Sunday, June 27, 2010

Angel's Blood (Guild Hunter 1) - Nalini Singh

Back cover summary-

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she is the best--but she does not know if even she is good enough for this job.  Hired by the dangerously beautiful archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, Elena knows failure is not an option--even if the task is impossible. Because this time, it's not a wayward vamp she has to track. It's an archangel gone bad.  The job will put Elena is the midst of a killing spree like no other--and pull her to the razor's edge of passion.  Even if the hunt does not destroy her, succumbing to Raphael's seductive touch just might.  For when archangel's play, mortals break.

Review (Spoilers!)-

A natural born hunter, Elena Deveraux is the best in her profession, that is why Raphael, the fearsome archangel  of new york hired her to track Uram, an archangel gone mad with blood lust.  Of course, it is not only Uram that Elena needs to worry about because Raphael is equally dangerous.  It  doesn't help matters that she is very attracted to him.  At the end of course, Raphael and Elena stopped Uram's madness.

I really liked this book. It is a fresh take on the vampire story and it offers more than sexy vampires but also angels who are higher up in the paranormal food chain.  Angels are beings of incredible beauty and power.  Unlike vampires, they have never been human and therefore they behave with incredible cruelty and savagery.  Raphael, our hero, is not an exception to this.  This angle is also what makes the story refreshing because he is no whining immortal.  He is a savage beast of magnificent beauty and power who is shocked to realize that he loves a mortal woman and would choose to die than live his immortal life without her.  Sweet. Our heroine, Elena, is no damsel in distress.  She is a warrior woman and a born vampire hunter.  She is stubborn but not irritatingly so.  She admitted a few times that Raphael made her feel feminine.

The story is well written and absorbing.  While reading Angel's Blood, I can't help but think that it is definitely in another class.  There is a plot. The world where Raphael and Elena lives is so vividly described that until now I could still see angels flying and landing in skyscrapers. Even though the romance between Raphael and Elena is central to the story is it not forced.  The characters are well developed and well formulated that they are haunting.  I can almost hear Raphael's wings flapping in the air and smell his scent of water and wind.  Great strong hero matched with a great heroine.

Finding an absorbing new series is a real treasure.  I am really looking forward to the next one.

Rating: *****


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Raphael - D.B. Reynolds

Back cover summary-

Malibu, California-home to rock-and-roll gods and movie stars, the beautiful, the rich . . . and vampires. Powerful and charismatic, Raphael is a Vampire Lord, one of the few who hold the power of life and death over every vampire in existence. Thousands call him Master and have pledged absolute loyalty on their very lives. But when, in a brazen and deadly daylight attack, a gang of human killers kidnaps the one female vampire he'd give his life for, Raphael turns to a human investigator to find his enemies before it's too late. Cynthia Leighton is smart, tough and sexy, a private investigator and former cop who's tired of spying on cheating spouses and digging out old bank accounts. When Raphael asks for her help in tracking down the kidnappers, Cyn's happy to accept. But she soon realizes her greatest danger comes not from the humans, but from Raphael himself. Battling Russian mobsters and treacherous vampires, and betrayed by those they trusted, Cyn and Raphael find themselves fighting for their lives while caught up in a passion of blood and violence that is destined to destroy them both. 

Review (warning spoilers!!)

I just finished reading Raphael by D.B. Reynolds and I have to say that I loved it!  It is one of the stronger vampire books I have read lately.  The plotting is sharp, the romance believable, the writing is smooth, and the vampires powerful.  I read it in one sitting and wasn't even tempted to skip pages.  I was quite hopeless to find another urban fantasy/paranormal romance series that I could be truly excited about until I read Raphael today.

Raphael, the title character, is one of eight vampire lords ruling the American continent. No, the book was not written from his point of view but from the third person. He is dark, strong and powerful. While Raphael was away for a vampire conference, Alexandra, a vampire he cared about deeply, was kidnapped by a trusted friend.  Having heard of private detective Cynthia Leighton, Raphael hired her to help him find Alexandra.  Sparks fly and romance grew in the process of her detective work for the vampire lord and of course, Cynthia found Alexandra at the end.

