books

Faith Hunter

Books

Jane Yellowrock: Skinwalker (2009), Blood Cross (2010), Mercy Blade (2011), Cat Tales: Four Stories from the World of Jane Yellowrock (2011), Raven Cursed (2012), Have Stakes Will Travel (2012), Death’s Rival (2012), Blood Trade (2013), Jane Yellowrock World Companion (2013), Black Arts (2014), Broken Soul (2014), Dark Heir (2015), Blood in Her Veins (2016), Shadow Rites (2016)

Soulwood: Blood of the Earth (2016), Curse on the Land (2016)

Rogue Mage: Bloodring (2006), Seraphs (2007), Host (2007)

Anthologies: Strange Brew (2009), An Apple for the Creature (2012), Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013), Kicking It (2013)

 

Jane Yellowrock

 

Skinwalker (2009)

SkinwalkerFirst off, I love this cover. Yeah, she has a silly amount of cleavage, but aside from that, the cover gives a very good description of what the character’s attitude. Bike? Check. Riding leathers? Check. Shotgun? Check. Get out of my way attitude? Check. Kudos to whomever at Roc does their fantasy covers–another fantastic job.

Following on her story in Strange Brew, we follow Jane Yellowrock to New Orleans, where she has been hired by the local vampire council to take down a rogue who had been creating a bad (worse?) reputation for the local vampires.

Jane is a skinwalker–a human who shift into other creatures. She primarily shifts into a mountain lion, but is capable of shifting into any form is she has template DNA to copy.

Yeah, that’s right. Although she has a fetish, she recognizes that she needs the DNA of a creature before she can shift into the creature. Even better, we learn what happens to the excess mass if she becomes a smaller or larger creature.

I love authors who have truly thought out their world building.

Jane has no memory of her past. All she remembers is walking out of the woods at the age of around 12, able to speak no English, and therefore a ward of the state to be raised in an orphanage.

With the exception of her best friend back in NC, a witch named Molly (who has her own secrets to keep) no one else in the world knows what Jane is–or even that she is different from other humans. And she prefers to keep it that way.

This story is good. Very good. As I said previously, the author has considered the questions previously associated with weres/skinwalkers, and has a rather elegant solution I must say (A solution that’s more than “it’s magic” [Not that there's anything wrong with "it's magic" it's just nice to see someone come up with a way it would work.]).

Additionally, Jane is an interesting and complex character. She’s a competent and confident woman who has her head screwed on straight, despite the mystery of her past and her nature.

If you have not read the short story that precedes Skinwalker, you’ll be fine. The details are there there to pick up, and are not necessary to this story.

One detail–although the arc of the story was completed, details were left open, and there will obviously be another book continuing the story of Jane Yellowrock. We weren’t left hanging, but it came close to being one of those annoying endings that all but forces you to read the next book. Hopefully, there won’t be any of that in the next book, as I want to continue to spend time with these characters, and don’t need my arm twisted to do so.
Rating: 8/10

Published by ROC

Re-Read: July 2014

This is a re-read.

The first book in the series introduces us to Jane Yellowrock, a skin walker and rogue vampire hunter.

She’s come to New Orleans at the request of the local vampire council to take out a rogue who has been killing civilians.

I enjoyed going back to the start, where we first meet Jane and spend time with both her and Beast. It was interesting to familiar characters as they were first introduced.

I’d also like to point out that Faith Hunter has always gotten the BEST covers for the Jane Yellowrock series. Yeah, I could do without the skin-tight leather pants and bustier (and cleavage! Silly) but despite that, Jane is depicted as strong and in control of her own destiny. Her skin is a little paler here than in other covers and how she is described, I’m willing to let that slide, since at least she is dark haired and dark eyed, but mostly because she’s depicted in a no-nonsense way. She looks like someone who can fight, and defend not just herself, but others. (Except for that cleavage. But you can’t win ‘em all.)
Rating: 8/10

Blood Cross (2010)

Skinwalker is the first Jane Yellowrock book, and Blood Cross takes place immediately after the events in that book. Jane is still in New Orleans hunting the rogue maker vampire. Leo is still enraged at Jane over the death of his son, and Molly and her children are staying with Jane while Big Evan is out of the country.

I think I may have enjoyed Blood Cross even more than SkinwalkerJane continues to learn more about her powers and even discovers bits of her past, while Beast becomes more and more of an active participant in Jane’s mind.

I think Beast may be what I like best about this story–and there was a lot to like. Beast has her own personality and ideas that become stronger and stronger through the story. I particularly liked Beast’s protectiveness of the “kits”–Molly’s children–and how those feelings seemed to bleed through to Jane. She also seems to know far better than Jane, what Jane needs in terms of visiting the Grandmothers.

We learn about the history of the vampires, and although I have to admit I saw part of the story coming, she did do a nice job of tying things together and making sense of the varied legends and stories regarding vampires.

Interestingly, I perused some of the reviews on Amazon, and one of the things I liked about the story annoyed several of the readers, and that is Jane is NOT invincible; she gets into trouble and danger as has to rely upon her friends and allies to help her. I am dislike heroines who have the powers to do anything and survive anything. Additionally, one of the things Jane needs to learn is to trust other people. She started with Molly, and is slowly learning to trust others, and that’s a good thing.

Although Jane is attracted to several of the men in her life, and things get hot & heavy a couple times, all boinking occurs off the page. Which is perfectly fine with me.

Yes, this book is part of a series, but the story arcs of the books so far are contained within a single book, which always gets bonus points from me.

You could conceivably read Blood Cross without having read Skinwalker, but in doing so you’d miss part of back story as well as part of her growth.
Rating: 8/10

Published by ROC

Re-Read: July 2014

The second book in the Jane Yellowrock series (and another re-read).

Jane has remained in New Orleans to hunt the vampire who is making young rogues–and allowing the free into the population where they kill, unrestrained.

Additionally, while Evan is in Brazil, Molly and her kids are staying with Jane, and there is a power struggle happening behind the scenes to possibly change the balance of power in the area.

We also discover more of Jane’s past, through her session with Aggie One Feather.

Although I hate the way Jane is portrayed with huge boobs (and in a BRA for heaven sakes!), she is still in a position of strength and power on this cover. And the cover does depict ideas within the book without giving anything away, which is nice.
Rating: 8/10

Blood Cross Audible version, (2010/2010) narrated by Khristine Hvam

I quite like the narrator for this series. She does a good job of distinguishing Jane and Beast’s voices, as well as the different accents and voices for the other characters (and there are a lot of characters in this series).

This is the second book in the Jane Yellowrock series, and although theoretically you could start here, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Audible Studios

Mercy Blade (2011)

This is the third Jane Yellowrock novel, and I’m still thoroughly enjoying the story line.

Jane has taken on the job of rogue hunter for the New Orleans’ vampire clans, and is in the process of emptying her apartment in Appalachia to move south when a news broadcast announces the official existence of weres–soon followed by a notice of legal action against the head of the New Orleans vampire clans by the werewolf clan he had kicked out of the area years before. All of this means work and trouble for Jane.

There are some really wonderful threads running through this story–her relationship with Rick, her even more complicated relationship with Bruiser, head blood servant of Leo Pellissier with whom works closely in providing security for the New Orleans vampires. The return of the man named Girrard, who has a history with the vampires that no one will clarify to Jane. But the most interesting–and complex–is Jane’s relationship with Molly’s sister, who is living with Jane while she negotiates with the vampires. One really has to wonder what Evangeline is doing, and what her intentions are towards Jane.

Although the book ended on a note that normally would annoy me, it was well done enough that I didn’t mind. The main arc of the story was completed, and although the last page did contain a big reveal, that reveal wasn’t particularly surprising, so I didn’t mind the lead into the next book.

