[ Book Review ] Vampire town seeks human doctor. Apply within.

Redemption by Susannah Sandlin


Aidan Murphy, master vampire, has a problem. His people are under attack and his town doctor was one of the first victims. So when Doctor Krystal Harris comes to Penton with her resume, he’s more than ready to hire her. Except, Krys isn’t stupid; she can sense Aidan’s weird, mob-boss vibe a mile away. She’s outta there.

But Aidan can’t afford the time it’ll take to find another doctor. Solution: he kidnaps Krys and sticks her in the basement.

Redemption is the quintessential paranormal love story (think JR Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, etc). Vampire kidnaps girl. Girl does not appreciate being kidnapped by hot vampire. Vampire’s evil brother starts blowing things up. Girl reconsiders.

That said, don’t get me wrong. The romance is steamy. The dialogue is witty. And hey, the characters are not quite as far off the deep end as my summary suggests; Krys and Aidan are rather aware that their instant attraction is ridiculous. Krys makes a few efforts to find her balance amid the action and vampire revelations, even as Aidan tries to confront the moral dilemma of abducting a woman for the greater good. Continue reading

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[ Book Review ] Dakota Frost: The Other Girl with a Dragon Tattoo

Frost Moon by Anthony Francis

Dakota Frost novel #1

My first impression of Frost Moon was overwhelmingly positive. It sounded like I would be getting an Urban Fantasy written by a male author about a freakishly tall, lesbian (turns out she’s actually bi) magic-tattoo artist in a world where magic is in the open, but still on the margins of mainstream society. As the story begins, we learn that our heroine’s ex was a doctoral candidate who–to better research vampires–became one, and a werewolf with control issues wants the reluctant Dakota Frost to tattoo him with a Nazi charm. Call me intrigued.

The novel’s main strength is in its concepts–the world it builds (but isn’t able to maintain to any degree of believability) is intriguing and the main character screams promise. It doesn’t hurt that ever since our MoonBlindCanary put out her award-winning tattoo-and-demon-magic short story, I’ve been hopelessly fascinated with seeing how different authors use tattoos in Urban Fantasy. Continue reading

Top Five: Vampires and Werewolves

Happy Halloween, Canaries! It’s that time of year, and I bring you some fun werewolf and vampire stories. But this isn’t a top five of Anne Rice or Bram Stoker style classics. Here are those fun, action-packed, oft-time creepy, sometimes-romantic vampire and werewolf novels that might have slipped under your reading radar. Let’s start with the honorable mentions….

Honorable Halloween Mentions:

Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

Nathaniel Cade was turned into a vampire in the year something-hundreds and then bound by a voodoo witch to serve the US President. Now he is a Secret Service agent, protecting the US against demons, witches, Frankenstein’s monsters and aliens.

This is a series written as if to be turned into a TV show, but it wins an honorable mention for the following excerpt:

“I thought vampires were sex gods with the ladies.”

Cade looked  at him. “What gave you that idea?”

“Uh, late night TV mostly…”

“Humans are our food. Do you want to have sex with a cow?”

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Years ago, Elena was bitten by someone she trusted. Now she’s a werewolf that lives in the city and refuses to have anything to do with her pack. Sitting squarely in the paranormal romance genre, this book stands out from the masses for the way it weaves together Elena’s struggle to come to grips with the fact that she will never be human enough for the human world she lives in.

The Sight by David Clement-Davies

While not a “werewolf” story per se, The Sight follows a pack of sentient wolves in the forests of Transylvania. Larka is born with the Sight–a trait that sets her apart from the other wolves and a trait she shares with Morgra, a wolf hell-bent on destroying Larka and her pack.

The novel combines prophecy, magic, and some heartbreaking adventure and creates what I can only call a Wolf Epic.

And now for the Top Five:

5. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Having almost nothing in common with the 2007 movie of the same title, this YA novel follows Vivian, a young werewolf who is trying to deal with the death of her father, the confusion in her family, and a lone wolf trying to take over the pack. When she sees the very human Aiden sketching werewolves in his notebook  at school, she’s sure that she’s found someone who will finally understand her.

This novel sets itself apart from the many paranormal YA novels with their heavy handed romance plots; Klause takes a sober look at the divide that separates Vivian and Aiden. Sometimes, thinking you’re in love just isn’t enough.

4. Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly

If you are a fan of historical fiction, this is the perfect addition to your shelf. Hambly brings the characters and the chilly London atmosphere to life.

“Oxford professor James Ahser, once an agent for the British government, is forced to help the vampires of Edwardian London, who are being destroyed one by one through exposure to sunlight as they lie sleeping in their coffins.” (From Publishers Weekly)

3. Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

The first installment of the Morganville Vampires series, this YA novel took me by surprise.  The pace of plot is relentless, but it never leaves the characters behind to wallow in their own personal stories.

Claire is a sixteen year old in her first semester at a university in Morganville and dreams of transferring out to MIT. But Morganville isn’t just a small backwater town and leaving is a whole lot harder that moving in.

“Run first,” Shane said. “Mourn later.”
It was the perfect motto for Morganville.

2. Sunshine by Robin McKinley

When I first saw this book on the shelves in ’03, I couldn’t believe my eyes. McKinley? Writing a vampire romance novel? Oh me of little faith. McKinley could rewrite the phone book and make it enthralling.

A cook at the local bakery, Sunshine has a boyfriend, and wonderful friends and family. But her life turns upside down when she goes off to find some quiet time by the lake…

“They took her clothes and sneakers. They dressed her in a long red gown. And they shackled her to the wall of an abandoned mansion-within easy reach of a figure stirring in the moonlight.” (Amazon book description)

McKinley’s keen ear for style and attention to character detail brings this story to life in a way that I haven’t seen for a long long time.

1. Agyar by Steven Brust

In a word, creepy.

But I am not going to tell you about the plot, because this is a book best served cold, without preamble. So check it out!

What are your favorite vampire or werewolf reads?