Review (w/Giveaway!): The Taken by Vicki Pettersson

The Taken is the first book in a new series, Celestial Blues, from Vicki Pettersson, author of the Signs of the Zodiac series. It was released from Harper Voyager on July 4, 2012.

Because I love you, I went to see Vicki when she was in town back in July. She gave me several 4×6″ promo cards featuring the cover art of The Taken, and she was kind enough to sign them for me. I have three of them that I’ll mail anywhere in the USA. To enter, check out the form at the bottom of this review. 

The Blurb

Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was back when gumshoes hoofed the streets . . . and he was still alive. Fifty years later, he’s an angel, but that doesn’t make him a saint. One small mistake has altered fate, and now he’s been dumped back onto the mortal mudflat to collect another soul–Katherine “Kit” Craig, a journalist whose latest investigation is about to get her clipped.

Bucking heavenly orders, Grif refuses to let the sable-haired siren come to harm. Besides, protecting her offers a chance to solve the mystery of his own unsolved murder–and dole out some overdue payback for the death of his beloved wife, Evie.

Joining forces, Kit and Grif’s search for answers leads beyond the blinding lights of the Strip into the dark heart of an evil conspiracy. But a ruthless killer determined to destroy them isn’t Grif’s biggest threat. His growing attraction to Kit could cost them both their lives, along with the answer to the haunting question of his long afterlife . . . [Goodreads]

The Review

This book has a much bigger streak of romance in it than the Zodiac books did. It also has no superheroes, just to warn you. What it does have is an angel bad-boy, a modern-day rockabilly heroine, and a serious murder-mystery (or rather: two murder-mysteries) to solve.

If you’re expecting Pettersson’s writing to get lighter with this new series, then you are seriously mistaken. This author has a (much deserved) reputation for being absolutely vicious to her characters, and while this opening doesn’t quite have the brutal gut-punch that The Scent of Shadows did, it still isn’t a quaint walk in the park. In fact, this book should probably carry a trigger warning for rape/sexual assault.

The main relationship is a little abrupt, but the mystery and danger is gritty and real. You can’t really compare Kit with Joanna (the protagonist from Zodiac), because they’re so totally different, but I admit to not falling in love with Kit in the same way. Joanna was dark, tough, and strong. Kit is strong, too, but also sunshine-y cheerful, stubborn, and… Well. I don’t know if she’s too stupid to live, but she doesn’t seem to be the smartest person in the world. For a journalist, this proves a weakness that can (and does) put her into danger.

On second thought, it’s not that Kit’s stupid. She seems quite intelligent, actually. It’s just that she’s way too trusting. She married a jerk that didn’t appreciate her. Then she lets her best friend walk into the seedy hotel room where she’s murdered. As if that weren’t enough, she doesn’t run screaming when she finds Griff, claiming to be an angel, in her house.

Yep, I would be totally credulous if I found a strange man in my bedroom at night who then advised me he was a supernatural being after a short conversation. Sure, he saved her life — but that would only get you so far with me. (I’d probably just call the cops rather than getting out the frying pan and beating him to within an inch of his life, for instance.)

If you don’t take this too seriously, you should do just fine. There’s an odd contrast between the campy-ness of Kit’s rockabilly lifestyle and her interactions with Griff against the deadly serious conspiracy of the ending. I find that contrast intriguing rather than off-putting, but some readers may not be so forgiving.

All in all, this story is like that kind of chocolate you can get with the hot pepper in it. (Here’s an example.) It’s a sweet romance tale, with the bite of murder and conspiracy. It’s a gritty noir murder-mystery with some great witty dialogue. This story is trying to be a lot of different things, and while it doesn’t quite succeed in being everything for everyone, it’s a compelling start to a story that I plan on being in line for through the end.

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[FTC Disclosure: While I purchased my own copy of this book to review, I did receive the promo items I am giving away from the author at no cost to me.] : {Post edited to refer to the correct government agency.}

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Non-Fiction Review: Knits for Nerds

In which Kia reviews a non-fiction book. This doesn’t happen often. But when she found this book, that is such a cute point on the knitting/nerd fandom Venn diagram, she just couldn’t resist requesting it from NetGalley and thus giving you, reader, a review. 

Knits for Nerds is a non-fiction book of nerdy knitting patterns by Joan of Dark, aka Toni Carr. It will be available for purchase on 2-21-12. Buy it. You will want to MAKE ALL THE THINGS.

