Initially, as I know many were, I found myself attracted to Shiver's beautiful cover. The screen doesn't do it justice. Holding this book is like rece...moreInitially, as I know many were, I found myself attracted to Shiver's beautiful cover. The screen doesn't do it justice. Holding this book is like receiving a birthday present: it's a real treat.
But Shiver is much more than a pretty picture.
Werewolf stories are nothing new, but Shiver is. Told in the dual narratives of our two protagonists, Grace and Sam, Shiver is the story of the star-crossed (though perhaps winter-crossed, is more appropriate) lovers, and their fight to stay together against forces far beyond their control. This, to me, was one of the most interesting aspects of the story. There is really no antagonist to this story--perhaps the lycanthropic condition, combined with seasonal change, is the villain, rather than an individual being.
Shiver's wolves are a refreshing and unique take on a much loved, but much done, genre. I hate to ruin the surprise myself, because it's such a clever and absorbing moment in the story. The book is told in easily digestible sections, perfect for short sittings (if you can put it down), but the story flows beautifully, and I personally adored Stiefvater's prose (so smooth, 'flowy' and lyrical).
While one could say Shiver shares a lot in common with a great number of other YA paranormals around (werewolves, lonely protagonist, absent parents and love story), it had its own special, unique spark that, months after reading it, keeps it fresh in my mind. It should go down a treat with those who like YA paranormal, but the story is told so tenderly and with such beautiful restraint, I believe it could appeal to non-genre readers.
Gripping, hopeful and heartbreaking, I found the story kept me wondering till the very last page. I flat-out adored Shiver. (less)
Changeless is a fun follow-up to Gail Carriger's brilliant Soulless.
Once again we join Alexia, this time as she hunts down the cause of a most outrage...moreChangeless is a fun follow-up to Gail Carriger's brilliant Soulless.
Once again we join Alexia, this time as she hunts down the cause of a most outrageous outbreak of 'humanisation' amongst London's supernatural set. All while dealing with an errant husband, a most irritating entourage, and a fabulous--but most unfashionable--parasol.
Alexia remains her wonderful prickly self, and we are introduced to an array of very fun new characters (notably a rather flamboyant milliner-cum-inventress), and the story expands on some favourites from book one (Biffy and Tunstell both show up a bit more here, and I think Biffy is rather Spiffy). I loathe Alexia's sister, Felicity, but I rather think that's the point. Also, where does Miss Hisslepenny get these hats?
As many have noted, the book ends on an huge cliffhanger, and I'd not like to be reading it while having to wait for book 3. Do yourself a favour and make sure you have it on hand. While I'd prefer a nice tidy ending (a la book 1), said cliffhanger involves events which are only plausible given the circumstances, and, regardless of how I feel towards certain characters' behavior and reactions, all parties in question do act true to type. I suppose it had to happen--I just wish it had happened in one nice, neat book. I'm not a fan of this kind if ending, but I am a fan of Changeless--once I look past the last 5 pages of the book.
Lastly, everyone else has said it, but it bears repeating: DO NOT read the blurb for book 3 before reading this, and please, please, please, whatever you do: do NOT read the last page of this book first (I'm looking at you--you know who you are). I don't care how ingrained the behavior, and if exercising the restraint makes your eyeballs bleed: do not ruin this delightful book thus.(less)
Gail Carriger's delightfully witty 'Soulless' is a joy to read. Fun, fast-paced, and most certainly lascivious in parts, we follow Miss Alexia Tarabot...moreGail Carriger's delightfully witty 'Soulless' is a joy to read. Fun, fast-paced, and most certainly lascivious in parts, we follow Miss Alexia Tarabotti through a Victorian England populated by vampires, werewolves, ghosts.
Alexia has a knack for trouble. Firstly, she's 'soulless'--a preternatual being lacking a soul, and thus able to cancel out the supernatural abilities of vampires and werewolves; secondly, she's a 26 year old spinster; and thirdly, she is most rudely attacked by, and accidently kills, a vampire at a ball. She could possibly live with this if it weren't for the abominable manners of said vampire.
