Three of the Best Stand-Alone Fantasy Books Ever!
I love reading fantasy but it does seem sometimes that the majority of the books I see on the shelves in stories and listed online seem to be part of a series. This is all very fine and I do enjoy most of the series out there. However, sometimes that isn’t what you want to read. Sometimes I would rather read a story that is just a single stand-alone story but is great fantasy.
So, I started looking around and have begun to compile a list of the great stand-alone fantasy books that are not part of any series. This is just my idea of the better ones, I would love to hear from others on what they think should be added to the list.
So here is my list of what I think would be three amongst the top best stand alone fantasy books ever:
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
I confess I have always loved his writing and this book is by far one of the best. What do you think the world would be like if the mythical gods of Europe decided all the action is in North America and decided to try and make a home of it out there? We follow Shadow, a decidedly tortured soul who is trying to start a new life when he meets Mr. Wednesday. All is not as it appears and soon we find ourselves caught up in a world of hidden demons and so much more. It is a book that is kinda creepy, very eerie and also one that drags you into its world kicking and screaming – but delighted none the less.
The Stand by Stephen King
You almost have to include this one as the ultimate doomsday novel. A simple error in a computer in the military unleashes unspeakable horror and soon 99% of humanity is gone. What is left must deal with the consequences. That is all I really need to say – this is King after all. The man can’t write a bad book if he wanted to and this one has become a classic for its genre. Check it out, but be sure to leave a light on when you go to bed because it is the kind of story that will stick in your head and have you thinking for days on end.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
I totally loved this book from the moment I laid hands on it! Set in an alternate Victorian England where magic is revealed by Mr. Norrell to be very much alive, it tells the tale of how he and his student Jonathan Strange battle the forces of evil, or at least France. It is the characters that make this book shine and the way that Clarke handles the existence of magic is the first inkling of what a superb writer she has turned out to be. The struggles with the seduction of power and the intrigues of politics make this a book about so much more then the idea of magic in an alternate world.
So there you have it – and we are of course not done! We will be back with more lists in the future of great fantasy books we have found that I just know everyone will enjoy! Until then, why not let me know what books you think should be added to this list?
Tales of Five Hundred Kingdoms – The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey
If you love old timey fairy tales and have a sense of humor, this is the series for you. Man, do I love the way Mercedes Lackey tells a tale. This is part of an on-going series but trust me, you will enjoy this one all on its own and then go routing around to find the rest. At least, that is what I did!
They stories are all with very familiar characters, just somewhat askew in terms of personality. I think they sound more like real people, but you be the judge. Here is a bit of what is going on in this one:
In the land of Five Hundred Kingdoms, if you can't carry out your legendary role, life is no fairy tale . . .
Elena Klovis was supposed to be her kingdom's Cinderella -- until an accident of fate left her with a completely inappropriate prince! Determined not to remain with her stepfamily, Elena set out to get a new job -- and ended up becoming the Fairy Godmother for the land.
But "Breaking with Tradition" was no easy matter. True, she didn't have to sleep in the chimney, but she had to deal with arrogant, stuffed-shirt princes who kept trying to rise above their place in the tale. In fact, one of them was so ornery that Elena could do nothing but change him into a donkey.
Still, her practical nature couldn't let him roam the country, so she brought the donkey -- er, the prince! -- home to her cottage to teach him some lessons. All the while keeping in mind that breaking with tradition can land everyone into a kettle of fish -- sometimes literally!
And so begins a whole new tale . . .
Must read Fantasy book - ‘House of Night’ series by P.C. and Kirstin Cast
I can’t speak for everyone out there, but I’d be very surprised if my mother and I can bake cookies together without disagreeing – let alone writing books! Kudos to the mother-daughter team! (P.C. and Kristin Cast) – authors of the latest fantasy thriller series: House of night.
Like many of the other teenage fantasy books, the House of Night series tells the story of a group of teenagers who transform into vampires and their journey there on, while attending a special school.
