On Pins and Needles by Yolanda Sfetsos

On Pins and Needles by Yolanda Sfetsos (Sierra Fox #3)On Pins and Needles by Yolanda Sfetsos

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 384 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Samhain
Release date: June 18, 2013

Series: Sierra Fox #3

Source: Review copy from author

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

All it takes is one freak to turn everything into a demonic ritual.

Sierra Fox, Book 3

Sierra Fox’s relationship with sexy werewolf Jason Papan is going great, but it doesn’t take a psychic to tell her someone’s out to get her. As usual, though, there’s too much else going on to worry about just another assassination attempt.

In addition to the demon-possessed freaks that still want her, a whole new bucket of trouble has been dumped in her path. The half-sister Sierra never knew she had isn’t a typical teenager. Willow comes with supernatural baggage that grows heavier every time someone close to her dies. And the load gets bigger every time the police find the body of another young girl.

Now Sierra’s not only dealing with the target on her own back, but the one that a power-hungry woman has painted on her poltergeist-magnet sister. As she finds herself drawn into the thick of a murder investigation, Sierra must face her deepest fears and embrace the darkest of her powers to overcome the looming threat. Or the prediction of her death might just come true.

Warning: Spook catching: never gets any easier, neither does trying to avoid being killed by a shadowy organization. Always expect the unexpected—dangerous vampires, poltergeists and demon-obsessed freaks. At least the werewolf is pleasurably safe.

If you follow my other blog, you know that I have recently discovered the wonder that is Yolanda Sfetsos’ Sierra Fox series, which is why I was so happy to have her take part in Supernatural Solstice. The added bonus for me? I got my greedy little hands on an early copy of ON PINS AND NEEDLES, the third book in the series. It’s also the halfway point in a projected five-book series and so far, I think it’s my favourite. But before I get into why, here’s a quick explanation of the series (though Yolanda offers a better one in our interview):

Sierra Fox is a spook catcher in Sydney, Australia. She has the ability to communicate with ghosts and, when necessary, capture them to take them in. After all, in this world, ghosts are subject to laws too, since everyone knows about them. There are, however, other supernaturals, something Sierra learns in A PATCH OF DARKNESS, the first book in the series. She also learns that she’s not a typical spook catcher, thanks to some mixed heritage she didn’t know about. So Book 1 was all about Sierra learning the truth about herself and the world around her. In SPLIT AT THE SEAMS, the second book, Sierra discovers that she’s caught the eye of some very bad people and spends most of that novel trying to figure out why they want her and how to avoid falling into their clutches. Now, in ON PINS AND NEEDLES, Sierra is trying to learn more about the people who are trying to capture her, figure out what’s wrong with her ex-boyfriend Jonathan, repair her relationship with her apprentice Ebony, and deal with the revelation that she has a half-sister named Willow who comes with problems of her own. With all of these factors, you can expect a roller-coaster of a book! There’s also a lot of mystery in this story — and only some are solved by the end of the novel — to accompany the nice-for-the-reader-but-not-for-Sierra danger and demonic activity. Sfetsos really knows how to build a book to a strong climax; ON PINS AND NEEDLES will hook you from the get-go and then just keeps ramping up the stakes.

Thankfully (for our spunky heroine), there are some bright spots in her life. Sierra’s got Papan, an extremely sexy private investigator of a boyfriend who also happens to be a werewolf; Oren, her grandfather who happens to be an extremely powerful witch; and a host of fellow Hunters that she can call upon. I’ve really enjoyed watching Sierra’s interpersonal relationships develop because they make her a stronger person and give us a nicely diverse cast of characters.

Since this is a new release, I can’t talk about some of the most interesting moments in the book, which are mostly in the latter half of ON PINS AND NEEDLES. I wil say that my questions about Jonathan and what happened to him while he was in Europe are thoroughly explained and we see some neat stuff with his character. I’ll also say that I quite like the introduction of Willow, Sierra’s half-sister, because we get to learn a bit more about Sierra’s mom’s life after she abandoned Sierra and because she’s an interesting character in her own right. Willow is a troubled kid and I found her story arc to be really strong.

Reading ON PINS AND NEEDLES is a wonderful urban fantasy tale and Sierra Fox is a great series. I strongly urge you to try these books if you haven’t already and to get your hands on ON PINS AND NEEDLES as soon as possible if you’re all caught up with the series.

