Book Review: Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong

Thirteen (Women of the Otherworld, #13)Thir­teen by Kel­ley Arm­strong
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Well, Arm­strong def­i­nite­ly closed the series with a bang. I enjoyed this vol­ume so much that I’m tempt­ed to go back and re-read the entire series just to have more right now.

All the char­ac­ters we’ve got­ten to know are back: Clay, Ele­na, Jaime and Jere­my, Hope and Karl, Paige and Lucas, Eve and Kristof, Adam, Sean, Bryce, and Beni­cio. Savan­nah, how­ev­er, is the cen­ter of this nov­el while the oth­ers weave in and out of the action.

Savan­nah Levine was a child when she was intro­duced in one of the ear­li­est books of the series, Stolen. She is def­i­nite­ly a full adult now, capa­ble of hold­ing her own with or with­out spells. She is also an incred­i­ble nexus of influ­ence — and those who want to use or influ­ence her just don’t take “no” for an answer no mat­ter how force­ful­ly she says it.

The Super­nat­ur­al Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment (SLM) wants to use Savan­nah in their quest to bring super­nat­u­rals into the open, but she isn’t inter­est­ed. She’s been fight­ing their agents since Wak­ing the Witch, but some of the plots their pri­ma­ry mem­bers are asso­ci­at­ed in go all the way back to Stolen. These are the peo­ple who killed Eve, so why would Savan­nah help them?

Arm­strong has done a mas­ter­ful job of weav­ing lit­tle threads togeth­er from all the dif­fer­ent books so that they wind up in one neat pack­age. I was enthralled from the first word through the last, but sat­is­fied with where she left the char­ac­ters. I look for­ward to read­ing any new sto­ries she choos­es to tell in the Oth­er­world, but I can see that this round is fin­ished. Kudos to her for a job well done.

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Book Review: Enthralled edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

EnthralledEnthralled by Melis­sa Marr
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

Jour­neys, lit­er­al or oth­er­wise, are the theme of this young adult anthol­o­gy. Appro­pri­ate­ly enough, it was con­ceived as the result of a book tour.

Giovanni’s Farewell” by Clau­dia Gray is a sweet, com­ing-of-age sto­ry of sorts. The twist is that it fea­tures a broth­er and sis­ter, twins, rather than just one per­son. They vis­it Rome with a school group while deal­ing with major changes in their lives. There was too much back­ground crammed into a short sto­ry, but it was inter­est­ing.

Car­rie Ryan’s “Scenic Route” is a dis­turb­ing, post-apoc­a­lyp­tic sto­ry set in the world of The For­est of Hands and Teeth about two young sis­ters try­ing to sur­vive in an iso­lat­ed cab­in. The old­er sis­ter keeps the younger one occu­pied with the plan­ning of a road trip that will nev­er hap­pen, always hop­ing against hope that the girl won’t real­ize what their real­i­ty is. How long can they stay iso­lat­ed enough to sur­vive? Bloody, fright­en­ing, and vis­cer­al.

Red Run” by Kami Gar­cia is the sto­ry of a girl who has lost the only per­son she loves in the world, and the trip she takes to avenge his death. How do you hunt a ghost? Maybe it isn’t fair, com­ing right after Ryan’s sto­ry, but I didn’t tru­ly feel the main character’s feel­ings.

Jack­son Pearce’s “Things About Love” is a sweet sto­ry involv­ing a jinn research­ing love. I felt like I’d come into the mid­dle of some­thing, so I checked and found that she’s writ­ten a nov­el, As You Wish, in the same set­ting. While this sto­ry tech­ni­cal­ly stands on its own, it would prob­a­bly be enriched by hav­ing read As You Wish.

Nieder­wald” by Rachel Vin­cent is the first sto­ry I’ve read in her Soul Scream­ers series. Sabine, a macha (night­mare), takes a road trip with a human acquain­tance and detours to Nieder­wald, Texas, home to the harpies. No, there’s no way that could go wrong. Of course you know from the moment they hit the park­ing lot that it will go wrong, but at least it’s an inter­est­ing sort of wrong.

Melis­sa Marr’s “Mere­ly Mor­tal” feels as though it’s prob­a­bly set in the same world as her Wicked Love­ly series.

Fac­ing Facts” by Kel­ley Arm­strong is set in her Dark­est Pow­ers uni­verse. I read the first of those books, but obvi­ous­ly a lot has passed since then, and there were spoil­ers in this sto­ry. It real­ly cen­ters around Chloe and Tori, with a lit­tle Derek tossed in. Tori learns some­thing she doesn’t want to know and reacts bad­ly, run­ning off on her own, which is dan­ger­ous. Chloe goes after her and they get into trou­ble. That seemed rather pre­dictable to me, but at least the type of trou­ble wasn’t what I expect­ed. Tori doesn’t seem to have changed since the first book, but Chloe is com­ing into con­trol of her abil­i­ties.

Sarah Rees Bren­nan’s “Let’s Get this Undead Show on the Road” is about a boy band that fea­tures a vam­pire, Chris­t­ian. He’s an unusu­al vam­pire, all alone with­out a nest or a sire. His jour­ney seems to be about his iden­ti­ty as a vam­pire, although the band is on tour and has anoth­er sort of jour­ney to make, as well.

Bridge” by Jeri Smith-Ready is told from a ghost’s point of view, 233 days after death. It’s frus­trat­ing being a ghost, because most peo­ple can’t see or hear you. There are things you have to accom­plish before mov­ing on, though, that require com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the liv­ing. Find­ing a “bridge” and work­ing things out takes a lot of effort. This was a touch­ing sto­ry, bit­ter­sweet and well-told.

Kim­ber­ly Dert­ing’s “Skin Con­tact” near­ly broke me. Rafe is look­ing for his girl­friend. He knows where he needs to go, and he’s guid­ed by dreams. This sto­ry near­ly broke me. It’s told spar­ing­ly, and some­thing feels per­fect­ly right about it, but it hurts. Accord­ing to her author biog­ra­phy, Rafe was intro­duced in her nov­el Desires of the Dead.

Leav­ing” by Ally Condie is a very lit­er­ary sto­ry, about a girl left behind after her moth­er dies and her father leaves. She spends the sto­ry prepar­ing to go after her father. It’s hard to describe much more than that, or to have much of an opin­ion. It was well-writ­ten and I think I’ll prob­a­bly remem­ber it for a long time.

Jes­si­ca Ver­day’s “At The Late Night, Dou­ble Fea­ture, Pic­ture Show” is a dark­ly fun­ny sto­ry about a girl from a fam­i­ly of mon­ster hunters. She’s usu­al­ly the bait, but tonight she has decid­ed to be the hunter — with­out back­up. I’d like to read more from Ver­day.

IV League” by Mar­garet Stohl just didn’t hit me right. It’s the sto­ry of a bunch of south­ern vam­pires on a col­lege tour, which could have been fun­ny but wasn’t writ­ten that way. The whole thing just didn’t sit well with me, per­haps because the main char­ac­ter seemed too unre­al­is­ti­cal­ly out of touch for some­one who obvi­ous­ly had access to tele­vi­sion and the inter­net.

Mary E. Pear­son’s “Gar­gouille” is the most touch­ing love sto­ry in the col­lec­tion. Just read it.

The Third Kind” by Jen­nifer Lynn Barnes is, on the sur­face, about a road trip to San Anto­nio. The real jour­ney is much deep­er, one of com­ing to under­stand­ing one’s call­ing.

Rachel Caine’s Mor­ganville is the set­ting for her “Auto­mat­ic.” I think I’ve read a Mor­ganville novel­la, but my mem­o­ry of it is dim. The Mor­ganville Blood Bank intro­duces an auto­mat­ed with­draw­al machine, essen­tial­ly a soda can dis­penser. Michael Glass is ordered to try it first, as a demon­stra­tion for the old­er, more tra­di­tion­al vam­pires, with unex­pect­ed results. His jour­ney is one of self-knowl­edge. I didn’t real­ly care much about him, his jour­ney, his girl­friend, or any­thing else. The set­ting and char­ac­ters do noth­ing for me, but your mileage may vary.

Alto­geth­er, the anthol­o­gy was worth read­ing. There were some low spots, but that’s true of any col­lec­tion. To be fair, I’m sure some­one who is more enthu­si­as­tic about young adult fic­tion would also be more enthu­si­as­tic about the works here.

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Review: Spellbound by Kelley Armstrong

Spell Bound (Women of the Otherworld #12)Spell Bound by Kel­ley Arm­strong
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

Wak­ing the Witch and Spell Bound should tru­ly be read back to back. In fact, they should be read with 13 on hand, almost as a tril­o­gy with­in the series.

At the end of Wak­ing the Witch, Savan­nah silent­ly thought that if it would reunite an orphan with her grand­moth­er, Savan­nah would glad­ly give up her pow­ers. Some­thing heard her and took her up on that unin­tend­ed deal, and she finds her­self pow­er­less for the first time in her life.

Savan­nah has always been so very pow­er­ful that she has count­ed on her spells more than most witch­es or sor­cerors do, so she finds liv­ing with­out them to be very dif­fi­cult — espe­cial­ly since a witch hunter and oth­ers are after her. There’s a Super­nat­ur­al Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment that wants to use her as one of its fig­ure­heads, with or with­out her coop­er­a­tion, in their quest to bring super­nat­u­rals out of the clos­et and into the spot­light. She has to do some seri­ous soul-search­ing and growth in the process of avoid­ing ene­mies and get­ting cre­ative about stay­ing alive.

The plot moves extreme­ly quick­ly, so much so that I couldn’t keep track of what day it was in the book. In fact, it moves right into the plot of 13. I’m hav­ing fits because I don’t have it on hand, and I just can’t wait for the library to get around to me on the hold list — I might have to break down and buy it instead.

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Review: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, edited by Trisha Telep

The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance The Mam­moth Book of Para­nor­mal Romance by Trisha Telep

My review


rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars
I’m extreme­ly sur­prised by how much I enjoyed this anthol­o­gy! I picked it up intend­ing to just read the sto­ries by authors I know I like—Kelley Arm­strong, Ilona Andrews, Car­rie Vaughn, Hol­ly Lisle, Jeaniene Frost, Maria V. Sny­der. I had nev­er heard of some of the oth­er authors. A few names I remem­bered see­ing in oth­er antholo­gies and not enjoy­ing their work.

I did, how­ev­er, delib­er­ate­ly put myself in a tol­er­ant mind­set: this is a book of romance sto­ries. It wouldn’t be fair to judge them as any­thing else.

That worked rather bet­ter than it has in the past. I still got a lit­tle annoyed at hav­ing so much of each sto­ry ded­i­cat­ed to cou­ples (and all het/mono cou­ples, at that!) rather than some intrigu­ing world ideas, but man­aged to stay on track.

In the end, I only skipped one story—I just don’t like the Weath­er War­dens stuff at all. I found a cou­ple of oth­ers sub­stan­dard, but all in all, Telep chose very well. I def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend this book to any­one who enjoys para­nor­mal romance (maybe even those who usu­al­ly stick to just romance), and most urban fan­ta­sy fans.

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Books Books Books!

My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
Yes, the girl and I man­aged a library run (to the GOOD library) on Fri­day. It took more time and ener­gy than expect­ed, of course, but we got a bunch of very good books.

I read My Big Fat Super­nat­ur­al Hon­ey­moon last night, with much gig­gling. The sto­ries were a bit uneven (nor­mal for an anthol­o­gy), but worth­while over­all.

I espe­cial­ly liked “Heo­rot,” the Har­ry Dres­den piece from Jim Butch­er. I love the way he brings in mythol­o­gy from so many dif­fer­ent cul­tures.

Kel­ly Armstrong’s “Stalked” was fun, too. Her were­wolves are just more wolfish than most, in my opin­ion.

P.N. Elrod’s “Her Mother’s Daugh­ter” wasn’t bad at all. I’ve obvi­ous­ly missed some of her Jack Flem­ing nov­els, and I’m look­ing for­ward to catch­ing up.

I want to find some of Mar­jorie M. Liu’s longer works, as “Where the Heart Lives” isn’t the first of her short sto­ries that have impressed me. What’s even bet­ter is that WtHL is a total depar­ture from the ear­li­er sto­ries I remem­ber.

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Presentation Done, Good Reading

I can’t talk about the pre­sen­ta­tion. I might have flash­backs. The fact that BOTH my class­es that start next week have group projects is NOT giv­ing me a hap­py.

Personal DemonHow­ev­er, I did read Kel­ly Armstrong’s lat­est Women of the Oth­er­world book, Per­son­al Demon, yes­ter­day, and then Dana Stabenow’s Pre­pared for Rage today. They were good.
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Happy Wednesday!

Sam and I had a very nice date night while Katie was out with her beau. He had start­ed mak­ing chili last night, fin­ished it tonight, and added corn muffins. I’m not a big fan of chili (I won’t eat it if Sam didn’t make it), but it was a very sat­is­fy­ing meal.

The girl is doing very well in the online course she’s tak­ing, and I’m hap­py to say that my semes­ter is going well, too. It’s hard to believe that my baby will like­ly start col­lege cours­es this sum­mer or fall!
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Review: Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong

Cool under pres­sure. If they post­ed employ­ment ads for hit­men, that’d be the num­ber two require­ment, right after detail-ori­ent­ed. A good hit­man must pos­sess the per­fect blend of per­son­al­i­ty type A and B traits, a con­trol freak who obsess­es over every cloth­ing fiber yet projects the demeanor of the most laid-back slack­er. After pulling a hit, I can walk past police offi­cers with­out so much as a twitch in my heart rate. I’d love to chalk it up to nerves of steel, but the truth is I just don’t rat­tle that eas­i­ly.

cover of Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong
Nadia Stafford is quite the depar­ture from Kel­ley Armstrong’s oth­er hero­ines, and that isn’t just because she’s a human rather than a were­wolf, witch, vam­pire, ghost or necro­mancer. Don’t let that keep you from read­ing Exit Strat­e­gy, though. This book, while not a fan­ta­sy, proves that Arm­strong is much more than “just” a fan­ta­sy author. In fact, it was rather refresh­ing to read an entire­ly “mun­dane” crime nov­el, since so much of the fic­tion mar­ket is focus­ing on roman­tic dark fan­ta­sy that bor­ders on erot­i­ca.
I am, admit­ted­ly, cheap. I sel­dom buy books for myself, pre­fer­ring to check them out from the library. Any­thing I do buy, I’ve prob­a­bly already read, and want to own.

Our local library hadn’t ordered Exit Strat­e­gy, and I’m not big on crime nov­els, so I real­ly wasn’t plan­ning to read it. It was just there, on an end­cap dis­play with Armstrong’s oth­er nov­els. The cov­er caught my attention—how could it not? I was killing time, so I opened it and read a ran­dom pas­sage. I found that I couldn’t put it down, and end­ed up buy­ing it. I was in the mid­dle of sev­er­al oth­er books at the time, but com­pared to Exit Strat­e­gy, they might as well have been cere­al box­es.

No, it isn’t a super­nat­ur­al nov­el. No, it isn’t a romance. It isn’t even a mys­tery, exact­ly. But it’s very, very good. The plot­ting is even, and I found the main char­ac­ters believ­able. I’m glad Arm­strong has been con­tract­ed for a sec­ond nov­el, but I want it now, please?!

How does a “thir­ty-some­thing mom” as Arm­strong describes her­self, come up with nov­els like this? I’m not sure, but I’m hop­ing this 40-some­thing mom can some­day man­age even a chap­ter or two as of this cal­iber.

By the way, if any­one ever doubts Kel­ley Armstrong’s fem­i­nin­i­ty, I will sim­ply point that per­son to the fol­low­ing para­graph:

I slant­ed my gaze his way, in case he was talk­ing to me. He wasn’t, of course. I was invisible…or as close to it as a non­super­hero could get, hav­ing donned the ulti­mate female dis­guise: no appar­ent make­up and thir­ty-five pounds of extra padding./blockquote>

Yep, instant invis­i­bil­i­ty spell!

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