Saturday, August 30, 2008

Promo - Bite Me Magazine

Bite Me Magazine
The Journal of the Vampire and its Kin
Arlene Russo – Editor
Issue 20 – Out Now

I recently had the good fortune of winning a copy of Bite Me Magazine by entering a contest on fellow paranormal and urban fantasy reviewer, AmberKatze’s, blog. Thank you Amber, I thoroughly enjoyed your print review debut! What a special treat really, because I’ve never seen anything like Bite Me.

This high quality magazine has so much to see. From regular departments that range from Vampire News to Book Reviews by Amber, to fabulous articles submitted by ghost hunters and a New Orleans correspondent, there is something for everyone interested in vampires, gothic fiction and things that go bump in the night.

Some of my favorites in Issue 20 is the beautiful paintings by artist Anne Sudworth and the creepiness of Phil Gomm’s write-up on Dolls & Puppets. There’s also a short story by Nancy Kilpatrick to keep fiction readers entertained.

If you have the opportunity, then get yourself a copy and see for yourself what a brilliant job Arlene Russo, editor and author, has done. Ms. Russo also has a book titled Vampire Nation that will be available next month (September 2008). Take a peek: Here

You can purchase Bite Me Magazine in the UK: Here

Look for Bite Me Magazine in the US at your local Borders Store.

Visit Ms. Russo’s Vampire Nation on MySpace: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Friday, August 29, 2008

Review - The Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary

The Wild Sight
Loucinda McGary
Sourcebooks Casablanca
October 1, 2008
ISBN# 978-1-4022-1394-6

From the publisher’s website:
Sensual romantic suspense set in Ireland featuring a hero with psychic powers.

Cursed with the Irish clairvoyance known as “The Sight,” Donovan O’Shea fled to America to escape his “gift.” Fifteen years later, his father’s illness has forced him to return to the family homestead where years earlier, Donovan’s mother disappeared into the fens and was never seen again. Now the same fens are offering up secrets, both ancient and recent, and restoring a terrible legacy that just may drive him mad. And if this were not trouble enough, a beautiful woman walks into his life, claiming to be his half-sister.

Rylie Powell never knew her real father. Her mother would only say he was a charming Irishman who seduced her, married her, and then abandoned her and his baby daughter. But after her mother’s death, Rylie finds tantalizing clues about her father that send her off to Northern Ireland and an archeological site on Dermot O’Shea’s property, the man listed on her birth certificate as her father.

Did Dermot O’Shea father both Donovan and Rylie?
What is Donovan’s connection to the Celtic High King Niall of the Nine Hostages?
And what secrets do the fens hold that invites murder?

My thoughts:
Rylie Powell was raised by her mother with very little knowledge of the father that disappeared. She did know that he was from Ireland, and with some investigation her birth certificate leads her to Dermot O’Shea. While he denies her connection to him, Rylie doesn’t believe him for a moment. When she meets his son Donovan he catches her attention in what she believes to be a very inappropriate way, especially if she’s right and they’re actually related.

Donovan O’Shea left home for America, but with his father in the hospital he’s returned to attend to family business. He lives with the gift of clairvoyance that’s much stronger around the fens beyond their old family home, and it’s one of the reasons he moved from Ireland. As the past begins catching up to the present, Donovan is thrown into experiencing visions from that are shocking in their intensity. The last thing he expects in the midst of his own inner chaos is to meet someone like Rylie, especially when his interest in her is anything but brotherly.

With the magical lore of Ireland as a backdrop, The Wild Sight takes readers on a journey that unravels mysteries of the past and paves the way for a blossoming romance. Along with a strong touch of the paranormal, Ms. McGary shares a suspenseful tale that mounts to a surprising climax and resolves the many questions that arise along the way. This intriguing story is well-paced, the characters are likeable, and the romance is bursting with passion.

To learn more about The Wild Sight, please visit Ms. McGary’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Review - Untamed by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

House of Night, Book 4
P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
St. Martin’s Press
September 23, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-312-37983-4

From the Publisher’s website:
Life sucks when your friends are pissed at you. Just ask Zoey Redbird – she’s become an expert on suckiness. In one week she has gone from having three boyfriends to having none, and from having a close group of friends who trusted and supported her, to being an outcast. Speaking of friends, the only two Zoey has left are undead and unMarked. And Neferet has declared war on humans, which Zoey knows in her heart is wrong. But will anyone listen to her? Zoey's adventures at vampyre finishing school take a wild and dangerous turn as loyalties are tested, shocking true intentions come to light, and an ancient evil is awakened in PC and Kristin Cast's spellbinding fourth House of Night novel.

My thoughts:
Zoey Redbird’s life is less than ideal. She may be the vampyre fledgling with more power than those before her, but she has recently been dumped by her boyfriends and her friends. While she certainly deserved some of that treatment, Zoey needs her friends by her side and she’s doing what she can to set things right.

The House of Night has a new student who’s just transferred in. He has an amazing skill in archery, but as nice as James Stark may seem Zoey is leery after all that’s happened in her recent past. Blood thirsty vampyres are rising, Neferet is pushing to settle a score with the humans, and the vampyre’s High Priestess has just arrived. Sharing the secrets she’s held close could put her friends in danger, but Zoey knows that it may also be the only way to keep them safe. It’s one of many difficult choices that Zoey must face.

This is the fourth book in the House of Night series, and Zoey Redbird is on a mission to stop Neferet’s evil plans while she protects those she cares about. P. C. and Kristin Cast work their writing team magic while they reveal more of the story’s dark and mysterious plot. Untamed is a fast moving and adventure filled read, with engaging characters and just a touch of romantic chemistry to keep fans guessing. This is a well-written young adult series that should easily appeal to both teens and adults.

