Living Within the Pages – Book Review #9

29 11 2010

Title: Eternal Kiss of Darkness

Author: Jeaniene Frost

Series: Night Huntress World (#2)

Amazon Rating: 4.5

Goodreads Rating: 4.13

Alex’s Rating: 4

Eternal Kiss of Darkness is the second book in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress World series, a spin-off of her Night Huntress series featuring Cat and Bones. Eternal Kiss of Darkness is the story of Mencheres, a 4,500 year old master vampire readers were first introduced to in One Foot in the Grave, the second Night Huntress novel. From Cat’s point of view in the NH novels, we get the sense that Mencheres is a cold, chilled, calculating, and unemotional vampire. Cat has an unnamable sense of dislike towards Mencheres, so as a reader, at first, I did not know what to think of him. Could we really trust him as much as Bones seemed to? Why was he so guarded and unyielding? Well, Frost finally let us in to the head and world of Mencheres, and let me tell you, it was a nice change of pace.

The novel begins with Mencheres being surrounded by young ghouls seemingly about to attack him and kill him. What is odd right off the ba, is Mencheres seems to be allowing the torture even though with a small flex of his powers he could easily destroy each ghoul without even touching them. His attempt at suicide is interrupted when a human woman, Kira Graceling, enters the warehouse on her way home from work (back from a stakeout; she is a private investigator). She walks into a gruesome scene, not understanding what she sees, and the ghouls attack her. Before she got to the warehouse she had called the police and they were closing in. Not wanting the human to die as she was there in an attempt to save him, Mencheres kills the ghouls and flees the scene with Kira.

He takes her to one of his smaller homes outside of Chicago and essentially holds her captive for a week. She is immune to his mind control, so she cannot forget about the events and that is a danger he cannot afford, especially now as his millennia old feud between himself and a Law Guardian named Radjedef is coming to a head. For this one week, Mencheres observes Kira and is inexplicably drawn to her. There is obviously a pull on both sides, but neither wants to admit how deep their attraction is at first. Realizing that Kira needs to be back in her world with her sick sister, Mencheres releases her and asks that in return for helping her family she stay silent about the vampire world as she has learned several secrets over the past days of her captivity. She agrees, but there is sadness in their parting, and we know they will meet up once more.

The rest of the novel shows the development of Kira and Mencheres’ feelings for one another when they are apart, and due to some of her own private investigating on the side, Kira comes face to face with Mencheres once more in a battle for her life, but this time, Radjedef is in the mix. I don’t want to give too much more away as the book revolves around Kira and Mencheres’ budding relationship (sorry for the cliché) and Mencheres’ internal battle with losing his visions and guilt over his wife’s murder and of course Radjedef, the crooked Law Guardian out to steal Mencheres’ power and then kill him.

Although this was not my favorite of Frost’s books (I can’t help it, I’m biased towards Cat and Bones) it was nice to see a different side of Mencheres. In this novel we see how 4,500 years has made him a little numb and how suicide is tempting to such old and powerful vampires. We see that he is not cold and calculating in a menacing way, but in a way that a leader cares for his people. He avoids killing innocents, saved Kira and her sister, and has a great sense of compassion despite being jaded by all of the death and destruction he has seen over the past thousands of years.

What I enjoyed most was seeing Kira stand up to Mencheres. In the NH novels he is always a force to be reckoned with. His powers are immense and no one questions him, yet here is this 30-something human woman who isn’t afraid of him and is willing to love him despite all of the evil he believes he has had a hand in. I enjoyed Kira’s character even though she definitely had her stupid meddling moments. They both saved each other from their pasts, and that was what one takes away from the novel.

I can honestly say I like Mencheres now. I wasn’t sure before as Cat’s perspective didn’t really allow for that exploration of his character. Perhaps it wasn’t until we saw him care for a person outside of his current vampire world that we could get a true glimpse into the person he truly was beneath all of those years and power.

Like I stated in my earlier review of the first NHW novel, these heroes and heroines (although wonderful) are no Cat and Bones. I will still continue to read the NHW series (Vlad and Leila are up next), but there will never be another Cat and Bones. Frost writes so perfectly for both of those characters that her other attempts with Spade and Mencheres are good, but not great. But then again, I’m biased.