Cynthia Leighton is your typical urban fantasy heroine.  She is a beautiful, strong, stubborn, gun-totting  kick-ass woman.  Raphael is also your typical vampire hero.  He is strong, beautiful, powerful, dark and mysterious.  What makes this story effective is these characters were written in a very believable way.  Raphael truly behaves as what you would expect of a powerful vampire lord.  He is confident and oozing in his power.  Cynthia is as believable.  She is human and weak as such but she uses her cunning to come through and save the day.  She was not made to do anything that will make you go "huh?" as sometimes I feel about Anita Blake.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to the next one, Jabril.  For sure, this series goes on my list of what to read after the Sookie Stackhouse series.

Rating: *****

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What to read after Twilight

I suffered from severe withdrawal after reading the Twilight saga.  I searched the internet for books that can make the longing go away.  It's either I read another book or I reread Twilight Saga for an nth time. Anyway, here are the books that I found distracting:

1.  Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris-  Definitely less Young Adult than Twilight but it is passionating.  The urban fantasy world than Charlaine Harris created is more gore than romantic but you may still find yourself swooning over vampire Bill or Eric.  Of course, the TV adaptation of this series is in its third season in HBO but don't get fooled because the books are very far from the TV show.

2. Beautiful Creatures- Beautifully written book of forbidden love by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. No vampires here but the "creatures" are interesting.  Story was told from the point of view of Ethan Wake, so we know what the guy is thinking of for a change.

3. Vampire Diaries- The original "vampires attending high school" story by L.J. Smith.  Love triangle between Elena, the most beautiful girl in school, Stefan, the brooding vampire and Damon, the ruthless one.  A little bit too yound adult for me but it hits all the spots.

4.House of Night- Boarding school vampires by P.C. Cast.  I would recommend it to young adult readers. The books are a little simplistic but nevertheless engrossing.

Undead in the City by Linda Hilburn

Amazon Summary-

Musician Tempest Moon knew the world was a rough place. Raised in the inner city of Detroit, the only way she knew to succeed was to be smarter – and tougher – than the next guy. Being a sexy, talented singer/lead guitar player with her own band was her way of being in charge of her destiny. Whether anyone else liked it, or not.

Tempest’s band was gigging in yet another downtown dive. The club was almost empty due to the arrival of the worst blizzard the city had seen in a century. With one more set to play before she and the band could escape the smoky lounge, a mystery man walked in. Even dripping wet from the relentless onslaught, Tempest could tell the man was unusual. If only because he was the most gorgeous male specimen she’d ever seen. But he was a little pale.

Malveaux had ducked into the bar to avoid having to kill anymore of the worthless minions set upon him by the local vampire territory boss. Under most circumstances, he’d have enjoyed tracking the idiots, and tearing their hearts out. He’d learned long ago to take pleasure in his work. But Malveaux wasn’t dealing with usual circumstances. A sexual obsession, passed to him by his sire and suddenly overwhelming, had changed all the rules of the game. He knew if he didn’t find an “offspring” – a female to serve his needs – he’d go mad.

When he laid eyes on the charismatic musician on stage, he knew he’d found his “child.” She wouldn’t need to know he was an assassin. But she’d find out his deeper secret soon enough when he sank his fangs into the pulsing vein in her neck.

Together they’d take on the human underworld and the undead. 

Review (spoilers!)

Malveaux is a 200 year old vampire who was hired by the human mobsters to kill Quade, a vampire trying to get the Detroit territory.  Malveaux unfortunately gets a bit distracted by his sex addiction and focused instead on an aspiring singer named Tempest Moon.  Well, fortunately for Malveaux, Tempest is a also quite the nymphomaniac so they hit it off very well.  Quade then tries to hurt Malveaux by hurting Tempest but of course Tempest and Malveaux triumphs at the end.

I picked up this book because I liked the Vampire Shrink which was also written by Linda Hilburn.  The two books couldn't be any different.  True, both are dealing with vampires but that's where the similarity ends. I largely can't stand the vulgar language in which Undead in the City was written and the lack of any plot.  The words cock and pussy appear probably every 20 words and all Malveaux and Tempest did was have sex.    Tempest spent most of the book naked and Malveaux with a erection. Maybe this book was written for Playboy, or maybe not because it would be probably be too pornographic and vulgar for Playboy.

Rating:  **

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Vampire Shrink - Lynda Hilburn

Amazon summary-

Denver Psychologist Kismet Knight just wants a little excitement in her life. A little publishing fame and fortune. She doesn't believe in the paranormal. Especially not comic book children of the night. But when a new client pulls Kismet into the vampire underworld, and introduces her to gorgeous Devereux -- who claims to be an 800-year-old vampire -- Kismet finds herself up to her neck in the undead. Not to mention all the other bizarre creatures crawling out of Denver's supernatural Pandora's Box. And if being attracted to a man who thinks he's an ancient bloodsucker isn't bad enough, someone -- or something -- is leaving a trail of blood-drained dead bodies. Enter handsome FBI profiler Alan Stevens, who warns her that vampires are very real and that one is a murderer. A murderer who is after her. In the midst of it all, Kismet realizes she has feelings for both the vampire and the profiler. But though she cares for each of the men, the reality that vampires exist is enough of a challenge . . . for now. 

Review (warning spoilers!)

Kismet Knight is a psychologist who bit off more than what she could chew when she had a brilliant idea to become a vampire psychologist.  She discovered the world of "vampire wannabes" after counseling Midnight  who Kismet believed to be merely a disturbed  young woman.  Midnight believes in vampires and wanted to be one.  Kismet suddenly found herself entangled with the vampire world--even if she didn't believe in vampires---specially after she caught the interests of the gorgeous master vampire Devereux.. The villain in this book is Bryce, a vampire that Devereux made.  Bryce wanted to be with Devereux but since Devereux was not interested, he planned to kill Devereux instead.  Of course since Kismet is a modern woman, she got to save her man (even if she is not convinced yet that he is her man) by beheading Bryce like the Highlander.

I did not expect this book to be good.  It was a pleasant surprise.  I never have high hopes when the book cover is cheesy but this one turned out to be quite good. It is definitely on my list of books to read while waiting for the next Sookie Stackhouse book.

Kismet Knight is no Sookie Stackhouse or Bella Swan.  She is a highly educated, pragmatic, no-nonsense woman.  She is ├╝ber-sensible.  This is the reason why it took her a while to believe in vampires even in the face of overwhelming evidence.   I admit this made everything a bit dry because the book was written from the point of view of Kismet and unfortunately, she is a bit emotionally inaccessible.  Devereux is a very strong romantic lead.  He is an 800 year old celtic vampire with a twist---he can do magic like Merlin!  How cool is that?

Kismet is lucky.  Devereux is just in-love with her by default. The result is a story with the heroin struggling to accept that a beautiful, powerful man loves her and if she could love him back instead of the usual woman is running after the man storyline.

The Vampire Shrink hits all the spots and I highly recommend it to people to likes Sookie Stackhouse.

Rating: *****

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Black Magic Sanction- Kim Harrison (The Hollows Book 8)

Back cover summary-

Rachel Morgan has fought and hunted vampires, warewolves,banshees, demons and other supernatural dangers as both witch and bounty hunter--and lived to tell the tale.  But she's never faced off against her own kind...until now.

Denounced and shunned for dealing with demons and black magic, Rachel's best hope is life imprisonment--the worst, a forced lobotomy and genetic slavery.  Only her enemies are strong enough to help her win her freedom, but trust comes hard when it hinges on the unscrupulous tycoon Trent Kalamack, the demon Algaliarept, and an ex-boyfriend turned thief.  It takes a witch to catch a witch but survival bears a heavy price.

Review (Warning Spoilers!)-

I was prepared for a disappointment because I read a lot of bad reviews about this latest Rachel Morgan book but I really liked it.  It's true, Rachel whines a lot and it seems she didn't really evolve as a person but I do see a spark of evolution and I am hopeful that we will get that in the next book.  The action in Black Magic Sanction doesn't let up, before Rachel could catch her breath from escaping a bad situation, she gets sucked up into another one. This was together a good and bad thing for the plotting.

What I liked:

1. The mystery of her past with Trent.  This could be really good.  I am crossing my fingers that Kim Harrison doesn't mess this up.
2. Al.  He is still my favorite character.  Always a true demon.
3. Kim Harrison stopped with the Ivy-Rachel thing.
4. Jenks will live!  Yeepee!

What I didn't like:

1. Pierce.  I hope he would get stuck in the ever-after forever.
2. Nick. Kim Harrison should come up with a less irritating villain.  He is so one-dimensional that he is not interesting.
3. More elves please. Ceri just appeared to save the day like superman.  Quen was nowhere.
4.  Too action packed.  Rachel was panting for breath and me too.  I guess that is the reason why readers have a feeling that she doesn't think and is just reactive.  The author just doesn't give her time to think and ponder about the things that happened to her. 

 I think the author lay a lot of ground for a pretty good story in the next installment. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

Rating:  *****