Read an excerpt (scroll down)

Jenn

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The Ghosting of Gods by Cricket Baker

the ghosting of godsThe Ghosting of Gods by Cricket Baker

Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Trade paperback: 339 pages
Genre: Paranormal/Horror
Publisher: Our Street Books
Release date: May 31, 2013

Series: N/A

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Copy from the author

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Jesse is an apprentice exorcist who defies his priests when he learns his sister is in danger even though she’s dead. When he’s exiled to a haunted world, Jesse must unravel the mystery of ghosts if he is to save her. He plunges into a deadly game of hide-and-seek. The players include denizens draped in monkish robes, ghosts with matted eyes, the dead who tunnel underground in terror, and…Elspeth.

A coven scientist, Elspeth is both respected and feared for her abnormal spiritual powers. Jesse needs–craves–the knowledge of ghosts which she possesses. But is Elspeth a spiritual prodigy, or dangerously insane? The coven scientist begs him to trust her. He doesn’t. But he wants to.

Caught in a world on the brink of spiritual evolution, Jesse struggles to understand Elspeth even as frightening contacts from his sister force him to face the secret, shattering meaning of a verse he knows well: Blessed are the poor in ghost.

If I had to describe THE GHOSTING OF GODS in one word, it would be unique. Uniquely strange. At first, I had a hard time getting into the novel because the story starts right away. There’s very little introduction as the author plunges into action right from the beginning. Sometimes, that can be a good thing, but in this case, since the world the main character lives in isn’t quite the one we know, I found it a little confusing. The opening scene was gripping, to be honest, but I had little insight on what was really going on, so the effect was lost on me.

Cricket Baker’s writing is dark and heavy. It’s full of double meanings and philosophical thoughts that makes you reevaluate the meaning of life and death. She has a great imagination to have created this expansive world full of mystery and paranormal elements. Ghosts appear in every corner of the book and just when you start to understand their presence, a little more is revealed about them, which completely shifts our understanding of this parallel world. This world is also undergoing some sort of religious metamorphosis which makes us meet some very strange characters.

The story follows Jesse’s quest into a parallel universe, in which he’s thrown in along with his best friend Poe, his ex-lover Ava and her daughter Leesel. Not knowing what happened or why they find themselves in this new world, their main objectives are to stick together and find a way to get back home. But easier said than done. Not many people of the world know how to travel from one world to another, and if any of them have a clue, they are very cryptic about it. Jesse is also trying to find a way to help his sister, whom he believes is in trouble, even if she is dead and trapped as a ghost. Her senseless murder has really affected him and he would do anything to be with his sister again. I like the idea that ghosts exists in Jesse’s world, and as an apprentice exorcist, he knows a thing or two about them. But when the author starts to describe crystal balls that hold the memories of ghosts, I got a little bit more confused. The idea was original but could have benefited from more explanations.

Personally, I thought the story was well detailed and well researched but the writing was a little bit too heavy for my taste. Also, I’m not a big fan of the first person present tense the book was written in, so I think that was one of the little things that didn’t work for me. GHOSTING OF THE GODS is not the type of book you’ll sit down and enjoy in one sitting. The book will literally make you think and analyze the details. While I would usually pass on this type of book, I did enjoy the gothic and macabre tone of the story. I’m sure the novel will find many readers that will enjoy the book more than I did.

I Ate the Sherriff by K. Bennett

k. bennett - I Ate the SherriffI Ate the Sherriff by K. Bennett

Book stats:

Reading level: Adult
Paperback: 310 pages
Genre: Paranormal Legal Thriller
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: August 7, 2012

Series: Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law #3

Source: Review copy from the publisher

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

You Have The Right To Remain Dead

What’s worse than killing a cop? Eating him afterwards. Which is exactly what happened to a Los Angeles County sheriff on Mulholland Drive. Now Mallory Caine, zombie at law, faces the toughest trial of her life–her own–since she’s the prime suspect. Ironically, Mallory’s been suppressing her undead desires in a 12-step zombie recovery group. It’s her human desires that scare her. . .

Anyone You Crave Can And Will Be Held Against You

He’s one hot werewolf named Steve "Rawhide" Ravener, and he’s Mallory’s latest client. His cheating wife has run off with a rival pack, and if he hopes to see their cubs again, he needs a lawyer whose bite is worse than his bark. Needless to say, family law has never been this hairy. And with a murder charge hanging over her head, a snake goddess charming her mother, and all kinds of hell-spawn taking over L.A., Mallory’s plate is full. And she’s dying to take a bite…

When I first got into this series, I had not clue how to categorize it into a genre. Without a doubt, it can be categorized as as a paranormal series because it does have zombies, vampires, werewolves, demons and many other paranormal beings. However, I truly believe it’s more than that. It can also be seen as a legal thriller since the main character, Mallory Caine, is a zombie lawyer. It does have multiple court room scenes but it’s not as dry as you might think. Actually, the author is very informative and writes in a way that keeps you on edge, hanging on to his every word. The author, no doubt, has a legal background because not only does he know his way around the courtroom, but he references multiple cases and laws. The courtroom scenes are actually one of the best scenes in the books since we see Mallory in her prime—defending people (and herself) whom aren’t necessarily innocent.