Living Within the Pages – Book Review #8

22 11 2010

Title: First Drop of Crimson

Author: Jeaniene Frost

Series: Night Huntress World (#1)

Amazon Rating: 4.5

Goodreads Rating: 4.11

Alex’s Rating: 4

First Drop of Crimson is Jeaniene Frost’s first book in her Night Huntress World series, a spin-off of her Night Huntress books starring Cat and Bones. The book follows events after the fourth NH book, Destined for an Early Grave. Cat’s best friend Denise, had lost her husband Randy over a year ago in a New Year’s Eve tragedy one can remember or reference in the third NH book, At Grave’s End. Denise’s husband lost his life in a fight against zombies, the most horrible creatures animated by black magic. Ever since his death, she has shunned the undead world, vampires, ghouls, and even her best friend, Cat.

That is until she discovers the undead are the only ones that can help her in a fight against a demon named Raum. Raum has been killing off Denise’s family members, aunts, cousins, in search of one of her ancestors, a man named Nathaniel. Over a century ago, Raum had agreed to give Nathaniel power, in exchange for something. In dealings with a demon, one can guess this bargain hinged on a soul. This soul was promised yet never delivered as Nathaniel tricked the demon and sent him back to the underworld after summoning him and receiving his power. Once Raum got out, he started to hunt everyone in Nathaniel’s line, searching for the man who betrayed him. Being a demon, he will stop at nothing, including blackmailing Denise into delving in the undead ranks in search of this slippery ancestor.

To do this, and protect the rest of her family from Raum’s evil, she must enlist the help of a vampire. She can’t reach Cat or Bones, so she settles on Spade, the vampire who killed a human right in front of her eyes, and who she is terribly fearful of because he reminds her of those fateful nights back a year ago. Spade reluctantly agrees to help Denise so that she doesn’t involve Cat and Bones, who are dealing with problems of their own. Through their hunt for Nathaniel, Denise starts to fall for Spade and Spade, who vowed to never love a human ever again for his own personal tragedies 150 years ago, begins to fall for Denise. Despite the odds and evil surrounding them, they realize their affections are mutual. Add in the help of Cat, Bones, Ian, and Mencheres, and you can guess what the ending entails.

I was nervous to start this series as I had just finished a second read of the four Night Huntress novels that have been released. I love Cat and Bones and wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this spin-off series. Even with all of my hesitancy, I began the book two days ago and finished it in less than three days. It was extremely good. I have always loved Spade’s character and for once we got to see him in a way that wasn’t through Cat’s eyes. We saw him of his own accord and saw how similar he was to Bones, yet still a different man (and I use that term loosely). Although Spade and Denise were similar to Cat and Bones, they still had their own personalities that were determined by their personal tragedies.

From the introduction of Denise’s character in the second NH book, One Foot in the Grave, we already know how similar her personality and speech patterns are to Cat. And that sarcasm and stubbornness that I love so much about Cat definitely translated to Denise. The same goes for Spade. He is so similar to Bones in his stories, that only the tragedies of their love lives seemed to be their differentiation. For some people, I can see how that might be frustrating. It seems Frost may have been writing lesser versions of Cat and Bones, slapping different names on them, and adding in a new tragedy or two. But for me, it worked. Call me a sucker, but I enjoyed the book also for that very reason. Although it was frustrating towards the end when Cat and Bones did appear and they weren’t written with their usual gusto; I take that as the author’s attempt to distance those characters from Spade and Denise, the two main protagonists in this particular book, but again, I see how that may not be sufficient for all readers.

Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. I will probably re-read it after I read Eternal Kiss of Darkness, featuring Mencheres and Kira. It was a great way to get a Frost fix in my anticipation for the release of the fifth NH novel in February, This Side of the Grave. I would recommend this to all Frost and NH fans, even though there are frustrations with character similarity. There are enough differences with the plot as the demon angle adds an entirely new dimension to Frost’s paranormal world. I enjoyed it thoroughly, though I can see where others may not. If you are a die-hard NH fan like I am and can look past the similarities that seem to make Spade and Denise a watered down and not as kick-ass combo as Cat and Bones, then you will not be “disappointed.” This may seem like a contradictory review, and that is exactly what it is. I liked the book, enjoyed every second of reading it, but there will never be another Cat and Bones.





Living Within the Pages – Book Review #7

10 11 2010

Title: Infinite Days

Author: Rebecca Maizel

Series: Vampire Queen trilogy (#1)

Amazon Rating: 4.5

Goodreads Rating: 4.10

Alex’s Rating: 4

I was lucky enough to stumble upon this novel, Infinite Days, by Rebecca Maizel in the bookstore one day. I was first captured by the cover as its design is an important element in my opinion. Great covers are usually just a marketing ruse, but in the end, I am truly glad I fell for this one.

The novel follows in the wake of paranormal romances about the infamous vampire–a hit for both YA and Adult Fiction. But, this novel begins with an entirely different premise, and even though I have come to enjoy a certain schema of paranormal vampire fiction, I was pleasantly surprised by this author’s debut.

The book begins with Lenah Beaudonte, a 592 year-old vampire queen turned human again. From the beginning we are introduced to Rhode, Lenah’s creator, undead lover, best friend, confidant, and ultimately the one who sacrifices himself during a ritual in order to bring Lenah back to “life” and renew her sense of humanity. From the very first pages, I was intrigued and enraptured by the character of Rhode, and even at the end of the novel, I believe he was the strongest, most well-developed character of the book.

In short, Rhode begins to explain his sacrifice to Lenah and that he must die so that she can be human again. Lenah awakens once more to find Rhode gone; only leaving behind a pile of luminous ashes, all that remains after a vampire’s true death. Gripped with new feelings such as grief and despair, Lenah perseveres as she is now able to live the human life Rhode had originally ceased from her in the early 15th century.

Before he died, he enrolled her in a boarding school in Massachusetts and gave her enough cash to survive as long as she began to work. The first half of the novel details her re-acclimation into society as a 21st century teenager. Throughout the novel, we continuously get glimpses into her past, revealing a much different vampire story than what has come to be commonplace. Through Lenah’s memories, vampires are described as truly frozen, unfeeling, unchanging, and evil creatures who indiscriminately kill in order to feel at least something. This feeling is a departure from their ever-present paint and suffering at being the creatures of the night, only getting a break when they find love, and it is vampire love that bonds and is the only other thing one can press oneself into besides the killing.

I don’t want to say much more as the novel is a bevy of lore treasure. There are new vampire customs, abilities, and curiosities that are better left to discover on a page by page basis. Let me tell you this though, I have read a lot of vampire fiction, paranormal romance, fantasy, and YA fiction…and this novel far surpassed my expectations and many of the other books I have read. It was fresh, thoughtful, deeply sad, and intriguing despite a damp sadness and melancholy that pervaded over me and throughout the writing as I read the novel in essentially one sitting during my journey form London back to the states. Although the book gave me a sense of pervasive sadness, it piqued my interest in a way only few authors have been able to do.

Maizel’s writing is far from immature, yet there is room for betterment (though isn’t there always?). Questions were left hanging on my tongue by the end and they dripped further as I read the sneak preview for its continuation, Stolen Nights, coming out Spring 2011. Although there are disappointments (such as the poor construction of Lenah’s new male beau, Justin…perhaps it is the name?) and the fact that I hated Lenah sometimes, the characters all ended up playing a part (albeit some better than others). Although Lenah will never be my favorite female lead, I was surprised at how far she deviated from the average female lead. A deviation the author no doubt intended and there is no apology for this, a bold step I must commend. Despite character flaws and sometimes random scene flashbacks (all separated within blots meant to be blood droplets), I was sad to end this novel and will anxiously wait being able to sink my teeth (pun fully intended) into the next installment of this promising series.





Living Within the Pages – Book Review #6

9 11 2010

Title: Destined for an Early Grave

Author: Jeaniene Frost

Series: Night Huntress (#4)

Amazon Rating: 4.5

Goodreads Rating: 4.41

Alex’s Rating: 4.25

I have finished the last of the Night Huntress series, and there is no other way to put this, but I am devastated! I know some series get over-anxious readers and creepy fans, but I just can’t help but understand how they feel when it comes to this series. I know many people scoff at PNR (paranormal romance), but it is because they are either too embarrassed to read it, or they don’t appreciate the world and character building that some of these authors go through, and honestly succeed in creating.

Perhaps it is because I am a vampire fan or because I enjoy a love story, but this series delivers on both ends. It is fast-paced, kick-ass, sexy, thrilling, sad, heart-wrenching, and just plain fun. Yes, I said it, FUN.

Back to my review; this book had me on my toes, let me tell you. It also had me peeking ahead to make sure things turned out how I wanted them to because the tension build was excruciating. Cat and Bones are one of my favorite couples of all time. They are a power couple to the extreme and I love their chemistry and dynamic. I love everything about how Frost writes them together, their witty banter, and sexual tension. What I don’t like is when they fight, and wow, did this book have them at each other’s throats (pun intended). There was a large chunk of the book that has them fighting and essentially broken up, and like I said earlier, I had to look ahead to make sure things turned out because I was so upset by this. I realize why Frost did it, how it plays into the story, but I couldn’t help but be upset.

After things are resolved, a change happens that I’m sure not many of us thought to happen (if you know anything of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse), yet I am glad it did. It will add an entirely new dimension and plot capabilities to the continued novels in the NH series.

On a more encompassing note, this book is again about how Cat is being targeted. But unlike the other three books, her pursuer doesn’t want her dead, well at least not undead. His name is Gregor—he is a tall, attractive, and brooding vampire from Cat’s past that she doesn’t remember. He visits her in her dreams, enticing her to come to him and leave Bones behind. This may not seem very threatening, but after reading, this dream entrapment has led to some of Cat’s most dangerous escape adventures and all-out brawls as Bones fights Cat’s former…(I’ll let you fill in the blank after you read for fear of revealing too much).

If you have read the first three books then you will know that this (of course!) is not the only plotline. There is another war brewing, disturbances within the ghoul community and how Cat plays or presumably plays into that as well. How will Cat and Bones get out of some of their messiest debacles? Read and find out! I sure enjoyed every word and every page!

Overall, this book was wonderful and I enjoyed every minute of it. I absolutely love this series and that is saying something. You will NOT be disappointed. And if you are, I would love to have a conversation about it!





Living Within the Pages – Book Review #5

9 11 2010

Title: At Grave’s End

Author: Jeaniene Frost

Series: Night Huntress (#3)

Amazon Rating: 4.5

Goodreads Rating: 4.35

Alex’s Rating: 4.5

In this third installment of the Night Huntress series, Cat and Bones are back together and back in action. Even though Bones has joined Cat’s team in fighting the rogue undead, he can’t help that she is being recognized before their jobs even have the chance at succeeding. Because of the ceremonies and instances in the last book, Cat is known to the undead world and it is no secret Bones’s lover has a target on her back.

This of course isn’t the only problem. Just when Cat and Bones try to discover who has called the hit on her pretty red head, they are both dragged into a war in which the target is now Bones. The entire book revolves around a plot involving a two thousand year old scorned lover named Patra, and she is out for more than blood. She wants Bones dead in order to stop her fate from coming to pass.

Like the two previous novels, this book packed quite a punch. So many twists, turns, fights, betrayals, “turncoats,” and action…this book will not disappoint the lovers of the genre. There are so many new character and plot introductions that turning each page is a true joy and pleasure. I was sad to end this book and it is with that sadness that I pay the highest compliment to the author.

Cat and Bones continue to be the best bad-ass couple out there, never failing to capture my attentions with their sarcasm, irony, and nasty little quips. They are two of my favorite characters, the one only being so great because of the other. And that my fellow readers, is how you character build.

I don’t want to continue on much longer because it is much more fun to turn each page and discover all of the new treats Jeaniene Frost laid out for yourselves. If you are a vampire fiction, paranormal, romance, or urban fantasy fan, then this book will entice, excite, and leave you wanting more than just a nibble. I recommend this for all fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Midnight Breed series. Even those just entering the world of PNR (paranormal romance) should definitely add this series to their collection.





Living Within the Pages – Book Review #4

5 11 2010

Title: One Foot in the Grave

Author: Jeaniene Frost

Series: Night Huntress (#2)

Amazon Rating: 4.5

Goodreads Rating: 4.37

My Rating: 4.5 

I was anxious to start this book due to the cliff-hanging and sad ending (in my opinion) of the first book. I began the NH series in London and only brought the first book with me as I wasn’t sure I would have time to read or like it as I was just finishing up the Midnight Breed series novels by Lara Adrian. Boy was I pissed at myself for not bringing the second one along. I finished the first book a few days into my two-week trip and had to substitute this second book for the other PNR book I brought along…Dark Hunter #1 by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and let me say this, it was a poor, poor substitute and time filler. Of course I read it and finished it, but I was upset I couldn’t have the next three NH series to read until I got back this Saturday, October 30. On Halloween Day I went out to buy the last two of the NH series so I could have them at my disposal when I finished the second one. And on Sunday, that is what I did. I finished the second book of the series and finished the third and fourth two days later. Three books in three days, I guess you could say I enjoy Frost’s series.

Anyway, to my review. This second book picks up again with Cat Crawfield, half-vampire, half-human hybrid who is now a Special Agent for the FBI’s paranormal division. We learn many exciting new things in this book, get introduced and acclimated with new characters such as Tate, Dave, Cooper, and the re-appearance of supernaturals from Bones’ past and present.

This story does not disappoint and was a great follow-up to the first NH novel. I was upset by Cat and Bones’ break-up in the first book and was extremely excited to see that remedied in this novel. Call me a sucker, but I enjoy a happy ending. Although the relationship is not easy, nor does it get any easier throughout the series, Cat and Bones are ever strong, fierce, and deeply in love, and that is the reason I believe this series works so well and has so many fans.

This book tells the story (or expands on it) how Bones is connected with Ian and Spade. Frost includes again how the three “men” are connected and there is the introduction of Mencheres, a prominent figure of the vampire community and in the next novels of the NH series.

Again, I enjoyed how kick-ass and fast-paced Frost’s writing is. Just when things seem to be dying down, and as much as I’d like to see Bones and Cat get some down-time, the story picks up with another phone call or door knock that has trouble on the other end. If you enjoyed the first of the series, you will enjoy the second. Hook, line, and sink…or bite, whichever you prefer.





Living Within the Pages – Book Review #3

5 11 2010

Title: Halfway to the Grave

Author: Jeaniene Frost

Series: Night Huntress (#1)

Amazon Rating: 4.5

Goodreads Rating: 4.29

My Rating: 5

Halfway to the Grave is the first installment of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series. In this first book we are introduced to the lead female character, Cat Crawfield, a half-human half-vampire hybrid. She found out at 16 that her mother was raped by a vampire and five months later…boom…she was born. She never felt like she fit in and in her small town everyone judged her mother for having a child out of wedlock, and judged Cat for being the bastard child.

By the end of the first chapter, a mystery vampire appears and kidnaps Cat. We come to find out in the next chapter that the vampire in question is Bones, the lead male in this series and Cat’s future love interest. Cat is determined to find her deadbeat father, and in return for Bones’ help in accomplishing this task she will help him hunt the undead that are on his own personal hit list.

As you can guess, the next chapters unfold with the training and relationship building of Cat and Bones. We get witty banter and sexy dialogue that have Cat questioning everything her mother drilled into her head about all vampires being evil. Bones has become her partner in crime and in the romantic sense by the middle of the book.

There is never a dull moment in this novel. When Cat and Bones aren’t staking out the night and hunting, they are entangled in some other mess albeit personal, emotional, or in some other way breaking the law. The book comes to a head when Cat and Bones face off against one of the cruelest undead ringleaders Bones has ever come across and they may not live to see one another again. You will just have to read the rest to see if they come out dead, half-dead, or undead.

_____________________

My thoughts: I began this book while I was in London for two weeks, buying it on impulse with a 40% off coupon I had from Borders about a month ago. I had already read J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood and I was in the middle of Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series. (Catching a little bit of a theme and preference on my end? Yes, I like vampires. No, I don’t know why.) The coupon was to buy two paperbacks for 40% off and I bought the first two Night Huntress (Halfway to the Grave and One Foot in the Grave) and the first Dark-Hunter by Sherrilyn Kenyon (that one was thoroughly disappointing though).

Anyway, back to my review. I had just finished the last available Midnight Breed book about Brock and I was still on a vampire kick so I started Halfway to the Grave. At first, I didn’t know how I felt about the Cat. Her circumstances definitely led to heavy sarcasm and bitterness, but at first I wasn’t sure how her character would play out. I understand being hardened , but sometimes she was overkill (no pun intended). That was…until Bones entered the story (quickly, thank God) and their dynamic was fabulous.

Now, I am a picky reader. Most things I read if I am not totally into the plot, world, and character building, they get 3 stars, and that is being generous. Although I did truly enjoy Midnight Breed, most of the books just warranted 3 stars, I was too hesitant to give a full-fledged 4 stars. This book however, was a 5. The relationship between Cat and Bones was electrifying, sexy, witty, and down-right great. Bones being English definitely helped I’m sure, but just how Frost wrote their characters into co-existing and co-fighting the “bad” guys just worked really well for me. Of course there were plot problems, of course I didn’t like Cat’s mother, and of course things can always be improved, but overall this was a great read.

I just finished the last of the series (all four books read in less than a week–those reviews to come as well) and I was devastated that I have to wait until next spring for the next Cat & Bones installment.

If you LOVED J.R. Ward’s BDB. If you LIKED/LOVED Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed, then you will absolutely LOVE this series. Like I said, I am picky, but this series did not disappoint. Go buy them, and if you are not infatuated, I will be extremely surprised.