Tag Archives: werewolves

Seduced by the Wolf

Spear, Terry. Seduced by the Wolf (2010). 416 Pages*. Sourcebooks Casablanca. $7.99*

Heart of the Wolf: Book Five**

From Goodreads

Cassie Roux is a wolf biologist who has studied real wolves for years, trying to prove to the world they’re not the evil predators so many people believe them to be. A red lupus garou, who lost her pack and was raised by real wolves, she has dedicated her life to their preservation. Now for the first time, she discovers a female wolf, her mate dead, and the pups and the mother in real danger, and Cassie does everything she can think of to protect them. Until she runs into one stubborn alpha pack leader—werewolf kind—who has other plans for her.

Leidolf Wildhaven is a red lupus garou pack leader of Portland, Oregon and has more troubles than he ever thought possible what with running a pack, a ranch and other businesses, dealing with a couple of cantankerous new lupus garous, and a myriad of other problems when a little red wolf of the lupus garou variety is spotted in his territory. She’d be perfect as his mate, if she agreed. Only the headstrong woman has other priorities, saving real wolves from extinction, when he’s more worried about his own kind’s extinction and winning her heart.

First Lines

Except for a couple of cars parked outside the town hall, the lot was empty, and it appeared the wolf biologist speaking here tonight wouldn’t have much of an audience to lecture to.

The Oregon air surrounding him felt damp and cool, not like the drier, much sunnier weather Leidolf Wildhaven had left behind in Colorado. He kept telling himself he’d get used to it.

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Steam & Sorcery

Pape, Cindy Spencer. Steam and Sorcery (2011). 305 Pages*. Carina Press. $5.99**

Don’t let the cover stop you. The contents of the story are much better than the cover suggests with its cheesiness.

From the Publisher

Sir Merrick Hadrian hunts monsters, both human and supernatural. A Knight of the Order of the Round Table, his use of magick*** and the technologies of steam power have made him both respected and feared. But his considerable skills are useless in the face of his greatest challenge, guardianship of five unusual children. At a loss, Merrick enlists the aid of a governess.

Miss Caroline Bristol is reluctant to work for a bachelor but she needs a position, and these former street children touch her heart. While she tends to break any mechanical device she touches, it never occurs to her that she might be something more than human. All she knows is that Merrick is the most dangerously attractive man she’s ever met– and out of reach for a mere governess.

When conspiracy threatens to blur the distinction between humans and monsters, Caroline and Merrick must join forces, and the fate of humanity hinges upon their combined skills of steam and sorcery…

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Sunshine

McKinley, Robin. Sunshine (2010 ed). 405 Pages. Speak. $8.99

Sunshine is not a vampire story the way Pegasus is not about winged horses. Sunshine is about Rae Seddon– commonly called Sunshine– a young woman whose life is forever altered by her choice to go out to the local lake, alone, and at night. It is there that she is grabbed by Others and dragged to a remote, abandoned house.

At first Sunshine is confused, because she isn’t dead yet, and Vampires don’t usually play with their food for long. However, she is not alone in the abandoned mansion; she is to be dinner for Con, a vampire no freer than she is.

To get out of this alive, Sunshine needs his help, and strangely enough, he needs hers.

First Lines

It was a dumb thing to do but it wasn’t that dumb. There hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake in years. And it was so exquisitely far from the rest of my life.

Monday evening is our movie evening because we are celebrating having lived through another week. Sunday night we lock up at eleven or midnight and crawl home to die, and Monday (barring a few national holidays) is our day off. Ruby comes in on Mondays with her warrior cohort and attacks the coffeehouse with an assortment of high-tech blasting gear that would whack Godzilla into submission: those single-track military minds never think to ask their cleaning staff for help in  giant lethal marauding creature matters.

Thoughts

While Sunshine’s world is similar to ours, it is not ours. It is a sort of parallel dystopia, in which the Voodoo Wars– a battle between the Humans and the Others– have left humanity struggling to rebuild in a wasteland. This world is simultaneously eerily similar to, and startlingly different from our own*. There is a lot going on here; the human population has been decimated, Others are discriminated against, part-bloods held responsible for their heritage, cities are slowly growing, around the “bad spots,” and places like Charlie’s Coffeehouse are small havens from the insanity.

I think the world-building may be my favorite part of this book, actually. The characters come second to the world for me. I wanted more about the world, more about the why, the what, the how. Things are hinted at, bits are mentioned, there are “bad spots” where humans dare not go, left-overs of powerful magic. But why are they there? My curiosity was not completely satisfied, which was a little frustrating, because I’m usually quite content with her worlds.

