chez_jae: (Books)
Since I didn't have to work today, I stayed up late to finish reading Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews. It's part of the authors' "Kate Daniels" urban fantasy series.

When Kate and her fiance, former Beast Lord Curran, learn that their friend Eduardo is missing, they launch an investigation into his disappearance. Visiting the scene of Eduardo's latest assignment finds them battling a magical creature, which morphs into something else after they kill it. Now they must find out who has been sending creatures to attack a seemingly innocuous neighborhood in the suburbs.

In addition, Kate and Curran, who are trying to formally separate from the Pack, keep getting drawn into Pack drama and politics, and at the same time, they learn the Guild, which employs mercenaries to keep Atlanta safe, is falling to hell. To top it off, Kate's father, an amoral demigod who may or may not want to kill her, has invited her to dinner.

Fabulous story! Plenty of exciting battle scenes, great characterizations, sub-plots that weave together, trauma and angst, and just enough levity to keep it from being completely dark.

Favorite lines:
♦ Not my circus, not my undead monkeys.
♦ "Kate, get in the car." // "Maybe you should growl dramatically. I don't think I'm intimidated enough." // "I will put you in the car." // "No, you won't."
I love how they bicker!
♦ "Does everybody think I'm an asshole?" Curran asked. // "Only people who know you or have met you."
♦ "So you sneaked up behind him, startled him by speaking, and when he turned around and saw a six-hundred-pound talking lion, you showed him your teeth?" // "I don't think that's what happened," Curran said. // "That's exactly what happened, Your Furriness."
♦ Curran and horses didn't get along. He thought they were unpredictable and untrustworthy, and they thought he was a werelion.


Another awesome installment to this series--five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
I took advantage of my 3-day weekend to read Broken Soul by Faith Hunter. It's part of her urban fantasy series, featuring skinwalker Jane Yellowrock.

With a looming visit from a delegation of European vampires in the future, it's up to Jane to help Leo, the Master of the City of New Orleans, beef up security at vampire Headquarters. Everyone involved seems to think this meeting is a prelude to war, and tensions are high. Jane, however, has bigger issues. A being made of light seems bent on attacking her, she's being tailed wherever she goes, and Leo's former primo, George (whom Jane affectionately calls Bruiser), seems bent on seducing her. Worse, Jane's inner cat, Beast, likes Bruiser.

This particular book was less engrossing/gripping than others, but it featured much more in the way of vampire history, Jane's abilities, and more from Beast. While I enjoyed and appreciated that, it still took me all weekend to read. Had it been a "normal" Jane Yellowrock book, I probably would have knocked it all back on Saturday. The battle scenes weren't as intense, due to Jane's newfound ability, but they were still gory and exciting in an edge-of-your-seat manner. It was interesting to see how carefully Bruiser courted Jane, as well as to witness Leo's jealous rage over it.

Favorite lines:
♦ Call me a lover of slasher porn, but some dudes just deserved to lose their heads. Both of them.
♦ New beginnings often started with the broken bits and shattered pieces of the old.
♦ "Religion as a political entity is always horrible."


In spite of the deviation from the "norm" (for this series), I really enjoyed the book. Five stars:

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
After reading one Mercy Thompson novel, I was compelled to dive into another. Last night, I read Fire Touched cover-to-cover. Good thing I have Good Friday off! This is the ninth book in Patricia Briggs' series about skinwalker Mercedes Thompson and her husband, Adam Hauptman.

Local police call on the werewolves for assistance when a troll takes up residence on a bridge over the Columbia River. Mercy and Adam are among the first responders, and they manage to take the troll down. However, they also find themselves giving sanctuary to a boy who is seeking shelter from the fae. By taking him in, the Columbia River Basin pack has made enemies of the fae, causing the leader of all North American wolves to repudiate them. On their own now, it's up to Mercy, Adam, and the rest of their pack to negotiate where they can and fight where they must.

Very compelling read. Not as action-packed as others, but there was more of pack dynamics, which I always enjoy. New, interesting characters were introduced, and former, secondary characters were fleshed out more, which I also appreciate. Through it all, the bickering and bantering between Mercy and Adam added a lighter note and provided some comic relief.

Favorite line: "Take happiness where you can," he said. "It seldom lasts--'course, neither does sorrow, right?"

Excellent book! Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
I began reading Night Broken Friday night, then spent most of Saturday reading the rest of it. The book is part of author Patricia Briggs' "Mercy Thompson" series. And yes, I'm woefully behind in the series.

When the ex-wife of Mercy's husband, Alpha werewolf Adam, calls seeking sanctuary from a dangerous stalker, Adam grants it. She's the mother of his teenage daughter, and he still feels responsible for her. Mercy has her misgivings, especially when Adam deems that the safest place for Christy to stay is in their home...which used to be Christy's home. Mercy isn't happy, but to show it would be to display petty jealousy, and she wants to prove she is above that.

In the meantime, a powerful fae has sought Mercy out, wanting to claim an equally powerful fae artifact that has attached itself to Mercy. The problem is, Mercy gifted the walking stick to her father, the Coyote of legend, and now she has no way to contact him to request it back. Inquiries lead her to another of Coyote's children, a man who's in prison for petty crime. Mercy is surprised to encounter another coyote shifter, and even more surprised when the man has a Vision that relates to Christy's stalker.

As Christy's stalker goes on a killing spree to reach her, he finds Mercy alone in her auto repair shop. It soon becomes apparent that he's not human, nor fae, nor werewolf, but something else entirely...something dark and dangerous and deranged. Mercy fights for her life, knowing her only hope is that help will arrive in time.

What a fantastic story! I love all of the books in this series, and this one continued in the same hard-hitting, fast vein as the others. Learning more about Mercy's "family" was fascinating, it was a sheer delight to connect with other, beloved characters, and I enjoyed meeting new ones. Even the villain/stalker was portrayed well, to the point that the reader could almost feel sympathy for him. Almost. This story was so engrossing that I picked the book up this morning and skim-read it again.

:D

Favorite lines:
♦ "Withholding cookies is world-class mean."
♦ "And as long as everyone is above the age of consent and has enough sense to be able to give informed consent, I could care less what anyone does in their own space."

Huzzah! Well-said!
♦ "Don't juggle porcupines."
♦ I was not going to say anything about the stupid lamb if only because I was certain he wanted me to say something about the stupid lamb.
♦ "Man with cat is one of my fantasies."


Excellent story, characterizations, dialogue, and I loved how the various subplots all wove together. Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Finally finished reading Demons Not Included by Cheyenne McCray. It's the first book in her urban fantasy series, featuring half-Drow, half-human Tracker, Nyx.

Nyx is one of several paranormal Trackers that help protect New York from the more unsavory paranormal elements. When some of her fellow Trackers are killed by demons, while human liaisons are being abducted, it's up to Nyx and her partners to put an end to the chaos. She worries that her human coworker, Olivia, may not be able to hold her own against demons, and Nyx is also concerned for Adam, the human liaison in her territory, whom she would like to get to know better. To complicate matters, the Proctor of New York, Nyx's friend and sometime-lover, Rodan, saddles her with an unknown helper, a man named Torin. Nyx dislikes him, but she can't quite get a handle on why.

By putting together clues found at the various crime scenes, Nyx and the others discover that a master Demon is intent on opening a portal to unleash hell on earth. Now it's up to Nyx to put her life on the line to save not just New York, but all of humanity.

The story was interesting. Nyx's character was a bit baffling. At times, she was a bad-ass warrior, and other times, she came across as a whiny chit. I guess I can forgive that, based on her relative young age. At least she didn't fall into bed with sexy, infuriating Torin. That would have made me gag. I didn't like that Nyx's "working gear" consisted of leather pants and a leather corset. Seriously?! The author is a woman, and she still had her female character togged up like any straight man's wet dream, because, of course, we women are only concerned with showcasing our assets, rather than going for comfort and practicality. Good gravy.

Favorite line: I swear, if I had been drinking my Starbucks today, it would have gone up my nose.

Kind of on the fence with this one. Hm. I'll give it a three for now:

***
chez_jae: (Books)
Since I was off-line yesterday (for the most part!), I took the opportunity to rock through Hellhound by Nancy Holzner. It's part of her "Deadtown" urban fantasy series.

When Deadtown's zombies begin attacking humans, it results in an escalation of tensions between paranormals and humans. Vicky believes the attacks are demon-fueled, and she suspects her nemesis, Pryce, is behind it. When she contacts her Aunt Mab regarding her suspicions, Mab immediately flies to Boston to lend a hand in what promises to be a supernatural battle.

In the meantime, Vicky is worried about her werewolf boyfriend, Kane, who made a fool's bargain with the Night Hag. The full moon is fast approaching, and this time, Kane will be turned into a Hellhound. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Night Hag has pledged to send her hounds after Vicky.

When Vicky and Mab learn that the white falcon of Hellsmoor, which is the current host to the soul of Vicky's father, can kill the demonic Morfran, they realize he is the falcon of prophecy. Too bad that the Night Hag wants the falcon for her own.

As with all of the books in this series, there was quite a lot going on. Various subplots weaved together to form the story. Again, Vicky had family issues to deal with on top of trying to stay alive and keep both Kane and her father out of the Night Hag's clutches. It was also a testament to the strength of love, both the love Vicky and Kane have for one another, and the love between Vicky's parents. I was thoroughly engrossed, and it was difficult to set the book aside.

Favorite lines:
♦ If you've never gotten a disapproving look from a holier-than-thou zombie you haven't really lived.
♦ "I couldn't let a little thing like death keep us apart."


Fabulous, five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Yesterday, I powered through Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs. It's the fourth installment in her "Alpha and Omega" series, about mated werewolves Anna and Charles.

For one, Charles and Anna are taking a trip for pleasure, rather than for work. When they go to visit an old friend of Charles' in Arizona, they arrive in time to rescue the man's daughter-in-law and her children. The woman, Chelsea, is under a fae compulsion to kill her children and then herself. Charles Changes her to save her life. Soon, they are embroiled in a case involving a missing child, and the investigation leads them to realize that the most recent girl is just one of many, going back for decades, in the area. Charles and Anna lend their special talents to the investigation, working with an FBI agent, whom they're familiar with.

The story was tense and fast-paced, as Anna and Charles race to recover the missing girl and eliminate a dangerous Fae. Compounding their troubles is the fact that the newly-Changed Chelsea is also witchborn, making for a volatile combination of wolf and magic. The actions scenes were well done, as was the characterization. The subplot of why Charles and Anna were in Arizona was that he meant to buy her a horse, and his friends raise Arabians. There was a lot of horsemanship and riding and conformation in the story, as well as a horse show.

Favorite lines:
♦ "But that is the dual gift of love, isn't it? The joy of greeting and the sorrow of goodbye."
♦ Sure, it was serious business, but humor in the face of evil robbed evil of some if its power.
♦ "I find it somewhat reassuring that I'm not the only one who feels like I should be running around shouting, 'Where's the script? Where's the script? If only I had a script, I'd know what the freak I'm supposed to be doing.'"


Love this series, and this book was no exception. Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Just completed Coveted by Shawntelle Madison. It's an urban fantasy, and it appears to be the first in a series featuring Natalya "Nat" Stravinsky, a werewolf with anxiety issues.

Nat once had the world by the tail, but OCD and anxiety attacks have conspired to keep her down. She lives alone, away from her pack, she works at an antique shop, and she compulsively buys Christmas decorations. In short, Nat is a hoarder with no social life.

When Thorn, her former boyfriend, returns to town, and the local pack is being attacked by a rival pack, Nat decides she needs to return to therapy. There, she meets Nick, a white wizard, who has his own issues with hoarding. In addition, Nat's friend Aggie comes to her, looking for a place to stay while dodging her match-making father. At first, Nat finds it difficult to adjust to having someone else in her home and touching her things. It doesn't help that the rival pack seems to have targeted her for extermination, and the local alpha, Thorn's father, is willing to throw Natalya to the wolves, in a manner of speaking. The Alpha banishes Nat from the pack's territory, but she isn't willing to go without a fight.

This was a different urban fantasy from the usual. Nat was a repressed and anxious individual, and it was sometimes painful to read about how she was nearly overwhelmed by her own compulsive behavior. There's a definite spark between Nat and Thorn, but he is now betrothed to another. To me, Nick seems a better match for Nat. I enjoyed meeting some of the other quirky characters from her supernatural therapy group, including a Muse who lived in fear of the crazed writer who was looking for her. Ha ha!

Favorite lines:
♦ "I have to go stuff crazy into a can."
♦ I could see the local paper now: Crazed Woman Brings Down Burglar with Hoards of Holiday Cheer.
♦ "You look like a cat beat your ass as comeuppance for everything dogs have done to them."


Intriguing premise, and I hope to find more books of Nat's adventures.

Five stars:

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
I spent Friday afternoon reading an ebook, Smoke Rising, by Craig Halloran. It's the first installment in the "Supernatural Bounty Hunter" series.

FBI Agent Sidney Shaw is tabbed to work with former Navy SEAL and current prisoner, John Smoke. Smoke was a bounty hunter, and Sid and he are asked to track down a man on the secretive Black Slate most-wanted list. Sidney is designated to be Smoke's handler, keeping an eye on him as much as fulfilling her assignment. It's not going to be easy; Sid plays by the rules, while Smoke is spontaneous and prefers a direct approach.

Despite the odds, they manage to arrest their first target, but when they leave the scene and return an hour later, the other agents have been torn apart, and their target is gone. Now, Sidney is forced to entertain the idea that perhaps their target isn't entirely human.

Hm. The story is told in Sidney's pov, even though Smoke is the titular character, which surprised me. The plot veered off into family troubles for Sid (her sister is an addict), and I saw no real reason for that unless it's setting up another story down the line. Also, Smoke did not come across as a big, bad SEAL or bounty hunter or even an ex-con. He seemed like a happy-go-lucky boy scout, having a great adventure. Weird. What I definitely didn't like was that, when they got the drop on their target again, the man transformed into a werewolf in front of them. Sidney was mesmerized to the point of 'take me now, you great, hairy man-beast!'. Gag me with a silver stake. Seriously?! I guess it's obvious the story was written by a man.

Favorite line: I try, but it never feels like enough.

The story had its moments. The premise was interesting, but it would have benefited from being a longer story than it was. Editing was clean. Eh, average score:

***
chez_jae: (Books)
I spent most of Thursday morning finishing Rosemary and Rue by [personal profile] seanan_mcguire. It's the first book in the author's "October Daye" urban fantasy series.

October "Toby" Daye is trying to reclaim her life after a curse cost her fourteen years...years in which her family moved on without her, while her friends mourned, believing she was dead. As a Changeling, Toby is part Fae, but she wants to put that part of her life behind her and live instead in the mortal world. She is dragged back into the world of Faerie when someone murders the Countess Evening Winterrose. With her final words, Evening binds Toby, compelling her to seek justice for Evening or die in the attempt.

Toby finds herself reconnecting with old contacts in the world of Faerie, including her liege, the Duke of Shadowed Hills, a former Changeling lover, as well as other friends. Aided by a key that Evening had delivered to her, Toby is able to unlock both doors and secrets. She knows she's getting close to the truth when someone tries to kill her. Unfortunately for Toby, if she quits searching for justice, she'll die...that is, if the culprit doesn't kill her first.

Excellent story. There were a lot of characters introduced, but they were portrayed well. In spite of her dire circumstances, Toby manages to maintain her snarky wit. If I have any complaints, it's that too many of the male characters were attracted to her. Shades of Bella Swan much? Other than that, it was fast-paced and exciting. I enjoyed the world building and learning about various Fae and their abilities.

Favorite lines:
♦ Cats never listen. They're dependable that way; when Rome burned, the emperor's cats still expected to be fed on time.
♦ The night just kept getting better. Now I had bad news to deliver to a powerful woman who didn't like me, a terrible crime to avenge, and wet socks.
♦ If anything attacked us, we could just panic at it until it went away.
♦ "Scooby and the gang aren't here yet."


Wonderful book, and I look forward to reading more in the series. Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Tonight, I finished slogging through Beyond the Pale by Savannah Russe. It's the first book in her "Darkwing Chronicles" series.

The story is told in first person pov by Daphne Urban, a 500 year-old vampire who is languishing in ennui. On the way to meet a contact, Daphne is nabbed by humans who know who and what she is. They make her an offer, go to work for the US government as a spy, or be staked. Daphne reluctantly agrees, and she soon meets her contact/boss, a man known to her only as J. She also meets another vampire, Benjamina (Benny) Polycarp, and she reconnects with an old vampire acquaintance, the flamboyant Cormac O'Reilly. All three of them have been shanghaied to work for a new task force, Darkwing.

Daphne's first assignment is to meet with an arms dealer under the guise of representing an art collector who has pieces the arms dealer wishes to purchase. While at Bonaventure's apartment, it's Daphne's job to plant listening devices. The government isn't as interested in Bonaventure as they are in the terrorists who will be obtaining weapons from him.

Before she meets with Bonaventure, Daphne is confronted by Darius della Chiesa. He's an agent with a rival faction, as well as a vampire hunter. He's fit and handsome, and Daphne, who's in the midst of a two hundred year dry spell (seriously, lady?!) can't resist him, and they tumble into bed not long after they meet. J warns her away from Darius, but Daphne is so smitten that she doesn't heed the warning, which compromises herself, her mission, and millions of people who are in danger from the nuclear weapon that's about to change hands.

Ahem

First of all, for being 500 years old, Daphne acted like an adolescent most of the time. She's supposed to be a bad ass vampire, but humans keep getting the drop on her, leaving me shaking my head. Also, she instructs her new friends to call her "Daphy". Seriously, lady?! Of all the characters introduced, my favorite was Benny. She had her shit together, and made a much better undercover operative than Daphy did. At least the sex scenes were frequent and titillating.

Favorite line: Women, filled with nervous energy and faced with waiting, do not stand around looking out of windows or staring blankly into space, as do men. We must be in motion.

I rolled my eyes through most of this. Good ol' Daphy knew she should stay away from Darius, but she was incapable of it, and she spent a lot of the narrative bemoaning her own stupidity, even as she continued down the same, stupid path.

Mediocre, two stars:

**
chez_jae: (Books)
I began reading The Darkest Edge of Dawn by Kelly Gay last night, and I finished it this evening. It's the second book in the "Charlie Madigan" series. I have not read the first one, and if I have it among the millions of books in my home, I have yet to unearth it. While the author did provide backstory in this book, I still feel like I missed out, alas.

From what I could discern, the world is now comprised of three sentient races: humans, Elysians, and Charbydon. The non-human races are referred to as "off-worlders". If you base your thinking on religion and mythology, the Elysians seem to be the angelic race, while the Charbydon would be demonic. Nevertheless, they are coexisting, even if not easily.

Charlie and her partner Hank (who is an Elysian and a Siren) are members of the ITF. It's their job to hunt down and eliminate any troublemakers. While human, Charlie has powers of her own, because in the first book, she was injected with both Elysian and Charbydon DNA. Now, her body and her psyche are battling to assimilate this strange new DNA, and Charlie is still learning to use her powers.

She and Hank are dispatched to search a warehouse, where a body was reported. They find not one, but an entire pile of discarded bodies. Fearing a serial killer, they call in a woman who can glean information from a fresh corpse. Following clues from the most recent victim, Charlie and Hank launch an investigation that takes them to the court of the High Druid, to the Underground to confront the leader of the Charbydon jinn. Charlie is twice confronted by a powerful enemy from her past, who claims responsibility for the killings. The ritualistic murders were necessary for him to perform a rite at Solstice to raise a powerful being from the past and claim that power for his own.

On top of a dangerous investigation, Charlie is battling her attraction to her partner, dealing with her fractious tween daughter, and coming to terms with the fact that she is living with the body of her ex-husband, who has been inhabited by a Revenant named Rex. Oh, and let us not forget the hellhound that Charlie's daughter Emma has adopted.

This was certainly fast-paced and riveting. Charlie is a wise ass, but there wasn't much humor in the story. She's tough, but she got her ass handed to her enough times, and her emotional turmoil was relatable. Frankly, I found Hank's behavior despicable. When he realized that Charlie reacted to him on a physical level, he stopped acting like her partner and began acting like a typical, horny male instead. I was not impressed.

Favorite line: "Seriously? Because I didn't peg you for an idiot."

Overall, a very good read. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
Between yesterday and today, I read Awakened, which is the first installment in authors Shei Darksbane and Annathesa Nikola Darksbane's ebook series "Auralight Codex".

Dakota Shepherd is a fangirl by day and a security guard by night. When she interrupts what appears to be a magical ritual being performed within the museum she works at, Dakota's world changes. Now, most people appear to her in shades of gray, and what's with the green flames that erupted from her hands? A trip to a club to get her mind off of things lands Dakota in an encounter with a vampire, but she is rescued by Amorie, a beautiful woman whom Dakota is fascinated with.

Amorie explains that Dakota has been Awakened, and she refers Dakota to the local werewolf Alpha. From him, Dakota learns she is a werewolf, but something is preventing her from shifting. She eventually ends up in Calgary, where a pair of psychic twins help her break through the block that has been placed on her memories. Now, it's up to Dakota to confront the person who put that block in place.

An interesting story. Dakota is gay, which is a refreshing change of pace for an urban fantasy. I did think other characters were almost too accepting of that fact, however, which struck me as a bit naive if not unrealistic. While it was easy to see why Dakota was attracted to vampire Amorie, I don't really get why Amorie seems so fascinated with Dakota. I kept thinking that Amorie was just using her for her own gain, but nothing like that happened in this first book. There were some tense moments when Dakota and another werewolf were targeted by a faction that wants to purge all supernatural creatures, and they had to fight their way free. I enjoyed Dakota's love of Harry Potter, Sherlock, et al. Relatable!

Favorite lines:
♦ "It was viciously attacked and devoured by the washing machine and I mourned its passing with a vow of silence."
♦ If people were Awakened just by hearing the word "mage", I doubt there'd be many people still Unawakened. What with Peter Jackson and Harry Potter and all.
♦ I grinned at the thought of a big bad werewolf made festive by electric razor justice.
♦ "A vampire is stalking me and she wants to drink my blood." I could tell I was scared considering I didn't even turn that "w" into a "v".


Fun story, and I look forward to reading more. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
I forced myself to go to bed last night, rather than finish my current book, but I polished it off today. It was Black Arts, which is part of Faith Hunter's "Jane Yellowrock" urban fantasy series.

When the husband of Jane's best friend, Molly, comes to New Orleans looking for his wife, Jane has no idea that Molly is even missing. Desperate to find her friend, Jane launches an investigation. Her activities are curtailed when she is called upon to fulfill her role as Enforcer for Master Vampire Leo, but recent shifts in vampire activity and protocol lead Jane to believe that the events may be related. It seems too coincidental that Molly would vanish as a contingent of strange vamps comes to NOLA for a diplomatic gathering.

Jane's world is further rocked when her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Rick, seems taken with a new wereleopard in town. Jane's anger helps fuel her focus as she searches for Molly. The search leads her into frighteningly familiar territory--that of vampires and witches working together.

Fabulous, as always. Jane seems so bad ass, but she has character flaws and foibles that make her a likable heroine. She is still learning about her own heritage as a skinwalker, and some of that learning enables her to let go of guilt she has been carrying around.

Favorite line: The mental image of a two-hundred-year-old vamp with a dog nose in his crotch was giggle-worthy, but not something I could share under the circumstances.

Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
I began reading Blood Drive, by Jeanne C Stein, yesterday, and I finished it today. It's the second book in her series featuring bounty hunter turned vampire, Anna Strong. I have not read the first book in the series, but the author did a good job of providing enough back story that I wasn't lost.

In the midst of her regular duties as a bounty hunter, Anna learns that her deceased brother may have fathered a child, and that the young girl is in trouble. Her mother contacts Anna's family to ask for help. As Anna begins searching for the runaway Trish, she begins to unravel a sinister web of child pornography and corruption. Along the way, she encounters other supernaturals, including the shape-shifting Daniel Frey, who may or may not be involved in Trish's disappearance.

This was a fabulous story. I was riveted from the beginning. There were several subplots interwoven, which is something I enjoy. Anna is an engaging heroine. Strong, like her name, but compassionate and with a keen sense of justice. Other characters were portrayed well, including those that were likely only included in this story.

Favorite lines:
♦ Why do I feel as if we should be having this conversation on a moving staircase at Hogwarts, not here in a California classroom?
HP, ftw!
♦ By the time I've lost the pajamas, the only hard drive he seems interested in is the one between his legs.
Rowr!


Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
I finished reading Minion tonight. It's the first book in author LA Banks' "Vampire Huntress" series.

Damali Richards is a street punk and spoken word artist, who is also the prophesied Neteru--the slayer of vampires. With her team of Guardians, Damali takes on the creatures of the night. She has not yet come into her full power, but she is on the cusp of it. Damali must learn to control her new powers and abilities, while dealing with normal, young person rebellion, and her feelings for the forbidden Carlos Rivera. Vampire attacks have become more vicious and more frequent, leading Damali and her team to believe that something big is in the works.

The story was compelling, and I appreciate that most of the characters were POC; it was a refreshing change. I did find myself having some trouble with the slang that they used, even though I know it's in character. There was nothing fluffy or even humorous about the story, making it a bit of a difficult read for me. I'm old enough that Damali's youthful rebellion was more irritating than invigorating.

Favorite line: "Today's one of those days where a sistah's gotta keep moving."

Not an enjoyable read, per se, but certainly compelling. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
Good thing I didn't have to work today, because I stayed up until after 1am to finish reading Grave Memory. It's the third installment in Kalayna Price's "Alex Craft" urban fantasy series.

Alex convinces her friend and fellow grave witch, Rianna, to open their own agency called Tongues for the Dead. They plan to use their ability to raise shades as a means of solving crimes. Before their agency is even up and running, Alex and Rianna come across the scene of a recent suicide. Alex can see the man's ghost, and he is adamant that he would never kill himself, as his pregnant wife is due to give birth soon, and he would never abandon them.

Alex uses her connections at the Nekros City morgue to access the man's shade, and she learns that it has no memory of the past three days, but it does recall witnessing another, horrific suicide. When Alex questions the prior suicide's shade, she discovers eerie similarities: this man also had no memory of the prior three days, and he also witnessed a public suicide. Alex's investigations uncover an entity, which she begins calling 'the rider', that possesses a person, then jumps to another body at the time of the first host's death. Since she is the only one who can see this rider, Alex knows it's up to her to stop it.

The story raced along at a rapid pace. Not only was Alex dealing with her investigation into the rider, but her personal life is in shambles. Her Fae lover, Falin, has been forbidden by the Winter Queen to speak to her, and the soul collector, whom Alex knows only as Death, has been avoiding her. Alex's fae friends urge her to attend the quarterly revelry, so that she can choose a Fae court to align herself with. In addition, Alex comes under the scrutiny of an MCIB agent who is convinced that she has been raising ghouls, and Alex is alienating some of the police officers whom she previously shared a rapport with.

Favorite lines:
♦ "I want chocolate so bad, I may kill the next person I see with a Snickers bar."
♦ I had my heart in a Ziploc bag and that wasn't the worst part of my day.


Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Before supper, I finished the book Wicked Circle by Linda Robertson. It's part of her "Persephone Alcmedi" series.

Once again, the story picked up almost where the previous book ended. Seph's lover, the werewolf Johnny, is about to be recognized as the vaunted Domn Lup. On the other side of the coin, the vampire Menessos, whom Seph has formed a bond with, is about to be subjected to the merciless, truth-seeking shabbubitum. The group is comprised of three powerful and dangerous vampire sisters, whom Menessos once imprisoned in stone.

Compounding problems is the fact that Seph is still coming to terms with reconnecting with her mother, she has a ritual to perform for Johnny's pack, and Menessos sends to her a guardian who is not quite what he seems. When Persephone finds herself the target of the shabbubitum, she may not live long enough to accomplish everything that needs to be done.

This story was full-on, non-stop action, much like the others have been. However, the author skipped around far too much with points of view. Persephone is in first person pov, but then it switches to third person pov for several other characters, including Johnny, Menessos, and even another vampire and the leader of the shabbubitum. It was really too much. If the author was going to present so many various povs, she should have kept all of them in third person. Also, there wasn't much in the way of resolution at the end. Each book has ended on a bit of a cliffie, but previous stories at least had resolution for the main story line. This one did not.

Favorite line: "Drive the Slut home."

Not real pleased with this installment--average score:

***
chez_jae: (Books)
I stayed up until 2:00am last night/this morning to finish reading Blood of the Earth, by Faith Hunter. It's the first book in the author's "Soulwood" series, and it's set in the same verse as the "Jane Yellowrock" series.

Nell Ingram is a young widow, living on the land her older husband left to her when he died. It borders land owned by the cult-like church that Nell broke free from when she was just a girl. Now that she has no man to protect her, male members of the church have been harassing her, trying to strong-arm her into returning to the flock and taking a husband, who will then take over Nell's land. Nell, however, isn't without protection. Not only is she armed, but the land itself seems to aid her when needed.

After helping Jane Yellowrock in her quest to rescue a vampire held by the church (which happened "off-screen"), Nell was promised assistance. It comes in the form of Agent Rick LaFleur of PsyLED, and his team of paranormal investigators. Not long after they arrive, a series of kidnappings of local girls has Nell hired on as a consultant to the team as they try to find out if the church is involved. Nell is willing to help, but she and the team need to learn to trust one another, because the kidnappings are just the tip of the iceberg...

This story was as engrossing as any in the author's other series, but it lacked the humor. Nell has lived a hard life of fear and abuse, making her a sober, solemn, suspicious young woman. It makes her willingness to help even more remarkable. Nell doesn't know what she is, only that she's not a witch, but she uses her power to commune with the woods to both protect herself and the others, provide early warning if someone trespasses on her property, and learn information. It was interesting to read more about Rick, from the perspective of a woman other than Jane, and I enjoyed "meeting" the other characters. Nell may have a romantic interest in wereleopard Occam, which would be the cat's pajamas!

Favorite line: "Men. Sometimes they got nothing between their ears and too much between their legs."

:D

Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Last night, I finished reading Magic Breaks, which is part of author Ilona Andrews' "Kate Daniels" series.

With Curran away, it's up to Kate to attend the monthly meeting of Atlanta's supernatural factions. During the boring proceedings, the assembled are informed that one of the Masters of the Dead has been murdered by a shapeshifter. Now, it's up to Kate to find the killer to deliver justice, or risk an all-out war between the vampires and shapeshifters.

Kate and her team are thwarted at every step of the investigation by her old nemesis, Hugh d'Ambray. Hugh isn't interested in justice; he wants Kate. Kate, however, doesn't plan to deliver herself to Hugh any time soon, not when he's her father's right-hand man. It's only a matter of time before her father appears in Atlanta, and Kate would like to postpone that for as long as possible. What Kate doesn't realize is that her father is coming for her. Now.

Fast, fast, fast. It was hard to put the book down. There was a lot going on, and in the midst of trying to save lives, Kate also finds herself in the middle of Pack politics. She's worried about Curran, she can't quite figure out how and why Hugh is still alive, and oh yes, the three most powerful witches in Atlanta demand to see her. If I had any complaints about the story, it was that Kate kept bemoaning how much she misses Curran, and at one point, when her situation was bleak, all she could do was hold onto the hope that he would come and save her. Um, that's not the Kate that we all know and love. Our Kate is sassy and independent, and she saves her damned self. *nods*

Favorite lines:
♦ "I can't wait to see a pack of bunnycats take down a wild hog with those short, tiny legs. Wouldn't the boar be surprised?"
♦ Sometimes the Universe smiled. Mostly she kicked me in the face, stomped on my ribs once I fell down, and laughed at my pain...
♦ If a herd of giant donkeys crossed our path and needed to be subdued, I had it covered.
♦ We were short on time, but pissing off witches ranked right between sticking your hand into a hornet's nest and telling Curran I'd made broccoli for dinner.


Excellent! Five stars:

*****

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