Another note of awesome–this is one of those rare series where the woman on the cover totally looks like the character found between the pages. And she also looks like she could, you know, kick ass and take names in the outfit she’s wearing. Yeah, there’s probably a little more cleavage than would be a good idea, but otherwise, this is a woman who looks like she can move and fight in her clothes. So ROC? Thank you, thank you thank you!

Although you could conceivably start the series here, I highly recommend going back to the first book, because it contains not just Jane’s back story, but we also see the development of her relationship with Rick and Bruiser and why her relationship with Leo is so complex.
Rating: 8/10

Published by ROC

Re-Read: July 2014

Book three in the Jane Yellowrock series finds Jane taking on a long term contract with Leo Pellissier and the New Orleans vamps to provide security.

Unfortunately, Leo doesn’t seem to trust her enough to tell her things that are important–like the weres coming out of the supernatural closet and a meeting of this group of African weres with the New Orleans vamps.

Upon further reflection, I’m not sure why the African weres chose to meet with Leo. There isn’t a lot of logic to it, unless they have a beef with European vamps, which theoretically, they might, but still. And I’m not a huge fan of Rick, so I don’t love Jane and Rick being an item. But then, I never really think that strong female characters need boinking attachments.

Another cover where Jane is in a strong position, but still–what is the deal with the bras? And this model definitely looks European and not Native American. But at least she’s posed strongly.
Rating: 7/10

Mercy Blade, Audible Version (2011/2011) narrated by Khristine Hvam

For the first time in her life, Jane Yellowrock has a semi-stable job and a stable boyfriend.

Until they return back to New Orleans, and discover that the vampire council is meeting with the just-now-out-of-the-closet African weres, and that were-wolves actually exist and are kinda pissed off at Leo, the local Master of the City.

Then Rick goes deep under cover and disappears from Jane’s life.

Khristine Hvam again narrates, and again does a good job with the voices and nationalities.

One of the things I’ve discovered about audio books is that I pick up a lot of details I miss when reading, which is why I am enjoying listening to this series.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Audible

Cat Tales: Four Stories from the World of Jane Yellowrock (2011)

cat-talesThese are (as the title suggests) four stories in Jane Yellowrock’s world.Three of the four stories feature Jane–the is Rick’s story of how he got his tats and came to work for the vampires.

The first story, “The Early Years” is very brief, just a peek at Jane leaving the orphanage where she was raised to set out on her own, and her (one presumes) discovery of Beast. It’s almost little more than a background sketch.

“Cat Tails” is the Rick story, and is moderately disturbing, mostly because the only character we know survives is Rick.

I very much liked the story “Kits” which tells how Jane and Molly became friends.

The finally story, “Blood, Fangs, and Going Furry,” takes place immediately after the events in Mercy Blade, as Rick has to deal with his infection by the weres.

All in all a nice collection. The first three stories could be read by anyone interested in dipping a toe into the Jane Yellowrock stories, but if you haven’t read the series, I’d recommend skipping the fourth story until you get caught up.
Rating: 8/10

Published by ROC

Re-Read: August 2014

These are four Jane stories, two from Jane’s point-of-view and two from Rick’s point-of-view.
The Early Years
Cat Tats
Kits
Blood, Fangs, and Going Furry

“The Early Years” is set right after Jane ages out of the children’s home. We get a glimpse of Bobby (who appears in Blood Trade) but mostly we see the earliest steps that made Jane who she becomes.

This one feels more like a writer’s exercise, fleshing out Jane’s past rather than a true short story.

“Cat Tats” is from Rick LaFleur’s point-of-view and is set before Skinwalker. It tells how Rick got the magical tats that become such a problem for him later.

“Kits” is a pivotal story, in which Molly learns about Jane, and Jane becomes a part of Molly’s family (and Angie Baby’s godmother). I particularly like Beast in this story, as we see that her personality and agenda are separate from Jane’s (although they aren’t necessarily contrary in this instance). I really like this story.

It’s also set before Skinwalker, “Haints” and “Signatures of the Dead.”

“Blood, Fangs, and Going Furry” is the other Rick story, set between Mercy Blade and Raven Cursed. We see how Rick survives his first full moon (and how Jane becomes Kem’s alpha).

For me, this had one excellent story, “Kits” and three meh stories. I don’t much care for Rick, so stories from his point-of-view are never going to be my favorites. And as I said, “The Early Years” is interesting, but not a particularly strong short story.
Rating: 7/10

Raven Cursed (2012)

Jane Yellowrock is back in Asheville, NC, providing security for a vampire meeting. Lincoln Shaddock wants to lead his own clan, and has petitioned Leo Pellisser for that right. Shaddock’s ability to shorten the time of devoveo has made him a power, and so Lincoln must decide if he deserves to be Master of his own City.

Meanwhile, Jane is hoping to spend some time with Molly and her family, and hopes to help Rick resolve his inability to shift after being infected by the African Leopard. On top of all that, someone is trying to disrupt the conference, and there are deaths in the area that are being attributed the the vampires.

That’s a whole lot of Jane to deal with, and it only gets worse, the more she discovers.

I really like Jane. But I do have to wonder how much longer she’s going to be able to keep her secrets.

Also–the covers for this series are fabulous. That looks exactly the way Jane is portrayed in the story, and huzzah for her actually looking Native American.
Rating: 8/10

Published by ROC

Re-read: July 2014

Book four in the Jane Yellowrock series finds Jane back in North Carolina, running security for a meeting between a representative from New Orleans and Lincoln Shadrock, a vampire who wants to become a Master.

It’s also where Molly is, but Evan wants Molly to have nothing to do with Jane after Angie and Baby Evan were kidnapped (see events in Blood Cross). But there is something not right about Evangelina, Molly’s older sister, and coven master.

And Rick is up in the mountains, trying to deal with his were-taint, and with a guide who would rather see him dead than trained.

So, lots happening.

This may be the best cover in the series. The model LOOKS like Jane, and fully dressed and completely threatening.

I. Love. This. Cover.
Rating: 8/10

Audible version (2012/2012) narrated by Khristine Hvam

I am really enjoying listening to this series–perhaps more than I was expecting to.

I’ve found that when I listen to a book, I tend to hear things I missed when reading, especially when it comes to action scenes, where I’m speed reading through to find out what happened. That was especially true in this book, that had a LOT of action where a LOT of important things happened, including the events which ruined Jane’s friendship with Molly.

A LOT of things happen in this book.

The narration remains strong, with different characters easily discernible, although I don’t love how she does male characters, that’s due to limitations of the female voice, rather than something the narrator doing something on purpose that bothers me.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Audible

Have Stakes Will Travel (2012)

Have-Stakes-Will-TravelThis is a collection of four Jane Yellowrock stories, ranging from the time when Jane and Beast ran wild to the time past the end of the last book.

We Sa and the Lumber King” is set during the time when Beast was in control, probably the late 1800s when the US was being clear cut. Beast comes across a place where white men are cutting down all the trees and sending them away on barges and trains. She decides something needs to be done about this.

The second story, “Haints,” occurs soon after Jane had met Molly Trueblood–Molly has been hired to determine what is haunting a house, and the discovery turns out to be nastier than anyone had expected. I quite liked this story, as I enjoy the friendship between Jane and Molly.

I’d read “Signatures of the Dead” in the anthology it was originally published in, and it was this story that convinced me to get the first Jane Yellowrock book. The cop Molly and Jane met in “Haints” has come to Molly for help–an unknown number of vampires have slaughtered a human family, and they fear these murders are just the beginning. I may even have liked this story more on the second reading, since I picked up more bits and pieces of Molly and Jane’s relationship.