Thrust into adventure and intrigue, Miss Tarabotti must deal with mortal peril, the romantic overtures of a man who's both a werewolf AND scottish (appalling! though he is so very appealing) and make time for tea at the meantime.
A thoroughly entertaining read for romance, steampunk, paranormal fans.(less)
**spoiler alert** Lady Alexia Maccon is at it again, this time in Italy: the land of Templars, pesto, and--shockingly--coffee. Vile.
Cast out from her...more**spoiler alert** Lady Alexia Maccon is at it again, this time in Italy: the land of Templars, pesto, and--shockingly--coffee. Vile.
Cast out from her husband's home and the Woolsey pack's protection, and wanted dead by all of Europe's vampires, Alexia travels to Italy where she hopes to learn more of what she's termed her 'infant inconvenience'. Once there she uncovers secrets of her father's past, the preternatural state, and the horrifying treatment of her kind by the papal enforcers--the Templar Knights. This is an interest visit to the world of the parasol protectorate.
I can't say I enjoyed it as much as either Soulless or Changeless. So much is happening, and indeed needs to happen, in this book, that it feels ever so slightly haphazard. Having said that, the sections of this book following Alexia seemed to drag a little, rather than being rushed, and it was the portions following others (Lyall, and his interaction with Conall, and Biffy and Akelmada) that really shone.
Alexia is dealing with a huge amount of pain and grief in this book, and it's really quite alien for her. Having never really been shown much love prior to her marriage, the loss of that love is a huge blow to her, but I believe she is struggling to be aware of it. Her actions and reactions are wonderfully true to character. She doesn't come over with fits of histrionics, but deals with her pain and anger in the characteristic Alexia way: pragmatically. She doesn't wallow in her pain; she doesn't complain. She's angry, yes, but still grounded and practical at every turn. I love this girl. She's a strong female character who is truly feminine--not a heroine who comes across as being a man with boobies. The delightful Miss Carriger has given a wonderful interview on her thoughts on the matter here. (It's a great interview).
"I believe... most female heroines are what I would called "skinned." That is, they might be biologically women but they are gendered male. They are following the classic hero's journey."
We get to see a lot more of the fiercely loyal and unflappable Floote in Blameless, which is a delight, but sadly, much less interaction between Alexia and Conall, which, while obviously necessary, I missed. The parts of the story following Woolsey Beta, Lyall, are some of the best. Watching him care for his inebriated Alpha (Formaldahyde! Crunchy Snacks!), and the story between he, Biffy, and Akeldama are tender, heartbreaking, and bittersweet. Indeed, the highlight of the story.
With Mrs Ivy Tunstell (nee Hisslepenny) removed from direct contact with Alexia, and seen through others' eyes, we actually see a new side of her: she's not half as foolish as she seems, and may well be quite a talented actress in her own right. Indeed, it seems Alexia is well aware of this, but doesn't let on in her observations from previous books.
And lastly: Alexia's family, the Loontwills. They remind me of the ungodly union of Miss Austen's Bennett family (without Jane, Eliza and Mary), and JKR's Dursleys. What an utterly vile, cruel, and contemptible collection of human beings. After casting Alexia out when she most needed them, and telling her she is no longer welcome in their home, it is my most ardent desire (however unlikely), to see Alexia, or at least Conall, return the favour in the upcoming Heartless.
Blameless is another excellent read in Miss Carriger's delightful Parasol Protectorate series, and, I am glad to report, had a much more pleasant resolution than the previous installment. The series, as another reviewer (who I can't for the life if me remember!), seems to be slowly building towards something dark and menacing. It feels as though there is something sinister lurking in the background (Templars? Vampires? The OotBO? Americans? AMERICANS WITH COFFEE?), biding its time, readying to strike. I'm breathlessly awaiting Heartless.(less)
Hmmmm... I'm not entirely sure of how I feel about Heartless. I didn't love it as much as Soulless or Changeless, but I don't want to say anything neg...moreHmmmm... I'm not entirely sure of how I feel about Heartless. I didn't love it as much as Soulless or Changeless, but I don't want to say anything negative, as I wonder if my 'problem' with it is that I just wanted to be reading something else.
