Review: Kitty’s House of Horrors by Carrie Vaughn

January 3, 2010

Kitty’s House of Horrors, the seventh installment in Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series, does not disappoint. The books starts with Kitty being offered a place on a supernatural reality show in which werewolves, vampires, psychics, and others try to convince a non believer that there are truly supernatural beings. Familiar characters from previous novels make an appearance as Kitty’s co-stars.  The cast of the show is sent to a remote retreat to film the series. But what seems to be an innocent show become a horror film when the cast and crew become hunted. While Kitty is fighting for her life, Ben is at home helping Cormac make parole.

I love all of the Kitty Norville books. Kitty’s House of Horrors had everything I’ve come to expect from a Carrie Vaughn novel:  suspense, humor, horror, emotion, and a cast of great characters. I missed Ben, but I can wait until the next installment for more of him. What surprised me the most was that not everyone survives and has a happy ending. While I was saddened over the loss of the characters, I cannot help but think that their deaths make the story even stronger, giving it a real sense of life and death danger where any moment could be Kitty’s last. Overall it was a great story, one that I will probably end up re-reading in the future.

Carrie Vaughn has a young adult novel called Voices of Dragons being released March 16. She also has short stories in the anthologies Running with the Pack (May 29th) and Dark and Stormy Knights (a Cormac story-July 20th) as well as a new novel being published by Tor called Discord’s Apple being released July 20th.

More News: Shadows Past by Lorna Freeman

December 16, 2009

I’m excited to say that the cover art for Shadows Past is now up on Amazon. There is also a link to buy the book for the Amazon Kindle. So here it is:

Also, Lorna Freeman finally has a blog at www.lornafreeman.com

Review: The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston

November 8, 2009

the_mane_squeezeThe Mane Squeeze, the fourth in Shelly Laurenston’s Pride series, begins with grizzly shape shifter, Lachlan “Lock” MacRyrie, aiding hybrid liger shifter Gwen O’Neill break up a fight at a friend’s wedding. He later encounters the Philly feline again when a pack of wolf shifters attack her and her fellow hybrid friend, Blayne, and he is startled, giving help unwittingly. From there, with the assistance of their scheming friends, they find themselves placed together and falling in love. The story has romance, action, humor, a well-developed universe with its own politics and prejudices, and, of course, the paranormal.

This is the first book by Shelly Laurenston that I have read. I decided to give it a try when Amazon.com offered it for free for a limited time on the Kindle. It was a pleasant surprise to me how good the story and characters were. I cannot believe I’ve been missing out on such a great story universe for such a long time.

I loved that rather than sticking with the usual werewolf story, Laurenston’s story is filled with a wide variety of shifters. Having a grizzly and a hybrid shifter couple was nice. Lock’s bear qualities and ticks were sweet and hilarious (particularly the scene where he teaches Gwen to play with her toes).  Gwen’s troubles with being a hybrid and the prejudice against them added a realistic touch to the story.

I also liked that Lock was not a dangerous (though he is dangerous when startled) bad boy hero who needed to be saved from himself. He is well-adjusted, having had his issues from his past mostly worked out before the story began. Gwen is an outsider due to her hybrid breed, who is looking for where she belongs.

I am definitely looking forward to reading more of Shelly Laurenston’s novels. She has several series published, including one under the pseudonym G.A. Aiken.

Review: Bite Marks by Jennifer Rardin

October 25, 2009

bite marksBite Marks, book 6 in the Jaz Parks series by Jennifer Rardin, picks up with a bang where One More Bite left off. Jaz and Vayl’s vacation is cut short when Pete sends them out to deal with a threat against a NASA space complex in Australia. Gnomes have concocted a plan to infiltrate the complex and cause problems to ensure the privacy of their god, Ufran, who lives on one of the rings of Saturn. While in Australia, Kyphas, the demon Cassandra made her deal with, has finally found her and come to collect on the debt. And as if killing gnomes, assassinating gnome larvae carriers, and battling demons weren’t enough, Jaz is hearing voices in her head. Jaz, along with her team, begin to doubt her control and the security of the mission.

Bite Marks has the right combination of romance, action, comedy, and seriousness to make an intriguing tale. I have been following Jaz and Vayl’s relationship since the first in the series, rooting them along. This installment shows how they are growing and coming to rely on each other as a couple, not just in their working relationship.  Cole adds the comic relief; his quest to pet a kangaroo is one of my favorite parts. Add to that a singing mechanical cat named Astral and you have the ingredients of a great story.

Bite Marks left me looking forward to the next to see how unfinished business is resolved. An excerpt of Bitten in Two, the seventh in the series, is included in the extras of the book. The Jaz Parks series is also being re-released in mass market paperback form.

Review: Foundation by Mercedes Lackey

October 18, 2009

FoundationFoundation: Book One of the Collegium Chronicles by Mercedes Lackey, the latest addition to the Heralds of Valdemar series, takes place during the first year of the newly created Heralds’ Collegium. The newest Chosen, Mags, was an orphan forced to work in a mine finding “sparklies” along with other unwanted children when his Companion, Dallen, forces his way onto the mine owner’s property, with the help another Herald and Companion, to claim him. From there, Mags begins his new life as a trainee, trying to find his place in an unfamiliar world. Unused to being shown kindness or having friends, he feels like an outsider among the many trainees (Herald, Bard, and Healer) crammed together in one building while two others are under construction.

Mags becomes unlikely friends with two Bard and Healer trainees, children of famous parents, who live under the pressure of high expectations. He even inadvertently befriends a powerful councilman who decides to take an interest in Mags. Meanwhile, foreign princes have visited the city and have their guardsmen looking into Valdemar’s weapons training.

I have not read all of the Heralds of Valdemar series, but I know what to expect of a Valdemar book from the ones I have read. Foundation seemed incomplete to me. The climatic scene had little to do with the rest of the book, though I am sure it will be important in the books to come. Having said that, I did enjoy the novel. Mags is likable and sympathetic. His suffering and later loneliness due to the lack of family made me cry. It was also interesting to see the conflicts and issues related to the creation of the Heralds’ Collegium. I am definitely looking forward to more of Mags and the continuation of his story. Maybe some of the questions left open at the end of Foundation will finally be answered.

News: Shadows Past by Lorna Freeman

October 15, 2009

Years ago, I took a chance on Lorna Freeman’s Covenants and fell in love with the book and its entire universe. It is one of the few books that I can read over and over and never tire of it. I even have an extra copy of the first in the series after I wore out my original copy.

Like many others, I was disappointed when Shadows Past was pulled from publication with no warning or explanation. Since then, I search Lorna Freeman’s name on Amazon.com and the internet for news. I even scoured the cover artist’s, Patrick Jones, website when he posted on a site that he had turned in the art for the new book and hadn’t realized that it wasn’t published. I was jumping with joy when Shadows Past was rescheduled for publication on February 2, 2010.

Now I have an even more anxious for the release of Shadows Past. Amazon has posted a product description. It’s only one sentence but its better than nothing. 🙂 So here it is:

“Rabbit is struggling to make sense of his new powers and his new position as King Jusson’s heir when a man once scorned by his mother comes seeking retribution-and demands that Rabbit marry his daughter…”

It had been almost four years since The King’s Own was published and now Rabbit will finally be back!

Review: Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill

October 15, 2009

Friday Night BitesFriday Night Bites, the second in Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series, picks right up where Some Girls Bite left off. Newly made vampire Merit is sentinel of Cadogen House and dating the master of Navarre House, Morgan Greer, while secretly crushing on her own master, Ethan Sullivan.

The novel begins with Merit finally moving out of her friend Mallory’s house and into Cadogen House. Not even twenty-four hours later, she is roped into returning to her family’s high society ways that she tried so hard to escape before when an anonymous source leaves information about a damaging story being written by an old friend from her childhood. The vampires’ celebrity is already precarious due to Celine’s efforts in the previous novel. The story could spell disaster for the peace the vampires have with Chicago’s humans. To make matters worse, Celine has been released and Mallory is being sent to another city to learn more about her abilities.

The Chicagoland Vampires series has become one of my favorite vampire series. The Chicagoland universe is intriguing with its vampire politics and hierarchy. Merit’s snarky comments are hilarious and the tension between her and Ethan is delicious. Merit’s struggle to adjust to her new life inspires sympathy, making her a thoroughly likeable character.

Friday Night Bites ends on a note that suggests the next installment will take off with a running start. Chloe Neill’s website has Twice Bitten, the third in the series, up for publication in July 2010.  Neill also has a young adult novel, Firespell: A Novel of the Dark Elite, coming out January 5th.

Review: Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong

October 1, 2009

Elena and Clayton are back in the latest addition to Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series, Frostbitten. After failing to warn a young Australian werewolf of the danger he is in, Elena and Clay follow him to Anchorage, Alaska. But that’s not the only reason for the trip. There have been a series of “wolf” attacks that threaten to expose the pack. Dennis and Joey Stillwell, who moved to Alaska after leaving the pack during the fight between Malcolm and Jeremy for ascension to pack alpha, have not been in touch in awhile, worrying Jeremy.

In Alaska, Elena and Clay encounter a werewolf living with wolves, a pack of Eastern European criminal mutts trying to take over, and a group of creatures out of folklore. As if that is not enough, Elena must deal with an unwelcome reminder from her past along with the pressure of learning Jeremy’s plans for her future.

Kelley Armstrong’s novels have always been some of my favorites. I love the series, but I’m glad that Frostbitten focuses purely on werewolf problems (and my favorite narrator) and not on those of the paranormal community. Learning of the fate of the Stillwells was always something I wondered at since reading Armstrong’s novellas. The twins, Logan and Kate are adorable. Reading about how Elena and Clay balance being parents with their duties to the pack was intriguing. Hopefully it will not be long until the pack is featured again as the primary subjects in future installments of the Women of the Otherworld series.

Overall, Frostbitten, was a great and quick read. Kelley Armstrong’s novels never lets me down. I also recommend her Nadia Stafford series about a female assassin (Exit Strategy and Made to Be Broken) and her young adult Darkest Powers trilogy (The Summoning and The Awakening).

Review: According to Jane by Marilyn Brant

September 26, 2009

Marilyn Brant’s debut novel, According to Jane, is a nice addition to the romance/women’s fiction genre. The novel begins with Ellie Barnett’s teacher passing out their next reading assignment, Pride and Prejudice. To her surprise, while dealing with Sam Blaine sitting behind her, Jane Austen’s voice pops into her head, telling her that he is her Mr. Wickham. So begins her relationship with Jane Austen.

Jane’s voice stays with Ellie, giving advice and friendship, throughout Ellie’s life. She experiences ups and downs in her personal life, always seeming to fall for the wrong man. Jane’s witty advice and conversation keeps her company and even helps her forge a relationship with her sister. In the background of it all is Sam, her first love, who always seems to appear at the wrong time in her life. Ellie learns about life, love, and family in her search for her Mr. Darcy. Even Jane learns a few lessons of her own with Ellie about taking chances.

I really liked this novel, especially Ellie and Sam’s relationship. The men in Ellie’s life have distinct personalities, some likeable and some not so much. Ellie’s experiences made me laugh and cry. In particular, the scene after her prom in the closet stood out, making me cringe in sympathy and fear. Brant’s writing made the characters come to life. I really wanted Ellie to find happiness.

Marilyn Brant has forged herself a place on bookshelves for years to come. I cannot wait til her next novel is published. According to Jane is available now. It is also now available  for download on the Amazon Kindle for a huge discount.

Review: Heroes at Risk by Moira J. Moore

September 12, 2009

Heroes at Risk, the fourth in series, picks up right where Heroes Adrift left off. After completing the Empress’s mission, Shield Lee Mallorough and Source Shintaro Karish return to High Scape only to learn that it is becoming a cold spot and the many of the pairs are being sent to other hot spots. Belief in magic has sprung up among the people, leading to illegal practice of spells. And to make everything worse, grave robbers are stealing ashes from cemetaries. Add to that a mysterious group who keeps inviting Lee and Taro to their meetings makes for an engaging adventure.

Taro dashes Lee’s assumption that he would leave her once they were back in High Scape. But their relationship is threatened. Lord Doran, Lee’s former suitor, seems determined to get Lee back. Some of the other pairs show contempt that Lee and Taro are together against custom do to the fact that it could destroy the working relationship of pairs if it ends badly, making them useless in diffusing natural disasters.

I am a fan of the series and love Lee and Taro, but sometimes Lee frustrates me. Her stubbornness causes most of the problems in her relationship with Taro. While Heroes at Risk is not my favorite of the series (that honor goes to Heroes Adrift), it is a solid addition to the series. I cannot wait til the next. All of Moira J. Moore’s novels go on my must buy list.