Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

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Anna never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack… and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cornick, the enforcer—and son—of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life.

Charles insists that not only is Anna his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna’s inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf—a creature bound in magic so dark that it could threaten all of the pack.

It is recommended you read the prequel “Alpha & Omega” before reading Cry Wolf.

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Patricia Briggs has long since been one of my all-time favorite authors, and after having read more than half of her published novels, I’ve come to know what to expect with her work: pure awesomeness.  With a perfect blend of writing talent, engrossing plot, cheer-worthy characters all bundled together with humor, Cry Wolf is a perfect follow up to the short story Alpha and Omega and a brilliant opening to the series.  Even the third time around, Patricia Briggs still delivers as if it were the first.

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Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

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Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.

Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she’s just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

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What an enchanting read!  I was very pleasantly surprised by the maturity and depth of Ghost Talkers.  It’s a story about love and patriotism and letting go and standing tall.  I loved the backdrop of WWI Europe and the vivid world of the Spirit Corps, but Ginger was what made it all come alive.  She was a brilliant main character and I thoroughly enjoyed her story.

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Seeker by Veronica Rossi

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When Daryn claimed she was seeing visions during her sophomore year of high school, no one believed the truth.

She wasn’t losing her mind; she was gaining the Sight—the ability to see the future. Daryn embraced her role as a Seeker. The work she did was important. She saved lives.

Until Sebastian.

Sebastian was her first—and worst—mistake.

Since the moment she inadvertently sealed him in a dark dimension with Samrael, the last surviving demon of the Kindred, guilt has plagued her. Daryn knows Sebastian is alive and waiting for help. It’s up to her to rescue him. But now that she needs the Sight more than ever to guide her, the visions have stopped.

Daryn must rely on instincts, intelligence, and blind faith to lead the riders who are counting on her in search of Sebastian. As they delve into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems and where Samrael is steadily amassing power, Daryn faces the ultimate test. Will she have to become evil to destroy evil?

The very fate of humankind may rest in the answer.

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I am so disappointed that this is just a duology!  I’ve really gotten attached to the characters and I want to see even more of the world.  While I think the story came to an end nicely, I could still go for more.  Really, though, I just can’t wait for what Veronica Rossi comes out with next.  She’s an author I can rely on to produce stories worth reading.

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

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I had no idea what this book was about before I started reading it.  I picked it up because it’s a Printz Medal winner, so it had to be good, right?  Yes.  I went in totally blind but it paid off so well.  I absolutely loved how Neal Shusterman took a no-holds-barred look at the role death plays in our lives and explored the problems of immortality.  All of this packaged up with characters to cheer for and a fascinating world.  I can’t wait to have this book for my shelves.

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First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

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This whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual.  Or a diagram of some kind. A flow chart would have been nice.

Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley? And why can’t she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?

With scorching-hot tension and high-octane humor, First Grave on the Right is your signpost to paranormal suspense of the highest order.

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I didn’t know what to expect when I picked this up.  I’d gone through a stint of murder mystery urban fantasies and they were mostly let-downs, but not this one.  First Grave on the Right was an incredibly fun read.  And while I wasn’t in it for the mystery (I’m not a huge fan of whodunits), I will definitely stick around for the character, Charley, who is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

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Riders by Veronica Rossi

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Nothing but death can keep eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

While recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen—Conquest, Famine, and Death—are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now—bound, bloodied, and drugged—Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen for—not to mention all of humankind—he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?

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I know I can always trust Veronica Rossi to bring me out of a reading slump.  I didn’t have a clue what this book was about before I launched into it; I just went with it and Veronica Rossi did not disappoint.  It was a fun, exciting story that kept me engaged, fired my imagination, and had me laughing out loud.  It was the perfect antidote to lift me out of my reading slump.

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Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

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Sequels are notorious for their potential for falling short, but Erika Johansen, despite this being only the second book under her belt, is not a novice.  She not only successfully maintained the brilliance of her first book without rehashing, but she went beyond the boundaries of her first book and explored different aspects of her characters and world, ultimately creating a beautiful second installment. Continue reading