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Review: Midnight Marked by Chloe Neill

October 13th, 2017 Kristie Posted in Review No Comments »

Title: Midnight Marked

Author: Chloe Neill

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Chicagoland Vampires (Book #12)

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

Format: Paperback, 361 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451472330 (NAL/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451472335 (NAL/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

As the Chicagoland Vampires series continues, Merit and Ethan find themselves in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, where winning may require the ultimate sacrifice…

A vampire’s grudges don’t stay dead long…

Merit is one of Chicago’s most skilled vampire warriors; these days, she doesn’t scare easily. But she and Master vampire Ethan have made a new and powerful enemy, and he won’t give up until he owns the Windy City.

With his last plan thwarted, he’s more determined than ever to watch Cadogan burn. Ethan has put the House’s vampires on high alert, but their enemy will stop at nothing, including pitting vampire against vampire…

In this deadly game of cat-and-mouse, the stakes are life or death—and winning might mean sacrificing everything…

Quick & Dirty: In this action-packed installment of Chicagoland Vampires, Merit must go up against an Alchemist.

Opening Sentence: I stood at the corner of Clark and Addison in jeans and a Cubs T-shirt, my long hair pulled into a ponytail through a vintage Cubs cap.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Midnight Marked is the twelfth novel in the Chicagoland Vampire series by Chloe Neill. This novel is non-stop action as it is the penultimate book in the series and is beginning to wrap up some loose ends. It is all leading up to the prophecy that was declared back in book three. I really can’t wait to find out how this turns out.

Merit has officially been a vampire for over a year now and she’s hoping to finally attend her first Cubs game since turning but unfortunately her good time turns into finding a dead body. Merit, Ethan, Mallory and Catcher come across a vampire after he has killed a shifter. Merit tries to hunt him down because a vampire killing a shifter is no good for supernatural politics. Not too long after they find the body, they discover a bunch of alchemical runes spray painted on a pillar.

The supernaturals of Chicago must decide if they can play nice together, to work together, in order to face a threat to all of them. If they can’t, it may just be the downfall of the supernatural races. In a race against time, Merit and her friends must decipher the runes before Adrian Reed can enact whatever he is planning.

Merit is facing a pretty tough task this time around. Fortunately, she isn’t alone and has plenty of friends willing to help her. Merit even makes a new supernatural friend, which was a really cool aspect of the story. Adrian Reed also plays to the supernaturals’ insecurities pitting them against each other which doesn’t help Merit at all.

This novel was exciting and fast-paced and even though I figured out the Alchemist from the beginning, I still very much enjoyed this story and how everything played out. If you are a fan of Fullmetal Alchemist (which I am) you’ll have a good idea of what is happening but if you don’t know anything about that series than you may have more surprises in store with the storyline.

Overall, I have really enjoyed reviewing these novels with Roxanne. I didn’t really care for the best friends turned enemy storyline but after that I have really enjoyed this series. My other issue with that was Merit’s trusting other people’s judgements throughout the series. If someone said that someone else was okay, she would believe them even with the truth practically slapping her in the face. She seems to have gotten over that in the latter books thankfully.

Notable Scene:

“I love you, Ethan, and I love this city. And however much I fought it, I love this goddamn House. It’s part of me, and I’m part of it. I’m not going to stand here and watch a man tear down everything that you’ve built. I’m not. And if that means I have to chase another man who threatens this House, or apologize to you more than I like, so be it. I don’t want that, but I can live with it. Because I can’t live without you.”

Chicagoland Vampires:

1. Some Girls Bite

2. Friday Night Bites

3. Twice Bitten

4. Hard Bitten

5. Drink Deep

6. Biting Cold

7. House Rules

8. Biting Bad

8.5 Howling for You

9. Wild Things

10. Blood Games

10.5 Lucky Break

11. Dark Debt

12. Midnight Marked

12.5 Phantom Kiss

13. Blade Bound

FTC Advisory: NAL/Penguin provided me with a copy of Midnight Marked. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Dark Debt by Chloe Neill

October 12th, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review No Comments »

Title: Dark Debt

Author: Chloe Neill

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Chicagoland Vampires (Book #11)

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

Format: Paperback, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451472322 (NAL/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451472328 (NAL/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

A vampire never gets old. But neither do his enemies. When a figure from Ethan’s dark past makes a splashy debut in Chicago, Merit and her Master don’t know whether he’s friend or foe. But they’ll have to figure out soon, because trouble is brewing in the Windy City.

