Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Tab Bennett and the Inbetween by Jes Young

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Title: Tab Bennett & the Inbetween
Author: Jes Young
Series: Princess of Twilight and Dawn, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 1 May 2012

Lately Tab Bennett’s life is like a fairy tale. Unfortunately for her, it’s the Grimm kind. The kind where the woods are deep and dark and full of monsters; where a mother’s longing for something forbidden means terrible consequences for her daughter; where the huntsman who takes the princess for a walk in the woods plans to steal her heart – literally – right out of her chest.

Right up until the visions started, Tab would have described herself as normal. But her sisters’ disappearance brought long-hidden secrets into the light, revealing a world she never dreamed existed and a destiny she cannot deny. Now “normal” means wicked subterranean kings and murdered Elvish princesses and clandestine revenge schemes. Suddenly Tab is juggling her fianc√©’s broken heart and a handsome prince’s irresistible advances while trying to unravel an assassination plot, and avoid a sociopath with an axe to grind.

As she struggles to hold on to the human world she’s always known and understand her place in the magical one she’s just discovered, dangerous forces have begun gathering around her. If she wants to live to see the happily ever after at the end of the story, Tab will have to figure out who she can trust, who wants her dead, and why. The answers will change everything she believes about herself, the people she loves, and the place she calls home.

Tab Bennett & the Inbetween starts out with an incredibly fascinating scenario. Tab's sisters have been getting killed, one a month for the last three months. They disappear into the dark forest surrounding their familial home and Tab starts getting visions of their deaths. Only they don't come in time to save them, just to know when to go look for their bodies buried somewhere out there.

On the day of her last sister's funeral the world as Tab knows it comes crashing down around her. Everything changes. She finds out that she's not just a young woman working at a bank, with a bunch of family, but the story starts to unfold that she's got a much larger place in a world she never knew existed. In fact, she's princess of the Light elves.

I have to admit that at this point I started to lose a bit of interest. Prior to this it was interesting and intriguing. I thought we'd spend a lot of time trying to figure out what was happening, who was killing her sisters, who was hunting her, and how – or if – she was going to integrate back into the world of the elves. Unfortunately, the opposite occurs because when Tab shows up at the funeral with her finace she's suddenly drawn to another male, going so far as to make out with him on the porch in front of everyone. Thus started the love-triangle that I didn't know was coming. (Yes, I know it's in the blurb, but I hadn't read the blurb in its entirety.)

I have a bit of a bias against love-triangles. I think since Twilight they've been overdone Рevery young adult, and a good portion of adult, novels have one. I'm tired of reading them. They're manufactured drama and angst, usually. I was pleasantly surprised that this love triangle was handled a bit differently than others I've read. Tab and her fiancé, Robbin, practically grew up together, their love was steady and constant. The mysterious elvish prince РAlex Рhas been betrothed to Tab since she was born and an enchantment laid to help them get past the 'getting-to-know-you' stage. Understandably, Tab has some problems with this enchantment leading her where she isn't sure she wants to go. I liked that aspect of it. Tab really spent time thinking about this, and trying to make sure it was her decision where her heart ended up.

Now, my problem with the love triangle is two-fold: essentially this became the entire story. We spent all but a maximum of 20 pages (out of 300) reading about Tab having opposing feelings for Robbin and Alex, learning new rules and her history in piecemeal, and basically being under house arrest. Any action there was occurred off-page – until the end of the book, where we were given about 5 pages in a row of the entire talk to battle sequence. Also, Tab seemed to waffle between the two never wanting to make a decision for the entire book, when even I could see the right decision staring her in the face

I had some problems with some word choices – most notably We and They when talking about the Light and Dark elves. Here's a couple example sentences: "I'm certain it's one of We." or "I want to be the one to make him suffer, not They."

This felt like a build-up to the main story which is apparently coming in the rest of the trilogy, and I think this could have been tightened some more. However, Tab Bennett & the Inbetween is a very well written novel, and very easily readable. If you're looking for something light quick, and with some explosive chemistry between two characters, then definitely pick up this book.

Grade: C-

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

Title: Fair Game
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega, Book 4
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 6 March 2012

People as old and powerful as he should never be given someone to love. For Anna he would destroy the world.

This has easily become one of my favorite series, period. The relationship that Patricia Briggs builds, between all the characters, but especially between Charles and Anna, is stunning.

Fair Game starts right on the heels of the end of River Marked, so the time-lines are finally matching up. The werewolves have come out the public, and with that the rules for werewolves have become much more strict. With more and more wolves needing to be pulled into line, Charles is busier than ever, and it's starting to wear on him.

Anna's worried about him, and takes it to Bran - who doesn't know what to do. After Adam comes up with a possible solution, Anna and Charles are headed to Boston to help the FBI.

As I said above, Charles and Anna's relationship is the true draw of this series for me. The fact that their relationship requires work on both their parts makes it very real. It's been a few years since Charles and Anna met, in Chicago and had an instant connection. Ever since then they've had to work at their relationship and with each other. Sometimes fighting for their relationship, others fighting against the protective instincts of their mate. The love, trust, and respect that underlies all of this is what draws me in and makes me invested in this couple.

Charles spends a good amount of time trying to protect Anna from the things that are affecting him in Fair Game. And she rails against that, knowing that she can help if only he'll let her. It's an interesting dynamic to watch - Charles, the dominant, can't really help the need to protect. Anna, an Omega who loves her mate above all, can not stop the driving need to help. They butt heads a few times; there are consequences for their actions - something that I've always loved in this world - and in the end they come out stronger. I never doubt that they'll make it work, because they truthfully never doubt they will.

The mystery plot that drives the book is interesting, and different. We're out in the world, seeing the wolves interact with federal agencies, trying to stop a serial killer for them - instead of the secretive world of the supernatural community. After seeing how many people had been attacked by this killer, so many of them children, I was anxious to see Charles and Anna bring him to justice. I was able to figure out who the mystery bad-guy was before the end, but it didn't detract from the story at all.

The major event at the end though, Blew.My.Mind. I did not see it coming, and can not wait to see the wider implications throughout the world. Immediately after finishing the book I had to go back and re-read this part again because I was sure I'd mis-read it originally. Surely something will turn up in [book:Frost Burned|11035657], the next Mercy Thompson book - due out March 2013.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat, reading late into the night to finish it, and satisfied on all levels. Patricia Briggs keeps getting better and better, and I can't wait to see what she comes out with next.

Grade: A-

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