Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: Shadows (Lux #0.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Book: Shadows (Lux #0.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release Date: 21 Feb 2012
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Aliens
Summary: The last thing Dawson Black expected was Bethany Williams. As a Luxen, an alien life form on Earth, human girls are…well, fun. But since the Luxen have to keep their true identities a secret, falling for one would be insane. Dangerous. Tempting. Undeniable.
Bethany can’t deny the immediate connection between her and Dawson. And even though boys aren’t a complication she wants, she can’t stay away from him. Still, whenever they lock eyes, she’s drawn in. Captivated. Lured. Loved.
Dawson is keeping a secret that will change her existence…and put her life in jeopardy. But even he can’t stop risking everything for one human girl. Or from a fate that is as unavoidable as love itself.
Buy It: Paperback or Kindle eBook

Review: I recommend reading Shadows after reading Obsidian. It does take place before but certain events that happen in this prequel novella and information about the Luxen would ruin the experience of the other book were they to be already known.

Surprise flooded his face. “How’d you know? Most can’t tell us apart."
“Your smile.” Flushing, she wanted to hit herself. Your smile? Wow. She glanced down at her schedule quickly, realizing she had to go to the second floor. “I mean, the other one didn’t smile at all, like, the entire class.”
He chuckled at that. “Yeah, he’s worried that smiling will give him premature wrinkles.”

It was the very beginning of Shadows and I already loved Dawson and Bethany in their own right, but I seriously loved them for their takes on Daemon. I absolutely loved seeing him through their eyes and 'before'. Sometimes I'm worried about this because a character I've come to love will seem out of character or just won't be the same. I was so relieved that Daemon is still his lovely self.

Dee grinned as she tossed her hair over her shoulder. Then she swung on Bethany and did another verbal aerobic feat. “So you’re the girl who Dawson stays up talking to half the night? He thinks I don’t know, but I do. Anyway, your name must be Bethany Williams? We haven’t met yet.” She shoved her slender hand out. “I’m Dee.”

I think I had a goofy grin on my face for almost the entirety of Shadows. Bethany and Dawson were just too sweet for words, seeing Dee be truly happy, Daemon being grumpy... I'm getting another dopey grin writing this review. I wasn't expecting to love this prequel so much since I'd already read Obsidian and fell for the characters in that state. I did miss Katy but Dawson and Bethany were just SO CUTE! Ugh, it's not fair.

“How did you accidentally let it slip? ‘Oh, by the way, I’m an alien. Let’s kiss’?”
Huh, she had it backward.

I thought it was great how Bethany found out about the Luxen. I had been so curious about that and Shadows provided a very satisfying answer. Also, can I just say that as much as I adored Katy and Daemon, it was so nice to see a couple that actually liked each other. I do enjoy some good bickering and banter but I was so excited to finally read about a couple who care about each other from meeting onwards.

Then Ash twisted toward Daemon, her cheeks flushed. “I can’t believe you’re allowing him to do this. Next thing we know, you’ll be dating a human.”
Daemon busted out laughing. “Yeah, not going to happen.”

Oh Daemon... I didn't think it was possible to hate Ash and Andrew any more than I already did. Shadows ruined any chance of ever liking them. They were fun to root against though.

Rating: 5 Bites (Phenomenal, loved it)

Other Books Reviewed From the Lux Series...

What did you think of Shadows? Link me your review or leave your thoughts in a comment!
Have you ever loved a character when it was their story being told but hated them as a secondary character?
Even though I was prepared for the ending, I was still wishing it went differently. Were you hoping so too?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires (Half Moon Hollow #2) by Molly Harper

Book: The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires (Half Moon Hollow #2) by Molly Harper
Release Date: 31 Jul 2012
Publisher: Pocket
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Paranormal, Romance
Summary: Iris Scanlon, Half-Moon Hollow’s only daytime vampire concierge, knows more about the undead than she’d like. Running all their daylight errands—from letting in the plumber to picking up some chilled O neg—gives her a look at the not-so-glamorous side of vampire life. Her rules are strict; relationships with vamps are strictly business, not friendship—and certainly not anything else. But then she finds her newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, and only Iris can help.
Cal - who would be devastatingly sexy, if Iris allowed herself to think that way - offers Iris a hefty fee for hiding him at her place until he figures out who wants him permanently dead. Even though he’s imperious, unfriendly and doesn't seem to understand the difference between "employee" and "servant," Iris agrees, and finds herself breaking more and more of her own rules to help him - particularly those concerning nudity.
Turns out what her quiet little life needed was some intrigue & romance—in the form of her very own stray vampire.
Buy It: Paperback or Kindle eBook

