It’s coming up to Christmas and it’s time to do the book review blog version of a sitcom’s dream episode. Yep, the best (imo) of 2013.
The Very Best Five (published in 2013)
1. Up to the Challenge (by Terri Osburn)
I read a lot of contemporary romance and a book needs to be pretty special to stand out. I’m tempted to put her first book Meant to Be in the Best 5 as well, but maybe I’ll let the #1 spot be for both her books and make room for someone else.
2. Heart ofVenom (by Jennifer Estep
It’s book 9 in the author’s elemental assassin series. I usually start to yawn after three or four books and there was a bit of that a few books ago, but this one blew me out of the water.
3. Raw Deal (by Mark Henwick)
The first of two novellas in the Best 5, Raw Deal reminded me of those great hard boiled detective stories of the 1930s…but with vampires.
4. Night of Cake & Puppets (by Laini Taylor)
Laini Taylor writes books you want to read out loud. You just want to say what she has written. Night of Cake & Puppets was a beautiful, sublime fairy tale and the second novella in my Best 5.
5. Lingerie Wars (by Janet Elizabeth Henderson)
One of the rare books that had me laughing like an idiot. And yes, when I was writing my review for this I did google “erotic kilt” and I would strongly urge you not to.
Notable Mentions – The Hits
…and the Misses
(yes the irony of mentioning Bloodring is not lost on me).
When Lottie travels to New Orleans, she fully expects it to be a few days of drinking and partying. But almost immediately she starts having vivid flash backs to a drama that unfolded 200 years earlier.
With help from Xavier, the sceptical owner of a shop selling voodoo trinkets to tourists, she needs to unravel the mystery, end a curse, and hopefully be alive at the end. But the malevolant spirit that cursed her family has other plans.
Disclosure: Leslie Fear is both a Facebook and Goodreads friend of mine.
Villere House is an old school ghost story. It’s well paced, well written and entertaining. The romance didn’t entirely work for me, but to be honest that was probably because I kept thinking about the author’s children reading it…it’s hard to get past that. The real highlight for me was the ghost story. It’s rollicking good fun and even managed to creep me out a little.
After the death of her grandmother, Nola becomes the head of her coven of witches. Her first duty is to travel from Ireland to Half Moon Hollow, Kentucky and retrieve four magical items –– talismans that contain the power to bind their arch rivals, a coven of witches who would use their powers for evil.
On arrival she literally runs into Jed, her enigmatic neighbor who goes to ridiculous lengths to avoid being outside when the moon is out. He’s hiding something but exactly what it is she can’t quite figure out.
Molly Harper returns to Half Moon Hollow, Kentucky for what I think must be the sixth or seventh novel. I honestly have no idea how she does it. This series should be getting tired but once again she manages to deliver a book that enthralls from beginning to end with a very healthy dose of Molly Harper’s trademark snark. She’s a favorite author and this book is a good example of why.
Many thanks to Edelweiss and Pocket Books for providing me with this ARC
Libby is an enchantress. It’s her job to investigate crimes committed by witches and warlocks within her Charlston coven. When cats start showing up badly mutilated all the signs point to them being used in dark rituals. With the unwelcome help of Kale, a mysterious and powerful warlock she sets out to hunt down the miscreants.
There are some good things in this book, but all those things when added up don’t quite make a good book. Within the 182 pages of this novel there is an exceptional 90 page novella.
Many thanks to Entangled Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC
Book 1, White Witch
Jax is no ordinary high-school girl. She’s a witch with a powerful darkness inside her. After fleeing from her coven she finds herself in the mountains of North Carolina where she can hopefully live a peaceful life. But Jax knows more than anyone what the coven will do to someone who leaves.
As she attends school she makes a couple of friends and actually starts dating. But things are never that simple especially when her boyfriend, Keller, comes from a family of supernatural hunters. Keller and his father have dedicated their lives to killing her kind, and she is struggling to keep her burgeoning powers under control.
Book 2, Bane
The darkness inside her is starting to assert more control and Jax travels to Salem in search of answers. She desperately needs to find the Bane, a shadowy group of witches who might just hold the secrets to containing her powers. But they are elusive and she’s not sure what kind of welcome she will get from them even if she does find them.
While she hunts for answers, somebody is hunting her. A supernatural hunter who is seen as a zealot even by other supernatural hunters. And her coven is suspiciously quiet which can only mean storm clouds are on the horizon.