The final story, “Cajun with Fangs,” is set after the last Jane Yellowrock book, and was probably my least favorite story in the collection. Jane ends up in a Cajun town where vampires seem to be causing problems for the human population. It was an interesting story, but I thought the ending was entirely too neat and tidy.

If you have not read a Jane Yellowrock book, this is a good collection to peruse, to see if you’re interested.
Rating: 8/10

Published by New American Library

Re-Read: August 2014

This is a collection of Jane Yellowrock short stories, some of which were published elsewhere, but I love short story collections, so I sprung for this, and two other collections.

The stories are:
WeSa and the Lumber King
Haints
Signatures of the Dead (2009) published in Strange Brew
Cajun with Fangs

The story “WeSa and the Lumber King” is the only story I’ve read that is told from Beast’s point-of-view. It is set in “the Hunger Times” when Beast was in control, and white men were clear-cutting the Appalachian mountains. It’s interesting, an entire story written from Beast’s point-of-view and set in a time when Jane was still we sa, or little bobcat. Jane is still quite young in this story, although it’s hard to gauge an age, since Beast is in control.

“Haints” is told from Molly’s point of view. Molly is asked to remove a haunting from a house, but things are far more complicated than they first seem (which is how Molly ended up with the job). It’s also where Jane and Molly meet Detective Paul Braxton.

“Signatures of the Dead” is also told from Molly’s point-of-view and is the first Jane story I read. A group of rogues are torturing and murdering people, and Brax wants Molly to help him get an idea of how many rogue vamps there are.

This story is referred to several times in the series, although you don’t have to have read the story to enjoy the series.

Both stories occur before the first book, Skinwalker.

The last story, “Cajun with Fangs” is set between Raven Cursed and Death’s Rival. Jane has ended her contract with Leo, but when she wanders into a small Louisiana town, she gets entangled in a feud between the local vamps and witches.

It also shows how Jane keeps getting sucked back into Leo’s employ. She needs Leo or law enforcement to give an okay before vamps can be killed, and Leo is a lot faster.
This is a nice collection, and a good introduction to Jane’s world.
Rating: 8.5/10

Death’s Rival (2012)

Jane has tried to escape Leo Pellisier and the vampires of New Orleans, however, something–or someone–is making vampires all over the country sick, so Jane heads out to collection information (and generally act as Leo’s Enforcer).

Jane has been walking a very fine line (and not even walking it at times, but instead prancing over the line and doing a short jig) and that delicate balancing act is about to end.

And not in her favor.

Two negatives for this story: First, I’ve never gotten Jane’s relationship with Bruiser, and events in this book don’t help. Second, the story doesn’t end particularly cleanly. It’s not a cliffhanger, and this is something that probably isn’t going to be resolved quickly, but there it is.

Aside from that, I enjoyed the story–I always like spending time with Jane and in her world, and I wish bad things would stop happening to her.
Rating: 8/10

Published by ROC

Re-Read: July 2014

Jane is back to working for Leo, and she’s out West to gather blood samples from sick vamps–and vamps aren’t supposed to be able to get sick.

There is a lot that happens here. Jane has to pay the piper for statements she made earlier (in the last book). There’s another vamp war brewing (this seems to happen a lot). And Jane hires Eli and his brother Alex, a security team that will belong to her and not Derek Lee (who has lately had problems with Jane).

I caught a lot more this time around than I did my first read–same for the rest of the books, really. And I understand some things much better, but what’s more interesting is seeing the pieces that were casually laid on the board in earlier books coming to bear fruit in later books. Very nicely done.

This isn’t the best cover–not by a long shot–we’re back to Jane wearing ridiculous clothes. But she’s still in a position of power and taking charge. So it’s still better than most of what’s out there.
Rating: 8/10

Blood Trade (2013)

I really like Jane Yellowrock. I know I say that every time I read one of these books, but that’s because it remains true.

Natchez, Mississippi is overrun with rogues, and the Master hires Jane to come help him solve this problem. But when she arrives, things are even worse than she expected.

There are a lot of things to love here: Jane is working well with Eli and the Kid, and regaining a small sense of normalcy in her life, with people for her to care about. She gets away from New Orleans and the MOC there, who has tied not Jane, but Beast to himself. And she gets to kill things.

I know I say this every time, but I love how competently Jane is portrayed. We see her train. We see how long it takes her to get dressed when she goes to fight, and we’re reminded how expensive her gear is, and how hard she worked to afford it. Yes, she has special gifts, but she doesn’t rely upon them, instead relying upon hard-earned skills and being careful.

And I continue to love Beast.

I hacked in amusement. I am bigger. I like bigger. Would like to be a holy hellcat too.

She knows Jane, but the two are very separate and very different, and sometimes they are at odds. Especially with Beast wanting Rick AND Bruiser, and Jane not being sure what she wants, but also sure she doesn’t want both of them–and the carnage that would ensue if she tried it.

There is also a big resolution towards the end of the book I was very glad to see. It’s an issue that has been worrying me for several books, and I’m delighted to see the first steps towards its resolution.

But that’s all you’re getting on that subject. I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise.

In theory, you could read this without having read anything else in the series, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Beside, the whole series is wonderful, so why not just start at the beginning?
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by ROC

Re-Read: July 2014

The sixth book in the Jane Yellowrock series finds Jane very much out of sorts.

She hasn’t heard from Molly since the death of Evangelina, Rick is mad at her (because she thought he shot her), she’s still mad at Bruiser, and Beast is chained to Leo. But a job in Natchez, Mississippi seems to be just the thing to get her out of her funk.

Too bad the job entails going after Naturaleza vampires, who have been running free and killing without restraint since the death of de Allyon.

And with this book, I’ve got one left to read (Black Arts) and then I’m caught up on the series, which means I’ll then be back to waiting for the next book to be published (Broken Soul, October 7, 2014).

Another good cover, with minor quibbles about Jane’s boobs and that we went back to the white model–who is perfectly fine, but she’s not Jane.
Rating: 8/10

Blood Trade Audible version (2013) narrated by Khristine Hvam

I really like the Jane Yellowrock series, and I remain pleased with Khristine Hvam’s narration, especially her differentiation between Jane and Beast.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Audible

Jane Yellowrock World Companion (2013)

Jane_Yellowrock_World_CompanionI have conflicted feelings about this.

The co-author put a lot of work into the time-line and weapons list and such. And it’s a great reference if you’re not familiar with Jane’s world. But it’s not something to sit down and read. There are three stories: two short stories from Bruiser’s point of view, and a novella. The problem I had is that the format is wonky. The two Bruiser stories are in a different section from the novella, so unless you read the table of contents carefully, you might have trouble finding them unless you’re planning on reading everything.

The three stories are:
First Sight
Dance Master
Beneath a Bloody Moon

The other section you don’t want to miss is Beast Advice, which is, well, it’s Beast’s advice column. It’s pretty wonderful.

I work in an office with four people . Two of us work our tails off, while the other two are very lazy. I have no authority over them, so any advice on how to deal with them?? Thank you, Liesa

Leisa: You must kill and eat lazy humans. Or chase them out of den. (Growls.) Writer is trying to push Beast away. Says not to kill lazy humans. Writer is stupid.

“First Sight” isn’t a short story as much as a a scene written from Briuser’s point-of-view. Since that scene is the first time Bruiser met Jane, it’s pretty interesting. There are also some glimpses into the vampire and blood slave relationship that aren’t seen in the stories.

“Dance Master” is another bit from Bruiser’s point of view, set in the time period between Mercy Blade and Raven Cursed. It’s amusing.

The novella, “Beneath a Bloody Moon” is why you’ll want to buy the companion. It’s set after Blood Trade and before Black Arts. Jane and the Younger brothers go to southern New Orleans to hunt werewolves who are killing and eating humans. Except, there isn’t yet proof they are werewolves and not just wild dogs, which makes the situation complicated (from a legal point of view).

