In Anticipation: Wilder's Mate by Moira Rogers

Title: Wilder's Mate
Series: Bloodhounds, #1
Author: Moira Rogers (website)
Release date: March 8, 2011 by Samhain

I'm always on the lookout for a good Steampunk yarn. Oftentimes, such tales are full of imagination and wonder,  for both the futuristic elements and the historical romanticism. I very recently discovered this little gem here, an upcoming publication from the paranormal romance writing team known as Moira Rogers. Check out the blurb:
    Wilder Harding is a bloodhound, created by the Guild to hunt down and kill vampires on America's frontier. His enhanced abilities come with a high price: on the full moon, he becomes capable of savagery beyond telling, while the new moon brings a sexual hunger that borders on madness.
      Rescuing a weapons inventor from undead kidnappers is just another assignment, though one with an added complication--keeping his hands off the man's pretty young apprentice, who insists on tagging along.
     At odds with polite society, Satira's only constant has been the aging weapons inventor who treats her like a daughter. She isn't going to trust Wilder with Nathaniel's life, not when the Guild might decide the old man isn't worth saving. Besides, if there's one thing she's learned, it's that brains are more important than brawn.
      As the search stretches far longer than Wilder planned, he finds himself fighting against time. If Satira is still at his side when the new moon comes, nothing will stop him from claiming her. Worse, she seems all too willing. If their passion unlocks the beast inside, no one will be safe. Not even the man they're fighting to save.
How fun does that sound?! What's more, the story takes place in the Americas, which is not always the case for steampunk stories (I think the British Isles are often a favored setting, for good reason). Based on this description, it sounds like it's going to be a sweeping story. Not to mention steamy! An excerpt of Chapter One can be found at Rogers's website.

I really dig the vibe of this cover. It looks more obviously Western than anything else, but also puts off a vibe of intensity and potential violence. I love it. ^_^ I certainly wouldn't want to tussle with the dude pictured (whom I assume is Wilder Harding?).

Does this book look like anything interesting to you?  What are your thoughts on the cover?

Review: The Willow by Stacey Kennedy

Title: The Willow
Series: The Magical Sword, #1
Author: Stacey Kennedy

Quick Take:
The mechanics of the story were a mixed bag; interesting overall world building, alongside rushed (and perhaps uneven) manner of exposition. All told, it didn't offend or wholly satisfy me, but did provide moments of excitement and adventure.

Book Description:
     In Carson City, Nevada a tragic car accident has claimed the lives of Nexi Jones’ adoptive parents. Now, without them, her reason to live has vanished and she is determined to end her pain.
     The problem with that, it’s not heaven she wakes up to, it’s the Otherworld. Nexi must reconcile the truth about her past, and her heritage as part guardian/part witch, while she begins to train to join the Council’s guard. But it’s not the combat training that has her worried, its attempting to keep her cool around the luscious guardian, Kyden that’s her biggest concern.
     Before long, Nexi’s skills are put to the test as she begins to fight against the supernatural who have taken a human life. But nothing can prepare her for the journey ahead. Soon, she will find herself lost in a mystery and fighting to keep all she’s gained, as Lazarus, a vampire, threatens to take it all away.
Well. We can't love everything all the time, can we? ^_^ The Willow has many elements that usually perk me up over a book: a heroine who discovers and develops her own amazing abilities and origins; playful romantic intrigue; a team of supernatural-regulatin' badazzes. Cracking open to the beginning of this story was also intriguing. A grieving, devastated young woman sits under her favorite willow tree, in the middle of a suicide attempt. She wants to end her lonely existence, and almost immediately gets her wish, though not in the way she expects.

From the start, and for the first several pages, there's quite a bit of exposition. I mean, a lot. This is not an inherently negative thing; it's just that it didn't feel all that smooth, but rather stilted and rushed. The progression of events--as well as Nexi's reaction to them--just didn't ring believable to me. Suspension of disbelief--not for the fantastical elements, but the mundane--only took me so far.

About halfway through the book, things did get pretty fun. The overall tone (and pace) was infused with excitement and intriguing twists. It'd be a lie for me to say there weren't some high-octane, tension-filled segments.

…but it's too bad I was unimpressed with the main villain of the story. he was mentioned early in the tale and was built up as intimidating, worthy of fear and wariness. Indeed, he was powerful being that caused trouble…but to me, he never really made it out of mustache-twirling territory. He remained pretty one-dimensional and thus not engaging.

Now, I'm not usually one to delve into the more technical aspects of a book (I hesitate to even bring it up now)…but in this case I can't not bring it up, since it was actually distracting. I'm referring to the legion grammatical errors. In some places it was a few per page. Now I know such a factor does not have bearing on the "meat" of a story…but seriously, it kept pulling me out of the tale. (If you know me, that's saying something.)

The structure of the supernatural world was a big point of interest. Head of each supe "species" forming a council; an "enforcement" crew who carries out the law…I really dug it! I anticipate the politics being quite a complex and engaging draw in future books, now that a fair bit of world building has been done.

So yeah. I didn't outright dislike this book, so I can't rate it lower. But I didn't find it wholly satisfying, either, so I can't rate it any higher. I know I'll eventually pick up the next book, though (I don't give up on a series after one book, period), and do look forward to it.

Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Blogger Hop (4) & Follow Friday (2)

Woo hoo! It's that time again. I really ought to not be so excited about surfing through other people's virtual stuff, but I am. The topic of discussion for this week's Book Blogger Hop (hosted by Crazy For Books) is:
Book Blogger Hop
"What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011?  Why are you anticipating that book?"
Oooooh yeah. This is really a toughie(!!!!) because 2011 is going to be a great year for book releases, and there are already quite few that I'm salivating over. But to choose one I'll have to go with the sequel to Meljean Brook's The Iron Duke...which I believe is tentatively titled Heart of Steel and will feature one of the characters introduce in the first book. The first book completely took me by surprise, most especially due to the imaginative world building and epic adventure. I can't wait to go back to the Iron Seas world. ^_^

Now, for this week's Follow Friday (the host of which is none other than the fabulous Parajunkee), the topic is:
What is/was your favorite subject in school?
As a youngling (say, during K-12), I was always absolutely fascinated by biology. At one point I'd thought, "I want to be an oceanographer!" (even though I have a fear of the vast, deep space of the open seas...but that's a whole other story). In college, I started out with the intention of studying biology, and then fell into linguistics when I had to take an intro Ling. course for a requirement. Well, I was freaking hooked. Call me naive but I had no idea there was a study of the concept of language. Well, that quickly became a favorite subject. It's so fascinating to consider the ways in which humankind develops communication...both conciously and subconsciously; over vast periods of time or within years; at a young age or in adulthood. I could go on all day! ^_^

So there you have it! I hope you're enjoying your own blog surfing, and look forward to crossing virtual paths!

Early Review: The Myterious Lady Law by Robert Appleton

Cover art by Frauke Spanuth
The Mysterious Lady Law by Robert Appleton
To be published Jan. 31 by Carina Press

Quick Take:
This is a short but fairly succinct story, which succeeds in capturing the spirit of the classic "Whodunit" detective fiction. With the added steampunk element, it's quite the imaginative romp.

Book Description (from GoodReads):
In a time of grand airships and steam-powered cars, the death of a penniless young maid will hardly make the front page. But part-time airship waitress and music hall dancer Julia Bairstow is shattered by her sister's murder. When Lady Law, the most notorious private detective in Britain, offers to investigate the case pro bono, Julia jumps at the chance-even against the advice of Constable Al Grant, who takes her protection surprisingly to heart.
      Lady Law puts Scotland Yard to shame. She's apprehended Jack the Ripper and solved countless other cold-case crimes. No one knows how she does it, but it's brought her fortune, renown and even a title. But is she really what she claims to be-a genius at deducting? Or is Al right and she is not be trusted?
      Julia is determined to find out the truth, even if it means turning sleuth herself-and turning the tables on Lady Law...
What is it about 19th- (and early 20th) century Britain that makes for such fun, memorable detective tales? The adventures of Holmes, Poirot, Hartwright… when you think of old-school sleuthing, you often think of that time and place. Or at least I do! ^_^ The notion of ferreting out details on heinous crimes amongst staid and "polite" society is amusing, sitting here a century later.

Add to that a layer of steampunk, with wild possibilities and accompanying societal optimism (masking private pessimism, of course). That's what is at the heart of this tale, set in London. At one point in the story a character makes passing reference to Wilkie Collins…and it's an apt acknowledgement for the author to have included. In Lady Law, there's the mysterious crime. There's what's assumed and accepted to have happened, and there's what really occurred. Of course, there's also the tenacious individual who will anything to get to the truth.

I loved how the author instilled a sense of potential shadiness in just about everyone and everything. One feels they must question everything that occurs…seemingly innocuous comments; curious coincidences. There are many red herrings tucked away all over the place, but they are plausible and thus serve their indented purpose: to produce doubt, for both the characters and the reader.

This story is fairly short…I'd say it's novella length. As such, character exploration remained mostly superficial. The progression of the mystery itself remains front-and-center, which I appreciated. But there was just enough development of the main cast to elicit some concern for their well-being. Due to the length, I also chose to overlook a couple of expository loose-ends.

The steampunk element was indeed a necessity to the plot, though that is perhaps not immediately evident. Descriptions were full enough to paint a strong visual picture, and one can make guesses at everything else; I must admit I had no clue what a psammeticum lens or a Leviacrum telescope would look like, but I managed just fine. ^_^

I hear-tell that this story is Robert Appleton's first go at steampunk. I think he wove a fun little tale, and hope he has plans to write in the genre again.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bloggiesta'd Out

Man, the Bloggiesta event that took place over the weekend was great. Fun, but with lots of work. I got to see what other bloggers were up to (over 250 participated!!), see their challenges and accomplishments...and share my own. I spent over many hours learning HTML and techie tricks...brainstorming ideas and doing background research.

Official Challenges I completed included:
  • Draft a review policy
  • Blog copyright update
  • Favicon design & Gravitar creation
  • Setting Goals
  • Google Docs - Forms
  • Creating a Cheat Sheet
  • Blogging tips
  • Vanity alerts/Google Alerts
  • Analyzing your blog
  • Stats Program Installation
Other tasks I carried out:
  • created YouTube account for blog;
  • updated Contact page;
  • acquired & integrated new domain name;
  • added Features page;
  • researched Challenge reads;
  • brainstormed article topics;
  • worked on comprehensive design plan;
    ...and other little bits and bites as needed.
All told, a successful event. I'll most certainly be participating in Bloggiesta this summer.

How about you? Did you participate in the event? Did you accomplish what you set out to do?

Bloggiesta 2011: Let's do it!

So, this weekend (Jan. 21, 22 and 23) is the fourth annual Bloggiesta, hosted by Natasha over at Maw Books Blog. What is Bloggiesta, you ask? As Natasha puts it:
In short, it’s a blogging marathon.  A opportunity to cross those nagging items off of your to-do list and improve your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing. Our awesome mascot Pedro (Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize) is ready to break out the nachos, enchiladas, drinks, mariachi music and whack a pinata or two!  It’s nothing short of an awesome fiesta!
I'm quite excited because I've been meaning to set aside a serious block of time for nothing but planning and developing ideas and future content. Some of my goals--which may or may not completed this weekend, but will at least be worked on--include the following:
  • write reviews (there's plenty of raw data for that!)
  • research for interviews
  • work on post templates
  • gather HTML crib-sheet
  • scout out possible books for challenges
  • work on design plans
  • brainstorm (hopefully) interesting article topics
  • develop review policy
  • work on Features page
  • create landing page content
  • "research, research, research" all things publishing 
  • install a stats counter (Google Analytics)
  • ...and other stuff!
It should be fun to be able to do all of these things in the virtual company of other great bloggers. Almost 200 people are it's going to be a righteous party fiesta. ^_^

**Note: I may be making edits n adjustments that result in odd-looking content. Pay it no should all be normalish by Monday.**

In Anticipation: Aftertime

Was it the chicken or the egg that came first?? I can no longer recall what initially drew me to this book: the dramatic and intense cover art, or the intriguing book blurb. Both seem to suggest a book that's epic in scope and grim in forgone conclusions for an HEA here.
Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Having no idea how many days—or weeks—have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.
      And with her, nearly all of civilization. Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.
      In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get her Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety. For the Beaters are out there. And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world...
How crazy does that all sound? It's just got to be a blast! A very harrowing, freaky blast. The author, Sophie Littlefield, has written quite a few YA novels, which at first led me to believe that this would be a YA book. But given the pretty heavy themes hinted at above (not to mention the protagonist is a mother), I'm going to say that's a "not as such, sir." :o) But anywho. From Ms. Littlefield's comments, it looks like this is the first in a series of books.
The cover. Oh, the cover! I couldn't for the life of me find out the name of the artist who drew up this piece (does anyone happen to know?), but what a fantastic job they've done. The thrust of the situation is quite obvious...desolation, trauma, solitude. But the details are deliciously few, leaving one to wonder..."something really bad just happened...what next?" Heck, I even dig the fact that the bird up in the corner isn't some imposing raven (whose symbolism we're all familiar with), but a frikin...what, a pal warbler or something? Love it! ^_^
So looking forward to reading this.
Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield will be released in February 2011 by Harlequin LUNA.

Early Review: Lust by Charlotte Featherstone

Lust (The Sins and the Virtues, #1) by Charlotte Featherstone
To be published Jan. 18, 2011 by Harlequin Spice

Quick Take:
This ethereal, fairy-tale-like story is imbued with deft use of sensuality, which I rather enjoyed. There's plenty of character posturing and subtle insidiousness, so don't look for high-octane action here or you'll be disappointed.

Book Description (from GoodReads):
Of old, humans and Faeries have dwelt side by side in parallel realms. Only the canniest mortals recognize the alluring creatures that often walk--and lie--among them.
      The righteous Fae of the Seelie Court cherish an ancient quarrel with their Dark counterparts: a curse born of anger and deceit. The Unseelie Court will perish unless one of is princes can win a woman's love--honestly, without coercion... and love her wholly in return.
      To halt the slow demise of his people, Prince Thane--the embodiment of Lust--infiltrates the Georgian court to seduce his mortal inverse. Noblewoman Chastity Lennox is pureity incarnate--a sensual prize well worth winning. But Thane's carnal quest proves more challenging than he ever dreamed.
      No other has ever been able--or willing--to resist his erotic charms. Chastity's resolve is maddening... and intriguing. It makes him want her all the more. But how best to seduce one who truly seems above temptation? Discover her greatest weakness and become the intoxicating essence of her deepest, most forbidden desires...
Okay, so I've got to put my Forthright Cap on…because while I enjoyed this book overall, I also recognize that it's not your typical PnR and may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Though the details are complex, the overall story can be summarized quickly: seven Dark-Fae males are cursed with a cardinal sin apiece, and must non-forcibly secure their correlating human Virtue. Sounds like a fairy-tale premise, right? Well this book is very much like a fairy-tale in several respects, for better or worse (depending on your tastes). In many an old fairy tale or fable, many things (situational limitations, character abilities) just "are." You don't question or consider them too deeply, and they aren't explained. That is the case here; remember that when (to make something up) someone randomly turns into a tree or some such. ^_^

This book is primarily concerned with desires, internal struggles, and inner-character. One can expect a lot of description and mental-musing. The thrills and chills typically derived from high-octane action stories simply isn't here for the most part. And this is not innately a bad thing, either: the intriguing mind-game that plays out amongst the cast is quite dependent on the characters' machinations. It did however get tiresome at some points....the back and forth "did he, didn't he/will she, won't she/should I, shouldn't I" that at times seemed to hash out the. same. things.

One will note that this book doesn't contain very much sex, but has A LOT of sensuality. Ms. Featherstone seems able to take the most innocuous items and tame situations and make them incredibly sensual. Not an easy task, I'd think.

World-building is done through multiple perspective shifts amongst the Sins, the Virtues, and their relatives. While this was (in this case) a useful device for advancing the plot and exploring the depth of the curse's effect, it didn't do a while lot for me as far as connecting with the characters. Which is too bad, because such a narrative device is usually great for fostering attachments to characters. And personally, I'm a big-time character reader.

Reading this book was certainly an enjoyable experience, although (or perhaps because?) the story was executed in a fashion unlike what I'm used to. More than ever I'd like to check out Featherstone's non-paranormal offerings (Sinful or Addicted), to see what her writing style is like there. I can most definitely see this book being hit-or-miss for many.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars 

Review: Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, #1) by Ann Aguirre

Quick Take:
Yessir, now THIS is what I call a supremely entertaining SF/F romp. The story is intimate character-wise, yet epic plot-wise. The relatively unusual 1st-person-present was used to excellent effect, and resulted in a close connection with the protagonist. An excellent series start.

Book Description (from GoodReads):
As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace-a talent which makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. Then a crash landing kills everyone on board, leaving Jax in a jail cell with no memory of the crash. But her fun's not over. A group of rogue fighters frees her...for a price: her help in overthrowing the established order.

I've got to make a confession. Though historically science fiction has been one of my favorite genres (and my longtime co-favorite book is evidence of that), I've read embarassingly few (read: next to zero) such books in the last few years. I can't even begin to fathom why. But this first installment in the Sirantha Jax series is quickly reminding me what I loved so much about the limitless--and imminently enjoyable--possibilities that sci-fi can offer.

I'm not going to lie; I was a bit hesitant about reading this book when I realized that the narration is carried out in first-person-present. There's nothing inherently bad about that particular narrative mode, but it's just so  rare (in the UF/SF/F books I read, anyway) as to feel…weird. Indeed, it took some getting used to but eventually melted into the background, especially after the first few scenes; after a while I honestly didn't think about it.

…but whilst on the subject of "those first few scenes" (the first 15%, I'd say): they were fast and furious. Really frenetic. There was a lot of specialized jargon thrown in (though most was easy enough to deduce); characters or themes introduced without explanation. It took a little while for me to not feel lost in the world created. Of course, that could have been the intention, given the random and confusing predicament the protagonist Sirantha Jax finds her self in at book's who knows.

The overall story is exceedingly episodic. This lends well to putting the book down at appropriate "breaks" in storytelling; that is, if you manage to put it down at all! I supremely enjoyed this aspect of the book; the tone, pace and circumstance all fluctuate throughout but masterfully, avoiding tediousness.

Finally, I've got to give props to Ms. Aguirre's excellent balance of character development and epic storytelling. A lot happens in this book, yet it's not overwhelming. Likewise, the characters' growth is real and believable, and treated with such care that I fell in love with the entire cast…bit players and main characters alike.

I thank the stars--but mostly Ann Aguirre--that there remain three more published books to read, with two additional ones to follow over the next year or so. An imaginative, wild and special series has been created here, and I'd recommend it to any UF-diehards looking to explore "the other half" of the SF/F classification. ^_^

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A new series (from Rachel Vincent) is born!

Callooh! Callay! I'm chortling in my joy! Author Rachel Vincent, of Shifters and Soul Screamers fame, has recently updated her blog with news of a new adult paranormal series! Ever since the last Shifters book was published last autumn, I know many have been eager to find out what was up next for the author. Fortunately, the wait is over--for the information, at least. The series will be called Unbound, the first book named Blood Bound. Its tentative release date is September 1, 2011.

A good lot of information (though all subject to change given the early stage) can be found at Rachel Vincent's website. Ms. Vincent says explains all best, so check out the details from the initial announcement HERE.

In the one day since the original post, Ms. Vincent has unsurprisingly received what seems to be (already) frequently-asked questions, including:
  • What POV is the book in?
  • What are the characters (re: paranormal abilities/species)?
  • Will BLOOD BOUND be available in electronic/audio formats?
  • When can we see the cover?
Responses to those can be found in her follow-up post, HERE.

So exciting! It's always wonderful to hear about new projects from great authors. Can't wait for more details! Thanks for sharing your news with us, Ms. Vincent!

Review: Queen of Shadows

Queen of Shadows (Shadow World, #1) by Dianne Sylvan

Quick Take:
This book gripped from the first page and never let go. The tone is dark, yet filled with tenderness at the right moments. I am officially in love with Sylvan's tight writing style.

Book Description (from GoodReads):
     Overwhelmed by her uncanny ability to manipulate people's emotions through her music, Miranda Grey comes to the attention of vampire lord David Solomon. Believing he can help bring her magic under control, David discovers that Miranda's powers may affect the vampire world too...
For all the urban fantasy I read, I find that I don't delve into the much darker stuff as often as I'd like. Indeed the lighter and more witty fare is so easily accessible; what can I say, I'm a happy-sappy-gal! But when a dark urban fantasy book gets it right, it will knock me out and is ultimately the stuff that stays with me the longest and deepest. This book was just that type of UF.

If you're a frequent reader of urban fantasy, you'll already have noticed that many of the genre's titles are written in the first person. This book--being in the third person and switching narrative perspective amongst a few characters (for development of certain plot points)--obviously differs from the trend but works marvelously. It really boils down to the fact that Ms. Sylvan has a wonderful way with words. I was just as engrossed with her description of an empty room as I was with a fight scene. Given that much, narrative perspective didn't matter. ^_^

I must say, the connection with the protagonist Miranda Grey was immediate. The author shows the character's suffering due to her bizarre powers being raw and uncontrolled; you can easily see the hopelessness of her situation. Things go from bad to worse and are (in a way) painful to follow but impossible to turn from. It was easy to buy into the nightmarish world Miranda finds herself in, as well as her attempts at healing and her struggles to recover.

Dianne Sylvan knows how to put your emotions through the paces! There were times when my stomach was twisted with anxiousness, and others where I felt the sweet flutteries right alongside the protagonists. And regarding the latter…the progression of romance was exquisite! This is an area in which further description on my part is probably not going to be helpful: context is everything.

Sylvan's visuals and well-placed details work such wonders in this book; I could go on indefinitely in praise of them. But I won't. (You're welcome. ^_^) I'll simply say that if you enjoy urban fantasy of the darker variety, you'll need to pick this one up. The series could literally go in any direction based on this first installment…but it's already clear that it's going to be amazing no matter what.

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Blogger Hop: drei (3), and 1st Follow Friday

Book Blogger HopA book-blog stalker's paradise, the Book Blogger Hop is. After a holiday hiatus, it's back for the new year. I for one am quite excited about seeing what people have been up to over the last couple weeks, as well as any 2010 Reading Roundups that are out there.

This week's BBH question is:

"What book influenced or changed your life? How did it influence/change you?"

     There are a number of books that I could list for various reasons, but for the sake of brevity ^_^ I'll go with Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I read it as a teenager, but even so I felt a distinct connection to--and identification with--the characters, especially protagonist Ender Wiggin. The book follows his story from age 6, and most of the cast is under the age of 10...but they are strong, resilient, heart-breaking people who inspired me greatly.
     I'd also be remiss to mention the first full-length novel I ever read (when I was 7 or 8, can't remember exactly): A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I was mesmerized and addicted to the written word from then on. I'll always be thankful for that.


Also, I thought I'd try out Follow Friday from Parajunkee, whom I already blog-stalk extensively and adore.

This week's question is:

What book(s) have you discovered lately from someone's book blog?

Hm. Well, I've been getting a lot of new TBR list additions from the folks over at Book Lovers, Inc. They frequently feature books that seem off the beaten path but intriguing all the same. But the last book I specifically read based on a blogger's review was Ava Gray's Skin Game. Mandy at Smexy Books talked it up with such enthusiasm that I had to read the blog, and am now so glad I did; Ava Gray/Ann Aguirre is an auto-buy, for sure.

...and that's that. I look forward to checking out the many blogs out there over this weekend, as well as chatting with anyone who happens to stop by here. Cheers!

Review: Tempest's Legacy

Tempest's Legacy (Jane True, #3) by Nicole Peeler

Quick Take:
This book starts with a bang and keeps up a relatively darker tone throughout. There are plenty of action-packed scenes, as well as a well of serious inner-musings from the protagonist. All-told it's a great followup and excellent set-up for the series's next books.

Book Description (partial, from Goodreads):
      Jane True has become proficient in basic magics, confident in herself and her abilities, and happily rooted in Rockabill. Her life is still divided between her supernatural brethren and her human friends and family, but it’s a division she maintains with very little trouble.
      Everything changes, however, when Anyan brings Jane news that will force her to confront her dichotomized existence – supernatural females are being murdered, or have simply disappeared.
      Jane and Anyan must embark on a desperate search to find out who is abducting these women, and how Jane can be protected from them. Aiding them is Jane’s former flame, Ryu. But can his stated motivations be trusted? And who are the mysterious figures dogging Jane’s and Anyan’s footsteps if not minions of Jarl?
This book was quite a ride. It follows some weeks after book 2, Tracking the Tempest, and shakes up Jane's world quite thoroughly. With a new setting--"the Borderlands"--came some fresh perspective on the JT world, and arguably an adjustment in direction and tone for the series.

So many important developments occur, but unsurprisingly it was the characters that drew me in the most. Previous characters are all present, along with several new faces. I was in absolute stitches with the playful moments, and touched my the more solemn interactions.

The book is most certainly darker in tone as compared to its two predecessors. Jane is faced with several traumatizing events, and is forced to process and reconcile her emotions whilst also taking drastic action on them.  There's a lot of opportunity to see Jane grow both emotionally and metaphysically, and it was both powerful and empowering to observe.

The romantic element, though vastly different in nature than it has been before (featuring more tease, for one thing), was quite bittersweet--with an emphasis on both the bitter and the sweet. ^_^ Some of the issues I had with book two persisted in the early parts of this book, but after looking past those what remained was quite engaging.

The set-up for future books was incredibly solid; it's quite clear that Peeler has an overarching plan for how Jane's story will progress. Eye of the Tempest can't come out soon enough. ^_^

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: Tracking the Tempest

Tracking the Tempest (Jane True, #2) by Nicole Peeler

Quick Take:
This book gets of to a fun start and continues with great pacing, hilarious characters, and engaging situations. I wasn't completely sold on some of the developments near the end, but overall I adored this book.

Book Description (from Goodreads):
     Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and Ryu - Jane's bloodsucking boyfriend - can't let a major holiday go by without getting all gratuitous. An overwhelming dose of boyfriend interference and a last-minute ticket to Boston later, and Jane's life is thrown off course.     Ryu's well-intentioned plans create mayhem, and Jane winds up embroiled in an investigation involving a spree of gruesome killings. All the evidence points towards another Halfling, much to Jane's surprise...
Hello again, Jane True! I'm so glad to have rejoined your adventures. I was tentatively a fan of yours, and this book has proved that though you took a while to get through to me, I'm now all yours!

The pacing of this installment is great, not stilted even though there is a variety of activities along the plotline; moments of high tension and action seamlessly segue into others of contemplation and investigation. The former were exhilarating, and the latter were chilling or touching (or both). All told it made for a well-rounded and book, in my opinion.

It's no surprise that this book had a lot to love by way of its characters. As in book one, the cast provides a great deal of amusement and charm from their interactions and singular quirks. Even a seeming antagonist, Conleth, was as intriguing and multi-dimensional as he was disturbing.

Newly presented in this book is a series of very tough, morally ambiguous situations that aren't easy to process and don't allow for simple judgment. I actually enjoyed this aspect, as it gave me pause for reflection. It'd make for a good discussion amongst fans, whom I know will be split or undecided on how they feel.

Now, I was admittedly underwhelmed with some occurrences near the end of the book; not so much with the resulting situation but with the fact that it didn't quite convince me. I felt like there was much more "telling" than there was "showing" (which I now realize is what bothered me so much in the beginning of book one). To avoid spoilers I won't get any more specific…but I do just that in my review on GoodReads.

My minor disappointments aside, I vastly enjoyed this book. It was such a ride, always engaging even though it was not all happy-go-lucky. This book puts this series on auto-buy status, I'd say!

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

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