Author | alanajoli

alanajoli

New Haven based reviewer Alana Joli Abbott is the author of two novels, Into the Reach and Departure, and worked as the writer for the webcomic Cowboys and Aliens II, hosted at DrunkDuck.com. She is also a contributor to roleplaying games, including the award-winning Serenity Adventures, Chronicles of Ramlar, Steampunk Musha, and modular adventures for the Living Kingdoms of Kalamar, Xen’drik Expeditions, and Living Forgotten Realms Campaigns. She is a history columnist for Branford Patch. Her love for fantasy and science fiction has led her to many diverse pursuits, including traveling to visit ancient ruins in Turkey, Greece, Ireland, the UK, and Mexico, singing madrigals, studying stage combat, and practicing kempo karate with her husband.

Along with reviewing books for Flames Rising, Alana reviews comics and books about mythology and martial arts for School Library Journal, for which she got the chance to write the starred review for 2008 Newbery winner Good Masters, Sweet Ladies. She also reviews paranormal romance and fantasy for Publishers Weekly and has written a film review for Black Gate fantasy magazine. You can keep up with her day to day writing (unless she’s really busy) at www.virgilandbeatrice.com.


alanajoli

The Dead Girls’ Dance Fiction Review

Posted on April 30, 2008 by

The Dead Girls’ Dance is not a stand-alone novel. A reader new to the series (like me) can figure out what’s going on with no problem–but the story doesn’t begin here. Nor does it end here. The conclusion leads straight into Morganville Vampires Book Three (which I’ll be reviewing in the near future). Claire has to choose how best to deal with being wanted by vampires, and how best to gain the protection she and her friends desperately need to survive–how she makes that decision and the consequences of her choice are likely to be the plot of the third entry in the series. As a series book, the story is compelling, the characters sympathetic (even some of the villains), and the world that Caine has drawn is easy to sink into, if not pleasant. Her world is one where monsters aren’t just vampires, but humans, where it’s not safe to be out after dark, and where demons lay in wait in dark alleys.

Review by Alana Abbott

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alanajoli

Tantalize Fiction Review

Posted on April 17, 2008 by

When I picked up Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith, I was expecting something along the lines of Stephanie Meyers’s Twilight. Though I’m not sure where I got that impression, I quickly discovered that, while Tantalize and Twilight may both feature stories of star-crossed love and potentially doomed relationships, Tantalize doesn’t make the love story its center. Instead, it focuses on a sort of coming-of-age for Quincie, a heroine named after the Texan vampire hunter from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Quincie is a strong young woman who, by the beginning of the story, has already had to cope with the deaths of her parents. She is going to inherit the family restaurant when she turns eighteen, but until then, she shares responsibilities for running it with her uncle. Because business has been bad, her uncle formed a plan to increase sales by remodeling their traditional Italian eatery to have a vampiric theme, still keeping the best of Italian dishes while serving the would-be vampire crowd, which happens to include his girlfriend.

Review by Alana Abbott

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alanajoli

Succubus Blues Fiction Review

Posted on April 14, 2008 by

Georgina Kincaid just isn’t into her job. Sure, living off of the life energies of men she seduced used to be fun centuries ago, but now bringing good men down just makes her feel guilty. Is it too much for a succubus to ask to have just one worthwhile relationship in her immortal life? But fulfilling her dream of meeting the right man (who she won’t kill by sleeping with him) has to be put on hold when several minor immortals in the Seattle community are killed or murdered.

Review by Alana Abbott

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alanajoli

Prom Dates from Hell Fiction Review

Posted on April 10, 2008 by

For those of us who were geeks in high school, comparing prom to hell wasn’t much of a stretch. The same can absolutely be said of Maggie Quinn, who has no intention of getting conned into going to prom. She doesn’t have a boyfriend, so that’s not a concern, and her stalwart friends have mocked the dance as much as she has in the past. But as the dance nears, and supernatural danger strikes, all of Maggie’s plans are scattered. Welcome to Rosemary Clement-Moore’s Prom Dates from Hell.

Review by Alana Abbott

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alanajoli

Halfway to the Grave Fiction Review

Posted on April 4, 2008 by

Cat Crawfield would love to kill her father. Literally. After raping her mother, he took off, leaving Cat as a reminder of the evening. Oh, and he’s a vampire, making Cat a weird sort of hybrid: living with but a vampire’s strength and speed. So as a way to get even, she starts hunting vamps, picking them up at clubs and staking them for all they’re worth. Every time she does it, there’s one less monster in the world. But then she meets Bones, a vampire far stronger than any she’s met before. When he threatens to kill her unless she studies under him, she challenges him to a duel of sorts–as the loser, she is forced to train with him, learning to be a better, more effective vampire hunter, ready to take on some of the big marks.

Review by Alana Abbott

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alanajoli

Magic Bites Fiction Review

Posted on March 29, 2008 by

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck merc who has enough trouble paying the bills that the last thing she needs is taking on a charity case. But when her guardian, a member of a magical group of public defenders known as the Order, is murdered, she’s determined to see the last of her family given justice. In order to do so, she has to play nice with the Order, which she left years ago due to her problems accepting authority. When it turns out that both the People–necromancers who use vampires as spies and assassins when it’s good for business–and the shape-changing members of the Pack may be involved, things quickly move from complicated to delicate. And delicate isn’t a word that anyone would associate with Kate Daniels.

Review by Alana Abbott

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alanajoli

Happy Hour of the Damned Fiction Review

Posted on March 18, 2008 by


A good urban fantasy can be like a mixed drink. It’s got to have the right flavor—but it’s also got to have a lot of kick. Not so much, of course, that you’ll regret it the next morning. The characters in Mark Henry’s Happy Hour of the Damned might not liken themselves to mixed drinks, but they would certainly appreciate the allusion. Because few zombies appreciate liquor like the heroines in Henry’s novel.

Review by Alana Abbott

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alanajoli

Magic Lost, Trouble Found Fiction Review

Posted on March 9, 2008 by

A sorceress with attitude manages to get her hands on a powerful artifact, which suddenly makes her the most popular (read: most hunted) girl in town. It sound like a great set up, right? That’s how Raine Benares begins her adventures in Magic Lost, Trouble Found, narrating the entire adventure with wry commentary and snarky remarks. For fans of contemporary fantasy, the narration style is a familiar one. Throw it into a high fantasy setting where the narrator is an elven seeker–a sorceress who finds things–and it makes for an odd combination.

Review by Alana Abbott

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alanajoli

Solstice Wood Review

Posted on January 29, 2008 by

Written by Patricia A. McKillip
Reviewed by Alana Abbott

Secrets weave upon secrets in McKillip’s tale of weaving witches who bind their neighboring fairies, keeping the otherworld at bay. When Sylvia’s grandfather dies and she becomes the heir to Lynn Hall, one of the places where this world and the other intersect, secrets she’s been trying to hide for years start coming to the surface. She never knew the identity of her father–her mother kept it secret until her death–but she knows that he wasn’t human.

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alanajoli

Vampire Academy Review

Posted on January 23, 2008 by

Half mystery, half teen drama, Vampire Academy introduces a dying world of tradition: the Moroi can do magic, but must be protected from the evil, undead Stirgoi by their Dhampir guardians. The Stirgoi feed on the blood of innocents, and if they can drink from a Moroi, so much the better. So when Rose suspects that Lissa is being hunted, the danger of losing her is very real.

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alanajoli

Kitty and the Midnight Hour Review

Posted on December 15, 2007 by

Kitty Norville didn’t mean to become a popular radio personality. In fact, she could remember when she didn’t even enjoy having the night shift. But as a werewolf, her habits have gotten more and more nocturnal, and one bored night at the microphone discussing the paranormal becomes a talk-show phenomenon. Suddenly syndicated at two hundred stations, Kitty is the center of attention, and not all good. From a professional werewolf hunter named Cormac, to Arturo, head of the local vampire Family, to her own Pack, Kitty’s meeting opposition on all sides.

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alanajoli

In the Serpents Coils Review

Posted on December 10, 2007 by

The first in a series of ten novels for Mirrorstone, the young adult imprint of Wizards of the Coast, In the Serpent’s Coils launches readers straight into the larger story. Corrine’s father disappeared during the Civil War, and her mother died while she had the swamp fever. She finds herself alone in the world except for an uncle who would rather not be responsible for her wellfare. Until, that is, she discovers people living in the hawthorn tree who promise to cure her in exchange for a small stone.

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