Pride by Rachel Vincent
Series: Shifters #3
Published by MIRA
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Stray, Rogue
I'm on trial for my life. Falsely accused of infecting my human ex-boyfriend—and killing him to cover up the crime. Infecting a human is one of three capital offenses recognized by the Pride—along with murder and disclosure of our existence to a human.
I'm two for three. A goner.
Now we've discovered a rogue stray terrorizing the mountainside, hunting a wild teenage tabbycat. It's up to us to find and stop him before a human discovers us. With my lover Marc's help, I think I can protect the vulnerable girl from both the ambitious rogue and the scheming of the territorial council.
If I survive my own trial…
Thoughts: I am SO friggin’ glad I stuck with this series! Because Faythe? The character who I have consistently used as the poster girl for “everything I hate in a narrator”? The character whose name I’d use as a synonym for “OMG she needs to die”?
Well, I kinda like her now.
People have been telling me for years (literally – I realised I started this series back in 2009) that Faythe gets better and grows up with every book. And they’re right – she does grow up. She’s not yet at the point where I actually would spend more than a half-a-minute with her, but she’s getting there. Because all the things I hated about her – her rudeness, her temper, her impulsiveness, her insistence that it is her-way-or-the-highway – they are becoming the things I love about her. Why? Because Kaci – the tabbycat in the summary – needs these qualities in Faythe in order to keep her protected. Turns out Faythe can be totally awesome while she’s protecting someone…
Moving on. The plot is as tight as always. Even though there is a tonne of werecat-political intrigue, there is also a whole bunch of action. All the bloods-and-guts scenes that I felt were missing from Rogue are back in full force. Not to mention Vincent gives us not-one-but-two excellent villains to hate. It’s fantastic…
And then there’s the wonderful-as-always Marc. He’s such a cat in some ways – violent and temperamental – but he’s also so bloody noble that I just want to squeeze him to death. Love this guy! Ooh, I also adored Elias Keller, the were-bear introduced within the first few chapters. I was intrigued to find out the verse had more were-species, and that Keller turned out be a welcome voice of reason among the pride of kitties made me even happier.
Bottom line? Pride made me a believer in this series. If you gave up on Faythe during Stray, well, you should stick it out. She may be frustrating, but the series is well worth the effort.
Night Shift (Jill Kismet #1) by Lilith Saintcrow
Librarything / Goodreads
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 3 stars
Summary: Not everyone can take on the things that go bump in the night.
Not everyone tries.
But Jill Kismet is not just anyone.
She’s a Hunter, trained by the best – and in over her head.
Welcome to the night shift…
Thoughts: I picked up Night Shift on the strength of Lili’s YA series, Strange Angels. And while they are obviously written by the same author, I couldn’t quite get a grip on her Jill Kismet series.
This is dark urban fantasy, reminding me on the early Anita Blake books: complete with sexual violence, psychological violence, demonic violence, and, er, violent violence. Not at all cheery. As far as I remember, there are no laugh breaks and no light moments – and they would have felt forced if they’d been included. As for Jill, she’s just as dark and twisty as the verse. She’ll need about 100+ years of therapy before being allowed into regular society. But Jill’s also tough, kick-ass, and extremely independent; this is a woman who jumps straight into the fight.
Does any of this sound familiar? Well, it should. Night Shift is an a-typical Urban Fantasy book. Almost every trope you’ve ever read is included… but the way it’s been written makes it all seem rather new. Let’s be honest here, people. As much as we like “a fresh take on urban fantasy”, there’s something to be said for a decent take on the bog-standard. And, well, Night Shift is just that.
So, if I liked the tropes and the dark-twisty characters, why aren’t I giving this book more stars?
The short answer: emotion. The long answer: the lack of emotion. We spend the entire novel hearing about Jill’s painful loss of her mentor Mikhail (who I thought was a total creep) and her terrible fear of Perry-the-demon (who wasn’t all that scary) – all through her extremely snarky and self-deprecating inner-voice. And despite this – or maybe because of this – absolutely none of her emotions seemed real. I didn’t “get” her, nor was I particularly keen to.
Bottom line? Night Shift is a solid urban fantasy novel, but I’d only recommend it to die-hard fans. That said, I’ll probably continue the series as I think Jill just needs to grow on me!
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkness Rising #1
Published by ATOM
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: The Rising
Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.
Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.
Thoughts: I’ll admit it, I almost didn’t want to read this book. I was such a huge fan of the Darkest Powers series and was pretty terrified that this newest trilogy wouldn’t live up to my expectations. And while it is certainly not as fierce as The Awakening or The Reckoning, I’d say it is most certainly the first book in a fantastic new Kelley Armstrong series.
Let’s start off with our new heroine, Maya. For starters, she’s a lot more experienced than Chloe – she’s confident in all sorts of social situations, with guys, and holds no prisoners even when speaking to her parents. Even though Chloe could certainly stand up for herself, Maya let’s no one think she can’t handle herself. This is a girl who can – literally – scare off a cougar… she’s awesome. And just because she’s tough, it doesn’t make her mean. Yeah, she has quite a few defense mechanisms in place to stop from getting emotionally hurt, but she isn’t bitchy in the least.
I also adored Maya’s relationship with her adoptive parents. Armstrong avoids all the parental YA tropes! If you want to read a realistic, loving relationship between two parents and their daughter, then read The Gathering. In fact, Armstrong gets an A+ for all characters in this novel. Love interest Rafe was fabulous. Slightly twisted by circumstance, but fundamentally a good guy. Reminded me of Derek despite being nothing at all like Derek. In fact, this entire book reminded me of its predecessor trilogy despite being very, very different…
Then there’s the plot. Although the book left me going “what! that’s it! I need MORE!”, it is by no means lacking in substance. While those of us who have read the Darkest Powers trilogy might see a couple of clues that first-time Armstrong fans will not, by the end of the book, I’m certain you’ll be just as mystified as everyone else. After I finished The Gathering, I filled my Books Moleskine with over a dozen questions I wanted answered asap. I wasn’t sure what side I should be on, I didn’t know who the bad guys were, and I sure didn’t know whether or not Maya was making the right decision. All the same thoughts/feelings I had after reading The Summoning!
Ok, so I tried and failed to review this book without mentioning the first trilogy… but read that as the compliment it is meant to be!
Bottom line? Kelley Armstrong can do no wrong. Read this. Now.
Stray by Rachel Vincent
Series: Shifters #1
Published by MIRA
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.