Review: The Sight by Chloe Neill

sightReviewed by Jen

After a kind of lukewarm feeling about the first book in this series, I have to say that I enjoyed this one quite a bit more. I think that’s because I finally started feeling more of a connection to the characters, which ultimately made me care more about what happened to them.

If you didn’t read The Veil, you’re probably going to feel lost jumping in here. This second installment picks up right on the heels of that one with very little rehash. A war between humans and supernaturals has turned New Orleans into a shell of itself. Supplies are scarce; the military is everywhere; and the magically inclined prisoners are housed in the nearby Devil’s Isle. [Read more…]

Review: The Veil by Chloe Neill

veilReviewed by Jen

Chloe Neill introduces readers to a very different New Orleans than we’re used to seeing in this first installment of her new Urban Fantasy series, Devil’s Isle. It’s been seven years since paranormal beings tore through the veil into this world, kicking off a bloody war with humanity. The veil is closed and the war is over, but the aftermath lingers on. The earth is scorched. Resources are scarce. And magic has bled over into some unsuspecting humans, turning them into Sensitives. They are hunted and interned on a nearby island unless they hide their magic. And hiding has become Claire’s specialty. [Read more…]

Guest Review: Biting Bad

biting badReviewed by Jenna J

I love this series. I mean L O V E it. I cried when I thought Ethan was gone forever and I shed tears of joy upon his return. And when Jen handed me a fresh copy of Biting Bad I gleefully dove right in. I’d seen all of Chloe’s posts on Twitter and Facebook and was devastated at the idea of waiting until August to get my hands on this book. After all, with the excitement of House Rules surely this new release wouldn’t disappoint!? Alas, it did. [Read more…]

Guest Review: House Rules

Reviewed by Jenna J

I’m not good with telling folks about a book that I like. I can totally discuss it with someone else who has read it, but I can’t get much further than “It was so great, you should read it. or It was so bad, I wouldn’t go anywhere near that,” when it comes to an actual recommendation or review. So, when Jen asked if I would review House Rules I was reluctant, to say the least. I love this Chloe Neill series and if it wasn’t for Jen I would have never met Merit, Ethan, and Chloe.. so how could I say no..especially when she was waving a shiny new copy in front of me?

Right out the gate we establish Merit and Ethan are a couple, they’re living together and not just under the same roof. And, pretty much the whole house’s mood hinges on their relationship. Ethan, though returned from the dead, isn’t officially Master of Cadogan again but everyone pretty much treats him that way. It’s why they all went along at the end of Biting Cold with him deciding to break away from the big bad GP..the vampire authority that rules over all the houses in the States. So, Ethan, Merit, and Cadogan have a little mixer with the Rogue Vampires aka non-housed fangers to see what it’s like to not be under the GP’s thumb.  This sets up one big bad: Two Rogue vamps disappear and their friends seek out Ethan and Merit for help.

Merit, the House, Ethan, are already having to deal with with the upcoming GP visit and their ulterior motives when it comes to the big break-up, now there’s a hunt for someone targeting vamps in Chicago?! Needless to say, the GP isn’t happy Ethan and company no longer want to be under their thumbs and they aren’t going down without a fight. Ethan brings in what he thinks will be help to his cause.. in the form of a ex-flame. And boy do I HATE Lacie! For an older than dirt vampire she is acts like a teenage mean girl 99.9% of the time. This move and what happens as a result of it, really make Ethan look like a dumb dumb dumb male. You’d think as an older as dirt vampire himself, he would have a little more sense when it comes to women.. yeah he doesn’t. I was able to get past the strife of Ethan and Merit in Biting Cold because I love them so much as a couple but insert Lacie and I was TICKED to say the least. Why invite trouble Ethan!? WHY?!!!

Anywho, cue Merit’s scooby gang or the “Omnibuds”, some of the usual help and even the not so usual, to try and get to the bottom of the vamp mystery. And, it was a fairly decent mystery on Chloe Neill’s part that kept me turning the page. Like I said the GP isn’t taking the Cadogan House leaving lying down so it makes for interesting fodder in between the mystery Merit and company are trying to solve. House Rules was worth the wait in my opinion. And, I’m already ready for the next one.. because those damned green eyes y’all..

Rating: A-

*ARC Provided by NAL

Click to purchase: Amazon
House Rules
by Chloe Neill
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: NAL

It’s Not Me — It’s You

Reflections from Jen

In any given year, I read somewhere between 350 and 400 books.  And every so often, I find a stand-alone that really rocks my world. But 9 times out of 10, the stories I love most are part of a series.  Over time, a series allows you to invest in characters. You learn their quirks and nuances.  You grow to love them, hate them, or lust after them… but whatever the emotion, they become yours.

I look forward to new installments in my favorite series like Star Trek fans count down the days to their conventions.  Like gadget-nerds camp out the night before an Apple product goes on sale.  Or like Harry Potter fans dress up for a movie premiere.  Hell, I reserved a vacation request months ago for the release of Lover At Last.

Unfortunately, every so often, one of my beloved series lets me down.   I’m not just talking about the random Phury book that stands out as an anomaly to an otherwise fabulous series.  I’m talking about multiple books that just make you ask yourself why the hell you just spent 10-bucks.  Books that make you decide once and for all to break up with a once beloved series.

I’ve got a few I’ve already said goodbye to, and others on a watch list.

Anita Blake.  This is kind of THE series that is almost everyone has asked at least once… what the hell happened here?  Granted, not everyone liked the series to start with and not everyone loathes it now, but no one can dispute that the Anita books of today are nothing like the first nine that came out.  It’s my understanding that LKH thinks that people who complain about the change in her books are uptight about sex or something to that effect, but… um… I really like reading about sex in books. A lot.  So if that’s not the issue, what is it?

It would be easy to say that my problem is that Anita has become a whore, but it’s not that simple.  My problem is that the books have changed on a fundamental level.  They started as urban fantasy with no sex in them at all. Anita didn’t believe in sex outside of marriage.  They then morphed into urban fantasy with a little sex, in the context of a love triangle. — I was still down with that. Anita still struggled with her values and her real feelings for two very different men.  Whether you liked Richard (my favorite) or Jean Claude, most people could see the attraction on either side of the coin.

Then came Narcissus in Chains and the books became erotica.  Granted, they are erotica with paranormal elements, but you can’t call a series “urban fantasy” when the main character has sex with 10 or more people in the book.  Orgies, BDSM, m/m, exhibitionism, you name it, Anita does it.   Or one of her harem does it.  And I kept reading for a long time, thinking “maybe it will change back.” “Maybe Hamilton will fix what she did to Richard.” “Maybe…” Hell, I don’t know.  But then, Anita adopted a 17 year-old into her sex family. And there was a line in the book about how they’d have sex and he’d want to cuddle before doing his homework or something, and suddenly, I was done.  I haven’t looked back.

Kitty Norville.  I really, really enjoyed the early books in this series.  If you’re unfamiliar with the series, Kitty is a werewolf DJ, trying to find her way in the supernatural world.  For a time, every single book in the series wow’ed me. Carrie Vaughn gave me an unqualified oh-shit moment in every book. She killed people. She kidnapped people. She shocked me and excited me.  But what she also did was string me along with a love interest that never came to be.

From book one, we’re introduced to Cormac, a werewolf killer who has a simmering mutual attraction with Kitty.  The author teases us with it for book after book.  Even after Kitty gets into a serious relationship with another man, we’re reminded of what almost-was with Cormac. He’s still around. There is still longing.  I’ve started wishing the other guy dead, even though I like him. Finally, after book nine, I realized, it’s never gonna happen.  I feel seriously dicked around.  I’m done.

Chicagoland Vampires.  How I freaking loved this series in the beginning.  It was smart and funny and full of great action. I loved Merit and her friendship with Mallory. I loved her reluctance to be a vamp, how she finally came to love and defend Cadogen House.  And, of course, Ethan.  There was such a great push and pull with Ethan. The highs were so high and then the lows….  (**spoilers ahead**) When Ethan died, I was heartbroken. I cried and cried.  Then Ethan came back to life.. And while there was some WTF-ery there, I thought, “Finally! They will be together.”  Only, the excuses continued.  They got more and more flimsy. Until I got to a point where I just didn’t care anymore.  The new one came by mail and I gave it to my girlfriend to read for me.  She’ll be guest reviewing it for the blog.

On the cusp:

Dark Hunter.  The early books in this series rocked my world. Sherrilyn Kenyon does tortured heroes like nobody’s business.  Even when the catch phrases started to get a little predictable.. Even when all the heroines looked at their downtrodden heroes “like they mattered,” I still swooned.  Probably all the way through Acheron’s book.  (And Lord knows, that book put me through the wringer!)  Then, Kenyon started to go in a new direction. She introduced Thorn and the Hellchasers… she got into Jaden and Azura and Noir.  And I’ll admit, I had a hard time following along. But I figured that was the next phase of the story… Then she started pulling in Native American mythology and sprinkling in some of the old characters and the Dream Hunters… with a pinch of the Hellchasers. And frankly, I’m not sure what the hell is going on anymore.

I liked Seth’s book. It was kind of a throwback to the familiar favorites.  Plus, Styxx is coming, and it’s taking us back into the Acheron world.  I will not miss that, folks.  But where will she go after that?  I’m a little concerned.  The series seems to have lost focus.  One more pantheon comes in, and I think I am out.

Carpathian/ Dark series.  Yes, I still read these. Don’t judge me!! They are my guilty pleasure.  Though lately, the pleasure part is fading.  I love the over-the-top love scenes and super-alpha-alpha males.  I love all the interconnectedness of the Carpathians and the reunion books was fantabulous.  (Yes, spellcheck, that IS a word.)  But I started pulling away when we got into the de la Cruz men, none of whom I liked.  Once we got to Zacharias, though, it went to a bad place.  He was such a dick. He abused his heroine. It was too much.  And we’ve traveled so far away from the characters I love that I feel disconnected.  Feehan needs to get us back to the Carpathian mountains.  She needs to give us that Skylar and Dimitri story.  Or maybe I need to quit reading.

So what about you guys? What series have you broken up with? What killed them for you?

Still in love with some of the series above?  What makes you keep reading?

Share your thoughts, then visit Rachel at Parajunkee and Jennifer at the Book Nympho to see their picks!

5 for Friday – September 21

A sick husband and a sick kid this week.  Plus the other kid had a birthday. Throw in a cheerleading/ football game event, various sports practices, cupcake making, and school projects –and I am desperately in need of some “me-time.” I have no idea when it will happen, but I can dream.  Let’s talk about fun stuff.

5. I have been stalking Sherrilyn Kenyon forever since I found she was planning this Styxx book.  Now she’s got more deets about him on her website. She says, in part:

…(I)n many ways, it’s another story of Acheron. You will see events that weren’t in his book and I know Styxx will win you over. In all honesty, he was done wrong and it will break your heart.  Misjudged, condemned, betrayed and abandoned… There is a whole side of him that no one knows.

I am so anxious!! Only 11 months to go.

4. Shiloh Walker, aka JC Daniels, has revealed the cover for book two in her Colbana Files series.  Take a look at Night Blade:

Kit Colbana is always biting off more than she can chew. She has a knack for finding trouble. This time, though, trouble finds her. Someone from her past drops a case into her lap that she just can’t refuse…literally.

People on the Council are dying left and right and she’s been requested to investigate the deaths. The number one suspect? Her lover, Damon. If she doesn’t clear his name, he gets a death sentence. Even if she succeeds? They still might try to execute him. Oh, and she’s not allowed to tell him about the case, either.

The stakes are high this time around, higher than they’ve ever been. Kit may be forced to pay the ultimate price to save her lover’s life…a price that could destroy her and everything she loves.

I really enjoyed Blade Song so I have high hopes for this one.

3. JR Ward is sharing tidbits on the next Fallen Angel book, Rapture. Every day, she is releasing a new little video on her Facebook page, which is evil and refuses to allow me to embed her clips. However, you can click on the pretend video player below and it will take you to the clip where she is talking about the heroine.

Rapture is out Tuesday.  Please, JR, you must fix this Eddie thing.

2. I really loved the ARC of Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed by Anna Campbell. It’s a Beauty & the Beast type of historical romance (also out Tuesday.)

Forever is giving away seven copies. You can win it before you can buy it. Check out the giveaway here.

1. And finally, Karen Marie Moning is answering some of the big questions about the next book in her Fever series, ICED.  If I wasn’t nervous before, I definitely am now. (I was totally nervous before, but now it’s worse.)

Here are some of the high points:

  • The next three books will be Fever #6-8
  • The titles are ICED, BURNED & FLAYED
  • They will be Dani POV
  • She will be 14 at the beginning of her 3 book arc and 17 when it’s over
  • Dani will have sex with one of the guys who is in ICED
  • Books #9-10 will be Mac POV
  • These are not teen fiction
  • ICED will not end in a cliffhanger

Without crossing the line into too much information, I know all too well that teens Dani’s age have sex.  But if it’s with a being who is hundreds (or thousands) of years old, I’m out.

I loved the Fever books. Loved.  But I am scared. Somebody needs to read this for me and give me the all clear.

I’ve got big news coming next week!  I can’t wait to share.  Until then… stay to the light!

XOXO,
Jen

 

Review: Biting Cold

Reviewed by Jen

I had a really hard time getting into this book.  As a big fan of Ethan and Merit, I had high hopes for the reunion brought on by the events of Drink Deep. Granted, I wasn’t overly excited by the prospect of the Mallory arc, but that turned out to be a moot issue anyway, since very little of the book is about her. Let me back up.

This book begins right where the last one left off, with Ethan and Merit in pursuit of Mallory and the dark book she covets.  There are a lot of longing looks and lingering emotions, but they can’t act on them because of the pressing nature of their mission. They actually apprehend Mallory pretty fast. She’s not the Big Bad after all.  The real bad guy (who I won’t name so I don’t spoil you) quickly takes center stage as Merit, Ethan, and the gang try to figure out how to defeat him.

Here’s the thing, I felt like the first quarter of the book was delay-delay-delay on the Ethan-Merit love fest. Then Ethan develops a problem that makes him push Merit away before they can ever really get back together. This is where I went from a little bored to a bit annoyed.  We’ve been there and we’ve done that with these two, ad nauseum.  I felt like we, as readers, earned a big payoff on these two after all we have been through with them.  I cried for two damn books over Ethan’s death and Merit’s mourning.  And now, he wants to put things “on hold?” There was much cursing to be had in my house at this revelation.  It goes on and on.  We’ve moved past sexual tension into the realm of “you’ve got to be kidding me.”

As for the action-arc, it was fairly good, though nothing entirely earth shattering.  I felt more anxious about the looming judgement from the GP on the future of Cadogen House than any real danger from the bad guy.  I mean, what’s the worst he could do?  After we survived Chloe Neill killing Ethan, any other worst-case scenario is going to seem tame by comparison.

Things do pick up in the last third of the book.  That’s when we get the big showdowns in both the emotional and physical aspects of the story.  Both were pretty good, but I think I spent so much time being underwhelmed, it may have just been too late.  The book wasn’t bad. It’s just that I have seen what this series is capable of and… it’s better than this.

Rating: C

*ARC Provided by NAL

Click to purchase: Amazon
Biting Cold
by Chloe Neill
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: NAL

5 For Friday – May 25

Wow! Is it Friday already?  It’s been a busy week for me, which I guess made the days fly by.  The hubs is back from his trip to Miami.  Baseball season has (thankfully) come to a close for my son. And now the kids are spending the long weekend with Grandma in New Orleans.  So PARTY AT MY HOUSE.  Of course, by that I mean “more time to read.”  Let’s get to it!

5. My plan to read Armed & Dangerous this week was a success. It was so good! Now, I am putting all my Ty & Zane excitement into the next book.  Stars & Stripes comes out August 13!! I am beside myself that it’s releasing so soon.  The publisher is changing. I don’t know what’s up with that, but here’s the blurb:

Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett have managed the impossible: a few months of peace and quiet. After nearly a year of personal and professional turmoil, they’re living together conflict-free, work is going smoothly, and they’re both happy, healthy, and home every night before dark. But anyone who knows them knows that can’t possibly last.

When an emergency call from home upsets the balance of their carefully arranged world, Ty and Zane must juggle family drama with a perplexing crime to save a helpless victim before time runs out.

From the mountains of West Virginia to a remote Texas horse ranch harboring more than just livestock and childhood memories, Ty and Zane must face their fears—and their families—to overcome an unlikely enemy and bring peace back into their newly shared world.

4. The book trailer is out for Gena Showalter’s latest!  Wicked Nights is the first in her new Lords of the Underworld spinoff series, Angels of the Dark.   The cover is smoking-hot, no?

Wicked Nights is out June 26th.

3. Biting Cold is still more than two months away but Chloe Neill is already gearing up for the next book in her Chicagoland Vampires series with her new cover reveal.

House Rules is scheduled for release in February 2013.

2. Most of you know that I have not read the 50 Shades books, but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t enjoy this dramatic reading from the cast of Snow White & the Huntsman.  Funny –especially when Chris Hemsworth realizes what he’s reading and tosses the book away in horror.

1. And finally, the Tumblr Photo of the Week.  (If you click on it, it gets bigger.)

(**Photo removed to prevent copyright infringement**)

Have a great weekend!

XOXO
Jen

Review: Drink Deep

Reviewed by Jen

If you’re a fan of the Chicagoland Vampires series and you haven’t read this book yet, there’s only one reason you are reading this review. You want to know if somehow… some way… Ethan comes back. Well, let me address this right off the bat. There is no way in hell I am going to answer that. Come on, guys, it’s about the journey, not the destination!

Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that I did alot of crying. Again. It’s been two month since the events of Hard Bitten, and Merit is grieving. But she is also Sentinal to the Cadogen House and it’s a responsibility that she still holds dear. So slowly, she is trying to pull herself together enough to do her job. Jonah, the Captain of the Guards from Grey House, is there to help her. He’s serving as makeshift partner, but there are hints he would like to be more.

Cadogen is in disarray. The big vampire council has sent someone to reorganize the House and it’s clear the guy’s not there to help, but to undermine everything Ethan has built. Still, Cadogen doesn’t have much choice but to take it.

Merit is served up a distraction from her personal problems, when yet another supernatural problem begins brewing in the Windy City. It starts with the lake turning into a magic-sucking abyss and escalates from there. The vampires aren’t to blame, but hostility is growing among humans toward the supes so Merit hopes to fix the problem before her people are blamed by the public.

I’m not going to tell you anything else, plotwise, although it’s tempting. I am, however, going to try to address a couple of things in broad strokes. Very early on, I had a pretty strong feeling about who was causing the problems. But despite the fact that it felt a little predictable, I might have been ok with it, until the why of it was introduced. The why-part seemed wrong… a little contrived, even. And I hate to say that, because there were alot of things I really loved in this book.

We got the chance to learn more about the other supernatural races in the context of this world: from the nymphs and sirens to the Fae and, well, whatever the heck Tate is. I loved Luc and Lindsay. I loved Malik. And Jonah. But even in his abscense, Ethan’s prescence is deeply felt… both by Merit and by me, as a reader. There a great deal of emotional resonance in this book and the big theme is loyalty: what it means to the different characters and whether they manage to hold on to it.

I’m going to give it a little more than 4 stars. I would have given it more, truly, if it weren’t for the problems I had with the villain reveal. But definitely a must-read for any fan of the series.

*ARC Provided by NAL

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Drink Deep
by Chloe Neill
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Publisher: NAL

Review: Hard Bitten

Reviewed by Jen

I knew before I started this book that Something Big happens. I avoid spoilers like the plague and I didn’t even read this series when this book came out. But despite that, there was so much chatter that you’d have to live under a rock to have missed the outcry. And even knowing all that, I was still utterly and completely decimated by this book.

It all starts out innocently enough. The mayor is putting the screws to Merit and Ethan to put an end to the blood raves in the city. And the same time, Darius, a bigwig from the governing vampire council, comes to town to check out the Chicago vamps. Merit believes Celina has a hand in it all. But Darius essentially forbids any further investigation of her.

In the meantime, Ethan is working to redeem himself for his behavior in the last book. He now accepts how he feels about Merit and is trying desperately to win her back. It’s an intricate dance between them and their eventually acquiescence feels inevitable.

I’m not going to spoil the details of what happens, in the off chance you are one of the five people in the world who doesn’t know how the book ends. Suffice it to say, it left me feeling much like I did at the end of For a Few Demons More. I am emotionally empty. Heartbroken. Betrayed. It was an amazing book, but I don’t know how to forgive Chloe Neill.  And I don’t know how to rate this. How do you rate a book that rips your heart out and stomps it on the floor?

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Hard Bitten
by Chloe Neill
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: NAL