June 27, 2011

Guest Post with Chris Finkelstein

About the Author:

Chris M. Finkelstein was born in the woods and raised by Christian wolves that had become secular Jews by two thousand years of refinement, the first half quite dark.

Bloor for Love
Author: Chris M. Finklestein
Publisher: Crave Books
ISBN:  9781452477091
Purchase information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
This is the story of the life of Jan, a gifted male D’otian living on a violent, predatory planet. His mother Martha is part of a love-preservation network, outlawed by a world in which love is punished by DeathBT.

When the underground network attempts a daring escape into the poisoned wildlands, they inadvertently cause a catastrophic explosion.

The explosion draws the instant wrath of the now doomed NOV, the only remaining nation on D’ot. The escapees take off into the wildlands, with stolen vaccines that they need to survive out there. The wildlands are aptly named.

Jan is guided to a five thousand year old hidden temple, which holds treasures and knowledge never before seen. The escapees begin to hope for a brave new world of peace and freedom, but the NOV continues to haunt Jan’s dreams.

Can the reptilian humanoids overcome their violent nature?

What will they do with freedom?

Can they control what they have found in the hidden temple?

Once a year for the last three years, I have driven from the east and landed in Missouri to go bass fishing with an old friend. This last summer, on the fourth day of listening to me ramble on about whatever, he said "You should write a book." He may have said "Y'all".

I responded, "I just wrote one." (A non-fiction book, small sales still growing after two years.)

To which he replied, "I'm talking about a novel. I think you'd be good at it."

Well, I have written little things in the past, but never a novel. Of the few tiny things I have written, about half have been published. This has told me that I may have a knack for this. When thinking in the past about writing a novel, I would shrug it off as pure ego. About five years ago, I actually decided that if the "world" told me to do this, from outside myself, I would at that time write a book. I forgot about it, figuring "What are the chances, and where would the message come from?"

So, when I say that his statement in that lakeside cabin lit a fire under my ass, I'm not kidding. I had the idea for whole series of Blood For Love in my head within the next hour. It was supposed to be a trilogy, but I didn't realize how full of crap I was, and it has doubled to become a hexalogy. ::-)

The reason the whole thing came to me so quickly is that it apparently had been germinating for years. It is exactly what I wanted to write about. The vague idea was that the story world would be an imaginary environment of demons. In the bible, Jesus had mercy on the demons possessing some dude, and let them go into a herd of pigs, which promptly ran off a cliff. What I take home from that is a question - why on Earth would Jesus have mercy on demons unless on some level he was working on them, too?

So how would the salvation of the "place where demons collect and hang out" take place, if it were possible?

I decided to come up with a planet of reptilian humanoids to serve as my demons. Actually, they really didn't turn out that demonic. They are just reptilian humanoids - you can pretty much expect them to be cold-blooded. I think they were perfect for my designs.

So, here's the blurb: This is the story of Jan, a gifted male D'otian living on a violent, predatory planet. His mother Martha is part of a love-preservation network, outlawed by a world in which love is punished by DeathBT.

The above description is apparently enticing to folks, and causes a little wonder. Regarding the take on love, how else do you think love would be handled in an environment of demons? I think that's enough of a description. As most folks know, free samples of the beginning of books are always available on Amazon and Smashwords, so interested parties can take a peek if they want to see more.

I hope to tear through paradigms, put a serious dent in the subconscious fear of love, and give readers a non-stop, page-turning, horrible and wonderful ride they will never forget. It's the feedback I have been hearing, but that's mostly from friends' opinions. I can't wait to see more reviews from objective parties - just like every other writer out there, I would imagine. I did not write this book - I built it. I didn't know that was how it was done, but thanks to the "Snowflake Guy", I was put on the right path. When I see more reviews of professionals, I'll know how close to the mark I got, and how, (or whether,) to proceed with the next five books...

Thank you, Wenj, for the opportunity to speak about this book.

June 24, 2011

Review: Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay

Dead on the Delta
Author: Stacey Jay
Publisher: Pocket Books
ISBN: 1439189862
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher for a honest review

For more information please visit Stacey Jay's website.
Once upon a time, fairies were the stuff of bedtime stories and sweet dreams. Then came the mutations, and the dreams became nightmares. Mosquito-size fairies now indulge their taste for human blood—and for most humans, a fairy bite means insanity or death. Luckily, Annabelle Lee isn’t most humans. The hard-drinking, smart-mouthed, bicycle-riding redhead is immune to fairy venom, and able to do the dirty work most humans can’t. Including helping law enforcement— and Cane Cooper, the bayou’s sexiest detective—collect evidence when a body is discovered outside the fairy-proof barricades of her Louisiana town.

But Annabelle isn’t equipped to deal with the murder of a six year-old girl or a former lover-turned-FBI snob taking an interest in the case. Suddenly her already bumpy relationship with Cane turns even rockier, and even the most trust-worthy friends become suspects. Annabelle’s life is imploding: between relationship drama, a heartbreaking murder investigation, Breeze-crazed drug runners, and a few too many rum and Cokes, Annabelle is a woman on the run—from her past, toward her future, and into the arms of a darkness waiting just for her.

Dead on the Delta, the first novel in the Anabelle series by Stacey Jay, is not your average Urban Fantasy, nor does it follow your average heroine. Wildly original and wonderfully developed with a character who has more quirks that virtues, this novel is a fast paced, quick read that is hard to put down. So, if you're tired of the usual 'goody-two shoes' act, Annabelle Lee is a perfect fit as a shameless under achiever with borderline addictive personality.