In any case! Heartless, the fourth installment in Gail Carriger's marvellous Parasol Protectorate, is another delightful romp through an alternate Victorian London. And this time, Lady Alexia Maccon must relocate a pack of werewolves, deal with a broken-hearted dandy-werewolf, all while being eight months pregnant. Oh, and someone is plotting to kill the Queen, too.
So Heartless was fun. We learn more of the history of the books' second most enigmatic character, Professor Lyall (the first being Floote, IMO), as well as the assasination plot that forced Connall's departure form the Scottish Kingair pack. Biffy (my favourite), is back, and is struggling to adapt. The relationship between him and Lord A is heartbreaking. Lord Maccon's struggle to help the young pup is touching. It was lovely seeing even more tender and emotional depths from the great, gruff, man. Biffy's struggling to fit in, and Connall blames himself. It's his fault the boy's now a wolf, and he sees it as his failure that he's not feeling part of the pack.
Mrs Loontwill is mercifully absent from this installment, but is more than made up for by the utterly vile Felicity's presence. This time, the ninny's up and joined the sufragette movement (like she even knows the meaning of the word!).
Some utter craziness goes down in this book, and never before has Alexia's true pragmatism shone through so brightly. After saving a hive of vampires, betraying a friend, being betrayed by another, THEN giving birth in a mechanical octopus, she brushes herself off, calls for tea, and goes to bed. No need to get emotional about these things.
I love that Carriger's characters aren't black and white, and especially so in Heartless. That even the good guys can be manipulative and self serving, even ones we've come to really like, gives these books a certain depth, even amongst all the frivolity and silliness that makes them so fun.
Heartless is fun. A must-read for fans of the series, but certain events in the ending upset me, even if they didn't manage to fluster Alexia.(less)
***There are some minor spoilers below... allusions to character's feelings/thoughts/actions that could give some plot points away***
Sookie's working...more***There are some minor spoilers below... allusions to character's feelings/thoughts/actions that could give some plot points away***
Sookie's working her shift in Merlotte's when the bar is firebombed... and it doesn't look like the bomber was human. To make matters worse, an old enemy is out for her blood and the tension between her vampire lover/husband Eric and his progeny Pam with their boss, Victor, is building. The peaceful life Sookie is wishing for seems a distant dream.
A new Sookie book is like visiting with old friends. There are so many folks I love in Sookie's world, and it is real treat catching up with them... but it's like a visit with the old gang in more ways than one: it is great catching up with them all, but there's so much going on in their lives, you feel like you didn't spend as much time with them as you would have liked.
A few old favourites make significant appearances here: Bubba, Mr Cataliades, Amelia, Bob, Hunter and Alcide show up. Alcide in a funny (and very compromising) way, and it makes me think we might not see Alcide again in a hurry. Bill plays a larger role in Dead Reckoning than he has in a while, and I found myself genuinely liking him (not just feeling sorry for him) for the first time in quite a few books.
Eric is obviously in a starring role, and as much as I was rooting for a relationship between the two of them, you begin to see some problems here. Sookie's starting to genuinely consider the real costs of a relationship with him: both him as an individual, and him as a vampire. What's going to happen when she gets older? How can they have a relationship if Eric won't talk to her; not just about his business and problems, but about serious issues that have huge consequences for her? This couple has serious communication problems. She's also really beginning to examine how much violence she can cope with and wants in her life. While Sook struggles with the thought of killing someone, even if that someone is trying to kill her, Eric will snap their neck without a moment's thought--or a pinch remorse. While Sookie understands Eric's character, motivations and actions, she needs someone who will understand her remorse and horror, and comfort her, even if she knows she's not being rational. Eric will never be that person. Sookie also takes a very drastic measure to test her real feels for Eric in this book... and the outcome could destroy a good friendship, as well as putting her in danger. And Eric's been hiding a big secret.
