Summon Fantasy

I read and review fantasy books. My favorite sub-genre is urban fantasy or a mixture of fantasy and mystery with a romantic sub-plot. My least favorite is epic fantasy.

Book Review – Suburban Luchador: Memoirs From Suburbia, by Philip Rivera

Suburban Luchador: Memoirs From Suburbia - Philip Rivera

I enjoyed reading this series of delightful short stories that take everyday family life to a whole new level. Philip Rivera, a suburban father shares humorous events and uses his family as the main cast. I think those who are already parents will relate to most situations and those who aren’t will be introduced to the unexpected thrills and misadventures of parenthood.

Although the situations described are funny on their own, it’s the way the author tells the story that makes it such a fun read.

“And so the cycle of innocence found, lost, found again, and finally

lost is complete. Just as a peanut is neither a pea nor a nut… and a

thighmaster is neither a thigh nor a master… so our hero learned that

Netflix and Chill means neither Netflix nor Chill.

And if you’re just learning this for the first time, welcome to the

end of your innocence.”


After a brief encounter with a Sons of Anarchy biker:

“One day, I’m going to start a minivan gang. That’ll show these Sons of Anarchy.

We would be called the Sons of Suburbia and our Suburban Steel Stallions, with high MPG, multiple airbags, cup holders and designer car safety seats, would rule the highways… and the preschool pickup line. “


Describing fun time with moms and toddlers at a library:

“It was like a nightclub rave… at 10 am… for moms and toddlers… in a library.”


I thought this is such a beautiful description of love that I must include it in my review!


“If you ask me, “What is love?” I’ll reply, “Baby don’t hurt me.” Then I’ll tell you that true love is finding that special someone who will forsake all coolness and unashamedly jam out with you to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” in front of a group of strangers. That is love.”


Read the full review here:


Book Review - Dark Touch, by Elle Lewis

Dark Touch (Glass Star Trilogy #1) - Elle Lewis

The way I see it, Dark Touch fits perfectly into the paranormal and urban fantasy genre. What I liked most about it, apart from being my favorite genre, was its original mythology. The market is saturated with stories about vampires, werewolves, and witches (which I love and write about it, too). Therefore, a story that brings in new supernatural creatures is like a breath of fresh air!

Dark Touch is not epic fantasy, so don’t expect intricate world-building, just enough for the plot to make sense. The characters, on the other hand, are intriguing and the fast pace of the story is engaging till the last page. By the way, if you’re planning to read it, arm yourself with patience, because it ends with a cliff hanger! But you’ll get some sort of closure, so it’s not that bad, just leaves you wanting for more!

Sloan, the main character is touched by a supernatural creature and is supposed to die instantly. When she doesn’t, she attracts the attention of both the being who tried to kill her and others who want to protect her. A tug-of-war ensues. Sloan finds herself hunted both in the real world and in her dreams.


Read the full review here:


Book Review – Dead Witch on a Bridge, by Gretchen Galway

Dead Witch on a Bridge (Sonoma Witches #1) - Gretchen Galway

Dead Witch on a Bridge is the first book I read by Gretchen Galway, so I didn’t know what to expect. The book is the beginning of a series called Sonoma Witches, and the action takes place in a world where magic exists, but humans are kept in the dark about it. I find it to some degree reminiscent of the Harry Potter world. Regular humans are referred to as nonmags. Unlike Harry Potter, the action takes place in the present day, and witches don’t necessarily need a wand to do magic, although in at least one instance there’s a reference to a witch getting her wand ready.

The story follows Alma Bellrose, a witch ‘honorably discharged’ with an incurable inability from the Protectorate (witches’ ruling authority) because she couldn’t kill a demon. No longer an agent of the Protectorate, Alma had to find other means to earn a living, so she now sells magic infused beads made of redwood.

Her world is turned upside down when she finds her ex-boyfriend, Tristan dead on a bridge at night. The plot thickens after the sudden visit of her infamous father, a notorious thief accused of stealing a powerful artifact and the Protectorate tries to pin the murder on Alma. Her only chance is to find Tristan’s killer and clear her name.

The demon she failed to kill still visits her from time to time and shamelessly flirts with her.

“I like what you’ve done with your hair,” he said, gracefully dancing out of the way. “The natural curls go with the wild-witch-in-the-forest thing.”
“Just because I didn’t kill you that night doesn’t mean I won’t hurt you now.”The smirk faded from his lips.
“All right. I couldn’t resist. I heard about the Protector’s death and had to see if it was true. I came to see you because…it seemed polite.”
I went over and cleaned up the remains of the towel, this time dumping it in the trash. “Courtesy accomplished, now you can go home and celebrate. Set your own towels on fire.”
“I’m sorry you lost a friend,” he said softly. Delayed grief stung my eyelids. “Well, I can confirm he’s dead. Very dead.”I cleared my throat.
“Let me comfort you.”He held out his arms in a display of faux paternal comfort that was even less convincing than my father’s had been.”

Dead Witch on a Bridge manages to combine fantasy and mystery in a magic book filled with wonderful characters, none of which is what they seem. What I enjoyed most about the story was its lack of predictability. Friends aren’t always friends and enemies aren’t always enemies. It was a real page-turner, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.


Book Review - The Chronicles of Luxaar Part 1: Luxaar & The Stolen Princess

Luxaar & The Stolen Princess (The Chronicles of Luxaar #1) - Prometheus Silver

I loved reading this dark fantasy story and I’m looking forward to the next installment of the Luxaar Chronicles. It was packed with action and wtf moments, set in a world where magic is a common occurrence. While reading it there was no dull moment!

The story is written in first person point of view and follows Luxaar through his misadventures with a touch of magic and mischief. Luxaar is by no means an honorable man, he’s a thief on a quest. Most books (at least the ones I read) have one of the main characters as a hero. The Chronicles of Luxaar is not most books. If anything, Luxaar is the anti-hero of his world. The way Luxaar is portrayed reminded me quite a bit of Riddick (for those who aren’t familiar with the character, Vin Diesel played Richard B. Riddick in Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick). He’s no gentleman if anything Luxaar is a highly skilled predator and an extreme survivalist. He’s ruthless, morally flexible and doesn’t think twice about killing what stands between him and his quest. Although this isn’t a particularly gory story, it’s not for the faint of heart either. There are several passages you might want to skip if you’re squeamish about graphic descriptions of blood and death. Such as this:

“I drew my bow and fired. The arrow went straight through the door guards throat, causing blood to bubble and spurt around the wound.”

This reminded me again of Riddick talking about his favorite killing method (about the voices in his head “The ones telling me to go for the sweet spot just to the left of the spine, fourth lumbar down, the abdominal aorta. It’s a metallic taste, human blood. Copperish. If you cut it with peppermint schnapps, that goes–”)

But back to the book at hand, Luxaar is not a hero. So when during a heist he finds a beautiful princess tied to a pole and kept prisoner, his first reaction is not to save her but to leave her behind.  

“She was young, beautiful and not my concern.”

After many pleas from his sidekick, The Rat, and the promise that her people would pay a hefty reward for her safe return, he reluctantly concedes to free her:

“Fine, free her. But let her know that if she gets in our way or can’t keep up, she is on her own. And if it turns out she is lying to us, I will sell her to the whore houses down in the Swarni district.”

One thing that I loved about this story is that it’s fast-paced, full of action and doesn’t waste time with unnecessary descriptions. The flow of the story is excellent and keeps you on your toes. Perhaps I’m biased, but knowing it was written by a man I expected a lot of action, not a lot of love and maybe some gore. Let me tell you something; it did not disappoint!

Something that makes this story stand out from other books in the genre is its lack of predictability. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, you realize that nothing is what it seems. It keeps you guessing until the very end and leaves you wanting for more! 


Book Review - Lake Silence, by Anne Bishop

Lake Silence - Anne Bishop

The main character in this story is Vicki, a human woman who got a rustic resort near Lake Silence as part of her divorce settlement and used all her money to improve and maintain it.

This paragraph introduces Vicki perfectly:

“A bit of useful information. My name is Victoria “call me Vicki” DeVine. I used to be Mrs. Yorick Dane, but giving up my married name was one of the conditions of my receiving valuable property—aka The Jumble—as part of the divorce settlement. Apparently, the second official Mrs. Dane didn’t like the idea that someone else had had the name first. Fortunately, she didn’t seem as possessive about Yorick’s Vigorous Appendage. I could have told her that a couple dozen other women had had it before she took possession. But it wasn’t likely that she would keep solo possession of the appendage for long, so let her figure things out the hard way like I did. Of course, if she had been one of those indulgences, then she already knew the signs and might be able to nip them in the bud.”

Vicki finds out there’s a dead body on her property when walks in on one of her tenants, Aggie Crowe (a teenage crow shifter) as she was about to warm up an eyeball in the microwave.

“Why can’t I eat it?” She looked at the eyeball rolling around in the small bowl that was now sitting on the counter.

“Nobody else wants it. It’s starting to get squooshy. And the dead man doesn’t need it.”

“The words got me past the physical evidence. “What dead man?”

