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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sheep Book Review: Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Blade, by Nalini Singh, is the fourth novel in her 'Guild Hunter' series. First I'd like to thank a fellow flock member, Alaina, for introducing me to this series. I knew and loved Nalini's 'Psy-Changeling' books but had yet to dip my feet in this saga. I am REALLY glad I did!

The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past...but Dmitri's need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.

Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel's right hand, and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality...the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.
As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting...and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more...

Now this is going to be a good side/bad side review. There were a lot of pluses that I loved but a few significant negatives I want to explore in depth. First up on the good side we have Dmitri, a vampire who's lived for over a millennium. He's been there and done that, with twins! The guy's bad as can be and unapologetic about it. Lethal and smelling of the sweetest dark chocolate. Yeah baby! There is a ton of build up on how great he will be in the sack but when we finally got down to it I was disappointed. Maybe it was his partner or maybe he just wasn't on point that night (it's ok guys, it can happen to anyone!) but there was a bit of lack luster that had me feeling like it was same wash rinse and repeat but with a different partner. He does let his gal get more touchy feely then his usual bimbos but overall I wanted some SHABAM! in my smut.

Honor is a Hunter with the Guild who has never known her parents, she was dropped off at a monastery as an infant and roamed from foster home to foster home until she joins up with the angel gang. She's cute, fun and determined. I liked her, liked her past and the harsh rape she's trying to get over. Emotional trauma makes for great reading and bonding with a partner who knows all about it. Dimitir understands her trauma because he's going through his own loses from way back when and it's heart wrenching. And while things are building between these two he kinda just claims her as his play thing, no asking just says "you will be in my bed". Or in guy talk "I am man hear me roar. Now go get me a sammich". *rolls eyes* Men. BUT that aside I really wanted to know more about Honor. Her past, her thoughts and friendships. Unfortunately there was no resolution about who her family was, where they went, why they dropped her off...Nada.

Possession and reincarnation in stories is great, I enjoy it, but when it starts to take away from the main characters it starts to bug the nerves. I would have liked more in the here and now and less in the past mind of Dmitri's ex, Ingrad. Sad as it was I felt a little too much time was spent there. It was also odd that all of a sudden this long dead woman's voice starts showing up in Honor's mind. No talks about how it maybe was happening, all her life the voice that talks back or something like that, just one day she starts hearing a voice. O...k..

Investigations and some action build to the plot-line and interaction between our main couple. Honor takes the hard steps into putting her life back together, with close friends and a will of her own she comes far from beginning to end of this story. While I liked the building of drama and more insight to the Seven angels led by Raphael and Dmitri I wanted more dialog between our main couple. More that leads them from point A to B.

Overall this is a very well written book that adds to saga as a whole but nothing so fantastic I want to shout it to the moon. It's good, Nalini brings action and emotion into all her stories but again, I wanted more. Needy as that may be I truly hoped this story would blow me away. Recommending this book strongly to all the PNR lovers out there and I will say go around and check what other folks are saying too.

Looking forward to more of the Seven and Sorrow in upcoming books, sticking with Nalini all the way!

Getting 4 'Wrap me in dark chocolate' Sheep

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sheep Review: Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

They call it Deadtown: the city's quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders-but Victory Vaughn, Boston's only professional demon slayer, isn't exactly human.
Vicky’s demanding job keeping the city safe from all manner of monsters is one reason her relationship with workaholic lawyer (and werewolf) Alexander Kane is in constant limbo. Throw in a foolhardy zombie apprentice, a mysterious demon-plagued client, and a suspicious research facility that’s taken an unwelcome interest in her family, and Vicky’s love life has as much of a pulse as Deadtown’s citizens.
But now Vicky’s got bigger things to worry about. The Hellion who murdered her father ten years ago has somehow broken through Boston’s magical protections. The Hellion is a ruthless force of destruction with a personal grudge against Vicky, and she’s the only one who can stop the demon before it destroys the city and everyone in it.

*my thoughts of Urban Fantasy* 
I finally got to read a book from my “pleasure” pile, these are the books I don’t have to review, just ones I want to read or are part of series I have been following. Deadtown is the first book in Nancy Holzner's Deadtown Series and it represents everything I love about the Urban Fantasy genre. UF is usually written from the first person POV of a strong heroine. It is about the character’s relationships with family, friends, co-workers and lovers and how she navigates the world the author has created. With UF you are also in it for the long haul, each book will have some closure of certain conflicts but the characters are continually growing and dealing with the consequences of their previous actions. There is romance in UF but it's not the be-all-end-all of the book, it's just another facet of the heroine you get to watch develop. And I love a romance that slowly builds anticipation because you know eventually that slow boil will explode and it will be so worth the wait.

Holzner has created what we call an open world in Deadtown, her paranormal world isn’t hidden from the human world. Five years ago the so-called monsters such as werewolves and vampires decided they didn’t want to have to hide from the “norms” anymore. They wanted to be legally recognized as Paranormal Americans (PAs). Then two years later a fluke virus turned everyone in a several block area of Boston into a zombie. They were still the same people, just stronger, greener, spongier, and the smell of blood could send them into a feeding frenzy. As a result, by law all PA’s had to live in this area known as Deadtown.

Victory Vaughn is a demon slayer, she's paid to exterminate people’s inner demons that invade their dreams (can you imagine a Harpy eating your entrails every night?). She is also a shapeshifter who is kind of dating Alexander Kane, werewolf, lawyer and leader of the PA movement. And let us not forget her teenage-zombie wannabe-slayer apprentice, Tina. The author slips us flawlessly into Vicki’s world without the information dump that you can sometimes run across with world building. I love the many layers to this story: Vicki and her politically ambitious lover Kane seem to have opposing goals, meanwhile there is a sorcerer who is trying to destroy and take over the world using a Hellion (demon) that is intimately linked to Vicki’s past and her need for vengeance. Vicki also has a darkness in her she must fight constantly to keep under control or she could end up hurting innocent people. To top it off there is a human detective that gives her stomach butterflies whenever he is around her (this would be the simmering romance <G>). She has to play role model for a teenage zombie, “teenager” being the operative word here (if you have a teenager, you know what I am talking about), try to have a relationship with her sister who wants nothing to do with their heritage. Oh and let’s not forget the evil doctor who wants to do experiments with shapeshifter blood.

There isn’t a lot of action in this book, mostly we are learning who Vicki is and the fascinating world the author has created, but she does some kick ass demon slaying and has the flaming sword of the Archangel Michael. The story has a great balance of dark elements and humor. I recommend this to anyone wanting to try UF or who already enjoys it. I look forward to the next two books in this series Hellforged and Bloodstone.

4 Flaming Sheep!

Sharon Stogner
writer & marketing

Check out Nancy Holzner online

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Urban Fantasy author Laura Bickle- Guest Post & Giveaway!

Today the Sheep are honored to have Laura Bickle back on the blog. She wrote up a fantastic guest post and is giving away a copy of one of her books to a lucky commenter! Fun taking place below.

The Price of Magic
By Laura Bickle
For me, the most exciting thing about urban fantasy is the idea of magic intertwined with the everyday world. Imagining that there’s a secret supernatural world thriving just beneath the skin of our mundane existence leads to a rich world of “what if’s.” What if humans could bend the elements to their will? What if ghosts wandered, unseen, through hospital corridors? What if oracles can tell the future by looking into a flame or shuffling a deck of cards?
I especially love the idea of magic, of humans being able to touch and manipulate unseen powers. But wielding power would make our heroes and heroines gods, unless the magic has a price. Most epic fantasy literature requires that the exercise of unnatural power has a cost to the user, and that idea has permeated urban fantasy, as well.
Vampires, for example, are given immortality. But they sacrifice the day, and must submit to the bestial act of taking blood from another to gain that power (most of them, anyway). Werewolves fall sway to the unreasoning spell of the beast in moonlight, in exchange for physical power and healing. These costs apply to nonhuman creatures, and we’re familiar with that trading of life and magic.

But what about human heroes and heroines? Does bending the fabric of reality to suit their goals also bring suffering upon them? What do they trade to be able to work magic?
I think that human protagonists must also make a trade; there’s no free lunch in the universe. Even if a magical heritage is forced on them, and not something sought out willingly.
With that in mind, I created my heroines with an ambivalent relationship toward their magical powers. In EMBERS and SPARKS, Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest kind of psychic medium, a Lantern. Where other mediums allow spirits to use their hands and voices to communicate, Anya devours ghosts. It’s a talent she had no choice in - she’s always been a Lantern. And it comes in handy in her nocturnal work as a ghost hunter. But she wrestles with the costs.
The first cost is physical. Devouring a spirit leaves a burn, a scar, on her body. The second is psychological - Anya feels apart from ordinary humans, and can’t make a connection with her fellow ghost hunters. And the last one is spiritual. Anya wrestles with the idea of what happens to a ghost after she incinerates it. Does it go forward into an Afterworld? Or has she killed it entirely?

In DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE, Tara Sheridan has a more subtle magical ability, but it’s brought her more pain. Tara is an oracle, a criminal profiler who uses Tarot cards to solve crimes. Like Anya, she had no choice in it - it’s a gift given to her by her mother. While pursuing a serial killer with her talents, she was attacked and left for dead. Tara survived, but she was scarred for life and left barren - a very dear physical cost. She exiled herself from society, swore of the cards, and seeks tranquility in swearing off magic - until duty comes knocking. A scientist working with dark matter has gone missing, and the society of oracles to which she belonged desperately needs her help to locate him. Tara must decide whether to pick up the mantle of magic again, to assume the role of oracle, and endure further costs.
Without a price to magic, our heroes and heroines would be gods, immune from the consequences of their actions. We’d all like to think that we’d embrace the reins of power willingly. But I don’t think it would be that simple. By adding a bit of magical karma and conflict to the story, their humanity shines through more clearly.

I'm giving away a copy of EMBERS, SPARKS, DARK ORACLE, or ROGUE ORACLE (reader's choice) to one random winner. More info and free excerpts of the books are here:
To enter, please answer the following questions in the comments below:
1. If you could choose a magical power, what would it be? Would you foresee any costs to having a hidden power in your own life?
2. Please also mention which book you'd like to win and an e-mail address.
The contest closes 12:00 PM EST on Sunday, Februrary 5. Thanks for stopping by!
Laura Bickle (also writing as Alayna Williams) writes urban and young adult fantasy. She’s written four novels for Pocket Books: EMBERS, SPARKS, DARK ORACLE, and ROGUE ORACLE. Both DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE are National Novel Writing Month books. She has two upcoming YA novels with Houghton Mifflin’s Graphia line in 2012 and 2013, beginning with THE HALLOWED ONES in fall. More information on her work is here:

Kindle Krack Attack Vol. 11

Time to charge those kindles!
We are 'bout to Blow those B****es UP!
(you have got to listen to the second verse in this song.
If you are a true Flock member you will know why)

Remember to check the prices before you click, they can change

Great deals

had to let you know the title of the dog book!

Jack: A book about a dog where the dog doesn't die at the end