Broken by Kelley Armstrong

Elena is the only female werewolf. Werewolves are either born with the gene – and it’s only passed to boys – or bitten, and women usually die. Except Elena. Elena was Bitten but she lived.

The pregnancy is troubling – there has never been a pregnant werewolf as there are no other female werewolves, so no one knows what to expect. Because of this, Elena is confined to her home. It would be an understatement to say she was bored witless, so when something comes up that requires her expertise – and seems harmless – she jumps at it.

Of course, it isn’t harmless. Elena inadvertently opens a time portal those sets a serial killer and two zombies loose in Toronto. Elena, Clay and Jeremy stay in Toronto to try to send the serial killer and his zombies back. Along the way, they ask Zoe, a vampire, and Jaime, the necromancer, for help. For some reason, the serial killer and his zombies are targeting Elena specifically. The Pack and its friends have to find out why and what to do to close the time portal.

This wasn’t my favorite Elena book because I am not all that thrilled with the idea of a “hell portal.” Given that this is a series about all kinds of supernatural creatures that don’t exist, I don’t know why this particular thing is the one that is “too much” for me. I just didn’t grab me. If you’re already a fan of WOW, then by all means, read this. If you aren’t, don’t start here! Go back to the beginning. You’ll enjoy this more if you’re already familiar with Elena and Clay and the rest.
The ending is nearly saccharine but the reader – at least this reader – can’t help but cheer for Elena and Clay.

Haunted by Kelley Armstrong

Eve Levine is a ghost. In Industrial Magic she makes a deal with The Fates and, if Paige and Lucas are returned to life, she’ll owe The Fates a favor. Now they’ve decided to call it in.

What they want seems to be impossible. The Nix, a demi-demon, has accidentally been let loose in the world. For, oh, several hundred years. She’s been nearly caught but has escaped. Eve’s task is to track her down and bring her in, so to speak. She’s scared witless but she isn’t alone: she has the help of Kris (who is her daughter’s father and the love of her life) and Tsriel, an angel.

The Afterlife, according to these books, is very different from what most of us think of as “Heaven.” Eve encounters various things: a pirate’s enclave and a school for poltergeists, for example. There is a version of what hell must be like but, in this case, was reserved for the worst among us: serial killers and like that.

The story goes back and forth between Nix and Eve, which can get confusing. I had to look back a few times to remember who this person or that person was. I have to say, as you can probably tell by the lackluster thoughts here, I didn’t really care for this book. I am a big fan of Armstrong’s but this one just didn’t thrill me.

On the plus side, we see more of Savannah, of Paige and Lucas (who got married between Industrial Magic and Haunted) and Jaime. Since Jaime is going to have her own book coming up, that’s a good thing.

Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong

I’m always thrilled when I find a new writer who a) I think is amazing; b) who is writing a series, because I love series; c) there are several books to the series before I find them; and d) whose writing gets better with each book. That describes Kelley Armstrong perfectly

Industrial Magic is the second book narrated by Paige Winterborne, a witch. In this book, she and her boyfriend, sorcerer Lucas, are asked by Lucas’ father (a powerful Sorcerer leader) to investigate why supernatural teens are being murdered.

Lucas’ father, Benicio Cortez, is the leader of the Cortez Cabal, which is sort of like a mafia family. They appear to be a major corporation from the outside, but the inside is an entirely different story. Lucas has refused his position as heir to the Cortez Cabal and is trying to do his best to put an end to the cabals across the country. Difficult task, that. Probably impossible. That mission is put aside, though, as Lucas and Paige investigate the murders of the teenage supernaturals.

Along the way, Paige tries to create an alternative coven, since she was kicked out of her previous coven. She tries to convince witches who aren’t already part of a coven that a virtual coven can be good for them. Witches aren’t known for being open to change, even the younger ones or the ones who are outside the covens in general.

Industrial Magic is suspenseful yet is character-driven, there a couple of new characters that you’ll enjoy and one thing that is highly implausible – but then isn’t the entire concept?

Dimestore Magic by Kelley Armstrong

This, along with the next book, are my favorites of the Women of the Otherworld series. There is going to be a new one out this year with these characters, Waking the Witch, which is mostly about Savannah, and I can’t wait to read it.

But back to Dime Store Magic.

In this book, we revisit Paige and Savannah from Stolen, as well as Leah.  Paige is a witch who is, at a very young age, Coven Leader because her mother died.  Savannah is a very powerful and very young witch whose birth father, a sorcerer, is trying to get her from Paige, for some reason.

Paige is a good witch, the leader of other good witches who are so afraid of being exposed to the nonmagical world that they have seriously limited the magic that they are allowed to do and remain in the coven. Being part of a coven is crucial for a witch’s well-being. Paige wants to modernize the coven, bring them into the 21st century, so to speak, but they are resistant. To say the least.

Paige is a reluctant guardian to Savannah, but she takes her responsibilities seriously. Savannah needs to be protected from her sorcerer-father and others who think that she is a dark witch, so Paige does everything in her power to protect the child. To do so, she needs help from Leah (a half-demon) and from a most unlikely source – Lucas Cortez, a sorcerer and son of the leader of the Cortez Cabal. Witches and sorcerers have long been enemies, so Paige is suspicious of Lucas but still accepts his help.

Dime Store Magic is urban fantasy at its best but it is also a love story. Unlike many books of this genre, the love story isn’t lurid or graphic and, while it is secondary, it written well enough that you are just as engaged in that as the action part of the story.

You don’t have to have read any of the previous books to enjoy Dime Store Magic. All of the WOW books are stand-alone, though for some of them, I think it helps to have read previous books. In this case, though, it makes little difference if you’ve read the previous two books.

Do you read Kelley Armstrong? What’s your favorite of her books?

Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

Have I said that I *really* like this series.  This was so well-written.  Essentially, someone is capturing supernaturals to study them for some reason.  Elena – the werefwolf from Bitten – is captured.  The story revolves around her experiences and then her attempt to escape and what happens next.

We also meet the main characters of the next books.  Armstrong is good about that – she sets up the next book by introducing the narrator in the current book, so we have some idea who the person is.

This isn’t my favorite of the WOW series, but it was still very good.

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

I recently reviewed the latest in the Women of the Otherworld series, Tales of the Otheworld, so I decided to go back and review the rest of the series. This is the first of them.

Elena is a “mutt” – a werewolf without a Pack. Well, she has a Pack but she left them to try to live as normal a human life as possible. It’s harder than you might think when she has to Change regularly. Oh, not every full moon as some books would have you believe but frequently enough.

Then, Pack members start getting killed and Elena goes home to try to help. Things progress from there. Elena has several fairly startling – to her – revelations along the way.

This is the first of the series and I was captured immediately. I love Elena and, in future books, I’m always happy when she shows up. She is friends with Paige, who has a couple of books of her own, so we see Elena in those as well.

Armstrong is very good at creating a world so real that you forget that werewolves don’t, in fact, exist. I highly recommend Bitten to anyone who is a fan of urban fantasy. Armstrong is one of my favorite authors, if not my absolute favorite. You can count on anything she writes being a book you have to take an entire afternoon/evening to read because you won’t be able to put it down. Thank goodness I read fast!

Kitty Goes to War by Carrie Vaughn

This book isn’t due out until June 29, 2010, but thanks to Renee at Renee’s Book Addiction, I got an advanced reading copy. As soon as it comes out, you should go buy it immediately!

Kitty gets a call from the new director at the NIH’s Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology. It seems an Army captain has created his own unit – by making werewolves. He was a werewolf himself and he knew that gave him an advantage. Unfortunately, he was blown up in combat, which left his unit without an alpha. They knew little, if anything, about being a werewolf and how to stay healthy and sane so they aren’t in the best of mental health. One of the remaining weres began killing the others. The director of the CSPB asks Kitty for help in determining if these soldiers can be rehabiliated.

There are other things going on in Kitty’s world. For one thing, she is being sued by the owner of a major corporation. For libel. She did a show about how strange things were happening at his stores and the next thing she knows, she’s being sued for libel. Cormac is out of prison and behaving weirdly, leaving both Kitty and Ben (her husband, who is Cormac’s cousin) quite worried about him.

Kitty Goes to War is the best of the Kitty books to date. The title is slightly misleading as Kitty never actually goes to war herself. Still, she does help veterans who served in Afghanistan. If you think about what you know – or have heard – about vets returning from war and add to that the difficulties with being a werewolf and learning to deal with it, you can imagine why these guys were a bit unbalanced.

Kitty is one of my favorite characters. She’s a strong woman – she has to be to be alpha of a werewolf pack. She is also vulnerable at times and, though she doesn’t show her pack her weakness, we get to see it. So many female leads who are tough don’t have much of a softer side. I think no character should be so one-sided.

Vaughn keeps the reader engaged from start to finish. There are no boring bits in her book, nothing I skipped over. She sets the reader up for future books by implying (as she has in previous books) that there is a larger story coming – sort of a “good vs. evil” war with the supernaturals that, of course, the humans will be clueless about. I’m curious to see what happens in book nine.