Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changelings 1), by Nalini Singh

4 Stars

178476

I ignored this recommendation for months. I mean, for realz, yo, look at the cover art. Read the title. This must be nothing but trash. I’m so glad for my habit of reading titles because they look awful. Sometimes it leads me to some real gems, like the Psy-Changeling books. This series is told in the style of J.R. Ward and Kresley Cole, detailing an over-arching plot through the individual tales of different couples. It’s most definitely paranormal romance, but the story surrounding it is just so fun and original… and also broken up with explicit sex scenes.

The Psy are a cerebral species, connected to a neural network and possessing psychic powers. This made them all batcrap crazy, so they got rid of emotion 80 or so years ago. The Changelings are shape shifters that exist in packs, based on their animal. Changeling leopard Lucas strikes a deal with Nikita Duncan and is intrigued by the warmth he feels from her daughter, Sascha. When a neighboring pack is certain a Psy has taken one of their own, Lucas must work with Sascha to catch the villain before war breaks out.

Lucas is a definite alpha male and Sascha is a bit too weak at times. The language can be a touch redundant as well, but these issues are standard for the first installment in a series. The overarching plot is unique and the characters are enjoyable. This is a great beginning to a paranormal romance series.

Review Word Count: 247

Psy-Changeling series order (sans novellas)

1. Slave to Sensation
2. Visions of Heat
3. Caressed by Ice
4. Mine to Possess
5. Hostage to Pleasure
6. Branded by Fire
7. Blaze of Memory
8. Bonds of Justice
9. Play of Passion
10. Kiss of Snow
11. Tangle of Need
12. Heart of Obsidian
13. Shield of Winter
14. Shards of Hope

Advertisements

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld 1), by Kelley Armstrong

4 Stars

bitten

Bitten is definitely paranormal romance, but there’s a lot more action and adventure to the story than is usual for the genre. That’s both the reason for the high rating and the reason I didn’t award that 5th star. The relationship between Clay and Elena is too central to the story not to categorize the title as romance, but also lacks the emphasis of a typical love story, because of the heavy and engaging plot. At times, I couldn’t decide if I wanted more Clay and Elena or if I wanted to hear more about this whole wolf thing.

The plot itself is original and complex, and a truly unique take on werewolf lore, without creating a new supernatural breed. Honestly, though, I think my favorite aspect of Armstrong’s writing is her characterization. None of her characters are truly perfect. Elena is sort of cold and angry. She holds a wicked grudge against Clay, who is pretty unforgivably barbaric at times, his choices differing greatly from the show. The choice between Clay and Phillip isn’t obvious to the reader, because Phillip is never painted as a villain. Once again, the relationship is not the sole focus of the story. Typically, with PNR, we enjoy the tale, but we know how it ends. This isn’t so in Bitten. Characters die. Hearts are broken. Not everyone is forgiven. It’s quite refreshing in the genre, if you’re looking for refreshing. There’s also the joy of the closely based Canadian show, now available on Netflix.

Review Word Count: 250

Women of the Otherworld
1. Bitten
2. Stolen
3. Dime Store Magic
4. Industrial Magic
5. Haunted
6. Broken
7. No Humans Involved
8. Personal Demon
9. Living With the Dead
10. Frostbitten
11. Waking the Witch
12. Spellbound
13. Thirteen

The Troop, by Nick Cutter

4 Stars

the troopEvery five years or so, I decide I’m capable of reading horror…

… and I am always wrong.

For some reason, I read that Stephen King found The Troop horrifying and immediately thought “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!” In fact, this title reminded me a great deal of a King novel, particularly through characterization and imagery.

“The sky was salted with remote stars. The beach was a bonelike strip unfurling to the shoreline. The sea advanced up the shore with a series of minute sucking inhales.” pg. 111

For realz, y’all, he made a beach sound eerie. As far as the brand of horror, though, this is mostly a creepy crawly, mindfuck story.

“11:42 Subject blindly consuming own stripped flesh.” pg. 151
“The… stomach split soundlessly, like Saran Wrap, groin to rib cage.” pg. 167

Unlike King, Cutter’s side tangents were brief and rare. However, while they served a purpose in characterization and story line, I felt the animal abuse anecdotes were excessive. I admit it. I skipped the kitten story. I saw the word “kitten” and the word “Borax” and nope. Flip, flip, flip. It was at least five pages long. Dude, not necessary.We get it. The kid’s fucked up.

In addition to the animal abuse, the central plot of this tale is the horrifying first person deaths of several 14-year-old boys that are written like 12-year-olds. It was tough for this substitute teacher to take, but Cutter’s mission was certainly accomplished. I’ll never go camping again. Though, there was never much of danger of that anyway.

Review Word Count: 249

Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, by Lori Gottlieb

4 Stars

marry him the case for settling for mr. good enough

 

I don’t really read dating guides. It’s not that I don’t think anyone else has a valuable perspective. It’s just that the genre is generally so broad. “Love yourself first!” Thanks a heap, Carrie Bradshaw. I can’t believe this shit got published.

So, when I stumbled on this book while creating my New Year’s Resolutions display, at work, the provocative title got my attention. The title is exactly that, though: an effort to set the book apart in an overcrowded genre. Gottlieb is an unmarried woman in her early 40s, attempting to advise twenty-somethings and women in their early 30s to reevaluate their expectations of men, if they hope to be married and have children. Her book is written with marriage as the ultimate goal, children being an obvious perk. It’s not as preachy coming from Gottlieb, however, because she, herself, never got married and had a child alone, always assuming a better guy would come along.

This book genuinely changed my outlook on dating. If you follow my personal blog, you can see how my choices have changed. I’m no longer criticizing trivial issues and am willing to attempt to move past things that don’t matter in an effort to find love. Gottlieb writes with a somewhat defeatist attitude, but those who would benefit from reading this need that. My only real complaint was that she kept insisting religion was trivial and, at least for this Catholic gal, that simply is not true. This was a necessary wake up call.

Review Word Count: 250

Comfort Food, by Kitty Thomas

4 Stars

comfort food

For the sake of dark erotica, it’s convenient that all sex traffickers are so hot.

I jest. In all seriousness, it’s difficult to review Comfort Food when I’m not the biggest fan of the genre. I may like my fantasy consent to be occasionally dubious, but it does have to be present. Regardless, after my best friend and I decided to read the most disturbing stuff on Amazon, I’ve finished several that break that rule… and Comfort Food was the best.

Most of the dark erotica I’ve read includes an explanation for the captor’s actions. Rarely, however, do we get much insight into why the captive is accepting of her treatment. More often than not, these books are formulaic (as, admittedly, is most romance) with the lead female being imprisoned, completely rejecting her warden, and finally realizing that swallowing semen and having orgasms feels better than being viciously beaten. Sometimes the anti-hero and his slave come to an agreement and live happily ever after… just like Disney.

Comfort Food broke that mold, though. Through much of this book, Emily examines Master’s actions and her response, attempting to use her background in psychology to fight her feelings and break free. In fact, if this book suffers from anything, it’s that Master’s motives are laughably weak. I, literally, guffawed. While Emily initially gives in waaaay too easily, ultimately, the twist was surprising and if it’s your thing, the sex scenes are awesome. Within the genre, this title has earned its four stars.

Stand Alone

Review Word Count: 250

 

On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street 1), by Samantha Young

4 Stars

on dublin street

This is a terrific angsty read. It has all the elements of a good plot-light, strictly romance story: rich alpha male repairs emotionally damaged girl with his luuuuuv.

While this is the beginning of a series, and not a bad series at that, Young definitely got things right the first time. Braden comes off as a real world alpha, with none of Kristen Ashely’s fireman holds or Christine Feehan’s puppeteering. He’s just the right mix of possessive, protective, and rich. He has his asshole moments, but Young never takes it so far as to completely turn off the reader. Jocelyn is a believably broken heroine. Her story never becomes so complicated as to induce eye rolling, as is common in the genre. She’s just sassy enough to counteract Braden’s overly domineering moments, but not enough to earn the title of bitch. Most importantly, I never felt like Young was reaching for excuses to keep the couple apart in this story. It ended when it needed to end and the romance wasn’t too cheesy, which is more than I can say for her series as a whole.

My only complaint, while trivial, is that Jocelyn/Joss has a confusingly similar name to Johanna/Jo in the sequel, Down London Road. I found myself thinking “EVERYONE IS NAMED JO!

Series Reading Order (sans novellas)
1. On Dublin Street
2. Down London Road
3. Before Jamaica Lane
4. Fall from India Place
5. Echoes of Scotland Street

Review Word Count: 216