The book at a glimpse may sound like just another vampire story but it offers something unique, especially to the locals of Tulsa who are now ardent fans of the series. The setting for the plot is in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In ‘Awakened’, one of the books of the series, the Rogers High School Basement is the headquarters for a group of characters also warmly referred to as the Dungeon by the real students and faculty of Rogers High. P.C. Cast had been fascinated with Rogers High ever since she toured its art deco structure, which eventually leads to the authors’ integrated creation. The fact that the books are set in their hometown helps students like Ashley McCumber envision the tale while reading it.
The School’s English Department has since incorporated the first book of the series, ‘Marked’, in its freshman syllabus. "The students we have geared it toward have become lifelong readers. They can't wait for her books," said Ronda Garrison the Chairwoman of the English Department.
Some of the other famous Tulsa sites adopted in the book series are: the Monte Cassino School, Utica Square, the Philbrook Museum and the Gilcrease Museum.
The protagonist of the series, Zoey Redbird, is portrayed as one coming from a broken family which is another aspect that most teenagers today are able to relate to. The books not only offer adventure and buzz but also a realistic recount that makes it easy for the readers to identify with the world created by P.C. and Kristin Cast. "The suspense and the fact that everything changes" is what makes the books irresistible to Mariah Mackey, a senior at Rogers High.
The mother-daughter duo signed more than a 100 copies and answered questions at the now famous Rogers High School. Their original plan of writing 12 books in the series is now unclear. "I'm just going to write the story," said Cast. She also said that readers can look forward to many changes in the upcoming books.
Vampire Diaries on TV
Hey! Are you ready for the new Vampire Diaries TV show? It's slated to premiere on The CW on Friday, September 10th.
The stars of the show are:
Nina Dobrev: Elena
Paul Wesley: Stefan
Ian Somerhalder: Damon
If you don't know, the show will be based on the popular young adult fantasy books called The Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Name of the Wind is perhaps the most spectacular of all fantasy debuts, catapulting Patrick rothfuss to the same podium as many celebrated authors like Martin and Tolkien. The book delves deeper and deeper into the inner workings of the boy who dares to challenge his destiny – Kovthe. A warrior, slave and a wizard – Kovthe is the villain and hero of hundreds of tales.
Patrick Rothfuss has woven an incredibly rich and realistic story for his readers with just the right dose of humor at the right places! The book has everything – a young orphan, a school of magic but the story does not depend merely on these as main ingredients and hence skips familiarity to other fantasy stories. Subtle and powerful ingredients are masterfully blended to create the perfect dish to quench your hunger for fantasy and thrill!
Basically, it is the story of a legend, beginning with his family as a troupe of traveling entertainers to his life on the streets when they are attacked by a band of marauders. The book continues on into his time at the university where he truly begins the journey to being a powerful wizard. The narrative keeps you glued to the pages as it often changes from third person to the first, allowing the protagonist to tell his own story.
Rothfuss has an excellent way of telling his readers a subtle story for the first 30 to 50 pages and then suddenly changing gears to show there is more under the familiar and comfortable storyline! Together with the narrative style, the focus of the story keeps changing as well making it interesting to read the book in its entirety.
There are a number of similarities in Rothfuss’s narrative with those of Robin Hobb and Gene Wolfe – both excelled in viewpoint narratives. Like Hobb’s Shaman’s crossing, the elements of young men coming together in a close setting is the underlying theme for The Name of the Wind. Where the similarity to Wolfe comes in is the reliability of the narrator.
It is a delightful read and one of the best fantasy book trilogies you can look forward to. All the key ingredients of a great fantasy book are present in The Name of the Wind – characters you can empathize with and a fascinating backdrop to the entire storyline. You're left wanting more! This book is highly recommended.
New Fantasy Books for March 2009
Small Favor (The Dresden Files, Book 10) by Jim Butcher. Harry Dresden’s life quickly becomes complicated when Mab, the faerie Queen of the Winter Court, calls in a favor which pits Harry against both foe and ally.
ReVamped (Void City, Book 2) by J.F. Lewis. Eric appears to have lost everything. Even his life. But a Vlad-level vampire is pretty hard to keep down. However Eric soon experiences an even worse fate: he has to interact with Vampire Society! This action-packed book is full of surprises and plenty of laughs.
A Drop of Red (Vampire Babylon) by Chris Marie Green. Dawn and her fellow hunters have gotten rid of a powerful LA vampire nest. But that's just one in a long list of lairs that exist. But she's bound and determined to eradicate as many as possible. No matter the cost.
Second Skin (Nocturne City, Book 3) by Caitlin Kittredge. Werewolf policewoman Luna Wilder has it hard enough: she's a woman in an all-male police unit who's looked on as a freak. On top of that, someone is killing werewolves in her precinct. Caitlin has to scramble to locate the killer before he (or it) locates her. In their crosshairs.
Top Fantasy Books for 2008
Here's a listing of the top 10 best selling contemporary fantasy books of 2008 based on Amazon sales:
- From Dead to Worse (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 8 ) by Charlaine Harris
- At Grave’s End (Night Huntress, Book 3) by Jeaniene Frost
- Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, No. 1) by Charlaine Harris
- All Together Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 7) by Charlaine Harris
- Definitely Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 6) by Charlaine Harris
- Dead to the World (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 4) by Charlaine Harris
- Dead as a Doornail (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 5) by Charlaine Harris
- Living Dead in Dallas (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 2) by Charlaine Harris
- The Ghost in Love: A Novel by Jonathan Carroll
- Club Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 3) by Charlaine Harris
As you can see, Charlaine Harris dominates this list. You can probably credit her rankings to the popularity of True Blood.
Summary of True Blood Episode 10
Here's what happens in True Blood Episode 10: I Don't Wanna Know:
Caught in a compromising position, Sam shares a secret with an incredulous Sookie. Thinking she's been purged of her demon, Tara celebrates with Lettie Mae - but goes off the deep end when she uncovers Miss Jeanette's true intentions. Sookie has a disturbing revelation during Arlene (Carrie Preston) and Rene's (Michael Raymond James) engagement party at Merlotte's; Jason and Amy debate what to do with Eddie; and Tara speeds into a bizarre roadside encounter that lands her in jail. At a vampire tribunal to decide his fate, Bill faces a harsh penalty for his offense, but the magister (Zelijko Ivanek) decides on a more creative sentence involving a young human named Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll).
Watch True Blood Episode 10 Trailer: I Don't Wanna Know
Summary of True Blood Episode 9
Here's a summay of True Blood Episode 9: Plaisir D'Amour:
Bill (Stephen Moyer) breaks a vampire taboo in protecting Sookie (Anna Paquin) - and must pay a steep price as a result. Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and Amy (Lizzy Kaplan) break their own taboo by kidnapping a vampire named Eddie (Stephen Root) in order to harvest his blood. With Lettie Mae (Adina Porter) apparently cured, a skeptical Tara (Rutina Wesley) consults with Miss Jeanette (Aisha Hinds) about exorcising her own inner demon. Sookie returns home to yet another horrific tragedy, prompting Bill to enlist an unlikely bodyguard - Sam (Sam Trammell) - to protect her while he's away.
Overview of True Blood Episode 8
Here's what happened in True Blood Episode 8: The Fourth Man in the Fire:
Sookie tries to hold herself together in the wake of another possible tragedy. Tara is amazed by Lettie Mae's turnaround, and considers similar therapy for herself after lashing out at Sookie and Sam. Jason's new squeeze Amy charms the crowd at Merlotte's, but shows a darker side to Jason when their V juice well runs dry. Rene (Michael Raymond James) pops the question to Arlene (Carrie Preston) while Sookie is baby-sitting her kids. Later, at Bill's request, Sookie agrees to use her gifts to help Eric (Alexander Skarsgård), a powerful vampire sheriff, root out a thief at Fangtasia.
Trailer for True Blood Episide 8: The Fourth Man in the Fire
Trailer for True Blood Episode 7: Burning House of Love
Preview of True Blood Episode 6: Cold Ground
Watch True Blood Episode 5 Trailer: Sparks Fly Out
Video Trailer for True Blood Episode 4: Escape From Dragon House
Trailer for True Blood Episode 3: Mine
Watch True Blood Episode 2 Trailer: The First Taste
True Blood Episode 1: Strange Love Trailer
True Blood Episode 5
In this episode Bill and sookie have a disagreement which causes them to stop dating for a while. Sam seizes the moment by asking Sookie to accompany him to her grandmother's Descendants of the Glorious Dead meeting and wonders if she'd like to have coffee later. She's surprised but accepts his offer.
Jason visits Lafayette who talks him into sampling one drop of vampire blood, explaining that the experience is somewhat surreal. Jason, guillible as ever, agrees and does indeed feel as if he's seeing things for the first time. Case in point, he tells Tara that he now realizes that she's the one for him. She's skeptical of course and tells him to think about it and come see her when he's not high on vampire blood. Ironically, she later discovers him having sex with a woman near a dumpster outside Merlotte's.
Bill tells an engaging story of his life as a soldier during the Civil War. He tells a story of a young soldier that had been injured near enemy lines. Unfortunately, when Bill's good friend attempts to save the soldier he (Bill's friend) is killed.
Bill later recounts how he became a vampire. Turns out he was attacked by a woman who forced vampirism on him.
The episode ends with Sookie discovering that someone close to her had been killed.
This series keeps getting better and better!
Undead and Unpopular by MaryJanice Davidson
One of the reasons I write about urban fantasy is to provide readers with advice on which books I think are worth purchasing. That means I also inform readers when a particular book isn't up to the standards set by other published works in the genre. Such is the book Undead and Unpopular, the fifth book in the Queen Betsy fantasy series.
To provide some background on the series let me begin by describing the two main characters:
Betsy: she's a blonde (in the worst way), newly made 30 year old vampire who happens to be the most powerful vampire in existence. As such she can't be killed. When these books were first introduced they were funny but now Betsy's actions are simply childish and annoying. For example, there's a scen in the book where Betsy learns that her best friend has terminal cancer. Her reaction? She falls down on the floor and has a temper tantrum because her other friends knew about the illness before she did. I'm not making this up. This scene plays out for 12 entire pages.
Sinclair: Sinclair is her vampire fiance. He's close to 100 years old but of course, doesn't look it. He's handsome, intelligent, and totally enamored of Betsy. I have a hard time swallowing this relationship; why would someone as smart as Sinclair have anything to do with an airhead like Betsy?
Given this premise, it's difficult to focus on the plot in the book. Which, in this case, isn't a problem because the storyline is all over the place. It's nothing more than a collection of loosely related scenes strung together. And let's not talk about the chapter breaks. This book is 269 pages long but it's one of those poorly written books where the author resorts to obvious tricks in order to stretch the length of the book. For example, several chapters end at the top of a page. Instead of starting the next chapter at the top of the next page, an ENTIRE BLANK PAGE is inserted and the new chapter starts after that. This is blatant page stuffing. Believe it or not, one chapter only has 4.5 pages! I checked and each chapter is an average of only 8 pages long. Additionally, the book has wide margins and each line appears to be double-spaced.
But the piece-de-resistance: one chapter is ONE PAGE LONG.
This book costs the same as most other urban fantasy paperbacks but you definitely don't get your money's worth. Between the main character's childish antics and the page stuffing there's hardly a book here. I strongly recommend that you not waste your time with this one.
Deja Demon by Julie Kenner
In this book, our soccer mom Demon Hunter, Kate Connor, returns to take on a new slew of demons. Looks like an old enemy has returned and plans to join forces with a different super demon to rule the world. Of course, Kate can't let that happen.
Joining Kate are her teenage daughter Allie, a demon hunter wannabee, her live-in tenant and former demon hunter Eddie, and her former husband Eric, who was reincarnated as "David", her daughter's chemistry teacher. David is also a demon hunter and helps Kate in her attempts to locate and eradicate the latest demon infestation.
Now, Kate doesn't hunt demons full-time. She spends most of her time looking after her toddler Timmy, arranging normal events like the town's Easter egg hunt, and attempting to keep her daughter's demon slaying aspirations at bay. She's also very supportive of her husband and his aspirations to get into politics. She knows she can't keep her secret hidden from him too long (there are some close calls in the book, one which involves a zombie) but she's unsure as to how he'll react. Yes, she's concerned that he'll be mad at her for keeping secrets from him but she's also afraid that he'll in some way reject her because she's not the perfect wife and homemaker he thought he married.
Stuart, in his defense, is actually a kind and loving husband. Sure, he's occupied with his upcoming campaign but when he realizes Kate is hiding something from him he assumes it has something to do with their marriage. This only adds to Kate's dilemna and makes her feel even more guilty about her secret.
As with other books in the series this one contains its share of demon slayin'action, humor, and adventure. I just love these books. They're so entertaining. Julie Kenner always does a great job with pacing and suspense building and this book is no exception. If you like urban fantasy that's witty, fast paced, and full of surprises then Deja Demon is a book you should check out.
True Blood Series: Episode 3
Okay, here are the top 3 highlights from episode 3's airing of True Blood, HBO's adaptation of Charlaine Harris' "Southern Vampire Mystery" urban fantasy book series:
Bill's Murderous Vampire Visitors: Sookie visits Bill one night and comes into contact with 3 of his vampire "friends." These guys (2 male, 1 female) are pretty scary and decide, upon meeting her, that they'll bite Sookie. It's only because Bill intervenes (several times) that they relent and agree to leave her alone. The vampires are accompanied by 2 humans, 1 male and 1 female. Once the vamps realize Sookie is off the menu they decide to have sex with their humans. This is (as you can imagine if you've been watching the series) a fairly graphic scene. Sookie turns away while this is occurring (yes, they proceed to have sex in her presence) and later, after the vampires leave, she confronts Bill about his friends. This scene serves to provide the audience with more insight into the inhuman nature of vampires. Yes, Bill seems normal enough (except that he doesn't breathe, drinks blood, and can't come out during the day) but his vampire visitors are the real deal.
Tara and Sam Get Busy: Tara opens up to Sam about her horrible home life with her alcoholic mother and they strike up a conversation about past lovers. Tara eventually makes Sam an offer he can't refuse about the two of them getting together. I think the purpose of this scene is to give us more backstory on Tara and perhaps explain some of her personality traits.
Sookie and Bill Sex Dream #2: Okay, once again we're led to believe that Sookie and Bill have sex only to realize Sookie was probably having a dream. The annoying thing about these scenes is that they're not necessarily filmed as dream sequences. Sure, those old dream sequences used in movies where you hear a harp playing and the screen gets all foggy are corny, but they're definitely effective. Perhaps the director of True Blood is deliberately filming these scenes to keep us guessing but I find it a bit irritating.
Nonetheless, I like the show thus far and will tune in each week.
HBO's True Blood Series
If you're a fan of Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mystery series then you'll love HBO's adaptation of the books. Each Sunday night at 10:00pm we get to see the books come to life. Anna Paquin stars as Sookie Stackhouse and does a good job in portraying the "girl-next-door" character. It's great to see Bill Compton, the vampire Sookie is in love with, her brother Jason, and her boss, Sam Merlotte, on the small screen.
Tara, Sookie's good friend, is introduced early in the series. This differs from the book's sequencing but it works.
A word of caution: the sex in the series is pretty graphic. If you've seen other HBO series' like Rome or Big Love you shouldn't be surprised. Just be sure to keep the kiddies out of the room (an encore presentation of the previous week's episode usually broadcasts each Sunday night at 6:00pm).
I'll post reviews of the episodes soon.
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels is a mercenary who keeps her finger on the pulse of magic that flows through Atlanta. In her world, magic comes and goes in flares. When the magic is "up" weird things happen and strange creatures come out of hiding.
It was during one such flare that Kate, in the midst of investigating a crime scene, meets a teenage girl wandering around looking for her missing mother. Kate's conscience prevents her from leaving the girl on the street on her own so she agrees to help her find her missing mother, who happens to be a witch that appears to have taken up with the wrong crowd. Kate suspects this is a factor in her disappearance but doesn't want to scare the teenager unnecessarily.
Along the way, Kate gets contacted by a member of The Pack, Atlanta's ruling werewolf clan. They want Kate to find a map that was just stolen from them. Kate soon finds a link between the map and the crime scene she was investigating.
This book is very much an action-adventure fantasy story with a bit of reluctant romance thrown in. Kate is a fairly adept heroine that knows how to take care of herself; she's gone up against lots of bad guys in the past and has the battle scars to prove it. In this book we get to see a different side of her. Although she's far from maternal, we do see a more understanding side of her personality.
As with the previous book "Magic Bites" Ilona Andrews has written a fast paced book that keeps readers engaged from the very beginning. I can't wait to see what else she has in store for Kate and her colleagues.
Acheron, Dark Knight by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Acheron Video Trailer
The video trailer above is for the latest Sherrilyn Kenyon book in the Dark Hunter series. In this book we learn more about Acheron and his origins.
Sherrilyn Kenyon is a best selling author whose books have made the NY Times Bestselling List. The Dark Hunter books have been sold to more than 1 million readers and is extremely popular amongst urban fantasy/paranormal romance fans.
Storm Front by Jim Butcher
This is the first book in the Jim Butcher "Dresden Files" books. Our main character, Harry Dresden, is a modern day wizard. Although he gets the occasional half-hearted inquiries from his ad in the yellow pages, his cases usually involve locating (or destroying) things of a darker, destructive nature.
In this book Harry is contacted by the police to assist with a mysterious double murder investigation. You see, in Chicago where Harry lives, the police have a Special Crimes Unit that investigates crimes of an "unexplainable" nature. Although the police department doesn't advertise this fact to the general public, they do recognize that there are things that go bump in the night that they're ill-equipped to deal with on their own.
As usual it's Harry's friend on the force, Detective Karrin Murphy, who places the call inviting him to the crime scene. Once there Harry immediately suspects supernatural foul play - the victim's hearts have been blown out through their rib cages. Since the victims are both naked it appears that they may have engaged in some sort of sex magic.
Harry's other case involves locating a missing husband who seems to have delved a little too heavily into black magic. Ironically, the governing body of wizards, the White Council, thinks Harry himself is crossing the line between white and dark magic and have warned him that if he takes any steps that they believe are unsanctioned and run counter to White Council guidelines they'll "deal with him." Read, kill him. As such they've assigned a Warden to keep tabs on him. Unfortunately the Warden appears to have a grudge against Harry and would like nothing more than to dispose of him.
-Harry just recently insulted a powerful female vampire;
-One of his informants was murdered in the same manner as the 2 dead bodies;
-He and Detective Murphy only barely escape the clutches of a giant deadly scorpion.
Although this may seem like a lot of plotlines to juggle in one book, and it might appear that there's no link between these individual events, Jim Butcher does a superb job in weaving a tale that incorporates all of these elements into one believable story. That is, if you actually believe that vampires, demons, witches, and wizards exist.
Harry as a hero is somewhat of a misnomer. He tends to live hand-to-mouth. Wizarding gigs don't always pay that well and the work is sporadic. Additionally, Harry sometimes adopts a dead or alive mentality when hunting magical criminals. Emphasis on the "dead."
Don't get me wrong: he's definitely heroic, but he tends to run pell mell into things without engaging in much upfront planning. Fortunately for him he's actually a fairly skilled wizard. However it should be noted that Harry gets into his fair share of almost unwinnable scrapes. He usually prevails because of his skills, the arrogance of his opponent(s), and the assistance of his friends.
This book is fast paced (as are all of the Harry Dresden books), full of action, witty, and thoroughly enjoyable. Jim Butcher has a knack for making his readers feel at ease with his characters, primarily because he's such an expert at character and world building and his dialogue isn't forced; Harry's just your average Joe (wizard) that's trying to restore the balance between good and evil. Pick up the book if you've never read the series. You'll enjoy the adventure!
Book Review: Holy Smokes by Katie McAlister
Holy Smokes is the fourth book in the Aisling Gray Guardian series. If you've read the previous books you know that Aisling is a "jack of all trades" type of heroine:
-She's a Guardian: born with this power she's bound to protect the human world from supernatural beings. Guardian's "guard" the gates or passages that evil beings use to enter the mortal world. As a Guardian Aisling has the ability to draw protection wards and seal the gates created by fire-and-brimstone type creatures.
-She's a wyvern's mate: wyvern's are modern-day dragon leaders that have taken the form of human beings. They're incredibly powerful and resilient. Wyverns rule what are called "septs" which are the ethnic classifications associated with dragons. Aisling was chosen as the green wyvern's mate (by Drake, a main character) because of her special abilities. In this book Aisling is in the midst of planning her wedding to Drake.
-She's a demon lord: if you've read any of the previous books you know that Aisling isn't the most skilled or talented Guardian, as a matter of fact she only recently discovered her talents. As such she's made quite a few mistakes along the way, one being that she inadvertently summoned a minor demon named Jim. What you need to know about Jim is that, well, he's a dog. A fairly big Newfoundland to be exact. That slobbers. And talks.
-She's a Prince of Abaddon: in the previous books Aisling became proscripted, which means she's tied to Abaddon (a euphemism for hell). As such she's occasionally forced to do the bidding of the higher demons in that realm. Since she got proscripted she's been hearing a voice inside her head encouraging her to cross over to the dark side and use her powers to wreak destruction on the mortal world. This represents a constant struggle for her because she could easily her dark powers to put an end to some of the struggles she and her loved ones are facing. However if she succumbs there's no turning back.
Now that you know about Aisling, let's discuss the plotline for the book. In this installment Aisling is not only planning her wedding (quite badly by the way) but she's also trying to keep a low profile because of the war that's raging between her mate (a green dragon) and the rival red dragon sept. The red dragons would love nothing more to either kidnap or kill Aisling because of her ties to Drake. Staying inside proves to be problematic because a) she's got to go out to select things like the wedding cake, gown, etc. b) quite frankly, Aisling is stubborn and feels she can pretty much defend herself.
In addition to the wedding (which keeps getting postponed) Aisling is occupied with trying to find a way to remove the proscription since it has caused the ruling Guardian guild to ostracize her since they see her as someone who consorts with dark forces. She's also attempting to find a long lost dragon that could assist her with an issue she has with one of the blue dragons. On top of that she's been summoned to Abbadon to pay tribute (read, provide a live sacrifice) to one of the high ranking baddies in hell.
If you've not already figured it out you should know that these books aren't dark, macabre stories that keep you up at night. Quite the contrary, they're funny, action packed, madcap adventures that keep you guessing and laughing at the same time. Katie McAlister has a knack for inserting just the right amount of levity while including enough urban fantasy to stay within the genre. Drake, Aisling, and the wisecracking demon dog Jim get into more scrapes than you can imagine but it's presented in a way that's both engaging and entertaining.
If you're new to this series you should start with one of the earlier books. There's not enough backstory in this installment to fill in some of the blanks however, it is a good addition to the rest of the books in the urban fantasy series. Note: depending on the bookstore you visit this book may be catalogued on the bookshelves under paranormal romance.
If you're a fan of urban or contemporary fantasy and want to engage in some light and entertaining summertime reading, grab a glass of lemonade and pick up a copy of Holy Smokes. The vodka is optional.
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