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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[Winner] Magic Most Foul Giveaway for DARKER STILL

Okay. We’re finally ready to announce a winner!

And our winner is….

DAWN!

Who said, “Sounds like an interesting read. Will have to check out her work.

Well, now you can, Dawn! Please email me at: kiara at Waiting for Fairies dot com with your mailing address so that I can get it to the appropriate people. Congratulations!

Full disclosure:

In order to draw the winner of this giveaway, I combined the comments from the two Magic Most Foul posts here and here, in the order in which they were posted. I numbered them from oldest to newest. You cannot see it on the front end, but rest assured I have the time stamps down to the minute here on the back end of things. Then, I had Random.org spit out the following chunk of numbers:

77	69	65	36	3
43	54	2	89	31
75	1	89	97	11
26	62	3	31	83
28	47	31	68	22
32	62	44	39	58
63	100	34	61	33
86	98	87	49	55
53	83	60	94	57
79	73	96	94	37
11	88	59	11	90
2	75	57	61	27
65	58	97	50	75
95	68	71	82	43
64	25	87	66	2
99	78	89	3	97
25	37	100	57	100
4	36	27	18	2
36	4	36	26	37
85	61	93	76	16

Timestamp: 2012-02-23 23:04:36 UTC

The first number that was an actual comment (left to right, top to bottom) was our winner. That was comment#3, which was Dawn. 🙂

Again, congratulations, and I hope you’ll stop back as we still have more giveaways for you to win! And you still have time to enter the Knits for Nerds Giveaway!

Magic Most Foul Giveaway

Annnd… Because I’m a huge dork who forgot to include it in the previous post. There is a giveaway attached to the lovely Leanna Renee Hieber’s guest post, sponsored by her Greatness and courtesy of her dear publisher, Sourcebooks Fire.

Giveaway is for one (1) copy of Darker Still and is open to any human person on the planet Earth who leaves a comment either here or on the previous post (I’ll combine them) before midnight in the Eastern (my) time zone on February 19th.  

Thank you all and sorry that didn’t get included on the original posting. February has left me flabbergasted this year.

Upcoming Author Guest Post & Giveaway!

One week from today, on October 1st, Waiting for Fairies will be hosting Dorchester author L.J. McDonald. She is the author of the Sylph series, consisting of The Battle Sylph, The Shattered Sylph and the recently released Queen of the Sylphs. L.J. will discuss with us how she chooses names for her characters, the likes of which are Solie and Heyou. WFF will also be giving away a download code for a digital copy of Queen of the Sylphs to one lucky commenter – so stay tuned!

If you’ve never heard of L.J. McDonald before, that’s okay. I hadn’t either until I was contacted for this guest blog. Since that time, I’ve read The Battle Sylph, courtesy of Dorchester, and I thought it was pretty darned nifty. This is a fantasy romance about a girl who escapes being used as a virgin sacrifice by a rescue from the very demon whose summoning was supposed to be completed by her death.

Regular readers here will know that if there’s one genre I’m prejudiced against (At least I’m self-aware and working on my flaws, okay?), it would be romance. I find most romance novel plots weak, contrived, and the sugary-sweet HEAs (Happily Ever Afters) nauseating. If you’re like me, I think The Battle Sylphs would be a pleasant surprise. (And if you’re not like me, then you’ll probably enjoy this series even more than I did.)

The world was original; the plot was engrossing. Secondary characters were more than mere cardboard cut-outs. The best part? Reading the series digitally means there are no “man-candy” covers to be embarrassed about if you’re reading in public!

This series reminds me of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera, with less focus on the military aspects and more on the relationship and human interactions. It also, unexpectedly, says quite a bit about misconceptions and prejudice, if you’re paying attention. And if you’re not, it’s still an entertaining read that left me frankly shocked at how late it kept me up. I’ve come to the conclusion that Dorchester publishes some damned good stuff!

White Trash Zombie Giveaway Winners

I am insanely late with announcing these winners, since the contest ended on — what? the 14th?

I can only apologize profusely. I forgot. No excuses — I just completely forgot.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I only had 3 comments on this giveaway. So everybody wins!

Christine, Pamela (Spaz), and Blaise please send your mailing addresses to kiara (at) waitingforfairies (dot) com. I will send each of you a copy of Diana Rowland’s wonderful White Trash Zombie  and probably a bonus or two as well. I have some extra copies of things lying around, and you guys deserve it for being so patient.

So get your info to me and I’ll get your prizes out all lightning-like!

Review: My Life As A White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

My Life As A White Trash Zombie

White Trash Zombie #1

Written: Diana Rowland

Published: July 5, 2011

Publisher: DAW

ISBN: 9780756406752

Obtained via: Purchase

Blurb:

Teenage delinquent Angel Crawford lives with her redneck father in the swamps of southern Louisiana. She’s a high school dropout, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and has a police record a mile long. But when she’s made into a zombie after a car crash, her addictions disappear, except for her all-consuming need to stay “alive”…

My Review:

For a hot pink book featuring a wonderfully white-trashy, Louisianna-bayou-living redneck heroine with a pill addicion, this book has it’s surprisingly deep moments. I loved it to pieces (pun intended).

Underneath the decomposing bodies, blood, and brains is the story of a girl with mentally ill and alcoholic parents who has hit rock bottom via a horrific accident that left her wandering overdosed and naked on the side of a swampy road. A mysterious benefactor has saved her life and gotten her a job at the local morgue (and – oh, yeah – turned her into a zombie!) Except a serial killer starts depriving people of their brains, and Angel suspects a fellow zombie has gone rogue. Since the cops don’t even realize zombies exist, it’s up to Angel to stop the killer. In the meantime, Angel has to deal with a selfish, criminal boyfriend; her alcoholic dad; her own pill addiction; as well as avoid arousing the suspicion of her co-workers as she steals the brains she needs to survive.

Rowland manages to mix the macabre with the sincere in this book, balancing the grotesque with the sarcastic, and the desperate with the ordinary. In case you can’t read between the lines: this book has its revolting and hilarious moments. I mean, we’re talking about a zombie who’s a morgue tech. If you can’t assume we’ll have some blood and guts and some callous disregard for the dignity of corpses, then you probably shouldn’t be reading at all, okay?

This is a fun book, with a bit of depth if you care to look for it. The romance plot line is subtle enough for us anti-romance-ers (okay, me), at least until the bottom of the ninth when it kind of smacks you in the face. But it’s a gentle smack, at least, and I give Rowland props for not using the “in love in less than two days” scenario that so many books do. The “twist” ending isn’t very twisty but it’s enjoyable, if a smidgen on the abrupt side. The book is worth buying just for Dan Dos Santos’ amazing cover (even if it is pink!), but happily the inside is just as yummy as the outside.

I’m going to give it 4 and 1/2 stars, not because it isn’t awesome, but because I think it will get even better as we go along.

Oh, and I almost forgot…. If you’ve read this far, you get a special surprise! I promised the author herself I’d give away two copies of this book on my blog. And I’m fulfilling that promise. Comment on this post if you want entered to win your very own copy of WTZ. Contest closes July 14, 2011 at midnight in the US Eastern time zone. I’ll ship anywhere in the US, mostly because I can print that postage online. (If it requires a trip to the post office, it won’t get done for a very long time. I’m lazy. Sorry. Just ask my previous contest winners!) Note: I don’t care where you actually live, as long as you give me a US address to mail to. If you have a friend who’ll forward it, that’s good enough for me!

“Zombie Super Powers, Activate!”

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Kiaras Festivus Winners

My most sincere apologies for being a few days late with this. My Darling Husband, the Artist, had surgery this week so one or two things sort of slipped through the cracks. Here are the winners of our Kiaras Festivus contests:

The winner of spragusj‘s copy of BLACKVEIL:

~ap~

The winners of Leanna Renee Hieber’s giveaway of 1 copy each of STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL:

spragusj

Matt White

And the winner for the copy of N.K. Jemison’s ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS:

Reyna-nana

Winners – please email me your shipping addresses at kiara at waiting for fairies dot com, even if you think I might already have it. Please get them to me by this Monday, March 7th at noon Eastern, or I will chose a backup winner for your contest.

Green Rider Series Guest Review: Blackveil

Blackveil cover artKristen Britain’s fourth Green Rider novel, Blackveil, came out February 1. Having now read through it I am extremely happy to have gotten a new novel. Before I get started though, a blurb:

Viewings at a masquerade ball celebration before the King’s wedding give us glimpses of events that may have a huge impact on Sacoridia. Karigan gets sent to Blackveil on a joint Eletian and Sacoridian expedition. Alton meets Karigan’s best friend and minstrel, Estral, and they start making progress on fixing the D’Yer wall. Meanwhile, the Second Empire’s leaders continue to do their utmost to bring about the downfall of Sacoridia.

The High King’s Tomb also introduced Lord Amberhill to us, and he plays an interesting, almost bit part in this novel. I have a feeling he’s going to turn out a big part of this story in the end, but I don’t currently know just how big. He also makes some rather unfortunate decisions in his stint throughout these couple novels.

I also feel I’ve got a bit of a handle on Karigan. She’s bad at relationships. Just about any of them. I can think of only two times when her bad assumptions are not her fault. And she’s decidedly selfish when it comes to some of these things. I know she’s a stubborn girl, but seriously, when you already know you’re lonely, why in the world would you push away your closest friends? That loneliness is part of why I think she makes those bad decisions, but I guess if she made all the right ones all the time, she’d be a less interesting character. I do wish she’d make better decisions at least on occasion! At least she and Stevic made up at the beginning of this one! 😀 Also, Stevic was finally back in the book! 😉

Another thing I’ve noticed is that Karigan herself seems to be the deus ex machina of these books. I think most of the things she’s done as such have been explained (which I suppose makes her not much of an actual deus ex machina), but I wish we could see more of her out of the box thinking and skills saving the day instead of who she is being the Big Thing.

And the ending. I don’t know if it’s come across in my collection of posts, but endings really help make a book for me. They’re extremely important in making a book feel like a finished product, in particular when the author only comes out with a book once every 4 years or so. (Seriously, 1998, 2003, 2007, and now 2011.) This is the first time I’ve been disappointed. Matter of fact, I very much liked the way the other books ended. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an ending, and even a good one for some of the characters (with high hopes and potential drama insinuated for the next book in those endings), but the very end of Blackveil, with the likelihood of it being another 4 years till the next book definitely leaves something to be desired.

All that being said, I really enjoyed this book! So many things happen (Estora gets to be a badass), and it seems that the world might start being a somewhat less dark place than it seemed in the last couple, though I’m sure there are still many dire straights left in store for our favorite Sacoridians, and I can’t wait until I get to read of their continued exploits! (Please, please let it be less than 4 years.)