best fantasy books

Surprise! It’s NOT an ode to Queen. It’s another flaming list. 

 

I’ve said it a couple hundred times before and I’ll say it a couple thousand times more: I love a good list. But you know what I love even more than lists? Books. I can’t get enough of them. I could build a throne of all the books I own. I could crawl up into a fort made of books and lose myself in fiction for days. Have I made my book fetish clear yet? You get it, right? I love books and lists. I can stop banging on about it now. So, this month, I’ve brought the two together again because I clearly have too much time on my hands—and voila: another book list. Specifically, the BEST books, and not just any books but the best fantasy books.

 

Ode to Fantasy

 

Now, I could no sooner choose a favourite genre or book than I could choose between Ian Somerhalder, Johnny Depp, and [insert your favourite eye candy here]. I want them all—all the men; all the books. That being said, there’s something special about Fantasy. To sum up what would otherwise be a very long and (for you) laborious declaration of love, I think Brandon Sanderson said it best: fantasy is all of that good stuff (romance, action, drama, etc, etc,) only WITH DRAGONS!

I am OBVIOUSLY paraphrasing here. Mr Sanderson is a damn sight more eloquent than this. But that’s the gist of it. Fantasy hits all the spots, checks all the boxes… I can’t think of a third… So…

 

On to the List!

 

Here are ten of the best fantasy books (probably OF ALL TIME), and because everyone and their pet crocodile has heard of the best fantasy books a bazillion times already, I won’t summarise any of these but I AM adding five of my personal favourites. (See my additions at the bottom.)

 

1. The Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings) by J R Tolkien

2. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) George R R Martin

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter) by J K Rowling

4. The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan

5. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle) by Patrick Rothfuss

6. A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle) by Ursula K. Le Guin

7. Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy) by Robin Hobb

8. Northern Lights (His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman

9. The Final Empire (Mistborn) by Brandon Sanderson

10. The Colour of Magic (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett

 

Five of my Personal Favourites

 

uprooted

1. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

A loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast but with intriguing mythology and a beautifully vivid nature-based magic system. It follows a girl who is yet to learn who and what she is until she meets the Dragon.

See full review:
Uprooted

discovery of witches

2. A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness

A witch who doesn’t want her magic and a vampire older than the hills, time-travel through history to uncover the mystery behind a mysterious tome. This is rich with history and intrigue and is one of my favourite witchy books.

See full review:
A Discovery of Witches

shadow and bone

3. Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo

Original storytelling with Russian elements, the Grisha Trilogy is rich with detail and depth. The fleshed out world is refreshingly unique in both setting and story, and is centred on an orphan girl who is thrust into power and magic.

See full reviews:
Book One: Shadow and Bone
Book Two: Siege and Storm
Book Three: Ruin and Rising

Witch Child

4. Witch Child by Celia Rees

A wonderful weaving of fiction and fact, set around the Salem Witch Trials and centred on a girl called Mary as she discovers who she really is and how to survive in her threatening world. Immersive and bewitching and unputdownable.

See full review:
Book One: Witch Child 

once burned

5. Once Burned (Night Prince) by Jeaniene Frost

Technically an action-packed paranormal series with witty, kick-ass vampires but with enough magic (particularly in the fourth book) to pass as fantasy. Easily my favourite vampire from one of my favourite authors, this crackling (punny!) series will have you binge-reading for days.

See full reviews:
Book One: Once Burned
Book Two: Twice Tempted
Book Three: Bound by Flames
Book Four: Into the Fire

Bonus

 

Lastly, if you haven’t yet checked out (or heard of) the fantasy romance series by yours truly, I’m adding it to this list, not because it comes anywhere close to the classics of the genre but because it does tick the boxes for magic and adventure in a faraway fictional land. (I visit this land on a basis far too frequently to be considered healthy or sane.)

I’ve added the synopsis below. Have a nosey. Check it out.

If you want to, that is. I’m not the queen or anything. Not today, anyway.

 

Immisceo: Taken (The Immisceo Series)

 

In the land of Nosiras, the Duciti’s word is law and their reign is absolute.

Luciana is a powerful witch: independent and wilful as she is strong. But when she is chosen by the Duciti to conceive an Immisceo witch to use as a weapon against Amara and her Outcasts, she has but two choices: obey with her freedom or without. When her Immisceo son is kidnapped, she will stop at nothing to get him back.

Nathaniel was born to the streets, then raised in an environment one rung down from captivity. Guarded by his older brother, he seeks freedom and adventure from his restrained life. Meeting Luciana will grant him one of these and will set him on a path which will test his ties of blood and love.

Caught between two enemies, Luciana and her unwitting companion are against the odds in their quest to save her son from a war that shouldn’t have been his to fight. In the hands of his kidnapper, Eli is as much a weapon as he would be in the Duciti’s—a weapon Luciana created. His life has been predetermined by those who would harm him, and Luciana must now right the wrongs she has dealt her son and save him from his fate—but at what cost?

 

Read the first three chapters now.

 

More about Immisceo

 Immisceo Taken review quote 2

 

 

What are your all-time favourite fantasy books? How many of the ‘fantasy classics’ have you read?

Let me know in the comments.

Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost

GENRE: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance | PAGES: 389

My rating: ★★★★

Into the Fire. We meet at last. Despite a series-finale being eagerly anticipated, there’s always a hint of trepidation when first opening the book. You’re filled with questions and worries like, Will it satisfy the wait? Will it live up to the awesomeness of the rest of the series? Will everyone fucking die?

I am obviously a stupid little worry wart.

Into the Fire is yet another unputdownable firecracker from Jeaniene Frost.

The story picks up where we left off in Bound by Flames and once more, we plunge headlong into action and antics with Leila and Vlad.

I am (still) blown away by my obsession with Vlad. His character never fails to enthral me on every level, be it his engaging presence, his self-assured acceptance of everything he is (the good and the bad), or the sheer complexity of his past. The many layers of his personality are intoxicating and in this series finale, he doesn’t disappoint.

His love for Leila knows no bounds. It is all-consuming, selfish even—and Vlad makes no apology for that. It is who he is—no more, no less. He is still arrogant and controlling and volatile but it is rooted in the hardships he’s been dealt over the centuries. It doesn’t read as a gimmick or a cop-out or a romanticised flaw because it is a truly deep and multi-layered history. Everything he is, is everything he had to become in order to cope, and instead of trying to change him, Leila embraces his flaws and loves him unconditionally.

It helps that she doesn’t squeak like a mouse in his presence either. She can hold her own, both with him and on the battlefield. Her strength shines in this book and her abilities reach new heights, even as enemies continue to use her as a weapon against Vlad.

A new element to the series is the inclusion of magic. It is refreshing and adds yet more excitement, further enriching the entire Night Huntress world and its mythology. I enjoyed Ian’s role in the story, too. He is funny and outlandish but his character adds more than comic relief—already there’s a visible and intriguing depth to who he is and I’m more than geared up for the upcoming spin-off series with him. (Night Rebel for anyone who doesn’t know.)

While I’m sad and disappointed that this is where Vlad and Leila’s story ends, their finale is epic and satisfying, and the series, as a whole, is one I’ll be rereading many times over.

 

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 Into the Fire

 

In the explosive finale to New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Night Prince series, Vlad is in danger of losing his bride to an enemy whose powers might prove greater than the Prince of Vampires’ . . .In the wrong hands, love can be a deadly weapon. For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now, falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him. A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them . . . and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

BOUND BY FLAMES BY JEANIENE FROST

GENRE: PARANORMAL, FANTASY, ROMANCE | PAGES: 342

My rating: ★★★★★

As predicted, book three of the Night Prince series doesn’t disappoint. Who knew I was clairvoyant? Or maybe, Jeaniene Frost is just that good. Bound by Flames is brilliant.

Leila is even tougher than I gave her credit for, and she continues to impress me with her resilience, even though the villain is evil personified and events take a far darker, more twisted turn than before.

“Have you ever seen an animal skinned?” Vlad interrupted, his voice icily pleasant. “It’s a bloody, brutal business under normal circumstances, but imagine if the animal were alive and screaming. Then imagine that it wasn’t an animal, but the person you loved being repeatedly slashed and hacked so that their skin could be ripped away faster than it could heal.”

And it gets worse!

These horrific acts trigger the madman in Vlad, and every scene is riddled with tension. This is then brilliantly balanced with his openness later on, and with Leila, he finally tears down those last few walls. Any misgivings regarding Vlad (not that I have any) are finally rectified when he relays (in detail this time) the atrocities of his past, and it becomes even more apparent that his (ironically) cold exterior, and his arrogant and (at times) downright medieval attitude, all stem from not only his past but his most basic need to protect. There are many more moments where his vulnerability streaks through, and it’s beautiful, and yet his power in this book is phenomenal.

Some of my anger drained away as I stared into his eyes. They were green with fury, yes, but something else lurked in them. An emotion I rarely saw in Vlad. Fear.

“You aren’t just my weakness, Leila. You are my destruction, because if I were to lose you, it would finish me.”

Needless to say, I am a fangirling mess right now, since book four isn’t out until October.

Is it October yet?

vlad
 

bound by flames book cover

Play with fire, pay the price.

Leila’s years on the carnie circuit were certainly an education. What she didn’t learn: how to be a vampire, or how to be married to the most famous vampire of them all. Adjusting to both has Leila teetering on a knife edge between passion and peril, and now the real danger is about to begin…

Vlad must battle with a centuries-old enemy whose reach stretches across continents and whose strength equals his own. It isn’t like Vlad to feel fear, but he does…for Leila, because his enemy knows she is Vlad’s greatest weakness. As friend and foe alike align against him—and his overprotectiveness drives Leila away—Vlad’s love for his new bride could be the very thing that dooms them both…

TWICE TEMPTED BY JEANIENE FROST

GENRE: PARANORMAL, FANTASY, ROMANCE | PAGES: 360

My rating: ★★★★

So. Good. Whilst Twice Tempted is not as action-packed in terms of vampire ass-kicking, there’s a strong build-up of anticipation, particularly in the first half of this book. There were some slow moments in this one, lulls which weren’t present in the first in the series, but they were few and far between, and didn’t for a minute detract from the enjoyment of the story.

Leila’s strength comes through in this second book even more than the first, and her independence and assertiveness is admirable and refreshing to read. She might be more accepting of Vlad than that which is humanly possible, but somehow it’s believable. Again, the complexity of Vlad’s character and Leila’s own apparent thirst for revenge helps her to understand him in a way no other woman has before, and in this book, she sees so much more of what makes him who he is—the good, and the very, very bad.

Vlad doesn’t fail to excite, and as more of his horrific past is unveiled, his depth becomes more and more appealing.

His smile was tantalizing and frightening, like being whipped and finding out you enjoyed the pain.

As ruler, he is one shade shy of psychopathic and yet, underneath the brutality of his actions against his enemies, lies unwavering loyalty to those who follow him. And now, underneath his experience of century-sweeping loss, his love for Leila is a force onto itself, despite the fact that he believes she loves only a fraction of the man he really is.

“You claim to love me, but the man you love doesn’t exist.”

As a couple, their relationship has similar dynamics to Night Huntress Cat and Bones, (particularly when it comes to over-protection and jealousy—that’s vampires for you) but there’s not enough of it yet to even begin to scratch the surface of Cat and Bones’ chemistry. I’m hopeful though, since Vlad, for me, blows Bones right out of the water, and that’s not easily done. Vlad’s intensity—his energy—is unrivaled.

Overall, I’m thrilled by the whole series so far. Book three is lined up and waiting, and I have a feeling it won’t disappoint.

description

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 Twice Tempted

 

Dating the Prince of Darkness has its challenges…

Leila’s psychic abilities have been failing her, and now she isn’t sure what the future holds. If that weren’t enough, her lover, Vlad, has been acting distant. Though Leila is a mere mortal, she’s also a modern woman who refuses to accept the cold shoulder treatment forever–especially from the darkly handsome vampire who still won’t admit that he loves her.

Like choosing between eternal love and a loveless eternity…

Soon circumstances send Leila back to the carnival circuit, where tragedy strikes. And when she finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer who may be closer than she realizes, Leila must decide who to trust– the fiery vampire who arouses her passions like no other or the tortured knight who longs to be more than a friend? With danger stalking her every step of the way, all it takes is one wrong move to damn her for eternity.

ONCE BURNED BY JEANIENE FROST

GENRE: PARANORMAL, FANTASY, ROMANCE | PAGES: 346

My rating: ★★★★

Jeaniene Frost   has done it again, by which I mean written something that consumes me to the point of not sleeping, and ultimately, has me drooling all over the Kindle Store for the next book in the series. Once Burned was a riveting read, from start to finish, and despite the fact that I missed the Night Huntress   element in the beginning, it didn’t take me long to form an attachment to Leila. She’s no Cat (because come on, Cat rocks!) but Leila has the same headstrong, feisty qualities I’ve come to expect from Frost’s protagonists, and she definitely delivers. Even more satisfying, we get to see Leila’s inner strength and resilience develop throughout the book.

And did I mention Vlad? As in Vlad the Impaler, the original prince of darkness. The ultimate vampire, Dracul—with benefits.

vladtepeshnightprince

And he’s no brooder. I love me some of that angst and broodiness, but Vlad takes the game to a whole new level. He’s the opposite of broody. He doesn’t sit around pining over his lost humanity. He revels in it. And it’s freakin’ glorious. Something about the way he owns his vampirism, his abilities, and his power, it takes masculinity to new heights. And yet, there’s a softer side. He keeps it on a short leash but it’s there, and it has Leila (and me) yearning to crack his exterior. Not too much though, obviously, because who wants domesticity from a vampire, right?

Vlad trumps Bones in this series, and that’s saying a lot because Bones has been my go-to vamp for many a fantasy! He’s Buffy’s Spike and Vampire Diaries’ Damon Salvatore rolled into one. But with Vlad… His complex personality is nothing short of schizophrenic. He’s complicated and multi-faceted to the point of frustration, but it lends intrigue and fascination. You can’t help but want to dig deeper and overlook the monstrosities of some of his actions. (Which doesn’t say a lot about me, but hey, I’m human. It’s my job to get lost in the grey area, particularly if there’s a vampire in it.)

Bottom line: this book is exciting, every bit as exciting as the NH series, and I cannot get a copy of book two fast enough. 

 

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 Once Burned

 

She’s a mortal with dark powers…

After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire…

He’s the Prince of Night…

Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don’t call him Dracula. Vlad’s ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him—a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

banner img write for yourself

Earlier this month, I came across a post thread in a writing forum commenting on the release of Stephenie Meyer’s new book, the gender-reversed Twilight, Life and Death.

The original poster implied that this was nothing more than ‘a lazy way to make more money of an already successful idea’. Before I say anything further, let’s make one thing clear: I love Twilight, but I have long been an avid reader of all types of literature, and as a reader, and a writer, I am fully aware of the flaws in the Twilight series. I am not, nor have I ever been a ‘Twi-hard’ fan (whatever that means), but I enjoyed the story—also, obsessive perv or not, I had, and still have, an unhealthy crush on the immortal Edward. That said, this post is not a defence of Twilight; it is an observation on the criticisms writers face, and my two cents on the subject.

All jobs are tough in their own way; in the case of those in the creative industry—namely, the writer—the writing itself, as simultaneously joyful and irritating as it often is, is only the tip of the iceberg. The ridiculously frustrating journey from brain to page is nothing compared to acknowledging the personal experience your book might bring a reader. Personally, I love reading or hearing about multiple interpretations of a single story—it’s fascinating how much our values and social differences influence the way we perceive many things. You can read my post on the perception of ‘stupid’ characters here. 

Equally fascinating is the way these individual perceptions are received by others. 

Have you ever truly enjoyed a book, and like the proud nerd you might be, gushed about it to someone else, only to be ripped to shreds because the book, according to them, is just ‘utter crap’?

Or maybe you didn’t gush about it. Maybe you overheard a discussion about a certain book, and recognising the downright vicious criticism of it, decided not to mention your initiation into said book’s fandom…

If none of these apply–great.

It means you haven’t been subjected to someone whose concept of book standards goes something like this: ‘I didn’t like it; therefore it must be crap. Everyone, listen up: this book is crap. If you are seen reading it, I will assume you are an idiot.’ 

THIS ↑↑↑ is idiotic.

 
Case in point: I happen to hate exercise, but we all know that despite my intense hatred, exercise is, and will continue to be, a positive part of a healthy lifestyle (of which I am not at all familiar with, btw). If a percentage of readers hate a book, this does not—and should not—equate to the standard of the book. The remaining percentage who might love the same book will often speak for itself. 
This brings me to that forum post I mentioned. The original poster of the discussion—a writer—implies that Stephenie Meyer was milking the idea—trying to squeeze more money out of fans. Several follow-up comments even wondered how the book made any money in the first place.
 
Here’s the thing, though: 
No one is forced to buy a book—any book. Readers choose books because they happen to love them, or at least, think/hope they will. Assuming they don’t, there will be plenty of writer-bashing from reviewers without fellow writers having to chip in. When one writer calls another writer lazy, it makes me want to crawl under my desk and stay there, binge-eating ice-cream. We, as writers, are all in the same boat—okay, Stephanie Meyer has a much bigger boat, sure—a luxury yacht, probably, whilst we have a raft made by Tom Hanks and Wilson—but dammit, we KNOW the joy of finishing a manuscript… and we ALL dread the awful, inevitable backlash of bad reviews or bone-crushing criticism. We expect it from reviewers, editors, agents… from READERS. So why on earth would we want to add to all this dread, and start doing it to one another?

 

I can’t say whether I will ever read the new Twilight, but I disagree that re-writing it is just a ‘lazy way to cash in’. I don’t believe there IS a way to ‘cash-in’, and if there is, by jeebus—please let me know what it is. Maybe I’m naive, but I feel a story has to actually be good to create a fanbase, whether through luck, marketing, or the actual storytelling. In this case, the interest of the fans speaks for itself. 

The bottom line? 

If an author WANTS to rewrite their OWN STORY from the perspective of a bloody tree, it’s their call. Others may love it, hate it, buy it, or burn it—but more power to the writer for writing what they love regardless. 

Love or hate Stephenie Meyer—on this occasion, I salute her. 

Up From the Grave (Night Huntress #7) by Jeaniene Frost

GENRE: FANTASY, PARANORMAL, ROMANCE | PAGES: 372

My rating: ★★★★

On finally completing this series with Up From the Grave, I had to hold off writing a review for a couple of days for fear of gushing like the book nerd I am. Yet, several days later, I am still full of nothing but gushing love for Cat and Bones and the Night Huntress world, and I’m having to read two books alongside each other just to fill the gaping book hole left in my soul. (I’m nothing if not dramatic.)

On a more serious note – as if being stuck in book limbo isn’t serious – book seven of this series did not disappoint. There was the usual action, the usual Cat vs. villain scenario (although this villain had his introduction in the previous part), and whilst there aren’t as many toe-curling scenes featuring Bones (aka Buffy’s Spike – yum!) as in previous books (hello, married life), there is that same distinct connection between him and Cat, which by this point has developed and escalated into something altogether more magical than vampire sex. (Did I just say that? I take it back.)

I loved the addition of Katie (even though I could see it coming a mile off), and I liked Cat’s changing instincts surrounding this – it was written in such a way that this transition into her new role was smooth and natural.

Something I did not see coming was this:

SPOILER AHEAD!

