Rosemary and Rue By Seanan McGuire

 

From Amazon.com:  Singer-songwriter McGuire adeptly infuses her debut with hardboiled sensibilities and a wide array of mythological influences, set against a moody San Francisco backdrop. October Toby Daye is half-human, half-faerie, a changeling PI with a foot in both worlds. After spending 14 years as a fish following a botched assignment, she’s desperate to avoid magic, but the dying curse of a murdered elven lady forces her to investigate the killing, with the price of failure being Toby’s own painful death. Toby struggles with court intrigue, magical mayhem, would-be assassins and her own past, always driven by the need to succeed and survive. Well researched, sharply told, highly atmospheric and as brutal as any pulp detective tale, this promising start to a new urban fantasy series is sure to appeal to fans of Jim Butcher or Kim Harrison.

 

For 14 years half-fae October Daye lived as a fish.  While investigating the disappearance of her liege’s wife, she was cursed and turned into a fish.  Her whole life, including her human husband and daughter, was lost.  Shortly after stepping out of the pond, she is trying to rebuild her life…as a human, not fae.  Unfortunately, her old friend and powerful fae, Countess Evening Winterrose, is murdered and binds Toby with her dying words to find her killer.  The curse will kill Toby if she ignores it, so she has no choice but to seek assistance from her former fae friends.  When Toby finds a powerful fae object the Countess was protecting, the murderer comes after her.  Former loves, former enemies and former friends are all sucked into the drama surrounding the murder, all with their own motives in keeping Toby alive.

The Good:  I thought the idea of a binding curse to force Toby to solve the murder was a nice way to toss her back into her old life.  I was hoping Toby was going to be a little more formidable (she gets her ass kicked quite a few times), but her powers were cool anyway. The setting for Rosemary and Rue is San Francisco, a place I have always wanted to visit and now even more so.  There were just so many captivating places to explore in the areas where the human and fae world overlap.  And some creatures like the rose goblins (cat-like creatures with thorns instead of fur) were too cute!  Throughout the novel, Toby has to use her fae powers to entrance people to give her what she wants.  She does this by speaking in rhyme.  I found this part really fun, but at the same time, I took me a while to figure what the hell she was doing.    I felt like Toby’s world was really intriguing, I just had some serious issues with the characters, which I will now discuss.

The Bad:  I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book and cannot decide how I feel about Toby.  I just felt like I couldn’t get her.  She seems to be a good person who helped a lot of people in her former life, but then she has no qualms with hooking back up with her former love\total skeezer Devin.  I thought Devin was just gross, as I would anyone who takes advantage of young people by trading shelter for sex.  She also talks of dreaming of her former pond in what seems to be a fond way, but then she is terrified of being back in water.  In the first third of the book she paints of pretty stark, lonely picture of her life, but as the book goes on; we continue to meet people willing to take a bullet for her.  I can’t decide if this makes her extremely whiney or just stupid.  My other problem with this book is a felt like I was either coming into a series in the 4th or so book, or should be a scholar in all things fae.  There were many references to characters, rituals and magic that were left almost completely unexplained.  I knew that Simon and Oleander were bad guys and that they may have turned her into a fish, but that’s all I learned, and they were never seen in the book.  I still have no idea why you need to release salamanders into a burning building, and it irritates me to have to stop and google things.  Surely googling “arson salamanders” will put me on some sort of ‘to be watched’ list. 

The Bumpin’ Uglies:  Kindlelicious Pet Peeve #1:  Don’t skimp on the sex scenes!!  If I take the time to read about Toby’s multiple love interests, I think I should get to see some end results! Is this too much to ask? Gah!  Anyway, to be honest, in this case Toby’s main love interest was so unappealing I really didn’t care to think about them having sex.  Toby repeatedly talks about how Devin sleeps with all the girls at his halfway home for the half-fae, and I just don’t see how this is anything but creepy. And at the point she decides she wants to have said sex, she is nursing not one but two bullet holes, with one being in her thigh.  Ummmm Ouch? Can someone please explain the logistics of this to me?  At least two much more appealing (and scandalous!) future love interests were hinted at, so maybe we will actually get to see what happens next time around. 

 

The Rating: There were parts of the book I loved, and parts I didn’t, but I think the series might still be worth reading.  6.5

Primal Hunger & Primal Attraction by Sydney Somers

From Amazon.com:When the sun goes down, passion is unleashed.

Pendragon Gargoyles, Book 1

Kennedy Beaumont loves her bartending job, even if her spirited nature sometimes gets her in trouble. Like threatening to hose down one of Pendragon’s co-owners. When it comes to Tristan, she could use a good hosing down herself-maybe it’ll help her stop casting him as the star of her wickedest dreams. Since he goes out of his way to avoid her, it ought to be easy to put him out of her head-until he reluctantly offers her a ride home.

Gargoyle shape-shifter Tristan Callaghan hasn’t had time for anything other than recovering the mystical dagger that was used to permanently lock his brother in a prison of stone. The cat inside him should have stopped craving Kennedy’s touch long ago, but now that she’s sitting next to him in his car, his very human need for her is sharper than ever.

The distraction is costly. In a split second, Kennedy finds herself thrust into a dangerous, millennia-old hunt for Excalibur. A hunt that marks her for death-and leaves Tristan with a painful choice-sacrifice his family, his quest…or the one woman meant to be his.

Warning: There’s nothing tame about this alpha male hell-bent on claiming his mate. Featuring bone-melting explicit sex, graphic language, violence and a little harmless bite…or two.

 

He’ll stop at nothing to claim her- If she doesn’t kill him first.

Pendragon Gargoyles, Book 2

A lethal huntress, Sorcha lives to track and eliminate rogue immortals-until her latest assignment turns out to be a sexy, gargoyle shape-shifter. From the start she-s shaken by the lust his touch awakens inside her. Not only that, but the cat is convinced she-s his mate, and for the first time, she-s unable to kill her target.

Still mourning the loss of his mate, Cale is stunned to find Sorcha alive. Yet the woman he aches to possess doesn’t-t recognize him and is after the only thing that will save his brother-a mystical weapon that will lead to Excalibur.

Determined to protect his family and reclaim his mate, Cale ruthlessly takes advantage of Sorcha-s one weakness-her desire for him. Desire that could unlock their past-or cause him to lose her all over again.

Warning: Featuring a sarcastic, ass-kicking heroine going toe-to-toe with the stubborn shifter who-s dead set on reclaiming his mate. Also contains graphic violence, death-threat foreplay and scorching sex that will make you roll over and purr.

The Drama:  In Primal Hunger we are introduced to a family of Gargoyle, cat-shifters cursed to spend the daylight hours in stone for their role in the death of Arthur.  Yes, the Arthur, as in Camelot and such.  Tristan has just returned from retrieving a dagger thought to aide him in releasing his brother Cian from his stone prison, but these same daggers are also thought to point to the whereabouts of Excalibur.  If Excalibur is located, Arthur can return, so his mother, the Goddess Rhiannon, is very interested in retrieving it.  Unfortunately, Morgana wants Excalibur for her own selfish reasons, so all those seeking to appease her are after the daggers as well.  When a wraith is contracted to retrieve the dagger from Tristan, Kennedy is caught in the middle.  A bartender at his brother’s club, Kennedy has been secretly lusting after Tristan for months.  When he is attacked outside the club, Kennedy is forced to get him to safety at his brother Cale’s home.  Tristan must figure out a way to get rid of the wraith while keeping the dagger and protecting Kennedy and figure out who is behind the attacks. 

Primal Attraction takes place around the same time as Primal Hunger and deals with why Cale has seemingly disappeared.  Rhiannon has tasked her huntress Sorcha to kill Cale for threatening to sell the dagger Tristan retrieved.  Hunters are responsible to taking care of anyone who threatens to reveal the existence of the fae, and they are pretty deadly, but part of the deal is having their memories wiped every 100ish years.  When Sorcha approached Cale about the dagger, Cale is convinced the huntress is his dead mate.  Sorcha has no memories of Cale, but for some reason is hesitant to kill him.  Cale had no intention to sell the dagger, just to find the sorceress who can assist in using it to wake Cian.  Somehow Cale has to convince Sorcha that he is innocent of the charges and that she truly is his mate.

The Smut:  Oh the smut.  I’m actually shocked I remember the plot at all, and to be honest, after the first love scene I was like “what plot?”  In this series, as soon as the lovers are alone, it’s on!  There really isn’t a ton of sexual tension, no building up to the money shot, just one big romp-fest.  I mean, Tristan and Kennedy don’t leave any rooms in Cale’s mansion underutilized.  And Cale and Sorcha’s locales are just plain HOT.  Hidden Avalonian Lagoon, stairwells, Rhiannon’s throne room….yummmmm.  Somehow these scenes don’t seem cliché though, just really well-written.  But seriously, these gargoyles\cats\whatevers have one-track minds and I am a fan.  Here is my fav quote:  “His hand slid down her neck, his thumb doing that seductive sweeping thing to her throat.  ‘If it means that I get to spend every day figuring out how to make you laugh and smile, and every night learning how to drive you absolutely wild in bed, then that’s more than okay with me.’”  Le sigh. 

The Rant:  It’s a good thing when my rant is about these books being too short, right?  I really could have dealt with at least 100 or so more pages.  I felt like while the smut was VERY well-developed, the plot was not.  In Primal Hunger, you learn just enough about Avalon, Arthur and gargoyles to get by, and there isn’t really a ton more information in Primal Attraction.  I was confused by the whole gargoyle thing at first, I thought it was just a cruse, but then other gargoyle clans started popping up, so I kinda figured it out.  But I still want to know more about their role in the war that Arthur died in and more about the powers they possess.  I guess if I were to use proper terms here, I would say the world-building could use some work.  And while I thought Cale and Tristan were super yummy, I really couldn’t distinguish them in my head.  They are both dark-haired, blue-eyed hornballs, so it felt like I was reading about the same guy twice.  I would have like to seen a little more personality there so I can tell them apart.  Oh, and my inner middle-schooler really loved the name Kennedy.  Made me reminisce on old-school MTV VJ goodness.  But overall I really enjoyed these books and was genuinely disappointed they weren’t longer.  They are great Kindle bargains though, both are under $5. 

Rating:  8 for both smut-fests.

Vulnerable By Amy Lane

From Amazon.com:  Working graveyards in a stop & rob seemed a small price for Cory to pay in order to get her degree and get the hell out of Nor-Cal. She was terrified of disappearing into the aimless vortex that awaited the lost and the young that haunted her neck of the woods. Until the night she actually stopped looking at her books and looked up. What awaited her was a world she had only read about—one filled with fantastical creatures that she was sure she could never be.

And then Adrian walked in—and she discovered that risking your life was nothing compared to facing who you really were. And then falling in love.

The Drama:  Cory works at a Chevron in middle of nowhere Northern California, while trying to get her college degree and leave her small town.  While working the night shift, Arturo the elf enters her world, touches her, and enables her to see the rest of the supernatural community around her.  Arturo’s friend, a gorgeous vamp named Adrian, sees through her tough chick Goth looks.  Cory cannot understand what Adrian sees in her, but takes a chance on him anyway.  Then, the murders start.  Were-cats are being viciously murdered all around Cory, so Adrian takes her to his home, where she meets Green.  Green, a high elf, and super hot sex healer, welcomes Cory into their home and unleashes Cory’s mysterious powers.  The three, Cory, Adrian, and Green struggle with new powers and new feelings, while trying solve their friends’ murders. 

The Smut:  WARNING: SMUTTY SPOILERS  Vulnerable offers up one of the most complicated relationships I have dealt with in this genre.  Adrian and Green have been in love for…well ever, and secretly hope to find someone who can love them both.  Cory is a 19 year old virgin whose life is turned upside down by recent events.  I struggled with the idea of Cory’s first love being for two people, not because I am against it, but because there are just so many what-ifs.  Cory is thrust into a house full of hot elves and vamps at 19; I would have been trying to bang everyone in the house too! But is that love? After a few weeks?  Hmmm…  But don’t let my questions fool you, the smut in this book was different and I enjoyed the hell out of it.  I am really struggling not too give much away, but let me tell you: Adrian + Cory + Green + Magic = Extremely Exciting Topiaries.  …And I will leave it at that.

The Ranty Rave:  By my normal shallowish standards of what makes a good book, I should have hated this book.  It’s dark, deep, and has very little humor (besides previously mentioned topiaries).  I had to reread sections multiple times to understand WTH was going on, and I was unsure if that was because of the writer, the editing or the HORRIBLE Kindle edition.  (Kindle rant: This was the worst book I have encountered on Kindle in terms of typos and errors.  There were literally random numbers everywhere.  Hard to swallow when paying almost full price for a book.)  This book left me depressed with several unanswered questions about Cory and her powers. Cory was a little too close to lowest-self-esteem-on-Earth Bella Swan for my tastes, but towards the end she started to kick some serious ass, which made me very happy. That being said, I loved it.  I loved the characters, the plot, the moodiness, the settings and the smut.  It’s not a happy book, but since I have friends who actively seek out the saddest books they can find, I know there are those who will love that about it too.  And besides, not every book can be about slutty foul-mouthed demons, right?

Rating: 8 for the book, but I cannot recommend the Kindle edition.

Black Magic Sanction (The Hollows #8) By Kim Harrison

From barnesandnoble.com:  In New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison’s most complex and nuanced adventure yet, bounty hunter and witch Rachel Morgan fights a deadly battle—mind, body, and soul.  Rachel Morgan has fought and hunted vampires, werewolves, banshees, demons, and other supernatural dangers as both witch and bounty hunter—and lived to tell the tale. But she’s never faced off against her own kind . . . until now. Denounced and shunned for dealing with demons and black magic, her best hope is life imprisonment—at worst, a forced lobotomy and genetic slavery. Only her enemies are strong enough to help her win her freedom, but trust comes hard when it hinges on the unscrupulous tycoon Trent Kalamack, the demon Algaliarept, and an ex-boyfriend turned thief.

It takes a witch to catch a witch, but survival bears a heavy price.

My Spoiler-Laden Thoughts on Black Magic Sanction

The Recap:  Tink’s Dildos I couldn’t put this book down! What a wild ride! Our girl Rache has come so far!  At this point we are 8 books in to Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series and our favorite itchy witch is really in a mess this time around.  Unlike so many other series where the lead characters run around destroying cities and lives with zero consequences, every one of Rachel’s actions are now biting her in the ass.  She is now publicly shunned for dealing with demons, hunted by the “White” witches in the Coven for being a potential quasi-demon baby making machine, and hanging out in the Ever-After every Saturday with Big Al, all while dealing with her usual dysfunctional relationships and newly found daddy issues.  Rachel Morgan is a busy girl.

The Drama:  Where to begin!?  Most of the action in Black Magic Sanction revolves around the Coven summoning Rachel, Rachel escaping, the Coven attacking the church, lather, rinse, repeat.  After thousands of pages spent hanging out in Rachel and Ivy’s church, I felt almost violated when it went under attack!  The scene with the fairy attack was especially infuriating and I spent the evening alternating between being super pissed and sobbing uncontrollably over the death of a very special character.   I really enjoyed Rachel struggling with what to do with the surviving fairies, as I really couldn’t say what I would have done.  I love Jenks so much its retarded, and I wanted serious revenge for him, but at the same time, Rachel slaughtering 7 inch tall fairies might have made for awkward reading.  We also learn a lot more about Rachel’s family and the strange dynamic going on with her sorta crazy mom, rock star dad, and sorta douchey brother.  Honestly, I didn’t care for these scenes, I just wanted her brother to stop talking and give her the damn spell book!  Several supporting characters show back up, like Lee who I thought was terrifying in earlier, but is now super chill and laid back?! Whatevs.  And of course, D-bag Nic-k is back for the action, but thankfully Rache has FINALLY realized his douchbaggery knows no limits.

The Smut:  Oh Pierce. Piercey, Pierce, Pierce.  Me no likely the stalker ghost.  At one point, I was ready to skip over Pierce’s dialogue all together just to avoid any more “opines.”   I really tried to get behind the Rachel-Pierce thing, but I just don’t feel the spark.  And then we finally get to the good stuff, and Rachel feels the need to explain to us that male witches are less endowed than humans!! HUH?  I understand that this is technically an UF series and therefore we aren’t treated to as much smutty goodness, but still!  Was that really necessary?  And in a hole in the ground?? Anyway, I am enjoying Big Al sorta kinda tossing his name into the hat of potential suitors.  I am really excited to see how Ms. Harrison pulls off the softer side of a murderous demon with an affinity for velvet and lace.  And then there is always hottie Trent, who I can’t for the life of me explain why I have such a crush on.  But I do, and I really hope they end up together for some reason.  But I also kinda hope Jenks will decide to go back to full-sized hotness and hook up with someone.  Rachel, Ivy, I don’t really care, I just want to see the pixy in action!  Speaking of Ivy, it looks like she is finally moving past her feelings for Rachel, and I am really hoping for some Ivy-Glenn smuttiness in the next installment!

The Rant:  While I thought the Coven, especially Brooke and Vivian, were truly horrifying, I didn’t really understand their motives.  Brooke wanted to lobotomize Rachel, treated her like a freak of nature, all the while plotting for a demon baby all her own?  Not only does that seriously break the girl code, it doesn’t even make sense!  If he wants a mini-Rachel, then Rachel can’t be all that bad!  I really hope Brooke stays in the Ever-after, I don’t want her to turn into another Lee, where we just shrug off all the evil-bitchiness and keep going. 

Related rant:  Apparently publishing companies don’t get it.  If you own an e-reader of any kind, chances are you are pretty savvy about all things books and are probably a pretty hard-core reader.  So shame on HarperCollins for delaying the e-version of Black Magic Sanction.  They must really not care about pissing off hard-core fans.   I just so happened to read all the Hollows books over the past few weeks, so when I saw I had to wait a month longer than everyone else for book 8, I was not happy.  Most kindlers like the convenience, and I especially find it really irritating to tote around a hardback after enjoying my little light weight gadget for so long.  How can I hold my glass of wine if both my hands are keeping a hardback book open?!  Alas, I decided I didn’t want to wait.  So I may or may not have bought the hard back at B&N, read it that night, and returned it the next day.  Take that HarperCollins!!

Should I buy-with-1-click?  Oh yes.  I mean, Jenks is in it, what more do you need?  But no really, if you are a fan of the Hollows (and you have read the previous 7 books), you will not be disappointed.  This book has it all: action, emotion, humor, romance, and pixies.  You may want to shake Rachel for some of her decisions, but that’s what makes her so lovable, right? 

Rating: Definitely 10.  OBSESSED…like I am a 12 year-old girl and Jenks is my Edward Cullen.