I do like Sunshine, but she is not the strongest female McKinley has ever written, and I have an affinity for the strong girls. At first, Sunshine is rather inactive, she is victimized, and spends a lot of time recovering from the trauma. She struggles with her sense of self, with needing support and being afraid to reach for it, with the ramifications of what exactly she has done, and with her bond.

Something which is particularly problematic to me are the relationships in this book. Sunshine is dating Mel**, but they seem stuck in a sort of loose dating, where they’re together when it’s convenient. Sunshine never seems to talk about things to him, and though he could be there for her if she just asked, she doesn’t. There are hints about her heritage, things which her mother may have been hiding, but it is never verified, it remains Sunshine’s theory, and is never really tested. She’s surrounded by family and friends and people who care about her, and some of them are powerful enough in their own right that they could protect her, but she doesn’t turn to any of them. She instead relies upon a Vampire who she has only known for a brief amount of time.

When I first read this book, I remember really liking it. I was on a vampire kick, and I was reading everything I could. This was not a YA book then, but that didn’t stop me. Looking at it, and having read it, I wonder if it is a YA book now. There is a fairly explicit scene around page 250 which left me wondering if it should be called YA. I don’t necessarily feel that teens need to be protected from everything sexual, but I felt a little awkward reading this scene, and I’m an adult. I imagine most teens would either be titillated or would feel as awkward as I did.

It is sad, knowing that I will never know more. McKinley doesn’t write sequels. She may eventually venture back into the same world, if her muses drag her there, but this is the only guaranteed book in this setting. It’s a pity, because there is so much you can do with a post-apocalyptic world. There are options, and ideas, and worldwide locations.

Anyway, this volume gets a 4/5. There is a lot more that could have been done with Sunshine, and I wasn’t wholly satisfied (and not just because I wanted more, which is a good sort of unsatisfied.) It is worth reading, because it is enthralling, and it’s very different from what you expect, if you’ve been told it’s a vampire book, because it’s not. There are vampires, but ultimately, this book is about Sunshine.

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* It left me thinking of Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan world, actually.

** I like Mel, a lot. He’s got magical tattoos, which remind me of Pritkin’s tattoos from Karen Chance’s books.

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Shiver

Stiefvater, Maggie. Shiver (2009). 390 Pages. Scholastic. $9.99

Despite reading about this book in many blogs, and having several friends recommend it, I didn’t pick this book up for a long time. In fact, it took until I was standing in Borders, staring at it (and Linger) on the shelf before me for me to pick it up. When I flipped through a few pages, and noticed that the text was blue, and the paper a true white, I was sold.

I find unusual bindings, or printings, to be completely fascinating. I love when authors and publishers work outside of the box a little bit, and play with a well-established medium. (Within reason– it still has to be readable.) That is part of why I love Alice in Wonderland— things like the Mouse’s Tail, and other such playful printing.

I was hopeful, especially since I had just read Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Hounds of Ulster” in Kiss Me Deadly and had enjoyed it. She manages to use pretty language without going over the top, and it feels like she does get teenage emotions.

Anyway, Shiver is about Grace and Sam, and what happens when they are finally together. Grace has been obsessed with wolf!Sam since he saved her from a wolf attack. Sam has been obsessed with Grace since the same day. But they could not be together– he was a wolf, and she was a human. When he was human (in the summer) he could not find her because he did not know who she was, and because he could not reveal that he was her wolf. So Grace and Sam love each other from afar.

The story is set in motion by a wolf attack; a local high schooler is killed, and his father has enough money to get the town motivated to exterminate the menace. Grace is distraught, and rushes out to the woods to try to save the wolves she has grown to love. Except that she does not really succeed in doing anything. She is escorted home, which is where she finds Sam, naked, and wounded, curled up on her back porch.

It does not take very long for Grace to figure out that this is her wolf– Sam. His grasp on his humanity is tenuous at best, because the wolf-change is caused by cold, and it is wintertime in Minnesota. Grace and Sam cling to each other, desperate to spend every moment together until he loses his ability to stay human. Sam knows that this is his last winter, that when spring comes, he will not be human again, and he wants to spend as much time as  he can with Grace.

Things cannot be that simple though, and there is a lot more going on. Grace’s parents are self-absorbed and negligent. Grace’s friends and classmates are difficult. And there are two very, very dangerous wolves in the woods. Sam has to deal with feelings of ineffectiveness, because when human, he lacks many of his wolf strengths, and Grace finishes growing up, and even calls her mother on her neglect at one point.

I had some reservations– boy and girl are in love but cannot be together. Boy and Girl are different, girl is human, boy is werewolf. Boy and Girl sleep in the same bed, but do not give in to hormones and have sex… for a while*. Boy and Girl are a little obsessed with each other. I mean, a lot of this sounds like Twilight, and in a weird way, it is similar. The overall obsessive tone was a lot less disturbing here, in part because there was a sort of explanation– he’d saved her life.

In Conclusion:

The writing grabbed me; it was fluid, lovely, poignant. Their love was the center of everything, and it was interesting seeing it grow from a distant love to a real, I’ll do anything for you sort of love. I feel like the emotions in the book could have been too advanced for high schoolers, except that neither of them were truly their age. Grace and Sam had both had to grow up far too fast, and had a lot more maturity than other kids their age, and that worked. It could have been obsessive, and a bit creepy– there was a fine line, and I feel like it managed to stay on the good side. This book scores a 5/5, because it manages to be all about Sam and Grace, without being just Sam and Grace.

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* They give in on P. 294, but it’s one of those quiet “we got naked and then… CUT” sorts of scenes that seems to flourish in Y.A. fiction. I think if I suddenly had a gorgeous guy that I had loved for six years in my bed, we would not wait weeks. But that’s just me.

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Soulless

Carriger, Gail. Soulless (2009). 357 Pages. Orbit. $7.99

The Parasol Protectorate: Book 1

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, he’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquitte.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire– and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? ( From the Back Cover)

There’s a lot going on in my brain right now, largely because of this book, which I really enjoyed reading. On the one hand, I hate you– those of you who reviewed Soulless and made it sound so very appealing, so I had to start reading it, which then led to me staying up all night reading it because I just could not put it down— and on the other hand, I wonder how you guys felt about some of the issues brought up by The Book Smugglers when they reviewed it.

“It’s an awful lot like Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody.” (among other issues) which could very well be the case, and which I could perhaps agree with, if I’d ever read the series in question. Coincidentally, I have several Elizabeth Peters books sitting here– I was digging through boxes and boxes of books which my grandmother gave me last time I went to visit. The vast majority are mystery/suspense/thriller, which is not my genre of choice, so they’ve sat, largely untouched, since she gave them to me. I was going through them, trying to ascertain exactly what I had in the boxes, so we could deal with them appropriately. ( My mom and I intend to go through them and figure out which ones we each want to read, and which ones neither of us are interested in, so we can donate/sell those that we are not interested in.) So perhaps my next read will be one of those Elizabeth Peters books.

Disconcerting similarities to already-published works aside, I’m pretty sure I really liked Soulless. I didn’t notice any of the issues which so perturbed the ladies at The Book Smugglers, but perhaps that is because I had no trouble suspending my disbelief, and had no experience with similar characters. Despite the (inappropriate) Fantasy/Horror genre tag which my copy sports, it was definitely supernatural/paranormal period romance. I was expecting that, so it didn’t throw me too badly. I also really enjoyed the characters, their banter, the way it was so clear they did care about each other, even though they didn’t really know it yet.

Lord Akeldama annoyed the hell out of me. (From page 46:)

He minced into the room, teetering about on three-inch heels with ruby and gold buckles. “My darling, darling Alexia.” Lord Akeldama had adopted use of her given name within minutes of their first meeting. He had said that he just knew they would be friends, and there was no point in prevaricating. “Darling!” He also seemed to speak predominantly in italics. “How perfectly, deliciously, delightful of you to invite me to dinner. Darling.”

Gee, wonder what his sexual orientation might be? I mean, he takes more badass out of vampire than sparkling in the sun did. Ugh. I don’t have a problem with gay characters, but I do have a problem with inexplicably flamboyant, annoying characters who are described as speaking in italics. Ugh.

That aside, I think Alexia was an interesting character, to a point. She was a little too inclined to lean on being half-Italian* as an excuse for well, being blunt. What I loved was the whole idea of a preternatural, set in Victorian England. I wish this had gotten a bit more page-time, because it was perhaps the most unique and outstanding thing about the entire book, and it really got glossed over. She’s soulless– enough so that the book is titled Soulless– and per a few early comments, this has a lot to do with her ability to relate to other humans, and her grasp of emotions, but she has absolutely no problems with lust or “love.”

In Conclusion:

I’m pretty sure I liked this book. I mean, I started reading it at about 10pm, and could not put it down until 4am. That is a very good sign in a book, being that involved in it. It gets a 4.5/5 because it wasn’t until well after I was done reading that I began to even think about the flaws (which is a good sign.)

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* No love from me here. I’m basically 50% Irish, 50% Italian. Acting like that’s a handicap? Not cool.

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Blood Bound

Briggs, Patricia. Blood Bound (2007). 292 Pages. Ace Fantasy. $7.99

Mercy Thompson: Book Two

Please be aware that it is extremely likely that there are spoilers for the first book. You have been warned. Proceed with caution.

I was so excited when I figured out there was another book in this series. I hadn’t yet figured out that most authors write whole collections of books these days, as stand-alone novels just don’t sell as well. Well, that might not be the case, but it would hardly be surprising. Anyway, this is one character I was glad to see again.

Stefan is collecting his favor, and boy is it a doozy. There’s a sorcerer-turned-vampire who’s infected with a demon, and it’s bringing unwanted attention to the supernatural world. Sure, people know about some of the fae– the cuter, weaker, and less-threatening fae, anyway– and people have learned about the werewolves, but the vampires remain a closely-guarded secret. It’s not exactly easy to both suck blood and be a good guy*.

We learn a lot more about Mercy’s past, and her powers. More of Mercy’s character gets to shine through here, and she manages to kick some ass without being the most powerful being ever. She’s got some unique talents– compliments of her Walker heritage– which enable her to help her friends when they are unable to help themselves. Native American walkers used to hunt vampires, until the vampires hunted the walkers into near extinction. (One doesn’t expect vampires to worry about committing genocide.) Mercy learns more about herself and her abilities from this vampiric entanglement than she learned growing up with werewolves.

Of course, Mercy’s love-life gets more complicated– both Samuel and Adam are vying for her affection. She’s got quite the past with Samuel, and doesn’t quite buy that he loves her for the right reasons. Adam is a pack Alpha, and comes with a lot of werewolf complications. There’s a lot more coming Mercy’s way, and despite the fact that this is largely a paranormal romance, Mercy’s love-life takes a back seat to the adventure in this novel.

The Quick Version:

Mercy remains a kick-ass heroine who has a strong voice. Her story grows more complicated as the story goes on. She kicks some ass. And characters actually seem to grow. This gets a 4/5, because I don’t generally give a damn about vampires, and this plot is not my favorite. (Though it remains pretty well written, and solid.)

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* And universes with “good vampires” are made of suck. (Pun not intended) (I’m looking at YOU, Twilight.)

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Moon Called

Briggs, Patricia. Moon Called (2006). 288 Pages. Ace Fantasy. $7.99

Mercy Thompson: Book One

I suppose since I just reviewed book five in this series, I should probably take some time to go back and talk about the earlier books. I keep re-reading this series, and I enjoy it every single time I do. The covers connect with each other, since they have a steady, constant artist. Despite what the cover leads you to believe, Mercy does not wear cropped belly-shirts. She’s above that.

Meet Mercedes Thompson, Volkswagen Mechanic. She’s very aware of the irony of her name, but tends to go by Mercy, so it’s not as much of a running joke as it might be. Mercy is a walker– that is, she can transform into a coyote at will. As far as she knows, she’s the only one of her kind, which leaves her knowing very little about the full extent of her abilities.

Mercy has a long back-story which is revealed very neatly as she explains herself to a new werewolf. It manages to be expository without feeling contrived, and in essence explains that Mercy was raised by the Marrok– the ruler of the werewolves. She knows more about werewolves than any other non-were, and uses this knowledge to her advantage (to both torment and survive her handsome were-neighbor Adam, among other things.)

Anyway, Mercy starts off by picking up Mac- a stray wolf- and stupidly locking herself in a garage with him and a dead body. Adam manages to save her, but things get weirder and crazier with every page until we reach an impressive climax. Of course, there’s a lot going on: Samuel (the Marrok’s son) re-enters Mercy’s life after a long absence. Stefan, the vampire, helps Mercy out. The Marrok steps in. There’s even a Witch. There is kidnapping, mystery, and suspense. By the end of the book, you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen next.

Mercy herself is the reason this book is so great. She has an amazing voice, and a strong personality. She kicks just a little more ass than most girls, without being over-powered and flawless. She’s one of the better heroines out there, and I look forward to her books.

The Quick Version:

I loved this book. (I love this whole series.) I feel like it’s just the right amount of ass kicking (by Mercy and her posse) and mystery. We learn about the characters, and I actually cared what happened to them. It was a well written story which kept you turning pages. It gets a 5/5.

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