Monthly Archives: June 2012

BETRAYED by Ednah Walters – Blog Tour, Review, Giveaways & Extras!

This post is packed with information on Ednah Walters and her most recent release, Betrayed, so get yourself an ice tea and a snack and kick back and read on.  I am happy to be a part of Ednah’s blog tour, and a proud member of Team Fire! First up, my review of the book, but don’t stop there. Following the review is more fun stuff.

Betrayed is the second book in the Guardian Legacy, and although I have not read the first one, Awakened, I was immediately drawn into Walter’s world of Lil and her demon hunting friends Sykes, Remy and Bran. Lil is a Nephilim and has the gift of “psi” energy which allows her to not only control people and objects, but to wield the Kris Dagger, the Nephilim’s most sacred weapon. The action starts right off the bat as Lil, Sykes and Remy avert a terrible car accident by using their powers, and risk getting caught by human witnesses. This scene not only introduces the main characters but gives valuable back story information to those who have not read Awakened.

The Cardinal Guardians (as they are called) have been called to an office building to fight demons, when Lil runs into a child demon who tells her about “the list.” This list holds great importance, and contains the names of people who have sold their souls. Gaining possession of the list will determine the victor in the battle between good and evil, and is the main focus of the action in Betrayed.

One of the characters searching for this elusive list is Lil’s demon father Valafar, an evil man who wants to destroy the Guardians and become ruler of the demon world. But Lil’s boyfriend and soul mate Bran, who used to be a demon himself and is now a Guardian, also wants the list so that he can free the souls and avoid going back to the demons himself. Something is happening to Bran, however; he is starting to lose the feathers on his beautiful wings, a fact he tries to keep from Lil. Losing his feathers could mean he’s turning back into a demon, and the best way to avoid that is to find the list himself.

But of course things don’t go as planned, and there are lots of twists and turns to navigate before the reader comes to the exciting conclusion. Walters packs her story with lots of characters, both good and evil, and she is very good at creating complex relationships between them. Bran and Lil, who got together in Awakened and can read each other’s emotions, are experiencing growing pains as they work on trusting each other. Bran does not want Lil to know about his wings, and he distances himself from her in order to keep his secret. But when Lil does find out, the sparks fly, and not in a good way. The couple manages to work out their issues eventually, but not without some tension. Lil’s other friends are well-drawn and serve as a support system for her dangerous life, including a human friend named Kylie.

Walters’ dialog is excellent, and was one of my favorite parts of reading the book. She has a wonderful feel for characterization, and she knows how to pace a story and write exciting action sequences. My only complaint is the way she tried to catch up the reader on the events in the first book. Most of the time these sections were seamless and flowed with the rest of the story. But on occasion they stuck out as being too obvious. Knowing that not everyone will have read the first book in the series means the author has to give some back story, and it’s a tricky thing to do. In Betrayed, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.

Overall, this was a fun and exciting story that did a good job with the demon/nephilim mythos. I was often reminded of the television shows Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that is not a bad thing. Kudos to Ednah Walters for her solid writing and story-telling skills in the very precarious world of independent publishing.

Many thanks to the author for providing a review copy.

CHARACTER PROFILE FROM BETRAYED – IZZY

On this stop of Ednah’s tour, you get a chance to learn more about one of the characters in Betrayed, Izzy, who is a Cardinal Guardian and friends with Lil. This photo is an example of how Ednah would imagine Izzy to be if there were a movie version of Betrayed! That’s one of the perks of being a writer; you can imagine your characters to be whatever you want. I think she picked a great Izzy. Here’s what Ednah says about Izzy:

CHARACTER PROFILE: ISADORA “IZZY”

Race: Nephilim

Age: 18

Birthday: July 21st

Zodiac sign: Cancer

Grade: 12th

GPA: 4.0

Favorite Song: “S.O.S.” by Rihanna

Power: Time

Background: Nephilim with the ability to manipulate Time are rare.  Not only do they stop time, but must speed it up to stabilize time. They can also move forward and backward in time. This usually drains their powers and most try to avoid time hopping.

