Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Interview - Karen MacInerney

Darque Reviews welcomes Karen MacInerney!

Hi Karen, thanks so much for sharing your time with
Darque Reviews. We’re looking forward to getting to know you and your work better.

Your upcoming book,
Howling at the Moon: Tales of an Urban Werewolf, is being published by Ballantine Books on February 26, 2008. Can you tell us a bit about it?

KM: Howling at the Moon is the story of reluctant werewolf -- and auditor -- Sophie Garou, who's got a great job, a great loft, a great boyfriend... and a big fat hairy secret. Because I LOVE the teaser Ballantine came up with, I'll share it here for your readers:

Sophie Garou seems to have it all: a great job at a prestigious accounting firm, a closet that rivals a Nordstrom showroom, and a terrific boyfriend who isn’t afraid to use the “M” word. There’s just one little itty-bitty problem: Sophie is a werewolf–and her time of month has a whole new meaning.

Needless to say, life among yummy flesh-and-blood humans is no piece of steak . . . er, cake!, but regular doses of wolfsbane tea and a mother who runs a magic shop have helped Sophie keep her paranormal pedigree under wraps. Still, when a sexy, golden-eyed werewolf prowls into town, Sophie finds herself struggling to keep her animal impulses in check–not to mention trying to keep things on track with her super hot (and super human) lawyer boyfriend. What’s more, someone is threatening to expose Sophie for what she really is. And when her mother is accused of selling a poison-laced potion, Sophie must sniff out a culprit before the fur hits the fan.

Howling at the Moon is the first book in your new Tales of an Urban Werewolf trilogy. Will the trilogy center around one character, or will it change with each book?

KM: Sophie is definitely the star of the trilogy, so all three books will be from her point of view, although the cast of characters will grow and evolve as the books -- and Sophie's world -- grow.

Prior to Howling at the Moon, you wrote cozy mysteries. Have you found that you enjoy writing in one genre more than the other?

KM: I really enjoy writing cozy mysteries, in part because it's wonderful creating the kind of warm, welcoming world that I love to fall into when I read. I also enjoy watching the small-town dynamics unfold -- and perfecting (and sampling) the recipes, of course!

But writing in the paranormal realm has been a ton of fun -- in part because the world-building is in an exciting challenge, and in part because there are fewer rules, which means you can let your imagination run free. When you're working in a world where werewolves are de rigueur, your options for what can happen expand exponentially, and it allows me to create all kinds of absurd, hilarious situations. It's still creating a world, though -- only one where magic, rather than muffins, is the star of the show.

What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

KM: When I'm in writing mode, the words often come tumbling out -- I just wrote 2,000 words in two hours this morning, so I've had a great day. But I've learned that sometimes my creative brain needs a rest to recharge. So for me, I think the challenge has been understanding that while I have periods of great productivity, they are balanced by 'fallow' periods. I've had to accept that the breathers are what enable me to work so enthusiastically -- and productively -- the rest of the time.

Can you tell us what you’re working on now, and what fans can look forward to?

KM: I am currently finishing up the third Tales of an Urban Werewolf book and the third Gray Whale Inn mystery (Murder Most Maine); I plan to have both finished in May. But I've got several exciting ideas for new paranormal projects -- projects that will delve into all kinds of interesting and untapped areas -- bouncing around in my head, and I can't wait to get them on paper. I'll keep you posted!

Do you work on more than one project at a time?

KM: I have tried to -- many times -- but I seem to be a one-book-girl. My friend Susan Wittig Albert once said that books are greedy, and demand all of your attention; she's right. If I work on more than one book at a time, I tend to lose my focus. I will occasionally switch from one to another for a period of months, depending on deadlines and other factors, but when I'm in one book, I don't move to another unless I'm completely switching gears.

I do allow myself to daydream about future projects, though -- which for me, is half the fun of writing. The payoff for finishing one book is letting myself start fleshing out some of my (many, many, many) other ideas!

What genre do you enjoy reading? Who are some of your favorite authors?

