Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Thirst #4, The Shadow of Death (2011)

With two rivals and no one to trust, Alisa must rely on her dark side to defeat them. But it could cost her life, or her soul..

The Shadow of Death, by Christopher Pike, is the fourth novel in the Thirst ~ The Last Vampire ~ series. The plot follows Alisa Perne, a 5000 year old, vampire, who is strong and more cunning than her adversaries. She escaped death only to find herself trapped in a newborn vampire body--her descendant, Teresa "Teri" Raine, who was shot through the heart with an advanced laser weapon. Two weeks later, Alisa attends her own funeral to inform Seymour that she is not really Teri, but Sita (her original birth name in India).

Despite the reunion, time is not on her side to control her bloodthirsty thirst. when an old race of immortals appears--the Telar. This immortal race from ancient Egypt is threatening to release a virus that would decimate humanity. Only they have the vaccine.

Only Alisa and her friends can take down this serious threat. With limited odds, they must turn to a mysterious organization for assistance--the IIC. However, the IIC has its own secrets and ulterior motive that will shock Alisa. The IIC has a powerful weapon, the Array--a group of psychic children and teens--that enables them to overpower a targeted person's mind and force them to commit acts against their will. The Array is the only group who can destroy the Source, the leaders of the Telar. Alisa will face the toughest battle in her long life to protect her friends and the planet itself.

This was an epic novel! I was rooting for Alisa/Sita the entire journey as she had to battle multiple enemies--the Telar, the Array/Cradle, and her own inner demons. First, she reclaims her original body (which is more powerful and stable with the thirst) and learns the truth about Umara's past and her son, Matt. She must also deceptively get the Array/Cradle to fight another powerful enemy while she plots to destroy the IIC from within. Various scenes reminded me of classic films like Children of the Corn and Village of the Damned. That's how creepy and powerful these children and teens are in the Cradle. They can use their minds to collectively destroy targets from afar. That is some crazy power! Alisa and her friends had to play top-level chess--and it prevailed!

Stay tuned for the last novel in the Thirst series, Thirst No. 5: The Sacred Veil.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Review: Skin Game (Dresden Files #15)

Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day ... Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it's something awful. He doesn't know the half of it ..."

Skin Games, by Jim Butcher, is the fifteenth installment in the Dresden Files series. Mab, Winter Queen of Air and Darkness, has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard and Winter Knight, never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful. He must help a group of supernatural villains—-led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone-—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access to a vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover (literally) the Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world. There is one problem--the vault belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess-—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance...

Poor Harry. He certainly got himself in a jam as Mab's Winter Knight. He never knows what she is plotting and he usually has to go into survival mode when the missions turn ugly. Since Changes, the series has turned a rather dark, apocalyptic turn. Harry has changed and so have the people he cared for. As he has become a more experienced wizard, now he must face his deepest fears--things he didn't want to talk about but they got thrown into his face anyways. It is part of his personal development. It is the reason why he does what he does--helping others at little or no gain to himself--because he abused his power once. He is terrified of doing it again, and of the monster that he could very easily become, particularly as the Winter Knight. If Harry has a destiny to fulfill, he must conquer the darkness within himself. This is the overarching theme that I took away from Skin Game.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Dresden Files, Peace Talks.

Review: Grave Visions (Grave Witch #4)

Fae can’t survive without a tie to Faerie, and now that Alex’s true nature has awoken, she’s no exception. She must align herself to a court and soon. To retain as much freedom as possible, she makes a deal to track the source of a new glamour-infused street drug which causes hallucinations that kill—and not just the user. Her investigation entangles Alex in a conflict brewing in Faerie, and she must find answers before she’s dragged so deep that she loses not only her freedom, but her life.

Grave Visions, by Kaylana Price, is the fourth novel in the Grave Witch series. Alex Craft is a grave witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary power and specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. She has another secret that was hidden from her until now--she is fae. Fighting to maintain her independence in the human realm, Alex must choose a court affiliation before her time runs out. Her fae heritage is wreaking havoc for her friends in the human and Faerie realms. But her status as an unaffiliated fae also makes her an ideal candidate to investigate a new street drug that is causing mysterious, inexplicable deaths.

This glamour-infused drug causes hallucinations that turn real—at least for a while and often with deadly consequences. This new street drug is from Faerie but is winding itself in the hands of its human victims. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in Faerie that is causing dysfunction and fear among the fae. Searching for the source of this drug—and its purpose—lands Alex front and center in the conflict brewing in Faerie and she must find answers before she's dragged so deep she loses her freedom permanently.

