Book of the Week: City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments Book 3)


I am so excited to talk about City of Glass. It has definitely been my favorite of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series so far. (And I’ve already read City of Fallen Angels…which I didn’t like as much as the first three books. But more about that next week.) I’m also SUPER excited for the City of Bones movie to come out this Wednesday, August 21. (I even have this marked down in my planner, lol. Like I would forget.)

This review is spoiler-free, but if you haven’t read City of Bones or City of Ashes yet, do NOT read this review. Instead, check out my reviews of Books 1 and 2 here.

You can find City of Glass on Amazon here.

The Amazon book description:

“To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters—never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

“As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City—whatever the cost?

“Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of bestselling series the Mortal Instruments.”

***

As you would expect, Glass picks up where Ashes left us hanging: Clary is supposed to travel to Idris (The Glass City) with an old friend of her mother’s who can find the man who gave Jocelyn (Fairchild) Fray the spell that has left her in a coma-like state throughout most of these first three books. Unbeknownst to Clary, Jace and the others are planning to leave for Idris without her, Jace believing it’s too risky for her to go. But what kind of book would Glass be if all of the main characters didn’t get to go to Idris? So, at the end of the day, everyone ends up there whether they were supposed to go or not -even Simon, our loveable nerd-turned-vampire who can walk around in sunlight. Unlike the first two books, which give us glimpses of the Shadowhunter’s world interspersed in present day New York City, most of Glass takes place in Idris, a fictional place I would definitely love to live in. In Bones and Ashes, Valentine procured two of the mortal instruments -the cup and the sword -all he needs in Glass is the mirror to summon the angel Raziel (whose blood created the Shadowhunter race) to do his bidding.

Now, instead of giving you a detailed scene-by-scene plot summary, I’m just going to tell you what I loved about Glass -and a few things I didn’t. In all of the books I’ve enjoyed Ms. Clare’s plot twists and turns -I love it when hints are sprinkled throughout the book leading up to a big reveal, something I try to do in my own writing. For instance, there’s a bit of a creative spin on the mirror, which I really liked. And of course, we’ve been getting a lot of hints about Clary and Jace, and we find out more about this in Glass. So, if you’re worried or simply wondering, this is the book where you will find out.

I’ve also enjoyed watching Simon grow throughout the books. Although I’ve become invested in all of Ms. Clare’s characters, Simon is definitely one of my favorites and one of the most interesting to follow. He started out as merely Clary’s nerdy best friend -the only human in her new group of supernatural friends, and someone who has never been very sure of himself. I was really upset at first when he turned, actually, because I liked that he was the “token” human. But, as not only a vampire but a Daylighter, Simon is starting to come into his own, and I really like that. He’s physically stronger and has that “vampire mojo,” but he’s also growing as a person as he’s had to struggle and come to terms with being a vampire. And yet throughout the whole ordeal he’s still a good friend to Clary, still loves her, and is still funny. He definitely has a lot to deal with in Glass and in City of Fallen Angels afterwards, but he’s becoming a stronger person.

I also like how Clary is a different kind of strong character. In contrast to Isabelle Lightwood, who knows she’s beautiful and is a powerful and skilled Shadowhunter, like Simon Clary is also growing into herself in these books. She’s not a trained Shadowhunter so she’s not physically strong, but her special gift is drawing runes -ancient runes, runes not found in the Gray Book -and this skill becomes vitally important in Glass. Clary might not be able to literally kick ass (yet), but she is able to unite Shadowhunters and Downworlders in the fight against Valentine.

Which brings me to something I wasn’t a big fan of in this book: The ending. If you’ve read it: Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I would have wanted…ugh, it’s so hard to talk about this without spoiling the book. So all I will say is…the ending for me was pretty much deus ex machina. You have to admit, it was kind of cheating. Throughout the entire book, she’s building up to this big battle -the characters are arming themselves and preparing for the battle -and then what happened, happens. And Clary makes a request at the end that is pretty much completely selfish. Not that I would have wanted it the other way, either -that would just have made for a horribly depressing book -but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a selfish choice. There were a lot of other things she could have asked for, even that could have helped out her other friends, like Simon. So, even though I loved the characters, and the action, and the other revelations in this book, I did not care for the ending.

Sebastian Verlac - mortal-instruments Fan Art
Source: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/mortal-instruments/images/8432078/title/sebastian-verlac-fanart

One other new character Ms. Clare introduces that I should probably mention is Sebastian. When they get to Idris, the Lightwoods stay with another Shadowhunter family whose last name I can’t really think of right now, and their cousin Sebastian is also visiting. With his longish dark hair and beautiful face, Sebastian resembles a dark prince Clary used to draw. You start to see that Sebastian is definitely that dark, bad boy type…but he’s not someone, at least for me, that ends up becoming appealing (because you know how I usually like my fictional bad boys). I think it’s because he’s too sinister and really has no redeeming qualities, which is the point, and I like that. A true antihero has at least some glimmer of goodness, or puts up walls so he doesn’t have to connect with people emotionally (when on the inside he’s vulnerable and all that mooshy stuff). Sebastian might sound hot, but he is pretty sadistic. So Jace and Alec can retain their status as the brooding “bad” boys of the Shadowhunter world.

Finally -as I will end all of my TMI reviews -Magnus Bane was in this book. And he was still awesome.

What did you think of City of Glass? What did you think of the ending? Please share in the comments below!

***

Related Reads:

City of Glass – Book Shelf Dreaming

The Mortal Instruments: City of Glass: Cassandra Clare – Foundation and Exploration

The Mortal Instruments: City of Glass Review – Curious Case of the Confused

Book of the Week: City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments Book 2)


I actually read this second installment in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series over vacation a few weeks ago, and over this past weekend I read City of Glass…so hopefully I won’t mix them up in this review…

Also, as you know I’ve been posting sort of sporadically this summer, but I’ve also gotten pretty bad at checking in with my fellow bloggers. I love it when you visit The Urge to Write, and I love visiting your blogs as well, so I promise I will be by soon. 🙂

And now, on to the review! I am trying to keep these reviews as spoiler-free as possible, but if there’s just absolutely something I need to say that is a spoiler, I will warn you! (Although, if you haven’t read City of Bones yet, I would not continue reading this. Instead, check out my review of City of Bones here.) Please let me know what you thought of City of Ashes (CoA) in the comments – I would LOVE to discuss this series with you!

You can find CoA on Amazon here.

The Amazon book description:

“Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go—especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil—and also her father.

“To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings—and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

“In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.”

***

In these first three books of The Mortal Instruments, we’re basically following Cassandra Clare’s charming villain Valentine Morgenstern as he seeks to collect all three of these legendary objects. In City of Bones Clary et al. (I’ve been reading too many journal articles) try to stop Valentine from getting the Mortal Cup. In City of Ashes, it’s the Soul-Sword. (The last will be the mirror.) As Amazon’s summary explains, someone is murdering Downworlder children, and although Clary and her friends are pretty convinced it’s Valentine, some of the adult Shadowhunters are less certain. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled at first with the whole Downworlder murder mystery thing. I just feel this type of plotline is starting to get played out. I personally don’t read a lot of murder mysteries, and now it seems like this type of plotline is leaking into a lot of fantasy books. I’ve loved this combination in other series (Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series starts out that way), but then I noticed True Blood’s first season started out that way (I haven’t gotten around to reading the Sookie Stackhouse books yet)…and now this book. But when I actually saw where she was going with it, I got over it and liked it. It wasn’t so much of a traditional murder mystery as a question of who the murderer was: The person it obviously was versus who the Inquisitor is trying to pin it on. It reminded me of in Harry Potter when everyone accused Harry of lying about Voldemort being back.

At the end of the first book, Clary and Jace have found out that Valentine is their father -and that they’re brother and sister -so one of the major themes in CoA is how they are handling this revelation in different ways and how it impacts their decisions. Clary pretty much wants nothing to do with Valentine, but then again, she wasn’t raised by Valentine. Sinisterly charming, evil Valentine is the only Valentine she knows, so it makes it easier for her to hate him. Jace, on the other hand, was raised by Valentine -and even though he had a troubled childhood, Valentine was the only father figure he knew until the Lightwoods took him in. He feels more beholden to Valentine than Clary does.

This leads me to another criticism of the book -and I really don’t want to sound like I didn’t like it. I actually really enjoyed Ashes, just as much as Bones. I like Cassandra Clare’s writing style, and she really pulls you into this underbelly of New York City she’s created. I love the action, I love the tension, her sense of humor, the teenage angst, and the suspense. She definitely leaves the reader wanting more. But I have to say…I find Valentine to be lacking sometimes. He’s a pretty traditional evil villain, that’s fine, we don’t have to go psycho-analyzing him. But the narration talks a lot about how utterly manipulative Valentine is, but we’re not shown this very often, or at least not in a very sophisticated way. I just think it could have been done better. Just sayin. I don’t know how anyone else feels about this, so feel free to argue with me, lol. Also, he and Jace seem to have these long, drawn “philosophical” discussions that really aren’t as substantial as they could be. Then again, I found Jace’s inner struggle to be very palpable. You can tell at times he comes close to siding with Valentine.

Fan art by Dinoralp

And now, onto Clary and Jace. Okay, you may not want to read this part if you haven’t read the books. I was trying to keep this spoiler free, but this paragraph is definitely going to hint at things to come. I was really frustrated at the end of Bones when it came out that Jace and Clary were brother and sister. In Ashes you start to get the feeling that…well, this may not be the case, but it’s still kind of a gray area. Anyway, my point is that at least noticing these hints sprinkled in, and the fact that I may have looked up some spoilers online, made me a lot more comfortable about shipping Jace/Clary. I like to think I shipped them because I saw what comes up later in City of Glass. It was either that, or she was really going to go all Flowers in the Attic on us. But then again, when Jace says things like “Does this feel wrong to you?” to Clary, I’m like uh that’s kinda hot. (I don’t remember what the exact quote was, but I think it was something like that. Now I can’t even find it in the book. Maybe it’s all in my head?…) I liked what Ms. Clare did with the Seelie Queen/Court scene…no one does Seelie quite like Karen Marie Moning, but it was satisfactory. 😉

Spoilers over…now. You may read on.

Last but not least, we have more (but it’s never enough, really) of the funny, glittery Magnus Bane. Seriously, I think she depicts his character the best – he really pops off the page. He has a strange sense of humor; it’s a little bit dry, and even when he’s kinda being an ass, he still cracks me up: “I’d say it’s been nice meeting you all, but, in fact, it hasn’t. It’s been quite awkward, and frankly, the next time I see a single one of you will be far too soon.” And he and Alec, although they have their issues they need to sort through, are just too adorbs. I feel super bad for Magnus, though, when it’s clear Alec still has unresolved feelings for Jace.

Now, since I didn’t post a music video on Monday, I decided to find one to “go” with The Mortal Instruments. Okay, Robbie Williams singing about “Angels” really isn’t a demon-slaying theme song, but it was the first thing that popped into my head. And who doesn’t love a little 90s? (Or early 2000s? I can’t really remember when this song came out…)

Other Reviews and Related Reads:

Book of the Week: City of Bones – The Urge to Write

Foundation and Exploration

Chai Tea & Coffee

I Love You Geekology 101

Curious Case of the Confused

Bri Has Too Many Books

Book of the Week: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments Book 1)


So, after I said I was going to have a book of the week…I wrote a few, and then stopped, lol. I finished reading the first book in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments (TMI) series, City of Bones,  a few weeks ago, and then I went on vacation…over which I finished City of Ashes. But I feel that each book deserves its own post. Sara over at WhatANerdGirlSays talks about these books constantly on her blog, so I just had to check them out. I didn’t know what to expect…I wasn’t sure if I would like them or not. But now I’m kind of obsessed. 😛 AND I’ve gotten my mother hooked on them, too! I guess I should have known that any book with an endorsement from Stephenie Meyer on the cover has to be good……. (For all of you Sheldons out there, that was sarcasm. Seriously, Ms. Meyer’s is an authority on good books now?)

I think I’ve managed to keep this review spoiler-free. Please leave your thoughts about what I’ve said and about CoB in the comments at the end – I’d LOVE to discuss with you!!! 🙂

You can find City of Bones (CoB) on Amazon here.

The Amazon book description;

“When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

“This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know.”

***

The first thing I need to address is Harry Potter’s influence on these books. I think maybe some people out there don’t give them a chance because they’ve heard Cassandra Clare wrote HP fanfic and perhaps think she’s ripping off J. K. Rowling or something. As much as I adore Harry Potter, I’m also enjoying this series. Its influence is pretty obvious in some aspects…but then again, not every single thing in the HP books was original, either. They really reminded me of The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings sometimes, although I doubt J. K. Rowling was doing that intentionally. Anyway, CoB has a completely different feel, at least in my opinion. HP for me drew me into this completely different world…one that was alongside ours, but mostly the focus was on the wizarding world and not on the Muggle world, except for Harry’s unhappy home life. CoB takes place in New York City, and Cassandra Clare opens our eyes, as Clary’s are opened, to the fantastical world not just alongside it, but all mixed up in our own. I know, I’m doing a really crappy job of describing it, but Cassandra Clare does this really well.

The world Ms. Clare creates has a sort of caste system. At the top of it are the Shadowhunters or the Nephilim -half-Angel, half-human demon slayers. They seem to be mostly a pretty arrogant bunch and look, er, down on the Downworlders: the werewolves, vampires, fae (fairies), and the warlocks. And regular ol’ humans are the mundanes. (Clever, but yes, reminds me of muggles.) The Downworlders are part human, part demon. Despite their differences, the Shadowhunters and the Downworlders keep the peace by signing The Accords every fifteen years…but not everyone feels the Downworlders are worthy of this offering of peace. Everyone being, most notably, Valentine Morgenstern. Valentine and his group of followers (The Circle) tried to stop the signing of The Accords fifteen years prior to the events in CoB and overthrow the Clave, the Nephilim’s governing body. No one has seen Valentine since the Uprising……

As has become the fad recently in young adult books, you see a love triangle starting to form in CoB: Clary caught between Simon, her mundane BFF, and Shadowhunter/arrogant pretty boy Jace. Although I’m usually a sucker for a good love triangle, even I’m starting to get a bit sick of them, but I still don’t mind this one that much. I like to think of it as a symbol reflecting the tension between Clary’s two worlds. (Hooray for reading into things too much!) I love both of these guys…Simon is adorable and funny, and Jace is…well, Jace is super arrogant, but super hot and is that bad boy you just wanna save. Which I’m okay with because it’s just a BOOK, people. But beyond the love triangle, the sexual tension, and the teenage angst is an enjoyable adventure story. Cassandra Clare really pulls you into the Shadowhunters’ world and lays the groundwork for a great series. She’s also just really funny – some of the dialogue had me laughing out loud! Simon especially is just so sarcastic – it’s pretty great.

And, even if I didn’t like any other aspects of the book (which I did -like other things in the book, I mean), I would still read the rest of the series for the High Warlock of Brooklyn, the awesometastic fabulous glittery Magnus Bane. What is it about this guy that is so awesome? Well, a lot of it probably has to do with the flamboyance and the glitter (he kind of reminds me of Bowie, if Bowie were, well, a warlock and Asian), but Cassandra just makes him sound really cool and epic. I want him to be my best friend. Seriously.

Related Reads:

Book of the Week: City of Bones – WhatANerdGirlSays

City of Bones Trailer – Mystery Boxes and Movie Magic

The Mortal Instruments – Boldest Before Breakfast

Books: Perks of Being a Wallflower and City of Bones – Tabor Sinn

Book of the Week: The Gathering


The Gathering, Darkness Rising Book 1 by Kelley Armstrong

Find it on Amazon

Amazon Book Description: “Strange things are happening in Maya’s tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya’s home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.

“It doesn’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.”

***

Armstrong’s Darkness Rising trilogy takes place in the same world as her Darkest Powers trilogy -same mad scientific organization, different subjects. This time, Armstrong takes us to a small, isolated research community in Canada where the St. Clouds perform “pharmaceutical drug trials.” Maya lives there with her adoptive parents (this isn’t a spoiler, she’s well-aware that she’s adopted) that operate a wildlife reserve. Maya takes care of injured animals there and seems to have a special connection with the animals as well as uncanny healing abilities. She and her friend Daniel are still healing themselves after her best friend and his girlfriend Serena (a seasoned swimmer) drowns mysteriously in a lake. They really start asking questions about Serena’s death when a nosey outsider named Mina Lee appears in town and wants to talk to the teenagers about the research that goes on there. She seems especially interested in the life of a high schooler in their isolated community, their hobbies, and specifically in Maya.

Meanwhile, newcomer and local bad boy Rafael (Rafe) Martinez is also taking a special interest in Maya. As Maya gets to know Rafe, she realizes they have more in common than just their Native American ancestry. (Sorry for the ambiguity -I’m trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible!) Rafe might not be the bad boy he pretends to be, but his interest in Maya may not be entirely selfless, either. One thing I liked about this book is that Maya is an  independent and plucky kinda girl. She’s very bold with Rafe (even bolder than usual, she admits) and often takes charge in their relationship, including initiating their, uh, make out sessions. Even though much of the book focuses on her relationship with Rafe, you kind of get the feeling that Armstrong is heading into love triangle territory since there seems to be some unresolved tension between Maya and Daniel. And, of course, Daniel doesn’t trust Rafe, so there’s friction between those two as well. (Do I sense a potential bromance in the works?)

