Tag Archives: Shapeshifters

Minute Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels, Book 1)
My Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

“It’s a reflex. Hear a bell, get food. See an undead, throw a knife. Same thing, really.”

There’s a lot to like about this book: a snarky, kickass heroine, a complex paranormal setting, and a bit of a murder mystery. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting into it. I’m not sure what the root cause was, but regardless, I’m tempted to try book 2 and give the series another shot.

Recommendation: Read this if you love a hearty paranormal series with a long-term, slow-burn romance.

Have you read any books from Ilona Andrews or the Kate Daniels series? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

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Minute Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
My rating:
5 of 5 stars

Rhysand stared at me for long enough that I faced him.

“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”

This series opener is set in an amazing fantasy world that revels in the darker side of fairy tales, and I’m totally bummed that the next book isn’t due to be published until May, 2016…

Recommendation: Read this if you love the idea of a Hunger Games/Beauty and the Beast mashup.

Review: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1)

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire is the first book in the October Daye series, which is currently up to book 9 and is still going strong. The series is steeped in the world of fae lore, connecting creatures of many cultures, and it falls squarely in the category of paranormal mystery/adventure. In this first in series, we get to know October “Toby” Daye, a half-faerie private detective, while she investigates the murder of a friend, trying not to get herself killed in the process.

All in all, this was an okay read for me. There were things I really liked, things that started to drive me crazy, and a general sense of apathy that kept me from getting pulled into the story too deeply.

What I liked: The world McGuire built was amazing, full of way more cultural faerie lore than I even knew existed. This was especially great for starting a series because there are so many facets to explore. I also liked some of the side characters, namely Tybalt, Sylvester, and Luna – I really wanted to read more about them.

What I didn’t like: Toby really wore on me. She just seemed so bland and generally average. She was supposedly knighted due to merit, but I have no idea what she actually did to earn it. Her faerie abilities are absurdly weak, which she freely admits, and I was hoping her cunning and personality would make up for it. For me they just didn’t.

The other things that got to me were the occasional unbelievable scenarios and the apparent lack of editing. For example, when you bleed all over a bus handrail right in front of the driver, the cops are going to get called, especially when iron poisoning is dampening all of your faerie “don’t notice me” vibes. As far as editing goes, passages like this kept distracting me from the actual plot:

I didn’t see what came next. I opened my eyes to see Dare leaping onto her brother’s back, momentum sending them both crashing to the floor. The gun went off when it hit the floor…

What was that about not seeing what came next?

Overall, my interest in the world and side characters mostly balanced out my occasional annoyance, resulting in a wash. I’m glad I gave the series a try but I probably won’t read any further.

Review: Shadow Rising by Kendra Leigh Castle

Shadow Rising (Dark Dynasties, #3)

Shadow Rising by Kendra Leigh Castle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

NOTE:  This review is for a book with mature content and sexy times!

Shadow Rising by Kendra Leigh Castle is the third book in the Dark Dynasties series. It follows the story of cat shapeshifting assassin Damien Tremaine, and the secluded Grigori named Ariane. Like books one and two, this story is part of a complex world steeped in immortal politics. Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend this as a standalone; read the other two first!

This has been my favorite book of the series so far. It is a bit more of a complete package with a good balance of world building, series plot progression, and believable character growth. I did not get lost and confused as Damien and Ariane’s relationship progressed (while this seems like it should be a given, it was one of my biggest issues with the first two books).

“I don’t expect you to change for me, Damien, and I realize that you have obligations because of what you are. But if this is going to work at all, you need to understand that I have obligations too. To what I am, who I am.”

Ariane is an intriguing mix of naive and realistically wise. She spent the first 900 years of her immortal life sequestered in the desert with the rest of the Grigori, having no memories of her life as a human. After venturing out on her own, every encounter is original and she soaks them in like a sponge.

At the same time, Ariane has 900 years of reading and personal reflection under her belt. When Damien tells her he cannot offer anything beyond the moment, she accepts it. Later, as Damien struggles with his growing dependence on her, she doesn’t resent him for it. Better to enjoy what they have while it lasts. Her 900 years has taught her what she really needs out of life, and regrets or settling for less do not make the cut.

There is also plenty of Damien snark to go around, which makes for a quick, entertaining read. He has spent most of his vampiric life slowly becoming numb to everything, including both positive and negative emotions, and his reactions to feeling them again are always amusing.

Damien had never had so little interest in work. Of course, he’d never spent so many consecutive hours wondering where he’d fucked up so badly, either. So it was a new and fabulous experience all around.

Also, hooray for the purring 😉

The intensity of her focus on him was as pleasurable to Damien as a caress. To his shock, he had to swallow back an inadvertent purr. He didn’t purr for anyone. Anyone. And certainly not for something as cheap as a little attention.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one and it left me looking forward to reading Bay’s story in Immortal Craving. (Not to mention the next step in the series plot! These books love the not-quite-cliffhanger endings!)

See my review on Goodreads for Some Particulars, including a steam rating!

Review: A Devilish Slumber by Shereen Vedam

A Devilish Slumber (The Rue Alliance, #1)

A Devilish Slumber by Shereen Vedam
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Devilish Slumber by Shereen Vedam is the first book in The Rue Alliance series, and it is set in a Regency Era paranormal/fantasy version of London. The main characters are Lady Roselyn Ravenstock and Sir Phillip Jones. Rose is a powerful shapeshifter, a gift inherited from her mother’s lineage, and Phillip is a love from her past and a covert agent of sorts. When he begins investigating a murder that points right to Rose, they fall back into each other’s lives and adventures ensue. The tale was inspired by the story of Sleeping Beauty.

I was immediately whisked away by this book. The intrigue begins immediately and I loved the nature of the murder mystery that is at the heart of the plot. I also quickly found myself drawn to the characters, especially Rose. Having suffered an excessive amount of loss in her life, she gave up on living and merely existed for several years. When her only friend is murdered and Phillip re-enters the picture, it is as though the spell is broken and she reawakens to the world.

Part of this reawakening is an acquaintance with the Rue Alliance. The Rue Alliance is a band of shifters with all manner of talents, including Rose’s. Meeting this underground community was by far my favorite part of the book. They are such a lively, loyal, and varied group of people. I can’t wait to read more about them!

The one element that kept this from being a higher rating for me was the occasional overly strong presence of stereotypical gender roles. I know this is a pretty subjective area when it comes to enjoying a story (especially in romance novels where “alphas” and the “man’s man” run rampant), but there were a few gender-related moments that crossed a line into awkward. For example, “He had shown Ben the worst side of himself. His male side.” Huh?

Overall, I really enjoyed this one, and I’m excited to read book two, A Scorching Dilemma. Especially since it tells Daniel Trenton’s story, a fire-starter affectionately known as Cinder Fella 🙂

*** UPDATE ***
Upon finishing this review, I looked up some other works by Vedam and discovered A Beastly Scandal. While not part of the Rue Alliance series, this book takes place in the same setting and with overlapping side characters. Some of its major events are mentioned in A Devilish Slumber. I certainly had no problem enjoying this book never having read the other, but it might be a good idea to start there!

See my review on Goodreads for Some Particulars

Review: Midnight Reckoning by Kendra Leigh Castle

Midnight Reckoning
Midnight Reckoning by Kendra Leigh Castle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

NOTE:  This review is for a book with mature content and sexy times!

Midnight Reckoning by Kendra Leigh Castle is the second book in the Dark Dynasties series. It begins several months after the conclusion of book one and follows the story of Jaden Harrison, Cait Sith vampire, and Lyra Black, Alpha’s daughter to the werewolf pack of Thorn. Hooray for both cat AND wolf shapeshifters 😉

Since this world is quite complex, I wouldn’t recommend this as a standalone; read Dark Awakening first!

I have mixed feelings. I wanted to really LOVE it. As it was, I did enjoy it, but it fell a little flat for me at times. I liked Jaden a lot, and his character drew me into the story as much as Tynan did in the first book. Unfortunately, also like the first book, I got lost toward the end – around two thirds through in this case. Something about the plot progression and character decisions started to seem muddled and I had a hard time understanding the shift of the natural flow.

The world building was great, as expected, and I loved learning more about all of the supernatural politics involved. The hook of each character’s personality and the complex world was certainly enough to entice me to read Damien’s story in Shadow Rising!

See my review on Goodreads for Some Particulars, including a steam rating.

Review: Dark Awakening by Kendra Leigh Castle

Dark Awakening
Dark Awakening by Kendra Leigh Castle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

NOTE:  This review is for a book with mature content and sexy times!

Dark Awakening by Kendra Leigh Castle is the first book in the Dark Dynasties series. It tells the story of Lily Quinn, a human with seemingly irrepressible psychic abilities, and Tynan MacGillivray, a shapeshifting vampire who is among the lowest in this world’s vampiric caste system. Ok, I know that sounds pretty out there but it comes together really well in the book (and it is a PNR, after all).

I hadn’t heard anything about this series one way or the other before diving into Dark Awakening, so I didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised! As you might guess, there’s a significant amount of world-building that needs to go into a plot like this. Castle did a great job of building up the requisite background while weaving it into the story so that it didn’t feel overwhelming or dry.

I don’t have all that much to say about our heroine, Lily, besides the fact that her lineage and abilities are badass. I’m a sucker for strong heroines who aren’t afraid to hold their own. Ty also drew me into the story and I enjoyed seeing the different facets of his personality, both from his perspective and Lily’s. The fact that he is a cat shapeshifter was a lovely bonus – his feline nature is a big part of his character and it manifested itself in a lot of intriguing ways. I have to go with some of the other reviewers of this series and point out the fact that he purrs…

The only place the characters started to fall flat for me was at the end. I would have gladly seen another 50 pages added to the book to allow for a smoother progression of character growth.

Social Commentary Side Note: There is a significant amount of social commentary in this book, specifically regarding the acceptance or non-acceptance of others based on something they cannot control. I really liked how this was depicted and thought that the intricate caste system added a fundamental layer of complexity to the world.

One had judged him worthy despite his mark. The other had found him worthy without ever considering his mark at all.

All in all, this was a fun read and I enjoyed the world Kendra Leigh Castle created. It also kicks off some pretty hefty overarching series plot (without it feeling like a cliffhanger), which makes me want to dive into the next one, Midnight Reckoning!

See my review on Goodreads for Some Particulars, including a steam rating.