Saturday, July 2, 2011

Review: Raziel by Kristina Douglas

Vampires are all the rage, obviously, and lately angels have also been the talk of the book-lovin' people everywhere. Kristina Douglas (which is, in fact, a pen-name for the bestselling author Anne Stuart) has decided to mix it all up and thus, we have Raziel, the first installment in the Fallen series. Be very excited about this.

Allie is a spunky New Yorker who soon after the first couple of pages finds herself hit by a bus, and well, dead. In charge of her journey from the world of the living to that of the dead is the hunky fallen angel, Raziel. For him, this is a routine task. However, something goes terribly wrong and not only is Allie denied her rest, she gets involved in a terrifying plot of heavenly proportions.

First of all, Raziel is an incredibly fun book to read. This was something that I really did not expect, as both the cover and the first couple of pages seemed really pretentious. However, Allie is possibly my favorite type of heroine: witty, sarcastic and just enough of a spaz to be considered totally lovable. In fact, her narration often reminded me of that of Queen Betsy, the protagonist of MaryJanice Davidson's Undead and Unwed, which was a very fun read as well.

Allie's narration makes up only half of the book, however, as Raziel gets to weigh in from his point of view. Now, this was just amazing. Too often the author gets too caught up in only the protagonist, which then leads to all the other characters becoming two-dimensional. The titular character is just as great and well fleshed-out as Allie. Narration was generally the best part of the novel (although I could have done without certain chapters dedicated to the POV of more minor characters), and the banter between Allie and Raziel often made me giggle.

As for the story itself, I really loved the skillful mix of romance and action. In fact, Douglas' universe is way more complex and intriguing than I expected it to be, and there are some great twists in the plot. That being said, the main plot twist did not really work with me, as it relied on solely withholding information from the reader - the hints were few and far in between, and the final denoument generally felt a bit anti-climactic.

I cannot really take off too many points for this, since this is mainly a romance novel. And the romance in it is really something - instead of coming from cliches or convoluted situations, the author really exploited the characters' traits and their story really felt genuine and, ultimately, satisfying. It should be noted that there is quite a number of steamy scenes in the book, but they are all executed uniformly well and are basically the stuff that (certain) dreams are made of.

To anyone who likes romance and/or paranormal - get your hands all over Raziel. There is quite a lot to satisfy both types of fans. I especially liked the various pop references - Allie's narration allows shout outs to everything from Buffy to Shakespeare. This is truly a satisfying, sexy summer read.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Giveaway Winner: Ex-Girlfriends United

With a little help from (seriously, a life-saver for book bloggers everywhere), I now give you the winner of Matt Dunn's Ex-Girlfriends United, courtesy of Sourcebooks!

Drum roll, please... Here's what had to say about this.

Congratulations, Sarah! I will email you right now and as soon as I have your postal address, I will forward it to Sourcebooks. Enjoy the book!