Saturday, December 7, 2019

YA Book Review: Wolf's Bane by Kelley Armstrong

Wolf's Bane
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Otherworld: Kate & Logan Book 1
Publication: K.L.A. Fricke Inc (October 15, 2019)

Description: Summer camp is a traditional teenage rite of passage, but when you add supernatural powers to the typically high dosage of adolescent hormones – you get an even more combustible mix. Sixteen-year-old werewolf twins Kate and Logan Danvers are none too thrilled at being shipped off to a supernatural youth leadership conference in West Virginia.

From the moment they arrive at the camp, the twins sense something is off and they react in their usual manner – Logan reserving judgement and surveying the setup, while Kate charges forward determined to get answers. Kate and Logan quickly ascertain that most of the conference attendees have already formed hostile factions, leaving the twins and a few other misfits to band together.

What seems like teen hormones in overdrive becomes something much more dangerous, even deadly. Add in a strange magic-warded cabin in the woods and a local history rife with curses and macabre legends, and it becomes clear this was a really, really bad place to build a camp for teenage supernaturals.

My Thoughts: First I have to say that this isn't a whole story. It is the first of a duology and most of the major plot points are left unresolved and waiting for the second book. However, it is a good introduction to Otherworld stories for those new to the world. It introduces Kate and Logan who are twins and the children of the Alpha of the Pack wolves and the enforcer for the pack.

Logan and Kate are sixteen and going through some growing pains. They have always been each other's main companion and support. The personalities are complements of the other. Logan is the thoughtful, introspective twin and Kate is more bold and brash. But events that happened to Kate have changed her and she isn't sharing what happened with Logan who is feeling hurt and a little resentful.

When their parents decided that they should attend a camp which will be filled with other paranormals and which has the purpose of furthering understanding between the two groups, neither Logan or Kate are at all enthusiastic. Their expectations seem to be met when they arrive at the camp and find all sorts of weird things happening.

The camp director first wants them to keep the fact that they are werewolves secret but then outs them herself and is very prejudiced against them. The other campers seem weirdly aggressive and seem more interested in hooking up than getting to really know any of the others.

Kate's new roommate is a witch named Holly who is also finding the camp dynamics weird. Logan is assigned to Mason's room. Mason is keeping his affiliation secret but Logan soon comes to identify him as a vampire. Together, they make up the two most feared types of paranormals in the Otherworld. Meanwhile, Kate meets Elijah who is supposedly half demon but who she figures out is actually a werewolf in disguise. He is not Pack and really seems to resent Logan and Kate.

As tensions rise and their isolation grows even more pronounced, Logan, Kate, Holly, Elijah, and one of Kate's childhood flames Allen need to band together to figure out what is going on at the camp and how they can survive until help arrives.

The story was exciting. I liked Logan and Kate. I liked the snarky dialog and the way the kids interacted to make their discoveries. The action at the end of the book make this one a real page turner. And the cliffhanger ending makes me very eager to read the next book which should answer my many questions.

Favorite Quote:
As Kate chatters, Holly relaxes. I envy my sister's knack for this. It's not as if she intentionally seeks out the shyest person in the room. She just honestly finds that person the most interesting one. If I try her strategy, it ends up being two introverts in the corner, making awkward conversation.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Friday Memes: Wolf's Bane by Kelley Armstrong

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
Chapter One

Kate

I'm crouched in a thicket, listening to the drawn-out howl of a wolf, blood calling to blood.
Friday 56:
I wake to the click of the door opening. I wasn't sleeping. Not really. It's been a roller-coaster day, end every time I start to drift off, I remember something I might have done wrong, something I might have said wrong, and I jolt awake, gut twisted by anxiety imps.
This week I am spotlighting Wolf's Bane by Kelley Armstrong. This is the first in a new YA duology set in her Otherworld series of books. Here is the description from Amazon:
Summer camp is a traditional teenage rite of passage, but when you add supernatural powers to the typically high dosage of adolescent hormones – you get an even more combustible mix. Sixteen-year-old werewolf twins Kate and Logan Danvers are none too thrilled at being shipped off to a supernatural youth leadership conference in West Virginia.

From the moment they arrive at the camp, the twins sense something is off and they react in their usual manner – Logan reserving judgement and surveying the setup, while Kate charges forward determined to get answers. Kate and Logan quickly ascertain that most of the conference attendees have already formed hostile factions, leaving the twins and a few other misfits to band together.

What seems like teen hormones in overdrive becomes something much more dangerous, even deadly. Add in a strange magic-warded cabin in the woods and a local history rife with curses and macabre legends, and it becomes clear this was a really, really bad place to build a camp for teenage supernaturals.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

ARC Review: Wicked Hour by Chloe Neill

Wicked Hour
Author: Chloe Neill
Series: An Heirs of Chicagoland Novel (Book 2)
Publication: Berkley (December 3, 2019)

Description: In the second pulse-pounding novel in the USA Today bestselling Heirs of Chicagoland series, vampire Elisa Sullivan gets drawn into the shifting sands of Pack politics.

Vampires were made, not born until Elisa Sullivan came along. As the only vampire child in existence, she grew up with a heavy legacy, and tried to flee her past. Then circumstances drew her back to Chicago, and she stayed to keep it safe. With shifter Connor Keene, the only son of Pack Apex Gabriel Keene, at her side, she faced down a supernatural evil that threatened to destroy Chicago forever.

After the dust from the attack has settled, Elisa is surprised when Connor invites her to a usually private Pack event in the north woods of Minnesota, and by the warm welcome she receives from some of Connor’s family, even though she's a vampire. But the peace doesn't last. The shifters tell tales of a monster in the woods, and when the celebration is marred by death, Elisa and Connor find themselves in the middle of a struggle for control that forces Elisa to face her true self fangs and all.

My Thoughts: This is the second book starring Elisa Sullivan and Connor Keene. They resolved their childhood issues in the first in this series but now are wondering if they can have a romantic relationship being that she's a vampire and he's a werewolf and the next Apex of the clan. When Connor is invited to a christening in Grand Bay, Minnesota, in a pack that is still hiding its supernatural heritage from the rest of the world, he asks Elisa to ride along on his motorcycle. He feels there is something wrong with the pack and wants Elisa's input.

They arrive to find that the pack is firmly divided between the old guard who are hanging on to power with every bit of their strength and the young members who want something different for the pack. Add to that the recent death of a young pack member, an attack on another by some strange creature, and the death of one of the elders in a particularly gruesome way, and you have a case that will take all of Connor's and Elisa's various skills to solve.

Elisa is also still trying to learn how to deal with the monster within who has always been a part of her life and her most closely guarded secret.

I liked the fast-paced action of the story. I liked the Minnesota setting. I liked the snarky dialog. And I especially liked the growing relationship between Connor and Elisa.

Favorite Quote:
Paloma blanched when she saw us coming, then tried to play casual by flipping the "Open" sign to "Closed."

"Wow,: Theo said. "I don't know if we should go in now that she's turned that sign around."

"Yeah," I said, pushing open the door. "It's a real obstacle."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Book Review: Dragged Through Hedgerows by Forthright

Dragged Through Hedgerows
Author: Forthright
Series: Songs of the Amaranthine (Book 3)
Publication: Twinkle Press (October 4, 2019)

Description: He had one job. Becoming a family pet wasn’t it.

For the sake of his people, Daroo-fen has lived among humans, working as a lawyer in a little mountain town. He’s vowed to protect the surrounding woodlands, no matter the cost. But in the course of duty, he meets a man who needs help … and a friend. Too long a loner, Daroo cannot keep away, but there’s a fine line between getting close and getting too close. If the Cooper family finds out his secret, two worlds might brand the wolf a traitor.

My Thoughts: Charles Cooper has come back to his hometown with his two children after his marriage fell apart. He is feeling lost and lonely and determined to make a good life for his children Coop and baby Rose. He married young and has spent the past eight years or so as a homemaker. Now, his wife Ally decided that she wanted something different in life and threw him out. At least, she let him take his children. Charles is adrift in a sea of grief for the loss of a life he loved.

Daroo-Fen, who is also known as lawyer Drew Waters, has come to Charles because he is concerned about the land he has inherited from his father. He doesn't expect to find a man who needs him and who carries the distant scent of Reavers. He gradually insinuates himself into the lives of Charles and his children both as Drew and as his alternate wolf form which Coop names Beast.

Daroo-Fen worries that his is breaking some vows of his own as he becomes part of the Cooper family's lives but Charles needs him and need is something Daroo-Fen can not ignore. The Cooper family helps him with his own need and loneliness.

This was an excellent story set in an interesting world.

Favorite Quote: 
He knew what it was like to want to stay and be told to go. And he knew he could never do that to a friend like Drew, to a wolf like Beast, or even to this uncanny version of them. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

ARC Review: Accepting the Lance by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Accepting the Lance
Author: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Series: Liaden Universe (Book 22)
Publication: Baen (December 3, 2019)

Description: Exiled from Liad after bombing a city to save it from The Department of the Interior’s infernal weapons and plans, Clan Korval has gone to ground on the back-water planet Surebleak, whose people are as untamed as its weather. The old Boss-controlled fiefdoms largely fell to Pat Rin yos’Phelium’s influence, but the world is restive, the influx of outworld lawyers, guns, and money a brewpot for armed dissatisfaction.

