Phantom Kiss (Chicagoland Vampires, 12.5)

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I don’t normally read novellas, I’m not sure why but I usually don’t. I think the reason I decided to read this one is because I know this series is coming to an end and I absolutely love this series. But this book was too short. 


Phantom Kiss

Author: Chloe Neill
Published: January 19, 2017
Pages: 80

Stars: 3 out of 5

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Other Books in this Series I have Reviewed:
Midnight Marked (Chicagoland Vampires, #12)

 

Synopsis:
Vampires generally aren’t afraid of things that go bump in the night, but Merit and Ethan are extra jumpy after a recent attack by a dark sorcerer. So when they learn that someone is messing with graves in Chicago’s cemeteries, stealing skulls and snatching souls, they fear that their powerful foe might be back for even more magical vengeance.

But after a specter begins haunting Cadogan House—and targeting vampires—they realize that their being taunted by an altogether different sort of monster. A ghoulish villain straight out of the Windy City’s urban legends is on the prowl—and he won’t stop until he’s killed again…

Review:
Phantom Kiss offers a more intimate glimpse into Ethan and Merits romantic life, which I loved! The book opens with Merit and Ethan’s engagement party. And we all know how much Merit enjoys a good party, especially one involving her family. But the night quickly turns from a social party to one of business when they find out graves are being disturbed and ghosts are being summoned. I had a hard time seeing why Merit and Ethan would be called about this. I know it was explained in the book, but I guess I’m having a hard time making the connection. 

The rest of the book goes by quickly. Did I mention this book was too short? I didn’t love the book but that’s mostly because of the short length. Phantom Kiss included most of the characters that Chicagoland Vampires fans love and didn’t contain anything essential to the overall plot of this series. Again, not something I would buy but something that was pleasant to read. 

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Author Spotlight- Josie Jaffrey: The Solis Invicti series

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“Jaffrey takes on vampires, their world and their power has me awestruck! This one is blazing bright at the top of my growing hidden gem pile.”  With reviews like this, I can’t help but be curious about these books. This is a four book dystonia, paranormal romance series with book four being released on August 5, 2017. I had the opportunity to chat with Josie Jaffrey about her series and ask her a few questions about what it takes to be a writer.

When did you first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
I’ve been writing stories all my life, but it wasn’t until I had written the first book in the Solis Invicti series in 2014 that I started to think about writing seriously. Even then, I didn’t really think of myself as a writer until I was on the third book of the series.
I strongly believe that writing is not something you choose; it chooses you. I have books in my head that want to escape, and I feel as though I don’t have much choice now but to let them out onto the page.

Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
A Bargain in Silver is the first of four books that together form the Solis Invicti paranormal romance series (all now published and available on Amazon). The series is set in London, in a world in which the human population has been decimated by a blood-borne virus. In the wake of the zombie apocalypse that follows, a vampiric race called the Silver seizes control. Without the protection of the Silver, humanity will soon cease to exist, and without uninfected human blood, the Silver will perish. A necessary symbiosis is the result, but the power of the two races could not be more unevenly balanced.

The protagonist of the series is Emilia, a twenty-something barmaid with an insubordinate and reckless approach to the new order. In the first days following the collapse, she struggles to accept that her life has changed irrevocably and that she is powerless to reclaim it. That recalcitrance brings her face to face with the highest ranks of the Silver, resulting in danger, intrigue and a dash of romance.

I’m a big fan of paranormal romance, but I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for in the genre. I wanted something grittier, with more fluid relationships, and something that wasn’t set in the USA (I live in England). My imagination plugged the gap for me, and that was the genesis of the series.

Can you tell me more about the series?
All four books follow the same protagonist as she struggles against the zombie apocalypse and, primarily, the incarceration that is pushed onto humanity by the vampires who now protect her. There is a strong romance element to the novels (there is some sexual content), but I didn’t want it to be linear. I’ve taken the opportunity afforded by a four-book series and have played with a few common tropes that irritate me (primarily instalove), together with a few that I really enjoy (like scent-marking and bonding). There are love triangles, aggression and drama, but there is also an eventual HEA (promise!).

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
There isn’t a moral to the series as such. Instead, the books examine issues of power and control, and how they affect the dynamics in human relationships. Vampires are a great medium through which to explore those sorts of questions, for obvious reasons. But more than anything, I just hope that readers will enjoy the story.

What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
This is such a difficult question to answer! There are lots of authors I could name, but if I have to choose one I’ll say Michael Marshall Smith. He writes intensely thought-provoking and often twisted stories. My favourite is More Tomorrow, a harrowing and bleak short story with an ending so full of understated horror that I’ll remember it till the end of my days. I aspire one day to write something as powerful.

Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?
Keep reading, and keep writing. I think it’s easy for new authors to get so caught up in the business of writing that they never actually write. How many people do you know who say ‘I have this idea for a book…’, but then never do anything about it, or start but don’t finish? The naked truth is that you’ll never be a writer unless you can complete a piece of work, so just do it. Worry about everything else later.

Beside your series, are there any other books you would recommend reading this winter?
I have a huge stack of books awaiting my attention over Christmas, and I can’t wait to get going on them. Top on my list are a couple of Gail Carriger novellas. My recommendation for anyone who hasn’t read any Gail Carriger would be: read Soulless, and do it immediately. I love her books, and will automatically buy anything she writes.


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Published: January 3, 2015
Pages: 368

Series: Solis Invicti

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Synopsis:
If the price of safety is slavery, would you bargain your life?

A Bargain in Silver is book one of Josie Jaffrey’s Solis Invicti paranormal romance series, set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic London.

A deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience. It’s not a deal that Emmy’s willing to make, but as her world burns around her she finds herself in the arms of the enemy and the line between oppressor and saviour begins to blur.

After an attack by the infected, Emmy is rescued by the handsome Drew who introduces her to the world of the Silver. Desperate to escape subjugation and confused by her attraction to him, she gathers what remains of her surrogate family and plans to make a break for freedom.

But despite her efforts to resist, she is drawn further into the intrigues of the mysterious Silver through the agency of their ruler, the Primus: Solomon. Emmy refuses to submit to the cold and detached Primus and an attempt on her life makes it clear that he is unable to protect her from the political machinations of his race.

As the connection between them deepens she must choose between her desire and her will to rebel, but can she trust his intentions when everyone is after her blood?

Short Excerpt:
His beautiful blue eyes bored into mine.

“What would you have me do?” he challenged. “Would you rather I lied? That I use clever arguments to convince you this is something you want? That I manipulate you into believing the reality of this arrangement to be other than it is?” 

I looked down at the table.

“We have to drink blood to live,” he continued, “and it has to be human. There’s no way I can make that concept more palatable to you, if you’ll excuse the pun. Life as you knew it has changed, Emilia. We have always been here, moving amongst you, it was just that you weren’t conscious of our presence. Now, with the Weepers multiplying, consuming and replacing your kind, we can no longer hide.”

“Isn’t that a little disingenuous?” I said, remembering Jeff’s theory about the lead time that would have been required for the level of organisation the vampires had displayed. “Aren’t the Weepers just an excuse for you to act?”

“We have been waiting for an opportunity for some time,” he acknowledged with a tilt of his head. “I know you want things to return to how they were,” he continued, “but that is not in my power to give. Your world is gone. You’re fighting for a life that no longer exists. There are difficult decisions to make, sacrifices, simply to save what little remains to us. I am trying to salvage an existence for your race, a new world for both of our races. There could be a place in that world for you, if you’re willing to look for it.”


2Josie lives in Oxford, England, with her husband and two cats.  When she’s not writing, she works as a lawyer, specialising in intellectual property and commercial law.  She also runs a video book review club, The Gin Book Club, through her website.

The first book in the Solis Invicti series (A Bargain in Silver) is Josie’s debut novel.

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Hope you are able to check out the first book in this series. Comment below if you have read any of the books from this series. I can’t wait to hear what you think! Until next time, Happy Reading 🙂

 

Archangels Kiss (Guild Hunter, #2)

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Hmm, what to say about this book. One word sums up this book- disapointment. But before I get ahead of myself, here is a little information about the book..


 

Archangels kiss

Author: Nalini Singh
Published: February 2, 2010
Pages: 323

Stars: 1 of 5

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Other Books in this Series:
Angels Blood (Guild Hunter, #1)

 

Synopsis:
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find herself changed—an angel with wings the colors of midnight and dawn—but her fragile body needs time to heal before she can take flight. Her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel, Raphael, is used to being in control—especially when it comes to the woman he considers his own. But Elena has never done well with authority.

They’ve barely begun to understand each other when Raphael receives an invitation to a ball from the archangel, Lijuan. To refuse would be a sign of fatal weakness, so Raphael must ready Elena for the flight to Beijing—and to the nightmare that awaits them there. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan holds a power that lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena.

Review:
I wanted to like this book and after reading the first book I thought I love this one. But I just couldn’t. Now keep in mind, my review is not the norm. So if you are considering reading this book, please take a look at other reviews because most people do like this book.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I say Elaine turns into an angel. I thought this was actually pretty cool. But the way Elaine downplays how she became this way, well that was disappointing and somewhat confusing. I felt like the author was pushing Elaine and Raphael’s relationship yet at the same time not really following through. Elaine and Raphael’s relationship is just strange to me. First off, there isn’t much chemistry between the two. I would compare their relationship to a combination of something between instant love and only sexual. It didn’t really fit well. On one hand they will die for each other but on the other, there is no trust and they don’t know each other. And secondly, half the time Elaine didn’t believe in their relationship and the other half she was all tingly and wet… I just don’t get it.

The other thing that really got to me in this book is the writing.  I felt like there was a lot of repetition, especially with some of the exact phrasing used in book one. Where is the creativity in that? And the cursed loop of flashbacks. I mean come on!! The author hints at what happened but doesn’t indulge. It would be one thing if these hinted flashbacks happened every now and then. But it felt like they happened all the time and there was no resolution. It was annoying, repetitive, and frustrating.

Half way through I was bored reading the book. Maybe I will try this book again but until then, this book goes into the DNF Graveyard…

3

 

Angels’ Blood (Guild Hunter #1)

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I am surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. Normally I don’t do the angel thing but this book is an exception. Fast paced with a stubborn and strong heroine, I couldn’t read this book fast enough!


Angel's Blood
Author: Nalini Singh
Published: March 3, 2009
Pages: 339

Stars: 5 out of 5

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Synopsis:
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 in 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 archangels play, mortals break.

Review:
If you are like me and you base whether or not you read a book based on the cover, well I’m telling you now this book is the exception. The cover of this book just doesn’t do it any justice. This book is about power, strength, determination, and romance. I don’t know about you but I didn’t get any of that by looking at the cover of the book.

Anyway, this book starts out fast, so be ready! The author takes an interesting twist on angels and vampires. Archangels are actually the creators of vampires and our main character, Elena, is tasked to tracking down the ones that run away. You see being turned into a vampire comes at a cost. That cost is high and not everyone wants to pay the price. Those who don’t, run. Elena is one of the best hunters out there. But even her abilities are put to the test when archangel Raphael hires her to locate someone. Unfortunately, drawing Raphael’s attention and curiosity is the last thing she wants.

Elena’s character is awesome. She is tough, resilient, and doesn’t let anyone push her around. I think the thing that I like the most is how her character isn’t this far fetched hero. She is human with human flaws. She doesn’t have all the answers and she doesn’t always make the right choses. But she tries her best and she’s a good friend.   

To fully understand Raphael, I feel like I need to add context of what Angles represent. Nalini Singh took this idea of angels and added some dark and sinister elements. Angles in this world are out of touch with humanity, yet they are at the top of the hierarchy. They are carnal, sexual beings who are worshiped and adored but also feared. They have complete power over their realm. But power always comes at a cost. And Raphael sees just how big of a cost this is. Raphael is one of the most powerful among his kind. He is utterly ruthless and at times has no compassion for others. Raphael knows just how powerful he is and he isn’t afraid to use that power to get what he wants. He doesn’t follow human law, he follows a set of laws created by himself and the other Cadre, a group of ten archangels who rule over the world. Raphael is the kind of character that is both disturbing and sexy. He has this masculine appeal that draws you in and it is easy to forget exactly how dangerous he is.  Several times throughout the book he thought about killing Elena because her life, mortal life, has no value to him. Can you see why Elena doesn’t want to draw his attention?

But she does and her journey is not easy. Raphael is not easy to deal with but somehow she slips past his armor and what Raphael wants with Elena isn’t just a business relationship. While Elena turns him down at every advance, he becomes more determined to have her. The cat and mouse game Raphael and Elena play is fantastic! I am always a sucker for this kind of thing and this book is no exception.

The last 2/3rd of the book I was so entranced with the plot, I didn’t stop and take notes like I usually do. I was surprised with how vivid the murders were in this book. I felt like I could easily picture what was unfolding in the book. I found it easy to get invested in this story. I wanted to know more about Raphael and Elena’s relationship. If you love paranormal romance, strong characters with unlimited flirtations banter, you will enjoy this book. 

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)

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I’ll be honest, I knew right away I did not want to finish this book. You know when you start reading something and you realize fairly quickly that this book isn’t for you? Well that’s what happened. Except instead of putting the book down, I kept reading hoping I would see what other readers are raving about. I’ll let you in on a secret, I never saw it..


Paranormalcy
Author: Kiersten White
Published: August 31, 2010
Pages: 335

Stars: 1 out of 5

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Synopsis:
Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

Review:
Evie is a teenager who can see through glamour. She is young and has been raised as a human by the government. Since she was eight, she has had the same job – bag and tag Paranormals. Her life is a bit sad. She doesn’t have any friends, zero family, and hardly ever gets to go out in the real world. But as the story progresses, she slowly pieces information together and things get a little clearer. 