“The one who doesn’t need the eyeball.” Little black feathers suddenly sprouted at her hairline, confirming the nature of my lodger.

Trouble starts soon after when cops with no jurisdiction there try to pin the murder on Vicki. Fortunately for her, due to her kindness towards Aggie members of the Other community step up and protect Vicki. The terra indigene are not the only ones who stand by her. Officer Grimshaw (human, good cop) and Julian Farrow (Intuit, ex-cop) are also determined to keep her safe.

The one who dazzles her from the first moment is Ilya Sanguinati, the lawyer and the local vampire, who in Vicki’s words is Yummy.

“I mean, he was a double-scoop sundae with hot fudge and caramel sauce and a mountain of real whipped cream yummy. His hair was darker than Ineke’s double-fudge brownies, and he had the most luscious melted chocolate eyes.”


But we get to meet other impressive characters, such as the Lady of the Lake, the water Elemental who lives in Lake Silence, her water pony Whirlpool and Aiden, the fire Elemental. It’s endearing how they all work together to protect the frail human who can’t stand up for herself. Ever one of the Elders sticks around to help, and when the bad guys try to break in, the Elder wrecks the car.

“How many Elders does it take to flip a car?” I asked.

She gave me a puzzled smile. “Is that a human joke?”

Not likely. “Maybe.”

Vicki is a flawed character after divorcing her abusive husband, and I think that makes her likable, hence triggering everyone’s protective mode. She is always intimidated by men, except for Ilya who fascinates her.

“I’m grateful for Aiden’s help in getting a fire started in the stove last night. But this morning, when I realized who he was . . . I felt intimidated.”


“Because he’s Fire. An Elemental.”

“The Lady of the Lake is also an Elemental. Does she intimidate you?”


“Why not?”

Huh. Good question.

“Is it because Aiden is male?” Ilya asked


When he asked me if I was all right this morning, I was afraid of what he might do to Julian, who was with me. I was afraid of saying the wrong thing.”

“You’re often afraid of saying the wrong thing to men.”

It wasn’t quite a question, so I didn’t feel obliged to answer.


Anne Bishop’s sense of humor comes through just like it did in the Others novels. Vicki often jokes to make light of a situation. Sometimes her timing is not the best, but she manages to amuse the vampire.

“Do the Sanguinati have trouble with mosquitoes?”

“You mean, do the big bloodsuckers get pestered by the little bloodsuckers?”

Judging by my attorney’s laughter, if I failed to turn The Jumble into a viable business, I could always get a job as a stand-up comedian in a vampire bar.”

All in all, I loved Lake Silence, the convoluted plot (albeit a little far fetched) and the fascinating characters. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Wild Country.


Book Review - Etched in Bone, by Anne Bishop

Etched in Bone  - Anne Bishop

The story continues where we left off in Marked in Flesh with the humans trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of whatever is left in the wake of Namid’s claws and teeth and rebuild their lives.

In Etched in Bone, the Elders (Namid’s claws and teeth) want to observe the humans interact with the Others and learn what these small predators can do to each other. So when Monty’s brother comes to Lakeside, despite his own family’s warning that he’s bad news, Simon agrees to let him stay. Simon is reluctant to have him so close to Meg but concedes to the Elders’ request.

The Elders keep an eye on Meg, the howling not-wolf and develop a taste for the wolf cookies. They leave a note asking Meg for cookies. Meg thinks the note was left by pups and yells (hoping they hear her) that good pups say ‘please’ when asking for things. Everyone is shocked!

“Vlad stared at Simon. “Meg told the Elders they were…”

“Bad puppies,” Simon finished. “Yeah.”

A minute passed before Vlad said, “Why?”

“They didn’t say ‘please’ when they asked for cookies.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

Simon scratched behind an ear that was now Wolf-shaped and furry. “That’s okay. Meg said plenty for all of us.”

Meg gets better at using the prophecy cards, and there’s one pesky little card that keeps showing up. It’s the romance card, and that intrigues her because romance is something she hadn’t experienced and the mere thought scares her. She also predicts that she’ll come close to dying and make a major faux pas – keeps it to herself until the last moment so as not to worry others. Expect a lot of frustration while reading Etched in Bone.

The villain of this novel was Cyrus James Montgomery, Monty’s brother. He’s a con-artist and considers Lakeside as easy pickings. Cyrus is presumptuous, arrogant, and not very smart if he believes that human law can keep his safe from the terra indigene in the Courtyard.

As soon as he discovers what Meg Corbyn is he plans to cash in on her. Needless to say, things don’t go his way, and the punishment fits the crime. Warning! It will be gruesome! But you’ll have to read the book to see what happens.

