Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Review of Chicagoland Vampires, by Chloe Neil

From Hoopla, I borrowed and listened to the first five Chicagoland Vampire books: Some Girls Bite, Friday Night Bites, Twice Bitten, Hard Bitten, Drink Deep. I only bothered reviewing the first and what turned out to be my last though. Middle books are so often just “ditto.” Especially when the series is read back to back, and feels like a single reading experience.

Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but I was doing fine until Chicago’s vampires announced their existence to the world. When a rogue vampire attacked me, I was lucky he only got a sip. Another bloodsucker scared him off and decided the best way to save my life was to make me the walking undead.

Now I’ve traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed,
four-hundred-year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects my gratitude—and servitude. Right…

But someone’s out to get me. Is it the rogue vampire who bit me? A vamp from a rival House? An angry mob bearing torches?

My initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war—and there will be blood.

This was dated, but I still found it entertaining. It does have a serious case of “she’s so special” going on. The heroine breaks the rules from day one, setting herself aside from others, and is allowed to get away with it. This is a plot device that always annoys me. All the powerful males are attracted to her because she’s so prickly and refuses to submit. But WHY exactly is she allowed to act this way when anyone else wouldn’t? No idea.

Having said that, as a first in a series, it was fun. I’ll give it one more book before I judge, because I really do feel like this one was mostly all just set up. I thought Cynthia Holloway did a good job with the narration, as I listened to the audio version. But I gotta say, this cover is atrocious!

I gave it four more books, my opinion didn’t really change much. But as the series went on and I felt nothing progressed, I became less tolerant of the things that annoyed me and eventually just didn’t want to follow it anymore. In the end, it fizzles for me. I finished book five and then made the following note:

I technically have the next book in this series (Biting Cold), but I don’t think I’ll bother reading it. I think I’ll stop now. I liked Merrit and her crew, but the plots are just getting too ridiculous and predictable. I can only stand so many books in a row in which the supernaturally special heroine, who somehow bypassed being new and inexperienced and EARNING trust, struggles against the short-sighted and self-important bureaucracy. It’s like no matter what else the plot involves, the megalomaniac leader who the good guys have to work around just gets changed out, washed and repeated. I’m bored with it now. And I think the author must even know the books were becoming overly formulaic. There’s a joke about how the main character loves a series, despite it becoming just so.

Review of Bitten and Stolen (The Otherworld #1-2), by Kelley Armstrong

I borrowed Bitten and Stolen (by Kelley Armstrong) from my local library.

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.

I liked but didn’t love this. I liked the idea of it. I enjoyed Elena’s stubborn nature and could relate to her not wanting to forgive someone for doing something that diverted her whole life, even if by accident. Plus, I like Armstrong’s writing style. But something about the whole thing just never wowed me. Perhaps it’s just a matter of the book being from 2010, so it feels like old news now days.

Elena Michaels, the female werewolf who finally came to terms with her feral appetites in Bitten, is back—and she has company: Katzen the sorcerer, Leah the telekinetic half-demon, Cassandra the vampire, and Savannah the twelve-year-old witch who is just coming into her considerable powers.

Vampires, demons, shamans, witches—in Stolen they all exist, and they’re all under attack. An obsessed tycoon with a sick curiosity is well on his way to amassing a private collection of supernaturals, and plans to harness their powers for himself—even if it means killing them. For Elena, kidnapped and imprisoned deep underground, separated from her Pack, unable to tell her friends from her enemies, choosing the right allies is a matter of life and death.

I enjoyed the first book in this series. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t regret reading it. I almost didn’t finish Stolen. I pretty much hated it from start to finish. Armstrong lowered herself to using TSTL stunts to put Elena in danger and move the plot alone. While in book one Elena was strong and stubborn, here she talked a big talk but just acquiesced over and over again. Even her escape wasn’t really of her own doings. I have the third book in the series, but I don’t think I’ll bother reading it.

Review of Greywalker, by Kat Richardson

I bought a second-hand copy of Greywalker , by Kat Richardson at a bricks and mortar store.

Description from Goodreads:
When Harper comes to in the hospital, she begins to feel a bit …strange. She sees things that can only be described as weird-shapes emerging from a foggy grey mist, snarling teeth, creatures roaring.But Harper’s not crazy. Her “death” has made her a Greywalker-able to move between our world and the mysterious, cross-over zone where things that go bump in the night exist. And her new gift (or curse) is about to drag her into that world of vampires and ghosts, magic and witches, necromancers and sinister artifacts. Whether she likes it or not.

This book was dated. Which I really can’t blame it for. It was written when it was written, and if pagers, Hansen and Brosnan as Bond were the markers of the time, so be it. What I can fault it for is being boring and feeling too scattered.

The action starts without allowing the reader time to get to know Harper and then doesn’t really provide further opportunity as the plot progresses. Thus, I never felt connected or invested in her. I simply didn’t care all that much. Plus, she’s whinging and denying her abilities through the whole book, while simultaneously accepting vampires and witches and ghosts as blasé. And as soon as she has abilities, those vampires, ghosts and such start showing up all over the place. The day she returns to work she gets two (and only two) cases and both happen to be paranormal. One is explained, the other I’m supposed to believe is coincidence?

By the end she’d come to terms with her abilities, so maybe future books in the series wouldn’t seem so annoying. But unless I find a copy as a freebie, I don’t think I’ll continue with it.