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.

Sealed with a Curse ~ Cecy Robson

  • Title: Sealed with a Curse
  • Author: Cecy Robson
  • Series: Weird Girls #1
  • Genre: UF, PNR, Fantasy
  • Format: eBook
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Description:  Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other twenty-something girls—with one tiny exception: They’re the products of a curse that backfired and gave each of them unique powers that make them, well, a little weird…

The Wird sisters are content to avoid the local vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region—until one of them blows up a vampire in self-defense. Everyone knows vampires aren’t aggressive, and killing one is punishable by death. But soon more bloodlust-fueled attacks occur, and the community wonders if the vampires of Tahoe are plague-ridden.

Celia reluctantly agrees to help Misha, the handsome leader of an infected vampire family. But Aric, the head of the werewolf pack determined to destroy Misha’s family to keep the area safe, warns Celia to stay out of the fight. Caught between two hot alphas, Celia must find a way to please everyone, save everyone, and—oh, yeah—not lose her heart to the wrong guy or die a miserable death. Because now that the evil behind the plague knows who Celia is, he’s coming for her and her sisters.

This Wird girl has never had it so tough.

*May contain spoilers*

Review:  This one was just kind of meh for me. I liked some the basic concept and world building. She had an interesting interpretation of vampire/were lore. However, her mythology as it related to the sister was a bit suspect. It felt almost like Ms. Robson didn’t really want to nail down any set rules regarding the girls, so she could use their mysterious magic whenever she needed to move the story forward.

As for the story itself, the plot had some big gaps. Most glaring was the last hospital scene from which everyone left in a mad dash. Um, shouldn’t someone have stayed behind for clean up on aisle five, maybe alter some memories or something? This stood out because at the previous hospital incident, the author made a point to have Emme take care of this. Oops.

The action and the mystery plot line were not bad. I just wish there had been more of it and again, that there had been more consistency to it.

Robson did a good job of building chemistry between the main love interests, but then I felt like she dropped the ball. There was really no relationship development beyond some raging sexual tension. This is a pet peeve of mine. I just don’t buy hormone-driven insta-love. And speaking of stupid love, each sister seemed to get her very own insta-love package with one of Aric’s closest were-buddies? Really?

Finally, and this drove me absolutely batty throughout the entire book . . . WHAT was with the unnecessary quotes every time Celia experiences a “change.” GAH! Why? Why? Why?

Deep breath and moving on. Clearly, I was not a fan of this story. It is a shame. I do think with some tweaking that it could have been a pretty good book. Too late now.

One last thing regarding the cover, I thought it was well done. The girl looks mysterious coupled with barren night trees and full moon (which hints at the were mythology contained in the book), without being twisted into an unnaturally sexy pose. The font choice plays out well against the rest of the cover and considering the nature of the book.

Soulless ~ Gail Carriger

  • Title: Soulless
  • Author: Gail Carriger
  • Series: Parasol Protectorate #1
  • Genre: Paranormal, Steampunk
  • Format: Kindle
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire – and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Review:  Take one part paranormal fantasy and mix it with equal parts historical mystery, add a bit of streampunk and large dollop of comedy, then top off with a dash of romance and you get the novel Soulless. The recipe may be unconventional, but the result is quite delicious.

Alexia Tarabotti is a strong and independent woman who has no problem voicing her opinions. This is precisely why, Victorian England, she and everyone she knows accepts her fate as a spinster. If they all knew that she was truly a preternatural being without a soul, somewhat the antidote to supernatural beings, it would be quite the scandal.

Being so strong willed, and well, nosy, Alexia can’t help find herself stumbling into trouble and into the way of alpha Werewolf, Lord Maccon (think handsome Scottish bull in a china shop), who is head of the agency that monitors supernaturals. They both find themselves caught up in a comical tale of danger and mystery.

I really enjoyed the unique combination of styles woven together by Carringer. For some reason, my internal reading voice adopted a prim, yet forceful, tone to narrate the story in my head. I love that Alexia is so concerned with propriety, but then again, not really.

Oh, and kudos to Carringer for giving us a complete book, even though it will be a series. I am so tired of ending a book, only to discover that it is not really an end.

This was a fun read and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Cover note: I simply love this cover. The depicted posture captures Alexia’s prim, but forceful personality. It is well balanced and has great use of color, contrasting the burgundy and pink tones with the blacks and greys.

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???

Breaking Dawn ~ Stephanie Meyer

  • Title: Breaking Dawn
  • Author: Stephanie Meyer
  • Series:  Twilight #4
  • Genre: PNR, YA
  • Format: Kindle
  • Source: Overdrive digital library
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 0.5 out of 5

Description:  WHEN YOU LOVED THE ONE WHO WAS KILLING YOU, IT LEFT YOU NO OPTIONS. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?

To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to a werewolf Jacob Black, she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife to reach the ultimate turning point. her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fate of two tribes hangs.

Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating and unfathomable consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella’s life – first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse – seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed…forever?

The astonishing, breathlessly anticipated conclusion to the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions.

*This Review Definitely Contains Spoilers*

Review:  Wow. The only thing that could have saved this book would have been violent and bloody deaths for Bella and Edward at the hands of the Volturi. Ok, maybe not even that would have been enough, but I would have enjoyed it immensely.

Here is a brief synopsis of the book which I think serves as a pretty good indicator of the quality of the story:

Bella: Wah, wah, I don’t want a wedding ceremony. Where is Jacob? I miss Jacob.
Edward: Bella, my life revolves around you.
Jacob: What? You are going to have SEX with you husband. (Extreme over-reacting temper tantrum)

**Bella & Edward honeymoon**

Bella: Finally we get to have sex! It was awesome.
Edward: Oh, no. Even though we knew I had superhuman vampire strength, I cannot believe I left bruises and bit through the headboard. We can’t ever do that again. Bella, my life revolves around you, I must keep you safe.
Bella: Wah, wah. I want sex.
Edward: Ok.
Bella: (Puking) Oh crap, I think I’m pregnant. Wow, after only 2 tries – you are so virile, Edward.
Edward: Oh crap, you just blew through the first trimester in a couple of days. I must get you home to save you. My life revolves around you.

**Bella & Edward at home**

Jacob: We need to kill the vampires for turning Bella into a vamp!
Sam & pack: No, they are GOOD vampires.
Jacob: Oh crap, Bella is preggers!
Sam & pack: We must kill them all, especially Bella before she gives birth to the spawn!
Jacob: No, I was wrong. I didn’t mean it. We can’t kill Bella. They really ARE good vampires. Guess I’ll start my own pack and pathetically try to protect my lady love, who loves another.

Family Cullen: Oh crap! That spawn is going to kill Bella. It is sucking the life right out of her.
Rose: I hate Bella, but I want this baby and I will fight to the death to protect the baby.
Bella: I love this spawn that is sucking the life out of me.
Edward: Bella, my life revolves around you. I will sit here and mope until you die.
Jacob: Hey, did anyone think that thing may just need some blood.
Bella: (drinks blood) Yep, that did the trick. Please sir, may I have another?
Edward: You still smell like a dog. My life revolves around you Bella, oh wait, the baby loves you. My life revolves around both of you now.
Bella: I thought of a great name. You know how cool that Brangelina thing is? Let’s combine our mother’s names for the baby. That way she will have the dumbest name around. Crap, I wish it would stop breaking my bones with all its kicking.
Jacob: My new little pack will keep you safe.
Edward: Wow, Jacob, that is pretty cool, maybe you aren’t so bad.
Bella: (Screams) Baby is here.
Edward: My life revolves around you – time to quit resisting and change you to a vamp so you won’t die.
Jacob: Oh wait, I knew this would happen and protected you all, so that it could. But, I can’t believe you are turning the love of my life into the undead. I am going to kill that little spawn and as many of you as I can…..stop the press, who is that little hottie of a baby??? Bella who? I just met my soul mate.

**Meanwhile . . .

Bella: This vamp conversion thing really F*#$in hurts!
Edward: Oh, Bella, I am so glad I could save you. My life revolves around you.
Bella: Where is my baby.
Edward: I think you should eat something first so you don’t eat our spawn.
Bella: Good call. Wow, I am awesome. All the vampire laws do not apply to me, but you don’t really need an explanation why this is the case. Newborn, shmooborn. I am the vamp-diggety.
Edward: Yeah, so about that little prick, Jacob….
Bella: Jacob, you total perv! She is an infant. You ARE a stinky dog. I can’t believe I thought you were a friend.
Jacob: But, I love Nessie. It’s instinct, not pedophilia.
Bella: WHAT? You are going to call my child something less stupid than what I named her??? I will rip your head off!
Edward: No, Bella, you will regret it and it will make you sad. I could not handle you sad. My life revolves around you.
Bella: Fine. You you are a jerk, Jacob, and I now hate you. I don’t want you anywhere near my freaky, little spawn. Not that any of that is going to stop me from allowing you to hang around the house and baby all you want.

**And Then….

Alice: Something wicked this way comes. I’m out of here.
Bella: Let’s get ready to rumble. Somebody gonna teach me some moves or what?
Cullens: Let’s go get some allies to witness that this baby is legal.
Allies: Of course we’ll stand by you, that is a pretty cool little spawn.
Bella: Crap, Alice. Thanks for the heads up that we are all going to die. Maybe I can save my stupidly named baby by giving her to Jacob. I think he is a total perv, but he loves her and will keep her safe.

**The Volturi arrive . . .

(everyone is poised for battle)
Volturi: We came to accuse you of a false crime so we cand kill your powerful family and take those of you whose power we crave.
Cullens: But, wait, we can prove this is not an illegal spawn.
Alice: And here is more proof that there is no danger. See, I only wanted you to believe I left you. I’m tricky like that. Shouldn’t I be planning a party?
Volturi: Hmm, you are right, it is not an illegal baby. We want to kill you anyway. What other trumped up pretext can we find to legitimize your murder anyway?

***tension, tension****

Bella: Yeah, I’m pretty bad-ass bitches. I can thwart those attacks.
Volturi: Crap, she is bad ass. I don’t think we can win, & we really are just big pussies. We give up. We will leave in peace. The reader has no need for a really cool and satisfying bloody battle in this book.
Cullens & friends: Yay!
Bella: I love you Edward.
Edward: My life revolves around you.
Jacob: Only 8 more years until she’s legal!

***Sigh. They live. Bleh.***