Friday, January 31, 2014

New Website

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that I am not going to be posting any more book reviews here, I am now over on a new site called Home. Love. Books. and it is going to encompass all genres and not just urban fantasy. Please go check it out and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making the site.

I will continue posting urban fantasy reviews on this site, but they will be cross posted on the other site as well. I hope to see you all soon over on the new site!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Waking Up Pregnant! by Mira Lyn Kelly

The night that changed everything!
Waitress Darcy Penn is the smart, sensible type--flirting with the extremely cure guy in the bar just isn't her style. As for ending up in his hotel room? Definitely not! Sneaking out while he's in the bathroom to avoid post-sex awkwardness? Much more like it.
If Darcy has stuck around, Jeff Norton could have told her about their "epic latex fail." So he shouldn't be quite so shocked when months later, Darcy turns up at his classy L.A. office and throws up in his wastepaper basket. She's got a bad case of morning sickness, and she's here to find out what he's going to do about it.

I have been reading more and more romance books lately, I think all the paranormal romance I read is making me seek out romance on a level that doesn't involve the paranormal element and resembles real life a little bit more. I am not quite sure what made me pick this book out of the thousands of other romance books out there, but I think the title did it for me, "Waking Up Pregnant" was just calling out for me to read it.

So most romances involve meeting, getting to know each other, recovering from some kind of obstacle in the way of their love, and then having their happily ever after. This book kind of throws that formula to the wind, and goes at things completely opposite of their natural order. I think that it's something that I actually really enjoyed about the book, that it doesn't follow the so called traditional way a romance should take place.

A one night stand ending up with a baby as the result, I'm sure it happens frequently, so it made for a pretty believable story line. I actually really liked both characters. In a lot of romances I tend to favor one over the other, but this book had me liking both people pretty much on equal ground.

Darcy is a stubborn, strong-willed, independent woman who has survived a lot of things throughout her life that made her into the person she is today. But having a baby with a total stranger results in her having to not just reevaluate her life, but also change the way she reacts to things as well as learn to accept help from other people. It's really nice to watch her grow into a person who is ready for love and not so closed off.

As for Jeff, the author kind of writes him in the beginning as the perfect recipe for a playboy, he's rich, good looking, successful, travels a lot, and is confident with women. All the classic markers of playboy. But he never really comes off that way, there is something much deeper to him, seems like he was raised right. He likes a challenge, and Darcy was certainly a challenge, but even months afterward when she shows up to tell him they are going to have a baby, he is a stand up guy. He doesn't shove her aside, or make her feel like she did something wrong, he goes completely into how do we make this work for the baby mode. The thing I think I like the most about Jeff, is through the whole book he never pushes Darcy too hard, sure he convinces her to go along with some of his plans, but they all come from a good place. And in the end he respects her and her wishes and opinions, which to me counts for a lot in a man.

The love story itself between the two of them is actually pretty sweet, and it plays out quite nicely. If I had one complaint about the book it would be that there aren't a lot of other characters. Darcy and Jeff each seem to have one other person to talk to who make appearances in the book, but there really isn't cast of characters in the book, which I think results in their being a little less depth to the book. Also the book does jump around a bit, in terms of time, sometimes a little more than I would have liked, but not enough to detract from the reading experience. Overall, I enjoyed the read, read it in one sitting, and think it's a nice little escape when you are looking for a romance to read.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Unknown by Rachel Caine

Living among mortal, Cassiel has begun to develop a reluctant affection for them--especially the intriguing Warden Luis Rocha. As the mystery deepens around the kidnapping of innocent Warden children, Cassiel and Luis are the only ones who can investigate within both the human and the Djinn realms.
But the more Luis an Cassiel search, the more dangerous the trail becomes, reaching not only into a fanatical splinter group, but into the highest ranks of Cassiel's immortal kin. An outcast from her own kind, Cassiel must now rely on her own limited earthbound powers to save the young Wardens...if it's not already to late.

My vacation reading continues with the second book in the Outcast Season Series by Rachel Caine. I really enjoyed the first book, which was a nice set up for the big show downs that seem like they are going to continue throughout the short series.

Starting with Cassiel, she is becoming more and more human every day, although she is more than able to still act and think like a Djinn. There is a serious oh my God moment in this book where Cassiel just goes hard core Djinn, and it's really at this point that you understand that there are two Cassiels, the one who is learning to be human and love her fellow humans and the Djinn whose eons of existence can't be pushed aside by only a couple of months of humanity.

Luis and Cassiel together as characters are just awesome. They work so amazingly well together, they are both so single minded in their mission that they are able to have this short hand that you would think should take years to cultivate. I love how protective the two of them are of each other, even though they are each total powerhouses. I am really enjoying the evolution of their relationship, and the love that is really starting to grow between them. But I do also think that there is something looming on the horizon for them, some kind of hiccup in their road to happiness together, and it will be interesting to see if they are able to overcome whatever it ends up being.

I really thought the whole series was going to be able trying to get the one child back, Ibby, the one who they both have a personal connection to. Heads up, here comes a spoiler, Ibby is finally found in this book. And as I am sure everyone can totally understand, is not the child that was taken, gone is her innocence and blind trust. It is going to be really interesting to see how the adults cope with having this girl who has powers that she shouldn't have yet, and how Ibby copes with the new reality of her situation.

I also think that Caine should be given a lot of credit for coming up with this great villain. Pearl is really, in every sense of the word, a super villain. I also think that everyone except Cassiel totally underestimate her. I am not sure if that is because Cassiel is just not coming off as trustworthy to people, or if it's just simple denial that there really could be a problem of this magnitude on the horizon. It seems like everyone in any position of power think Cassiel is just crying wolf. Although the government agencies start getting into the mix in this book so it's going to be really interesting to see if the non-gifted humans can combat such a big bad when every other major player seems to have gone missing.

I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy or Rachel Caine, I think this is one of her stronger series. Also I think that if you like a good paranormal romance this book is a definite step up from the previous book in terms of romance, so you may wanna check it out.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Undone by Rachel Caine

Once she was a powerful Djinn. Then Cassiel defied her ruler, Ashan, who tore her very essence away and reshaped her in human flesh as punishment. Forced to live among mortals, Cassiel has found refuge among the Weather Wardens--whose power she must tap into regularly, or she will die.
Cassiel earns her keep by assisting the Earth Warden Manny Rocha on his missions--which she finds much easier than coping with the emotions and frailties of her human condition, especially her growing affection for Manny's brother, Luis. But when Cassiel encounters a malevolent force that threatens the Rocha family, se discovers that her perceived human weaknesses must be her greatest strengths...

Rachel Caine has been one of my favorite authors for a long time now, and if you haven't read her Weather Warden series you should. This series is a spin off of the Weather Warden series, taking place in the same universe as that series, even with a couple of familiar characters popping into the beginning of this book. That being said I think this book stands completely on its own.

I really liked Cassiel, she is kind of a crazy person by human standards, as I think all Djinn are, they have a very interesting view of the world. You start following Cassiel right at the beginning of her fall from "grace" and while she is shocked about her new condition, she handles things shockingly well. In a lot of ways this novel is really just a starting point to the real action which I assume will start to pick up in the next book.

Cassiel works with Manny, and start to form human connections with him and his family. Manny is a great guy for Cassiel I think, he's just a good person at heart and can really teach her what it is to be human by allowing her to really become a part of his family. When Manny's family comes under fire, and his daughter, Ibby, goes missing, Cassiel really realizes how much she has come to care about these people.

Cassiel teams up with Luis, Manny's brother and Ibby's uncle to find and bring Ibby back home. Luis is much less trusting that Manny was with Cassiel. He's lived a harder life, having been in a gang before, and generally not sure if Cassiel is actually going to help things. The two of them together I think work really well together. It's like they are both such hardened people on their own, that they are able to come to an understanding about how to work with each other really quickly. I really hope their dynamic starts to evolve in the next book into something more, but I think I just have a thing for characters pairing up.

The action in this book really starts after Ibby goes missing, and then it never really stops. It's a constant ride from that point on, a race against time if you will to find her before something else happens to her. And throughout the race to find her they discover that what it is really going on is even more than anyone could have conceived. The book ends with pretty much a cliff hanger, but at a decent stopping point.

Overall, I liked the book a lot, as I like almost all of Caine's books. I think any urban fantasy reader would enjoy reading this book, although PNR people are going to be craving more romance since there is next to zero in this book. I really did enjoy this book and I look forward to reading book two and the rest of the series.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shadow Kin by M.J. Scott

Shadow Kin (The Half-Light City, #1)

I was born of a Fae mother, but I had no place among her kind. They called me soulless. An abomination. Perhaps they're right.... I am a wraith, a show who slips between worlds. I was given into the service of the Blood Lord Lucius, who raised me to be his most feared assassin. Still, I'm nothing more than a slave to my master and to the need that only h can fulfill....
Then Lucius orders me to kill Simon DuCaine, a powerful sunmage. In the blaze of Simon's magic, my own disappears. Instead of seeking revenge, he shows me mercy. He wants to free me. But that's one thing my master and his kind will never allow.
And even if I thought I could trust Simon, stepping from the shadows into the light isn't as simple as it sounds...

So I bought this book for two reasons, 1 I love the cover (I know, I know, never judge a book by its cover( and 2 it has a Patty Briggs endorsement, and I love me some Patty Briggs. So I bought the book, didn't read the back cover at all, and just dove in. In fact when I bought this book, I bought another 5 randomly chosen books from the same section in the book store, in hopes of finding some new others and going outside of my comfort zone of loved authors.

This book is one of the examples of why I should venture out more, because this book was such a good read. It took me about three days to work all the way through (and believe me if I didn't need to sleep, eat, or build a fence for my yard I would have finished it in one sitting). I love following along with a more "dark" character if you will, and Lily is definitely starting out on the darker side of things, although her existence is clearly a dark and tortured one. I love that Lily's darkness is balanced out by Simon's light, not just in the fact that he is a sunmage and she is a wraith, but rather that he is optimistic and works for good, and she is trapped in darkness in more than one way.

Lily is just such a tortured soul, she reminds me of one of those people who are told by their families that they are ugly and worthless, and then when they go out in the world and people tell them they are beautiful and worthy, they just can't accept it. Of course Lily's situation is much worse than this, but just as heartbreaking. Simon as a character is just great, I think I love him. He's strong, but kind. He has a heart like no other, but as the story goes on you realize he has some dark spots in his past, some demons of his own to contend with. It makes him all the better of a character. And the two of them together are just fantastic.

The plot itself was good, and enjoyable, and I liked seeing the world that Scott created. Sure it is vampire/mages/beast lore, but she uses interesting words to describe it, and paints this great old timey kind of picture. She really transports you into a completely different world, and it felt fresh, which I love.

The only thing I don't like about this series is that it appears (after reading this book and clamoring for more information about the authors upcoming books) that the series itself follows a different couple in each book, as a lot of PNR books do. I will read the authors others books because I love her writing, but I do wish I could follow Lily and Simon some more, because as characters they are just fantastic. I would recommend this book to just about anyone who like the UF and PNR genres.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Blood Law by Jeannie Holmes

Blood Law (Alexandra Sabian, #1)

A provocative and savvy vampire, Alexandra Sabian moves to the sleepy hamlet of Jefferson, Mississippi--population 6,000, nearly half vampires--to escape the demons lurking in her past. As an enforcer for the Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigations (FBPI). Alex must maintain the uneasy peace between her kind and humans, including Jefferson's bigoted sheriff, who'd be happy to see all vampires banished from town. Then really dead vamps start turning up--beheaded, crucified, and defanged, the same gruesome manner in which Alex's father was murdered decades ago. For Alex, the professional has become way to personal. 
Things get even more complicated when the FBPI sends in some unnervingly sexy backup: Alex's onetime mentor, lover, and fiance, Varik Baudelaire. Still stinging from the betrayal that ended their short-lived engagement. Alex is determined not to give in to the temptation that soon threatens to short-circuit her investigation. But as the vamp body count grows and the public panic level rises, Varik may be Alex's only hope to stop a relentless killer who's got his own score to settle and his own bloody past to put right. 

First and foremost, I really enjoyed the book. I thought that it was kind of a great mix of bring procedural, cop type events, into a paranormal setting. I know a lot of UF books do the kind of PI thing, or the main character works for some kind of paranormal government agencies patrolling fellow paranormals, but this book just worked for me, and it didn't feel like it was copying anything else. 

First off, I loved the characters. I loved all of them. I liked the good guys, I liked the bad guys, and I liked the people who fell somewhere in between. I really liked the fact that the author uses more than one POV and did so convincingly. I have a lot of respect for an author who can put themselves into the POV of so many different people all while being convincing as all those people. When I read the bad guy POV I really felt like I was getting into the mind of real deal, it was so convincing. And when we switched back into a different point of view I was just as convinced. 

I think another element that enjoyed about the book was the bigoted aspect, there was a huge line between the vampires and what can only be described as humans in a hate group. It's hard to read about hateful people sometimes, it can be such an intense and sometimes uncomfortable things to experience, even through a book. But I think the author did a good job balancing the hate aspects of it with other character driven events, romance, suspense, etc. 

Speaking of romance, I loved Alex and Varik. They have a lot of history, a lot of history. And it's hard to really tell you guys anything about the two of them without giving anything away. As the book progresses you get more and more information about the two of them, and you get to see them interact with each other, and it's such a good reader experience watching the two of them evolve throughout. So I won't ruin anything for anyone, except to say that I really enjoyed reading them. 

Overall, I highly recommend this book. I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series, which is already out. I wish there was going to be a third book, but it seems like that isn't going to happen through the traditional publisher, so I can only encourage Jeannie to self-publish the third book on her own, because I would love to read it. I think anyone who enjoys UF should read this book as soon as possible. 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Anna Wolfe Guest Post

First, I'd like to thank Kate for letting me do a guest post!  Second, I'd like to thank the people reading the post. 

Over the course of my life, I've read or heard four pieces of advice that had a significant impact on my writing.  In this guest post, I'm going to focus on one of them: write what you know.  Given that I prefer genres that involve demons and vampires and witches (oh my), that's not always been the most useful advice.  Sorting out what it meant to write what I know took a long time (like two decades). 
Graduate school was a formative experience for me.  In many ways, graduate school breaks you down.  The classes and the culture require you to narrow your focus, train your brain to move in linear patterns, and reward you for developing an obsession with grammar and sentence construction.  No matter what I said, a professor always seemed to be saying, "you need a citation for that."  Once, in frustration, I asked if I needed a citation to say the sky was blue.  My professor, with a straight face, said, "it would help." 

And yet, immersing yourself in the sheer quantity of human thought (even though you'll never manage to absorb more than a fraction of it) teaches you to ask nuanced and focused questions about the world.  The favorite question of a social scientist is "why?" followed closely by "how?" and then "so what?"  Asking questions has always been one of my favorite activities and graduate school gave me a question-asking arsenal. 

I was in the home stretch of writing my dissertation and I was dog-tired.  I hated the topic, I hated the dissertation, I had nothing interesting to say anymore, and I was so sick of citing that I thought I might tear my hair out in frustration.  I have always loved reading and have been trying to write fiction for most of my life (though that's a story for another post).  My brain needed an escape and it found one in a whole new set of questions that didn't need a single citation. 

What if demons were real?  What kind of demons?  Horned denizens of hell?  Vengeful spirits of the dead?  Evil creatures that torment people?  Numerous cultures have examples of creatures that threaten, bedevil, and tempt.  Some are beautiful and some have horns.  Some come from other realms and some are created by human error or arrogance.  What explanation could make the myths of the demons across the world semi-cohesive?  Good god, what if demons were really real? 

My brain spit out answers so fast it was like a fever.  For every answer I could come up with, a dozen new questions popped up and then I was writing like a woman possessed.  When I don't know how to answer the question, I make up an answer.   All it has to do is make sense within the framework I've already laid out.  I swear, every time I do that, a part of my brain howls in triumph.  Fuck you, Academia, and your stupid little citations too!  HAHAHAHA! 

Every writer has to answer these kinds of questions (i.e. do world building and character development), but how they go about asking and answering reflects their own process of writing what they know.  For me, writing what I know is about the asking the questions my career path trained me to ask in the fantasy worlds I've been visiting since I was little. 

Below, I've included descriptions for Bitten (Book 1) and Addicted (Book 2) as well as links to my personal webpage and Smashwords.  The Amazon link is for Bitten (which is free).  You can also download the books at Barnes and Noble. 

Bitten: Description
“There is another world touching ours that is filled with demons or, at least, that’s what we call them. They call themselves something else entirely, though that is neither here nor there. Every now and again, human beings manage to pull these demons through to our side. The human dies, of course, and the demon gets a person shaped suit to live in. We call these creatures the demonridden.”

Only fanatics and lunatics believe demons can possess human beings. Or at least, that’s what Callie White thought until one possessed her best friend. Now, wanted for murdering the thing that crawled into her friend’s body and dealing with hungers and powers she doesn’t understand, Callie White just wants to die. She just has to make sure no one can bring another demon over before she goes. When that proves more difficult than expected, Callie is pushed to her limits and discovers just how common demon possession really is. 

Since the end of the Great Demon War, Silas has done his best to teach the newly bitten how to harness their abilities and do as little harm as possible. After nearly two centuries, however, Silas is starting to feel like he’s fraying around the edges. He can only hope that the magic that binds him and honor will be enough to keep him one step ahead of those who would see him fail.