Tracking the Tempest By Nicole Peeler

From Barnesandnoble.com:  Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and Ryu – Jane’s bloodsucking boyfriend – can’t let a major holiday go by without getting all gratuitous. An overwhelming dose of boyfriend interference and a last-minute ticket to Boston later, and Jane’s life is thrown off course.

Ryu’s well-intentioned plans create mayhem, and Jane winds up embroiled in an investigation involving a spree of gruesome killings. All the evidence points towards another Halfling, much to Jane’s surprise…

 Jane is a half-Selkie, who is dating a vamp, spends most of her time with a Gnome and is now being stalked by another halfling who is convinced they are soul mates.  Needless to say, these books are different but in a good way.  Jane is hilarious, here is one of my fave quotes:

“Ryu knew damned well that humor could overcome any emotion, even lust.  I couldn’t help laugh s he helped to my feet and pushed me to the wet room.  Meanwhile, I began strategizing all the various ways in which I would destroy him later.  And he’s afraid of a little Gorgon, I thought as I wondered what, exactly, Iris has packed from my dirty drawer.  Game on Vlad, I thought, wriggling my own eyebrows at my vampire’s back as he went to get my suitcase.  I’ll show you an ‘impaler.

I also have to include this quote because I know one certain fellow blogger who will appreciate this:

 “Before executing my culinary genius, I first poked ay Ruy’s iPod, set in his state-of-the-art sound dock thingie, until I found the Killers and put them on shuffle.  I was officially obessesed with the Killers, not least because of the lead singer’s slightly spastic-yet-strangely-sexy dance moves.”

Tracking the Tempest was action packed and hilarious from start to finish, kind of like a summer blockbuster for books.  However, I have two complaints. First, I learned very quickly that the series is also forgettable.  I had a really hard time remembering supporting characters (besides the Gnome, who I am moderately obsessed with) from the first book.  It wasn’t a huge deal, and it didn’t ruin the fun, but since these are kinda short reads, they just don’t stick with you.  Second, Jane talks a big game about all the dirty things she has planned for Ryu, but then we skip over the actual scenes.  To this I say, BOOO!  You can’t refer to Jane’s dirty drawer repeatedly and then not show the contents in action!  Alas, I am not really crazy about Ryu anyway, so I was excited to see the little love-triangle brewing with Anyan.  I am firmly on Team Anyan at this point.  Ryu is just too pretty. 

Rating: 8 (with bonus love for the super cute covers!)

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Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) By Ilona Andrews

From Goodreads.com:  When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.  Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

The Good:  Let me start by saying after I made it through the first 50 pages or so, I liked this book more than I thought I would.  I liked most of the plot, espcecailly the fresh take on vampires and the need to be piloted by a human.  It was refreshing to see vamps as gross, not hot and/or sparkly.    I liked Kate, and I really liked Curran.   But what I liked most was the setting.  You see, I have lived in Atlanta my entire life, so reading about all these landmarks and even suburbs (I live very close to the Shifter compound, btw) of Atlanta was great!  There was also a quote that I just have to include because it was so nice to see: 

“‘Lovely morning isn’t it?” he said, the unmistakeable harmonies of coastal Georgia vibrating in his voice.

“Shouldn’t it be ‘ain’t it?'” I said.  My voice sounded weak.

“Only if you are an uneducated fool,” the man said. “Or if you wish to appear country.  And I’m too old to appear anything that I’m not.'”

THANK GOD.  I love this because it’s almost as if the authors were warning you up front to not expect any hick jackasses just because it’s based in Atlantan which I appreciated.

The Bad:  I think the worst thing about this book was the lack of explanation.  At some point, something happened and magic started causing problems for technology.  We don’t really know what happened, and it’s hard to understand why the “tech goes out.”  I just felt that there wasn’t enough background on the current atmoshpere as well as the characters to feel a connection.  It’s obvious that Kate has a lot of secrets, and I am sure we learn about them as time goes on, but I needed a little more for her.  The villain was confusing, I had to re-read sections to make sure I understood what exactly has was.  And be warned, his scenes are grusome and distrubing.  This is pretty dark urban fantasy.  The level of detail was a little much for me, I found myself skimming a lot in this one. Honestly, if I didn’t already know the series gets a lot better (and really enjoyed The Edge series), I probably wouldn’t continue reading.  Liked Kate and Curran, but don’t really care at this point.

The Bumpin’ Uglies:  Le Sigh.  No one bumps the uglies in this one.  I know it’s not PNR, so not required, but it might have been nice for Kate to have one lighter scene to break up all the darkness.   But I am keeping my eye on Curran, he has potential.

Rating: 6.5

Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry

From Goodreads.com:  Seattle. One minute you’re drinking a vanilla breve, the next, some creepy old dude is breathing on you, turning you into a zombie. And that’s just for starters. Now, the recently deceased Amanda Feral is trying to make her way through Seattle’s undead scene with style (mortuary-grade makeup, six-inch stilettos, Balenciaga handbag on sale) while satisfying her craving for human flesh (Don’t judge. And no, not like chicken.) and decent vodkatinis.

Making her way through a dangerous world of cloud-doped bloodsuckers, reapers, horny and horned devils, werewolves, celebrities, and PR-obsessed shapeshifters–not to mention an extremely hot bartender named Ricardo–isn’t easy. And the minute one of Amanda’s undead friends disappears after texting the word, “help” (The undead–so dramatic!) she knows the afterlife is about to get really ugly.

Something sinister is at hand. Someone or something is hellbent on turning Seattle‘s undead underworld into a place of true terror. And this time, Amanda may meet a fate a lot worse than death…

Can you write a review comprised of all quotes? Because there is no way anything I say will compare to the magic that spews from Amanda Feral’s mouth.  You know how when you see a stand up comic and they say something extremely racist but hilarious and the crowd goes “Ooooooooooooooh!”  That’s how I felt reading most of this book.  It took me forever to finish because I stopped about a million times to read aloud to my husband, who just smiled and shook his head.  The plot is really basic: Amanda’s succubus friend goes missing, Amanda finally gets around to finding her, uncovers a secret zombie plague conspiracy while sleuthing, hijinks ensue.  There is a lot of background on how Amanda and her friends became supernatural, which drags a little.  But none of that really matters because it’s when Amanda interacts with others that the real magic happens.  My God she is awful in the most hilarious way possible.  The only other character I can think of that has the same wonderful awfulness thing going on is Frank (Danny Devito) from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  99% of the words out of her mouth are cringeworthy, but brilliant! 

For example:  “A binge is a sincerely personal thing; no two are alike, at least that’s what my therapist says, and he should know, eating disorders are his specialty, not that he’s particularly good at treating them.  That is not why I saw him anyway; well it was initially.  Okay, I’ll admit, I was fucking him.” 

And another:  “’So let me get this straight, we feed on welfare recipients?’ Gross, right? Where do you find one, the Dollar Store? Jesus!

See? Awesome.  So, if you are looking for a truly hilarious yet soul-soiling experience, check out this book.  Just be sure to remove your moral compass first.

Rating: 8

 

Kindle rant:  Amanda likes footnotes…A LOT.  They are absolutely hysterical, but after the first 50 or so, you get sick of positioning the little Kindle cursor over them.  You have been warned.

 

Disclaimerlicious:  If you are looking for romance, this is not the book for you.  Two words: Zombie Sex. Ick.

Moon Sworn By Keri Arthur (Riley Jenson, Guardian #9)

From Barnesandnoble.com:  

Some nights never end.
Some desires never die. . . .
Shape-shifting werewolf and vampire Riley Jenson is through with death—causing it, solving it, surviving it. Her soul mate, Kye Murphy, is dead—and at Riley’s own hands. Not even the seductive embrace of her vampire lover, Quinn, can fully ease her mind, for she has begun questioning everything that makes her Riley—including her job at the Directorate.

Now, the ritualistically slain bodies of ex-cons have started turning up. Reluctantly, Riley takes the case, but something even worse is waiting in the wings. A vicious enemy from her past is determined to strip Riley of everything that gives her life any meaning: her lover, her brother—and even her own identity. Can Riley survive this ultimate assault? All she knows is, she must fight one last time to find answers, before everything goes dark forever.

 

Warning: Spoilers from previous books are unavoidable.

Since Riley Jenson is one of my favorite heroines ever and this concludes the series, I’m abandoning my normal review format to discuss Moon Sworn, but I will do my best to avoid spoilers.  Moon Sworn picks up weeks after the death of Riley’s friend Kade and her soul mate Kye.  While she survived his death, she is deeply depressed and battling the emptiness of his loss despite her love for Quinn.  Riley, Rhoan, Liander and Quinn are still awaiting the child Liander’s sister is carrying for them, which gives Riley the will to live.  Shortly after saying good bye to Kade, Riley’s boss Jack calls in her help on a murder case.  Because of the experimental drugs given to Riley in a previous book, she has developed the ability to speak with the souls of the recently deceased.  The soul gives her enough information to figure out this murder was motivated by revenge. As with all the other cases Riley works, she quickly gets the details she needs and solves the case.  However, Blake Jenson is still seeking revenge.  Blake has developed an elaborate plot to make Riley suffer from memory loss and adjust to a new life before he kills her.  Of course, Riley is not going down without a fight, even if she doesn’t know who she is.  When she finds herself lost in a small town with a new identity, she somehow keeps being Riley…and being Riley means finding all trouble possible.  Luckily another murder case pops up and has so many similarities to the vengeance murders she was investigating, her memory is jogged.  Before Blake’s plan comes to an end, Riley must figure out who she really is and take care of the Jenson pack once and for all.  That’s all I can really say without giving away the ending so I will move on.

My thoughts on Moon Sworn and Riley Jenson’s journey:

I am literally wincing as I type this, but I did not love this book.  Over the past 8 books Riley Jenson has been through some serious stuff.  SERIOUS stuff.  She has been beaten (a lot), shot (even more), kidnapped, drugged, raped while drugged, genetically altered and forced to kill her own soul mate.  So, as far as I’m concerned, being dumped in a small town with no memory was like child’s play for Riley.  She also happens to have a crazy lethal twin brother and the most bad-ass vamp boyfriend on Earth who can tear a small town apart.  And the case she was working didn’t even have layer upon layer of messed up Aussies to peel away.  She solved it with only like 2 gun shot wounds and a dead hooker! So seriously?  This was the send off she got?    Sigh…I guess it depends on how you look at it.  If you were sick of fate kicking the crap out of Riley, then maybe you were relieved that things finally got easy for her.  But the reason I love Riley Jenson is how she always gets herself out of trouble on her own, without even relying on all the back-up she has available.  She is one of the smartest, sexiest, most kick-ass heroines I have ever read, and I loved every minute of her journey up until this point.  But this book felt almost formulaic to me.  I was really hoping for something even more over the top than the multi-species fighting ring from Tempting Evil (which is my fav book in the series and has one of the most awesome climactic battles ever!), but maybe it was time for things to calm down for Riley.  I am sure lots of people will love this final piece of Riley’s story.  And I really did love the ending; it was nice to see Riley finally at peace with herself and her past.   I think I was just ready to go on one more insane adventure with my favorite werewolf\vamp\seagull shifter and I don’t feel that I got it.  But don’t let my semi-negative review take away from this series.  I loved these books.  They are so much fun.  I will miss Quinn’s hotness, Rhoan and Liander’s sweetness, and Jack and Sal being super annoying.  I will miss Riley being that ridiculous seagull then shifting in midair to break someone’s jaw.  I will miss (actually have been missing for a few books now) the horny wolfie full-moon sex clubs and Riley’s unapologetic promiscuity (why the hell couldn’t she hook up with Cole just once?!?).  And finally I will miss getting to read all about Australia, which made these books unique for me. Okay, gushing is complete.  It feels weird to actually have closure from one of these series though.  Especially since book 8 left us with Riley on death’s door, its kind if nice to know everything is good now.  So if I can give no other reason to read this series, read it because IT’S DONE. 

Rating: 7.5 (-1.5 for lack of kick-assery)

Mini-review: A Rush of Wings By Adrian Phoenix

From Amazon.com:  Set in the brooding New Orleans area long established as the best location for all things vampiric, Phoenix’s lively debut has it all: Rogue [FBI] agents, Bureau-ordered hits, mad-scientist experiments in psychopathology, vampires and fallen angels and a slicing-dicing serial killer. Smart, sexy FBI Special Agent Heather Wallace has been trying to catch the Cross-Country Killer for three years when the trail leads to New Orleans and Club Hell, where Dante Prejean performs with the Inferno, an industrial/goth rock band. Dante is a Cajun and a born vampire whose memories of his terrible past have been erased, leaving him vulnerable to the psychopathic killer, E, who knows all that Dante has forgotten. As E begins targeting Dante’s loved ones, Heather must swallow her skepticism and work with Dante’s vampiric friends and family to save him. Phoenix alternates romantic homages to gothdom and steamy blood-drinking threesomes with enough terse, fast-paced thriller scenes to satisfy even the most jaded fan.

 

Mini-review:  Agent Heather Wallace has been tracking a serial killer for years, and his trail lands her at Club Hell (I know, what a shocking name for a club).  Dante (supervamp) is the tortured lead singer of a popular Goth band while his friend/father-figure Lucien (fallen angel) runs Club Hell and fiercely protects him.  The serial killer appears to have focused on Dante, and Heather needs to work with Lucien to protect him, not that he needs protecting or anything. While I thought the whole French vamps living in New Orleans was very unoriginal, the rest of the plot was unlike anything I had read before.  To be honest, I read this book about a week ago, and since then it has grown on me.  After I finished, I felt that there was just too much blood, too much angst, too much crazy.  Sometimes, you just need a little humor or romance to lighten things up a bit, ya know? But I have to give the author credit for coming up with so many fresh ideas and creating such a dark, twisty atmosphere.   I was bummed the story focused on Dante and not Lucien, because I have been on this huge fallen angel kick lately (I blame Nalini Singh), but Dante proved to be an extremely interesting character, with his Maker’s song powers that I didn’t even fully understand.  His powers go way past the usual vampire speed and night vision.  Heather was your run-of-the-mill female cop (I feel like I have read a ton of those lately) who didn’t come across as very likable.  The serial killer’s storyline was nuts, like nightmare-inducing crazy, but I thought his history was fresh and original.  And then the true (bigger) bad guy! Whew…that was really crazy, but again, a cool plot twist.  There wasn’t a whole lot of lovin’ in this book, and what little was there, I didn’t really enjoy cause I didn’t care for Heather. ::wistful sigh::  The lack of romance was a shame cause I pictured Dante as a dark, brooding Jared Leto (rawr!), but after you learn more about Dante’s horrific past, it’s sorta hard to think about anything else.  (Disclaimer: I realize that the book description above talks about hot threesomes and such, but that is pretty misleading…you only see the tail end of it) If you enjoy very dark UF, and don’t really care about a romantic element, you will enjoy this book.  I didn’t love it, but not because it wasn’t a good book, just more of a personal preference thing. 

Rating: 6.5

Guest Review: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

I would like to give a very special thanks to my friend and illustrious lab partner BanjoBrainEater for the following review.  I’m sure you are thinking, BanjoBrainEater…wtf??”  Let me explain, BBE is my Southern, Persian, Vegetarian, Liberal, Banjo and Viola playing, walking contradiction of a friend who loves all things zombie.  He dabbles in urban fantasy, so I asked him to write me a few reviews of books that I just haven’t gotten to yet.  So enjoy the musings of BanjoBrainEater! Oh, and if you know any single, vegetarian massage therapists with a thing for banjos, please let me know!

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is one of several novels written by Seth Grahame Smith. You are hopefully more familiar with some of his other works including Sense and Sensibilities and Sea Monsters (http://www.amazon.com/Sense-Sensibility-Monsters-Jane-Austen/dp/1594744424/ref=pd_sim_b_1) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (http://www.amazon.com/Pride-Prejudice-Zombies-Classic-Ultraviolent/dp/1594743347).
Seth (I’ve read enough of his books to feel that I can be on a first name basis with him) takes a break from his earlier farcical takes on the classics and instead turns his eye on the true dark history of the United States of America.
Having obtained through somewhat mysterious circumstances, the journal of Abraham Lincoln, Seth begins to read at first with baffling astonishment turning to fear and respect of the man who grew up to be the 16th President of this fair nation (for International readers, I am writing this from an American perspective, but I digress). Given the trials and tribulations that face anyone who turns their eye on the presidency, it can be safely stated that no one goes down that road by choice, and that was certainly true of our hero. Growing up in poverty, and having lost his mother to a vampire, Abraham at a young age was forced to grow up quickly in a world in which the shadows could and would kill the unwary. But truly it was those who were less fortunate who had more to fear from the plague of vampires that descended on this nation, and young Abraham came to realize that slavery was not only a bane on the American spirit, but was but a stepping stone for Vampires of this country to eventually control the entire population of this country, and eventually the world. 
A prescient Abraham Lincoln came to write in his journal in 1828: “So long as this country is cursed with slavery, so too will it be cursed with vampires.” Whether he knew then that those fateful words would drive him onwards to the White House, or that it would ultimately lead to a Civil War is a matter for only historians who need grant money to speculate and write about. Certainly he wasn’t aware of the full impact those words would have on his life, or on this nation when he wrote them.

The Skinny: In all seriousness (as if the above words weren’t serious enough), the book is a fun and light read. In terms of the premise, it still makes me smile and is well formulated. In terms of implementation, he walks a fine line. Certainly there were action scenes (to put it in movie terms) to break up the progression of the plot, and those were well-written. As I am a history nut, I think he could have really gone further and put even more events with a vampire slant on the book, but I could see how that could bog the book down as well. There are several pictures scattered throughout the book with rather humorous interpretations and I would have been happy if there had been many more of them, too.

Hotness:  (Kindlelicious made me include this) From what I’ve seen of the readership of this blog, I can safely say that seduction is a turn-on. More importantly, if major historical figures getting it on with their first ladies (or any ladies for that matter) is something that gets you hot and bothered, them you might want to look elsewhere. While Abraham Lincoln was certainly distinctive, I don’t believe that even in his day he was considered a hottie. Seth does a good job preserving our sanity and our fantasies by not exploring that side of our famous vampire slayer.

Ultimate review: I do recommend this as a read for when you want something fun and light. But if you want something a little more meaty to sink your teeth into (ha!), you may want to look elsewhere.

Rating: 6

Kindle Freebie: Regina in the Sun By R.G. Alexander

From Amazon.com:  There’s only one place left to run-into forbidden arms. Children of the Goddess Book 1 Children of the Goddess Book One When she arrives at Ye Olde Haven Pub, the sanctuary for Trueblood Vampires, Regina is wounded and desperate. Her only thought is to save the Deva Clan, her family, from the dangerous Loups De L’Ombre, the Shadow Wolves. She knows she will not exactly be welcomed with open arms. She is, after all, an Unborn, the lowest caste of Vampire.

 As a natural born from the purest line, Zander Sariel knows the rules are sacrosanct-a Trueblood mates with his own kind. But one taste of the young Unborn is all Zander needs to know that rules were made to be broken.  With enemies at every turn, Zander risks everything to save Regina from the monster that hunts her, his own kind-s ignorance and-if he must-her lack of faith in her own unique abilities.  Only together do they have a chance to defeat the shadow that haunts their future, and save their entire race from extinction.  Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, voyeurism of an m/m/f menage-a plethora of vampire nookie.

 

Mini-Review:  

Regina is a member of the Deva clan of undead vampires, meaning they were turned, not born that way.  She is on the run from the Shadow Wolves, werewolves who use black magic and thought to be extinct.  Her maker Liz, once told her of the kindness of the Sariel Trueblood clan and the sanctuary to be found at their pub Haven.  Regina flees to Haven after escaping the leader of the Shadow Wolves, Grey Wolf, in hopes of warning her clan.  Grey Wolf is interested in Regina’s special gifts that no other Unborn possesses.  Zander and Lux Sariel (AKA Big and Tasty) take Regina in, without knowing of the danger that follows her.  In Regina’s world, Trueblood vamps, Unborn vamps and Weres do not get along.  However, their Goddess fated them to find their one true mate in any of the 3 species that they could procreate with.  Regina has found her mate at Haven, but the newly-mated happiness is short lived when Grey Wolf comes knocking on Haven’s door.  In the face of the new threat from the Shadow Wolves, the Truebloods and Unborns are forced to get over the prejudice and politics and save their race.   

I find that certain books are great for certain moods.  I just came off a complicated urban fantasy, and I was starting to feel bad for my little PNR tag getting lost in my tag cloud.  I wanted a simple, completely smutty PNR.  You know the type: guy sees girl, gets painful erection, girl gets excited by this, they get it on, and fall madly in love and/or are mated in less than 48 hours.  Plot is there but takes a backseat to the lusty alpha male and whatever location he won’t let his woman escape from.  Sometimes, I just need these kinds of books.  They are like palette cleansers.  If you need these as well, Regina in the Sun is the book for you!  Zander and Lux are so freakin hot!!  And the sex scenes were out of this world! There was this one scene where Lux and …some other people were….yeah and Regina was in the doorway…and yeah…and then Zander…WHOA…you get the picture.  I am happy to report that this scene will stay with me for a while and I could not get my hands on the 2nd book in this series (Lux in Shadows) fast enough!  So…you know pretty much all you need to about this book.  Hence the mini-review is born!  Enjoy! I have a date with Lux!

Rating: 8.5

Oh, and in the spirit of Earth Day, the Kindle version of this book is free! So get that, instead of the dead tree edition.  Yep, that’s me, Kindlelicious: Saving the world one erotic download at a time.

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