Howling at the Moon

Life is anything but ordinary for Sophie Garou.  Her mother is a psychic witch, her father who she’s never met, was a born werewolf.  Being raised by her mother alone, for the first ten years of her life, they had to continually move as Sophie’s werewolf nature would cause her to go furry on a regular basis, not just tied to the moon but emotions too.  Daycares and schools seem to frown on that for some reason.  Having found a place in Austin, Texas without it’s own pack, they finally manage to set down roots and her mother perfects a recipe for a wolfsbane tea which suppresses the urge to change unless she wants to.  Apart from the four equinoxes.  Then she has no choice but to fur up and go wolf.  With a job as an auditor, a hot lawyer boyfriend and a best friend, life should be good but her secret is something she is too scared to share.  Things get very complicated as her boss and boyfriend both have plans for her on the coming equinox.  When her mother is arrested for the murder of a local politician and the police not interested in looking for anyone beyond her, it’s up to Sophie to try and find who the real killer is.  When she meets Tom, the golden haired and powerful born werewolf, her furry side hormones kick in to full.  Yup, life is definitely anything but ordinary.

This is the first book I’ve read by Karen MacInerney and it’s a fun read.  Nothing too deep, the story flows easily and engages you quickly.  Often whimsical and funny, I couldn’t help but like the main character of Sophie.  She’s brave and gutsy and the moments she starts wolfing out in inappropriate places just made me laugh.  The chemistry between her and the mysterious Tom is well written and hot.   In contrast when she is with her boyfriend Heath, while it’s good between them, you know there is something not quite right.  Sophie’s best friend is funny too, acerbic and witty and willing to help solve the murder case and get her mother out of jail. Her mother is really the icing on the cake for the book.  She’s scatty and loves her daughter, wants the best for her but her methods are usually a bit madcap and involve the use of attraction amulets or love potions. As a mix they work really well, their interactions are funny, well written and enjoyable.

The pace of the book is pretty good, and while the plot is fairly simple, it doesn’t really matter as the charm of story is the characters.   There were a few plot devices that were actually pretty funny but it did jerk you out of the story to go hmmm…  But it did keep me reading and entertained and by the end was relieved I have the second book on the shelf waiting.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Karen MacInerney
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Hunting Ground

Following on from Cry Wolf, Anna is still coming to terms with her past and being married and mated to Charles.  She is now firmly established as Omega in the Pack and learning about her new status.  Bran as Marrok continues his plans of bringing the American Werewolves out into the public world.  He sends Charles and Anna to Seattle to meet with international Alphas to settle any concerns they might have and has the meeting arbitrated by one of the Fae.   The French Alpha, after provoking a fight ends up being murdered and all evidence seems to point to Charles.  Knowing he’s innocent, Anna sets out to discover who is responsible for both the murder and framing Charles.

I read this book straight after Cry Wolf and it was a very smooth transition, just sucked me right back in as if I hadn’t switched books.  The plot was a bit more complex this time but didn’t detract from the heart of the book, the characters of Anna and Charles.  Her growth from being a submissive victim to a more confident, loving and protective young woman has been really well done.  The development of her human side was well written, and the werewolf aspect almost secondary.  On the opposite side, seeing Charles becoming more relaxed, getting used to having a mate and having to be softer with Anna has been just as good.  Even with the bond they have as mates, communications still get mixed up and it can sometimes be amusing as they sort it out.

There are a lot more characters in this book than the last and it was interesting to see how Charles and Anna interacted with them all both as a couple and separately.  I didn’t predict the ending at all which surprised me, the clues I spotted led me in a completely different direction and I thought it was cleverly done.

It was a good second book, as easy to read as the first and I fell in love with Anna and Charles all over again.  I really hope there are more to follow!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Patricia Briggs
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Cry Wolf

For Anna being a werewolf was about pain, torment and submission.  Even after she was rescued by Charles, the Marrok’s enforcer, and claimed as his mate, she expected more of the same.   Finding it hard to believe not all werewolves were as sick and brutal as the ones she left behind, she reluctantly journeys to Montana with the wounded Charles and learns she is a special type of wolf – an Omega.  Neither submissive nor Alpha, she has the power to soothe the savage beast within others and as such should have been a much valued member of the pack.  Her wolf side was all for the mating with Charles but the human side is too scared to let go and trust another person, even the one she was meant to be with.

Anna and Charles first appeared as minor characters in the Mercy Thompson books and then had their own short story told in the ‘On the Prowl’ Anthology.  I’d read those and thought they were interesting characters and was happy to hear they had been built on and now had their own book.  I didn’t really have many expectations as it doesn’t always work and sometimes it is best to leave well enough alone.

Having just finished the book my impression is of having read a very touching story of survival and cost, and learning to trust again.  Familiar themes within urban fantasy but as with the Mercy Thompson books, Patricia Briggs has a fluid and easy to read way of writing that drags you into the story.  I loved the characters of Anna and Charles, Anna being very sweet and likeable, Charles being an Alpha and dominant wolf but tempered with intelligence, his position within the pack and his obvious love for Anna.

From the start the empathy with them returned, pretty much picking up where the short story ended and I liked that.  The original tale was quite brutal and I needed to know that for Anna it was starting to work out – and this book delivers on that front.  The plot was good, not very complex but since the book is character driven, it didn’t need to be and by the end I was firmly in love with these characters.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Patricia Briggs
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Bad Moon Rising

I don’t know how Sherrilyn Kenyon does it, but I’m so glad she does.  Bad Moon Rising is the 18th book in the Dark-Hunter series and it’s showing no sign of stopping yet.  You fear with such a long running series that it will start tailing off, the author starts to get bored or runs out of steam and continues for the sake of it, but there is just no sign at all of that happening here.  You feel the love and care she writes with, her characters larger than life but so real and that shines through in every book.  It raises them from a good read to an amazing one.

Bad Moon Rising has everything you want in a Dark-Hunter book and then some.  It’s Fang’s Story beginning with his history, something you know a little of from his brother Vane’s book (Night Play),  through to where Fang is in his apparent coma and then it all takes off.  You get to see some old friends again which is always great and another thing I love about the Dark-Hunter books and how they often blend in together, seeing another story from a different angle.  New enemies, betrayal and revenge feature heavily as always and fast paced action across it all.  But the thing we all want and need the most, is present in abundance.  Love.

I have to say (and try not to spoil anything), the ending is a shocker and I think it was really brave of Sherrilyn to do what she did there and I admire her for it.  I don’t mind admitting I cried, as I imagine others will too.

I really can’t wait for the next one!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Genre: Paranormal Romance
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Memory Zero

Samantha Ryan is a Melbourne State cop that has no memory of her childhood or her parents, the only thing she has is a child’s drawing of a woman with ‘Mummy’ written underneath.  Things start falling apart when her partner Jack, tries to kill her and weird things start happening around her… and to her.  When Gabriel Stern, a shapechanger of the Special Investigations Unit gets involved, she realises there is more going on than a cop gone rogue and she is right in the middle of it.

I really like Keri Arthur’s work in general, it’s exciting, easy to read and she is very good at creating characters you love and care about.  But after reading and being a bit disappointed with Deadly Desire, I picked this up fully expecting to feel the same way.  It’s the first book in a new series and I have to say it was really good.  Maybe the freshness of all new characters and settings helped but everything felt just right.  The plot was pretty good, if a little twisty at times but the pace of answers being revealed was just right and kept you reading, trying to guess what was going on.  I loved the main characters, Samantha being the one who stands out the most.  Definately not a heroine who gets dropped in the deep end and flounders, waiting for the guy to come and save her.  She can hold her own and I think that worked really well with the character of Gabriel who is alternately confused then impressed by her.  The end of the book felt very unfinished so I really hope there is a second book in the works or I will be left forever wondering.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Keri Arthur
  • Series: Spook Squad (1)
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Kelley Armstrong

About Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong lives with her husband and three children in Ontario, Canada. She is a full time writer and is not afraid to have a photo taken by her youngest child as her author picture!

http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com

My comments

Dime Store Magic was the first book I picked up, thinking it was the first of the series and I fell in love instantly. The vibrancy and humour of the characters was very attractive, their world so different yet so similar to our own. It was a complete surprise when I picked up Bitten believing it to be the next book and found it was from the perspective of a completely different character. I realised then that Kelley Armstrong had a unique way of writing. She created the ‘Otherworld’ universe and then chose key characters from within it to narrate their stories, sometimes crossing paths with the others, often fighting their battles alone. She has quite a few stories published in anthologies which fit in with the series, along with the treat of several original stories on her website – which is well worth having a look at.

Bibliography

Otherworld Series (in chronological order)

Otherworld Anthologies/Contributions

Free Online Fiction by Kelley Armstrong

http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/free-online-fiction/

Darkest Powers (Young Adult Otherworld Series)

Nadia Stafford (Crime)

Acheron

Occasionally you come across a series that you completely fall in love with and the Dark-Hunter books were such a series for me. I hadn’t really read much in the romance genre, preferring to stick to Fantasy, Sci-fi and Chick Lit. I was stuck for something to read and happened to pick up a book by Sherrilyn Kenyon in a charity shop and since the back blurb intrigued me, I decided to give it a go. I was hooked from then on. It was gutsy, romantic, sexy, funny and the action scenes were all you could want. It was incredibly well written and the story just flowed smoothly, right to the last page and I was actually sad it had ended. When I found there was a whole series of them, I was overjoyed! I’d class them as Supernatural Romance rather than plain romance as they feature werewolves, vampires and hot, sexy gods. What was not to love? Though each book in the series focused on different characters and their lives, the link between them all was Acheron. An enigma you never learnt too much about but couldn’t help loving anyway. You know he’d been incredibly hurt and alone for a dozen lifetimes but not by who, how or where. The sacrifices he made for those he loved were beyond anything you could imagine. As I read each book, I wanted to know more about this intriguing character but because of his nature and the storyline, I feared that the only time you would find out would be at the very end of the series.

Finally his story has been written and I couldn’t put it down. Rather than it being told as a memory, you are taken through his life and the things that he endured that made him the man he is today. You understand so much more about him and the choices and sacrifices he had to make. It was brilliantly written and when his history is done and it switches to the modern Ash that we know and love, you can’t help empathising with him and fearing that this time he will come completely undone and have no way back. The character of Tory ties in with several others as has happened a lot in the other books, a facet of Kenyon’s world that I love and I wonder how on earth she manages to keep them all straight. You can’t help but love Tory, her determination and fierce loyalty are ultimately the things that Ash is drawn to and feel there would be no one more perfect for him, if they can endure the obstacles that are put in their path.

As I said before, I couldn’t put this book down and it was a fantastic book of the history of the Dark-Hunters and their lives. I loved it and am extremely happy that my fears were unfounded and this is not the end of the series. I can’t wait for the next book!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
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Where Demons Dare

Rachel is again being sought after by Al the demon, her family and friends being threatened to try and make her capitulate. Struggling to deal with her grief and find some balance with Ivy amongst it all, she is begged for help from someone she wishes she could refuse. Can she evade Algaliarept, Newt and Minias, the three demons who have an interest in her while she helps Trent and achieve the desired result of keeping all she loves free from their persecution. A family secret finally comes to light and with it, a new horrifying fear for Rachel.

The first couple of books in this series were fairly light-hearted, even when dealing with the emotional side of each character. As the series has progressed, they have gotten less so – emotions have gotten deeper and the moral lines of good and evil blurring as they do what they need to, to survive. The characters have matured, had their view of the world changed time and time again and they roll with the punches because they have to. The books reflect that very well, maturing along with the main characters which, I think, is something that makes them very good. Another facet is that they can and do make mistakes like the rest of us, Rachel in particular realising that she can’t carry on as she has been, after a particular event happens.

They are so well written you can’t help but empathise with Rachel, Ivy and Jenks and caring about them deepens with each book as you learn more of their history. The pace of the plot is again good and consistent, and as always, I finish itching to read the next. Unfortunately that won’t happen until the next book is published.

Dammit!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kim Harrison
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For a Few Demons More

Rachel doesn’t like dealing with demons. Unfortunately, they seem to like dealing with her. Having two demons interested in her, one after her soul, would be enough for any Witch but as usual Life gut-punches Rachel when she’s called to the morgue where several unknown Were suicides have turned up. The item she fought to keep secret is threatening to come to the surface again and with it, the threat of an Inderland power struggle.

I found this book much more emotional than the previous four, the latter half engaging me on a deeper level. What had been fairly lighthearted up til now, turned more serious and at times, heart-rending. It showed that while you can struggle to keep things the same, inevitably life changes and often in a direction you don’t want. The characterisations are as strong as ever and I was hit harder than I expected to be, by the death of a loved character. This was the last book I owned and had to order the next one (Where Demons Dare – Book 6) and while I also have that same eagerness to read it that I’ve enjoyed all through this series, I also feel sad that one of them won’t be there anymore.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kim Harrison
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

A Fistful of Charms

The fourth installment in this series opens three or so months on from the last book, and true to form, opens straight in to the action. Rachel is in deeper trouble with the Demons and due to her decision to keep a secret from Jenks, she and Ivy are without the little pixie and his family. Her ex-love Nick comes back into the scene and she feels obligated to help him out, along with Jenks’ son who went with Nick when he left. They have to travel beyond The Hollows and deal with the mundane world along with everything else and Rachel has to make some hard decisions.

I love the titles of this series, I really do! As I’ve read each book in the series, I keep expecting the quality of writing and plot to start dropping and it just hasn’t, if anything it has gotten better. Jenks’ absence in the beginning is like a huge void and you realise just how well the three main characters work together, as dysfunctional as they can be. The plot runs very smoothly, each event happening in good time rather than feeling overly rushed or too slow and again you get tidbits of history about each of the main cast that rounds them out even more. One of the things I’ve liked about Rachel’s character is how she started looking at things very black and white – white is good and black is evil. To survive, she’s slowly learned that things just aren’t as cut and dried as she thought and that some of the choices she’s had to make may not be ‘good’ but don’t make her ‘evil’.

I know I’ve said it before but I couldn’t help but pick up the fifth book straight away once I was finished with this one. I’m not sure what I will do afterwards as it is the last one I own and there is only one more that has been published at the moment!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kim Harrison
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)