Chicagoland Vampire Series by Chloe Neill

A week or so ago, I started the Chicagoland Vampire series by Chloe Neill. I’ve always had a soft spot for Urban Fantasy but I’ve also always had my favorite UF heroines. I’m happy to say that Neill’s Merit makes that list.

4447622They killed me. They healed me. They changed me.

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.

I bulldozed through the first seven books of the series within a couple weeks. I just couldn’t stop reading; I had to see what happened next. Unfortunately, with all these books under my belt, it’s hard to remember where each book stopped and another started. I guess that’s an indication of how flawless this series is when it comes to plot, writing and flow. So I’ve decided to do a “why-you-should-read-this-series” review (even though I’m not quite finished yet.)

To be frank, I am in love with this series so be prepared for some biased fangirling. The main protagonist in the series is Merit, English grad student turned vampire against her will when she was attacked on the way across campus one fateful night. She then joins the Cadagon House (All the vamps are separated into “houses,” where they pledge their allegiance to the Master.) and meets the master vampire, Ethan Sullivan. [Cue Swooning]9581001

The chemistry between Merit and Ethan is electric. Neill makes the reader wait a really long time before anything really happens between them but the give and take is just as good as any dirty details. When it does come down to the nitty gritty, Neill is very light on the details. The focus is really on their relationship not so much the physical aspect. Regardless, each interaction between Ethan and Merit left me panting or reeling. I loved every second of it.

Merit is a kick ass heroine. She has to come into her own but once she does, she is one badass girl with a katana. I enjoyed watching her navigate the vampire world but still hold onto her humanity. Each book in this series has a challenge for Merit, Ethan and the Cadagon vampires to overcome, exposing the reader to new supernatural species, such as shifters, fae and river nymphs. There’s always a lot of action and really good character development. Not just with the main characters but the secondary characters as well. For example, Merit’s best friend Mallory and Catcher, the sorcerer.

My favorite book so far is Hard Bitten, the fourth book. The reader FINALLY gets to see some action between Ethan and Merit and the ending is such a cliffhanger it left me bawling my eyes out. There are nine books currently out with the tenth installment, Blood Games, coming out soon on August 5. If you are a fan of Urban Fantasy, especially if you enjoy authors such Kim Harrison or Patricia Briggs, you will love Chloe Neill. This is a series that shouldn’t be missed.

STARS: 5 out of 5

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Releases and Recommendations: Reap the Wind by Karen Chance

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day that books are released to the world! Today, I’m anticipating the release of Reap the Wind by Karen Chance, which comes out Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

18627947

You’d think that being Chief Seer for the supernatural world would come with a few perks. But as Cassie Palmer has learned, being Pythia doesn’t mean you don’t have to do things the hard way. That’s why she finds herself on a rescue mission skipping through time—even though she doesn’t entirely understand her dimension-bending new power.

Rescuing her friend John Pritkin should have been an in and out kind of deal, but with the near-immortal mage’s soul lost in time, Cassie has to hunt for it through the ages—with Pritkin’s demon dad in tow. He’s the only one who can reverse Pritkin’s curse, but with the guardians of the time-line dead set on stopping anyone from mucking about, Cassie will have to figure out how to get her friend back without ruffling too many feathers—or causing a world-ending paradox or two…

I’m a huge fan of Karen Chance. She went AWOL for awhile where she hadn’t published anything and so much time went by that I had to reread some of her books to remember what was going on in Tempt the Stars. I’m happy she seems to be back putting a book out every year. This is the seventh book in the Cassandra Palmer series and I’m so ready to dig back in, especially because I’m hoping the relationship between Cassie and Pritkin heats up!

Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy by Tammara Webber is one of those books that’s on every Goodreads list for “Hot Book Boyfriends” or “New Adult.” I absolutely love these lists because I can find books I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to and if it’s next to a book I absolutely loved, chances are I will love that book too. In short, I loved Easy.

16056408Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret
Sometimes, love isn’t easy…

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.

Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth – and find the unexpected power of love.

A groundbreaking novel in the New Adult genre, Easy faces one girl’s struggle to regain the trust she’s lost, find the inner strength to fight back against an attacker, and accept the peace she finds in the arms of a secretive boy.

I loved how realistic this story was. It had a heart-melting romance but it still had the gritty stuff — the kind of stuff that life throws at us that isn’t always pleasant. I especially enjoyed the various perspectives on sexual assault/rape. There were the people who thought it was completely wrong, the girls who wanted to keep silent and everything in between. This type of indecision is unfortunately what happens in real life (even though you should ALWAYS tell someone!). Don’t let this heavy topic steer you away. There is nothing too graphic and the romance between Lucas and Jacqueline takes center stage.

This book made me fangirl a little…okay a LOT. Jacqueline is (again) the epitome of a realistic 20-something. She gets dumped and doesn’t know how to feel. The whole story really captures the weight of major life decisions regarding career choice and love. Then throw in the gorgeous and mysterious Lucas and it heats up pretty quickly. Not to give anything away, but the dynamic between the hot guy in the back row and the smarty-pants TA was tons of fun. I really enjoyed that relationship building.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves New Adult. It’ll be just what the doctor ordered. With a (literal) hero and an easy-to-love, realistic heroine, I fell in love with this love story. It was easy.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations: Blood Games by Chloe Neill

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day that books are released to the world. Today, I’m anticipating the release of Blood Games by Chloe Neill, which comes out Tuesday, August 5, 2014.

12958049While Merit didn’t choose to become a vampire or Sentinel of Cadogan House, she vowed to fight for her House and its Master, and she’s managed to forge strong alliances with powerful supernaturals across Chicago. But even though Merit has had wild adventures, this may be her deadliest yet…

A killer is stalking Chicago, preying on humans and leaving his victims with magical souvenirs. The CPD hasn’t been able to track the assailant, and as the body count rises, the city is running out of options. Vampires and humans aren’t on great terms, but murder makes for strange bedfellows. Can Merit find the killer before she becomes a target?

I’ve recently fallen in love with Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series. I can’t get enough! I’m super pumped that the 10th installment will be out next month. If you haven’t started this series, you should! You won’t regret it.

 

The Forever Song by Julie Kawaga

The Forever Song by Julie Kawaga was a beautiful end to this heart-pounding series. I loved how everything was resolved but it wasn’t wrapped up perfectly with a bow.

17883441Vengeance will be hers.

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.

Monster.

Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions – her creator Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost – the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, her triumph will be short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

THE FINAL HUNT IS ON.

At this point, I’m completely biased. I love Julie Kawaga. I love this story, so the rest of this review will just be gushing. However, I’ve had a few instances where the last book in the trilogy wasn’t very good. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case with The Forever Song.

Allison, or Allie, is an awesome female protagonist. I loved her struggle between humanity and becoming a monster, especially after the cliffhanger from the last book. I heart Zeke so much that I was heartbroken. However, be prepared for a little more heart breakage with this last installment, but also be prepared for moments that make your heart swell and your hopes sky rocket. Kawaga really takes her readers for a ride in this final book. One I thoroughly enjoyed; there are so many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I was on the edge of my seat, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

I feel like there isn’t much else I can say otherwise it’ll ruin this book. (And I HATE spoilers.) Just know that this book lives up to everything readers have come to expect from Julie Kawaga and it’s a fitting end to the characters we all know and love.

STARS: 5 out of 5

All of You (Between Breaths #1) by Christina Lee

Even though All of You is the first book in the Between Breaths series by Christina Lee, I read this book second since I read the third book, Whisper to Me, first when I was given the opportunity to read an advanced copy through NetGalley. I fell in love with Whisper to Me and Christina Lee is quickly becoming a must-read author.

17838603 Avery has just met her hot upstairs neighbor. He’s irresistible. Tattooed. And a virgin.

Nursing student Avery Michaels wants nothing to do with dating—she’s perfectly happy single. Privy to too many of her mother’s bad decisions and even worse taste in boyfriends, all Avery can handle is a string of uncomplicated hookups whenever the mood strikes.

When she meets smoking hot tattoo artist Bennett, she wants him—for just one night. But he won’t accept a no-strings-attached arrangement. He lives by a straight-laced code of values based on his own troubled upbringing.

Bennett sees something special in Avery and he wants more from her. Way more. As Avery wrestles with her emotions for Bennett, danger and tragedy force them to open up to each other. And Avery must face the terrifying realization that she wants more from him, too.

So she needs to make a choice—let Bennett go or finally let him in.

This New Adult novel gave me everything I wanted and more. The story of Avery and Bennett was beautiful. Avery was an especially great female protagonist. Her issues with the opposite sex and the subsequent sleeping around made her a broken kind of girl. All the better for Bennett to help fix her. This story was unique because unlike the usual timid girl falls for the super experienced guy, it was quite the opposite. It’s even refreshing to note that none of Christina Lee’s female protagonist are inexperienced virgins. Now I’m a wait til marriage kind of girl, but I think Lee’s characters are realistic for this day and age, and it allows her to stay away from the “virgin girl” plot device, where the whole purpose of the novel is the girl losing her virginity to the “love of her life.”

Avery and Bennett shared a dynamic relationship, where the secrets of the past caused tension and bumps in the road, but their feelings for each other brought them back together again. I loved how Bennett took care of Avery and broke down her walls since she was so independent. His sensitivity and integrity made for a great male lead character.

I devoured this book in less than a day; it was that good. I thoroughly enjoyed Lee’s unique story and characters. If you’re in the mood for a good New Adult, check out Christina Lee. She reminds me of K.A. Tucker and that is a huge compliment.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day that books are released to the world.

Today, I’m anticipating the release of Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers, the third book of the His Fair Assassin series, which will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

9943276Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has.

But across Brittany, the tides of war are drawing ever nearer, with France pressuring the beleaguered duchess from all sides. Annith’s search for answers threatens to rip open an intricate web of lies and deceit that sit at the heart of the convent she serves. Yet to expose them threatens the very fabric of her existence and risks an unforeseen chance at love, one that she can no longer deny. Annith must carefully pick a path and, gods willing, effect a miracle that will see her country—and her heart—to safety.

I’m still in awe of the first two books in this series, Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph. I’m really excited to finally hear Annith’s story since she’s been locked away at the convent all this time. I’m ready for her to get her happy ever after.