Daily Archives: December 11, 2014

Review of Touch the Dark – Book 1 of the Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance

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I’ve read a slew of above average urban fantasy novels recently, and this is yet another to add to the list.

touchthedarkCassandra Palmer can see the future and communicate with spirits – talents that make her attractive to the dead and the undead. The ghosts of the dead aren’t usually dangerous, they just like to talk… a lot. The undead are another matter. Like any sensible girl, Cassie tries to avoid vampires. But when the bloodsucking Mafioso she escaped three years ago finds Cassie again with vengeance on his mind, she’s forced to turn to the vampire Senate for protection. The undead senators won’t help her for nothing, and Cassie finds herself working with one of their most powerful members, a dangerously seductive master vampire – and the price he demands may be more than Cassie is willing to pay…

Yes, I know this all sounds very familiar – and I’m not going to claim that Chance is breaking the mould, but she has nevertheless provided a streetwise heroine whose wary, smart attitude chimes realistically with an orphan regularly besieged by horrifying images and ghosts. In such circumstances, surely you’d either become a gibbering wreck, or start adopting a cool sceptical stance to the world around you. And it is a fairly grim world, belied by Cassie’s laconic first person narrative.

Urban fantasy is usually often interspersed with violence and some sex, but if you do have precocious pre/early teens interested in your reading tastes in the household, do be aware that both the violence and sexual content of this book are dialled to adult tastes. Though I would also add that doesn’t mean the writing is in any way crude and while Chance describes some fairly hardcore scenes, she doesn’t go out of her way to shock.

There is also a cast of interesting characters. I like the fact that while the vampires are all dangerous, some are a lot more dangerous than others. The supernatural world has a set of rules that make sense and Chance allows us to discover them without holding up the narrative. The flashbacks Cassie experiences are well handled and never cause any confusion regarding the timeline, which is a far harder trick to pull off than Chances makes it look. It didn’t take me long to realise that I was in the hands of an experienced, skilful author, so I relaxed and allowed the story to roll forward. The climax and ending nicely tied up the narrative, while leaving Cassie in a sufficiently interesting place that I wanted to know how she’ll cope with her new situation.

All in all, this is a thoroughly entertaining read – and certainly a great deal more fun than some of the clunkers I’ve recently been hurling across the room.
8/10

Hello from the Gillespies

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I’ve been hearing good things about this book from several people – including this helpful, informative review by Ionia…

readful things blog

Hello From the GillespiesHello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth….

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when a bump on the head leaves Angela with temporary amnesia, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways….

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is most definitely one of my favourite books of the year…

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