At an exclusive society soiree attended by the upper echelons of the human and supernatural worlds, Merit and Ethan barely stop the assassination of a guest. When the target turns out to be a shady businessman with a criminal edge, Merit suspects a human vendetta. But the assassins have fangs….

The connections to Chicago’s Houses go deeper than Merit knows, and even one wrong move could be her last….

Quick & Dirty: An old enemy is back and scores have to be settled.

Opening Sentence: There were two seasons in Chicago: winter and construction.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The GP has been disbanded and the new American version put in place. Ethan has been welcomed back into in the fold despite Nicole’s attempt to blackmail him about Balthasar. However, Ethan received a note from someone claiming to Balthasar, but he is quite sure he is dead. Until the news breaks and Balthasar shows up at Cagodan House. When the reunion isn’t what Balthasar wants he immediately forces Merit to do his will.

This scared Merit out as up until now she firmly believed she was immune to most vampire magic. Before Ethan and Merit can figure it out they end up stopping an assassination attempt at a party they are attending. When it is revealed the vampires attempting to carry out the assassination belong to Morgan they know something is up. Soon it’s revealed that Morgan has replaced his second with someone who was extremely fond of Celina.

The mystery deepens when Morgan reveals that because of Celina the house is deeply in debt to an organization called the Circle. When Merit begins digging into them, she finds that they are the ones funding Balthasar as well. Then the dreams begin and Merit knows that Balthasar is trying to hurt Ethan through her. Will she be able to find a way to withstand his power? Will she be able to keep Cagodan House out of reach from the Circle?

Just when you think you are done with Celina, she is like a bad disease that is always creeping back. I feel sort of bad for Morgan that he is forever having to deal with cleaning up her messes and now he has been outmaneuvered by a pro-Celina faction. He is totally losing control of his house, but like I said I sort of feel bad for him in this book. Balthasar is one creepy guy, and I can see why Ethan left him.

Sigh, Merit and Ethan as always are rock solid, for such a fairly new relationship they know where they stand with each other. It’s refreshing to see, I also am very happy that Catcher and Mallory are back in the most perfect way.  Ugh, just two more books…. Nooooo.

Notable Scene:

Every phone call put us on high alert, because a ghost-or someone pretending to be one-had staked a claim on our lives. That ghost was Balthasar, the vampire who, on a battlefield nearly four hundred years ago, had made Ehtan immortal and nearly turned him into a monster in his own image. Ethan had escaped his maker, made a new life for himself, and believed Balthasar had died. Shortly after he had escaped. Ethan hadn’t yet told me the details but he hadn’t indicated any doubts about Batlhasar’s death.

Chicagoland Vampires:

1. Some Girls Bite

2. Friday Night Bites

3. Twice Bitten

4. Hard Bitten

5. Drink Deep

6. Biting Cold

7. House Rules

8. Biting Bad

8.5 Howling for You

9. Wild Things

10. Blood Games

10.5 Lucky Break

11. Dark Debt

12. Midnight Marked

12.5 Phantom Kiss

13. Blade Bound

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FTC Advisory: NAL/Penguin provided me with a copy of Dark Debt. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Lucky Break by Chloe Neill

October 12th, 2017 Kristie Posted in Review No Comments »

Title: Lucky Break

Author: Chloe Neill

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Chicagoland Vampires (Book #10.5)

Publication Date: February 17, 2015

Format: eBook, 112 Pages

ASIN: B00NUMIPY8 (InterMix/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

In this thrilling new novella from the New York Times bestselling author of Blood Games, vampire Merit bites off more than she bargained for when a romantic trip to a secluded Colorado town turns deadly.

Merit and Ethan are in desperate need of some alone time, far from the worries of Cadogan House, but trouble tends to follow wherever they go. Their attempt at a romantic getaway is quickly interrupted when one of Ethan’s vampire friends shows up at their door–covered in blood and accused of killing her shifter husband.

Merit and her Master soon discover their vacation spot is far less idyllic than it appears. A centuries old quarrel between local vampires and shifters has made the town a perpetual supernatural battle zone, and this fresh blood has stirred the already volatile pot. Now, Merit and Ethan must put their passion on pause to figure out who’s really responsible for the murder before all hell breaks loose…

Quick & Dirty: Fun, entertaining novel that really doesn’t have much to do with Merit’s storyline. A portion of this story was a bit predictable.

Opening Sentence: The world below us was dark, cities glowing in orange grids like electrical circuits strewn across black canvas.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Lucky Break is a side novella set in the Chicagoland Vampire world by Chloe Neill. I decided that I wanted to read all the novellas that go with the series while I was doing the series read. I’m glad that I did because I thought it was fun to see the couple happy and actually working together. Merit is back to being sarcastic and funny. Gabe even makes an appearance.

Merit and Ethan are on a much-needed vacation. They travel to Colorado hoping to indulge in romantic couple time but as with all things Merit she manages to find trouble within minutes of settling down into her vacation “cabin”. The woman who is lending them the cabin comes running to them when she discovers that her husband is murdered. The only hitch is that she’s a vampire and her husband is a shifter.

The vampires and shifters in this area have been in a feud for over 100 years. Ethan and Merit get dragged into the feud and the only way Merit sees for the feud to end is for her to put an end to it once and for all. Merit must discover who murdered the shifter and then discover the real reason of why the feud began in the first place. In order to do that, Merit must enlist the help of Gabe to control the pack of unruly shifters.

The only thing that I found a bit of a stretch was how Merit solved the overall mystery, it was just too predictable and convenient. The novella is a fun and quick read but I really did like the fact that Merit and Ethan worked together to solve the feud instead of having some kind of conflict especially after Blood Games. I wouldn’t say that this story has a lot to do with all the main novels but it was still a fun read.

Notable Scene:

Damien turned, pushed a perfectly folded omelet onto a plate in front of Gabriel, then glanced at me. “You want ham or bacon in your omelet?”

It was the question of my dreams.

“Yes,” I said with a grin.

I can only hope you answer with the same conviction when I propose to you, Sentinel. Ethan had made his intentions abundantly clear, even if he hadn’t formally done the deed.

I reached out and patted his hand, smiled mysteriously. We won’t know until you stop fake-proposing and get to the point, will we?

Chicagoland Vampires:

1. Some Girls Bite

2. Friday Night Bites

3. Twice Bitten

4. Hard Bitten

5. Drink Deep

6. Biting Cold

7. House Rules

8. Biting Bad

8.5 Howling for You

9. Wild Things

10. Blood Games

10.5 Lucky Break

11. Dark Debt

12. Midnight Marked

12.5 Phantom Kiss

13. Blade Bound

FTC Advisory: I purchased my own copy of Lucky Break. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Blood Games by Chloe Neill

October 11th, 2017 Kristie Posted in Review No Comments »

Title: Blood Games

Author: Chloe Neill

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Chicagoland Vampires (Book #10)

Publication Date: August 5, 2014

Format: Paperback, 350 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451415205 (NAL/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451415202 (NAL/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

While Merit didn’t choose to become a vampire or Sentinel of Cadogan House, she vowed to fight for her House and its Master, and she’s managed to forge strong alliances with powerful supernaturals across Chicago. But even though Merit has had wild adventures, this may be her deadliest yet…

A killer is stalking Chicago, preying on humans and leaving his victims with magical souvenirs. The CPD hasn’t been able to track the assailant, and as the body count rises, the city is running out of options. Vampires and humans aren’t on great terms, but murder makes for strange bedfellows. Can Merit find the killer before she becomes a target?

Quick & Dirty: Dark, enthralling story involved a Tarot card serial killer but Ethan’s stubbornness about past indiscretions is a bit annoying.

Opening Sentence: He stood beside me as cameras flashed, a man with a long and lean body, deeply green eyes, and golden hair.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The Chicagoland Vampires series and Merit are still going strong with book number ten, Blood Games. I find this series entertaining and now I have no problem jumping into this world. I am really curious how this series will conclude, I just hope it doesn’t end like I think it will… Blood Games has action and intrigue but also a very frustrating Master vampire. Ethan is back to his infuriating, push-away behavior towards Merit again.

Merit has been a vampire for almost a year! Time has certainly moved slowly but the world hasn’t stopped for Merit, especially vampire politics. Trouble still abounds for the vampires after a serial killer crops up in Chicago and vampires are given the blame for the deaths. Merit gets drawn into the investigation in order to remove the vampires from the cops’ suspicions. Unfortunately, this serial killer hits close to home for Merit and the people in her life.

The Greenwich Presidium has finally revealed their play after Ethan declares for Darius’ position. The GP comes up with more games to play with Ethan, while someone from Ethan’s past decides to use Ethan’s history in a terrible case of blackmail. As a reader, I hated this blackmail angle. It was nice to hear Ethan’s past, I just didn’t like how he couldn’t own up to it. Yes, it was bad but choices were made at a much different time.

I was pleasantly surprised and a bit shocked by how the events play out for GP “Games” but I didn’t like how Ethan, once again, was pushing Merit away. I understand that Ethan is nervous about leading the GP. I get that he has some “baggage” aka blackmail that he doesn’t want Merit to learn about but in the end, I spent more time annoyed at Ethan’s bullishness than anything.

I did struggle a little bit with reading this one so I’m taking that I wasn’t quite as entertained as I usually am by this series but it was also a crazy busy week for me so I wasn’t able to dedicate the time to reading like I wanted. Although, I’m going to blame it on Ethan’s stubbornness as to why I struggled. By the way, where is Morgan? What the heck has the reclusive Morgan been up too?

Overall, the Chicagoland Vampires series has been an entertaining thrill ride for me. I haven’t enjoyed all the books like I thought I would but I have really enjoyed being a part of this world. I really like being immersed into a series set in Chicago with all the sights and sounds that it has to offer. I am excited to see where this story goes.

Notable Scene:

Arm work. Fast moves—in, out, arms above my head, hips moving in time. Footwork—shuffled steps, a spin with bent knees, then straight up again. Backward flip into a spin. I hit the floor on my knees, draped my torso over my legs, let my hands fall to the floor.

Applause lit through the room.

Shocked, I looked up, mopped my bangs from my face, and found two dozen vampires on the balcony, including a green-eyed devil—presently silver eyed—who stared down at me.

I hadn’t thought to lock the balcony door, and I’d been so completely involved in the stretch and flex of muscle that I hadn’t realized I wasn’t alone. Which, I guess, was exactly the point.

I had no idea what he was thinking or feeling—not just because he hadn’t talked to me about it, but because the look in his eyes was unfathomable. Pain, confusion, fear, love, pride or maybe all of them. I don’t know how long we stood there. Master and ballerina staring each other down, Ethan’s past between us again. This wasn’t the first time we’d locked horns over it, and I doubted it would be the last. Ethan had four hundred years of experience and memories packed into his brain, and all the issues that came with them. He was an enigma—probably the most frustrating enigma I’d ever met.

He blinked first, dropping his gaze, turning, and disappearing through the balcony door, still a mystery to me.

Chicagoland Vampires:

1. Some Girls Bite

2. Friday Night Bites

3. Twice Bitten

4. Hard Bitten

5. Drink Deep

6. Biting Cold

7. House Rules

8. Biting Bad

8.5 Howling for You

9. Wild Things

10. Blood Games

10.5 Lucky Break

11. Dark Debt

12. Midnight Marked

12.5 Phantom Kiss

13. Blade Bound

FTC Advisory: NAL/Penguin provided me with a copy of Blood Games. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Wild Things by Chloe Neill

October 10th, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review No Comments »

Title: Wild Things

Author: Chloe Neill

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Chicagoland Vampires (Book #9)

Publication Date: February 4, 2014

Format: Paperback, 352 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451415191 (NAL/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451415196 (NAL/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

Since Merit was turned into a vampire, and the protector of Chicago’s Cadogan House, it’s been a wild ride. She and Master vampire Ethan Sullivan have helped make Cadogan’s vampires the strongest in North America, and forged ties with paranormal folk of all breeds and creeds, living or dead…or both.

But now those alliances are about to be tested. A strange and twisted magic has ripped through the North American Central Pack, and Merit’s closest friends are caught in the crosshairs. Gabriel Keene, the Pack Apex, looks to Merit and Ethan for help. But who—or what—could possibly be powerful enough to out-magic a shifter?

Merit is about to go toe to toe, and cold steel to cold heart, to find out.

Quick & Dirty: Ethan is hiding and someone is taking supernaturals…..

Opening Sentence: Within the last ten months, I’d become a vampire, joined Chicago’s Cagodan House, and become its Sentinel.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Ethan is in hiding because he killed Monmouth and the Mayor has decided that despite a videotape it was probably not self-defense. So Merit turns to the Breckenridge’s since they have a house outside that Mayor’s jurisdiction just so they can buy some time. However, they hadn’t even settled in when Gabriel and the rest of the Pack showed up there. It turns out that it’s Lupercalia, a North American festival in which the wolves celebrate themselves and the Pack.

During the first night’s ceremony harpies attack, and when the dust settles Catcher and Mallory inform Ethan and Merit that they weren’t real harpies. Unfortunately for them, the Pack has decided that they might be the one guilty so they lock them up at first until everyone informs Gabriel what is going on. So with the help of a pack member and Jeff, Merit sets out to prove not on their innocence but Mallory’s and Catcher’s as well.

That doesn’t get far before the favor she owes a certain GP member is being called in, she wants Merit to convince Ethan to become a new member of the GP. Merit isn’t sure that will happen, but before she even gets a chance to dwell on it, she is kidnapped along with Jeff and Damien. When they wake up they are shocked to find themselves being held by an entirely new supernatural. One thought long extinct. They were also attacked by magic and think that the Vampires had something to do with it. Now it’s a race against time to figure out who is kidnapping supernaturals and to keep Ethan out of jail.

Ahh Ethan and Merit, nothing better than those two except for Gabriel Keene and his Pack. This book hit the ground running and pretty much never looked back. I love how there is always a bit of little mystery that is different in each book, while overall there is always something that is advancing the story as whole. Plus I love being introduced to new Supernaturals in this world and Neill’s….sigh spoilers…

I feel like I am rushing through this series, and at the same time trying to slow down. I can’t believe I am only 4 books away from it all ending. I won’t dwell because I am not there yet, if you haven’t read or started Chicagoland Vampires, start this series. It is hands down one of my favorite Vampire series of all time. I love Merit, I love her wit, snark, the way she eats, I mean these books make me seriously hungry sometimes. I love Ethan and Mallory, and the worldbuilding is utterly fantastic.

Notable Scene:

“Tonight,” he said, hands on his hips, “we celebrate the Pack, the mothers, the sires. We celebrate our founding, our brothers, Romulus and Remus, and our future. We celebrate the wild things. We have voted to remain in the realm of humans and vampires. That decision was not unanimous, but it was a decision to stay, to join, to bind together with our brothers and sisters and become stronger in the binding.”

Chicagoland Vampires:

1. Some Girls Bite

2. Friday Night Bites

3. Twice Bitten

4. Hard Bitten

5. Drink Deep

6. Biting Cold

7. House Rules

8. Biting Bad

8.5 Howling for You

9. Wild Things

10. Blood Games

10.5 Lucky Break

11. Dark Debt

12. Midnight Marked

12.5 Phantom Kiss

13. Blade Bound

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FTC Advisory: NAL/Penguin provided me with a copy of Wild Things. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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