After a somewhat excruciating two-year hiatus, Price returns with the latest novel on the life of Alex Craft. I loved the first three novels in the series, especially the heart-breaking moment when Alex realizes Falin was not whom appeared to be. Trying to move on from that relationship, Alex is gradually rebuilding her life after discovering that she has fae heritage. She has to choose a court affiliation which goes against her free-spirited nature. She does not have much time because her friends' livelihood (some whom are also fae) are dependent on her actions. Using her grave magic and investigative skills, Alex endures dangerous situations to identify the person responsible for the illicit street dug. Stay tuned for the next novel in the Grave Witch series, Grave Ransom.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review: Bound by Flames (Night Prince #3)

Vlad and his newly turned bride, Leila, are at odds with each other--and vulnerable to the one vampire powerful enough to end the Dark Prince's reign ...

Bound by Flames, by Jeaniene Frost, is the third novel in the Night Prince series. Leila, a human with an gift to absorb electricity and read visions, spent most of her adult years on the carnival circuit. What her experience had not taught her was her new life as a vampire or, more surprisingly, how to be married to the most famous 500-year-old vampire of all, Vlad Dracul (also known as Dracula). Adjusting to both has Leila teetering on a knife edge between passion and peril, but the real battle is about to begin with an old nemesis returns with a vengeance.

Vlad must battle an enemy with a centuries-old grudge and whose influence that spans across continents. One tiny mistake can mean the difference between life and death. When Vlad's people are attacked on his home turf and turned on each other due to mysterious magic, Vlad must think carefully and strategically. It isn't like Vlad to feel fear, but he does for Leia when she is kidnapped by the enemy. As friend and foe align against him, Vlad's love for his new bride could be the very thing that dooms them both ...

Bound by Flames is another excellent addition to the Night Huntress World series with special attention to Vlad. Readers will see Vlad in his most vulnerable state when he almost loses his composure when Leila is kidnapped by an ancient foe. With secrecy on her whereabouts, Vlad must rely on his friends to help end this battle Bones and Cat make brief cameo appearances when Vlad needs Cat's assistance in necromancy to rescue Leila. The rescue mission is not easy when Vlad and Leila must make dangerous decisions that could lead to end of each other. While Vlad may had lost his childhood home in the battle, he can always rebuild a new home with his new bride by his side.

Stay tuned for the final novel in the Night Prince series, Into the Fire.

Review: Dreamwalker (Stormwalker #5)

The dreams, though, call her back, more vivid than ever. Janet's past and present merge and then split, trying to pull her into a strange reality that threatens to tear her apart.

Dreamwalker, by Allyson James, is the fifth novel in the Stormwalker series. Life is normal and quiet for stormwalker Janet Begay at her Crossroads Hotel, where the paranormal is normal, until she discovers Emmett Smith, the most powerful mage in the world, is on her trail. He intends to steal Janet's magic mirror. Janet already has her hands full trying to keep her sister, Gabrielle, under control. Both sisters share their mother's gift--powerful and wild Beneath magic.

Weird creatures suddenly show up at Barry's biker bar. Mick, her dragon fiance, and Janet encounter the demons. When Janet is knocked out fighting the creatures, she wakes up seemingly in the past when she first met Mick and traveled across the country on this motorcycle. Alone and free, the dream feels so real that Janet begins to forget about the future. She is yanked free from her dream when present circumstances need her attention.

The dreams, however, continue to call back to her. This time, they are more vivid than ever. Janet's past and present begin to merge. She has no idea what kind of magic is toying with her, but she will need all of her friends' help to defeat Emmett Smith. If he grabs his hands on the magic mirror, the world become vulnerable to the most evil of evils.

I was very much looking forward to this latest installment in the Stormwalker series. I enjoy James' vivid description of the Southwest (particularly Arizona) and its ancestral geographic importance for Native Americans. Janet and Mick continue to be one of my favorite paranormal romance couples (Mick even becomes serious about his future with Janet). Despite their struggles and neverending supernatural drama, they are able to work together as one in their defeat against evil. In the meantime, they make new allies who learn the meaning of honesty and friendship. Stay tuned for more novels from the Stormwalker series! 

[Updated February 2019] The next novel in the Stormwalker series is Dragon Bites.