The Blurb

[via NetGalley]

The best of science fiction, manga, and animaguiri meets knit one, purl two as knit siren and part-time roller derby girl Joan of Dark offers up an out-of-this-world assortment of knitting nerdiness inside Knits for Nerds. The patterns for 30 iconic clothing and accessory items inspired by popular TV shows, books, films, comics, and more—including Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Firefly—are presented alongside full-color photographs showcasing completed projects, such as:

  • Lieutenant Uhura’s sexy Star Trek minidress
  • Hobbit feet slippers
  • Firefly-inspired scarf, socks, hat, and jacket
  • Tank Girl socks
  • Hermione Granger’s secret beaded bag
  • Manga-inspired leg warmers
  • The Big Bang Theory-inspired his and hers sweater-vests
  • Lord of the Rings-inspired shrug

In addition to a wardrobe of costume finery, hobbyists will also find instructions for practical projects such as an e-reader cover or a laptop bag crafted of checkered fabric that serves double-duty as a chessboard and carryall, as well as patterns for plush toys inspired by Star Trek, robots, and the comic book Squee! Wear (and knit!) your nerdiness on your sleeve with Knits for Nerds.

My Review:

The introduction to this book says, “[T]hese patterns have something for every kind of nerd!” and that’s no lie. This book has knittables from Star Trek to Firefly, from American Gods to Tank Girl – and, of course, The Lord of the Rings.

Honestly, all they had to say was “Tank Girl,” and I was sold. Sadly, this is one of the patterns that is “inspired” by the original instead of being built straight from it. That will not, however, stop me from knitting them… just as soon as I finish a couple of other projects!

In fact, there are several things I’d like to complete from this: the “Secret Beaded Bag,” based on Hermione’s magic purse from the last Harry Potter films; the “Aim to Misbehave Brown Jacket” is gorgeous, even while I’m not a Firefly fan; the “Creepy Bunny” is both cute and creepy, as promised; and – of course! – the Tank Girl socks! In this book, I see lots of projects to make for friends as gifts, and several more I’d like to have all for my own!

The only project I’m not interested in making would be the hobbit slippers. Because knitting up something that looks like big hairy feet? Ew. Just – ew. As funny as the idea is, I can’t imagine a single person who would want that. At least, that’s what I keep repeating to myself. (I think the thing really freaking me out is that I probably DO know people who would be excited to receive a pair of these and that’s just… It freaks me out, okay?)

In short: Awesome book. Great patterns. Useful tool in the arsenal of all nerdy knitters out there. And fun, too. Which is really the whole point of the thing, isn’t it?

I plan to buy a hard copy of this as soon as it releases,  because I’ve found that working patterns from an epub file is not as easy as it might sound! To facilitate my getting started on all the great projects that I’m planning because of this book – and to celebrate my upcoming birthday Kiaras Festivus, I’d like to do a giveaway of something made from one of these patterns. In the “Science Fiction” section, there’s a pattern called Troublesome Toy. The resulting object looks something like this:

Photo from pg 59 of text.

Kind of looks like a tribble, doesn’t it? It also looks like a quick and fairly easy pattern to make, so I’m offering up two of these, made by my own two little hands (in varying colors that probably won’t match the photo at all) to those who enter by commenting on this post. Sadly, I will have to offer these to US-only mailing addresses, as international packages cost more than I make on this website. (P.S. – For the record, I don’t make anything on this site.) Comments will be closed at midnight in the US Eastern time zone on 2/24, after which I will choose two winners.

So get to commenting. This may be your only opportunity to win something this rare. 😉

Kiaras Festivus: Author Focus – Leanna Renee Hieber (w/ Giveaway!)

Sometime back in 2009, I received a review request via email from an author. She introduced herself quite politely, identified herself as a fellow Southwest Ohioan, and asked that I give her book an honest review. Having less than a year of book blogging under my belt, at that time I never turned down a review (I’ve since learned better), and I readily agreed. I’m sure any book blogger out there could tell you that sometimes these review requests turn out well, and other times they do … not.

This is one of those times that it turned out very, very well and today I’d like to introduce you to her and her beautiful, haunting work.

Meet Leanna Renee Hieber, author of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, and the upcoming The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess (out May, 2011).

Photo: www.taraleigh.com

She is not only an award-winning, best-selling author but also an actress and a playwright. Further, she co-founded Lady Jane’s Salon, a romance fiction reading series in NYC whose proceeds go to organizations that benefit women in need. She is a Renaissance Woman, by talent — although it seems she is Victorian Gothic by temperament.

I won’t re-hash my reviews of her work. You can find them here and here. However, I will say that if you would like a dark Victorian romance with a hefty helping of Greek mythological figures, ghostly hauntings, and dangerous situations then you should give this series a try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To facilitate that, the author has most generously donated 2 copies of the first book in the series, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker for me to give away. The contest will open today and will end at midnight February 28th. Comment here to enter. Any comment on this post will be an entry. If you’d like an extra entry, follow Leanna Renee Hieber on Twitter. For a second extra entry, like her Facebook page as well. Make sure you note in your comment that you have done these things, so that all your entries can be counted. Winners must have a United States shipping address. (Sorry, international folks.)

For more Gothic Victorian goodness, come back this Friday for my review of Strangely Beautiful #2.5 – the novella A Christmas Carroll. And be sure to check back on Monday, for the crown jewel of our Kiaras Festivus celebration — an exclusive new Valentine’s Day short featuring two of our (okay, my) favorite Guard characters!

Kiaras Festivus Year 2

Hello, darlings, and welcome to the kick-off of my 2nd annual Kiaras Festivus party, also known as “Melissa likes to celebrate her birthday for a whole entire month!”

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I do. And I’m hoping you’ll be excited to celebrate with me because I have so much awesome stuff in store for you this year! That’s right — as usual, we’re going to be celebrating MY birthday, but YOU’RE the ones who get the presents!

I’ll have some new authors to introduce you to, lots of great reviews, a half dozen or so giveaways, and best of all – NEW fiction from award-winning author Leanna Renee Hieber! That’s right. We’ll have a shiny new short piece featuring my favorite Guard couple going up just in time for Valentine’s Day! I hope you guys get even halfway as excited about this as *I* am right now, ’cause boy am I psyched.

On top of that, our first guest review and giveaway will go up THIS AFTERNOON, so stay tuned.

It’s time to PARTY!

Diana Rowland 'Impromptu Contest' Winner

I apologize for the delay, as I said I would draw the winner on Tuesday. And I completely forgot.

This is what working 6 days/50 hour weeks at Ye Olde Day Job (henceforth to be known as YODJ) does to me.

To choose the winner, I numbered each entrant’s comment (skipping over any replies). By my count, we had 5 unique entrants.

So, according to Random.org, our winner is:  *brazen fanfare, please* (Drumrolls are so ’80’s.)

Commenter #1 or jacabur1. Congratulations, Jackie B, you are our winner! Please email the address where you’d like the book sent to kiara [at-squiggle] waitingforfairies [dot] com.

I  hope the rest of you will stay tuned, as I know I at the very least have an extra copy of Mark Henry’s Battle of the Network Zombies to give away as well! (And probably more than that – I need to check my shelves again…)

Diana Rowland ‘Impromptu Contest’ Winner

I apologize for the delay, as I said I would draw the winner on Tuesday. And I completely forgot.

This is what working 6 days/50 hour weeks at Ye Olde Day Job (henceforth to be known as YODJ) does to me.

To choose the winner, I numbered each entrant’s comment (skipping over any replies). By my count, we had 5 unique entrants.

So, according to Random.org, our winner is:  *brazen fanfare, please* (Drumrolls are so ’80’s.)

Commenter #1 or jacabur1. Congratulations, Jackie B, you are our winner! Please email the address where you’d like the book sent to kiara [at-squiggle] waitingforfairies [dot] com.

I  hope the rest of you will stay tuned, as I know I at the very least have an extra copy of Mark Henry’s Battle of the Network Zombies to give away as well! (And probably more than that – I need to check my shelves again…)

Impromtu Contest: Vent Here to Win a Diana Rowland Book

Okay, folks. Diana Rowland is posting some gems over at her Twitter feed tonight, and she’s inspired me. So I’m holding an impromptu contest. I have an extra copy of her latest Blood of the Demon (Review here.) and I’m giving it away.

All you have to do to win is vent here. It can be about anything. What’s frustrating YOU lately? Get it off your chest and maybe win a free book*.

*Anyone can vent but I can only ship to within the US. Sorry. I’m poor & international shipping is expensive.

Edit: Contest will stay open through Monday evening EST.

Kiaras Festivus WINNERS!

Okay, folks. Now that the dust has cleared, the hangovers are cured, and I’ve passed a milestone of birthdays we can now announce the winners of our Kiaras Festivus giveaway. Which author took the lead and was most requested? We’ll soon find out!

Our winners were chosen via the ultra scientific ‘Put-Names-In-A-Hat’ method and my dear husband was present to ensure there were no shenanigans. (There was a margarita or two involved, but it was my birthday after all!)

Winner #1 is: @jacabur1 aka Jackie B who chose Rob Thurman’s Roadkill as her prize.

Winner #2 is: Zombie Joe who also chose Rob Thurman but went with Madhouse. Apparently he has some reading to catch up on! 🙂

Winner #3 is: Joanna who’s our oddball (with excellent taste!) and chose Jaye Wells’ Red-Headed Stepchild as her prize!

That’s right. No love for Diana Rowland in this contest, but that’s okay folks. We’ll be running a special Demon-ized contest next month (after I’ve had a chance to build my prize fund back up again!).

I hope you all had fun reading up on some under-rated authors. If you didn’t win, I urge you to give one (or more!) of these authors a try anyway. If you are one of our winners, your prize has been ordered and is on its way to you!

I hope you’ll all join us again next time for another contest!

Kiaras Festivus: Author Focus – Jaye Wells

Well, we’re up to our final post in our Kiaras Festivus party. In less than a week, the Dreaded Event* will occur and I will console myself with red meat, margaritas, and fried cheesecake. But before that, I would like to introduce you all to the talented Jaye Wells.

Urban fantasy author Jaye Wells is a self-proclaimed ‘plantser‘¹ who lives in Texas with her “saintly husband and devilish son”, the latter of which she fondly refers to as ‘Spawn’. Read the rest of her bio here. Ms. Wells’ second book will be released on April 1st, 2010. Amazon has it listed as March 30th – which is why she fits in with our February/March party. That, and because it’s my birthday and I’ll invite whoever I want!

I very recently re-read the first book in the Sabina Kane series: Red-Headed Step Child, and – while my husband still pokes fun at the title – it’s still quite possibly my favorite vampire story of all time. In Sabina’s world, vampires are descended from Lilith and carry the mark of Cain in their red hair. Continuing with the Biblical theme, these vamps are highly allergic to apples (Much more pleasing to the nose than garlic, in my opinion!) and can be killed with a stake of apple wood to the heart.

There also seem to be (so far) three other varieties of supernatural creatures in this world: fairies of assorted flavors, mages, and demons. The mages are the vampires’ rivals; any unions between the two races are forbidden. Which explains why half-vampire, half-mage Sabina Kane has such a terrible temper.  (You can read what I thought of Red-Headed Step Child here.)

My final word on this series? It’s worth the read just for Giguhl, the sarcastic, home shopping addicted, shape-shifting demon in (hairless) cat form.

*The ‘Dreaded Event’ being my 25th + n birthday.
¹ A correction, with a hat tip to the author herself.

A look at RHSC:

In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina doesn’t really fit in. And being an assassin – the only profession fit for an outcast – doesn’t help matters. But she’s never brought her work home. Until now.

Her latest mission is uncomfortably complex, and threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races. As Sabina scrambles to figure out which side she’s on, she uncovers a tangled political web, some nasty facts about her family and some unexpected new talents. Any of these things could be worryingly life-changing, but together, they could be fatal …

This time, it’s personal.

Read the 1st chapter of RHSC here.

But at Indiebound or Barnes & Noble.

The new release: Mage in Black

Sabina Kane doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to family. After all, her own grandmother, leader of the vampire race, wants her dead. So when she arrives in New York to meet her mage relatives, the reunion puts the fun in dysfunctional. Not only is mage culture completely bizarre, but everyone seems to think she’s some kind of ‘Chosen’ who’ll unite the dark races. Sabina doesn’t care who chose her, she’s not into destiny.

But the mages aren’t Sabina’s only problem. In New York’s Black Light District, she has run-ins with fighting demons, hostile werewolves and an opportunistic old flame. Sabina thought she’d take a bite out of the Big Apple – but it looks like it wants to bite back.

Pre-order Mage in Black at Barnes & Noble.

And check out the cover for the next release at Jaye Well’s blog.

Follow the author on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jayewells

And just for fun follow Giguhl the demon, too. http://twitter.com/giguhl

Don’t forget that you can comment on this post for an entry into our Kiaras Festivus giveaway! Details on this post.