When I started The Gathering, I was still on a high from reading my first paranormal romance trilogy by author Kelley Armstrong, The Darkest Powers. (You can find my book review for that series here.)  I’m not sure what it was about The Gathering that I didn’t like. I mean, I liked it -I just didn’t love it, and I don’t know what about it didn’t take it to the next level for me. There were a lot of plot elements similar to The Darkest Powers trilogy -like Chloe has to put up with bitchy witch (teehee) Tori, Maya has to deal with mean girl Hayley. And there are the hints of a Daniel-Maya-Rafe love triangle. But these parallels didn’t really bother me. I mean, I’ve read and loved all of L. J. Smith’s books, and those all have very similar basic structures: Same basic premise, different twist. By the way, isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?…Well, I’m not really expecting different results, so I guess I’m okay! 😉

Anyway, so it wasn’t the repetition. Something was missing for me. It seemed to be action-packed, but I didn’t become totally invested in the characters. I could put the book down if I wanted to. I also think it took too long for Maya to figure out who/what she is. The reader will become aware of it early in the book, but then it takes Maya almost the whole book to figure it out. That was a little frustrating. I enjoyed Maya’s character, though. Not only was she independent, she had an adventurous spirit and her narration and dialogue was just plain funny -she has a dry, sarcastic wit (kind of like yours truly).

Although I wasn’t in lurve with this book, I will still totally read the other ones. I’m curious enough to see what will happen next, and hopefully they get better.

Upcoming Books of the Week: Darkness Rising: The Calling (Book 2) and The Rising (Book 3); Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones; Karen Marie Moning’s The Dark Highlander

Related Reads:

Book of the Week: The Darkest Powers Trilogy – The Urge to Write

The Gathering – Rachel Lizotte

Day 13 – Your Favorite Writer – Kelley Armstrong – The Avid Reader

Book Review: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong – Baubles & Books

Book of the Week: The Immortal Highlander


I actually read The Immortal Highlander (Book 6 of Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series) a few months ago, but I never got around to reviewing it (a.k.a. going on an obsessed, fangirl rant), so it is this week’s book. You may remember that Adam Black and Darroc made my list of the Top 10 Bromances awhile back. But this post is dedicated to the entire book -every delicious page.

Summary: “BEWARE: lethally seductive alpha male of immense strength and dark eroticism, do not look at him. Do not touch him. Do not be tempted. Do not be seduced.

“With his long, black hair and dark, mesmerizing eyes, Adam Black is Trouble with a capital T. Immortal, arrogant, and intensely sensual, he is the consummate seducer, free to roam across time and continents in pursuit of his insatiable desires. That is, until a curse strips him of his immortality and makes him invisible, a cruel fate for so irresistible a man. With his very life at stake, Adam’s only hope for survival is in the hands of the one woman who can actually see him.

“Enter law student Gabrielle O’Callaghan, who is cursed with the ability to see both worlds: Mortal and Faery. From the moment she lays eyes on this stunning male, Gabby is certain of one thing: He could be her undoing. Thus begins a long, dangerous seduction. Because despite his powerful strength and unquenchable hungers, Adam refuses to take a woman by force. Instead, he will tease his way into Gabby’s bed and make her want him just as he wants her.

“Now, no matter how hard Gabby tries to avoid him, Adam is everywhere, invisible to all but her—perched atop her office cubicle in too-tight jeans, whispering softly from behind the stacks of the law library, stealing her breath away with his knowing smile…all the while tempting her with the promise of unimaginable pleasure in his arms. But soon danger will intrude on this sensual dance. For as Adam’s quest to regain his immortality plunges them into a world of timeless magic and the deadly politics of the Faery queen’s court, the price of surrender could be their very lives. Unless they can thwart the conspiracy that threatens both mortal and Faery realms…and give them a shot at a destiny few mortals ever know: glorious, wondrous, endless love.”

***

Before reading Immortal, I did read The Spell of the Highlander. (Yes, it’s Book 7. Yes, I’m reading them in reverse order. More about that later.) But I didn’t post anything about Spell because, although I enjoyed it and it still showcased Moning’s talent for expertly combining elements of romance, fantasy and mythology, it wasn’t my favorite of her books.

Immortal is a different story. (Pun intended?) It has the traditional formula of a romance novel, of course, but it lays the framework for her Fever series, which means it’s a little bit dark and full of meddling Fae. I was really disappointed when I read Spell and the Fae only cropped up a few times. Immortal was exactly what I was craving. In this case, our Highlander is actually a Fae trapped in his Highlander glamour when Queen Aoibheal punishes him by taking away his immortality. Gabby is a sidhe-seer and is the only one who can see Adam. She tries to resist him, but Adam Black is persistent in getting Gabby to help him so that he can return to his immortal form -and in getting Gabby for himself. Their dynamic is so entertaining, full of that typical love-hate tension, but the way Moning develops it, it feels fresh and exciting.

And in the background, we have Darroc trying to get Adam Black and his little sidhe-seer out of the way so that he can blinde-side Aoibheal and free the Unseelie from their prison. It was so much fun reading about Darroc as a Fae and the threads of what later transformed into Moning’s much beloved Fever series. I guess one could call it a prequel. I just love how Moning’s Fae are these majestic, epic characters operating in the background, tinkering (and sometimes more than tinkering) with the order of things on Earth, unbeknownst to humans. I don’t know why, I’m just obsessed with the idea, and I love how Moning incorporates it.

There’s an unexpected twist towards the end of Immortal, and also a few pages that made me really scared and nervous for the ending, even though it’s formula fiction and we know how it has to end. But still, it scared me. Not only does Moning nicely wrap things up, at the end there’s a scene that will just make you “awwwww.” Ugh, again, so perfect. I want to be able to write like her…

 Beyond the fantasy and sexual tension, there’s a nice touch of “reality” in it, so to speak, because Gabby’s dealings with and feelings for Adam go against what she was taught as a young girl -go against everything she’s read about Adam in her family’s books. Namely, that her fantasies about a sexy Fae prince are wrong -that the Fae are to be avoided, and Adam Black is especially to be avoided. This element actually makes what is definitely a fantastical book feel a little more down-to-Earth. We have a young woman who is learning firsthand the truth about a person she was taught to fear. Sure, some of what her family said about the Fae is true, but there’s much more too it than that, and some of it stemmed from their own prejudice.

So, what did I not enjoy about this book? That would be nothing. Seriously, nothing. It was epic, and it made me want to read the Fever series again. Which needs to happen this summer. After I get done reading all of the other books on my summer reading list…

As a last note, although the Highlander books aren’t as connected as the Fever series -each book is distinct and focuses on a different couple -characters from past books do show up in the later books, mostly brothers Drustan and Dageus. I read Spell and Immortal first because they were available at the library, and she gives you enough background information that you don’t get confused when she brings in these old characters. So I personally don’t think it’s super necessary to read them in order; however, this would probably bother many of you, so of course go ahead and read them as they were meant to be read. 😉 My OCD did kick in and I realized I should read them in some order, so it looks like that will be reverse order. No, really, I have The Dark Highlander (Book 5) sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read…

Upcoming Books of the Week (in no particular order): The Dark Highlander, The Gathering (Kelley Armstrong), City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)

 Related Reads:

The Urge to Write: Isn’t it Bromantic?

The Urge to Write: Sunday Showdown: Fever versus Iced

The Readist: On Saying Goodbye to Your Favorite Characters

LittleDallilasBookshelf: Darkfever

Pure Textuality: Burned release date

Book of the Week: The Darkest Powers Trilogy


I’m starting yet another new type of post -Book of the Week -an idea I’m borrowing from WhatANerdGirlSays. (You can find her most recent Book of the Week about Obsidian here.) Hopefully this will motivate me to do some more reading this summer outside of the usual science-y things I read for my research.

This week I have a fun new series I’ve been dying to tell you about (I just haven’t had the time). Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers trilogy (The Summoning, The Awakening, and The Reckoning) is  my most recent guilty pleasure and is now one of my all-time favorite series in this genre. These are the first of Armstrong’s books that I’ve read, but they won’t be the last. (I believe she usually writes adult fiction.) I also had some pangs of nostalgia reading them because they reminded me of old school L. J. Smith. In fact, the plot is reminiscent of Smith’s Dark Visions trilogy. (I’m not at all saying they’re a rip off, just that there are some similarities. I mean, it’s really difficult to come up with a completely fresh idea. What I really look for is how successful the author can put a new twist on what might be not an utterly original idea.) Especially if you are an L. J. Smith fan, you will love these books. They are young-adult-paranormal-romance-perfection.

Summary: Our heroine (and aspiring screenplay writer) Chloe is sent to a home for “disturbed” teenagers after having a public “meltdown” at her high school. At Lyle House, she is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Chloe soon realizes that her “schizophrenia” is actually a true supernatural ability: She is a necromancer; not only capable of seeing ghosts, but also raising the dead. Several of her housemates turn out to be supernaturals as well. This secret new world of the supernaturals is home to necromancers, witches, sorcerers, psychics, werewolves and demi-demons -as well as those of their own kind that want to tamper with the special abilities of supernaturals. This series is packed with action, plot twists and subtle sexual tension. (It is, after all, a young adult book…don’t want it getting too racy…)

Despite her diagnosis at Lyle House, it’s clear at the beginning that Chloe can “see dead people.” Honestly, in the first few chapters, I wasn’t sure I could really get into the whole “necromancer” thing, but I’m glad I stuck with it because I ended up loving it. It was a nice break from the normal paranormal fair (and by that I mean vampires). It’s told from Chloe’s POV, so we get a lot of insight into her inner struggle with her abilities. Although these books aren’t character-driven, most of the main characters change throughout the series as their experiences shape them. And Kelley Armstrong is simply talented at writing fast-paced, suspenseful fiction.

Some of you will love this, some of you will hate it (I LOVED it), but there is a love triangle in the books between Chloe and two foster brothers who are also at Lyle House: Derek and Simon. First of all -OK, I keep throwing around the word “loved,” so let’s change it up a bit -I was OBSESSED with Derek. Just like many fictional bad boys, Derek is mysterious, brood-y, and does NOT play well with others, except for maybe Simon. As Ms. Armstrong makes clear in the books, Derek and Simon may not be related by blood, but they are brothers and friends in the truest sense. Chloe gets along more easily with the amiable, good-looking Simon, while she and Derek clash at almost every turn.

My favorite thing about Derek, though, is that he’s not supposed to be stereotypically handsome. In fact, especially in The Summoning, puberty is not being kind to this boy. As the series progresses, Derek grows out of this, but he’s still no Damon Salvatore. 😉 I just found it refreshing. Then again, it’s not like he’s totally hideous or something, either…let’s just say, he works out…

Not gonna lie, probably the biggest reason I loved these books was the Derek/Chloe dynamic. I don’t know if this trilogy inspired any Simon/Chloe shippers, but I was all about Derek and Chloe. (What should we call them? Dloe? Chlerek?) I also really loved the plot twists Armstrong throws at her readers, leaving them questioning who the characters can really trust. The only thing that didn’t work for me is the whole Chloe-wants-to-be-a-screenwriter aspect. It just seemed really forced. It was more natural in the last installment, but in the other two it felt like Chloe was talking about movies or how she would turn something that just happened into a scene in a movie in every other paragraph. Perhaps it’s because I can’t relate to it, but in my opinion it was overdone. Chloe likes movies. I got it the first hundred times.

But other than this personal pet peeve, I highly recommend The Darkest Powers trilogy if you are looking for a quick, fun, and at times sexy escape. I liked them so much I wish I had bought them instead of borrowing them from the library. That is a big deal for me. I don’t buy books that often unless I am absolutely sure I will reread them, and even then I don’t usually end up reading them again. I read the last book twice before returning it to the library because I didn’t want them to end. Luckily, Armstrong has another young adult trilogy called Darkness Rising, which I think is in the same world as Powers, although with a different set of characters.

Sunday Showdown: Fever v. Iced


In case I haven’t made it clear on this blog, I am a huge Karen Marie Moning fanatic, and over my break I finally read her newest novel set in the Fever world, Iced. For tonight’s showdown, I thought I would do something similar to what I did for P. C. Cast’s two very different series, House of Night and Elphame’s Choice: I will give a small summary of both and then give a little more detail about what I liked and didn’t like about Iced. However, the Iced review does contain some Fever spoilers, so it is more geared towards those who have read Fever but have yet to read Iced. The Fever series is going to be a tought act to follow, so I will reserve judgment about which series wins until she’s finished Dani O’Malley’s tale (but so far, so good!)

1. The Fever series follows MacKayla Lane and her transformation from a Southern, carefree blonde bombshell into an ass-kicking sidhe-seer/Fae hunter. In book one (Darkfever), MacKayla departs for Ireland to investigate the murder of her twin sister Alina, who was studying abroad in Dublin, and her journey there (sorry for the cliché) drastically changes her life forever. She gets drawn into a world parallel to our own where the Seelie (light) and Unseelie (dark) Fae courts clash, and becomes the puppet of Jericho Barrons, the enigmatic owner of Barrons Books and Baubles, on his hunt for an ancient tome. And that’s just a brief summary of Darkfever -so much happens in this series that it’s impossible to cram it into one measly paragraph of one blog post. I wouldn’t want to ruin the many twists and surprises Moning has in store for her readers, anyway. I will add though that it’s an expert merging of genres: Fever starts out as a murder mystery until it sweeps the reader up into a world where Irish folklore is real while also incorporating urban fantasy and even science fiction elements. If you haven’t, I highly recommend the Fever series -it rises above formulaic genre fiction (not that there’s anything wrong with formula fiction).

OK, I need to stop myself before I get even further invested in this tangent and move on to:

2. Iced is the first book in Moning’s series dedicated to Dani “Mega” O’Malley, Mac’s volatile fourteen-year-old ex-bff. (If you haven’t read the Fever series yet, I recommend to stop reading this review. Now. OK -I warned you…)

It picks up right where  Shadowfever leaves off: the sidhe-seers have just trapped Cruce, the Unseelie Prince who has absorbed the Sinsar Dubh, beneath their abbey. The charismatic Scottish Highlander Christian MacKelter is undergoing a painstaking transformation to replace the fourth Unseelie prince. And Dani and Mac are on the outs ever since Mac found out that Dani was involved in her twin sister’s death. When Dani isn’t slaying Unseelie with the Sword of Light, you may find her spying on the “sidhe-sheep” at the abbey, hanging out with teenage genius Dancer in one of their many well-stocked hideouts around Dublin, ad avoiding Mac. Dani has also been avoiding Ryodan, the morally ambiguous owner of Chester’s club, ever since he offered her a job -but as we know, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid Ryodan. So in much the same way as Mac started out as Barrons’ Sinsar Dubh tracker in Darkfever, Dani becomes Ryodan’s helper in solving their own mystery: Why are parts of Dublin being mysteriously “iced,” and who is responsible? Is the perpetrator human? Fae? What do these places, if anything, have in common? Again, the mystery, urban fantasy and sci-fi genres merge in Iced.

I would say the most obvious difference between the Fever series and Iced is that Fever was the story of the events that led to the creation of this new world where the walls are down and human and Fae coexist; now, Moning is delving into this world more deeply. Her characters face the problems of living in a post-apocalyptic world (someone is hoarding all of the food that was left in the grocery stores) and encounter new mysteries and enemies, while still trying to keep Cruce confined below the abbey. The book is primarily told from Dani’s perspective, but Christian and the new leader of the sidhe-seers lend their POVs as well. I was worried that Dani’s narration would be entirely written in her accent and slang, which worked in Fever but might get annoying in an entire book, but it’s toned down and very readable. Her grammar is still atrocious (I guess because she’s young and missed out on school?) and some of the slang carries through. In these aspects Moning maintains Dani’s unique voice.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Dani is a very believable character, especially as the protagonist of Iced. It worked when she was simply Mac’s rather reckless sidekick, but I didn’t buy into the whole arrogant, self-absorbed preteen act as much in this book. It’s almost like Moning takes it a bit too far for it to be believable, even though Dani isn’t your average fourteen-year-old. Now that I’m reflecting on it, Dani may be a bit of a sociopath in the beginning (perhaps this is too strong of a diagnosis) since she doesn’t seem to feel remorse or think about how her actions affect other people. However, you can tell she starts to grow out of this, especially where Mac and Alina are concerned.

I also didn’t care for the fact that Ryodan and especially Christian, both adult men, seem to be infatuated with Dani. It’s a little something I like to call creepy. Saying that (sorry, I don’t have the book in front of me, so this is not a direct quote) they can see the incredible woman Dani will be one day does not make it okay. And anyway, it’s pretty clear that their fascination with her doesn’t stop there; there’s a scene when she’s in her underwear and both of them are, uh, clearly aroused. At one point Christian even says to Dani that he isn’t a pedophile, and she isn’t a child -except that she is. (Although Christian is turning into a lecherous Unseelie prince, so perhaps this is all part of his spiral into evil.) I am certainly not saying that I think the author condones pedophilia, just that it was a very controversial and, to repeat, creepy element in the book. (To add to the creepy, I’ve decided that Into the Night is Christian and Dani’s theme song, because everything should have an 80s theme song.) It also becomes clear (if not to Dani, at least to the reader) that Dancer has a thing for her as well, which is decidedly less creepy since he is seventeen.

Now, on Dancer (on Prancer, on Vixen…no, wait…): Dancer is becoming one of my favorite characters in this world. I love that Dani looks up to Dancer, who reminds me of a younger version of Big Bang’s Leonard if he were thrust into Dublin after the walls fell. As Dani narrates, Dancer doesn’t have any “superpowers” like her and Ryodan, but he’s survived the wall crash through his resourcefulness and “super brain.” Moning hints that Dancer has some secrets of his own, which I hope we will unravel as the series continues. As a scientist, it also makes me happy that Moning’s explanations of some of the science-y elements of the book are not totally off the mark. (I’m not proud of it, but I’ve become one of those people who ruins movies for other people when they are scientifically inaccurate. Which is like all the time.)

I also really enjoyed how Moning played with Jo’s character. In the Fever books Jo was supposed to be plain, maybe even borderline dowdy, but in Iced she starts working at Chester’s -Ryodan’s tactic for keeping Dani in line. If Dani screws up, she has to worry about Ryodan taking it out on Jo. Thus, Jo transforms from a plain Jane into a sexy waitress with “glitter between her boobs,” and it all seems kind of glamorous until you remember that she’s dressed up in what sounds like a Catholic school girl uniform catering to Chester’s seedy Unseelie patrons. One image I loved is when Jo watches Ryodan on the staircase nodding to whichever lucky gal he chooses to, um, make love to that night. (I know that Ryodan doesn’t “make love,” but I don’t really feel like using a certain verb today.) I kind of want Ryodan to nod at me, even though he’s not quite Jericho Barrons. In fact, I had a much more vivid image of Barrons in my mind than I have of Ryodan. He has some big shoes to fill.

And throughout the search for whatever is “icing” Dublin, Christian’s obsessing over Dani, Dani’s slaughtering of Unseelie and Ryodan’s nodding at attractive waitresses, Moning still interperses some very humorous moments. One part that had me laughing at loud was when Dani, Jo, Ryodan, Lor, etc. are arguing over Dani’s Ipod playlist. What a great moment Moning dreamed up: Humans and supernatural beings fighting over whether to listen to Linkin Park, Adele or Jimmy Hendrix (and at a point in which they have much bigger things to worry about.)

Finally, unlike some other reviews I’ve read, I didn’t really mind Dani being fourteen for this book, although I hope she grows up in the rest. Then Moning can pursue her relationship with Ryodan without it being so, again for lack of a better word, creepy. I’m sure Ryodan is going to turn out to be the Barrons to her Mac, so to speak. All in all, and despite parts of my above critique, I really enjoyed Iced. Dani’s storyline and the various subplots (I haven’t touched on all of them here) really drew me in; it was fast-paced and had a very creative premise.

I Actually Do Read Thought-Provoking Books Sometimes (I Swear)


I know that on this blog I often review “blockbuster” books (I’ve reviewed all three Fifty Shades books) and go off on tangents about YA books I love, usually of the paranormal romance genre. But I have, and do, read books for the fantastical and sometimes disturbing worlds they explore, to understand their dynamic, flawed characters and to absorb their insights about the universe and humanity. I’m particularly fond of science fiction novels (and movies, and TV shows, but we’ll save those lists for another time), so here is a list of my Top Five Six Science Fiction Books:

5. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four

Yes, this book has spawned some pretty cringe-worthy pop culture phenomena, like the name of CBS’s reality show Big Brother. And although the year 1984 was nothing like the dystopia created in Orwell’s book, its themes of privacy, freedom and rebellion are timeless. Orwell also had great foresight, such as the fictional language of Newspeak which basically involves smooshing English words together. Minus the sinister agenda of controlling thought and communication part, this definitely reminds me of how technology is influencing our language and communication today. #deepthoughts

4. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

This is one of those classics you’re required to read in high school -and you should read it, because it’s awesome. Bradbury is another visionary science fiction writer: In a future in which firemen start fires and burn books, people are glued to their wall-sized TVs and drift off to sleep listening to little shell-like music players in their ears. It’s been awhile since I’ve read this book, but those images have stuck with me. Fahrenheit 451 in part speaks to a fear that technology may threaten our ability and desire to think and communicate and learn, an idea that I don’t really agree with except when shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Honey Boo Boo become popular. It’s also a book that comes to my mind, at least, whenever I hear about a book being banned, such as in a school, or any whisperings of censorship.

3. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

This book is kind of crazy and is written in a style that suggests Huxley pounded it out after an overdose of coffee (or speed). But I love it. The future that Huxley predicts is absolutely terrifying. Everyone is created especially for their specific station in life, everyone knows their place, and most of the characters are fine with it. Many spend their days popping soma and participating in orgies. Although the novel focuses on Bernard and Lenina in the beginning, it really becomes about the “savage” John and how he confronts the strange world outside of his Reservation. “O! brave new world, That has such people in’t.”

2. Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead

And my top five became my top six, because I couldn’t leave out either of these books. I’m not even sure how to classify Ender’s Game…it’s not quite a children’s book, but not quite a YA book either, reading-level wise. And yet it appeals to older readers as well. It’s both an entertaining book about the trials of a very young, talented boy at the Battle School and an exploration of Ender’s character, who for a young boy is startlingly ambitious and uncompassionate. There’s even a bit of a twist ending.

Ender is a very different man in the sequel, in which he has become the Speaker for the Dead; at funerals, he is tasked with speaking honestly, no sugar-coating, about the life of the deceased. In this book, Ender has an appreciation and empathy for life, both human and alien. Although there are many intriguing characters and subplots in Speaker for the Dead, the main story line is of the mystery of the Pequeninos, the native pig-like but intelligent species of the planet Lusitania, which humans have colonized. (The Pequeninos deliver some surprises at the end.) Card successfully writes another page-turner while also conveying some pretty profound ideas and creating imperfect but (mostly) still likeable characters.

1. Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land

I’m going to throw around the word “profound” again, but seriously, Stranger in a Strang Land is a must-read sci-fi classic. Similar to John in Brave New World, Heinlein thrusts Valentine, who was raised by Martians and only knows of Martian customs and culture, into our society. I like that aspect of both books – writing about our world through the eyes of an outsider. And Valentine’s transformation throughout the book is stunning and perhaps somewhat outlandish. He starts out as this man-boy discovering Earth and what it means to be human, but by the end of the book (spoiler alert?) his Martian “ways” have spread and he’s become the Jesus-like figurehead of a new religion or spirituality. There’s also a fair amount of sex sprinkled throughout the book. Unconventional sex always seems to be a part of our looming dystopian future.

What are your favorite sci-fi/dystopian novels?

P. C. Cast Series Showdown


I finally, finally finished reading one of P. C. Cast’s books set in Partholon, Elphame’s Choice. So tonight’s Sunday Showdown is more of a book review and comparison/contrast of her Partholon books and vampyre saga The House of Night. I’m not really picking a winner since they are two very different series, but feel free to share your favorite in the comments. But if you haven’t gotten around to exploring either world, read on to find out a little more about these books.

(Also, on an unrelated note: I’m still working on my next Once Upon A Time fanfiction adventure, so please click here to take my poll of your favorite potential couples!)

And now, on to the showdown:

1. House of Night

The House of Night world is much like our own, except vampyres exist alongside humans, and everybody knows it. Those human adolescents that already have vampyre DNA are marked by Trackers, which begins their transition into adult vampyrehood. This is what happens to Zoey Redbird, who transfers to a high school for vampryes, the highly esteemed House of Night. But Zoey isn’t just a normal fledgling; she has been chosen by her goddess to be a leader among her kind. The first two books (which unfortunately is all I’ve read so far) follow Zoey’s adventures with her new group of friends, unresolved issues with her old life, and battles with new, supernatural enemies. These books are cowritten by P. C. and her daughter Kristin. If you enjoy young adult vampyre books, you’ll enjoy the House of Night books. They’re a satisfactory mix of  Egyptian-based mythology, dark vampyre lore and quirky humor.

2. Elphame’s Choice

When I picked up this book, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. I had  never read one of P. C.’s Partholon books, and the cover and tagline were vague. (And misleading. The tagline makes it sound like there are vampyres in the book. It’s a similar idea, but they are blood-sucking, winged demons. And the girl on the cover doesn’t look like what Elphame is supposed to look like.)

One similarity between this book and the House of Night series is that Elphame is another young adult that has been especially favored by her goddess, in this case Epona. It’s refreshing that P. C.’s societies are matriarchal. As a fawn and Epona’s Chosen, Elphame has always felt like an outsider, until she travels to MacCallan Castle and works to restore it to its former glory. At her new home, she befriends Brenna, a Healer disfigured from a tragic accident, and the centaur Huntress Brighid, and she finally starts to feel like she’s a part of something rather than just a distant symbol to be worshipped. In the forests surrounding MacCallan Castle, she also meets her soulmate, Lochlan, a human-Fomorian demon hybrid. She struggles with how to present her forbidden lover to her kingdom, which drove the Fomorian species from Partholon hundreds of years prior.

Overall, I enjoyed Elphame’s Choice, although if you’re familiar with the House of Night series you must prepare yourself for a completely different P. C. Cast. This book has an omniscient narrator, which I sometimes found annoying since it jumps between perspectives rather abruptly, and the prose is very formal and long-winded. But P. C. creates very complex and sympathetic characters. My favorite was Brenna, the tiny Healer who captures the heart and soul of Elphame’s dashing brother. (Although, as P. C. constantly describes the meek Brenna as letting her hair fall over the disfigured part of her face, she sometimes started to sound like Emo Brenna, but that is neither here nor there.) I also really liked the human-Fomorian hybrids and would have liked to have seen a lot more of them. Also, as Elphame’s Choice was published by Harlequin Teen (which I didn’t even know existed until now), things do heat up in several parts of the book…which I’m totally ok with, but I know that some people don’t like.

Really, the biggest criticism I have of any of P. C.’s books is that they never completely draw me in. I never feel like the worlds she creates completely engulf me so that I cannot put the book down. But as I said, it was pretty enjoyable, and I would recommend it to fans of fantasy and paranormal romance.

Book Review: Into the Dreaming


In case I haven’t mentioned it before (but I know I have!), I am a HUGE aficionado of Karen Marie Moning. Her Fever series is one of the best series I have picked up since Harry Potter and trumps all of the other book series that have hit mega-popularity in recent years (Twilight, Fifty Shades, even The Hunger Games). Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to reading her Highlander novels yet, although these are on my to-read list (time traveling sexy Scotsmen? Heck yes!). But Into the Dreaming was my first taste into the world of her Highlanders, and although its novellas didn’t hook me as much as the Fever books did, they were still enjoyable, fast reads.

In the forward, Ms. Moning talks about how, upon writing Into the Dreaming, she first realized there was a darker story that needed to be told involving the Seelie/Unseelie mythology. This, of course, led to her MacKayla Lane novels. Into the Dreaming tells the story of Aedan, a Highlander who allows the Unseelie King to keep him in captivity for five years in exchange for the safety of his family. What he doesn’t know is that five years really means five years in Fairy, equal to 500 Earth years. The centuries in Fairy eventually breaks Aedan, and he becomes the Unseelie King’s minion, Vengeance. However, the Seelie Queen has a plan to free Vengeance/Aedan and sends Jane, Aedan’s soul mate back in time to Scotland to remind him what it means to be human and love.

Other treats in Into the Dreaming include a proposal for a book she never ended up getting published called Ghost of a Chance, an excerpt from Kiss of the Highlander, and what Moning calls The Dark Highlander – Lite. Lite is the first draft of this particular Highlander novel that didn’t meet Moning’s dark vision for the story. There are elements of a darker story in the Lite version; however, the interactions between Dageus and Elisabeth are adorable if anything else. If Dageus is even sexier and more dangerous in the published version, I can’t wait to read it!

In general, I love how Moning’s books are centered around strong, female characters. Although I haven’t read the full versions of the above Highlander novels yet, their main female characters are both successful in academia. (In Kiss, Gwen is a prominent physicist, and in Dark Elisabeth is a graduate student in psychology at Harvard.) And of course, the Fever series follows blond bombshell MacKayla Lane’s transformation from a carefree bartender into a bad ass, street-wise sidhe-seer and Unseelie slayer.

So basically: Strong female lead + insanely sexy man from overseas + sex + Irish folklore + sex + plot twists and turns + sex = Karen Marie Moning. Read all of her books. Now.

…But before you do, if you haven’t taken the time to do so yet, please help me pick a name for my character Jimmy’s band in The Wild Ones by taking the poll here.