Sookie has experienced more personal growth over the course of the series than any character in any other series I can think of. She's a lot more mature, and there's an 'Aha!' moment where she decides she's going to have to prioritise her crises in order to cope (like she feels she's not so much living as rushing from one life-threatening situation to another). She's far more cautious in many areas of her life, but largely in who she chooses to trust. She's beginning to examine what she really wants from life, and I thought it seemed like she was starting to think of herself as leading two separate ones: her normal, human, life in Bon Temp, as a barmaid, a sister, and a friend, throwing her best friend's baby shower; and another, where she's the wife of a powerful vampire, a pawn in political power games, and in constant danger from vampires, weres, faeries, and God-knows-what-else. And more than anything Sookie just craves peace. A quiet, happy life with the people she loves. At one point, she tells Eric she wishes he was a 'normal' vampire: boring, and without the political struggles.
Dead Reckoning ends on an ambiguous note, and perhaps creates more questions than answers for the series. While we learn a lot more about Sookie's gran, and her family history, some threads in the story I thought had been neatly tied up are unravelled again (notably, an unexpected twist to do with Bill). What is Sookie going to do with her Grandfather's gift? How will this book effect her relationship with Pam? What about Eric? The Queen of Oklahoma? What the HELL is Claude really up to? It definitely seems as though everything is coming together for a big finale in 2 books' time.
The world of the Southern Vampire Mysteries is rich and vibrant--and SO real--and Charlaine Harris has created an intricate web with almost infinite possibilites. I cannot wait to see how see where she takes it next.(less)
Hmmm... it's fun, and a bit of a mixed bag. A VERY mixed bag: Western/Romance/Steampunk/Paranormal. Mixed enough for ya'll?
It's very readable, with a few very steamy scenes sewn together with a decent, interesting, but very linear plot. It's never boring, but I had to make myself suspend my disbelief at the speed with which the two romantic leads fall for each other... it feels like more than just attraction, and a bit more than just 'need' (a major theme in the story's mythos), without any reason for an emotional connection at first. The two don't have a shared backstory to put it down to (though they do have a few shared friends/mentors)--they've never even met before--and are irrestibly drawn to one another after a few hours, despite Wilder's fight to stay uninvolved. I just didn't understand why they were so drawn to each other, other than a strong physical attraction. I suppose I could just pin it down to an instant connection between a couple of very horny people. It happens, and I think I'm reading too much into it.
Satira is interesting mix of damsel-in-distress as well as kickass science-lovin' babe. She has a strong mind, and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty, fight, or stand her ground, but she's not a fighter, and depends on Wilder to defend her. While she's willing to go out and put herself on the line, she's thrown into a hopeless situation. Wilder is a tortured mix between wild man, and wild beast, and needs Satira's tender touch to soften his heart. Don't get me wrong: I REALLY enjoyed the book, but it was a little predictable.
It's a very fun read, and delivers what it promises: action, gunslingin' and a steamy romance between two smokin' hot leads.
(And seriously, I need to stop readin' this kind of stuff. I'm forgettin' to use 'G's!)(less)
Take Daybreakers and Fringe. Mix them together in a cross-dimensional blender, and add a smart-mouthed heroine. You'll have Dying Bites.
Sucked into...moreTake Daybreakers and Fringe. Mix them together in a cross-dimensional blender, and add a smart-mouthed heroine. You'll have Dying Bites.
Sucked into a parallel universe, FBI profiler Jace Valchek's new boss, David Cassius (NSA boss, and millennia old vampire), tells her she has one option for a ticket home: track down a criminally insane human serial killer--who's murdering pires and weres. In this place, vampires (hemovores), werewolves (lycanthropes), and golems (Mineral Americans, is the PC term if you ask her new partner, Charlie Aleph) make up 99% of the population. Jace has a lot to process. And now she's now an endangered species, too.
Sometime around the 1300's, this world's history split off from our own. Over the centuries, the differences have increased. Were's run the Catholic Church, guns don't exist, Japanese Shintoism and African Sorcery are the two predominant belief systems on the planet, and magic is so common place that 'computer viruses' take on a whole new meaning.
"Charlie, how do you feel about scuba diving?" "About the same way an anvil does."
The book is funny. Laugh out (embarrassingly) loud in public, funny. Jace has a smart mouth, and her partner, Charlie, can hold his own, too.
Dying Bites is told in first person present tense. I'm all for present tense. The Hunger Games, and Across The Universe? Extraordinary. For some reason, though, in this book I occasionally found it hard to follow. Not a huge problem, though. It's a really good, fun, story. I feel the urge to inform that this is NOT a PNR. I'm not sure why I assumed it was. The cover? The name? Huh. There's definitely sparks and a hinted future relationship, but it's not a huge deal, and just a small part of the story on a whole.(less)
"[What happens in Vegas, stays in vegas]... except for tatoos and STD's."
I enjoyed Killing Rocks, but it felt a little off.
Jace Valchek has always bee...more"[What happens in Vegas, stays in vegas]... except for tatoos and STD's."
I enjoyed Killing Rocks, but it felt a little off.
Jace Valchek has always been shoot first, questions later; running headlong into one disaster after another. She's ballsy, tough, and flawed. One of her faults is trying to do everything herself, and maybe being a (more than a little) bit reckless. In Killing Rocks, it feels like she's just following new character Azura (Avatar! Azula! Azula!) around and uncharacteristically not questioning what's going on. I did enjoy Azura, though. I hope we'll see more of her in the future.
"You're not fooling me. You're Satan, with... with perky breasts."
I know the situation she's been thrown into is bonkers, but no matter what was happening before, Jace has always been in control. Maybe not of the whole situation, but she had a plan, a direction. She's NOT for most of Killing Rocks.
Charlie's absence in book 3 creates a big hole. I miss Doctor Pete, though Tair is interesting. I miss Gretch, Eisfanger, Xandra and Gally (though I guess the point is that Hace does, too). I miss Cassius, whose appearances in book 3 just didn't feel right--like have a skim milkshake, or sugar-free chocolate. It just doesn't quite SATISFY.
Still fun to read, but dissapointing off the back of the first two books in The Bloodhound Files.(less)
Jace Valchek returns, and is back to form! Hopefully, if you're reading Better Off Undead (the fourth installment in the Bloodhound Files series), you...moreJace Valchek returns, and is back to form! Hopefully, if you're reading Better Off Undead (the fourth installment in the Bloodhound Files series), you're familiar with the story: FBI Profiler Jace Valchek is sucked into a parallel universe where the paranormal is normal. She needs to catch an insane human serial killer to get her ticket home. Here, as a human, she's an endangered species, but Valchek might just be getting her wolf on. Oh, and she needs to catch an insane werewolf mob boss, too.
After a somewhat shaky third installment, Jace is back to kicking butt. She's settled into a life in this world. The Jace/Charlie banter that is the lifeblood of this series is back (it was sorely lacking, for obvious reasons, in Killing Rocks [obvious if you've read it, that is]); Jace is again learning more about Thropirelem, but seeming more at home; Cassius is manouvering. It's GOOD. The best since Dying Bites. In fact, I genuinely think this may be the best in the series so far. Some of my favourite parts of this book were Jace's interactions with her shape-shifting St Bernard, Galahad, and there was another scene involving a very new Lem, Billy Beta, that got me a bit sniffly. The [very obvious] parallels with our own universe's civil rights movements work here, and add depth, realism, and soul to this series.
Readers will also get some satisfaction as the ever-enigmatic Cassius gets even more backstory (there's a LOT of backstory when you're two thousand years old), and his relationship with Jace develops further. This is also an interesting aside: Cassius is fascinating, and I would have thought I'd enjoy seeing more of him--which is exactly what we got in Killing Rocks. While Cassius is (very) present in this installment, he's not half as ubiquitous as he was in the previous, and I enjoy his scenes all the more for the waiting.
These books are brilliantly plotted. They have tight episodic storylines, but the overarching story arc throughout the series is also splendid, and Barant doesn't seem to lose site of it. They books constantly reminding me of a TV series (Fringe!). Individual episodes, but a much larger story arc. You can tell DD Barant is a TV Writer, and it works. I haven't enjoyed a series so much, without reservations, in a long time.(less)
Inter-species crisis narrowly avoided, and villanous Celina Desaulniers back of the radar, Merit's back, and thrown straight in the deep end. This tim...moreInter-species crisis narrowly avoided, and villanous Celina Desaulniers back of the radar, Merit's back, and thrown straight in the deep end. This time, she's been drafted as security for a shapeshifter convention, and the gal just seems to attract trouble. Expect plenty of Ethan/Merit interaction, and kick-ass fight scenes.
It's another solid installment, and what I'm liking about the Chicagoland Vampire series is that it's consistent. Each book moves the overall story forward, and (so far) each book has been as fun, entertaining and utterly-readable as the others.
I do miss the Merit/Mallory banter, which is sadly lacking after the events of Friday Night Bites. However, the two work through their issues in Twice Bitten. FINALLY, fans of the series will see some movement in the Ethan/Merit relationship, but that doesn't mean they'll be satisfied ;)
I had a pretty good idea of what to expect coming into Magic Bites: typical urban fantasy in a slightly different version of our own world; tough hero...moreI had a pretty good idea of what to expect coming into Magic Bites: typical urban fantasy in a slightly different version of our own world; tough heroine; sexy alpha male to add a romantic twist. I was wrong--and kind of right--but Magic Bites is something different.
Now, normally I'd write up my own summary of the book, but I'm just not sure how to manage. Magic Bites is complex and dark and, at times, confusing, if not deliberately cryptic. The book left me with a myriad of unanswered questions.
I think the key thing here, is that Magic Bites is urban fantasy. Have you read any of those books with swords and monsters and dragons, and worlds so foreign and vast you can only just begin to wrap your mind around them? For me, Magic Bites was this, in a modern, urban environment. The creatures that inhabit this place are different, and so are the humans. The paranormal beings that inhabit this world are darker, more complex, and complicated than what I've come to expect from this genre. The world's familiar, sure, but so very unlike our own. I had recurring impressions of a low-tech version of Blade Runner (or Marissa Meyer's Cinder) where instead of technology, magic has taken hold, and become the world's driving force. Instead of androids, we have shifters and other creatures we can't quite understand. The magic here is like... real magic, somehow. Dark, twisty, dangerous and sinister. Not evil, but a perversion of the current order--a sentient force stretching out with infinite limbs in all directions, a beast gnawing away at the world we currently live in and recognise. Imagine if technology stopped working--cars, phones, televisions--and was replaced by an equally powerful medium, somehow wild, and not completely harnassable, that could not ever be entirely understood; one that was slowly taking over and changing the way we live.
In the middle of this world is Kate Daniels. An enigma. Equally as mysterious, strange, and well realised as the world she exists in, Kate's a freelance mercenary. Need someone found, killed, or captured? She's your lady... but she's not just any lady. And I really don't know much more than that. The authors are playing their cards pretty close to their chest. Here's what I do know: the girl is a trained warrior. She's tough--really, really tough--and hard as nails. She has a problem with authority. And she's hiding something huge. In Magic Bites we learn she has very powerful magic running through her veins, one that she'll do anything to keep hidden, but we're not told what it is, why it's so important to hide that she must burn anything that holds a trace of her blood, or where it came from. We're given tantalising hints and elusive clues, but this doesn't mean it's unsatisfying.
Kate has a cast of fascinating, compelling men in her life, but she's not a flirt, and no, they're not all falling at her feet. In fact, let me say right here and now: Magic Bites is not a romance. In fact, there's little-to-no romance in it. There is definitely a very faint spark of something that could grow into a romance, but it's barely hinted at.
Magic Bites is, well, kind of incredible. I've never encountered an urban fantasy so dense and complex, and in such a detailed, real world. It's gritty, it's strange, and it's utterly compelling. So basically? Despite an alarmingly ugly cover, Magic Bites is awesome.(less)
Gwen Sparks is a witch, and a powerful one at that. She lives in a world where, while vampires, werewolves and witches exist in the mainstream, humans...moreGwen Sparks is a witch, and a powerful one at that. She lives in a world where, while vampires, werewolves and witches exist in the mainstream, humans have demanded segregation; so paranormals live in specialised towns and communities, separate to the human world. It's in one of these towns, Flora, that Gwen lives and runs a magic shop. She also moonlights as a consultant for the local police, and when witches start turning up dead, blood drained, Gwen volunteers her rather unique services to solve the case. She's quickly embroiled in mystery, danger, all while she's forced to work with the gorgeous werewolf who broke her heart. It might just have her falling into the arms of the sexy vampire, Aiden, who's been pursuing her relentlessly for the last two years. Girl's gotta have fun, right?
Man oh man, did I want to like this book, so please allow me to disclaim that I worry I'm being overly critical, BUT Craved started out really shaky for me. I kept tripping over missed opportunities to create tension or mystery, awkward sentence structure, continuity errors, or scenes that could have been fantastic if they were re-worked. Character motivations aren't explained, and, for me, an otherwise compelling story felt like it was let down for lack of detail, and poor editing (both grammatically--yes, I know, I'm guilty of innumerable grammatical crimes. In fact, I'm sure you'll find a dozen in this post alone, but they irritate me in a book--and on a grander scale). This really disappointed me, because Stephanie Nelson proves to be a thoroughly entertaining author, with a compelling story to tell.
The issues I had with the start of this book left me struggling to get into it. However, when I did, I encountered a very interesting and engaging mystery and, finally, it pulled me in. Gwen's your typical UF heroine: ballsy, brave, stubborn, independent and strong of mind and character. She's a very talented witch, and she's a likeable character. Her voice and dialogue are fun and pithy, she's what you want in this kind of book. She--blissfully--doesn't suffer from Too Dumb To Live Syndrome, which runs rampant in this genre, she's smart, she's sassy. What's not to like?
Despite this, I found myself frustrated by Gwen's angst over a break up a year prior to the events of this book, but I can understand that a broken heart is a broken heart; we all heal differently. Also, I don't know why, but love the cover: the model is a perfect Gwen (I'm kind of seeing Buffy-era Eliza Dushku?).
Gwen gets two love interests in Craved, lucky thing. Gorgeous, sexy 600+ year old (or 315, depending on which half of the book you're in. He ages A LOT in the space of a few chapters...) vampire, Aiden, who's been pursuing her for years, and the man who broke her heart, Micah.
At first, Aiden and Micah seemed like archetypes, rather than real, fleshed-out characters. Possessive, super sexy, controlling vampire? Check. Overprotective, quick to ire, ruggedly handsome werewolf? Check. PNR requisite love triangle? Sorted. Eventually, both develop. They have weaknesses, strengths, flaws and interesting backgrounds.
At first I didn't get why Micah was treated as a love interest at all, why he was behaving jealously, or why he gave a flying hot-pink-howler-monkey who Gwen was dating, after he so unceremoniously dumped her years before, because daddy said so. He didn't feel necessary. He seemed like an asshat who just didn't want to see his ex actually happy with someone else. NOT cool, NOT sexy, NO THANK YOU. This bugged me, because it felt like more of the book was spent on Gwen getting over a breakup that happened a year prior to the book's timeline, than was spending with her falling for Aiden. Her relationship with Aiden also felt like it happened too fast, and backwards, until halfway through the book, when we get a really touching (NOT sarcasm--I really liked it) run through of the history Gwen shares with Aiden. Basically, the connection Gwen and Aiden (Gwaiden? So celtic--I love it) share is established before the book starts; but we're not caught up on it till halfway through the book. It was only at this point that started seeing Aiden as an actual character, and not a stereotype.
Having said that, the scenes between Gwen and Aiden are sizzling. I like the two of them as a couple. There's great chemistry between the two, and watching the process of Gwen come to terms with, and begin to understand, her feelings for Aiden is touching.
My issues with this book largely stem from (what I perceived as) a lack of good editing, and spice (you know, that little bit of extra flavour and attention to detail that makes a pudding unforgettable). But you know what? It's not a bad book. It has an intriguing mystery, a cool heroine, and a sexy hero. Ultimately, Craved left me feeling a little unsatisfied and dissapointed.
What Craved has in spades is potential, and, despite my disappointment with the various issues that made this a less than perfect book, I finished myself wanting more. I want a sequel; in fact, I find myself eagerly anticipating one. It will be very interesting to see where Stephanie Nelson takes it next. (less)