+
    • Sexual content level: Fairly light

I am going to try very hard to keep spoilers out of this review!  I know not everyone reads at the speed of light and I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t finished it, so if you read on, expect to see hints of the overall tone of the story but no real specifics (other than a few unrevealing quotes). 

Thoughts:

This is going to be a very difficult review to write and it’s tempting to just put it off for another time, but the truth is I’ll probably only read this book again once, maybe twice ever, so I should get my thoughts written down while they’re still fresh.  Did I like the book?  Yeah, it was ok.  Did I enjoy the story?  I enjoyed the last half of the story, until the (yet again) unresolved ending.  Did I get the usual feeling of fulfillment and completion upon finishing it?  Ugh, no.  I really wanted to love this one; I wanted Charlaine to hit it out of the park!  The last Sookie Stackhouse novel left me feeling similarly disjointed and unsatisfied and I’d hoped it was just a case of middle-movie syndrome (you know, the important 2nd movie in a trilogy that has the meat of the story but doesn’t pack the cinematic punch and resolution of the beginning and end).  I’m going to try to do this without spoilers, so I’ll break it down by character…

Sookie: Nothing really new here, same old Sook (although a little less “christian”, by her own definition, and a little more ruthless).  Our Sookie is learning to survive in a world where she is perpetually fragile and she’s not too sure she’s happy with the “new” her.  She does, of course, have no objections to still being alive.  *wink*  And you know it wouldn’t be a Sookie Stackhouse novel if people (plural) weren’t trying to kill her pretty much constantly…

Eric: Also more of the same: secretive, domineering, oddly charming at times (“my lover” /swoon), and utterly ruthless and centered.  It’s becoming more apparent that Eric actually does love Sookie for more than just her value as a political tool, but does he love her enough to endanger his own precarious position?  More on this later…

Pam: Pam is her usual visciously effective self, with a dash of vulnerability that we haven’t seen in her to date.  This was a nice change!  It’s also nice to see Sookie actually thinking of Pam as a “good friend” rather than a vampire who’s just impartial about her and helps her out when it suits the situation.

Bill: Another reviewer made a pretty witty statement about Bill’s role in this novel (“everyone’s favourite killjoy crawls out of his sickhole”), and before reading Dead Reckoning, I agreed and thought it was fairly entertaining & appropriate.  I mean, honestly, Bill has become a bore, hasn’t he?  After finishing the novel, however, I felt that Bill’s presence lent some of the only straightforward love and support that Sookie received throughout the entire book.  After being staunchly Team Eric since the early novels, I’m now starting to wonder why I’m still holding out…

Sam: Oh Sam, a perpetual friend art thee.  First let me say that I do NOT like Jannalyn, Sam’s newest honey, and her role in this novel doesn’t win her as many brownie points as it loses her, putting her slightly down in the count at the close.  She doesn’t care though – she’s a badass pack enforcer and everyone else who isn’t Alcide are just peons, right?  I’m thinking maybe Sam should rethink just what it is he’s getting out of this relationship with Ms. Testosterone.

Alcide: Ugh.  Seriously.  UGH!  I want this guy to go away.  How many more ways can he possibly abuse Sookie’s one-time friendship and trust?  Admittedly, his part in this story does lend some much-needed levity to an otherwise overly serious & sometimes slightly boring progression.  Ironically, I’d actually forgotten how much I disliked Alcide until I read his scene – Joe Manganiello sure does do a sweet, sexy portrayal of him and it’s damn hard not to like Alcide in the HBO series True Blood!  Psst Charlaine, if you’re going to put in guest appearances, toss us some Quinn next time! 

Jason:  Sookie’s annoying and self-centered brother makes only a brief appearance in this one, and he doesn’t even get a line to speak.  I guess having a fairy in residence who looks just like him is a good enough substitute, and I am most definitely NOT complaining about the lack of Jason-time!

Memorable quotes:

Oh fair tradition!

I could imagine my grandmother’s opinion about Holly’s white wedding dress, since Holly had a little boy in school – but hey, whatever made the bride happy.  White used to symbolize the virgin purity of the wearer.  Now it just meant the bride had acquired an expensive and unusable dress to hang in her closet after the big day.

Those fairies, always playing hard to get!

They didn’t really care a whole hell of a bunch about what happened to humans they didn’t know.  If they’d ever read John Donne, they would have disagreed with his idea that no man is an island.  Most humans were on one big island, to the fairies, and that island was adrift on a sea called I Totally Don’t Care.

Well, Bill certainly isn’t playing hard to get…

“I think just knocking on your door and looking lonesome would probably get me where I wanted to be, if that was my goal.  Or I could just say, ‘How ’bout it big boy?’  I don’t think I need to be naked and in danger to get you lusty.  Right?”

Buy now and get a special bonus!

Go on the Sookie Stackhouse Narrow Avoidance of Death Diet!  Run for your life, and miss meals, too!  Excercise plus starvation.

Never a dull moment at Sookie’s house…

I wondered if she’d see Bubba in the woods.  Or Bill.  Or maybe there’d be fairies.  Or some more kidnappers.  A homicidal maniac!  You never knew what you’d find in my woods.


If you like…

If you like Dead Reckoning and the Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Chronicles) series, you might enjoy the Cassandra Palmer series.  They have a surprisingly lot in common: innate psychic powers they’d rather not have, people constantly trying to kill or control them, multiple powerful men trying to maneuver them into bed, and a strong backbone and sense of right vs. wrong.  The Cassie Palmer series, by Karen Chance, is currently 4 novels long, with the 5th releasing early next month.

If you find yourself frustrated by the sometimes slow pace in the Sookie Stackhouse series and want a little more bang for your buck, check out the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward. Having recently released its 9th novel (10th, if you count the Insider’s Guide, and you totally should!), the series is packed with love, sex, violence, drama, unexpected twists, and some of the most well-written romantic entanglements I’ve ever read.  Read it for the couples or read it for the politics and action… just read it!  =)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Cat & Bones, my favorite paranormal couple from a series, in the “if you like this, then read this” list.  The Night Huntress series, by Jeaniene Frost, is still going strong after recently releasing its 6th most excellent novel (8 counting the 2 “world” spinoffs) and more is on the way later this year!

Final thoughts:

A lot goes down in this book and several long-running mysteries and plotlines are neatly tied off.  Some of the action feels almost TOO easy after the looooong draaaaawn out story arcs of perpetual assassination attempts and political intrigue.  I was definitely very happy with two particular outcomes, and I found myself laughing out loud at a few scenes that, for anyone but Sookie, shouldn’t have been amusing at all.  Long-time readers will be satisfied with some of the resolutions and spontaneous little gifts of information Ms. Harris delivers.  I’m already starting to speculate about where things will head next, but I’ll leave that for the comments below to keep from spoiling key plot points.  *wink*

My review probably comes across a little harsh for a 4+ rating.  I think the deal here is that we’ve all loved and lived Sookie’s life for years now, and waited so long in between very short-feeling installments (most of these books take place within a week of time or less!), that we’re impatient for big happenings.  Sookie’s love life has been tumultuous from the start, and I keep thinking “ok, it’s got to settle down some time!” but Ms. Harris obviously has other plans.  Personally, I read these novels partially for the Sookie/Eric developments and it feels like each new novel just delays their progression by filling the space with yet more political angst, assassination attempts, and battles.

So, bottom line, if you’re a long-time reader who doesn’t mind the incremental progress and can focus on the bigger picture of the series as a whole, you’re probably going to really enjoy this book!  If you, like me, need a little more romantic closure and less what-chores-Sookie-is-doing-today, you might leave this one feeling a little frustrated and wrung out.

Rating:
4.25 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.charlaineharris.com/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://jeanienefrost.com/

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/

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Fangtastic Friday: Hot summer reads, Romantic Times awards, & Mr. Romance 2011

When the heat of summer hits (especially in the south!) and all you can think of as you pour yourself out of your car is how fast you can get into an air-conditioned building, relax & chill out with a steamy little story or four.  *grin*  Yeah yeah, I know there are TONS of great books that are probably releasing this summer that I’m not mentioning here.  Hey, I can’t read all the time – I gotta eat and sleep and work too!  =P  These are the upcoming sequels to the stories I’ve reviewed (and intend to continue reading) on this site:

  • May 3: Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11) by Charlaine Harris – read an excerpt here
  • May 31: The Reluctant Vampire (Argeneau Vampires #15) by Lynsay Sands – read an excerpt here
  • May 31: Kiss of Snow (Changeling/Psy #10) by Nalini Singh – read an exerpt here
  • June 7: Hunt the Moon (Cassie Palmer #5) by Karen Chance – read an excerpt here
  • June 7: Hit List (Anita Blake #20) by Laurell K. Hamilton – read an excerpt here
  • June 28th: Deeper than Midnight (Midnight Breed #9) by Lara Adrian – read an excerpt here

The famous Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention was held earlier this month, and a few of my favorite authors were honored.  Here are some of the award nominees and winners:

Career Achievement Best Author Awards (winner in bold):
  • Urban Fantasy: Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Rachel Caine, P.N. Elrod, Simon R. Green
  • Paranormal: Amanda Ashley, Rebecca York, Maggie Shayne, MaryJanice Davidson, L.A. Banks
Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Awards (winner in bold):
  • Vampire Romance: Blood Born (Linda Howard, Linda Jones), Lover Mine (J.R. Ward), Eternal Kiss of Darkness (Jeaniene Frost), Cross Your Heart (Michele Bardsley), Devoured by Darkness (Alexandra Ivy)
  • Shapeshifter Romance: Serpent Moon (C.T. Adams, Cathy Clamp), Touch of Seduction (Rhyannon Byrd), Whisper Kiss (Deborah Cooke), Play of Passion (Nalini Singh), In the Dark of Dreams (Marjorie M. Liu), Day of the Dragon (Rebecca York)
  • Paranormal Romance: Lion’s Heat (Lora Leigh), Bonds of Justice (Nalini Singh), Water Bound (Christine Feehan), Bayou Moon (Ilona Andrews), The Iron Duke (Meljean Brook), Living Nightmare (Shannon K. Butcher)
  • Paranormal Fiction: Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever (Molly Harper), Truly, Madly (Heather Webber), Undead and Unfinished (MaryJanice Davidson), My Way to Hell (Dakota Cassidy), Something Wicked (Michelle Rowen), Haunted Honeymoon (Marta Acosta)
  • Urban Fantasy Novel: Magic Bleeds (Ilona Andrews), Total Eclipse (Rachel Caine), Chosen (Jeanne C. Stein), Dust (Joan Frances Turner), Mob Rules (Cameron Haley), Double Cross (Carolyn Crane)
  • Urban Fantasy Protaganist: Archangel’s Kiss (Nalini Singh), Spider’s Bite (Jennifer Estep), Battle of the Network Zombies (Mark Henry), Death Blows (DD Barant), Stormwalker (Allyson James), Red Hot Fury (Kasey Mackenzie)
  • Scotland-Set Historical Romance: Seduced by a Rogue (Amanda Scott), Taming the Highland Bride (Lynsay Sands), The Chief (Monica McCarty), Seduced by a Highlander (Paula Quinn), The Devil Wears Plaid (Teresa Medeiros), One Night in Scotland (Karen Hawkins)

And of course, it wouldn’t be a RT convention without the annual crowning of Mr. Romance.

Here’s this year’s winner, Len Gunn…

And the rest of the hotties…

Hope you enjoyed the eye candy… see you next week!

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