KM: I read in many, many genres, and I must admit my list is rather eclectic. In mystery and romance, I love Charlaine Harris, MaryJanice Davidson, Susan Wittig Albert, Diane Mott Davidson, and my fellow Cozy Chicks authors, of course. But I also adore Diana Gabaldon, Vladimir Nabokov, J.R.R. Tolkien, Bernd Heinrich, Philippa Gregory, Robin Hobb (she's a fabulous fantasy author I discovered just a year or two ago), Claire Berlinski, James Herriot, Bill Bryson (who can make me snort orange juice) and Michael Pollan. And cookbooks -- I'm on a Barefoot Contessa kick right now.

Do you have a particular time of day that you set aside specifically to write?

KM: Primarily in the mornings after I exercise -- and almost always when my kids are at school or at their grandma's house. Otherwise, just when I get to the steamy bits, e.g., "He put his warm hand on my thigh, sending a current of lust through me..." a child always barges in and announces that someone just spilled four gallons of milk on the kitchen floor. And that most of it is now under the refrigerator.

So I write while the kids are gone... unless I realize that I misread a deadline, in which case I can write 40 pages in 8 hours with three kids jumping all over me. (I wish I could say this was theoretical, but it's not.) I usually write at a coffee house or at the library, but it varies; lately I've been working on the living room couch. I have no idea why.

Do you have any hobbies? How do you spend your free time when you find some?

KM: I like to read -- surprise! -- and I like to exercise, so you'll often find me on walking or biking the Hike and Bike trail or at an exercise class. Also, I'm a big fan of plants and growing things in general -- in a previous life, I was working toward a PhD in plant population biology -- so I love nature hikes and gardening. I enjoy cooking, and I love, love, love to travel. I'm planning to learn Italian soon so I can convince myself that spending a summer in Tuscany would be educational. (And deductible, for research purposes, of course. Italian werewolves, anyone?) And there's nothing better than settling into a hot bath with a candle and a great book.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers or aspiring authors before we say goodbye?

KM: I think for readers, I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for going to your bookstores and libraries keeping the art of the written word alive. I love books passionately, and I'm so glad there are so many people still devoted to the magic of books!

And for writers? I think I would say that above all, the best way to learn to write is to read. Read obsessively, read curiously, read to find out what kind of book you want to write. And when you sit down to work, be as clear as you can about the book you want to write. You wouldn't sit down at a blank canvas without knowing if you were planning to paint a still life or a modern piece; in the same way, it's best to have at least some vision of what you want to do before you pull out your laptop (or notebook, or whatever you choose to use).

And when you do start submitting your work, keep your chin up -- and start on the next piece as soon as you've sent that query letter out. (Preferably not the sequel to the unsold first book -- get excited about something new!)

Thanks so much for spending some time with us. The best of luck on Howling at the Moon!

KM: Thank you, Kimberly... and thank you so much for the interview. Great questions!

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

You can visit Karen MacInerney’s website here:

You can visit her blog here:

You can purchase a copy of Howling at the Moon, here:
Amazon – Howling at the Moon

Howling at the Moon by Karen MacInerney

Howling at the Moon
Tales of an Urban Werewolf, Book 1
Karen MacInerney
Ballantine Books
February 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-345-49625-6

Working as an auditor at Withers and Young, Sophie Garou doesn’t often receive packages. When the first box arrives she assumes it’s from her boyfriend, Heath, but what’s inside is most definitely not something he’d be sending. Whoever it is has discovered a secret that Sophie has kept well hidden, and as the packages grow increasingly worse it’s clear to Sophie that there’s someone out to ruin the normal life she’s worked so hard at maintaining. Living life as a half-blood werewolf is about to be much harder than ever before.

When the assistant from her mother’s store calls to inform her that her mother, a witch and psychic, has been arrested, Sophie rushes out to see what she can do. On the way there she passes a werewolf, but unlike herself this gorgeous male is a full blood and recognizes what she is as well. Gazes locking, Sophie tries to shake it off and continues on her way.