Far beyond the surface of frigid Surebleak Korval’s farflung trade network needs a serious reset to recover from exile. From flagship Dutiful Passage to the experimental—if centuries old—self-aware Bechimo co-captained by the Delm’s blood-sister Theo Waitley, the clan’s ships are prowling space lanes seeking trade. Meanwhile, Old Tech from a failed universe—the ancient but revived Tinsori Light—and the machinations of the mysterious Uncle are coalescing into dangerous opportunity or nefarious trap.

And the Department of the Interior is not done with Clan Korval yet. They seek a final fully reckoned revenge, with Surebleak and Korval’s ships and people everywhere in the crosshairs.

My Thoughts: In this 22nd adventure in the Liaden Universe a number of plot threads are tied off. It is a novel filled with changes.

TerraTrade has sent a survey crew to assess Surebleak's potential as a trading hub. However, one of the crew is prejudiced against the planet because Clan Korval has settled there. He is convinced that Clan Korval are pirates who subjugated the world to Korval's desires which is almost true. Nonetheless the current plan is not to make waves while the inspectors are on planet.

But Theo and Bechimo arrive being trailed by on overzealous scout who wants to decommission and reprogram Bechimo because he's a complex logic - a self-aware and self-governing space ship. But Val Con makes a judgment in his role as a Scout Commander that complex self-aware machines are people and may not be interfered with if they have jobs and are socially responsible. This is an epic, potentially universe changing idea.

When a group of these complex logics, most of them war machines that survived the Old Universe, are pointed at Surebleak by the Commander of the Department of the Interior as the next phase in the DOI's plans to wipe-out Korval, Theo, her crew, and her ships are there to stop the invasion in a very Delgado sort of way. Theo teaches the invaders consensus building as a way of problem solving and averts the invasion without a shot being fired.

While these things are going on at or near Surebleak, another plot thread begun in an earlier book has some survivors of the DOI going off to try to defeat it. It is a longshot attempt that is led by Rys Lin pen'Chela who was a former Agent of Change who was adopted by the Bedel who live secretly on Surebleak.

Speaking of the Bedel, they have long been on Surebleak having been dropped off by their ship which never returned for them. Only now a message comes in and they find that they have been found and a ship will be coming for them. The problem is that most of the current generation of Bedel have made Surebleak their home and don't want to go back.

Still another plot thread has a Boss Surebleak wanting to return things to the bad old days and wants to retire Boss Conrad (Pat Rin) and the Road Boss (Miri and Val Con). No one knows who Boss Surebleak is but our heroes are pretty sure he/she is another part of the plot set up by the DOI to eliminate Korval. The consequences of this lead to the development of voting as a way to indicate support for either Boss Conrad or Boss Surebleak which is an idea that is very new to Surebleak and not much more common on Liad.

All of these plot threads and others I didn't talk about are wonderfully woven into a fascinating story that brings us up-to-date on many of the characters who have starred in earlier books in the Liaden Universe series. But I still want more! What about Shan? What about the children who are now young adults? What will happen as a result of Val Con's judgment? What is happening at Tinsori Light?

Favorite Quote:
On Surebleak Port, now, anything could happen -- and often did; a tendency that had only gotten more pronounced with the arrival of Clan Korval.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Baen. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, December 2, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Dec. 2, 2019)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup.

Other Than Reading...

This week was a better reading week mainly because two snowstorms bracketed Thanksgiving and kept me at home.
I'm so grateful that I no longer have to travel at Thanksgiving to be with family. We got better than eight inches of snow on Wednesday. Later today (Saturday) a blizzard is predicted with the possibility of 20 inches of snow. The low estimate is 14 inches. It is supposed to last until Sunday afternoon. Bill and I planned our menus for the weekend and shopped on Friday afternoon. There is no reason to leave the house until Monday mid-morning.

I used my new bread machine this week to make a honey wheat bread that went great with leftover turkey for sandwiches. Right now I'm using the bread machine again on the Dough cycle to make my own hamburger buns for tonight's hamburgers and potato salad. I like that it is relatively easy to make low sodium bread that tastes great too.

With no review books until January, I am taking time to read books that have been on my TBR mountain for quite a while. I even dug out a couple that I've had since 2008.

November Report

I read sixteen books in November with a total of 5183 pages. It is my smallest total of the year both in pages and books. I read 10 of my own books this month. Most of them were 2019 purchases but I did read one older book. Six were review books that finished out my 2019 review books.