From the beginning of this novel, the setting is what really struck me. Instantly, you step in to the hot, humid swamps where the air is more moisture then oxygen. The overbearing heat is only matched by the fairy infestation that seems to have taken the place of the clouds of mosquitoes that typically swarm in these marshy locales creating a sense of dread where ever they flit. There was also a great atmosphere built in which there is a very down trodden feeling creating a landscape of the South that is more of a refugee camp then a Parish after the invasion of the mutated fey. The amount of dread that these shimmery creatures leave in their wake is palpable making for an interesting new take on the fey.

The world building was wonderful, with a unique development that was perfectly thought out creating a three dimensional and believable world in which the characters move around. There is ample history to illustrate how the modern world was altered and how the fey came in to being. I also loved the amount of damage these little blighters were capable of causing, altering the landscape of the South to one that is barely recognizable. In fact, there is an unbelievable amount of deterioration in both the social and economic structure in this region and I really loved seeing this so masterfully explored. Also, the different organizations that watch and research the fairy problem, as well as the various entities who police issues tied to the fey, were quite interesting to see developed.

The characters were also quite unique and interesting, a very definite change from what one would normally expect. In fact, Anabelle, the heroine of the story, was unlike anything that I had ever read in the past. She's unashamed of her status as an underachiever, somewhat coarse, and a borderline alcoholic. Of course, with what she is forced to endure because of her status as being immune to the venomous bites of the fey, it's a bit understandable why it is she chooses oblivion over reality with what she is often called in to do for law enforcement. But, at times, I did find her personality to be a bit trying, if not down right repugnant. Truly, I wondered how in the world this woman could be endearing enough to carry a story by herself because she is such a train wreck, utterly unwilling to better herself. However, this was somewhat addressed rather quickly changing her character to something a bit more appealing and I found myself liking her as time went on. In the end I just started accepting Anabelle as Anabelle, and as things start heating up both with the murder investigation and the love triangle that forms, I found myself really engrossed and rooting for the fiery red head. And then there were the peripheral characters whom I really enjoyed. Honestly, they were a very colorful troop, from Fern who I would have loved to see more of, to Marcy who as it turns out has a quite intriguing history that I would love to know more about. Though in terms of love interests, I found both Hitch and Cane sort of lacking. Both are, well, just such downers. True, Cane loves Anabelle, it's obvious. He's a sweety. But, I just can't help bristling at the way he treats her at times. Does she deserve it? Probably. Though for me, he says he understands Anabelle but still he pushes her for a commitment it's obvious she doesn't want to make which sort of made me frown on him a bit. But, Hitch wasn't any better. In fact, I really wanted to strangle him 95% of the time. Seriously, Anabelle needs some new men in her life because these two, not doing it for me.

The story itself was wildly unique with a very original spin on the fey in a modern day setting. There was a wonderful sense of mystery paired with some great tension and action as Anabelle struggles to better herself by finding the killer of a little girl. But, there was also some great mystery about the 'magic' that both Grace, the murder victim, and Anabelle, posses. What does it mean? How is it possible? Is it because of their immunity? So many great questions that I want to see answered. I also found myself loving the down to Earth, easy manner in which the story was told. Southern comfort takes on a whole new meaning as the relaxed work ethics of Anabelle come in to play along with her rather unabashed way of life. The writing style was wonderfully lush creating a very 'Southern' atmosphere filled with great exploration and development of the world this story is immersed in. The pace was quick making this an extremely fast read that kept me on my toes with some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Overall, this was an interesting novel that was unlike anything else that I'd ever read. I rather enjoyed the new take on characterization and the unique spin on the fey. And then there's the Southern atmosphere, a particular favorite of mine when it comes to settings. So, if you love off the wall characters, wonderful urban fantasy that is wholly original, then this is a great choice! I can't wait to see what comes next in Blood on the Bayou, the second installment in this thrilling new series!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Alcoholism and some graphic violent content

June 22, 2011

Giveaway: Save My Soul by Zoe Winters

Save My Soul
Author: Zoe Winters
Publisher: Incubooks
Series: Preternaturals, Book 2
ISBN: 0981943632
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Novel was provided by the author via Bookish Snob Promotions

For more information please visit Zoe Winters' website.

All he's asking for is her soul.

After buying the antebellum home she's fantasized about since childhood, Anna Worthington discovers Luc, a dangerously seductive incubus who has been trapped in the house by a fifty-year-old curse. To rid herself of her problem house guest she'll call on a priest, gypsies, ghost hunters, and the coven of witches from lust bunny hell. All she has to do is resist him long enough to break the spell so they can go their separate ways. If she doesn't, she could die. And that would be the best case scenario.
In honor of the book tour Zoe is generously offering up 2 copies of her novel, Save My Soul, to TWO (2) lucky commenters! One will receive an eBook copy and the other will recieve a paperback copy of the novel.

-Comment with your prefered format (eBook or Print)
-Leave a valid email address
-Open to US residents
-Contest ends JULY 1, 2011

Extra Entries:
+1 being a GFC Follower
+1 for being an email subscriber

And for more chances to win and to see some other great features be sure to follow the tour along to its next stop:

June 20, 2011

Submission by Chris Owen and Jodi Payne

Author: Chris Owen, Jodi Payne
Publisher: Torquere Press
Series: Deviations, Book 1
ISBN: 1933389508
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

For more information please visit Chris Owen's website and Jodi Payne's website.

Tobias is a skilled Dom, able to bring even the most hesitant submissive around. Noah is a man in need of just that. He wants to sub badly, but has yet to find someone he believes can take him where he needs to go. Through a series of encounters in the world of bondage and discipline, Noah reveals why he has trouble trusting, why he needs such a firm, steady hand. Tobias may allow himself to dominate, but he has trouble letting himself love. Still, Tobias can't resist Noah's charms, and the two of them set about making a scene for themselves, one that works for them and their unique set of problems. They learn to love, but can they stay together while they explore each others' secrets, in a world where all is laid bare and emotions run high? From authors Chris Owen, writer of the popular Bareback, and Jodi Payne, writer of String of Pearls comes a romance on the deviant side, where love is all tied up with the need to submit, the need to dominate, and the need to share a life of exploration and care. These two skilled authors create a world that's hard to resist, and a book that's even harder to put down.

Submission is the first in the collaborated series Deviations by authors Chris Owen and Judi Payne following the budding relationship between Dom Tobias and Sub Noah. Filled with great characterization and a growing sense of trust and loyalty, these two men easily capture the heart creating a story in which you constantly want to know more. Sexy, hot and utterly delicious, these two authors manage to create a steamy novel that test the boundaries of pain and pleasure.

The characters are without a doubt in the forefront of this novel which follows their journey as they try to find a sense of peace within the world of D/s. Tobias and Noah come out to be quite sympathetic characters with difficult pasts and lots of hidden depths and secrets. And while Tobias is the Dom, there is a wonderful sense of equality between him and Noah as he tries to help draw the younger man out of himself and aid him in putting himself back together by learning what it truly means to submit. What I loved most about these two was the fact that they really were trying to understand themselves and why it was that they needed this form of lifestyle, ultimately coming down to what it was about it that brought them a sense of peace and relief. I know it sounds odd given the need Noah has for pain, but in the end, you come to see how this need effects not only Noah who is forced to learn his boundaries in spite of his ego, but for Tobias as well, someone who dislikes bringing someone else pain.

Together these two make a wonderful pair. Their connection is somewhat easy as they feel each other out, but there is a great repore between them, a charisma, that I really enjoyed watching. In fact, these two personas couldn't have been more different with Tobias being a fairly serious, organized individual and Noah being more loose, choosing to go with the flow. As the story progresses, these two really click in both their needs and desires, as well as a couple. But, I felt like the dynamic was often rather simplistic with little in the way of tension and progression. While their roles may shift as the story goes on, the growth of the characters is minimal. It's like it plateaus rather quickly, however, with the delicious deviant behavior, who really cares?

The world building is nicely done creating a nice, safe environment where these two men can explore that doesn't impede on their every day lives. This helps in keeping their personalities nicely intact, and yet I really felt a bit disappointed that we didn't get to see those personalities really show through. However, the atmosphere was nicely captured and the heat level is without a question, intense. I really loved this aspect of a safe, quiet environment versus the typical noisy club scenes as it helps to emphasize the characters and their inner journey show casing why they need this lifestyle as well as how they are coming to find themselves through it.

The writing style was wonderfully creating a nicely written novel that really brought a lot to the minimal plot line. While there isn't a great deal of action or tension, there is a lot of character development and inner exploration that was great to read. Truly, Owen and Payne created a group of characters that are interesting and utterly enjoyable while keeping an extremely sexually charged atmosphere that will make your blood boil. The pace is likewise nice making this a rather quick read that will have you wanting the next installment to see what will happen next in these two mens' relationship.

In the end, I enjoyed this read. There was a lot of great characterization and some really intense elements that were explored through their inner development. But, be warned, this is not for everyone. It's extremely explicit encompassing a lot of BDSM elements that explored in great detail. People who like only a light exploration within this erotica sub-genre might not find this all that palatable, but if you like the characters as I did, it really doesn't matter all the much.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Explicit sexual content, BDSM themes, m/m

June 17, 2011

Review: Virgin by Cheryl Brooks

Author: Cheryl Brooks
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablance
Series: Cat Star Chronicles, Book 7
ISBN: 1402251653
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher for a honest review

For more information please visit Cheryl Brooks' website.

Zetithians have a feline gene that gives the males remarkable sexual prowess. Refugee Dax is no exception-but as a virgin, he has no idea how to use it. His fumbling attempts at romance fail to tempt the beautiful Ava, but he is determined to learn the art of love. Let the seduction begin...

Dax valued his freedom more than any woman until he met Ava, a spunky half-breed Aquerei who holds the key to the salvation of her father's homeworld. Can they save the world and still hold on to one another?

Virgin, the seventh novel in the Cat Star Chronicles by Cheryl Brooks, is a wonderful futuristic series that is masterfully developed with just the right amount of humor, campiness, and romance to set your pulse racing. With amazing characters and adventurous worlds you'll want to revisit, this is one series that will have you hooked.

As this was my first time reading either the series or a novel by Brooks, I really didn't know what to expect coming in. With this being the seventh novel, I really anticipated having to play a lot of catch-up and being horribly lost, but that fear was quickly dispelled as we are thrust in to the life of the sexy as hell, virginal Zetithian, Dax. And honestly, from the first few pages I was sucked into this tale and the lives of the characters, from main characters Dax and Ava, to the secondary characters who brought with them some interesting and diverse personalities as well as some great humor.

Dax and Ava, however, were definitely at the forefront with an instantly crackling charge of sexual tension that starts this novel off right. The pull between them, though instantaneous, was developed perfectly making this the real corner stone of the story, especially given that Dax is so oblivious to all things romance and Ava is so hesitant in letting her emotions overrule her good sense. But, what makes this truly wonderful was the underhanded and devious plotting of the peripheral characters in hooking these two up. It was often times sneaky, but more often then not, simply hilarious. It really served to make their relationship all the more thrilling as they try and fight against the feelings that are drawing them closer. Ultimately, I loved the romance throughout as well as all of the delicious tension.

