Title: Halo of the Damned
Author: Dina Rae
Series: Halo # 1
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Source: FMB Tours
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amz/Eternal Press
I received this novel from FMB Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb from Amazon:
A chain of advertising agencies, a new breed of humans, and a fallen angel to worship…
Andel Talistokov is known for his slick advertising agencies across the globe. He is a fallen angel that uses advertising as a weapon for Satan’s work. His growing power emboldens him to break several of Hell’s Commandments. Furious with his arrogance, Satan commands him to return to Hell after finding his own replacement. Yezidism, an ancient angel worshiping religion, quietly expands throughout the West. Armaros appears as a guest of honor during their ceremonies. He mates with young women to produce nephilim, a mixed race of humans and angels. They are alone and unprepared for their supernatural power. Joanna Easterhouse, a recovering drug addict, steps out of prison shortly after her mother’s fatal accident. She and her sister, Kim, unravel their mother’s secretive past. Intrigued, they learn their bloodline is part of a celestial legacy. Both worlds collide. Halo of the Damned is a horrifying tale that weaves research together with suspenseful twists and turns.
I’m slowly falling in love with books about fallen angels and nephilims. They are very interesting characters because they rejected God but don’t appear to appreciate Satan as well. Nephilims, the children of fallen angels, are just stuck in the middle. Kind of sad that they are fighting a war that they did not start but the sins of the parents tend to carry on.
It was fascinating to learn more about the advertising industry and the Yezidi (which is a legit religion, that is surprising). The worshiping of Satan is a still a mystery to me but I’m more concerned as to what is the purpose of human-made angels on Earth. What is there to gain? It is very important to the worshipers to have an angel yet Satan’s contract doesn’t allow it so where does the idea come from? It is an interesting question that is not answered but perhaps in the second book, it may be.
The dark characters, the bad guys, they are not as interesting as the characters who are considered bad but are walking the fine line between good and evil. The Yezidi followers are not interesting because there isn’t an explanation for what they are doing. What is the end goal? The ones who have reasons for joining the Yezidi or for following fallen angels, they are interesting. Father Dominick Sardenelli is one character who is walking that line and for good reasons. Rae does an excellent job of providing moral ambiguity to the Father. He felt used and abused by the Catholic Church so he left but he is aware that there is something off with the Yezidi. He is stuck. I like him. Tony is another character walking the fine line as well.
I love Joanna and Tony, they are a great couple. I’m a sucker for opposite-attracting couple and that’s what they are. From the moment Tony meets Joanna, he is a very suave and likeable. It’s very hard to spoil Tony’s character but I like him. I’m glad he proved he is worthy of being trusted. Sean and Kim were a hard couple to like but they did grow on me. It was a little hard to like Sean when he had his infatuation with Lydia, Kim’s mother. It seemed kind of wrong to date the daughter after dating the mother but Sean does seem to care for Kim. Plus, she didn’t seem to mind that Sean dated her mother.
My one issue with this novel is how certain moments are lacking in bringing emotions to the reader. I couldn’t feel the horror of reading a detective’s eye be plucked out by birds. It is really visible in the sex scene between Joanna and Tony. Rae tells the reader what is going on but it seems clinical, detached from what is going on. It’s not a style I’m fond of but it only happens in certain scenes. Visually, we can always see what is going on so that is fantastic. It just certain scenes that don’t bring up the expected emotions.
I’m looking forward to the second book. Hopefully, there is an in-depth to the followers of Yezidi because I don’t understand (and I can usually understand the villains of most books). Plus, Tony is going to be there and I can’t wait to see how he handles his gift.
3oth in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a Series, E-book, Where are you reading?- Illinois
This tour was put together by FMB Blog Tours. I did not receive monetary compensation for reviewing.
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Title: Finding Alice
Author: Andrea DiGiglio
Series: Alice Clark # 1
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Source: VBT Cafe
Pub. Year 2012
Purchase: Not yet available
I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb from Goodreads:
Cursed with an intense version of empathy Alice runs from a wasted life to start a new one somewhere no one will know her; Hell, Michigan. Alice works at a hole-in-the-wall bar in the middle of nowhere mostly keeping to herself to avoid the overwhelming emotions of those around her. Alice allows her best friend to convince her into taking a few college classes without realizing it would drastically change her life forever. From her first day of class she was hooked on him; his scent, his eyes, the way he talked to her inside her head.
Throughout her struggles she learns about true love, true pain and the truth of her own heritage. Alice must quickly find out who she is because after all everyone else is out to find her. With Angels and Bounty Hunter’s in constant pursuit she finds protection within a group of Fallen Angels. These Fallen Angels vow to do anything to protect her; for it is their belief she will save their kind and all of mankind.
Like in previous reviews, I have mentioned that I love the mythology surrounding fallen angels. I wasn’t about to pass this book up. Overall, I’m glad that I did read because it was an interesting book.
One of the most appealing factors of the novel is the fallen angel complex. They fell from God’s grace because they pursue the daughter of men (For some reason, all the angels that fell were men or so it seems). God is really angry about the fall and decided to cull the fallen angels and there loved ones. I find interesting that this is the aspect that DiGiglio chooses to focus on because it’s not the usual story of the fallen angels trying to re-gain acceptance into heaven. The Fallen know their children will be cursed and continue to have children because they are afraid of Judgement Day. As long as nephilim (children of the Fallen) exist, so will the Fallen. The Fallen want a fighting chance against the angels of God and are willing to use their children to continue the battle. It sounds selfish but at the same time, it’s very human because we all want to live in the end. This alone is reason enough to read it.
I generally did like most of the characters; Alice was truly fleshed out. She was a very strong character who fought for what she wanted. She wasn’t easily overwhelmed by what she was, a nephilim, or what the future awaits for her. That’s really great that she could take a few blows and still stand strong. Cole wasn’t my favorite character but he was compelling. He had this key scene where he exposes himself to Alice and it feels very vulnerable, almost like ashamed of what he is so he was interesting character. Opps, that’s a little spoiler. We have Camille (Alice’s best friend) and her boyfriend, Jake (who ended up surprising me). I was surprised to see Alice mad at him for something he didn’t do. We also have a few more interesting characters that show up and make it seem like a family reunion.
I found it quirky that the fallen angels could communicate through dreams and mentally. There is a lot of mental communication and dream revelations. There wasn’t an explanation for this but I’m going to guess it has to do with DNA. Alice in an empath, she can feel other people’s emotions and somehow can slow down time. The empath powers manifested and seem important in the beginning but later took a backseat in the story. They were mentioned from time to time but she wasn’t really using them. I’m curious as to where it places Alice and what role will her empath abilities have later on.
One of the reasons this novel is getting 4 butterflies is the lack of details in the first person narrative. There were times I really couldn’t see what was happening in the story so that was bit frustrating. At the same time, I know DiGiglio can write great descriptive scenes such as when she is describing the artwork that Alice produces. I can see the art in the gallery (the battered shower image) but I can’t see the bar where she works at. Currently, the bar looks like the bar from Lost Girl (super cool show). I’m looking forward to reading the second book when it comes out.
14th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: Self-published, E-book, 1st in a Series, Cupcake War, Where are you reading? Hell, Michigan
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of The Virtual Book Tour Cafe’ and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by The Virtual Book Tour Cafe’, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely of my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book’s publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
Blurb from Amazon:
It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems…
Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better–the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.
On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel…something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.
In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.
Em and Chase have been chosen.
Cover Love: Gorgeous, Flaming, Red Hair. Do not fall into the trap.
I know it’s label as a paranormal fantasy novel but it feels like a contemporary novel with a quick dash of paranormal elements thrown in for good measure. Fury works so much better as a contemporary novel than a paranormal one because the paranormal elements are missing. If I didn’t know Greek mythology, it would have taken forever for the concept of the Furies to sink in.
The novel focuses of Emily’s naivety when it comes to relationships and her lust for her best friend’s boyfriend, Zach. The majority of the drama comes from Emily’s emotions about betraying her best friend, Gabby, and hoping she will understand that Zach is better off with Emily than with Gabby. Talk about naïve. It’s very improbable that two best friends will say “He is better off with you. It doesn’t matter that both of you were dating behind my back and while I was still with him.” This contemporary element of the novel which is the realization of a girl understanding the consequences for lusting after a forbidden man and finally understanding what true love is even if the liaison was bittersweet could have carried the book alone. The Furies going after her because she is naïve in her thinking is a little bit harsh. Surely, they are worse people than Emily that deserve bad karma.
Chase was the one character that I did liked. He wasn’t a good guy but at first, he didn’t seem like a bad guy. It’s only after a certain incident that we learned that he pulled a terrible prank. It was bad and he probably deserved what he got in the end…maybe. (I have never been “an eye for eye” person). I initially did like him because he was the only one who appeared to be truly sympathetic about what happened to Sasha whereas everyone else was being fake in their concerned about Sasha. Plus, he was being tormented by his own friends, so yeah, I sided with him. Both, Emily and Chase, are painfully blind when it comes to their love interests.
The Furies element didn’t feel explained to me. Why Emily? She fell into the trap. Why not Zach who purposely knew what he was doing and had done it before to other girls? The target of the Furies felt misplaced and we didn’t get to know the three furies as individual characters. They were just as beautiful as they were creepy. I guess the problem was that Miles did not create her world properly or didn’t bother to explain the mythology behind the furies. Not everyone knows they are seekers of vengeance or that Furies come in three. From the way the Furies were being portrayed in the novel, they could have been seeking justice on behalf of the people that Emily and Chase hurt. Miles also chose Fury names similar to the ones Virgil named such as Ty is Tisiphone, Meg is Megaera, and Ali is Alecto. I had to memorize their names for the Greek mythology class I took. The point is the names are a nod to Virgil but it’s not obvious because Virgil is never mention. He is the one who said Furies comes in three because he named three of them. Other Greek authors have five or one or twenty but most people agree that there is three since three is a powerful number. I’m one of them and Miles is another since she has three Furies.
The only point where the mythology felt strong was in the end. The Furies were using their power to torment Emily and her geeky neighbor. I felt bad for the geek most of the time. It’s the only time in the book where it was quite obvious that the Furies were something paranormal. Half of the time, the reader could have thought of them as figment of either character’s imagination or stalkers.
To me, the biggest question that remain unresolved was why did Sasha break off her online friendship with Chase. Sasha and Chase were connecting emotionally and she just went cold turkey on him for no apparent reason or reason that I can see easily. I’m really curious as to what set her off.
In the end, Fury is a complete miss to me. The mythology felt weak to me because there wasn’t enough emphasis on the Furies and what they are. It’s not great writing when the main character doesn’t know what she did wrong or who the hell the Furies are. Think of it this way, it’s like a vampire book where “what a vampire is” is a foreign topic to the main character. “What a vampire is/ What a Fury is” is vital to understanding the book yet it is not there. Perhaps there is no background history on the Furies because it’s going to be explained in the second book but I don’t think I’m going to pick up the second book because I was reading this book for the mythological elements which are severely missing. Emily is not what I was interested in. She is secondary to me. Maybe I will pick it up if the cover manages to deceive me again.
9th book in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a series, YA Mythology, Where are you reading?-Ascension, Maine
Blurb from Amazon:
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.
What I will remember: The tragedy of a life cut too short.
OMG, Anna Dressed in Blood blew my mind away. It was such a fantastic read that I was nearly late to class because I did not, did not want to stop reading. I have no idea on how to do a review on a book that I’m still super giddy about.
Let’s talk about Anna. What a fantastic ghost. Very tragic as well. Blake did an excellent job in describing Anna, her clothing, and the physical changes that Anna goes through which turned Anna into a very concrete character. There was a depth to Anna that is rare in a ghost. She knew what she had done, accepted it, was remorseful and was very much alive in her character. Her origin story is just emotionally gripping; it’s a cringe-worthy moment. You want to turn away but at the same time, you can’t. Amazing storytelling by Blake.
Cassius Lowood is the male narrator of this book. It’s was odd and new to read a book from a male perspective. I usually read from the female mind. With that mind, Cassius was less focused on the romantic aspect of what was going with Anna. He was aware that he was treating Anna differently but at the same time, he didn’t want to acknowledge why until much later in the book. A female protagonist would have immediately acknowledge the connection and be dominate by the connection. It was interesting to have Cas as the lead character. He was a decent guy who reminded me of Dean Winchester of Supernatural. Dean is more of a badass than Sam, in my book, but I like both of them.
The plot was entertaining and the minor characters were interesting. Cas is driven to do his job by a sense of loyalty to his father and in his quest to avenge his father’s death. The creature that killed his father is terrifying in appearance and in power. Thomas as a male witch was a lovable nerd with a crush on the Queen Bee, Carmel, who proved she was more than a pretty face.
I know I only talked about the two main character, Anna and Cas, but it really was a fantastic read. The writing was exceptional and pulls the reader in. I can’t wait for the second book.
6th book in the 150+ Challenge
Also qualifies for: 1st in A Series, Cupcake Challenge
Where are you reading?-Ontario, Canada
Title: Wandering Stars
Author: Marlon Pierre-Antoine
Series: Wandering Stars # 1
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy, Angel
Pub. Year Sep. 11, 2o11
Purchase: Only in Amazon
I received this book from The Experience Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb from Amazon:
Alice Valdez is a normal seventeen year old girl living a mundane post high school life that consists of work, sleep, hanging out, and more work – but it all changes when a chance encounter on the beach one night leads to a series of haunting dreams that bring her face to face with the most ancient evil the Universe has ever known. What do you do when the man you care for is none other than the Devil himself? Wandering Stars follows one girl’s journey into the arms of darkness and into Hell itself – all in the name of love.
Thoughts to ponder on: Lucifer is interesting but he needs help choosing a soul mate.
Anything that has to do with the fall of Lucifer or Lucifer himself, I find intriguing. I suppose it has to do with seeing The Prophecy and having a crush on Viggo Mortensen and Eric Stolz. I really couldn’t pass this book up since it is a story about someone falling in love with Lucifer. I strongly wanted to read a story where Lucifer was a compelling character.
Let’s talk characters. I hated Alice who happens to be the protagonist. She is a very weak female in her world but is very brave to cross Hell to reach Lucas (Lucifer). Lucas is Lucifer and very beautiful; a sympathetic character truly. Evelyn is the Goth girl who happens to be Alice’s best friend. Leo is a linguist nerd who could have been developed more but I’m pretty certain that he is going to have a major role in the second book. Leo is definitely a character that I want to learn more about and see in action. Astaroth is a demon and I thought she was pretty awesome. There is nothing wrong with a demon with an attitude, after all, she is a demon. Overall, I really like most of the characters.
(This paragraph is the only negative thing, the rest of the book was positive)
As I said, I absolutely hated Alice as the main character. This is going to sound cruel but she reminded of Bella of Twilight. I happen to be a strong anti-Twilight individual so for me to use a Twilight reference, it’s low. Sure, I didn’t like her because I couldn’t picture her but one particular scene cemented by view of her. In the car scene, Pierre-Antoine has Alice compares herself to the car. She was ordinary and plain just like the beat up car she owns before meeting Lucas. After meeting Lucas, she views herself as special. Alice has done what I absolutely hate in any protagonist; she has define herself by her significant other. Alice firmly believes that she has no value unless she in a relationship with a man, not just any man but it has to be Lucas. No one else. To make matters worse, Alice’s self-reflection reveals that she has always wanted something more than her ordinary life but she never went after it. Now, she doesn’t have to since being with Lucas provides that special feeling she so desire before. Urgh, Alice kill me now. (End of negativity)
If we forget Alice is a part of the book (and I will in order to rate the book), it’s actually a pretty good book worthy of four stars. Pierre-Antoine’s description are right on the mark. We can visualize the world he has created. I love his description of Hell (Being Persephone, I have a fondness for it). He goes through the nine levels of Hell quite dramatically and added Greek elements to Hell. Charon, Cerberus (lovely puppy) and two of the four rivers of Hades, Acheron and Styx, are mentioned there. Another great scene was second ocean incident with Lucas and Alice. It was well-detailed and well-captured in terms of the emotions that Alice felt; fear and love.
The Hell aspect of Wandering Stars is amazing and one of the best parts of this book. Not only do we see the complexity of Hell with each level being assigned a particular sin (Thank you Dante) but there is a forest of forgetfulness where Alice is actually challenged. Alice going through Hell is what made her a strong character. It is hard to cross Hell. I still felt she was doing the journey for the wrong reasons but I’m not going to diminished this amazing feat she accomplished by successfully reaching Lucas at the heart of Hell.
The point of view where Lucas narrated the story are the chapters I enjoyed reading the most. There was a coldness in Lucas that was not apparent through Alice’s eyes. His tale has always been tragic but adding the three failed love stories just make Lucas a more sympathetic character. Not because the romance fizzled but because Lucas willingly let one go of one his conquests. That particular romance was bittersweet. If Lucas is being honest, it adds more dimension to his character because he isn’t just about taking God down by conquering the world, there is some compassion in him that didn’t allow him to use her. Lucas is a complex Lucifer.
It earns 4 butterflies because it is a good story. Pierre-Antoine hardly ever hits a snag when it comes to the imagery he is creating. The journey through Hell is quite magnificent. Lucas as Lucifer has more dimensions and complexity than his love interest, Alice. If Alice had just attempted to try to move on with her life, I would have given this book a 5. I’m not saying she had to succeed in moving on, she just had to try. Keyword: try.
This doesn’t subtract from the rating but there are some issues with the Kindle format. Some paragraphs are broken off right in the middle of a sentence so it was awkward but it only happen three times.
4th book in the 150+ Challenge
Also qualifies for: 1st in a series, E-book, Cupcake War, Where are you reading?-Daytona Beach, Florida
Once again, I received this book free of charge from The Experience Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Cameron’s Law
Author: Mia Darien
Series: Adelheid # 1
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy, Vampire
Pub. Year: Dec.26, 2011
Purchase: Smashwords, Amazon
I receive this book free of charge from Smashwords in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb from Smashwords:
Vampires are people, too. Cameron’s Law says so. Vampire and public face Sadie Stanton called Adelheid, CT home and it attracts a lot of attention. It attracts a lot more when vampires start attacking werewolves without provocation. Can Sadie keep the community from descending into chaos and war before it brings all of to harm? And can she do it when she herself gets thrust into the spotlight?
What I will remember: Definitely not a Sookie Stackhouse book
I’m going to label this book as an oddity for now. It reads like a slice of life for Sadie Stanton running a preternatural agency with some paranormal elements thrown in for good measure. The book has vampires and werewolves (and shifters) but they are really reserved and conservative. This could be in part because Darien doesn’t show a more basic animalistic version of any of the characters except three times and they don’t feel right. So much of the action and suspense is happening off the pages and in locations where Sadie is not there that the book feels really tame.
This book is missing a heartbeat. It flows like one straight line with very few interruptions to that line. Sadie Stanton is the protagonist of this book; she is a strong female character because she can kick ass and defend herself….and I have no idea what she looks like except that she is 5’4. Her style of clothing, her hair color, her eyes, body build are completely not mention. Darien knows what her character looks like but I sure don’t. It bothers me that I don’t know but at the same time, it’s not like it stopped me from reading. Her actions scenes (plus the one romantic scene) are tame as well; they don’t spike my heart. I do have to applaud Darien for not having Sadie have sex with Vance in one book. There was something tragically broken about Sadie holding a torch for Cameron, an old flame.
Cameron was an interesting “concept.” I thought it was really tragic and nice that the he had a law named after him. He was the lover of Sadie who was killed during what I would called the civil rights movement for the preternatural. He’s an idea but also a person.
I personally like the secondary characters and minor characters better than the main characters. They had interesting “titles.” There was
an animator Summoner who can summon demons, a lawyer that specializes in demon law, Dakota the bounty hunter, and a few others that I thought were interesting because of their abilities and uniqueness to the story. I especially like the medical examiner, Carl Wright with his lack of humor. I love how the medical examiner always tend to be a quirky character. Even Gabriel, the pack master, was interesting and he wasn’t involved much in the book. Sad thing is that besides Dakota, they only showed up once and are forgotten…mostly.
The ending was unsatisfying in that its too neatly wrapped up. We conveniently find out why vampires are attacking werewolves and it has a scientific explanation which is great but the information is relayed through a third source; not through Sadie or the mad scientist himself. Sadie’s prison breakout is forgotten; Dakota conveniently calls the cops and rescues Madison and Sadie. It’s too neat and easy. Endings for series are meant to be like a horror movie ending. The protagonists think the murderer is dead only to discover his body is missing and we have to see sequel to find out what happens next. Cameron’s Law doesn’t have that feeling. It can stand as a standalone which is a good thing but it is part of a brand new series and I feel there should have been plot bunnies drops in the book in order to build anticipation for the next book.
It’s an oddity for me, this book. I read it through one sitting and never thought “I have to stop reading” so it was entertaining. At the same time, there are things that are heavily lacking such as physical descriptions of the character, more bite to the supernatural creatures, and more intensity. I would prefer a messy ending but that it is just me. I like Cameron’s Law, I do but I’m not sure if it’s memorable enough for me to remember. With that being said, I’m giving this book a 3.5 because it is above a 3 but it doesn’t quite reach a 4. It would have garner a rating of 4 if there was more character description.
1st book in the 150+Challenge
Other challenges it qualifies for: Self-Published, Why Buy The Cow, 1st in A series, E-book, Where are you reading? (Colorado)