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I go through periods when I read no books, and then periods when I’m just reading aaaaaall the books I can get my hands on. It’s a very all-or-nothing fluctuation that I’m sure must be awful for all my Goodreads friends, whose timelines are, every other month or so, full-on spammed with all the books from whichever genre-related obsession I’ve fallen into this time. Shoutout to all my Goodreads friends for putting up with my bullshit.

These past few weeks, in the true spirit of my always falling into genres years after the hype has died, I’ve been really into Adult Urban Fantasy – vampires, werewolves, romance, you know it, you know it. And man, those series that started around 2010 are long. Couple that with my series-related commitment issues when it comes to picking up book two and subsequent stubbornness when it comes to finishing series I’m at least two-books-deep in, and the result is, well, this.

The Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh was my first UF love. I was kind of? disappointed? in the stories featuring Dimitri – the ending development felt like such a cop-out to a love-story that had so much potential – and Venom – Singh is one of my favorite favorite writers but the whole story felt like a sad deflated balloon of recycled elements – but even then they were a solid two stars. And while Raphael and Elena are my favorite couple, Naasir and Andromeda are a close second. I was all caught up on the series a few years ago, but with my recent UF kick, I discovered that a lot of authors had side-stories and extra scenes! So, apologies to my GR friends, but I spent an entire afternoon binge-reading all the extras in shorts. Afternoon well spent 😉

Naturally, then, Psy-Changeling was my second love. I didn’t speed through the whole series like I did Guild Hunter – I feel like Guild Hunter has more of a strong linear story, whereas Psy-Changeling, though it the storyline is very much present, features a different couple in each book, and so it’s easier to start and stop and hop around books within the series. I’d covered the OG couples years ago, but had skipped around a bit then, so a few weeks ago, I took to binge-reading the entire series in order, extras and shorts included. And. Guys! The shorts? You all know I’m cynical as hell, but even cynics can be romantics, and, well. Heart of Obsidian will always be my favorite entry in this series, but everything else? Thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up!! I think at this point, I’ll read just about anything Nalini Singh puts out.

So after my Nalini Singh binge-read-fest, I was craving some more series with kick-ass UF heroines. My cousin recommended me the Night Huntress series – I remember seeing Jeaniene Frost’s name everywhere at one point, and so many people had so many good things to say about the series on Goodreads but it ended up being pretty lackluster? A lot of the books were slow and draggy and most of the characters’ personalities were based on one specific point, which didn’t make for the most dynamic read. I also ended up reading the Night Huntress World series, unaware until halfway through book two (I know… how?) but I ended up liking those two books even less than the main series. Vlad had been my favorite character in Night Huntress, so I tried – and finished – the Night Prince series, but Vlad went from charming and funny to a pretentious asshole and I wasn’t at all on board with that.

The Kate Daniels series though!! And the Hidden Legacy series! They were exactly what I was looking for after bingeing Nalini Singh, and Ilona Andrews is quickly becoming another author I’d read anything from.

After that, I tried D. B. Reynolds’s Vampires in America series, but it was super formulaic, and the formula was pretty lacking in substance, and honestly, every book wrapped up neatly enough, so I felt no real compulsion to finish.

I remember really liking Jennifer Estep’s YA series Mythos Academy, and my cousin was really into her Adult Elemental Assassin series for a while, so I decided to give that one a try, and… It wasn’t that the series was a terribly bad read – a lot of the action cuts are fun! But Estep’s really fond of her recaps, and the deeper into the series you go, the more recaps she pads her books with, until it feels like 90% of them are recaps, and then it just feels daunting to have to wade through all that to get to the main story – especially when the recaps feel copy-and-pasted from previous books’ recaps. It’s a lot. And on top of that, the male love interests go from bad to worse, and then to The Worst. There are seventeen books currently published, and I made it up to the ninth book – Heart of Venom? – which neatly wrapped up many of the initial plot threads and, in light of everything else, seemed like a nice place as any to end.

Goodreads told me I’d read Some Girls Bite and Friday Night Bites, the first two books in Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series, but honestly I couldn’t really remember anything, but the rest of the series kept popping up on my recommended list, and it seemed like the kind of series I was looking for, so I gave it another try. Everything up to book four Hard Bitten was really nice! The secondary characters were numerous but unique and interesting, and Merit’s character was interesting to follow. I really like the episodic, scooby-doo reads, tied together by some overarching story – this way, each read has a satisfying end, and then the series has a satisfying end, and then that’s double the satisfaction! But then everything started going downhill with book five, Drink Deep: Merit’s character gets thinner and thinner with the growing focus on romance, Catcher and Mallory’s relationship with Merit soured drastically, and Ethan became a bumbling megalomaniac.

I also read the first book in the Mercy Thompson series – Moon Called? a while back and wasn’t a super big fan, but I’ve heard such great things about Mercy Thompson, and even more about Alpha & Omega, it’s spinoff series, so I decided to give it another shot! The series was definitely more of an acquired taste for me – the way the author writes and organizes her elements is… different? Not sure how to explain it. It’s interesting, though, because Alpha & Omega was definitely the series I enjoyed better upon the first read – and therefore the series I rated most highly – but Mercy Thompson is the one I go back to reread scenes from. I’d definitely recommend both for fans of the genre, though!

(That is if you’ve been living under a rock like me.)

(Welcome to my rock.)

Wild Things (Chicagoland Vampires #9) by Chloe Neill
Published February 4th 2014 by NAL Trade
Source: Library
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Since Merit was turned into a vampire, and the protector of Chicago’s Cadogan House, it’s been a wild ride. She and Master vampire Ethan Sullivan have helped make Cadogan’s vampires the strongest in North America, and forged ties with paranormal folk of all breeds and creeds, living or dead…or both.

But now those alliances are about to be tested. A strange and twisted magic has ripped through the North American Central Pack, and Merit’s closest friends are caught in the crosshairs. Gabriel Keene, the Pack Apex, looks to Merit and Ethan for help. But who—or what—could possibly be powerful enough to out-magic a shifter?

Merit is about to go toe to toe, and cold steel to cold heart, to find out.

In hindsight, the series took a bit of a nosedive after around book four, but somehow I’ve already wandered this far in, so I’m going to see it to the end, dammit. I love all the secondary characters (the shifters! Malik! Jonah! her grandfather’s crew! Luc! Lindsey!) and some of the Merit/Ethan scenes are so soft and precious! but mostly not. On the whole, Ethan has the characterization of a cardboard standee – it’s been nine going on ten books now, and I’m still trying to figure out what his charm points are? The striking/glowing/blazing/insert-choice-adjective-here green eyes Neil keeps reminding us about? And Merit’s been demoted to a hand-wringing bystander who watches the house and waits dutifully for her boyfriend to come home/save the day. :/

Blood Games (Chicagoland Vampires #10) by Chloe Neill
Published August 5th 2014 by NAL Trade
Source: Library
Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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

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

(shout out to my part-time job for letting me sit in a room full of books and letting me read said books during hours, supporting my much-belated UF romance kick)
Blood Games was a pretty solid 1.5 stars. I’m going to preface this and be honest and admit that my enthusiasm for the series has long since died, but I’ve gotten this far already, and I’m nothing if not stubborn.
– I really like the Scooby Doo, episodic mysteries. It’s nice to have some overarching plot tying all the novels in the series together, but it’s also really nice to be able to get some sort of solid closure at the end of every novel. It didn’t really work out with Blood Games, though – it’s just gotten to the point where there’s so much? The serial killing, Ethan’s plotline, the RG, Darius… and Blood Games keeps sliding in favor of Ethan, making everything else feel like tiny, poorly done afterthoughts.
– It feels like Neill’s trying to keep all the elements, the jokes, the plot threads, etc from all the previous books, and then add an extra heaping onto that, but there’s too much that’s been recycled too many times, and it’s really not working anymore.
– Ethan is a self-centered egomaniac. He’s always been a self-centered egomaniac, but all his me!me!me! speeches and petty theatrics here just made him even more so one.
– Merit needs to draw her line in the sand and she’s going to have to do it soon because it’s been ten books and Ethan STILL keeps pulling the same old shit. IMHO he should’ve stayed gone, and we could’ve gotten, say, a Merit/Jonah pairing instead. Or, honestly, a Merit/anyone-who-isn’t-Ethan pairing. Or just Merit, friends, and chaotic Chicago. That’s more than enough material for a series.
– oh, and fuck the fake proposals. fuuuuuuck them.

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8) by Patricia Briggs
Published March 11th 2014 by Ace
Source: Library
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from a stalker. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.

Soon her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the furthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get him, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s stalker is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

Oh man, Adam’s likeability score plummeted ass-first into the ground and then kept falling. Who shares ~tender looks~ with his ex-wife in front of the current wife he proclaims to be very much in love with? Who stands by while his ex-wife lobs attack after attack at and attempts to turn the pack against his current wife, and then is just like, yeah, that happened? Who does that? And then instead of apologizing and maybe groveling a little as he should, he does the whole ~condescending but I’m pROUD OF YOUR LEVEL-HEADED ACTIONS YOUNG LADY~ thing. Haaard pass, thanks. And Mercy just? Doesn’t stand up for herself? All but martyrs herself in her head? (the blue hair dye thing doesn’t count she literally nearly dIED for Adam’s speshul snowflake ex-wife and after putting them all through the blender and withholding crucial information and after Mercy ended up in the goddamn hospital fixing problems she still has the gall to threaten her? On her hospital bed? And yeah Christy might have blue hair, but everyone hates Mercy. So. Who’s the real winner.) And then there was the rest of the pack, and, yeesh. This was just one large internalized misogyny party, with a generous helping of victim blaming.