Review: Iced by Karen Marie Moning

Iced by Karen Marie MoningReviewed by Sharon S.

I was a little apprehensive about reading this story. I loved (in an unnatural way) the Fever series, but I never really cared for the character Dani and the thought of a trilogy about her wasn’t appealing. I knew I would read it because I love Moning’s emotional first person POV writing style and the Fever world and all its characters. You don’t have to read the Fever series to enjoy this book. Moning does a good job of giving the reader any extra information needed, but you are totally missing out on one of the best series out there if you don’t.

I love that we experience things through many different characters POVs. Dani’s POV got on my nerves in the beginning. In part, because Moning was very repetitive with Dani’s thoughts. I don’t know if this was on purpose since Dani is such a chaotic character or if Moning just went overboard. By the end of the book I found Dani to be tolerable. Her growth over the trilogy is a what this story is about so I think I will eventually I will like her. Most of the book is from her POV and we learn some interesting information about her past. She is only 14 at this point and she would act mature beyond her years one moment and then like a teenager the next. It was interesting to watch her and the other characters struggle with this.

Mac and Barrons are mentioned though out the book, but we never have any interaction with them until the very end. Based on the ending of ICED we will see more of them in book two. There are three possible love interests for Dani at this point! I know, right?

Dancer is Dani’s post-apocolyptic buddy. He is a human and a genius. He obviously has feelings for Dani, but she is just too focused on herself to notice. He is just a little too perfect though. Like all the characters, he isn’t all that he seems and I can’t wait to find out.

Ryodan is one of Barrons’ men and he has been watching Dani since she was 9 when he found out about what she calls her “superpowers”. They are very much like Ryodans. He is sort of “the law” in Dublin now that the walls have fallen. He is like Barrons, but he wants to have power and is willing to do anything to achieve it. We don’t know why yet, or how Dani figures into his plans, but he sees something in her and is waiting for it. You really can’t tell his interest is romantic or just power driven yet. Moning is definitely setting up a love hate relationship between them.

Then there is Christian. I think he is the most complex and interesting character. You have to read the Fever series to understand what happened to him, but he is turning into the fourth Unseelie Prince. It is heart breaking to watch him struggle to hold onto his human side. Moning is creating a lot of sympathy for him even though his Unseelie side is very dark and twisted. He also sees something in Dani he calls a “light” and he is in love with her and plans to make her his Unseelie princess.

There are many character threads and they are all just starting to be woven together. I am very excited to find out what Moning has in store for us. I don’t know how she will get us there, but it will be on hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride!

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Iced: A Dani O’Malley Novel (Fever Series)

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Creating Characters We’re Passionate About

Guest Blog by Theresa Meyers, author of Shadowlander

As a writer, one of the biggest challenges is creating characters that resonate with the reader. Not everyone is going to identify with your characters, but that’s not what I’m in it for. I want readers to remember my characters, to be passionate about them. I think characters make the story great. Yeah, you want action, adventure and romance, but when you think about Gone With the Wind, what do you remember most? Scarlett! Would there have even been a series about Hogwarts without Harry Potter? And really, when it comes to the television show Supernatural, if it wasn’t for Sam and Dean Winchester, what would be the point of watching?

The point is we as readers identify with characters in the stories, no matter if it’s a full novel or short story. Characters that grab us by the throat and don’t let go until the ride is over, well those are even better. But in particular we want heroes. People who do and say the things that we never would or could in real life. People who we would love to be, but aren’t.

Rook Blackwood is that kind of a guy. He’s the quintessential bad boy, but he’s got a twist in that he’s a dark fae prince from Shadowland. It’s a kind of thankless job, seeing as how the woman he’s been interested in doesn’t even know he exists (because she’s human), his father – the king—favors the captain of the royal guard more than him, and he’s got to prove he’s fit to lead his people in an invasion of the upper realm (aka our world), and yet he’s totally committed to his role, despite the fact that it doesn’t make him feel complete. He’s the bad guy with a heart of gold; a ladies’ man, but also a leader in training, prone to all those bothersome doubts and frustrations of trying to live up to his father’s and country’s expectations. He’s determined, willing to go above and beyond to get the job done, until he realizes that will require sacrificing his relationship with his human love, Cate, to serve his nation.

We want fun characters like Maya, the somewhat airhead friend of Cate, our heroine. She’s young, carefree, flippant and willing to try anything for a decent date. She’s oblivious to the fae realm that revolves around Cate, and in many ways represents our detached view of the world, centered on our own human concerns to the exclusion of what’s happening around us in the bigger picture. For Maya it’s just a party gone terribly wrong, and she’s ready to go home now, thank you very much.

We also want characters who aren’t cardboard. They’ve got to have dimension. They’ve got to grow. Catherine O’Connell (Cate) has always felt like a freak because of her ability to see the fae, but it’s that same ability that makes her the link, and possible salvation of not just our world, but Shadowland too. She’s a contradiction all the way through, and yet, there’s that undeniable desire we all have to be ourselves that she mirrors so well. We’re all striving to find out who we really are meant to be and Cate is no different, she just happens to have see fae, which for her changes everything we take for granted.

I guess the best characters for me are the ones with flaws and needs, just like the rest of us. They aren’t perfect. Even the bad guys aren’t wholly evil. They truly believe what they want is justified in their own twisted sense of reality.

Perfect characters aren’t the interesting ones. The best characters make mistakes and face challenges just like any other person. If character exists in a vacuum of perfection, then there’s not a whole lot going on in the story! My critique partner is fond of reminding me that when my characters face choices it ought to be a choice between sucky and suckier. There is no good choice. Either way it has to hurt or stretch them to force them to grow through the course of the story.

One of my favorite things to do to figure out my characters is to “run the numbers” on them. It’s a technique used in books like You Are Your First Name by Ellin Dodge and it’s just brilliant for getting a quick snapshot of what motivates the character, how they see themselves and how others react to them. I also love using The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines. It’s chock full of flaws and possible past histories, things to think about and traits that will make my characters more three dimensional when I write.

Creating memorable characters isn’t easy. But it sure is fun.

So what about you? What makes a character memorable for you as a reader?

Buy: Shadowlander

About the Author: Raised by a bibliophile who made the dining room into a library, Theresa has always been a lover of books and stories. First a writer for newspapers, then for national magazines, she started her first novel in high school, eventually enrolling in a Writer’s Digest course and putting the book under the bed until she joined Romance Writers of America in 1993. In 2005 she was selected as one of eleven finalists for the American Title II contest, the American Idol of books. She is married to the first man she ever went on a real date with (to their high school prom), who she knew was hero material when he suffered through having to let her parents drive, and her brother sit between them in the backseat of the car. They currently live in a Victorian house on a mini farm in the Pacific Northwest with their two children, three cats, an old chestnut Arabian gelding, an energetic mini-Aussie shepherd puppy, several rabbits, a dozen chickens and an out-of-control herb garden.

Visit Theresa Meyers online:

Website|Blog|Twitter|Facebook

GIVEAWAY: I have one ebook for giveaway of Shadowlander. Contest is open internationally. Enter by telling us what makes a character memorable for you. Last chance to enter: December 23, 2011. Good luck!


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Review: The Highlander’s Touch by Karen Marie Moning

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By: Sasha Muradali, guest blogger

The Highlander’s Touch is the third novel in the series of Highlanders by Karen Marie Moning. It is darker than the rest, but provides the ground work for four of the next novels.

Enter Lisa, a woman from the 21st century who is too nosy for her own good. Touching an ancient artifact, she finds herself stumbling back in time 700 years prior into ancient Scotland. But the thing is, and how romantically-novel-typical, Lisa falls 700 years back into the private bed chamber of Highland Laird Circenn. His nickname is “Sin,” believe it or not.

But nothing is as sweaty, sexy and frustrating as it seems, for Circenn has a secret; a very dark, deep secret.

Lisa, torn between anger and lust, left an ill mother behind when she fell back in time and that one factor pushes her not only to push Circenn away, but to find a way back to her century. Not having that Circenn is determined to not only keep her in his century, but help her let go of all the anger and bottled up emotions ready to consume her.

There are two problems: Circenn does not know how to return Lisa to her century and the ‘person’ that does…well, Circenn isn’t speaking to him, as they got into a rather interesting arguement.

Three guesses as to of whom we speak?

Adam Black, ladies, the fabulous Dark Fae himself, Adam Black!

But it gets better – Adam holds the key to Circenn’s secret. Actually, Adam is the reason for Circenn’s secret and it is worth reading to learn. The story builds up, and the tension between the two lead male characters reaches various levels of intelligence, humor, respect and spite.

What I absolutely love about this novel, is not the typical boy meets girl, girl meets boy, girl hates boy, boy tries to woo girl, girl whacks boy so on and so forth.

No, I dare say my favorite parts are the exchanges, as few as they are, between Circenn and Adam. Not only are they entertaining, but these key conversations, will help readers understand what is to come in the next four books.

The Highlander’s Touch is truly a joy to read.  Karen Marie Moning is on target and her Highlander novels only get better from here.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Buy: The Highlander’s Touch

Review: Summer’s Crossing (Iron Fey, Book 3.5) by Julie Kagawa

Summary: Summer’s Crossing is the first book in the Iron Fey series to not feature Meghan Chase as the narrator. It is told from Puck’s perspective. The story is a short novella to whet appetites between The Iron Queen and the release of The Iron Knight. Ash must find Grimalkin in order to start his quest to reunite with Meghan. Puck is determined to come along even if ice-boy doesn’t want him around. Before they can even begin, a snag crops up. Leanansidhe, the exiled faery queen, is calling in on the favor Ash promised her. She wants Ash to sneak into the Summer Court and steal back a violin that Queen Titania stole from her. She doesn’t care that it’s a suicide mission. How is Puck going to sneak a Winter faery across Summer lines?

Review: I enjoyed getting inside Puck’s head. I don’t know if I could follow him for a whole book, I’d much prefer to follow Ash, but Puck is genuinely heartbroken over Meghan and willing to help Ash because it helps Meghan even though he’s jealous of Ash’s position in her affections. Plus I have a feeling if Ash can become Iron Fey resistant or actually Iron Fey, Puck is going to switch too.

Favorite Scene: Oberon’s conversation with Puck. With the Summer King’s permission to be with Meghan and advice on how to get rid of his biggest rival, will Puck continue on the path he started or will he betray Ash and get rid of his competition for Meghan’s heart?

Romance: There really isn’t any romance in this novella because Meghan is not in the picture. She’s off page the entire time, but Puck and Ash are working together in hopes of seeing her again and because they love her.

Recommended: You can be pretty sure that portions of Summer’s Crossing will be found in The Iron Knight because Winter’s Passage, the other novella in the series, was incorporated in The Iron Queen. However if you’re like me you’re going to want to read this novella anyway so go for it!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Summer’s Crossing

Review: Across The Veil by Lisa Kessler

by Sharon S., guest reviewer

Across the Veil is a wonderful little short story. I usually don’t read short stories unless they are by an author I know, about characters I know. There is just not enough time to slip into a new world and care about the characters.

Lisa Kessler was able to capture my interest in this world (I want to know about it) and write a romance that felt real. It made my heart go a pitter-patter <G>. It is less than 26 pages, but there is a lot of story in there.

The story is about a Fae princess that leaves her home (in another dimension) to escape having to marry Faldo, who she doesn’t love. She also left behind the one man she did love, his brother Keth.

Keth and Talia shared a moment of passion and Faldo found out. It was within his right to have her put to death because she was betrothed to him. So to protect Talia, Keth pushed her away thinking she would marry Faldo and be safe.

It has been 5 years since she left and Faldo tracks down Talia, looking for Keth. He never forgave his brother for the betrayal and has grown hateful and bitter. Talia and Keth must work together to save each other.

Kessler is a talented writer and I look forward to the release of her first novel. Keep an eye out at LRP for an interview with Kessler as well as a review of Night Walker.

Here is the blurb for Across the Veil

Princess Talia from Summerland has been hiding across the veil in the human world for the past five years.

Starring in a hit television show as human actress, Natalie Thurmont, her charmed new life is shattered when the past comes knocking on her door.

You can visit her at: http://lisaslair.com/

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Across the Veil

GIVEAWAY ALERT: Lisa Kessler has offered an ecopy of Across the Veil to one lucky reader. Leave a comment to enter! Last day to enter: June 18, 2011.

Review: Forever Vampire by Michele Hauf

by Sharon S., guest reviewer
 
I had no idea how much I would enjoy this story! Hauf’s voice is a breath of fresh air for me. I would describe this book as an enchanting dark fairy tale (with real faeries <G>). The author has built an Urban Fantasy world that is unique and vivid consisting of Vampires, Werewolves and Faeries. She does a great job of introducing you to this world without making you feel like you are being spoon fed information. There is great pacing to the story and a twist at the end.
 
I was totally enchanted by our lovers, Valliant and Lyric, even their names are fairy tale like <G>. Vail (swoon) is a vampire that grew up in Faery, but recently got thrown out. Now this is where is gets complicated <G>. He wants to kill his birth father, has never met his birth mother Viviane (she is insane from being raped by Vail’s birth father) who is married to a Were/Vampire hybrid, Rhys (and they have a son, his half brother, Trystan), and his faery step mother made him believe vampires were filth. He has issues <G>.

Lyric, is a member of a lying, thieving vampire mob family. She grew up wanting the fairy tale life, complete with a prince to love her forever. She gave up on that dream because in her vampire world, everything and everyone has a price, you use and get used all the time. She is loved by her mother and brother, but there is a hole in her heart.
 
Faeries and Vampires hate each other. So when these two meet, there are sparks, and where there are sparks…there is erotic sex <G>. I love watching these two flirt and play like two horny teenagers. While trying to figure out who they are and how to live in a world where they don’t fit in, they realize where they belong is together and that is all that matters. Made my heart sing.
 
Read about the other books in Hauf’s Beautiful Creatures World.
 
Author’s Website: http://www.michelehauf.com/
 
Rating: ★★★★★
 
Buy: Forever Vampire

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