Saturday, June 29, 2013

Review: White Night (Dresden Files #9)

Harry Dresden -- Wizard: Lost items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

White Night, by Jim Butcher, is the ninth installment in the Dresden Files series. Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, learns that someone has been killing low-level witches. He receives a call from Sargeant Murphy off the record to investigate a crime scene. Upon his arrival, he gets a good look and realizes that the so-called suicide is clearly a murder with magical intent. All the evidence points to his White vampire half-brother, Thomas, as a prime suspect. As a Warden of the White Council, who is at war with the Red Court of blood-drinking vampires and the White Court of sex predator vampires, Harry is determined to clear his brother's name.

During his investigation, Harry uncovers a conspiracy within the White Council of Wizards that is more complicated than he realizes. He must go into action, including a battle with ghouls on the lakefront that turns into a gripping flashback of another encounter with ghouls some years before in New Mexico. He draws on support from unthinkable allies such as as his first love, Elaine Mallory, and gangster gentleman, Johnnie Marcone. On top of that, he is still teaching strong-willed, occasionally impulsive teenager Molly Carpenter. Last, but not least, Lasciel, the demon trapped in a coin Harry secured under his summoning circle, is a lingering presence that continues to test his deepest temptations.

When all hell is about to break loose around him, can Harry solve this dangerous case and survive another day in one piece? It will take aptitude, cleverness, resourcefulness and determination to overcome the evil that lies ahead.

Once again, Jim Butcher produced another action-thrilling masterpiece in the increasingly dangerous world of Harry Dresden. I never thought Butcher could outperform his previous novel, Dead Beat, as Harry assumes more responsibilities (and dire consequences if he fails) in his professional work. Dresden's case files have become more introspective, dangerous, and complicated. Dreaden's enemies have become more powerful, sinister, and merciless. Yet, Butcher has the humor, wit, and creativity to create a supernaturally good novel. You can't help but cheer for Harry Dresden because he wants to help others and believes in giving individuals a second chance in life. He takes these risks because he believes in the good of humanity. I look forward to reading the next novel!

Stay tuned for the tenth novel in the Dresden Files series, Small Favor.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1)

The truth is when you banish the gods from the world, they eventually come back--with a vengeance.

Gameboard of the Gods, by Richelle Mead, is the first novel in the Age of X adult series. It takes place in futuristic North America that has turned its back on religion. Justin March is a brilliant bitter former investigator of extremist religious groups with a troubled past. He was exiled to Panama after a failed mission that nearly cost his life. In the provinces, he is free to indulge into his addictive personality for women, sex, and alcohol. Nevertheless, he longs to return to his homeland, the Republic of United North America (RUNA), where he can redeem himself and restore his professional reputation.

Suddenly, authorities from RUNA assign him a peculiar mission that require his expertise and skills. He must solve a string of ritualistic murders steeped in seemingly unexplainable phenomena. His new partner and bodyguard, Mae Koskinen, is a beautiful super soldier (praetorian) whose true nature holds more danger than anyone realizes. Her aristocratic (patrician) background piques Justin's avid curiosity--and his desire--although tries to maintain self-control in her presence.

As their investigation unfolds, Justin and Mae find themselves in the path of terrible danger. Mysterious enemies and powers greater than they can imagine have begun to assemble in the shadows preparing to reclaim a world where humans are merely gamepieces on their board. Supernatural forces want to reclaim the world, and the Justin must decide if he wants to acknowledge and embrace the truth around him.

Age of X is Richelle Mead's new adult science fiction series that is full of action, romance, and suspense. I am an avid fan of her bestselling Vampire Academy and Bloodlines teen series. I was delighted to hear that her new adult science fiction book series would combine paranormal and mythological elements in a world still distrustful of religion and plagued by an inexplicable disease. The last chapters are the best part of the book -- it lays the foundation for what to expect for the main cast. The plot is thrilling, intriguing, and irresistible. This series could also become a successor to the The Hunger Games franchise. I look forward to the second novel!

Stay tuned for the second novel in the Age of X series, The Immortal Crown.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires #1)

Welcome to Morganville, Texas. Don't stay out after dark.

Glass Houses, by Rachel Caine, is the first novel in the Morganville Vampires series. Morganville is a small college town in Texas filled with quirky and unusual characters. When the sun goes down, the evil awakens. Clare Danvers, a 16-year-old child prodigy, has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation at Texas Prairie University. The populaar girls never let her forget just where she ranks on the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. And Clare doesn't really have the right (undead) connections to protect herself from hazing that could kill her.

When Claire heads off campus, she discovers an imposing old house where can find a room--a sanctuary--away from her bullies. Her new roommates don't show much interest in her, but they eventually have her back with the town's deepest secrets come crawling out for her. She is warned not to get too curious, but she stumbles upon an ancient treasure that is worth her freedom. When word spreads, the evil lurking around Morganville won't stop until they have her blood. Not even the law enforcement can protect her.

Glass Houses is the debut novel of the Morganville Vampires paranormal teen series. Initially, I had reservations about this novel because the audience is targeted towards teens. Nevertheless, the plot improves impressively in the second half of the novel as the Glass House residents--Michael Glass, Shane Collins, Eve Rosser, Claire Danvers--must battle for their lives as the town's oldest vampires seek to destroy their lives. Furthermore, Michael Glass has a major secret that will eventually reveal itself, forever changing everyone's fate. Although Claire had loftier dreams of transferring to a more selective university such as MIT, the town's secrets inadvertently trap her where she can not leave its borders. It will be interesting in future novels how the Glass House residents manage to survive and maintain some type of sanity in a dangerous town such as Morganville.

Stay tuned for the second novel in the Morganville Vampires series, The Dead Girls' Dance.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review: Siren's Desire (A Dark Tides Novel #3)

While fighting for their lives, they must battle dark and forbidden desires hidden in the ocean's depths.....

Siren's Desire, by Devyn Quinn, is the third and final novel in the Dark Tides series. After defeating the covert federal agency that threatened to destroy the Lonike sisters, Addison Lonike, the youngest of the three sisters, grudgingly resumes her life as an emergency medical technician (EMT) in Maine. The sisters promised not to swim in their mermaid form in the bay. However, Addison would love nothing more than to take on the dangerous Mer queen, Magaera, who is determined to destroy the descendants of Queen Nyala, who once loved a human and sealed Ishaldi, the land of the Mer, inside a the dimensional wormhole separated from the outside world. As her older sisters settle down and start a family, Addison can't take the risk--until a terrorist attack in her hometown changes everything once news spread that her brother-in-law has been seriously injured and her oldest sister, Tessa, has been kidnapped by Queen Maegara.

Before Addison could freak out, Mason McKenzie, captain of the naval task force on the hunt for Queen Maegara, arrives at her doorstep. He wants to recruit Addison to join him team in the Mediterranean Sea. After the terrorist attack, Addison vows to find Tessa and defeat the evil queen. But while at sea, Mason and Addison begin to develop a wave of passion for each other that threatens their independent natures and their mission. An encounter with a new race of male sea-shifters further complicates Addison's desires and knowledge about the Mer. Pressure builds once she learns that the Mer need a queen to lead them. Now, she must choose between her life in the sea and the deepest longings of her heart....

Set in the contemporary era, Quinn wrote a magical/romance adult series about the lives of three mermaids trying to balance life in the human world and under the sea. The author incorporates Greek/Roman mythology along with fantasy, action, and science fiction in this trilogy series. Siren's Desire was the best novel in the series because it answered lingering questions in the previous novels as well as provided some closure for the Lonike sisters and the future of the Mer. I am fortunate that I discovered Dark Tides series earlier this year because adult novels about mermaids are very difficult to find. Although I wished this series was extended another three books, it ended on a good note, even if the last chapter seemed a bit rushed. I hope that the author considers writing novellas or short stories about the Lonike sisters to keep readers updated on their lives. Given their unique personalities, they were a real treat to read, and I will miss reading about their adventures.