Izzy is a first generation Cardinal, meaning she is the first person in her family to become a Guardian. As a result, she tends to be wary of breaking Cardinals rules. She is rarely judgmental and finds humor in the oddest things. She is compassionate and will look at things from someone else’s point of view, not just hers. She also makes friends easily.

Izzy comes from a family of five. She has a younger sister and an older brother. She is very close to her family and had a hard time adjusting to life on earth. Like Kim, Izzy grew up in Xenith, the Guardian world before she moved to earth.

Izzy loves to party and dance, something she shares with Kim. She is very versatile and has eclectic taste in fashion. In fact, she tends to dress according to her mood, from preppy to boho chic—meaning she could rock Gypsy-inspired styles like Lil’s one day and the next day wears blazers and a skirt complete with a tie. She also tends to have a wide range of hairstyles. Her attitude makes her respect other people’s style.

With her brown complexion and curly hair, five-seven athletic body and brown eyes, Izzy is gorgeous, though she doesn’t capitalize on it. She had a boyfriend throughout high school, whom she has stayed faithful to even after he left for college.

Casting Call: As usual I will leave it to readers to decide what Izzy looks like to them. So if I were to cast her, I’d use Megalyn Echikunwoke.

GIVEAWAY!!! Finally, your chance to win some cool stuff. Unfortunately, WordPress will not allow me to put the cool Rafflecopter entry form on this blog, so I will be directing you to Ednah Walters’ website where you can enter. You have lots of chances, just follow the instructions. You can even follow this blog, Books, Bones & Buffy if you aren’t already, and get an extra chance to win! Some of the prizes you can win are copies of Betrayed, t-shirts, and even a Kindle Fire!

Just click here to go to the Rafflecopter form.

The Betrayed Blog Tour goes through July 11th, and there’s a different tour stop every day. Click here to see the list of blogs participating.

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Waiting on Wednesday #13 – TEAM HUMAN by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it was created for bloggers to share with each other the books they are impatiently “waiting on.” This week I’ve found a book that you won’t have to wait long for. It’s coming out next week!

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan comes out July 3, 2012 from Harper Teen. Team Human looks like a parody of the Twilight books, but I believe it’s got a lot more going for it. Don’t you love the title? Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Just because Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, doesn’t mean she knows any of the blood-drinking undead personally. They stay in their part of town; she says in hers. Until the day a vampire shows up at her high school. Worse yet, her best friend, Cathy, seems to be falling in love with him. It’s up to Mel to save Cathy from a mistake she might regret for all eternity

On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants it or not), Mel is investigating a mysterious disappearance for another friend and discovering the attractions of a certain vampire wannabe. Combine all this with a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and touching.

Acclaimed authors Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan team up to create a witty and poignant story of cool vampires, warm friendships, and the changes that test the bonds of love.

I’m dying to read this. It’s one of those books that has received reviews all over the map, so I’m curious to learn the truth. And I promise to report back!

What are you waiting on?

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THE ACCORDO by Roberta L. Smith – Review

Roberta L. Smith is not only a talented writer, but she is the sister of one of my best friends. So when she asked me to read and review her latest book, I jumped at the chance.  She has three books under her belt, all featuring gruff but loveable Mickey McCoy, a psychic who can see ghosts and often has prescient dreams. The Accordo is Mickey’s latest adventure, and if you like your ghost stories scary and your characters quirky, you’ll love this book.

Mickey’s adventure starts with a dream in Italian, and although he can’t understand the words, he knows something is up, because occurrences like this always have meaning in Mickey’s world. Shortly after, he receives a strange phone call from a mystery gentleman urging him to come to Los Angeles in order to prevent a murder. Knowing these two events are somehow connected, Mickey hops on a plane and is soon investigating the location of the supposed murder, the Brahms Museum. In Gallery 17, he is drawn to the self-portrait of a Renaissance artist named Lavinia Zanetti, where he senses a paranormal presence. As Mickey observes the portrait and the other visitors in the museum, he notices that the woman in the portrait seems to change expressions and somehow causes men’s thumbs to throb with pain if they stand too close. Mickey has found his ghost, and so begins his investigation into the tangled and horrible history of Lavinia and her lover Agostino.

When a local ghost-hunting operation called Paranormal Seekers Society gets a tip that a ghost might be present at the museum, ghost-hunters Dennis and his wife Kelly stake out Gallery 17, despite the fact that Mickey has had a premonition that Dennis will die if he goes to the Brahms. After Dennis is attacked in the gallery and his clothes destroyed by knife slashes (he wisely wore body armor after Mickey tried to stop him from going), Mickey determines that this is no ordinary ghost, but one who can wield a weapon and kill.

Mickey’s probing turns up some interesting facts about Lavinia’s portrait. The companion portrait of her lover Agostino, which was supposed to be hanging next to Lavinia’s in the Brahms Museum, has gone missing, and without Agostino’s calming energy, Lavinia is free to kill. At first Mickey tries to find Agostino’s painting and reunite it with Lavinia, but he discovers something chilling: a book called the Accordo gives Lavinia and Agostino the power of immortality.

When Mickey’s wife Marjorie decides to join him in Los Angeles and help with the case, things get worse, and Marjorie is in danger of falling prey to Lavinia. Mickey must do everything in his power to destroy the painting and the Accordo and save Marjorie before it’s too late. Along the way he gets help from several ghosts, as well as a haunted GPS, but as expected, things do not always go smoothly. Smith takes the reader on quite the rollercoaster ride before the story is over, and there is never a shortage of interesting characters or twisty plot turns.

The Accordo is intricately plotted and carefully researched. Roberta actually based the character of Lavinia on a real-life Renaissance artist named Artemisia Gentileschi, and these authentic details add another layer to an already packed story.  The characters and their relationships with each other are particularly engaging. I loved the relationship between Mickey and Marjorie. They clearly love each other and are willing to go to any lengths to keep the other safe and happy. But it is the ghostly characters that I found the most intriguing. Although Lavinia is a truly evil and vile creature, the author manages to give her a horrific back-story that may evoke compassion from the reader. One of my favorite characters was another slightly unpleasant ghost named Avery, the dead daughter of the woman who owned the two paintings, and who has a complicated story all her own.

And I’ve barely scratched the surface on the cast of characters and subplots that figure in the final showdown between Mickey and Lavinia. Smith does a wonderful job keeping all of them straight and navigating her intricate plot, while infusing her story with terrifying and ghostly events alongside some remarkable emotionally charged moments. Although I won’t reveal the ending, I can tell you it was brilliant. Smith has a true gift for story-telling, and I’ll be anxious to read her next book.

Many thanks to the author for supplying a review copy.

You can purchase The Accordo here and visit Roberta’s website here.

Want more of Mickey McCoy’s spooky adventures?

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Waiting on Wednesday #12 – OUTPOST by Ann Aguirre

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers can feature upcoming books they’re looking forward to. My book this week is:

Outpost by Ann Aguirre. Release date: September 4 2012, Feiwel & Friends. I haven’t yet read the first book in Ann’s Razorland series, Enclave, but it’s been on my radar, and now that the second book is on the horizon, I’m planning on catching up. These books have seen comparisons to The Hunger Games for their post-apocalyptic themes, but the stories look quite different. Here’s the description of Outpost from Goodreads:

Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.

I’d love to hear from anyone’s who’s read Enclave. Was it good? What books are you waiting on?

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Tammy’s Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR List

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, one of my favorite blog events to participate in. It’s been almost a month since my last Top Ten list, so I’m excited this week’s theme is fairly easy (sometimes the themes just don’t resonate with me, so I skip them).  But there are so many great books coming out this summer, it was actually difficult to narrow it down to ten. Here they are, in order of release date:

Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson. Released June 6th. This book is already out. Just look at the gorgeous cover! The story takes place 200 years in the future, and combines elements of Greek mythology and tales of the aboriginal peoples. Sixteen-year-old Cassandra is immune to the plague, but people are after her blood since it has mystical properties. It’s received some awesome reviews on Goodreads, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

The Taken by Vicki Pettersson. Released June 12th. Here’s another book that’s already hit the shelves. I’ve mentioned it before in another post and I’m still excited to read it. How’s this for a blurb: “He’s a fallen angel. She’s a rockabilly reporter. Together they must solve a deadly string of murders plaguing the mortal and the immortal worlds.” (Goodreads) I don’t care how many books are out there that involve humans and immortals, I’m still not tired of them!

Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan. Release date: June 26th. I love Glen Duncan. I loved the first book in this series, The Last Werewolf (you can read that review here.) I don’t want to say too much about the plot because anything I say really will spoil it if you are planning on reading The Last Werewolf. Let’s just say it’s about werewolves and some nasty things are bound to happen. Plus, Duncan’s writing is luminous and incredibly beautiful, and it’s worth reading for that alone.

Gold by Chris Cleave. Release date: July 3rd. Do I need to mention again how much I love Chris Cleave? That his writing fills me with awe? That his story ideas are so creative, horrible, amazing, heart-wrenching and ultimately satisfying? Gold will surely be all of those things. This time he’s written about the Olympics and two women competing for a spot on the British Olympic team. But it’s not just about that. Cleave’s stories have so many layers, and his characters’ voices are so unique, that I hope you give him a chance, if you haven’t already.

God Save the Queen by Kate Locke. Release date: July 3rd. First of all, I love the cover. The story is set in an alternate universe England in the year 2012. Queen Victoria is undead, and all manner of paranormal creatures roam the streets. Our heroine Xandra is a member of the Royal Guard, and when her sister goes missing, she sets out to find her.  Seems like a fantastic combo of urban fantasy and steampunk!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. Release date: July 3rd. Lots of books coming out July 3rd! Maybe because of the holiday…Tiger Lily is the story of Tiger Lily from, you guessed it, Peter Pan, told from her point of view. It begins before Wendy comes to Neverland, when Tiger Lily falls in love with Peter. But when Wendy shows up, everything changes. I love stories that give you another perspective on a classic, and this one not only sounds fantastic, but has received some very good reviews.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. Release date: July 10th. I’ve been waiting for this follow-up since I read the last page of A Discovery of Witches.  The love story of a witch and a vampire, A Discovery of Witches was so unique and concluded with a cliffhanger ending. Second books in trilogies are often disappointing, but this one has seen some good reviews, so I’m hoping for the best!

Auracle by Gina Rosati. Release date: August 7th. Sixteen-year-old Anna can astrally project out of her body. That’s a concept for a novel you don’t run across very often.  She becomes trapped when a classmate takes over her body, and she must rely on her friend Rei to help her get back. Love the cover, and love the idea.

The Black Isle by Sandi Tan. Release date: August 7th.  Another book I’ve mentioned before, The Black Isle is a Chinese ghost story about a girl named Cassandra who can see ghosts. It has lots of historical elements and takes place from the 1920’s to WWII. It looks like a combination of real-life places and events mixed with the paranormal. I believe this is Tan’s first book.

Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady. Release date: August 7th. It’s hard to tell from the book cover that this is actually a paranormal romance novel. It’s the first in a series, and is the story of a nurse named Kayla Friday who is trying to unravel the secret of her sister’s death. Along the way she runs into a sexy werewolf. Bad things ensue. Does love win out? Probably not in the first book.  This cover says neither “werewolf” nor “romance” to me, but who knows?

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In My Mailbox #13

Welcome to Lucky 13 In My Mailbox, hosted by The Story Siren! I was *lucky* enough to receive two books for review this week, so here we go!

The Jesuit Papers by A.B. Fowler.  Now available.  Wow, this sounds so good. It’s a mix of adventure, history, archaeology, romance and mystery, and it also won an Honorable Mention from the Los Angeles Book Festival.  A.B. Fowler is a friend of Roberta L. Smith, whose The Accordo I just happen to be reading right now. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Will the world end on December 21, 2012, as the Mayan Calendar predicts? Linguistic scholar, Kat Hamilton, doesn’t know. But her father, a world-renowned archaeologist and Mayan expert, believes an ancient underground civilization hidden deep beneath the South American jungles holds the key; he summons Kat to help him. When she arrives in Asunción, Paraguay, Kat must accompany Nick Ramsey to La Quinta–his vast empire in the heart of the jungle—to translate an encoded Latin journal, The Jesuit Papers. The task proves harder than anticipated, and living at La Quinta holds perils of its own, not the least of which is Kat’s growing attraction to Nick. Before it’s over, she is kidnapped by treasure seekers and taken into the deep recesses of the Upper Chaco, where she is beset by vampire bats, insects, and Toba Indians—a tribe of flesh-eating cannibals. But what else could one expect from the region of forest and swampland that Paraguayan natives call Green Hell?

The Messiah Matrix by Kenneth John Atchity. Now available. I recently reviewed Seven Ways to Die by William Diehl and Kenneth John Atchity, and loved it. (You can read my review here.) Atchity’s latest sounds terrific and has been compared to The DaVinci Code. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

To what lengths would the Vatican go to suppress the secret origins of its power?

The Messiah Matrix is a myth-shattering thriller whose protagonists delve into the secrets of the past—and expose those who hide them still.

A renowned scholar-monsignor is killed in a mysterious hit-and-run in Rome. A Roman coin is recovered from a wreck off the coast of ancient Judea. It’s up to his young American protégé–a Jesuit priest–and a vivacious, brilliant archaeologist to connect these seemingly disparate events and unravel the tapestry that conceals in plain view the greatest mystery in the ecclesiastical world.

Together they pursue their passion for truth—while fighting to control their passion for each other.

What they uncover is an ancient Roman imperial stratagem so controversial the Curia fears it could undermine the very foundations of the Roman Catholic faith.

From the ancient port of Caesarea to Rome’s legendary catacombs and the sacred caves of Cumae, this contemporary novel follows their exhilarating quest to uncover the truth about the historical existence of the real “Christian Savior.”

The Messiah Matrix may prove to be one of the most thought-provoking
books ever written.

Classical scholar and Yale Ph.D. Dr. Kenneth John Atchity is the only author alive today capable of creating this literary and historically-based masterpiece.

Those are some bold statements! Don’t you want to read it to see if they’re true?

What’s in your mailbox this week?

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THE DESTROYED by Brett Battles – Review

One of Battle’s most popular characters is at it again, the intrepid and satisfyingly complicated Jonathan Quinn, cleaner extraordinaire. This is the sixth Jonathan Quinn novel, and they just keep getting better and better.  The Destroyed may be my favorite of Brett’s books to date, as it combines highly entertaining and suspenseful action with truly interesting and human characters. Add a healthy dose of unexpected humor and you have a successful combination that should please just about any reader.

Since the demise of a close friend in the last book (The Silenced), Quinn has been living a peaceful and introspective life in Thailand and distancing himself from his highly dangerous job as a cleaner. But when a girl from the past resurfaces and once again becomes the target of a powerful group of people, Quinn realizes he has no choice but to get back in the game and help her out. Mila Voss was a courier six years ago when she witnessed and video-taped something she wasn’t supposed to see, and soon after was scheduled to be eliminated. As luck would have it, Quinn was assigned to do her clean-up, and when he is told the name of the target before the job goes down and realizes who it is, he sets up an elaborate and dangerous plot to save Mila, fake her death, and change her identity so she can live out the rest of her life free of danger. In alternating flashback scenes the reader is slowly given the details of her rescue, after which Quinn grimly informs her that the life she knew is now over.  If she ever comes out of hiding she’ll risk everything Quinn did to help her.  But six years later Mila discovers something about one of the men who wanted her dead, and she can’t stay hidden any longer.

Nate, Quinn’s diligent apprentice, who has been carrying on Quinn’s work and even using his name, arrives unannounced in Thailand to ask Quinn to help track down Mila, who has been spotted alive on a video camera in Tanzania. Joined by Quinn’s Thai friend Daeng, the three begin their mission to locate and save Mila in what turns out to be a globe-hopping cat-and-mouse game of epic proportions.  Quinn’s sometime-girlfriend Orlando also shows up to help, and even Quinn’s former boss Peter, from The Office (if you’ve read the other Quinn books you’ll understand that reference), makes an appearance. There are twists and turns galore as the Quinn and the gang hatch a complicated scheme to bring down the men who would kill Mila, and save another innocent in the process.

Battles tempers the many exciting action scenes with some real in-depth character development and shows us the underlying emotional relationships between Quinn and Nate, Quinn and Orlando, and Mila and her erstwhile love Julien, described in flashbacks.  We even see a burgeoning friendship begin to develop between Nate and Daeng, whose first meeting is rocky. Quinn is still the best drawn character, in my opinion, and Battles lets him grown and change with each book, which is one sign of a good writer. All the characters in Quinn’s world make the occasional mistake and remind us that even spies are human. I also found The Destroyed to have the most humor of the Quinn books.  There were many memorable lines and lots of bantering between characters, especially Quinn and Orlando, whose relationship is anything but smooth sailing.

Battles switches back and forth from the past to the present in order to paint the entire picture of Mila’s near-assassination and what exactly it was that she saw that landed her in so much trouble. The device of slowly doling out information to the reader works well, and although it was sometimes frustrating to have the characters talking to each other on the phone without sharing their plans, it made for a tension-filled story that makes the reader want to keep reading.

You don’t need to read the other Quinn books first to appreciate the great story-telling in The Destroyed, but if you haven’t read them, you’ll want to go back and catch up after finishing this one. Although I won’t reveal the ending here, I will tell you that Nate and Daeng will hopefully be major players in Quinn’s next chapter. The last lines of the story are perfect, yet another reason Battles is at the top of his game.

Many thanks to the author for providing a review copy.

You can purchase The Destroyed here.

Add The Destroyed to your Goodreads books here.

More Brett Battles reviews:

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Waiting on Wednesday #11 – THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.  Wednesday is always an easy post day for me! There is never a shortage of upcoming books that I’m dying to get my hands on, and this week is no exception.

The Diviners by Libba Bray. Release date: September 18 2012. Wow, I love Libba Bray! She is über-creative and a fantastic writer too! And check out the cover of her new book. It takes place in New York City in the 1920’s, and I think the cover does a great job of evoking the time period and subject matter of the book. Here’s what Goodreads says:

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

Sounds like fun! I’d love to hear what everyone else is waiting on!

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In My Mailbox #12

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. This week I purchased one book and received a review book in the mail.

Canada by Richard Ford. Now available.  I love Richard Ford, although I have to admit I have not read a Richard Ford book in many years. If you have not read The Sportswriter and Independence Day, please consider putting them on your to-be-read list.  Canada sounds so good, and I can’t wait to crack it open. Here’s the story description from Goodreads:

“First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.”

When fifteen-year-old Dell Parsons’ parents rob a bank, his sense of normal life is forever altered. In an instant, this private cataclysm drives his life into before and after, a threshold that can never be uncrossed.

His parents’ arrest and imprisonment mean a threatening and uncertain future for Dell and his twin sister, Berner. Willful and burning with resentment, Berner flees their home in Montana, abandoning her brother and her life. But Dell is not completely alone. A family friend intervenes, spiriting him across the Canadian border, in hopes of delivering him to a better life. There, afloat on the prairie of Saskatchewan, Dell is taken in by Arthur Remlinger, an enigmatic and charismatic American whose cool reserve masks a dark and violent nature.

Undone by the calamity of his parents’ robbery and arrest, Dell struggles under the vast prairie sky to remake himself and define the adults he thought he knew. But his search for grace and peace only moves him nearer to a harrowing and murderous collision with Remlinger, an elemental force of darkness.

A true masterwork of haunting and spectacular vision from one of our greatest writers, Canada is a profound novel of boundaries traversed, innocence lost and reconciled, and the mysterious and consoling bonds of family. Told in spare, elegant prose, both resonant and luminous, it is destined to become a classic.

Shadows of the Past by E. A. Jensen. Now available. The author sent me a copy for review, and I immediately fell in love with the evocative cover. For an independently published book, this cover is top notch! Here’s the story description from the back cover of the book:

For five years, Kirsa Heinrich has tried to leave her past behind. Yet in a blink of an eye it all comes back to haunt her. A call from her old boss informs her that a series of heinous murders has occurred in her hometown. Each victim is protected under the Paranormal Laws, each one killed in a different manner. At each scene a cryptic message is left for Kirsa. Now Kirsa has to face her own past in order to solve the crimes. Ayden O’Brian is a member of an elite group of Vampires that work for the Vampire Council. He has been handed a case that hints at a traitor in their midst, one who is giving secrets to their biggest enemy. When the information that is being leaked pertains to Kirsa and her family’s connection to council, Ayden is sent to New Jersey to help Kirsa solve the case. Together they will unlock a long hidden secret about Kirsa’s family and an old war between vampires. For within the past, they will discover the secret to the traitor and person responsible for the killings.