I added nineteen books to my collection. Eleven were new review books that will be reviewed in 2020. I haven't read them yet. I also added three new low sodium cookbooks that we have been mining for interesting sounding recipes.

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)

  • A Study in Sable by Mercedes Lackey (Mine) is an entry into the Elemental Masters series and features Sherlock Holmes. It also has Dr. Watson and his wife as Elemental Masters and a couple of mysteries. My review will be posted on Dec. 12.
  • Whiskey Sour by J. A. Konrath (Mine since Aug. 13, 2015) is a mystery with an interesting main character. I liked the combination of humor and tension in this thriller. My review will be posted on Dec. 14. 


  • Harbor for the Nightingale by Kathleen Baldwin (Mine) - This is the 4th book in the Stranje House historical mystery series and stars Maya. My review will be posted on Dec. 17.
  • Cruel Fate by Kelley Armstrong (Mine) is a novella in the Cainsville series concerning Olivia's father Todd's release from prison and those who want him back in. My review will be posted on Dec. 18.

Currently

  • Cold Magic by Kate Elliott (Mine since Aug. 30, 2010)

Next Week

  • The Dream-Hunter by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Mine since 2008 when I began keeping track on LibraryThing)
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi (Mine since June 5, 2012) 


  • Shadow Girl by Gerry Schmitt (Mine since Jan. 27, 2018)
  • Forbidden Magic by Cheyenne McCray (Mine since 2008 when I began keeping track on LibraryThing)

Reviews Posted




Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Bought:


Review:


What was your week like?



Sunday, December 1, 2019

State of the Stack #90 (December 1, 2019)

This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on or near the first of the month. Link with Avalinah's Books (description below) to check out other people's progress.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet I list them in publication order and sort them by month. I can quickly see how many books I have for each date. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books. Check my spreadsheet to find out where I got each book.

I also do this post because sometimes (frequently) review books sit on my stack for a while before I read and review them. I try to read and review books within two weeks of publication date. Sometimes I can't, though, if too many books are releasing on the same date or if the book arrives too near its publication date and my calendar is already full.

I am very grateful to the authors and publishers who support my reading habit.

I Read This Month

These are listed in the order I read them. Links go to my reviews for all that have been posted already. Otherwise, the date the review is scheduled for is listed.
  1. Just Watch Me by Jeff Lindsay (Nov. 26)
  2. Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen (Nov. 27)
  3. Thin Ice by Paige Shelton (Nov. 28)
  4. A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh (Nov. 30)
  5. Wicked Hour by Chloe Neill (Dec. 5)
  6. Trace of Evil by Alice Blanchard (Dec. 1)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen (Nov. 2)
  2. Bred in the Bone by Kendra Elliot (Nov. 3)
  3. Tracking Game by Margaret Mizushima (Nov. 6)
  4. The Princess Plan by Julia London (Nov. 12)
  5. Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer (Nov. 13)
  6. A Cowboy Like You by Donna Grant (Nov. 21)
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date published is listed in parentheses.
  1. The Finders by Jeffrey B. Burton (June 30)
  2. The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor (June 23)
  3. Revolver Road by Kristi Daugherty (March 10)
  4. Firewatching by Russ Thomas (Feb. 25)
  5. There's Murder Afoot by Vicki Delany (Jan. 7)
  6. Death at High Tide by Hannah Dennison (August 18)
  7. Shadows of the Dead by Spencer Kope (August 25)
  8. Belle Revolte by Linsey Miller (Feb. 4)
  9. Cast in Wisdom by Michelle Sagara (Jan. 28)
  10. A Stroke of Malice by Anna Lee Huber (April 7)
My Review Pile

Past Due

  • A Perfect Eye by Stephanie Kane (Sept. 1) is a recent arrival whose review should coincide with the release of the audiobook.

January








February






March




April 




May


June


August


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I am also linking up with the State of the ARC meme. Here is the explanation and rules.

State of the ARC is a monthly meme at Avalinah’s Books meant to motivate you to finish up all your long overdue ARCs (Advanced or Early Reader Copies). You can track your reading progress and link up with your own post. Most commonly it comes out on the 30th of every month.

Rules of State of the ARC:

  • Mention that you’re linking up with State of the ARC @ AvalinahsBooks, which is a fun way to share our ARC progress, challenges, wins, woes and mishaps.
  • Include the link to this post, or the current State of the ARC post. You can use my State of the ARC image too.
  • Don’t forget to visit all the other people in the link-up and comment.
  • And most importantly – have fun!