Best Books of 2014 (AKA A Very Short List Because I Was Mostly Reading Law Books)

It was very disheartening to have Goodreads taunt me with the fact that I didn’t read very much this last year. I mean, I was reading, but it was boring law stuff about oil rights in Texas. I guess that didn’t count toward my Goodreads goal. Which was a measly thirty books. I thought for sure I would at least do better than last year’s count of 32, but noooo. Apparently planning a wedding and taking the bar consumed a huge chunk of my time.

My Favorite Read: Ever After by Kim Harrison.

ever after

I didn’t do a review of the book because it is the 11th in her The Hallows series, and it is seriously hard to review a book that far into the series without some minor if not major spoilers. But it was by far the best written book I read last year.

While the series starts out light and humorous, as the main character Rachel finds herself in the middle of different escapades with werewolves, elves, demons, witches, pixies, and more, the series takes a darker and darker turn. Rachel must grow up, or suffer some very real consequences, and in some cases, even when she tries her hardest to do the right thing, there are still some very real consequences for the ones that she loves. However, she never gives up, she never stops growing as a person, and she is an incredible character. In Ever After, Rachel really comes into her own and she stops being the whiny Rachel of previous books and uses her head and heart to do whatever it takes to mount a rescue. It was a great book, about a great character, and the knowledge that the author is going to wrap up the series soon, breaks my heart more than a little.

Most Surprising Find on AmazonKindleWitch Hunt by S.M. Reine

witch hunt

I liked this book so much that when I was finished with it, I bought the second ebook in the series and started reading it immediately. Reine’s writing is good and she knows how to keep pace while giving enough exposition to engage the reader in the universe. If you like the Dresden Files series and urban fantasy in general check out this paranormal mystery. You can read my full review here.

Best Continuing Series: The Raven Boys Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.

the raven boys cycle

I continued to read the Raven Boys series with  in The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I’m enamored with this series and couldn’t pick my favorite of the two. This is one of my favorite series because I just love the interweaving of magic, mythology, and small southern town living. Each book is just as strong as the next in terms of plot, character development, and brilliancy. Stiefvater is a wonderful writer and I’ve enjoyed all of her books, but this series is has that special je ne sais quoi that caught at my mind and soul and captured them both. You can read my review of The Dream Thieves here and Blue Lily, Lily Blue here.


Book Review: A Perfect Blood

Kim Harrison‘s The Hallows Series, is one of my absolute favorite series. Tthat and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files Series are probably my all time favorite top series. A Perfect Blood is Harrison’s latest book in The Hallows Series and I requested it immediately from my library. Being a library, it took a couple of weeks to get to me, but once it was in my hands I absolutely devoured the book as voraciously as Ivy devours blood, got drunkenly excited about the plot like Jinks gets drunk on honey, and yelled in frustration at the characters’ choices just as Rachel howls in frustration when she deals with the consequences of her decisions.


Spoilers for anyone who has not read the series or books prior to this one.

I really really liked this book. The characters are, as always, engaging. Rachel is drawn into a dangerous game where she must track down humans who have taken up black magic, are trying to make demon blood, and seem to be calling out Rachel. Jinks and Ivy are there to help, but Rachel’s bodyguard Wayde is against her investigation and run against the hate group. He rightly so, thinks her life is in danger.

It was interesting to get back to following Rachel and the gang along on a run, and this book really shows how things have changed for Rachel as she leans on people she wouldn’t ever have trusted in the first couple of books. Who do I mean, why Trent of course. After going on a car trip across the U.S. with him, helping him rescue his daughter, and all the other unique and amazingly out of the ordinary adventures in Pale Demon Rachel’s attitude towards the overlord of Cincinnati has changed. But will her change in attitude and her shift in actually preparing the big guns for fights being a big enough change to save her from her normal brash impetuous nature?

Not so much. One complaint I have about Rachel, and the reason I wanted to reach through the pages of the book grab Rachel around the neck and shake her silly head, is her inability to grow the Eff up. I appreciate that her character has definitely grown, she had learned many hard lessons, and she makes less mistakes, but she still acts like a spoiled little child who doesn’t understand why her favorite toys keep rising up out of their doll beds and bopping her on her head. Bop harder toys, BOP HARDER. Does this make her an extremely interesting and engaging character? It does. And Harrison’s redeeming trait is that Rachel actually has grown, that she learns a lesson here, but that she has more to learn.

What I also really like about Rachel is that she owns her mistakes, hers and no one elses’. She makes way more mistakes than I think someone in her line of work and with her years of bad-things-happening and with the amount of experience she has, but I almost buy that it is her nature and a lot of it can’t be helped. I guess I just keep waiting for a character that makes good decisions that still turn out wrong (one reason I really liked The Event), rather than a character that keeps making stupid mistakes to keep the drama moving forward. The only female character I can think of that sort of does that is Katniss in The Hunger Games.

Also, can authors please stop having my favorite characters get beaten up constantly? Honestly, despite no background in self defense or violence, I think I could jump into these universes and beat the crap out of characters because they can never seem to hold their own even though IT IS THEIR LINE OF WORK TO GO AFTER BAD GUYS! I’m looking at you Jim Butcher, Laurell K. Hamilton, and a host of others! The worst part is that Rachel walks around talking all big and bad and then doesn’t back up her mouth. The only person to actually, with finality, kick some ass was Trent. Yay for Trent!!! OMG character crush!

Solid action, plot line movement, and engagement characters make A Perfect Blood a wonderful read. I do think Pale Demon one of my favorite books all time, and of this series, but A Perfect Blood is very solid follow-up. Rachel and Trent establish a new dynamic in their tentative work relationship, Rachel learns who she is and begins to act on that, and the minor characters of the series have enough play to stay relevant and true to their parts. If you haven’t picked up this series (you shouldn’t have read this review, but if you did and you still haven’t picked up this series), go get A Dead Witch Walking right now!!!

Read another review here, here, and here.

Nodds & Nends: Freebie, Real Life Superhero, and a Green River

If you read Kim Harrison’s The Hallows series (and  you should) her freebie this book is a temporary tattoo. Just send a self addressed stamped envelope to her PO Box.

A real life superhero in his DIY batman costume. I’m always pleased when people know when it is time to call in the professionals.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, being a very Irish city Chicago turns its river and fountains green. Dress in green and join other Chicagoans for 5K run, parade, or pub crawl. The fountain at the Daley Center has been green for a week now, it started off as a celebration of Girl Scout Cookies… er the Girl Scouts.

This must be why we have the highest taxes in the country. There are leprechauns at the end of rainbows above our dyed green fountains.

Nodds & Nends: Dead Witch Walking, Cute Kitten, and Contraceptives

You can read Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (one of my favorite authors) for only .99 cents. It’s the first in the series, so you should go check it out.

Obligatory cute kitten picture of the week found on the internets.

Middle aged white guys and contraceptives. This video on The Mary Sue is quite hilarious.

Book Review: Devil’s Business

I read this book maybe a month ago and just have not sat down to do a proper review of it. Devil’s Business is the fourth book by Caitlin Kittredge in her Black London series. The Series follows Jack and Pete (short for Petunia) as they battle the demons and evil spirits of the underworld in London. I’ve done previous review of the first three books here.

One reason that I haven’t yet written my review of Devil’s Business is that I was not all that impressed and frankly if there are any more books in the series I have serious doubts I would read it. I read a lot of urban fantasy and in this series, including Devil’s Business, nothing stands out from other books in this genre. Once again Pete and Jack are having major issues with their relationship, both of them are being stubborn assholes. The only new thing is that this particular story takes place in the States. I did enjoy Kittredge’s development of her universe and storyline and I could see a great deal of potential in where she wanted to go with the book. It was sadly, unrealized, and Pete and Jack’s character flaws grew like a big black ink stain and covered up any potential with their voluminous hate filled words for each other and the world they have found themselves in.  An issue I had with the first three books was Kittredge’s liberal use of the C word as denoting any time of evil person or action without balancing it out by using using slang references to male anatomy, and that lack of balance plays out in this book. Honestly, I’m just annoyed. If the story is good, then there is no need for shock value of using such ugly language.

I do not have a general problem with the use of crass language, I do have an issue with Kittredge using it as a crutch. I really think this series could be great, but it falls short and becomes just meh. If you have a lot of extra time on your hands and want some throw away escapism in the urban fantasy genre you wont hate this series. But, if like me, you work two jobs, try to keep a blog running, and have a super secret project you are working on while trying to get holiday presents ready then just skip it and check out Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series instead.

Read another review of Devil’s Business here and here.

Exclusive Hallows Happenings and Hunger Games Poster

Kim Harrison writes a pretty awesome story following Rachel Morgan, a white witch following a dark path, in the Hollows series. And now she has written a guide to her quirky little universe plus a glow in the dark poster. View io9’s exclusive first look at all this coolness.

Plus a cool poster for the Hunger Games. Go here to see it in motion.


Book Review: Pale Demon

This is a spoiler free review of Pale Demon, by Kim Harrison (which I recently found out is actually a nom de plume, who knew?). What may be a bit spoilery about this post is that I assume people have read the other books in the series, as this is Book #9. If you haven’t read the other books in the series, stop reading this posting and go get the first book, Dead Witch Walking. If you continue to read this posting and think, I wish she hadn’t told me that, you’ve been warned, so stop whining. You can check out Kim Harrison’s wordpress blog here.

Rachel Morgan is a witch, a trait she inherited from  her father and mother. Once upon a time witches, werewolves, vampires, and pixies were hidden from the world until a rotten tomato, full of a virulent virus began killing off humans but not interlanders. Immune to the virus, interlanders came out of hiding to help keep the human species from dying, but once outed the world had to deal with a group of magical people they never knew existed. Rachel worked for the interlander version of the FBI until she got kicked out for something that wasn’t her fault. Of course not, Rachel is never to blame. So she takes up quarters with a vampire and a pixie and they put out their own private investigator’s shingle. Then weird things begin to happen and Rachel finds herself in the middle of a political nightmare she can’t begin to understand.

*Small Spoilers if you haven’t read the series. Go read the series.*

Pale Demon is the latest in a great line of works by Kim Harrison. The 9th book in the Hollows series, about a witch, a vampire, and a pixie living in Cincinnati after “The Turn,” is an exciting, exhausting, and engaging read. Rachel Morgan is the main protagonist of the series, and she is a feisty redheaded witch who is always getting into scrapes and trying to get out of them.

The series begins all lighthearted and fun, but soon takes a serious and dark turn after the first couple of books. While this particular book had me smiling in places, it is definitely a darker plot as things go from bad to worse to really really “uh oh.” Overall I loved this book, I like where Kim Harrison is taking the characters. I got a bit annoyed because I was felt as though this is where the character should have been three years ago, but then I realized that in the book time line it has only been two years and that Harrison’s gradual development of the characters was perfect and realistic (as much as any fantasy series can be realistic).

Many of the plot lines come to a head in this book, many continue forward, and many more begin. I read this book in three days because I could not put it down. So be sure to devote enough time to read it when you decide to buy it or borrow it. The story may shock you, make you sad, make you angry, it may bring out a myriad of emotions, but it will not disappoint.

Check out other reviews here (though I have a different assessment as to what the title means) and here.

This series also has awesome cover art!