Book 3, Magick
The Coven Series is Young Adult Urban Fantasy at its absolute best. It does everything I expect from books in this genre and does it superbly. The series is great fun and completely addictive.
The best urban fantasy I’ve read since Carolyn Crane’s The Disilluionists trilogy.
The first time it happened I was completely unprepared. I was in the kitchen making a peanut butter and banana sandwich when I started to feel light headed. I steadied myself against the the counter, closing my eyes so the room would stop spinning. When I opened them, I was with Molly, I was Molly, and I was in the dark gasping for air. I panicked until there was nothing left to breath and then she died…
Tab Bennett has lived her entire life without knowing who she really is. Then she starts having visions of a world that has been hidden from her. A world in which dark elves are trying to kill her, and the people she thought were her family are actually guardians, sent to protect her.
After her mother, the queen of the Elves was killed, Tab was sent to the human world to protect her from those who meant to do her harm. Now in her twenties and coming into her powers, her enemies are stepping up their efforts to kill her.
Adding to her problems, there are two men vying for her affections, Alex to whom she was promised at birth and Robbin one of her guardians.
Tab Bennett and the Inbetween is an unusual book. It reads a little like a Young Adult novel but then I would be hit with a very adult sex scene. There are elements of Paranormal / Fantasy, Romance and even a little Mystery there. I could spend hours trying to figure out where it belongs, or I could just say it’s a very good book which doesn’t quite fit anywhere.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Jes Young for providing me with this ARC.
An unexpected side effect of the Great Coming Out in 1999 was the emergence of all-night industries, special products, and cottage businesses, like mine, that catered to the needs of “undead Americans.” Companies were tripping over one another to come up with products for a spanking-new marketing demographic: synthetic blood, protein additives, dental-care accessories, lifelike bronzers. The problem was that those companies still hadn’t figured out packaging for the undead and tended to jump on bizarre trending bandwagons, the most recent being a brand of plasma concentrate that came pouring out of what looked like a Kewpie doll. You had to flip back the head to open it.
It’s even more creepy than it sounds.
Iris Scanlon has managed to carve out a little niche for herself running daytime errands for Half Moon Hollow’s undead community. But despite working for vampires, she doesn’t quite trust them and goes to great lengths to keep contact to a minimum. That is until she finds her newest client lying on the kitchen floor, poisoned. After saving his “unlife” he offers her a small fortune to shelter him for a few weeks. She’s none too happy but needs the money and so finds herself living under the same roof with a sexy vampire and her smart mouthed younger sister.
I don’t quite know how Molly Harper does it. I generally start to lose interest in a series after two or three books, but despite these books all following the same basic formula, here am I returning to Half Moon Hollow, KY for the sixth visit and loving it just as much as Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs (Jane Jameson book 1). She has become an author whose name I type into Google on an almost weekly basis. I want to be the first to know about her next project. I want to be the first to read it. I just can’t help myself. She writes funny, intelligent and snarky books about vampires, werewolves and other creatures of the night. The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires doesn’t disappoint, it delivers exactly what I have come to expect.
I crushed his hand instantly, the bones breaking to bits under my grip. I slammed a quick extended-knuckle fist into his larynx, no more than bruising his windpipe, but incapacitating him nonetheless. Then I swung him completely out of his chair, twisting him to his knees in front of me, his back pressed to my front, his broken-handed arm pinning him in place. The Glock 34 he’d had tucked into the waistband of his jeans now rested nicely in my other hand. I pressed the gun to his temple.
Magnolia was born into a sadistic and cruel family. Gifted with off the charts supernatural abilities, including a body that completely regenerates no matter what damage is done to it, her father, uncle and brothers spend their time using her as a guinea pig to fine tune their sadism. After one particularly brutal night she escapes from the family estate and lands in the lap of Thirteen, leader of the Network, a shady organization fighting against supernatural terrorists. At first all she wants is to escape the violence and be left alone but when those she has come to love are kidnapped by her family, she has no choice but to return to the location of all her nightmares in a desperate bid to save them.
No Peace for the Damned is supernatural fiction at it’s best. Megan Powell writes a book that sucks you in from the first page. It is a brutal and terrifying battle between good and evil. Thoroughly entertaining.
Recommended for fans of Jennifer Estep, Laini Taylor and Richelle Mead