Jun 12, 2012

Posted by in Reviews | 9 Comments

Review: The Taken by Vicki Pettersson (Celestial Blues #1)

Urban Fantasy
June 12 2012
Mass Market Paperback
432 pages
Harper Voyage
Received from publisher

Yummy Man – Griffin Shaw
Kick Ass Chick – Katherine “Kit” Craig

From Goodreads –
He’s a fallen angel. She’s a rockabilly reporter. Together they must solve a deadly string of murders plaguing the mortal and the immortal worlds.

Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was over fifty years ago when gumshoes hoofed the streets . . . and he was still alive. Now he’s a Centurion, an angel who assists other murdered souls through their journey to the afterlife. But while Shaw might be an angel … he’s no saint. Haunted by the mysterious events surrounding his own death, he seizes a chance to wreak some vengeance when he witnesses a deadly attack on journalist Katherine “Kit” Craig.

Joining forces, the unlikely avengers take to the streets, hunting a killer whose trail of bodies stretches across Las Vegas and into an immortal netherworld. It is a dangerous trek that lead them into the darkest corners of Sin City and into the heart of an evil conspiracy extending beyond the lights of the Strip that could destory them both.

But destruction isn’t the only threat Griffin faces. The closer he gets to Kit, the more he finds himself bewitched by her mortal charms. Can he resist falling under her spell? And does he want to?

———-

The Taken is the first book in a new trilogy by Vicki Petterson.  I have not read this author before but have had her on my ‘to check out’ list for what seems like forever, so when I heard she was coming out with a new series I jumped at the chance to give it a try.  And what do I think now that I’ve read the first book in her Celestial Blues series?  I found Vicki’s writing voice to be very nice.  She knows how to write interesting characters and the world she created in this book is extremely unique.  And even though I had issues with the pacing of the book (I’ll talk about that in a bit), I am very glad that I finally had the chance to experience this author who is a favorite amongst my friends.

I find there is a lot to talk about in this book so I’m going to do one of my ‘liked’ and ‘disliked’ reviews.  Here goes:

What I liked about the book –

The world.  What Vicki created in this book is just…neat.  The main hero of the story is an angel.  But wait!  Before you jump to any eye-ball-rolling conclusions, you need to know that he is not a ‘typical’ angel.  Nor does he work for a ‘typical’ heaven.  There are many types of angels – some born and some made after a human dies – and they each have a different role.  Grif (the main guy) is a Centurion and his job is to help shuffle the souls of those who died violent or traumatic deaths to the right place.  Souls who experience such deaths often have trouble finding the peace they need to enjoy Paradise so they are taken to the Tube for incubation until they are ready to move on.  Neat eh?!   When Grif decides to help a soul a little more than he should, he gets into trouble so he is stripped of his wings and most of his celestial powers until Kit, our heroine, dies, which is due to happen a few hours after he falls.  So that’s why he’s fallen:  it’s not because he is an evil angel out to rule the world but because he’s a little too nice.  That and because he just can’t seem to ‘get’ what he is suppose to ‘get’…but you’ll have to read the book to know what I am talking about.

Grif Shaw.  I did like him quite a bit.  He’s used to be a private investigator before he was murdered in the 50’s.  His wife died at the same time as him and he is still focused on trying to find out who killed him and his beloved.  He is, even now, feeling guilt over not being able to protect her all those years ago.  When he falls, he finds Kit and things don’t quite go as planned.  So he asks her for help in finding out who may have killed his wife, without her knowing that she is actually helping him find his own killer.  He is this gruff snarly man on the outside but he really is a fuller character than that.  And he grows quite a bit in this book too which I always like to see.  You may be wondering why, when Grif shows up at Kit’s door, she did not find it odd that some dude wearing a suit straight from the fifties, shoes from the same era and pomade in his hair even though it is 2012.  Well, the answer is simple:  she was wearing clothes from the same era too.  Which brings us to my next ‘like’…

The rockabilly aspect of the story.  I must admit that I had heard the term before but was not overly familiar with what it meant.  Well now I do.  Kit and her friends follow a 1950’s lifestyle.  They still use modern technology and all that – they aren’t crazy after all – but they dress and talk the way they did back then and they relish in the more simple times that were.  I did find it interesting how Vicki brought the rockabilly aspect to the story without making it all about that.  I think what I’m trying to say is that it wasn’t too much or shoved in your face.  It brought an interesting layer to the characters and helped us see how they wished for easier and happier days but it didn’t feel off for me in anyway.  It fit the world and it fit Kit very well.

Katherine ‘Kit’ Craig – I liked her.  I liked her spunk (I didn’t find it too much), I liked her outlook on life and I liked how nothing seemed to bring her down.  Of course that’s not entirely true but she didn’t show it easily nor did she try to make herself seem made of stone.  I just found her a nice rounded character.  I also liked how she didn’t fall for Grif’s ‘stories’ very easily.  That made her more real for me.  I liked watching her figure things out and I liked how she got (and got to) Grif.  They make a really good team.

The dialogue between Kit and Grif.  That pretty much says it all.  I found it to be natural and to character.  Often I found myself smiling while they were chatting because it flowed well and it just worked.  How he got flustered with her…that was very cute and I really enjoyed those parts.

The murder mystery.  This book really is a murder mystery book and I haven’t read any from that genre before so for me, it made this book an even bigger treat.  The whole ‘who done it’ and why was messed up and written wonderfully.  There’s quite the jaw dropper near the end too that was pretty awesome.  For me, the world and the mystery aspect of the book were the best parts of the book.

What I didn’t enjoy about this book –

I have to say that as much as I loved the partnership Kit and Grif shared, it took me a while to see them as ‘couple material’.  Maybe because he was still so torn over the death of his wife or maybe because Kit was not really open to a new relationship either, I’m not sure.  There was a draw there, a bit of an attraction, but I wasn’t really feeling it.  Eventually I came around but it did take me a while.

There is no big info dump but there is a lot of info to take in at the beginning while Grif is still an angel and his ‘falling’ is happening.  I had to read that part a couple of times because I sometimes felt a little lost.  But that too eventually worked out so all was good.  But just be prepared to take in a lot in the first 40 or so pages.

The pacing was…slow.  This here is what hurt the book the most for me.  I sometimes felt that many parts could have been cut back.  Did these parts give us understanding into the characters feelings and actions?  Sort of yes.  Were they absolutely necessary?  Not really.  I think I would have felt the same way about the characters and the story if those parts didn’t go on for quite as long.  It took me a while to get fully invested in the book as I found myself putting it aside quite a bit.  It does pick up near the end but by then it was too late for me as the ‘dragging’ had already been done.

As you can see, my lists of ‘liked’ and ‘didn’t like’ is not even but I’m sad to say that the pacing really did affect my rating for this book.  This is a ‘story just beginning’ and I am definitely going to be reading the next book because I truly enjoyed the concept, the characters and the mystery. And I’m glad I finally gave this author a try.

3.5 stars

Giggle worthy quotes

“’You’re supposed to be some modern-day woman, working hard for justice, doing a man’s job…but you’re going to stop to get your hair done?’

Kit tilted her head, then pursed her bottom lip so it looked like a soft pink pillow.  Grif tore his gaze away.  ‘Aw, Grif.  You’re cranky again.  Need a hug?’

‘I’m a P.I.,’ Grif replied trough gritted teeth.  ‘I need a lead.’”

—–

“’Layla believed she was never given a fair shake in life.’

‘Who has?’

‘Said she had to work for everything she’s got.’  Charis huffed, too.

‘Who hasn’t?’

‘And said she had to raise herself to be street-smart.  Told Kit she has a ‘back-door’ education.’

‘What’s that?’ Grif asked, sipping.

‘My guess?  Something her first boyfriend talked her into.’

Grif choked.’”

—–

“’Can I talk to you,’ Grif said, pulling her towards the door.  With his back to Bridget, he whispered, ‘What are you doing?’

‘Being charming.  You might try it sometime.’

‘You’re getting your nails done.’

‘That, too.’

‘I don’t get you!  You’re this hotshot reporter but you’re willing to stop the presses just to pretty-up  After you already stopped the investigation to do your hair?’

Kit tilted her head.  ‘You really think I’m a hotshot?’

‘Kit!’  Lifting his hat, Grif raked a hand through his hair.  ‘What about saving the world?’

‘Oh, Grif.’  Kit blew out a breath.  ‘Can’t you see you’re scaring her?’

‘Wha…I didn’t do anything!’

‘Besides, the world’s a better place when it’s pretty.  Now take my phone,’ she said, handing it to him.  ‘Go download an app, and kill a pig with a bird or something.’

  1. The premise sounds interesting but I’m not sure, a book with a good pace is very important to me. I may have to think about this one.

  2. Nice review Julie. I like how to broke it down my like/dislike. Sometimes that’s the only way to go. Glad we agree on the pacing issues. Mind you, I did have a few more problems with this book than you. :p

  3. I am a bit torn, that I am so I just do not know

  4. BookaholicCat – It is very cool. Really. 😉

    Carmel – We tend to vary in our passion level for many books, don’t we? lol

    blodeuedd – I am torn too about whether or not you should try it. lol

  5. You’ve convinced me to give this one a try. I still have her other series to get through…I will never get caught up.

  6. it sounds intriguing and I confess I would love to learn more about this world. Plus I love a great murder mystery. I still hope for you it will improve for the sequel. thanks for your review.

  7. Nice review, and now I am still on the fence on reading it or not. Her previous series was really not my kind of books.

  8. I really want to check this one out. I adore the 50s era and I’m really interested to experience this world. I’ve not read paranormal noir before since I like her other series, I want to give this one a shot!

  9. Colette – Too much to read, not enough time in the day. lol

    melliane – It is a great mystery. 🙂

    aurian – That would be a good question to ask someone who has read both her series – if they are very very different…

    Smash Attack! – I think this is up your alley Ash! I can totally see you enjoying this one. 🙂

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