Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn

Title: Kitty Rocks the House
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kitty Norville #11

Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages

Publication: March 26, 2013 by TOR Books

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On the heels of Kitty's return from London, a new werewolf shows up in Denver, one who threatens to split the pack by challenging Kitty's authority at every turn. The timing could not be worse; Kitty needs all the allies she can muster to go against the ancient vampire, Roman, if she's to have any hope of defeating his Long Game. But there's more to this intruder than there seems, and Kitty must uncover the truth, fast. Meanwhile, Cormac pursues an unknown entity wreaking havoc across Denver; and a vampire from the Order of St. Lazaurus tempts Rick with the means to transform his life forever.


 
I haven’t read the previous books in the Kitty Norville series, but was able to seamlessly follow the story with the little background that the author provided. What I liked was that the author didn’t just throw a load of background information in the first chapter, but added one or two sentences throughout the book to explain whenever a new (new to the scene not overall) character entered the scene. Kitty Rocks the House is the 11th book in the Kitty Norville Series; Kitty is the alpha werewolf of Denver and a radio talk show host at KNOB. Kitty is still adjusting to her role as alpha, from learning that she is responsible to care and lead the pack and essentially having their lives/fate determined by her. Life doesn’t slow down when one isn’t ready and Kitty and the vampire Rick, master of Denver are scouring all over the country for allies to fight against the vampire Roman (The Long Game). Meanwhile two new strangers show up in Denver, a vampire catholic priest and a lone werewolf. The lone werewolf Darren is apparently looking to join Kitty’s pack and she agrees to let him stay with them to see how things play out, but Darren indirectly challenges Kitty at every turn. Kitty is not sure if he’s doing it without really knowing or does he have an ulterior motive? As for the vampire priest, he temps with an offer that Rick has been searching for every since he was turn but that would mean leaving the city and being master of Denver.

This book came in the mail for review, and I didn’t know if I should read it being that it is the 11th book in the series but I decided why not? I’m really glad I read it! Kitty is an awesome heroine, she funny, caring, smart, and while she’d prefer getting things resolved without violence…she’s not afraid to fight if it is the last resort. Kitty is a really understanding alpha to her pack and in general, she never thinks she’s above anyone and is just overall sensible. Between all the chaos and problems surrounding Kitty, she’s still a normal person with normal dreams and job. Dreams as in she wants to own a house, and eventually have children some day (alternatives options because weres can’t have kids). Throughout the book there were a couple of scenes with Kitty taking callers on the radio, and boy was those funny! The callers’ questions were hilarious and Kitty was definitely an entertaining hostess. Kitty Rocks the House felt like a transition between books, not a lot of action going on but I still enjoyed every single page. I wish I read this series a long time ago, just this book alone tells me that Kitty’s growth over the books is certainly not to be missed. I’m thinking about maybe starting the series with book 1, but we’ll see. Bottom line a great book, and what I think makes this series so popular is Kitty herself and her wonderful friends and family…everyone cares deeply for one another and from what I understand of the background, Kitty as alpha has made so much of a different she’s notorious far and wide. I look forward to seeing more of Kitty and her friends in the next book, Kitty in the Underworld which comes out July 30, 2013!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Title: The Nightmare Affair
Author: Mindee Arnett
Genre: Young-Adult, Paranormal
Series: The Arkwell Academy #1

Hardcover, 367 pages

Publication: March 5, 2013 by TOR Teen

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Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare. Literally.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.



Dusty Everhart is a Nightmare, a Magickind and in order to replenish her magic/powers she has to feed off of people’s dreams (and the best way to ‘feed’ is by sitting on the chest of the victim, which is as weird as it sounds lol). On one of her regular feeding trips she goes into the dream of Eli Booker, one of the hottest guys that go to her old high school. His dream is unlike any other dream she’d ever encounter, his was vivid and colorful versus the dull black and white one she been in…and he’s dreaming of a murder at her current school which should be impossible. Dusty is currently attending Arkwell Academy, a school for the Magickind (Fairies, mermaids, siren, demons etc) and there’s no way he’s been there because it’s for magical folks and he’s an ordinary human.  Before Dusty can analyze more of the dream, Eli grabs Dusty and boots her from the dream.  She tries to spell him to escape but everything she throws at Eli gets cancelled out. Things go from bad to worse when she arrives back at Arkwell to discover Eli’s dream has just came true. A murderer is on the loose, and the magis (top Magickind leaders) want Dusty to find the clues to who the killer is by using her Nightmare skills. There is a catch though, she’s only allowed to ‘feed’ off of Eli because it turns out she’s a dream-seer (someone who can see what will happen in the future) and it will only work when she’s with Eli.
 
When I first heard about this book, I knew I was going to like it from its cute cover to the intriguing synopsis about a girl who is the epitome of Nightmare (at least to what we think we know). This book is a mash up all things paranormal with a hint of Nancy Drew, Mean Girls, and Harry Potter. Many people probably think The Nightmare Affair is just another paranormal boarding school novel but it isn’t. Most of the paranormal beings aren’t the typical vampires or werewolves seen in most YA today but focus on other lesser known paras such as Sirens, Demons, fairies, wizards all with their own uniqueness and of course Nightmares. Although Nightmares are rare, and there is only three (including Dusty) within the whole area or even state (but you have to read the book to find out why!). The paranormal mystery in the story was interesting, it always kept me guessing who the killer was, and the overall characters were all well fleshed out, I enjoy every single character…even the snotty Lance and Katarina.

I love Dusty from the start, she’s really down to earth, a typical 16-year old, smart, and doesn’t care what people think of her. Dusty never fitted in when she arrived at Arkwell a couple months ago, she’s the only Nightmare at school and her mother is an infamous rebel known to always bend/break The Will (which is a magic spell/rule that makes sure all Magickind don’t harm one another). Dusty is constantly picked on by the popular kids (Lance and Katarina) but it never fazes her, she isn’t afraid to talk back and or retaliate against them. Then there's Dusty’s mom Moira and best friend Selene who are also great secondary characters. Moira isn’t your typical mother, she’s kind of out there and even though some of her parental teachings are questionable, she loves dusty very much.Talking of Dusty's mom, she was another plus for the story because not only is Dusty’s mom around keeping tabs on her but for once the MC has both parents for that matter! I don’t know if you guys noticed but a lot of MC in YA have no parents because they died, not even there, or  gosh know what...I find that annoying and repetitive since it’s in every other YA out there. Then we have Selene who is a siren, she’s a loyal and caring friend and doesn’t let her good siren looks get to her head like others (*cough*Katarina).

Another thing I enjoyed about The Nightmare Affair was that the author incorporated Arthurian myth/legends into the story which I found fun because not many books have done that in a YA novel (at least none that I’ve read), and I just recently watched 4 season of the TV show Merlin so reading about Arthur and Merlin made me giddy :D. There is also a love triangle in the book, and while I’m not a fan of love triangles this one didn’t bother me so much because I already knew who she’d pick in the end. Yes, it was slightly predictable but it didn’t make the story any less fun. I love this book a lot, and it exceeded my expectations. The Nightmare Affair is full of awesome characters, fascinating world building, and a killer fun mystery that had me guessing till the end. The end is left open to build on in the next book but not like a cliff hanger thankfully. I can’t wait to read more about Dusty and her friends in the next book, The Nightmare Dilemma which comes out in 2014! I highly recommend this to everyone, who I think will like a light-fun paranormal mystery.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett

Title: American Elsewhere
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Genre(s): Fantasy, Horror, Sci-fi

Paperback, 688 pages

Publication: February 12, 2013 by Orbit

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Source: Publicist

Some places are too good to be true. Under a pink moon, there is a perfect little town not found on any map. In that town, there are quiet streets lined with pretty houses, houses that conceal the strangest things.
After a couple years of hard traveling, ex-cop Mona Bright inherits her long-dead mother's home in Wink, New Mexico. And the closer Mona gets to her mother's past, the more she understands that the people of Wink are very, very different ...
From one of our most talented and original new literary voices comes the next great American supernatural novel: a work that explores the dark dimensions of the hometowns and the neighbors we thought we knew.


 
Mona Bright is an Ex-cop who is always on the road going from places to place, unsure what to make of her life after the devastating death of her unborn child and divorce. Then suddenly she finds out that her dad has passed away, though she has never been close with her father. With his death she inherits all of his belongs, which includes a hot cherry red muscle car and a house…which surprisingly was once her mother’s. She never knew her mother gave the deeds to her father, but life must be looking up if she got a new car and house; she just needs to go to Wink, New Mexico a place she never heard of let alone seen on a map.

After a lot of research and guess-timation on the location of Wink, Mona eventually finds it. The small town of Wink is like a flash back of the 1950s, everything is perfect with neat little houses with white picket fence, flawlessly trimmed lawn and trees and everyone seems like a cozy tight knit town where everyone knows everything about everyone else.  All Mona wants is to find out more about her mother’s history and who she was before she committed suicide. Mona questions everyone the town people and digs nonstop for more information about her mom, and soon she discover A LOT she didn’t know about her mom’s past and that the town of Wink isn’t what it seems to be. 

My first impression on reading American Elsewhere was that I’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone, especially when Mona arrives in Wink, New Mexico.  The people of Wink were astounded when the first see Mona driving down the street in Wink, because Wink has had anyone going in or out of the town for thirty years.  The people of wink were strange; think the Stepford wives movie and the way everyone talk came out robotic/monotone and you can definitely tell everyone is keeping secrets. When Mona questions the residents about her mother or the lab on the mesa where her mother used to work they’d say they know nothing of it or directly say that they’re forbidden to talk. Meanwhile, someone is going around killing people in Wink, and the town people are getting nervous because apparently these ‘people’ cannot be killed. Not only does Mona have to find out more about her mom but she’s going have to help find the killer if she wants to get answers.

American Elsewhere is a blend of contemporary fiction, horror, fantasy and science fiction. I really enjoyed American Elsewhere but it is by no means a simple book, the story/plot line is complex and heavily layered clocking out at almost 700 pages.  While the story itself was intriguing, I felt that the characters all fell flat, including the main character Mona. There were too many characters to remember, with two primary groups of character those in Wink and those outside of Wink. The story would jump back between the two groups and although this book is almost 700 pages, there wasn’t much page time for the main characters which causes a disconnection between me, the reader and the cast of characters. Overall American Elsewhere was a good book, I really liked the science fiction/horror part of the story and everything was well written. For those curious/interested in reading the book, some things that I think best describe this book are again the Twilight Zone, X-files, and The Host by Stephanie Meyers.  I highly recommend this to fans that enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy and Horror genres. 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blog Tour: Rebel Angels by Michele Lang + Giveaway


I'd like to give a big warm-welcome to Michele Lang, author of the Lady Lazarus Trilogy! On today's Rebel Angels blog tour stop Michele has provided readers with an excerpt from the Lady Lazarus Trilogy and a list of the cast of characters.

Don't forget to enter the awesome giveaway at the end of the blog, TOR BOOKS is giving away three (3) complete sets of the Lady Lazarus Trilogy, and EVERYONE who enters wins the novella “The Magic of Fabulous” (set in the world of Lady Lazarus).


ABOUT THE SERIES: LADY LAZARUS TRILOGY

The LADY LAZARUS series by Michele Lang
The series is set on the eve of World War II, and tells the story of Magda Lazarus, a witch with the power to call souls from the dead.  In order to avert her sister’s visions, Magda must battle SS werewolves, wizards, and demons, including the one who has possessed a willing Adolf Hitler. 
 
Book 1: Lady Lazarus

ADVENTURE, ROMANCE, AND MAGIC ON THE EVE OF WORLD WAR II
Summer 1939: In Budapest, the magical city where East meets West, beautiful, young Magda Lazarus has managed to make a life for herself in a dangerous world that teeters on the edge of war. But then her sister has a terrible vision: Nazi Germany overruns all of Europe, and their family and millions of others are exterminated.
Magda, the last of a long line of witches descended from the legendary Witch of Ein Dor, must find the secret of her family's magic. Alone, pursued by SS werewolves, a Nazi wizard, and demons, including the one that has possessed a willing Adolf Hitler, she has no choice but to summon the family's guardian angel, the dark keeper of secrets Archangel Raziel.
And when she stands in his celestial presence, her heart is utterly, completely lost…

Book 2: Dark Victory

Magda Lazarus was a reluctant witch, until the dire threat of Nazi Germany convinced her to assume the mantle of her family's ancient powers. But though this young, beautiful woman has fought Hitler's werewolves and the demon who would rule through the Fuhrer, she has been unable to prevent the outbreak of World War II.
There is still a chance of saving the millions slated for destruction, but Magda knows she cannot fight the Nazi supernatural war machine alone.  With the power to summon an army of spirits, Magda stands with her guardian angel Raziel in a battle against the human and unholy forces of evil arrayed against her people and all of Europe.
Magda is desperate to win at any price, but the victory she seeks may be at the cost of her soul…

Book 3: Rebel Angels  

THE THRILLING CONCLUSION OF THE LADY LAZARUS TRILOGY
Magda Lazarus, the Witch of Budapest, has returned from the dead time and time again to fight the Nazia' devastating conquest of Poland. To prevent the Holocaust her sister has seen in terrible visions, Magda will need the Heaven Sapphire, a gem powerful enough to defeat even the demon Asmodel. With the future of all Europe in the balance, Magda and her beloved, the angel Raziel, begin a perilous journey to the Caucasus, the resting place of the fabled stone.
Surrounded by Nazis, Stalinists, and wary Azeri tribesmen, Magda must summon all of her magic to battle her supernatural foes. But more dangerous yet is the power of the Sapphire itself, which could stop Hitler -- or destroy Magda.
At the end of this long road Magda's epic quest will end…in love and redemption, or with annihilation. REBEL ANGELS, the climactic book of the LADY LAZARUS trilogy, filled with suspense, magic, and action, will have readers on the edge of their seats until the riveting conclusion.




Excerpt from the LADY LAZARUS trilogy and cast of Characters!
By Michele Lang


PROLOGUE, LADY LAZARUS



JULY, 1945, Paris

I damned my soul in the summer of 1939.  I did it for the noblest reasons, the best ones – to save the people I loved; to make a terrible wrong turn right.  But still I am tormented by the thought that my sins overwhelmed my intentions and turned my noble sacrifices to dust even as I made them.  Only time will tell if my desperate measures, in the end, were justified.



In my mind, that final summer is saturated with golden sunlight.  My beloved home – gilded Budapest, the Paris on the Danube – glittered brilliantly in the sun, even blighted as it was by the stain of fascism.  The caf├ęs still buzzed with energy, the city still throbbed at night. My Budapest still lived.


And I felt at home there like no other place I have lived before or since.  To me, a girl of only twenty, Budapest was the culmination of a life’s dream of freedom.  My family, originally from the northern mountain town of Tokaj, was drawn to Budapest’s brilliant light at the end of the nineteenth century, and my father, a wine trader, eventually made his fortune. 

Not even the depredations of Bela Kun’s Bolshevik regime in 1919, followed by the genial fascist toad, that hypocrite Regent Horthy, not even an army of their small-minded followers could destroy the restless creativity of the city.  I knew it was dangerous to be a Jew.  But I had one secret advantage, and I clung to it for dear life.

I was a Lazarus.  And the eldest daughter of an eldest daughter.

The city teemed with magical folk, living alongside the pure mortals.  Vampires, dryads, dwarves, other, hidden, immortal beings – and the adepts, the sorcerers, necromancers, and witches.  As for me, I am a Lazarus witch.  My power is passed from mother to daughter, and has been so conveyed since time out of mind.

My mother, bless her vanished soul, tried her best to teach me the Lazarus creed and how to use the power I inherited, and the dangers such a power brings, but I was born rebellious.  And when she died suddenly, my training was still unfinished.  I preferred to haunt the cafes, debate Communism and literary theory with half-starved poets living on weak tea and rum balls, indulge in mad affairs of the mind and heart that in the end led absolutely nowhere.  In short, I was a young fool, but a happy one.

The trouble crept up on all of us, a shadow that lengthened over everything we knew.  Horthy’s regime was dreadful, but after the disaster of Bela Kun, we all believed we could survive the Regent.  So we, the Jews, kept our heads down and worked.  And we, the witches, kept to our creed, respected the destructive potential of our powers and invoked them rarely.  We told ourselves useful lies, that the trouble would soon pass.  And a fragile balance held.

Such a state, balanced on lies, could not sustain itself for long.  Despite this, when the end came, none of us was ready.

And now I hold my breath, my pen hovers over the paper before I write.  How can I explain to you, a stranger, what has happened to me?  At this pause in my earthly trials, I do not know which is better:  to press forward and leave the past to die, or to commit my strange tale to paper.

Well I know the power of words.  In many instances, I am the only witness, the only one still living who knows of the great-hearted sacrifices of those who are now gone, the only one who can now remember.  So:  I write this story not to glorify the living, but to honor the dead.

The summer of ’39 is seared into my mind, and lives on forever unchanged in my memory.  Hitler had not yet invaded Poland, war had not yet exploded the world I had known into irredeemable shards.  I was still a girl, the future still lay before me, indefinable, infinite with possibility.

I was still kissing-close to the people I loved most in the entire world.  And simple love matters more than magic, treasure, or even the promise of eternal life. It is for love that I now set this strange tale into words.

Remember this as you read on, for though my story has its triumphs, in the end it has always come back to two fundamental questions:

Who do you love?
Do you seek the darkness or the light?


A Cast of Characters from the Lady Lazarus Trilogy

Magda Lazarus: the eldest daughter of the Lazarus witches, with a lineage that stretches all the way back to the Witch of Ein Dor.  She has a secret passion for the magic of the word - with words she can summon a soul, even her own, back from the dead.

Raziel: An archangel with the unenviable task of serving as Magda's guardian angel. She pushes him to a grim dilemma: stand aside in heaven and watch as his ward is destroyed? Or fall to earth and sacrifice his wings and his celestial status? Raziel's secret love: Magda Lazarus.

Count Bathory: The Chief Vampire of Budapest values power over the night, and his assistant Magda Lazarus gives him a valuable edge over his enemies…a key advantage in the perilous days before World War II explodes in Europe. Hidden within his cold, dead heart is a passion for humankind…he cares more about the mortals he feeds upon than he would ever admit. 

Gisele Lazarus: Magda's little sister, she of the terrifying visions of a world destroyed. Her dearest wish is for her family to stay home and safe, but her wishes for peace are not to be. But she is not the little mouse her sister Magda believes she is… 

Eva Farkas: Magda's best friend, an irrepressible blonde with not a drop of magic in her. Full of fun and courage, Eva has a dark side and a secret destiny she keeps well-hidden from those she loves the most. 

Winston Churchill: the British lion speaks to angels, maintains a network of spies throughout Europe, and foresees the future almost as clearly as does Gisele.  But he is willing to make any sacrifice to crush his country's foes. 

Asmodel: An ancient, primordial demon with a lust to dominate and destroy the world. With Magda under his control, he believes he can overthrow both celestial and worldly authority and recreate the Garden of Eden into his own, evil image. But can he succeed without destroying Magda first?



GIVEAWAY 
TOR BOOKS is generously giving away three (3) complete sets of the Lady Lazarus Trilogy, and EVERYONE who enters wins the novella “The Magic of Fabulous” (set in the world of Lady Lazarus).

The Lady Lazarus Trilogy sets (US/CA) only.

"The Magic of Fabulous" novella (Everyone) just provide your name and email in the comments)! 


TO ENTER PLEASE FILL OUT THE RAFFLECOPTER

   
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About the Author
Michele Lang writes supernatural stories set in futuristic places: the stories of witches, lawyers, goddesses, cops, bankers, demons, and other magical creatures hidden in plain sight.
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