Tag Archives: night huntress

Jeaniene Frost’s Vlad Tepesh to get his own series of novels

Fans of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series (Cat & Bones featured above), are no doubt excited about the prospect of a Vlad-centric series of novels.  Vlad will be getting his own spunky heroine, Leila, and Ms. Frost promises that she’ll give him “a run for his money that he’ll never be expecting.”  Tentative plans are for the first Vlad and Leila novel to release some time in 2012, but I’ll post updates as I hear about them!  From Ms. Frost’s Night Huntress blog

And finally, I spoke to my editor firming up the plot summary for Vlad’s book and discussing my wish list for the cover. My editor and I are in agreement that we’d like to see just Vlad on the cover, with him and Leila on the stepback (kind of a reverse of the Cat and Bones covers). Now, I need to brainstorm a title for the book. It won’t have “grave” in it to denote that it’s NOT a C&B book, but I don’t know if I want a recurring word in his titles or not. Do you like it when a series has a recurring word in the title, or does that make you crazy? Also, if anyone wants to share their idea for a title for Vlad’s book, please do. If my editor gives your suggestion a thumb’s up, I’ll be sure to mention you in the acknowledgments, if you’d like.

In other equally exciting news, Cat & Bones have been upgraded from 7 books to 9!  This means we get a few more years to enjoy our favorite paranormal romance couple and the rich world Ms. Frost has built around them.  Woo!  *throws confetti*  Cat & Bones #5 (This Side of the Grave) was released earlier this year, and two more are planned for 2011 release dates: One Grave at a Time (C&B #6) and a short story in a holiday-themed anthology called The Bite Before Christmas.  More from Ms. Frost’s blog…

What’s this story about, I’ll again assume you asked? :) . It’s a Cat and Bones tale called Home for the Holidays, where long buried secrets of Bones’s past resurface to take a bite out of their holiday cheer. I’ve mentioned in other places that a member of the Night Huntress crew has known some bombshell things about Bones’s history that even he wasn’t aware of. In Home for the Holidays, I finally get to reveal who that person is and share those secrets with readers, which I’ve been itching to do. 

Deleted scenes from This Side of the Grave?  Yes, please!

There’s one small scene snippet featuring Vlad in a cowboy outfit that I’ll have to dig out, but give me a little time. I’ll be sure to let everyone know once it’s up. 

Yay for Cat & Bones updates!!  ❤

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Review: Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake series novel #10), by Laurell K. Hamilton

TLDR recap:

Anita reconnects with Jean-Claude and Richard to finally “marry” the vampire marks that bind them as a triumvirate.  Meanwhile, a brand new sweetie and a nasty new big bad hit town, as Anita fights her way from one crisis to the next in true ABVH style.

    • Title: Narcissus in Chains
    • Series: The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series – book #10
    • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
    • Prominent Characters: Anita, Jean-Claude, Richard, Nathaniel, Micah
    • Recommended reader age: 17+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate, but fairly explicit

*** Spoiler alert! ***

If you have not read the first 9 books of the ABVH series and still plan to, OR if you do not want to know ANYTHING about the major events that will happen in Narcissus in Chains, stop reading now and come back once you’ve read it.  If you want some insight into the happenings of the novel, read on!  =) 

Premise & overview:

Anita, Richard, and Jean Claude finally marry their vampire marks, resulting in increased powers and new, although not necessarily desirable, abilities for each of them.  Anita & Richard are on-again off-again before Anita meets a new main squeeze and has to deal with the possibility of being Nimir-Ra of the leopards for real.  Furry politics takes a nasty turn when a new mystery alpha comes to town.

Thoughts:

It’s been a while since I read an Anita Blake book, but since I’ve never reviewed one and I really enjoyed this re-read, I figured it was a good time to put this one out there.  Narcissus in Chains is the book where Anita becomes “one of the monsters” and the series turns from being a mostly horror/thriller crime-solving drama to focusing on Anita’s new arduous power & burgeoning bevy of lovers and vamp/furry politics.

I’m a big fan of the Anita Blake series.  There are definitely things that annoy me, and the pace seems to spontaneously switch from super-slow to super-speed, but somehow I keep coming back for more even though I’ve read all the later books at least a few times.  The first 9 books mostly focus on Anita’s work as a necromancer (raising zombies for a living) and her side-job as a licensed vampire executioner and police correspondent, while developing the foundations of her relationships with Jean-Claude and Richard.  Because these early books were written nearly 20 years ago, there are a lot of references to now-antiquated technology and fashions that make it difficult to stay immersed in the story.  For example, any talk of shoulderpads automatically gives me visions of the 80s and 90s and really, to be completely honest, puts me off.  Let’s face it: shoulderpads are just NOT that attractive in normal clothes and I don’t want to read about them on my supposedly cute & kick-ass heroine!  Also, not having access to a cell phone, or having any references to cell phones, makes me think “why doesn’t she just get a cell phone?!” because mobile phones are one of the most, if not the absolute most, common personal accessory in our society today.  The early books also make a lot of references to Anita’s Nike shoes: what color they are, how many pairs she has, how often she wears them.  I don’t know why, I just find that really annoying.  It’s almost like Ms. Hamilton had some sort of advertising deal with Nike.  Of course, it could just be that she likes to thoroughly describe people, items, and events in her novels…

That is actually one of the things that annoys me most yet I like the most about Anita – she has a tendency to chat up little details regardless of their significance to the plot.  It’s sort of how people notice the things happening around them in real-time and the thoughts that pass through our heads – sometimes these thoughts are pertinent to the situation at hand and sometimes they’re superfluous, but including these little blurbs definitely helps the readers immerse themselves in the story and feel a closer connection to the main character.  The down-side to this is that there’s apparently no limit to what Ms. Hamilton is willing to talk circles around, including her sex scenes.  LKH writes some of the most steamy & gutsy sex scenes of all the authors I read, but sometimes it takes her forever to get down to it.  Sometimes, the characters actually talk themselves OUT of having sex during chapters-long dialogues that end in arguments (usually involving Richard – shocker, I know).  This is less of an issue in the later books, once Anita and Richard come more to grips with what they have become.

Narcissus in Chains marks the turning point in the series, where the books go from being widely classified as “thrillers” or “horror/crime drama” to “erotica” and “paranormal romance”.  The further into the series you get, the more appropriate the erotica label becomes.  I imagine bookstores have a tough time classifying this series – what section do you shelve it in when it’s pretty much split in two?

Memorable quotes:

Finally one of the monsters…

I’d tried not to be one of the monsters for so long, and now, in one fell swoop I was them, both of them.  You couldn’t be a bloodsucking vampire and be a lycanthrope at the same time.  They cancelled each other out as a disease or a curse… I’d always thought I’d have to drink blood to be one of them.  But I had been wrong about so many things.

Direct?  Who, me?

“You are simultaneously one of the most direct women I know, and one of the most self-deluding.”

“I am really not liking where this conversation is going.”

A lesson in BDSM…

I kept equating submissiveness with being inferior, and that wasn’t really the case.  Some people choose to be bottoms, to serve; it doesn’t make them less, just different.

Is there such a thing as too much firepower?

The doorbell rang again.  I didn’t jump this time.  I hung the Uzi over my shoulder by its strap and settled the Browning more comfortably in my hand.  The Uzi was really an emergency weapon.  The fact that I’d even thought about answering my door with it on my person was probably a bad sign.  If I needed more than a 9mm to answer my own front door, I should just leave town.

If you like…

If you like Narcissus in Chains and the Anita Blake series, you will almost certainly like the Meredith Gentry series, also written by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Unlike the ABVH series, which takes 10 books to really get into the steamy stuff, Merry Gentry focuses on sex as a central plot device starting with the first book.  MG also has some crime-solving elements in its plots, making it pretty damn near the fae version of an Anita Blake clone series, harem of hunky men included.

You might also like the Sookie Stackhouse (South Vampire Chronicles) series by Charlaine Harris and the Night Huntress (Cat & Bones) series by Jeaniene Frost.  Both of these are told from the same first person heroine perspective and involve plenty of vamps and other supes.  The Night Huntress series is probably closer to ABVH than Sookie Stackhouse since the main character is also a fighter, but be aware that while both these series have some excellent steamy moments, they are not nearly as close to being classified as erotica as ABVH is.

Final thoughts:

LKH has created a world where the heroine is kick-ass, attractive, intelligent, capable, and gains power constantly.  Anita attracts men and trouble like flies to honey, and since the stories are all told in first person, the reader really gets to feel immersed in the crazy happenings and goings on.  We also get to see the plots of the entire series unfold through the eyes of one person (Anita), instead of from a third person view of whatever the marquee couple is for a particular book.  To have a successful series dedicated to one main voice that has lasted for this long is a fairly rare accomplishment in the Paranormal Romance genre, and I’m excited to see a few new series coming along a similar path.

I personally found the first few books, and a few of the non-St. Louis books (featuring Edward), very difficult to read.  I’m not into excessive gore or horror or thrillers, and some of the crime scene content in the first half of the series really left me troubled (especially considering LKH has stated that she gets her ideas from actual crimes!).  For readers with more sensitive psyches I’d like to recommend just skipping those first 9 books and starting with Narcissus in Chains.  However, if you do that, you’re going to miss out on all the groundwork for the Anita/Jean-Claude/Richard relationships and a lot of the events that shape Anita into who she becomes.  If you decide to start the series with NiC, find a good wiki and read cliff-note versions of the stories so you at least have an idea of what happened.  Read the entire series if you can, and stick it out through all the horror content if that’s not your bag, until at least NiC… skip through parts if you need to!  I’ve included some helpful wiki links below.  Be very careful what you click on with these, as you could inadvertently spoil some of the book 11+ storylines.   *wink*

Maybe I just really identify with Anita’s personality, or maybe it’s just that engrossing (I think the frequent random details and descriptions probably help with that more than they hurt) , but this series definitely has a permanent place on my bookshelf.

Rating:

4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

Rating:

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://jeanienefrost.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/

http://www.anitablakewiki.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anita_Blake

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Review: Dead Witch Walking (Rachel Morgan/The Hollows series novel #1), by Kim Harrison

TLDR recap:

Rachel Morgan is a dead witch walking, seeing as how her old boss has put a price on her head to cover the losses he took when she ended her contract early.  Witches, warlocks, fairies, and demons all make a go at her as she tries to prove the guilt of Councilman Trent Kalamack, a well-respected businessman and suspected drug lord.  Luckily for Rachel, she has a few faithful sidekicks- a “living” vampire, a spirited pixy, and a nebulously artless human- to keep her out of trouble.

  • Title: Dead Witch Walking
  • Series: Rachel Morgan – book #1
  • Author: Kim Harrison
  • Prominent Characters: Rachel, Ivy, Jenks, Nick
  • Recommended reader age: 14+
  • Sexual content level: Virtually none to very low

Premise:

After half the world’s human population is killed by an accidental rogue bio-virus, magic users (called Inderlanders) make their secret existence known to human society and jump in to fill the void.  Speeding ahead 50 years, with human vs. Inderlander segregation still prevalent, we meet our plucky heroine and her pixy and vampire sidekicks.  Rachel has a price on her head and spends most of her time avoiding assassination attempts while trying to gather enough evidence on a suspected black-market drug lord to buy off her contract.

Thoughts:

This book had the unfortunate disadvantage of having to follow Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood book #8) in my reading list, which is only the second novel to date that I have given a full 5-Fang rating to.  Needless to say it was a hell of a book and a very hard act to follow, so even though I tried to remain unbiased, there’s a possibility this book got the same treatment as Nancy Kerrigan when Oksana Baiul skated a near perfect and crowd-pleasing routine before the U. S. Skater’s set in the ’94 Olympics.  For those of you who just went “huh?!” and scratched your head, basically it’s really hard to follow a gold-medal performance… or book… and be judged impartially.

That said, this book did start out strong, and I had visions of a new potential Cat & Bones (Night Huntress series) to obsess myself with.  The first chapter immediately immerses the reader in The Hollows, the magical (primarily non-human) side of the tracks, and Rachel shows she has a campy sense of humor.  However, the initial momentum didn’t last through even the first chapter, when the story starts to become bogged down in a few too many unfamiliar terms and references.  Now normally, I’d say that practice (of tossing the reader in head-first and using references and implications to describe the story’s culture) is an effective and enjoyable tool for an author to use, but in this book it just fell flat and left me somewhat confused (and with a meandering attention span).  It does get a little better, but not fast enough for me to really latch on to either the characters or the “universe”.

The “universe” concept for this book/series is an interesting (and fairly original) concept.  Something like half of the world’s human population was wiped out nearly overnight by a mutated bio-virus that managed to hide itself inside a bio-engineered tomato.  This leads to some of the more campy humor of the book, with humans (including Nick) having a serious aversion to tomatoes and using tomato-inspired references as swear words.

The characters:

The Vampire: Ivy is a “living vamp”, who can walk in daylight and choose not to consume human blood, while still retaining some of the speed and strength of the soulless “dead vamps” who must consume human blood to continue existing.  Ivy is a frustrating quandary.  I think the author’s intent was to make her mysterious and brooding with implied secrets about her abilities.  To me, however, she just comes across as moody and annoying.

The Human: Nick is a seemingly harmless human with a murky background, lax morals, a sweet disposition, and no as-yet-known special abilities.  He has an uncanny knack for making things happen and finding solutions quickly and efficiently, and it seems as though he is being set up as Rachel’s love interest, although nothing really seems to come of that.  While it is somewhat alluring to be teased with hints about Nick’s potential for some kind of hidden power, there is just not enough substance to him to make me care what happens next.  His chemistry with Rachel is hazy at best, making it difficult to root for them as a couple.

The Pixy:  Jenks is a witty, fierce, clever, & efficient little winged warrior, who doubles as Rachel’s spy and bodyguard.  This little fireball of a pixy is by far my favorite character in the book, which is a little disturbing considering he’s not the main character and the story is not told in his voice.  The book isn’t called “Dead Pixy Flitting”, although that might have actually been a more amusing story to tell.  His humor, competence, situational awareness, fighting prowess, and larger-than-Tink personality really make him shine.  Without Jenks, I probably wouldn’t have rated this book as high as I did (which isn’t saying much).

The Witch: Rachel Morgan is the main character and narrator for the story.  She’s a witch, but she almost exclusively uses charms to cast her magic, which seems a pretty cumbersome way of going about things since they have to be pre-enchanted then carried around and physically activated with a time delay.  While I think Rachel has some potential to grow into a strong and likable heroine, in this book she tends to hover somewhere between being a careless liability and a spunky rogue with a one-track brain.

Memorable quotes:

About Inderlanders & the Hollows…

The Hollows have become a bastion of Inderland life, comfortable and casual on the surface, with its potential problems carefully hidden.  Most humans are surprised at how normal the Hollows appear, which, when you stop to think about it, makes sense.  Our history is that of humanity’s.  We didn’t just drop out of the sky in ’66; we emigrated in through Ellis Island.  We fought in the Civil War, World War One, and World War Two – some of us in all three.  We suffered in the Depression, and we waited like everyone else to find out who shot JR.

On pint-sized sidekicks…

I’d found Jenks to be a pretentious snot with a bad attitude and a temper to match.  But he knew what side of the garden his nectar came from.  And apparently pixies were the best they’d let me take out since the frog incident.  I would have sworn fairies were too big to fit into a frog’s mouth.

See, chocolate IS medicinal!

It was nerves that made me stop at the sweet shop.  Everyone knows chocolate soothes the jitters; I think they did a study on it.  And for five glorious minutes, Jenks stopped talking while he ate the caramel I bought him.

If you like…

If you like Dead Witch Walking and other books in the Rachel Morgan series, you may like the Cassie Palmer series by Karen Chance.  It has a similar competent-yet-disaster-prone female lead and is told from the same first-person viewpoint.  They also both feature vampires, wizards, fairies, demons, and humans.  In my opinion, the Cassie Palmer series has more momentum & wit, and a clever, more complex plot.  I also enjoy the interactions between the main and secondary characters much more, and the pace of the story is much, much faster.   You may also like the Night Huntress (Cat & Bones) series by Jeaniene Frost, which is told with the same first-person-spunky-heroine style, but focuses almost exclusively on vampires and ghouls.

Final thoughts:

I really wanted to like this book a lot.  I need a new series to keep me occupied between the Night Huntress, Black Dagger Brotherhood, Anita Blake/Meredeth Gentry, Cassie Palmer, Guild Hunter, and Sookie Stackhouse novel releases.  That might sound like a lot of series to keep track of, but when they average 1-2 book releases a year per series (some even less) and I read 1-2 books a week, that leaves me with a lot of free reading time and there’s only so many times I can re-read these series before I have them committed to memory!  *grin*

I was hoping Dead Witch Walking would draw me in enough to want to read the second one, but I just wasn’t invested enough in it at the end of the story.  The ending sequence of events is so predictable it’s almost depressing to read it play out when you know what’s coming.  I know a lot of people like this series and this book.  Maybe it gets better as it goes along.  Maybe I’ll come back to it later.  Obviously everyone has different tastes, so if you disagree with many of my review ratings, then you will probably enjoy this book!

Rating:
3.75 fangs: BITE IT, but beware splinters…

Related links:

http://www.kimharrison.net/

http://www.karenchance.com/books.html

http://jeanienefrost.com/books/

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Cat & Bones One Grave at a Time Cover Art Released!

For all you Cat & Bones fans fiending for your next OGaaT (One Grave at a Time – Night Huntress book #6) tease, Ms. Frost has given us a sneak peek at the cover and stepback art for the upcoming novel.  The model for Cat has changed, as she’s no longer posing for book covers, but on the bright side, Cat finally gets to let her hair down!  Check ’em out below…

(That’s her cat Helsing above, which is appropriate since the book releases close to Halloween this year.  Check out Bones below… I miss his shock-bleached hair! 😉 )

Enjoy!


Review: Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood #8) by J. R. Ward

TLDR recap:

In this 8th installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Ms. Ward drops us right back into the middle of the Brothers vs Lessers conflict and holds nothing back.  After his Xhex was taken during a raid at the end of book 7, John Matthew & the Brotherhood spend 4 weeks searching for her while she is hidden right under their noses.  Imprisoned and abused at the hands of Lash, John’s old enemy and the son of nasty big bad “the Omega”, Xhex is struggling to retain her sanity and her identity.   This book is smokin’ hot, viciously intense, and a roller coaster ride through the spectrum of emotions.

  • Title: Lover Mine
  • Series: The Black Dagger Brotherhood series – book #8
  • Author: J. R. Ward
  • Prominent Characters: John Matthew, Xhex, Quinn, Blaylock, & Tohrment
  • Recommended reader age: 17+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

John Matthew and the Brotherhood must find Xhex before Lash turns or kills her, or she dies from lack of male vampire blood.  The clock is ticking and, though her body is physically still strong, her fragile psyche is constantly teased with the knowledge that even if they found her, they wouldn’t be able to help her.  John is out of control, behaving like a bonded male and taking crazy risks to try to find his female.  Meanwhile, a new story arc is begun and an existing storyline is developed even more intensely.

Thoughts:

The long-awaited John Matthew book is a doozey.  It was one of those books I couldn’t stop reading, but didn’t want to finish.  I found myself constantly checking my progress (e-reader) to see how much more story I had left before the book was over!  All the Brotherhood books are intense and addicting, but this one in particular really had me all wrapped up in it.  Some of the scenes with Quinn and Blay were just heart-rending, and John’s personality is so intense yet self-sacrificing that it’s hard to not be fully invested in his situation.

This book wraps up a few story arcs that feature John Matthew, particularly the bitterness & regret between him and Tohr, the Lash conflict, and his eerie insta-connection with Xhex.  We also get to see some of the Darius history & character development.  Personally, I want him to remember and know and I was hoping that would happen in this novel, but that’s either not in the cards on purpose or is being held as an ace for a later book.  It’ll be fun to keep reading and see if Ms. Ward ever lets him in on the big secret.  😉

I will say that, initially, the new storyline taking place at the old manor bed and breakfast with the ghost of Elias Rathboone was an unwelcome intrusion, but after figuring out where it was heading I started to enjoy it.  That said, I’d probably have felt that way about any departure from the main storylines because they were SO INTENSE in this one.

On a separate note, I really love how Ms. Ward doesn’t play it safe with the homosexual undertones in this series.  First it was Butch & V, and now Quinn and Blay.  We know that nothing came of Butch & V, but I think we haven’t seen the last of Quinn & Blay, and we get a glimpse of that in this book.  Those scenes are really well done too – descriptive enough to portray the emotions but discreet enough to keep from turning away some sensitive readers.

You might also like…

It’s hard to think of anything right now that gives such a complete and satisfying escape into the story as this series does.  When I read the BDB books, I literally cannot put them down and become obsessively lost in the stories.  Using that as a gauge, there are a few other series that have a similar effect on me, although with slightly less intensity…

If you like the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Lover Mine, you might also like the Night Huntress Series (Cat & Bones) by Jeaniene Frost and the Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance.  Not to be too critical of Ms. Harris, but the Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Chronicles) series, while entertaining & enjoyable, don’t even come close to this level of intensity and vivid emotional commitment for me.  Since I really like SS/SVC, that’s saying a lot for the BDB!  I’m still looking for something that hits as hard as the BDB series does, so if you have a recommendation for me, post a comment and let me know!  I need my next fix.  *grin*

Memorable quotes:

Vampires have bromances too…

Chronologically speaking, Blaylocke son of Rocke had known John Matthew for just over a year.

But that was not a true reflection of the bromance.  There were two timelines to people’s lives: the absolute and the perceived.  The absolute was the universal day-and-night cycle that for them added to something like three hundred and sixty-five.  Then there was the way that time period had gone, the events, the deaths, the destruction, the training, the fighting.

He figured all told… that pegged the two of them at about four hundred thousand years.

On loving and losing…

The thing was, all mortals were going to lose the ones they loved.  It was the way life worked.  But for most of the time, that reality was so far off in the mind that it had no more weight than a mere hypothetical.  There were reminders, however, and the almost’s, the near-misses, the oh-God-please-no’s, snapped your chain and got you to stop and feel what was in your heart.


Final thoughts:

With each new book in this series (with the exception of maybe Phury’s book, which didn’t give me quite the same rush), Ms. Ward continues to masterfully interweave her vivid rainbow of story arcs while tying off some and threading in brand new ones.   Sometimes she brings in the new ones so subtly, over several books, that you don’t even realize where it’s going until suddenly, we have new major players that are already part of the fabric of the BDB universe.  The emotional spectrum she is able to evoke is so intense and hard-hitting that it is easy to lose hours at a time reading, and sleep fitfully dreaming of them.  I haven’t been so emotionally invested in a book series, and dedicated to overnight reading sessions, since the last half of the Harry Potter series was released.  When Payne’s book comes out next week, I think I’m going to need to schedule a 36-hour “do nothing but read” period, or I’m going to be so distracted and antsy I’ll be worthless for anything else!

If you have not started this series, OR if you read Dark Lover (the first book in the series) but weren’t bowled over, please please please give this series a chance!  Read at least through Rhage’s book (BDB#2 – Lover Eternal) and see how you feel.  If you can get through that one without breaking a sweat, then this probably isn’t the series for you.  However, this series isn’t one of the most well-known and -loved in the genre for nothing.  Where other series are starting to lose momentum in their later books (like the Sookie Stackhouse series), the Black Dagger Brotherhood is stronger than ever and as addicting as it was in the beginning (moreso, I say!).

Rating:
5 fangs: BITE IT!

I don’t give a 5-fang rating lightly.  Even as I was reading this I kept thinking “I think this might make the 5-fang mark!” and it definitely did not disappoint.  Ms. Ward is the master of anticipation and building the energy and momentum of a story, and John & Xhex’s story is a amazingly well written.  Do yourself a favor: take the weekend off, find a comfy chair, and READ THIS BOOK!  Of course, if you haven’t read the rest, you might want to get caught up first.  But don’t wait too long, because we only have one week left until #9 is released: Lover Unleashed!

Related links:

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/index.html

http://jeanienefrost.com/books/

http://www.karenchance.com/books.html

http://www.charlaineharris.com/bibliography/bibliog-sookie.html

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Review: One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress series #2), by Jeaniene Frost

TLDR recap:

This second novel in the Cat & Bones series is packed with even more action, romance, and plot twists than the first!  The storyline moves swiftly and skillfully, keeping readers’ attention riveted to the pages.  The fighting is fierce, the sex is steamy, and the plot continues to bring on the surprises.  Do yourself a favor and add this one to your “must read” list!

  • Title: One Foot in the Grave
  • Series: The Night Huntress (Cat & Bones) series – book #2
  • Author: Jeaniene Frost
  • Recommended reader age: 17+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

After a painful 4-year forced separation from the love of her life, Cat finds herself once again face to face with Bones… the vampire who taught her everything she knows about loving, fighting, and life as an undead.  The Red Reaper has a price on her head now, and Bones is back to make sure it stays in one piece, literally.  Cat must decide whether to accept him fully back into her life (and bed) or continue trying to keep in at arm’s length as they fight side-by-side to defeat new enemies and defuse clever new traps.

Thoughts:

In Ms. Frost’s second Night Huntress novel, we get to meet Ian, Bones’s vampire sire and good friend since they were both humans.  Spade is also back, briefly, and we get a glimpse of the mysterious Mencheres, who we’ll get more info on later in the series.  Now that Cat’s team of special ops vampire killers is up and running, we get to meet some great new characters who will pop up here and there in the rest of the series, and we learn more about vampire society and Cat’s heritage as a half-breed.

The plot of this book moves a lot like Cat & Bones both do – quick and to the point, with a dramatic flair.  Even the beginning chapters, before Cat sees Bones again, the story is enjoyable and spirited.  Ms. Frost is smart in making her heroine and hero strong and like-able on their own, without needing to be constantly paired up in order to drive the plot.

I don’t want to say much more because there are some really fun plot twists in this story and I’d hate to spoil them.  *wink*  HOWEVER, I will say this… DO NOT SKIP CHAPTER 32!!  You’ve probably noticed that I’m writing this review after the review for C&B #5 that just recently released.  I decided to go back and re-read the first books and write reviews on them for any potential readers new to the series.  Chapter 32 of One Foot in the Grave has become one of Jeaniene Frost’s most well-known passages.  It’s sexy, ballsy, and pushes the boundaries of what we have come to expect in contemporary romance scenes, without (in my opinion) being too over-the-top or unbelievable (okay, respectively – he IS still a vampire!).  If for no other reason than to read this chapter, you absolutely MUST MUST MUST read Halfway to the Grave (Cat & Bones #1) and then this one!  After that, I’m certain you’ll be just as excited about these books as I am… and the legions of Jeaniene Frost fans out there!!

You might also like…

If you like Cat & Bones (Night Huntress series), you might also like the Cassandra Palmer Pythia series by Karen Chance or the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward.  The Southern Vampire (Sookie Stackhouse) series by Charlaine Harris is also somewhat similar in its early books, but becomes too politically mired in the later ones to keep up the fast pace that the Night Huntress series is known for.

The Cassie Palmer books are a crazy-fun trip through chaos, danger, time-travel, & vamp/mage politics, with a little romance on the side.  If Cat & Bones are your favorite couple, you’ll probably also like Cassie/Mircea/Pritkin (yeah I know that sounds weird- read it and you’ll see what I mean!) and several of the Black Dagger Brotherhood pairings.

Memorable quotes:

There aren’t many one-liners in this book, and it’s difficult to pull out sections of the in-between-action scenes without giving away parts of the plot, so I don’t have as many quotes for you this time…

You won’t like him when he’s angry…

Grendel wasn’t in as jolly a mood.  He got to his feet, rubbed his throat where the skin was healing back into place, and gave me a very unpleasant look.

“You will pay with pain for that.”

What was I supposed to say?  It wasn’t good for me, either?

Paying your respects…

(Bones) “Congratulations on a magnificent display of unsportsmanlike conduct.  What a dirty fighter you are.  Somebody really skilled must have trained you.”

I laughed even though it hurt.  “Yeah.  An arrogant bastard.”

Final thoughts:

I enjoy all of the Night Huntress series books, including the expanded world ones (Spade & Mencheres), but One Foot in the Grave is one of my favorites… not just of this series, but of all the books I’ve read in general.  This one and the next two have a really dynamic chemistry to the characters and story arc that just draws you in and keeps you there.  I can go for days at a time with my nose in these books, completely forgetting about everything else (which really annoys my husband! hah).  This series is quite distracting!

Cat & Bones are one of my absolute favorite couples in paranormal romance (or any romance, really).  I don’t know if it’s her independence and temerity, his confidence and charm, the fact that they’re both kick-ass fighters, or the combustible sparks between them, but something about this chemistry is just RIGHT.  READ THIS SERIES!!

Rating:
4.75 fangs: BITE IT!

It’s really tempting to give this one 5 fangs, and I’m still not sure it doesn’t deserve a full 5!

Related links:

http://jeanienefrost.com/books/

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/index.html

http://www.karenchance.com/books.html

http://www.charlaineharris.com/bibliography/bibliog-sookie.html

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Review: This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress series #5) by Jeaniene Frost

TLDR recap:

Jeaniene Frost’s latest offering in the Night Huntress paranormal romance series (more affectionately known as Cat & Bones) gets the whole gang back together as they try to defuse some very nasty political violence & insidious rumormongoring, and prevent an all-out  vamps vs. ghouls undead civil war.  This novel has everything fans of the Night Huntress world have come to love and expect from the series: quick wit, explosive action, a spunky kick-ass heroine (Cat), a strong sexy & deadly leading man (Bones), and Ms. Frost’s trademark unique & inventive passionate Cat & Bones moments.

  • Title: This Side of the Grave
  • Series: The Night Huntress (Cat & Bones) series – book #5 (Night Huntress World-inclusive book #7)
  • Author: Jeaniene Frost
  • Prominent Characters: Cat, Bones, Vlad, Mencheres, Fabian
  • Recommended reader age: 17+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

Even though Cat has been a full vampire for a few months now, Apollyon is still trying to use her as a figurehead to start a bloody war between the vampire and ghoul nations.  Cat, Bones, & crew have to find a way to take out Apollyon without inciting the very war they’re trying to prevent.  Cat also has to deal with her Uncle’s devastating terminal illness and her mother’s newfound aspirations, in addition to leaning to use and perfect some very advanced new powers she’s recently acquired.  With threats coming from all sides, and the passion between Cat & Bones as combustible as ever, our favorite paranormal couple is in for a wild ride.

Thoughts:

One of the things I like most about Cat, aside from being a strong, kick-ass chic with fangs, is that after 5 books (7 if you count the NHWorld books) and 8 years of battles, political standoffs, and hanging around some of the oldest, most powerful creatures on earth, she’s still a little socially awkward.  Her irreverent modern slang dialogue and off-the-cuff reactions make for some unforgettably fun scenes!  I mean, honestly, who can identify with a gal who’s got an unlimited lifespan, a battle-honed figure, frequently gains ridiculously awesome new powers, AND has a gorgeous, talented lover?  She’s got to have something to make her a little more human… ok, maybe not “human” so much as vulnerable… and Ms. Frost has done an excellent job keepin’ it real.  =)

Mencheres, however, isn’t really real… if you know what I mean.  😉  Aside from possessing enough power to support a small nation and having one of the most stoic countenances of any of the NH crew, he’s a freaking ex-Egyptian pharoah!  Cat has been uncomfortable around Mencheres since she first met him, and I have to agree that he’s a little creepy sometimes… in a lovable kind of way, of course.  *wink*  It was really nice to see Mencheres acting a little more loose and normal, and there are a couple of delightful scenes between him and Kira.

Something that did annoy me a little with this book was the frequent repetition of past story details.  Now granted, most readers probably aren’t as intent on story details or focused on (read: obsessed with) re-reading a series before the newest book is released as I am, but still I didn’t feel that the dialogue put in to catch up new readers was really believable from a conversational viewpoint.  If you’ve been through so much with someone over such a long period of time, you generally don’t need to tell each other how you met or how this event or that went down.   It just felt awkward to me.  Instead of having this as dialogue between the characters, I’d have preferred it to be explained as a narration in Cat’s first-person sections.

That said, pretty much everything else about this book was AWESOME!  And Chapter 21… OOOOOOOH MMMMYYYYYYY!!  I’d heard about Chapter 21 before I read this book, so I was expecting it to be memorable (and boy, is it!).  It’s been compared to Chapter 32 of One Foot In the Grave (NH #2), which I’m not going to spoil for those of you who haven’t read it yet, and I have to say that it’s definitely in the same category of did-they-really-just-do-that.  I still think Ch. 32 of OFitG was more fleshed out (no pun intended =D) and extensive, but I really enjoyed Ch. 21 of this one as well.   Ms. Frost has a real talent for writing gripping, passionate love scenes for all sorts of encounters- from the standard steamy stuff, venturing into a little BDSM.

OH!  Did anyone else catch the little by-play with Ian and Veritas?!  I suspect a new Night Huntress World pairing in the making… *grin*  Still no new mentions of Timothy or Cain though.  Oh Jeaniene, you are such a TEASE!

You might also like…

If you like Cat & Bones (Night Huntress series), you might also like the Cassandra Palmer Pythia series by Karen Chance or the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward.  The Southern Vampire (Sookie Stackhouse) series by Charlaine Harris is also somewhat similar in its early books, but becomes too politically mired in the later ones to keep up the fast pace that the Night Huntress series is known for.  The Cassie Palmer books are a crazy-fun trip through chaos, danger, time-travel, & vamp/mage politics, with a little romance on the side.  If Cat & Bones are your favorite couple, you’ll probably also like Cassie/Mircea/Pritkin (yeah I know that sounds weird- read it and you’ll see what I mean!) and several of the Black Dagger Brotherhood pairings.

Memorable quotes:

Note: I didn’t put ALL of the fun one-liners in here.  I wanted you guys to have a few things to discover on your own.  Twilight fans, be on the lookout for an easter egg that is NOT mentioned below (although other reviewers have spoiled the goods already, so don’t go reading reviews if you don’t want to know what it is)…

A day in the life of a half-breed vampire dictator…

“But if Apollyon is behind these attacks, we need a way to get to him without looking like we’re being mindlessly antagonistic.  Otherwise…”

Bones didn’t have to finish the sentence.  Otherwise, Apollyon will have more fuel for the rumors that I’m seeking to be some sort of vampiric Stalin, I mentally finished.  Right, because that’s what I put on my To Do list every morning.  Brush teeth.  Wash hair.  Rule undead world with an iron fist.

How not to party-crash a graveyard…

Most people didn’t visit cemetaries for cheery reasons, so it wasn’t a place where striking up impromptu conversations was the norm.  Not to mention it would take a really ballsy person to go up to a group gathered around a gravesite with the opening line of “So what are we talking about, anyway?”

Vlad, on learning new skills…

“Less bitching… more learning,” Vlad grated.  Then he closed his eyes as if dismissing me.  “I know, I’m delicious.  Nummy… nummy,” he muttered to the remnants feasting on him.

Bones, on the Cat’s reunion with a former ghostly acquaintance <altered to avoid spoilers>…

“This is the sod?” Bones started down the porch stairs even as <the ghost> began to edge away.  “Come back here, you scurvy little-”

“Bones, don’t!” I interrupted, not wanting him to start using slurs that might offend the other living-impaireds gathered here.

He stopped, giving a last glare to <the ghost> while mouthing, You. Me. Exorcist, before returning to my side.

Explaining modern weaponry to a 19th century ghost…

“Machine guns?” I asked, miming holding one and making a series of rapid staccato noises.

Bones’s mouth twitched, but he dipped his head so I wouldn’t see his clear amusement over my “GI Jane does Pictionary” imitation.

Final thoughts:

Cat has finally come to terms with who and what she is, and has publicly accepted it.  She’s come full circle from the girl we first met in Halfway to the Grave… from hating & killing vampires, to eating them and marrying one.  This time around it’s her turn to listen to her friends and family spout the same excuses and “human” rhetoric that she used to shove at Bones.  She’s finally starting to understand the frustration she’s put him through and the deep well of patience and faith in her that he’s always had.  I do love a heroine who can be sensitive and vulnerable while still kicking ass and taking names!

With the threat of Apollyon gone, having been the looming Big Bad for the last few books, it will be interesting to see what Ms. Frost throws at our favorite paranormal couple next.  I hope she takes the track of “new and different” as opposed to “bigger and badder”… the former will keep the series fresh and fun while the latter would, I fear, hasten it to an early grave.

Cat & Bones are a powerhouse… as a couple, as a fighting team, and as leaders of their extensive undead “family” line.  Oh, and don’t miss the preview excerpt from the next Cat & Bones book (One Grave at a Time) at the end of this one.  “Fall 2011” is a long time to wait for the next installment, and I can’t wait!

Rating:
4.25 fangs: BITE IT!

This novel was almost all I wanted it to be, and that’s some pretty high expectations to live up to!  The action is a little slow in parts, but still enjoyable.  If you haven’t read the first 4 (plus 2 World books, Spade and Mencheres), I’d recommend reading them first, as there’s a ton of history and a fairly large cast of characters brought in at the climax of this story.  Even without reading the other novels, though, this will still be a good read, and you’ll get to see what all the “Cat & Bones” fuss is about.  =)

Related links:

http://jeanienefrost.com/books/

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/index.html

http://www.karenchance.com/books.html

http://www.charlaineharris.com/bibliography/bibliog-sookie.html


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