The fight to clear her mother’s name continues, and the sexy werewolf she saw on the street shows up once again and soon begins dating her friend Lindsey. Sophie has had a great relationship with Heath, but something about the werewolf, Tom, draws her in. She’ll have to take his warnings about the local pack seriously if she expects to survive, because once they’ve discovered her, the quiet life she’s led away from a pack will be shattered forever.

Howling at the Moon is the first book in the Tales of an Urban Werewolf trilogy. Sophie’s walked a fine line living a normal life and staying below the radar where other werewolves are concerned. Now that someone has deliberately set her up as a target her life can never be the same. With humor adding its magic touch, Ms. MacInerney pens an entertaining mystery that will keep readers guessing at the true identity of the killer. The storyline provides plenty of action while the dialogue and banter between characters keep it fun. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the second installment to see where Sophie’s life leads now that she’s been exposed.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Monday, February 25, 2008

Serpent's Kiss by Alex Archer

Serpent’s Kiss
Rogue Angel, Book 10
Alex Archer
Gold Eagle – Worldwide
January 8, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-373-62128-6

Having just uncovered a sacrificial pit on a dig along the coast of India, Annja Creed finds herself fighting for her life while she saves the people around her. A storm coming in is enough to destroy an archaeological dig site, but it’s a tsunami that hits and washes everything away. In the aftermath, the team begins to find objects washing up in the shallow water that indicates that there may be a shipwreck nearby. The craftsmanship with images of a half-human, half-snake Naga are too intriguing to pass up. Now Annja will do everything she can to get the funding they need to explore the local waters and find the location of the ship.

The sea is a dangerous place, and for Annja and the crew diving to discover the history of a shipwreck it could turn deadly. Modern-day pirates are aware of what she’s found and they want the treasures for themselves. It seems that they’re sure there is a hidden city within uncharted interior and Annja has managed to find the only surviving proof that it exists. When they get what they want and finally arrive at their destination what awaits them will not just surprise them, it won’t let them go. Only the strong will survive.

Serpent’s Kiss is the tenth installment of the Rogue Angel series. Annja Creed has the protection of Joan’s sword at her fingertips, and with the trouble that seems to find her it’s what often keeps her alive. Alex Archer pens a tale filled with dangerous adventure and amazing discoveries. With action that never stops, this intriguing page-turner will sweep readers up in its mysteries and leave them craving Annja’s next quest.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Unleashing the Storm by Sydney Croft

Unleashing the Storm
ACRO Series, Book 2
Sydney Croft
Delta – Bantam Dell
February 26, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-385-34081-6

Being an animal whisperer has put Kira Donovan in many a bad spot, so she’s spent much of her time on the run. It’s May, and she’s just begun the weeks of her heat, the need to be with a man is so strong that for Kira it’s literally life and death. Lucky for her she’s just hired two new men to help with the animals at the sanctuary and while Derek would suit her needs, it’s Tom who truly captures her attention.

Tom Knight is reluctantly following orders when he heads out to bring Kira in to work for ACRO or eliminate her. When he arrives he finds that their fears were for good reason. Kira’s already a target for Itor who, unlike ACRO, has plans to use Kira for a very evil purpose. Understanding her need to mate when her body insists on it, Tom has little trouble getting close to his target. Now he’ll just have to convince her that the only safe option she has is to join ACRO, without getting too attached to her himself.

Unleashing the Storm is the second book in the ACRO series. Kira has never known a life where she’s been accepted just as she is. In Tom’s arms Kira may find exactly what she’s yearned for, but Tom will take a bit more convincing. Ms. Croft builds a strong world for her characters to grow in while providing interesting backgrounds and intriguing talents for each. The tale of Dev and Oz continues through this installment and I look forward to seeing more of them in the next book as well. The third book, Seduced by the Storm, is currently scheduled for July 2008.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert

Season of the Witch
Natasha Mostert
March 4, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-451-22335-7

Gabriel Blackstone makes his living by stealing information for those who are willing to pay. He also has the gift of remote viewing and at one time worked for Eyestorm, a group of remote viewers who put those talents to good use. A case gone bad caused him to leave, and now Gabriel is being asked for help by one of his former team members.

Frankie wasn’t just a teammate, she was his lover, and his conscience won’t allow him to just say no. William Whittington is a man of wealth whose son, Robert, has disappeared, he’s also Frankie’s husband. While it’s not unusual for Robert to take off, they believe he’s come to harm and need Gabriel to use his talents to discover the truth.

With his partner Isidore’s help, Gabriel’s quest for answers leads him to Minnaloushe and Morrighan Monk, powerful witches who may have the talent to commit murder and get away with it. Gabriel is certain that one of them is a killer, and he will find out which one it is even if it means risking his own life for the answer.

Season of the Witch is a murder mystery with a mystical edge. After years of careful avoidance, Gabriel will use his talent to slam a ride and hope to find the answers he seeks on behalf of the Whittingtons. What he never expected was to be caught up in a deadly game within his own mind and the mind of the killer. Ms. Mostert weaves a mystery overflowing in the arts of alchemy and witchcraft. Season of the Witch is a seductive rollercoaster ride of power, love and murder.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters

Whitechapel Gods
S.M. Peters
February 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-451-46193-3

Effectively separated from the rest of London by a wall, the residents of Whitechapel have launched an attack on those who hold them captive. Grandfather Clock and Mama Engine think of themselves as gods, and rule with deadly force. Through their ever present minions they’ll destroy anyone who attempts to stand in their way.

Family and friends are catching an ailment that changes them into something mechanical that leaves little of their human form behind. Those who fought and survived the former Uprising have gathered, planned and created weapons to aid in their new attack. A devoted few will see it through to the end, at any cost. With a third god on the rise, these brave men and women are Whitechapel’s only hope of survival.

Whitechapel Gods is a dark fantasy set in a sinister version of Victorian London. The citizens of Whitechapel have had all they’re going to take of the mechanical monsters who have imprisoned them. Win or lose, they’re prepared to fight. With a well-formed world and intriguing characters, S.M. Peters pens an impressive tale. Thoroughly dark, often creepy and carefully detailed, Whitechapel Gods will keep fantasy readers engaged to the final showdown.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Chosen by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

House of Night, Book 3
P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
St. Martin’s Press
March 4, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-312-36030-6

When Zoey Redbird found herself Marked she was brought to the House of Night to study for her new life. Like the other students there, Zoey hopes to survive the change into a vampyre, but not everyone does.

It’s her seventeenth birthday, and like those that came before it’s not nearly the joyous occasion it should be. Surprising for a girl who has great friends and not one, but three guys interested in her. Heath, the human guy she’s known forever and has accidentally imprinted with, and Erik, the most popular guy at school, should really be enough for one girl to handle. Then there’s the vampyre Loren, the poet who’s currently staying at the House of Night. He’s a man who Zoey finds herself drawn to, but could ultimately leave her heartbroken.

Zoey’s best friend and former roommate, Stevie Rae, recently died, or so she thought. What Stevie Rae actually became is undead, and she’s quickly losing any connection she had to humanity. While she tries to help, Zoey will have to keep Stevie Rae’s existence a secret because the one person she should be able to count on, her mentor Neferet, can no longer be trusted.

When vampyres begin turning up permanently dead, it’s not a big leap to pin the murders on the People of Faith, a group who doesn’t feel that vampyres have the right to exist. The House of Night is locked down with guards to prevent anyone from entering or exiting the grounds. In order for Zoey to carry out her plans for helping Stevie Rae she’s forced into accepting help from the most unlikely source.

Chosen is the third book in the House of Night series. While Zoey is just turning seventeen, she’s matured considerably since the day she walked through the door of the House of Night. With new power and leadership comes responsibility, and while not all of her decisions have a positive outcome, Zoey’s first priority is to protect the people she cares about. With a realistic look at a teen’s choices in friendship and romance, P. C. and Kristin Cast share their wonderful talents in this latest addition to their teen fiction series, House of Night. With smooth and steady pacing, readers are riveted by the fabulous storyline and the fine details that make the characters so captivating. Readers may want to take their time and savor Chosen, but it’s simply impossible to set down.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Monday, February 18, 2008

Biting the Bullet by Jennifer Rardin

Biting the Bullet
Jaz Parks, Book 3
Jennifer Rardin
Orbit Books
February 11, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-316-02058-9

Jaz Parks is a Sensitive and part of a special CIA team where her talents can be utilized. She’s also been given the extra duty of keeping her boss, Vayl, alive. He’s a vampire who’s on their side, and the CIA’s favorite assassin. Protecting the humans from the often dangerous others, he and Jaz also share a special connection, one that has yet to really be explored.

Their new mission has taken them to the Middle East where their current target, the Wizard, is using his skill as a necromancer to achieve his goals. They’re meeting up with another team whose leader will come as a shock to Jaz, a fact that Pete, their boss back home, failed to share. It seems that there’s a mole in the team, and together they plan to find out who is betraying their every move.

Vayl has found another Seer who insists she has information about his sons, an obsession he’s held on to since their deaths. The price this woman expects him to pay for her talents may mean the end of the already fragile relationship between Vayl and Jaz.

With reavers using a mark she carries to target Jaz, zombies whose agenda they can’t quite determine, and Asha, the Amanha Szeya whose help with both the Wizard and the mahghul has assisted them in surviving, this has been one difficult assignment.

Biting the Bullet is the third book in the Jaz Parks series and just as thrilling as the previous installments. Jaz will do whatever it takes to keep her family and friends alive and safe. She’s about to have those she loves put in a life threatening position and not even a trip to Hell will stop her from saving them. Ms. Rardin has used her fabulous imagination to create a storyline that’s fresh and exciting. The characters are strong, their enemies are vicious, the chemistry is delicious, and their assignments are packed with danger in every direction. While you could read this as a stand-alone story, the series as a whole is just too good to miss. The fourth book, Bitten to Death, is currently scheduled to release this August (2008).

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Netherwood by Michele Lang

Michele Lang
Love Spell – SHOMI
February 26, 2008

Talia Fortune is the primary shareholder of FortuneCorp as well as a Sheriff. Her job has sent her to the colony of Fresh Havens to find Kovner, an outlaw suspected of sabotage and other crimes. Under her uncle’s leadership, the colony has found itself in a dangerous position and Talia will use every one of her skills to save it.

Kovner knows exactly who Talia is from their time together in the Netherwood as Avenger and Amazonia. What he needs now is for her to trust him and believe in his fight against giving up their souls and becoming part of the Singularity. The Gray Forest is their best bet for survival, but they’ll have to stay off Grid to get there and hope that the forest will welcome Talia as Kovner has.

Netherwood is an action romance with many surprises along the way. When Talia sets out after Kovner she has every intention of doing her job and bringing him in. What greets her on Fresh Havens is a sight that gives her pause, and it’s then that Kovner takes the opportunity to show Talia the truth of what’s happening all around them. Together they continue the fight to save what’s left of the human race. Ms. Lang packs this tale with futuristic action, an intriguing storyline and characters that have you cheering on their fight for survival. Netherwood is an entertaining escape into a fascinating future world.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Friday, February 15, 2008

Book Giveaway - Fangland by John Marks

Have you read Fangland by John Marks? If not, now is your chance to win a copy of your own! Penguin Books has been kind enough to share 3 copies of Fangland, and all you need to do is leave a comment on this post any time between now and midnight Friday, February 29th.

Please be sure to scroll down and read a review of Fangland, and don’t forget to check back on Saturday, March 1st, when the winner will be announced.

Good luck, and happy reading!

Fangland by John Marks

John Marks
Penguin Books
January 29, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-14-311253-2

As an associate producer for the television news show, ‘The Hour’, Evangeline Harker is given the job of traveling to Romania to meet with an Eastern European criminal figure, Ion Torgu. Soon after her arrival Evangeline mysteriously disappears with little trace. Her associates believe her dead, but her father and the fiancĂ© she left behind hold on to the hope that evidence will be found to the contrary.

Back at the offices in New York, accusations fly over who’s to blame for sending the young unaccompanied Evangeline to what may have been her death. As one of the staff is fired, another dies of an unexplained virus, one suffers from guilt, and a growing darkness descends on those working on the show.

The discovery of Evangeline in a Transylvanian monastery comes as both a shock and relief to those who care about her and she’s soon reunited with her family and coworkers. Trailing further death and destruction in her wake, Evangeline’s perception of right and wrong has shifted. The barriers between the living and the dead are dissolving, and there may be no one left to save them.

Fangland is an unnervingly creepy story that’s telling is pieced together from personal emails, journals and other surviving notes from the staff of ‘The Hour’. When Evangeline Harker left for Romania she was a happily engaged woman looking forward to a bright future, but the woman who returned was darkness personified. They say that authors should write what they know, and this author has done just that. By using his experience at a television news show to form the backbone of his story, Mr. Marks lends a sense of reality to an otherwise dark vampire tale. The well-built plot and wonderful detail will leave a lasting impression, and the realistic setting may leave readers jumping at shadows.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Book Giveaways You Should Really Check Out......

I need to take the time to do this more often, especially when I come across such wonderful goodies!

For all of you Patricia Briggs fans, Fantasy Book Critic has a giveaway for 3 sets (yes, sets) of the Mercy Thompson series! ~~~>Just Click Here and sign up to enter!


For those of you just dying to get your hands on a copy of Mark Henry’s ‘Happy Hour of the Damned’, Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin’ Book Reviews is giving one away. ~~~>Just Click Here and sign up to enter!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

Mistress of the Art of Death
Ariana Franklin
February 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-21925-6

When Cambridge becomes the site of a grizzly murder, King Henry II looks to his friend, the King of Sicily, for help in finding a ‘doctor to the dead’. While he’s expecting the arrival of a master of the art of death, what Cambridge receives instead is a mistress who has trained at the University of Salerno, but has to hide her occupation from the local population. With Simon of Naples who is a criminal investigator, and Mansur who serves as her bodyguard, Adelia sets out to discover the truth behind the vicious slaying of a local child. What awaits her arrival is the realization that there have been three more children abducted and murdered in the same manner as the first.

The king’s tax collector, Sir Rowley Picot, becomes a significant help in the investigation and shows an interest in Adelia, but she won’t allow herself to be distracted. There’s more to the case and resulting chaos than discovering the killer, because the Jewish residents of Cambridge have had to leave their homes and businesses to be guarded for their safety. The town blames them for the deaths of its children, and it will take more than Adelia’s findings to set things straight.

Mistress of the Art of Death is a medieval criminal investigation with a brilliant twist. When a crime needs solving and there’s no crime scene to analyze, the job falls to someone who can get their answers from the dead. Adelia is the right one for the job, but in the 1170’s the majority still believes it’s a man’s job. Ms. Franklin blends historical fiction with a well-detailed and riveting murder investigation. This gripping suspense smoothly builds to a dramatic climax that will continue to surprise readers to the end.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready

Wicked Game
Jeri Smith-Ready
Pocket Books
May 13, 2008
ISBN# 978-1-4165-5176-8

Ciara Griffon hasn’t led the easiest life, and much of it was spent running cons. When she’s offered a job at a local radio station, WMMP, Ciara’s encouraged to put an end to her less than legal ways and become part of the team. The station is in jeopardy of being sold to Skywave, a company that will take away the individual tastes of the DJ’s and turn WMMP into a clone like the other stations they operate.

Coming up with a gimmick is Ciara’s specialty and it’s not long before she has the idea of announcing that their DJs are vampires. After all, it isn’t like the general population would believe it’s true, even if it is. It’s an idea the public loves, and as the new WVMP launches its campaign the advertising income that the station so desperately needs finally begins to roll in. While she’s accepted by the station’s vampires as a whole, it’s Shane who has captured her attention, but there’s little time to pursue a romance with trouble brewing. Someone is sabotaging the station’s plans and it doesn’t appear to be Control, the group who keeps the vampire community in line. Before the station’s special staff will be safe they’ll have to discover who’s behind the danger, and how Ciara fits into their plans.

Wicked Game is an urban fantasy read with a unique twist on vampires. Ciara grew up with parents who ran a con until their luck ran out and left their teenage daughter to fend for herself. Now Ciara is trying to make a break from that life, attend school, and hold down a legitimate job before her checkered past ends up consuming her. Ms. Smith-Ready weaves an imaginative tale that adds new dimension and limitations on the otherwise long-lived lives of vampires. The characters odd lifestyles and compulsive behaviors lend a realistic quality that’s charming in some cases and downright funny in others. This is a fun escape in a world that readers will look forward to visiting again.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Demons Are A Ghoul's Best Friend by Victoria Laurie

Demons Are A Ghoul’s Best Friend
Ghost Hunter Mysteries, Book 2
Victoria Laurie
Obsidian – Penguin Books
March 4, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-451-22341-8

M. J. is on a new ghost hunting case at the Northelm Boarding School near Lake Placid, N.Y. to investigate the haunting of an old wing. With her partners Gilley and Steven by her side, M. J. is about to take on one of the strongest ghosts she’s encountered. Tales of Hatchet Jack have been circulating for years, but it’s been the school’s policy to keep the incidents secret. Now, with the renovation of the old wing and a dean who chooses to ignore the danger in what’s going on, Hatchet Jack is busy scaring anyone who crosses his path.

There’s more to the ghost haunting Northelm’s school grounds and M.J. will have to solve that mystery in order to discover why he’s still hanging around. Finding the portal that Hatchet Jack uses and sealing it is the only way to ensure that he never returns. Some days a ghost hunter’s job is much easier said than done.

Demons Are A Ghoul’s Best Friend is the second installment in the Ghost Hunter Mysteries series. M. J. takes her job very seriously, so when she’s faced with Hatchet Jack she won’t let anything stop her from banishing him and ridding the children of Northelm Boarding School from further threat. Ms. Laurie has penned a fabulous read and packed it with ghost hunting action at its best. With a chilling mystery, a danger filled investigation, a bit of romance and a wonderful dose of humor, there’s little chance that readers will be able to set this book down. M. J. and the team’s next investigation is currently scheduled for March of 2009.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Marseguro by Edward Willett

Edward Willett
DAW Books Inc.
February 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-7564-0464-2

When Victor Hansen left Earth in order to see his people survive, he took the race of modified humans he had created with him. They named the planet they colonized, Marseguro, and the landlings and water-dwelling Selkies strove to live in harmony. Here on the new world, the religious beliefs of the Avatar would no longer threaten the Selkies who were deemed abominations on Earth. While most of the unmodified humans among them were in support of the freedom, there was a small faction who continued to follow the Avatar’s beliefs behind closed doors. Chris Keating’s family was among those few, and his hatred towards the Selkies prompts him to set off a distress beacon that alerts those on Earth to their location.

Richard Hansen is the grandson of Victor, and has spent his time searching for the location of his grandfather and his people. Raised on Earth under the Avatar’s teachings, Richard believes the worst of Victor and wants to help cleanse Marseguro of the Selkies. What he didn’t realize when he turned over the colony’s location, was that there would be little hope for anyone inhabiting the planet. Now, torn between duty and what he’s now seen to be true, Richard must decide where his loyalties lay. His decision could mean the difference between survival and death for all who call Marseguro home.

Marseguro is a creative tale in science fiction. Having been raised to see the worst in Selkies, Chris Keating finds what he believes will be the solution to purifying Marseguro. Richard Hansen starts his journey pleased with discovering the location of his grandfather’s people, but as the assault begins he finds himself questioning his beliefs. Mr. Willett blends science fiction with heavy religious beliefs into a well-written storyline that’s filled with dramatic scenery and character detail. Sci-fi and fantasy fans should find this story full and entertaining.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

House of Cards by C. E. Murphy

House of Cards
The Negotiator, Book 2
C. E. Murphy
March 1, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-373-80263-0

Margrit Knight has become the negotiator between the Old Races. Made up of gargoyles, dragons, vampires, djinn and selkies, they have existed with humans through the years by remaining hidden or hiding in plain sight. Keeping their true natures concealed from humans has helped to ensure their survival, but with some of the Old Races dying out it’s become imperative that they find a common ground between them. This is Margrit’s job, and it’s earned her a voting seat in their quorum.

Janx, the dragon crimelord that Margrit owes favors to, has called one in. He’s concerned that someone has targeted Malik, the djinn by his side, and Margrit is given the task of keeping him alive. While she protects him during the day, it’s Alban, the gargoyle, who will guard him at night. Someone among the Old Races has more of a personal agenda in mind, and once they reach for their goal only knowledge and a quick mind will save everyone else involved.

House of Cards is the second installment in The Negotiator series. As Margrit is drawn deeper into the world of the Old Races, her human life is rapidly changing. While she hadn’t prepared for her future to change in such ways, Margrit has the strength to see it through. Ms. Murphy builds an intriguing world for her characters and shares it in vivid detail. The non-stop action and suspense will easily keep the reader’s attention, and the ongoing romance adds just the right amount of heat. In order to get the most from this fabulous series the opening installment, Heart of Stone, should be read first.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay

Guy Gavriel Kay
February 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-451-46190-2

Ned Marriner is a Canadian teenager on a photo-shoot with his father in France. As the team sets up outside the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral of Aix-en-Provence, Ned retreats inside where he meets an American exchange student, Kate Wenger. A self proclaimed history geek, Kate has the answers to most any question about the surrounding area. The two come across a strange man who, initially unwilling, sets off a chain of events that drags them into a recurring story that has continued through the centuries. As the story unfolds around them, they soon realize that the stranger they’ve met has a rival and each man plays a powerful role in what’s to come.

When Ned gets a phone call from the mysterious aunt he’s never met, he learns that there is more to his own family’s history than he’d ever been told. As the stakes grow ever higher, and one of the team becomes further entangled in the story, it’s clear that the men seek the favor of Ysabel, the woman they love. Neither man is able to break free of the part they play in her game. With the help of his family and friends, Ned will embark on a frightening journey to save a life and hope to learn how he fits into Ysabel’s story.

Ysabel is an intriguing fantasy that takes a piece of the past and enables it to play out in today’s time and space. Ned begins his visit to France as an average teenage boy, but quickly learns that his family’s secrets play a large role in the deep connection he finds with Ysabel’s story. Mr. Kay tells a fabulous tale with such great detail that it enables readers to experience the unfolding drama along with his characters. The beautiful scenery, the edge of your seat suspense and a soul-deep longing that has endured the tests of time are all carefully pieced together to create one incredible story.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Like a Charm by Candace Havens

Like a Charm
Candace Havens
The Berkley Publishing Group
February 5, 2008

All Kira Smythe ever wanted was to get out of her hometown of Sweet, Texas and make her mark in the world. She achieved the success of a contract attorney with Zeb Corp., but when a client takes her own life the tragic experience is too much to bear. The death is blocked from Kira’s memory and lands her in the hospital with little choice but to return home and recover.

In the time that Kira has been away from Sweet a few things have changed. The parents she once saw as hippies are now successful business people, and the town she once felt alone in has become much more inviting. Luckily for Kira the best things she remembers have stayed the same. Lulu’s is still the best place for a great meal, the bakery is still a welcome temptation and Mrs. Canard is still the town librarian.

When tragedy strikes once again, Kira’s world is thrown even further into turmoil. With ghostly encounters that leave her thinking she must be crazy, and one too many job offers, Kira has some decisions to make. Then there’s Caleb, a carpenter who stirs her interest, but has secrets of his own. For Kira, making the right choice will prove to be a very difficult task.

Like a Charm is a delightful romance. In a town full of people who always seemed special, a life of being less than ordinary was something Kira felt she had to leave behind. When she returns to Sweet, Kira finds that she’s no longer the ordinary girl she was, and the years have given her a new outlook on the place she once again calls home. Ms. Havens combines the allure of small town living with magical residents. Well-written, fast-paced and filled with enchanting characters, Like a Charm is a fun escape that captures the reader’s attention and thoroughly entertains.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews