Hot Blooded ~ Amanda Carlson

  • Title: Hot Blooded
  • Author: Amanda Carlson
  • Series: Jessica McClain #2
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Kindle
  • Source: Net Galley ARC
  • Reviewed by: DarthVal
  • Rating: 2 out of 5

Description:  It hasn’t been the best week for Jessica McClain.

Her mate has been kidnapped by a Goddess hell-bent on revenge — but Jessica is playing for keeps.

Because she’s the only female werewolf in town…it comes with its own set of rules…and powers.

Aided by two vamps, two loyal Pack members, and one very reluctant human, Jessica must rescue her man while coming to terms with what being a wolf really means.

All in a day’s work for a girl.

The second novel in the Jessica McClain series is a full on action adventure featuring one angry Goddess and plenty of monsters, demons, and a few newly risen beasties…

Review:  Hot Blooded picked up right where Full Blooded left off. It kind of had to, since Full Blooded ended somewhat abruptly with no firm conclusion. The greatest incentive that I had to give the second book a shot was not so much that I was eager to find out what happens next, but rather that I was granted a free advanced review copy by the Publisher via Net Galley.

Once again, Carlson’s concept was good, but the execution was not. For example, the main character, Jess, was maybe a little too powerful. This appeared to be a go-to plot device for the author. The characters were in a no-win situation, no problem! Jessica would mysteriously discover yet ANOTHER inexplicable super power. Maybe I would have bought into it more if there had been some sort of logic behind the powers, but there was not.

Another over-used trope in this book was that all of the villains adhered to the Scooby Doo school of pontification. “Well, now that I’ve captured you, let me gloat and fill in details so that you can find a chance to defeat me and escape.” Ugh. The hero characters plainly walked into danger half cocked, I couldn’t help but wonder if it would not have been better for the bad guys & gals to shut up and kill them already!

Speaking of half-cocked, I found Jessica to be more annoying in this book. On top of her ridiculously emerging powers, she took head strong to the level of hard headed. Bad decisions made under the guise of being tough are still bad decisions. Rinse, lather, and repeat over and over and the result was one stupid heroine.

The one good side of the heroine rushing head first into danger was that it resulted in a lot of action. The battle scenes were not bad at all and quite frankly, they were what kept my attention and allowed me to finish the book. Well, that and the hope that the world-building potential might just solidify into something decent.

What finally made me bump my rating down to just two stars was the cliff hanger ending. It was pointless that a completely new plot line opened up and was tacked on to the the end of the book. Why do some authors seem to think that they this is the way to make sure readers purchase their next book? Isn’t just simply writing a compelling story enough???? This tactic so annoys me that if I had not already received a free advance review copy of the next book I would drop the series cold. As it stands, this series has two outs with no one on base. We’ll see if the third books strikes out.

**Disclaimer: Reviewer was provided with a digital advance review copy of this book by the publisher via Net Galley.

Full Blooded ~ Amanda Carlson

  • Title: Full Blooded
  • Author: Amanda Carlson
  • Series: Jessica McClain #1
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Kindle
  • Source: Own
  • Reviewed by: DarthVal
  • Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Description:  Born the only female in an all male race, Jessica McClain isn’t just different—she’s feared.

After living under the radar for the last twenty-six years, Jessica is thrust unexpectedly into her first change, a full ten years late. She wakes up and finds she’s in the middle of a storm. Now that she’s become the only female full-blooded werewolf in town, the supernatural world is already clamoring to take a bite out of her and her new Pack must rise up and protect her.

But not everyone is on board. The werewolf Rights of Laws is missing text and the superstitious werewolves think that Jessica means an end to their race. It doesn’t help when Jessica begins to realize she’s more. She can change partway and hold her form, and speak directly to her wolf. But the biggest complication by far is that her alpha father can’t control her like he can the rest of his wolves.

When a mercenary who’s been hired by the vampires shows up to extract information about the newly turned werewolf only days after her change, they find themselves smack in the middle of a war and there’s no choice but to run together. When it’s up to Jessica to negotiate her release against her father’s direct orders, she chooses to take an offer for help instead. In exchange, Jessica must now swear an oath she may end up repaying with her life.

Review:  I am a sucker for a good cover and I have to admit that the cover of Full Blooded sucked me in. The cover features a striking, but fierce looking female who is ready to take on the world. Just what I like in my urban fantasy! I won’t lie; the story did not live up to the promise of the cover for me.
It is not a bad story. In fact, the concept is great. The plot builds on the mythology that Jessica is the first of her kind, a FEMALE werewolf. This is a game-changer in the supernatural world, especially in light of some vague, threatening, and apparently lost prophecies.

Jessica is a strong minded independent young woman trying to cope. However, she can be really whiny, which I found annoying, almost as annoying as her tendency to leap before looking. She KNOWS she has gaps in knowledge, yet she seems to have no interest at all in actually spending some time learning.

I guess we can forgive Jessica a little bit, considering the fact that everyone in her life is equally stupid. It made absolutely no sense that everyone kept trying to keep her in the dark regarding werewolf lore. I suspect this was the author’s attempt at creating a situation ripe for conflict. Unfortunately for me, this type of weak plot device turns me right off.

I also felt that the author tried to cram too much into one book. It would have been different if all of the plots and subplots had been handled well, but they all felt short-changed. I think the book would have been much stronger if the story focused on the local pack intrigue with well-executed story development.
Finally, the abrupt ending made me want to throw the book across the room. Lucky for my Kindle, I was able to restrain myself. What is with the trend toward unfinished stories???? I feel cheated. I bought a complete book, but it wasn’t. Grrr.

There was just enough of a glimmer that I will give the next book a shot. It helps that I’ve been approved for a no cost advanced review copy. If I had to shell out money, my journey with Jessica would like end here. Fingers crossed that this series gets better.

Frost Burned ~ Patricia Briggs

  • Title: Frost Burned
  • Author: Patricia Briggs
  • Series: Mercy Thompson #7
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Hardback
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 5 out of 5

Description:  Mercy Thompson returns in the seventh novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more…

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

Review:  From the moment I discovered Mercy Thompson, I was hooked on the series. While part of me could not wait for the release of Frost Burned, part of me was unsure what to expect. I just did not enjoy the previous book, River Marked, as much as the rest of the series. It did not have the same level of action and suspense that I have loved in the series. Had one of my favorite series gone pale? Now that Mercy and Adam were together, would the lack of unfulfilled tension make the relationship stale?

To start, I really like the cover for Frost Burned. I’ve not really been a fan of the previous covers in the series. They always felt more mannish than tomboy to me. The current cover is more how I imagine Mercy and the artwork is fantastic.

Good news! My fears were all for naught. Frost Burned turned out to be one of the best books in the series, to date. It helps that I’ve read the entire series, so I know these characters; where they’ve been, how they arrived at this point. The best part is that armed with this knowledge, I can totally appreciate how the characters continue to evolve.

The action kicked off rather quickly, and the story kept me on an emotional see-saw for the remainder of the book. (FYI – this is a good thing!) From a world-building perspective, Briggs has now established a political landscape that will easily accommodate a high level of adventure going forward. This really gets me excited about the future of the series.

The relationship between Mercy and Adam has matured and changed, in a good way. There is a different type of tension, as they explore and discover their new relationship and the pack bonds. I really have to give Ms. Briggs props for keeping the romance hot, but not overpowering the action.

This was a great read. Now, how much longer do I have until book 8, Night Broken comes out???

Written in Red ~ Anne Bishop

  • Title: Written in Red
  • Author: Anne Bishop
  • Series: Others #1
  • Genre: Fantasy, UF
  • Format: eBook
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Soo
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  No one creates realms like New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans.

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

Review:  Anne Bishop is on my favorite authors to read. She was one of the handful of new authors I really loved “discovering” several years ago. When I found out that she had a new book out, I was pretty excited to see what it’s about. For the past few months, I’ve been following a frequently updated short list of books to read. It’s the best way to juggle the different books I’ve decided to read for various reasons. Sometimes I have to kick the list to the curb and just do what I want. That’s exactly what I did when I picked up Written in Red and it was TOTALLY worth it!

I really enjoy Anne Bishop’s writing style. Her ideas take something I’m familiar with and gives it an edge, perspective and tweak that makes it her own. She creates rich worlds with equal attention to detail for both light and dark elements. I always love the core characters that make up her stories. They are a believable mix of the subtle layers that makes up a person who they are. Now, I have a whole new world and cast to cheer, boo and discover. It’s great!

I read the book in one day. It wrapped me up in story arms and shook off the bad temper I had romping to snarl out. At first, I was a little reserved in what to think about the story but that quickly changed as events tumbled along and swept me up along the currents of the story. There were countless moments where I wanted to post a quote from the book on my favorite book discussion group but I didn’t because I realized it would be hard to quote the book without giving background info or spoilers. It’s all about context.

Close your eyes. Take even breathes in and out. Clear your mind of everything. Imagine an alternate Earth world called Namid. There’s the same climate, continents, passing of the seasons and time ticking away but it’s not our world. It just seems like it. For one thing, Namid is alive with what we would call supernatural. Filled with fictional beings and things that only exist in our stories and imaginations. In this world, the natives of the alternate America are the terra indigene and when humans set foot on the land with the intention to “take” what they have found. Well, they were eaten. The terra indigene tasted a new kind of meat, absorbed this new information and remembered. Eventually, adventurous humans with open minds came to the new land and established trading with terra indigene. They were given land to live on and the humans began to live amongst those they call the Others.

Time passed, the human population grew in leaps and bounds. The Others allowed the humans to integrate further in their lands and an uneasy bond of cohabitation formed. The Others maintained control of the land and water sources. The humans develop inventions, electricity and other goods that intrigue terra indigene. Though they live side by side, the years haven’t made it easier for the humans to understand the Others or for the terra indigene to see humans as much more than meat. It’s hard to see humans as something more when they smell like prey. In order to foster good will, terra indigene made small communities called Courtyards that have integrated stores that allow humans to buy terra indigene goods. It also the place where products purchased by the Others are delivered. A human Liaison works as the postmaster of incoming and outgoing deliveries. They’re the mini-ambassadors between the species. At least, that’s how it’s suppose to be.

H. L. D. N. A.

What does that mean? It’s rather simple: Human Law Does Not Apply.

Anyone with half a brain knows that the Others follow their own rules. Know that humans are considered weak prey and those who do not follow the rules are eaten. The Lakeside Courtyard has an opening for Liaison. On a wild winter night, Meg Corbyn stumbles into Howling Good Reads to apply for the job. It can’t be worse than freezing to death. She might be safe at the Courtyard. After all, it’s not the Others that are searching for Meg. It’s humans. But here, Human Law Does Not Apply. She just needs to stop shaking long enough to ask for the job. Piercing amber eyes rake over Meg before Simon Wolfgard tells her to go to the cafe that’s attached to the bookstore to talk about the job. The sign by the door states:


On the other side of the connecting door is another sign:


The words didn’t really register but Meg didn’t think the signs were a joke. They’re a warning.

Simon’s not sure why the human is lying about her name but that was the only lie he could sense in her words. She doesn’t seem dangerous but he still feels ill at ease around her. It doesn’t matter. She needs a job and he needs a Liaison or deliveries will stop coming to the Courtyard. The shivering monkey is a puzzle and he’s going to keep her around until he figures it out.

In a haze of quick questions and orders, Meg lands her first job, fed, shown to her own apartment, ordered to clean up, given clean clothes and falling asleep in her new bed from exhaustion and the knowledge that Death will find her at the Courtyard. This is the place from the prophecy. He’s the one she’s seen. This is the place she’s dreamed about and this is the place she’ll die but for now she’s safe.

No one at the Courtyard is exactly what they seem to be. If you stop measuring the Others by human standards, it’ll be much easier to take in and understand. It’s a good thing Meg is like a blank canvas ready to be drawn upon. She may be in her mid-twenties but she has the experience of a young child. Everything is new and familiar. Knowing the concept isn’t the same as knowing how to apply the idea. Meg doesn’t know what a person is suppose to be like. She only has her own experience to measure by. To her, everything is new. Everything is bright, colorful, bizarre and wonderful to experience for the first time. To her careful gaze, the whole world is dangerous and different but she’s game to find out what the world is really like.

A host of mismatched characters are just waiting to be discovered in the book. Tess with her wild hair that changes colors and style with her quick temper moods. Just stay away from her when her hair changes to black. Gentle Henry that creates amazing things out of wood with his hands. The rascal ponies who are more than cute beasts that help to deliver the mail. A beautiful woman that skates alone in a fluttering white dress in the midst of winter. Teasing Jester that loves to share his font of wisdom and quick to laugh with the knowledge he didn’t. Lush Asia that dreams of being a star of her own TV show. Honorable Officer Monty that just wants to keep the peace. The talkative Crows that watch everything and talk about everyone. A scared little wolf pup that finds shelter in a cage.

Dive into a new world, get to know the people that call Lakeside home, see if Simon manages to figure Meg out and be ready to roll with the many feelings you’ll feel as you come along for a zany ride.

Is it terrible that I laugh every time Simon talks about the humans as monkeys? I know, I know. I’m a terrible person! Hah! If anyone feels like Asia deserves a few kicks in her ample rear, I’m in.

I really loved reading this story and I can’t wait for the next one! This book is definitely one of my favorite books of the year. I think a large part of the reason why I love the story so much is due to the fact that I was able to experience the story as it happened and learned a lot by characters interacting with one another. I didn’t feel like story was told at me. It’s great to be able to sink into a story and have it happen around me. Thanks, Anne, for a wonderful story to lose myself in for a while.

4.5 Stars for Written in Red