Review: I liked Iris in Driving Mr. Dead and, while I didn't find myself loving her a quickly as I did Miranda from that novella, I came to completely adore her in The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires. Iris was good, humorous, a hard worker and wary of vampires. Her healthy uncertainty and fear of vampires was actually what drew me to her. So often in UF/PNR the heroines are so brave and fearless from the get go that they act stupidly. They insist on being part of fights where they stand no chance, ignore warnings from their paranormal hero etc. Iris wasn't shaking-in-her-boots afraid, she was just cautious, smart, and knew when to run or when she was making a dumb choice. She also knew when risking her own life was worth it though. I loved the relationship between Iris and her sister, Gigi.

“Why would I take an unstable, hungry vampire home with me? Do I look particularly stupid to you?”
He snorted. “No, which is why you should take me home with you. I already know where you live. While you were running to your car, I looked in your purse and memorized your driver’s license. Imagine how irritated I would be, how motivated I would be to find you and repay your kindness, after I am well again.”

The storyline for The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires was a great one. I've always been curious regarding the contents of human blood in relation to vampires in fiction and why it isn't used more often. After all, most things end up there in some capacity (alcohol, drugs, sugars etc). I think it's a perfect way to attack vampires and would be interesting to see more of. Of course if I saw it all the time I wouldn't have been as excited to see it here... Anyway I was glad to see Harper's spin on it.

“As best we can tell, the vampires in question all suffered a form of poisoning. The compound is like steroids for vampires, on an exponential level. It brings out the worst of our aggressive, territorial behaviors while enhancing our strength and lowering our inhibitions.”

Cal was a difficult character for me to decide what I thought about. At first I found him to be too similar to Collin from Driving Mr. Dead. They were both haughty, stand-offish, only put up with the heroine because it was their only option etc. To be honest I was really disappointed by this. I absolutely loved how funny Driving Mr. Dead was and I didn't want it to be just a formula for this book too. As the novel progressed Cal started showing his differences though and became his own vampire. He loved to start fights with Iris because he found it amusing, he was calculating, he was a lot more vampire-y to me. Cal had been poisoned by bad blood that made him sick and was unhappily relying on Iris. The vomitous shower scene... loved it! I really enjoyed reading about a sick vampire, enough so that I might need to go hunting down similar books. A sick werewolf or zombie would be great.

“Besides, what happened to ‘no emotional attachments’?” I asked him pointedly, though I didn’t pull away. “I’m just a human, after all.”
“I shouldn’t have said that.” He hesitated. “I find myself … more attached to you than I previously believed. It’s particularly strange considering I’ve only known you a few days. Perhaps it’s like Stockholm syndrome.”

“Hey, what’s this?” I asked, pulling a copy from the pile. “The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires. A comprehensive guide to safe, loving treatment of the injured undead.”
I flipped through the book and found nutrition guides, feeding schedules, an appendix on skin care after minor sunburns. “This would have been useful a week ago,” I muttered.
“Wait, he’s injured? Your vampire is injured? Iris, you didn’t pick this guy up while he was hitchhiking or something, did you?”

I loved how this book was wrapped up especially the glimpse of the future between Iris and Cal. Overall The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires was an immensely satisfying, fun read.

Rating: 5 Bites (Phenomenal, loved it)

Other Books Reviewed From the Half Moon Hollow Series...

Book Trailer

What did you think of The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires? Link me your review or leave your thoughts in a comment!
Because I'm clueless, I didn't realized Half Moon Hollow was a spin-off series. Did you enjoy the Jane Jameson series? How do they compare?
What are some books that involve sick paranormal heroes/heroines?

Last Week On Bitten Books...

Reviewed February 10th - 16th

Book News
(Because this is a new feature, I've only included authors who've been reviewed here in '13 or are soon to be)

Margaret Stohl revealed the cover for Icons which is coming out on May 7th 2013 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Beautiful Creatures (Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl) is now playing in theaters.