“A shock wave knocked me off Bones and sent me sprawling against the other side of the pier. Concussion grenade, I mentally diagnosed. One amped up enough for vampires. Madigan had really upgraded his toys, but before I could scramble back to Bones, I saw something that froze me into immobility. A line appeared in his blood- spattered cheek, dark as pitch and snaking across his skin like a crack in a statue. Then another line appeared, and another one. And another. No. It was the only thought my mind was capable of producing as black lines began to appear all over his skin, zigzagging and splintering off into new, merciless paths. I’d seen the same thing happen to countless vampires before, usually after twisting a silver knife in their hearts, but denial made it impossible for me to believe the same was happening to Bones. He couldn’t be slowly shrivelling before my gaze, true death changing his youthful appearance into something that resembled pottery clay baked too long in an oven. My immobility vanished, replaced by terror such as I’ve never felt. I vaulted across the pier, snatching Bones into my arms while my tears joined the rain in soaking his face. “NO!” Even as the scream left me, the changes in him grew worse. His muscular frame felt like it deflated, the hard lines of his body becoming rubbery before they began to shrink. I clutched him tighter, sobs turning my tears scarlet, while something started to hammer in my chest. It felt as though I were being pummelled on the inside with hard, steady blows. My heartbeat, a part of me registered. It had been silent for almost a year, but now, it pounded more strongly than it ever had when I was a human. Another cry tore out of me when Bones’s skin cracked beneath my hands before sloughing off onto the wooden planks. Frantic, I tried to put it back on, but more flesh began to peel away faster than I could hold it together. Muscle and bone peeked out from those widening spaces, until his face, neck, and arms resembled a gaping slab of meat. But what tore through me like a fire that would never stop burning was his eyes. The dark brown orbs I loved sank into their sockets, dissipating into goo. My scream, high- pitched and agonised, replaced the scrambling sounds of soldiers setting up position around me. I didn’t try to stop them. I sat there, clutching handfuls of what now looked like dried leather, until all I could see underneath Bones’s bullet- riddled clothes was a pale, withered husk. Dimly, I heard Madigan yell, “I said no silver ammo! Who the fuck fired those rounds?” before everything faded except the pain radiating through me. It made the agony I felt when I’d nearly burned to death a blissful memory. That had only destroyed my flesh, but this tore through my soul, taking every emotion and shredding it with knowledge that was too awful to bear. Bones was gone. He’d died right before my eyes because I insisted on taking Madigan down my way.”

If I read this once, I read it at least five more times before I would allow myself to believe it and try to move on. Even then, I was unwilling to let go.

By the time I got to p.149, I was a ridiculous, teary mess. Read the book–you’ll see.

Needless to say, this whole series is on my ‘favourites’ pile. It’s easy reading, feisty, witty, and jam-packed with supernatural action and chemistry. The heroine is strong and sassy, and knows how to handle herself (yay, feminism!), and best of all, these non-sparkling vampires know how to bite.

 

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 Up From the Grave

 

Lately, life has been unnaturally calm for vampires Cat Crawfield and her husband Bones. They should have known better than to relax their guard, because a shocking revelation sends them back into action to stop an all-out war…

A rogue CIA agent is involved in horrifying secret activities that threaten to raise tensions between humans and the undead to dangerous heights. Now Cat and Bones are in a race against time to save their friends from a fate worse than death… because the more secrets they unravel, the deadlier the consequences. And if they fail, their lives—and those of everyone they hold dear — will be hovering on the edge of the grave.

One Grave at a Time (Night Huntress #6) by Jeaniene Frost

GENRE: FANTASY, PARANORMAL, ROMANCE | PAGES: 389

My rating: ★★★★

Whilst book five was slightly disappointing because of a distinct lack of raw connection with Cat and Bones, book six, One Grave at a Time, puts the series back on form.

Once again, Cat and Bones are up against yet another cunning enemy, this time in the form of Kramer – a powerful ghost, disillusioned writer of the historic Malleus Maleficarum, and cruel, twisted rapist and murderer. He has haunted the plane of the living for years, yet annually, on Halloween, he has the ability to cross over into a corporeal form, allowing for his centuries-old ritual of the torture and burning of women, under the archaic system of witch-hunting.

Of all of the villains in this series so far, I enjoyed reading this one the most – perhaps because of my own interests surrounding the witch trials and the unspeakable history of the crimes against those women.

Cat, as always, puts her own (undead) life on the line to hunt down this madman, in yet another lightning joyride from Jeaniene Frost. 

 

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 One Grave at a Time

 

Having narrowly averted an (under)world war, Cat Crawfield wants nothing more than a little downtime with her vampire husband, Bones. Unfortunately, her gift from New Orleans’ voodoo queen just keeps on giving–leading to a personal favor that sends them into battle once again, this time against a villainous spirit.

Centuries ago, Heinrich Kramer was a witch hunter. Now, every All Hallows Eve, he takes physical form to torture innocent women before burning them alive. This year, however, a determined Cat and Bones must risk all to send him back to the other side of eternity–forever. But how do you kill a killer who’s already long dead?

This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress, #5) BY Jeaniene Frost

GENRE: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance | PAGES: 357

My rating: ★★★

Jeaniene Frost continues to distract me from everything else I should be doing, although I have to admit that part 5 in the series was not as great for me as those before it.

There’s still plenty of action and the writing is superb as always, but unlike the others, this book was a little dull in some places. There are some great scenes, don’t get me wrong, but things don’t seem to pick up until about halfway through. Whether this is simply because of the general plot of this book, or whether it is a reflection of the characters’ developing maturity, I don’t know – perhaps a bit of both – either way, it was slightly disappointing after eating books 1 to 4 like a ravenous book-beast.

I also found myself somewhat distracted by the new additions to the story, in particular, Kira, and Denise’s new ‘situation’. For anyone who read the side novels involving Spade and Denise, and Mencheres and Kira, this wouldn’t be a problem. Maybe it’s my own damn fault for rushing on with this series instead of branching out and getting the full overall story – I just didn’t have enough of an interest in these side characters to read full novels based around them alone. It would have made more sense to read the Night Huntress books 1 to 4, then go to Night Huntress World First Drop of Crimson and Eternal Kiss of Darkness before reading this book as suggested on the author’s site. Oops.

Overall, this won’t stop me from continuing with the series, but I am hoping book six captures more of what drew me to this series in the first place, zoning back in on Cat and Bones.

 

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  This Side of the Grave

 

Danger waits on both sides of the grave.

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they’ve triumphed over the latest battle, Cat’s new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance . . .

With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous “ally”; the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war . . . to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress #4) BY Jeaniene Frost 

GENRE: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance | PAGES: 355 

My rating: ★★★★

After having read several reviews that led me to believe the fourth instalment in this series was less than average, I went into this one partly prepared for disappointment. Happily, it never came. Destined for an Early Grave is just as brilliant, in my opinion, as the previous three books.

**Spoiler Ahead**

Cat and Bones are back on form after book three’s slightly lacking absence of steamy scenarios and chemistry. Cat’s transformation is edgy and original, and full of surprise, and her relationship with Bones is put to the test in even more ways.

Jeaniene Frost has done it again, and this is turning out to be one of my favourite series ever.

 

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  Destined for an Early Grave

 

Her deadly dreams leave her in grave danger.

Since half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her undead lover Bones met six years ago, they’ve fought against the rogue undead, battled a vengeful Master vampire, and pledged their devotion with a blood bond. Now it’s time for a vacation. But their hopes for a perfect Paris holiday are dashed when Cat awakes one night in terror. She’s having visions of a vampire named Gregor who’s more powerful than Bones and has ties to her past that even Cat herself didn’t know about.

Gregor believes Cat is his and he won’t stop until he has her. As the battle begins between the vamp who haunts her nightmares and the one who holds her heart, only Cat can break Gregor’s hold over her. She’ll need all the power she can summon in order to bring down the baddest bloodsucker she’s ever faced . . . even if getting that power will result in an early grave.

Halfway to the Grave BY Jeaniene Frost

GENRE: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance | PAGES: 358

My rating: ★★★★

EDIT: Having now devoured the series, Halfway to the Grave is the gateway book into one of my favourite paranormal series EVER. 

Catherine – otherwise known as Cat, Cathy and Kitten; also known as a half-breed, with a penchant for killing other vampires after having discovered that she is the product of a vampire rape. With her prejudice against all of the undead fully drummed into her by her mother, and Cat’s own self-loathing of her very being, she hunts the vampires by night, hoping that someday she’ll cross paths with the one whose blood flows through her.

Instead, she finds Bones: master vampire, hundreds of years old, and more than a match for Cat’s skills, he corners her into a deal: she can live, and hunt, but only on his terms, as part of an ongoing eleven-year search of his own.

This book was refreshingly and amazingly jam-packed with action and chemistry.

Cat is strong and feisty; her temperament makes her unpredictable, and her internal narration is funny, sassy, and a real joy to read. Her spunk gets her into dangerous fixes, yet it is truly liberating, in a generation of fragile-humans-in-the-paranormal-world, to see her get herself out of them, for the majority of the time.

Bones, as the male lead is charismatic and charming, keeping all the mystery and danger of everything a vampire should encompass – a little remnant of Buffy’s Spike. His English wit and vampiric allure is pleasurably more-ish, and set against Cat’s own fiery nature, it is a truly exciting combination.

I loved this book immensely. Each character is well established, and the conflicting prejudices of both species – human and vampire – and then the eventual mingling of the two, really adds interest. I admired the way the author does not hold out on the characters’ fitting opinions on topics in society – politics, religion… It is so refreshing to read something that doesn’t hold back in a bid to cause as little offence as possible. This made the characters really come to life; it added realism.

The ending was left wonderfully open, without being frustratingly so, and I just cannot wait to continue with this series – certainly the best so far – in terms of action, romance, humour, sex, and all things supernatural.

 

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  Halfway to the Grave

 

Flirting with the Grave…

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father – the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.

In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner – are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 2by Stephenie Meyer

GENRE: Graphic Novel, Romance, YA | PAGES: 240

My rating: ★★★

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 2 is a good. It is the second half of the graphic novel versions of Meyer’s Twilight. The artwork is very good and the story is set at a good pace, better paced than Meyer’s own story in my opinion.

  Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 2

 

Having uncovered the dark secret of her enigmatic classmate, Edward Cullen, Bella Swan embraces her feelings for him, trusting Edward to keep her safe despite the risks. When a rival clan of vampires makes its way into Forks, though, the danger to Bella has never been more real. Will she make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the people dearest to her? The second volume of Twilight: The Graphic Novel completes the visual adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s worldwide bestselling debut novel and is a must-have for any collector’s library.

The Twilight Saga Official Illustrated Guide by Stephenie Meyer

GENRE: Fantasy, Paranormal, YA | PAGES: 543

My rating: ★★★★

The Twilight Saga Official Illustrated Guide does two things for me: it fills the gaps of the Saga, and it feeds that closet-ridden, Twilight-hungry part of myself in one huge, all-you-can-eat sitting.

I wasn’t crazy about some of the illustrations. And repetition in the coven profile crossovers was bordering on mundane, but overall this was hugely enjoyable for any Twilight fan–Twihard or not. 

 

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  The Twilight Saga Official Illustrated Guide

 

Fans of the #1 New York Times bestselling Twilight Saga will treasure this definitive official guide! This must-have hardcover edition-the only official guide-is the definitive encyclopedic reference to the Twilight Saga and provides readers with everything they need to further explore the unforgettable world Stephenie Meyer created in Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. This comprehensive handbook-essential for every Twilight Saga fan-is full-color throughout with nearly 100 gorgeous illustrations and photographs and with exclusive new material, character profiles, genealogical charts, maps, extensive cross-references, and much more.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

GENRE: Fantasy, Paranormal | PAGES: 308

My rating: ★★★★

Interview with the Vampire is unlike any other vampire novel I’ve read. It is full of sumptuous detail and the language is deliciously lyrical. Anne Rice’s style of writing possesses a quality that makes you feel as though you’re in the room hearing the story first-hand.

You can fully connect with the vampire telling his story, and you can appreciate the soul-destroying side of a blood drinker’s eternal existence.

Whilst I enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first in terms of pacing, overall Interview with the Vampire is a brilliant story, and its characters are as intriguing as the vampire itself.

Looking forward to devouring all of the other books in this series.

 

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Interview with the Vampire

 

In a darkened room a young man sits telling the macabre and eerie story of his life – the story of a vampire, gifted with eternal life, cursed with an exquisite craving for human blood.