Not Just Vampires, People!

I actually branched out a bit recently, and read something besides the urban fantasy I’ve been devouring lately: Private Arrangements, by Sherry Thomas. I haven’t read straight romance in a long time, but I kept reading about this book on Kristin Nelson’s blog, and decided I had to read it. I’m glad I did. I loved the heroine, she was completely ballsy and unapologetic about trying to marry to better herself, and I found the hero strong and engaging as well. The story switches back and forth between the present, where the couple have been married ten years but have resided on separate continents the entire time, and the past, where they met, fell in love, and got married. I was so desperate to find out what had happened to drive them apart that I kept skipping the present chapters! (Then, of course, I had to go back and read them to find out what was going on.) I thought the writing was quite well done, and to me at least, the story wasn’t predictable at all.

One of my newest finds (and I know it doesn’t really qualify as new, except to me) is Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. I read the first one, Vampire Academy, in less than a day. I couldn’t put it down. I loved the idea behind the series, with the half-vampire dhampir as guardians for the “good” vampires, the “Moroi”, against the “bad” vampires, the “Strigoi”. Excellently done. A YA book ( I think), but I liked it a lot. The MC, Rose, is great. She is one of the dhampir guardians-in-training. She’s flawed, and she knows it, and she’s struggling to overcome those flaws to protect her best friend, Lissa. Meanwhile, she gets a crush on her mentor, Dimitri, all the while a plot to terrorize Lissa is going on. I liked that book so much I immediately bought the second one, Frostbite. Um, I stayed up quite late to finish that one. It was a great read as well, with a group of Strigoi attacking and killing the royal Moroi. So, the entire academy relocates to Colorado for the Christmas holidays. Dimitri is interested in someone besides Rose, and Rose’s legendary guardian mother shows up, resulting in some not-so-bonding moments between mother and daughter. I really recommend both of these books, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next one.

I read Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, by Maria Acosta. It was amusing, although for a long time, I didn’t have much more idea of what was going on than the MC did. Interesting take on vampires, though, and some pretty memorable minor characters. I liked the Latina MC a lot. There’s not a lot of ethnicity in the urban fantasy genre. Well, not a whole lot. I have read and loved the Vampire Huntress series by L.A. Banks, but I can’t think of any others off the top of my head.

I devoured Don’t Hex with Texas, by Shanna Swendson. Can I say again how happy I am that I discovered this author and this series? They are wonderful. Wonderful, I tell you. I can’t say enough good things about them. I loved so many things about this book. I’m from a small town in Texas, so I loved the setting (and Ms. Swenson brought it to life so well!). The whole curious/protective-family thing I could completely relate to as well. There’s quite a bit of action and mystery, along with some events that seem like the sort of unfortunate occurrences that happen in my life. And there’s plenty of Owen! You should definitely read this book (and the others in the series).

Jeanine Frost’s second book, One Foot in the Grave was another book I eagerly anticipated. And this book definitely lived up to all the anticipation! I love the new Cat, a kick-butt secret government operative. She’s tough and can compete with the bad boys (which is always a draw for me). I liked Bones even more in this book than the first one. There’s a pretty good mystery going, with someone trying to kill Cat, and her mother goes completely mental when Bones shows back up in the picture. I found myself seriously wanting to slap that woman several times. If you haven’t read this series, run right out and buy both of them (the first one is Halfway to the Grave).

The last couple of books I read took me less than two days total. Dead Girls Dance and Midnight Alley, by Rachel Caine. I literally could not put these books down. I liked the first book, The Glass House, and was thrilled to find out there were two more out. I took Dead Girls Dance to work (fortunately it was a really slow day), and finished the entire thing in maybe two hours. Yes, it was that good. These books are YA, so they’re not difficult to read, but I like them a lot. Claire has some series run-ins with her nemesis, Monica, in Dead Girls Dance, with Monica fawning all over her and trying to be her friend because Claire now has the Protection of the Founder. Needless to say, Claire isn’t impressed. Then one of the vampires ends up dead, and Shane is under suspicion because of his dad. (Okay, maybe that’s in Midnight Alley. I read them back-to-back, so the plots sort of run together in my mind.) There are a lot of surprises in these books, and Ms. Caine has a knack for cliffhanger endings. Well, not really endings, per se. She just resolves the main conflict of the book, has everything wrapped up nice and neat, and then throws out a completely enthralling new bit just as she writes “The End.” This left me desperate to get my hands on the next book immediately. Speaking of which, I have to go now. Have to find out when the next book in this series comes out…

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