Book Review: Taming the Wolf by Stephanie Nelson

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Taming the Wolf (Anna Avery #1) by Stephanie Nelson
218 pages
Publication Date: June 13, 2012
Buy at Amazon


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Attacked by a wolf while hiking in the mountains, Anna Avery’s life just got a little hairier. Living in the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming, with a group of werewolves who are more animal than human, Anna must try to hold onto her human side. It’s not easy when the alpha continues to persuade her into his bed, while another wolf is chomping at the bit to become her mate. To top it all off, dead bodies are showing up and it just so happens that Anna was the last to see them alive. She’ll have to work to prove her innocence and taming the wolf who bites first and asks questions never.

Review:

Anna is an everyday girl like you and me who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (or technically, right place at the right time, but who cares for technicalities?). Either way, her bad luck turned this story into a magical getaway.

There’s a few cliched things that I would go bonkers over if it hadn’t been for the fact that they worked for Taming the Wolf. That’s right they worked! Girl gets trapped, gets bit and magically becomes a werewolf, falls in love, is special, but I’m telling you- it honestly works.

Anna is such a great character. I just want to squeeze her because I love her so much. She falls into the category of heroines who are ~special~ but it’s not shoved down my face every other sentence, not to mention that being special just seems like another side to Anna and not something that keeps her from being relatable. Too often are heroines thrust into that space where they just lose whatever they had that I could relate to. With Anna, it becomes something that if I were in that situation I would hope I could keep my chin up as well.
Our hunky Alpha Adam stole the show on occasion, but I’m disappointed that he let his emotions get the best of him at times. I felt that in those moments there was no way that that man could be alpha material. You can communicate telepathically but you can’t give a direct order and have them mind it? I’m also surprised he let his mate Eve get away with half the stuff she did- killing women of the pack that threatened her position when there aren’t lot of them to go around to begin with? Um. No. He just doesn’t spell good leader material, you can’t act out and throw a tantrum or put your pack in jeopardy- you’re in that position for a reason.
Actually, I think MOST of the Alphas or persons in leadership positions had this problem. They were quick to spark a temper or showed emotions that just didn’t seem to befit a person in their position. Not only that, but they were way too accepting of killing a person they weren’t sure was guilty or innocent and they even had evidence that their was another person involved, but hell, what difference does it make when you ARE the law? It just strikes me as odd that persons of authority, especially in this world where they don’t want their secret to get out, would decide to kill a person despite protests and no damning evidence.

There are some wonderful side characters, my favourite being Sawyer. Wonderful Sawyer. He started off pretty rough around the edges, but he started to shine right at the good part. Anna dated him briefly thanks to her alphas orders (which Adam then acted like a jealous two year old) and I honestly think Sawyer is just the best thing for her. Definitely one of the best triangles I’ve read in a while and one that I thought might actually have a chance to win out (if the author had let it, that is. Inserting my sad face and crying rivers of tears… T_T).
I also really love Wade. I can’t say too much about him, but I also feel he would be a good contender for Anna’s heart- not that anything happens between them.

Story pacing is spot on. There was enough going on that I didn’t feel bored or overwhelmed at influx of information. The storyline itself was terrific. It wasn’t just about finding a true love, but finding out who was killing humans, while not being too sure who it was or how it was being done. However, I do feel like the second half the story started to wane and go a bit…crazy. We also had the dreaded ASSUMING relationship woes. Things were fine and dandy up to the point where Anna was starting to get committed (or as commited as one could in that momnet) and then she just goes off into assumption land and ignores Adam’s telepathic messages. Get your head on straight girl and think about the situation you are/were in! A relationship isn’t a one-way street.

We do get some sexy scenes as this is a book geared toward adults and NOT young adults. There’s a lot of mentioning of sex since werewolves are apparently very sexual creatures who get turned on at the drop of hat. However, I do admire Anna for stamping her inner wolves flames for as long as she did, when it was sort of expected of her to sleep with every male there.

I definitely recommend Taming the Wolf if you are into werewolf books that not only have sexy times, but an engaging storyline and mystery.

Book Review: Stray by Rachel Vincent

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Stray
Stray (Shifters #1) by Rachel Vincent
618 pages
Published June 1st 2007
Buy at Amazon


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There are only eight breeding female werecats left . . .
And I’m one of them.

I look like an all-American grad student. But I am a werecat, a shape-shifter, and I live in two worlds.

Despite reservations from my family and my Pride, I escaped the pressure to continue my species and carved out a normal life for myself. Until the night a Stray attacked.

I’d been warned about Strays — werecats without a Pride, constantly on the lookout for someone like me: attractive, female, and fertile. I fought him off, but then learned two of my fellow tabbies had disappeared.

This brush with danger was all my Pride needed to summon me back . . . for my own protection. Yeah, right. But I’m no meek kitty. I’ll take on whatever — and whoever — I have to in order to find my friends. Watch out, Strays — ’cause I got claws, and I’m not afraid to use them . . .

Review:

**Possible spoilers, very slight and will not ruin the story.

There are a few things that keep me from loving the crap out of this book and yet, at the same time, I practically salivated over every scene. Stray tosses in a lot of things that just don’t work for me and yet somehow, in the end, it manages to completely ensnare me regardless of what I didn’t like and thought was wrong.

Prides/Alphas/and Women: I’ve read this before. The females of the species are rare and ~super special~ because there’s not a lot of them. We never get a full answer of why in Shifters and that bugs me. Why? Because Faythe (what an awful spelling), although ~super special~ is ordered around, over-protected, pushed and tripped, and not taken seriously (for the most part) because she is a female. Not only that, but she basically has an arranged marriage which her father forced her into, or as she said, she fell hard- into his bed and then was told to take it slow. I mean, COME ON NOW. The double standard between the males and females is way too harsh. It’s something that Faythe constantly protests, and in return she’s riddled with threats that make her fearful. Of course, Faythe argues her case like a sixteen year old argues about staying out late- the wrong way (Not to mention she’s 23!!). She doesn’t like the way she’s treated, but she never calls out the double standard. She never says, “I want to be treated exactly like the boys. I want the same privileges and the same course of discipline.” in her arguments. What’s worse is while wanting to be ~free~ she indulges (? No, wrong word…takes for granted) in the fact that females are not disciplined by the same rules, if at all (which her brothers and not-so-boyfriend overlook and give her a hand slap). I’d have skinned her hide on multiple occasions. You want to play with the other big cats? You’ve got to learn to follow the same rules. You can’t have it both ways if you’re fighting for equality.

There’s a slight love triangle, or should I say, lead him on triangle. Marc, Faythe’s ex-boyfriend, is an over-possessive don’t touch my ex or I’ll kill you type with a temper. Why is this type of guy sexy? Yes, he has his sweet moments (and I can’t deny that I drooled a little during their, um, adult scenes), but his possessiveness is off the charts. Then, there’s Jace, smooth talking, make your mouth water Jace. She never denies his advances even when she KNOWS she doesn’t need to take it further. This results in Jace being beaten, all because her ex-boyfriend can’t keep his temper in check. Yes, Faythe leads Jace on, there’s no denying it because she never does anything to stop it. Unless Marc chills with the possessiveness, I’m rooting for Jace hands down.

Don’t even get me started on Faythe. The girl can eat raw deer in werecat form, but can’t stomach fried chicken skin. Am I the only one who sees the problem? Girl, you eat nastier things than the best part of fried chicken. Not only that, but because of certain circumstances she’s says she’d rather die than be raped. She wouldn’t want to save her life, she’d end it so she didn’t have to go through rape. I can’t understand this because I’m entirely the opposite. I would do anything in my power to survive, because my survival ensures that I can kill the bastard and make him suffer. She wants so badly to be independent and free of the Pride, but decides so easily that she’d rather die. I will never understand it and it’s one of the reasons why I can’t relate to her. She’s a damn good fighter and holds her own, but to give up over something when you can survive and dish payback…? *sigh* Faythe is also wishy-washy when it comes to Marc and basically all things. She can’t make up her mind and her attitude is just…I expected more of an adult personality, not a brat.

The story itself is a little predictable if you follow the hints. It’s not a bad story, in fact, like I said above, I was salivating over it. There was some over descriptive paragraphs which I speed read, but mostly the writing had a nice flow that made it easy to read and follow and at the same time was able to keep me on my toes and wanting more. I’ll also say that the side characters are fantastic. From her parents, to her brothers, to even the evil villains- I give them all straight As. They’re what helps give this story life. Without them, Faythe’s story just wouldn’t have been the same.

Base line: Faythe is an annoying character with tendencies that drive me nuts, but not so bad that I can’t feel anything for her at all. Same goes for Marc, I don’t hate him, but he’s got to shape up if he expects me to actually root for him.
There is rape and a sex scene and of course, attempted rape. This isn’t a YA book, at times it can read like one, but it definitely is NOT.

Side observation:
I’m gonna come out and say that it makes no sense for her dad to be pushing Marc onto her. First of all, he’s a Stray and because of such is a ‘second class citizen’. Faythe is, pure-blooded, I guess you could say. Her father is pretty strict on Strays and it’s said Strays are not usually allowed into the Pride. DO YOU SEE? It makes no sense! They fight so hard to patrol and punish Strays, and yet, her dad wants her to…breed with Marc. My mind is blowing. I don’t care if he was saved or whatever. I need a more thorough explanation.

Also: her clothes. (I might be thinking of the next book, but she did wear revealing clothes in Stray too.) It’s just crazy that she wears clothes that show her cleavage and her stomach, then has low riding pants on, but she doesn’t like it when men stare or observe. No, dressing like that does not give men a free pass, but expecting them NOT to look is just stupid. If you hate it so much cover up, otherwise, shut up and suck it up.

Book Review: Lover Enshrined by J. R. Ward

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Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood #6) by J.R. Ward
534 pages
Published June 3rd 2008
Buy at Amazon


PREVIOUS REVIEWS ON THIS SERIES:
Dark Lover
Lover Eternal
Lover Awakened
Lover Revealed
Lover Unbound

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In this “frighteningly addictive” paranormal romance saga there’s a war raging between vampires and their slayers. Here are the stories of a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. And now a dutiful twin must choose between two lives…

Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood’s bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is obligated to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive, and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.

As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body, but his heart for herself. She is drawn to the noble responsibility behind the emotionally scarred male. But Phury has never allowed himself to know pleasure or joy. As the war with the Lessening Society grows grim, tragedy looms over the Brotherhood’s mansion, and Phury must decide between duty and love….

Review:

Well ladies and gentlemen, I knew it was too good to be true. The dreaded love with conflicts and “You’re too good for mes” has returned. Can’t say I’m happy to see it back, especially considering how awesome the Jane/V combo is. Maybe I hoped that we’d finally get another character like Jane. Who am I kidding, we all have read about Cormia before this, so we knew what she was like. Definitely not the worst character ever, but I can’t say I’d come to her rescue for any kind of reason either.

What gets me is that part of Lover Enshrined is very, very, very good. So good I was practically salivating. Everything to do with John is brilliant. I love it. Unless something changes in the future books, John is one of the main reasons I keep reading. Then, we have his friends Blay and Qhuinn. Talk about a shot between the eyes, I wasn’t expecting what happened between them- and hey, I freely admit I read the summary for Lover At Last after finishing Lover Enshrined, because I’m a glutton for punishment (and I secretly thought maybe I was going to end up with Qhuinn, hey, I’m a fangirl what do you expect?). Then we have that not so little thing with Lash which, again, shot between the eyes because I was so totally not expecting that.

Basically everything that about this book that doesn’t have to do with Cormia and Phury is A++. Which leaves me to say that most parts between the two were very, very, bad. At times I felt like I was reading a wall of text because Phury has so much going on. I mean, yeah, I definitely liked his character before, I wanted to know his story, and now the only thing I can really say is that it didn’t live up to what I was expecting. Maybe I just don’t find his reason for being an addict for two centuries reason enough. Sure, he had a lonely childhood and it sucks that his parents shut themselves down and were awful and it’s terrible about what happened to Z, but seriously? Phury has serious problems. Enough to warrant such an addiction? Meh. I especially hated to read about The Wizard, Phurys, basically, imaginary friend.
I do think Wrath and Z were way to hard on him. They could have put more time into rectifying the problem. They ignored and let it get out of hand. They didn’t help. You can’t just say, “Stop what you’re doing.” and then believe the persons answer- especially if their dependent on drugs. A little too much in my opinion.

Needless to say, I’m disappointed with Phurys side of the tale. Honestly, I was really expecting a novel full of Chosen sex. Honest. One massive orgy and it went unfulfilled.

There’s no skipping Lover Enshrined, however. There’s way too much stuff that’s overly important. If you can get through the wall of text that is at times boring and sleep inducing, you’ll be just fine because what awaits you afterwards is a party of awesome.

Book Review: Lover Unbound by J. R. Ward

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Lover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood #5) by J.R. Ward
502 pages
Published September 25th 2007
Buy at Amazon


PREVIOUS REVIEWS ON THIS SERIES:
Dark Lover
Lover Eternal
Lover Awakened
Lover Revealed

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In Caldwell, New York, war rages between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Now the cold heart of a cunning predator will be warmed against its will…

Ruthless and brilliant, Vishous, son of the Bloodletter, possesses a destructive curse and a frightening ability to see the future. As a pretrans growing up in his father’s war camp he was tormented and abused. As a member of the Brotherhood, he has no interest in love or emotion, only the battle with the Lessening Society. But when a mortal injury puts him in the care of human surgeon, Dr. Jane Whitcomb compels him to reveal his inner pain and taste true pleasure for the first time-until a destiny he didn’t choose takes him into a future that cannot include her…

Review:

Hallejuh! A heroine that is more than just a cardboard cut out! We finally get it. Not only that, but we get a mostly conflict free relationship. Oh how good it feels to finally read about someone NOT assuming in a relationship.
Jane is amazing. A-MA-ZING. She is exactly my kind of strong character. She doesn’t put up with any bull while at the same time making sure her feelings are known. It has been a sort of trend with this series, with the heroines not being able to fully express their feelings or because they held them in something else was assumed. So, to me, Jane is an absolute breath of fresh air.

Vishous, I should say that his story includes some pretty awful abuse and I could almost say trigger warning for certain parts. I do love the fact that he’s into BDSM, not just for the awesome sex scenes (which, btw, were not shown fully when he was in ‘Dom’ mode), but because during a certain part it shows us more of his character. Wish I could elaborate, it’s one of those things that would spoil you. Anywho, his past is full of pain, and so is his present, so it makes a very compelling story. I know I was kept on my toes.
I’m not sure whose past is worst in the Brotherhood. What it really boils down to is everyone’s past has sucked so far and I don’t really think it would be fair of me to compare them. What they all really need is a group hug and group therapy.

We get a lot of Phury in Lover Unbound. Phury and his destructive nature. His very, very, destructive nature. I love his character so much that reading about all he was doing really made me uncomfortable. Let us hope that his book makes him better, otherwise he needs help…badly.

Even better is that this book features no Lesser POV. Yes! Yes! I hate reading about the Lessers in their POV so I was extremely happy. But, because of this we really don’t get any serious fighting except for a few times.

As for the Chosen, I have to say that that whole thing was RIDICULOUS. Not just because a primale gets to ‘mate’ with ALL of the chosen (like 40 females) and he gets a ‘main’ female, but because if a Chosen doesn’t want to give her body to him she’s bound and gagged- FORCED to go through the ritual. Sounds like rape to me and this has been going on for forever! I was totally creeped out and astounded that the Scribe Virgin would let that happen. Especially considering HER own past.

Tons of major plot moments though, mostly centering around Jane and V, but a few elsewhere. Lover Unbound moves at a nice pace and didn’t drag, it did the opposite in fact. It threw me onto a carnival ride that jumbled my insides and made me cry buckets of massive tears. I have heartburn from the tears. If you cried during the others, you will definitely cry with Lover Unbound because the unexpected happens. I literally cried through the last few chapters.
That ending though. I’m gonna have to say it was a cop-out. While I want the very best to always happen, in this case I don’t think it should have. Mean of me, awful of me, but I honestly think it should have been left right where it was.

Overall, I still think the series gets better and better with each passing book. Loved Lover Unbound, and it’s definitely competing with Lover Awakened for the top spot.

SPOILER:
Have you guys noticed that every female so far has become immortal in some way or fashion? Call me crazy, but I’d like for a human to fall in love with a vampire without all the frills and immortality.

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