Early Review – Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2011 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella DuffyTheodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy
Published by Penguin Books on September 27th 2011
Pages: 337
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

'Justinian took a wife: and the manner she was born and bred, and wedded to this man, tore up the Roman Empire by the very roots.' Procopius

Charming, charismatic, heroic - Theodora of Constantinople rose from nothing to become the most powerful woman in the history of Byzantine Rome. In Stella Duffy's breathtaking new novel, she comes to life again - a fascinating, controversial and seductive woman. Some called her a saint. Others were not so kind...

When her father is killed, the young Theodora is forced into near slavery to survive. But just as she learns to control her body as a dancer, and for the men who can afford her, so she is determined to shape a very different fate for herself.

From the vibrant streets and erotic stage shows of sixth-century Constantinople to the holy desert retreats of Alexandria, Theodora is an extraordinary imaginative achievement from one of our finest writers.

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore tells the story of Theodora, before and after she became one of the most powerful women in the Byzantine Empire’s history. The novel touches briefly on her adolescent years and how it began by the age of 5 when her mother offered up her and two other sisters as supporters to the Blue faction.

Theodora was a strong thinking and willful woman in a time when this was far from acceptable. Theodora’s status was well known as an ‘actress’ when during these times being an ‘actress’ meant you were unable to marry and you were also unable to own property. During her relationship with Hecebolus she was his mistress, but nothing more. She did everything a typical wife would be expected to do, she just lacked title. This is when Theodora began her search for a priest or bishop who would be able to take her case to a higher court in order to have her sins absolved and to have the laws changed for her to be able to marry. She ends up being betrayed by her lady’s maid and friend, Chrysomallo, when she becomes Hecebolus’s lover and ends up with child. Theodora is forced to leave and learn to survive on her own using the only tool she knows; her body. The story continues with Theodora being introduced to Justinian and the path being paved to her becoming the future Empress.

This book is not a biography or a memoir, it is a historical fiction novel, and because of this I think I was expecting a little bit more from this. The author clearly did her research on the life of Theodora, but considering the fact that she was able to take artistic license with the subject, in the end it didn’t seem like she reached the potential the story could have had. In the end the story read like a biography and just told Theodora’s story rather than showing the life of Theodora and what made her the powerful woman she was known to be. I really didn’t care for Theodora all that much in this story; the character and overall story was definitely lacking.

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Short & Sweet – Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian #1) by Diana Rowland

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011, Short & Sweet Reviews 2 Comments

Short & Sweet – Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian #1) by Diana RowlandMark of the Demon by Diana Rowland
Series: Kara Gillian #1
Published by DAW on June 17, 2009
Pages: 386
Genres: Detective, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: My Life As a White Trash Zombie, Blood of the Demon, Secrets of the Demon

five-stars

Cop and conjurer of demons, she's a woman in danger of losing control—to a power that could kill....

Why me? Why now? That’s what Beaulac, Louisiana, detective Kara Gillian was asking herself when an angelic creature named Rhyzkahl unexpectedly appeared during a routine summoning. Kara was hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial killer, but never had she conjured anything like this unearthly beautiful and unspeakably powerful being whose very touch set off exquisite new dimensions of pleasure. But can she enlist his aid in helping her stop a killer who’s already claimed the lives—and souls—of thirteen people? And should she? The Symbol Man is a nightmare that the city thought had ended three years ago. Now he’s back for an encore and leaving every indication on the flesh of his victims that he, too, is well versed in demonic lore.

Kara may be the only cop on Beaulac’s small force able to stop the killer, but it is her first homicide case. Yet with Rhyzkahl haunting her dreams, and a handsome yet disapproving FBI agent dogging her waking footsteps, she may be in way over her head...

‘Mark of the Demon’ is the first in Diana Rowland’s Kara Gillian Series. Kara Gillian is a newbie Detective in small town Beaulac, Louisiana. She’s also a skilled summoner of demons who uses her occult skills in her cases. She’s put in charge of a case of recent murders that appear to be the same killer, The Symbol Man, who killed 13 people but hadn’t killed anyone in over 3 years. All of the victims show evidence of being killed for demonic purposes so Kara attempts to summon a demon to assist her but ends up summoning something else: a powerful Demonic Lord, Rhyzkahl.

I am SO glad that I decided to read this series. For those of you who don’t know, I started out a huge mystery/thriller fan and that’s about all I read. Then I discovered urban fantasy and realized I loved that as well. Well this series combined by two favorites. This had demons, crazy serial killers, hot cops, crazy CSI shit, and a demonic lord to boot… right up my alley. I don’t typically read back to back books in a series, I like to mix it up a bit every now and then, but I’m going straight to book number 2.

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Book Review – My Life as A White Trash Zombie (White Trash Zombie #1) by Diana Rowland

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 1 Comment

Book Review – My Life as A White Trash Zombie (White Trash Zombie #1) by Diana RowlandMy Life As a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
Series: White Trash Zombie #1
Published by DAW on July 5, 2011
Pages: 321
Genres: Funny-ha-ha, Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Mark of the Demon, Blood of the Demon, Secrets of the Demon

three-half-stars

Angel Crawford is a loser

Living with her alcoholic deadbeat dad in the swamps of southern Louisiana, she's a high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record who's been fired from more crap jobs than she can count. Now on probation for a felony, it seems that Angel will never pull herself out of the downward spiral her life has taken.

That is, until the day she wakes up in the ER after overdosing on painkillers. Angel remembers being in an horrible car crash, but she doesn't have a mark on her. To add to the weirdness, she receives an anonymous letter telling her there's a job waiting for her at the parish morgue—and that it's an offer she doesn't dare refuse.

Before she knows it she's dealing with a huge crush on a certain hunky deputy and a brand new addiction: an overpowering craving for brains. Plus, her morgue is filling up with the victims of a serial killer who decapitates his prey—just when she's hungriest!

Angel's going to have to grow up fast if she wants to keep this job and stay in one piece. Because if she doesn't, she's dead meat.

Literally.

Angel Crawford was your typical white trash chick with a pill popping addiction living with her alcoholic dad in Lousiana. That is, until she woke up in the hospital after being in a car accident with no memory of what had happened to her. She finds a note addressed to her telling her about a job that she is required to take or she’ll end up dead… thinking this is a note from her parole officer and that she’s being threatened with jail she opts to take the job instead. The job turns out to be a driver for the Coroner’s Office.

Angel starts noticing odd changes like how she’s somehow able to stand the sight of the dead bodies when before the accident she was squeamish from just the sight of blood. She also starts noticing that the bodies have a pleasant scent to them… ’The smell was like chocolate and cookies and biscuits and gravy and everything else that was delicious.’ That’s when she realizes that what was smelled so positively tasty were brains and only zombies ate brains. Bodies start turning up all over town with their heads missing and it begins to look suspiciously like a rogue zombie just trying to get his next meal. Angel thought she had figured out who the killer was when he turns up as the next victim.

Angel was a very realistic character and instantly likeable for me. The story had this underlying sadness with Angel staying off the pills, being able to hold a job, and finally getting her shit together… she just had to die to do it. And between the mysteries of who turned her into a zombie and who was leaving headless bodies all over town, it had me scrabbling to finish just to find out if my guess was right. (I was right! Yay!) The ending was good, (minus the slightly corny part when she kind of OD’d on brains) and I’m looking forward to reading the next one.

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Short Story Review – For I Have Sinned (Charley Davidson #1.5) by Darynda Jones

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011, Short Stories 2 Comments

Short Story Review – For I Have Sinned (Charley Davidson #1.5) by Darynda JonesFor I Have Sinned by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #1.5
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 12, 2011
Pages: 77
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Freebie
Amazon
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Also by this author: First Grave on the Right, Second Grave on the Left, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet

three-half-stars

 

 

Darynda Jones revisits the sexy, suspenseful world of supernatural shenanigans she created in her Grave series with For I Have Sinned.  In this Charley Davidson story, Charley helps a woman find out how she died and gives her the closure she needs to pass through to the other side.

 

 

Charley Davidson series

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson #1)

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson #1) {Purchase}

After finishing First Grave on the Right I was still craving a bit more Charley and Reyes so I jumped right into this short story. For I Have Sinned tells the story of Jo Anne Montgomery, a recently deceased woman who is having trouble remembering how she died. Charley helps her find the answers she requires in order for her to fully be at peace and pass through.

I was a little disappointed compared to First Grave on the Right and it wasn’t just because of the short length. I didn’t much care for the story being written from Jo Anne’s point of view. I think because I had just finished First Grave on the Right I was used to it being in Charley’s POV so I missed that… I also missed her hilarious commentary. Nonetheless, I did enjoy it, and will anxiously await the next in this series.

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Short and Sweet Review – Firewalker (Stormwalker #2) by Allyson James

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 0 Comments

Short and Sweet Review – Firewalker (Stormwalker #2) by Allyson JamesFirewalker by Allyson James
Series: Stormwalker #2
Published by Berkley on November 2, 2010
Pages: 342
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

 

Mick must face the dragon council for breaking their laws, and while he doesn't seem too worried about his upcoming trial, but Janet will do anything to keep him safe. She'll need a little help from her friends, old and new: Nash and Coyote; Cassandra, a powerful witch turned hotel manager; and Colby a sort-of-trustworthy dragon. But now a new, dark power is stirring in Magellan that Janet must face, but even more frightening, one is stirring within herself.

 

 

Stormwalker series

Stormwalker (Stormwalker, #1)

Stormwalker (Stormwalker #1) {Purchase}

I hadn’t realized how much I missed Janet and Mick until I decided to pick up ‘Firewalker’, the 2nd in Allyson James’ Stormwalker Series.

Firewalker opens with Janet managing her hotel, without Mick; he’s been missing for a few weeks with no word. Shortly afterwards a shifter informs Janet that she discovered where Mick is and Janet leaves immediately to help him; taking Nash with her. Together they are able to break Mick free of the magic prison that the dragons placed on him; however, as they are leaving they are attacked by demons and the new dark power growing with Janet is released and they are saved… but Janet is having more and more difficulty controlling it.

A corpse is found near Janet’s hotel and she immediately becomes a suspect. The revelation of what happened, who did it, etc… gasp! Be prepared. Lol I can’t wait to be able to get my hands on the 3rd in this series.

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Book Review – First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson #1) by Darynda Jones

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 8 Comments

Book Review – First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson #1) by Darynda JonesFirst Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 1, 2011
Pages: 336
Genres: Funny-ha-ha, Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: a Giveaway
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: For I Have Sinned, Second Grave on the Left, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet

five-stars

First Grave on the Right is the smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper.

Charley sees dead people. That's right, she sees dead people. And it's her job to convince them to "go into the light." But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

This is a thrilling debut novel from Darynda Jones, an exciting newcomer to the world of paranormal romantic suspense.

Charley is a grim reaper. Or THE grim reaper. She is the portal that allows the deceased to pass through to the other side. Charley is also a private investigator and in addition to helping the deceased pass through to the other side she also helps them tie up loose ends whether it be passing on a final message to a loved one or solving the mystery of who murdered them. Plus, Charley is hilarious. She’s this super snarky and fabulously funny chick. She also has a mysteriously handsome supernatural stalker named Reyes Farrow. He’s certainly something. 🙂

This book had me rolling with laughter, so if you’re in that kinda mood, this is so the book for you. I had to stop myself from doing about a gazillion status updates just to share my favorite quotes; so instead, you get some of my favorites in my review!

“What twirly nugget are you from?” (Okay this one is taken out of context, so it might not make sense, but just on principle it’s funny!)

Because my apartment was roughly the size of a Cheez-It, it didn’t take me long to feel my way to the kitchen in the dark.

Maybe if I hovered over the pot, it would develop an inferiority complex and brew faster just to prove it could.

• “So, then, what are you?” I wondered if your worst nightmare would sound silly.

“You rented the apartment with a dead guy in the corner?” I shrugged. “I wanted the apartment, and I figured I could cover him up with a bookcase or something.

Okay, so here I am stopping myself again. Because those were my favorite lines from like… half of the first chapter. I’m writing a review here not a novel. Suffice it to say, I loved this book!

I don’t recall having ever read a novel about a grim reaper before, so I don’t actually have something to compare it to, which is nice. When I first read the summary of this book it made me think of the HBO series ‘Dead Like Me’ which I was a super big fan of. The lead characters are both girls, both grim reapers, bot hilarious, and they both have boy names. (George and Charley). Hmm… just realized that. Anyways!

Darynda Jones wrote a fabulous story, it was extremely intriguing, had me laughing inappropriately at work for two days straight, and I absolutely CANNOT wait for the second book.

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Short Story Review – Shambling With The Stars (Living with the Dead #2.5) by Jesse Petersen

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011, Short Stories 1 Comment

Short Story Review – Shambling With The Stars (Living with the Dead #2.5) by Jesse PetersenShambling With the Stars by Jesse Petersen
Series: Living With the Dead #2.5
Published by Orbit on June 15, 2011
Pages: 34
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Eat Slay Love, Married With Zombies, Club Monstrosity

three-half-stars

 

Avery Andrews is her name and directing celebrity telethons after tragedies is her game. But the Northwestern Zombie Outbreak isn't your average tragedy... and once the infection spreads to the studio, Avery and her crew will have to worry about staying alive, not ratings.

 

 

Living With the Dead series

Married With Zombies (Living with the Dead, #1)Flip This Zombie (Living with the Dead, #2)

Married With Zombies (Living with the Dead, #1)
Flip This Zombie (Living with the Dead, #2)

‘Shambling with the Stars’ is a short story by Jesse Petersen; number 2.5 of her Living with the Dead series. I’m a huge fan of this series. Her zombie series kicks off with Married with Zombies, one of my favorite books of all time.

‘Shambling with the Stars’ opens to character Avery Andrews directing a celebrity telethon for the recent ‘sickness’ outbreak. Her lead host Blake is in the middle of conducting an interview with Dr. Lithstone when he attacks him and begins a chain reaction of reanimation.

This short story definitely leaves you with wanting more awesome zombie action! It’ll be interesting to see if she expands on Avery and Kyle’s characters since this short story definitely leaves you hanging! I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future novels.

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Book Review – Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1) by Isaac Marion

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 3 Comments

Book Review – Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1) by Isaac MarionWarm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Series: Warm Bodies #1
Published by Atria Books on April 26, 2011
Pages: 256
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Funny-ha-ha, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Burning World

three-half-stars

R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, noidentity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.

After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and stragely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies is about being alive, being dead, and the blurry line in between.

What a truly engrossing and original novel. This will be my first of many zombie novels I have read where the story was told from the zombie, or ‘R’s’ point of view. This introduces the concept that zombies are more than the black drooling, grunting and groaning un-dead that they’ve been portrayed as in typical zombie novels. “It disquieted me at first, but it’s against etiquette to notice when one of us dies. I distracted myself with some groaning.” Zombie etiquette? Already I’m intrigued, give me more.

The storyline follows the same broken, choppy grunting and groaning that you would expect to find from your average zombie; except there’s an unexpected depth shown in ‘R’. The passages of lines where R is thinking are as in depth as a human, he just has difficult expressing his thoughts sufficiently due to his stunted vocabulary. You’ll find that the book is lacking in explanations, but it’s done that way on purpose, since this book is from the zombie’s point of view.

One line to sum it up? ‘I long for exclamation marks, but I’m drowning in ellipses.

R begins a friendship with an unlikely individual; a human girl named Julie. After attacking and killing her boyfriend Perry, by consuming his brain he absorbed his memories and he began seeing what he saw in Julie. That’s when R notices a change… a change in him, a spark of something he hadn’t felt since he died. It was as if he was just waiting for someone to come around and remind him of his humanity. This was truly a moving and touching novel in the unlikeliest of genres.

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Short and Sweet Review – Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011 3 Comments

Short and Sweet Review – Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’BrienWesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O'Brien
Published by Atria Books on June 2nd 2009
Pages: 256
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads


five-stars

On Valentine’s Day 1985, biologist Stacey O’Brien adopted Wesley, a baby barn owl with an injured wing who could not have survived in the wild. Over the next nineteen years, O’Brien studied Wesley’s strange habits with both a tender heart and a scientist’s eye—and provided a mice-only diet that required her to buy the rodents in bulk (28,000 over the owl’s lifetime). She watched him turn from a helpless fluff ball into an avid com­municator with whom she developed a language all their own. Eventually he became a gorgeous, gold-and-white macho adult with a heart-shaped face who preened in the mir­ror and objected to visits by any other males to “his” house. O’Brien also brings us inside Caltech’s prestigious research community, a kind of scientific Hogwarts where resident owls sometimes flew freely from office to office and eccentric, brilliant scientists were extraordinarily committed to studying and helping animals; all of them were changed by the animals they loved. As O’Brien gets close to Wesley, she makes astonishing discoveries about owl behavior, intelligence, and communication, coining the term “The Way of the Owl” to describe his noble behavior. When O’Brien develops her own life-threatening ill­ness, the biologist who saved the life of a helpless baby bird is herself rescued from death by the insistent love and courage of this wild animal.

