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Cheat the Grave: The Fifth Sign of the Zodiac [Mass Market Paperback]

Vicki Pettersson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

15 May 2010 Sign of the Zodiac

“[A] very exciting series…it’ll keep you up past your bedtime.”

—Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels


Return now to the battle between Shadow and Light being fought in the dark, unseen corners of “Sin City” Las Vegas. The fifth book in Vickie Petterson’s New York Times bestselling Signs of the Zodiac series, Cheat the Grave follows newly mortal Joanna Archer on her most chilling adventure of all. Are you a True Blood aficionado? Do you like the sexy, supernatural visions of   Kim Harrison, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, and Jeaniene Frost? Then give Vickie Petterson a try!

Frequently Bought Together

Cheat the Grave: The Fifth Sign of the Zodiac + The Neon Graveyard: The Final Sign of the Zodiac + City of Souls: The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac (Signs of the Zodiac)
Price For All Three: 18.38

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager (15 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061456772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061456770
  • Product Dimensions: 3.4 x 10.6 x 16.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 639,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“This fourth book in Pettersson’s Sign of the Zodiac is a wild roller-coaster read. With a kick-ass heroine and characters who blur the line between good and evil, this book will have readers panting for more.” (Charlaine Harris)

“This fourth book in Pettersson’s Sign of the Zodiac is a wild roller-coaster read. With a kick-ass heroine and characters who blur the line between good and evil, this book will have readers panting for more.” (Romantic Times BOOKclub)

From the Back Cover

Las Vegas socialite and otherwordly avenger Joanna Archer gave up everything when she embraced mortality—abandoning her powers and altering her destiny to save a child . . . and a city. Now her former allies are her enemies—and her enemies have nothing to fear.

Yet still she is bound to a prophecy that condemns her to roam a nightmare landscape that ordinary humans cannot see and dare not enter. And a beast is on her trail—an insane killer blinded by bloodlust, who's determined to rip much more from Joanna than merely her now-fragile life. Survival is no longer an option in this dark realm where good and evil have blurred into confusing shades of gray—unless she can gather together an army of onetime foes and destroy everything she once believed in.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Zodiac" series book 5 31 May 2010
By Book Addict TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the fifth book of this series, Joanna Archer aka Olivia is now a mortal following her act of sacrifice in book 4. Warren, the unlikeable leader of the side of good and; by his orders , the troop of Light have all abandoned Olivia; leaving her facing her enemies alone and without the protection of her supernatural abilities. But more than the Tulpa or the Shadow agents hunt Olivia, as rogue agents leave Midheaven to track her and have orders to kill.

Olivia/Jo is more vulnerable in this book than even the first in this series prior to her taking on her supernatural powers. She's now an enemy of both Light and Shadow, but also a helpless mortal. Yet Olivia finds help in unexpected places and discovers acceptance from those she once considered enemies.

Again expect the action and fast pace found in the previous 4 books, but throughout I found myself wondering exactly how Olivia was ever to survive each challenge she faced. Her bravery and loyalty remains unquestioned, but I felt such a vulnerable heroine who has no chance in the world she now inhabits makes a somewhat unrealistic heroine, even in a supernatural setting. That said, the story line remains tense throughout, whilst the subplots involving Hunter and Midheaven and Suzanne and Cher lend a small pocket of breathing space between the next face off in which Olivia faces imminent death. Lastly there is a twist in this tale equivalent to an unexpected slap to the face; VP completely wowed me with her last chapter, ensuring I'll be ordering book 6 when it's available.
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5.0 out of 5 stars After mortality sets in... 6 Dec 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Joanna Archer has sacrificed her powers to save the life of a child and embraced her newfound mortality. Banished from her troop of zodiac warriors, she finds herself surrounded by enemies with only her alias of Olivia Archer to fall back on. But the prophecies that surround Joanna haven't disappeared with her powers, and she finds herself pursued by an insane and unstoppable killer in a world where black and white have blended into shades of grey. Only those she once saw as foes may be able to help her, but Joanna will have to change her worldview entirely to be able to accept their aid.

Well after book four (City of Souls) I honestly didn't know where Joanna's story could go next. She completely sacrificed all her powers and ended up not only as a regular mortal human, but a regular mortal human stuck in the body of her dead sister. I said in my review of City of Souls that the series could have easily ended there, but having read this I'm so glad it didn't. This book has redefined the series, giving it new life and a massively massive twist at the end of the book which shocked the heck out of me (I really did NOT see that one coming, but with hindsight it actually makes a lot of sense). It has kept the fast pace and pretty constant action of the previous books which is great, although it makes the book hard to put down.

There's quite a few new characters in this book, although the old zodiac troop appear occasionally and Suzanne and Cher have larger roles to make up for their absence.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  53 reviews
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars 26 May 2010
By KindleVixen - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have a confession, I am a VPeep, yes that's right. I am a Vicki Pettersson fangirl. It's partly because she is a Vegas girl and I love that connection in her stories, but also because she writes dark urban fantasy and I love it. She isn't afraid to torture her characters or break the rules for the sake of the story. The last book in the series was shocking and turned the series upside down on its head. The main character, Joanna, was forever changed to the point that many thought the series was over with.. Yet, the series isn't over and Pettersson returns to torture us, and Joanna, in the fifth installment of the Signs of the Zodiac series, Cheat the Grave.

The Signs of the Zodiac series feature not vampires, or werewolves, or any other typical supernatural character.... but instead modern super heroes. The world is made up of Agents of Light and Shadow, battling to keep the world balanced with the events being recorded in comic books, known to the agents as manuals. Our main protagonist is Joanna, an Agent of Light, mostly. Her mother was Zoe Archer, the Sagitarrius Agent of Light while her father was the Tulpa, the evil genius in control of the Shadow Agents in Las Vegas.

Joanna Archer is tough, hard, bitter, angry, battle worn, and alone. Abandoned by her mother and practically disowned by her assumed father, she started off this series all of these things and more. When I read the first book I wondered where she could possibly go from there? Over the last 4 books she has found companionship and family through her troop and some unexpectedly inherited friends and family. She has been trained to be a deadly weapon, but she has also softened in her judgment and acceptance of those around her. She lets people into her life and get to know her and becomes a better character because of it. Yet letting people in often means getting hurt, and Joanna is no exception. Her troop has abandoned her, her lover betrayed her....she is once again alone and wondering what she has left to live for.

Cheat the Grave gives us a rare look at our super heroine weak and vulnerable. Joanna is wallowing in self pity and unsure of where she belongs. This part of the book was the hardest part for me to read, I didn't enjoy it but I know it was necessary and real. I wanted to smack Jo upside the head and tell her to snap out of it - she was a tough kick ass chick, not some mopey do nothing! As a side effect, this section was the slowest for me to read and I found myself wishing things were moving a bit faster.

Things picked up and the story shined for me as new characters were introduced to Joanna's world. Cast out of the Light and not willing to be Shadow, Jo is looking for some place to belong. Rogue agents, independents no longer light or shadow, make themselves known to her and she is forced to question her beliefs about light and dark. Can there be Gray and is she willing to be part of it? The Gray Agents are all interesting characters that will make you smile, Carlos especially. Even Zoe Archer makes an appearance, and man she kicks some serious ass.

Cheat the Grave teases us mercilessly through Jo and Hunter's relationship, bringing to light new facts and background information. The connection between the two is as strong as ever and a I can't wait to see what is in store in book 6. The end of this one left me with hope for them, but Vicki Pettersson is known for taking that hope and stomping on it while laughing maniacally.

In the end, Cheat the Grave is another great installment in the series, featuring a few "oh my god no way" moments you don't want to miss. It may have been a bit slow moving at times but the story telling and world building more than make up for it. Joanna Archer is at her limits and this book just pushes her harder, asking what will she do? What is she really made of? In this gritty dirty urban fantasy there are no happy endings, but if you are looking for great story telling and riveting character growth, this one is for you.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book of the series yet! 27 May 2010
By S. Steele - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'll keep this short and light to avoid any spoilers... and leave the other reviews already here to handle the summary of this book, and merely just add my two cents on why this is, hands down, the best series ever.

book 5 is exceptional, and the best so far. i usually find, that with time, a series can become a tad stagnant. and although you love the characters you're following year after year, sometimes they can become a bit irritating because there often isn't any growth, and the story lines can seem a bit recycled. Vicki has the most original story i have had the pleasure of reading. you are doing yourself a disservice by not picking up all 5 books at once (trust me, you'll be THAT pissed off at yourself for having to waste precious time to stop at a book store again to pick up what you left behind... i did that after i started book 1 last year). every book gets better, and like i read in an early review, this is a real game changer.

i rated this book 5 stars because it's just the best of everything: writing, plot, character development, etc.

if you're new to the series, please start at book 1. if you've already read through 1-4, you gotta pick up 5. eagerly awaiting book 6... and by eagerly, i mean agonizing over the many months we have to wait for it.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensational new outlook... 27 May 2010
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Cheat the Grave is stellar addition to one of the most unique, ambitious and vivid urban fantasy series on the market.

Following the portent by trying to avoid it; "Fifth Sign: the Shadow binding with the Light," Joanna Archer discovers what happens when you blend light and shadow to create a new, more balanced reality in shades of grey. Masks are stripped away. Agents shift alliances and grandstand for relevance and there is a new cast of characters including an exceptional individual with wholly unique powers and purpose the like of which I don't think has been seen before.

Cheat the Grave is the most philosophical installment in the series and perhaps that is part of the reason I found it so satisfying because it afforded readers the chance to truly weigh and consider all of the elements that have brought Joanna to this point. One of the mantras in Cheat the Grave is "Losses aren't bad things in themselves. Not as long as you remain open to new sensation." For much of her life Joanna has been a survivor, shaped by events and the choices of others - in the past, the answer for Joanna would have been live up to the destiny that others say is her raison d' etre but now her fate is clearly driven by her own free will and in making this choice, we have a heroine whose power springs from the well of free choice and Joanne owns it all.

Readers should know that there are elements in this installment that link back to Zoe Archer's short story The Harvest which was published in the anthology Holidays are Hell. While the events in that short story are not absolute required reading to follow some of the developments in Cheat the Grave, they do enhance the content and I strongly recommend reading it as a supplemental to contextualize and add dimension.

Vicki Pettersson's writing continues to evolve and impress me by the scope in which she is constructing this series; it is nothing short of epic and her writing is subtly elegant and focused in the delivery. This is a rare balance and much of what makes the Zodiac series such a compelling read.

The only thing missing in this installment was a trip to the Master Comics. The story didn't really lend itself for Jo to stop in and catch-up with the gang at the shop but I did miss them. Hopefully Jo will take a visit to Master Comics in the next installment in the series.

Cheat the Grave is a rich and wonderfully satisfying addition to the Signs of the Zodiac series... in fact, I think it's the best installment yet in a series that continues to evolve and challenge.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5th in the Series 7 Jun 2010
By SciFiChick - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Joanna Archer is now a mortal, having given up her powers to save a young girl. Her troop has abandoned her. Now, all she has are her socialite friends, from her late sister's life. But when she left the Netherworld, she made enemies that don't care if she can't fight back. They want her dead. Her only hope lies in a rogue group of former shadow and light troop members, the gray that both sides despise.

Jo/Olivia has grown and changed incredibly through the course of this series. Though, this latest change has left her feeling worthless and helpless. Another big change is that Jo has come to care for her sister's friends that Jo used to despise. She discovers that they are true friends, loving her for who she is, not what she can do. There are also some shocking revelations involving some of Jo's other relationships that were the highlight of the story for me.

Because Jo is without powers, she doesn't get to do the butt-kicking in this installment. And the focus is more on drama, relationships, and staying away from those trying to kill her. That's not to say the story ever slows. There is no haven or safe place for Jo any longer, so she's constantly on the move, taking help from whomever she can. And along the way she makes some self-discoveries that change her perception. Ending in a big showdown, with a big surprise, Pettersson certainly delivers in this latest exciting installment.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unlikely hero 2 Jun 2010
By Stacey QM - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Of all of your friends, if you had to choose one to gift with super powers who would it be? Who would you think deserves super powers? Who would you trust? Everyone knows a 'Joanna Archer'. She's the friend that has 'issues'. You like hanging out with her but she tends to lean toward the negative. Got a confrontation? She's your girl. Want a fun night of movies and popcorn and painting toes, you know to leave her out.

We tend to expect our heroes to be true blue, dignified, centered, unflappable, selfless and focused. Bad guys beware! We want them larger than life; better than life. We don't expect them to be 'Joanna Archer'. That's what makes these books so maddeningly fun. Joanna has had a rough time of it starting quite early in her life. Give her a minute and she'll let you know how pissed she is about that, how it has changed her, how she wishes for the person she might have been. Don't we all?

Then life just keeps on coming. We want our heroes to take it all on the chin, stiff upper lip, rise above, but Joanna Archer is a real person with real pain and is hoping for just one day that doesn't involve fighting for her life. Sure super powers sound great in theory, but really consider what that would mean and I dare you to come through it better than Joanna Archer.

In this 5th book Joanna faces everything that has made her who she is. She stares into the truth of herself and does not back down. She makes her choices for herself alone. The worlds she travels, the things she sees, the things she is forced to do would unravel you or me. But she is Joanna Archer. She is resolute, stubborn, focused, selfless and against her better judgment, a true blue hero. Bad guys beware.
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