Sunday, September 27

Review: Madhouse by Rob Thurman

Wooohooo, I finally have this up!! LOL, it took longer than I expected, but that's entirely my fault ^_^; As usual :)

Madhouse is the third book in the Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman. I've really enjoyed this series, and so did Hilcia, my partner in crime... well in this case, my buddy reviewer :) For all those wondering if they should start this series, be aware that it is urban fantasy, so less romance. However, if you want something and enjoy brothers relationship, this is for you :)

***Warning: LOTS of spoilers ahead, read at your own risk!***

Madhouse by Rob Thurman
published by ROC Fantasy in March 2008

My brother has spent a lifetime – mine, at least-telling me that I was normal, that I wasn’t a monster. With his help, I’d finally realized that as long as I could remain who I was, I could survive what I was. It was only bad genes...

Half-human Cal Leandros and his brother, Niko, aren’t exactly prospering with their preternatural detective agency. Who could have guessed that business would dry up in New York City, where vampires, trolls, and other creepy crawlies are all over the place?

But now there’s a new arrival in the Big Apple. A malevolent evil with ancient powers, dead set on making history with an orgy of blood and murder, is picking off humans like sheep. And for Cal and Niko, this is one paycheck they’re going to have to earn... if they live long enough to collect it.

Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Cal Leandros, book #3

The Story: Basically, Cal and cie are hired to stop a serial killer who was dead and came back to life. At the same time, someone is after Robin’s life. Yes, that sums up the story, LOL :) Oh, and Cal has to make some choice in his love life.

Hilcia: Nath, the one thing that jumped out at me right away and must mention is that Cal and Niko have very little communication going on in Madhouse. At least in the first two books they seemed to communicate up to a certain point and then... just left everything else hanging. Just like guys!

Nath: Little communication? Well you’re right. However, I think that when you know each other so well, you don't need to say everything... and yeah, they’re guys! That's what we like about them no? If they said everything, that would no longer be manly :P So kudos to Ms Thurman :D

Hilcia: LOL, yes, the lack of verbal communication between the two is very manly. They do understand each other very well -- I do think that Cal was communicating more with Niko in Nightlife, but as the series has gone along, he seems to keep more from him. More of his real thoughts and feelings... and it comes back to bite him in the ass. I see him doing more and more.

Nath: Personally, I think Cal keeping things to himself is actually a sign of growth, maturity. There are things that he doesn't want to share with Niko and that is understandable. Niko has done so much, sacrificed so much for Cal... and I think that Cal doesn't want to burden Niko any more, especially since Niko now has a special someone in his life.

Hilcia: Yes, I agree that Cal's growing up -- but I also think that Cal thinking he's so much of a monster and Niko always trying to deny it has something to do with it.

Nath: Well Niko’s insistence does not help, but I also think it’s due to the circumstances. With all their fights against the Auphe, they’ve come into contact with them more in a few months than all their lives. Also, Cal is now developing his powers... Hard not to wonder about your nature.

At least, Niko’s denial does not stem from fear, but it is smothering Cal in my opinion... because Cal knows the truth. He might not be a monster, but he’s not human either - he's something in between. He must deal with it and I hope he comes to term with it.

Hilcia: Cal doesn't really share those parts of himself with Niko as much any more, I think that's what I'm noticing here. Cal trying to protect Niko in his own way.

Nik is very much the "mom" in this relationship, lol! He's also pretty black and white in how he sees things sometimes -- you know, a pretty straight arrow. Cal on the other hand is not at all, he can be pretty devious and doesn't mind fighting dirty if he has to... it makes him feel guilty I think, and like he's letting Nik down.

Nath: Nod nod, Hilcia. I think you summed it up well.

So now that we’ve analyzed the brothers, what about the plot? LOL :) It was nice to get a break from the Auphe... but at the same time, I thought Madhouse was the weakest of the series so far.

Hilca: I totally agree! I didn't like that the book ended in a cliffhanger. I didn’t see a need for that little bit at the end after all the action we got in the book with Redcap, I thought the book had enough story lines and action already. So, that was a bit of a waste, at least for this book.

Nath: The cliffhanger didn’t bother me too much since I had Deathwish already. Story-wise though, I thought that Madhouse was disappointing. I simply didn't care for either storylines - Redcap and Robin.

Hilcia: I agree with you, Nath. I thought that the plot in Madhouse was the weakest of the three books so far. The real villain of the piece in this book was Wanakeh, he's was the manipulator behind the scenes -- like Hob was behind the scenes in Moonshine. However, unlike Hob, Wanakeh was such a disappointment as a villain in the end. Plus, he disappears -- no resolution there at all.

The second villain of the piece, Redcap, was pretty darn horrific. He was not an easy one to beat by any means. A villain who kills for the enjoyment and has no real reasons behind it, one you can't manipulate for or cajole out of it. Tough. Plus he was powerful! But what was really the point?

Nath: Well, Wanakeh might be the real villain, but the guys are not even going after him. I guess getting Redcap was more important. To tell you the truth, I can’t even remember how they killed Redcap. I just didn’t care. What did you think of Robin’s story?

Hilcia: I enjoyed Robin's storyline up until the end and thought it was interesting. I've been curious about him and his past, so this was something I wanted to read about. But, the end just didn't live up to expectations - left me flat and disappointed -- at least the reasoning behind it. I thought he had at least razed the tribe through his wrath or something.

Nath: Somehow, I find the story just a tad ridiculous. I mean, what are the chances that they find Robin after all those years? Also, they must be ultra lucky because it was indeed Robin and not another puck they ran into!! The only thing that was interesting about this storyline is 1) Cal’s reaction to Robin’s near death and 2) Ish and Robin.

In the end, the characters dynamic is what kept me hooked to this book.

Hilcia: I love the dynamics that I see going on between Robin and Cal. Their developing relationship is great! I also loved the scene when Cal thought Robin was dead -- actually I loved both their reactions during and after that scene. :)

Also, the relationship between Ish and Robin is getting more interesting, I do hope they are developed and we're not left with a hint of what could be on this -- I would at least like to know what happened between them. :)

Nath: LOL, it was just hilarious :P Cal was so pissed when he realized that Robin wasn’t dead LOL. I think that the two have a great connection and it’s nice to read about their friendship... and it goes both ways, it’s not just Cal.

Robin and Ish are definitively an intriguing couple. I’m so curious about their past, especially after Cal realizes that Niko reminds Robin of Ish :) I want more information about Ish and hope he won’t stay a peripheral character.

Hilcia: You know, Nath, I actually think that Thurman has given Robin a bit more character development within the first 3 books than she has Niko. Robin has grown whereas Niko's character has not. His has been a static kind of presence, especially in this book. Yes, his and Cal's relationship is a great brotherly one that has been maintained throughout the series, but I see Cal and Robin growing as characters (and even Promise), but not Niko. It's a good thing the next book is through his POV, otherwise, I think I would have lost some interest in him. :(

Nath: I think that Ms Thurman chose the smart way to develop her characters. She focuses on one or two at a time, giving them more focus instead of doing them all at the same time. She definitively develops Niko more in Deathwish and Robin actually takes the backseat in that one. She mixes it up well and it keeps the series fresh in my opinion.

What do you think of Cal’s choice in his love life?

Hilcia: I don't know what to think about that yet. Interesting that Cal said that he really cares for Georges "but he doesn't like her sometimes." I thought that was an interesting line, didn't you?

Nath: It’s definitively telling. I feel like Cal and Georges’ love is like the one of a bad boy for a rich, unattainable girl. The girl wants the boy to give everything up to be with her, but the problem is that deep down she doesn’t understand him and the boy, he cannot shake his roots – not because they are bad, but because that’s what makes him, that’s who he is.

Hilcia: That’s a great take on those two, nath. I think Georgina might be a bit too perfect and self-righteous for our Cal -- at least at this point. Maybe she'll come down from her pedestal later. In Madhouse, she definitely got on my nerves. Not because of Cal, I don't blame her there. I understood why she didn't help Niko and Cal in Nighlife because her uncle was involved, but come on already! Cal and Niko risked their LIVES for her in Moonshine! They risked everything to save her... and she still won't help them? I mean, she's this great great oracle and she won't lift a finger to help those two souls... especially Cal, who she supposedly loves? She's on my nerves.

Nath: Wait, why would Cal be the one to blame here? I mean, she’s the one who keeps asking him to give a chance in this relationship, but she won’t do the one thing that he asks. So she doesn’t want to look into the future to see how their relationship will turn out, fine. However, she could at least do something to reassure him... Buff up, take classes with Niko, pick up shooting – anything!

I’m glad that Cal decided to move on. He took an important and painful decision and it shows his growth. Okay, so perhaps the basis of his decision was wrong – being horny LOL :P But if their relationship can never work out, then he must gives himself an opportunity to find happiness.

Hilcia: Oh no! I don’t think that Cal is to blame, -- he made a decision for himself and that’s fine -- but I also understand why she’s upset about him sleeping with somebody else when she still had hopes for them. My issue with Georgie is that if these people "really" matter to her, then why won't she help? There's more than a hint of self-righteousness to her that should not come into play and doesn't make sense when the people you "supposedly" love are in danger.

Nath: Well apparently, with Georgie, it doesn’t work that way. I’m glad that Cal was man enough to go and face Georgie, try to do things right. When it comes to his feelings, Cal is very honest in my opinion.

What did you think of Delilah? I like her :)

Hilcia: Delilah? I have more questions than answers about her at this point. I don't buy that she likes Cal for some reason. What's the deal with her?

Nath: Hmmmm, I'm not sure if she has a hidden agenda when it comes to Cal. It’d be interesting to get her POV. However, I do think it’s possible that she’d be interested/attracted in Cal. After all, he’s more powerful than he looks like and they make an interesting couple...but I'm not sure it'd be a lasting one. However, they are cute together and somehow, they do fit well. Most important though, she's different from George and that's what Cal needs.

By the way, the scenes where Robin introduced ladies to Cal? Hilarious in a LMAO way !!

Hilcia: Those scenes were hysterical, Nath! LOL!

Cal's character is getting better and better, I think! In Moonshine, he was still trying to come to terms with some of his Auphness, lol! -- he fought for Niko and Georgie and finally figured out that being half Auphe can give him an edge. In Madhouse, we see Cal developing and trying to control that part of himself. Some growth, finally! Also, as a man Cal finally made some pretty important decisions -- the right ones for him, I think.

Nath: I agree with you. I like the fact that Cal is exploring his power and realizing what an asset they are.

You know, one thing that still annoys me in this book? The Kin still remains very vague, still no answer.

Hilcia: Perhaps we’re not meant to find out about the Kin, or it’s not really important at this point.

You know, I really liked Moonshine. I loved the characters we met there, the twists and turns in the plot and the ending were just right for that book. In Madhouse, it felt as if our guys were going around the City willy nilly without direction, and there were no real twists or turns to the plot. The gore just seemed to pile and pile -- it was almost like reading a horror book at times. To be truthful, sometimes I thought it was too much. I don't know how Cal and Niko slept after seeing all the gore they saw in those tunnels.

The characters stayed interesting and the new characters were a good addition. The ending, I thought was definite sequel bait and although I know it will be addressed on the next book, I thought for this book, Madhouse, it was not a necessary or useful device. Actually, I don't think the series needs sequel baiting, it's good enough without it. :)

Nath: I think you summed it up well, Hilcia. Simply put, the plot was weak... it was just an excuse for some action and acted as a filler while Ms Thurman was putting new characters and situations in place for her next idea.

Since the story was weak, I’m giving Madhouse B-. The writing was still good, the characters interesting. I still loved the humor and the brothers relationship. It was just the story... :(

Hilcia: You know Nath I love the characterization in this series and that’s what kept my interest throughout this particular book and I’ll be continuing with the series. However, the different plot lines were a disappointment all around and I thought the cliff hanger was definitely not necessary here. For me this was C+ read.

Monday, September 21

Review: Moonshine by Rob Thurman

In the past few weeks, I posted two reviews of books from the Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman. Specifically, book #1 and #4 (Nightlife and Deathwish). The discussion for book #2 and #3 was already done, but I needed to put the reviews together... which can always take a lot of time ^_^; Finally, I got around to do it :D

Initially, I was going to post the review of Moonshine and Madhouse into one post, but I realized that it would be an extremely long post ^_^; So I've broken it down into two regular reviews. Stay tuned for Madhouse later this week! In the meantime, a hand of applause for Hilcia from Impressions... and Musings of a Bibliophile who read and reviewed this book with me! Woohoo!

Enjoy :)

***Warning: LOTS of spoilers ahead, read at your own risk!***

Moonshine by Rob Thurman
published by ROC Fantasy in March 2007

I was born a monster. Although truthfully, I was only half monster. My mother was human; my father was something... else. Half monster or whole, in the end it didn’t matter. I had my weaknesses, same as anyone else.

And I was facing one of them now.

After saving the world from his fiendish father’s side of the family, Cal Leandros and his stalwart half brother, Niko, have settled down with a new apartment and a new gig – bodyguard and detective work. And in New York City, where preternatural beings talk the streets just like normal folk, business is good.

Their latest case has them going undercover for the Kin, the werewolf Mafia. A low-level Kin boss thinks a rival is setting him for a fall, and wants proof. The place to start is the back room of Moonshine, a gambling club for nonhumans. Cal thinks it’s a simple in-and-out job. But Cal is very, very wrong.

Cal and Niko are being set up themselves - and the people behind it have bites much worse than their barks...

Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Cal Leandros, book #2

The Story: Moonshine picks up right where Nightlife ends. Cal is still recuperating from his encounter with the Auphe and Darkling. After defeating the Auphe, the brothers feel free to stick around New York City and with Promise's help Niko and Cal decide to hire themselves out as detectives or bodyguards. But when their first paid gig comes along, it's a dangerous one.

Cal, Nik and Promise are hired by Cerberus, a low-level Kin boss from the werewolf Mafia, to find out if he is being set up by an opponent. Caleb, his accountant and go-between does the actual hiring and the boys are on their way. Things are not what they seem, and Nik and Cal find themselves set up by Caleb. In the meantime, Georgina is kidnapped and Cal's inner monster comes alive and he finds out more about his Auphe-self than he wants to know.

The reason behind the set up is clear once Georgina is kidnapped -- they are now being blackmailed into performing a theft for Caleb if they want Georgina returned alive -- things are getting complicated. Robin joins the brothers and Promise and through a series of twists and turns our friends find themselves going undercover, fighting werewolves, traveling from New York to Florida and meeting everything from Gypsies to ruthless werewolves. They'll do anything to save George, don't have much time and a more than a few surprises awaiting them at every turn.

Nath: What did you think of Moonshine, Hilcia? Did you enjoy it?

Hilcia: I really liked Moonshine. In a lot of ways I thought it was better than Nightlife. What I liked about Moonshine were all the twists and turns in the plot before the end. Plus, we got to know a lot more about Cal and Niko, the characters didn't stay stagnant, they grew. I also love that Cal is learning how to use some of his Auphe powers.

Nath: I agree with you. The plot was very great. There were lots of twists and surprises – not just at the end, but throughout the story, that made it interesting and unpredictable. One of the surprises for me was the revelation at the end about the power of the crown Cal and cie were supposed to find. It changed the whole story, the perspective. Poor Cal who felt so guilty and responsible for Georgina’s kidnapping and turns out there's a really high possibility that it was the opposite... that Cal was dragged in this fiasco because of Georgina’s power. I find it very clever how Ms Thurman wove the plot.

It was also very interesting to meet another puck :) Although I would have liked to get more information on him. I wonder if the Hob was related to Robin. Hmmm.

Hilcia: Yes, those twists had my head going around and around by the end, lol! Although I must tell you, through the whole book I kept wanting to know more about that puck and wondering when he was going to make another appearance. There were so many villains in this piece, I couldn't figure out where he fit in :)

Also, I remember Niko saying something sarcastic to Hob about "someone who mates with itself" or something like that, and Hob replying "nobody else is good enough" -- so I think that pucks have "kids" with themselves, lol! Probably just one too... remember Robin said he has no brothers. I can't wait to hear that part of the world building.

Nath: Riiight. Apparently, it seems like their reproduction could be a mitotic system @_@ LOL and I bet it’s a one-time shot involving dire circumstances... Otherwise, with their longevity, there’d be a lot more of them, no? Hmmm, if they can only have one kid, then the Hob and Robin cannot be related... Sigh, I would like to see Robin interact with other puck... or see another friendly puck.

As for the Hob, personally, I didn’t think he had such an important part in the story – so I was completely fooled.

Hilcia: By what Robin says, pucks are not so nice to know -- Robin seems to be an exception -- but I think at some point we'll meet more, at least I hope we do. It would be great to know more about them.

Nath: I do hope so! Although it’s hard to imagine a puck that is not sexually active LOL :)

Back to the plot…Although I found it clever and interesting, there were a few weaknesses. One bit I thought was perhaps unnecessary was Cal’s undercover job. It really didn’t last very long...

Hilcia: LOL on Cal going undercover -- their plans don't always seem to work too well, do they? Something or someone always seems to be scheming against them or they give themselves away.

Nath: Indeed... but then, most of their planning is all about “flying by the seat of their pants” LOL.

Another weak point of this book for me was the Kin – the werewolves mafia. There was very little information about it and I wondered how it worked... Is it only restricted to New York? I thought Ms Thurman could have expand a little bit.

Hilcia: The whole Kin situation kind of stayed in the air in Moonshine. We didn't get to know nearly as much about them as I thought we would. That part of the book was lacking in scope. They are supposed to be powerful, yet we only got to see Cerberus and his bunch. What happened to the other powerful Kin? Why didn't they make an appearance when all this was happening? They DID kill another Alpha, remember? Like you, I would also like to see and know more about the wolves.

Nath: Definitively more questions than answers. I wonder if it’s because even Ms Thurman is not sure about it, LOL. Maybe she hasn’t decided yet... Also, once again, didn’t the opposition seem a little weak? I mean, after all, Cal, Niko and Flay took down Cerberus – that was quite unexpected to me!

Anyway, it wasn’t just the plot that was great. The characters were too :D To me, the nice thing about second book is that most of the world building is already set and characters have been introduced which allows authors more time to develop the characters and explore the relationships. Niko and Cal were great in this book, but I have to admit: I love Robin! Together with Cal, they are simply hilarious!!

Hilcia: I loved Cal and Robin together, they are soooo funny, they made me laugh. But their relationship is developing beautifully too. In Moonshine, Cal tells Robin things he won't tell Niko.

Nath: It seems to me Robin is Cal’s real first friend. Rafferty and Catch could have been Cal’s friends, but they never had the opportunity to get close because of their personal story. Now that the Auphe threat is gone, Cal and Niko allow their circle to widen. That’s why I think that Cal can finally unload to someone. Seriously, their dynamic is just great. They annoy the crap out of each other, but at the same time... there’s love! LOL.

What did you think of Flay, Hils? I really liked him and couldn’t help but feel soooo bad for him :( It’s the way that people treated him, looking down at him so much. I understand there was no real friendship between him and the brothers, but thought the brothers were really harsh on him. So he wasn’t acting selflessly and wasn’t someone that the brothers felt could trust... but neither were they. In the end, Flay did his best to help them.

It was so sad when he came to Cal and Niko after killing Cerberus because he didn't have anywhere to go T_T I'm glad he stole the RV from Robin! LOL, that was actually quiet funny!!... and his son, awwww.

Hilcia: I did like Flay and I actually felt sorry for him. He was actually a pretty cunning and smart wolf after all. I agree with you about Flay -- Cal was waaaayyy to harsh on him. He was out of control by that time worrying about George, and Niko was harsh too. But looking at it from their POV, they had been betrayed already by different people and at that point didn't trust anyone, especially not Flay. I think they made up for it later. And YES, I was glad he took the RV for himself and his little cub, that was soooo cute. :)

Nath: I actually think that Cal and Niko don’t trust people due to the circumstances in their lives, not because they’ve been betrayed by many. That, I understand and I get that they've built walls around themselves. I also understand that they had no reasons to trust Flay and yes, Flay played both sides but he didn't have much choice :( Overall, I just liked Flay a lot and didn't like how he was treated. I think that too many underestimated him. He was way smarter than people gave him credit. Wonder if we're going to see him again.

Hilcia: I hope we see Flay again too! He became a "friend" in the end... kind of, didn't he? I agree with you about their live circumstances, Nath. I was referring to the betrayals they experienced earlier in Nightlife by Samuel and in this story by Caleb, their original client who basically set them up. With George kidnapped, the Auphe making an appearance out of the blue and their uncertainty as to what was really happening, I could see up to a certain point why they overreacted to Flay's appearance. At that point they didn't know who they could trust and he was their only source of information.

Other characters that I want to see more in the future are Promise and George. I really liked Promise in Moonshine! She was great with both Niko and Cal and she's a tough vamp too! I was surprised at Promise's change -- her physical appearance alone was surprising, don't you think? She even changed her hair and her wardrobe! I mean... in Nightlife she was all ladylike but by Moonshine she was wearing leather and had streaks in her hair. A drastic change don't you think?

Nath: Yes, but a good change. You know, I actually had my doubts after reading Nightlife because I was wondering how Promise would fit in with the boys. I was glad we got to see a different side of her... but then, I guess vampires have to be able to adapt right? Promise is definitively an interesting character and I like her a lot better in Moonshine. She definitively lost that fragile look and that makes her a better match for Niko.

Hilcia: What about George? She seems to represent purity to Cal. The beauty and purity he doesn't think he has or deserves in his life. She sees him differently, though -- doesn't think he's the monster but the man. I really wanted to hear what she had to say to him in the end, but he played the coward again, lol!

Nath: Nod nod, it makes a lot of sense. I have to say, I don’t like George much, but then, her character hasn’t been developed very much. What annoys me is that everyone seems to think that she’s such a fragile flower... but she’s stronger than she looks. She has to be since she’s such a strong psychic.

Hilcia: I actually liked George in Moonshine. She was good to Cal and he finally showed and verbalized some of the feelings that would later move him toward making a decision. I thought it was important for him to do that.

Nath: True.

I’m just so glad I discovered this series. Great plot and characters and I’ve really enjoyed the book. Moonshine is a B+ for me. What about you, Hils?

Hilcia: Well Nath, I also enjoyed Moonshine quite a lot, it made me want to continue with this series. You know I gave Nightlife a B+, and even though I think this book is better than Nightlife in some ways, I still think the dialogue is sparse and it slowed down the pacing making it a slow read --I found that interesting with all that action going on. However, the story was great, the characters continued to grow and I really enjoyed their world, so Moonshine gets a B+ from me.

Tuesday, September 15

What happens in London

For this review I asked Rowena to read with me. She started reading it a few days before me because I was reading another book at the same time. (Storm Born) I SO wish I had put down Storm Born and went right to the historical.

What Happens in London by Julia Quinn

When Olivia Bevelstoke is told that her new neighbor may have killed his fiancée, she doesn't believe it for a second, but still, how can she help spying on him, just to be sure? So she stakes out a spot near her bedroom window, cleverly concealed by curtains, watches, and waits... and discovers a most intriguing man, who is definitely up to something.

Sir Harry Valentine works for the boring branch of the War Office, translating documents vital to national security. He's not a spy, but he's had all the training, and when a gorgeous blonde begins to watch him from her window, he is instantly suspicious. But just when he decides that she's nothing more than a nosy debutante, he discovers that she might be engaged to a foreign prince, who might be plotting against England. And when Harry is roped into spying on Olivia, he discovers that he might be falling for her himself...

Just wanted to let you know that I finished WHAT HAPPENS IN LONDON by JQ and am ready whenever you are to review it! =)

Chantal: Wooohooo, I'm not done yet, but so far I like it :)

No worries, I read it over the weekend (well Friday night), it had me laughing throughout the entire book.

I'm glad you said that. I've been giggling, too. Happy to hear that it stays funny.

It does and I hear that JQ is writing Sebastian’s book next, woot!

Chantal: Do you know if she started Sebastian's book yet or is she still in the planning stages? I'm very excited to read it.

Sebastian’s book is coming out soon, I’m not sure if she started it but it’s on the horizon so….WOOT!

(Two days later)

I'm done! Wow, I loved it. Did you??
It was so funny, I giggled out loud several times.

I loved it too! It took me no time at all to read it and it’s been a week since I’ve read it and still I’m cheesing over it. I already know what grade I’m giving it.

Chantal: I have a theory about that book in the story. I think that Sebastian is the author!! That's why he was so good at reading it.
When Olivia returned to her drawing room to see Seb standing on the table acting out the book--omg, I laughed so hard.

You think so? LOL LOL LOL. That totally makes sense. I laughed so much throughout the entire book from Harry’s hat to the reading in Olivia’s sitting room. From Harry and Prince Alexei’s bickering to Olivia and Harry talking through their windows and then every scene that Sebastian was in. I loved it. I loved it all.

The hat! LOL! He wore the silly hat to annoy her and amuse himself. Hehe.

Doesn't it make sense that Seb is the author? He was put off to find out that not everyone loved it, he was way, way into reading it to everyone. Plus he and author both have the same first letters in their first and last names. Hmmm...

Oh my gosh, I didn’t even pick up on that but you’re right. It’s totally Sebastian. I mean, he knew everything about the book, about the other books and he seemed to get miffed when everyone was talking trash about it. I cannot wait for Sebastian’s story.

I've said it before, but I have to say it again--this book was so funny and oh so romantic. I thought it was perfect that he proposed from the window. That's how they fell in love, it was fitting.

I know! It was pretty cheesy but I didn’t mind it. I thought this entire story was such a fun, warm and charming story. The characters were lively and the dialogue was fantastic. So much to love about this book.

Chantal: It was amazing. This is the Julia Quinn that I fell in love with!

I totally agree. This is the Julia Quinn that I remember and the Julia Quinn that I love. I was totally engaged in this story. All of the characters were so much fun to get to know that it made reading this book zip right by. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted the laughs to continue and I even wanted to see more of Prince Alexei even though the little scheme at the end of the book was kind of lame. I still enjoyed the heck out of this book.

Chantal: Prince Alexei! I liked him, too. Um, as much as you can like someone who says he wants to rape someone. Ick. I was thrilled when we found out what they were saying. We knew it was bad because Harry wanted to punch him in the face, but there was a bit of suspense with us waiting to find out exactly what was being said.

Rowena: So how much did you love the interactions between just about everyone in this book? From Olivia and her twin brother Winston to Harry and Sebastian and finally Harry and Olivia? How cute were all of them? I can’t tell you enough how much I loved this book.

Oh, the interactions were perfect. Charming, witty, entertaining, and engaging. Every piece of dialogue, from the first page to the very last, had me riveted.

What did you think of Harry's childhood? I liked how the author showed us how he grew up, how things were with his father and the respect he had for his mean grandmother. Even though she came off as a crabby old witch, I liked her.

I liked reading about Harry’s past and I was really glad that Harry didn’t grow up to be his father. I’d also be very interested to read Harry’s brother’s book but first, it has to Sebastian. I LOVE Sebastian. I really like the warmth between the two cousins. I loved the sparring of words and the genuine affection they held for each other. They really had each other’s back and I loved that! I’m telling you, Harry was the sexiest kind of nerd there is. I just ate him up. I liked Harry’s grandmother too…a lot more than I liked his mother. I loved listening to Harry find out about how their grandmother died at the table from his sister. The way that she described the Mom, it was sad but it also made me laugh.

I can’t say enough good things about this book because it was fanfrickin’tastic!

Same here! There isn't a negative things to be said about this book.

I never thought of Harry as a nerd. Sure, he was smart, but a nerd wasn't at all on my radar.

It goes without saying that this book is an
A+ for me. There is much hope for Sebastion's book. I hope it's as great as this one was.

Rowena: Would you want Sebastian to end up with someone we met in this book or a totally new heroine? Oh and did you read the first book, the Miranda Cheever book? You know who else I’d like to see again? Winston!

I give this book a total A+ my dang self. I want another book just like this one to read right now. I could use the laughs, I’ve had a hellish week!

Chantal: Yep, I read the first book. I liked getting the little updates about Miranda in this book.

I'd like to see Seb with a totally new heroine.

Rowena: You know I trust JQ enough to enjoy whatever she decides for Sebastian. I’m not picky at all.

Monday, September 14

Vampire Diaries Vol 2: The Fury & Dark Reunion

Monroe and I, in preparation of the TV show, have continued on reading more Vampire Diaries. Here is our discussion of Volume 2, which features book 3, The Fury, and book 4, Dark Reunion.

Note - there are spoilers for books in Vol.1 and Vol.2.
Elena: transformed, the golden girl has become what she once feared and desired.

Stefan: tormented by losing Elena, he's determined to end his feud with Damon once and for all—whatever the cost. But slowly he begins to realize that his brother is not his only enemy.

Damon: at last, he possesses Elena. But will his thirst for revenge against Stefan poison his triumph? Or can they come together to face one final battle?

ames: So Monroe, what did you think of Vampire Diaries Vol. 2? Myself, I really enjoyed book 3, The Fury, but did not enjoy book 4, Dark Reunion, as much. You?

Monroe: Umm...well I did enjoy both books pretty well. I have to agree and say I think I liked the third book better and it got pretty exciting there towards the end! I think I missed Elena in the 4th book BUT I really started to get attached to Bonnie. You really got to see Bonnie embrace her abilities to the max!

And how weird that her and Damon got close. That almost proves right there that Damon just wanted Elena because Stefan did.

ames: Ok book 3 - Lots of drama. Elena has been turned into a vampire and at first she doesn't remember who Stefan is and thinks she lovesDamon. But as time passes, she remembers who she was and that she loves Stefan. However, it quickly comes to light that Damon isn't the one that drove her car off the bridge, resulting in her death (at the end of book 2). There is some other force at work in Fell's Church and so Elena gets her group of friends (no one else can know she's undead) and Stefan and Damon to work together. Elena at this point in the series feels more for Stefan and Damon is...I don't want to say jealous, but he acts like he's hurt when Elena always picks Stefan over him.

In the 4th book, Elena is truly dead and working from beyond the grave to keep her friends and loved ones safe - because yet again, there's another even more evil power in Fell's Church (Elena dies in book 3 killing her killer). And here the truth of the matter is revealed - Stefan is completely alone in the world and bereft and heartbroken. Damon...not so much. He goes back to killing and drinking and he just doesn't seem to miss Elena as much - which proves to me that yeah, he didn't really care for Elena.

However - my problem with book 4 is the fact that yes Elena is dead - her body is buried in the ground and has been rotting for 6 months. and then BAM, at the end of the book she's magically alive. It feels like a total cop out.

But it did make me sad when Elena disappeared and Stefan screams her name. Awww.

Monroe: Ya...well I think Damon cares for her just not in a deep way. We see he somewhat cared for her when she came back in the 4th book and he laid his jacket over her because it was cold out.

And well you know me...I totally lived up to my Mary Sunshine attitude and was just happy she was back! Lol Was it a cop out...probably BUT I was just happy to see the gang back together. :o) And it did break my little heart hearing Stefan scream her name! :*(

So what did you think about Bonnie and Matt getting close?

ames: I thought it was very cute that Bonnie and Matt appear to be getting closer. Matt was really devastated by Elena breaking up with him, I mean he would still do anything for her kind of thing.

My problem with the 4th book wasn't with Bonnie. I think she's a cute character.

Meredith though - Meredith has secrets and she keeps things from other people. I can't see good things coming from Meredith further on in the series.

Are you going to continue on with this series?

Monroe: Ya Meredith does seem fishy and idk if I completely trust her.

Well I don't totally ADORE this series...I like it...enough to read the next book yes. Will I break my leg to get to the book store or sell my soul for the next Ill wait to see if my used book store has it. What about you? You gonna continue or will I have to MAKE YOU? Lol ;op

AND I still am watching the show! :o)

ames: I don't think I'll continue on with the rest of the series. And yes, I'll keep watching the shows.

Ok, so my grades are - for the third book - B- and for the 4th book a C+.

Monroe: Alright I have to agree with ya...B- and a C+...I still say the 2nd story is the best outta all of them! :o)

Thursday, September 10

Review: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

LOL, we're on fire this week :D Yes, four posts!! I guess we're making up for last week ^_^;

One of the new releases I was impatiently waiting for this summer was Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs. I enjoyed Ms Briggs writing and love the Alpha & Omega series! Of course, I'm not the only one :) It was actually Renee from Renee's Book Addiction who first contacted me for a buddy review for her blog... and she has kindly let me cross-post the review here.

*** Spoilers ahead!! You have been warned!!***

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
published by ROC Fantasy in August 2009

Anne Latham didn't know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son--and enforcer--of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn't know how dangerous it could be either...

Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran's controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan--and it seems like someone else might be, too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all--or risk losing everything...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Alpha & Omega, book #3

Nath: I really enjoy Hunting Ground. I love Anna and Charles together. I think they are a very interesting couple and I like how different their dynamics are from Adam-Mercy-Samuel.

Renee: I enjoyed it too, though it definitely was, imo, quite different from Alpha & Omega, especially with regards to Anna and Charles’ relationship. They have definitely moved to the next step, and I loved seeing how they both are now opening up to each other.

Nath: Just to be sure, what do you mean by "quite different from Alpha & Omega"? Are you talking about the atmosphere of the book, the characters, the relationship or everything? Personally, I don't think it's very different... simply, the relationship is progressing and it is reflected in the characters. I find it ironic a little how Anna is growing more confident, but Charles, more confused LOL.

Renee: What I mean is that a lot of the doubt about their relationship is gone. Especially on Anna’s part. There is much less of a, “What am I doing with this guy?” vibe to the story. She’s accepted that they are mates, and is now focusing on making their relationship work.

Nath: I like the timeline that Ms Briggs has chosen. Hunting Ground picks up only a few weeks after Cry Wolf and so readers get to witness every progress in Anna and Charles' relationship. They've moved to the next step, but there are still some hesitations. However, what I like about Anna and Charles is that they work it out, talk it out and are determined to make it. The relationship feels very real in my opinion. It's not just that they're opening up to each other, but there's also a deep sense of acceptance between them that's very endearing.

Renee: I was really struck with how Charles, especially is for the first time in his very long life opening himself up to another person and making himself vulnerable. So much of his life is spent maintaining a wall between himself and others so that his job as Bran’s executioner is never compromised.

Nath: In my opinion, this mating is a bigger step for Charles than it is for Anna. I don't think Charles expected to find a mate ever and then, opening himself and making himself vulnerable... It's hard for him. As for Anna, her problems stem more from the fact that she was changed during an attack and then brutalized. She needs to learn how to trust again... but before her change though, I don't see any reasons why she'd be afraid to get into a relationship. I wonder what would have happened if Anna was still human...

I find it surprising though that Charles had never had anyone during this 200 years... Perhaps his family was enough for him... Although he has walls up, I think it's great to see that there are other people who cares for Charles asides from Anna and Bran. I like Angus testing Anna and being concerned about his choice of mate. It seems to me that although Charles has tried very hard to maintain his distances, he wasn't completely successful :P By the way, Renee, did you ever wonder why Charles was the executioner and not Samuel? I mean, Samuel has been alive so much longer and by Bran's side when he started his campaign to become the Marrock no?

Renee: Very good point, Nath. Really, I think that Samuel, being a healer, doesn’t have the ability to put his emotions in a box the way that Charles has been able to do. They really are very different. Even the issue with having family and a significant other. Samuel has had more than one wife and tried so many time over the years to have a family. I think his need for connection with others would make it impossible to take on the enforcer/executioner role. Charles is much more stoic, and seems to just do what needs to be done, in a way that Samuel doesn’t. Even with regards to Mercy, Sam defied Bran on more than one occasion. I just can’t imagine Charles doing that.

Anna, also grows in this book. She is really discovering her own power as wolf and as Omega. My only regret with Hunting Ground is that more time wasn’t spent with just Anna and Charles. But, maybe that’s just the romance reader in me. ;-)

Nath: I love Anna. She has this vulnerable side that makes her stand out. At the same time, she's growing more confident and assured. I think that we're seeing glimpse of who Anna was or would be if she hadn't been brutalized. I love her protective side for Charles, very endearing.

Renee: Yes! I loved that whole “Mine!” scene with Dana.

Nath: Definitively. So far, she's shown herself to be worthy of Charles, that's for sure. As for the amount of romance, I actually think it was good given this was an urban fantasy novel. But then, that's probably because my curiosity is being fed :) Of course, I wouldn't complain if there's been more.

I'm still not totally satisfied about what an Omega is LOL :) I guess I'm a bit like Anna and Ric... Speaking of Ric, he was funny. LOL, "You make us happy" and "You bring us joy" LMAO!!!

Renee: Yes, I’m really looking forward to this series exploring more about the role of the Omega wolf. I also liked that Anna could play a mentor role. It seems like she is always the one with the least amount of knowledge and information, so it was a nice switch.

Nath: What did you think of the plot? I like the political games in this one as well, seeing the werewolves from so different factions was interesting. It was fun to see the power play and all the "conniving" and plotting. I especially liked that it took place in Seattle, so we got to see Tom and Moira, two characters that Ms Briggs introduced in her novella Seeing Eye.

My only complaint though is that I think the relationship and Arthur plot weren't weaved well together... It really took a while before the "action" started and you could feel the separation between the two storylines. Also, I think that Arthur's motive as well as Dana's were kind of weak ^_^; But then again, no doubt that longevity and sanity don't go well together, LOL :)

Renee: The suspense plot was really good, and I loved the inclusion of someone from Charles’ past. I bought Dana’s motive more than Arthur’s, but maybe that’s just because fae are so capricious, that they don’t seem to need much to act violently or vindictively.

Nath: LOL, somehow, it seems that Charles got around no? Isabella in Alpha & Omega and now, Dana :)

I thought that overall, the plot was quite clever. I didn't see it coming... but then again, I didn't get the villains motives LOL. Hmmm, what can I say about Dana? I dislike fae... I don't get them and I think their capricious side is a reason. Also, I'm very unfamiliar with the King Arthur story... so that did not help.

Renee: Yes, there’s definitely something to be said about the detrimental effects of immortality on one’s sanity! :-P

I was a little disappointed to see so little of Bran. I’ve been hoping for more development on him, but since most of the book took place in Seattle, and he wasn’t there, it didn’t really happen. Hopefully, in the next book!

Nath: I definitively want to see more of Bran. He is such a mysterious character!! Perhaps soon. I hope we get to see the werewolves from Seattle again soon. I was actually surprised at Angus. He was nothing like I imagined from Seeing Eye.

Renee: I still haven’t read that story! I really have to get through it, since it seems that Moira and Tom have a really interesting back story. Which anthology was it in? I like the idea of getting more info on the witches. They still seem pretty mysterious to me in this world.

Nath: The anthology is called Strange Brew and came out earlier this summer. I'm not sure how much I like the witches in this series, but I definitively liked Moira... and what she did to get more power took guts.

You know, there's two things that are bothering me. First, the way Charles is written about - he's very capable and strong... but somehow, in both Cry Wolf and Hunting Ground, he was "defeated" easily in my opinion and Anna had to save the day. Although it's well explained and make sense in the plot, it annoys me. Having the heroine saving the capable and accomplished hero is okay, once or twice... but Ms Briggs does it also in the Mercy Thompson... I feel like she's "dumbing" down the heroes to make her heroines look better :(

Renee: Hmm... I’m not sure about thinking Charles was “defeated.” Dana definitely tricked him.

Ok, so I had to really think about this for a bit. I see what you mean, but I think the dynamic of Charles and Anna’s relationship is based on his rescuing her in Chicago. In some ways, Anna being able to save him here feels more like evening things out as well as more of her finding her strength (away from Charles) and abilities.

Also, I love that often Patricia Briggs brings resolutions to her stories that are based on “thinking” solutions rather than using brute strength or firepower. It’s also something that happens with Mercys’ stories, too.

Nath: I get what you're saying and I'm all for the heroine rescuing the hero... but when it happens in all the books by an author, it becomes annoying.

Second, I don't get why the werewolves mate. I mean, no love is required between them - look at Bran and Leah. I'd understand it if the mating was forever or necessary to breed, but it's not. It's like marriage kind of... in which case, why make a big deal out of it? I'm just wondering...

Renee: Yeah, it’s still a bit of a mystery to me, even after so many books in the two series. Again, I think that a nice in-depth look at Bran and his situation with Leah would be in order! ;-)

OK, so the hard part for me will be waiting till August 2010 for the 4th Alpha & Omega book.

Nath: Me too. I'm definitively looking forward to the next book.

What grade are you giving Hunting Ground? Solid A- for me. I love Anna and Charles and enjoyed most of the plot. However, I did have a few complaints about it and so I can't give it an A :( I hope those will be taken care of in the next book :)

Renee: I think I’m with you with an A-. I wasn’t totally blown away by the book, but it was a really strong addition to the series as well as the Mercy Thompson/Alpha & Omega world. I think there was a lot added to the big picture we have of the werewolves, and the relationship of Anna and Charles in particular.

Wednesday, September 9

Review: Deathwish by Rob Thurman

Last month, I glommed on Ms Thurman's Cal Leandros series and I blame it all on Leslie!! She got me hooked on the series, LOL. I reviewed the first book, Nightlife, with Hilcia and we're actually working on book two and three. Then, I noticed that Leslie still hadn't review Deathwish for her blog and I jumped at the opportunity to having a buddy review with the person who made me read this series... After all, it's the least she could do for having me hooked, right? :P

Kidding aside, thanks Leslie for introducing me to this wonderful series and also for your patience.

For those who are curious, yes, a review for Moonshine and Madhouse will be up eventually. It's just that this review is ready, so I want to put it up :)

***LOTS of spoilers!! You have been warned!!***

Deathwish by Rob Thurman
published by ROC Fantasy in March 2009

How I felt the mental stirrings of a bloodthirsty heritage when I passed through the gray light wasn’t my favorite topic… The Auphe nature wasn’t mine. I wouldn’t let it be. And if I said that to myself over and over and sprinkled around enough frigging fairy dust, maybe it would be true.

Half-human Cal Leandros and his brother, Niko, are barely getting by with their preternatural detective agency when the vampire Seamus hires them. He’s being followed, and he wants to know by whom. But the Leandros brothers have to do more than they had planned when Seamus turns up dead (or un-undead).

Worse still is the return of Cal’s nightmarish family, the Auphe. The last time Cal and Niko faced them, the Auphe were almost wiped out. Now they want revenge. Cal knows that before the Auphe get to him, they will try to destroy everything and everyone he holds dear. Because for the Auphe, Cal’s pain is a pleasure.

And they’re feeling good.

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Cal Leandros series, book #4

The Story: The story is pretty much as described in the blurb. Deathwish picks up right where Madhouse left with Cal facing the Auphe. Cal and Niko quickly realize that the Auphe are toying with them. They don’t just want revenge from Cal for his betrayal… they need him because he is the last male Auphe… and to make him comply, they’ll kill and torture everyone whom Cal cares for – Niko, Promise, Robin, Georgina... Figuring safety is in number, Cal and company await the battle together, but at the same time, life still must go on and therefore accept a case referred by Promise. Of course, everything gets more complicated when Promise’s daughter, Cherish, shows up with a South American warlord on her tail…

Leslie: Deathwish is the fourth book in the series and while some series might slow down at this point, Cal, Niko and Co. are still going strong. I absolutely love this series! The character development and the progression of the relationships are never overshadowed by the continuing world building or the introduction of new characters. This time around Thurman has given the reader a real treat - Niko's POV!

Nath: Oh, I definitively agree with you, Leslie. I think that the Leandros brothers actually came back very strong with this book. I thought the storylines were very engaging and interesting… but I gotta agree with you, the best thing about Deathwish was getting Niko’s POV . It definitively makes this series better and stronger in my opinion, because getting Niko’s POV adds a lot to the storyline and the brothers' relationship.

Leslie: Yes, we get to hear what's been going on in his head. I knew, as I got to know Niko from the first three books, that he's a very complex, multi-layer character. Reading his POV just enforces that conclusion.

Nath: Nod nod. I think that Ms Thurman did a great job with the alternating narrator. There was a good balance, each getting a chapter one after the other – neither stealing the spotlight. And I have to say, it definitively made the brothers’ relationship more powerful. I mean, we knew that the brothers loved and trusted each other, but to really read and witness it… I teared up a lot reading this book :P

Leslie: Reading Niko's perspective and his feelings on everything that he and Cal went through, especially when they were kids, wasn't an easy read. I teared up too.

Nath: I liked Niko before, but after reading Deathwish? I love him even more. This book has reminded me at how young Niko is actually. To have gone through so much at such a young age... Sigh.

In my previous review with Hilcia, we said that Cal would never have made it without Niko... I never realized before reading this book that it was true as well for Niko; without Cal, Niko would never had the same purposes in life and he wouldn't be the man he is now.

Leslie: Niko is mine! Sorry, that just slipped out. :P

Without Cal, the need for Niko to be all badass ninja wouldn't exist. I don't see Niko becoming a couch potato but without Cal, I don't think Niko would have been so intense and driven in everything he does. He pushes Cal hard but pushes himself just as hard if not harder. Cal's funny when he thinks about physically retaliating against Niko and he goes through the scenario of "If I hit him here, he'll hit me there and then I'll hit him and he'll hit back..." He knows he'll usually end up the worse for it but sometimes he just goes for it anyway. I really love their relationship. Thurman writes the male/brother relationship very well.

Nath: LOL, I'll let you have your claim. I don't see Niko turning into a couch potato either... but I wonder if he'd be as righteous and “honorable.” Before Deathwish, I never thought of how crucial Cal is to Niko’s being. There’s no denying that having to take care of Cal has shaped Niko’s life – he had to be strong and responsible. At the same time, he had someone to rely on and I guess, someone to keep him… hmmm… grounded. So I wonder how different Niko would be if Cal had never existed. I can’t believe he’d be a bad man, but perhaps he’d be bitterer.

And yes, Ms Thurman does a great job at writing their relationship. It feels real and that’s what makes this series stands out so much in my opinion. Actually, I think she simply has a knack writing relationships :) I have to say, one of the most interesting ones in this series is the love triangle between Delilah, Cal and Georgina. What do you think of Delilah, Leslie?

I like Delilah. I think she’s very different from the other female characters in other urban fantasy series. Yes, she’s kick-ass, but there’s a mercenary edge to her… I do think she fits Cal better... but at the same time, I can't help but wonder where her loyalties lie. I have to say, Ms Thurman completely took me by surprise by introducing Delilah and having Cal exploring their possible something.

Leslie: I think Delilah is exactly the type of umm, "woman" Cal needs. I like George but she and Cal just don't fit at this point. I think if Cal and George had been together it would have made his decision to let her go that much harder.

As for Delilah's loyalty - I think it ultimately lies with her and what's best for her. Right now her relationship with Cal doesn't conflict with that but if it did... not sure if Cal could count on her.

Nath: Hmmm, that’s what I was afraid of. So far, I like what I’m seeing between Cal and Delilah and I hope it deepens into something more, something stronger and deeper… However, the biggest problem so far is that I cannot see Delilah settling down with Cal. The woman is ambitious... Cal is lazy :P At this point, their bond is not strong enough and like you say, we’re not sure if Cal can trust her to be there :( I hope this isn’t foreshadowing some future problems in their relationship!.. I’d like to see more of Delilah’s character in the next book, some development - because so far, readers don’t actually know her…

In any case, I like Delilah better than George. George is definitively Cal’s first love; however, first love is not always the lasting one. It’s one that he’ll remember forever yes… but it’s just not the one meant to be. It was sad that Cal had to let her go, but at the same time, very mature. And I definitively support Cal in his decision. Like you say, they just don’t fit at this point.

Leslie: Agree that he needed to distance himself from her, for now at least. Also, George bugged me at times - she has this incredible ability and yet she seems so stingy with it when it really matters. Cal and Delilah are more of a friends with benefits where Cal and George have the potential for long term. But right now, George needs to keep her distance even if the Auphe are all gone. Delilah is good for Cal, but I don't see her as his lover for long. At this point he's fulfilling a need for her.

Nath: What Cal needs is someone he can trust, someone that will stand by him... but someone who can take care of herself as well. LOL, a female version of Niko!! No, just kidding :) I guess what Cal needs is a mix between Delilah and George.

I like that you brought up your annoyance with George. Once again, what is amazing with Ms Thurman is the way she shows the readers the two sides of a coin. We can see in Deathwish that Cal longs for George. Although he’s made the decision not to start a relationship with her and stay away, he still has feelings for her… and at times, he seems so miserable. At first, I had the tendency to think this was his own doing, that he brought it on himself – he’s the one who “called it off” after all… but at one point in Deathwish, Cal blames George because she doesn’t look… And then, I realized Cal was totally right. George has a huge part of responsibilities and you cannot pity her. Like you say, she has so much power and while I understand that foresight is not an easy gift and it doesn’t work just by wanting it to work… She has to at least try. Cal cannot be the only one to compromise, change his way to accommodate her. She has to work the relationship as well and so far, I haven’t seen that. It seems to me she’s just putting more pressure on him :(

Let’s move onto the other important relationship in Deathwish: Niko and Promise. I think that Deathwish was also a turning point for them with the appearance of Cherish – Promise’s daughter. I have to say, I liked Promise better in Moonshine and Madhouse... I feel like Cal - the revelations in Deathwish makes me a little bit wary of her. I understand her reasons for keeping the truth though... Cherish? Definitively not someone to brag about and it’s hard to live up to Niko’s standards, he seems so perfect.

Leslie: Promise was in a difficult position with Cherish. She knows Niko's first priority is to Cal, not her and that he doesn't deal well with liars. I can't really blame her for not telling all about Cherish and hoping that she had changed her ways. I did like seeing more of Niko and Promise's relationship. It did make me like her more than I had in the past books. It's obvious she cares for him and he, for her.

Nath: I think that after the events in this book, Promise and Niko's relationship can only become more solid, especially with the ending we got. Promise definitively cares for Niko and it shows how important he is to her. I'm glad and proud that Promise saw Cherish for what she really was and was able to let go. Sometimes, some people are just not worth sacrificing for... no matter how much you love them.

Leslie: I don't see Promise going anywhere. The way Deathwish ended - yeah, they're solid.

Nath: Indeed.

And Robin! Can’t review a book and not mention Robin :) I can’t wait for the next book and see if Robin and Ish’s relationship has progressed! I like the fact that Niko reminded Robin of Ish. It's hard to believe that Robin would lovesick and pine for someone!

Leslie: Back story on Robin and Ish please! I think Robin had been pining for Ish - so sweet! I loved that Niko reminded Robin of Ish, made Robin seem less selfish, more vulnerable. Do you think this means Ish will become part of the team? Maybe those two could add some the romance to the series. LOL And Robin's new pet – LOL When he tells Niko and Cal about her getting loose and going after the Great Dane. :)

Nath: Definitively!! We want to know about Robin and Ish!! At the same time, I'm not sure I want Ish to become part of the team. On one hand, I do - he seems like a very interesting characters. At the same time though, wouldn't that be too much Robin and Ish always together? Obviously, they've known each other for veeeererrrrryyyy long!! My concern is whether they’re going to stay together… So for the moment, I'm fine with him being a peripheral character. I don't necessarily need him to become part of the team, but I'd like to see more interactions between him and Robin and him and Cal.

Leslie: I would like more Ish too but not get too involved in their monster hunting.

Nath: Having Ish and Salome definitively show another side of Robin, a different and deeper one. Both are also perfect for him – long lived :)

I also like the friendship between Robin and the brothers. I think they all need each other and seeing them “opening” to each other, it’s just priceless. There’s also a great camaraderie between Robin and Cal that is endearing and very funny LOL. Surprisingly, Robin also serves as a good confident for Cal.

Also, what did you think of the plot? I like the multiple storylines – their case, Cherish and the Auphe. I think that when the characters are involved personally in the storylines, the books are better. Anyway, I really liked the plots in this one. I was a bit disappointed with Madhouse, so I’m happy here.

Leslie: Do you think all the Auphe are dead? I don't. They have to come back somehow or it would make Cal's Auphe half irrelevant. There's some hiding somewhere. They'll be back...

Nath: I think that the Auphe are dead – I trust Cal’s internal GPS. Otherwise, why would they want him so badly to be a stud? :P Although once again, don’t you think it was a bit too easy for such a bad, evil breed?

Perhaps Ms Thurman will be able to bring them up again… perhaps other half-Auphe will show up, some that were able not be picked up by the Auphe radar… However, my feeling is Ms Thurman wants to direct her series away from the Auphe and perhaps focus more on their detective agency? Also, I’ll bet you my whole collection of books that eventually, sooner or later, the Vigil will become a problem. I’m also sure, the Vigil is more than what they look like. I mean, they got Cal a nuke bomb!! LOL So the boys will be busy…

Leslie: How could I forget the Vigil, the handy monster clean up crew? And the nuke? LOL That part threw me. I mean, they must have some serious government contacts. I can see the Vigil going after Cal. Definitely think we'll see more of them.

I do like the idea of another half-Auphe or two out there. Maybe not half human but some other type of mutation. The possibilities are endless. :) I just don't think they're completely gone.

Nath: You’re absolutely right. It could be half-Auphe and half-something else LOL.

By the way, what was your favorite scene in the book? I loved the one where Cal and Niko fall from the 16th floor of the hospital and then, Niko assures Cal they will be “together.” That part was really intense.

Leslie: Their devotion is so intense. Nik's from such an early age. The part where Nik talks of the first time he saw an Auphe, he was seven and Cal was three. There are times when Thurman's writing just punches me in the gut. Definitely intense.

I've been thinking about all the different supernatural beings in this series. We have the Auphe, Puck, Weres, Vampires, Boggles, troll, Sawney Beane, Wahanket(mummy guy), mummy cat, chupacabra, revenants, angels, etc, do you ever feel a bit overwhelmed by all the different characters? Or do you think Thurman does a good job introducing the characters and their backgrounds?

Nath: I have to admit that when Ms Thurman introduces new supernatural beings, I'm always a little bit confused, because the ones she chooses are so rare in other urban fantasy/paranormal novels. However, I believe that she sticks to the popular beliefs where they are concerned and that's why she doesn't expand on them. She seems to only provide information when she makes them her own, to fit her world. I think it'd be better if she provides a little bit more information, but overall... with internet nowadays...

Leslie: That's funny you mention the net because I did look up Oshossi, never heard of him and I didn't know that Xolo was another name for the Mexican hairless breed. Thurman does use some rather obscure creatures but so far I've liked the variety.

Nath: The variety is nice, it makes the series stands out and that’s always a good thing I think.

Leslie: Also, what do think about the violence? All the books have had some very graphic scenes of blood, guts and body parts but none of them have ever left me disgusted or depressed. I think it's the normal, everyday smartass comments that are traded between the four, (Cal, Niko, Robin and now Promise) that off-sets the darker parts. I don't think I would like the books nearly as much without those comic, snarky moments.

Nath: For the violence, I think that Ms Thurman is keeping it at a respectable level. Actually, I think that some romantic suspense novels are even more gory than this series. So I don't really mind... and seriously, it is kind of expected no? The fighting in urban fantasy, hence the violence.

Leslie: Sometimes the violence for me can be a bit jarring. Cal and Rob will be making their usual wisecracks and then suddenly there's blood and guts and maiming. What I do like about the fight scenes is that I generally know where everyone is - that is I don't get very confused as far as who is fighting who/what. Sometimes during fight scenes I have to read through a couple of times to get the picture in my head but Thurman's writing works for me.

Nath: I think the trick is that Ms Thurman actually keeps the fighting scenes quite short – at least, when they face an enemy. That helps. Also, Ms Thurman does a great job balancing everything out. Like you, if there wasn't the snark, sarcasm and humor, I wouldn't be reading the series. If I want something depressing, I watch the news.

What do you think of the closed doors sex? Do you mind?

Leslie: I don't feel like the series is lacking because of it. It was nice to finally see more of Niko and Promise's relationship and more intimate moments but even those had more to do with their private conversations than the physical aspects.

Nath: I agree. I don't mind the sex behind closed doors. After all, this is urban fantasy. You know, it's all about putting things into perspectives.

Leslie: One thing that does surprise me with this series is how much I like the male(s) being the lead characters instead of a kick-ass heroine, which seems to be the trend in UF right now. The way Cal and Niko talk is so much like my brothers, except for the killing things. LOL It will be interesting to see how she writes a female lead in her new series. Are you planning to get Trick of the Light? It's out now. :)

Nath: I like the fact that the protagonists are males and I like that Ms Thurman has been able to keep it "manly" LOL :) There's always a risk when the authors and protagonists are not from the same gender. I think it's fun and refreshing that for once, the main characters I'm reading are males. Then again, I've been through eleven books of Dresden Files :P So perhaps I'm used to it.

Leslie: Still haven't read Dresden Files - I'm just not real anxious to read a male author. It's terrible but true. I need to get over that. :)

Nath: Definitively LOL :) As for the number of kick-ass heroines in urban fantasy right now, I attribute it more to the increase of female authors writing this genre. I definitively don't mind a kick-ass heroines, but after reading a couple of urban fantasy in a row, they all seem to blend together ^_^; Throwing in a couple of male protagonists is good for me :)

And I am going to give a try to Trick of Light for sure :) It's sitting on my nightstand...

So what grade are you giving to Deathwish?

Leslie: I'm going with a solid A. I think having Niko's POV made this the best book so far. I do hope we continue to get his POV. Maybe some of Robin's too, although, he tends to say what he's thinking - not much filter on that mouth. :)

Nath: I'm going with A as well :) I agree that having Niko POV just added something to this book and set it apart :) Deathwish is the best book of the series so far, with a strong plots and a lot of development, both for characters and relationships :)