Touch the Dark ~ Karen Chance

  • Title: Touch the Dark
  • Author: Karen Chance
  • Series: Cassandra Palmer #1
  • Genre: UF, PNR
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewer: Soo
  • Rating: 3 out of 5

Description: Cassandra Palmer can see the future and communicate with spirits—talents that make her attractive to the dead and the undead. The ghosts of the dead aren’t usually dangerous; they just like to talk…a lot.

The undead are another matter.

Like any sensible girl, Cassie tries to avoid vampires. But when the bloodsucking mafioso she escaped three years ago finds Cassie again with vengeance on his mind, she’s forced to turn to the vampire Senate for protection.

The undead senators won’t help her for nothing, and Cassie finds herself working with one of their most powerful members, a dangerously seductive master vampire—and the price he demands may be more than Cassie is willing to pay….

Review:  Karen Chance creates a world where key figures of history and fanciful lore are alive and well in the present as creatures of folklore. Cassandra Palmer’s idea of normal consists of ugly vampires, magic lessons, irritating ghosts, visions that sear her mind & scar her heart, falling for all the wrong guys, and running in fear for her life. No matter where she goes, someone wants to use her or kill her. Cassie just wants to settle down somewhere, work at a deadbeat job, maybe make a friend or two, maybe date a nice guy, and live as normal a life as possible.

No such luck!

All hands point to danger, impossible choices, power and a path that Cassie fights tooth & nail to walk, let alone run. Everyone thinks they know what’s best for Cassie and try their best to make sure she does what they want. It’s a good thing Cassie’s aced brutal lessons in survival because she’ll need everything she has to keep herself free.

Touch the Dark paints the setting for the series and introduces key characters with enough background to color inside the lines. It’s hard but just grin & bear the fact that almost all key figures in the story are beautiful, raspberry the parts where Cassie is being obstinate, and enjoy the steamy bits. I promise it’s worth being patient.

The Host ~ Stephanie Meyer

  • Title: The Host
  • Author: Stephanie Meyer
  • Series: The Host #1
  • Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
  • Format: Hardback
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewer: Soo
  • Rating: 2 out of 5

Description: Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.

Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves – Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she’s never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring what may be the first love triangle involving only two bodies, The Host is a riveting and unforgettable novel that will bring a vast new readership to one of the most compelling writers of our time

Review: When I read the synopsis for this book, I felt ambivalent about it but I enjoyed the Twilight series, and it’s my habit to stick with authors I like by trying out their other books. Overall, this wasn’t a book for me. The pace was very slow, the main character made no impression on me, and I felt uninvolved with the plot. Like the blurb description, many readers feel that there is a love triangle in the story. I cannot say the same.

I will quote my friend to embellish my reaction to the book:
“It’s called Stargate. Watch it. It’ll be more entertaining.”

The Girl Who Played with Fire ~ Stieg Larsson, Reg Keeland (Translator)

  • Title: The Girl Who Played with Fire
  • Author: Stieg Larsson, Reg Keeland (Translator)
  • Series: Millennium #2
  • Genre: Mystery, Thriller
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewer: Soo
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.

But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.

As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.

*Potential Spoilers*

Review:  Of the three books in this trilogy, I enjoyed this one the most. I feel that the majority of the build up and movement towards the conclusion of the series was wrapped up well in the middle volume. This book was more active and engaging for me. The first book was a long, winded buildup of the characters, backgrounds, a part of the mystery and environments. The last book is mostly a recap of events that leads towards the conclusion. In terms of overall enjoyment, I really enjoyed this book because there is a nice balance of character development and plot movement.

It’s astonishing to me how popular this series is all over the world. The basic premise behind Salander is a horrifying past that has scarred her forever and marks all her actions in the future. There’s a no holds bar vision of what happened to her and her apt yet barbaric revenge. The other half of the series deals with corrupt, international business shenanigans that caused the leads which Blomkvist follow despite the dangers he face. I wouldn’t have thought such a premise would come about with such a large following but it has. If a friend had asked me if I would be interested in reading a story about a rape victim and corporate espionage, I don’t think I would have said yes.

I read the series because of the impact it made on a good friend of mine. While the book is not something I would have picked up on my own, I did enjoy exploring the world and characters that held a steady fan base all over the world. Kudos to Reg Keeland for writing a great translation of an interesting novel.

Are you looking for startling characters that grab your attention? Need a little mystery to sink your teeth into? You’ve come to the right place! Settle in and take a look into the Millennium Series.

The Sandman – The Dream Hunters ~ Neil Gaiman, Yoshitaka Amano

  • Title: The Sandman – The Dream Hunters
  • Author: Neil Gaiman, Yoshitaka Amano (Artist)
  • Series: The Sandman #11
  • Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
  • Format: Hardback
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewer: Soo
  • Rating: 5 out of 5

Description:  Sandman fans should feel lucky that master fantasy writer Neil Gaiman discovered the mythical world of Japanese fables while researching his translation of Hayao Miyazaki’s film Princess Mononoke. At the same time, while preparing for the Sandman 10th anniversary, he met Yoshitaka Amano, his artist for the 11th Sandman book. Amano is the famed designer of the Final Fantasy game series. The product of Gaiman’s immersion in Japanese art, culture, and history, Sandman: Dream Hunters is a classic Japanese tale (adapted from “The Fox, the Monk, and the Mikado of All Night’s Dreaming”) that he has subtly morphed into his Sandman universe.

Like most fables, the story begins with a wager between two jealous animals, a fox and a badger: which of them can drive a young monk from his solitary temple? The winner will make the temple into a new fox or badger home. But as the fox adopts the form of a woman to woo the monk from his hermitage, she falls in love with him. Meanwhile, in far away Kyoto, the wealthy Master of Yin-Yang, the onmyoji, is plagued by his fears and seeks tranquility in his command of sorcery. He learns of the monk and his inner peace; he dispatches demons to plague the monk in his dreams and eventually kill him to bring his peace to the onmyoji. The fox overhears the demons on their way to the monk and begins her struggle to save the man whom at first she so envied.

Review: A beautiful blending of an old Japanese tale retold in the U.S., and beautiful drawings completed by a well-loved Japanese artist. Very well done! I love my book and have gifted several friends with this graphic novel. It is haunting, witty and satisfying.

Alanna – The First Adventure ~ Tamora Pierce

  • Title: Alanna – The First Adventure 
  • Author: Tamora Pierce
  • Series: Song of the Lioness #1
  • Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewer: Soo
  • Rating: 5 out of 5

Description – Alan of Trebond, the best warrior in the palace, is harboring a big secret: he is really a she–Alanna. But when her prince is felled by an illness, Alanna has no choice but to use her healing magic–even if it means ruining her career.

Review – I have several books that I love from my childhood, but this one will always hold a dear place in my heart for being the book that created a bright desire to write.

The story begins with a pair of twins named Alanna and Thom. They’re as different from each other as night and day but that doesn’t stop them from being thick as thieves. Thom’s suppose to go off to the castle and learn how to be a knight. Alanna is suppose to go off and be taught how to be a young lady. Instead, the twins make a pack to take the other’s place and follow their dreams no matter what! There’s just one catch. Alanna becomes Alan, and she must hide her true identity as she tackles numerous challenges to make her dreams come true.

Read the book to find out what happens and, perhaps, you will fall in love with the characters as much as I do.