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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, Book 2) by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs is writing two series that are both set in the same world, though in different cities, with mostly different characters. We were first introduced to Mercy Thompson, and we learned of the Marrok in that series. The Marrok is the Alpha over the Alphas... he is the most powerful wolf in North America. The second series, the Alpha and Omega series, is centered around the Marrok's son and his mate Anna. Hunting Ground is technically the second book in this series, but the opening story was in an Anthology, and you absolutely must read that opening story in order to understand Anna.

In the past I've given the the Mercy Thompson series a 10 of 10, and the Alpha and Omega series a 7 of 10. However, Hunting Ground was good, much better than previous books in this offshoot series, but still not as good as the Mercy Thompson books.

Before I get much further, here is the blurb for Hunting Ground:

Mated to werewolf Charles Cornick, the son -and enforcer -of the leader of the North American werewolves, Anna Latham now knows how dangerous being a werewolf is, especially when a werewolf opposing Charles and his father is struck down. Charles's reputation makes him the prime suspect, and the penalty for the crime is execution. Now Anna and Charles must combine their talents to hunt down the real killer -or Charles will take the fall.

That doesn't tell us much, does it? Basically, there is a meeting in Seattle of the biggest Alphas from Europe, and most of them are against (very against) Bran's plan of outing the werewolves. Charles and Anna go to Seattle, and things get interesting. Very interesting. Think.... fae, vampires, Arthurian legends, trolls, and a powerful Grey Lord. I'm leaving some of the interesting things out since I don't want to give any spoilers, but you get the idea that this is about more than just werewolves, right?

Once again, I want to thank Patricia Briggs for showing us two grown ups who are working together (and.... gasp... communicating) in order to make their relationship work. What a refreshing change. Charles is old. Really old. And I believe Anna is his first real relationship. And Anna has her own issues with trust and partnership. But both of them are working at making this work. Plus, Anna is still learning about being a werewolf, and learning what it means to be an Omega. This is a powerful book, and I loved that Anna and Charles stop and talk to each other when things pop up.

I also loved that Anna is starting to come into her own in this book. She's figuring out who she is, and who she is not. Who she wants to be, and who she does not want to be.

I'm going to give Hunting Ground a 9 of 10, and I'll move the series rating up to an 8 of 10.

Book Rating: 9 of 10
Series Rating: 8 of 10

Ah, one more point. If you've read Patricia Brigg's story in the Strange Brew anthology, then you'll recognize some of the characters from that story in this book. It isn't necessary to have read the story, you won't be lost if you haven't. But if you have then you'll understand things a few pages sooner.

Here are the books in both series:

Mercedes Thompson Series

Alpha and Omega Series:

Mercedes Thompson Series
1. Moon Called (2006)
2. Blood Bound (2007)
3. Iron Kissed (2008)
4. Bone Crossed (2009)
5. Silver Borne (2010)

Alpha and Omega Series:
0 On the Prowl (Anthology)
1. Cry Wolf (2008)
1.5 Strange Brew (Anthology)
2. Hunting Ground (July 2009)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On The Ragged Edge Of The World by Jamie Craig

This story starts in Calendar Boys-October: Trick Of Silver, and picks up a week or two after the end of the first book.

On The Ragged Edge Of The World hits a lot of my genres, it is well done Urban Fantasy complete with werewolf politics, werewolf hunters, etc. And it is D/s erotica. It is also M/m, which technically isn't my thing, but the D/s is well done enough that it works for me quite well. Notice I'm not calling it BDSM... it has a little of the the B (being cuffed to the bed a few times), but it's mostly a D/s love story all wrapped up in an Urban Fantasy werewolf story.

You really do need to read the Calendar Boys short for the book to mean as much, though.

Here's the blurb:

Darren Sumner spent fifteen years hunting werewolves, a member of the elite organization Argenti. But one night of betrayal sent him from his Argenti family to the arms of werewolf Aden Richter--one of the most powerful Alphas in Washington D.C. Neither can deny their passion or their hunger for the other, but as Darren tries to find his place in this new world, he wonders whether desire can be enough. Rumors of an upcoming power struggle between the packs bring the question of Darren's role to the forefront. Is he Aden's partner and a leader of the pack? Or is he nothing more than Aden's lover, placed outside his family? Darren struggles to prove himself as the tensions between the packs mount and Aden's ex-lover puts a plan of vengeance into action.

I'll give both books a 9 of 10, and the series a 9 of 10.

Calendar Boys-October: Trick Of Silver: Rating 9 of 10
On The Ragged Edge Of The World: Rating 9 of 10
Series Rating: 9 of 10

It was an enjoyable read, with well developed characters, nice dialogue, and good pacing. Can't ask for much more than that.

Calendar Boys-October: Trick Of Silver
On The Ragged Edge Of The World

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blood Debt (Blood Series Book 5) by Tanya Huff

Blood Debt, the fifth book in the Blood series, did not have an episode of Blood Ties (the TV show) based directly off of it.

This series seems improve with each book. Too bad there is only one more book after this one.

On the one hand, I was disappointed that so much time was skipped between book four and book five. There was a year that should have been very interesting, and that was just skipped right over, with a few memories here and there of what made the papers to give us teasers of what happened. I want the details of that skipped year.

On the other hand, the events in this book are well done. It was an enjoyable read. The pacing issues are much better in Blood Debt than they were in earlier books. I found myself skimming to get to an interesting part a few times, but it wasn't as bad as previous books.

In Blood Debt, Henry and Tony have moved to Vancouver and Henry is being haunted by a ghost who wants Henry to solve the ghost's murder and get revenge. Henry calls Vicki, and she and Mike travel from Toronto to Vancouver to solve Henry's problem.

A lot gets worked out in this book. Tony has issues. Henry has issues. Vicki has issues. I think Mike may be the only one without issues, though he does have a bit of a smart mouth that could be dangerous around a testy vampire. Good comic relief for us, though.

Book Rating: 8 of 10
Series Rating: 8 of 10


The Blood Series
1. Blood Price
2. Blood Trail
3. Blood Lines
4. Blood Pact
5. Blood Debt
6. Blood Bank

Lifetime still has the episodes up, if you want to watch the TV series, go here. Or, you can follow the links above to buy the DVD's. It is kind of a pain to watch online with the commercials, and having to click between the online "chapters", but it's free.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Witch's Beauty (Daughters of Arianne Book 2) by Joey W. Hill

I didn't care much for the first book in this series, A Mermaid's Kiss. I hadn't actually intended to read A Witch's Beauty just yet, but it kind of fell into my lap. And I'm really glad it did. This is the Joey W. Hill that I fell in love with when I first read the Nature of Desire series. And this book even had an unexpected link back to that series. The kind of link that gives you goose bumps when you figure it out.... but I won't give spoilers by telling you what it is.

In this book I felt for David and Mina as I've felt for other characters written by Ms. Hill: Mac and Violet, Tyler and Marguerite, Marcus and Thomas. Characters with depth, with character. People who continue on, who have us cheering for them and hoping and hurting and loving right along with them, despite their faults, their baggage, their issues.

We met David and Mina in the first book, but we didn't really know them, understand who or what they were. Now? Now I feel that I know them both, inside and out. And what an unexpected turn of events, to go from the Mina and David of the previous book, to the Mina and David that exist at the end of this book? Wow.

Okay, before I blather on much more, here's the blurb:

Mina is Dark Spawn, half-mermaid, half Dark One. A sea witch who lives in the shadows, she is shunned by the merpeople. She seeks no friendships, however, no lasting relationships. Every day is about surviving, fighting the call of the dark blood within her, which demands she submit her ever-increasing powers to their cause. But Mina submits to no one. Until she meets David.

At thirty, David is one of the youngest angels in the Dark Legion, the angelic host dedicated to eliminating Dark Ones. Unlike many of his fellow angels who feel Mina-s death is inevitable, he believes her power can be used for good. When he entreats his commander to be assigned as her guardian against the Dark Ones, he also finds himself cast in the reluctant role of her executioner, if she turns to their cause.

The only problem is he is falling in love with the prickly sea witch. Which means he might risk the universe itself to turn her away from the darkness, and into his arms.

One thing I've noted is that while this series has a few elements of D/s, and A Witch's Beauty touched on pain as a control mechanism... these books are not BDSM, or even D/s.

I'm giving A Witch's Beauty a 10 of 10, and the series a 9 of 10. I didn't like A Mermaid's Kiss, but A Witch's Beauty was good enough that I don't regret reading the first book, as I had to have read the first book in order to understand the second. I'm looking forward to the third book, A Mermaid's Ransom, due out in December of this year.

Book Rating: 10 of 10
Series Rating: 9 of 10

A Witch's Beauty

1. A Mermaid's Kiss
2. A Witch's Beauty
3. A Mermaid's Ransom (Dec 2009)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Book Blogger Appreciation Week
will be September 14 - 18. This will be my first year participating, so I'm doing the newbie meme:

1) What has been one of the highlights of blogging for you?

Sharing opinions on books, finding other bloggers with similar tastes in books, and finding lots of new authors that I may not have found otherwise.

2) What blogger has helped you out with your blog by answering questions, linking to you, or inspiring you?

My favorite book blog is literaryescapism.com. Oh, and I loved the way dearauthor.com organized their reviews into A, B, C, etc, and I wanted to do something similar, to help people quickly find the books I've enjoyed the most.

3) What one question do you have about BBAW that someone who participated last year could answer?

A little more explanation of how it works, maybe?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Soul Mates series by Jourdan Lane

Fair warning: This is erotica, M/M, and there are some elements of D/s involved. It is not a BDSM story, and the two main characters do not end up in a Master/slave relationship, they turn into equals. But there are elements of D/s throughout the series.

It is first a story of Vampires and the beings that surround them. In this case, those beings include shapeshifters and humans.. and later in the series there are even Demons and Angels.

I started this series a long time ago, but just got around to reading the most recent book, Secrets.

In the first book, Bound by Blood, we have a vampire (Lucien) who is taken with a human (Peter). A human who has a thing against vampires. And this isn't just any vampire, it's the Master Vampire of the city. Of course. Lucien works hard to seduce Peter, and to gain his trust. The first half of the book we think the plot is the seduction, but then we are given an actual action plot, with intrigue and danger and fighting. The world building is really well done, the sex is hot, the plot is intriguing, the main characters have a depth of character you don't often see in erotica, and the secondary characters begin to be fleshed out pretty good as well.

Deceptions, the second book in the Soul Mates series, picks up about a year after the end of Bound by Blood. Peter and Lucian are still together, running things together. The multiple plots in this book weave in and out of the book. This book has a lot going on, some of it that won't fully be understood until future books. Where you have fierce loyalty, the possiblity of deception is always there. And the deceptions in this book hurt. When you are close enough to all of the characters to feel the pain yourself, it a good book.

Sacrifice picks up very soon after the end of Deceptions, with the cast of characters dealing with the deceptions that took place in the previous book. A few of the ongoing plots get resolved with new ongoing plots taking their place. The characters continue to be well defined and three dimensional. The dialogue flows, the action is believable, the worldbuilding very well done, and the sex is still hot. These books are truly urban fantasy at this point, with lots of the moral stuff that comes up when you start looking at vampire and werewolf society vs human society. With power comes responsibility, and vampires and werewolves have a lot of power. Also, with their extra "magical" abilities, life is just different.

Secrets seems to pick up a few months after Sacrifice ends. We do learn some secrets, and we see relationships evolve and change. The ending of Secrets ties some things up, but not enough for me. And apparently the next book, Ascension, isn't that far along just yet.

Bound by Blood: 8 of 10
Deceptions: 10 of 10
Sacrifice: 10 of 10
Secrets: 8 of 10

Series Rating: 9 of 10

1. Soul Mates: Bound By Blood
2. Soul Mates: Deceptions
3. Soul Mates: Sacrifice
4. Soul Mates: Secrets