The world building was just as rich and lavish creating not only a world, but a universe that was great fun to see and explore with the characters. There was a lot of wonderful detail that really helped to bring the world and settings to life creating a three dimensional world in which to travel. The atmosphere was also quite enjoyable with a campy science fiction feel that perfectly matched the sexually charged nature of the novel while making it approachable and fun all at the same time.

The plot line, as can be expected from a novel that is so nicely written, was just as well developed ranging from great mysteries centered around the characters as well as just focusing on the characters themselves. There was also a lot of great action and adventure as well as some complex subplots centered around who and what the characters truly are. Overall, the cumulative effect is one the is extremely enjoyable climaxing in a way that perfectly suited the story itself creating a highly enjoyable and satisfying conclusion.

In the end, this may have been my first time reading this series and this author, but it will not be my last. It far exceeded my expectations creating a world and characters that I was engrossed by as well as delivering a satisfying plot with lot of great elements that kept me captive throughout. Fans of science fiction with a heavy backbone of romance will thoroughly enjoy this series as well any fan of a good, fun, and sensuous read. Can't wait to get my hands on the previous installments, nor on the ones to come!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Sexual Content

June 14, 2011

Review: Demons Prefer Blondes by Sidney Ayers

Demons Prefer Blondes
Author: Sidney Ayers
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Series: Demons Unleashed, Book 1
ISBN: 1402251742
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher for a honest review

For more information please visit Sidney Ayers' website.
With demons the hottest new heroes in the romance category, this is a fantastic debut paranormal.

When beautiful half-succubus Lucy Gregory's antique chest unleashes a Pandora's box of demonic activity in a suburban beauty salon, brooding demon Rafe arrives to run damage control. He's darkly sexy and everything she's avoided-icy and reserved-but that only adds to his mysterious appeal. Being a demon, he knows he should be able to resist Lucy's charms, but his resistance is slipping at the worst moment. And Lucy has no idea of the power she possesses.

Demons Prefer Blondes, the first novel in the Demons Unleashed series by Sidney Ayers, is everything you’d expect about a novel centered around a beauty salon. Its fun, witty and a very girly read filled with fashion and demons. What more could a girl want, right? Well, how about an ancient chest filled with demons which brings out a sexy Paladin to find it before it gets opened located smack dab in the middle of Lucy Gregory’s shop. A great romantic read that is light and fun and sort of reminiscent of the 80’S romantic comedy ‘Earth Girls are Easy’ only without the colorful aliens and musical numbers!

From the beginning I definitely liked Ayer’s world building. There’s a very light hearted atmosphere despite the obvious weight of the subject matter. While the sense of immediacy is nice, I found it often off set by the witty characters and the sassy heroine. It was definitely nice seeing a fully dimensional story still maintain an easy going appeal. It was very unusual as was the setting making for a wonderful tale aimed directly at lovers of chick lit. I even hate to say it because I know people won’t think it’s the compliment that it is, but it reminds me of the 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo centering around a Daphne like character. That’s the sort of atmosphere that Ayer’s created and I really loved it!

The characters are also a wide range of personalities offering characters capable of being serious and those of offering comic relief. Lucy, while being a very approachable character for readers as she struggles to keep her business in the black with a wonderful sense of independence, had a great spunkiness that was wonderful to see develop. She’s sassy, passionate and above all else, a very caring and loyal individual. She treats her friends and employees with great respect and admiration that I really found quite endearing. But, it was also her easy going nature that made me respect her. She doesn’t fight against what she considers to be unfair or impossible, instead she goes with it, embracing those things about herself that defy definition and sanity. But, if Lucy is all things light, then Rafael is all things dark and serious. He’s imposing and has a presence that is very dominating and intimidating. The air of power about him is obvious and a great contrast to Lucy and her Scooby gang. This creates and interesting dynamic in their relationship that was wonderful, sort of like oil and water, but somehow it really works creating a very passionate and tense romance. Also, I feel that I have to mention the secondary characters which were pure fun! From Lucy’s wacky employees, to her amusing friend, to the long list of characters who pop in and out throughout the story, all of them definitely offer something to the story one way or another that I truly enjoyed.

The writing was exceptionally well done, creating a fun yet wonderfully written story that managed to be light and airy without being too silly. In fact, there was a perfect balance of inane witticism, action and romance that kept the story shy of being completely vapid. Instead, this novel was simply put, fun. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I believe will really enjoy this novel as it has that same feeling of fun and action that is enthralling as it manages to be at times quite serious and dramatic as well as being light hearted and amusing.

In the end, this novel was a joy to read with a great cast of characters and an interesting plot that I had a lot of fun reading. To be honest, it was something of a surprise as I was expecting the story to not be quite as well rounded as it was. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself reading at every chance that I could just to delve back into this amusing and lush world. Can’t wait for the next installment, Demons like it Hot, due out in December!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Sexual Content

June 13, 2011

Review: Mercy Blade by Faith Hunter

Mercy Blade
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock, Book 3
ISBN: 110147677X
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel won via GoodReads First Reads program

For more information please visit Faith Hunter's website.

Jane Yellowrock, a shape-shifting rogue-vampire hunter-for-hire, is now taking blood money from the very vamps she used to hunt. But things start heating up in the Big Easy when weres announce their existence to the world, and revive the bitter tensions that run between them and their old enemies -- vampires. Jane finds herself caught in the crossfire.

Mercy Blade, the third installment in the Jane Yellowrock series, is my first time reading anything by Faith Hunter and I can’t help but be floored and shocked that she’s somehow managed to stay off of my radar for this long! This novel truly had everything and more, from amazingly developed characters to a plot that kept me reading late in to the night to see what happened next. Fans of Anita Blake and Mercy Thompson will love this series and it’s hard hitting heroine and action packed plot showcasing a world filled with every form of supernatural creature you could imagine. Really a must read!

So, let my just start right off the bat by saying, I love Jane! She’s so fun and feisty, but completely human with her twisting emotions and inner turmoil. She's got a wonderfully developed voice pulling together a perfectly three dimensional character that is tough as nails yet hides a vein of vulnerability that makes her instantly endearing. But, for yet another layer, she is a Skinwalker, quite possibly the last of her kind, with the soul of Beast living within her, a large cat spirit/soul that becomes dominate when Jane shifts. Throughout Jane has a running inner dialogue with Beast and I loved the primal contradictions between them. Where Beast is very instinctual allowing her predator nature to dictate, Jane relies on a very moral and ethical standard. This becomes a problem to her as she is forced to hunt the Werewolves and is presented with the knowledge that she is killing a 'thinking' creature, not an insane vampire that needs putting down. There was also a lot of great duality between the two egos when it came to relationships. Where Beast sees an attribute she likes and wants it, Jane is forced to consider ramifications and the question of love and loyalty. I really enjoyed the dueling aspects and the very different personalities which really brought in some unusual and interesting elements. But, I also found myself loving the cast of supporting characters as well, from Bruiser to Leo and especially Wrassler. Each is masterfully created with greatly differing personalities, each alluring in their own way.

And while this is Urban Fantasy first and foremost, there was also some great romance and chemistry between the characters. However, that said, I really didn't care for Jane's chosen love interest Ricky Bo. Though we didn't see him much in this novel (I'm supposing that he was present more in previous ones), he comes off as being the safe choice. Of course, this is up until we find out that he's undercover and having relations with two Weres, something that I didn't see coming. It's a source of contention with Jane and honestly, it would be with me too despite the fact that in his job he has to do whatever it takes to gain his queries trust. But, there was just something over all caddish especially in contrast to the very passionate chemistry between Jane and Bruiser. I absolutely loved these two together, but with Bruiser's devotion to Leo, the vampire Master of the City, I can understand Jane's redolence to explore the relationship further. Needless to say, there's some great tension on all fronts with a twist ending that has me eager to know more!

And now for the world building. Honestly, there was a lot that I'd seen before hints my earlier comparison to Anita Blake and Mercy Thompson, however, that said, this novel managed to be it's own wholly unique and original novel. There is a wonderful rich history of the Vampire hierarchy and social structure that was extremely interesting. But, it was the lore that had me most enthralled, such as the lore of the Cursed of Artemis which refers to the Werewolves and how they came to be. I definitely loved comparing the myth to what we actually see of the wolves and how any and all of this ties back to the vampires and other shifters. Also masterfully captured was the atmosphere of NOLA, from the hot humid air that stifles to the cloying magic of the various supernaturals. There is a great texture to the novel giving it scope and dimension that I really hadn't been expecting which really brought the story to life.

All of this in conjunction to the wonderful writing really made this a must read novel that was rich in mystery, suspense, action and romance. Steeped in a great mythology, a vivid and lushly created world these characters really seemed to step off the page creating a novel that I couldn't seem to put down. I was always eager to see what new predicament Jane and company could find themselves in next and how she managed to escape and reveal the truth behind a centuries old feud.

All in all, this was an amazing read! I adored the characters, the world and the writing. Without a doubt Faith Hunter is a superb story teller and I can't wait to go back and get the previous novels in anticipation of number four due out next year. If you haven't check this series out yet, be sure to pick up a copy and give it a try! You won't be disappointed.

My Rating: 5 out 5 Scars

June 11, 2011

Update and Changes to BLR

Hello kiddies! Just popping in to give a little update because a lot of things on this site are about to change. Mainly it's in large part to that fact that I am now back at school which takes up most of the day and then the night is mostly spent studying. And boy, let me tell you, if you think being an EMT is easy, think again. Seriously, you should really appreciate what those people have to know and do on a regular basis. I knew it would be difficult, but just the sheer amount of knowledge that has to be absorbed in short amounts of time is mind boggling.

So what, you may be asking, does this have to do with you? Well, that means changes. Lots of them. To accommodate requests and keep writing reviews, it's going to become a delicate balancing act, to say the least. For right now, I'm going to try and keep changes to a minimum and try and keep this site as active as I possibly can. That means that I've been trying to transition in my good friend to assist in this process. So naturally, this means that a lot about reviewing is going to changed and will be the most altered aspect of this site.

For one, novels from large publishing houses and authors who send hard copies will be given top priority. This is due in large part to that fact that I will have a copy that either myself or my reviewer will be able to take with us and read when we have a chance. For large publishers, I will still be trying to read these novels in a timely manner and have reviews posted within the month of publication. But, there is still going to be a decrease in reviews that I am able to post per week. For example, instead of having a new post daily, I will be lucky to be getting 2-3 posted a week. However, I am going to try and off set this with more information in the form of promotional material for books that are upcoming or books that I am or have read that I want to promote a bit.

Indie authors will be the ones to take a bigger hit here. I will still be reviewing them and accepting review requests, however, the selection process will be a lot more discriminate with far more novels/novellas passed over. If you have already been accepted by me, please don't worry. All novels that I have on file are still in line for review, I just can't promise when the review will be posted. These will also begin to be delegated to assist in getting the word about your novels out there. I know you depend on reviewers promoting your novels and am still dedicated to assisting and offering fair and in depth reviews of your material.

So finally, I just wanted to stress that BLR is still going to be active and will still be trying to maintain the high quality of reviews that you have come to expect. Features will still be offered and any author interested in hosting a Guest Post or giveaway through this site, please feel free to contact me and we can set up a date and time for that to happen. As I said, I do still want this site to be active, even if it isn't with the constant posting of reviews. And for readers of this site, if there is anything else that you would like to see added here, please let me know! I'm always interested in viewer ideas on how to expand this site and make it more interesting to it's visitors.

I do apologize for this sudden change, but I did not realize the amount of time and dedication that this course work would require. However, that said, it is definitely worth it and am looking forward to all of the clinicals and skills that I will be learning over the next two months. Though, I will definitely miss the ability to read for pleasure whenever I please. But, together, we will make this work!

Happy Reading!!

June 10, 2011

Review: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl
Author: Eoin Colfer
Publisher: Hyperion
Series: Artemis Fowl, Book 1
ISBN: 9781423132172
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley

For more information please visit Eoin Colfer's website.

Artemis Fowl should never have kidnapped the fairy. Instead of a pleasant little bedtime story creature, this sprite turned out to be an unholy terror. All of Artemis's genius for crime was challenged by this irritating hazel-eyed little elf. It requires the entire novel to get things back under control.

Artemis Fowl by Eoine Colfer is an oldie, but a goodie and the first in the Artemis Fowl series. Geared towards children and young adults, this novel is insanely fun, masterfully clever and able to capture the whimsy of children and the attention of older readers. With a great cast of a characters this novel manages to be a quick read that is witty and action packed ensuring that you'll be wanting to return to this colorful world again and again!

The world development was wonderfully done spanning both the mortal and the fairy realm. Each side is cleverly written with great details and flourishes creating a fun atmosphere that is mildly complex leaving a lot of territory to be explored throughout the series. As this is a children's series, it's not all that deep, mainly only going in to details that pertain to the story, but there is a lot hinted at showing that Colfer has a great depth and understanding of the world in which he's writing about. It goes without saying that Colfer had some great ideas about what was to come and those small hints that he drops throughout definitely makes you want to continue deeper into these two very dissimilar cultures.

The characters themselves were quite interesting and for lack of a better word colorful. They are witty, intelligent and have a sense of humor that is subtly adult without being too outrageous for younger readers. In fact, I found a lot of moments that I surprised about and quite frankly pleased to see showing that Colfer tried to be accessible to readers of a ll ages. Fowl and Butler, however, were my favorites and their connection was very well developed creating an interesting dynamic of trust, loyalty and love that wasn't like anything that I'd really seen before. In truth, while Butler may be Fowl's man servant and body guard, there is a very definite sense of family and trust that goes beyond anything that I've known. But equally amusing are the fairies, from the over eager Holly Short to her fuming boss to the hilarious Mulch Diggums, there is never a shortage of wild and wacky nonsense going on, despite being told in a very serious manner.

The writing was amazing, far superior to most novels written for younger readers. Nothing is dumbed down, but instead approached in a way that was intelligent and clever with great wit and action. The pace is great with lots of action happening within a short amount of time and tempered with just the right amount of comedic flair. In truth, I can see this being a movie-one that I would very definitely go and see-because of the simple fact that it's such great fun! Every creature, every step of the story is intricately delved in to creating a wonderful three dimensional experience which only makes me more eager to search out the next installment to this series.

In the end, this is a wonderful read for children and adults alike. Smart and fun, there is a little something for everyone to enjoy creating a series that is light yet has substance. If you haven't taken the time to finally sit down and read this novel, I highly suggest you do. It's worth it!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

June 9, 2011

Review: Spycatcher by Matthew Dunn

Author: Matthew Dunn
Publisher: William Morrow
Series: Spartan Series, Book 1
ISBN: 0062037676
Release Date: August 1, 2011
Pre-Order Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel won through GoodReads First Reads
“Great talent, great imagination, and real been-there done-that authenticity make this one of the year’s best thriller debuts.”

—Lee Child

“Not since Fleming charged Bond with the safety of the world has the international secret agent mystique been so anchored with an insider’s reality.”
—Noah Boyd, New York Times bestselling author of Agent X and The Bricklayer
“A real spy proves he is a real writer—and a truly deft and inventive one. Spycatcher is a stunning debut.”
—Ted Bell, New York Times bestselling author of Warlord

A real life former field officer, Matthew Dunn makes an extraordinary debut with Spycatcher, a masterwork of international espionage fiction that crackles with electrifying authenticity. Fans of Daniel Silva, Robert Ludlum, Brad Thor, and Vince Flynn will be on the edge of their seats as intelligence agent Will Cochrane—working on a joint covert mission for the CIA and MI6—sets out to capture a brilliant and ruthless Iranian spy. Timely and gripping, Spycatcher rockets the reader into a shadowy world of terrorism and counter-terrorism, and holds them in an iron grip until the last pulse-pounding page is turned.

Spycatcher is the masterful debut novel by former MI6 field officer Matthew Dunn, a captivating and thrilling work that grips you from the very first page to the very last. Filled with never ending action and suspense, this is one novel that is extremely hard to put down and will keep you up late in to the night eager to learn what happens next to this harrowing and extremely human new action figure. Fans of James Bond will be thrilled with this new figure in the spy world bringing the genre neatly into the new century. Definitely one that will keep you riveted to your seat buckled in for a roller coaster of unending suspense and international intrigue.

It easy to see that Dunn knows his way around the Intelligence community as this novel is built in a wholly believable and intense way that is instantly visceral creating a hero and situation that is immediate and hits close to home. There are a lot of wonderful details both in the world in which the character moves and in the amount of insight in to the fray creating gripping action scenes that will have you on the edge of your seat. Honestly, the action read more like something out of a movie and you could see every bullet fly, see every move and feel every punch and jab that lands on our hero, Will Cochran. But, it is also the insight into how Will moves around within the world, setting up his missions and the way he thinks. It's very precise casting the world in a very crisp way where no detail is too small to be overlooked. This makes for an interesting atmosphere in which even the temperature of his surroundings becomes a living thing, something that reader innately experiences along with him.

Will himself is a wonderfully human, flawed and endearing character. He is definitely something of a sympathetic man with a lot of past hurt in his life and every experience he recounts in his past is insightful in to how he became the Spartan, a special designation by MI6 given to only the most hardy agents capable of surviving the intensive training, a codename that can only to be held by one agent until his death. But, I loved how his character isn't the suave static and stale stereotype that always comes out on top. Instead, he suffers a lot of set backs, constantly coming out on the bottoms of fights and is somehow always one step behind the monster that he is pursuing. You really come to root for him, hoping that he can finally catch the man he is chasing and claim a life in which he no longer has to be the cold, unfeeling Agent who lives only for vengeance and death. And along for the ride is a group of CIA paramilitary men who will help him in his clandestine battle to stop a horrible attack. I really came to love these men, their strength and determination, but also their loyalty and their support of one another. Even in silence and in coarse, concise words, these men convey a sense of camaraderie that is single minded in their goals. The bond that easily grows between them is wonderful to see develop.

It tends to go hand in hand with the ever developing plot of the story which is in and of itself quite intricate. It is ever expanding going from the simple task of drawing out a man named Mediggo to evolve in to something deep and complex with underlying currents and twists that you would never expect. There is no doubt that this novel will keep you on your toes and constantly guessing because by the time you reach the half way point you come to find that not everything is as it seems and from there that observation only becomes more and more clear. Especially when it comes to the ending which took me completely by surprise. I honestly never considered that outcome and the open possibilities left lingering at the culmination of this novel hold a lot of great promise for the future novels to come.

In the end, as far as debut novels go, this was phenomenal and everything that you could expect and desire in thriller or spy novel. There is plenty to keep you interested and the characters are fully three dimensional with a intricate plot line that never seems to slow. The writing was amazing which was something that really surprised me as I was expecting something more clipped, but instead this novel was fluid and easily stepped in to. Over all, I have to say that I loved this novel and that I will definitely be looking forward to more novels by Matthew Dunn in the future, especially if they involve this utterly endearing and intriguing spy known as Spartan.

My Raiting: 4.5 out of 5 Scars

June 7, 2011

Review: Heart of Evil by Heather Graham

Heart of Evil
Author: Heather Graham
Publisher: Mira
Series: Krewe of Hunters, Book 2
ISBN: 0778329984
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Pre-Order Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley

For more information please visit Heather Graham's website.

Emerging from the bayou like an apparition, Donegal Plantation is known for its unsurpassed dining, captivating atmosphere, haunting legends…and now a corpse swinging from the marble angel that marks its cemetery’s most majestic vault. A corpse discovered in nearly the same situation as that of Marshall Donegal, the patriarch killed in a skirmish just before the Civil War. Desperate for help traditional criminologists could never provide, plantation heiress Ashley Donegal turns to an elite team of paranormal investigators who blend hard forensics with rare – often inexplicable – intuition. Among them is Jake Mallory, a gifted New Orleans musician with talent that stretches beyond the realm of the physical, and a few dark ghosts of his own. The evil the team unveils has the power to shake the plantation to its very core. Jake and Ashley are forced to risk everything to unravel secrets that will not stay buried – even in death.

Heart of Evil is the second novel in the Krewe of Hunters series by Heather Graham. As far as follow up novels, however, this definitely didn't live up to it's predecessor, but still it proved to be a good stand alone read that had a great mystery and an somewhat intriguing romance. Wonderfully written and with some nice twists and turns this is another nice addition to Graham's thriving repertoire.

Like the first novel, Graham's world building is spot on. She does a masterful job of creating atmosphere, though I was really disappointed not to find the same haunting darkness achieved in the first novel. However, the homey, humid South portrayed takes you smack to the middle of the bayou and the winding banks of the Mississippi. The rolling plantation and it's surrounding wildlife are perfectly painted for the reader creating the perfect setting for a historical and puzzling murder mystery.

The characters on the other hand were a little less developed for me. I felt like it took a lot of time to really get to know these characters, though the connection between them is far more easily picked up. It seemed strange that that aspect came before even getting to know these two, especially considering one was present in book one, but there you are. I also really didn't much care for Ashley. She was fairly unremarkable and something of a stubborn antagonist determined not to still like Jake even though his only downfall was telling her that he had seen her father's ghost. That seems like a fairly stupid reason to kick out the love of your life, however, I could understand a little bit of anger at the way he had told her. Jake though, I liked. He seems like a fun guy to be around, but seems like a strange male lead. While I enjoyed him, I just felt that he wasn't dominant enough to carry the weight of the story which leads me to my next point. There was far less of a group dynamic to this novel, however, all are once again present. I really found myself missing the group as a whole as more time is spent with Jake and his memories of the Donegal plantation and his desire of Ashley and Ashley with her constant denial about everything. The ghostly aspect also held some interesting characters and I found myself immersed in their story, their history and their sad existence. They are more tragic then most ghosts determined to spend their after lives helping their family and watching which was pretty endearing in and of itself.

The writing was once again excellent, though at the beginning I found the story to be a bit dry with all of the Civil War storytelling and historical aspects. I get that it had a lot to do with the story as a whole, but it came off as a bit dry and really set me off. Honestly, I didn't get in to the story until about the hundredth page where the murder mystery really kicks in. I think that having this happen sooner would have done a lot for the novel, as well as placing all of the historical information more subtly throughout instead of one mass clump. The mystery itself was well throughout and had some great twists and turns and even quite surprised me with the true identity of the killer, however, this too seemed a little at odds with the story more like it was thrown in there at random as, while this may seems moderately spoilery it really isn't, the character is rarely shown throughout or even talked to for any length of time. I know most of the 'suspects' aren't, but it seemed odd to me. It didn't detract from the novel though, or at least not for me, and in the end this turned out to be a pretty good read. I do however hope that the third installment will have a more supernatural twist with creepy ghosts instead of helpful ones. I like the dark, horror-like appeal that this series started with and would like to get back to that.

In the end, this was a good read with a great mystery and some good romance. Fans of Graham will definitely love it, as will fans of mystery and paranormal romance. But, be warned, it does start slow, but hang in there! The end result was worth it.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Scars

June 6, 2011

Review: The Vampire Stalker by Allison van Diepen

The Vampire Stalker
Author: Allison van Diepen
Publisher: Point
ISBN: 0545283752
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher for a honest review

For more information please visit Allison van Diepen's website.

What if the characters in a vampire novel left their world--and came into yours?

Amy is in love with someone who doesn't exist: Alexander Banks, the dashing hero in a popular series of vampire novels. Then one night, Amy meets a boy who bears an eerie resemblance to Alexander. In fact, he IS Alexander, who has escaped from the pages of the book and is in hot pursuit of a wicked vampire named Vigo. Together, Amy and Alexander set out to track Vigo and learn how and why Alexander crossed over. But when she and Alexander begin to fall for each other, Amy wonders if she even wants him to ever return to the realm of fiction.

The Vampire Stalker by Allison van Diepen is one of those novels that instantly hooks you before you even open the novel with the simple appealing question of what if your favorite character, the one that you can't seem to get out of your head, was real? Just think of the recent Twilight insanity and you can certainly understand why this novel is appealing as a similarly popular vampire series called 'Otherworld' spills into one fan girl's life. Of course, while the premise is wonderfully unique and certainly quite appealing and fun, there was some lack luster plotting that did leave me hanging bit. However, this was an enjoyable novel and I really loved this fun and romantic tale that's perfect for tweens!

The world building is adequate creating two variations of Chicago, one stuck in the 1920's and terrorized by vampires while the other variation is the modern city of this world. While neither is really gone in to in great detail, it's easy to accept the world as we know it, however, I would have loved to know more about Alexander's home of Otherworld Chicago, a world in which the heroine Amy is intimately knowledgeable of through the books of Elizabeth Howard. But, it seemed like little information is ever really given to the reader leaving a vast blind spot in which we are only given the most basic of information. It seemed really sad considering I was eager to learn more of a world inhabited by vampires in which the humans live their lives by day and stay safely locked away throughout the night as well as getting to know more about Vampire Stalkers, or rather hunters, who fight against these monstrous creatures. But, not only was I interested in this aspect, but in the idea that there is a social structure among the vampires as well with leadership and I'm guessing some form of agenda. There was also mention of a peace treaty between humans and vampires, something else that I found intriguing. However, we never get to learn anything about this. Instead, it's more just left out there, hanging.

The characters, in a way, were much the same. While Amy and Alexander are nicely developed characters, characters that I rather liked, it felt like there was something of a vacuum in which these are the only two that we are really exposed to. Amy herself is quite likable and relatable to readers. She's the one who stands in line all day to receive a copy of the latest book from her favorite series, writes fan fiction, and talks online with other fans, and has in depth conversations about the series with her friends. In ways, she's similar to all of us, eager to find out what happens next in our favorite fandoms and has an invested interest in our favorite character's lives. When she meets Alexander she is understandably suspicious, but based on her vast knowledge of his life in Otherworld, she quickly comes to believe his story. Alexander is something of a rigid character with old fashioned values. He believes his destiny is tied up with Vigo, the vampire who murdered his family, the vampire who he's been hunting for the better part of his life. Alexander, while interesting, I felt came off as only two dimensional, not fully realized like Amy was. We never really know a lot about him or his history, just glimpses from the book that chronicles his life. I was really saddened to never get to see much of his personality, but again, a lot of this is due to the way in which he was raised in a world that still encouraged restrained emotions. But, it just felt like when he was in the scene, there was very little 'personal' or 'emotional' appeal. Of course this could be said throughout the story as well.

The romance, however, was actually pretty nicely done. You could really feel the tension mounting between Alexander and Amy and I really loved seeing Amy's vulnerability when it came to him. The way she sees herself is understandable with the whole 'there's no way someone like him could like someone like me' thing. I actually found this rather endearing because she never really lets these emotions take over. Instead, she goes about helping Alexander and trying to save her sister putting her feelings about him on the back burner. When he requites her feelings, it's actually quite sweet and you start really rooting for these two, despite the looming knowledge that he will have to return to his world soon. Overall, it's a sweet, chaste relationship that I enjoyed watching develop and grow.

What I really felt was lacking however, was the plotting. I felt like there was so much unused potential that was over looked creating the possibility of some great action. But, the action seemed to never come and the threat Vigo presented was really quite lack luster. In fact, I felt like most of the story was build up. Build up of the relationship between Amy and Alexander and build up of the threat that Vigo presents, however, only one aspect really came to satisfactory end. In truth, I was more intrigued by the world of Otherworld then I was by the danger lurking in our own. Then there was the lack of emotion appeal. It seemed like nothing save a bit of romance every really developed despite the perfect atmosphere for suspense and tension.

Overall, I did enjoy the story though despite the fact that I would have liked to see far more development then we got. The characters were interesting and the plot was unique and original. This is really quite a fast read, so it's easy to overlook some of the lacking elements leaving this a fun read. I think tweens will find this the most enjoyable, but there are some cute aspects that will appeal to the older crowds looking for some light reading.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars