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Playing Catch-Up: Fifteen-Second Reviews by Ivana

I have been a BAD book reader and reviewer for the last couple of years, but now I’m trying to catch up! I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks that I haven’t reviewed yet. I MEANT to review them, but… life, ya know? Anyway, in an effort to get caught up, I’m going to do some fifteen-second reviews – just a quick note about some of the books I’ve read and whether I liked them or not. I’ll do longer reviews when I reread some of them, which I’m sure I will.

The Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan – purchased from Audible. FABULOUS!! I thoroughly enjoyed all five books plus the short story. I loved the perspective of a Victorian naturalist, and I appreciated the issues of being a woman working a field traditionally male and having less sentiment and more ambition than other females.

Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila Bowen – purchased from Audible. Great follow-up to Wake of Vultures. This western paranormal/urban fantasy is intriguing, both because of the gender identity issues it addresses and the Old West setting. Robin Miles is fantastic as the narrator of this series. I’m eagerly awaiting book 3, Malice of Crows, in audio (the audio is two books behind; what’s up with that?).

The Trouble with Fate by Leigh Evans – purchased from GraphicAudio.net. I liked this urban fantasy story, but GraphicAudio does have to abridge books because of their unique format, and I felt this one suffered a bit from it; the romantic relationship between the main protagonists seems to progress too fast. I want to pick up the Kindle version and read in unabridged format sometime soon.

The Magician by Raymond E. Feist – purchased from Audible. I am so excited that the original Riftwar tales finally came out for Kindle and audio. I last read Magician (Apprentice and Master) in high school or college, and there was a lot to the story I didn’t remember, so it was almost like experiencing it for the first time.

Midnight Texas series by Charlaine Harris – purchased from Audible. The first time I read Midnight Crossroads, the first book in this series, I thought it was slow and uneventful. But I later listened to all three books all in a row, and really loved them. It’s a quieter story than Sookie, but no less interesting once you get invested in the characters.

I Can’t Make This Up by Kevin Hart – purchased from Audible. Listening to Kevin Hart narrate his own book is hysterical. The story of his struggles to succeed and to deal with his growing fame are interesting and contain some good lessons. I particularly love it when he goes off script or starts laughing at himself. I’m so glad those parts aren’t edited out; they really enhance the listening experience.

Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines – purchased from GraphicAudio.net. Terminal Alliance is the first in a sci-fi series called The Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse. With a name like that, I expected a full-on, Douglas Adams-esque comedy. While it has it’s funny moments, Terminal Alliance was more serious than I expected and a very good story. GraphicAudio’s radio-play style, with individual character voices and sound effects, really enhanced the story. I can’t wait for the next book.

Believe Me by Eddie Izzard – purchased from Audible. Izzard gets very introspective in this memoir, identifying what has shaped him since childhood and how those things have contributed to the person he has become. He goes off-script a lot, which is just delightful for the listener. I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir.

A Wrinkle in Time & A Wind in the Door by Madeline L’Engle – purchased from Audible. I was pretty excited when the newest movie version of A Wrinkle in Time came out. But it seems no version can live up to my childhood memory. So I thought I’d go back to the original trilogy. My first observation is that NO movie is going to do these books justice because so much of the story is internal to the characters, rather than external and observable. My second observation is that the religious overtones (which some sources say were not originally part of the story, but were forced upon it by the publisher) were annoying. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the third installment. I will always have nostalgia for these books, but they didn’t hold up well for me as an adult. That made me a little sad.

Indexing & Reflections by Seannan McGuire – purchased from Audible. McGuire never fails to build an awesome world. In this series, a team of investigators track down and stop instances of “memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.” These books were part of the Kindle Serials program, which is now defunct along with this series, but I really wish it wasn’t. The premise of these books is incredibly clever, and the writing is excellent. I really want to read more.

The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Intergalactic Insurance Agent by Larry Correia – purchased from Audible. This is a hilarious, absurd, weird, and totally entertaining sci-fi comedy in the vein of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Plus, listening to Adam Baldwin narrate is a hoot! It’s a shortie at just over two hours, so perfect for a car trip.

Menagerie and Spectacle by Rachel Vincent – purchased from Audible. These books are totally amazing! Incredibly good and incredibly depressing at the same time. Vincent builds a richly diverse world and then fashions the humans who exploit that diversity for personal gain. But I have to say that my revenge fantasies are well-sated by the nature of the protagonist, and that book 3, Fury, promises even more bloody justice. I’ll be rereading these two books, with reviews, soon because Fury just came out, and I’m super excited to read it.

I’m getting back into the groove, so watch for more fifteen-second and full reviews coming soon!

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Alpha By Rachel Vincent

A very satisfying conclusion to this series, Alpha is an engaging, action-packed read from start to finish. Vincent proves she’s a talented writer as she brings the final battle to epic heights and proves some sacrifices are worth making. Spoilers ahead.

9780778328186_smp.inddTitle:  Alpha
Author:  Rachel Vincent
Series: Werecats Book 06
Publish Date:  October 1, 2010
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: The unscrupulous new Council chair has charged Jace, Marc, and me with trespassing, kidnapping, murder, and treason. Yeah, we’ve been busy. But now it’s time to take justice into our own hands. We must avenge my brother’s death and carve out the rot at the heart of the Council.

It’s not going to be easy, and loss seems unavoidable, but I have promised to protect my Pride, no matter what. With a target on my back and Marc at my side, I’m heading for a final showdown that can–that will–change everything forever. A showdown I’m not sure I’m ready for.

But life never waits until you’re ready.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

Though I’m not marking it down for predictability, it’s pretty obvious what the prior five books have been shaping Faythe into becoming. So when her father dies during a fight and leaves her to become the new Pride Alpha, you kind of expect it (the title of the book itself also kind of gives it away). Her family and allies stand with her, though they too are grief-stricken and vengeful. But being Alpha means you have to prove you’re worth it and Faythe, though she tries her best, loses to a competitor and loses the ranch and her family’s territory over it.

But six books have also taught us that Faythe isn’t going to back down – and she’ll need all the allies she can get as the final battle between the Malone group and his allies versus everyone she loves. Blood is shed as the claws come out and there’s terrible deaths on each side, but ultimately, this has a very happy ending. Marc and Faythe get an especially good one as well. Though the ending is rather open-ended, leaving us with Faythe’s world victorious but in serious need of rebuilding, it’s nevertheless a good ending.

badge5v4What I love most about this series is the engaging shapeshifting scenes and the continual buildup of side plots – from family dramas to romantic ties, every chapter is filled with action, emotion, and great writing and world building. If you’re a fan of shapeshifters, romance, and darn good storytelling, this is a series for you. A shiny five for a really awesome book.

Links…

See our reviews of the previous books in this series:

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

… you might like the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelly Armstrong, the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter, or the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn.

Shift by Rachel Vincent

The writing in Shift is brilliant as always and the Thunderbirds are a unique addition to the shapeshifter category. I wish she would have had included even more types of shapeshifters in the series!

ShiftTitle:  Shift
Author:  Rachel Vincent
Series: Werecats Book 05
Publish Date:  February 17, 2010
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Being the first female werecat enforcer isn’t easy. Scars accumulate, but I’m stronger in so many ways.

As for my personal life? It’s complicated. Choices worth making always are. Ever since my brother’s death and my father’s impeachment, it’s all I can do to prevent more blood from spilling. Now our Pride is under attack by a flight of vicious thunderbirds. And making peace with our new enemies may be the only way to get the best of our old foe.

With the body count rising and treachery everywhere, my instincts tell me to look before I leap. But sometimes a leap of faith is the only real option…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

Vicious new thunderbird shapeshifters, freshly accumulated scars, and Faythe on tequila. That’s what book five of the Shifter series brings us. Emotionally charged from her brother’s death and the anger behind all the backhanded attacks from Malone’s forces, Faythe has to step it up with her family.

Together, she, Jace, and Marc must fight off vicious vulture-like shifters hired by Malone and prove to them he’s their real enemy. Forced to gain evidence for their claims, Faythe – and the two men she happens to be in love with – must cross enemy lines and get out alive. The danger reaches a whole new level and the tension is strong; especially when romantic secrets are involved and suddenly, old wounds cause fresh tears within the Pride, tearing apart the trust between Marc and Faythe.

badge4v4Though this book has a lot of action and I love the introduction of the Thunderbirds as a species… it dragged for me. I found myself wishing I was on the final book already because it seemed like the same story from Prey was repeating, only with birds instead of panthers. That being said, it isn’t a bad book, not at all, because it’s still getting a four from me. But I think it’s more of a transitional book than a plot-twister and it just didn’t do it for me like Prey and Alpha do.

Links…

See our reviews of the previous books in this series:

I’ll be reviewing the rest of the books in the series in the coming weeks

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

… you might like the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelly Armstrong, the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter, or the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn.

Prey by Rachel Vincent

The fourth book in the Shifters series is my favorite. Filled with lots of action, new romance, sad and tender moments, and my favorite fantasy style of shapeshifting, this sequel has so many moments I couldn’t bear to stop reading. This is the one book I couldn’t put down. Small spoilers, nothing major even if you haven’t read the series.

PreyTitle:  Prey
Author:  Rachel Vincent
Series: Werecats Book 04
Publish Date:  July 1, 2009
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Sometimes playing cat and mouse is no game…

Play?

“Right.”

My Pride is under fire from all sides, my father’s authority is in question and my lover is in exile. Which means I haven’t laid eyes on Marc’s gorgeous face in months. And with a new mother “and” an I-know-everything teenager under my protection, I don’t exactly have time to fantasize about ever seeing him again.

Then our long-awaited reunion is ruined by a vicious ambush by strays. Now our group is under attack, Marc is missing and I will need every bit of skill and smarts to keep my family from being torn apart. Forever.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

Marc, Faythe’s lover, has been exiled. Her father’s loyalty and authority is under fire. And there are attacks from all sides – Malone’s ruthless Pride and vicious Strays. Faythe never gets a break in this book because it’s one thing after another, disaster after disaster, each as heartbreaking as the last.

Faythe is finally coming into her role as an Enforcer. She’s stronger now and she’s taken responsibility of Kaci and Manx, two vulnerable tabbies who are plunged into a war between Prides; Faythe is left to protect them both and the poor girl is barely escaping probation herself. Attacked by strays and backstabbed by Malone’s Shifters, Faythe loses her sanity a little in this one, especially after the murder of a very close family member.

The best part in my opinion – only because I’m a little biased towards a specific sexy shape shifter – is that she finds comfort in someone other than Marc. And that puts ohhhhh so much stress on her. But I like it. It mixes the emotional in with the structural plot. Because we all knew it was bound to happen once Faythe got drunk enough to drown out her sorrow (because she’s a fun drunk, let’s just say that).

badge5v4Emotionally gripping and non-stop action. Some of the other werecats are learning how to partially shift and that throws a wrench into some enemy plots. Marc is a beast in this one and Faythe isn’t far behind; she gets to play good cop/bad cop in this and her personality really shows off. I love these characters more with each book. Prey gets a five from me for all the good stuff.

Links…

See our reviews of the previous books in this series:

I’ll be reviewing the rest of the books in the series in the coming weeks.

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

… you might like the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelly Armstrong, the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter, or the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn.

Pride by Rachel Vincent

Bruins! That’s what made this story for me. In this third sequel, we’re introduced to a lot of new characters and werebears just happen to be one of them. Of course, there’s also the plethora of werecats from other territories – some of them good, some of them bad. Major spoilers ahead for this review!

PrideTitle:  Pride
Author:  Rachel Vincent
Series: Werecats Book 03
Publish Date:  February 1, 2009
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: 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…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

Faythe is in trouble – on trial for her life after being accused of infecting her ex-boyfriend Andrew with the werecat virus and then killing him to cover up said crime. Though she’s technically guilty of both, the council doesn’t know or understand the technicalities of her mistakes. After a mistake made in feverish love-making, she transmitted the virus onto Andrew – he became a Stray and the comical, innocent ex-boyfriend from college also turned into a vengeful, angry tom cat bent on taking Faythe out. Forced to defend herself, Faythe kills him in a fight at the end of Rogue. However, circumstances pending, the Council doesn’t quite get the picture. They think she did both on purpose and want her to pay for her crimes.

So the Sanders Pride meets up with the other Pride territory leaders at a lodge for her trial – and up in the mountains, a teenage tabby cat being stalked by a Stray is discovered. Faythe, being the only girl present, is lured in by the disoriented and terrified girl who doesn’t understand how shapeshifting works – or how she became a werecat. Together, they’re able to get the maniacal Stray off her back. Especially since they have help from a werebear – who’s pretty awesome in my opinion.

But Faythe’s troubles are only beginning. There’s discordance between the Alphas and it all somehow leads back to her and how much trouble she’s caused. Malone, one of the werecat leaders, has always been at odd with Faythe’s father and now he’s not holding back. Though I won’t go into detail about how badly things end, just know that a war is brewing between territories – and some won’t come out unscathed.

I’ll say again with how impressed I am at the world building. However, in this one, the details are almost too much. Though I was able to understand what was going on the entire time, I found myself forgetting odd things and having to go back to reread simply because I was on information overload. There’s a lot the author introduces in this one, on top of the plot and sub-plots. I just felt like a lot of stuff got buried under all the descriptions.

badge4v4However, the action was nice and the emotions were high. Marc and Faythe are still playing games with each other, but the game Malone and his allies have to offer is far worse. I love the cliffhangers in this story – ones that develop and take shape in both Prey and Shift.

I give this one a shiny four.

Links…

See my reviews for Stray (Book 01) and Rogue (Book 02).  I’ll be reviewing the rest of the series in the coming weeks.

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

… you might like the Women of the Otherworld by Kelly Armstrong, the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter, or the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn.  Also, the character of Abby, introduced in this series, has her own spin-off in the novella, Hunt, and the novel, Lion’s Share.

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