Review: Red Blooded by Amanda Carlson

red bloodedReviewed by Jen

There were some parts of this book that I liked. There were other parts that didn’t serve it very well.  I think the biggest problem is that the series is backing itself into a corner where the stakes just keep getting higher and higher and the heroine is becoming a supernova power in order to triumph.  I’ll get back to that in a minute.

The story begins with Jessica on a mission to Hell in order to rescue her kidnapped brother, Tyler. The first third of the story is what worked best for me. It’s Jessica and her wolf, navigating through the dangers of the Underworld. It’s action packed and unapologetically so. It’s not trying to be romance. It’s not trying to be overly complex.  It’s just Jessica fighting slimy pigs, ravenous wyverns, and chupacabras of varying size.  The pacing was fast and furious and I flew through those pages. [Read more…]

Review: Aces Wild by Amanda Carlson

aces wildReviewed by Jen

Amanda Carlson kicks of the multi-author Sin City series with this action packed and sexy installment, featuring a dhampir heroine and a hellhound hero.  I liked it.  It doesn’t suffer from the rushed feel that many novellas have and it left me interested in picking up another story in the series.

Nevada is a Collector, a supernatural bounty hunter who is good at her job.  She is a vampire-human hybrid and she has only ever missed one of her marks.  That failed target was a vampire and she has had no interest in trying to catch one since. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get to choose her cases; her boss does that for her. And wouldn’t you know it… her latest assignment is a fanghead. If that weren’t bad enough, she’s been assigned a partner  –a man she would have been content to stay away from for the rest of her life. [Read more…]

Review: Cold Blooded

cold bloodedReviewed by Jen

For me, this is easily the strongest installment in the Jessica McClain series to date.  It feels like things are finally starting to come together.  The series arc is advancing. We’re learning more about what makes Jessica so important and powerful. And finally, Rourke and Jessica are doing something about all that sexual tension.  Hallelujah.

The book picks up immediately where the last one left off.  Marcy has been kidnapped and sorcerers are attacking Jessica and her crew.  It starts at a breakneck speed and it never lets up.  We follow Jess as she seeks help to find her friend –and to shake off the sorcerers and demons who keep trying to blow her up. [Read more…]

Review: Hot Blooded

Reviewed by Jen
 

It’s an action-packed ride in this second installment of the Jessica McClain series. The story begins with our heroine chomping at the bit to save her mate and things do not slow down once between the first page and the last.

First off, let me say that if you haven’t read Full Blooded, I urge you start there.  This book is a continuation of that one –and while this has a self-contained mission, it all hinges on the events of the first installment.  There is a little bit of backstory mixed in, but not much.

Basically, the entire book is about Jessica’s journey to rescue Rourke from the clutches of the evil Goddess Selene, who kidnapped him.  She takes along her brother and one other wolf –along with her human nemesis and general PITA Ray– plus two vampire guides names Eamon and Naomi.  Their path is full of traps and landmines laid out by Selene.  As Jess overcomes one after another, she (and we) learn more about her strengths as a Lycan, and what that means in relation to the prophecies about her.

I like Jess. She is very powerful, but is determined to hold on to her humanity.  She not only wants to do the right thing, she puts her money where her mouth is, even when it’s hard.  But the real highlight of the book for me was Naomi. She was not what I expected and I grew to really like her.  And Ray… well, I think there is more to Ray than meets the eye somehow. (I could be totally off-base on that, but time will tell.)

Here’s the thing, though.  I liked the book, but didn’t love it the way some of my fellow reviewers did.  It’s well written; the pacing is good; the world-building is solid.  But I don’t feel an emotional connection to the characters. I like them.  But I don’t feel their feelings. Yes, I know Jess wants to get Rourke back, and thinking about him makes her wolf run in circles, but I don’t feel a crushing weight or fear of a life without him.  (Frankly, their time together as mates lasted about as long as a sneeze, so maybe that has something to do with it.) It’s not just about Rourke, though. It’s deep feeling for anything, everything.  Her thoughts and feelings are intellectually conveyed to me, but it’s missing that intangible thing that makes me feel like I am not only inside Jessica’s head, but her heart.

It is a good read, though. It kept me interested and invested in how it would all play out.  And Amanda Carlson does a great job laying the groundwork for the next battle ahead.  It looks like another exciting ride.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Orbit

Click to purchase: Amazon
Hot Blooded
by Amanda Carlson
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Orbit

 

Favorites From… Amanda Carlson

Amanda Carlson

I don’t get much read time these days, but for full on reading enjoyment you can’t go wrong with these authors:

My favorite historical romance author is Georgette Heyer. I discovered her about fifteen years ago and each book is like opening a new gift. I started collecting them immediately off eBay (they were actually my first foray onto eBay!) and never looked back. I have hundreds. Some of my personal faves are The Grand Sophy, Arabella, The Toll-Gate, and The Convenient Marriage. She writes in a voice perfect for the genre. I think she’s brilliant.

On of my first reads in PNR was Kresley Cole. I hadn’t read much of the genre before her, so she literally popped my genre “cherry” with her Immortals After Dark series. And can I say it was an awesome way to pop! She has an amazing voice. (Voice is huge for me.) Her characters jump off the page and her sex is diiiirty. Start with the first and read all the way through. You won’t be sorry.

Jane Yellowrock is badass and one of my very favorite urban fantasy heroines. Faith Hunter is at the top of the urban fantasy food chain for me. Her writing is flawless and her world absolutely rocks. I like my heroines tough with a mind of their own. Faith delivers every single time. If you haven’t read Jane yet, I urge you to pick one up. The story is original and Faith writes action all day, everyday.

My happy go-to place has always been humor. I love to laugh. And for that it’s always David Sedaris. I laugh until I cry when I read one of his books. They are the only books I’ve ever read out loud so my spouse can enjoy by proxy. (Often much to his dismay.) I’ve been known to yell, “Wait, wait…there’s one more,” laughs too hard to speak, “you gotta hear this one. It’s the last one. I promise.” “No wait, there’s just one more…” Me Talk Pretty One Day is one of his best, but they all rock if you love to laugh.

Amanda’s bookshelf

I’d like to thank Red Hot Books for inviting me to chat about books I love. There’s nothing better than an excellent book—a book that leaves you with happy tingles is a true gift. If you’d like to find out more about me and my debut FULL BLOODED, I’m in all the regular places. For more info visit my website at: www.amandacarlson.com

Thanks to Amanda Carlson for sharing these recommendations today. I asked Amanda to be a part of the feature because I really enjoyed her debut, Full Blooded. It features a kick-ass werewolf heroine who is the only one of her kind. It’s got plenty of action and at least one hot roll in the hay.  Check out my review for more deets.

In the meantime, you have a chance to win one of Amanda’s recommendations. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win Skinwalker, the first in the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter.  US Only please.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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*”Favorites from…” photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos  

Review: Full Blooded

Reviewed by Jen
 

If you’re looking for a solid werewolf urban fantasy, look no further.  Amanda Carlson delivers with this first full length installment in her new Jessica McClain series.  It’s got fantastic characters, hot sex and some awesome action sequences… not to mention good pacing and an interesting story.

Jessica was born as a daughter to the pack Alpha. But the thing is, there are no females born to werewolves.  Her whole life, she has been met with suspicion and derision. Once she passed puberty without shifting, she thought she would live out her life as a human.  She left the pack behind, starting a new life with a new name.  Everything was going well, until her wolf decided it was time to surface.

With her first shift, Jessica is forced to return to the pack.  Her relationship with her father and brother are restored, but there are plenty of other wolves who see her as a threat. A prophecy says that a female werewolf will be an instrument of evil and eventually bring about the end of their race.  Jessica is pretty sure she’s not evil, but neither is she an average shifter. She is something special.  Jess must figure out how to find balance with her wolf, while new threats to her safety come one after another.

I really liked Jessica’s voice.  She is strong and independent, but I never found her arrogant or over-confident.  In fact, she was actually kind of humble and it was awesome watching her realize her potential.  There is a strong cast of supporting characters, like her brother Ty and packmate James. (I do think Nick was a little under-utilized.)  We’ve even got a love interest, who is very sexy and super-mysterious.  And don’t forget about that sex I mentioned earlier.   Yowza.  The romantic element evolved a bit suddenly, but I have a more patience with this in mate-stories than in traditional romance.

With the big climax, Carlson answered all my questions about who’s been gunning for Jess. But she also opens a whole new can of worms with a set-up for the next book.  I am equal parts excited and frustrated.  Excited because it looks like it will be one hell of a second installment.  Frustrated because I won’t be able to read it until next March.  Cliffhangers keel me, but apparently Amanda Carlson loves an open dangler.

Rating: B+

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Full Blooded
by Amanda Carlson
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Orbit

Chat with Amanda Carlson

You may have already heard the buzz about Full Blooded, a new werewolf Urban Fantasy by Amanda Carlson.  Well, Amanda is here to answer some of my burning questions about her book and the series. Please help me welcome her to the blog.

Jen: Talk to me about what it’s like for you as a debut author as you wait for your first book to hit the shelves.
Amanda: The anticipation is killing me and at the same time it’s also the best feeling in the world. To know something I created will be in the hands of readers is mind-boggling. I’m so excited and nervous and happy and full of crazy energy. LOL, it’s a jumble of emotion, something I’ve worked toward for over twelve years.
Jen: I really enjoyed Full Blooded and the early response I have seen has been overwhelmingly positive. Have you/ will you read reviews?
Amanda: I’ve read early reviews, but I will stop very, very soon. I don’t think my psyche can take it and I don’t want to become disenchanted. As authors we know we won’t connect with everyone on the same level. We’re all working our hardest to make our books the best they can be, but tastes run different. I totally understand that. If we all had a crush on the same boy, or only liked spaghetti without meatballs the world would be a boring place. I write what I love and hope readers love it too. After that, it’s up for grabs.
Jen: I love Jessica. It’s amazing how well she adapts to all she goes through with pragmatism, loyalty and smarts. How did she escape an environment as hostile as the pack without becoming seriously emotionally or socially damaged?
Amanda: At an early age Jessica had to make a decision, she either had to fight or become a victim. She chose to fight. But, honestly, the love and close family connections she has are at the root of all her survival instincts. I wanted a heroine who didn’t have it easy, but one that had a strong family unit. I’m not writing a tortured heroine. I’m writing a fighter who knows how to love. In my eyes, that makes her enjoyable. I love writing Jessica & I hope everyone loves her voice.
Jen: There are so many great secondary characters in Jessica’s inner circle. Will we get more backstory or significant page time with James, Ty, Danny or Nick? Do you have any plans to do any spinoffs down the road with a different POV?
Amanda: Yes, there will be more page time with the boys! There are no plans at this very moment for spinoffs, but yes, it’s something I would love to do in the future.
Jen: I know Jessica’s dad loves her, but do you foresee a time when her growing power interferes with their relationship?
Amanda: They will have growing pains, no doubt, but in the end he loves his daughter too much to let it get the best of him. She gets her common sense from her dad. He’s her rock. They will work it out.
Jen: OK. Rourke. (**swoon**) Talk to me. Tell me a secret about him.
Amanda: For you, Jen: He can last and last. And he’s loyal. Very, very loyal.
Jen: (Amanda knows what I like to hear. LOL.)  How many books are you contracted for in the series? Are they all planned out in your head? If they do well, would you like to continue with the series beyond that?
Amanda: I’m currently contracted for three, with an option for more. All three, and more, are roughly plotted in my head (at least I know how they end!). Yes, I’d love to write other things as well. In fact, I have a few sekrit projects in the works. Finding the time to work on them is the most challenging! Life is crazy at the moment, but I’m hoping it will even out soon. I’m looking forward to a workable routine in the future.
Jen: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. I know Full Blooded will be a great success!
Amanda: Thanks so much for having me, Jen!! It was fun to stop by, and so great to meet you at AAD. I look forward to chatting again with you and your readers when HOT BLOODED hits shelves this spring.

I must find out what happens in that book! Thanks again to Amanda for being here today! If you have any questions or comments for her, leave them below!

5 for Friday – August 17

This week has kicked my ass. I still have not recovered from my rocking weekend in New Orleans.  I got home Sunday night –which was also my daughter’s birthday– and after groceries, homework, laundry, etc, I made it to bed around 1:30. I was back up at 6:30, getting the kids ready for school and jumping back into the work week. A smart person would have taken Monday off.  Clearly, I am not a smart person.  I am, however, slowly getting back into my regular schedule of books, Twitter, and dirty-man Tumblr. The Gods are smiling on me.

5.  While I was away, the lovely Patty Briggs revealed the cover for her next Mercy Thompson book, Frost Burned.

Shapeshifter Mercy Thompson’s life is calming down, at least enough that she can focus on mundane matters like Black Friday sales. But on her return, Mercy is unable to contact her mate, Alpha Adam Hauptman, or the other members of their pack. All she 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 the most unlikely of allies: the vampire seethe.

I am really excited to read this one. I can’t wait to see the repercussions from the end of the last Alpha & Omega book. It’s going to be awesome.  Frost Burned comes out March 5th.

4. Amanda Carlson was one of the lovely authors I met at AAD last week. Her debut, Full Blooded is out in September. (More on that in a bit.) She’s already got cover art for book two, Hot Blooded.

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…

Ewa de Cruz is so gorgeous. I want to look like her in my next life.  Hot Blooded releases in April 2013. To win your very own copy of Full Blooded, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

3. Everyone tells me that Downtown Abbey is must-see-tv.  Unfortunately, I missed all the buzz until season two was almost over.  But the trailer is out for season three and now I am wondering if I should jump on the bandwagon.  Do I need to rent seasons one and two? Give me some deets on the appeal.

(The site hosting the season three trailer took it down. This video has clips from season two.)

2. It’s about time.  The Price is Right is inviting a male model to Come on Down. The show is doing a casting call to become the show’s first male showcase model. A web series will document the casting process.  I don’t know about you, but I think this is long overdue.  Who doesn’t want to see a hot dude openly caressing a washing-machine or some luggage?

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

1. And this one little piece of random.  It may not be politically correct, but I will go to my grave loving this song.  Check out Baby Got Back, Sung by the Movies.

Hope your weekend rocks.

XOXO,
Jen

P.S. I have no idea how to work this link into today’s post, but when I read the article, I laughed so hard that I cried and my stomach hurt.  I have to share it. (Warning – Potty Humor)

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"OMG, It’s Kelly Meding" & other AAD stories

Yesterday, I talked a little about the larger than life authors I fell head-over-heels with at AAD last week. But love comes in many forms. I met many charming, sweet, and (even shy) authors, who didn’t have to get big laughs to be memorable.

Let me tell you a little story about Kelly Meding. If you’re not familiar with her, she’s an Urban Fantasy author who writes the Dreg City books and the MetaWars series. Anyway, I was trying to find Dakota Cassidy’s table to stalk her at lunch Saturday, when I passed Kelly sitting quietly at her table. I enjoy her books, so I decided to sit with her instead. Joining us at our table were several other readers and authors, including Andrew Grey, who writes m/m. We talked and ate some surprisingly good mystery-meat (I still don’t know what the hell that was.)

Back when Kelly didn’t run from me

 

I recounted the story of running into Jeaniene Frost at the coffee shop and how proud I was that I didn’t pounce on the poor woman as she tried to buy her fruit salad. Andrew told me that most authors don’t mind being approached if the reader is respectful. He then went on to tell me about his worst fan experience, where two girls trapped him in an elevator during a con, jumping up and down, screaming “Oh my God, you’re Andrew Grey.” That’s when Kelly somberly said, “I wish someone would jump up and down for me.”

This was before I screamed her name.

 

I’ll bet you can guess what happened next. The entire table started jumping up and down in our seats, screaming, “Oh my God, it’s Kelly Meding.” I also did it at the book signing. In the lobby outside of the bar. And I told friends to do it randomly throughout the day. I never knew anyone could turn that particular shade of burgundy. Suffice it to say, Kelly is a blusher…. And she probably hates me now.

Jess, Allison, & PJ

 

For Thursday’s lunch, I sat next to Allison Pang. She teased me by showing me the eARC of Trace of Moonlight on her i-thingie.  (I’m still waiting for that .pdf, Allison!!)

The nicest, most personable author I met was probably Cynthia Eden. She and Katie Reus just came up and started talking to me in the lobby.  Later, Cynthia and I went on an expedition trying to find a poorly labeled meeting room.  She was just so genuine and sweet. (And super pretty.)

I spent some time chatting with the awesome Carolyn Crane, who was very down to Earth… and Amanda Carlson –who I always seemed to find in the hotel bar or on the way to it.

Me with Amanda Carlson

OOOoooh. I met Sylvia Day, who says she is still writing her next Crossfire book and even planned on working on it in her room.  And Jeaniene Frost, who was just as nice as could be. She even talked about a 10 inch cock in her UF panel. (That’s my kind of girl!)

There were more. Authors were everywhere.  I was drunk on them (or maybe I was drunk on those free vodka/ cranberries from Mel’s open bar.)  But you get the idea.  What blew me away is that some of them actually knew who I was.  That was a really strange feeling.  Cool, but strange.

More NOLA happenings, including my fun times with fellow bloggers, still to come…

Review: Blooded: A Jessica McClain Novella

Reviewed by Jen
 

Jessica is an anomaly in the supernatural world. Werewolves are not supposed to produce female children. Yet she was born of an Alpha father.  Jess is only human, but an ancient prophecy has her pack convinced that she is an agent of evil. That eventually, she’ll destroy their race.  And they make her pay for it every day.

All she wants is a way out. Unfortunately, her father refuses to grant her freedom.  So she decides to take it, with a risky decision to face off in combat with another member of the pack. Either she’ll leave the ring with some respect or she’ll finally give her adversaries what they’ve always wanted: a chance to see her brought down.

The story was really short, but it serves well as introduction to the Jessica McClain series.  The first full length novel, Full Blooded, is out in September.  I like Jess. She’s got spirit. She’s tough and she’s a pragmatist.  She’ll do what needs to be done.

We’re introduced to a handful of interesting secondary characters, like Jessica’s twin brother, Tyler, his best friend Danny, and a were-fox named Nick. I’m not sure how much of a role they will play in future books, but I hope it’s a big one.

I liked it. Definitely has my interest piqued for the rest of her story.

Rating: B

*Book provided by Orbit for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Blooded: A Jessica McClain Novella
by Amanda Carlson
Release Date: April 11, 2012
Publisher: Orbit