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Celtic Moon by Jan DeLima

Celtic Moon by Jan DeLima (Celtic Wolves #1)Released: September 24, 2013
Format: e-book
Publisher: Penguin

Series: Celtic Wolves #1

Source: Purchased

Excerpt: Yes

Like father, like son…
 
Sophie Thibodeau has been on the run from the father of her son for more than fifteen years. Now her son, Joshua, is changing, and her greatest fears are about to be realized. He’s going to end up being just like his father—a man who can change into a wolf.
 
Dylan Black has been hunting for Sophie since the night she ran from him—an obsession he cannot afford in the midst of an impending war. Dylan controls Rhuddin Village, an isolated town in Maine where he lives with an ancient Celtic tribe. One of the few of his clan who can still shift into a wolf, he must protect his people from the Guardians, vicious warriors who seek to destroy them.
 
When Sophie and Dylan come together for the sake of their son, their reunion reignites the fierce passion they once shared. For the first time in years, Dylan’s lost family is within his grasp. But will he lose them all over again? Are Joshua and Sophie strong enough to fight alongside Dylan in battle? Nothing less than the fate of his tribe depends on it….

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Don’t let the cover dissuade you: CELTIC MOON is an interesting book. It’s not the best werewolf book I’ve ever read but it has some strong points.

First, I enjoyed the mythology that DeLima brings to the table. It’s Celtic, as you can probably guess from the book and series titles, which is something we don’t see too much in the genre. The author has created a novel history for her shape shifters (which is how the characters self-identify, as opposed to werewolves) and I really liked the details that are included. The main one, of course, is that there are basically two factions of shape shifters: those that follow the Guardians (there’s a long Welsh name that goes here) and those who are opposed to the Guardians, like our protagonist Dylan and his people. The Guardians are very prescriptive and dogmatic, which is why not everyone is enthused by their rules, which lead to the killing of children who can’t shift or who are born as animals, for example. They aren’t nice people so it’s easy to get on-side with Dylan and his people.

Another aspect of the mythology is that these shape shifters live for a very long time. Dylan is thousands of years old and remembers growing up in Wales back when it was called Cymru. Some of his followers and guards are his contemporaries while others are younger. Sophie, his wife, is a regular old human but I found her to be much more interesting because of the transformation she goes through to become the woman she is in present day in CELTIC MOON. We get some flashbacks to when she met Dylan and she was a much softer, naive version of herself. I liked tougher, warier Sophie a lot better, because she was more secure in herself and because she’s more equal to Dylan in strength of personality and conviction (even if she can’t match him for brute strength). You can see why they’re drawn to each other. I also really liked their son Joshua and I hope he’ll get his own book once he’s a bit older.

On the negative side, though, some of the plot/characters are a bit predictable. There are definitely moments where I was surprised, which I loved, but CELTIC MOON does have its more typical moments. Nothing distracted me from my reading — which I did in a single sitting — but you’ll be able to guess where certain plot strands are headed.

I’ve got the second book in the series, SUMMER MOON, for review so look for that to post over on Team Tynga’s Reviews some time in September or October!

Cursed by Angela Addams

Cursed by Angela Addams (The Order of the Wolf #1)Released: July 29, 2014
Format: e-book
Publisher: Samhain

Series: The Order of the Wolf #1

Source: NetGalley

Excerpt: Yes (click on Excerpt tab)

Her biggest mistake comes with fangs…and a nose for tracking her down.

The Order of the Wolf, Book 1

Wherever there’s a lying, cheating scumbag who’s broken a woman’s heart, Vengeance Dealer Darcy Wells is there. So what if she isn’t the most skilled witch around? She’s only using one spell, which leaves the hapless male suffering tormenting lust for one woman. Her.

The beautiful part? This curse comes equipped with a blinding agent, allowing her a clean getaway. Unrequited lust, coming right up! As far as Darcy is concerned, it’s justice served. Her next target: Raven Glock, rock band bassist and drop-dead-gorgeous sex god.

When Raven lays eyes on the luscious Darcy, he gives her what he promises all the starry-eyed groupies who toss their panties at him—one unforgettable night in his bed. Sex with Darcy is so epic that he forgets his cardinal rule: to get her out before morning.

At the crack of sunrise, Darcy serves Raven a face full of cursed ash. But something goes horribly wrong…and she finds herself magically tethered to one pissed-off werewolf.

Worse, breaking the spell could cost her everything…maybe even her life.

Warning: Sexually explicit language, tattoos, piercings, and giant…um…feet. Wet panties are a given. Author assumes no responsibility for spontaneous ravishment of significant others, pool boys, or local pizza delivery personnel.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

CURSED is an interesting read. It starts off as a witch vs. werewolf story but it evolves into something more, which I wasn’t expecting. Reading the cover copy you expect a fairly typical paranormal romance but Addams used CURSED to set the stage for The Order of the Wolf series, which has a mythology beyond a witch vs. werewolf showdown. I won’t say anything else since this is a relatively new release but I will say that it was a pleasant surprise. It meant that I had to pick up the second book in the series (review coming soon). But I’m here today to talk about CURSED so I’m going to get back to it.

The other neat thing about CURSED — besides the groundwork it lays — is the blending of the rockstar genre with the supernatural. Rock star romances seem to be on the rise — even Nalini Singh is putting one out soon — and I do enjoy a good contemporary romance but this is the first time I’ve read a PNR that blends the two together. I’m pretty sure there are other series out there that have a similar vein but I haven’t read them so CURSED felt rather unique in this respect. Because it’s a novella, we don’t see much of the band’s rockstar life but we do get a pretty clear understanding of how Raven enjoys his fame and fortune: groupies. This means, of course, that sex is a major factor in the novella so you probably shouldn’t pick this one up if you’re faint of heart. It’s not the most explicit thing out there but there’s no fade-to-black either, so be forewarned!

There are some downsides to CURSED, the foremost being the flatness of the characters. I really didn’t like Darcy or Raven that much. They’re not interesting individuals but I got past that because I liked the pace of the novella, the mythology that gets built, and the question of how to break the curse.

If you’re looking for a character driven story, this probably won’t work for you but, if you don’t mind a little lack of character development, you could enjoy CURSED. It’s a quick and easy read and there’s definitely something to be said for that. CURSED is a mixed bag in my opinion so you should check out the excerpt linked above and see if it’s for you.

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

 

TV Talk: Thoughts on Bitten Season 1

Unless you’ve been living outside of North America, you probably know that Kelley Armstrong’s werewolves have come to TV thanks to Canada’s Space channel in Bitten, a show named after the first book in Armstrong’s Otherworld series. The show was later picked up by Syfy in the States but it hasn’t debuted anywhere else to the best of my knowledge. As a Canadian, this meant that I got to watch it from Day 1, which was great. But then I lucked into my job in the UK and I moved mid-series and so I wasn’t able to keep up. I’m on holiday now I’m Canada so I figured I’d use the time to find out how things ended. I actually ended up binge watching the whole season over the past two days and decided to share my thoughts with you.

Before proceeding any any further, I should point out that there will be spoilers for both the TV show and the series. I’m assuming that anyone who continues with this post has either watched the series and read the books OR doesn’t mind spoilers.  You have been warned!

bitten
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Witch Interrupted by Jody Wallace

Witch Interrupted by Jody WallaceReleased: February 24, 2014
Format: eARC
Publisher: Carina Press

Series: Shifter World #2

Source: Netgalley

Two decades ago, assassin Katherine Zhang faked her death to escape the Keepers, a secret council of witches who use magic to kill those who pose a threat to their kind. Once a powerful Keeper, she lives a solitary-but peaceful-life as a tattoo artist. Until a strange, handsome lone wolf named Marcus Delgado walks into her shop.

Marcus has his own reasons to hate the Keepers. A scientist who sacrificed himself to test the fragile boundaries between witch and wolf, he believes there’s a way to harness the combustible power between the two species. If he succeeds, he’ll be protected from the Keepers, but he needs a willing partner-and the delicious Katie just might be the perfect test subject.

Katie knows working with a wolf, an adversary she’s undeniably attracted to, is a dangerous proposition…no matter how tempting she finds Marcus’s proposal. But when a common enemy from their past threatens them both, working together might be the only option.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

You may recall that I liked the first novel Jody Wallace set in this world, PACK & COVEN, well enough. Now, she’s come back to the same setting, but about five years later, with some familiar faces but mostly some new ones. The main characters this time around are Katie and Marcus. Katie is a very special witch with convex magic, a type of magic that lets most spells rebound off of her. Convex witches are typically shunned by regular witches and are forced into service as Keepers, the witches who patrol the supernatural population. Katie hated being a Keeper and was forced to fake her own death a couple years ago. Marcus is also on the run from the council but for different reasons. He used to be a witch but he had sex with a wolf and now he’s a wolf himself, without access to his witch powers. But Marcus is also a scientist who’s trying to figure out how to be both a witch and a wolf, so that witches no longer need to condemn and shun the transformed. He needs Katie’s help to continue with his experiments, though her cooperation is given under duress.

I liked both Marcus and Katie but I had the same issues with WITCH INTERRUPTED that I did with PACK & COVEN. The worldbuilding is really interesting and I quite liked how Wallace crafted the overall plot but I wasn’t super engaged with Marcus and Katie’s romance. I think it was partially because Katie was basically a honeypot when she was a Keeper, someone whose lust for wolves generally was quite strong. She’s basically a slave to her sexual urges when it comes to wolves and it made their romantic journey a bit less emotional and resonant for me. Katie and Marcus have major chemistry but the feelings seem to be less powerful.

We do also have some references to June and Harry and the events in PACK & COVEN and how their romance has changed the supernatural landscape. It’s a slow change but a development nonetheless and I did enjoy finding out that they were still together and very much in love five years later. One of my favourite aspects of series is that we get glimpses of previous pairs and it was great to revisit their story.

I think this is the last Jody Wallace novel I will read. I appreciate her creativity and her take on the supernatural but the romantic elements of her books don’t work for me quite as well. I can see her books appealing to others but it’s time for me to part ways.

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper (Naked Werewolf #1)Released: February 22, 2011
Format: Mass market paperback
Publisher: Pocket

Series: Naked Werewolf #1

Source: Library

Excerpt: No

Even in Grundy, Alaska, it’s unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham—who has been openly critical of Mo’s ability to adapt to life in Alaska—has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it’s love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he’s worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he’s not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated. . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

My friend Stéphanie, one of the contributors on Tynga’s Reviews, has read and raved about Molly Harper so I wanted to give her work a try. My local library had a copy of HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF on the shelves so I finally got the chance!

Hands down, my favourite part of this novel is the writing style. Harper does a wonderful job of fleshing out her characters, giving readers a real sense of what life is like in Grundy, and building a good plot. Werewolves are common enough in the world of paranormal romance but Harper marks her place in the sub genre with HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF. It’s got a great mix of humour, romance, and mystery, a winning combination for me!

Mo and Cooper are really great characters. I loved Mo from the moment I opened the book. I could really identify with her need for a fresh start and thought it was brave of her to move to what is practically the ends of the earth to find it. Her nontraditional upbringing would make for easy jokes but Harper steers clear of them (for the most part); instead, there’s a lot of physical comedy as well as witty lines. Cooper’s a bit more of a mystery since we get the story follows Mo, not him, but he’ll melt your heart as you learn his story. He’s got a lot of those typical gruff male characteristics but he’s also got some soft spots, which is a lot more interesting to my mind.

The other residents of Grundy are also a lot of fun. I couldn’t decide who was my favourite but I’m definitely a Buzz fan! It says a lot about Harper’s abilities that she can create three dimensional characters so easily and have you invested in them in only a few pages. And this is particularly important here since there’s a murderous wolf on the loose and the story has a lot more impact when the tragedy that impacts Grundy impacts the reader as well.

In terms of world building, the werewolves in HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF are fairly ordinary. They have two forms, human and wolf, and they mate for life. They live in secret from humans, which is why rural Alaska is such a good place for them, and they have a typical pack structure. Even though this is pretty standard mythology, the characters still come alive and I enjoyed getting to know them and their world. The one surprising element of the werewolves in this book is that they don’t always remember what they do as wolves, which is usually a sign of newbies in most series. But in HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF, this is a key element since Cooper doesn’t know if he’s the killer or not…

On the whole, HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF is a great, fun read. I loved Harper’s writing style and I can’t wait to go back for more of the Naked Werewolf series! Don’t be put off by the cutesy cover — you’re in for a really strong book if you give HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF a chance.

Cursed by Destiny by Cecy Robson

Cursed by Destiny by Cecy Robson (Weird Girls #3)My thoughts on the third Weird Girls novel, CURSED BY DESTINY, can be found over on Tynga’s Reviews. Click here to check it out.

Happy (almost) end of 2013!

Werewolves Be Damned by Stacey Kennedy

Werewolves Be Damned by Stacey Kennedy (Magic & Mayhem #1)Released: April 15, 2013
Format: e-book
Publisher: Entangled

Series: Magic & Mayhem #1

Source: Personal shelf

Nexi Jones—part witch, part guardian, and wannabe kick-ass warrior—can’t throw a punch or conjure the simplest magic. But that doesn’t stop her from hunting the werewolves who slaughtered her human family. She’ll have her revenge, but only if Kyden, the elite guardian, would get the hell out of her way.

Kyden can’t decide if Nexi wants to get herself killed or if she just has no clue what she’s doing. But her father made it clear: keep Nexi safe…or else. Of course, the more Nexi runs toward revenge, the more she needs Kyden’s aid, and as she grows into her power and confidence, so does his desire to protect her. The only problem? She’d rather he dropped dead.

But when a vampire paints a bull’s-eye on Nexi’s back, she’s hard-pressed to deny Kyden and the help he’s offering. Even if it means getting her revenge will be a little bit harder. At least it will still be as sweet.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I tried so hard to get a review copy of WEREWOLVES BE DAMNED when I saw it on Netgalley but I think every other blogger on the planet snapped it up before I realized it was available. So, naturally, I had to purchase it just as soon as I had a coupon. 🙂 I’m pleased to report that all of the hype I read online was right — WEREWOLVES BE DAMNED is a really fun, action-packed beginning to what could be an amazing new urban fantasy series.

WEREWOLVES BE DAMNED involves one of my favourite genre tropes: the one in which the protagonist realizes her previous life was a façade and she’s really something else, and she’s forced to learn all about her true heritage in the face of overwhelming danger. Some many series start out this way but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done in a fresh way. In this case, Nexi grew up thinking she was just a regular old human but learns she’s actually part-witch and part-guardian — a member of a secret supernatural world — after werewolves kill her family. Nexi learns that her father is actually a guardian and her mother was a witch, and that she’s also the only half-breed in existence. So you know she’s going to be all kinds of special but knowing it doesn’t detract from the physical and emotional journey Nexi experiences. I thought Nexi’s reactions to a lot of the news and her situation were realistic and I really empathized with her, particularly in the early parts of the novel.

The rest of the characters are also quite interesting. Kyden has a major alpha male vibe but he draws short of the jerk line since he’s also got a softer side, which Nexi sees fairly early on (and the reader learns about even earlier). I love tough characters but I’m not a fan of men who are so alpha that they’re complete buffoons, and Kyden is strong and masculine without being terribly overbearing. Don’t get me wrong — he has his overbearing moments but I thought they were nicely balanced with some more tender scenes. I was also quite fond of Haven, a witch that Nexi shares a soul-bond with. They can tell what the other is feeling, and it’s something all witches share with another witch, and I thought that was a neat twist on things. I was also quite interested in the leaders of the different supernatural factions, who we get to know to varying degrees over the course of WEREWOLVES BE DAMNED.

The attraction and romance between Nexi and Kyden progress nicely but I was honestly more interested in the non-romantic storyline since Nexi is out for vengeance, which leads her and Kyden into a much larger battle. I needed to know who was being the werewolf attacks and how they were linked to Nexi and the resolution of this storyline was quite satisfying.

I’m not sure when the next Magic & Mayhem story will come out but you can be sure I’ll have it pre-ordered once I find it. I really liked the world that Kennedy has created and I’m curious to see what will come next in the series.

Catching up

I’ve been ultra lazy about linking to my posts over on Team Tynga’s Reviews so here’s what I’ve been writing about for the past month or so over there:

Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep (Mythos Academy #4.5) Deep Dark Secret by Sierra Dean (Secret McQueen #3) The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough (Dire Earth Cycle #1) Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer Flirting Under a Full Moon by Ashlyn Chase (Flirting with Fangs #1)

Bite Me by P. J. Schnyder

Bite Me by P J Schnyder (London Undead #1)Released: June 24, 2013
Format: e-book
Publisher: Carina Press

Series: London Undead #1

Source: Review copy from publisher via Netgalley

Book one of London Undead

Few people walk the streets of London since the zombie outbreak, but that’s not an issue for Seth. As a werewolf, he can handle himself and save humans reckless enough to take a nighttime stroll. While on patrol he comes across a group of people under attack. The one woman brave enough to take a stand against the zombies catches his eye—and not just because of her way with a gun. Learning the beautiful woman is homeless and fends for herself only intensifies his urge to protect and care for her.

Maisie can’t help but admit that she’s attracted to her werewolf rescuer. She’s drawn to Seth’s strength and ferocity, and finds herself opening up to him in ways she never imagined, even though she’s determined to not rely on Seth or anyone else. She doesn’t want another person to get hurt—or die—for her sake. She has enough scars, physical and emotional, from the last time….

But when Seth realizes something is drawing the zombies to Maisie, there may be nothing he can do to save her….

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Bite Me is a quick read set in a London that has been overrun by zombies. Coming in at 31,000 words, it’s a brief introduction to Schynder’s new London Undead series. On the whole, I quite liked it and I’m intrigued enough to want to read the next part of the story.

The best part of Bite Me is probably the world. I have so many questions about the zombies plaguing London. Where did they come from? Why do they seem to be getting smarter? Why are they staying in London? And as a result of the zombie invasion, London is no longer a thriving metropolis. Instead it’s a shadow of its former self and only the poor remain, unable to afford the price to get out of town. Maisie is one of these unfortunate souls but she’s trained herself to survive. She learned to shoot, she’s coping with a terrifying situation to the best of her abilities, and she hasn’t lost her morals or humanity in the progress.

In contrast, Seth is a big, bad alpha werewolf. And thankfully he’s not just brawn — he’s also got a good brain. The werewolves came out to the general public after the zombie threat emerged, offering to help control the problem, but he knows it’s only a matter of time before things could get ugly. They’re appreciated now but who knows what will happen down the line, especially since the other supernaturals are still in the proverbial closet. I really liked how Seth thinks, because he comes off as a strong leader and a good man.

And oh, the ending… It leaves us in a really interesting place…that I cannot discuss since it would beyond spoil it for you. 🙂

Bite Me is a great afternoon read for someone who wants a fun story with a nice mixture of action and romance. Schnyder’s gotten my attention with this one and I’m curious to see if the next novella will continue with Seth and Maisie or if we’ll see a new couple emerge as the protagonists. Can’t wait!

netgalley knockout
Check mark for the Netgalley Knockout!

Catching up

We’ve just started a new event over on Team Tynga’s Reviews so I’ve let a few things slip through the cracks. Here are some reviews that I posted on my other online home:

Gone with the Wolf by Kristin Miller

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander (Edie Spence #1)

House Rules by Chloe Neill (Chicagoland Vampire #7)

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