Something unexpected happens, and it will surprise in a good way – it concerns Skippy. Who doesn’t love Skippy?! I hope this character gets more page time in the next book!

It’s no secret that the Others eat the humans who wrong them. They even have a sign that says ‘the trespassers will be eaten.’ They deliver their own kind of justice and sometimes the Courtyard butcher, Boon hangs the ‘special meat’ sign in the window. But they are considerate to Meg and try to hide that from her.

“Don’t ask, Meg. I won’t lie to you, so don’t ask.

“Tess told us a while ago that there is some mint growing in the Courtyard, so I wondered . . . Do Wolves usually chew on mint?”

“No. Why?” Before coming to see Meg, he’d gone into the bathroom at HGR to use some mouthwash. He’d also examined both sets of teeth to make sure there weren’t any bits of human flesh stuck between them from carrying the backbone.

Did he smell minty from the mouthwash–or was the scent wafting in from the front room?

Meg confirmed that suspicion when she glanced at the Private doorway before leaning toward him and whispering, “When Nathan came back to the office, he smelled like he’d rolled in mint.”

All in all, this was a good book, and I enjoyed reading it. The slow-burning romance is still …slow burning. Things do evolve on the romantic front but very slow. If you blink, you miss it kind of slow. So don’t get your hopes too high, a lingering kiss will have to suffice. Ms. Bishop knows how to keep her audience frustrated! 


Book Review - Marked in Flesh, by Anne Bishop

Marked In Flesh - Anne Bishop

Vision in Silver ended with an unsettling phone call mysteriously made by the Elders to Simon. Now Simon and the Courtyard residents struggle to figure out what the Elders meant when they said they should decide “how much human they are going to keep.”

“We can’t trust humans anymore.”

“Did we ever trust them?”

“No. But we counted on their desire to survive being stronger than their greed. I don’t think we can count on that anymore.”

But when push comes to shove, the terra indigene in Lakeside Courtyard protect the human pack that gathered around Meg and their extended families. Thus we get to meet new characters. One of those is detective Monty’s mom, a no-nonsense kind of woman that intrigues the Others. She almost instantly earns the respect of Elliot who asks her help around the office. Her tough love shows the terra indigene that Ms. Twayla is not to be messed with.  

In the aftermath of the HFL (Human First and Last) attack that ended with the slaughter of many wolf shifters, the Elders retaliate and thin the herd. “Namid’s claws and teeth” could lead to the extinction of humankind if they decide to do so. A couple of Elders become intrigued by Meg and they call her “the howling not-wolf”. It is because of her and the way Meg changed the dynamic between humans and terra indigene, that the elders leave this decision to Simon.

“You would kill the sweet blood not-Wolf?”

“If we allow some humans to remain, then what kind of human should we keep?”

But even the Elders realize that Meg is important, not edible, the one who changed the relationship between humans and the terra indigene. She’s worth keeping and she comes with her own human pack. For this, the Lakeside Courtyard is the most progressive of their kind. 

“She was the pebble dropped in a pond that was the Lakeside Courtyard, and the ripples of her presence had changed so many things, including the terra indigene who had befriended her. Because of Meg, the Courtyard’s residents interacted with humans in ways that were unprecedented…Because of Meg, the Lakeside Courtyard had a human pack.”

A major development happens in the way Meg handles her addiction to cutting. Although she’s a blood prophet and she needs to cut and bleed to reveal her prophecy, Meg finds out that she can use tarot cards instead. She calls it the Trailblazer Deck. It’s a skill that still needs tuning, but she gets better every day.

Meg and Simon seem to be comfortable with their relationship status (a.k.a still not together), neither of them knowing how a normal relationship should progress. Frustrating as it is, we do get a bit of a teaser towards the end that they’re ready for more. 


Book Review - Vision in Silver, by Anne Bishop

Vision in Silver - Anne Bishop

If Murder of Crows was so and so, this one falls in line with Written in Red and is much better. By now I got used to the slow pace of story development and the naive actions of the characters, so it didn’t surprise me. The story picks up where we left off in Murder of Crows. In the aftermath of prior events, and because the Humans First and Last movement stirred a lot of trouble, there is a shift in the dynamic between humans and terra indigene.

Let’s not forget that the Others commonly think of humans as ‘smart meat’ that invents things they can use. But if humans become a threat, the terra indigene population might consider living without the human-made products. Especially if the usually hidden and extremely dangerous ancient terra indigene (known as the Elders) decide the extinction of the human race. The tension and the danger that comes with it is best summed up by Captain Burke’ s joke:

“Do you know what happened to the dinosaurs? The Others is what happened to the dinosaurs. A joke Captain Burke had told him his first day on the job in Lakeside. Except it wasn’t a joke. Burke had known that, at least to some degree. And now so did he.”

The new relationship is strained at best with one exception: the human pack that forms around Meg Corbyn. And this pack seems ever growing while the terra indigene reluctantly accepts them in their midst.

We get to see more our favorite policeman, Monty and see him interact with his daughter Lizzy who comes for a surprise visit. The gory reason behind this visit keeps the story from dragging. Needless to say, Lizzy joins the human pack at the Courtyard. Being a child and a little bit spoiled she manages to stir some trouble for Meg.

The cassandra sangue that were freed by the Others have trouble adjusting to a life outside the compound. Suddenly, Meg feels overwhelmed and has trouble adjusting too. Honestly, that seemed far fetched. When she first arriver at the Courtyard, after having lived in the compound for as long as she could remember, Meg adapted just fine despite not having any real-life experience. She learned fast how to do her job at the delivery office, despite never having a job. Yet when she enters the Crow’s trinket shop Meg is overwhelmed into a panic attack because there were too many things there.

All this meltdown serves a purpose, but I wish it was done differently to make more sense. But let’s not dwell on it, Meg and the other blood prophets suffer from sensory overload (I don’t remember if that is exactly how the author calls it) so Meg wonders what to do about it:

“What do you expect us to do?” Meg shouted. “Write The Dimwit’s Guide to Blood Prophets?”

“Yes! That’s exactly what I want you to do.”

Looking at their stunned expressions, he wondered if he’d been a little too honest. “Figure it out and write it up so we can pass on the information to everyone who is trying to help these girls.”

“I’m not a writer,” Merri Lee protested. “I can make notes, sure, but I can’t write up something like that!”

“Ruthie will help you write it.” There. Problem solved. Ruthie was a teacher. She wrote sentences all the time.

As expected, there are plenty of hilarious moments caused by a poor understanding of how the human acquisition system works. In this case, the terra indigene didn’t understand the necessity of the paperwork needed to buy a house.

“Why couldn’t they just give the human female a bag of money and then pee on the building so that everyone would know it was theirs?”

The same goes for basic human terminology:

“This is Ruthie Stuart, Officer Kowalski’s mate. She will show your pups around the Market Square,” Simon said.

Sarah giggled. Robert said, “We’re not pups; we’re kids.”

Simon looked at Robert and Sarah, then at Ruthie.

Kids. He’d heard Merri Lee say something about when she was a kid. But the word didn’t apply to her now because she was an adult, so it had never occurred to him that, maybe, humans had a little shifter ability that they outgrew as they matured. When she had said kid, maybe she had meant kid?

He eyed Robert and Sarah with more interest. “Little humans can shift into young goats?”

Also, Simon’s reaction to Meg’s haircut is adorable and almost human:

“He had a feeling this was one of those times when a male should express positive enthusiasm regardless of what he really thought—especially when he didn’t really know what was going on.”

When Lizzy comes to the Courtyard she has a stuffed bear that makes her feel safe. While none of the humans bats an eye about it, the terra indigene residents are completely baffled.

“Why did humans give their offspring fake versions of predators that would happily eat those offspring?”

That being said, I’m glad I didn’t give up on this series and I’m happy to move on to the next book. 


Book Review - Murder of Crows, by Anne Bishop

Murder of Crows - Anne Bishop

The story picks up where it left at the end of Written in Red. The plot of Murder of Crows develops around the slowly escalating conflict between the human population of Lakeside and the terra indigene living at Courtyard.

Once she has won the trust of the terra indigene, Meg Corbyn has to adjust to living amongst them. What breaks the rhythm are the drugs “Go Over Wolf” and “feel good” that appear to affect both human and terra indigene. They were introduced in the first book, and their use sparks violence between the humans and the Others. Meg Corbyn, the resident cassandra sangue has dreams that foreshadow the impending danger. People die on both sides, and the vulnerable truce that was once in place gets broken. 

As you can assume, some crows get killed in this book. An investigation shows that they were poisoned with the drugs mentioned above. There’s an important plot twist where the reader learns what goes into making these drugs. I’m not going to say it so I won’t give away any spoilers, but it’s pretty twisted and gruesome! The cassandra sangue play an important role in this string of events, and the Controller goes to desperate lengths to reacquire his property. As suspected, that doesn’t happen.

One thing that disappointed me in this book was the lack of a story arc to give it shape and structure. Although the plot is interesting, otherwise I would have put the book down and forgot about it, it lacks build up, curve or climax. There’s a string of events, some more interesting than others, but no real ups and downs, no change of pace.

Sometimes it feels like it’s dragging with unnecessary details, fillers to bulk up the word count. For instance, the story focuses a little too much on stuff like dog biscuits and cuddling on the sofa watching movies.

“Maybe you should go home and rest,” Simon told Meg. Maybe he could go home with her and they could cuddle for a while or play a game. Or she could watch a movie and pet him. “Merri Lee is helping me make some sample packages of cookies,” Meg said, sounding like the only game she wanted to play right now was whack a Wolf.”

But the constant banter and the funny moments make up for it. The story is abundant in humor and snark:

“The cow-shaped cookies have a beef flavoring, the turkey-shaped cookies have a poultry flavoring, and…”

Jane held up one of the cookies. “Human-flavored?”

Meg stifled a sigh. That would be the first thing on her feedback list: don’t make people-shaped cookies. The Wolves were way too interested and all of them leaped to a logical, if disturbing, expectation about the taste.”

terra indigene writer that is visiting with the Courtyard bunch is baffled by human reactions:

“Are there weapons in a bookstore?’

‘It’s a store full of books, which are objects that can be thrown as well as read,’ Monty replied blandly.

The Crows cocked his head. ‘I had no idea you humans lived with so much danger.”

All in all, Murder of Crows isn’t a bad read albeit a little disappointing. I will keep reading the series, and I hope it gets better.


Book Review - Written in Red, by Anne Bishop

Written in Red - Anne Bishop

I got Written in Red, by Anne Bishop as a Christmas present from my husband and I was happy to discover a new fantasy writer whose books I can devour. At this point, I hadn’t read anything written by this author, so it was all new to me. Written in Red is the first book in the Others series and now, as I’m writing this review, I’m already knee deep in the third book. I hope this answers any questions about whether I like this series or not. Naturally, there will be more reviews to follow. 

Back to Written in Red, Anne Bishop created an Earth-like world called Namid, its indigenous population called terra indigena that includes all the supernatural creatures you can imagine (so far vampires, wolf-shifters, bear-shifters, crow-shifters, hawk-shifters, elementals, and so on) and humans who are their prey. There are a lot of information to wrap your head around, and it can be a bit off-putting if you’d rather jump straight into the story.

There are a couple of pages explaining the history, places, and names. They use different names for continents (Tahisia is their version of North America), also different names for days of the week and months. Honestly, I found that annoying and didn’t bother to learn them. All I remember is that instead of Monday they have Moonsday and instead of Sunday it’s Earthday. There are also maps at the beginning of the book showing the cities of this world. I’m more action oriented so I looked forward to getting into the midst of everything rather than being able to pinpoint on a map where it happened.

So, in this made-up world, there is an uneasy truce between predator and pray. The Others (terra indigene) tolerate humans up to a point due to their technical skills and creative talents. The Others often refer to humans as smart meat, or monkeys and have no qualms about eating trespassers.

That being said, the book starts with a demure, half-frozen human young woman, Meg Corbyn, showing up at Lakeside Courtyard, the business district operated by the Others. We later find out that she’s a cassandra sangue (blood prophet who can see the future when cutting her skin) who has escaped the Controller and seeks refuge in the only place where human law does not apply. No one dared to enter the Courtyard without an invitation. Even Meg noticed, not without humor:

“People who entered the Courtyard without an invitation were just plain crazy! Wolves were big and scary and so fluffy, how could anyone resist hugging one just to feel all that fur?
“Ignore the fluffy,” she muttered. “Remember the part about big and scary.”

Simon Wolfgard, the leader of the Others in Lakeside, despite being uncomfortable with having a human in his territory, gets protective of Meg because she doesn’t smell like prey. Once he finds out her secret and the lengths the Controller is ready to go to enslave her again, Simon has to figure out if protecting Meg is worth the war she has brought to his door.
The Controller breeds blood prophets like cattle and sells their prophecies for profit.

“Whether you’re beaten or pampered, fed the best foods or starved, kept in filth or kept clean, a cage is still a cage”

The story doesn’t have a romantic subplot but does set the ground for it, perhaps later in the series. I’m glad this doesn’t have an instant romance the way so many fantasy books do these days.

“He kissed her forehead and found the act pleasing for its own sake. And, he admitted as he licked his lips, it was enjoyable for other reasons. Meg wasn’t biteable, but he really did like the taste of her.”
“The sweatshirt was big on her and she looked ridiculous. He liked it. And he liked that she was wearing something that carried his scent.”

Most social activity happens in a book store connected to a coffee shop. Only a bookworm would appreciate this detail.

“Vlad looked around. “Are we providing shelter, or are the humans actually buying books?”

I won’t give away more of the plot so I won’t spoil the book for you. Despite preferring fast-paced stories, I learned to appreciate a slowly developing plot, rich with details, humor and sometimes morally flexible characters. It’s not a fast read, but it’s a book that’s hard to put down.


Book Review - Club Dead, by Charlaine Harris

Club Dead - Charlaine Harris

As expected, the book follows Sookie Stackhouse, the telepathic waitress from Bon Temps through another set of adventures filled with tension, mystery and a healthy dose of supernatural. After the mishaps from the previous books, the romance gets pushed on the back burner. Vampire Bill seems less interested in Sookie and spends most of his time in secrecy, writing something on his computer, then disappears.

“The sweetest part of being a couple is sharing your life with someone else.

But my life, evidently, had not been good enough to share.”

To make matter worse, a man shows up at the bar she works and tries to kill Sookie. The plot thickens when she finds out that Bill was kidnapped by the Mississippi vampires and it’s all related to his mysterious computer files.

Another of my favorite quotes happens when Eric stops by to inform Sookie that Bill was kidnapped and sneaks into her bed while she sleeps:

“My eyes flew open, and I pushed back against rock-hard shoulders. I let out a little squeak of horror.

“It’s me,” said a familiar voice.

“Eric, what are you doing here?”


The only predictable action in this book is that Sookie goes to Jackson, Mississippi to investigate. After reading the first two books, I wouldn’t have expected it to go any other way. Of course, she’s going put herself at risk trying to save her first love, despite learning he was planning to leave her for an old flame. Her adventures in Jackson take her to Club Dead, a nightclub where vampires and shapeshifters hang out together. To top it off, it’s a full moon, so violence ensues!

The story is well plotted with unexpected twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat while reading. Sookie is in great form and only seems to grow stronger as a character while going through these supernatural adventures.

Although her romance with Bill cools off, the story introduces Alcide Herveaux, a new supporting character that might become a love interest later on. The way he’s portraited in the book, Alcide seems like a good candidate to replace Bill. He’s easy on the eyes, a good man and a werewolf. But in order to be likable, he has to be flawed and he is. He’s doing daytime jobs for vampires to pay his father’s debt and has a psychotic ex-girlfriend. How could you not root for him?! In this book, we find more about the shapeshifters and the werewolves, mostly due to Alcide who fills in a lot of the blanks in Sookie’s knowledge of the supernatural world. Unlike vampires, the rest of the supes have not revealed themselves to humanity. The weres and the shifters are well organized and have their own structured society.

Above mystery and adventure, Mrs. Harris adds humor to all her books. How could you read this with a straight face:

“They found the corpse in the closet of Alcide’s apartment, and they hatched a plan to hide his remains.” Eric sounded like that had been kind of cute of us.

“My Sookie hid a corpse?”

“I don’t think you can be too sure about that possessive pronoun.”

“Where did you learn that term, Northman?”

“I took ‘English as a Second Language’ at a community college in the seventies.”

At times, the characters say unexpected thinks that shock you. And by characters, I mean Eric, the powerful vampire who likes to get a reaction from Sookie any way he can:

“I have always been very fond of you.” He’d always wanted to have sex with me. “Plus, I want to fuck you.”

The book doesn’t rely on obscenities and crude language to shock the reader. Perhaps that’s why when it happens, it’s unforgettable and sure to make you blush. 


Book Review - Living Dead in Dallas, by Charlaine Harris

Living Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris

Although I recommend you read the series in order, the book can be read as a stand-alone. The author explains her universe at the beginning of the book and there are several references throughout the book that get explained for those who skipped the first book. Basically, once a Japanese group created synthetic blood, vampires all over the world “came out of the coffin” and joined mainstream society. This kind of explanation and other references happen in other books from this series too. To be honest, I found this a bit annoying. I say this from the perspective of someone who read the books in order and finds the same things explained over and over again and keep thinking ‘Yeah, I knew this already. Why do you keep telling me this in every book?! If you said it once, it’s enough!’. But I get why she did that and since it’s just a couple of sentences I didn’t find it off-putting.

Just like the first book, this is a fast-paced and action-packed mystery-adventure novel with a complicated romantic relationship that hints at a love triangle later on. The action takes place in a universe where supernatural beings live among us and often wreak havoc in the human world. The characters are generally well written in such a manner that even the bad guys have you rooting for them every now and then. I loved this book as much as I did the first one.

This second book follows the adventures of telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse of Bon Temps, Louisiana, as she is ”borrowed” by Dallas vampires to use her telepathic skills to help find a missing nest member. Vampire Bill accompanies her to Dallas to keep her safe which he fails to accomplish. Similar to the first book, there is a murder mystery subplot that needs solving. As expected after the first book, the action is unpredictable and rolls like a rollercoaster while the end result is exhilarating.

Sookie is a fun, relatable character. Although a bit naive at times, she’s portrayed like a strong, down to earth person despite all hell breaking loose around her. I find her very like-able with her quirks, self-deprecating humor and great appreciation of the absurd.

This time, Sookie is attacked by a maenad to sent a message to Eric Northman and wounded badly. When she is in pain while a healer is tending to the wound, Eric does his best to distract her.

“By the way, I haven’t heard an ‘I’m sorry’ from you yet.” My sense of grievance had overwhelmed my sense of self-preservation.
I am sorry that the maenad picked on you.”
I glared at him. “Not enough,” I said. I was trying hard to hang on to this conversation.
Angelic Sookie, vision of love and beauty, I am prostrate that the wicked evil maenad violated your smooth and voluptuous body, in an attempt to deliver a message to me.”
That’s more like it.”

Humor is present throughout the story, mostly in dialogue form between Sookie and Eric. One of my favorite quote from the book takes place right after Eric throws himself on top of Sookie to protect her from bullets during an attack:

“Glass shattered, vampires roared, humans screamed. The noise battered at me, just as the tidal wave of scores of brains at high gear washed over me. When it began to taper off, I looked up into Eric’s eyes. Incredibly, he was excited. He smiled at me.

Eric: “I knew I’d get on top of you somehow,” he said.

Sookie: “Are you trying to make me mad so I’ll forget how scared I am?”

Eric: “No, I’m just opportunistic.”

I wiggled, trying to get out from under him, and he said, “Oh, do that again. It felt great.”

If you like reading a compelling mix of mystery, fantasy, and complicated romance drizzled with snarky comments, then you’re in for a treat!

I love how Mrs. Harris manages to make mayhem, bloodshed and bizarre situations entertaining. 


Book Review - Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris

I loved this book immediately because it’s aimed at a more mature audience rather than other books I had read in the same genre, like Twilight by Stephanie Mayer. I find the vampires in this universe to be better developed, with hidden agendas and more well-rounded characters than their counterparts aimed at teenagers.

What I liked most is the way this book was plotted like a mystery. You throw in a couple of murders, set out an investigation combined with character development and the beginning of a love story, mix in plenty of tension, setbacks, and adventures, solve the murders in the end and you get a great book! I’m sure this was due to Mrs. Harris previous experience with writing mystery books.

This being said, it is a fast-paced, action-packed novel that keeps you on your toes. There were very few dull moments if any. If there was something I didn’t like I’d say it was the murderer. At the end of the book when the killer is revealed, although it’s no one you anticipate, it feels a bit meh. But to be honest I didn’t read the book to find who the murderer is, that’s just a subplot.

The action is set in a fictional small town called Bon Temps, somewhere close to Shreveport, Louisiana. The story is written in the first person and follows Sookie Stackhouse, a 25-year-old barmaid at Merlotte’s, the local bar and grill. Sookie lives with her grandma and has a unique ability (telepathy) that she considers more of a curse. Here’s a nice quote on how she makes fun of it:

“My brother, Jason, came into the bar, then, and sauntered over to give me a hug. He knows that women like a man who’s good to his family and also kind to the disabled, so hugging me is a double whammy of recommendation.”

Long story short, she’s a telepath and can hear what everybody around her is thinking without the option of turning it off. That impairs her social life and leaves no room for a love life at all. When she meets Bill Compton, the first vampire who comes to Bon Temps she’s instantly attracted to him because she can’t hear his thoughts and she finds this soothing. Sookie’s thoughts on that:

“Not one man in a million would have allowed me the time without speaking. I opened my mind, let my guard down completely, relaxed. His silence washed over me. I stood, closed my eyes, breathed out the relief that was too profound for words.”

Trying to put her ability to good use she enlists his help to investigate a couple of murders. That gets them both in a lot of trouble and its fun to see how they get through these misadventures.

Sookie has some of the best lines and her snarky side shines through:

“Eric appeared to be counting my eyelashes. I tried to keep my gaze on my hands, to indicate modesty. I felt power tweaks kind of flow over me and had an uneasy feeling Eric was trying to influence me. I risked a quick peek, and sure enough, he was looking at me expectantly. Was I supposed to pull off my dress? Bark like a dog? Kick Bill in the shins? Shit.”