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DNF Q&A: Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: Raised by Wolves

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Raised by Wolves #1

Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance

Rating: DNF

The Overview: Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it.  That doesn’t mean that she’s averse to breaking a rule or two. But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian’s basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents’ murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs. But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she’s shaped? -Goodreads

Did you really give Raised by Wolves a chance?

Yes… after saving it for a rainy day for nearly 10 years, I made it to about the 85% mark before setting it aside.

Have you enjoyed other books in the same genre?

Kind of. I’ve certainly read others in the YA Paranormal genre that I thought were better. For the most part though, I tend to lose patience quickly with this type of story, preferring instead adult urban fantasy. These YA books tend to lack grit and are usually more focused on the love story than anything else. That said, they can be fun reads and I’ve read a few I really enjoyed:

 

Did you have certain expectations before starting it?

JLB is responsible for one of my absolute favorite YA series – The Naturals. I was nervous picking up some of her earlier works, but figured the same basic quality would be there… no comment.

What ultimately made you stop reading?

We all have a few things that drive us absolutely bonkers in books. Two of my most prominent ones are endless dialogue/explanations and characters who make stupid decisions solely for the sake of advancing the plot. This book had those two things in abundance, and they effectively killed any interest I had in the other components. You would think with all the time the character spent explaining to the reader and other characters how things work, she would be bright enough to reason through her own decision-making. But the removal of common sense would put her in danger and, as that’s the only thing the plot relied on, it had to happen or there would be no book. I thought her reasoning behind hunting for the killer felt contrived and didn’t have the proper substance behind it to drive an entire plot.

It also suffered from a consistent lack of forward plot progression. What happened overall could’ve been condensed into a short story (which might have actually been quite good). But instead it was a long, drawn out novel of endless dialogue and info dumps. I think I dropped it around 85%… that’s harsh. It probably would’ve only taken me another 20 minutes to get through it.

I’m not even going to start ranting about the whole “the boy is my everything” trope that was also present because we’ll be here forever.

Was there anything you liked about Raised by Wolves?

Nothing. Usually I can set aside personal tastes and find some silver lining that might make it recommendable to certain types of readers, but not in this case.

Would you read anything else by this author?

An emphatic YES!!! All of the things I’ve criticized about this book were non-existent in her Naturals series. Nowadays, she’s such a proficient writer and so good at creating characters with substance and meaningful motivations that I’ll devour anything else she decides to publish. Every writer worth their ounce of ink improves on their craft with each novel. Quite frankly, the leap from this book to The Naturals is so extreme, I can hardly believe its from the same author. She teaches psychology at Yale (or at least, she did several years ago when I first discovered her), and her later works are always infused with fascinating tidbits from her field of study. It’s awesome.

*This nifty Q&A format is one I borrowed (with permission) from Nikki over at There Were Books Involved – thanks Nikki! 

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre

the-leopard-king-by-ann-aguirreTitle: The Leopard King

Author: Ann Aguirre

Series: Ars Numina #1

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: September 28, 2016 <-Today!!!!!

The Overview: Until three years ago, those words applied to Dominic Asher, the leader of Ash Valley. His family has ruled the feline branch of the Animari for hundreds of years, guiding the pride through perilous times. Unspeakable loss drove him into seclusion, a feral beast nobody can tame. Now he’s wrecked, a leopard king in exile, and he wants nothing more than to die. Fortunately for Dom, those words still apply to Pru Bristow, his dead mate’s best friend. She’s had her heart broken too, but she never quits. With the conclave approaching, alliances with the Pine Ridge pack and Burnt Amber clans on the verge of collapse, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to drag their leader back, before his second can start a war. At best theirs seems like a desperate alliance, but when their mate bond turns hot and fierce, there’s no end to the questions and the doubts. Neither of them expects to fall in love. But sometimes people don’t know what they’re looking for until they find it. -Goodreads 

Nik’s Notes:

 I know, I know – you’re all sick of hearing how much I love this author. Well too bad –  she has a new paranormal romance series and I am beyond excited! I found out about this new series just last week, composed this post, then realized the release date was for the day I wanted to schedule it lol. Not having to wait for a new title from one of my favorite authors has got to be one of the best things ever. Everything I’ve read from her (pretty much almost everything she has published) has been amazing. If I had to narrow her strengths down to just one thing it would be relationship development, and what better skill to have when tackling a romance? It’s an added bonus that it’s a paranormal. I’d pick it up anyway, but that extra bit of magic makes The Leopard King sound irresistible! I’m dropping everything today for this one. :-)

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Mini Book Review: Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Title: Night Broken

Author: Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson #8

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right. Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy. Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

The Mini Review:

I figured since I just started reading the next book in the series [Fire Touched out March 8, 2016] that I should probably get it together and post a review for Night Broken – one of my favorites so far. There seems to be a running theme in this series of the characters having one giant problem to solve (the external conflict) while also dealing with a handful of lesser problems (usually internal conflicts). This novel in particular had a beautiful combination of both, but my favorites were the internals. I love reading about family dynamics and how people build and maintain relationships with one another. In Night Broken, Mercy is tasked with handling Adam’s passive-aggressive ex-wife. There were times that I wanted to strangle the ever loving crap out of her, and I honestly don’t know how Mercy kept her cool. But watching one of my favorite main character figure out a way to handle the situation in a way that was both satisfying and classy made my day. All in all, it really is a minor conflict in the whole scheme of the series, but one of the most satisfying to watch the characters overcome. And really, it’s often those little, interpersonal conflicts that determine whether or not I remember a book. After all, who cares if the big monster is defeated if you don’t have a solid emotional support system to come home to?

Anyway, I realize the focus of this review was a bit odd, so if you take anything away, take away the fact that Night Broken was every bit as good as the books before it and the upcoming Fire Touched is shaping up to be just as spectacular!

Other books you like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

bittenTitle: Bitten

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Series: Women of the Otherworld #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: Elena Michaels seems like the typically strong and sexy modern woman, She lives with her architect boyfriend, writes for a popular newspaper, and works out at the gym. She’s also a werewolf. Elena has done all she can to assimilate to the human world, but the man whose bite changed her existence forever, and his legacy, continue to haunt her. Thrown into a desperate war for survival that tests her allegiance to a secret clan of werewolves, Elena must recon with who, and what, she is in this passionate, page-turning novel that begins the Women of the Otherworld series.

bitten 2

The Review:

I don’t know what it was about this book, but I found myself glued to it constantly. I was seriously walking around my kitchen only half paying attention to the dinner I was making because I didn’t want to stop reading long enough to focus. Granted, I would probably do that with every book if they were all old paperbacks, but I have a tendency to collect hardcovers that I barely cracked the spine on. Paperbacks, however, are a whole new ballgame and I dragged this one everywhere with me. So, my total absorption could be partly due to how mobile the book was, but I’m sure most of it was because it was a great urban fantasy and I was in the perfect mood for precisely that.

While there is some excellent world building right up front, this is not one of those books that dives into the conflicts at the very beginning. The story progression often times alternated with big chunks of back story. I know to some this is a huge faux pas, but I don’t mind information dumps as long as I’m interested in what’s being presented. And I was – it was formatted in a way that revealed character and dug up old skeletons as the story went on, and I quite liked it. The best bits of the story, however, was when the action started.

I liked this book for the same reason that I enjoyed Stray by Rachel Vincent, in that there are a bunch of lovable male characters surrounding a single female. Watching the dynamics between each of them was a lot of fun to read about.

As with many urban fantasies, this one contained a great deal of, shall we say, steamy content. I have no shame in admitting that I enjoy a bit of steam in my books, and I’d say this one was about a 5/10 on the steam scale. The trouble is, the object of Elena’s lust was a character I didn’t particularly care for. He wasn’t a total asshat, but he wasn’t my type, either. In fact, there are two other men in this story who I actually liked a lot better. I’m hoping something develops with them in the future…

Anyway, Armstrong has long been considered a staple for the genre, and I’m glad to have finally picked up one of her books. I have to thank Chanzie over at Mean Who You Are for including this as an option for her Book-of-the-Month. I invited myself to read along, and I’m so glad I did (if you’d like to help her pick her next book, the voting is in the right-hand sidebar of her website… I’m pulling for either Cremer or Peeler). This is definitely not the last of Armstrong that I plan to read, and will most likely be picking up her Awakening YA trilogy next.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Top Ten Gateway Books of My Reading Journey!

top ten tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I was really excited for this week’s TTT because it allows me to pay homage to the books that sparked my love of speculative fiction (and reading in general)! Each of these titles introduced me to their relative genres, and to this day, many of them remain my #1 in those categories.

The Top Ten Gateway Books of My Reading Journey!

And the book that started it all:

1

 Many of these have a special place in my heart because I would not be the reader I am today without them.

What book sparked your love of reading?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Sea Witch by Virginia Kantra

Sea witchTitle: Sea Witch

Author: Virginia Kantra

Series: The Children of the Sea #1

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: Margred is a Selkie – a legendary being of the sea, able to shapeshift into seductive human form. And she has found a human she desires… Burned out from the big city, Caleb Hunter becomes police chief on the peaceful Maine island of World’s End. Then he meets a woman who’s everything he’s ever dreamed of. Their passion is undeniable, irresistible …and it may change the fate of humankind.

Sea witch

The Review:

It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a good old paranormal romance, but after reading several rather depressing dystopians and post-apocalyptic novels, it was just what the doctor ordered: something lighthearted.

I don’t usually read romances for epic world building or complex plot lines, but rather for the mindless entertainment that I let take me where it will. I guess it’s safe to say I go in with low expectations. It sounds horrible, but when I try to hold romances to the same standard I hold most urban fantasies, they always seem to come up short. It’s not that they’re poorly written or anything, it’s just that their objectives and target audiences are just different. They are not supposed to make you think, they are supposed to make you feel while two characters struggle towards their happily ever after. And while urban fantasies and even high fantasies often have relationship development as an integral part of their plots, it is very rarely the overall arc of the story.

Anyway, down to specifics: despite my lower expectations, Sea Witch was actually a pretty entertaining read. There was a good mix of mystery, character development, and romance. It was also fairly steamy – with lots of sexual tension even though the relationship was, shall we say, fast-moving. It helped that I liked the characters (a must in any genre), but was pleasantly surprised by the presence of a decent villain. Although the world building wasn’t profound, it was interesting – having just enough magic to keep me enticed.

Overall, of the romances I’ve read, Sea Change was one of the better ones. Kantra impressed me with her writing, and presented all the typical romance elements in a way that was fun and engaging.

Recommended Reading: I always feel weird recommending romances to customers because you never know who wants the more “wholesome” novels or the more erotic ones… and I never feel like it’s my business to ask (nor do I really want to know). Sea Witch was on the tamer side, say 3/10 on the “steaminess” scale.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes