About cbowdish

Love the outdoors, riding my Harley, reading and singing opera. Hope to make the world a better place one person at a time. Often fall short of my noble intent but I'm still trying - hopefully not your patience. Semper fidelis.

Blood Trade – Jane Yellowrock #6

Jane Yellowrock

Blood Trade by Faith Hunter

It’s here! It’s finally here! 

My rating: 5 stars!!!

From the cover: Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker who’s always up for a fight—even if it means putting her life on the line… 

The Master of Natchez, Mississippi has a nasty problem on his hands. Rogue vampires—those who follow the Naturaleza and believe that humans should be nothing more than prey to be hunted—are terrorizing his city. Luckily, he knows the perfect skinwalker to call in to take back the streets.

But what he doesn’t tell Jane is that there’s something different about these vamps. Something that makes them harder to kill—even for a pro like Jane. Now, her simple job has turned into a fight to stay alive…and to protect the desperately ill child left in her care.

Note: this review is based on an ARC that I won in a raffle.

Finally, things are looking up for Jane Yellowrock. The previous book, Death’s Rival, left Jane isolated personally, unwillingly entangled professionally, and at one of the lowest points in her life. It was, frankly, heartbreaking. As a fan of the series and of Jane in particular, I was really hoping for some resolution in Blood Trade. I just couldn’t bear to see Jane suffering. Thank you, Faith Hunter, for setting Jane on the road to redemption.

Once again, a job takes Jane to Natchez, Mississippi. Backed by a new team of sidekicks, Jane tackles a new and almost indestructible type of vampire while trying to solve a mystery that threatens a childhood friend and her daughter. Because that isn’t challenging enough, Jane has to coordinate with local and federal law enforcement (including the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart) and rely on help from former friends, one of whom bears a grudge against Jane and one who betrayed her. Saving vigilante grandmas; communing with spirits; disrupting powerful witch magic – all in a day’s work for Jane Yellowrock.

Besides great action and an intriguing mystery, the book continues Jane’s journey of enlightenment and growth. We learn more about her past and how it has influenced her character and decisions. We see the origin of Jane’s need to stand up to bullies/ oppressors/ evil… Perhaps her most perplexing trait, Jane’s compulsion to finish what she starts – even when it leads her in directions she does not want to go, seemingly prioritizing work commitments (to people she neither respects nor trusts) over friends and allies – no longer seems immoderate; it is a logical outcome of her early childhood. And best of all, Jane’s new insight into her own values and behaviors gives her the courage to start mending fences. All is not yet right in Jane’s world, but a promising new day is dawning.

Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Faith’s website

Facebook

Twitter

Life Lessons from Maui – Look past first impressions

Maui, no ka oi

Maui, no ka oi

We began the first morning of our Maui vacation poolside at an adult-only infinity pool overlooking the ocean in Wailea. The sun was shining, nary a cloud in the azure sky, with the coconut fragrance of suntan lotion wafting on the air. My latte was hot and my pineapple fresh and ripe. I had an unlimited supply of books to read and all day to read them. Life couldn’t get much better.

Brrriiiiing. Three minutes into my sunbathing, my mother’s phone rang. Dad was calling to figure out where to find us. Ten seconds into her conversation, an older “gentleman” – whose tan suggested he was several months into his Hawaiian vacation – snapped at me, “Phones aren’t allowed at the pool.” “Thank you,” I said and turned back toward my mother, waiting for her to finish her call so I could address the issue. Another ten seconds pass and round two of the passive-aggressive, snarky comments begins. When I realize the man isn’t going to stop, I turn to him and in my sweetest, “bless-your-heart” Southern drawl say, “I’m so glad you’re having a lovely day,” and we both pretend to ignore each other for the next thirty or so minutes.

My first impression of my pool neighbor was that he was a big, fat jerk. Yes, phone conversations can be annoying when one is trying to relax, but there are so many better ways he could have handled the situation. From that one brief encounter, I had determined that the man was rude, self-centered, and lacked empathy, and that he would continue to be a fly in my ointment for the rest of the day.

Then my sister arrived. Deanna was completely unaware of our mini-drama or the tension in our studiously averted gazes. She immediately struck up a conversation, quickly pulled me into it as well, and within half an hour, Richard, our gentleman poolside neighbor, was ordering food and drinks for us – something that wasn’t on the menu but that the hotel made special for him – on his tab.

We spent two days as part of Richard’s entourage, telling stories, exchanging favorite spots on the island, and making fond memories. He was a charming conversation partner, worldly and seasoned, generous and genuinely interested in other people. Not at all the curmudgeon I first imagined him to be. To think, we might have missed out on this delightful exchange because of a 90-second phone call and a snap judgment. Our trip would have been much poorer for it.

When you meet a stranger, try to remember that you are seeing only a snapshot of who they are. You may see them at their very best or at the lowest moment of their life – you have no way of knowing. So employ a little more patience and empathy, a little less judgment; you can always confirm she’s a jerk later after gathering more evidence. It costs nothing to think well of someone and you might even make a friend.

Thanks, Richard, for the smoothie and the memories.Baby Breach

Mercy Blade (Jane Yellowrock #3) by Faith Hunter

Mercy Blade (Jane Yellowrock #3) by Faith Hunter

From the cover: Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker–and a rogue-vampire hunter for hire. But lately she’s found herself taking blood money from the very vamps she used to hunt.

Things are heating up in the Big Easy. Weres have announced their existence to the world, and revived the bitter tensions that run between them and their old enemies — vampires. As a trusted employee of Leo Pellissier, Blood Master of the City, Jane finds herself caught in the crossfire.

When Jane is attacked by a pack of marauding werewolves, she is thankful for the help of a mysterious stranger named Girrard. He explains that he used to be Leo’s ‘Mercy Blade,’ a sacred position charged with killing young vampires who have gone insane. What Jane doesn’t know is why this powerful assassin left New Orleans. And more troubling, why he’s now returned. It’s definitely not to make Jane’s life easier.

Rating: 5 of 5 stars (you may be starting to guess that I really like this series)

Wow. I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, but the third, Mercy Blade, is the volume that sunk its claws into me and wouldn’t let go. I think this is the fourth time I’ve read this book and it still hits me like a steel-toed boot to the gut. It’s an emotional roller coaster with revelations that upend Jane’s world, a tricky mystery and plenty of action.

Elation. Rage. Heartache. Guilt. Hope?

For all that is going on around her, Jane has some fabulous coping strategies. She doesn’t curl up on the couch with chips and ice cream and throw herself a pity party. Nope. She takes a long, fast ride on her Harley. She works out her aggression by sparring with her sensei. And when she’s still wound up after all that, she heads to the shooting range and blows a bunch of holes in targets that she has named according to her frustrations. I want to be more like Jane.

As a reader, you get the feeling that Jane has reached a turning point in Mercy Blade. She has made a lot of progress developing relationships and generally becoming more enmeshed in society, but are the accompanying hassles and headaches worth it? How far can Jane be stretched before she breaks? This tension, combined with the book’s cliffhanger ending, had me anxiously awaiting the next book’s release and rereading the series in the interim.

Links:

Faith Hunter:   website   Facebook   @HunterFaith

Other reviews:   

Drey’s Library

Link

Blood Cross (Jane Yellowrock #2) by Faith Hunter

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the cover: As a vampire hunter and skinwalker, Jane Yellowrock is public enemy number one to the vampire community – even though she is also the key to their survival. Now, she’s about to learn that working for the enemy is just as dangerous as hunting them.

The Vampire Council of New Orleans has hired Jane to hunt and kill one of their own who has broken sacred, ancient rules. But Jane quickly realizes that in a community that is thousands of years old, loyalties run deep, mythos have real power, and the past often has more force than the present. 

With the help of her witch best friend, Molly, and local vigilantes, Jane finds herself caught between bitter rivalries – and closer than ever to the secret origin of the entire vampire race. But in a city of old grudges and dark magic, Jane will have to fight to protect both sides, even if no one will protect her.

Faith Hunter takes us once again to New Orleans. But where the first book, Skinwalker, emphasized the sights and sounds of the city (paralleling Jane’s discovery of the Big Easy,) the second novel in the Jane Yellowrock series focuses on character development and world building. An excellent direction that points to great things in books to come…

I loved Skinwalker for the action and intrigue and compelling characters. In Blood Cross, we get those same great elements and also see Jane begin a journey of personal growth. She has spent a lifetime building an impregnable wall around herself, but in this book we begin to see the first cracks in the mortar. Jane begins forming friendships, attends formal events wearing couture instead of motorcycle leathers, goes on dates and contemplates romantic relationships. She stops running from her past and begins to embrace her Cherokee heritage. Her once black-and-white world is increasingly shaded in greys and she actually takes time to research before jumping into a situation. Jane starts learning to work in a team and for the first time, she relies on others to back her up in hostile situations.

None of these changes come easily. Jane has real difficulty trusting and her first instinct is definitely not to ask for help. Even with Beast, she typically forgets to draw on the Big Cat’s strengths. Only in extremis (quite literally on the point of death) does Beast push her way forward and force Jane to accept help. Bottom line, Jane is not going to evolve overnight, but she is leaving her comfort zone and growing as a character.

Another major focus of the book is the history of vampires, both the origin of the species and the events that shaped the current political climate of New Orleans’ Mithran society. Once again, Jane finds herself playing catch up. She’s under-informed for her mission and lands in several near-death situations because of it. The secrets revealed are surprising, well placed throughout the book to maintain suspense, and a clever twist on common mythology.

If you expect more from the urban fantasy/paranormal genre than just the inclusion of things that go bump in the night – if you demand good writing, compelling and relatable characters, and gifted storytelling – you need to read this series. You won’t be disappointed.

Links:

Faith Hunter:   website   Facebook   @HunterFaith

Other reviews:   

Drey’s Library

Darker Passions

Muddy Meanderings

Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock #1) by Faith Hunter

Blood Trade, the sixth book in Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series, releases on April 2nd. Over the next five weeks, several other fans and I will be reviewing the series to date, culminating with a review of Blood Trade on its release date. (I won an ARC in a drawing, so I figure the least I can do is post a review.) Hopefully I will do the books justice and hook you into one of the best urban fantasy series in print and e-ink. The books are like chocolate-covered bacon smothered in awesomesauce. (Those of you who know of my love for chocolatey, yummy bacon know just how big a compliment that actually is.)

And so, with no further ado, I give you… (insert drum roll here) Skinwalker!

Skinwalker

From the cover: Last year, Jane nearly lost her life taking down a deadly family of vampires who preyed on the helpless populace. Now, after months of recuperation, she’s back and ready to fight again. Except this time, she’s been hired by those she’s trained to kill – vampires.

Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind–a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires–and hunts the undead for a living. But now she’s been hired by the Katherine Fonteneau, one of the oldest vampires in the New Orleans, and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt down a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps.

Amidst a bordellos of real “ladies of the night” and a hot Creole biker with a panther tattoo who stirs her carnal desire, Jane must stay focused and complete her mission … or else the next skin she’ll need to save may be her own.

There are many reasons I fell in love with this book, first among them the heroine, Jane Yellowrock. Jane epitomizes the urban fantasy protagonist: strong, independent, driven to fulfill a unique (and hazardous) mission, faces long odds and keeps coming out on top. She is a Christian, a Cherokee, rides a Harley, fights dirty and carries more weapons than your average SWAT team. She yearns for family and close friendships but has no experience with them and so stumbles over social graces. She’s flawed and she knows it, and actively struggles with her inner demons. Despite the peculiarities that make her unique, Jane Yellowrock is relatable.

Beyond Jane’s character, Faith Hunter’s writing style really sets this book apart. It’s action-packed and well-paced, skillfully blending advancing the plot with developing characters. There are enough unique elements to the supernaturals in Jane’s world to make it interesting, but the world building is not so complex that you need a glossary to follow along. Also, Faith excels at describing scenery. She blends the five senses so you really can imagine yourself walking through New Orleans. You picture the architecture, hear the blues, swim in the humidity and taste the spices wafting down the street.

Bottom line: Skinwalker has it all. A kick-butt heroine, intriguing characters, action and adventure, and excellent storytelling. Check it out today – you won’t be sorry and you’ll have enough time to read the next four novels before Blood Trade is released on Apr. 2.

On Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Skinwalker-Jane-Yellowrock-Book-1/dp/0451462807/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362001371&sr=8-1&keywords=skinwalker

Links to other reviews:

http://www.dreyslibrary.com/2013/02/26/jane-yellowrock-1-skinwalker-by-faith-hunter-repost/

http://mudepoz.wordpress.com/

http://darkerpassions.net/2013/02/26/skinwalker-jane-yellowrock-1-review-series-read-along/

My very first blog post

65 days until the big FOUR-OH.

As is common when approaching a major milestone, I’m in a reflective mood and so have decided to start a blog. I’d thought about writing one in the past – I’ve bemoaned for years that I love to write but have little opportunity to do so – but was pretty sure I didn’t have anything to say that anyone would want to read. Well, that’s okay. You don’t have to read this. I’m going to write it anyway.

I’m a perfectionist by nature. My inclination is to dither and delay until I know everything there is to know about blogging and my site is absolutely, flawlessly beautiful. But the whole point of this project is personal growth, so I’m stepping out on a limb. I’m going to learn as I go. Please forgive the newbie mistakes. Offer advice if you have it and otherwise be patient, sit back and enjoy the ride.

What will I write about? We’ll see how it develops but initially I will focus on the three Rs: reflections, ruminations, and reviews. Reflections: what’s the point of getting older gaining maturity 😉 if you don’t learn from your past and let others do so as well? Ruminations: finding inspiration or consternation from the events of the day. Reviews: I read. A lot. I rely heavily on reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads when finding new authors, and it’s time I started paying it forward.

Thanks for reading. Hopefully you will find this illuminating/inspiring/interesting – choose your i-word. And if not, well, bless your heart!