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Top reads for 2013 January 6, 2013

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors, Book lists, Book picks, Fun stuff.
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Sorry for the lag between posts. Wish I could say I was out time traveling but it was something more mundane: work! However, I’m back. So here’s a look at my fave reads from last year and what I’m looking forward to reading in 2013. (This is part of a post I did for my friends at www.sookiestackhouse.com. You can read their faves here!) Did I miss any of your faves? Let me know in the comments section. Happy New Year!

MY FAVE 2012 BOOKS:

1. Poison Princess (Book No. 1 in Arcana Chronicles) by Kresley Cole (This is a YA book but it’s a combo of a dystopian world/Tarot card characters and a smoking hot attraction between the heroine and lead male character. Great read.)

2. Iced (Dani O’Malley series No. 1) by Karen Marie Moning (Ending is predictable but I just wanna know more about the Fever world!)

3. Deadlocked (Sookie book No. 12) By Charlaine Harris. (Coming off the disappointing Dead Reckoning, I liked this second-to-last book in the series.)

4. Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr (Promising start to a nifty series set in world of daimons vs. witches)

5. Days of Blood & Starlight (Book No. 2 of Daughter of Smoke and Bone) by Laini Taylor (Fantastic sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, whose opening line is “Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.”)

BOOKS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO READING IN 2013:

1. Dead Ever After (Last of the Sookie books) by Charlaine Harris

2. Frost Burned (Book No. 7 of the Mercy Thompson series) by Patricia Briggs

3. Dead Silence (Book No. 4 in the Body Finder series) by Kimberly Derting

4. Endless Knight (Book No. 2 in the Arcana Chronicles) by Kresley Cole (tentative title)

5. Burned (Dani O’Malley Book No. 2) By Karen Marie Moning

Kresley Cole’s ‘Poison Princess’ a dark, racy thriller for adults and YA October 8, 2012

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If you like Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series for adults, you’re going to love POISON PRINCESS, her first   paranormal YA novel.

The story is dark — very dark — but Cole’s witty dialogue, creative new world and characters based on Tarot cards — the Arcana — and just the right amount of weird teen angst make this a page turner. Here’s Cole’s description from her website: (And scroll to the bottom to see YouTube video of her talking about the book!)

22 Arcana cards. 22 young assassins. May the best hand live.

Sixteen-year-old Evie Greene’s horrific hallucinations predicted the apocalypse, and the end of the world brought her all sorts of new powers. With the earth scorched and few survivors, Evie teams up with handsome and dangerous Jack Deveaux in a race to find answers. They discover that that an ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens have been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side…

Her heroine is Evie — a popular Southern belle in high school who is dating a hunky quarterback and who seemingly has the world wrapped around her finger. But when we meet Evie, we are not in her cheerful high school world — but  in a different world — one that’s been laid to waste by something called the “Flash” with loved ones killed. It’s a world where lawless groups  roam the countryside. Zombie-like creatures are everywhere. And it’s literally every man – -because most women died in the “Flash”  — for himself. But when the story opens, Evie is being lured into an old house by a young man named Arthur, who is exceptionally cruel and evil — and a total mystery.

And that’s how Cole tells her tale. She alternates between the sadistic Arthur  and Evie’s past until we are caught up at the end and back in Arthur’s house. We go back in time to find out that her idyllic teen life wasn’t so perfect because Evie had visions of the end of the world. Her mother put her in an institute for the summer because she was worried Evie would follow in her grandmother’s footsteps — insanity. Or what Evie’s mother thought was insanity.

As Evie struggles to mainstream her way back into school and with friends, she meets bad boy Jackson Deveaux, a Cajun from the wrong side of the tracks who is fascinated by Evie and what is haunting her. They tug at each other — both repulsed and yet attracted to each other at first. It’s a pretty intense and hot relationship — just right for this story.

Cole weaves in the story of Evie’s visions — the strange creatures she sees. A witch, Death, a girl who shoots arrows and a boy who beckons to her as a friend. Bloody battles from ancient wars.  Evie sees desolate landscapes, death and oddly enough — plants. Evie is called the Empress in these visions and later on after the “Flash” but she doesn’t understand who or what she really is. Without giving too much away, I will say that Cole has based her characters on Tarot — what she calls the Arcana — cards. In the end, the story and subsequent books in this series will amount to a sort of THE HUNGER GAMES among these card characters. But the relationships are more complicated in this frightening post-apocalyptic world.

And then there’s Jackson — who is dark and handsome and not part of the Arcana — at least that we know in this first book. He seems to want to protect Evie, who — fast forward into the world after the “Flash” — is determined to find her grandmother, who was put away somewhere in North Carolina. Evie is convinced her grandmother is still alive and can help her figure out what her role as Empress should be in this new world.

Suffice to say, Cole leaves us with a giant cliffhanger and it’s going to be a long wait between this book and the sequel. But if the second book is anything like the first, it will be well worth the wait.

Kresley Cole moving into YA niche with ‘Poison Princess’ June 18, 2012

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Fans of Kresley Cole love her Immortals After Dark series for her strong heroines and their wacky wit and humor. Now Cole is getting ready to move into the YA niche with POISON PRINCESS (Arcana Chronicles), set to be released Oct. 2. (Where do they come up with these titles?!)

Here’s a description of the book from Amazon.com:

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

On her website, Cole has more info about the YA novel and offers up an excerpt from the book HERE!!!

My question to you — are you reading more YA paranormal books now? I sort of have been leaning that way. Interesting to see which authors are switching demographics. Let me know what you think and drop me a line in the comments section when you have a chance!

(For fans of the IAD series, book No. 13 — SHADOW’S CLAIM — is coming out Nov. 27. It’s the story of Prince Trehan, “a master assassin who will do anything to possess Bettina, his beautiful Sorceress mate, even compete for her hand in a blood-sport tournament—to the death.”

‘Lothaire’ continues disturbing trend in Immortals series January 30, 2012

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From KC's Facebook page

I’ve been waiting for Kresley Cole to tell the Enemy of Old’s tale and we get it with LOTHAIRE. But I’m beginning to wonder if Cole is losing her touch with her Immortals After Dark series.

Her heroines and heroes used to be funny and goofy in an endearing way. Sure, her Alpha males are overbearing and oversexed but in previous novels she’s balanced that with humor,  romance and loyalty.

Lothaire continues what I think is a disturbing trend in Cole’s IAD series. This is the second book in the series where the hero abuses the heroine, and I just don’t think that’s cool.  (Remember how icky Declan was in DREAMS OF A DARK WARRIOR? See my review HERE.)

This time around, our heroine isn’t a supernatural but a mere mortal. Ellie — born and raised in Appalachia —  is possessed by a horribly weirdo demon named Saroya and is desperately trying to get rid of her.  Ellie is so strong that she can keep Sayora hidden deep within her, but not always. And when Sayora “rises,” she’s a bloody killer.

Our so-called hero thinks Saroya is his bride and is determined to help her survive by extinguishing Ellie’s soul. I am not going to even bother with the plot details here. Suffice to say, Lothaire only steps in to protect Ellie — to save Saroya. Yes, we finally find out what he needs that ring for — to get rid of the mortal’s soul — but funny thing is — he can’t find it. When the real Ellie is present, all Lothaire does is tell her how pitiful and horrible she is, and the mental abuse is so horrific that any woman in her right mind would never forgive this jerk.  And that’s where I think Cole stumbles again — big time. While Ellie is smart and clever, Cole never gives her a fighting will to push Lothaire away. He takes everything away from her and she still loves him. It makes no sense.

There was nothing in this story to indicate why Ellie should even love Lothaire — even after he finally recognizes she is his bride. (Boy — what an arrogant dummy!) He did nothing. Made no sacrifice. He hated her.  And he said it over and over again. He never gave her any choices.

And then poof! All is OK in lovey-dovey land? It just doesn’t work for me.

If this is how the rest of the books are going to be written  — count me out. I can only hope when she tells Nix’s story that she returns to her old form and stops writing these gross, abusive stories.

Kresley Cole to post excerpt from ‘Lothaire’ on Facebook! November 19, 2011

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Get ready! Kresley Cole — author of the Immortals After Dark series — said in an email that she will post “the long-awaited LOTHAIRE excerpt” on her Facebook page and website on Nov. 22. That’s only a few days away!

And if you haven’t read the back cover of her book — this also posted on her Facebook page — you can read who the heroine is and the storyline. She’s also posted a min-excerpt of the time the first two meet. If you don’t want to know — spoiler alert — just don’t scroll below the embed book video, which I admit is a bit cheesy but hey — I love Kresley Cole’s books! I’ve posted the book info below that and the min-excerpt follows that info.  (The novel will be released Jan. 10.)

Also — Cole talks about The Realm of Blood and Mist, her paperback spin-off series of the IAD that follows the Dacians (those thought-to-be-mythic vampires). Book 1 is called SHADOW’S CLAIM.  This is her first new series in more than five years. “I can’t wait to share those sexy, powerful characters with you. Perhaps you’ll get to know them in LOTHAIRE . . . ?   ;)”

****Spoiler Alert — story info below ****

****Spoiler Alert — story info below ****

****Spoiler Alert — story info below ****

ALL FEAR THE ENEMY OF OLD
Driven by his insatiable need for revenge, Lothaire, the Lore’s most ruthless vampire, plots to seize the Horde’s crown. But bloodlust and torture have left him on the brink of madness—until he finds Elizabeth Peirce, the key to his victory. He captures the unique young mortal, intending to offer up her very soul in exchange for power, yet Elizabeth soothes his tormented mind and awakens within him emotions Lothaire believed he could no longer experience.

A DEADLY FORCE DWELLS WITHIN HER
Growing up in desperate poverty, Ellie Peirce yearned for a better life, never imagining she’d be convicted of murder—or that an evil immortal would abduct her from death row. But Lothaire is no savior, as he himself plans to sacrifice Ellie in one month’s time. And yet the vampire seems to ache for her touch, showering her with wealth and sexual pleasure. In a bid to save her soul, Ellie surrenders her body to the wicked vampire, while vowing to protect her heart.

CENTURIES OF COLD INDIFFERENCE SHATTERED
Elizabeth tempts Lothaire beyond reason, as only his fated mate could. As the month draws to a close, he must choose between a millennia-old blood vendetta and his irresistible prisoner. Will Lothaire succumb to the miseries of his past . . . or risk everything for a future with her?

And here’s the snippet she posted on their first meeting:


strong>DID YOU MISS THESE?

Sneak peak of Kresley Cole book cover: Lothaire (and we know the heroine) May 24, 2011

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From KC's Facebook page

We have to wait until next year read to read Book No. 11 in Kresley Cole’s fab and funny IMMORTALS AFTER DARK series. But she just posted two big shockers on her Facebook page. We have a cover and title for the book — and it’s gonna be about the old ancient one. It’s simply titled LOTHAIRE.

And, since we all wondered who Lothaire is sooooo devoted to — and who could even love him — we don’t have to wait until 2012 to find out. Nope — it’s not nutty Nix. Here’s what KC posted on her Facebook page

The cat’s out of the bag! Lothaire’s heroine is revealed. Her name is . . . Elizabeth Peirce, and she is the first mortal IAD protagonist, a character we’ve met before, not his original Bride, a being of untold power, and on death row. (And at least one of those statements is false) Which do you think are true? p.s. for those of you who’d wondered if his heroine would be Nix . . . I’ve had her hero picked out from the very beginning of this series (he’s the only one who can handle Nucking Futs). Lothaire and Nix have a surprising history though, and in the future, you’ll see why they could never be more than just friends/enemies  🙂 As a matter of fact, several shocking secrets will be revealed in this book …

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Book pick: ‘Dreams of a Dark Warrior’ — darkest story in the IAD series February 20, 2011

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I usually shy away from reincarnation romance stories, but I couldn’t pass up DREAMS OF A DARK WARRIOR, the ninth novel  in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series.  But be warned, this is a much darker IAD book than her previous entries.

The story — which is almost a retelling of DEMON FROM THE DARK from a different point of view — follows ill-fated lovers  Aidan the Fierce and Regin the Radiant. Warlord Aidan first meets Regin when she is 12. He is  a berserker, who recognizes her as his mate, and waits for her to grow up before claiming her. But his life — and their love life — is cut short before he can gain immortality.  And that’s their history. Every time the reincarnated Aidan and Regin consummate their love, Aidan  dies shortly after, leaving immortal Valkyrie Regin to mourn his loss and wait for his next reincarnation – where he dies again.

So when the present day story picks up, the cheeky Regin is done repeating history. This time,  she decides not to look for the next version of Aidan — hoping to avoid heartbreak and their cursed history.

Instead, Regin is kidnapped by The Order, a mortal organization that wants to wipe out all immortals. And guess who is a bigwig in The Order and Regin’s captor?  Declan Chase, a bitter, emotionally/physically scarred human who hates all immortals — but who is the latest reincarnation of Aidan the Fierce.

Chase is a real evil dude. He kills and tortures good and evil immortals alike and doesn’t realize that not all supernatural beings are like the evil creatures who  killed his family and tortured him when he was a teen.  As fate would have it (Hint: Nix knows all), Regin ends up as one of his torture victims. This is where the story got a little weird for me. In previous reincarnations, Aidan would recognize Regin as his beloved — just after they kissed — and would do everything in his power to protect her from any harm. But while Chase feels something toward Regin — he refuses to fall for her, fails to protect her and it makes him a very hard Kresley Cole hero to love. This is a guy who has his best friend (Brandr) cut up. (Yuck!) He even guts Regin during the capture and continues to let her come into harm’s way at the compound.

I have to say, Chase is my least favorite hero of the entire series right now. There’s nothing wrong with a few flaws, but he’s beyond just a few. He’s a broken man, at times warring with his personal feelings and brainwashing via The Order. He’s hooked on drugs. And in desperation, he makes deals with other immortals — yes — to help save Regin — but it’s hard to swallow. And the torture stuff. Ugh. Just hard to take that and think this is the guy the spirited and witty Regin will wind up with.  In the end, the author does salvage his character enough that some IAD readers should come around.

He’s not super popular among the Lore either. After he helps Regin and other immortals escape from The Order’s torture camp,  Chase kind of has a price on his head. After all, he captured and tortured so many of the Lore. And even at the end of the story, it’s clear that many in the Lore don’t care if he’s with Regin — he’s not been forgiven for his role in The Order.

DREAMS OF A DARK WARRIOR does have a great supporting cast:  Natalya with her poisonous claws; Thad, the clueless vampire halfling who has no idea what his “talent’ might be,  and Lothaire (evil vampire) who holds a lot of power and secrets. They offer most of the  humor that’s a trademark of Kresley Cole, and they lighten the dark romance between Chase and Regin.  Their escape gives you the “other view” of the collapse of The Order’s compound that we saw in DEMON FROM THE DARK. And if you’ve read that — you definitely already know some of what happens to Regin and her friends. We also get to see Malkom Slaine and Carrow Graie again. (Since this is a retelling)

As with all IAD books there are a lot of sex scenes. This time around, I thought it was a bit much. (Maybe it’s because I didn’t like Chase for most of the novel?)

Still, if you’re reading the series, you don’t want to miss this story. The reincarnation romance  was interesting and even funny at times — plus it had an interesting twist.  And this story also is setting us up for the next book in the series. Nix is nuttier than ever.  What is her connection to Lothaire? And will Lothaire ever get his ring back and who is the “she” he must get back to? (If it’s who I think it is — it will be a real  talker!)

As the Ascension is clearly in full swing, you have to wonder if the rest of Cole’s stories will become even more dark. I hope not. I don’t expect her to write all sweetness and light when the world of the Lore is falling apart, but I want more of the humor and wit and grit from both heroes and heroines that has come to be a hallmark of her series. (OK — and give me a hero who is worthy of our Valkyries!)

Tip: If you haven’t read the IAD series, don’t start with this book. Most of the other novels can stand on their own but the last few in the series are definitely interconnected. And DREAMS OF A DARK WARRIOR should be read after DEMON FROM THE DARK.

DID YOU MISS THESE?

Kresley Cole gives readers great excerpt from ‘Dreams of a Dark Warrior’ December 19, 2010

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Kresley Cole releases the latest tale in her Immortals After Dark series on Feb. 15. Finally — in DREAMS OF A DARK WARRIOR we will hear the story of Regin the Radiant! To keep us going until then, Cole gives her readers a very generous excerpt. CLICK HERE to start reading. If you’re like me — and love the IAD series — this will only make you want to read more! But it’s a pretty hefty excerpt, so I was happy to see it! If you want to know how Regin’s story starts out,  here is the product description listed on Amazon.com:

HE VOWED HED COME FOR HER . . .

Murdered before he could wed Regin the Radiant, warlord Aidan the Fierce seeks his beloved through eternity, reborn again and again into new identities, yet with no memory of his past lives.

SHE AWAITS HIS RETURN . . .

When Regin encounters Declan Chase, a brutal Celtic soldier, she recognizes her proud warlord reincarnated. But Declan takes her captive, intending retribution against all immortals—unaware that he belongs to their world.

TO SATE A DESIRE MORE POWERFUL THAN DEATH . . .

Yet every reincarnation comes with a price, for Aidan is doomed to die when he remembers his past. To save herself from Declan’s torments, will Regin rekindle memories of the passion they once shared—even if it means once again losing the only man she could ever love?

Book pick: ‘Demon from the Dark’ continues wicked fun in Kresley Cole series September 5, 2010

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The best thing about Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series: The wicked sense of humor in all of the paranormal romance and lust and adventure.

And she continues that tradition in book No. 8 of the series (or 10 if you’re counting the novellas)  — DEMON FROM THE DARK, where we find out where the Lore are being taken.

Carrow Graie — a powerful witch, warrior and enchantress — has been captured by The Order, an evil group rounding up immortals to destroy them. Carrow — a party girl who is on a “man-fast … Why bother with them? The good ones are always taken. Or they’re weirdly uninterested in a capricious wild child with continuous legal problems” — is ordered to lure Malkom Slaine into an Order ambush. The Order threaten to kill Carrow’s recently orphaned niece Ruby — who they’re also holding — if she doesn’t obey.

But her task isn’t easy. Malkom is a vemon — part demon and part vampire. He is deeply disturbed by his troubled past, which was mostly spent as a slave, who was beaten and betrayed repeatedly after he was forced to turn part vampire. So he trusts no one. But he falls hard for the witch, who seeks him out in Oblivion, a hellish plane with lots of weird, gruesome creatures and very little water. (Suffice to say — Malkom is into grunge when Carrow first meets him, so this reminded me a little of Beauty and the Beast at first.) Some of the most funny moments come when the two try to talk — mostly communicating with hand gestures — because neither speak the same language at first.

What happens when Carrow has to turn Malkom over? You’ll have to read because I’m not gonna tell!

But I will say that this latest book in the series has me wondering what Kresley Cole will do next. We learn a little bit about what’s happening to Regin the Radiant and her capture. We’re also introduced to a sorceress named Lanthe who has injured The Vrekener — a winged demon named Thronos. (She “persuaded” him to jump from a great height — without using his wings. And so he’s after her.)

And, we catch up with characters from the other books in the series like Mariketa The Awaited and her Lykae mate, Bowen, as well as Rydstrom and Sabine, and Conrad Wroth and his Neomi. The only character she left out — the odd and amazing Nix!!!! I wonder why because Nix usually figures prominently in just about all of the books.

However, if you like the books in this series — and I’m an unabashed fan of the entire series — you’ll gobble this one up. And then you’ll wonder whose story the author will tell next.

You can follow Kresley Cole on Twitter: @kresleycole. Or visit her website HERE.

DID YOU MISS THESE?

Kresley Cole offers up 5 chapters from ‘Demon from the Dark’ June 27, 2010

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The next book in Kresley Cole’s fab Immortals After Dark series comes out Aug. 24. But she’s given us FIVE chapters of DEMON FROM THE DARK on her website HERE. I haven’t read them yet. Trying to decide how much I want to know about demon outcast Malkom Slaine, who was poisoned with vampire blood. He now has to protect a young witch, Carrow Graie, who apparently lives only for the next party or prank until she meets Malkom, who might be worth saving. Somehow they both end up in a “savage” prison. “In order for Malkom and Carrow to survive, he must unleash both the demon and vampire inside him. When Malkom becomes the nightmare his own people feared, will he lose the woman he craves body and soul?” (That’s from the book description.)

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