Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rogue (Shifters #2) by Rachel Vincent

"Most aspects of my training didn’t agree with me. There wasn’t as much bossing around as I’d hoped for, and there was way too much following orders."

Faythe has made the deal to stay with the Pride for two and a half years, and in this book we get to see Faythe training to be an enforcer for her father, the Alpha. I liked Faythe in this book much more than in the first of the series, since there was much less whining and much more growing up. I also loved seeing Faythe and Marc together, out on the road doing their job as enforcers. Their relationship is very intense, but has some great bantering moments as well. It will be very interesting to see how the author continues this relationship throughout the series. I am curious what other bumps they will encounter...

In Rogue , Faythe and her Pride are tracking someone who is killing tomcats and someone else who is kidnapping human women. Yes, it all comes together and makes sense in the end, but I felt like maybe this plot could have been streamlined a little better. It was all just a little too convenient in my opinion. In addition, Faythe is getting threatening phone calls from her human ex-boyfriend from college. Of course, she acts like an idiot and makes poor choices when it comes to what to do about these phone calls. OF COURSE she doesn't just tell somebody and get it over with. I said she was GROWING, not that she's done doing it.

We also get a new character toward the end of this book. I'm not sure how I feel about this character yet, or even if this person will be in the rest of the series (although I'm sure they will be in the next book). Maybe I am just feeling a little bit like Faythe is about this person, we'll see. (Sorry to be so cryptic, don't want to spoil anything for anyone!)

I am really enjoying this series so far. I think one of my favorite components of the Shifters series is the development of the Pride itself. I like the way the author has created the werecats, and their biology and limits. I also like the family-like structure of the Pride and the relationships among all of its members.

I am still waiting to give one of these five stars. Hopefully, as I progress through the last four books in the Shifters series, I will be able to do just that!

Desdaemona by Ben Macallan

I'm not going to lie - I give the first two-thirds of this book two stars and the last one-third of this book five stars. So I'm averaging it to three and a half stars.

Jordan is a runaway - running from what we don't quite know - who is found by Desdaemona, Desi for short. She knows a little about him and also knows that he helps other runaways occasionally. She needs his help in finding her sister Fay, who disappeared while Desi was off becoming a daemon. Being a daemon means that Desi possesses something called an Aspect. This makes her stronger and faster than a normal human, but even still she cannot figure out what happened to her sister. So she ropes a reluctant Jordan into helping her. She doesn't have to do much...expect give him a smile and a muffin. He is charmed by her even though he doesn't really want to be. He can't help it, he is forever 17 years old and stuck with the hormones of a 17 year old.

Confused? Yes, me too.

This book unfolds a little at a time. And when I say little, I mean LITTLE. Nothing about the cover of this book or the first chapters of the book is right. You think you are getting into an entirely different story than what you are actually getting. This isn't really a werewolf story or a vampire story. I don't actually even know what kind of story this is, to be honest!

This is the third book in a row that I haven't loved until more than halfway through. I'm sure this is just a coincidence, but I find it really annoying. I almost stopped reading this book two or three times because I just didn't really connect to it. I didn't love the relationship between Desi and Jordan in this book. Maybe it was just because it was different than what I am used to reading, but I just didn't really connect with their relationship at all. That was a bit of a downfall for me. When we finally do begin to get their stories, a LITTLE bit at a time, the book becomes much more intriguing and I became hooked. I just don't think any author should wait that damn long to hook the audience!

The book finally picked up (for me at least) around the appearance of a new character who comes 200 pages in. It wasn't necessarily that I loved this new character so much, but rather that we started to find out a little more about Jordan when this character appeared. Also, the action in the story picks up considerably with his appearance.

All in all I can say I'd recommend this book to others, but with reservations. It is a different style of writing and a different kind of story than most of the other UF books I've read, and I still haven't really decided if that's a good or bad thing!

Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay

Dead on the Delta  
(Annabelle Lee #1)
Stacey Jay

Once upon a time, fairies were the stuff of bedtime stories and sweet dreams. Then came the mutations, and the dreams became nightmares. Mosquito-size fairies now indulge their taste for human blood—and for most humans, a fairy bite means insanity or death. Luckily, Annabelle Lee isn’t most humans. The hard-drinking, smart-mouthed, bicycle-riding redhead is immune to fairy venom, and able to do the dirty work most humans can’t. Including helping law enforcement— and Cane Cooper, the bayou’s sexiest detective—collect evidence when a body is discovered outside the fairy-proof barricades of her Louisiana town.

But Annabelle isn’t equipped to deal with the murder of a sixyear- old girl or a former lover-turned-FBI snob taking an interest in the case. Suddenly her already bumpy relationship with Cane turns even rockier, and even the most trust-worthy friends become suspects. Annabelle’s life is imploding: between relationship drama, a heartbreaking murder investigation, Breeze-crazed drug runners, and a few too many rum and Cokes, Annabelle is a woman on the run—from her past, toward her future, and into the arms of a darkness waiting just for her. . . .

This was a really great book and an excellent start to a series! Annabelle Lee is an extremely likable character despite, or maybe because of, her flaws. She's a med school drop out and possible alcoholic who scoops fairy poop for a living and is constantly down on herself. She seems to try and try again to screw herself over. In fact, when we meet her she is definitely having a really bad day.

Annabelle is one of few people in the world who are immune to the bites of mutated fairies that went undiscovered until drinking toxic water made them grow to a big enough size to not only be seen by humans, but to also be able to bite humans and larger animals. Fairy bites are bad for those not immune. Which is why Annabelle is called upon to examine the dead body of a little girl found outside the iron gates of the city, which is fairy infested. That is how the story, and our introduction to Annabelle and her world, begins.

Although this is an urban fantasy, the fantasy elements are not what drive the story. It is very similar to the Downside Ghosts series (although a little less gritty and magic heavy) in that there are weird things in the world but its still the people you have to watch out for. Annabelle is also very similar to Downside's Chess in that she has been dealt a crappy hand in life and just can't seem to turn things around no matter what.

Of course there is a bit of a love triangle happening in this book as well. Annabelle is caught between her gorgeous cop kind-of boyfriend who takes care of her and wants a bigger commitment and her sexy ex boyfriend who has wondered back into the picture as one of the FBI agents in charge of the murder case. With that said, don't get yourself hung up on the possible romantic aspects of this book. There are some little teases here and there, but this book is definitely leaning more towards UF/murder mystery than romance novel.

One of my favorite elements of this story was the surprise kink thrown in involving Annabelle. I won't spoil that though, however I'm sure we will find out much more in the stories to come.

So, all in all, I loved Annabelle and her crassness. I also love her growth as a character. The author shows us that Annabelle wants to change her life, but we can also see that its going to be a slow process. Hopefully, the process will take place across, oh, six or seven books? :)

"I have to keep fighting. I have to 'reach deep down and shit myself', or whatever it is the crazy man told me to do."

***Just as a side note, I would like to mention that this is the author's first attempt at an adult novel! She had previously written many young adult novels prior to Dead on the Delta. This book has been getting great reviews, but apparently its not quite for sure yet that she will get to write us more Annabelle stories so read it, love it, and review it! :)


Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

I would really give this 3.5 stars I think, but I decided to round up because it was definitely better than just three stars.

The story for this book was very unique. At different times throughout reading I found it funny, romantic, sexy, disturbing, and gross. What a strange combination, right?

So we have Jenny, who has been somehow cursed with spreading a disgusting plague-like sickness to anyone who touches her bare skin. I mean, we're talking gross and immediate sickness (popping boils and the like). So she has lived her entire life alone and afraid of accidentally killing someone. She wears long sleeves year round and even wears gloves on her hands, which has earned her the nickname "Jenny Mittens". Then we have the other two main characters, Ashleigh and Seth. Throughout the book I found myself wanting to jump into the story and shove Ashleigh off of a bridge. She was just SO MEAN!!! Ashleigh and Seth each have something special going on with each of them as well, but I don't want to give away too much of the plot.

Basically, this story is about Jenny going through her senior year of high school (yes, I said high school...but that does NOT make this a YA novel, believe me), lonely and just wanting to make it to graduation. Ashleigh is an absolute horror and has decided that her second mission in life, second only to ruling the world of course, is to make Jenny's life a living hell. There is also a romance between Jenny and another character, and I found this romance to be believable and very sweet (and at some parts...more than just sweet...wink wink).

I did find one part of the story particularly disturbing. It showed what a crazy, controlling, power-obsessed person Ashleigh is, but I think something different could have happened to show that. It was also the part of the story that made me go, "Oh yeah, this was written by a man". If you've read the book, you can probably pinpoint what I'm talking about.

I also thought the ending was a bit surprising. I expected something similar, but not to the extent that took place. I also thought the explanation for Jenny's "powers" (or "curse" or whatever you want to call it) was a bit out of left field. I definitely did not see that coming as the reason she is the way she is. It did make me want to read the sequel though to see where the author is going with it!

I have read in some places that Jenny Pox is toted as a YA novel...but it is not. The book is short, only 185 pages and the characters are in high school, but that is just a coincidence. There is drug use, language, and sex in the book that is not typical in a YA novel. Do not go into this book expecting YA, you won't get it. Every once in a while I felt a little 'bump' in the writing that made me think of YA, but that was it.

With all that said, I still really enjoyed this book! I would recommend it to anyone who likes to read something a little dark, but still with a sweeter side.

Storm Born (Dark Swan #1) by Richelle Mead

I really enjoyed this book! After reading (most of) Mead's Vampire Academy I didn't really know what to expect from this series, but it was totally different and unique! This was clearly an adult novel with no ties to VA at all. The only similarities I saw in the writing was the obvious talent Mead has for writing in first person POV without making me annoyed with the main character.

I loved Kiyo, but dammit he has some things working against him doesn't he? I can't forgive his "baggage" as easily as Eugenie does (seriously, who gives that name to a main character??? lol) but I see the major sex appeal. I feel awful for poor Dorian though, he is clearly the underdog in winning Eugenie's affections even tough he is a powerful gentry king! I am interested to see what will happen in the next book in the series! Everyone keeps poo-pooing Kiyo, so I MUST read how it gets so much worse! I still need some more...I don't know, oomph?...from Dorian though for him to completely win me over.

All in all, this is shaping up to be a great series and a perfect read coming off of the Downside Ghosts series for me. I seem to be on a magic kick lately, and the next installment of Kate Daniels will just keep it rolling!!!

First Grave On the Right (Charley Davidson #1) by Darynda Jones

"She's like a hurricane on crystal meth."

Reading First Grave on the Right was like inhaling a big breath of fresh air. Fresh, snarky air. Charley, the grim reaper, is just so ridiculous and funny throughout this book and I thoroughly enjoyed her. She is spunky, sarcastic, and daring - to a fault even.

Without going into the entire plot and its details, let me just say that the above quote well-defines her. She is in a constant state of recovery from this injury or that, all caused by a combination of her steel ovaries and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because grim reapers can see and communicate with dead people, Charley interacts with the departed often throughout the book and I loved all of these interactions.

"I could be irksome when I put my left ventricle into it."

I also liked that, even though this was what I would call a "lighter" book (as compared to some of the more gritty books I've read recently), the author didn't make it overly silly. Darynda Jones balances Charley's constant quips and occasional goofiness with two good mysteries, one of them being a the story behind a dangerous hottie named Reyes. I was much more interested in his story than the actual mystery focus of the book, but that is only because Reyes is just so darn hot!

Four strong stars for this one, and I can't wait till number two comes out in August!

"That took balls." "Please," I said with a snort, "that took ovaries. Of which I have two."

Grimspace (Sirantha Jax #1) by Ann Aguirre

Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, #1)Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

"It hurts, but then, what doesn't? Pain proves that we're alive, gives us the ability to appreciate pleasure - everything in balance, everything in it's time."

I complained about this book being in first person, being a genre that I'm not used to reading, and being full of all world building and no information. But - I couldn't get this book off my brain. I thought about it constantly when I wasn't reading it...and that's what I loved about this book. When you read Grimspace, you ARE Sirantha Jax. You are in her head and know what she knows. You hear her inner monologue, experience her pain, and go through her confusion (and believe me, there's a lot of confusion!).

As the book unfolds I became more and more attached. When characters died, or almost died, I gasped or teared up. I felt a connection with Jax's constant struggle and her seriously low sense of self worth after the crash. She has been brought down as low as she thought she could go, and then the world takes her a little lower.

I also loved March (of course!) and his almost Barrons-esque vibe. And Dina's barbs were awesome. I laughed out loud at a few lines in this book. I am in love with a few of the other side characters as well, but I'll let you discover them for yourself.

All in all, sigh, I LOVED this book and feel a little haunted by it now that I'm done. It was supposed to be a filler between books in another series...but mayyybbbeee I can just read one more Sirantha Jax book........

Stray by Rachel Vincent

Stray (Shifters, #1)Stray by Rachel Vincent

So I finally read this book. I put it off for a while because I had heard so many mixed reviews about the series, most often that the main character, Faythe, is annoying. While I can see why some would say that, I in no way found her to be as obnoxious as some others have. She is a flawed character who grows even just in this first book. Even though she is supposed to be twenty-three, I see her as a little bit younger because her behavior and lack of want for responsibility makes her seem that way. If you try to think of her like that, she's not bad at all. Faythe is slightly reminiscent of Mac at the beginning of the Fever series for me, meaning that I found her a bit young and silly at first but by the end of the book I loved her.

"You mostly.” Her hands went still again as her eyes stared off into the past with a look so wistful it made me ache for her. “The boys tended to take care of each other but you were too much for anyone else to handle.” I poked at the ball of yarn avoiding her eyes. “I wasn’t that bad.” She smiled. “You broke Ethan’s arm.” “It was self-defense. He wouldn’t let go of my foot.” “He was helping you tie your shoe."

I won't bother going into a summary of the book, since so many others have. I will simply talk about what I liked and didn't like. First of all, let's get the dislikes out of the way. I felt like Faythe's relationship with her dad was part of the reason she seemed so young to me. Faythe never knew when to quit asking to leave the Pride, even in the midst of a serious tragedy she was still trying to make her case! After a particularly tramatic part of the book where Faythe seemed to grow up a little bit, she deferred right back to her old ways as soon as she got on the phone with her father.

I also was not fond of Jace in this book. I've heard so much about the two love interests in this series, Marc and Jace, that I expected more from the Jace character. Yet I found him to be immature and, frankly, inappropriate (sorry Jace lovers!). When Faythe comes back to the Pride at the beginning of the book, Jace greets her by pinning her up against a wall and practically licking her! And later he tries to make a bet with Faythe that would involve Faythe sleeping with him if she loses. Um...weird! Especially since they had nothing more than a flirty friendship prior to Faythe leaving to go to college. Obviously there is more to the Faythe/Jace relationship in later books or he would not even be considered a love interest, but at this moment I can't even forsee what that might be.

My final gripe is about the writing style. I really liked the smooth style of Rachel Vincent, but at times I felt like she was over describing things. I don't really know how to explain what I mean by that, except to say that its a flaw one would typically see in a YA novel.

Okay, enough of the bad - let's get on with the good! With everything said about Faythe, I expected her to be much worse than she was. I was prepared for someone whiny and immature who complained a lot and drove me crazy most of the book. To my delight she was not like this at all! In fact, she kicked some serious ass (literally). Faythe definitely has her flaws, but you can see her growing and changing as the story progresses and that's a good thing. I could also understand why she fled the Pride five years ago - that IS a lot of responsibility to commit yourself to and I could completely understand why she made a run for it!

"Apparently the complete works of Shakespeare packed quite a wallop. To think, my mother said I'd never find use for an English degree. Ha! I'd like to see her knock someone silly with an apron and a cookie press."

What I could NOT understand, however, was how she left Marc! Yummy, sexy, Marc! I didn't really see the appeal in him until I was about a third into the book...that scene where she was ogling him (or rather, trying not to ogle him...) in his towel put me right at the front of the Team Marc train!

I also thoroughly enjoyed the actual plot of the book and couldn't wait for the "bad guy" to get what was coming to him. Everything that happened once Faythe became more "involved" with aforementioned "bad guy" had me turning the page sos fast I almost ripped a few.

Okay, so all in all I ended up really enjoying the first book in the series and am excited to read the next one!  :)

"Kicking ass is surprisingly therapeutic"

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