To learn more about Untamed and the House of Night series, please visit the author’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Review - Loose and Easy by Tara Janzen

Loose and Easy
Steele Street, Book 9
Tara Janzen
Bantam Dell
August 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-440-24469-1

From the publisher’s website:
He's the bad boy she always wanted.

She's the good girl that got away.

He’d know her anywhere. Johnny Ramos had just come off a tour of duty in Afghanistan to find Esmee Alden trolling the mean streets of Denver in red lace and leather. The smartest girl he ever knew turning tricks? Not even close. Esmee’s in danger so deep, only Johnny can get her out—which is why the elite government operative is shadowing her every move. Esmee had everything planned down to the last detail: dressed in disguise, she’d recover a stolen painting and pay off her dad’s ruthless bookie. Until Johnny Ramos, her high school crush, blows into town and nearly blows her cover. Now Esmee, a P.I. and an art- recovery expert, has a mother lode of bad guys on her trail…including the one bad boy she always wanted: Johnny. But passion will have to wait. Because when bullets start flying, suddenly they’re on the run, playing it fast and loose—and heading straight into the line of fire.…

My thoughts:
Esmee Alden is working for her father to recover stolen art for an eccentric collector whose family once owned the pieces. After using a disguise to retrieve the latest painting her father has tracked down, Esmee finds herself face to face with her high school sweetheart, Johnny.

Johnny Ramos is just back from a tour in Afghanistan and can hardly believe his eyes when he catches sight of Esmee. Curious, and sure there must be another explanation, he follows her ends up joining forces with her cousin in keeping her safe. She has a debt to pay and if she fails to meet the deadline lives will be sacrificed. With old feelings surfacing, and new ones adding to the mix, Johnny isn’t about to walk away again.

In this newest Steele Street release, Johnny Ramos is putting his skills to use following his recruitment to the SDF (Special Defense Force) and keeping Esmee Alden alive. Ms. Janzen entertains readers with a gripping suspense that’s packed with fast action, life threatening danger, and romance that builds to a scorching end. Loose and Easy can easily be read as a stand alone story.

For more information on the Steele Street books, please visit Ms. Janzen’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Review - Hands of Flame by C. E. Murphy

Hands of Flame
The Negotiator, Book 3
C. E. Murphy
September 1, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-373-80270-8

From the back cover:
War has erupted among the five Old Races, and Margrit is responsible for the death that caused it. Now New York City's most unusual lawyer finds herself facing her toughest negotiation yet. And with her gargoyle lover, Alban, taken prisoner, Margrit's only allies—a dragon bitter about his fall, a vampire determined to hold his standing at any cost and a mortal detective with no idea what he's up against—have demands of their own.

Determined to rescue Alban and torn between conflicting loyalties as the battle seeps into the human world, Margrit soon realizes the only way out is through the fire.…

My thoughts:
Margrit Knight has become the Negotiator for the Old Races. As a lawyer she can argue a case with the best of them, and she’ll need every bit of her skill when she comes up against the gargoyle’s council. Alban Korund, her gargoyle lover, has gotten himself in hot water defending Margrit’s life and if she loses this case she could lose him as well.

Fighting has broken out among the Old Races and is beginning to spill over into the human population. Detective Tony Pulcella has little choice but to step in and finds himself in the middle of beings he has no chance against. His future, along with the Old Races, lies in the choices that Margrit makes. If the fighting continues they’ll risk exposure, and the human race is far from ready.

This is the third installment in The Negotiator series, and the final release in this trilogy. Margrit Knight’s life has become more complicated since the night she met Alban Korund, and now with a war brewing among the Old Races it’s her job to prevent it. Ms. Murphy provides the action, mystery, and romance that keeps readers engrossed in this urban fantasy, and introduces new beginnings and tragic ends to shake up her character’s world. While some aspects of the storyline come to a close, others are kept open for the possibility of revisiting the Old Races. Hands of Flame has some surprises in store and should be read in order, after Heart of Stone and House of Cards.

To learn more about The Negotiator series, please visit Ms. Murphy’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Promo - True Blood: Invitation to the Set (HBO)

Promo - Acacia by David Anthony Durham

The War with the Mein, Book One
David Anthony Durham
Anchor Books
August 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-385-72252-0

From the publisher’s website:
Leodan Akaran, ruler of the Known World, has inherited generations of apparent peace and prosperity, won ages ago by his ancestors. A widower of high intelligence, he presides over an empire called Acacia, after the idyllic island from which he rules. He dotes on his four children and hides from them the dark realities of traffic in drugs and human lives on which their prosperity depends. He hopes that he might change this, but powerful forces stand in his way. And then a deadly assassin sent from a race called the Mein, exiled long ago to an ice-locked stronghold in the frozen north, strikes at Leodan in the heart of Acacia while they unleash surprise attacks across the empire. On his deathbed, Leodan puts into play a plan to allow his children to escape, each to their separate destiny. And so his children begin a quest to avenge their father's death and restore the Acacian empire–this time on the basis of universal freedom.

ACACIA is a thrilling work of literary imagination that creates an all-enveloping and mythic world that will carry readers away. It is a timeless tale of heroism and betrayal, of treachery and revenge, of primal wrongs and ultimate redemption. David Durham has reimagined the epic narrative for our time in a book that will surely mark his breakthrough to a wide audience.

To learn more about Acacia, please visit Mr. Durham’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Review - Death Perception by Victoria Laurie

Death Perception
Psychic Eye Mysteries, Book 6
Victoria Laurie
September 2, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-451-22486-6

From the Publisher’s website:
Abby Cooper’s betting the house on her inner eye...

It took a while for Abby Cooper’s FBI agent boyfriend, Dutch Rivers, to accept her psychic gifts as the real deal. But these days he knows better than to question Abby’s visions. So when his favorite cousin Chase is kidnapped in Vegas, they both catch the next flight to Sin City. Abby’s inner eye insists that Chase is still alive, but nothing else about the case adds up—especially Dutch’s reluctance to involve his own Bureau.

On top of everything, Dutch is battling a mysterious illness, and Abby keeps having disturbing dreams that predict his death. Dutch wants Abby to promise that if the investigation goes south, she’ll head home to safety. But when the chips are down, Abby won’t fold without a fight...

My thoughts:
Abby Cooper has the gift of being psychic and uses it in the best way she knows how, solving mysteries. When her boyfriend’s cousin goes missing, Abby’s intuition is telling her that he’s still alive and she’s more than willing to help Dutch track him down. What Abby learns in the process is that there’s quite a bit about Dutch’s life that she didn’t know. Enough to make her question that he’s the good man she believed him to be.

Dutch Rivers is an agent for the FBI and has just learned that his cousin, Chase, has disappeared while working a security detail. With the only option of finding him being a flight to Las Vegas, Dutch doesn’t hesitate to begin a search, taking Abby along for her skills and support. Fighting an unknown illness along the way, they follow every lead they can find. As things heat up Dutch asks Abby to leave town if anything happens to him, but when Abby’s dreams become reality and she questions many things, saving the man she loves isn’t one of them.

This is the sixth book in the Psychic Eye Mysteries, and Abby is as busy as ever following her intuition and solving crime. There is more than one mystery going on between the covers of Death Perception, including Dutch’s suddenly poor health that adds to Abby’s growing concern. Ms. Laurie gives readers an edge of your seat mystery that unfolds through a myriad of twists, turns and deadly surprises. Emotions run high, the danger is intense, and the resulting climax is explosive. While each mystery in the series can be read as a stand-alone, I’d recommend reading from the beginning to appreciate the full impact of Death Perception.

To learn more about the Psychic Eye Mysteries, please visit Ms. Laurie’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Review - The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

The Summoning
Dark Powers Trilogy, Book 1
Kelley Armstrong
Harper Teen
July 1, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-06-166269-0

From the publisher’s website:
My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost—and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House . . . before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

My thoughts:
Chloe Saunders is your average teen until her school’s hallway becomes the scene of an extreme episode with a ghost. The adults in her life, her dad and aunt, decide it’s best to send her to Lyle House, a place where she can work on recovering from whatever has caused her hallucinations. The doctors quickly diagnose her as a schizophrenic and add medication to help her deal. Chloe assures them that she’s going to get better and attempts to ignore her ghostly visitors.

Lyle House has other residents, each with a surprising tale of their own and it’s clear that the group home is more than a half-way house for troubled teens. The house has its own share of ghosts, and some are willing to share its secrets with Chloe. It’s a dangerous risk, but if she and her new friends don’t dig up the truth soon, they could all be calling Lyle House their permanent home.

This is the first book in the new Dark Powers Trilogy, a young adult urban fantasy featuring Chloe Saunders. The plot is filled with paranormal elements, intriguing characters, and action that keeps up a fast pace. Ms. Armstrong is an all-around fabulous storyteller and The Summoning is no exception. This is a story that’s easy to follow, well-detailed as events unfold and easily enjoyable by both teens and adults alike.

To learn more about the Dark Powers Trilogy, please visit Ms. Armstrong’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Promo - Elric to Rescue Tanelorn by Michael Moorcock

Elric to Rescue Tanelorn
Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné, Volume 2
Michael Moorcock
Del Rey Books
July 19, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-345-49863-2

From the publisher’s website:
Elric of Melniboné. The name is like a magic spell, conjuring up the image of an albino champion and his cursed, vampiric sword, Stormbringer. Elric, the last emperor of a cruel and decadent race, rogue and adventurer, hero and murderer, lover and traitor, is mystery and paradox personified–a timeless testament to the creative achievement of Michael Moorcock, the most significant fantasy writer since Tolkien.

Now comes the second in this definitive series of Elric volumes. Gorgeously illustrated by acclaimed artist Michael Wm. Kaluta and including a new Introduction by Michael Moorcock, this collection features, along with Elric, such renowned characters as Erekosë, Rackhir the Red Archer, and Count Renark von Bek. Readers will delight in adventures that include “To Rescue Tanelorn . . .,” “Master of Chaos,” “The Singing Citadel,” “The Black Blade’s Song,” and the novella version of “The Eternal Champion.”

Elric: To Rescue Tanelorn is essential reading for every fantasy fan and provides indelible proof–if any was needed–of the genius of Michael Moorcock.

To learn more about the Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné, please visit his author page at Randomhouse: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Review - Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre

Sirantha Jax, Book 2
Ann Aguirre
August 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01627-3

From the back cover:
Sirantha Jax doesn’t take chances…she jumps at them…

Sirantha Jax is a “Jumper,” a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. Jax has worked for the Farwan Corporation her entire career. But now the word’s out that the Corp deliberately crashed a passenger ship, and their stranglehold on intergalactic commerce has crumbled—which means that Jax is out of a job.

She’s also broke, due to being declared dead a little prematurely. So when the government asks her to head up a vital diplomatic mission, Jax takes it. Her mandate: journey to the planet Ithiss-Tor and convince them to join the Conglomerate.

But Jax’s payday is light years away. First, she’ll have to contend with Syndicate criminals, a stormy relationship with her pilot, man-eating aliens, and her own grimspace-weakened body. She’ll be lucky just to make it to Ithiss-Tor alive…

My thoughts:
Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump through grimspace, a special skill that eventually kills those of her kind. Jax is a little different than most and it’s something else that’s taking its toll on her body. She’s just taken on a new job as an ambassador and begun her mission to Ithiss-Tor, a planet inhabited by a species that resemble bugs. If she can get to Doc along the way, she may get some answers. All she has to do is survive everything that lies ahead.

Forced to land, and finding their allies in the middle of a war, March fights alongside old friends like the barely controlled mercenary he once was. For Jax it’s a first look at what the man she cares about once was. Their relationship will be put to the test as outside forces pull them in different directions and they fight to live for another jump through grimspace.

This is the second book in Sirantha Jax’s grimspace adventures. Jax is in desperate need of money, so when the Conglomerate offers her a job she has little choice but to accept. Nothing comes easy, and for Jax and the rest of the crew this mission is no exception. In this well-paced journey through space, Ms. Aguirre adds some intriguing new characters that offer surprises along the way. Emotions run high in Wanderlust and the many twists and turns will leave readers hungry for more.

If you’d like to learn more about Wanderlust and read an excerpt, please visit Ms. Aguirre’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Review - Bitten to Death by Jennifer Rardin

Bitten to Death
Jaz Parks, Book 4
Jennifer Rardin
August 12, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-316-02208-8

From the back cover:
Jaz Parks here.

My latest mission has taken me to the ancient Greek city of Patras; but instead of soaking up its splendor, I'm here to infiltrate a Vampere Trust.

Only two vamps have ever escaped the tightly bound communities and lived to tell the tale: Edward "The Raptor" Samos, the most reviled criminal mastermind in recent memory, and Vayl, the CIA's number one assassin who also happens to be my boss.
The Raptor is trying to take over Vayl's former Trust. Unfortunately the Trust's new leader has her own plans.

This job is going to be the death of me.

My thoughts:
Jaz Parks embarks on a new mission with her boss Vayl, the CIA’s top assassin. In their continued efforts to stop Edward Samos, The Raptor, they find themselves at a Greek villa in Patras, where the Vampere Trust Vayl once belonged to resides. Samos has plans for the Trust and his efforts to infiltrate it could be their best chance to stop him once and for all.

Vayl left the Trust long ago, and Samos was the only other who dared. Agreeing to a deal with the Trust’s leader, the Deyrar Hamon Eryx, they arrive to find that he’s been replaced. Vayl has old ties to the new Deyrar, Disa, and is surprised to see her alive let alone in a position she shouldn’t have had the strength to hold. As their time at the Trust grows darker, Vayl will uncover secrets beyond anything he imagined while he fights to destroy Samos and hold on to any future he may have with Jaz.

This is the fourth book in the Jaz Parks series. Jaz, Vayl and the team continue their main objective, to eliminate the threat of The Raptor. They’ll also have to set to right a Vampere Trust that has been taken over by something beyond Vayl’s fellow vampires. Ms. Rardin packs this character-driven story with danger-filled action and a dark secondary plot that challenges the fragile bond between her main characters. Bitten to Death is a fast moving tale that’s infused with high emotions and the ever present chemistry that fans of the series know and love.

To read an excerpt from Bitten to Death, please visit Ms. Rardin’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Review - Aphrodisiac by Allyson Roy

Allyson Roy
Berkley Sensation
September 2, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22323-9

From the back cover:
Something about Gwen Applebee’s death doesn’t add up. Sex therapist Saylor Oz knows for certain that late perfume-maker and fashionista extraordinaire wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing a fanny pack. So why was there one strapped around Gwen’s waist when her body was discovered? Not to mention the coded message embedded in her “suicide note.” It seems Gwen stumbled upon an ancient formula with great powers, and someone was willing to kill for it.

Unfortunately for Saylor, the villain did not get his hands on the formula—but in his quest he does get his hands on Saylor. Now she and her tough-talking best friend have less than one week to figure out where Gwen hid the formula. Between patients, parties, and an escalating flirtation with a hot local boxer, Saylor’s desperate hunt leads her from the dark corners of Brooklyn and the glittering skyscrapers of Manhattan to the beaches of the Hamptons—all while she tries to stay one step ahead of a ruthless killer.

My thoughts:
Dr. Saylor Oz works as a sex therapist and has been hit hard by the recent death of her best friend. More than that, she doesn’t think the death was a suicide at all. When Saylor realizes that Gwen’s poetic suicide note is actually filled with clever clues, she and her roommate Benita begin a frantic search to decode the message and discover what the killer was after.

Eldrige Mace is a retired professional boxer who keeps up on his boxing at their local gym. He’s also a drop-man who washes high-rise windows. Eldrige is the protective sort, even if he’s not the committing kind in a relationship. When he realizes that the doctor’s life is in danger he’s not about to walk away, whether she wants him around or not. While he may not be able to convince her with his charm, saving her life a time or two just might do the trick.

Aphrodisiac is an action-packed romantic suspense with a strong and complicated mystery. There are a lot of secondary characters bringing additional threads to the storyline, and while each is explained they are sometimes difficult to keep track of. The mystery is the strong point of this fast-moving read, and Ms. Roy is very creative in the way it plays out. Saylor is stubborn and sassy, while Eldrige is as annoying to her as he is charming. The chemistry between them is apparent, and the romance is there, but it’s not the main focus. I’d love to see these characters in a future read where they’re able to further explore the possibilities between them.

To learn more about Aphrodisiac and Ms. Roy’s work, please visit her website: Here

Kimberly Swan, DarqueReviews

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Promo - True Blood


In the not-too-distant future, vampires have come out of the coffin. Thanks to the invention of mass-produced synthetic blood, vampires no longer need humans for their fix and can walk freely, if not yet comfortably, among their living counterparts – though they can still come out only at night.

Meanwhile, in the backwoods Louisiana town of Bon Temps, Sookie Stackhouse works as a waitress at the down-home bar Merlotte’s. Though outwardly normal, she has unusual qualities of her own: Sookie can read minds, which complicates her world in endless ways. But Sookie’s life becomes a lot more interesting when Merlotte’s gets its first vampire patron – the 173-year-old Bill Compton – and the two outsiders are immediately drawn to each other.

Mixing romance, suspense, mystery and humor, the new HBO series TRUE BLOOD kicks off its 12-episode first season SUNDAY, SEPT. 7 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT). Starring Anna Paquin (the “X-Men” films; Academy Award®-winner for “The Piano”) as Sookie and Stephen Moyer (“The Starter Wife,” “88 Minutes”) as Bill, the series is created and executive produced by Alan Ball (creator of the Emmy®-winning HBO series “Six Feet Under”), who also wrote the first three episodes and directs two episodes of the show, which is based on the popular Sookie Stackhouse novels of Charlaine Harris.

Other cast regulars on TRUE BLOOD include Ryan Kwanten (“Summerland”) as Sookie’s brother Jason, whose womanizing makes him the prime suspect in a gruesome murder case; Rutina Wesley (“How She Move”) as Sookie’s best friend Tara Thornton, whose outspoken ways constantly get her into trouble; Sam Trammell (“Judging Amy”) as Sookie’s good-hearted boss Sam Merlotte, who carries a torch for her; Nelsan Ellis (“The Inside”) as Lafayette Reynolds, a cook at Merlotte’s, whose personal life is as colorful as his wardrobe; Chris Bauer (HBO’s “The Wire”) as Detective Andy Bellefleur; Jim Parrack (“Criminal Minds”) as Hoyt Fortenberry, one of Jason Stackhouse’s co-workers on a road construction crew; Carrie Preston (“Law & Order: Criminal Intent”) as Sookie’s fellow waitress Arlene Fowler; Michael Raymond James (“Black Snake Moan”) as Rene Lenier, another one of Jason’s co-workers; William Sanderson (HBO’s “Deadwood”) as Sheriff Bud Dearborne; and Alexander Skarsgård (HBO’s “Generation Kill”) as Eric, a Nordic vampire.

Also appearing in TRUE BLOOD are Lois Smith (“Hollywoodland”) as Sookie’s grandmother Adele, who shares her fascination with vampires; Lizzy Kaplan (“Cloverfield”) as Amy Burley, the new girl in town who falls for Jason; Lynn Collins (“The Number 23”) as Dawn Green, a waitress who has an on-again, off-again relationship with Sookie’s brother; Kristin Bauer (“Dirty Sexy Money”) as Eric’s cohort Pam, who helps run a vampire bar; and Stephen Root (“No Country for Old Men”) as Eddie, a neophyte vampire.

In addition to Alan Ball, directors on the series include John Dahl (“Rounders”), Nick Gomez (“The Shield”), Anthony Hemingway (HBO’s “The Wire”), Michael Lehmann (HBO’s “Big Love”), Daniel Minahan (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Nancy Oliver (writer, “Lars and the Real Girl”), Marcos Siega (“Veronica Mars”) and Scott Winant (“Hidden Palms”).

To learn more about the True Blood series, please visit HBO’s website: Here

Promo - The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia A. McKillip

The Bell at Sealey Head
Patricia A. McKillip
September 2, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01630-3

From the publisher’s site:
Sealey Head is a small town on the edge of the ocean, a sleepy place where everyone hears the ringing of a bell no one can see. On the outskirts of town is an impressive estate, Aislinn House, where the aged Lady Eglantyne lies dying, and where the doors sometimes open not to its own dusty rooms, but to the wild majesty of a castle full of knights and princesses…

To learn more about The Bell at Sealey Head, please visit Ms. McKillip’s author page at ACE: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Review - Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh

Hostage to Pleasure
Psy-Changelings, Book 5
Nalini Singh
Berkley Sensation
September 2, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22325-3

From the back cover:
With her darkly seductive Psy/Changeling world, Nalini Singh has created "a sensual, dangerous adventure not to be missed" (New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh). Now, as the deadly Psy Council tightens its grip, a rebel Psy scientist finds herself at the mercy of a changeling who has sworn vengeance against her kind...

Separated from her son and forced to create a neural implant that will mean the effective enslavement of her psychically gifted race, Ashaya Aleine is the perfect Psy--cool, calm, least on the surface. Inside, she's fighting a desperate battle to save her son and escape the vicious cold of the PsyNet. Yet when escape comes, it leads not to safety, but to the lethal danger of a sniper's embrace.

DarkRiver sniper Dorian Christensen lost his sister to a Psy killer. Though he lacks the changeling ability to shift into animal form, his leopard lives within. And that leopard's rage at the brutal loss is a clawing darkness that hungers for vengeance. Falling for a Psy has never been on Dorian's agenda. But charged with protecting Ashaya and her son, he discovers that passion has a way of changing the rules...

My thoughts:
Ashaya Aleine is part of the PsyNet and its Silence. She’s been raised to live without emotion, to be cold and efficient without the complications associated with feeling. Despite the appearance she maintains, her foundation was breached long ago and what she does now is for the safety of her son. With a changeling’s help she’ll get away from the Council that forces her to do their bidding through threats and consequence, but accepting the all too human emotions that freedom brings could become her destruction.

Dorian Christensen is a DarkRiver changeling. He’s a leopard with all of the strength and skill that brings, but without the ability to change into his cat form. He’s also the sniper who helped Ashaya, and he has taken on the roll of protector where she and her son are concerned. Falling for Ashaya would be an incredibly foolish move for a man who lost his sister to a murderous Psy, but when circumstances keep them in close contact he may not be able to resist.

This is the fifth book in the Psy-Changelings series, and it focuses on Ashaya’s escape from under the Council’s thumb, the past that’s made Dorian what he is today, and the romance that blooms between them. With a well-written storyline and plenty of action, Ms. Singh creates an intriguing world that’s sure to keep readers coming back for more. While I have not had the opportunity to read the previous installments in this series, Hostage to Pleasure is nicely detailed and works well as a stand-alone story.

To learn more about the Psy-Changelings series, please visit Ms. Singh at her website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Promo - The Storm by Jean Johnson

The Storm
The Sons of Destiny, Book 6
Jean Johnson
Berkley Sensation
September 2, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22217-1

From the author’s site:
Eight brothers, born in four sets of twins, two years apart to the day—they fulfill the Curse of Eight Prophecy. Though no longer trapped in exile, their growing family faces new problems. The sixthborn son must find a way to trust his Destined bride…

First, his most heavily guarded refuge is breached. And now, the worst of all crimes against Rydan of Nightfall: Rora, a pesky, privacy-invading foreigner, likes him and won’t leave him alone! Rydan knows he’s as appealing as a rosebush stripped of its blooms, so why does she persist? Any normal maiden should be seeking less thorny company than his.

But Rora isn’t normal. She alone sees the secret of what torments Rydan. And only she can persuade him to put it right before it destroys him. But Rora has her own secret as well—one of such vast power that other mages have killed in order to possess it. It once drove Rora and her sisters into exile, and, in the wrong hands, its power could annihilate their world. In the right hands, it could change her and Rydan’s fate forever.

To learn more about The Sons of Destiny, please visit Ms. Johnson’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Review - Heart Fate by Robin D Owens

Heart Fate
Celta Heart series, Book 7
Robin D. Owens
Berkley Sensation
September 2, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22367-3

From the Publisher’s Site:
Wed to a wealthy older man when she was just a girl, Lahsin Yew runs away from her abusive home to find a new life. At seventeen, she’s about to enter her Second Passage, when her Flair—and perhaps her HeartMate—will be revealed.

Lahsin finds sanctuary in a secret garden, where she meets Tinne Holly. Though he is her HeartMate, he cannot tell her, and her troubled past prevents her from trusting any man. Pretending to find her by chance, Tinne helps her through her Second Passage. But when the truth is revealed, can she forgive his deception, and learn to trust in her destiny?

My thoughts:
Lahsin Burdock Yew was forced into marriage at a very young age to an older man who used her in many ways without an ounce of kindness. As she comes of age and is about to enter her Second Passage she runs from the Yew home, a home she’s never thought of as her own. She takes refuge in a garden that only allows those who need it to enter. As the passage that will bring her a new level of Flair begins, Lahsin meets Tinne Holly, a man who captures her attention and teaches her that not all men are like the ruthless man she married.

Tinne Holly has just gotten a divorce, something so rarely done among the noble families that the scandal threatens not only himself but the family he loves as well. When he realizes that Lahsin is in need of help he goes to her and helps her through her Second Passage, but he’s not able to tell her that he’s her HeartMate. As they grow closer and Lahsin begins to trust him Tinne must share the truth, and revealing that deception could destroy any future they may have had.

This is the seventh book in the Celta Heart series, and shares the story of HeartMates Lahsin and Tinne. Ms. Owens has built a futuristic world that mixes with fantasy and a magic laced romance to form a wonderfully delightful story. Heart Fate is well-written and will take readers on an emotional journey from heartbreak to love. The author’s creativity shines through in her realistic characters and the homes in which they reside. While I did not have the opportunity to read the previous installments in this series, this story is well detailed and easy to understand. There is also a list of characters, family tree and map included.

To learn more about Ms. Owens and her Celta Heart series, please visit her website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hungry for More by Diana Holquist

Hungry for More
Diana Holquist
Grand Central
August 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-446-19704-5

From the publisher:
Chef James LaChance has no time for the gorgeous Gypsy who appears at his restaurant with a mysterious agenda. But women inspire his delectable menus, and after one kiss from this temptress he creates his boldest dish ever. With her on his side--and in his bed--his restaurant could earn its third star. But is success worth losing his heart to a woman who has sworn off love forever?

Amy Burns is a Gypsy with a gift: she can name a person's One True Love. To keep her mystical power, she can never fall in love herself--a price she's more than willing to pay. Until she meets the sexy chef whose talents in the kitchen are only surpassed by his talents in the bedroom. But is any man worth giving up the only gift she's ever had? As desire leads to passion, Amy must choose between her destiny and the man who leaves her...

My thoughts:
Amy Burns has had a wonderful gift since she was a little girl, the ability to touch someone and tell them the name of their One True Love. When this gift leaves her for someone new, Amy spends her days tracking down the new recipient. What she finds at the end of her search are James, an attractive man who could pose a threat to her future, and Troy, the abandoned son of the woman she seeks.

James LaChance is a chef and two star restaurant owner who knows he has found his match in Amy. She’s a wild Gypsy who can fuel his imagination with a kiss, but Amy has her own agenda and James can’t do much more than show her how things could be between them. In the end Amy will have to make a big decision, and that’s a difficult choice for a woman who had decided long ago never to fall in love.

Ms. Holquist keeps readers engaged with an ever evolving romance that’s anything but simple. The protagonist is surrounded by secrets that are slowly revealed throughout the story, adding to the building suspense. The author did a fabulous job in defining her characters, and each scene is easy to visualize. There were a few secondary characters that I would have liked a clearer understanding on the roles they played, but in the end they’re no longer relevant because the romance is where much of the plot focuses. If you’re looking for a romance with enchanting characters, mouthwatering food and a delightful splash of the paranormal, then Hungry for More is just the right book for you.

To learn more about Ms. Holquist and her writing, please visit her website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Break of Dawn by Chris Marie Green

Break of Dawn
Vampire Babylon, Book 3
Chris Marie Green
September 2, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01629-7

From the Publisher’s site:
Hollywood can really suck…After facing off against the lethal Vampire Killer, Hollywood stuntwoman Dawn Madison and her friends are reeling. But for Dawn, the pain is much more personal. She’s learned more about her missing father and long-dead mother than she ever wanted to, and her conflicted feelings about both her enigmatic, never-seen boss, Jonah, and P.I. Matt Lonigan are only making things worse.

To save her father Dawn must enter the Vampire Underground, where she will encounter an unthinkable betrayal, and where the question of who is truly good and who is truly evil will become a matter of life, death—and undeath…

My thoughts:
Dawn Madison and the team working for Jonah Limpet are getting closer to discovering the Underground’s location. The team’s leader, The Voice, has worked a long time on plans to destroy the master running it, but he’s managed to stay just out of reach. Dawn is supposed to be the key to reaching their goal, but for her it’s about bringing her father home and there’s little that will change the course she’s set for herself.

As secrets are revealed and Dawn is pulled further into the dark world of the Underground, what remains of the team fights to put an end to the evil and bring everyone home safely. While they may triumph to some degree, secrets will be revealed that will change each of their lives and may fracture the team forever.

This is the third release in the Vampire Babylon series and completes the first trilogy. Dawn has priorities, and while she’s willing to work with Limpet’s team, she’ll stop at nothing when it comes to rescuing her father. The darkness and danger mounts as Ms. Green exposes her characters well kept secrets, and resolves many of the mysteries surrounding them. Break of Dawn ends with a well-planned twist that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the beginning of the next trilogy. This is a series that should be read from the beginning to fully appreciate how some aspects of the storyline unfold.

If you’d like to learn more about the Vampire Babylon series, please visit the website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jinx by Jennifer Estep

Bigtime, Book 3
Jennifer Estep
Berkley Sensation
September 2, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22062-7

From the back cover:
She never wanted to be a superhero. Too much danger. Too much spandex …

Bella Bulluci’s big passion is the arts. Her big pain is being born into a family of superheroes. Bella might feel differently if her own superpower was one she could control – or at least get some use out of. Instead, hers is one of capricious luck – supercharged telekinesis. In other words, static electricity. Bella knows that’s not a power – just a jinx.

During a gala fund-raiser for the local art museum, Bella comes upon two things no Bigtime supergirl should be without: an ubervillain of her very own who plans to steal a priceless gem, and a dashing – if slightly shady – stranger named Debonair. He may have a reputation as a notorious playboy, but the real sparks are going to come from Bella, who’s finally going to learn just how well love and danger mix…

My thoughts:
She’s a talented fashion designer, and like many of her family and friends in Bigtime, Bella Bulluci has a superpower. Being part of a family filled with superheroes isn’t easy, but finding that your out of control talent is a jinx makes life around the people Bella cares about that much more difficult.

Helping with a fundraiser at the local museum has Bella working with some beautiful and expensive pieces. When a thief shows-up to steal the most extravagant piece being shown, Bella finds herself battling ruthless killers and being rescued by a superhero of her own. It’s too bad she doesn’t date superheroes, not even Debonair with his gift of teleportation, because this one could be perfect for her.

This is the third installment of the Bigtime superheroes series and a very entertaining read. Bella spends much of her time trying to do damage control when her gift causes more trouble than it’s worth, but when a masked superhero comes into her life she may have to admit that bad luck isn’t the only luck she has. Ms. Estep pens a wonderfully humorous tale and charms readers with a cast of characters that will keep you smiling from the very first page. Jinx is pure fun with a bit of mystery, a whole lot of action and a sweet romance that turns scorching. This book can easily be read as a stand-alone.

To learn more about Jennifer Estep and her books, please visit the author’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Tonya Hurley
Little, Brown and Company
August 1, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-316-11357-1

From the back cover:
Now I lay me down to sleep,I pray the Lord my soul to keep.And if I should die before I awake,I pray the popular attend my wake.Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school, and then one day she really is. Even worse: she's dead. And all because she choked on a gummy bear.
In this satirical yet heartfelt novel, Tonya Hurley explores the invisibility we all feel at times and the lengths we'll go to be seen.

My thoughts:
Charlotte Usher’s existence has gone unnoticed, but this year she plans to change her life at Hawthorne High in a big way. With her plan to become popular, Damen Dylan is at the top of her check list. Luck has suddenly come her way when she and Damen become lab partners in class, and he asks if she’ll consider becoming his tutor. Then she chokes on a gummy bear and wakes on the other side.

Piccolo Pam becomes her mentor in death when her Dead Ed begins. Not easily deterred from her goal by being left invisible, Charlotte enlists the help of the one student from Hawthorne High who can see her, Scarlet. They strike a bargain that enables Charlotte to get close to Damen, and allows Scarlet to spend some ghostly time with Charlotte’s new classmates. By the time they’re finished, things will never be the same.

Ghostgirl has a black hardcover like you might expect, but it’s set apart from the rest with its coffin shaped window, Charlotte’s silhouette, and silver edged pages as a lovely final touch. Charlotte’s adventure takes readers through her difficult high school days of feeling unseen by her classmates, then becoming invisible through a freak and deadly incident. It takes a lot more than death to throw Charlotte off of achieving her goals, and with Scarlet’s help and some handy new tricks she plans to see them through. Ms. Hurley does a fabulous job of keeping the story light and flowing, balancing out the darkness surrounding her protagonist. Ghostgirl moves quickly, has interesting characters and a touch of sarcastic humor that’s sure to entertain.

To learn more about Ghostgirl, please visit Ms Hurley’s site: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Review

Friday, August 8, 2008

Legacy by Jeanne C. Stein

Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles, Book 4
Jeanne C. Stein
August 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01626-6

From the back cover:
Anna Strong was a tough-as-nails bounty hunter until the night she was attacked by a vampire – and changed forever…

Since then, Anna has struggled to adapt to her supernatural status while clinging to the vestiges of her humanity. Avery - the sinister vampire who transformed her - is dead, and Anna learns that she’s entitled to his vast fortune. Then a predatory werewolf comes forward, claiming to be Avery’s widow. She demands the entire estate and makes it clear that she and her pack think nothing of killing Anna – and those who matter to her – to get what’s owed them. Now Anna must protect those she loves from a werewolf out for the two most precious things in the world: blood…and money.

My thoughts:
Anna Strong is a bounty hunter who found herself bitten and changed by a vampire during a job. Avery was charming, wealthy and a big liar that met his own undead end. Now that he’s gone, Anna has been told that by Vampire law all of Avery’s worldly possessions become hers. That’s something she really has no interest in, so when a werewolf comes to town claiming to be the late Avery’s widow, Anna is more than willing to sign things over. Life is never that simple. Now everyone she cares about is in danger and it’s up to Anna to set things straight.

While Anna’s life is anything but under control, her partner David finds that the woman he loves has gotten herself into a legal mess. Gloria’s only hope in clearing her name comes from an unlikely source, and her chance for freedom will come with a price that may be too high for her to pay.

This is the fourth installment in the Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles and is as riveting as the rest. Anna still struggles with her life as a vampire and is reluctant to let go of her human ties, but the danger that surrounds her new life is opening her eyes to the reality of her future. Ms. Stein draws readers in with mystery, and seasons it with a spicy mix of surprising events and the paranormal characters behind them. Legacy proves to be well told and detailed with enough back-story for those just entering the series without taking anything away from Anna’s newest adventure. With appearances by established characters, and the introduction of some intriguing new ones, this remains one of my favorite urban fantasy series in print.

To learn more about the Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles, please visit Ms. Stein’s website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Insatiable Desire by Rita Herron

Insatiable Desire
The Demonborn, Book 1
Rita Herron
Forever Books
August 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-446-19947-6

From the back cover:
Can she dare to trust her heart…

Plagued by graphic visions and the desperate cries of murder victims, psychic Clarissa King will do anything to stop the brutal killer targeting her hometown--even work alongside the dangerously sexy FBI agent who thinks she's a fraud. He's the one man who sparks a hunger she never imagined possible--and the one man she should fear...
When his soul belongs to the dark?

Vincent Valtrez knows how to get inside a serial killer's mind. But with a dangerous past and a secret to keep, he wants nothing to do with this gorgeous psychic--especially since just the thought of her luscious body ignites a dark, irrepressible desire he's determined to keep at bay. When the killer they seek turns out to be demonic and otherworldly, Vincent learns his connection to the murderer is more than just hunter and prey. Will the darkness inside Vincent claim him...or will he save Clarissa--and himself--from the evil that threatens them both?
My thoughts:
Clarissa King’s psychic abilities have brought her the truth about recent deaths in her small Tennessee town. Originally believed to be accidental deaths, the reality of what’s going comes to her for the ghostly visits of the victims. Driven to make thinks right and stop the evil, she’s fortunate that their local law enforcement believes in the gift that has been passed on through the generations to Clarissa. Help from the FBI arrives in the form of a man who once experienced his own share of darkness in the otherwise quiet town. She once knew and cared for a young Vincent, and now his presence brings conflicting emotions for Clarissa.

Special Agent Vincent Valtrez was less than thrilled to be put on the serial murder case in his old hometown. Twenty years after losing both of his parents, he fights his own darkness each day. It’s an evil that threatens to win because of a long dead demon of a father, something dark that’s growing stronger and drawing Vincent in. He hadn’t counted on seeing Clarissa again, or for feeling the need to protect her. Vincent has his own strict conduct when it comes to women, and he was determined not to allow her to break through that wall he has carefully erected through the years.

This is the first book in The Demonborn series and reunites Clarissa, a psychic, with Vincent, the son of a Dark Lord and an Angel of Light. Ms. Herron blends an entertaining dark fantasy with paranormal romance in the battle of good and evil. Insatiable Desire scratches the surface of the Demonborn world through Vincent’s tortured background and Pan, an evil minion with his own agenda. I hope to see more presence of the dark fantasy in future releases. This installment should appeal more to the fans of paranormal romance. Dark Hunger, the next story of the Demonborn, is currently scheduled for release in the summer of 2009.

To learn more about Ms. Herron and her books, please visit her website: Here

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews