Friday, May 29, 2015

Goldilox's Greatest Hits Volume 5


Goldlox's Greatest Hits is our new monthly wrap up feature. We'll recap our favorite books we've read this month and show you some of our favorite posts that you might have missed, as well as what's coming up next on Goldilox and the Three Weres.



Greatest Hits

 
Greatest Hits are our favorite reads from the month of May. Check out these 4 1/2 and 5 star reviews:
 
Beautiful Bombshell by Christina Lauren
Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews
Uprooted by Naomi Novick
Behind the Mask by Carolyn Crane
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
 

ICYMI

In Read This F-ing Book this month we recommended Patricia Briggs's underappreciated werewolves in the Alpha and Omega series, quirky small town romance in the Plum Orchard series from Dakota Cassidy, and new adult romance from Jennifer Armentrout in the Wait For You series.
 
And we gave it a new twist with Which F-ing Book Should I Read? Tell us about your favorite zombie stories and check out the comments for some great reader recommendations.
 

Look What I Found!

Did you know that Jennifer Estep has free short stories from the Elemental Assassin world on her website? Many are from the POVs of supporting characters like Finn.
 
I just finished Chloe Neill's The Veil and it's really good! If you don't have an ARC (neener neener) you can still read the first two chapters here.
 

Coming Soon

Rose Red's continuing her re-read reviews of Kate Daniels and Mercy Thompson, so watch for more from those all-time favorites.
 
Goldilox is a Featured Blogger at Coastal Magic Con again in 2016. In June, she'll start revealing the Featured Authors here on the blog.
 
 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review: Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs


Blood Bound
(Mercy Thompson #2)
Patricia Briggs
Release: January 1, 2007
Goodreads Amazon
Under the rule of science, there are no witch burnings allowed, no water trials or public lynchings. In return, the average law-abiding, solid citizen has little to worry about from the things that go bump in the night. Sometimes I wish I was an average citizen...

Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places-and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind.

But this new vampire is hardly ordinary-and neither is the demon inside of him.

Review by Rose Red:

It doesn't matter how many times I reread Patricia Briggs's books, I can't help be drawn into them so much that I am oblivious to everything around me. There's a sort of magic of being lost in a 300 page book and the magic is strong in Briggs's Mercy Thompson series. To me this is Urban Fantasy at it’s best. Clever writing, action packed plot, great characters, witty dialogue and subtle romance, Blood Bound has it all. This book was just as good as the first one! I'm delighted that Briggs has made the mythology of the creatures that go bump in the night all her own. There are a lot of similarities to what other authors use but enough differences that the books are fun and engaging. Although, the villain in this book was a little scary.

In the first book, we're introduced to Mercy Thompson, a VW mechanic who is also 'walker,' which means that she can change into a coyote. Mercy is not really a kick-butt heroine. She's a very little fish in a very big pond. She knows that she has very little chance of taking on the vampires, werewolves, or Fae in her town. That doesn't mean that she's going to let that stop her. She's not preternaturally strong but she's smart and more than a little stubborn. Being a walker has given her other abilities that come more into play in this book.

Blood Bound starts with a bang. You can't help but wonder what trouble is coming Mercy's way when she gets a 3AM phone call from her vampire friend, Stefan, asking for a favor. Stefan needs her to go with him to witness a meeting with a vampire who has arrived in the Tri-Cities without permission of the local vampire seethe. Let's just say that the meeting did not go as expected as they find out that the vampire has a demon possessing his soul. Soon Mercy, Stefan, the werewolves, and the surrounding community find themselves dealing with an evil that's not afraid of the high body count it's amassing. The vampires and the werewolves tell Mercy to stay out of it. But when the ones she cares about are in danger, Mercy isn’t the kind of girl to sit on the sidelines and wait especially if she can do something about it.

As much as I love the action-packed plot, my favorite thing about this book was the characters. They are each so well developed and unique for such a large cast of characters. They all have their own roles and personalities and I love them all. Some I love to hate more than I actually love them. Mercy remains the snarky and awesome person she was in book one. I love that Adam has more screen time in this book! He may be a slightly overbearing Alpha but he's loyal and dependable and willing to do what he knows needs done. It helps that he's sexy as hell. Samuel is still a sweetheart and I love that he wormed his way into being Mercy's roommate even though he's not playing too nicely with Adam. Stefan, well, he may be a vampire but I find him equal parts scary and adorable. He drives his own version of the Mystery Machine, for heaven's sake. How can I not like him? Warren is still my favorite of Mercy's friends and I have much hope that him and Kyle will stay together. Hell, I'm even coming to like Ben. If you've read this series you know how big of a deal that is! I don't think I need go on, the characters in this series just rock.

I'm so glad that the romance comes to the foreground more in this book. Of course, it's moving along at a snail pace but it works well as they have great chemistry ensuring sparks are flying whenever Mercy is alone with either Adam or Samuel. The love triangle doesn't bother me like it does in some other books. I think because you can see why Mercy is confused. She trying to work through her old and yet very real feelings for Samuel at the same time she's trying to understand the complex emotions that she feels for Adam, the local Alpha. I'm not a reader who usually goes for love triangles in my books but this one doesn't feel like a triangle to me. It's more Mercy trying to make peace with her past and how that is going to shape the person she is now. I know who I want Mercy to end up with and that's all I'm going to say on the subject.

Overall, Mercy's world is getting a more interesting if not more dangerous. This world makes for one hell of a setting. And it makes this book (series really) such great read! If you like Urban Fantasy, kickass heroines, and lots of action wrapped in mystery, this is the book for you. Trust me. You'll love it!


    
  5 / 5 Stars!

My reviews of other books in this series:
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Monday, May 25, 2015

Which F@!%ing Book Should I Read?


It's Monday, which is usually when we tell you to


But we're switching it up a little bit this week.

May is Zombie Awareness Month and it got me thinking that I really haven't read many zombie books. The ones I have read usually have an unusual take on the zombie mythos, rather than anything you might find on The Walking Dead. I loved Rachel Caine's Revivalist series, for example.
So this week I'm asking
Which F-ing Book should I read?
Here are some suggestions from my co-bloggers to get it started:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9475392-warm-bodies  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7094569-feed  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5899779-pride-and-prejudice-and-zombies
Recs From Rose Red:
I actually haven't read a lot of zombie books but I've loved the ones I have. My favorite has to be Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. It's basically a zombie rom-com that I didn't know it was something I needed in my life until I read it. This book was cute and fun and it made me giggle in more than one spot. It was made into a movie so it's a great one to read the book then go see the movie.

If you want a zombie novel that is more thought provoking and less lighthearted, I'd recommend picking up Feed by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire). This book is the first book in a trilogy that is equal parts a zombie apocalypse story, a political thriller, and a cautionary tale about the state of our modern media. The heroes are three bloggers who are dedicated to letting the masses know about the zombie outbreak that's occurring instead of letting them get eaten like the mainstream media is. It's delightfully campy and has several references to popular zombie movies. It's fantastic!

My final recommendation would be Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. This book was a delightful twist on a classic story. I laughed so much while reading this book! Elizabeth Bennett has decided to vanquish the zombie hordes that have taken over Meryton. She just didn't plan on having to do it while exchanging barbs and banter with a certain Mr. Darcy. It's a fun and hilarious read!





Guidance from Goldilox:
Like Rose Red, I haven't read that many zombie books, but the ones I have read I've loved. Let's start with the White Trash Zombie series, which begins with My Life As A White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland. Rowland's zombies have all the typical zombie tropes: they eat brains, they rot away if they don'y eat regularly, they have extra strength, etc. What makes these zombies different is that they can be walking around like everyday people living fairly normal lives. The main character is a reformed loser who has been turned into a zombie without her knowledge...and she is freaking hilarious. Angel is blunt and nothing ever goes the way she plans. She's a fantastic leading lady...er...zombie...and I adore this series. 

Next up is a zombie book that shook me to my core. This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers kept me awake and reading until four o'clock in the morning. This is a young adult, stand alone book (there is a novella sequel). In this book our main character, Sloane, wants to die so the zombie apocalypse doesn't really concern her as much as it provides a possible opportunity for her suicide. This book is really more about Sloane's desire to die versus the fear of the zombies. She spends most of the book barricaded in a high school gym with other students, ones who actually want to live, and trying to find a way to get herself killed...until she develops feelings for one of the other students...

Finally we have a more traditional zombie series, As the World Dies. The first in this series is The First Days by Rhiannon Frater. This book introduces us to two women who come across each other in the first days of the zombie apocalypse while running for their lives. We follow them as they arrive at a bit of a safe haven of sorts, which is where we meet lots of other interesting side characters. This series has all the gross eating of body parts, bashing zombies with various homemade weapons, and character deaths that most people equate with zombie stories. Fans of The Walking Dead would probably enjoy these books, although I caution readers to check out the books and not the audios as I did not care for the narrator at all.

Tell me your favorite zombie book or series and why I should add it to my TBR mountain.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Carolyn Crane's Behind the Mask Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

 
 Behind the Mask is the fourth book in Carolyn Crane's romantic suspense series, The Associates, about a private covert intelligence organization based in New York, but operating all over the world. The men and women of The Association are all highly trained, incredibly dangerous, and they have some very interesting specialties. I'm a big fan of the series, so I'm excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour.


Behind the Mask
(The Associates #4)
Carolyn Crane
Release: May 19, 2015
TO SAVE HER TWIN SISTER SHE MUST SWITCH PLACES WITH HER...

When her long lost sister--a prostitute--is won in a card game by a brutal drug cartel, Zelda knows what she has to do: take her place. Save her. Focus on infiltrating the shadowy group on behalf of the Associates, and try not to think about why she left the spying game years ago. She’s slept with dangerous criminals before; she can do it again.

Hugo Martinez is one of South America’s most lethal and wanted men, a legendary mercenary living on a windswept mountain. Even at the height of the war he wasn’t in the habit of taking women captive, but the American whore has seen his face. And he and the orphan boy need a cook. He shouldn’t want this woman, but there’s something so unusual about her…

Little by little, Zelda finds herself falling for her captor…but is he the killer she’s been hunting all these years?
  
Review:
Carolyn Crane excels at creating characters that live in the gray areas. The agents of The Association go undercover in criminal organizations and have to do some Very Bad Things in order to serve the greater good. Zelda is the co-founder of The Association and a former CIA agent. Hugo, the hero, is a former mercenary and assassin. He takes out an airfield full of cartel soldiers single-handedly in one of the best action scenes I've read recently, but he also cares about his adopted son and the villagers in his adopted home town.

Crane also does a great job of keeping romance tropes from feeling cliché. Behind the Mask is in many ways a twisted Beauty and the Beast story. Hugo has the same violent tendencies and poor social skills as Beast. His physical damage is less obvious at first, but his physical scars serve as constant reminders of the emotional ones. However, his Beauty has her own scars which reflect her own psychological trauma, so they bond by sharing those experiences.

Zelda's backstory was unexpected after the little glimpses of her I've seen in the previous books. I never would have guessed how damaged she was. And I was surprised by her specialty - forensic botany. One of the things I love about this series is the oddball skills that each of the agents have. I also really enjoyed Zelda's scenes with Dax, her co-leader. I was surprised how messed up he is, despite his wealthy, polished appearance, and I'm looking forward to learning more about him later in the series.

Zelda's relationship with Hugo is incredibly intense and emotional. He essentially takes her prisoner, but she accepts that as part of the role she's playing. Their relationship is never really adversarial, even when he's about to kill her, because they understand each other so well. And their insane chemistry certainly doesn't hurt either. The romance is sometimes uncomfortable, but it's always compelling. Even when you're crying your eyes out, you won't be able to put this book down!

The only thing about the story that I didn't like is Zelda's original plan. She takes her sister's place in order to gain intel on the cartel. That part makes perfect sense. She then plans to trade that intel to pirates so that they can trade it to someone else. This will somehow prevent the pirates from blowing up an oil tanker. It's not that I didn't understand the plan so much as I thought it was unnecessarily complicated, and that bothered me. However, it's a pretty minor point in the story.

I hardly ever read a series out of order, but I happened to with The Associates and I don't feel like I missed anything by doing so. You could definitely pick up Behind the Mask if you haven't read the rest of the series. I would recommend reading Off the Edge (book 2) before Into the Shadows (book 3,) however, as there is a really great reveal at the end of book 2 that would lose some impact.

Recommended for fans of: dark, gritty romance, damaged heroes and heroines

ARC provided by the author

 1/2
4 1/2 stars
 


Carolyn Crane is giving away one $75.00 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice & open internationally) and thirty-two Digital Copies of either Against the Dark, Off the Edge or Into the Shadows (winner’s choice & open internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

 
I am a RITA-winning author of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and other tales of love and adventure (and erotic & dark romance as NYT bestselling author Annika Martin). My books have been published by Random House and Samhain, and I also go the indie route. I work a straight job as a marketing writer, I love to read in bed and run, I’m passionate about helping animals, and I make my home in Minnesota with my husband and two cats.
 
 



Blog Tour Stops



Monday, May 18, 2015
Straight Shooting Book Reviews (Excerpt): http://www.straightshootinbookreviews.com
Romance Junkies (Excerpt): http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog
Ramblings From This Chick (Guest Post): http://ramblingsfromthischick.com
Under the Covers Book Blog (Guest Post): http://www.underthecoversbookblog.com
Lush Book Reviews (Excerpt): http://www.lushbookreviewss.blogspot.com
Badass Book Reviews (Review): http://www.badassbookreviews.com
Urban Girl Reader (Excerpt): http://www.urbangirlreader.com

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Happiness is a book (Review): https://happinessbook.wordpress.com
Reading by the Book (Excerpt): http://www.readingbythebook.com
That's What I'm Talking About (Review): http://twimom227.com
Cricket's Chirps (Review): http://www.cricketschirps.com/
The Romance Dish (Review): http://theromancedish.com
The Book Review (Review): http://www.cluereview.blogspot.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Em & M Books (Excerpt): http://www.emandmbooks.com
Ex Libris (Guest Post): http://www.stella.exlibris.com
Herding Cats & Burning Soup (Interview): http://www.herdingcats-burningsoup.com
The Book Nympho (Review): http://thebooknympho.com/
Long and Short Reviews (Excerpt): http://www.longandshortreviews.com
Love Affair with an E-Reader (Review): www.loveaffairwithanereader.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Paranormal Haven (Interview): http://paranormalhaven.com/
Becky on Books (Review): http://beckymmoe.com
So Many Reads (Excerpt): http://www.somanyreads.com
Angela Quarles Blog (Excerpt): http://www.angelaquarles.com/blog
Goldilox and the Three Weres (Review): http://goldiloxandthethreeweres.blogspot.com


Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell (Review): http://books-forlife.blogspot.com
Blogging by Liza (Excerpt): http://lizasblog-liza.blogspot.com/
Bring Your Own Book Club (BYOB) (Review): https://www.facebook.com/byobclub1.0
Peaces of Me (Interview): http://www.suespeaces.blogspot.ca/
Ariesgrl Book Reviews (Excerpt): http://www.ariesgrlreview.com
C. K. Crouch (Review): http://ckcrouch.com/

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: Prudence by Gail Carriger

 

Prudence
(The Custard Protocol #1)
Gail Carriger
Release: March 17, 2015
Goodreads Amazon
When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances - names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone's secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?
Review:
When we last saw Alexia Maccon's daughter Prudence, now called Rue, in Gail Carriger's Timeless (Parasol Protectorate #5) she was a precocious two year-old. Now she's all grown up, though not necessarily better behaved. Rue and her best friend Primrose Tunstall, daughter of Alexia's best friend Ivy, are about to embark on a tea-finding mission on behalf of Rue's adopted father Lord Akeldama. He's given her a new dirigible, which she has painted like a ladybug and named the Spotted Custard, and she's hired a crew that includes Prim's twin brother Percy and Quesnell Lafoux, son of Genevieve and Rue's childhood crush. But their trip to India uncovers much more than tea. Rue is soon drawn into a centuries-old conflict between India's supernatural creatures.

The first thing that struck me while reading this book is how differently Rue sees her parents and their peers than her mother did, even though the characters themselves are much the same. Alexia still addresses her twenty-something daughter as "infant." So Rue is, somewhat understandably, intimidated by her mother and often imagines Alexia disapproving of her antics.

It was so odd to see Biffy referred to as Mr. Rabiffano and to see Rue speculate about how he became a werewolf when I already know the story. (See Blameless.) In fact, there are several characters whose history I knew but Rue did not. For example, I know that her engineer Miss Phinkerlington seems to hate her on sight because they are cousins and Alexia's mother's side of the family has fallen in status since the events in the short story The Curious Case of the Werewolf that Wasn't, the Mummy that Was, and the Cat in the Jar. I enjoyed seeing all these characters again, but I wonder if it might be better to go in to Prudence without so much background knowledge. I sometimes got frustrated with Rue for not knowing things.

Despite all the characters that carry over, I actually think Prudence feels much more like Carriger's Finishing School series than The Parasol Protectorate. Between the dirigible travel and all of the action scenes, Rue's much more like Sophronia than Alexia. Some of that is also a product of her youth, though Prudence is not YA, and the sense that she is making things up as she goes along, where Alexia is much more bound by society's rules. Because she's so spontaneous and unpredictable, Rue is a lot of fun.

Prudence also feels very much like a shifter story, despite all of the main characters having been raised by vampires, since Rue often uses her metanatural ability, stealing the form of a nearby supernatural, to get her out of trouble. For the first time, Carriger introduces new types of supernaturals into this world and I'm curious whether the crew of the Spotted Custard will continue to encounter more as they travel.

There's a single scene in Prudence that's not told from Rue's point of view. Lord and Lady Maccon watching the Spotted Custard take off nearly had me in tears. That scene and my previous knowledge Rue's family made me wish for more scenes in London. (Some of the Parasol Protectorate books were structured that way.) I can understand the decision not to do that with Prudence though, since this is a new series. It might not make sense to someone new to this world. But I really want more Biffy, so I'm still hoping to see more of London later in the series.

I enjoyed Prudence, even though it was not exactly what I expected. I'm excited about the potential relationship between Rue and Quesnell. And I like the direction the series seems to be headed at the end of the book. I'm looking forward to finding out what's next for these characters in Imprudence.

Recommended for fans of: The Finishing School series, shifter adventures, dirigibles and tea


    
 stars






Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Release Day Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik


Uprooted
Naomi Novik
Release: May 19, 2015
Goodreads Amazon
Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Review by Rose Red:

You know those books that you instantly fall in love with and then proceed to push that book on every person that you know? This was one of those books for me. I fell hard and I fell fast. When I finished it, I couldn't quit thinking about it. In fact, I didn't want the experience to end so I immediately started the book over again. I loved it SO much! Unfortunately, every time I've sat down to write my review I've not been able to do anything but fangirl about it.

So I'm going to review this book a little differently than I have other books. I'm not going to tell you about the book, but about my reading experience. I finished this book weeks ago and I haven't been able to get it out of my brain. It was everything I wanted it to be and more! A Dragon who wasn't a dragon, a witch who doesn't do normal magic, and an amalgam of fairy tale elements were all rolled into this book and the product was absolute perfection! It has that modern fairy tale feel to it similar to that of Neil Gaiman's Stardust.

The storytelling style Naomi Novik invoked in this book was very reminiscent to that of Robin McKinley's work for me. It was a familiar yet new reading experience. When I read the last paragraph of this book, I felt the same way that I had when I had finished McKinley's The Blue Sword for the first time all those years ago. I wanted more. I wanted more pages and more books even though I knew that this was a standalone going in. Even knowing that, I was sad that I had to leave a world and characters that I had grown very attached to behind because there was no more story left so I could linger with them longer. Then I was happy as I realized that I'd be able to revisit this world as much as I wanted. Like hug my ereader to my chest happy that I'd be able to reread this exquisite book over and over again for years to come!

Maggie Steifvater's blurb said it best:
“Reading Uprooted was like rediscovering a favorite old sweater, familiar and beloved. It feels as if it has always existed and has been waiting patiently for me to return to it.” 
I wholeheartedly agree with that. Reading it felt like running into an old friend you haven't seen in ages even though this was the first time I read it. This book has definitely made my list of all time favorite books I've ever read. I think it may have even achieved a spot in the infamous Top Ten. I have so much love for this book already and I can only imagine how that love will grow with each rereading as little details make themselves known. I didn't even realize that it was a YA book until I was finished. It read like one of those books that transcends all age groups even though it technically belongs to one. I loved everything about it! The setting, the characters, the magic, the conflict... Everything.

Simply put, this is a book EVERYONE needs to read. Seriously. Go read it.

Recommended for fans of: 
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

An ARC was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.

    
  5 / 5 Stars!!!





Monday, May 18, 2015

Read This F@!%ing Book (40)


Welcome to a feature I'm going to post on Mondays called:
Read This F@!%ing Book!
This is a feature for me to push my favorite reads that just aren't getting enough attention! 
I'm also opening it up to anyone who would like to guest post. Do you have a book that you just LURVED but feel like its not getting the play it deserves? Email me to let me know and I'd be THRILLED to have you post about it here! Especially if its something I haven't reviewed yet - that's even better (but not necessary)! If you're interested email me: 
Goldilox3weres@hotmail.com

 This week's post comes from our very own: 
Rose Red!


Read This F@!%ing Book Post 40: The Alpha & Omega Series by Patricia Briggs
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9216858-alpha-omega   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15808407-cry-wolf   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5292853-hunting-ground
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11480917-fair-game   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18941694-dead-heat
(Click book cover to go to Goodreads page)

It's no secret that I absolutely adore Patricia Briggs' urban fantasy books. I've reviewed enough of her books here at Goldilox and the Three Weres that you all know exactly how much I love her books. I first found her Mercy Thompson books while I was in college and I quickly devoured all of the books that had been released at that point (Silver Borne). I had heard that Briggs had written a companion series to the Mercy books but I couldn't bring myself to pick it up. What if it wasn't as good? What if it ruined Mercy for me? I finally picked up her Alpha & Omega series this year and, guys, I think I'm infatuated with it. All of my fears were completely unfounded! Actually, I love this series more than Mercy and that's saying a lot! Why do I love this series so much? Let me tell you!

YOU HAVE TO READ THE NOVELLA FIRST!
What I find interesting about this series is that it started out as a novella. Briggs' publisher loved it so much that they asked if she could make the novella a series. Thank heavens for that! That being said, it's very important for you to read that novella before starting the first book in this series. It takes place slightly after the events in Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) where Mercy helps a teenager named Alan MacKenzie Frasier who had been unwillingly turned into a werewolf. The novella is the story about Bran's son, Charles, going to Chicago to deal with the werewolves who did it and this is how he subsequently meets Anna. Cry Wolf begins the day after the events in the novella so if you skip it the book will read like it's missing a few chapters at the beginning.

You Will Fall In Love With Charles And Anna!
The real star of these books is Anna and Charles’s relationship. These two are so different from each but somehow it works perfectly. Seriously. They are complete opposites and their relationship is equal parts passion and struggle. Anna and Charles are a rather odd pair in that their inner wolves chose each other as mates before their human selves could even say hello. This series is one of the few times that the "my wolf chose you as my mate" plot line actually works for me. I love that we get both Anna and Charles’s perspectives in this series. It gives us a look into their relationship and there are several precious moments between the two of them! Their romance is very different from anything I've read before and it's one of the reasons I love this series so much! It is a sweet romance that's not all fluff.

Both characters are deeply scarred by traumatic lives, and those scars play a very real role in their ability to interact and trust each other. When they first meet, Anna has been dealing with a terrible situation that leaves both physical and mental scars. What I love is that Charles ended up being a very scary white knight for Anna. He's not a conventional love interest, but he is what Anna needed. It goes both ways as well. As you progress in the series, you see that Charles needs Anna as much or more than she needed him. Anna's trauma is at the forefront of the first few books and Charles is SO gentle and understanding with her and the situation that I couldn't help but fall in love him a bit myself. Okay. I love him a lot. Their struggles, their getting-to-know-you phase, and the relationship itself is dynamic, raw, real, and full of emotion. The relationship between Charles and Anna is one of the reasons this series is so great! And despite their romance being a huge part of the story, it doesn't overshadow the rest of the plot. It only adds to it.

ZOMG! The Audiobooks Are Freaking Fantastic! 
If you like Audiobooks, then you have to listen to this series! Holter Graham is the narrator and he does a phenomenal job! He nailed all the voices perfectly to what I imagined them sounding like in my head. I have a confession to make. I love these audiobooks and these stories so much that I have been listening to the audio on a continuous loop since I first read these books in February. They are really just that good, guys!

I'm so sad that I am out of Alpha & Omega books! I need more Anna and Charles in my life! Seriously. I hope we get their next book soon! If you haven't read this series or the Mercy Thompson books, you should fix that ASAP! I'd recommend reading both series together in chronological order. Patricia Briggs has a timeline on her website that you can use to know the reading order. Both of these series are wonderful examples of why urban fantasy is a great genre! They are freaking fantastic! 

Our reviews of books in this series:
Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs  
Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs


Are you interested in starting this series? Did we persuade you to add it to your TBR mountain? Or have you read it and love it as much as I do? Let us know in the comments below!
 
 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review: Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews



Magic Bleeds
(Kate Daniels, #4)
Ilona Andrews
Release: May 25, 2010
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Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren't for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle - especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community. When she's called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers that there's a new player in town. One who's been around for thousands of years - and who rode to war at the side of Kate's father. This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family.

Review by Rose Red:
I'm a giant fan of urban fantasy. I read all kinds of genres of books, but when I read urban fantasy I get a feeling of being at home. The Ilona Andrews writing team created a universe where when I'm having a bad day or want to have a good time, I can open one of these books and escape effortlessly and happily into Kate's misadventures. And the writing duo that is Ilona Andrews have seriously stepped up the action and consequences in this book! I had doubts that they would be able to top the awesome book we got with Magic Strikes and the action of the Midnight Games but this book proved my doubts to be unfounded. Each book keeps getting better and better!

The events of the last book changed the game. Kate's actions in the Midnight Games has started the unraveling of her secret identity and she's left to deal with what that revelation will bring down on her and her friends. If that wasn't enough, her relationship with Curran is on rocky ground especially as the newest big bad who comes to town targets her shape-shifter friends and puts them in grave danger. Add in the trouble her boss at the Order is causing her, you can say that things aren't going so well for Kate. 

I thought the last book was a game changer for the series, but Magic Bleeds is essentially the turning point in the Kate Daniels Series. It's a will they or won't they book. If you've read up to this book so far, you know exactly what I mean.

The writing team of Ilona Andrews crafted a well written, strong plot, with a very prominent relationship storyline. Before we get to that, let's talk about Kate for a minute. Kate is one of my favorite heroines of all the book series I have read to date, and I've fangirled over her in each of my reviews. Kate is fierce. She is fiercely loyal to those she cares about, despite all of her father's warnings to keep to herself. She is fiercely independent, although she longs for companionship and love. She is guarded to a point where she can't trust anyone with her secrets, her heart, or her life. She is a master with her saber, will kick your ass if you threaten her or what she considers hers. Her mouth gets her into trouble more often than not, and she often takes the approach of kill now, ask questions later. She knows she is, but she's not egocentric which is nice to read. She does what she feels she has to do to protect herself, her friends, and Atlanta.

Kate has changed a lot over the course of the first three books, but in this one she finally has to make a choice. Does she fall back to her father's advice or does she continue to forge her own way? Does she choose or abandon whatever is going on between her and Curran? Despite wanting love, Kate feels like she will never have the kind of love that she so desperately wants. An incident with Curran at the first of this book leaves her hurting and afraid to make any decision. She's quite volatile because of her emotions. I wanted to give her a hug, but I'd be afraid of her stabbing me if I did.


I love all the action in Magic Bleeds everything has been ratcheted up five notches on the intensity scale. The battle scenes were unlike those in the earlier books, Kate is tested to the limits of her sword mastery - no easy monsters here. The battle scenes are great. The plot is interesting without being crazy. The death toll rises. The last fifty pages or so are gut wrenching and sad but it's mixed with hope. Ilona Andrews is a master storyteller! Seriously, the ending is fantastic! It had just the right amount of everything. This book was just so amazing! Go read this series now if you haven't started it yet!


    
  5 / 5 Stars!!!

My reviews of other books in this series:
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews


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