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Joie

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Trying to live a thousand lives...

Reviewer at Fantasy-Faction.com

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Up From the Grave
Jeaniene Frost
Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Laini Taylor

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Night Broken

Night Broken - Patricia Briggs While I don't love the Mercy Thompson series, I usually come away fairly impressed. This book was by far the worst one I've read, which is surprising.

I can no longer stand Adam, as an alpha or a husband. The way he allows his pack to trample over Mercy again and again is unbelievable. And don't let me get started about his ex-wife. What decent husband would allow his ex to take over his household and continually answer his cellphone calls? And Mercy just sucking it up makes him love her more because it keeps the peace?? This book just proves that in Briggs world, werewolves are just as foolish and blind as humans are. They just happen to shift on occasion. I think I am done.

Clean Sweep

Clean Sweep -  Ilona Andrews *** 3.5 stars ***

I am a huge fan of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. It is one of the most entertaining urban fantasy series I have read to date. So, when I saw that Clean Sweep was finally being published in its entirety—it was previously posted a snippet at a time on the authors’ website—I knew I needed to finally get my hands on it. I deliberately chose not to read it on their blog, because having to wait for the next novel in a series is bad enough. One chapter (if you’re lucky) at a time? I will not subject myself to that kind of torture.

Clean Sweep is also an urban fantasy novel, complete with supercharged werewolves, armored vampires, and magical bed-and-breakfast establishments. However, throw some science fiction into the mix, and you have a re-imagined history of these seemingly well-known creatures that includes alien invasions, inter-galactic wars, and programmable viruses that can alter entire species.

The story begins with innkeeper Dina DeMille, owner of the Gertrude Hunt bed-and-breakfast in small town Texas. The B & B has exactly one guest who has bought a lifetime membership in order to seek asylum. You see, inns are a sanctuary for anyone (read: otherworldly visitors) requesting it as long as the guests abide by the rules. Dina gained possession of the B & B by permission of the Assembly after years of wandering in search of her missing parents and finally needing to settle down in one place. Like her parents, she struggles to remain neutral in the face of danger threatening those needing her help. With the brutal death of yet another neighborhood pet, she can no longer stand aside while her town slowly becomes prey to alien predators.

Upon discovering the kind of predators who have targeted her town, she is drawn into a conflict between vampires from the House of Krahr. With the help of her neighbor—Sean Evans--who happens to be an ex-military, alpha-strain werewolf and Arland, a cosmic vampire soldier and Marshall of the House of Krahr, Dina and her new allies set out to rid the Earth of this malicious killer.

What worked:
I like the new take on werewolf and vampire history. Genetically bred and modified, alpha-strain werewolves were created in the hopes of ensuring their race’s survival during a time of war. Dina’s alpha-strain werewolf neighbor, Sean Evans, has decided to settle in her small town and like the alpha he is, has claimed the territory as his own. This means that he feels responsible for and needs to protect his own, whether they are wolf or otherwise. Besides being arrogant and unstable, Sean also is surprisingly self-sacrificing. Until he met Dina, he was ignorant of his true heritage and felt unsettled in his own skin. After his parents confirm Dina’s revelation of his origins, he takes everything in stride, even gritting his teeth in cooperation with a vampire Marshall in order to protect Dina.

The vampire Marshall, Arland, is from the Holy Cosmic Anocracy. They are actually a predatory strain of humans. So, forget about the garlic and holy water and stake-through-the-heart myths regarding their weaknesses. They have armor fused into their bodies. Arland is an aristocrat with all the elegant manners and vampire predatory tendencies, making him a tough nut to crack and an even harder one to trust. He takes more than a passing interest in Dina which starts a posturing display of wit and brawn between him and Sean for her attention.

Not so well:
This is a short first novel in what is to be a new series. For something of this length, I want my attention riveted from the get-go, because there is so much to be accomplished in fewer words. However, I found myself sticking it out because of my admiration for the authors and less so because of the story.

Dina is not a very lively female heroine. I guess because of my experience with Andrews’ female leads in her other books—even excluding Kate Daniels—I expected more spunk. Perhaps her neutrality as an innkeeper and a daughter of past innkeepers has molded her to be more unflappable. Only from her wry, internal musings do we get a broader sense of her personality. I found her inn’s quirkiness to be more interesting than her at times.

The first half of the book is pretty much a set-up for all the action in the second half. After all the dust and bodies settle, there are a lot questions left to be explored. I will definitely be reading the second book when it is available in its entirety, looking forward especially to see how Sean fairs on his journey of self-discovery away from Dina and the inn. And of course, Arland will be back to try again for Dina’s attentions, as his success is apparently a foregone conclusion supported by his research on the subject:

“I suggest you give up now. According to my research, in a vampire-werewolf love triangle, the vampire always gets the girl.”


We’ll see. As Ilona Andrews has proven in the past, there are always a few twists in store.


Review also posted on Fantasy-Faction.com

Daughter of the Blood

Daughter of the Blood - Anne Bishop *** 3.5 stars ***

Picked this up after being blown away by The Others series by the same author.
This one is quite dark and can be rather disturbing, but the story is intricately woven and very well done.

The Winner's Curse

The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkoski A beautifully written story. Full review on Fantasy-Faction.com.
http://fantasy-faction.com/2014/the-winners-curse-by-marie-rutkoski

The Broken

The Broken - Shelley Coriell This was a long, drawn-out story. It lacked enough suspense to maintain interest. Pacing was extremely slow. Characters were flat and inconsistent, some quite ridiculous, like Sergeant King. This is an aging, heavy-set woman wearing three-plus inch stiletto heels to work every day. I find it impossible to believe that she is stomping around in the field (of course she is a hands-on officer) in those shoes, day in and day out.

The relationship between Kate and Hayden was quite contrived. Their "chemistry" is severely lacking. Out of nowhere they both realize that they are in love when there was very little deep communication of any kind? That's just glorified lust.

The blurb really suggested the potential for a great story. It was just poorly executed.

ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

One Tiny Lie

One Tiny Lie  - K.A. Tucker *** 3.5 stars ***

So, I picked this up out of curiosity after reading the blurb, despite not being crazy about the first book. This one is about Livie, the mature-beyond-her-years little sister of Kacey from the first book. I loved Livie, and her story is set three years later, with Livie about to start her freshman year at Princeton.

I actually liked Livie's story. The only issue I wrinkled my nose at was the insta-love from Ashton, but since it one-sided to begin with, I figured there was yet hope for the rest of the book. I'm glad I stuck it out.

Being in Livie's head was both amusing and bittersweet. She is surprisingly naive despite having had to grow up too quickly after the death of her parents. But her first few months at Princeton brings her up to speed as she realizes that her well-planned out future from age nine may not fit her at all. She begins to let go of the expectations she placed on herself, or what she thought her deceased parents wanted for her, and slowly figures out who she is. A moving coming-of-age story that I rather enjoyed reading.

Ten Tiny Breaths

Ten Tiny Breaths - K.A. Tucker Kacey Cleary is a 20-year old with a lot on her plate. Four years ago, her parents, best friend and boyfriend were all killed at the same time in a horrific drunk-driving accident. She alone walked away from the accident, terribly damaged inside and out. She and Livie, her fifteen-year-old sister, are left with an aunt and uncle who did not have their best interests in mind. Kacey and Livie run away to Miami after their uncle gambles away their insurance money and tries to sneak into Livie's bedroom one night.

Trent Emerson is their new very-easy-on-the-eyes next door neighbor, who despite Kacey's icey exterior and emotional barriers of steel, have managed to work their way into their lives. What I found rather annoyingly farfetched was the fact that Kacey has managed to shut everyone out for the past four years and yet, a complete stranger with whom she has not had any decent conversations with, manages to get under her shields and melt her resolve? She lusts after him and cares about what Trent thinks of her, something she hasn't allowed herself to do for years.

Despite this and a couple of other elements that stretched the imagination, the story is a page-turner, because you know there is some big twist/secret about to be revealed. I wasn't that invested in the characters and only really liked the two kids in the story, Livie and Mia, who are adorable despite their sad situations.

Dealing with the issue of drunk driving can be gut-wrenching and an emotional rollercoaster ride. Unfortunately, I didn't experience either. I felt sad for the characters and the terrible circumstances they found themselves in, but some of the events and characters were just too contrived to be wholly believable. That said, this book emphasized some good reminders about the far-reaching consequences of decision-making.

A copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge DNF - stopped at pg.81. Really slow pace; nothing striking to make this stand out from just another retelling.

Murder of Crows

Murder of Crows - Anne Bishop Excellent. Even better than the first.
Full review at Fantasy-Faction.com

http://fantasy-faction.com/2014/murder-of-crows-by-anne-bishop

Stolen Songbird

Stolen Songbird - Danielle L. Jensen Wow. I'm surprised this was a debut novel. The writing is excellent. The plot unfolds at a perfect pace, revealing just enough to keep you guessing and believing that you think you know what's going to happen. Characters could use more depth, but as this is the first in a series, I'm hoping subsequent books will amend that issue. If my guesses are correct, this is a wonderful new twist on some old fairy tales/legends. I can't wait for the next installment, and the official release date isn't even here yet! Argh. Please write fast, Ms. Jensen.

ARC provided for review by NetGalley

The Atlantis Gene

The Atlantis Gene - A.G. Riddle Mythology and sci-fi mixed with lots of action and suspense. Intriguing premise of how the origins of modern man may be linked to the lost city of Atlantis. Unfortunately, there was way too much "telling" rather than "showing," making for a bit laborious read, especially the book being just shy of 500 pages.
Full review at Fantasy-Faction.com.

Making Faces

Making Faces - Amy Harmon Funny and endearing modern twist on Beauty and the Beast. Loved it.

Unteachable

Unteachable - Leah Raeder Stark, no-holds-barred, gut-wrenching look at a harsh reality of life. For mature readers only due to graphic descriptions, but writing is excellent. Impressive debut.

World After

World After - Susan Ee *** 3.5 stars ***

Follow-up to the excellent debut novel, Angelfall. This second installment was not as gripping. Pacing was on the slow side until the last third of the book, but it was a fun read and kept my interest for the third book.

Full review on Fantasy-Faction.com.

Allegiant

Allegiant  - Veronica Roth Kind of disappointing. Shocker of an ending, but fitting, I think.
Full review at Fantasy-Faction.com.