Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane
Downside Ghosts #1
Urban Fantasy
May 25, 2010
Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Del Rey
Source: Purchased a copy from my local Chapters.
Steam factor: 3 out of 5 cups of steamin' smexy goodness.


The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.

I recently had a poll posted asking visitors to vote on what popular series I should read and review. While I had Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts as an option, no one voted for it! Well, I just couldn't leave it sitting on my TBR shelf any longer. After reading a lot of praise for this series, I had to find out what all the fuss was about. Sorry voters.

Actually, I'm not sorry. Unholy Ghosts is one of the most original books I have read in a very long time. A lot of urban fantasy/romance books follow a specific plot line where the kick ass heroine beats up a few bad guys, saves the day, and then gets it on with the uber sexy hero. It's pretty much all puppies and rainbows by the end. However, with Unholy Ghosts, Kane takes readers on a dark and gritty adventure where there are no puppies or rainbows in sight.

After ghosts rose up from the grave in 1997 and killed a two-thirds of the worlds population, the old religions were abandoned and the Church of Real Truth, which is based on magic, was embraced as the only means to fend off another ghostly attack. Caesaria or Chess Putnam works for the Church as a witch and a Debunker; a person who banishes ghosts back to their resting place in the City of Eternity. However, Chess spends most of her income from investigating hauntings on her drug habit. As the story progresses, we learn that Chess owes a ton of money to her drug dealer Bump. In order to remedy her debt, Bump enlists Chess to investigate a supposed haunting at an airport, which he plans to use to transport drugs. However, when Chess begins her investigation, she soon learns that there is far more going on at the airport than just a simple haunting.

Chess is one of the most screwed up protagonists I have ever encountered. However, she is also very complex and extremely likable. While at first I didn't know what to think about her being a druggie, I came to understand her drug habit is just a part of who Chess is. She is flawed and deals with a lot of her emotional issues from growing up in the system by getting high. She isn't a hero and never claims to be. To me, Kane actually gives a more realistic view on how someone befitting the hero stereotype would actually cope in real life. However, I do hope that one day Chess will learn how to deal with her issues without turning to drugs. Just say no kids.

Another standout character in the book is Terrible. Like Chess, he is the anti-hero. Often described as being ugly, with his muttonchops and bowling shirts, he is the classic example of it's whats on the inside that counts. In the beginning of the book, I was scratching my head trying to figure out Terrible's appeal, but by the end I could understand why Chess is attracted to him. To Chess, Terrible isn't ugly, that's just the way he looks. Although Chess becomes involved with a rival gang member, Lex, I am officially on Team Terrible.

The only thing that did bug me about the book was the way some of the Downside residents spoke. At first, I couldn't decide if they were pirates or all had Scottish accents. Maybe they are Scottish pirates? After a while though, the disjointed speech grew on me. I just wish there was more explanation as to why people speak that way.

Unholy Ghosts is one of the best urban fantasies I have ever read. The story is dark, gritty, and has a ton of action that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It also has just a touch of romance for those who are looking for something with a little bit of steam. This book is definitely worth picking up if you are looking for a story that is truly unique.

Other Opinions:

Other books in the series:
Unholy Magic
City of Ghosts

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Most Anticipated Books of 2011!

Here's a list of the books I'm most looking forward to in 2011. With so many new releases from some of the best authors in the biz, it's going to be one fantastic year. I see a lot of steamin' smexy goodness in our future. I just hate all the damn waiting! This list is ordered from 10 to 1.

Born of Shadows - Sherrilyn Kenyon
April 25, 2011
Kenyon's first book in The League series, Born of Night, is hands down my favorite sci-fi romance. However, the other two books in the series haven't quite lived up to the greatness of Born of Night. However, I'm hoping Born of Shadows will redeem this series.

Archangel's Consort - Nalini Singh
January 25, 2011
There are already a few early reviews floating around the blogiverse for Archangel's Consort and all the early readers love this book. As a huge Guild Hunter fan, I'm hoping I will as well. I mean come on, with such a gorgeous cover, there just has to be one hell of a story inside.

The Darkest Secret - Gena Showalter
April 1, 2011
In previous Lords of the Underworld books, Amun has remained mostly in the background. He's pretty much the dark silent type, but as the keeper of Secrets, he has a good reason to remain speechless. I'm eager to finally get his perspective on things, as well as to find out more about his background. I'm also excited to see how he will recover from what happened to him in The Darkest Lie. That may be a little vague, but I don't want to spoil anything for those crazy people who haven't read the LOTU series yet.

Rock Hard - Olivia Cunning
April 1, 2011
Backstage Pass was one of my favorite reads this year and took the top prize in my list of the best sex scenes of 2010. Although I loved Brian aka Master Sinclair as the lead, I'm a sucker for lead singers. Sed really stole the show for me in the first book. That is why I am so looking forward to Rock Hard. Although we got a tiny peek into Sed's past, I want to find out more about this Jessica person who broke poor Sed's heart. And if Rock Hard continues what Backstage Pass started, well this book is going to rock my smutty little heart.

Eternal Rider - Larissa Ione
March 29, 2011
Although Ione ended her fantastic Demonica series in 2010, she already has a spin-off series releasing in 2011 that looks just as promising. In her new series, Lords of Deliverance (love the name btw), Ione is going to tackle the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and give them an HEA. Brilliant! And she has promised that old Demonica characters will make an appearance in future books. With Lover Unleashed being released on the same day, it's going to be like Christmas all over again!

Dreams of a Dark Warrior - Kresley Cole
February 15, 2011
After a long LONG wait, we are finally getting Regin's story! Ever since Hunger Like No Other, Regin has always stood out among the other characters. I can't wait to see what's in store for Regin. I'm also eager to see how Cole will tackle the whole reincarnation issue with Declan/Aiden. Plus, Cole has really stepped up her game lately in terms of love scenes. I'm hoping there will be plenty of steam in this book!

This Side of the Grave - Jeaniene Frost
February 22, 2011
After a year without any Cat and Bones I've gone into a bit of a withdrawal. Although Frost did release two Night Huntress spin-off books, it just wasn't enough! I'm eager to see how Cat is dealing with all her new powers now that she is a full vampire. And Bones, well I just can't wait for Bones. He is one of my book boyfriends.

City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare
April 5, 2011
I don't read a lot of YA anymore, but Clare's Mortal Instruments is one of my favorite series. After I finished the MI books the first time, I immediately booked up City of Bones and read through the series again. I don't think I have ever done that before, not even for Twilight! I can't wait to revisit all of Clare's amazing characters and see how they have evolved. However, I'm most looking forward to reading more about Clary and Jace. After all those teasers with them making out, I'm itching to see how far Clary and Jace take their relationship. This book is going to be good!

Shadowfever - Karen Marie Moning
January 18, 2011
After a shaky start, I can now say that I officially caught the Fever in 2010. Moning's Makayla Lane books were some of my favorites this year, even though they had evil cliff-hangers. Having to wait a month for Shadowfever has been pure torture. I can't imagine how people who read Dreamfever when it first came out have survived the wait. My hats off to you. Oh and BARRONS BETTER NOT BE THE MONSTER!

Lover Unleashed - J.R. Ward
March 29, 2011
J.R. Ward is my favorite author and BDB my favorite series, so it's no surprise the Lover Unleashed is my most anticipated read for 2011. I can't wait to find out more about Payne! I love kickass heroines and with the potential for being the first women initiated into the Brotherhood, well you can't get anymore kickass then that. I also am excited for all the V in this book! Thank you Warden. Frankly, I'm just super excited for this book.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Cover Alert: Demon by Kristina Douglas

Despite Raziel not being released until January 25th, the cover for the second book in Douglas' all new series, The Fallen, has been posted. And like Raziel, Demon looks promising. Hot fallen angels? Sounds good to me.

I'm really hoping this series delivers. There is nothing more disappointing then a book with a great cover, but less than stellar story inside. I'm also ecstatic that angels appear to be the new fad in romance. There is only so much you can do with vampires after all.

Demon has a release date May 31, 2011.

"One of the first Fallen, Azazel is second in power only to Lucifer. And with the activation of a prophecy binding him in marriage to the Demon Queen, Lilith, he’ll be even stronger. But Azazel doesn’t want the power. After the death of his beloved mate, Sarah, he wanders the earth a lost soul, broken and disheartened. That is, until he decides to take matters into his own hands, to find the one woman who could take Sarah’s place as his wife…so he can kill her."

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Cover Alert: Dark Taste of Rapture by Gena Showalter

2011 hasn't even started yet and there is already a contender for the best cover of the year! Gena Showalter has had some great book covers in the past, but the brand new cover for Dark Taste of Rapture is stunning. I love the gold, the fluttering hair, and the six pack. Two thumbs way up for this one.

Dark Taste of Rapture is the 6th book in Showalter's Alien Huntress series and features Noelle Tremain and Hector Dean. It's out August 23, 2011.

"Beautiful Noelle Tremain has just completed AIR training and successfully navigated her first mission. Life is perfect.  Until her best friend is turned into a vampire, destroying her day life, and she’s partnered with Hector Dean, destroying her nightlife.  He’s the sexiest, most powerful man she’s ever met, able to atomize his arms and punch through anything – but he’s also emotionally distanced, determined to remain alone. So, to stay on top of their case, she might just have to find a way on top of him.
Oh, the naughty things a girl will do for her job . . . "

Friday, December 24, 2010

Time to Be a Little Naughty: My Top Ten Sex Scenes of 2010

My roomate and I have a small joke that all I read is vampire sex. Well, that is partially true. As an avid romance reader, I read a lot of sex and not just between vampires. It's impossible to read romance and not encounter at least once steamy scene in a book. However, there is so much more to romance than just sex. I have read a ton of romance books that are very well written and have great characters, both female and male. The sex is just a bonus!
So without further ado, here is my list for my favorite sex scenes of the year. And boy, have some authors been naughty! This list is ordered from 10-1.

Inside Out - Lauren Dane
The "solo shower" scene...
Sometimes a little self satisfaction can be a good thing. And if it is Andrew Copeland doing the deed, then it is a very good thing. I absolutely love Lauren Dane's Brown family books and Inside Out was a great addition to the series. Although Inside Out wasn't as steamy as Dane's other books, the love scenes between Cope and Ella still satisfied my smutty side. Cope alone in the shower though, that was one very large cup of smexy goodness.

Hurt Me So Good - Joely Sue Burkhart
The "Christmas" scene...
Sometimes you just have to read a book that pushes your limits a little and this year, Hurt Me So Good was that book for me. A little bit darker than most BDSM themed books, Hurt Me So Good challenged my perceptions of  D/s relationships. Burkhart handled the issue of pain as pleasure in a really well-rounded manner. I love when authors do their homework. So Bravo to Burkhart! Plus, the premise of the book was truly unique. Loved it.

Here There  Be Monsters - Meljean Brook
The "I'll kiss you, but not on the lips" scene...
Even though Here There Be Monsters is a novella, it still packs plenty of steam. It is a steampuck after all. However, most of the steam comes from simply kissing. Brook knows how to write a good kiss. But when Mad Machen describes how and where he is going to kiss Ivy, WOW. He can kiss me anytime.

Lover Mine - J.R. Ward
The "locker room" scene...
No surprise here that a BDB book made my list. This is my absolute favorite series. Before the book was released, Ward said that the sex scenes in LM made her blush more than any other BDB book. With a tag line like that, how can you not go wrong with this book? There are some really explosive scenes between JM and Xhex. However, Lover Mine also had some of the most emotional scenes I read in romance this year. I nearly cried in a few places. The locker room scene though, woo, I pretty much blushed from head to toe. Also, the sexual tension between Qhuinn and Blay was potent.

Eternal Kiss of Darkness - Jeaniene Frost
The "ceiling sex" scene...
It's ceiling sex, 'nough said.

Demon from the Dark - Kresley Cole
The "bath" scene...
Cole has really stepped up her game recently. Both her releases in 2010 had some noteworthy smexy scenes, but the bath scene in Demon from the Dark took the cake. I didn't want it to end. Thankfully, it just went on and on and on. Plus, Malkolm was one of my favorite heroes this year. I think I loved him so much because he reminded me of Zsadist from BDB. He is just so fierce...

Dreamfever - Karen Marie Moning
The "pri-ya" scene...
It's about damn time! That's all I have to say about this scene. After having to endure the tremendous sexual tension between Mac and Barrons in the first 3 books, I was glad to see them finally get down to business. However, the situation in which these two come together is less than ideal. Nonetheless, it made my smutty heart go pitter-patter. I love how Mac calls Barrons her Beast. Rawr. Hopefully, we will see more smexin' between these two in Shadowfever!

The Roughriders series - Lorelei James
I can't choose!
Before reading the Roughriders series, I hated country music and cowboys. Well, I still hate country music, but Lorelei James completely changed my mind about the appeal of cowboys. Those Mckays are every cowgirl's dream. And there are just so many of them, you can pretty much take your pick. They are also all alpha males. I'm talking uber alpha. Thus, there are a ton of amazing sexy time scenes in this series. So much so, that I can't pick just one. However, I think the newest book in the series, Cowgirls Don't Cry, is one of my favorites.

Liberating Lacey - Anne Calhoun
The "bad cop" scene...
This book was released in 2009, but after reading a lot of praise for it recently I had to pick it up. Liberating Lacey is chalk full of sexy time scenes, but unlike other erotic novels, there is an actual story to this book. And a really good one at that. There is a ton of sexually charged scenes, but the connection between Hunter and Lacey is what keeps this book interesting. They have great chemistry. While the sexy time scene in the woods was also one of my favorites in the book, the part where Hunter plays bad cop made me melt into a big pile of goo on the floor. It's hot, really hot.

Backstage Pass - Olivia Cunning
The "creative composing" scene...
This book definitely takes the prize for the dirtiest book I read this year. However, it was also one of my favorites. The members of The Sinners are just so smoking hot. Although it was hard to choose which sex scene was my favourite, the scene where Brian aka Master Sinclair uses Myrna as his notepad takes the top prize. It fulfilled all of my rockstar fantasies. Well done Ms. Cunning, well done indeed.

Here's a little taste:
He reached for a pen on the side table and uncapped it. He wiped the sweat from her body with the sheet and drew a straight line across her chest. He then added a series of dots on, above, and below the line. Scribbled letters appeared here and there. E. C. C#. She just watched him, too surprised to protest. The line of musical notes continued across her breasts, under her breasts, several lines along her belly.
He paused, his eyes drifting closed. “God, you feel good, Myrna. So good.” She planted her feet on the bed, lifted her hips and gyrated. “Yeah.” He rose up on his knees slightly and thrust forward, grinding deep. “Perfect,” he murmured. “Take me. All of me. Inside.” He began to pump into her again, withdrawing only slightly as if he didn’t want to move at all. “I hear you,” he whispered.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Update: Where Have I Been?

One word: FINALS.

That means a lot of time in the library bashing my head against the table. I felt so bad that I had to ignore my bookshelf for so long. I swear every time I passed my TBR pile, the books would beg me to come read them. But no, school comes first and all that BS. If I didn't have to worry about my future and had no bigger aspirations than living with my parents for the rest of my life, I would stay in my room and read all day long. Sigh.

However, finals are over now and Christmas is 2 days away, which also means that it is Christmas break. HOORAY! I think I'm more excited to pounce on my TBR pile than actual Christmas. Hopefully I'll have some reviews up in the next few days. I missed my books and my blog.

Also, thanks to the 9 people who voted on my poll of what popular series I should read and review. The winner by one vote was the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. I just started Magic Bites and am excited to see where this series goes. Also, I can't wait to encounter Curran. Meow!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays everyone! I hope Santa brings you lots of gift cards to your favorite book store.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Attention Vampire Academy Fans!

After months of waiting, Richelle Mead has finally posted the first chapter of Last Sacrifice. Hooray! With only 6 more days until the book is officially released, it's about darn time. I devoured the Vampire Academy series last Summer and can't wait to see what happens to Rose, Lissa, and Dimitri! Also, if you are interested, there are some teaser trailers for the book floating around on youtube.

Check out the first chapter here: