Full Blooded: Jessica McClain, Book 1

Full BloodedAuthor: Amanda Carlson
Book Name: Full Blooded
Series: Jessica McClain
Order: #1
Rating: Really Good
Genre: Fantasy

 Blurb: Born the only female in an all male race, Jessica McClain isn’t just different—she’s feared.

After living under the radar for the last twenty-six years, Jessica is thrust unexpectedly into her first change, a full ten years late. She wakes up and finds she’s in the middle of a storm. Now that she’s become the only female full-blooded werewolf in town, the supernatural world is already clamoring to take a bite out of her and her new Pack must rise up and protect her.

But not everyone is on board. The werewolf Rights of Laws is missing text and the superstitious werewolves think that Jessica means an end to their race. When a mercenary who’s been hired by the vampires shows up to extract information about the newly turned werewolf only days after her change, they find themselves smack in the middle of a war and there’s no choice but to run together. When it’s up to Jessica to negotiate her release against her father’s direct orders, she chooses to take an offer for help instead. In exchange, Jessica must now swear an oath she may end up repaying with her life.

Review: While I did like this book and the general storyline behind it, there were several things that bugged me about it and kept it from being a much better book for me.  For one, the blurb itself, which is what you need to read to figure out if you want to read the book or not, is actually a pretty big spoiler to the plot.  If you are going to write a teaser, please don’t give away one of the big surprises of the story in that teaser.

Every book needs background basics for the reader to understand the current situation/world/character history, especially books that are the first in the series.  What they don’t need, at least not if you don’t want to bore your readers, is dry, essay like descriptions that get dropped into the story just to get it out of the way.  I felt like the first couple of chapters were so fluffed full of this level of background that it took away from a lot of what was going on in the plot and made it a whole lot less interesting.  There are ways to introduce that information and keep the flow going and make it interesting for the reader to discover along the way.  This book dropped the ball in that regard.

The last, big issue for me is more a personal taste thing.  I much prefer stories that are either self contained or are the type that have small stories that fall along a much larger story arc across a series.  I am so not a fan of books with huge cliff hangers.  That is exactly what this book is.  It opened up several different plot lines and none of them were resolved by the end of the book.  I find that hugely frustrating.  When you get to the end of a story, it should feel like a reward, even if it is a little one.  You want to feel as though you have accomplished something or resolved something by the time you get to the last page, even if it is minor and I didn’t get that at all with this.

As I said before, I did like the general storyline despite the things that annoyed or frustrated me and, because of that, I’ve rated this as Really Good, but it is borderline.  I do have the next book in the series on my reading list, so I’ll see if I still feel the same with the next installment.

Dead Heat: Alpha and Omega, Book 3

Dead HeatAuthor: Patricia Briggs
Book Name: Dead Heat
Series: Alpha and Omega (in the Mercy Thompson World)
Order: #4
Rating: Really Good
Genre: Fantasy

 Blurb: For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way…

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

Review:  I really kind of wish that in my theme of re-reading books this year, I’d taken the time to re-read the rest of the books in this series before I’d read this one.  It has been too long since I read the last one that it took me a bit here and there to remember some of the things that had happened in previous books.

For me, even though I really did enjoy this book, it felt a bit slow starting out.  I really kind of think that is on me rather than the book, though.  I had to stop a couple of times to either try to remember an incident from previous books, or go and read the burbs to refresh my memory here and there.  Finding the right balance in too much or too little previous history in a book can be a hard line to find.  I don’t think that is an issue here, it is more that I just really, really need to understand what is in front of me whether it is critical to the story or not.  I don’t think that most readers would find this as slow to start as I did.

As with all the rest of the books in this series and in the Mercy Thompson series, this is another great story.  I have loved the dynamics in the relationship between the main characters, Charles and Anna, and this book continues to keep those dynamics interesting in the process of still giving the reader a great story outside of that relationship.  For a lot of authors, that is something that is really difficult to accomplish.  Most can pull off one or the other, but rarely both.  That is not a difficulty Patricia Briggs has, not by a long shot.

I love that the story resolves the immediate issue that arises with the missing children (I hate full on cliff hangers), but gives the reader some great insights into what is going to be happening next in this world, both the Alpha and Omega series and the Mercy Thompson series.

As of right now, the next book in this world is in the Mercy Thompson side and isn’t due out until 2016.

 

Phoenix Club Series (in part) Review

Author: C.J. Bishop
Book Name: It Can’t Be You; Hearts in Chaos; Shattered (Abel Trilogy?)
Series: Phoenix Club
Order: #1-3
Rating: Mediocre/Didn’t Like
Genre: LGBT Romance

I have to say that I really struggled with this review as to where it fell.  The only reason it did not fall into the garbage realm is because this book actually seems to have a small level of thought put into the overall story and time was taken to actually clean it up enough to be presentable.  Those are pretty much the only positives I can offer.

There are very, very few scenarios when an author can get away with presenting the reader with unsafe sex scenes.  Even fewer options when the subject of the book isn’t restricted because of cultural or historical accuracy needed for the scene.  There is absolutely zero reason why in this day and age, any author should allow their characters to be having unsafe sex, unless there is a specific reason for it in the basis of the story.

These books do not even allow the reader the possibility of any of the characters having safe sex.  Not only are we talking totally unprotected sex, but we are talking sex with multiple partners over an incredibly short period of time.  The only attempt at a mention at all was early on in the first book, ONE of the many characters having sex mentions a clean bill of health requirement to be able to work in his job.  With the reality of the time it takes for anything to show on tests and how long it takes to get tests back, there is no way any of the characters in this book are practicing safe sex.

Another major issue I have with these books is the entire premise that the books are based on.  One part of that is the fact that the two major characters supposedly fall in love pretty much on sight.  I’ve read a lot of books where authors can pull this off well and it works.  In this case, not at all.  For one, this at first sight love is supposed to be so all powerful and consuming as to over come severe past trauma, including rape, yet the main character has no problem immediately having sex with several other people the second there is any kind of drama between him and the love of his life.

Part of the issue with that is the timing of it all.  Again, no problem with at first sight thing, but the whole, fall in love, cry, have issues, cry, have sex with other people, cry, have more issues after having sex again, cry some more, more drama and issues, cry, then in the last 10% of the last book, everything is perfect and, after a round of sex (no actual real discussion of the issues and how to resolve those issues ever occur in any of the books, it is just lets have sex and the world is rosy and fixed, no matter the years of nightmares and trauma and fear), the couple lives happily ever after, all in about 3 weeks.

Not only is the overall timeline of the story totally unbelievable, but the issues,  how they are dealt with and resolved, are so far outside of the realm of possibility and contradict the personality of the characters that it is offensive to the reader, making them ignorant and gullible to believe any of it.

If your main character is so devoted to his sister, he is willing to prostitute himself to pay for her needed medical care (did I mention she has been diagnosed with HIV, yet not a single character practices safe sex?), then why in the hell would he abandon her the second his feelings get dinged and is gone the entire time she is in the hospital, which is all in that same short time span?

Between every character’s deep moments ending, not in a real conversation to address those moments, but rather with them having sex and then every single person dissolving into tears at the drop of the hat, I’m surprised I made it through to the end of these 3 books that dealt with this couple of main characters.

While, in theory, the general idea behind the book could have worked with actual conversations between the characters and a longer timeline, I don’t think anything could have really made me believe this story in any way, let alone enjoy it.  I wouldn’t even complain about the lack of conversation so much if I could have classified this as an erotic romance, but even the sex scenes were so off and wrong for me there is no way it would even fit into that genre.

So, in the end, I can’t say that this is worth the time unless you just like to read really poorly written and thought out stories.  I definitely won’t be wasting my time on any of the others in the rest of the series.

Vision in Silver: The Courtyard of the Others, Book 3

Vision in SilverAuthor: Anne Bishop
Book Name: Vision in Silver
Series: The Courtyard of the Others
Order: #3
Rating: Excellent/Favorite
Genre: Fantasy

Yet again, Anne Bishop has managed to bring us another stunningly rich book so full of character that you cannot help but be sucked in.  I cannot say enough good things about this new addition to the series.

Vision in Silver continues the story of the Others.  We get to see all our favorite characters along with meeting a few new ones, which is always fun because of how packed full of personality Ms. Bishop creates her characters.

For one of the main characters, Meg, we get to see her continue to learn how to interact and function in the world around her, emphasizing that even though she is extraordinary because she is a blood profit, she is also exceptionally ordinary and makes mistakes just like everyone else.  One of the things that I love about her is that while what she does and who she is has major impacts on the world around her, it is in a way that is indirect.  She isn’t out there fighting or killing the bad guys with her super awesome powers like you see in so many other books.  She does it by being an example to everyone around her of how to be a better person just by being who she is and what she does.  That aspect of her character really stands out in this book.

While we see a heightened degree of bitterness, ignorance and hatred from some humans towards the terre indigene and the humans that try to keep the balance and peace in this book, we also get to see the friendship between Meg and Simon continue to grow and evolve.  We are definitely left on something of a high note by the end of the story, but that high note is balanced on the edge of what is promising to be really ugly times ahead.

As is typical with an Anne Bishop book, I was so not ready for it to end by the time I’d finished reading.  I wasn’t ready to leave that carefully and beautifully crafted world.  I am beyond anxious to get to the next one, even though I don’t think there is even a title listed for it yet, so that I can sink back into it again.  This one most definitely is on my favorites shelf!

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Jason: Anita Blake Series, Book 23

JasonAuthor: Laurell K. Hamilton
Book Name: Jason
Series: Anita Blake
Order: #23
Rating: Mediocre/Didn’t Like
Genre: Fantasy/Romance

I really debated on whether or not I actually wanted to write this review.  I dislike saying or writing negative things, especially when it comes to something I normally would be raving about.  In this case, I just couldn’t help but say something.

I really didn’t like this book.  For so many reasons.  It was a huge disappointment.  It just did not live up to the existing standards set by the rest of this series. While we got to see some familiar and well loved characters, there just wasn’t a story in there at all.

I’m all for hot and steamy love scenes, no matter what combination of men and women, no matter how many are involved and in most cases, not even the level of kinky, when it is wrapped inside a great story.  Sometimes I’m even good to read something that is nothing but those steamy love scenes, story or not, but please, do them well.  Don’t make them fumbling and awkward.  I get that in real life, steamy doesn’t always come across as smooth, but come on.  When I read a book, a big part of the reason to do so is to live a bit in the fantasy that the author creates.  If you aren’t going to make it so that a reader can get sucked into what you are writing without being thrown out of whatever mood you are trying to create, then what is the point?  I’m pretty sure that in some ways, awkward was the tone that was trying to be set, but it was so wrong and so didn’t work, that for the first time ever reading an Anita novel, I was really tempted to put it down and not finish.  When I finally did finish, I was still wondering why I even bothered.  If you have to force yourself to finish a book, then why even consider reading the next one?

As a whole, I have really enjoyed the series thus far, but with this addition and a couple of the other more recent shorts and additions that I’ve read, I’m wondering how long I’ll continue reading the Anita Blake series as what I’m seeing lately just isn’t all that entertaining.  Like I said, I’m all for steamy, no matter what my own personal preference is.  It is like any other kind of art, while I may not like it personally, I can totally appreciate what goes into it and how someone else might enjoy it and can enjoy it from that perspective. But apparently, even in my reading and enjoying the fantasy from that other perspective, I do have limits to what I can find sexy, even peripherally.  Up until this, and I have read more than my fair share of all kinds of steamy, I hadn’t found that boundary.  Apparently I have been pushed past that and just couldn’t find what I’ve been reading sexy or interesting or entertaining in any way.

The only reason I didn’t rate this book as garbage was because I have liked this series and the characters so far and am hoping that this isn’t an indication of where the series is going from here.  I will be waiting until the next book is in the library rather than spending money on something I’m not sure will be any better than this one.  I am glad that is how I read this one because I do feel like it would have been a waste of money.  I’m sad to say, that if the next isn’t any better, it may just be the last.

 

Lady Luck: Colorado Mountain Series, Book 3

Lady LuckAuthor: Kristen Ashley
Book Name: Lady Luck
Series: Colorado Mountain Series
Order: #3
Rating: Excellent/Favorite
Genre: Romance

This wasn’t actually a new read for me.  I read it last year for the first time, but it is absolutely one of those that demands more than one read.

I first ran across Kristen Ashley last year when my library added parts of the Colorado Mountain series to their digital library.  While the series and author quickly became one of my favorites, this book in particular hit the top of the list.

While Lady Luck contains all the hallmarks that makes the series excellent… super hot badass dude, quirky, smartass sassy chick, steamy love and intense drama… for me this book really did hit all of that perfectly.  From the first book, I have fallen in love with the men Kristen Ashley creates and how they become so very real I cannot seem to get enough of them.  In this one, for some intangible reason, I was totally sucked in, more so than any of the others in this series.

Not sure exactly where on the scale this would land, but it is definitely up there in my all time favorites of all the books I’ve ever read.

Broken Soul: Jane Yellowrock, Book 8

Broken SoulAuthor: Faith Hunter
Book Name: Broken Soul
Series: Jane Yellowrock
Order: #8
Rating: Excellent/Favorite
Genre: Fantasy

This was another excellent addition to a favorite series of mine.  Since I’m kind of an instant gratification kinda gal, I don’t always like cliff hanger types of books.  While the Jane Yellowrock series doesn’t exactly do that, it does somewhat continue a larger story arch across the whole series while at least resolving the most current drama in each book.  Broken Soul continues this pattern.  It also added some interesting layers to the main characters while giving insight into a few that had been more peripheral in other books.

I love the main character in this series and am glad to see something going her way relationship wise in this book.  I do hope it continues into the next one.  I don’t like seeing characters constantly battling and never getting a break or finding any level of happiness or heck, even a few seconds to just breathe.  So far, Faith Hunter has played with that a bit in previous relationships in this series, but has still kept it on the positive side.  I’m absolutely looking forward to the next book!

Dark Heir, book 9, looks to be due out in April of this year.

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