We see a bit more about Jane’s relationship with Rick (still not a fan of Rick, sorry) as well as her developing friendship (family love, really) with the two Younger brothers.

It’s also interesting to see her place herself in Eli’s command, when the situation warrants. I thought that was a very nice touch.

Well, that and Beast’s commentary.

Helicopter, Jane thought.

Stupid bird. Too loud to catch prey. More like a buzzing bee, but with no stinger. And vomits out live people.

Well, civilian helicopters don’t have stingers anyway.

If you’re a fan, you’ll want this companion for the novella, and to keep the various books and short stories in chronological order.

One last note: this is a FABULOUS and GORGEOUS cover. Marvelous.
Rating: 7/10

Published by ROC

Black Arts (2013)

I really wish this book had come out over the holidays. Instead, it comes out at the start of the week, after school is back in session, so I have to wait until the weekend to read it, lest I lose sleep staying up all night to finish it.

For several books, Jane has been dealing with the fact she had to kill Evangelina Everheart, and in doing so, lost her best friend, Molly, Eva’s sister. Molly and her sisters have refused all contact with Jane, and so Jane has lost herself in her work, and not a lot of good has come from that.

Now, Molly apparently headed south to talk to Jane and work things out, but never makes it to Jane’s door. So either she lied to Evan about coming to see Jane, or something kept her from arriving.

Neither options is good.

Meanwhile, Jane is still dealing with Beast’s magical attachment to Leo, as well as her own past, which she continues to fill Jane with guilt.

On top of all that, she continues to work as Leo’s Enforce, which puts her in charge of a vampire gather–and one where a dangerous vampire who would really like to take over Leo’s territories wants to move into the area.

There is a LOT happening in this book, but pleasantly, it never becomes too much. The problem with Molly has been simmering on the back burner for several books and needed resolved (the last short story set just prior to this book actually begins to set this up, but you don’t need to have read the story to dive into the book.)

Theoretically, you should be able to read this book without knowing the back-story, but I can’t say I’d recommend it. A lot has happened to bring Jane to where she is in this book, and I think you’ll miss a fair amount of the payoff in the end, without having suffered with Jane over her loss of Molly’s friendship and her guilt over the deaths she has caused.

So if you haven’t read this series, I’d really recommend going back to the first book in the series and working your way forward. I believe it will be well-worth it to have that when you finish this story.

One thing to note: things are not 100% solved at the end of the book–but it is most definitely not a cliff hanger. Instead, it’s an acknowledgement that some problems are big–very big–and will take a long time and a lot of work to resolve. And honestly, I like that acknowledgement that things usually can’t neatly be wrapped up before the credits. Some problems require a lot of work. And that’s okay.

I’d also like to point out that, as usual, these are marvelous covers, with Jane always looking strong and powerful. Yeah, I could do without the skintight outfits, and yeah, Jane never wears her hair down going into a fight, but those are really small quibbles when what this cover gives us is a powerful woman of color.

I’d love Faith Hunter for being able to get these kinds of covers if I didn’t already love her for creating Jane and keeping her strong.
Rating: 9/10

Published by ROC

Re-Read: August 2014

And now I’m all caught up on Jane Yellowrock–at least until the new book comes out in October.

The book opens with Jane under attack–from Evan Trueblood, who believes that Jane is hiding his wife, Molly.

Jane and Evan came to an uneasy truce in an earlier book, but Molly has not returned any of Jane’s calls and messages.

There are a several important scenes, including Jane sparring with Leo, and the resolution of Jane’s relationship with Rick. (I was pleased with how things turned out; I have never been a fan of Rocky Bo.) And Jane finally opens up to Aggie One Feather, which is something that has been a long time coming, although I’m not sure that Jane could have told Aggie the truth when they first met, without Aggie knowing her better.

One of the things I particularly like is that the situation with Molly spanned several books. Evangelina’s death (and Molly’s dealing with her own part in it), were not things that could have been easily brushed off and gotten past. Molly and Jane both needed times to come to terms with Evangelina’s death, and it would not have been true to either Molly or Jane for there to have been a quick and easy forgiveness. I appreciate that their resolution felt true to their characters.

I also appreciate Jane’s mixed emotions regarding her house guests. She is by nature solitary, and as much as she loves her family of choice, it is hard for her to lose her solitude.

And another great cover (even if I again quibble with Jane’s clothes). We again have the model who looks like Jane, is in a position of power, and even if her arms are bare, is dressed for action.

I think I love ROC for these covers.
Rating: 8.5/10

Black Arts, Audible Version (2014) narrated by Khristine Hvam

I really enjoy listening to this series. The narrator does a good job with the story and the characters.

In Black Arts the story begins with Evan Trueblood storming Jane’s house, demanding to know where Molly is. Jane doesn’t know, and it take her awhile to convince Evan of this, but eventually they settle in, and start the search for Molly. At the same time, two of Katie’s Girls have disappeared after going to a private party.

All this is of course in addition to Jane’s work as one of Leo’s Enforcers, and providing security at Vamp HQ.

Situations that have been brewing for several books finally come to a head, namely the destruction of Jane and Molly’s friendship after Jane was forced to kill Evangelina, and Jane’s honesty about her nature with Aggie One Feather.

I really do enjoy both the series and narration, and recommend both–but NOT to start here. Forget it. Don’t even think about it. Go to the beginning and work your way forward.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Audible

Dark Heir (2015)

dark-heirI pre-ordered this, started to read, saw that it was going to be about the Son of Darkness, and then put it down for a couple months, because I wasn’t sure how I felt about Jane going up again a Son of Darkness.

Luckily, it didn’t go where I was afraid it would, and ended up being a good story, with several different issues resolved.

One of the things I like about this series is that Jane gets told off–on a regular basis–when she’s being an idiot.

“There is job-bound, there is emotion-bound, and there is blood-bound–all kinds of bound. Then there is stupid-bound. In this case, I think you’re stupid bound.”

I like that although she’s scary, people know that she doesn’t cause harm except when necessary. Interestingly, about that last bit, Jane has a lot to think about in regard to killing and harming in the line of duty.

One thing I feared when I saw the Big Bad was going to be a Son of Darkness, was that Jane was going to go after him all on her own, which I found–highly unbelievable, at least if she was going to survive. I should have known better, but I’ve seen authors take characters off the rails before, and I really didn’t want that to happen with this series. Luckily, it took multiple people to take the Son of Darkness down, and it didn’t work on the first try (probably due to the over-confidence of Sabina, which is technically a spoiler, but since the first attempt occurs so early in the book, it was obvious that attempt wasn’t going to work).

One thing I especially like is how Jane’s relationship with the Younger brothers has slowly developed into something that is very important to Jane.

Alex lifted a shoulder. “When I hear her coming, I’ll throw the cat at her. If that doesn’t work, look for a warty frog hopping on the keyboards when you get back. Find me a princess to kiss me. I want tongue.”

“Gross,” I said.

“Fried frog legs,” Eli said, with a slight twitch of his lips.

The slow is the important there, because Jane is not someone who trusts easily, and had a lot of secrets she was holding–most for her own protection–so it is very hard for her to trust. I thought that this slow development was perfect.

“What’s the plan?” I asked.

“Well, we could go in slow and easy and hunt him down, step by step. Or I could get a good vantage, and you could race naked through the backyard and draw him out. And then I could shoot him.”

“Naked.”

Eli’s grin widened. “Works for me.”

I almost said something snarky and then I realized he was pulling my leg.

That’s precisely the kind of friendship Jane needs–friends who won’t let her take herself too seriously.

There are some major happenings here, some of which have been a long time coming, and I was glad to see them.

