Archive for 6 Points: I would take this book into the afterlife with me.
Publication Date: June 1, 2011
Status: Stand-alone, but Jo Treggiari states that “she has more stories to tell in the Ashes, Ashes universe.”
Source: Received from the publisher for review.
Genre: Teen Post-Apocalyptic
Location: New York City
Other Info: This is Jo Treggiari’s teen debut, though she has written a middle grade book called Curious Misadventures of Feltus Ovalton.
Description (from Goodreads):
I am unabashedly in love with this novel. Last year I read the Last Survivors trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer and, while I loved those, by the time I got to the end of the third book I was contemplating burning all three volumes. That’s how depressed they made me–I was considering burning books–complete sacrilege. Ashes, Ashes includes many of the things I loved about Pfeffer’s books, blessedly without the incredibly depressing ending. I said in a review I recently wrote that I was getting tired of Dystopians, and that’s true. Ashes, Ashes isn’t a Dystopian so much as it’s Post-Apocalyptic. This is a differentiation that Jo Treggiari has made clear to me. Most Dystopians take place far after some apocalyptic event, which is the aspect that always confused me. But the difference is that both Pfeffer’s trilogy and Ashes, Ashes tell the story of those living in the immediate aftermath of an apocalyptic even, when everything has gone to hell. Dystopians–like Matched, Delirium, The Hunger Games and company–take place in more distant futures, after the apocalyptic event has led to strict, imperfect regimentation of society. To put it mildly.
I’m fascinated with stories where humans have to learn how to live all over again. I’m fully aware that without modern technology I would be completely worthless. The very idea of going without running water horrifies me and I have an red thumb. Why red you ask? Because it’s on the complete opposite side of the color wheel from a green one. It’s probably because I’d be complete crap at it that I enjoy reading about people being forced to go back to basics. In Ashes, Ashes, the heroine (Lucy) learned to survive without using a wilderness guide. She learns to set traps, to skin animals and use their hides and cook them for food, how to forage and make acorn mush. Everything Lucy eats she has to obtain with great expenditure of energy. At least, greater than going to the fridge or the pantry.
In Ashes, Ashes, we get to experience something of what it’s like for the rules to suddenly change underneath your feet. In a Dystopian, the rules of the society are already set. The characters have generally grown up in a world that was Dystopian even before they were born. I find it a great deal more compelling to see how people are forced to adapt when the world around them changes so drastically that it completely alters the way they live, the way they think, and the way they interact with people. Yet, the issues in Ashes, Ashes are relevant, even in a non-apocalyptic society. How do you decide who to trust? When is self-reliance foolish and not brave?
If I had one complaint about this novel it would be that there wasn’t enough of it. I’d love to follow Lucy and Aidan in the next stage of their adventure, and I’d love to know more about them. Both are compelling characters, but more of their backstory would be appreciated, particularly in Aidan’s case. I read on Jo Treggiari’s website that she has more stories to tell in the Ashes, Ashes universe. And let me tell you: they can’t come soon enough for me.
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover
Publication Date: May 31, 2011
Status: Tenth in the Psy-Changeling series.
Source: Received from the publisher for review.
Genre: Paranormal Romance, shifters
Location: Bay Area, near San Francisco
Other Info: Kiss of Snow is my most highly anticipated title of the year. I’m sad the wait is over. I have nothing left to look forward to. What’s that? Nalini has two more books and a novella coming out this year? Phew.
Description (from Goodreads):
Let me put your mind at rest: Kiss of Snow is worth every second of the wait. When a title is as highly anticipated as this one, the possibility of disappointment is high. Hawke and Sienna’s romance has been building since book one. That’s five years, and it feels like longer. In the meantime, we’ve had some awesome installments in an amazing series, and just when the stories started to lose a bit of their allure for me, Nalini Singh hit it out of the ballpark again with Play of Passion. Just in time to act as a good omen for KoS.
Few authors create alpha heroes and consistently pair them with equally strong heroines. Nalini Singh is the mistress of this feat, and Kiss of Snow was no exception. If you’ve been following the series–and honestly, I doubt you be interested in this book if you weren’t–you know the basics. Hawke is the alpha of SnowDancer, and when was young, he met the girl he thought would be his mate. Before either of them were of an age for a romantic relationship, the girl died. Because wolves mate for life, Hawke believes that the only relationship he can now offer a woman isn’t much to offer at all.
Meanwhile, Sienna has her own problems. She’s the only X-Psy to live into adulthood, and none of the ones that did had Sienna’s cardinal designation. Sienna’s control is tenuous, at best. The jumble of feelings she has for Hawke don’t help her mental situation at all. She basically figures it’s only a matter of time before she self-destructs. And with Hawke playing push-pull all the time, she doesn’t have much of a chance to live out what remains of her life.
In any Nalini Singh novel you know the hero and heroine belong together. The question is how they’ll get there. For Hawke and Sienna, it’s delicious. There’s a particular bar scene where the endearment “baby” is used that I’ve reread so many times the ink is starting to fade. Hawke and Sienna’s courtship alternates between playful and intense. Well, no, I take that back. It’s intense at all time. I enjoyed how the buildup (and there’s a lot) was about more than foreplay–or, rather, that the spending of time together in non-sexual situations was part of the foreplay. Not that any of the time they spent together was non-sexual, strictly speaking.
I did have a few quibbles, and I want to mention them, but they’re a tad spoilery, so watch out. For one thing, Hawke comes scarily close to sleeping with another woman, especially since I abhor it when the hero thinks he has to sleep with someone else in order to “save” the heroine, or “for the good of the pack.” Luckily, Sienna nips that in the bud, and I don’t think Hawke would have been able to go through with it, in the end. I was also frustrated when Hawke decided that they can be together but Sienna will never be his mate. The cheek! It’s like telling someone that you’ll be with them forever, but don’t expect more than that. Finally, I wish the moment when the mating bond finally snaps into place had been given a little more attention. I was more eagerly anticipating that moment than their sex scenes. I wanted to know what Hawke was thinking, and feeling, rather than have him explain it to Sienna later.
In all, though, I can’t praise Kiss of Snow highly enough. I loved it, I will continue to love it and I want to get down on my knees and say a prayer of thanks for being on the same planet, at the same, time as Nalini Singh.
Now that I’m finished with my review, I can give you the most awesomely awesome news ever: Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my interview with Nalini Singh. Are you so excited? Yeah, me too.
|October 6, 2009|
|July 6, 2010|
Publisher: NAL Trade
Status: Second and third in the Chicagoland Vampires series, following Some Girls Bite.
Source: Purchased by self
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Vampires
Other Info: Chloe Neill is also the author of the Dark Elite series. It’s teen paranormal. I’ve read Firespell, but didn’t enjoy it that much. It’s only thanks to Jenny’s Book Boyfriend post on Ethan “Blond Cupcake” Sullivan that I gave the Chicagoland Vampires books a try. I am now as completely addicted as it is possible to be.
Click on the titles below to link to the Goodreads descriptions (I’m not going to put them here because of the length:
I am completely in love with this series.
That was almost my entire review for these two books. The Chicagoland Vampires series is quality Urban Fantasy. I love that, while it has the necessary (for me) romantic element, there’s still awesome world-building, kick-butt characterization and fantastic plotting. I often have a hard time with heroines who are tall and can eat whatever they want and never gain a pound. I have absolutely no problems with Merit. Though I probably wouldn’t want to walk next to her unless I was wearing four inch heels and walking on a never-ending balance beam. All things considered, that would probably be a fatal move on my part, so I’ll just be glad Merit is fictional. Fortunately, in addition to height and a fast metabolism, Merit is also incredibly snarky and funny. She makes mistakes and has lapses in judgment, but is never, ever, too stupid to live.
I didn’t, however, start this series because I was curious about Merit. I started it because I was curious about Ethan. And I must say that he’s lived up to my expectations. He’s delightfully arrogant, but with a human side that we catch glimpses of when he’s with Merit. Furthermore, he doesn’t fall into the oft-romanticized vampire hero cliche. He isn’t completely prepared for every flipping situation and it is possible to catch him off guard. That doesn’t mean he’s not also totally delicious in an alpha/master vampire hot ‘n sexy kind of way. He totally is. The best part about him is that he’s also more, but without being damaged and completely closed off because his wife betrayed him to a pack of carnivorous monkeys or what have you. Ethan’s restraint is kind of like the restraint you’d see if any heroine was dating her boss. There’s a reason that the person on top has to be a little removed. It’s the only way he/she can make the tough decisions that NO ONE else wants to make.
However. Though I might have spent the last hundred words gushing over him, My Book Boyfriend from the Chicagoland Vampires series isn’t Ethan. It’s–you guessed it–Gabriel. Was there a doubt in anyone’s mind that it wouldn’t be, given my love of werewolves. God, he’s so sexy. And I’m really pissed off that he’s married, with a kid on the way because it makes me wander off into fantasies where Tonya dies and then Gabe is really upset and needs consolation and I…ah sorry. That’s actually more than I wanted to share with you. But: Gabriel. This is actually a good thing. Now my NBF (Jenny) and I don’t have to compete for the same guy. I just have to find some way to eliminate the woman who is carrying Gabe’s child without becoming a murderess (and therefore ineligible in my beloved’s eyes).
Now, to get this review back on track: One of the things that I love about these books is the friendship between Merit and her best friend, Mallory. It’s not that common for Urban Fantasy (or Paranormal Romance, for that matter) to feature good, functional relationships. Especially not for the hero or heroine. Between the two books, a fight between the two friends occurs and they hurt each other in the way only close friends can. But the fight that occurs between them isn’t the fault of one of them. It’s about both of them. And they’re there for each other when it really counts.
The other thing I love about these books (aside from the burgeoning romance between Ethan and Merit–which takes a doozy of a turn in Twice Bitten), is the supporting cast. I’ve expressed my love for Gabe (and he remains, by far, my favorite), but I’m as eager to see how things evolve between Luc and Lindsay, Merit’s fellow guards. Catcher continues to be an intriguing character, and we see Morgan again in time to flip flop back and forth between liking and disliking him. Then, again, there’s Merit’s shifter friend, Jeff, and his new paramour, Fallon. Neill juggles all of these supporting characters capably, making none feel superfluous and all seem real, with distinct personalities. Sometimes, a large cast leaves me wondering who is who, but not so in the Chicagoland Vampires. The only exception is Gabe’s many brothers–though I think that was intentional.
I can’t recommend this series highly enough. If you’re a Kate Daniels fan, a Fever series fan, a Patricia Briggs fan–if Urban Fantasy with a Romantic Spin is your preference, jump on this series. And do it now. You won’t regret it. And you won’t even have to wait that long for book four. It comes out in May.
Publication Date: April 12, 2011
Status: First in the Darkness Rising Trilogy, fourth in the Darkest Powers series, following The Summoning, The Awakening and The Reckoning.
Source: Book It Forward Book Tours (Dark Faerie Tales)
Genre: Teen, Fantasy, Shapeshifters
Location: Salmon Falls, Vancouver Island, Canada.
Other Info: Seriously, if you haven’t already read the first three Darkest Powers book, what are you waiting for? They’re fantastic.
Description (from Goodreads):
Strange things are happening in Maya’s tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya’s home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.
It doesn’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.
My reaction, upon reaching the last page of this book, was to shout “Noooooooooo!” and immediately wish that it wasn’t a hideously long ten months until 2012. So, um, I guess you could say that I loved it. The Gathering was my one of my mostly highly anticipated releases for this year. I read and glommed the entire Darkest Powers books in under a week. I wish the rest of the Darkness Rising books were already out so I could do the same to them. I need to find a hobby, fast, before I start stalking Kelley Armstrong in the vain hope of getting some details on book two.
Because I anticipated it so highly, I was also very nervous about The Gathering. I was afraid it would not live up to my expectations. Fortunately, I was so very, very wrong. I’d already read the first chapter online and that back cover blurb got me very excited about bad boy Rafe. Color me surprised to discover that, as I read the book, Daniel would be the one I fell in love with. I don’t know if Kelley’s creating a love triangle–though I highly suspect it–but I’m already TeamDaniel. I was TeamDerek from book one of the Darkest Powers trilogy, too. So I’m really, really hoping that Kelley’s thrown us a red herring (not only with Rafe, but with some obvious ohmygod moments). I love slow burn romances, which is probably why the Chloe and Derek worked for me. In that series, Simon was the obvious choice. He and Chloe had obvious chemistry. Derek and Chloe’s barely simmered at all in the first book, but that’s why I liked them, and rooted for them. I’m hope-hope-hoping for the same with Maya and Daniel.
Of course, though the romantic angle of any book I read is important, it can’t replace plot, setting and characterization. The Gathering has all of these in full supply. I was delighted by the self-deprecating humor about being Canadian. Maya and her friends are well aware of the fact that, to most people in the U.S., being Canadian is a joke but they don’t let it bother them. I also liked the way that Kelley painted Salmon Falls (I’m pretty sure that’s right. I had to send the book on, so I can’t double-check. Please let me know if you remember differently.). If you’ve read the Darkest Powers books, you know that the set up in Salmon Falls is hinky. But you’re still able to grasp why it seems so normal to Maya, her friends and her family. The sinister undertone flavors the entire novel and it’s delicious.
If I had one complaint about this novel, it would be the cliffhanger ending. Honestly, I shouted when I reached the last word on the last page. Everything is left up in the air. Er, no pun intended. The wait for the next book in the series is going to be grueling. My mind is churning its way through the revelations, hints and possibilities brought forward by The Gathering. That, to me, is an indication of its very awesomeness.
Publication Date: October 30, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Status: First in the Night Huntress Series. Three books have already been published: One Foot in the Grave, At Grave’s End, and Destined for an Early Grave. Book five, This Side of the Grave will come out February 22, 2011. Frost is contracted for a total of nine books in the series.
Source: Purchased by self
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Location: Ohio and, briefly, Charlotte, North Carolina
Other Info: The Night Huntress Series is not to be confused with the Night Huntress World books, of which there are two: First Drop of Crimson and Eternal Kiss of Darkness. The Night Huntress World books take place in the same universe as the Night Huntress Series, and feature supporting characters from Cat’s books as the leads. So far, both books have been stand-alones.
Description: (From Amazon):
Flirting With The Grave…
Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father – the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unlikely partnership.
In exchange for help finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner – are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side … and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.
I am so very glad I decided to read this book. I am so very glad that it was recommended to me in the first place. In fact, I’m just glad this book exists. I love it when I discover a new series that already has a few volumes under its belt. It means I don’t have to wait for the next book to come out. Or at least, the longest I’ll have to wait is until I can to the nearest bookstore. It’s kind of like compensation for coming late to the party.
Halfway to the Grave tells the story of Cat Crawfield, the twenty-two-year old half-vampire amateur vampire huntress. Cat was conceived as a result of her mother’s rape by a newly-made vampire. She has grown up with the knowledge that she was different from other children. Her mother, moreover, has repeatedly told her that vampires are evil and since Cat is half vampire, she has to be on her guard against that half of herself. So, since the age of sixteen, Cat has been trolling bars, luring vampires and killing them. Until one night, six years after her first kill, Cat meets a vampire unlike any she has ever met before. Yep, you got it: Bones.
Despite some initial misunderstandings, Bones convinces Cat to train with him to become a better vampire huntress. Cat is willing to learn, but she isn’t willing to like her new mentor. He is, after all, a vampire and all vampires are evil. Right? Turns out, not so much. Just like humans, vampires can be both good and bad. Cat is, like many heroines, scarred by her past. She’s scarred by the story of her conception, by the first boyfriend she ever had, by her lonely childhood. Halfway to the Grave tells a love story, a mystery and a coming-of-age tale. And it’s funny to boot.
This book was successful for many reasons, not the least of which was its slow burn. It’s a romance, so you know that Cat and Bones will end up together at some point, but Frost doesn’t make the mistake of having them imagining each other naked from the get-go. Or nearly having sex on page five. In fact, the story is told from Cat’s perspective, so you know about her feelings (and Bones’) way before she even gets a clue. This is something I love; when the author shows us that the hero is into the heroine without letting her know. It’s one of the reasons I like the first-person narrative so much. The truly delicious feeling when the hero says or does something that shows his feelings for the heroine that she doesn’t yet understand, but you do is a surefire hook for me. I fall for it every time. That delicious feeling I get–it’s kind of like a shiver up the spine–is what tells me that I’ve found a book that I’m going to love. And I definitely felt that tingle with Halfway to the Grave.
What are some other things I loved about this book? Well, I love that Cat is impulsive but not stupid. I love that she doesn’t fall into the trap of incompetency, and yet she’s not unbelievably kick-ass, either. She’s young and naive, but she’s also twenty-two, so it’s fitting. I really liked that Cat didn’t just think of Bones as her lover, but also as the best friend she’d ever had. I also really, really liked the way that Frost handled the relationship between Cat and her mother. It’s dysfunctional at the beginning of the novel and it’s dysfunctional at the end, but they still love each other.
Of course, the best part of this novel was Bones. He’s funny and he’s good-looking. He’s also protective and caring at the same time. His protective instincts lead him to do the thing more protective heroes should do: better prepare the heroine to defend herself. Bones knows that Cat’s not going to walk away from killing vampires, so he makes her better at it. He arms her with knowledge and training. He also doesn’t let Cat get away with her sometimes immature perceptions. And, ultimately, he’s the one who commits to Cat first. That’s awesome. Bones is definitely the best fictional vampire boyfriend I’ve run across. Though that may not be saying much.
I can’t end this review without mentioning that the end of the book totally revved me up for the next installment. It’s a cliffhanger of sorts, and I can’t wait to see how things pan out. I just know it’s gonna be great.
Oh, and just for fun, here are some of my favorite quotes from Halfway to the Grave:
“Face it–without me you’re looking for a needle in a fangstack.”
“You’re dead and you’re still an alcoholic. That’s so dysfunctional.”
“We’re, ah, taking a break to evaluate things, and, um, reevaluate our relationship, so…I stuffed him in a closet!” I burst out in shame.
Timmie’s eyes goggled. “Is he still there?”
See you tomorrow for this week’s WoW.