Happy reading everyone!

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THE RECKONING – by Alma Katsu – Review

(Caution: This review contains spoilers for The Taker, the first book in The Taker Trilogy)

Alma Katsu is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I loved her first book, The Taker (you can read my review here), and I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader’s copy of the second book in the trilogy, The Reckoning, which will be released on June 19. Both books are filled with lush and descriptive writing, historical details, and a delightfully agonizing tension that makes them worthy of the description “page turner.” But at the core of the story are Katsu’s characters, enormously flawed individuals that the reader wants to root for, kill or sleep with, often all at the same time.

The Reckoning picks up soon after the ending of The Taker. Our heroine Lanore, who was made immortal by the charismatic and dangerous Adair in The Taker, and then managed to imprison him in the concrete walls of his own mansion, has run away with Luke, the doctor who helped her escape the police after she killed her true love Jonathan.  Lanny and Luke are in London visiting the Victoria and Albert museum, where Lanny has anonymously donated her precious collection of objects d’art acquired from her travels over the past two hundred years. By giving away hundreds of objects, she is attempting to distance herself from the past and move on from the devastating loss of Jonathan.  But her peace is short-lived. While gazing at her objects behind the museum glass, Lanny feels a terrible and long-forgotten sensation, the tingling approach of a headache that could only mean one thing: Adair has escaped, and will certainly be looking for her to exact revenge.

In alternating chapters, Katsu goes back and forth between Lanny, who manages to ditch Luke while trying to stay one step ahead of Adair, to the monster himself, released from his prison by happenstance and thrust into the modern world without a clue about how to survive in it. Of one thing he is certain, however. Lanny must pay for her treachery no matter how long it takes to find her, and so he uses his powerful connection to the members of his immortal “family” to track down Jude, another immortal who has used his freedom from Adair to build a comfortable life for himself. Jude is shocked to see Adair on his doorstep, but reluctantly agrees to help him adapt to modern life and find Lanny. As Jude searches the internet for clues to Lanny’s whereabouts, the two discover the truth about Jonathan’s death.  Adair is sure that Jonathan is the key to locating Lanny, and so he sets out to find his burial-place and attempt to resurrect him from the dead, using his book of magical “recipes” that also contains the secret to immortality. Jonathan does indeed rise from the dead, but he is fundamentally damaged, and to Adair’s dismay, has no lingering respect for or fear of Adair. He tells Adair that he has met “the Queen of the Underworld,” a character that I’m hoping makes an appearance in book three.

As Adair gets closer to tracking down Lanny, she herself has made contact with friends from the past that can help her hide from Adair. But fate is cruel, and from this point on the story is a dizzying game of cat-and-mouse as Lanny realizes she cannot outrun her past. Katsu is brilliant at pacing her story and dropping bits of information about the characters’ pasts in just the right spots to spark the reader’s imagination, but she’s very careful not to give away too much. She takes us from the past to the present and back again, weaving together a story that spans centuries. The characters themselves go through many changes throughout the course of the story. Adair especially surprised me when his cruelty and power over the other characters became something else by the end of the book.  Katsu also digs deeper into some of the lesser characters from The Taker, and we discover that Adair is not the only immortal with cruel intentions. But all of the characters seem to have one thing in common: they are all capable of lies and deceit, and the reader is never really sure who to trust.

The Reckoning never loses momentum and unlike many “middle” books, it was even better than The Taker, if that’s possible.  The writing is gorgeous and almost visceral, and there was more than one occasion when I marked a lovely passage to go back again read again.  Katsu ends the book in a highly satisfying way, but wisely leaves many questions unanswered that she will most likely address in the final installment. A heady mix of intrigue, cruelty, betrayal and enduring love, The Reckoning will leave you breathless and impatient for more.

Many thanks to the author and publisher for supplying a review copy.

You can purchase The Reckoning here and visit Alma’s website here.

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