It was a good story, but I can’t wait until I catch up on the audio books, because a lot happened and a zipped through a lot of the action to find out what happened, and I am sure I breezed through some important stuff.
Rating: 8/10

Published by ROC

Dark Heir, Audible Version (2015) narrated by Khristine Hvam

The story opens with the SOD (I shan’t elucidate for those who haven’t read the previous books) escaping from Leo’s sub-basement with the help of Adrianna, who Leo has kept bringing back every time Jane has killed her.

Meanwhile, Jane and Beast are still coming to terms with their new powers/skills, and Eli and the Kid have become part of Jane’s family.

That latter bit is probably my favorite part of this story. Jane needs family to keep her stable, and I love how Eli and the Kid have become her family.

As always, I enjoyed Khristine Hvam’s narration, although I did note that a couple times she slipped up, switching accents for various characters. But she’s human, so I’m totally letting it slide.
Rating: 7.5/10

Published by Audible

Broken Soul (2014)

Broke SoulThe latest Jane Yellowrock installment finds Jane and the Mithrans preparing for the visit of the European Council–a visit that seems it will bear nothing good for Jane.

Of course, she does get to learn a new form of fighting.

“Ernestine keeps all the lists,” Wrassler said. “And the pools.”

I shook my head in confusion. Beside me Eli asked, “So how many of you lost money when Janie kicked (name)’s butt just now?”

“About ninety percent of the people gathered here and about ninety-five percent of the city’s blood-servants and Mithrans.” There was a lot of satisfaction in Wrassler’s tone.

Eli said , “I’m guessing you were one of the few who were betting on Jane.”

However, many will be glad to know that Jane’s romantic tribulations seem to be settled. Eli remains like a brother, as does Stinky, which is good. Because if something had come of that I would have been really irritated.

Derek Lee is now Leo’s enforcer in training, which is causing him problems. I actually liked that Derek had issues with the position, and what it entailed. He’d been getting more and more distant from Jane; this rehumanized him a bit, and perhaps explained some of his moodiness.

But there were some issues with the story. For one, I knew almost immediately who was chained in the sub-sub-basement, and was highly irritated when Jane was oblivious. I mean, she KNOWS precisely how ruthless Leo is.

There were a couple copy editing issues as well, with Katie appearing ahead of Jane, when she’s actually somewhere else entirely.

Those weren’t horrible things, and I think she’s doing a very good job building up to the arrival of the European council and everything that is going to entail, but it did throw me a bit out of the story.

Jane still, despite everything, remains religious, however, she’s putting further thought into it.

Religion as a political entity is always horrible,” Bruiser said, his tone final.

“But—” I stopped. My religion wasn’t supposed to be horrible. It was supposed to be based on love and generosity and forgiveness. But history had always suggested otherwise. And my other spirituality, the Cherokee, had a bloody and violent historical aspect that made the old pope’s comments seem conventional. How was I supposed to look at the mores of history and compare them to today’s violence and judgment? Current events suggested that humanity was no better today than it had ever been, that we had learned nothing.

I do like that Jane remains a person of faith throughout the series. It’s an important part of her upbringing, and she it continues to shape her thoughts and ideas of herself.

I am a murderer. An arm of vengeance. The words were bitter in my thoughts.

Beast huffed in grim delight. Beast is best hunter.

Of course, I like that passage more of Beast than for Jane’s thoughts about herself.

As usual, I adore the cover. I love how Jane is strong and in action and ready to fight.

Now I have to wait more than a year for the next book.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Roc

Broken Soul, Audible Version (2014) read by Khristine Hvam

I do like Khristine Hvam’s narration of these stories.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Audible

Blood in Her Veins (2016)Blood-in-her-Veins

Wesa and the Lumber King
The Early Years
Snafu
Cat Tats
Kits
Haint(s)
Signatures of the Dead
First Sight
Blood, Fangs, and Going Furry
Dance Master
Golden Delicious
Cajun with Fangs
The Devil’s Left Boot
Beneath a Bloody Moon
Black Water
Off the Grid
Not All Is as It Seems
Cat Fight
Bound No More

This is another collection of Jane Yellowrock stories–almost all the stories in one place, plus two new novellas, and a couple shifted POV stories. If you have the other short story collections, you might be hesitant to buy another collection, but I think that is worth it for the two novellas. (And it’s not really her fault that her short stories have been collected in bits and pieces prior to this.)

Wesa and the Lumber King is a Beast story, from before Jane’s coming out of the woods.

The Early Years is the story of Jane rediscovering her abilities and Beast.

Snafu is Jane’s interview for her internship, and the start of her PI career.

Cat Tats is the story of how Rick LaFleur got his tattoos.

Kits is a Jane and Molly story, told from Jane’s point of view.

I looked at woman. She looked at me. At necklace on my neck. Jane’s necklace.

“Jane?” she whispered. “Oh my God. Jane.”

I hacked. Not God. Not Jane. Beast.

Beast has some of the best lines.

Haint(s) is where Jane and Molly meet Brax, and Jane helps Molly remove a Haint.

(H)aint being a term applied, in this part of the woods, to a form of poltergeist, or supernatural energy that usually manifests around a person instead of around a place.

Signatures of the Dead is the first Jane Yellowrock story I read, and the reason I got the first book. It’s told from Molly’s point of view.

First Sight is a short of the first meeting between Jane and Bruiser, from George’s POV.

Blood, Fangs, and Going Furry is Rick’s first full moon after being bitten.

Dance Master is another short from Bruiser’s POV.

Golden Delicious sees Rick at PsyLED training camp, and how he learns to work with Brute and Pea. This is a story that makes me like Rick, when I’m generally meh about him.

Soul lifted her eyes to Rick. “Please go back to your quarters.” Rick ejected the magazine of Soul’s .22 and put the safety on before setting the gun on the desktop. He and his unit backed out.

Cajun with Fangs is a story I’d read before and quite liked–it finds Jane dealing with a war between the vamps and the witches in a small, isolated town.

TASSIN BROS AUTO FIX, OPEN SIX DAYS A WEEK, EXCEPT IN GATOR-HUNTING AND FISHING SEASON, which sounded better than nothing.

Very isolated.

Beast perked up at the description of the food. Gator. Human killed gator? Human man is good hunter! Hungry for gator. And the picture she sent me was a whole gator, snout, teeth, feet, claws, tail, skin, and all, crusty with batter. I chuckled and sent her a more likely mental picture. Inside she huffed with disappointment.

Again, Beast gets all the best lines.

The Devil’s Left Boot is a story told from the POV of Molly’s twin sisters, Liz and Cia, who are struggling to get past the death of Evangelina.

The house was free of dust, piles of mail, and accumulated rubbish. There were no coats tossed over chair backs. No shoes in a corner or slippers by the front door or gloves on a side table. No clutter. The framed art consisted of impersonal prints that a decorator might have chosen. There were no photos or mementos anywhere. No plants to water. No dog or cat bowls. The house was something for a magazine shoot, not a place to relax, to live.

I know that house, and it really isn’t a place to live.

Beneath a Bloody Moon is another story I read before and quite liked. It finds Jane, Eli, and Alex looking into a series of maulings in Chauvin. It also introduces us to a character we’ll get to meet again.

Jane also changes into a dog, which Beast never much cares for.

As we took off from the dock, I stretched out on the seat I had claimed, closed my eyes, let my tongue loll out, and took in the wind. It buffeted my facial hair, flopped my ears back, caressed my face, and filled my nose with goodgoodgood smells, and I was in doggy heaven.

But, Beast gets her revenge.

Stepped from airboat and into water. Lay down and rolled in water over rock called cement. Mud and blood came loose from coat. Rolled into water and rolled. Rolled. Stood and walked to shore. Walked to the Kid. And shook water from pelt.

Black Water finds Jane back in Chauvin, and continuing to accept her relationship with Eli and Alex.

“They’re your brothers, dear,” Clara said, assuming. “Brothers are like that. They have to protect their sisters.”

I started to say that we weren’t family, but we were all three orphans. We lived together. We did sorta physically resemble each other: Eli and Alex were mixed race, and I was Cherokee, giving us all dark skin and hair. We were more than friends. Family. “Yes,” I said. “My brothers are pains in the neck.

Off the Grid is another story I read previously, and one that introduces a new character that is getting her own series: Nell Ingram.

(B)est of all, she knew where the armaments were stored. “They keep ’em here”— she tapped the uneven rectangle that represented a building—“ which is right next to the nursery. They know no one’s gonna blow up the weapons and risk killing all the children.”

“Yeah. That’s”— I thought through possibilities and discarded cruel, insane, and evil, to choose—“ not unexpected.”

Here’s your truth from this story:

(PI) Security was so much easier in the modern day, with access to so many public records protected by such poor security.

Nell has a pretty awful past, and there are some horrific events that we come upon after in this story, but they do get to rescue the people to whom the horrible things happened.

Not All Is as It Seems is a Molly and Angie story, and I quite liked the secondary characters here, although I do think that Angie is written younger than her age.

Cat Fight brings up quite a few questions and new plot twists (but not in a way that makes me want to hurt–more like real-life where you learn things, and sometimes it takes years before you learn the whys and the hows, and sometimes you never learn.

Also, we get more Edmund Hartley.

I topped off my mug and added the secret ingredient. “I’m having tea. Want a cup?”

Edmund looked at my mug and stuck his nose in the air.

“Not if it has . . . Is that Cool Whip on top?” I hid a grin.

“That sounded like a tea snob’s outrage.”

“Good God, woman. It’s a sacrilege.”

He raised his brows. “Doesn’t like Mithrans, I take it?”

“Not fond of anyone one but military boys.”

“I fought in the Civil War. Does that count?”

“Confederate?”

“No.”

“I’d keep it to yourself, then,”

It also takes us back to revist the town from Cajun with Fangs. I’m still waffling on how I feel about this story. I like the Edmund bits, but wasn’t sure about the main plot line.

Bound No More brings Molly and Angie back to Jane, and this is another story I wasn’t sure about. Again, Angie strikes me as acting and speaking too young for her age, which bothers me. Especially since she’s so powerful. So I’ll think about this one a little more.

But all in all it’s a good collection, and worth reading for the bits and pieces dropped here and there.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Roc

Shadow Rites (2016)

shadow-ritesIt’s the final days before the witch-vampire conclave, and preparations for the conclave are supposed to be finishing, but as with all group projects, problems keep popping up.

The first problem is an attach on Jane. Then things start to spiral out of control from there.

Molly and Evan and the kids are in for the Conclave, and Angie’s magic is remaining out their control.

On the bright side, Jane and Bruiser are working out the relationship.

I love the details of the security that Jane and Eli work on. It’s probably wonky of me to do so, but at the level they have reached, it’s either the big picture or noting little details that others have missed.

I leaned around Wrassler, to Brenda and Eli. “Which pocket?”

“I couldn’t spot a thing,” Brenda said.

“Right,” Eli said. He had a fifty percent chance of being right. And he was.

“Good guess,” I said.

“Not a guess. Wrassler’s got a weak hand from the injury. He’ll always use his strong hand to insert the tracker.”

“Huh,” Wrassler said. “He’s right. And we have to assume that the European Vamps have intel on everything inside.”

And Beast is taking more initiative, which always delights me.

I went back and pawed the ring. Part of it was missing. What happened to the blue ring?

Beast ate it.

Was that wise?

Tasted of blood of Anzu. Beast chuckled. Makes Beast strong.

I didn’t like the idea of her swallowing the magic of another creature, but it was a bit late to argue about it.

Smell of Edmund was strong in yard. Vampire had fed each of them. Vampire had given much blood. Vampire is good hunter and good mother to kits.

Inside us, Jane laughed. I’ll be sure to tell him that.

Beast’s pragmatism always delights me.

And Eli, there is of course Eli.

“That’s what all the old women say. The young ones want to bump bones.”

“Uncle Eli, what’s bump bones?” Angie Baby asked from the living room.

“Crap,” he whispered. ..“These are shish kebabs, Angie.” He indicated a platter on the edge of the table as she walked up. “And when you remove them from the stick, and they bounce, that’s bumping bones.”

I nearly choked trying to swallow the beef half-chewed and not laugh at the same time.

“Uncle Eli,” Molly said from the living room, censure and glee in her tone.

“Sorry,” he said. “Best I could do on short notice. I’ll do better next time.”

“I suggest there be no next time.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said. “That would clearly be the best decision on my part.”

So, there were lots of bits and pieces of the story that I loved. How did I feel about it as a whole? Jane is getting more powerful, but she is also suffering greater consequences with those uses of power. However, to offset that, she is also building a family, which seems to reduced Beast’s claims that Jane is a killer only.

And although it is frustrating, I do like that there are issues that come up but aren’t resolved within a single book–or even multiple books, and that things happened in previous books that come back to haunt Jane later. That feels like real life.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Roc

Audible Edition (2016) narrated by Khristine Hvam

Drat.

Now I’m all caught up on the Jane Yellowrock audio books.

No more Jane Yellowrock until MAY.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Audible

 

Soulwood

 

Blood of the Earth (2016)

bloodoftheearthWe met Nell Ingram in the Jane Yellowrock short story “Off the Grid.” (In the anthology Blood in Her Veins). She is a very interesting character, and I can see why the author wanted to spend more time with her.

Nell has escaped from the cult in which she was raised, but still lives both by many of their tenets and in fear of the leaders. She managed to escape an early marriage to the pedophile who was the leader of the church, and inherited his land when her husband died, but has remained both alone and lonely, separated from her family and everything she knew growing up, but not a part of the modern world.

“Oh,” I said, embarrassed. They must think I was a little country bumpkin. Which I was, I realized. Face burning, I said, “My thanks for demonstrating the proper methodology.”

I set the shotgun on the table and got out three pottery mugs. I wasn’t using John’s maw-maw’s good china for outsiders whom I might have to shoot later. That seemed deceitful.

Nell is a very interesting character, and extremely different from Jane (which is good). Her accent bugs me, but that’s because it’s different from the accent I’m used to. And also because I despise you’uns and yins and anything except y’all.

“You’uns been out there all day. You thirsty? Hungry?”

They answered all at once with opposing responses. “No.” “Yes.” “I’m a vegetarian.” And the strangest response, from Occam, “I’d gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

There’s another thing that I especially like, and that is Nell’s reintroduction to her family and the church she left. The church was very black and white evil in the short story (it WAS a short story, so that’s not a failing) but here we get to see a far more complex and interesting group, and that things weren’t necessarily as Nell thought, once she reopens communications.

“‘The end justifies the means.’ Niccolò Machiavelli espoused that and he got it wrong. The end only matters because of the means.”

My head dropped and my eyes went wide. I couldn’t have been any more surprised if Sister Erasmus had stripped naked and danced across the front porch. Her pinched mouth didn’t smile, but the corners of her eyes wrinkled up in amusement. “You think you the only one a us churchwomen to get an education?”

Nell’s gifts are of the earth, and like Jane’s gifts, are not black and white, good and evil. They are what Nell will make of them, which I like.

I also liked the way we get a glimpse of how vegetation might see the world.

(O)ne tree, a dogwood, had taken root and another had tried to and died. The ground was covered in pine needles, and when I pushed a hand through to the soil, it was to discover that the lone tree was afraid, fearfearfear leaking through every rootlet and stem and reddening leaf. It had been afraid since its partner tree had died, thinking it the last tree on the face of the Earth.

And this also amused me:

The road was full of curves that followed the contours of the earth, and I liked the road, as it had become part of the earth. I had a general location and a direction.

Many many roads in West Virginia have become a part of the earth, I would think.

I admit I was a little nervous about this series, because I did not like Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage series, but I like Nell, and I like the complexity of the characters and the story.
Rating: 8/10

Published by ROC

Curse on the Land (2016)

curse-on-the-landThis is the second Soulwood book, set in the same reality as the Jane Yellowrock series, but not featuring Jane (although she does make appearances).

Nell Ingram is tied to the land. She’s not a witch (she doesn’t test as one anyway) but she can do things that make her valuable, which is why Rock LeFleur encouraged her to join PsyLED, the paranormal law enforcement agency, in one of the few units that is composed mostly or paranormals.

She has just finished her training and is returning home as a probie, but with a new source of income and many other changes to her formerly off-the-grid life.

She still needs to deal with the darkness on her lands that was Brother Ephram, but a magical emergency puts her immediately to work: something is wrong with the land, and PsyLED thinks Nell’s skills are just the thing to help them figure out what is happening.

I do like Unit 18 not just for how they treat Nell, but also for themselves.

I let them help me because I didn’t want to throw up on the stairs. But about halfway up I retched again.

T. Laine said, “You barf on my shoes and I swear I’ll make you pay.”

“You can barf on my shoes, Nell, sugar.”

“No one could tell,” T. Laine said.

“True,” Occam said.

And I remain delighted that Nell has reconnected with her family, that they weren’t all bad as things appeared when we first met her.

“Nellie, you’un got big brass ones, that’s all I got to say.”

I had learned what the saying meant at Spook School, and thought it was silly, as testicles were small, easy to remove, and easily injured. I had seen enough farm animals castrated to know that for a fact.

I also really enjoy seeing things from the law enforcement side, as the members of Unit 18 bemoan paperwork, but also as we consider the legal ramifications of paranormal creatures.

“There is no law or system of laws currently established based on judicial precedent to deal with this sort of situation. Nor are there statutory laws created by legislation to deal with this situation. We are off the legal grid. This is why PsyLED was created: this is our mandate, to deal with problems like this. To stop them. And if people or beings or creatures are responsible, to find them and make sure they are stopped.” He closed his laptop, picked up his cell, and stood. “Go. Do things. Be smart. Tread carefully. Let’s get this solved fast.”

I quite like this series as well as the Jane Yellowrock series.
Rating: 8/10

Published by ROC

 

Rogue Mage

 

Bloodring (2006)

bloodringThorn is a neomage. But unlike the rest of her mage brethren, she does not live in a mage Enclave, but instead is hiding in the small town of Mineral City running a gem and jewelry show with her friends–none of who know she is a neomage in hiding. Unfortunately for Thorn, the kidnapping of her ex-husband brings law enforcement officials into town.

The world in which Thorn lives is post-apocalyptic in a very interesting way: angels came and pretty much took humans to task for their misdeeds and misbehavior. There are three types of beings: humans, seraphs, and neomages. The relationship between the three is both complex and somewhat confusing, and I’m still not sure I’m clear.

One thing that I did care for was the high boink possibility that went through the story. I don’t see why a humanoid species would develop estrus later in their evolution–it doesn’t make biological sense to me, but then we still don’t know how neomages came to be, so I suppose if they were engineered beings, that might serve to limit the population.

Regardless, books that constantly dwell on sex tend not to be my favorites, so that took the book down a notch for me.

Otherwise, I thought the character development was very good–and I quite liked many of the characters, though I thought some of them might be a little too good with not quite enough flaws, but this book was written from Throrn’s POV, so I don’t think the characters were actually perfect, only that Thorn idolized them a wee bit.

This is the first book in a series, and although the main story arc did conclude in this book, if I’d bought this book before the following two books I probably would have been a little annoyed.
Rating: 7/10

Seraphs (2007)

seraphsThorn St. Croix is now out of the closet as a neomage. Half the town wants to thank her for saving them, the other half wants to burn her at the stake. To make things worse, there are angels trapped under the mountain, and it looks like Thorn is the only one who has a chance of getting them out.

The things that bother me about the first book, still bother me about this one; the “forced heat” when seraphs and neomages are together (or anyone even related to a seraph) is the biggest one. Which of course happens repeatedly to Thorn. (And then there’s her ex-husband, but that’s something else entirely.)

However, the story continues to be fascinating, and even if I’m still a bit uncertain about the world, I really want to know what happens to Thorn–and more importantly I want to understand why the world is the way it is (though I have a feeling I’ll be denied on that last bit). I like Thorn and her friends, and although I still find her constantly going into heat annoying, it wasn’t completely distracting from the story.

I just don’t understand why all books that are supposed to appeal to women have to be filled with sex. I mean, really. Are we seen as being incapable of being interested in plot and character development?

Although the story arc is completed in this book, I wouldn’t have wanted to have finished this book if I hadn’t had the next in the series waiting.
Rating: 7/10

Host (2007)

HostThis seems to be the conclusion of Faith Hunters Rogue Mage series. I say seems to be, because although the story arc was completed, there were threads left hanging. Now that could be good story telling, or she could be hoping to add to the series later. I’m hoping its the former and not the later.

Thorn St Croix is now (at least in the eyes of most) the town mage for Mineral City. She is expecting another attack from the Darkness under the Trine, but is hoping they catch a break and have time to regroup before the next battle. Unfortunately, their rest and recovery are interrupted when a mage from Atlanta comes to town, and his attitude is one that offends Thorn, Rupert, Audric and just about everyone.

I’m still not sure how I feel about this third book. Although I like where the story went, the first battle scene seemed to go on forever. This was an issue because I really wanted to go to bed. I’m also not sure how I feel about the conclusion regarding Thorn’s heart and her bed. This was one of the things that made it feel like there may be more books in the future. (However, I think I’ll like it better if the author leaves it as it stands.)

Actually, I think that’s where my ambivalence is coming from: the book concluded without tying up all the loose ends, which made it feel like she wants to write more about these characters.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a long series as much as anyone–as long as each book concludes the story arc contained within. This series (so far) did not, and I am not enamored of such series.

So let me step back a bit and look at the other parts of the series. I do like the characters-especially Thorn and Audric. In fact, I wish we’d have had a little more time with Audric.

I like where the story went, although in this book the battle scenes felt like they went on forever. I get where she was going with the whole mage-seraph uncontrollable lust thing, but still… I didn’t much like it.

So, I’m of mixed opinion of Host. It was good, but it wasn’t great, and I don’t know if I’d want to reread the series.
Rating: 6/10

 

Anthologies

Strange Brew (2009) edited by P.N. Elrod

Strange-BrewI love short story collections. They’re a way to discover new authors, visit with favorite characters, and to be honest I just enjoy short stories. Now if you like short stories, you eventually learn that a lot of collections are not worth buying, but there are certain authors that will cause me to buy an anthology on sight. This collection has several of those authors: Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, and Charlaine Harris.

As with most collections, there are some good stories, and some stories I didn’t like quite as well. For some reason, the stories I like the best seem to end up in the front of the book–which is unusual, because with Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword & Sorceress anthologies, that tended to end on very strong stories. This collection, not so much, which is always a little disappointing.

...

Of the authors with which I was unfamiliar, I especially liked Faith Hunter’s story “Signatures of the Dead.” It had a very feel of horror, with a good deal of death and pain wrought by the vampires in this story, but the characters were interesting and intriguing. Apparently the author is writing a book about one of the secondary characters from this story, which is a very good way to do things I think.

...

What I thought was interesting was several of the stories reached back into mythology for parts of their stories, which I really enjoyed (although I didn’t need all the explanation that was given). If you think you might be interested in reading supernatural fantasy, this anthology would be a good place to sample some stories.
Rating: 8/10

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Re-Read: July 12, 2014

This is a re-read, and as such, I skipped the stories I didn’t like or wasn’t in the mood for.

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Signatures of the Dead by Faith Hunter is the story that got me interested in reading Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series. Faith Hunter also is good at writing short stories, and this was a perfect introduction to Jane–especially since the story is written from the point of view of her best friend, the witch Molly.

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I love anthologies, but I wish that more collections were edited for quality short stories, rather than to get as many names on the cover–regardless of whether those authors are good at writing short stories and novellas.
Rating: 7/10

An Apple for the Creature (2012) edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner

First, I hate this title. It grates on my nerves like nails down a chalkboard.

Luckily, the title is not reflective of most of the stories inside.

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Faith Hunter’s “Golden Delicious” is set after the last Jane Yellowrock story. Rick is trying to rebuild his life after being infected with the were-virus, and so attempting to recover whatever law enforcement career he can. I like Rick, so I enjoyed this peek into seeing him recover his life.

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All in all, it was a decent selection of short stories that made up for terrible title.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Ace

Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013) editor

weird-detectives-recent-investigationsThis is a collection of short stories previously published elsewhere, so I’d already read several of these stories. But there were several I had not, and several of the ones I’d read before were well worth reading again.

This book has been sitting around for awhile, waiting to be read, primarily because I got it in trade paperback, and it’s huge and heavy–just the kind of book I hate reading. Too heavy and too bulky for comfortable reading. But the stories drew me in and didn’t let me go. (Though the book itself was why I lacked patience for stories I’d recently read or didn’t catch my interest immediately.)

“The Key” by Ilsa J. Blick
“The Nightside, Needless to Say” by Simon R. Green
“The Adakian Eagle” by Bradley Denton
“Love Hurts” by Jim Butcher
“The Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman
“Cryptic Coloration” by Elizabeth Bear
“The Necromancer’s Apprentice” by Lillian Stewart Carl
“The Case of the Stalking Shadow” by Joe R. Lansdale
“Hecate’s Golden Eye” by P.N. Elrod
“Defining Shadows” by Carrie Vaughn
“Mortal Bait” by Richard Bowes
“Star of David” by Patricia Briggs
“Imposters” by Sarah Monette
“Deal Breaker” by Justin Gustainis
“Swing Shift” by Dana Cameron
“The Beast of Glamis” by William Meikle
“Signatures of the Dead” by Faith Hunter
“Like a Part of the Family” by Jonathan Maberry
“Fox Tails” by Richard Parks
“Death by Dahlia” by Charlaine Harris
“Sherlock Holmes and the Diving Bell” by Simon Clark
“See Me” by Tanya Huff
“The Maltese Unicorn” by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Initially, I was just going to flip through and read stories by authors I love, but then I ended up just reading straight through. Having no patience, if I story didn’t immediately grab hold, I didn’t finish it, and if I hadn’t thoroughly enjoyed it the first time (or had read the story very recently), I didn’t give it a second read.

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As I said, this contained a lot of stories I’d read previously, but they are for the most part good stories, so if you don’t have the original anthologies, this would be well worth getting.
Rating: 8/10 

Kicking It (2013) edited by Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price

Kicking-It

“Forked Tongues” by Rachel Caine
“Stolen Goods” by Shannon K. Butcher
“The Girl with No Name” by Chris Marie Green
“The Devil’s Left Boot” by Faith Hunter
“High Stakes” by Chloe Neill
“The Parlor” by Lucienne Diver
“Red Really Isn’t My Color” by Christina Henry
“Snakeskin” by Rob Thurman
“Ruby Red” by Kalayna Price

I’ll be blunt–I didn’t read all these stories. If a story didn’t hook me within the first couple pages, I moved onto the next story. The stories I did read, however, I typically enjoyed a lot.

“Forked Tongues” by Rachel Caine. I’ve read another short story with these characters (Holly and Andrew), so I wasn’t completely lost in the story, and I did read it in its entirety, and it was interesting, but I can’t say I particularly liked it. (5/10)

“Stolen Goods” by Shannon K. Butcher is set in a world with which I was unfamiliar, and I can’t say that the world was clear to me even by the end of the story. I also can’t say I particularly liked either of the characters. In fact, in retrospect, this was more of a hate read. Why? Because the characters were inconsistent. One character forces another to go on a mission she absolutely doesn’t want to go on through a mixture of bribery and guilt trip. Here’s one of my notes: “What the hell? He forced her into this against her better judgement, and now he’s complaining about her having problems?” And here’s another note: “Really? You’ve been saying how important it is they remove the hammer, and so you stay behind WITH THE STUPID HAMMER?”

So, yeah. Hate read. (1/10)

“The Girl with No Name” by Chris Marie Green was skipped.

“The Devil’s Left Boot” by Faith Hunter was set in Jane Yellowrock’s world, but Jane makes only a brief appearance. And I am completely okay with that, because I liked seeing two characters we hadn’t spent any time with before: twins Liz and Cia Everhart, sisters of Molly and Evangelina (Evangelina who Jane had to kill several books ago).

Although they’ve played almost no part in the Jane Yellowrock series, besides being background characters, in this story they were complete with full (and separate) personalities, including how they feel about being twins.

Half of being a witch was knowing the math. Half was practice. Half was gift. And half was instinct. At least that was the way it worked being twins, and having four halves.

Although this story was a start towards the resolution between the Everharts and Jane–you can’t blame then for not wanting to deal with Jane, after she killed their sister, but Jane was in the right in doing so, so they had to deal with it. (9/10)

“High Stakes” by Chloe Neill was another story I skipped.

“The Parlor” by Lucienne Diver starts with the main character being teased for wearing booty shorts and knee-high silver boots, as part of going undercover to look for a missing man.

I read this story, but I can’t say I was particularly impressed with it. It wasn’t terrible–the idea of descendants of the gods of mythology existing hasn’t quite been overdone yet–but I can’t say I’m drawn to read any other books by the author. (5/10)

“Red Really Isn’t My Color” by Christina Henry is another story I skipped after reading a few paragraphs.

“Snakeskin” by Rob Thurman is a Trixa Iktomi story, but you absolutely don’t have to know anything about the main character to enjoy the story–and Trixa: “I didn’t have bad hair days. I had unique-hair days.” I need to remember that one.

A woman comes to Trixa with a problem she thinks Trixa can solve–for a price, of course. And even knowing Trixa was a trickster, I was still surprised by the ending.

Lying is an art. Poorly done, of course, that’s a shame and annoying as hell. But brilliantly done, bless, you just have to stand back and applaud the artist.

I really liked this story. (9/10)

“Ruby Red” by Kalayna Price I skipped.

As I wrote this, I discovered what the problem is with some of the anthologies I’ve been reading recently: Authors don’t know how to write short stories. Anthologies like this make me understand why many people don’t like short stories and avoid anthologies. Which is too bad, because a well-written short story is a joy and a treasure.

But writing short stories is a skill, and one which many of these authors simply haven’t honed. Taking an existing world and writing a brief tale in which existing characters have an adventure is not writing a short story.

A short story involves giving the reader everything they need to fall into your world in a small package. If enjoying the story requires already being familiar with your world and your characters, you haven’t actually written a short story.

All of which is too bad, because, as I said, I love well-written short stories. And there were some well-written short stories here. There were just more stories that weren’t. So I can’t really recommend this anthology, I can just recommend that you look for stories that were good, to pop-up on-line as short story eBooks or perhaps, later, as part of different anthologies.
Rating: 2/10 
 

 

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