Mallory Caine is the type of protagonist you can’t stop rooting for. Living as a zombie in L.A. is quite difficult for her because walking the the busy streets is like walking into a casino as a recovering gambling addict. Living in L.A. as a lawyer isn’t all that easier since everyone seems to be against her. However she does have a few people working along side her. Her new client, Steve Ravener, strongly believes in her, and Father Clemente who really wants her to choose good over evil. Because L.A. is about to be hit by something bad and evil, the Lord of Darkness, Satan himself. Mallory isn’t too sure what is happening to her city but she does sense the forces of evil are getting stronger. Especially since she knows her ex, Aaron Argula, is the son of Satan and has the mayor of the city on his side. Also, zombies are on the rise, the mayor is more corrupt than usual, cults are being created and prophesies are being revealed.

Despite her good intentions, trouble always seems to find Mallory and after two years of being a zombie, she has finally gotten caught. Caught for eating the sheriff (but not the deputy). And let me elaborate on that a little. For those of you who haven’t read the series, Mallory isn’t you’re average zombie. She’s not the mindless monster Hollywood has made us believe zombies are. Don’t get me wrong, she is dead and she has been raised from the dead. And she no doubt feels the need to eat brains. Especially human brains. She has tried to go on a cow brain diet, but for her, it’s just not the same as the real deal. She has tried to live off the brain of scum, the bad guys roaming the streets, acting as a vigilante of sorts but she knows deep down eating human brain is not right. As the narrator, her character really shows us her internal conflicts over he diet and despite her murdering ways, we can see the goodness through of her selfless acts throughout the series.

A fair warning to some readers. The author does go into some gory details when Mallory feasts on human brain but those scenes aren’t overly bloody and gross. But since the book does involve some cannibalism, I just thought I should warn you beforehand.

Frighteningly sassy and more than occasionally morbid, Mallory makes a wonderful narrator for this series. She is sarcastic to no limit and she knows how to play dirty in court. We do see her evolve throughout the series but bottom line, the Mallory Caine in I ATE THE SHERIFF, is the same Mallory you meet in the first two books of the series. She definitively gives a new meaning to the the saying “Bite me!”. The pop culture references in the narration is an element that adds originality to the writing. I really hope to see more of Mallory in the future and I really hope the author doesn’t leave us hanging like this. With the city of angels on fire and in the middle of an Apocalypse, no less.

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Break My Heart 1,000 Times blog tour: Interview with Daniel Waters + giveaway!

We have a lovely vistor on the blog today: Daniel Waters, author of the Generation Dead series! Here’s visiting us as part of a blog tour celebrating his newest release, a YA novel called BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES. I really enjoyed this interview and hope you do, too!

We also have a giveaway of BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES so make sure to stick around!

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Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel WatersHi, Daniel, and welcome to Tynga’s Reviews! We’re so pleased to have you! To start, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

I often write about dead people but I’m really full of life.

How would you describe BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES in a couple sentences?

Break My Heart 1,000 Times is a ghost story about the intersections of love and loss. Ghosts are everywhere and everyone can see them. It is very, very scary.

What is your favourite scene or character in BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES?

I normally have a difficult time picking favorite scenes, but I will say that the first scene with Veronica stands out to me because it came almost effortlessly and required very little editing, and usually I have to work hard for my scenes and need multiple revisions. But that one was the first I wrote for the book and the moment I was done with it I really felt like I’d stuck the landing, and that the scene was exactly what I wanted it to be.

Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel WatersI waffle over favorite characters in my work as well, but I’ll single out Janine here because she barely existed in the manuscript I first turned in to Disney. My editor, Catherine Onder, suggested that I try working with her more and I’m so glad that she did because Janine really came to life in the subsequent drafts and added considerably to the story. Janine was like a ghost that we brought back into the world of the living–it was was sort of like my experience with Karen in the Gen Dead books, because she started as a walk-on only but then blossomed into a character ai ended up writing a whole novel about. I like Janine so much I could see myself writing another story with her as a lead.

One of the things I really liked about your book is how ghosts aren’t inherently scary. They can be, but they can also be joyful, poignant, and so much more. What prompted you to write a supernatural thriller in which the regular (living) people are the scariest part?

Here’s my big secret: the supernatural characters I write about? The zombies, the ghosts? They’re just people, really.

And people are always the scariest part.

While I was reading your book, I could see a lot of parallels between The Event and real-world events like September 11 or the bombing of Hiroshima (especially since you mention Hiroshima in the story) — people’s varied reactions, the host of theories about why this happened, etc. Was this on your mind while you were writing?

Absolutely. One of the many subtextual concerns of the book is how people deal with and are haunted by loss. One of the things that haunts me is our ability to endure absolutely horrific loss–Hiroshima, wars, the Holocaust, genocides–and somehow just keep on keepin’ on.

In general terms of “what is on my mind” when I’m writing a novel, I think of it as two separate psychic contracts: the psychic contract with the reader, which requires me to provide an entertaining story (my concept of “entertainment” may vary from yours howeverGeneration Dead by Daniel Waters and would probably require an entire essay so I won’t go further than that here), and my psychic contract with myself, which requires me to work out my feelings in a subtextual way–I try write “about” something important to me while also attempting to entertain the reader. Generation Dead is about my feeling on how we treat each other as much as it is about zombies; Passing Strange is about my feelings concerning depression as it is about an anti-zombie conspiracy. The reader may or may not notice or care that those elements are there; whether or not a reader notices that Break My Heart 1,000 Times is “about” my take on the various ways people in America deal with loss as much as it is about ghosts and serial killers hopefully does not detract from its value as an entertainment. Secretly, of course I hope that the reader both notices and has an enhanced entertainment experience for noticing, but each person should take their thrills where they find them.

Two of the deepest scars on the recent American collective unconscious, to me, are the events of 9/11 and at Columbine. Break My Heart 1,000 Times was a my chance to work out some of my personal feelings regarding 9/11; I’ve another novel with my agent where I work out my feelings about Columbine.

On your blog, you describe BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES as “the ghost story I have been wanting to write since I wanted to write” and also the scariest story you’ve written to date. What makes BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES stand out for you?

I’m not sure that this is the same thing that will make the book stand out to readers, if it will, but it stands out to me because I more or less accomplished with the book what I set out to accomplish. I’m never a hundred percent satisfied with a book when I’m done, but I think I fulfilled the basic contracts with myself and the reader–I wanted to write a novel that I though readers would find interesting and entertaining, I wanted to write what I thought was a unique ghost story, and I wanted to write about loss–personal loss and communal loss.

I just found out that BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES has been optioned for film and there’s already a screenplay. Congratulations! Are there any actors you’d love to see portray your characters?

Thank you. I’d love to see any actors portray any of my characters! What had been fun is reading other folks ideas on who should play different people–Jason Fuchs, who wrote a fantastic screenplay for the film, dreamcast Denzel Washington in the role of Mr. Bittner, a choice that never crossed my mind when writing but I could totally see in the role, while a reviewer I read saw Phillip Seymour Hoffman instead, and he’d bring a completely different–and fitting–aspect of the character out. When I was writing I sometimes visualized Frank Langella as Bittner, but really I’m just so excited to see my work adapted to film I’d look forward to welcoming just about anybody.

While there’s resolution for the main storyline, you left a lot of questions open at the end of BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES. Will you be writing more stories in this world? If so, can you tell us anything about what’s to come?

Passing Strange by Daniel WatersMy books thus far have all left questions unanswered, and this is because I tend to think of all-inclusive endings as lies. The world doesn’t resolve itself in a tidy fashion.

However, unlike Generation Dead, which I knew from the moment I started writing that this was a story I would tell over several books, I hadn’t initially thought about writing about the world of BMH1kx beyond the one book. It wasn’t until I started doing revisions that I started to feel like there were other stories needing to be told in this world. I have a few ideas and few pages of notes–I would like to write a story featuring Janine–but I haven’t fully committed on paper yet. I’ll wait and see how much those idea haunt me!

Thanks very much for visiting us, Daniel! It’s been a slice. 😀

Thank you, I appreciate it.

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More about BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES:

Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel WatersLiving in the aftermath of the Event means that seeing the dead is now a part of life, but Veronica wishes that the ghosts would just move on. Instead, the ghosts aren’t disappearing–they’re gaining power.

When Veronica and her friend, Kirk, decide to investigate why, they stumble upon a more sinister plot than they ever could have imagined. One of Veronica’s high school teachers is crippled by the fact that his dead daughter has never returned as a ghost, and he’s haunted by the possibility that she’s waiting to reappear within a fresh body. Veronica seems like the perfect host. And even if he’s wrong, what’s the harm in creating one more ghost?

From critically acclaimed Generation Dead author Daniel Waters, comes a delectably creepy and suspenseful thriller. Break My Heart 1,000 Times will leave readers with the chills. Or is that a ghost reading over the page?

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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Jenn

Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters

Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters

Book stats:
Reading level: Young adult (12+)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Hyperion
Release date: October 16, 2012

Series: n/a

Source: Review copy from AuthorsOnTheWeb

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Living in the aftermath of the Event means that seeing the dead is now a part of life, but Veronica wishes that the ghosts would just move on. Instead, the ghosts aren’t disappearing–they’re gaining power.

When Veronica and her friend, Kirk, decide to investigate why, they stumble upon a more sinister plot than they ever could have imagined. One of Veronica’s high school teachers is crippled by the fact that his dead daughter has never returned as a ghost, and he’s haunted by the possibility that she’s waiting to reappear within a fresh body. Veronica seems like the perfect host. And even if he’s wrong, what’s the harm in creating one more ghost?

From critically acclaimed Generation Dead author Daniel Waters, comes a delectably creepy and suspenseful thriller. Break My Heart 1,000 Times will leave readers with the chills. Or is that a ghost reading over the page?

As you may have noticed, I rarely read YA but I couldn’t resist the premise of BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES when I heard about it. It’s a supernatural thriller where the scary parts are actually not the ghosts — how could I *not* try it?

I am completely unfamiliar with Daniel Waters’ other work, the Generation Dead series, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was a very interesting and thoughtful story about loss and death and all of the different ways people respond to big and small changes in their lives, in addition to an exciting thriller storyline. The book is definitely geared toward the 12-17 age range but it’s a nice book for those of us who are a little (or a lot) more mature. 🙂

The story is told from several points of view so you get to know the minds of several characters. The bulk of the novel is told by Veronica and Kirk, which allowed me to get to know them very well, but Daniel Waters also gives us some insight into Mr. Bittner, the creepy teacher, and Brian, one of the ghosts who lives in Veronica’s house. The multiple angles lets us really see the world the author has created and I thoroughly appreciated it even though I didn’t really enjoy being Mr. Bittner’s brain.

BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES is billed as a thriller but it’s not a fast-paced novel so be prepared for a slow boil. I generally prefer this genre of book to have more action and what you get in BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES is a lot of the characters’ thoughts. As such, the book felt a little slow to me, particularly in the start, and I had a hard time getting into the story. I’m glad I read it through, though, because the pieces fall into place as Veronica learns Mr. Bittern has bad intentions and as she and Kirk investigate the ghosts in their community, and the story definitely builds as you get closer to the end.

My favourite part of this book, hands down, is the world building because the ghosts aren’t inherently scary — it’s the regular people who are the source of all of the malice and harmful intent. The ghosts are simply an artefact of The Event, a mysterious occurrence that isn’t fully explained in the novel. Instead, the focus is on the aftermath and how people deal with the ghosts. Some people are afraid of them, some rely on and take comfort in their appearances, others accept them as the new normal, and still others people want to figure out what’s going on. The full spectrum of reactions is well represented and it made me think a lot about the different ways folks react to big, scary events in the real world, like September 11. (This is why I called the book ‘thoughtful’ in my second paragraph.)

While BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES isn’t the kind of book I’d normally pick up based on the target YA audience, I’m definitely happy I gave this book a try. I don’t know if it’s going to be for everyone but I’d urge you to read the excerpt below and see if it’s to your tastes.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

The Vengeful Dead by J. N. Duncan

The Vengeful Dead J.N. Duncan The Vengeful Dead by J. N. Duncan

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Trade paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: October 1, 2011

Series: Deadworld #2

Source: Review copy from Kensington

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

She’s the FBI’s go-to expert on Chicago’s most brutal supernatural crimes. But a bloodthirsty, revenge-crazed killer is using her deepest fears as a terrifying weapon…

Jackie Rutledge just can’t put her past to rest. Her Bureau partner is dead, but not gone. And her sanity is becoming as fragile as her career. Worst of all, a wrenching journey into Deadworld has given her unwanted new abilities—and exhuming memories she hoped to keep buried …

Now a merciless force capable of possessing humans is on a killing spree, destroying the guilty and innocent alike. It isn’t long before Jackie is a prime suspect, struggling to stay two steps ahead of her savvy new partner, and her undead P.I. and paramour, Nick. But to clear her name, she’ll have to take on her greatest challenge yet: confronting an inner darkness as inescapable as the one she hunts—and capable of annihilating more than her soul…

I have to confess: I had a very lukewarm reaction to DEADWORLD, the first book in the series. I loved the world building and the main plot line but I really didn’t like Jackie, the main character. And it’s hard to love a book when you have negative feelings towards the protagonist. (In case you didn’t click on the link, my problem with Jackie was basically that she was way too self-destructive and I found it difficult to relate to her.)

My reaction to THE VENGEFUL DEAD? Much more positive! In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed this instalment in the Deadworld series. J. N. Duncan’s kept all of the elements I enjoyed from the first novel and we get to see Jackie grow as a character. As the author pointed out in the comments on my post on DEADWORLD, the novel does take place over a short time period, making it difficult to see a lot of growth or change. This time, though, the book is a little more spaced out in terms of the time frame and it means we get to see Jackie working on herself and her issues and taking steps in the right direction. Yay!

I also appreciated how much deeper we go into Deadworld this time around, since the main focus of THE VENGEFUL DEAD is just what you’d expect from the title: a ghost on a mission to kill the people who murdered her and her unborn baby. This ghost is incredibly powerful and trying to stop her forces Jackie to use her new powers (the result of her trip to Deadworld in the first novel) even though she’d much rather hide. It was really neat to see Nick and Shelby take on a mentoring role with Jackie and her powers because it added an extra layer to her relationships wth both characters.

And speaking of relationships, it’s nice to see Jackie and Nick making some progress, or at least thinking about making progress with their romance. The nature of their relationship isn’t central to THE VENGEFUL DEAD but it is a nice barometer for where Jackie is in terms of her headspace and her attitudes to the world around her.

All in all, I was really impressed with THE VENGEFUL DEAD. I may have been on the fence with DEADWORLD but J. N. Duncan’s won me over with this story and now I can’t wait to start reading THE LINGERING DEAD!

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane

Stacia Kane Chasing MagicChasing Magic by Stacia Kane

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: June 26th 2012

Series: Downside Ghosts #5

Source: Netgalley

Reviewed by: Christine

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

A DEADLY HIGH

Magic-wielding Churchwitch and secret addict Chess Putnam knows better than anyone just how high a price people are willing to pay for a chemical rush. But when someone with money to burn and a penchant for black magic starts tampering with Downside’s drug supply, Chess realizes that the unlucky customers are paying with their souls—and taking the innocent with them, as the magic-infused speed compels them to kill in the most gruesome ways possible.

As if the streets weren’t scary enough, the looming war between the two men in her life explodes, taking even more casualties and putting Chess squarely in the middle. Downside could become a literal ghost town if Chess doesn’t find a way to stop both the war and the dark wave of death-magic, and the only way to do that is to use both her addiction and her power to enter the spell and chase the magic all the way back to its malevolent source. Too bad that doing so will probably kill Chess—if the war doesn’t first destroy the man who’s become her reason for living.

I swear this book almost gave me a heart attack. There is only a handful of books that absorb me that completely and make me feel so many emotions like Stacia Kane’s Downside series.

Because Chess and Terrible are finally together, I dreaded reading this book, always fearing Stacia Kane will rip them apart. In the last book, Sacrificial Magic, she upped the ante by making Lex the leader of Bump’s rival gang. Putting him and Terrible directly against each other and Chess smack in the middle creates so much tension I sometimes found it hard to breath. The underlying danger of Lex’s threat to kill Terrible kept me on the edge of my seat the whole book. I have never been more worried about a fictional character than I was worried for Terrible’s safety in Chasing Magic.

Even though Stacia Kane shows Terrible’s worst side in this book, there are even more scenes where he’s absolutely swoon worthy. I always how much he must love Chess.

There were several scenes in the book where I really really wanted to strangle Chess. She is flawed and her self-respect couldn’t be any lower, but by now, even she must have realized that Terrible is in love with her, period. Yet, she maneuvers herself into situations and does things she can’t have thought through. It’s a good thing I read this book while I stayed with my family. If I had been alone while reading this, I would have screamed in frustration at her.

The relationship between her and Terrible grows stronger with each book. One of my favorite scenes was when Chess took Terrible to elder Griffin’s wedding. I was nice to see that Chess doesn’t mind at all being seen with Terrible outside of Downside. This scene also makes me hope for something to happen between Chess and Terrible. Despite the seeming hopelessness of their relationship, there’s a subtle hint at a positive future for them. Of course, I might die of joy if what I suspect does actually happen. But well. The end of the book opens yet again a new chapter in the life of Chess and Terrible and I can’t wait to see how that turns out. To say it’s a huge step for Chess puts it mildly.

While I have never been much of a fan of Lex, I definitely hate him now. He claims to like Chess, but most of the time, his actions speak otherwise. I don’t know why Chess even bothers with him anymore. But all that being said, his new role and his character are fantastic for the plot and the overall story arc, as his presence creates enough conflict for several more books (I hope).

The story of Chasing Magic is very much about consequences. The consequences of Chess’s previous actions come to bite her in the ass. Not only the mistakes she made with Lex (I refuse to see it as anything else =) ), but also the death of Slowbag and other doings of Chess’s cause a lot of trouble in this book. While the Downside series is very dark from the beginning, this book was especially grim and horrid. There’s no church case in this book, instead all of Downside is plagued with an especially gruesome form of magic. The race of Chess and Terrible to uncover who is behind all that magic is a thrill ride for us readers that will make you regret every minute you’re forced to put down your book.

There is one thing that didn’t sit very well with me in this book though. I can’t really discuss it and not spoil it for you. All I can say is that for me it stands for a very unhealthy turn in a relationship. Of course you can argue that it is fitting for the respective characters but, still, that’s not something I approve of. (If you want to know what that’s about or want to discuss it, I’d be happy to!) However, this bit could not spoil my overall enjoyment of this book.

It is not a big secret that I might be the biggest fan of this series. This gem of urban fantasy hides its raw beauty under a huge layer of blood and violence. I wish I had the right words to praise it the way it deserves, but everything that comes to mind doesn’t seem adequate. Chasing Magic pulls you in with the very first chapter, puts you through a whole spectrum of emotions and spits you out wanting even more. The characters, the world, the writing – all is highly addictive awesomeness.

Chrisig

PAF: Interview with Stacia Kane + giveaway!

Paranormal April Fools

Today, our Christine is interviewing the talented Stacia Kane! Stacia’s visiting the blog to talk about her new release, SACRIFICIAL MAGIC, the fourth book in her Downside series.

Stay tuned to learn more about this fantastic series and enter to win your very own copy of SACRIFICIAL MAGIC from Random House!

———————————

Welcome back to Tynga’s Reviews, Stacia! For all those those who haven’t read your latest release Sacrificial Magic yet, can you describe in three words what they can expect?

Mystery, darkness, complications.

Who is the most important person in Chess’s life?

Oh, Terrible, absolutely. No one matters more than he does.Oh, Terrible, absolutely. No one matters more than he does.

So far, Chess has been able to manage her addiction and her job quite well. Will that last?

Now, that’s a big spoiler. 🙂 She’s certainly going to try, unless she just gives up and stops trying. Heh.

Are you afraid that reading your books might play down drug addiction and drug dealing in the eyes of the readers?

Not really, no. I don’t think anything I put in a book is going to change anything in the real world. And if it does? Well, it’s nice to think maybe someone out there is realizing that there are actually millions of functional addicts in the world, people just like the rest of us, and addicts are still human beings.

If you could live in the world you created, where would you want to live or work? Downside or Church grounds?

Definitely Downside. It’d be scary but much more fun.

The last question is pretty simple (for me): if you could choose, who would you rather date, Lex or Terrible?

It is simple. Terrible for me, too. 🙂

Thanks very much for visiting us, Stacia! It’s been a pleasure.

———————————

Here’s the scoop on SACRIFICIAL MAGIC:

Stacia Kane Sacrificial MagicREADING, WRITING, AND RAISING THE DEAD

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity: Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.

Christine’s review

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Click on the cover to find out more about the first three books in the series:

STacia Kane Unholy Ghosts Stacia Kane Unholy MagicStacia Kane City of Ghosts

———————————

giveaway

Random House is generously offering one (1) copy of SACRIFICIAL MAGIC to a lucky reader!

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

US/Canada only

Ends Sunday, April 15, 2012
(like all of our Paranormal April Fools’ giveaways)

/*{literal}{/literal}*/
a Rafflecopter giveaway
You need javascript enabled to see this giveaway.

———————————

Stacia KaneStacia Kane is the author of the gritty dystopian urban fantasy “Downside” series starring Chess Putnam and featuring ghosts, human sacrifice, drugs, witchcraft, punk rock, and a badass ’69 Chevelle. She bleaches her hair and wears a lot of black.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jenn

PAF: Interview with Stacia Kane + giveaway!

Paranormal April Fools

Today, our Christine is interviewing the talented Stacia Kane! Stacia’s visiting the blog to talk about her new release, SACRIFICIAL MAGIC, the fourth book in her Downside series.

Stay tuned to learn more about this fantastic series and enter to win your very own copy of SACRIFICIAL MAGIC from Random House!

———————————

Welcome back to Tynga’s Reviews, Stacia! For all those those who haven’t read your latest release Sacrificial Magic yet, can you describe in three words what they can expect?

Mystery, darkness, complications.

Who is the most important person in Chess’s life?

Oh, Terrible, absolutely. No one matters more than he does.Oh, Terrible, absolutely. No one matters more than he does.

So far, Chess has been able to manage her addiction and her job quite well. Will that last?

Now, that’s a big spoiler. 🙂 She’s certainly going to try, unless she just gives up and stops trying. Heh.

Are you afraid that reading your books might play down drug addiction and drug dealing in the eyes of the readers?

Not really, no. I don’t think anything I put in a book is going to change anything in the real world. And if it does? Well, it’s nice to think maybe someone out there is realizing that there are actually millions of functional addicts in the world, people just like the rest of us, and addicts are still human beings.

If you could live in the world you created, where would you want to live or work? Downside or Church grounds?

Definitely Downside. It’d be scary but much more fun.

The last question is pretty simple (for me): if you could choose, who would you rather date, Lex or Terrible?

It is simple. Terrible for me, too. 🙂

Thanks very much for visiting us, Stacia! It’s been a pleasure.

———————————

Here’s the scoop on SACRIFICIAL MAGIC:

Stacia Kane Sacrificial MagicREADING, WRITING, AND RAISING THE DEAD

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity: Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.

Christine’s review

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Click on the cover to find out more about the first three books in the series:

STacia Kane Unholy Ghosts Stacia Kane Unholy MagicStacia Kane City of Ghosts

———————————

giveaway

Random House is generously offering one (1) copy of SACRIFICIAL MAGIC to a lucky reader!

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

US/Canada only

Ends Sunday, April 15, 2012
(like all of our Paranormal April Fools’ giveaways)

/*{literal}{/literal}*/
a Rafflecopter giveaway
You need javascript enabled to see this giveaway.

———————————

Stacia KaneStacia Kane is the author of the gritty dystopian urban fantasy “Downside” series starring Chess Putnam and featuring ghosts, human sacrifice, drugs, witchcraft, punk rock, and a badass ’69 Chevelle. She bleaches her hair and wears a lot of black.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jenn

Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane

Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts, #4)

Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane

Books Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Random House
Release date: March 27th 2012

Series: Downside Ghosts #4

Source: Netgalley

Reviewed by: Christine

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity: Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.

When I started reading this book, I was really anxious. I´m a huge Terrible fan and in the last book, I really really hoped they would finally end up together. Well, I got my wish, but in this series, it doesn’t mean everything is all rainbows and butterflies.

Chess tries very hard to make her new relationship with Terrible work, because she obviously really loves him. But somehow she still manages to make mistakes and manipulate it all the time and reading that broke my heart a hundred times. It is really tragic to see how her incredibly low self esteem and the fact that she is permanently second guessing her own behavior are almost enough to destroy one of the good things that has happened to her.

But then there is Terrible. Even though I won´t give you any details to avoid spoilers, I can tell you this: the way he acts in this book makes you love him even more and forget what he actually is. The feared, scarred enforcer of the local drug lord and the man he is when he´s around Chess seem like two completely different persons to me. And as far as I know, I´m not the only girl in the Terrible fan club. Kudos to Stacia Kane for making me (and a while lot of others) fall in love with a man like that.

Even though, for me, Sacrificial Magic is mostly about Chess and Terrible´s relationship, there are of course several other story arcs, including Chess´s job as church witch. Her most recent assignment requires her to investigate the haunting of a school on Lex´s and Slobag´s side of town. A fact that guarantees for even more complications in her relationship. The case as well as the escalating war between the two fractions that control Downside had me glued to the pages just as much as the personal drama in Chess´s life. Her case is exciting and complex and I enjoyed trying to put the pieces together to figure out all the details.  The end of the book came as a bit of a shock. Though there is not real cliffhanger, the results of the finale of this book are bound to cause huge changes in Chess´s life and will probably change Downside in the next book.

During her investigation, Chess also gets to know a new character, Beulah. Right from the start I was curious about her, since her intentions and motifs remained unclear until later in the book. But I have to admit that I ended up liking her a lot.

I started reading this book at the end of what felt like one of those very long days right before I planned on going to bed. The next thing I know, it was in the middle of the night (or rather very early in the morning). I´m afraid I just can´t put down a book by Stacia Kane once I have started reading. I admire her for her talent to make me care for characters I was convinced I would never care about before I read the first book.

You know, at this point, I always wish I would be able to praise Stacia Kane´s books in the way I think they deserve. Sadly, everything I come up with feels like it falls short. Sacrificial Magic is more than an amazing, exciting page-turner with fantastic characters set in a world that is unique, yet disturbing.

I thought it was brilliant. Sacrificial Magic is the best book I´ve read so far in 2012.

Here ends my rambling about Downside. But if anybody wants to join me in my swoon fest over Terrible, go ahead! Just keep it spoiler free! An for those who have finished the book as well: do you also wish you could get relationship advice from Elder Griffin?

chrisig