Tag Archives: Skinwalker

Top 16 Books of 2016

2016 was a good year for me – I got to read a lot of books, both new and old. So here is a list of my favourite sixteen reads for this year.

falling-pomegranate-seeds16. Falling Pomegranate Seeds by Wendy J. Dunn
This is the first historical fiction that I have ever had the privilege of reading, and it has almost made me a convert. The topic is dense and heart-wrenching, but there is such a strength to the characters, that you can’t help but fall in love. The fact that Dunn used real historical figures to create her masterpiece of women’s rights, the relationships of mothers and daughters and a beautiful tale of coming of age just added to the poignancy of this tale.

skinwalker15. Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
I loved the new take on Native American skinwalkers in this story. The fact that it primarily focused on a woman of a minority culture was a great added bonus. To add to the great basis of fantasy, this story was dark and slightly twisted, but frankly honest about it’s chief protagonist – she was never painted as pure, but rather as a flawed human being.

 

Wickedly Powerful14. Wickedly Powerful by Deborah Blake
I found this series this year, and it completely changed my previously sceptical view on paranormal romance. Of the three books and five stories, this was by far my favourite. The lead Baba Yaga in this tale was far pricklier and more awkward around people than the others, and the love interest was a victim of mental illness – PTSD. This combined to create a beautiful love story with a potent message about PTSD that I cherished.

haunted13. Haunted by Kelley Armstrong
I love the Women of the Otherworld series – the heroines are not in any way, shape or form innocent and “good”. At least as books traditionally portray people. Instead they have their own challenges in life and difficulties. Eve Levine of Haunted has so far been my favourite of these characters. She is dead, but that doesn’t stop her from constantly attempting to help and guard her young daughter. This at the beginning of the story appears to be her only redeeming aspect, and as the story progresses, the true depth of her character is slowly revealed. It is a story that will make you fall in love with a flawed woman and this series again and again and again.

Raelia12. Raelia by Lynette Noni
A great sequel to the first Medoran Chronicles story, Raelia is all about the choices that we make. The storyline in this is so much more intense which is why I rated it slightly above the first book in the series, Akarnae. The ability of this story to capture my attention was immensely impressive, and I am constantly double checking what the release date for the next book in the series is.


The One11. The One by Kiera Cass
This story can make anyone believe in true love again. It is the sweetest, most charming love story I have ever read. Although, it doesn’t go over board with the sappy factor. The dystopian future setting helps to create a more fantastical and enhanced world than our own, which I thoroughly enjoyed and the creation of the caste system seriously made me question how I view and judge others. However, it is America and Maxon’s dance of romance that truly had me hooked and this story let me find out how their negotiation of love ended.

bad-blood10. Bad Blood by Lucienne Diver
I have an obsession with mythology, so any story or series that does a good job of recreating one of the ancient mythologies is going to get my attention. However, Diver’s approach to this was so completely unique that I was mesmerised from the first page. The sass and smart-mouthed attitude of the lead only added to my very quick falling for this series. As did her unique ancestry.

 

Kicking It9. Forked Tongues by Rachel Caine
This was one of the best short stories that I read this year – it combined fantasy with a strong woman and love. Not an easy combination to throw into less than one hundred pages. The image of a Cowboy Witch has stuck in my head since I read this months ago. A great, easy read to bunker down with for half hour or so.

 

 

body-double8. Body Double by Tess Gerritsen
The best crime book that I have read this year by far. Not only is it a tale of spine-tingling criminal acts, but it also investigates the nature versus nurture debates – one of my favourite intellectual discussions. Maura’s slow discovery of who she comes from and who she is highlights this, but it also reminds us that we are who we choose to be, not who other people want us to be. The strength of both Maura and Jane throughout the story is astonishing and admirable – it is so easy to imagine them walking around the streets of Boston.

night-shift7. Night Shift edited by Nalini Singh
A great way to find new authors and series is anthologies, which was partly why I bought this collection. I didn’t know that it would introduce me to one of my favourite series. Not one of these four short stories was even remotely tedious, and it was incredibly difficult to decide which author I wanted to read more of. The variety in the stories was enough that they were fascinating tales, but the underlying themes present in all of them still tied the anthology together nicely.

Queen of Shadows6. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
The Throne of Glass series is such an epic tale of war, love, loss and inner strength, so any book in this series could make it onto this list. However, I loved Queen of Shadows the most because Aelin is able to truly embrace her future and role in life. She is also able to find someone who sees her for who she is and truly accept the fact. One battle in this series is finally over, but a much, much larger one is looming in the future.

black-wings5. Black Wings by Christina Henry
So much sass and blundering in this story, which is probably why I love it so much. There is something that I find so relatable about an uncoordinated heroine that makes me fall in love with a story – probably because I myself am more than a little accident prone. The use of old lore such as Gremlins and Fallen Angels was also a unique spin on a tale of paranormal fantasy.

