Review: Stray by Rachel Vincent

Review: Stray by Rachel VincentStray by Rachel Vincent
Series: Shifters #1
Published by MIRA
Pages: 624
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Rogue, Pride

The difference between the movies and reality? In real life, I was the monster.

Faythe Sanders looks like an ordinary student, but she’s hiding a dark secret: she is a werecat, a powerful supernatural predator. Yet headstrong, independent Faythe resents her power, heading to college to escape her family and her overprotective ex, Marc.

That is until a stray – a dangerous werecat without a pride or territory – catches her scent. With two werecat girls already missing, Faythe is summoned home for her own protection.

But Faythe will do whatever it takes to find her kidnapped kin. She has claws – and she’s not afraid to use them.

Rec for people who love: Cats, kick-ass females, and cats (loving cats is kinda key for this book).

First Line: The moment the door opened I knew an ass–kicking was inevitable.

Thoughts: Let me start out by saying that I did enjoy this book. Quite a bit by the end. But I am still pretty conflicted about the main character, Faythe. The book opened with her being as a rebellious werecat, pretty flighty and, erm, completely irrational. The only thing that made me feel better was the fact that she realized how juvenile she often sounded – but was just unable to hold herself back.

Also, her relationship with Marc, the overprotective ex in the summary, was bizarre. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Marc. He is exactly the type of traumatized-but-noble hero that I fall in love with. But she just kept flip flopping between being furious with him (for no particular reason) and being completely understanding. It drove me slightly mad.

Her behavior towards her family – her father in particular – was also irrational. Especially considering how much danger she knew she was in. While I understood that she felt like she was trapped by her family – and she was, literally at times – she also understood their motivation. To me, if you understand the motivation and even agree with it, shouldn’t you approve?

Well, I continued reading the book despite this rather intense dislike. I felt they really couldn’t do anything to make me dislike her any more, so the only way forward was up.

Let’s just say I was right. Without giving away too much of the plot, Faythe grows up quite a bit by the end of the 600 page novel. It’s a natural development that keeps her tough-as-nails personality intact – which even I appreciated. By the end of the book, I actually liked Faythe – so if you dislike her while reading, I would recommend you stick it out.

On a different note, this was a pretty violent book. Death, rape, kidnapping, torture – the whole shebang. I expected it to be since, hello, werecats? But I know that some people will be pretty disturbed by a lot of the themes. Some of which – women in cages, raped and brutalized – will probably resonate more with female readers. Vincent does an amazing job describing violence without loosing the reader – to either the fear or to the plain old “but I thought he had a broken arm” confusion. I could really visualize what Faythe goes through from the sound of breaking bones, to the smell of blood. Let’s just say the excruciating pain seeped naturally out of the pages. But unlike some horror authors, the trauma was bearable and won’t turn your stomach.

At least, hopefully it won’t.

I will be getting to the next books in her series. Although I might wait a month or so. There is only so much werecat I can take.

I really am more of a dog person.

Review: Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

Review: Remember Me? by Sophie KinsellaRemember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
Published by Bantam Books, Dial
Pages: 448
Source: Purchased myself
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When twenty-eight-year-old Lexi Smart wakes up in a London hospital, she’s in for a big surprise. Her teeth are perfect. Her body is toned. Her handbag is Vuitton. Having survived a car accident—in a Mercedes no less—Lexi has lost a big chunk of her memory, three years to be exact, and she’s about to find out just how much things have changed.

Somehow Lexi went from a twenty-five-year-old working girl to a corporate big shot with a sleek new loft, a personal assistant, a carb-free diet, and a set of glamorous new friends. And who is this gorgeous husband—who also happens to be a multimillionaire? With her mind still stuck three years in reverse, Lexi greets this brave new world determined to be the person she…well, seems to be. That is, until an adorably disheveled architect drops the biggest bombshell of all.

Suddenly Lexi is scrambling to catch her balance. Her new life, it turns out, comes complete with secrets, schemes, and intrigue. How on earth did all this happen? Will she ever remember? And what will happen when she does?

Rec for people who love: Page turners with a good laugh!

Thoughts: This was the first so-called “chick lit” book I have ever read. To be honest, I have always been somewhat skeptical about their quality. But after listening to an interview that Barnes and Noble did with Sophie Kinsella, I had to read something of hers. She was witty, intelligent and extremely British. So stumbling upon her book in a charity shop the same day seemed like fate. However, the summary left a lot to love.

It took about a hundred pages for me to really start liking the book. The main character, Lexi, at first seems painfully typical – the get-pissed-and-pull girl I went to school with. But I quickly realized there was a lot more to her than that, and she turned out to be a funny, bright and fiercely loyal lady.

I read the book in two sittings, which is highly unusual for me, even when I love a book. But I couldn’t help but trying to will Lexi into realizing her new life is not really hers. As if the faster I read, the sooner she would realize.

It is really easy from my point of view, of course, but Sophie Kinsella goes about the realization in a way that stays true to character. Things go from horribly awkward, to just down right horrible for Lexi (I actually cried at one point, which was extremely odd considering no one had died). Just as I was about to call my own life as miserable as Lexi’s…. Kinsella turns the mood around to brightly comic in a half page. It was genius – and it completely turned around my view about the genre.

I am not saying it is literary genius, but it was one hell of a story. Kinsella can spin a tale extremely well, and just because it happens to be a tale about a young, single woman is kinda irrelevant. If you are a fan of chick-lit, I am pretty sure you already have this on your TBR pile. But if you, like me, tend to shy away from anything with a cartoon twentysomething on the cover… well… reconsider. Kinsella spun together a story for pure escapism, and I for one plan to buy more of her tales!

Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine HarrisDead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #1
Published by Ace/Roc, Gollancz
Pages: 292
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Dead as a Doornail

Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana, but she keeps to herself and doesn't date much because of her "disability" to read minds. When she meets Bill, Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's the type of guy she's waited for all of her life, but he has a disability, too--he's a vampire with a bad reputation. When one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next.

 I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar.

Thoughts:  I really enjoyed this book. What got me out to the bookstore was seeing the True Blood pilot. I would highly recommend watching it when the season airs and as it totally added to the experience. I bought it mostly out of love for Bill – who reminds me of Edward from the Twilight series despite being nothing like him at all.

Anyhow, this book was so much fun. It was such an amazing look on the whole vampire/human romance because they are all “out of the coffin”. Usually it’s all one big secret, but in this case everyone and their mother knows what Sookie is up to with Bill.

Another thing that I really appreciated was Sookie being just that little bit special and it not being such a good thing. Charlaine Harris deals very well with the fact that a young girl hearing voices in her head is not exactly healthy. Reminds me of the J.K. Rowling quote, Hearing voices no one else can hear isn’t a good sign, even in the wizarding world.

Review: From Baghdad, With Love by Jay Kopelman and Melinda Roth

Review: From Baghdad, With Love by Jay Kopelman and Melinda RothFrom Baghdad, With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava by Jay Kopelman, Melinda Roth
Published by Lyons Press
Pages: 196
Genres: Non-Fiction
Source: Purchased myself
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In From Baghdad, With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava, Jay Kopelman tells a story that is both tender and thought-provoking - candidly portraying the ugly conditions in wartime Iraq, while also describing his (and his fellow Marines') growing attachment to a scruffy stray puppy.

Thoughts: I first heard of this book a good year ago, when I heard the author give a beautiful interview on NPR. Being the huge dog lover that I am, not to mention overly romantic, this book was practically made for me. The writing is simple, and the story itself isn’t too long – but its a beautiful one. The Lieutenant Colonel truly cared about this dog, despite himself. And the amount of people who found room in their hearts to help him and this amazing pup is just…. well, astounding considering the circumstances. It made me feel better about this world, just the thought of their being people selfless enough to do the right thing in a world where there is just so much wrong.

I was slightly nervous about any war propaganda that could rear its head, but I found the book completely neutral. Very matter of fact, “we are, and it’s crap, but this is what we signed up for” – while I am completely against the war, there is absolutely nothing in it to insult anyone who swings the other way.

As you can tell, I’m including a few pics of Lava – and I am sure that any dog lover will head straight to amazon after just a glance!

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