Review: Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop

Reviewed by Jen

It’s hard to say goodbye to a series I’ve enjoyed as much as this one. So reading this last installment of Anne Bishop’s The Others series was bittersweet. It definitely feels like the end, but the world is big enough and in enough turmoil that Bishop will easily be able to pick up with her planned a spinoff series in the future. [Read more…]

Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

marked in fleshReviewed by Jen

This series does a lot of things right. The worldbuilding is so very cool. I’ve said from the beginning that I love how Anne Bishop makes her monsters so monstrous. The breadth and scope of Namid’s creatures are impressive –and they’re all so very interesting and unique. The main characters are engaging and well drawn. I care what happens to them. And there is a great series arc that is really coming to a head in this installment. [Read more…]

Review: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

vision in silverReviewed by Jen

The Meg is back! Well, she is not actually The Meg anymore. She’s Our Meg and that may be even better.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, you are clearly missing out on one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series and you need to stop what you are doing and go buy Written in Red. No really. Do it now.

This third installment picks up right on the heels of book 2.  It follows Meg as she continues to find balance, free of the Controller and the Walking Names who shaped her life for so long.  She has come a long way, but she still struggles with her need to cut.  Now it’s not just her life on the line, but the lives of all the girls rescued who are like her. Meg needs to understand herself and her triggers in order to help those like her survive in the outside world. [Read more…]

Jen’s Favorite Books of 2014

2014

Another great year of reading is drawing to a close and looking back on some of the awesome titles, I am tempted to go back and read some of them again.  Now that I have put this list together, I realize that just about every one is part of a series. Some of them can stand alone. Others are better read after enjoying earlier installments.  But either way, for me, they are the cream of the crop from the year 2014. [Read more…]

Review: Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop

queen of the darknessReviewed by Jen

I thought for sure that this installment would be the book that launched this series into the stratosphere of epic-awesomeness where my book friends would rank it.  Alas, I am doomed to be the odd man out here.  I can definitively say I do not love this series.  There were things I liked, characters I cared about.  But whatever it is that makes other reviewers swoon, simply escapes me. [Read more…]

Review: Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop

heir to the shadowsReviewed by Jen

I am still waiting to be bowled over by this series. I hoped this would be book that would do it.  I figured Janelle would finally age past puberty and give poor Daemon the chance to love her.  I was only half right.  Janelle does grow up, but I kept waiting and waiting for her reunion with Daemon.  Only to end the damn book still waiting.  That’s right.  They spend the entire book apart.

But Jen, you say, this isn’t a romance novel. You can’t judge the book on the romance… or lack of it. And you are totally right.  The book did not fail me because the romance failed me. It failed me because I spent the entire book waiting for something to happen that never did.  [Read more…]

Review: Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

daughter of the bloodReviewed by Jen

I have no idea where to start with this book.  Some of my most-trusted book-friends gave it the gold seal and since I absolutely adore the Others, another Anne Bishop series, I dove in.  And promptly found myself in morass of character overload and ambitious world-building of brain-hemorrhage inducing proportions. I was completely and utterly lost for at least a third of the book.  Then, I was horrified to discover the sexual perversities, ranging from rape to incest to pedophilia and sadism.  Hell, the female lead only ages to 12 years-old by the end of the book and she is assigned sexual significance. But somehow in the second half, I found myself becoming invested in the outcome. [Read more…]

Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

murder of crowsReviewed by Jen

I loved this book.  Written in Red set the bar awfully high. It was so fresh and original.  But this installment springboards right off the ending of that book into new waters for these amazing characters.  The story feels like a natural progression.  It all centers around Meg and those hunting her since her escape.  You would think that after what happened to the last group of guys who tried to get her, a lesson would be learned.  But she is too valuable to the Controller for him to give up.  The thing is, she is now too valuable to the Others for them to let him have her back. [Read more…]

Review: Written in Red

Reviewed by Jen
 

I really enjoyed this book — for a lot of reasons.  I can’t recall the last UF book that portrayed monsters as, well, monsters.  The Others in this world Anne Bishop has created aren’t sexy. Or emo. Or anything like human.  They see humans as monkeys… as meat.  They eat them. And they make no apologies about it.  There is a woman that comes into their world, though, that makes them see all humans are not created equal. Some may be worthy of their protection and friendship.

Meg is a cassandra sangue, a blood prophet. Women of her kind spend their entire lives imprisoned and bled for prophecy. But she uses her gifts to escape.  She seeks refuge in the Courtyard, the land of the Others, and takes a job as their human liason.  The Courtyard leader, Simon, senses something different about her. His wolf senses categorize her as “not-prey,” though he doesn’t understand why.  It isn’t until after Meg has wound her way into the affections of those who live in the community, that her true nature is exposed.  Then, they must all band together to protect her from the humans who want to get her back under their thumbs.

The only very small criticism I have about the book is that Meg is a little too-good-to-be-true.  The book does acknowledge, though, that her emotional innocence is part of her heritage. And she is just so damn likeable!

Simon is the male lead, but I wouldn’t call him the hero in the traditional sense.  You can clearly see a bond forming between him and Meg, true, but this isn’t a romance. (Maybe later? I would like that!) It’s all about the way this woman plants the seeds of change in the Courtyard community with her goodness.  Her simple kindness and positive approach manages to break down the prejudice the Others feel toward humanity.  As the story unfolds, we see the characters among the Others become richer and more developed through their interactions with her. Yet they don’t lose their edge. We never forget they are vastly powerful or that they are killers. Simply put, she becomes theirs.

The secondary characters are plentiful and add so much to the story.  By the time the book was done, I felt like I knew the beings who inhabit the Courtyard.  I cheered for them.  I rallied for their defeat of the humans who turned out to be an entirely different breed of monster.

The tone is dark and intense.  There’s plenty of tension and action. I was 100% invested, and when it was over, I was so disappointed that there was no more to read.  I’m really looking forward to taking the next step on this journey!

Rating: A

*ARC Provided by Roc

Click to purchase: Amazon
Written in Red
by Anne Bishop
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Roc

Jen’s Favorite Books of 2013

It’s never too early to start keeping up with the amazing books of the New Year! I am sticking with the tradition I started last year of running “Best of” post, so no great book slips through the cracks.

January
by Kim Harrison

Guys. This is the best installment in the Hollows series to date.  It’s not a book for new readers to jump into Rachel Morgan’s world.  But for established fans, it’s like hitting the jackpot.  The story is more of a continuation of Pale Demon than A Perfect Blood was.  It follows Rachel as she tries to repair the damage her ley line made in the ever after a couple of books back.  Ku’Sox is trying to get her killed.  Ivy is out of town!! It’s heavy on Trent and Al –and delivers the emotional kick to the gut that this series should be known for.  Sexy, funny, heartbreaking, and action packed… this one is a can’t miss read.

Click to purchase: Ever After

March
Night Blade
by JC Daniels
There is a difference, I guess, between saying, “this was one of my favorite books of the year,” as opposed to saying, “this was one of the best books I have read this year.” I can’t really call Night Blade a favorite, as it left me gutted and hunched over, rocking in the corner of the room. But what I can say is that it will be one of the most unforgettable books of the year for me. It affected me. It made me reach out to the book community to talk about it. I couldn’t put it down, and I now look at Shiloh Walker with a combined sense of awe and horror. You don’t want to read this second installment in the series without reading Blade Song first. You’ll probably find that first book a bit Kate Daniels-ish. But this second book takes us where Kate has never been. If you’re not afraid of some angst, I definitely recommend it.

Click to purchase: Night Blade

by Anne Bishop

This is the most unique feeling Urban Fantasy book I have read in ages.  The tone is so dark.  The monsters aren’t just sexy humans with super-powers… they are beasts.  They are killers.  And humans are little more than a food source.  The heroine, Meg, is woman of beautiful spirit.  She shows the “others” the best of what it means to be human.  With her simple kindness and goodwill, she begins to change how they view her kind.  I loved how Bishop portrays the supernaturals in this world; how they are so alien and she doesn’t try to humanize them.  I picked this book up and was glued to the pages until I was done.  Very cool.

Click to purchase: Written in Red

 

by Delilah Marvelle

You may have noticed that historicals don’t feature on my favorites lists quite as often as some other genres. But I really, really enjoyed this third installment in the School of Gallantry series.  (Don’t worry; it works great as a standalone.)  This book has one of my favorite romance tropes: a tortured hero who thinks he is not good enough for his heroine.  Caldwell and Caroline have been friends since she was only 13, but now she is all grown up.  Despite his best intentions, Caldwell can’t help the attraction he feels for her, but he doesn’t want to ruin the one good relationship he has ever had by bringing sex into the picture. There is great sexual tension; characters I felt I knew and I loved; and a romance that I could really root for. Plus, a delicious dollop of angst.  Good stuff.

Click to purchase: Lady of Pleasure

April
Touch & Geauxhttp://www.dreamstime.com/-image4206965
by Abigail Roux

Just when I think I can’t get any more emotionally invested in Ty and Zane, Abigail Roux writes another book and I only fall deeper.  I should have known that this book would take me through the wringer. After all, the last installment ended with everyone so happy. I was feeling so good, I should have known it couldn’t last.  This book takes our men to New Orleans to hook up with Ty’s Sidewinder team. There is big trouble with an old nemesis of Grady’s and it leads to danger and… Who am I kidding? The heart of this book is the giant wedge that slams down the center of our beloved couple.  It’s dirty and painful and I was a sniveling mass of raw nerves when it was over. And the ending. Killed me.  If you are not reading this series, you should be.  One of my favorite romance series of any subgenre.

Click to purchase: Touch & Geaux

June
Heart of Obsidian
By Nalini Singh

heart of obsidianIt’s so rare for a book to live up to the hype.  But this one did and then some.  For a year, Psy Changeling fans made their best guesses and predictions about who this book would be about and whether we would finally discover the identity of the elusive Ghost.  It turns out that this is Kaleb’s story –and he is everything we wanted in a hero and more.  It’s a book full of passion and deep emotion, with amazingly hot sex and a romance that grabs onto your heart and doesn’t let go.  It was absolutely worth the wait and satisfying in every way. Fans of the series won’t want to miss this one.  –And if you’ve never read the series, you could still enjoy it, though you are better off starting the series from the beginning.

Click to purchase: Heart of Obsidian

July
magic risesMagic Rises
By Ilona Andrews

There has yet to be an installment in this series that I didn’t enjoy, so I hesitate to call this a “comeback” book.  But I can say that this book really reinvigorated my devotion to this series.  Kate and Curran are as engaging as ever, maybe even more so, as the future of their relationship is put on the line.  What’s so awesome about it, is that I really had no idea how the conflict would be resolved –or if it even could be. That’s a tall order for a series with such an established couple.  The book is a road trip for the gang, but most of the core characters are still there.  And it continues to advance the overall arc concerning Kate and her father.  I am so excited to see where the series goes from here.

Click to purchase: Magic Rises

Rise of the Gryphon
by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love

rise of the gryphonI know these books don’t have the same kind of following as Sherrilyn Keyon’s other series.  They are not PNR.  But this series is really good Urban Fantasy. It may not be for everybody. It’s complicated and you have to pay attention to the wide palate of characters, races, alliances, and feuds.  It’s totally worth it, though. This fourth installment is easily the best in the series to date.  Our heroine, Evalle, is finally learning the truth about what she is. She is moving forward in her fragile relationship with Storm.  The plot moves fast.  There is great action and ass kicking.  There is emotional resonance… good sex… and huge arc advancement. I was riveted from beginning to end. Evalle is growing so much.  And the ending left me begging for book 5.  Really good!

Click to purchase: Rise of the Gryphon

August
Guardian Demonguardian demon
by Meljean Brook

This book left me feeling so emotional. It was the perfect ending to the Guardian series.  The romance is exceptional.  Michael’s worship of Taylor is so lovely.  Meanwhile, her wariness and fear slowly morph into a tentative love, and it’s such an amazing journey to watch.  This story broke my heart and made it whole again, while keeping me on the edge of my seat with action and a fabulous master plan.  I loved it.

Click to purchase: Guardian Demon

archangels legionOctober
Archangel’s Legion
by Nalini Singh

This book got me excited for the Guild Hunter series all over again. Raphael and Elena still have so much fire.  But what I really loved about this book is the great pacing. The story just builds and builds until it explodes all over the page.

Click to purchase: Archangel’s Legion

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean (historical romance)
Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost (paranormal romance)
The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa (YA urban fantasy)
Never a Hero by Marie Sexton (m/m contemporary romance)
How Beauty Loved the Beast
by Jax Garren (steampunk? sci-fi? romance)
Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare (historical romance)
The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan (historical romance)
Romancing Lady Stone by Delilah Marvelle (historical romance)
Secret Unleashed by Sierra Dean (urban fantasy)
The Last Hour of Gann by R Lee Smith (sci-fi with strong romantic elements)
The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn (historical romance)
Long Time Gone by SE Jakes (m/m romantic suspense)

Check out Carrie’s, Shelly’s, Jaimie’s and Janell’s top picks of 2013.