3.5 star review, Miscellaneous

Review – Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper

Where the Wild Things Bite

Delivering a rare book to a valued customer is definitely part of mild-mannered archivist Anna Winthrop’s job description. You know what isn’t? Protecting her precious cargo from mid-flight theft by the very pilot who is flying her to Half-Moon Hollow…while trying to appear as unappetizing as possible to the only other passenger, a vampire. Undead bookstore owner Jane Jameson could be waiting a very long time for her book. Possibly forever.

Fortunately, Anna’s dashing fanged companion Finn Palmeroy helps her fend off the attack, but not before their plane crash lands in the forest hundreds of miles from civilization. Great, now she’s stranded with a priceless tome and a rakish vampire whose bedtime is fast approaching. Why does everyone want this book so badly, anyway? Anna just wants to get it to Jane before Finn decides to turn her into dinner-or sweep her off her feet. Okay, the second option is really tempting. But they’re not out of the woods yet…

Molly Harper is another funny favorite of mine and this is the fifth book in her Half-Moon Hollow series which is itself a spin off from her 4 book Jane Jameson series. She sort of specializes in shady characters, and this one might be one of the shadiest yet. We met Finn when he was kind of  up to no good in the last book (there was something there but he was just too damned shady), and he is pretty well up to his same old tricks.

Anna may be the most neurotic and idiosyncratic character I have read in a long, long time. She has mommy issues, and dating issues, and self esteem issues, and medical issues. Yes, issues, she has them. But she is stronger and more capable than she knows, thought still far from perfect. Plus, she’s a librarian who handles rare paranormal manuscripts, how could we resist that? The answer is that we can’t!

This seemed incredibly short and fundamentally ridiculous, and I enjoyed ever insane second of it. There’s immolating vampires, crazed homicidal pilots named Ernie, banter in the woods, freaky shifters with poor communication skills, betrayal, and new found friendship. It MUST be love.

Honestly, I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys their romance ridiculous, funny, and filled with female friendships.

Where the Wild Things Bite (Half-Moon Hollow, #5)

4 star review

Review – The Single Undead Moms Club

Single Undead Moms Club

It has been interesting seeing how Molly Harper has spun off from her original Jane Jameson series. This is book 4 in her Half-Moon Hollow series, and the gang is all here in all their snarky, irreverent glory.

Widow Libby Stratton arranged to be turned into a vampire after she was diagnosed with late-stage cancer. It wasn’t the best idea she’s ever had, but she was desperate—she’s not about to leave her seven-year-old son to be raised by her rigid, overbearing in-laws.

On top of post-turning transition issues, like being ignored at PTA meetings and other mothers rejecting her son’s invitations for sleepovers, Libby must deal with her father-in-law’s attempts to declare her an unfit mother, her growing feelings for Wade—a tattooed redneck single dad she met while hiding in a closet at Back to School Night—and the return of her sire, who hasn’t stopped thinking about brave, snarky Libby since he turned her.

With the help of her new vampire circle, Libby negotiates this unfamiliar quagmire of legal troubles, parental duties, relationships, and, as always in Harper’s distinct, comedic novels, “characters you can’t help but fall in love with”

Seriously, despite the love triangle, a convention that in general I abhor, I found this one charming. Granted, I did peek to the ending to see which way it went, but I had a pretty good idea after the first 4 chapters. Seriously, it is a fun crowd, and one of the things I appreciate so much is Harper’s emphasis on friendships, and particularly female friendships. By this point in time sliding back into the group is like putting on your favorite most comfortable pair of shoes. You can go anywhere with them. Even in this case with an entirely new set of characters, and a convention I don’t particularly like.

You just can’t help but like Libby. She doesn’t always do the right thing, but she isn’t malicious, and she always tries to do the best for her son. She’s just so real and down to earth. She is a perfect addition to the gang, and I for one am going to enjoy having her around. She’s another friend for me to hang out with when I visit Half-Moon Hollow. Then there are her two love interests, the both of whom are just scrumptious, but I found only one of them truly relevant from the beginning, but that may just be bias on my part. We’ve also got a few adorable little plot-moppets mucking around. They are a good addition because really, despite all the undead and paranormals littering the scene, this series is about small town life and families. So they were both adorable and relevant.

Half-Moon Hollow is honestly one of my favorite fictional places to visit. The people feel very real to me, and the setting isn’t too far from home. I could plunk myself down there and never feel like I was missing a beat. I think the only reason I didn’t rate it any higher was because it felt really short, and so a few plot points felt a little more glossed over than I would have preferred. But all in all I recommend these books (seriously start at the beginning with the Jane Jamison series) to anyone who is a fan of paranormal romance with ensemble casts, small town romance, or in this case a mish-mash of the two. And TSUMC is a delightful addition that opens up some fun characters for the series to continue with. I think I have a clue who the next main hero is going to be, and I can’t wait!

The Single Undead Moms Club (Half-Moon Hollow, #4)

4 star review

Review – Undead and Unforgiven by Maryjanice Davidson

Undead and Unforgiven

If Betsy Taylor has learned anything about ruling Hell it’s: 1) she can’t do it alone, and 2) she doesn’t have to. She’s got the help of a devoted vampire king, a dateless zombie, an exhausted new mom, an unshowered cop, a bitchy ghost, a kindly dead priest, and her late stepmother (“Go Team Satan!”). But the latest major hurdle in her post-dead life is so big she can’t even see it until it’s on CNN.

Betsy’s father and half-sister Laura (a former Anti-Christ with a grudge) have outed Betsy to the world. It doesn’t take long for the story to become 24-7 headline news. What’s more, people are not only prepared to believe in vampires, they want to kill them. For Betsy, social media has never felt so…unsocial.

Before long the mansion on Summit Avenue is swarming with reporters, would-be vampire/zombie killers, and desperate emos begging to be turned. Betsy has been forced into the unenviable role as the reluctant face of the vampire nation. All she knows is, she has to look good—this is hi-def!—and stay true to who she is. H8ers be damned.

Book 14, the next to the last book in the Undead series. Where has all the time gone? I did a COMPLETE reread, novels and all novellas, in preparation for this one. And I have to say, I can’t think of a series that needed it more. Because Betsy and the gang’s lives have been crazy. It has been a wild ride, but I have to say that I appreciate when an author at least makes the attempt to leave in good time and with a plan. We may even find all that flailing had a purpose, and come to think of it, when it concerns Betsy, that should be the least surprising,

While the author, and Betsy, might have floundered a bit the past few books, I think we’ve all finally settled in and it is coming together. It look like it is going to be a really strong finish. Betsy has finally taken up her mantles with some purpose, and while there is the requisite snarking, bitching, and whining, it is all working out. Hell is being run by committee and frankly, I can’t think of anything more hellish than that.

There are trials, and tribulations, weird babies, a depressed zombie (who maybe doesn’t have to be so depressed…squee?!?!), a mean priest, contretemps between our devoted heroine and hero, and family feuds. Seriously, this book gave me all the warm fuzzies that I have been missing the past few books. It almost makes me wish that it didn’t have to end, but then I remember – part of what makes it so great is that there is obviously a clear and concise ending coming up.

Seriously, I can’t even express how much I enjoyed this book.Yes, Betsy is still the vain, vapid, snarky, and reluctant ruler we have come to love, but she is also the grown up version I have been expecting for so many books. The one I never could quite figure out why we weren’t getting.

One more book to go and now I can’t wait to see how Davidson wraps it up. If you’ve gone off this series, now might be the time to jump back in…or maybe wait til the finale comes out next year. I can’t quite decide, but Betsy and the gang are back on track and it looks we might have an epic showdown/wrap up complete with out favorite loveable undead characters, dare I pray Boo the Vampire slayer?, werewolves, mermaids, and of course, the devil and her daughter.

Good times and 4 stars from me.

Undead and Unforgiven (Undead #14)
4 star review

Review- The Cowboy and the Vampire: Blood and Whiskey

The Cowboy and the Vampire: Blood and Whiskey
by Clark Hays & Kathleen McFalls

I did not receive an ARC of this book, but liked the first book well enough, and am anal enough to read a series in order (I received ARC’s of the first and third books), so I picked this up at amazon.