Enhanced by wonderful photographs, Wesley the Owl is a thoroughly engaging, heart­warming, often funny story of a complex, emotional, non-human being capable of reason, play, and, most important, love and loyalty. Translated into eight languages and named an Audubon Magazine Editor’s Choice, Wesley the Owl is sure to be cherished by animal lovers everywhere.

Wesley the Owl: the story of biologist Stacey O’Brien and her adoption of a 4 day old baby barn owl. The book is a retelling of the 19 years spent caring and loving for this animal and of the love and bond the two of them shared.

‘Life your life not by staying in the shallow, safer waters, but by wading as deep into the river of life as possible, no matter how dangerous the current. We have only one chance at this life.’

I have this abnormally large soft spot in my heart for animals and this novel really did a number on that spot. Going into this book I understood the story line and as it can be expected this also included the retelling of Wesley’s final days. The bond that this woman shared with Wesley was so amazing and touching and heartbreaking in the end. I was in tears. This may not have been a novel of literary genius, but the story and the message was beautiful.

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Book Review – Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between (Rhiannon’s Law #1) by J.A. Saare

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 0 Comments

Book Review – Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between (Rhiannon’s Law #1) by J.A. SaareDead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between by J.A. Saare
Series: Rhiannon's Law #1
Published by Mundania Press on May 2, 2011
Pages: 244
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Renfield Syndrome

four-half-stars

One bad corpse can ruin your whole day.

No one knows that better than Rhiannon Murphy. She’s left behind the flash and sass of Miami for the no-nonsense groove of New York City, eager for a clean slate and a fresh start. A bartender by trade, a loud mouth by choice, and a necromancer by chance, she’s managed to keep her nifty talent hidden from those around her--until now.

The deliciously good-looking vampire Disco knows her secret, and when he strolls into her bar to solicit help investigating the mysterious disappearances of his kind from the city, she discovers he’s not the kind of person that appreciates the significance of the word no. But in a world where vampires peddle their blood as the latest and greatest drug of choice, it’s only a matter of time before the next big thing hits the market. Someone or something is killing vampires to steal their hearts, and unlike Rhiannon, this isn’t their first stroll around the undead block.

This book managed to hook me from the start; I loved it instantly. I think it was something about the characters, the writing style, the interesting storyline, the hilarious lines, or maybe a combination of everything. Actually, what I really think it was, was the main character Rhiannon. She seemed real to me… she wasn’t some whiny little girl, she was a bad-ass and could handle her own business, but she did get scared as a normal person should in similar situations.

The bad…

I sometimes thought that the story lacked in describing things; things just simply were, and sometimes those things didn’t make sense. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never heard of a necromancer that was able to ‘share’ their powers through physical contact with another person? And why did she have to touch the gross mangled bodies in order to communicate with them? But then again, the author could simply be writing a new twist to the concept, and that’s fine. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I still refuse to believe that vampires could EVER be sparkly.
I thought that the explanation given for how vampires were created was a little off. Plus the whole Sienna making deals with demons… ehh. I don’t know but it didn’t seem to fit well with the rest of the story for me.

Disco. Oh Disco. Loved the character, but his name drove me nuts. For at least the first half of the book I would cringe everytime I read it, but slowly but surely I just got used to it. I mean I guess it was meant to be a nickname, but everybody called him Disco. I mean really, what was so wrong with Gabriel? That’s a perfectly decent name.

The good…

The story behind Rhiannon and the reason for why she is how she is was crazy, but it really explained a lot. I’ve read stories before where a character is traumatized because of a past event or whatever and when the big reveal finally happens it usually causes eye rolls and a few ‘Oh get over yourself.’ But she definitely went through some fucked up shit, and it really helps to explain her actions.

I was really worried going in to reading this that the ending was going to have me screaming with frustration because I can’t handle cliff-hangers… at all. But WOW! What an ending. I was totally not expecting anything like that!! It was a cliff-hanger for sure, but now I’m really excited for The Renfield Syndrome.

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