Then Evie meets Lend, a Paranormal she caught but will end up helping. He is her age and wears the glamour of other people instead of his true face. His true form is difficult to make out but needless to say, our lead heroine finds him attractive. Unfortunately she also has to deal with Reth, a faerie who is determined to have her. Being both good and bad, Reth gets his hands on Evie and she begins to change. Both Reth and Lend hold secrets, are mysterious, and attractive. But it’s easy to see which one she puts her trust in. 

The writing style and plot is geared towards a younger audience. I couldn’t say the plot was bad, it just didn’t hold my interest enough. Besides the plot was somewhat typical- clueless girl desperate to be apart of anything while trying to figure out some big secret. Yet refuses the help of those who are actually trying to help her because she is scared and irrational. Evie’s character comes across as the perfect teenager and I think that immaturity was what made this book difficult for me to enjoy. In the end, I never finished the book. I just couldn’t do it. But I honestly think if I was younger, I would enjoy this book more. So please keep that in mind when reading this review and choosing whether you want to read this book or not. But for now, this book will end up in my DNF Graveyard.

3

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

There are a lot of good reviews for this book, so I don’t plan to go into too many details. I recommend reading the book but I’m still up in the air about the series.


Daughter of smoke and bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Published: September 27, 2011
Pages: 422

Stars: 3.5 of 5

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Synopsis:
Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Review:
It took me a bit before I figured out what was happening in the book. And then it took me till I was half way through before I truly understood. Karou is strong, compassionate, and cares deeply, but has no idea who she is. And when faced with love or finding out her identity and saving her family- is there any question on what she will choose…

Akiva knows only death and war. A long time ago he lost the one person he loved, Madrigal. And recently he meets someone who is no closer than a stranger yet as familiar as Madrigal. What will Akiva do when faced with a second chance, will he choose an old love or family?

I thought the characters were creative and the plot was familiar yet unique. I really enjoyed Brimstone’s character. The plot surrounds themes such as oppression and forbidden love. And so much pain.  

I didn’t really like how the story kept going from present to past without much if any transition. And at times, I felt like the plot dragged or I was reading information that didn’t add anything to the plot. Overall, I enjoyed the book enough to want to read the second. 

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)

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I have been looking forward to reading this book. Usually I Ilona Andrews work is impeccable. But this book fell a little short for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it and would buy the next book. But one thing that is interesting is how there is not one (okay, maybe one but you get the idea) character introduced in this series that doesn’t come back around. There aren’t a lot of books like this and I can see why. In many ways, this series doesn’t appear to have small characters. And because of this, each character is thought out and comes with a complex background. I absolutely love Ilona Andrews work!


 

One Fell SweepAuthor: Ilona Andrews
Published: December 20, 2016
Pages: 257

Stars: 3.5 out of 5

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Other books in this Series:
Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1)
Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2)

 

Synopsis:
Gertrude Hunt, the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, is glad to have you. We cater to particular kind of guests, the ones most people don’t know about. The older lady sipping her Mello Yello is called Caldenia, although she prefers Your Grace. She has a sizable bounty on her head, so if you hear kinetic or laser fire, try not to stand close to the target. Our chef is a Quillonian. The claws are a little unsettling, but he is a consummate professional and truly is the best chef in the Galaxy. If you see a dark shadow in the orchard late at night, don’t worry. Someone is patrolling the grounds. Do beware of our dog.

Your safety and comfort is our first priority. The inn and your host, Dina Demille, will defend you at all costs. We ask only that you mind other guests and conduct yourself in a polite manner.

Review:
One Fell Sweep is similar to the previous books in this series with the constant action and detailed description of what everything looks like and what’s happening. I will be honest, there were parts of this book that I skimmed. I never thought I would say this but Ilona Andrews took her descriptions a bit far. At times I fought boredom and just felt like some of it was an overkill. 

Like I said above, this book starts with action and ends with not so much a cliffhanger but something close enough. I’m not going to tell you every action packed detail of what happened through this book. But what I will say is there is heartache, love, death, bad omens, and potential. The ending of this book, possibly the last third of the book, was the most captivating. I couldn’t put the book down even if I wanted to. I needed to figure out what happened next. 

Overall, this isn’t my favorite series by this author and the book isn’t perfect. But it’s still a good series/book. Knowing this, the book is still highly entertaining and a fun read. Ilona Andrews provides a world that is hard to imagine with deadly flowers and different dimensions. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.