Sunday, September 05, 2010

Halfway to the Grave

Author: Jeaniene Frost
Published: October 2007 (Avon)
Category: Paranormal Romance
Series: Night Huntress #1
Rating: 7/10

I don't recall how I stumbled upon the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost, but I'm so happy I did. I'm betting it was one of those "You might like this" titles that Barnes and Noble shows me when I'm online shopping, the easily-impressionable impulse buyer that I am.

Cat, our heroine, is a half-human/half-vampire product of an attack her mother suffered at the hands of a newly-made vampire two decades before our story begins. For the first sixteen years of her life, she believed she was different, but couldn't figure out why she was stronger than other kids, or could see in the dark as well as she could during the day. When her mother told her her true heritage when she turned sixteen, she began a quest to kill as many vampires as possible. Her mother schooled her that all vampires are EVIL and will date rape you at the first opportunity. So what does Cat do? She sets herself out as bait at night clubs waiting for a vampire to pick her up, and then stake him when they leave the club.

Eventually, she meets Bones, a vampire who happens to be a vampire bounty hunter. He's a little pissed because she staked the guy he was hunting. He decides to make her his pupil/partner. She's the bait, and then he'll do the dirty work, questioning the vamps before dispatching them.

The romance part is not as large a part as the paranormal element of the book, but excellent when it's there. Bones has been attracted to her from the beginning, when she challenges him to a fight rather than accept his deal, despite the fact that she's far less powerful than him, and chained to a wall in her underwear. Bones knows he has an uphill battle because she's been brainwashed into thinking that all vampires are evil murderers. In fact, their first date only happens because he makes her think they're hunting a vampire at a club, so she has to put on her hoochie clothes, but turns out the vampire they're looking for is actually him. Cute, without being nauseating. I'm glad that the love admissions don't take forever to come about, but Cat's mom poses quite the problem with her rabid belief that all vampires are evil and that her half-evil daughter will succumb to one of them and turn into a full vamp.

The reason I gave the book 7/10 was the ending. Very sad, because there is no happy ending. If you look at the description for the next book, you'll see that Cat and Bones aren't together, but they will be by the end of it, for sure (they better!!). When I got to the end of Halfway to the Grave, I was supremely pissed because I don't have the sequel, One Foot in the Grave on hand. If you want to torture yourself, you can visit the HarperCollins website to read the first 60 pages of the book, but here's a warning: The excerpt doesn't end on a chapter. I found myself in the middle of a sentence only to be cut off and even more tortured than before. So congratulations HarperCollins! I bought the book and now have to wait for it to arrive this week when I get back to the office!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Search

Author: Nora Roberts
Published: July 2010 (Putnam)
Category: Romance/Suspense
Rating: 10/10

Dogs? Check. Hot guy who happens to be really handy? Check. Gorgeous setting for all the action? Check. As soon as I picked up the newest standalone Nora Roberts book, I was SUCKED IN. This is undoubtedly my most favorite book of hers, knocking High Noon off its pedestal (The Bride Quartet is my favorite series).

Fiona, our heroine, lives on a small island off the coast of Washington, and runs a successful dog-training school and the local K-9 Search and Rescue squad. Right from the get-go, the reader is thrown into Fiona's world, going on a search with her and one of her three loyal labrador retrievers (she has one of each color!). You learn how organized, methodical, and capable she is, while knowing exactly what to say to people in any situation.

Simon, our hero, is new to the island, and his mother thinks he's too lonely, so she buys him a puppy, who he promptly names "Jaws." You can figure out why he gets that name. He's so hilarious with how he deals with the dog, because as much as he gripes, he loves his dog and is proud as soon as Jaws does something right. And typically, he has a hard time with the idea of neutering his dog.

The suspense portion of the novel is excellent. Fiona, years before coming to the island, was supposed to be a victim of the "Red Scarf Killer," only she escaped and identified him to the police. Putting the serial killer behind bars cost Fiona more than her anonymity, and she retreated to her island to rebuild her life. In present day, she finds out that a copycat killer has begun committing the same exact crimes, and she will most likely be on his list of victims as a tribute to the first Red Scarf Killer.

The story was great, balancing between the romance, suspense, and filler material. I loved reading about Fiona's work with dogs, and all the searches that leads. I'm constantly amazed by Nora Roberts' research for her books. I'm aware of all the jokes people tell about how all her new books are just patchworked together with pieces of previous books, but while some things seem familiar, it always seems fresh when I read them. Nora is a guaranteed-good-read for me, sort of like a chicken pot pie for a bad day is perfect comfort food.

I was surprised at the 3.5 star rating on! From the first couple reviews I read, it appears that people think that the ending is weak. The ending wasn't much different than a typical Nora ending. Yes, Nora doesn't seem to provide much detail in her endings and doesn't do epilogues either. Maybe she's leaving it to her readers' imaginations to figure out what happens in her her characters' lives afterward.

Anyways, The Search is fantastic and I can't wait to read it again.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ten Things I Love About You

Author: Julia Quinn
Published: May 25, 2010 (Avon)
Category: Historical Romance
Series: Bevelstokes #3
Rating: 5/10
Quote of Choice: He never argued with females unless it was absolutely necessary

In Ten Things I Love About You, the story of Sebastian Grey, friend and cousin to Sir Harry (hero from the previous Bevelstoke book, What Happens in London), is revealed. Basically, his uncle, the Earl of Newbury, hates him because he's the heir presumptive. Apparently, the earl thinks Sebastian is an ass (seriously, that's what he said), and will do anything to prevent Sebastian from ever inheriting the title. So he lays eyes on Annabel Winslow and her lush body that is so made for baby-boy-birthing and is so fertile birds sing when she's near. Never mind that she's not even half his age, but he must have her, no matter how disgusted Annabel finds him.

I was really looking forward to reading Sebastian's story, because he's so fun and witty. In What Happens in London, he gave a spirited reading of some idiotic book, perhaps it was called something like Miss Buttercup and the Mad Baron? Turns out he's the author of these ridiculous books, which are so made fun of by the couple from What Happens. So the idea of reading Sebastian's story when he has this huge secret of being a popular female author of absurd mystery novels seemed so promising.

My first problem was with Annabel keeping her true identity secret from Sebastian. She really liked him, but knew that her suitor hated him. She didn't bother to inform him of her connection to his uncle, and of course, that led to confusion. There is also a lot less conversation between Sebastian and Annabel than I would have liked because they were constantly being kept apart because Annabel couldn't anger the earl.

The book wound up being dragged out, and I feel like the story could have been handled better in a novella. Too much of the text was filler and I was bored a lot of the time. There were only so many times I could read about how much the earl hates Sebastian and how Sebastian has this awesome secret that would shut up everyone saying that he's poor (he's well off from his best-selling novels). I was expecting the truth to come out about the author's true identity, but that was also shoved aside. I think the only book worth reading out of the Bevelstoke series is What Happens in London. Books 1 and 3 are kinda blah.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Silver Borne

Author: Patricia Briggs
Published: March 30, 2010 (Ace)
Category: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercy Thompson #5
Rating: 9/10

In the year that I was spending planning for my wedding, I didn't get around to reviewing my discovery of Patricia Briggs's "Mercy Thompson" series. This review will sort of cover my liking of the series rather than just Silver Borne.

Mercedes "Mercy" Thompson is a Volkswagen mechanic (Yes, she's heard all the "Volkswagen mechanic named Mercedes" jokes) who also happens to be a walker, a creature of Native American myth that can turn into a coyote at will. This is not to be confused with a skinwalker, which is an evil, nasty creature. I think I've seen skinwalkers featured in Supernatural and Dresden Files episodes. She lives in the Tri-Cities area in Washington, and she's not the only supernatural creature in the neighborhood. There are vampires, werewolves, Fae, and ghosts. In this universe, Fae have come out to the public, although the Gray Lords who rule the Fae are sure to control how much humans learn of them.

Mercy is closely linked with the werewolves, who eventually come out to the public eye as well after Moon Called, the first book in the series. She was raised by the head werewolf in North America and fell in love with his son, Samuel, another powerful and old-timey werewolf. While Mercy believed herself in love with Samuel, he wanted her more for the possibility of living offspring with her. Female werewolves cannot bear children because of the involuntary monthly change to werewolf (in this universe they can become werewolves at will), and Samuel has lost loved ones already in his centuries of living. His father realized what was going on and packed Mercy off, leading up to her life in Tri-Cities, where she happens to live in the territory of another (very hot) alpha werewolf, Adam Hauptman.

The love triangle of Mercy-Samuel-Adam stretches over a few books, finally sort of resolving at the end of Iron Kissed, the third book and really picks up in the last two books, Bone Crossed and Silver Borne. SB is my favorite because Mercy and Adam's relationship is firmly cemented, and Samuel's loneliness is finally addressed.

I can't say enough good things about this series. You have a smart heroine with a sharp tongue, a backbone of steel, and a propensity to attract trouble. Over the course of the series, she fights vampires, Fae, werewolves, and humans while slowly building a love life with Adam, who she has described as "the hottest man [she] knew." While I'm no prude when it comes to reading books, it's nice to have a heroine who isn't jumping into bed every other chapter like some other urban fantasy series. I can't get enough of the world Patricia Briggs has created, and the only reason this book got a 9/10 is because I want the next book already! The sixth book in the series, River Marked, is scheduled to release Spring 2011.