 

lirael4. Lirael by Garth Nix
I have always felt insanely connected to the character of Lirael in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series. She doesn’t quite belong with the people she calls family, and is always an outcast. Even after she finds her true calling in life, she walks a lonely path and isn’t quite able to relate to her peers. Yet, for all of that, I don’t think that her story is a sad one, rather one about finding out who you are and how you fit in the world. And realising that not everyone is going to fit in with others very well.

on-the-prowl3. Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs
I have been in love with Patricia Briggs for a long time now, but there is something about the novella Alpha and Omega that holds my attention every single time. Anna and Charles truly have love and first sight, but it has such a great twist to it. Add to that the fact that they both have some pretty serious inner demons, and it is a really sweet tale of overcoming the odds and finding that perfect fit in your life. Even if it is the last fit that you would expect.

magic-breaks2. Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews
It was so incredibly difficult to choose a favourite story in the Kate Daniels series. I’ve loved every single tale and would check the post office religiously when a new book was going to be delivered. However, I think that this is a good selection. Kate and Curran are not only battling for the children of their people, but they are also being forced to deal with the challenges of a new relationship. I got so emotionally invested in this story that I actually threw it across the room whenever it bothered me.

mine-to-possess1. Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh
Tales of paranormal romance are a new genre to me, and this series is a GREAT introduction. Like the Kate Daniels series, it was incredibly hard to find a favourite, but ultimately, this is the book that I found the sweetest and continue to think about. Aside from the rest of the developing Psy-Changeling drama, the story of Clay and Tally is what a lot of people dream of. Finding that one person in childhood who will always be yours – someone who is able to always understand you on an entirely different level.

So there you have it, my favourite stories from my reading list for 2016. I can’t wait to find some more great tales in the new year!

Feature image source: Now! Bali
Image 1 source: Amazon
Image 2 source: Amazon

Image 3 source: Deborah Blake
Image 4 source: Goodreads
Image 5 source: Lynette Noni
Image 6 source: Wikia
Image 7 source: Goodreads
Image 8 source: Penguin
Image 9 source: Amazon
Image 10 source: Audiobooks
Image 11 source: Live Journal
Image 12 source: Christina Henry
Image 13 source: Garth Nix
Image 14 source: Patricia Briggs
Image 15 source: Ilona Andrews
Image 16 source: Pinterest

Blood Cross by Faith Hunter

Overview

blood-cross

Title: Blood Cross
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves:
Animagus, Dark fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Roc
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: That was low.

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Synopsis

As a vampire hunter and skinwalker, Jane Yellowrock is public enemy number one in the vampire community – even though she’s also the key to their survival. Now she’s about to learn that working for the enemy can be 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 she quickly realizes that in a community that is thousands of years old, loyalties run deep.

With the help of her witch best friend 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.

Thoughts

The second full novel in the Jane Yellowrock series was a great, fast paced read and a fantastic follow up to the first story. Set not long after the explosive ending of Skinwalker, Jane is thrust further into the intriguing world of vampires and their politics. Molly’s presence in the story brings a much wanted layer of softness to the story to balance out Jane’s strong and unyielding presence.

There is nothing like some saucy love interests and sexual tension to boost the octane of a plot, and Hunter has done this beautifully. With three potential interests in Skinwalker, Jane falls further into the laps of these men. These raunchy scenes are a great, pulse-quickening way to further the storyline and raise the stakes. It is also a fantastic way to highlight Jane’s independence – she is attracted and interested, but not willing to fully commit.

My favourite thing about this story is the love and care that Jane shows towards the children. They gain her protection and care above all else. Hunter shows Jane’s stunning ability to care for others, but she also reminds us of Jane’s own isolated upbringing. Her inability to believe in a positive future for herself plucks at the heart strings as she fights for the future of others.

<- First SightMercy Blade ->

Image source: Pinterest

First Sight by Faith Hunter

Overview

Blood in Her Veins

Title: First Sight
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #1.5
In: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter & Jane Yellowrock World Companion by Faith Hunter
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves:
Animagus, Dark fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Roc
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: And I smelled the scent of burning flesh, remembering only then the cross in her hand.

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Synopsis

It is in Skinwalker that Jane Yellowrock first meets George Dumas (Bruiser) and Leo Pellissier. Now, in “First Sight”, that encounter is revisited – only this time from Bruiser’s point of view.

