Review: Bleeding Out by Jes Battis

Bleeding Out (OSI, #5)Bleed­ing Out by Jes Bat­tis
My rat­ing: 2 of 5 stars

Woof, I made it. I wasn’t sure that I would, as this nov­el start­ed out nor­mal­ly and devolved into a stream-of-con­scious­ness mess. I was seri­ous­ly moti­vat­ed to keep going, though, because I read the rest of the series and this is the last book in it.

So I pushed on through, got to a bit of light in the tun­nel, and then there was more muck. Real­ly, Mr. Bat­tis — this is a pop­u­lar work! Or did you just feel like, “Hey, this is the end of my con­tract, I can do what­ev­er I want…” That’s the feel­ing I got, hon­est­ly. It doesn’t moti­vate me to pick up what­ev­er Bat­tis pub­lish­es in the future.

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Review: Endgame by Ann Aguirre

Endgame (Sirantha Jax, #6)Endgame by Ann Aguirre
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Endgame is the final book in the Sir­an­tha Jax series, accord­ing to Aguirre, and it def­i­nite­ly shows. Every­thing gets wrapped up very sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly. Noth­ing new is intro­duced. Jax’s rela­tion­ships with March and Vel are both expand­ed in a delight­ful man­ner, and I love the way that works out. She also gets to devel­op a not-quite-moth­er­ly rela­tion­ship with Sasha, March’s adopt­ed son.

The entire vol­ume takes place on Laheng, home of the Lahen­grin. We’ve only met the race through Loras so far in the series, but their sto­ry is touch­ing. This is Loras’ sto­ry as much as any­thing, the sto­ry of the fight to free the Lahen­grin from the Nicuans and from the need to be owned (or “pro­tect­ed” as it is called). The action is bru­tal — Aguirre doesn’t hide the real­i­ties of war. She doesn’t dwell on it in an obscene man­ner, though, so the book is read­able.

Read­ing the end­ing of a won­der­ful series is also bit­ter­sweet, but at least Aguirre has stat­ed that she’ll revis­it this uni­verse.

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Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels World, #1)Gun­metal Mag­ic by Ilona Andrews
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I’m fair­ly sure that I missed a Kate Daniels book, because I don’t recall some of the events referred to in this book. That annoys me, and I’ll have to go back and read what­ev­er the last one was out of order now. It’ll be worth it, though, because Ilona Andrews’ writ­ing is always fun. Gun­metal Mag­ic is no excep­tion.

This is the first nov­el to focus on Andrea Nash, Kate Daniels’ best friend. Exposed as a shapeshifter, she’s been kicked out of the Order. She had just cho­sen to obey orders from a supe­ri­or offi­cer instead of fight­ing with the Pack, which led to a breakup with her lover Raphael. Now she has to rebuild her life from a shat­tered ruin.

Andrea is a fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter, abused repeat­ed­ly in her ter­ri­ble child­hood and raised to be ashamed of and hide her shapeshift­ing nature. Her rela­tion­ship with Raphael is informed by their bou­da nature, but her human side isn’t left out by any means.

I par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoy the part that Atlanta plays in Andrews’ books, but as a near-native Atlanta I’m bound to be biased in that respect.

This vol­ume and the bonus novel­la “Mag­ic Gifts” are def­i­nite­ly worth­while read­ing for any fan of the Kate Daniels series.

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review: In Session by M.J. Rose

In Session: Dr. Morgan Snow with Steve Berry's Cotton Malone, Lee Child's Jack Reacher & Barry Eisler's John RainIn Ses­sion: Dr. Mor­gan Snow with Steve Berry’s Cot­ton Mal­one, Lee Child’s Jack Reach­er & Bar­ry Eisler’s John Rain by M.J. Rose
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve nev­er read any­thing by any of these authors before, so my per­spec­tive on this piece is prob­a­bly going to be skewed com­pared to that of most readers/listeners. How­ev­er, it was free on Audi­ble briefly and looked inter­est­ing, so I added it to my library. I hap­pened to be in the car a long time today and this is what I had down­loaded on my iPad, so this is one of the things that I lis­tened to.

I found all three sto­ries to be very engag­ing, and found myself inter­est­ed in read­ing more about each char­ac­ter involved in the sto­ries. What fas­ci­nat­ed me the most, though, was Rose’s account of how the sto­ries were writ­ten — the dif­fer­ent ways the authors chose to work with her, how she pre­pared to write from the point of view of oth­er authors’ very well-known heroes, and so on. I would rec­om­mend this to any­one inter­est­ed in writ­ing as a cre­ative endeav­or for that por­tion in par­tic­u­lar.

The fact that the nar­ra­tors who nor­mal­ly per­form the voic­es of each char­ac­ter in their own series appeared in this per­for­mance adds an addi­tion­al touch of pro­fes­sion­al­ism to the record­ing, as well.

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Review: Forever Werewolf/Moon Kissed

Forever Werewolf: Forever Werewolf\Moon KissedFor­ev­er Were­wolf: For­ev­er Werewolf\Moon Kissed by Michele Hauf
My rat­ing: 1 of 5 stars

Full dis­clo­sure: I was giv­en a copy of this book to review. I’m glad I didn’t buy it. I imag­ine I might have been harsh­er.

In For­ev­er Were­wolf, Tryst is just deliv­er­ing a pack­age to Wulf­siege on behalf of his father’s secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny when he gets trapped there by an avalanche. He doesn’t mind, though, because the recip­i­ent of that pack­age has a lus­cious daugh­ter, Lexi.

Female were­wolves are rare, and those few are pro­tect­ed like the pre­cious trea­sures they are. Even though Tryst wasn’t brought up in a pack, he knows that much. He also knows there’s some­thing very strange about the fact that Lexi isn’t claimed by any of the males in the pack — in fact, they seem to give her a wide berth. She’s obvi­ous­ly high­ly intel­li­gent and com­pe­tent, and she’s beau­ti­ful. She’s far more allur­ing to him than her spoiled, pam­pered princess sis­ter could ever be.

Lexi is fas­ci­nat­ed by Tryst, despite being warned away from the half-blood­ed wolf by her ail­ing father. He seems inter­est­ed in her, as well, but she fears that’s only because he doesn’t know her crip­pling secret: she hasn’t ever shift­ed. A were­wolf who can’t shift can’t mate, so she’s use­less in the eyes of the pack.

Tryst is warned away from Lexi by her father, head of the pack, as well, but he can’t seem to stay away from her. She’s like no oth­er woman, were­wolf or mor­tal, he’s ever encoun­tered. What is it that draws them to each oth­er? Is it worth risk­ing their lives for?

It was obvi­ous to me from the first pages of the book that Tryst and Lexi would get togeth­er, and that it would cost Tryst many bruis­es and much grief. The bad guy was all too obvi­ous, as well — if the aver­age read­er can’t iden­ti­fy him in the first men­tion, I’ll be shocked. (Per­haps I should be more spe­cif­ic and say “expe­ri­enced romance read­er” instead.)

As for Moon Kissed, it was so for­get­table that I’d have to look up the main male’s name. The female was Bel­la, some­thing I only recall due to bad mem­o­ries of Twi­light. Oh, wait, the male was Severo! Right then. Severo saves Bel­la from vam­pires who chase her, while fright­en­ing the hell out of her him­self, grop­ing her, and offer­ing absolute­ly no expla­na­tions of the strange new real­i­ties her world is sud­den­ly encom­pass­ing.

After that event, Bel­la learns that her best friend Seth’s new girl­friend is a vam­pire, some­thing Seth just hadn’t quite got­ten around to men­tion­ing. Seth explains that Severo (whose name she doesn’t yet know) is prob­a­bly a were­wolf, from her descrip­tion of him and his actions. Severo has, in the mean­time, start­ed stalk­ing Bel­la to pro­tect her from the vam­pires he’s sure will con­tin­ue to hunt her (for rea­sons unknown to him when he starts on this plan of action). After see­ing Seth with vam­pire Evie, with whom Severo has his­to­ry, Severo real­izes that Evie prob­a­bly sicced the vam­pires on Bel­la due to jeal­ousy.

One of the many, many things that both­ered me about this book is that Bel­la is sup­pos­ed­ly a web design­er, but she nev­er seems to work. She cer­tain­ly doesn’t have a lap­top, which would be de rigeur, and she lives in a ridicu­lous­ly upscale place (an apart­ment with its very own heat­ed pool?) for some­one in that pro­fes­sion. She can afford a lot of dance lessons, too — but her real source of income or cap­i­tal is nev­er explained. Appar­ent­ly Hauf was just look­ing for a pro­fes­sion that could be “done any­where” and some­one sug­gest­ed “web design­er” so she grabbed that and ran with it.

Of course, Severo is also sup­posed to “do some­thing with real estate” — how believ­able is that as a char­ac­ter detail? I guess we’re sup­posed to just accept that he’s rich, can spend his time as he pleas­es, and let every­thing else go with­out ques­tion. How is it that he has a Brown­ie for a house­keep­er? What’s the rela­tion­ship between Faery and were­wolves and vam­pires? Who knows?

The sto­ry does not get more believ­able as it goes on. Of course Bel­la falls in love with her stalk­er and trusts him com­plete­ly. There are evil vam­pires. There’s one good vam­pire, just to show that they aren’t uni­form­ly bad. But you can tell where Severo and Bella’s rela­tion­ship is going in the ear­li­est scenes, and that’s the most impor­tant part of the book, because it’s a romance. There are com­pli­ca­tions but they’ll be over­come, or it wouldn’t be a romance.

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