J.A. Redmerski announced on her blog that The Edge of Never will be out in print on July 2 from Forever Romance. The print version will include a bonus which will be a 'crucial scene' from Andrew's point of view. She also revealed more information about the second book Grand Central Publishing ordered. It will be a sequel titled The Edge of Always.

Kelley Armstrong's The Rising had an exclusive book trailer reveal on USAToday, they also posted the first four chapters of the book.

Molly Harper posted a Valentines Day short story on her blog that is part of the Half-Moon Hollow world.

Jennifer L. Armentrout has a mega book and swag giveaway going on. She also posted the first three chapters of Wait for You and has sign ups to participate in the cover reveal.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: Moon Spell (The Tale of Lunarmorte #1) by Samantha Young

Book: Moon Spell (The Tale of Lunarmorte #1) by Samantha Young
Release Date: 31 Dec 2010
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Shapeshifters, Paranormal, Magic, Fantasy
Summary: Enter a world of fierce wolves, stunning magic and romance...
It’s bad enough feeling different among the human crowd, but feeling different among wolves?
No one said returning to her pack would be easy, especially after ten years without them, but seventeen year old Caia Ribeiro is unprepared for the realities of the transition. Raised in a world where kids aren’t scared by bedtime tales of the bogeyman but by the real life threat of enemy supernaturals who might come creeping into their community to kill them in their sleep, Caia is used to the darkness; she’s used to the mystery and the intrigue of the ancient underworld war she’s bound to by chance of birth. What she’s having trouble with are pack members treating her with wary suspicion, the Elders tucking secrets behind their backs out of her sightline, and her young Alpha, Lucien, distracting her, with a dangerous attraction, from her decision to uncover the truth.
But as the saying goes ‘the truth will out’ and when it does, Caia will only have so long to prepare herself before the war comes pounding on their door threatening to destroy the safe, secret lives of the wolves… and the girl they protect.
Buy It: Paperback or Kindle eBook

Review: The beginning of Moon Spell was without a doubt incredibly intriguing and mysterious. I wanted more and more of the storyline and the secrets revealed. You can tell that there are so many secrets that will keep you guessing even after only reading a few pages. I felt bad that Caia knew so little, especially when it came to things that pertained to her. Usually this would bother me since those with the knowledge are keeping it hidden for the character's 'own good' and this drives me batty. Moon Spell was just so densely completely woven with secrets that I never minded, I only wanted to know more as soon as possible!

“Yvana,” Lucien’s voice rumbled darkly in warning. Caia had never heard him use that tone before, but she was still too shocked by Yvana’s reaction to look at him. She was caught in this woman’s bleak gaze. What had she done to her?
“Griffin died because of your parents... because of you.” Yvana was standing up now, trembling with anger and grief.

I loved Moon Spell's lore and how it incorporated the Greek gods into the supernatural. It was such an interesting idea and I love stories that involve mythology in any way. Young didn't just adopt them into the lore and then drop them either. Caia regularly used them in her language like how normal teens would use 'oh my god'. I found that to be extremely clever and well done.

No. Uh-uh, Haaades no.

Caia is really hard to describe personality-wise. As far as paranormal goes, she's the first character I've read about that isn't hotheaded, brave, dangerous... some mix of typical werewolf, vampire etc traits. Caia is quiet, unassuming, a loner (but not in an 'I hate everything' kind of way, more of a peace seeking type). To be honest I thought she was completely without personality at first. She goes along with everything, she doesn't make waves, she wasn't expected. I was wrong though, she doesn't need to be loud and constantly in the midst of the action to be her own person. As Irini said, Caia is gentle.

“According to our spy everything’s going perfectly well. She’ll be sending the information we need over the next few weeks.”
“And Caia?”
“Integrating into the pack. By the time we get the little bitch, the pack may actually mourn her.”

The multiple points of view (Caia's, Lucien's and the villain's) were a welcome surprise. I really liked getting into Lucien's head since Caia knew so little about what was going on. I also liked the quick glimpses into what was going on on the 'other side' too. I enjoy knowing what villains are up to and thinking but it's always ridiculous when they have a long monologue explaining everything at the end. Doing brief section in their POV was a great idea.

Something inside Lucien split open. With a shock of awareness that set him back on his heels, Lucien realised that all he wanted in this life … was to melt into the darkness with her.

Lucien was completely adorable, delicious, swoon worthy... I was so excited when Moon Spell even started hinting at a romance between him and Caia. It was a relief that his point of view was included because Caia is so unsure of how the pack operated and where she stood with Lucien that I would have worried for her otherwise. Instead I could just bask in all the sweet moments.

I loved, absolutely positively loved Moon Spell until the ending. I really don't want to give anything away but at the same time I could write out a page long rant. Why, Young?! Why would you do this to me!!?

Rating: 4 Bites (Really enjoyed it)

What did you think of Moon Spell? Link me your review or leave your thoughts in a comment!
Do you prefer there to be multiple points of view or a single one?
How would you pronounce Caia and Cy (her nickname)? I assumed it would be 'Kie (rhymes with tie) uh' for Caia and just 'Kie' for Cy but every time I saw Cy, my mind read it as 'sigh'.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: Buttercream Bump Off (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #2) by Jenn McKinlay

Book: Buttercream Bump Off (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #2) by Jenn McKinlay
Release Date: 4 Jan 2011
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Mystery
Summary: Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura's Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery is gearing up for Valentine's Day. Unfortunately someone has iced Baxter Malloy on his first date with Mel's mother. Now Mom's a suspect, and Mel and Angie need to find time around frosting to dig into the man's shady past and discover who served him his just desserts.
Buy It: Paperback or Kindle eBook

Review: I was so glad that Olivia from Sprinkle with Murder, the previous novel, continued on in Buttercream Bump Off as Mel and Angie's humorous rival bakery owner. I hadn't expected her to return after how the last book turned out so it was a pleasant surprise when this book opened with her shenanigans. I love it when there's a 'nemesis' that continues on throughout a series; they're like beloved superhero villains to me and few things are more fun than seeing them come back for more comeuppances.

"Oh, thank God, you answered,” Joyce said breathlessly. “My dress did it again.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“My dress,” Joyce said. “It caused another heart attack, and this time I think I killed him.”

Mel's mom annoyed me a little bit in Sprinkle with Murder with her insistence that Mel was in love with Tate. She was pretty amusing in this book though now that she was in Mel's shoes as a suspect. Thankfully she couldn't go on about Tate anymore since Joe, one of Angie's many brothers, was in the picture.

She gave him a pained look. “Apparently Detective Martinez asked my mother if Baxter was into eroto-asphyxiation, and Uncle Stan almost punched him in the face.” Both Tate and Angie cringed. “Then, of course, Uncle Stan had to explain what that is to Mom, which gave her a fit of hysterics.”

If you've ever watched CSI or a similar crime show with an 'older' person you'll enjoy laughing at Uncle Stan's expense. I also enjoyed all of the poking fun at Mel's mom McKinlay included in Buttercream Bump Off. 'Playing shoe salesman', the killer dress, etc. Joyce's naivety wasn't overplayed and their teasing came off exactly the way loving families manage it. I was pleased that this was believable and not overdone.

"I'm not giving up on us, Cupcake, and neither should you. I'll call you tomorrow.”

Where have I heard something similar to the above quote before... Oh, I know! Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series has has a Joe that calls her cupcake too. Joe Morelli works in law enforcement and this Joe is a DA. They're both Italian... and the similarities don't stop there. But this was too many things in common for me with both being from cozy mysteries. It felt uncomfortable to read and made me dislike Buttercream Bump Off's Joe.

"Well, that stinks."
"Agreed," Mel said. She didn't like the idea of Marty and Tate going off on their own. What if they blew it? This was her idea after all. She should be in charge.
"Come on," she said to Angie. "I'm sure we can blend in with the furniture, and they'll never know we're there."

Over the course of two books, I've come to find Mel charming and amusing but she's a touch more harebrained than I'd like. Tate is taking Marty (an elderly gentleman who is trying to win a contest that their bakery is holding by doing favors for entries) to meet a possible suspect where he is going to pose as a wealthy businessman. Tate specifically tells Mel and Angie that they'll stand out and ruin everything. Mel ignores him and does whatever she wants. She does this time and time again and occasionally it's funny (when it's something involving Olivia) but most of the time I want to wring her neck.

Rating: 3½ Bites (Really enjoyed it -- Good)

Other Books Reviewed From the Cupcake Bakery Mystery Series...

What did you think of Buttercream Bump Off? Link me your review or leave your thoughts in a comment!
What is one of the most embarrassing things your parents have naively asked you about?
Have you ever yelled at a character (out loud) for doing something stupid?
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