Thoughts

Many of the Jane Yellowrock short stories are written from the point of view of other characters in the series, which is very enjoyable. First Sight is the first story that divulges the first impressions of another character within the stories. Especially when this first impression is that of a man who is interested in her.

Molly reminds us of Jane’s vulnerability, and Beast and We Sa show the animalistic side of her skinwalker nature, but Bruiser’s retelling of their first meeting places her in the context of an attractive woman. Something I hadn’t considered previously.

Reading of Jane and Bruiser’s first meeting also helped to further explain the relationship between himself and Leo. The potence of the blood bond between vampire and servant is incredibly strong, and learning about it from the point of view of one who is bonded was incredibly insightful.

<- SkinwalkerBlood Cross ->

Image source: Goodreads

Signatures of the Dead by Faith Hunter

Overview

Blood in Her Veins

Title: Signatures of the Dead
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #0.7
In: Blood in Her Veins by Faith HunterHave Stakes, Will Travel by Faith Hunter & Strange Brew edited by P.N. Elrod
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Animagus, Dark fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Roc, Roc & St Martin’s Griffin
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: It could only be used in clear life-and-death situations.

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Synopsis

Jane Yellowrock, her best friend Molly Trueblood, an earth witch, police detective Paul “Brax” Braxton, and Molly’s husband Evan go after a blood-family of rogue-vampires who killed a local family.

Thoughts

Molly is a fantastic contrast to Jane, and telling the tale of Jane’s most successful vampire hunt through her eyes was refreshing and a very unique way to tell a new tale. Likewise, such a horrifyingly difficult hunt and journey was softened through Molly’s voice. Her ability to sense the dead and feel what they felt made the tale more tender and the deaths of the victims more tragic.

I read this short story after reading Skinwalker, so finding out more about the battle that put Jane on the map (so to speak), was fascinating and enjoyable. It also drove home the prowess and power of Jane in battle; she isn’t soft and is completely fearless and ruthless in battle.

<- HaintsMake it Snappy ->

Image source: Goodreads

Haints by Faith Hunter

Overview

Have Stakes Will Travel

Title: Haints
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #0.6
In: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter & Have Stakes, Will Travel by Faith Hunter
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Animagus, Dark fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Roc
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: She’s making those little puffs of breath that she does when we just can’t wake her.

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Synopsis

Molly Everhart Trueblood and Jane Yellowrock try to discover if a local house is indeed haunted. But the problem that they discover is far worse than a ghostly haunting, and far more difficult to solve.

Thoughts

Changing the point of view of a story is always a nice change and a breath of fresh air, and Haints was no different. The Jane Yellowrock series allows us to delve into Jane’s experiences and her feelings about the Everheart family, but Haints tells of Molly’s motherly and caring attachment to Jane.

Throughout the stories Molly is often seen to be the one requiring protection, but Haints highlights her own brand of steely protectiveness. She is soft and motherly where Jane is hard and unyielding. The combination of these two personalities is a beautiful way in which friendships can thrive on diversity and the acceptance of this.

<- Kits Signatures of the Dead ->

Image Source: Goodreads

Kits by Faith Hunter

Overview

Blood in Her Veins

Title: Kits
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #0.5
In: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Animagus, Dark fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Roc
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: Storm fell apart.

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Synopsis

When Molly Everhart Trueblood doesn’t show up for her shift at Seven Sassy Sisters Herb Shop and Café, Jane Yellowrock goes to the house to check on her. There Jane discovers a black cloud of wild, out of control magic attacking the small home. How can Jane save the small family?

Thoughts

Kits further highlights two aspects of Jane’s life; her love for children, especially the Everhart girls, and the simple and honest friendship between Jane and Molly. The previous short stories have focused on Jane’s early life and her isolation from everyone else. Finding Molly and her small family is a beautiful moment in which Jane is able to have family and loved ones – people that she wants to protect.

This pivotal moment in Jane’s life is beautifully retold and plucks at the heart strings – a vulnerable and maternal side to the vampire hunter is highlighted. The potency of Angela’s powers are also a great foreshadowing for potential future storylines and the difficulties that Molly and Evan are forced to face.

<- Cat Tats Haints ->

Image source: Goodreads

Cat Tats by Faith Hunter

Overview

Blood in Her Veins

Title: Cat Tats
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #0.4
In: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Animagus, Dark fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Roc
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: She was dressed in white, the bodice close fitting, pushing up her breasts like a corset might.

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Synopsis

In this story from the Jane Yellowrock universe, undercover agent Rick LaFleur has been working on gaining access to Leo Pellissier, Master of the City of New Orleans. But he wakes up naked and bound in an old barn, at the mercy of a magic-working tattoo artist and an insane vampire.

Thoughts

Rick’s tatts in Skinwalker are a great source of fascination and intrigue. The story behind this provided a small insight into this fateful moment is both tragic and left me with a feeling of an unfinished future together. I love this idea of fate and future, and the ways in which Jane and Rick seem to have ties to each other and each other’s lives.

Reading a story from Rick’s point of view changed the way that I perceived him. He becomes far sweeter and less of a pompous character when explaining his choices and movements. His journey into the police force and subsequent undercover work is beautifully explained, and many of his actions throughout the following storylines become far less insidious.

This short story was not at all what I expected, and it was such a pleasure to read. The change from Jane’s story was refreshing, and I thoroughly enjoyed finding more about Rick.

<- Snafu Kits ->

Image source: Goodreads

Snafu by Faith Hunter

Overview

Black Water

Title: Snafu
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #0.3
In: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter & Black Water by Faith Hunter
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Animagus, Dark fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Roc & Roc
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: I said, “Anton Jevers and Wayne Roles Junior.”

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Synopsis

Fans are always asking about Jane’s early life and training, about how she went from the children’s home to rogue-vamp hunter. Well, here’s a small insight into how.

Thoughts

I love this short story – it takes us on a journey into Jane’s first job. It was so fun finding out more about Jane’s first day as a PI, and the way in which she had to prove herself to her new employer. The run down locale and shop front perfectly suits Jane’s persona, and it is incredibly easy to see her put in such a position. If Hunter had placed her chief protagonist in a place of good standing and a tidy, respectable front, it would be far more difficult to envisage.

Jane is beginning to come to terms with her dual nature in this story, and I love how she refers to Beast as the “crazy part”. Beast represents the id within us all – that part that just seeks pleasure and sustenance, without any real consideration for the future. We all have that inner voice in our head, but the presence of Beast makes it all the more real and to the fore. An aspect of Jane that she is constantly forced to negotiate with.

<- The Early Years Cat Tats ->

Image source: Pinterest

The Early Years by Faith Hunter

Overview

Blood in Her Veins

Title: The Early Years
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #0.2
In: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Animagus, Dark fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Roc
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: 
I have been here.

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Synopsis

On her 18th birthday, Jane Yellowrock leaves the children’s home where she was raised, and heads north to her first job. But she makes a detour and discovers where she came from, who she is, and what she is.

Thoughts

I loved revisiting Jane’s first modern day experience of skinwalking. Reading Skinwalker, I had always wondered how she had discovered her paranormal capabilities, and this short story provided a great insight into this journey. It also provided more information about the importance of Jane’s gold necklace and the reasoning behind her name (Jane Yellowrock). I love that every detail about the protagonist’s life prior to the beginning of the first book was carefully planned and thought out by Hunter – an intricate reality that has layers upon layers, with more discoveries every time I read the story.

Jane is displayed as an outcast in the first few Jane Yellowrock books, and The Early Years gives us insight into the beginnings of these feelings. Her protective, Beast instincts also come to the fore in her protection of other outsiders. The feeling of inadequacy and loss of self echoes throughout the story until she literally finds her inner self.

<- We Sa and the Lumber King Snafu ->

Image source: Goodreads

We Sa and the Lumber King by Faith Hunter

Overview

Blood in Her Veins

Title: We Sa and the Lumber King
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #0.1
In: Blood in Her Veins by Faith Hunter & Have Stakes, Will Travel by Faith Hunter
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Animagus, Dark fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Roc & Roc
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: After long time, shadows began to stretch upon the ground.

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Synopsis

Beast, with Jane Yellowrock in the background of her mind, observes the lumber camp of white men who are destroying her hunting grounds. She decides to take revenge on the leader of the lumberjacks.

Thoughts

It was incredibly interesting to read a little more about some of Jane’s first years. Not only is it a great way to gain insight into her first transformations, but it also gave me a glimpse into the desecration of the land by white man when they first arrived in the Americas.

This short story was beautifully written – it was structured from the Bobcat / We Sa’s point of view, and the difference in language was both startling and enjoyable. Where Beast is strong and always willing for a hunt and fight, We Sa is aware of her limitations and fearful of the consequences of her actions.

Throughout the other Jane Yellowrock stories, Jane’s connectivity with nature is alluded to, but never highlighted. This short story beautifully ties this intricate relationship into her story and illustrates that although her victims may have changed, Jane is still sassy and uses slightly obscure tactics to get the job done.

<- More Faith Hunter The Early Years ->

Image source: Goodreads