Review: Stray by Rachel Vincent

Stray by Rachel Vincent (Shifters #1) [A-]
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Borrowed paperback from library
Finished reading: 4/14/2011
In six words: It was both fabulous and frustrating.

Summary

There are only eight breeding female werecats left . . .
And I’m one of them.

I look like an all-American grad student. But I am a werecat, a shape-shifter, and I live in two worlds.

Despite reservations from my family and my Pride, I escaped the pressure to continue my species and carved out a normal life for myself. Until the night a Stray attacked.

I’d been warned about Strays — werecats without a Pride, constantly on the lookout for someone like me: attractive, female, and fertile. I fought him off, but then learned two of my fellow tabbies had disappeared.

This brush with danger was all my Pride needed to summon me back . . . for my own protection. Yeah, right. But I’m no meek kitty. I’ll take on whatever — and whoever — I have to in order to find my friends. Watch out, Strays — ’cause I got claws, and I’m not afraid to use them . . .
-from Goodreads

Why I Read This Book and General Thoughts

I grabbed this book from the shelf at the library because I thought I remembered seeing it on 25 Hour Books (and, I was right – I had).  I was in a bad mood because the library had rearranged the layout of the books and I was having trouble finding books that I wanted (some authors were in three separate locations), and I wanted something so I chose this.  This book selection process is not uncommon when I’m at the library.  I’m new to the whole paranormal romance genre, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book.  It sucked me in, and annoyed me all at the same time.  I haven’t been completely sold on this series yet, but I would consider reading the next book before making a final judgment.

A More In-Depth Look

The rebellious-always-getting-into-trouble characters drive me crazy and frustrate me to no end.  This is exactly what the main character, Faythe, is.  So even though I got involved in the story almost right from the start, I was so exasperated with Faythe that I was ready to talk some sense into her, or smack her.  You know, whichever worked best.  As the story progressed, however, I got to learn more about her motivations, and while I didn’t always agree with her course of action, I definitely understood why.  I don’t think I would have liked this book otherwise.  As far as the plot is concerned, the middle portion of the book was far more entertaining for me than the ending.  What happened in the middle had me staying up past my self-appointed bed time because I just couldn’t put the book down until I knew that Faythe would be okay.  I did like that the ending wasn’t a cliffhanger, but at the same time kept my interest enough to make me want to pick up the second book in the series.  Even so, the ending just didn’t demand my attention the way other parts of the book did.  I am definitely interested in reading the second book of the series, but I can easily see where this series might not work for me, depending on how the author takes (or, perhaps more appropriately, took) it.

You Might Enjoy This Book If…

This I am not so sure on.  Like I said before, I’m new to paranormal romance, and I have no idea how it fits into genre.

Links
Author’s website
Amazon: paperback / e-book
Add it to Goodreads

Other Reviews
25 Hour Books
The Book Vixen

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Review: Countdown by Iris Johansen

Countdown by Iris Johansen
Genre: Mystery
Borrowed paperback from the library
Finished reading: 4/9/2011
In six words: Definitely got better as it went

Book Links
Iris Johansen’s website
Amazon: paperback
Add it to Goodreads

Summary

“Don’t kill her. She’s no good to us dead.” These words haunt Jane MacGuire after a shocking attack shatters her world in an instant. Was it a random kidnapping attempt–or the countdown to something far more sinister?

Who is after her–and what do they want so badly they’ll kill anyone in their way? That’s what Jane is determined to find out, without the help of the police, the FBI, or her adoptive parents, forensic sculptor Eve Duncan and her husband, Joe Quinn, of the Atlanta PD–because whoever is after her won’t hesitate to hurt those she loves the most. Now Jane will go on the run with the only man who may be more dangerous than those who are pursuing her. A smuggler, a con man, and who knew what else, Mark Trevor had his own mysterious reasons for wanting to keep Jane safe and out of the hands of a killer obsessed with a two-thousand-year-old mystery that could rock the modern-day world.

Orphaned at an early age, Jane grew up the hard way, but she was given a new life, a loving family, and a chance to pursue her interest in one of the greatest archaeological finds ever unearthed. Now someone was trying to destroy that new life before it could even get started. The past is returning withthe kind of vengeance that knows no mercy. The countdown has already begun, and it’s approaching zero faster than anyone thinks.
-from Goodreads

Why I Read This Book and General Thoughts

I picked this book up at the local library as I was wandering aimlessly, trying to get my bearings after realizing that they had moved things around.  I’ve always enjoyed books by Iris Johansen, thought I might have read this book once, but wasn’t sure, so I decided to pick it up to see for sure.  After all, since I was just borrowing the book, it wouldn’t hurt me if I had already read it.  It took me a little to get into the book, but once I did, it was hard dragging myself back out.  I think I skipped over a bunch of books (even though the story is about Jane MacGuire, it’s considered part of the Eve Duncan series, some of which I’ve read, but not to this point).  Surprisingly, it wasn’t as big of an issue as I thought it would be.

A More In-Depth Look

Although there were a few hiccups along the way (such as the overuse of the phrase “play it by ear”), I was in the mood to be entertained, and this book did the trick.  I hate reading other reviews before I write my own, but I made the mistake of doing so for this one.  They weren’t very positive.  Of the complaints regarding the plots – I didn’t feel as if it was far-fetched.  I mean, it was, and likely nothing like that could ever happen, but part of the author’s job is to get you to suspend your beliefs, and get you to believe that whatever is happening in the book is completely possible.  It worked for me.

From the Eve Duncan books that I do remember, Jane MacGuire was a young girl, scarred from her past.  This gave me the chance to see her as a young woman, wise beyond her years.  We also got to [re]meet Mark Trevor.  It appears that the two have a tangled past, but this was my first introduction to him.  I always seem to end up loving the “seemingly-unscrupulous-guy-who-is-really-actually-good” characters.

There was at least one point in the book (which was never addressed at the end) where I was practically shouting at Jane and Eve as to the identity of a reconstructed skull.  I mean, if Jane is supposedly extremely smart, she would have made the connection herself, though she didn’t.

The rest of the remaining side characters were an interesting bunch, and I loved the twist at the very end, and what it now means for Jane.

You Might Enjoy This Book If…

If you’ve read other Eve Duncan/Jane MacGuire books, you’ll probably like this. There are probably better Iris Johansen books out there, though.

Review: Countdown by Iris Johansen

Countdown by Iris Johansen [A-]
Genre: Mystery
Borrowed paperback from the library
Finished reading: 4/9/2011
In six words: Definitely got better as it went

Summary

“Don’t kill her. She’s no good to us dead.” These words haunt Jane MacGuire after a shocking attack shatters her world in an instant. Was it a random kidnapping attempt–or the countdown to something far more sinister?

Who is after her–and what do they want so badly they’ll kill anyone in their way? That’s what Jane is determined to find out, without the help of the police, the FBI, or her adoptive parents, forensic sculptor Eve Duncan and her husband, Joe Quinn, of the Atlanta PD–because whoever is after her won’t hesitate to hurt those she loves the most. Now Jane will go on the run with the only man who may be more dangerous than those who are pursuing her. A smuggler, a con man, and who knew what else, Mark Trevor had his own mysterious reasons for wanting to keep Jane safe and out of the hands of a killer obsessed with a two-thousand-year-old mystery that could rock the modern-day world.

Orphaned at an early age, Jane grew up the hard way, but she was given a new life, a loving family, and a chance to pursue her interest in one of the greatest archaeological finds ever unearthed. Now someone was trying to destroy that new life before it could even get started. The past is returning withthe kind of vengeance that knows no mercy. The countdown has already begun, and it’s approaching zero faster than anyone thinks.
-from Goodreads

Why I Read This Book and General Thoughts

I picked this book up at the local library as I was wandering aimlessly, trying to get my bearings after realizing that they had moved things around.  I’ve always enjoyed books by Iris Johansen, thought I might have read this book once, but wasn’t sure, so I decided to pick it up to see for sure.  After all, since I was just borrowing the book, it wouldn’t hurt me if I had already read it.  It took me a little to get into the book, but once I did, it was hard dragging myself back out.  I think I skipped over a bunch of books (even though the story is about Jane MacGuire, it’s considered part of the Eve Duncan series, some of which I’ve read, but not to this point).  Surprisingly, it wasn’t as big of an issue as I thought it would be.

A More In-Depth Look

Although there were a few hiccups along the way (such as the overuse of the phrase “play it by ear”), I was in the mood to be entertained, and this book did the trick.  I hate reading other reviews before I write my own, but I made the mistake of doing so for this one.  They weren’t very positive.  Of the complaints regarding the plots – I didn’t feel as if it was far-fetched.  I mean, it was, and likely nothing like that could ever happen, but part of the author’s job is to get you to suspend your beliefs, and get you to believe that whatever is happening in the book is completely possible.  It worked for me.

From the Eve Duncan books that I do remember, Jane MacGuire was a young girl, scarred from her past.  This gave me the chance to see her as a young woman, wise beyond her years.  We also got to [re]meet Mark Trevor.  It appears that the two have a tangled past, but this was my first introduction to him.  I always seem to end up loving the “seemingly-unscrupulous-guy-who-is-really-actually-good” characters.

There was at least one point in the book (which was never addressed at the end) where I was practically shouting at Jane and Eve as to the identity of a reconstructed skull.  I mean, if Jane is supposedly extremely smart, she would have made the connection herself, though she didn’t.

The rest of the remaining side characters were an interesting bunch, and I loved the twist at the very end, and what it now means for Jane.

You Might Enjoy This Book If…

If you’ve read other Eve Duncan/Jane MacGuire books, you’ll probably like this. There are probably better Iris Johansen books out there, though.

Book Links
Iris Johansen’s website
Amazon: paperback
Add it to Goodreads

Review: A Faint Cold Fear

A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter (Grant County #3)
Genre: Mystery
Purchased paperback from B&N
Finished reading 4/8/2011
In six words: This book makes me feel conflicted.
Book Links
Karin Slaughter’s website
Amazon: paperback | e-book
Add it on Goodreads
Book order
1) Blindsighted
2) Kisscut
3) A Faint Cold Fear
4) Indelible
5) Faithless
6) Beyond Reach

Summary

An apparent student suicide has brought medical examiner Sara Linton to the local college campus, along with her ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver. But a horribly mutilated corpse yields up few answers. And a suspicious rash of subsequent “suicides” suggests that a different kind of terror is stalking the youth of Heartsdale, Georgia — a nightmare that is coming to prey on Sara Linton’s loved ones.

A small town is being transformed into a killing ground. And the key to a sadistic murderer’s motive and identity may be held in the unsteady hands of a campus security guard — a former police detective driven from the force by the hellish memories that will never leave her. Lena Adams survived the unthinkable and has paid a devastating price. Now the survival of future victims may depend upon her … when she can barely protect herself.
-from Amazon.com

Why I Read This Book and General Thoughts

This is the third book in Karin Slaughter’s Grant County series.  I first started reading this series over my spring break (aka my last real book bender) because I had read reviews of this series on And the Plot Thickens and thought it sounded like something I might like.  I really enjoyed the first book, so I bought the second.  I liked that one too, so I bought the next four books as a reward for whenever I finished writing my thesis draft.  This book is the third book in the series, but for me it fell a little flat, especially in comparison with the previous two books.  It was still a good book and I intend to continue reading – after all, I’m invested in the characters – but I feel a little frustrated by this book.

A More In-Depth Look

It only took about 20 pages before something happened, and it shocked me enough to the point where it felt surreal, and that maybe I had misread.  While it’s certainly possible that this was the whole point, it was so unexpected and upsetting.  And then it seemed like this certain aspect of the entire plot was shoved underneath the rug and only addressed if  it was necessary to drive the emotional plot between Sara and Jeffrey forward.  I sincerely hope that what happened will be addressed in the next book(s).

We also got to reenter Lena’s life.  She is such a fascinating and broken character.  She terrifies me to a certain extent, because she seems to always be five seconds from screwing up her life completely.  After what happened to her, we can understand some of her inner turmoil and poor choices, but I found myself wanting to shake her and tell her to get it together.

The ending was unexpected (and good), but it took a while to get there.  I’m finding  that mysteries tend to be plot or mystery driven, whereas romances and other fiction tend to be character driven.  Somehow that emotional connection with the character(s) makes the book harder to put down.  It’s easier to set the book down during mysteries – and this one especially so.  I found myself setting the book down of my own volition to do something else.  It wasn’t that the plot or mystery was bad; more so it was simply I was not completely engaged and invested in finishing it as fast as I could so I could find out what happened.

And the final page(s) left me asking, “What exactly does this mean?”  Either I missed something, or Karin Slaughter is dangling a very interesting bit of information out for her reader in order to get us to continue reading the series.  I prefer to think it’s the latter, but the former is possible.

Favorite Quote

“Everybody had something horrible happen to them at one time or another in their life; it was part of the human condition.  How they struggled through adversity proved what kind of people they were.”

You Might Enjoy This Book If…

If you’re already invested in the series, then read this book.  I don’t think it’s the best example of Karin Slaughter’s writing, but it’s still a good book.

 

Review: A Faint Cold Fear

A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter (Grant County #3) [B+]
Genre: Mystery
Purchased paperback from B&N
Finished reading 4/8/2011
In six words: This book makes me feel conflicted.
Book order: 1) Blindsighted [A], 2) Kisscut [A], 3) A Faint Cold Fear [B+], 4) Indelible, 5) Faithless, 6) Beyond Reach

Summary

An apparent student suicide has brought medical examiner Sara Linton to the local college campus, along with her ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver. But a horribly mutilated corpse yields up few answers. And a suspicious rash of subsequent “suicides” suggests that a different kind of terror is stalking the youth of Heartsdale, Georgia — a nightmare that is coming to prey on Sara Linton’s loved ones.

A small town is being transformed into a killing ground. And the key to a sadistic murderer’s motive and identity may be held in the unsteady hands of a campus security guard — a former police detective driven from the force by the hellish memories that will never leave her. Lena Adams survived the unthinkable and has paid a devastating price. Now the survival of future victims may depend upon her … when she can barely protect herself.
-from Amazon.com

Why I Read This Book and General Thoughts

This is the third book in Karin Slaughter’s Grant County series.  I first started reading this series over my spring break (aka my last real book bender) because I had read reviews of this series on And the Plot Thickens and thought it sounded like something I might like.  I really enjoyed the first book, so I bought the second.  I liked that one too, so I bought the next four books as a reward for whenever I finished writing my thesis draft.  This book is the third book in the series, but for me it fell a little flat, especially in comparison with the previous two books.  It was still a good book and I intend to continue reading – after all, I’m invested in the characters – but I feel a little frustrated by this book.

A More In-Depth Look

It only took about 20 pages before something happened, and it shocked me enough to the point where it felt surreal, and that maybe I had misread.  While it’s certainly possible that this was the whole point, it was so unexpected and upsetting.  And then it seemed like this certain aspect of the entire plot was shoved underneath the rug and only addressed if  it was necessary to drive the emotional plot between Sara and Jeffrey forward.  I sincerely hope that what happened will be addressed in the next book(s).

We also got to reenter Lena’s life.  She is such a fascinating and broken character.  She terrifies me to a certain extent, because she seems to always be five seconds from screwing up her life completely.  After what happened to her, we can understand some of her inner turmoil and poor choices, but I found myself wanting to shake her and tell her to get it together.

The ending was unexpected (and good), but it took a while to get there.  I’m finding  that mysteries tend to be plot or mystery driven, whereas romances and other fiction tend to be character driven.  Somehow that emotional connection with the character(s) makes the book harder to put down.  It’s easier to set the book down during mysteries – and this one especially so.  I found myself setting the book down of my own volition to do something else.  It wasn’t that the plot or mystery was bad; more so it was simply I was not completely engaged and invested in finishing it as fast as I could so I could find out what happened.

And the final page(s) left me asking, “What exactly does this mean?”  Either I missed something, or Karin Slaughter is dangling a very interesting bit of information out for her reader in order to get us to continue reading the series.  I prefer to think it’s the latter, but the former is possible.

Favorite Quote

“Everybody had something horrible happen to them at one time or another in their life; it was part of the human condition.  How they struggled through adversity proved what kind of people they were.”

You Might Enjoy This Book If…

If you’re already invested in the series, then read this book.  I don’t think it’s the best example of Karin Slaughter’s writing, but it’s still a good book.

Book Links
Karin Slaughter’s website
Amazon: paperback / e-book
Add it on Goodreads

Review: Eternal Kiss of Darkness

Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress World Book #2)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Purchased paperback from B&N
Finished reading 4/1/2010
In six words: The story was over too soon.

Links

Jeaniene Frost — Website | Twitter.
Amazon: paperback | e-book
Add this book to your Goodreads list

Book Order

1) First Drop of Crimson
2) Eternal Kiss of Darkness

An immortal war has been brewing in the darkness…and now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.

Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she’s only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he’d seen it all. Then Kira appears – this fearless, beautiful….human who braved death to rescue him. Though her burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.

Why I Read This Book and General Thoughts

A few days before my spring break, I was wandering around the local Barnes and Noble trying to find $20 worth of books.  I’m normally not a book buyer so I wanted to be sure the books I got were worth my time.  After I furiously bombarded TaraSG with text messages for recommendations, she finally recommended the Night Huntress series to me, even though it’s not my “normal” genre.  I basically got hooked, read all the Night Huntress series over my break, and have proceeded to devour the Night Huntress World series.  I have no regrets.  I love the world that the author has created and the stories that go along with it.  Getting to know more about the side characters has been a fun adventure of its own.

A More In-Depth Look

I read this in an afternoon, and quite frankly blew right through it.  In many ways, the story was over too soon, but I think that’s more because I read the book straight through with few interruptions rather than the book itself.  I lacked time to mull the story over in my head and really become connected to the book. (note to self: slow down next time)  This is a typical Jeaniene Frost book though, which means that it’s awesome.

I really enjoyed getting to know Mencheres and Kira.  They don’t quite have the same snark as Cat and Bones (but really, who could?), but I still connected with them.  After the previous books, there seemed to be a lot of mystery surrounding Mencheres, and this gave us a chance to know him better.  You got the feeling that behind all that power was a lot of responsibility, and a tortured soul that you had to love.  Mencheres handles it well.  Kira was a good match for him.

You Might Enjoy This Book If…

If you like the Night Huntress world that Jeaniene Frost has created, or if you want to learn more about the side characters from the Night Huntress series, then this is a must read.  But if you love the snark between Cat and Bones, then this book may not be quite as fun.

Other Reviews

The Unread Reader
Book Lovers, Inc.
Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog

Review: Eternal Kiss of Darkness

Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress World Book #2) [A]
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Purchased paperback from B&N
Finished reading 4/1/2010
In six words: The story was over too soon.
Book Order:  1) First Drop of Crimson [A], 2) Eternal Kiss of Darkness [A]

An immortal war has been brewing in the darkness…and now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.

Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she’s only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he’d seen it all. Then Kira appears – this fearless, beautiful….human who braved death to rescue him. Though her burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.

Why I Read This Book and General Thoughts

A few days before my spring break, I was wandering around the local Barnes and Noble trying to find $20 worth of books.  I’m normally not a book buyer so I wanted to be sure the books I got were worth my time.  After I furiously bombarded TaraSG with text messages for recommendations, she finally recommended the Night Huntress series to me, even though it’s not my “normal” genre.  I basically got hooked, read all the Night Huntress series over my break, and have proceeded to devour the Night Huntress World series.  I have no regrets.  I love the world that the author has created and the stories that go along with it.  Getting to know more about the side characters has been a fun adventure of its own.

A More In-Depth Look

I read this in an afternoon, and quite frankly blew right through it.  In many ways, the story was over too soon, but I think that’s more because I read the book straight through with few interruptions rather than the book itself.  I lacked time to mull the story over in my head and really become connected to the book. (note to self: slow down next time)  This is a typical Jeaniene Frost book though, which means that it’s awesome.

I really enjoyed getting to know Mencheres and Kira.  They don’t quite have the same snark as Cat and Bones (but really, who could?), but I still connected with them.  After the previous books, there seemed to be a lot of mystery surrounding Mencheres, and this gave us a chance to know him better.  You got the feeling that behind all that power was a lot of responsibility, and a tortured soul that you had to love.  Mencheres handles it well.  Kira was a good match for him.

You Might Enjoy This Book If…

If you like the Night Huntress world that Jeaniene Frost has created, or if you want to learn more about the side characters from the Night Huntress series, then this is a must read.  But if you love the snark between Cat and Bones, then this book may not be quite as fun.

Links

Jeaniene Frost’s Website and Twitter.
Amazon: paperback / e-book
Add this book to your Goodreads list

Other Reviews

The Unread Reader
Book Lovers, Inc.
Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog