With the paranormal market producing such large qualities of material right now, we’re starting to see a lot of different paranormal creatures popping up in stories.

Dance Chica: My favorite paranormal creature is definitely vampires--fangs, blood, seduction...bring it on. Honestly, I don’t know what it is, exactly, about vampires that make them so appealing to me. I think it may have something to do with the fact that they’re so versatile. Regardless of all the stereotypes and clichés, there’s really a lot a creator can do with vampires and so many myths that can shape the characters. For example, vampires can be evil or they can be good; they can be powerful and sexy and dangerous or they can be completely indifferent. Not to mention all the various powers and politics that can shape the society of a vampire. Also, I think some vampires just have "tortured bad boy" stamped all over them which make them nearly impossible for me to resist. But I think the best thing about a vampire story is that it can really be a story about humanity and human nature rather than just a cold blooded monster. On the flip side, I’m not really into shifters but if an author crafts them right I can bite (no pun intended), such as Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten. That book made me see shifters in a whole new light simply by creating a mythology for them that I never even thought possible. One paranormal creature I don’t think I could ever really get into, though, is gargoyles. I’ve noticed a lot of them popping up in paranormals lately and they’ve just never intrigued me enough to read one.

Mailyn: I am so with you on this. Vampires are hella cools and they have been my favorites for as long as I can remember. Unlike many people, however, I like my vamps both good and evil. The sexual tension is always supposed to be there because that's how they attract their pray. But that's the more romantic vampire. In the olden days vamps were icky looking, kind of like Nosferatu. Remember that movie? Yikes! Still, I like them all the same. They have a lot of abilities that makes reading about them fun. They, unlike say ghouls or werewolves, are in control of their senses all the time. My least favorite monster has GOT to be werewolves. In most of the books surrounding them they pretty much lose themselves when it comes time to turn. How dumb is that?! I like my monsters to know what's going on all the time and to be able to control themselves, even if it's just to kill people. LOL. My other favorites are necromancers. Even their name is cool! LOL. It's really too bad that there aren't more good quality series or books with them. I think they have a lot of potential, just like vamps. In fact, I can see a good series focusing on the adventures of a good necromancer. He could even be battling a wizard or a very bad necromancer. Somebody needs to come up with this soon! Oh and archangels are always hella cools. Archangels with black wings!!! Sadly this hasn't caught on yet. I can see a series about a fallen archangel trying to fight evil or something. Hey, maybe he can even have a necromancer and a vampire sidekick. I would so buy that series! LOL.

Kailana: I have to admit, I don't really read fantasy novels for a certain type of paranormal creature. While I like things like vampires, wizards, witches, etc, I don't necessarily buy a book for them. I read more by recommendations or what I see at the store that looks interesting. So, in an attempt to add to this, I will talk about my favourite types of fantasy novels. I took a university course on fairy tales, and it has reinterested me in that particular genre. I have always liked fairy tale retellings, but after that course, I started paying more attention to different authors that write that sort of stuff. Fairy tale retellings can take in any amount of different paranormal creatures, so I read a wide range as a result. I also enjoy Arthurian and Troy retellings. Arthurian novels vary, with sometimes having a lot of fantasy present and other times they are just novels about Roman society and Arthur. The level of fantasy mainly relies on whether you believe that Arthur really existed. Not to mention Troy, if you believe the Homer version of the story, then you might think that other novels are pure fantasy. It is all about interpretation. After those three main things, I am not very picky about what fantasy novels I read. I get recommendations from other people that read fantasy novels, which is important, and I also pick up books at the store on a whim to see if they are any good. So, if I read more about any particular fantasy novel it is more by the luck of the draw than any preference.

Nath: Hmmm, this is a pretty tough topic... We're talking about paranormal creatures right? So I guess that psychics don't really count? I like psychics the best because they are exactly like us, as in normal, but yet at the same time they're not. They either accept what they are or deny it and I think that makes a good storyline. Also, psychic powers are pretty cool, but there's always a limitation :) Okay, so back to the topic.... Paranormal creatures. Vampires and werewolves are pretty much tied for me... I mean, it really depends on the world the author created and the characterization. I don't care much for werewolves in Angela Knight's novels, but give me Clay or Jeremy or even Karl from Kelley Armstrong and yummy :P As for least favorite, I think it's witch and sorcerer... I think they're pretty boring ^^; and you never know what's the limits of their powers... in addition, potions and incantations? They don't do anything for me. Then again, really, most important is characterization and storyline... What I'd like to read more about are demons and like Mailyn, necromancer.

So, what’s your favorite paranormal creature? Which are your least favorite? What creatures would you like to see more of? Which creatures have you had enough of?

The Genre

Urban Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, Faeries

The Plot

From the book:

Welcome to the realm of very scary faeries!
Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms -- a struggle that could very well mean her death.

Mailyn Says:

The Review

First of all let me start by saying that I was pleasantly impressed by this book but, even before we get into that, let me warn you all: do not be fooled by the title. This book pays homage to the REAL faerie tales, not the watered-down Disney versions of today. If you've ever had the pleasure of reading the true collected works of the Grimm bothers, unabridged mind you, then you know what I am talking about.

Consider the fact that most faerie tales back in the days were used to explain the unexplainable; the things that went bump in the night and those that could bump you off. They were also used to pretty much scare the children into not doing things they weren't supposed to do like, say, wander off in the woods alone.

This is THAT kind of faerie tale. Black isn't afraid to portray the Fae as they were known back when the Grimm’s were around. These are mean, bloodthirsty faeries and they have way too much fun being evil.

My kind of book. Mehehe.

OK, seriously now, you do have good and bad faeries but the bad seem to outnumber the good ones by a mile and then some. Black doesn't squirm when it comes to portraying the evilness that they are capable of and this is always good in setting up a believable adversary for the heroes. After all, wimpy evilness never scared anyone.

Although I did love this book a lot and am now officially obsessed with this series, I do have to admit that Black's writing does tend to reflect what her target audience is: Young Adults. That does not mean that the book is boring or that she doesn't paint her pictures well. It simply means that Black doesn't seem to be as thorough in her language, her prose and the minute details of her every page unlike say Garth Nix and his Abhorsen trilogy, Rowlings and her Harry Potter or Meyers and her Twilight.

To be sure, don't read this expecting another Bella and Edward or you will be sourly disappointed. Kaye is as far from Bella as werewolves are from vampires. Her world is not pretty. Trailer trash is the only way to describe her friends and family. I should know because I had plenty of friends back when I was in high school that were, for lack of better words, white trash. The way they talk, the things they do, I don't know if Black did much research but I'm willing to bet she did. I can almost see some of my friends in the manner these kids interact with adults and with each other. It brought back a lot of memories. But let’s keep with the review, shall we?

The mood of the book is also darker and more somber since, as I explained, Black isn't afraid to "go there". People die in this book. People you wished hadn't die but this keeps you on your toes wondering who is going to make it to the end unharmed. I have read many an urban fantasy and, as this was young adult, didn't expect much in the usually dark department that represents most urban fantasy novels. I am glad to say I was wrong and this fits into the genre perfectly, young adult label be damned.

Another thing I loved in the book were the characters themselves. Kaye is far from being the usual heroine we are all used to. Even in fantasy it's hard to find a heroine that is just so, well, trashy. She dropped out of school, she drinks, she smokes, she comes and goes whenever she wants, and she is all of 16 years old. Of course she is the product of her flighty mother's lifestyle but still, it was also a pleasant surprise not to have a little Miss Perfect, as it would have ruined the urban fantasy aspect

As far as heroes go, Roiben the Black Knight is great. I won't say he is the best I've ever read but he is very, very good. Reminded me somewhat of Daemon and Lucivar of Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy. He has suffered much because of the jobs he is forced to do as he is a slave to the evil Queen, which by the way, reminds me a lot of Dorothea the evil bitch Queen in the Black Jewel’s, except I find this crazy Queen scarier.

The Verdict

I say this book begs to be read. true to the Urban Fantasy genre, it’s not afraid to show you the darker side of life and it’s just all around entertaining. You will be hooked from the get go and, indeed, I am on my way to Amazon to order the next book in the series: Valiant.

A solid 4.5 out of 5

Kailana Says:

I am going to try and add on to what Mailyn said without repeating too much, so bear with me. I was drawn to this book from both reviews that I have read and from the fact that it was a fairy tale. I just seem to REALLY enjoy fairy tales. And this was no exception. It takes you no time at all to read, but it is so rewarding while you are doing it. For a young adult book, it was well-written. I agree with Mailyn, she seems to get a bit more childish with her writing than other young adult authors, but it doesn't take away from the book at all.

The first thing I must do is say that I liked Kaye more than Bella from Twilight. Mailyn compares, so I must do so too. I found Bella annoying, Kaye was more hardcore. I have been reading New Moon by Meyer, but have not got into it yet. Black's book draws you in from the very first page! I really enjoyed reading it. Robiben is also an interesting character. I would say this was totally his development stage, I think he will just improve with every novel you read by him. He is just coming into his own in this book, getting the chance to stand on his own two feet, so I think he will be a very interesting character to watch in future novels. I can see the comparisions with Anne Bishop, though.

Anyways, I strongly recommend this book to anyone that doesn't mind fantasy. It is a modern fantasy novel, and it is written very well. I look forward to reading the sequel.

I also give it a 4.5/5.

Hunting the Hunter by Shiloh Walker:
plotwise 3.5/5
enjoyment: 2.5/5

So this book gets 2 grades... why? because I'm afraid of being unfair ^^;

Genre: paranormal - vampire, psychic, shapeshifter

Kane Winter is a bounty-hunter, turned vampire-hunter after the day he saw his partner, Duke - a shapeshifter, getting killed by vampires. He doesn't have much memories of that night, except for this woman... Turns out that Duke is not dead - don't worry, he's not a bad guy either. He became a "hunter" as in, he hunts everything and everyone that prey on the weak and innocent. His coach of the moment is Kendall, the woman that Kane can't forget. After meeting Kendall, Kane lusts for Kendall; however, he misunderstood the situation and thought Kendall and Duke was a couple. So one year later, after having dreams of Duke being tortured, Kane sets off to find Kendall and Duke. He arrives just in time to have sex with Kendall and to help with Duke's disappearance. Turns out the "evil" in Cincinnati is an old acquaintance of Kendall...

All right, so my thoughts? First, I like the idea that the Hunters, plural, are after everything that prey on the weaks - drug dealers, rapists, serial killers, ect. It makes it a bit different than a vampire hunter among the vampires. Aside from that, I thought that the plot had real good potential and the intrigue was a good one... However, it was not well presented to the readers. I thought the story was all over the place, that it didn't have a pace. Btw the night Duke is believed dead and Kane finds Duke again, that's 2 years... then, 1 year for the dreams to bring Kane back in the story... and then, you have a story that probably spanned on 3-5 days, interrupted by sex. I have nothing against sex, but in this one, it seems to occur at wrong moment. Also, reading "pussy" a few times a page does something to my enjoyment level, as in bring it down. My other problems are not enough of characters development/background - again, you get pieces and bits here and there, but not enough to get a good understanding of them, esp. Kane... and also, not enough world building. The author introduces witches, vampires, psychics, werewolves and shapeshifters and also, the Hunters academy, Excelsior; however, she doesn't put any boundaries. All you know is that humans are different from Others, but what about Others among each other? Agnes, who is a witch is 500 y.o., Vax, another witch must be 150-200 y.o. and Kendall is 300 y.o. So yeah, no idea about this world... or maybe, maybe that the world building explanation was done in a previous book since I read that the author had some books from the same world as e-books from Ellora's Cave. Still, she could have given some more clues.

I read this book for the last of my R.I.P books, a fall reading challenge that has been making the rounds of the blogging world. With this review, I have completed my challenge.

From the back of the book:

Richard Mayhew is a plain man with a good heart - and an ordinary life that is changed forever on a day he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. From that moment forward he is propelled into a world he never dreamed existed - a dark subculture flourishing in abandoned subway stations and sewer tunnels below the city - a world far stranger and more dangerous than the only one he has ever known...

The interesting thing about this book is that the Minneapolis Star Tribune says on the back: "A dark contemporary 'Alice in Wonderland'... imaginative, well-crafted [and] highly visual." I never noticed that until after I was about halfway through the book, so when I did see it, I had to stop and think for a moment. I never made the direction comparision myself, but I might have by the end. It really is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. And we all know how much I like fairy tale retellings.

How is it like Alice, people may be wondering. For starters, it takes place below ground. The characters in this underground world have fallen through the cracks in society, much like how Alice fell through the rabbit hole. Who is Alice in this novel can be looked at several ways. If we were going with a same sex character, than Door would be Alice on her adventures through the underground. The only problem with that is Door never lived above ground, her life has always taken place in the underground. That means, that the most likely character to be "Alice" in this tale is Richard Mayhew. He is used to a life above ground, but when he saves Door, that is in essence him falling from the above world to the underground one.

There are also elements from Alice of Wonderland found in this tale. Alice, in her tale, meets lots of crazy critters in her adventures through Wonderland. Richard does the same. At first he, like Alice, questions what he sees in front of him, but by the end of the novel he is just learning to accept whatever comes along. There are also many doors in the novel, as Alice battles with in the beginning of Alice in Wonderland. It is a very interesting fantasy novel, and I must admit, I like it better than Lewis Carroll's original tale. Alice annoys me in that novel.

I must admit, I am gaining a strong liking for Gaiman. I own all of his novels, now, so I will be sure to post on the three I haven't read yet in the next few months.


Absolutely delightful!

The Genre

Adventure, magic, steampunk

The Plot

From Amazon:
“Richly inventive and breathlessly paced, this variation on the old "around the world" race theme surpasses Volsky's earlier acclaimed fantasy The White Tribunal in deft characterizations and sly, wry wit. Tottering on the brink of war, the Vonahr republic watches uneasily as Grewzland's "vainglorious mystic" imperior Ogron blitzes his unprepared neighbors. The traditionally neutral Low Herz, however, ruled by Ogron's womanizing dilettante cousin, Miltzin IX, possesses a fantastic new magical weapon with a mind of its ownDthe green Sentient Masterfire. When Miltzin decrees an international race called "The Grand Ellipse" for the wealth and status of a Herzian barony, luscious Vonahrish bluestocking Luzelle Devaire accepts her government's secret commission: win the race, convince the lascivious Miltzin to sell Masterfire to Vonahr, and thus annihilate Grewzland's militaristic threat for good. She also hopes to escape the life of genteel wifely servitude that her domineering father has arranged for her. As feisty and resourceful as her Victorian ancestors, Luzelle finds herself drawn to her two chief rivals, the elegant Vonahrish ex-Marquis Girays v'Alisante, her former fianc , and the noble Grewzian Overcommander Karsler Stornzof, product of the mystical Promontory, where honor counts more than life's blood itself. Although Volsky's well-crafted novel uses the traditional quest format common in fantasies, Luzelle and her admirers provide thrilling entertainment for readers of all genres as they hurtle from one narrow escape to another. Brimming with vibrant, exotic settings and Volsky's knack for utterly convincing dialogue (impeded only slightly by contorted consonants in proper names), this lively adventure makes for unflagging reading enjoyment that should appeal to a wide swath of SF and fantasy fans.”

The Review

To try and cut it short, the synopsis. This is a world MUCH like during the Victorian era except there are magic and other things you wouldn't find at the time. The world here is also at war, one that resembles WWI & II.

Luzelle, the heroine, comes from the nation of Vonahr [this would be your England] and she is most def a bluestocking. She lectures, she goes on adventures, she writes books. The shock! Her father is a prominent member of the society and is dead against this. In fact, he disowns her because she refuses to "act like a proper lady", stop doing what she wants and marry.

At this time, the government approaches her because the nation of Grewzland [Germany, duh, lol] is slowly but surely taking over the world and is close to declaring war on them as well. Their only hope is a new weapon developed by the king of Low Herz. The problem is that the nation has always been neutral [Switzerland] and they will have nothing to do with anyone. The king, in fact, is preoccupied with his Grand Ellipse, a race round the world, so to speak.

The government wants Luzelle to enter the Grand Ellipse and win at all costs because the winner gets an audience with the king, something that doesn't happen often. The reason for sending a woman is that the king is a womanizer and Luzelle is very good looking.

At first she is shocked and wants to object but her money will run out in less than half a year and then she will have to go back to her father and get married. Not wanting to give up her independence she accepts.

Now, the book focuses mostly on the race, which is very much a type of Around the World in 80 Days except, IMO, much better. To say that this book was enthralling is the understatement of the year. I couldn't put it down as the racers go from one heart-stopping adventure to the next. There is much action because the world IS at war so there is danger lurking everywhere. Not to mention the fact that someone is trying, and succeeding, to take out the competition one by one. Oh and, one of the best things about the book, the characters are simply delightful.

One of the best things about this book is the writing. If this is any indication of most of Mrs. Volsky's work then I am awe because the woman has a way with words. Everything is lush and so well described you feel you are right there smack in the middle of it all. Her world building is amazing, and her characters are to die for and some of the best ever!

First of all there are two heroes. One is another Vonahrian like Luzelle, non other than the very elegant, very debonair Marquis Girays v'Alisante, who happens to be her ex-fiancé. Mehehehe.

The other, and my favorite of the two by far, is the Grewzian Overcommander Karsler Stornzof.

Karsler is just larger than life but so well depicted you do believe he is very much real. Paula outdid herself with this one.

Karsler is a young [around Luzelle's age which would be 25] Overcommander who is more like a hero or a god even among the enemies of the Grewzian Imperium. His sense of honor, his deportment in battle, his courage, the way he just exudes a quiet confidence, his very presence is the stuff legends are made of. He is a hero in his own nation since he has led his troops to victory more times than anyone cares to count. He has a strict code of honor that even his enemies can't deny. In war, or out of it, he plays fair and by the rules. He takes no pride in defeating others. In fact, everything he does he takes as his duty and simply something he must do.

It also helps that; in a nation of white, blonde blue-eyed people he seems to be the most gorgeous thing ever. He also is completely unaware of the fact and the effect he has on people, male or female. Basically he doesn't understand what the fuss is all about. After all, and unlike what everyone says, he is human.

You wouldn't know it because the man is damn near perfect and you don't get tired of hearing that he is like a god, or a hero, or the countless other things everyone talks about him.

Why? Because Paula makes it work. His actions speak so much louder than words you can't help but root for the man even if you like the Marquis, who does have his own merits, better. Karsler, without so much as even trying, blows the competition right out of the water.

Marquis Girays v'Alisante is also another character which very much impressed me. I was expecting some cocky, self-righteous prick [as nobles are bound to be] but I was pleased this wasn't so. At first this is somewhat the idea you get but the more you see of Girays the more you understand him. He is also very honorable and he is very much a nobleman. As Luzelle explains, it's not that he tries, it's just that his breeding is very much apparent in his character and manners even when he is looking very much like a beggar [you have to read the book, that part is hilarious]

I also thought it was too cute and funny the way that, at first, Girays is jealous of Karsler. Competing with a legend isn't easy and Girays figures sooner or later Karsler will drop his heroic act but this isn't so and I LOVED the interaction and, later on, bonding of the two characters. It's not everyday you get two perfectly amazing heroes that manage to get splendidly along. They really do act like adults and not like the so often encountered heroes who will try to one-up each other.

The sad part of this excellent piece of art is, like always, the heroine. Luzelle starts out OK but she goes from bad to worse.

It's the usual lamentable downfall of the "independent" heroine. Luzelle is convinced, because of her strict father that she can and will take care of herself. She is an adult and she doesn't need a man, which is fine except she gets herself into trouble over and over because of her childish notions of "independence" and ends up being rescued by men more times that I can remember.

At times, I am not ashamed to say, I found myself wanting something bad to happen to her just so she would see how reckless and selfish her actions were.

Instead of being grateful half the time she is mad because "she can take care of herself". Even when she does recognize that the men helped her she still doesn't hesitate to leave them behind when the opportunity arises. This would be OK since this IS a race and there is much at stake but not when the men have literally risked their lives to help her. She could have returned the favor by sticking around and helping.

Fortunately, as I said, everything else is so exquisite that the TSTL heroine doesn't ruin the novel. In fact, the interactions between her and the two heroes are pure delight. Especially with Girays since they had a less than amicable breakup right before their wedding.

The love that Girays, and even Karsler, have for her makes you like her most of the time. It's only when she is on her own and almost towards the end of the novel that she gets on your nerves but, by this time you are so into the race, the love triangle, and the perfection that are Girays and Karsler than you can afford not to care and skip a few paragraphs.

The Verdict

I can’t recommend this book enough. It has something for everyone: action, adventure, romance, and marvelous settings, amazing characters. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while.

A 4.8 out of 5!

Mailyn says...

OMG. OMG. OMG. I can't get over just how DAMN good these books are!!!! This book gets a friggin' 10 in my 1 to 5 scale!!!! This book is simply amazing!!! OMG I haven't been excited in a damn book since probably the Harry Potter series!!!

Anne Bishop I totally love you!!!

OK, I'm done with the rabid fan girl. Let's begin.

The Genre
Fantasy, Alternate Universe, Witches, Demons

The Plot/Review
There are a few reasons I am combining these two. The Black Jewels book is actually a trilogy but the three books were later published as one. Since I read them as one book I am reviewing all three as one. You’ll also see why later on.

Being a fantasy novel this can get rather complex with all the different worlds and races but fear not, Mrs. Bishop does a WONDERFUL job of explaining as she goes along. She doesn’t spoon feed you details but she weaves them intricately in the story and, soon enough, you’ll feel like you know everyone and anyone that ever lived in this place.

The very basic break down of the plot is as follows. There is a world made up of three Realms and each Realm is divided into Territories, which are ruled by their respective Queens. In this world, women are the rulers and men are their guardians, second in command, etc. The Jewels they were born with divide people and, as they make the Offering to the Darkness, by the Jewels they then acquire. The Darkness is the good power, not the evil one. The lighter the jewel, the less power the person has. Black is the most powerful and only a handful of people have ever had this Jewel after they made the Offering. None have been actually been born a Black. Until now.

A long time before our story beings, a witch had a vision that one day the Queen will come that will have the power to unite the warring territories. She will be a born Black Queen with more power than anyone has ever seen. She will be the living embodiment of the dreams of those who have throughout the centuries hoped for a fair and just Queen to rule them all. She is thus called the Dream Made Flesh. The trilogy is the story if this Queen, Janelle, and we follow her from the time she is barely 7 to the time she comes into full power and the final full-scale war breaks out.

I could go into more plot details but this booked is packed with so much we would be here forever so I will just insert what is needed as I review. Also, as I am aware that most readers that wander into this blog are primarily Romance readers, I will point out a few things that may help those who’ve never read Fantasy.

The first and most important thing to remember is that this is a Fantasy book that has romance, and not the other way around. As such, you will see a lot of things that may not be expected in the Romance genre. In spite of this I strongly believe that Romance lovers will absolutely enjoy this book.

Second of all, you must keep in mind that none of the races are human as this takes place in another Universe. Some of their behavior towards children, etc may, at first, rub you the wrong way. Keep an open mind and don’t try to read between the lines. Bishop is very clear and, when she means incest, she will say it out loud. No, none of the good guys think having sex with a minor is a good idea, in fact, they are repulsed by this but they do have strong feelings for Jaenelle even as a small child because it is the Dark power in her that is calling to the power in them. The males protect and serve their Queen with almost blind devotion and this is explained thoroughly enough that you can understand the difference between them loving their future Queen and them being in love with a child.

Third thing to keep in mind, and rather important for those that may have never read anything but Romance, this book is dark. This is nothing out of the ordinary, unless you’ve never read Fantasy before and therefore I am warning you. People die and are killed in more ways than one, children are abused, slaves are tortured, sex is used to break people and things WILL get dark and gloomy. Do NOT let any of this stop you reading this book. Bishop doesn’t hold back but she presents it all in a way that doesn’t scream cheap horror. Maybe someone else would have come off as simply trying to shock the readers to give the book more umph but Anne knows exactly what she is doing. Some of the characters have too much power and all this is necessary to bring them down to our level and to make the struggles more real. Without the darkness the rest of the story, the way the characters were shaped, the actions they take, and just about the entire thing wouldn’t be believable. Not for one minute do you doubt that these people are in danger, that the balance of power can shift at any moment and, most important, that anyone can die.

If a book doesn’t keep you on the edge on your seat and truly makes you wonder if any of the good guys will survive then it’s not a good book at all. There would be no need to read a book like this if you could tell, at every turn, what would happen. Fantasy books thrive on suspense. They revolve around quests or wars against races, etc. The writer HAS to keep the reader hooked on the story, caring about the characters yet not being able to determine who wins or lose. Mrs Bishop does one hell of a good job with this. People will die that you wish wouldn’t have but this is exactly what happens in a war and it helps keep the book and characters real. Unlike in Romance or other genres, the fantasy genre has no rules as the writer creates the races and universe they inhabit. Without trying for some realism there would be no way for readers to know the dangers the characters are in and, no suspense and no tension mean no reader interest. You don’t want to read a story where nothing ever happens now do you?

These are just warnings but they should not stop anyone from reading this. I can’t stress it enough just how damn wonderful this book is. Bishop has an incredible way with words. She paints this picture for you and you can clearly see everything that goes on, feel everything these people feel. Her characters are nothing short of amazing, every single one of them. With so many races, so many characters, and so many things going one you’d think at some point Mrs. Bishop will lose track of something. I didn’t find one thing, character or scene out of place or blown out of proportion. Everything was as it should have been.

The characters are some of the best I’ve ever read. Every single one of them. The villains are truly evil and thus make the danger feel real. Jaenelle is presented, from the get go, as an all powerful being so you think it would be hard to care for her if nothing can threaten her. Bishop quickly makes you forget about this. She is a strong woman yet she never comes of as having a Xena complex or thinking she is above everyone else. Far from it. Daemon is one very tortured soul if I've ever seen one. Forget anyone you've ever read about. THIS man was tortured. For centuries. He is cool, can be ruthless yet the love he has for Jaenelle is nothing short of sweet and so damn intense it will tear your heart out at times.

I must say that, for a fantasy novel, this book is pretty strong in the romance department as the love between the main characters is a VERY omportant part of the plot (for various reasons I cannot give away so as not to give too much of the story). Suffice it to say Romance readers will NOT be dissapointed in the least bit. I dare say this romance rivals some of the best I've read to date.

One last thing before I go, I recommend buying this book as I did: 3 in 1. The books end in such cliffhangers and are so integrated with each other there's no way to get around reading one of them. It would be like watching a movie and missing a good chunk of it. I also suggest that you buy this along with the Dreams Made Flesh anthology that Mrs Bishop also wrote. Let's just say the romantic in you will crave this once you finish with the trilogy. I will review that book next.

The Verdict
I think I should stop gushing about this story for now. Let's just say that I strongly believe this trilogy will be enjoyed by anyone regardless of what genre they usually like to read. It has something for everyone and Mrs. Bishop is a hell of a story teller. I'm beginning to think she is the true Dream Weaver. (read the story and you'll know LOL)

A once in a blue moon 10 in my scale that, I remind you, only goes to 5. I think that, besides the Classics, only the Harry Potter books rate that high in my scale.

Bloody frigging' brilliant.

Kailana says...

This month I decided to participate in a TBR challenge. The criteria is that it had to be a book recommended to you by someone, that is most of my pile, so I just randomly chose Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop. The first novel in The Black Jewels trilogy.

Title: Daughter of the Blood

Author: Anne Bishop

Year published: 1998

Why did you get this book? On the forums that I moderate, a Historical fiction forums, there was a thread about your favourite non-historical fiction novels. Someone posted a whole bunch of fantasy novels that she really enjoyed, after talking to her about it, I came away with a very long list. This is one of the books on that list.

Do you like the cover? Yep, especially since I have the whole trilogy and they all match!

Did you enjoy the book? Yep, I give it a 4/5. It is a very dark novel with witches, vampires, and hell being some of the major themes. I can't wait to read book 2, but there are few other books I want to attend to first. It is written by a female, and sometimes female authors and fantasy don't work well together because I am not a major fan of romance novels. This particular trilogy seems to work. I have been going through a vampire phase, reading authors like Laurell K. Hamilton and her Anita Blake series, so Bishop was a different author to cover in the vampire world.

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? Yup, new author, but I will read her again. This book belongs to a trilogy, but then she has another trilogy that I have started collecting the books for.

Are you keeping it or passing it on? It's a keeper!

Nath says...

Daughter of the Blood all by Anne Bishop (sorreh, no covers, I'm lazy): 4.5/5
Heir to the Shadows
Queen of the Darkness
Dreams made Flesh

So where to start... Very brief synopsis of what's happening. In this world where there are witches and warlords, women rule and men serve them. The amount of powers depend on which jewel you are born with and with jewel you possessed after you've made your Offering to Darkness. Your Offering to Darkness will also determine what position you hold: whether you're a Queen (there's many kind), a Priestress or something else. In the land of Terreille however, no Territory Queen (highest Queen position possible) rules. Instead, it is a Priestess, Dorothea, who holds the highest position; however, the males do not rush to serve her as a Queen as she expected... Therefore, her viscious game starts in order to corrupt all the Blood (ppl with jewels I think) and other territories. As she grows powerful, other Queens are fearful and therefore adopt Dorothea's way and become tainted. Then, one day, Tersa, a high-rank witch who should have reigned over Treveille instead of Dorothea if she'd made through her Virgin Night, announces that SHE is coming. The Witch, most powerful being, that will restore peace in every realm and will restore the Blood.

It will take 700 years before the Witch makes her first apparition... as a 7 y.o. girl named Jaenelle Alexandra. Her life will affect many, many ppl, but especially three men: Saetan SaDiabolo (50,000 y.o.), her adopted father, mentor and the High Lord of Hell. Daemon SaDiabolo (1,700 y.o.)who is Saetan and Tersa's son and had been used as a pleasure slave by Dorothea... in a few words, Dorothea has lent him to many Queens to be serviced... he is to be Jaenelle's Consort/mate. Finally, Lucivar Yaslava, also Saetan's son with a Healer, who will be Jaenelle's brother and protector. Lucivar's fate is not very different from Daemon; however, because he's Eyrien (a race of human beings with wings and very hot temper who usually become warrior), he has a hot temper that've hurt many Queens in bed. In the beginning of the trilogy, Daemon and Lucivar know that they are brothers, but do not know who is their father. It turns out that they are Saetan's sons out of wedlock and Saetan's been threatened with their lives and so, Saetan cannot become involved with them.

So slowly, we follow's Jaenelle's growth. She is an exceptional magical being. A normal person will usually be born with a jewel and get another after his/her Offering. There is a selection of jewels, the darker the jewel's color, the more powerful you are. When you do your Offering, you can gain a maximum of 3 jewels power. However, Jaenelle is obviously different. She possesses ALL the jewels + 13 Black Jewels (Black being the most powerful)... With all this power, she is able to psychically travels in different realms, different territories very easily and she befriends many, many ppl: humans, but also beings that were thought to be legend only. Although she yields lots of power, she cannot accomplish the basic Craft such as fetch her own shoes and so her family believes that she has no talent, she is nobody. In addition to that, when Jaenelle talks about her adventures, they think she makes it up to gain attention and that she has too much imagination; basically, that she is mentally unstable. Because she couldn't learn basic Craft at home, Jaenelle goes to Saetan... Saetan welcomes her with open arms as he was predicted that one day, his daughter of the soul would come. So Jaenelle will often slip from her house/home to come to Saetan or visit her friends.... Meanwhile, back at home in Chaillot, her grandmother is the Queen of Chaillot, she is sent to Briarwood... an institution for mentally unbalanced kids... However, the horror that you witness in this institution are unbelievable.

When Jaenelle is 12 y.o., Daemon is sent to Chaillot to service the Queen and her court. This is where Daemon and Jaenelle meet for the first time... Daemon is shocked to learn that the Witch he's been waiting is only 12 y.o.... but he nonetheless falls in love with her. During this span of time, Daemon also discovers that Saetan is his father as well as the reason why Jaenelle still remains in Chaillot instead of going to live with Saetan. Jaenelle has an older sister whom she wants to help give her Offering so her sister will be able to protect herself, before leaving Chaillot forever. However, things do not go according to plan. During her 5 years with Saetan, Jaenelle has attracted Saetan's ex-wife, Hekatah's unwanted attention. All her life, Hekatah has wanted more and more power and she is the influential force behing Dorothea. Thus, Jaenelle presents as a threat to Hekatah that she wants eliminated... As a result, she plans to break Jaenelle's spirit by having her rape in Briarwood. The rape occurs, but it does not destroy Jaenelle because Saetan and Daemon rescue her soul and body in time... However, there is a price and Daemon slowly falls into the Twisted Kingdom where ppl become insane.

Although Saetan and Daemon were able to save Jaenelle, it will take time for her soul to heal and come to her body. Meanwhile, Saetan took care of her body and become her legal guardianship. Daemon tried to save Lucivar who at that time was a slave, but Lucivar thought that Daemon was the one who raped and killed Jaenelle and so gave the last push necessary for Daemon to drown in Twisted Kingdom. Jaenelle finally makes it back to her body, but she does not remember anything of the trauma and has forgotten Daemon. Slowly, she becomes once again who she was and reconnect with all her friends from different realms and territories. Dorothea and Hekatah will later figure out that she's still alive and scheme for her downfall once again. Few years later, Jaenelle saves Lucivar and he comes back to SaDiabolo Hall and becomes her protector. Jaenelle is living a peaceful life till the day when the Queens and Dark Council in Terreille start invading lands that they say are "unclaimed" by humans. However, these lands are habitated by kindred animals which are animals born with Jewels and who can contact humans, if they will and if humans are listening, psychically. The Dark Council, which is under the influence of Hekatah, announces that if the lands are really claimed by kindred, then they need a human representative and under her current status, Jaenelle cannot be the representative. Although Jaenelle has power, she never wanted to rule, but she has no choice... She becomes Queen and set her court which is composed of many, many Queens and Warlord Princes who all yield their lands and territories to Jaenelle.

Before becoming the Queen, Jaenelle, through Tersa, remembers Daemon and tries to save him by guiding Daemon back to the real world. Although she is successful, she still needs to wait for him to come back to her one day... This occurs about 5 years after she officially becomes the Queen. Jaenelle might be the Queen of Darkness, Daemon finally returns as her Consort, Saetan is her Stewart, Lucivar is her first Escort and her court is powerful... however, Hekatah and Dorothea are still alive. They might only rule Terreille, but it is still enough to stir trouble. In her dreams, Jaenelle sees that the Blood is going to war against Terreille.... she also sees the consequences: very few of her friends will survive. However, she is pushed to engage in the war as Lucivar and his family, as well as Saetan are kidnapped by Hekatah. Jaenelle needs a way to be able to make the difference between the Bloods and the Bloods who've been tainted by Hekatah and Dorothea... she finally finds a way, but needs time. As a result, Daemon is sent as a decoy to Dorothea's court where he creates illusions that he betrayed Jaenelle, with the promise that when he comes back, when they've won the war, Jaenelle and him will marry. Because of Daemon's past, his stay in Twisted Kingdom and his behavior, Jaenelle's court does not trust him and the distrust becomes worst when Jaenelle gives them the interdiction to engage into war, because this goes against their nature. Finally, Jaenelle goes to war on her own with an army of dead-demons, so all the living Blood is spared. The plan is successful, everyone is freed, but Jaenelle is gravely injured...

In the end, Jaenelle will heal, but her condition is very fragile. She's also lost all her jewels and instead, have a new one, Twilight Dawn. Both Jaenelle and Daemon dance around each other for awhile, but finally, they will get married... and they will leave happily ever after.

Reviewer's opinion: that was a short synopsis right? well that's the shortest I could make and I left a lot out. The story is very good, although sometimes, I think it might exceed some boundaries. Not that I mind, but it can become very violent, brutal or crude. I like the fact that we follow Jaenelle' s growth from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. It is a very intriguing story and you want to know what happens. I really liked Jaenelle's childhood (except Briarwood), but what I really luv in this book was the relationships and personalities. I think that my fav. character is Saetan :) I've always been a sucker for those almighty characters with so much power, but face with someone they care for, they become grumpy old bear :) So the story was almost perfect, but sometimes, I got confused and that's why the 4.5 instead of 5. And I understand that Jaenelle and Daemon were meant to be together; however, you do wonder when did Jaenelle start loving Daemon... and by the way, what's their lifespan? cos Daemon is 1,700 y.o. and Jaenelle is not even 30 y.o. In addition to that, the world in which it happens is bit hard to understand, cos it's really Moyen-Age-ish, but they have nail polish, mud mask? Also, my advice is that if you are going to buy the trilogy, don't forget to include Dream Made Flesh, because it contains the conclusion of the trilogy. It also have three other short stories worth reading :D

Mister Monday
: Book one in the Keys to the Kingdom series.

This is my second series by Garth Nix and I found it lacking the oomph and greatness that his Abhorsen trilogy has.

Mr. Nix is undoubtedly very good at writing and world building but this series, unlike the Abhorsen, is plainer when it comes to descriptions, character development, etc. In short, it feels exactly like what it is: a series for children under the age of 15.

Now, I won't fault Garth since this is clearly written for YA but I must say I’ve read better when it comes to series targeted at a younger audience like, say, Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. My main problem, as stated before, is that he is not as descriptive as I know he is capable of having read his other work. I’m guessing that has to do with the target audience and not wanting to lose their interest.

I will say that the action was non-stop and the characters, including Mr. Monday himself which I found delightful, where all very, very interesting.

Maybe I am just biased and impressed with his work in the Abhorsen series but I find this is only good for a lazy read when you are trying to keep things light and uncomplicated.

Honestly enough it's not the type of book that makes me want to go out and read the rest of the series. I am somewhat curious as to what will happen but it's something that can wait a month or two, or perhaps more, when I finish my current To Be Read pile.

I'm going to give it a 3.8 out of 5. Not the best but, nonetheless, not bad at all.

Somebody pinch me. I must be in some kind of nightmare because there is no way in this world that Anne Bishop wrote this book.

I refuse to believe it. Maybe a trained monkey did. Or maybe Anne had the flu while she wrote this but this is NOT the Anne I know and worship.

This was one of the most painful reads I've done in a while. If someone like, say, Feehan or Moning or even Hamilton would have written this crap then I wouldn't be surprised. But not Anne, not the woman that penned that almighty fantasy epic: the Black Jewels trilogy.

There is NO way on earth.

Where to begin? I am embarrassed to even try.

This book reads like a cheap rip-off of the Black Jewels. There is this world inhabited by wizards and witches, etc but, even in this world, there are some creatures that the "normal" ones figure are too beneath them. Incubus and the like are considered trash so they live in a place called the Den all by themselves. This Den was created by THE most powerful Landscaper that ever lived.

You see, just like Jaenelle was Witch, well this girl named Belladona is THE Landscaper. Landscapers are sort of like super witches and they create, shall we say, parallel worlds and "landscapes" were people can live. Then there's Belladona. She has the power to create entire worlds, reshape the current world and link everything in between. She is like Super Landscaper.

Since she has all this power everyone at THE Landscaper's Academy is deathly afraid of her so they come up with a brilliant plan to lock her away forever so she can't use her powers. Of course they fail miserably and now we have what they call a rogue Landscaper, one with the power to end or reshape the world.

Anyways, Belladona created the Den so that her childhood friend Sebastian would have a place to live. Sebastian is an incubus and, as a sex demon, is considered lowest of the lows. The Den is pretty much a red-light district where all the outcasts can live happily ever after.

Dear Sebastian is not a happy incubus. He "yearns" for the one woman that would love him for him and they'll be together forever. Through a series of unfortunate events [that Mr. Snicket is everywhere ain't he?] he meets said woman. She is pretty much a country mouse caught up in the "big, bad" city of Den. Well, Sebastian immediately takes her in and he is smitten by the little virgin.

OK, while all of this is happening, the Eater of the World has escaped. Now, with a name like that, I don't need to tell you this is bad news. One of the places where this Eater is at is, naturally, the Den. People in the Den are terrified. Apparently though not terrified enough because Sebastian still has time to try and get into his little virgin's pants.

This is where the book really starts to go downhill. I mean, seriously, it turns into some cheap B-movie erotica or some shit. I don't know. I was shocked at the crap that Mrs. Bishop was writing.

In one of my favorite scenes, Sebastian has just met the country mouse and takes her to a local restaurant because she is hungry and he figured that she's not from around there. Well, this IS the Den so the bread is shaped into little cocks and tits. No, really, it is. Of course, sweet virgin girl has no clue so she is "sensually" dipping the bread cock into the melted cheese and licking it all up. Sebastian almost jumps her. Somebody mentions that the bread is called Phallic bread and she asks what phallic means. Sebastian is getting all hot and bothered in his hot leather pants so he asks what it is she wants more than anything in the world.

This brings us to my next favorite scene. She says all she wants is to never, ever, ever be afraid of anyone again [her family didn't like her much] so Sebastian, being the ingenious incubus that he is, has the perfect plan to turn her into a fearless virgin. He decides she will act like a tigress and they will prowl [his words] the Den that very night, I guess so she can practice her growl.

Wait, it gets better. He takes her shopping to the local hoochie shop [this IS a red light district people] and he buys her a catsuit. You know, a tight one piece that fits on you like a second skin. Now our little virgin is "fearless" because she is like super hoochie and she is ready to "prowl". This turns Sebastian on to new levels of lust he had only dreamed of. Oh but, fear not, our little super hoochie is still a country virgin on the inside cuz, you kow, he wouldn't have it any other way.

Some time later they are visiting Sebastian's aunt and super hoochie virgin is having THE talk with said aunt. She is all embarrassed to be talking about this but she is distressed that Sebastian apparently doesn't want her even if he "wants her". Well, his aunt is just as confused as we are and she asks whatever the hell that means. Super virgin explains that even her super virgin self knows when a man wants a woman since his "thing" will stick out like that, and she points up. She says that's how Sebastian's thing gets when he is around her.

I swear I am not making this up people. I wish I were. This is just, gawd, there are no words for the level of excruciating pain that I experienced while trying to get through this.

I refuse to believe that Bishop wrote this. The language was bland and I say again, it read like cheap erotica. Not even porn since I don't recall a sex scene.

Oh and Sebastian was dull and a little too whimpy for my taste. Dude had too many issues and none of them made him a mean bastard, I think he needed to grow a backbone. A grown ass incubus afraid of his daddy and still hung up on how mean the kids in the playground used to be.

Meh. I couldn't even begin to care.

The one good thing was the villain. That was one mean bastard and I was rooting for It to eat everyone up. Super evil and made creepier by the fact that it refers to It in the third person all the time. It is evil and creepy. It should have stomped them all.


This is barely a 2.5 out of 5.

This is the sequel to A Great and Terrible Beauty, which I read last month.

From Random House: (too lazy to type the flap)

Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy—spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Lord Denby. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify—visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain.

The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world that Gemma takes them to. To the girls' great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.

But all is not well in the realms—or out. Kartik is back, desperately insisting to Gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face-to-face with her late mother's greatest friend, now Gemma's foe—Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. . . .

is sumptuous companion to A Great and Terrible Beauty teems with Victorian thrills and chills that play out against the rich backdrop of 1895 London, a place of shadows and light . . . where inside great beauty can lie a rebel angel.

They call it on the book a companion to A Great and Terrible Beauty, but it really takes place 2 months after the events from the previous book, so I think it is better termed as a sequel. And there better be another sequel because I really enjoyed this book!

A lot happens in this novel. It is a bit longer than the first book, which I found great because it was more to enjoy. The same characters are present: Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are still attending Spence and dealing with being teenagers, as they are sixteen years old when this book takes place. They come from different lives and different backgrounds, which makes their interactions more interesting. Gemma lost her mother in the first book and her father is dealing with sustance abuse. Her grandmother wants what is best for her, but can be rather uptight, and her brother is rather shallow. Felicity's mother was in France for the first book, but is back around. We also meet her beloved father in this book, but looks can be deceiving. And then there is Ann, totally alone in the world and living on the charity of others. She begins to gain confidence in this book and really shine.

Pippa and Kartik are back. Pippa got left behind in the realms in book one, so she is a different character than she was in the first book. You are never really sure what to make of her, and what has happened to her really bothers Gemma. Kartrik is one of my favourite characters. Gemma is upper-class and can treat him rather badly, but I like him. I think he adds an interesting aspect to the books. In this one, Gemma has to figure out where he stands in her circle.

It was a very well-written book, that just grabbed you. I could not put it down after I get a bit of a ways into it, and when I did, I was thinking about when I would be able to read it again. I read most of it today while I should have been doing a million other things, but anyways. It was too good to put down. In the last book, Gemma had to destroy the things that held the magic in the realms, and now it is causing problems that she is the only one that can fix. It is really a novel where she has to figure out who she can trust, who her real friends are, and what she is truly capable of. All the girls begin to really grow up and find themselves in this book.

I think everyone that likes a good, slightly fantastic novel should read this book. It will hold you until the very last page.

For more information, go here: Random House.

5/5 (a rare thing from me for a young adult book, and no idea what I will do if I like book 3 even more!)

From Amazon:
"The servant girl Aeriel must choose between destroying her vampire master for his evil deeds or saving him for the sake of his beauty and the spark of goodness she has seen in him."

I would really appreciate it if someone would let me know what all the fuss is about regarding this book. I was very disappointed when I finally managed to finish this.

I do have to say that the plot is very intriguing. We have a darkangel who is also a vampire. He has taken up residence in an abandon castle and pretty much terrorizes the countryside by kidnapping beautiful maidens to be his brides. Did I mention this very bad amoral vampire has black wings and it's the most gorgeous creature to walk the Earth?

So you see now why I had to be all over this. Well, I should have read something else. The book started good enough. The archangel was evil and despicable enough for my liking. However, halfway through the book everything starts falling apart.

The more we get to see of the darkangel the more we learn he is nothing but a petulant child throwing temper tantrums to try and scare everyone. He is pretty much afraid of his brides simply because they are all hideous to look at. Well, he did suck them dry. He whines and pouts at the heroine and I, for the life of me, could not get the image of an English court dandy out of my head.

I still kept reading despite my apprehension thinking that it would all get better towards the end. I couldn't have been more off the mark. The entire conflict was solved in less than two seconds flat and in such a way that it left me wondering if we had any conflict to begin with. The book does leave the bigger problem of the darkangel's nasty mother and brothers open since this is only the first book of the series.

Honestly I couldn't care less what happens to any of them. This is one series I will not be going after.

A 2.5 out of 5.

Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery/Heroic

Mailyn says...

From Amazon:
"A young queen's life and a country's future lie in the balance as an exiled Pandion knight, a Styric "witch," an aging squire, and a mysterious child begin a long and arduous trek through foreign lands in search of an elusive cure for an unknown disease."

I was very excited to read this, my fist David Eddings book, for a while, as I've heard nothing but good things about the man and his writing. I must say I was disappointed. So much so that I didn't even finish it. I am planning to go back and read it at a later date but, having just finished that glorious book The Gilded Chain, I guess it's hard to get into this. Mr. Eddings' writing, judging from this book, is nothing to write home about.

He isn't as engaging or as good as painting his picture as Mr. Duncan is. Despite the interesting plot about an adventure to save a young queen and the kingdom, I found myself having to read sentences over and over as I just could not concentrate on the book.

For lack of a better word, it was just too plain. I do think it's unfair for me to judge one author against the other but I found Eddings' writing lacking. My breaking point was when the good guys were just about to engage the enemy in a battle that was setting up for some time and we get to see none of it.

One minute the good guys are yelling "charge" and the very next they are taking care of the dead and talking about how some of the bad guys got away.

I had to put the book down after that. The characters were not interesting and came off a bit childish at times. The plot and the action crawled and I honestly couldn't feel any danger to the main characters no matter how much they suggested that the villain was truly evil. Everything was either too simple or too complicated. One example would be the good guys needing to disguise themselves and, instead of resorting to magic which they all know, they actually find horse hair which they glue on to make a fake beard. They even paint scars on their faces, curl their hair and put on rouge [for one was trying to pass on as a noble].

I guess their magic is good for all sorts of powerful things but simple stuff like this is not possible?

As I said, I do plan to finish this off at a later date but, as it is, I can't give it no higher rating than a 3 out of 5.

This is amazing, I actually read books by the same author in the same month. Normally I can't do that, I like variety. But, I read Archangel earlier this month, and now I have just finished book two in the Samaria trilogy, Jovah's Angel. I am trying to decide if I should read another book by her, or wait until next month. If I read too much by one author, I tend to get bored. We will have to see.

From the back of the book:

In ARCHANGEL, Sharon Shinn introduced readers to a beautiful, distant future where the fate of a world rested in the voice of an angel. Her novel garnered widespread praise and added to her reputation as a daring, award-winning new voice.

Now Shinn returns to Samaria one hundred fifty years later, where great storms and floods sweep down upon the land. And even the splendid voices of the angels - raised in cannot reach the god Jovah...

You always run the risk with trilogies that book two is not as good as book one, but I found this story just as compelling as Archangel. By the end of the book, I didn't want the story to end, but at the same time, I wanted to know how it ended. I was sitting on the edge of my seat as I was finishing the last few pages.

When I wrote my review of the previous book I read of hers, it lead to a discussion of if you are not religious, will these books still be good for you. I have to say a very whole-hearted yes, especially now that I have read this one. They are more a novel questioning religion than confirming it. It is something that people go through all the time, trying to figure out what god really is and how they fit into the grand scheme of things. In this novel, the Angels are calling out to Jovah and for some reason he is unable to hear them, so they find they must try and figure out why. This results in angels and mortals alike testing their beliefs and trying to decide just what they believe in.

Alleluia is the archangel in this novel. She is the second best leader, though, because the previous archangel got her wing damaged in a storm, and lost her ability to fly. So, she is off trying to deal with the loss of her mobility, and don't worry, we see a lot of this, while Alleluia is attempting to take over the reins. Not intending to ever need to become the Archangel, it takes her quite some time to adjust to this new assignment. She also faces what Gabriel faced in Archangel; trying to find the man that Jovah wants her to marry and sing beside her at the Gloria (the big musical celebration of the unity of the people of Samaria).

This is a very interesting book, and a very interesting way to look at the effects of electricity on society and just what "god" really is. Then, there are lots of little stories in the bigger ones that are equally as interesting. Plus, it has been 150 years since we were on Samaria, so things have changed in some aspects. I must admit, I sort of wished that Gabriel and his angela were still alive. They were interesting characters, but that faded as I got into the novel. I strongly suggest this book.


The Genre

Fantasy, paranormal, necromancers, wizards, mystery, action, some romance

The Plot

From Amazon:
Nicholas Valiarde is both a nobleman and a thief, perhaps the greatest thief in the kingdom of Ile-Rien, where magic is a part of everyday life. Around him he has gathered an unparalleled band of criminals, including a well-known actress, an ex-military officer, a hardened killer, and a sorcerer with a bad drug habit. Valiarde, in the guise of criminal overlord Donatien, is amassing a small fortune in gold and jewels with one purpose in mind: to take his revenge on Count Montesq, the man who leveled false charges of necromancy against Nicholas's beloved godfather Edouard, leading to Edouard's execution. But Nicholas's band of ne'er-do-wells isn't the only force stalking the dark streets of Vienne, and Nicholas is about to face a real necromancer in a battle whose outcome will affect all of Ile-Rien.

The Review

This book is brilliant. There is almost nothing in it that I didn't like or that I skipped over. In fact, this may well just be one of my favorite books ever. Yes, it was that good.

First of all is the plot. It never got boring and it never stalled. From chapter one the ride takes off and it doesn't stop until the very end. As the book opens we find ourselves in one of the most lavished mansions where a ball is taking place. Unbeknownst to the attendants, not one but two robberies are occurring simultaneously in that very house. As luck would have it, Nicholas and his friends have a rather nasty run in with a ghoul sent by a powerful necromancer and they barely manage to escape.

From that moment on their lives are complicated beyond belief as they try to put their well thought out plan to bring down the ruthless man who is responsible for Nicholas father’s execution as well as trying to escape the clutches of the mad wizard who is after them.

The other thing I loved about this book were the characters. Nicholas is one of the most genuine heroes I’ve come across in a very long time. Ever since his father was executed he has spent his life building a double persona. One is of a respectable nobleman whom everyone knows as Nicholas Valiarde, son of the late scientist Edouard Viller. The other is Ile-Rien’s infamous underworld crime-lord Donatien. He is very adept at keeping the two personalities separated to everyone but his closest friends and allies: Madeleine and Reynard. Only they can see how his vendetta is slowly consuming him and the lines between his two personalities are beginning to blur.

Nicholas comes across effectively as a tortured hero without going over the top. His is a quiet manner yet you never have a doubt that he is anything but a doomed man because of his obsession with revenge. I loved the way that Wells portrays him. Not once does the author trying to convince you the man is tortured or that he is the very best at what he does overwhelm you. It’s there in the way he acts or thinks or the way others see him.

Another treat was Madeleine who quickly became one of my favorite heroines. The woman doesn’t have one TSTL moment. Ever. Not once does she make a rash and stupid decision. Not once does she falter and wait for everyone to come to her rescue because she got into trouble. She actually thinks before she acts, she is good under pressure and she doesn not doubt the Nicholas' abilities. At the same time you feel the love and the bond she shares with him even without having to read pages of the two declaring their love for one another. I thought this was one of the best things about the novel.

The secondary characters are all brilliant as well. From Nicholas opium addicted wizard friend to his seemingly debauched allied Reynard to even his bodyguards. They all fit their roles perfectly without fading in the background.

The villains are amazing as well. Wells doesn’t shy away from showing you just how evil these people really are and that’s what makes the danger to our heroes all the more believable.

The one thing I found somewhat lacking is the way in which one of the two villains meets his end. We are lead on a wild chase and the suspense builds up only to be over and done with in the blink of an eye. I would have liked to see exactly what happened but I was satisfied with the way the other, and more important villain, met his demise.

One last thing to note is the setting in which the story takes place. I am a sucker for steampunk type stories where the settings are reminiscence of Victorian, Edwardian or turn of the century Europe. Ile-Rien reminds you of an 18th century alternate France where wizards and magic are a common sight. I absolutely loved it and Wells does a helluva job painting each scene so vividly you feel you are practically there.

The Verdict

This book is damn near perfect and I dare say anyone that enjoys a good story will be glued to the book until the very end. A wonderful, wonderful ride.

I give it a solid 5 out of 5!

Kailana says...

This is one of the books that my mother bought for me in Ontario, and I must say, it was about time I got around to reading a Neil Gaiman novel. Well, one where he writes alone, I have read Good Omens which he wrote with Terry Pratchett.

From the back of the book:

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria - even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient walls that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, likes Fairie - where nothing, not even a falled star, is what he imagined.

I have to say it again: I really like fairy tale-type novels. I shouldn't, because a lot of them are sexist, but I read them as a fairy tale and not a reaction to society as a whole. They started out as oral tales and only by traveling from site to site did they ever manage to be written down. They were written down by men, typically the story tellers were men, and fairy tales are old, so instead of dreaming that they are more respectable of women, I read them with an open-mind. Besides, the fairy tales that are being written nowadays are moving away from the conventions of the classical fairy tale and more into a modern telling that better represents the times.

I look at Stardust as an adult fairy tale. Many adults think that fairy tales are children't stories, but they were originally written for adults, children just adopted them as their own. If you ignore the Disney retellings and concentrate on the original stories, you will find that there are a lot of dark fairy tales that would not be someone's first choice for children. So, if I am not going to market fairy tales for children, then I shouldn't market this novel for adults. Fairy tales should be open to all ages, because really, this book isn't any darker than some of the versions of say Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty that parents read to their children.

Anyways, this book was a very enjoyable read. It starts off as a tale about a boy that sets out to find the prize that will claim his one true love, but it ends up being a novel about a man finding his destiny and place in the world. All the fairy tale creatures are present. We have the evil witch, the helpful little person, the magic, and even the "wish upon a star" moments. Not a conventional star, though, by any means. The star represents different things to different people. It shows the magic of the world outside Wall, but at the same time it shows you that seeing is not always believing. And you shouldn't set yourself on one goal, because things can very easily change along the way.

There are so many wonderful elements to this book. It is a very short read, but the story is wonderful. I say again how glad I am that I finally took the time to read Neil Gaiman, I was not disappointed. Maybe next time I might read the two books I have by him for the R.I.P. challenge... You know what, I think I am going to consider substituting this with another book on my challenge list. It is a dark tale, I didn't know if it would be. If I read this and two other Gaiman novels, that only leaves two other books to read.


Mailyn says...

I have to say this book was a real treat and I honestly wasn't expecting it to be this good. I won't go into the story again as Kailana has already explained what this is about.

I will say that Gaiman is very good at weaving a tale that truly feels like the faerie tales of the olden days. This is like reading the original Grimm faerie tales right down to the violence and gore present in those famous tales.

Anyone that has ever read the Grimm brothers knows that Disney and today's versions don't come anywhere near the originals which where full of violence. You had people being boiled alive, body parts getting cut off and all sorts of other gore. This book pays homage to those tales and Gaiman doesn't shy away from showing you the harsher side of Fantasyland.

Nonetheless this doesn't take the reader out of the book or make you want to stop reading. The tale is extremely well told and all the pieces fit together nicely.

I do have to warn the reader that this is an adult faerie tale as there are sexual situations as well as violence. This is clearly not a bedtime story for the kids.

It is, however, one very entertaining and engaging reading for anyone who has ever loved a very good faerie tale.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5 as well.

General Supernatural/Fantasy:

Dance Chica Recommends:
Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong
The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling - Of course!
Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine

Kailana Recommends:
Daughter of Blood - Anne Bishop
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
The Skystone - Jack Whyte
Rhapsody - Elizabeth Haydon
The Hawk's Gray Feather - Patricia Kennealy
Lord of the Silver Bow - David Gemmell
The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
Good Omens - Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Moon Called - Patricia Briggs
The Fairy Godmother - Mercedes Lackey
Fire and Hemlock - Diana Wynne Jones
Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
Once Upon a Summer's Day - Dennis McKiernan

Mailyn Recommends:
The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop
The Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix
The Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling
Temeraire series by Naomi Novik
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - THIS should be a given. LOL.
The Death of a Necromancer by Martha Wells
Tithe by Holly Black
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart
Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan
The Malus Darkblade books by Dan Abnett
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke
The Naming by Alison Croggon
The Gilded Chain: A Tale of the King's Blade by Dave Duncan
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The Study series by Maria V Snyder

Nathalie Recommends:
FBI SCU series by Kay Hooper
Women of the Underworld by Kelley Armstrong
Through a Crimson Veil by Patti O'Shea
Dragonlance Saga by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Tiger's Eye by Marjorie Liu


Dance Chica Recommends:
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - This book is a must!
Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris
Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter by Laurell K. Hamilton - Only books 1-9. Do NOT pass go! Or in this case, do not pass book 9! The books deteriorate into a pile of poop after book 9. You have been warned!
Undead series by MaryJanice Davidson – Books 1 and 2 were fun reads. After book 2, however, the series starts to lose stream.
J. R. Ward – Black Dagger Brotherhood series - Loved books 1 and 2. Found book 3 somewhat disappointing...

Kailana Recommends:
Twilight - Stephanie Meyer

Mailyn Recommends:
Bram Stoker's Dracula - do I even have to mention this?! LOL
Robin McKinley's Sunshine
Stephenie Meyer's Twilight & New Moon
Douglas Clegg's Priest of Blood
The Rest Falls Away: Gardella Vampire Chronicles Book 1 by Collen Gleason

Nathalie Recommends:
Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon - yes, I do recommend this series. Some of these books are pretty entertaining.
Dark Lover by J.R.Ward

I mentioned this book in a previous post, as it was one of the books I received earlier this week as a gift. I have been trying to read David Gemmell for a while because he really is a very well-written author, and so far I have really enjoyed reading books by him. Ghost King is the first in the Stones of Power duology.

From the back of the book:

Rebellion and invasion have plunged Britannia into the Dark Ages. Chaos and terror stalk the land, the King slain by traitors, the great Sword of Power vanished beyond the Circle of Mist. Saxons, Angles, Jutes and Brigante tribesmen mass together to destroy the realm, aided by the powers of the Witch Queen and the Lord of the Undead. Against them stands a weakling boy, and an old mountain warrior. But the boy has the blood of kings, and the warrior is Culain, the legendary Lord of the Lance. And he alone knows the dread secret of the Witch Queen.

I read this book because a friend of mine suggested it to me. I was just finishing up his Troy book that I read last month, and talking about how I would like to read more by him. That was when she told me about this duology. She knows I really like Arthurian retellings, and that is what this is. With that knowledge in hand, I bought the two books to further add to the Arthurian novels I have read.

Anyways, I must point out, that I spent the book looking for Arthur. Good thing to note, he is not alive yet, this is a story about the generation that came before him. I assume he enters the novel in the next book. Merlin is in the novel, but his name is spelled differently, so I just assumed that the main character was Arthur with a different name. I was wrong, which became clearer as the book goes on. It takes a different spin on the Arthurian legends, makes Merlin's character even more interesting and then add in Culain, who add a different touch to the novel, and you have a very interesting spin on the legend.

I really enjoyed this relatively short novel. So many Arthurian tales concentrate on Arthur, it is always good to see the focus change a bit. It also sets up book two very well, at least for me, who was looking for Arthur through the whole novel. And if Arthur doesn't show up in book two, it is still a worthwhile read. I must point that while the main female character in here has her failings, she is a much stronger character than Guinevere can be written as. When the men go to war, she is right there with them instead of home praying. Guinevere has her strong points, but I liked the character in this book better.

This is an adventure story that will have you wondering what will be happening next.


I first tried to read Outlander a couple years ago, and I found that for whatever reason I couldn't get into it. Then, people started talking about it all around me these last few months, so I decided to give it another go. I couldn't find my copy of it at first, so I had to borrow from my friend, but I have read it now. I don't know what was wrong with me last time I tried because I loved it this time around!

From the back of the book:

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon - when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is Sassenach - an "outlander"- in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord... 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life... and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire... and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

The novel starts out rather dull, so I can understand why I didn't like it the first time through. The man that Claire has married in 1945 is rather addicted to history, and gets so wrapped up in that there is very little action until Claire touches the stones that send her back into history. I must be honest, I like fantasy, so time-travel is not all that strange to me. It was the idea of time travel in a historical fiction novel that always makes me a little leery. The truth is, though, I think that the way that Gabaldon sends Claire back into time is believable because she uses something that people today do not understand. The rocks that stand, like Stonehenge, are a archealogical mystery, so who is to say if you are not standing there at a certain time during the year that you will not be sent back in time. Stranger things can happen.

When Claire goes back in time, she is obviously not sure what is going on around her. One minute she was picking an interesting flower, and the next time men in ancient uniforms are running around her. She is not dressed properly for the times, and the first people she runs into are the British army, specifically a man by the name of Jack Randall, her husbands many great, grandfather. A man that her husband respects and looks up to because history has painted a wonderful picture of him. We quickly learn, though, that history does not always tell the whole story. Jack Randall is a brute who is bent on anger and injury. He shows up many times throughout the novel, and never once does he show the sunny picture that Claire's husband painted him as.

Who would have imagined what would have happened if she had been left with this heartless man, but when Randall thought he had her a man comes out of now where and whisks her off on another adventure. These are Scottish men, men that Claire finds herself connected to for the time being. She shows them that she is not a hopeless woman when she saves one of their injured, James Fraser. It is nothing at the time, but before the novels end, James (Jamie) will become an important part of the novel. You see, Randall is not finished with Claire, and in an attempt to save her, a member of the MacKenzie clan sees to that she marries a Scottish man so that she does not fall under the category as being a English woman, and thus at Randall's beck and call. This Scottish man is none other than Jamie Randall.

This marriage opens interesting circumstances for the young heroine because she is determined to return to her own time, so how can she marry this Jamie person when her heart belongs to another man in another time. In the end, though, she values her life more than worrying about infidelity. This begins a whole new chapter in her life because this strange, young Scottish man genuinely loves her and she finds feelings for him developing. So, when the choice is presented to her that she go back to 1945 or stay here with him, she has a difficult choice to make.

As your read this novel you can really imagine that you are living in the 1700's, the picture that Gabaldon paints through Claire's eyes is that clear. You get to witness the clan fights, see deep dark secrets about history played out, and understand what it is like to go from having a comfortable existence to going back to a time where many modern (for 1945) luxuries do not exist. Gabaldon will have you hooked as you get going, and you will not want to stop experiencing this English woman's adventures through time with her young Scottish love.


I just finished my first Terry Patchett novel today! I am surprised that I had not read him before, but a web forum I go to suggested him, so I thought I would try him out. I chose Monstrous Regiment because on the back of the book it says: "Polly Perks had to become a boy in a hurry. Cutting off her hair and wearing trousers was easy. Learning to fart and belch in public and walk like an ape took more time..." I thought that sounded funny, so I had to see what was going on. The problem with this novel is that there is a secret, and if I tell you what the secret is, it ruins the book. So, I have to do the best I can without revealing it.

The main character, and one of the strongest characters of the novel, is Polly. Her brother has gone missing while away fighting in one of the wars that is always raging in their world. In order to do this, she must first become a man in order to enlist in the army. She is living in a time when women were not able to do very many things, so being a man was the only way to go anywhere. Polly's quest for her brother, is of course important to the novel, but you soon learn that it is not central. What is central is the quest for her to understand that being a female means nothing, it is what she does as one that is important and she can be as good as or better as any man, any day. I liked that quality to the story.

My other favourite part of this book is why they are called The Monstrous Regiment. This is because while there are humans on their team, there is also a troll, a vampire, and an igor. Not to mention you meet a zombie servant and a werewolf sergeant. It has by far the most diverse cast of characters of most books I have read this year.

All in all, this novel teaches its readers what it is to be female and shows that in the most unbelievable odds they can come out in the end and be the best that they can be. If this doesn't tempt you, read it and find out what the "secret" is. You will be glad you did. :) At the same time, though, it was written by a male... so the lessons are not as big as what you might get from a female author!

I give this book a 5/5. Can't wait to read more books by him!
And I know it is a man, why I keep saying "she" is beyond me!

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Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with books. Early photos show me with a book in hand, even if it was not exactly my reading level... My first word was a made-up word meaning 'book', actually. I suppose I had my priorities at an early age... Over the years my interest in books has become one of the defining features of who I am as a person. You can probably call me a bookworm. While I have other interests, reading will always be the one I talk about the most, even if I am not focusing on it as much as I used to.



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