This book jumps right in after The Cowboy and the Vampire: A Very Unusual Romance. (IF you haven’t read the first book you are going to want to stop right here and go back-major spoilers ahead)

We have Lizzie Vaughn the reluctant vampire queen and her erstwhile cowboy lover Tucker. Following the epic and tragic conclusion of the first book, they have returned to Lonepine, Wyoming to settle down with their impending family. Lizzie is still struggling with her new nature, including the fact that she will have to drink blood and kill. And Tucker is still struggling over basically everything, impending fatherhood, Lizzie’s new nature, and his own mortality in comparison to Lizzie’s immortality. Right when things seemed to be settling down, chaos ensues. Lennie needs a favor, finding his missing niece who has been kidnapped. And just when they are headed out, Rurik, a mysterious and powerful vampire pops up out of the woodwork to enlighten Lizzie on just how precarious the vampire situation is; if she can’t turn more vampires, the whole balance of the world will be destroyed. Events are a whole lot more complicated than any of them were expecting challenging love, friendships, and loyalty.

This story maintained it’s dark humor but showed us a whole more politically savvy side to Lizzie. The writing seemed a lot smoother and more polished than the first book, or maybe I just got used to it, but I didn’t struggle as much to determine whose POV I was looking through. What worked for me was the snarky dialogue, Marion (Dad), Lennie, Elita, and the love and devotion between Lizzie and Tucker. I also enjoy how this series blends evolution, morality, ethics, and politics. What didn’t work for me was the set up for a love triangle with Rurik coming between the two, I am just not a fan of this trope and I can see potential for this to be truly miserable.

Lizzie proved herself to the vampire nation in a most surprising way, heartbreak ensues for all the characters, and Lizzie and Tucker’s relationship ends on a solid high point.

Another solid 4 stars for this unlikely duo.

4 star review

Review- The Cowboy and the Vampire: A Very Unusual Romance

The Cowboy and the Vampire: A Very Unusual Romance
by Clark Hays & Kathleen McFall

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This book was initially published in 1999, so if you were reading vampire romance before it was cool, you might want to double check your shelves and make sure you hadn’t already picked it up. Fortunately for me, this was not something I had previously seen (small town libraries did not have this sort of fun when I grew up). This book was a wild ride even in today’s market, so I can only imagine how wild it must have seemed 15 years ago.

Tucker is your any-man cowboy in Wyoming with his faithful horse Snort and his faithful dog Rex. Lizzie is an urbane and sophisticated New York City reporter. When they meet during an article she is writing on cowboys, irritation turns to attraction, attraction into lust, and lust into love. But when a different article she is writing, one on vampires, sets her on a dangerous path, she turns to the only man she feels like she can trust, Tucker. Because Lizzie harbors secrets, secrets that have even been hidden from herself. There’s danger, drama, and change in this exciting and wild ride.

There’s also a strong cast of secondary characters. Like Lennie, the paranoid conspiracy theorist who can create the most dangerous things using duct tape. For the record, in small rural towns, guys like this do exist, there’s nothing coincidental about it. And Tucker’s dad, a grizzled somewhat snarky older man. Or Lazarus, yes that Lazarus from the bible.

Overall the writing is really fairly good, my one issue is for the first half of the book it ping pongs between first person views and it can be a bit like whiplash trying to figure out whose eyes and head you are in.

The vampires of this world have a very interesting mythology complete with their own bible and prophesies and distant ways in which vampires can breed and feed. It’s dark and funny with wicked insights into politics, ethics, and morality. It’s is kind of like a darker and less vapid version of Maryjanice Davidson’s Undead series, only with cowboys. Not like she ripped it off, but reading this made me seriously contemplate whether or not Davidson had read and been intrigued by this series prior to writing the Undead series.

A had a ball with this book and it rates a solid 4 stars. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this series.

3 star review

Review- New Pack Order

New Pack Order
by Eve Langlais

3 stars

This is the fourth book in Langlais’ Pack series and Roderick is finally dead, but the consequences of his actions are still snowballing. Antonia is one of Roderick’s experimental activated dormants, Marc is on a mission to redeem himself from the things he’d done as a minion, and Thaddeus is a vampire with a price on his head. There’s quite a bit of action and the world building and story arc has progressed quite a bit with this entry, though it turns out that we’ve traded one villain for a new and scarier super villain, identity unknown. But, Nathan’s character, from Defying the Pack has completely changed, and not in a good way.

This was a quick fun read that introduces new characters and new story arcs. The romance between the three protagonists was nice and steamy, and of course, since it is Langlais, it’s humorous as well. I’m hoping the next turn in the series makes Nathan and his pack pull their heads out of their butts.