He left without pause – without looking back. The single connection to normality I had was driving back to Boston, to a life interrupted by the knowledge that legends and lore may not be just that, and left to contemplate what other monsters may be in existence beyond what he’d witnessed that night. I was left to acknowledge that my friend was gone, my partner was lost, and yet another person’s life was damaged because of knowing me.
Maybe a cage was exactly where I belonged.
The deaths of three PC brothers have yet to be solved, and Ruby once again finds her head sitting squarely on the chopping block. To make matters worse, a revenge-crazed werewolf keeps hijacking her mind, replaying all the details of his gruesome attacks.
As she struggles to navigate her way through this life of supernatural violence, Ruby realizes that the dreams of normal women her age may never become her reality. No white dress. No family of her own. She fears that everything and everyone she knows is in danger — and it’s all because of her. When she finally accepts those fears as fact, Ruby takes drastic measures to ensure the safety of those she loves most…
Even if it means forfeiting her own.
“I know we can’t put this in the review, but…”
That phrase seemed to be playing on a loop while Shannon and I sat down to write the review for the latest installment in the Caged Series, Framed, by Amber Lynn Natusch. Fortunately, we managed to find some usable material in our conversation…
Rachel: Three words: Oh. Em. Gee. I love how just when you think everything is gonnabe okay in Ruby’s world, it’s not.
Shannon: I know, right? I was like holy effing sh#t!! Just when you start to think she’s finally gonna get some breathing room, BAM! They get hit with something else, and you’re like WTF?! I have to say that this is definitely my favorite book in the series. So far… 🙂 So let’s talk about some of the characters in this book…
R: Yes, I gotta say I kind of hated Ronnie at the beginning. Natusch wrote her attitude brilliantly, of course, and I wanted to beat her down…except that I’m a bit afraid of her. But, I started to really like her again by the end. I think she started to finally get a true understanding of what she thought she already understood. Did I just talk in a circle??
S: Yeah…you sounded totally smart. Can we talk about Scarlet now???
R: I’ve always loved Scarlet, and this book made me love her even more. She shows us a side of herself we’ve never seen before; a side we maybe shouldn’t see.
S: I LOVE her. I want to be Scarlet when I grow up. Right now I’m Ruby: clumsy, clueless, and essentially stumbling through life. I want to be Scarlet. That chick lives by her own set of badass rules and answers to no one. I never know what to expect from her and neither does anybody else…she’s awesome!
R: What about the men in Ruby’s life?
S: Ahh, my favorite topic: the total yumminess collectively known as Sean and Cooper. I heart Cooper. I absolutely love him. As Natusch would say, he’s the “cat’s pajamas”. He’s the BFF in Ruby’s life who would walk through fire (shirtless, please) to save her crazy ass. I want my own Coop. AND my own Sean. Please excuse me while I clean the puddle that is now me off the floor. Sean makes me swoon. And I don’t use words like swoon. I adore Sean, though. He is the ultimate man. Period. End of discussion. As far as I’m concerned, there is no “Team Cooper”.
R: Ha! Cat’s pajamas. I imagine a cat in an old fashioned, striped nightgown with a matching hat… I love it. Now, back to reality, or what I wish was reality… I love them both too. Seriously, yum. Are there two more well written men in one series?? I don’t think so…Don’t judge me, but I think I might have been “Team Cooper” for awhile–he’s just sooo amazing, but after this book, there’s no way I could be. Sean has just grown so much and shown a lot of vulnerability in this book. I think he’s finally realized what Ruby needs from him. I love Matty too, and I’m really curious as to how he’ll fit into Ruby’s whole world. He’s like a cute little boyscout. Natusch sure knows how to write her…, my…, or our… (this could get confusing) men…
R: I had great expectations for this book, and Natusch totally delivered. Her writing is so seamless and flows perfectly from book to book.
S: Have you noticed her signature? It’s almost like a verbal bitchslap at the end of each chapter…Ruby takes whatever crazy mess just happened and whacks you with a one-liner (usually) that makes you go, “damn.”
R: I also love how Natusch includes real-world things and places in her books. Some authors makeup places, or just use vague descriptions of places, but she uses real places. She also uses songs that people can relate to. If you don’t know the song, you can look it up and dive into Ruby’s world a little bit deeper.
Overall, we love this book and the author. Natusch continues to prove herself with each installment of this series, and her writing only gets better (as if that were possible; she’s already amazing). We give this book 10 stars. What? You mean we don’t add our ratings together? 😉
We give this book 6 stars (refer to our Rating policy), because it’s RIDICULOUSLY GOOD and it deserves every last one of them!
Get Framed on Amazon: FRAMED (Book 3, The Caged Series)
“I cowered away from him, unable to formulate a coherent sentence. Questions ran through my mind though none made it past my lips. I wondered how this could be happening, what he wanted, and what major injustice I’d brought against the universe to bring a fate such as this upon me.
Perhaps being born was reason enough.”
After his near death experience only months earlier, Cooper’s behavior is rapidly deteriorating. So what does Ruby do? She adds a new roommate into the mix. When her friend Ronnie is abruptly called away for a family emergency, Ruby takes in Peyta, Ronnie’s highly intelligent and overly observant teenage daughter. With an increasingly unstable Cooper in the house, Ruby fears for Peyta’s safety. But when Peyta’s behaviors become as perplexing as Cooper’s, Ruby finds herself juggling a series of lies to ensure their safety as well as her own… Until the lies, and the bodies, start dropping.
Have you ever picked up the second book in a series, only to put it down after the first couple of chapters to make sure you weren’t accidentally reading the first book again, because the author so conveniently decided to spend the better part of the first half re-hashing what happened in the first one, just to make sure the you what’s going on? I hate that. Thankfully, Natusch is not that kind of writer.
Haunted picks up right where Caged left off. We are met by Ruby and the crew, plus, we meet three new characters. First, we meet Scarlet, Ruby’s werewolf. Oh, I’m sorry. You didn’t know Ruby was a were? Then read the first book. 🙂 Scarlet, unlike Ruby, is confidence personified. Where Ruby is easily annoyed and sharp-tongued, Scarlet can remain calm and under control, but still scare the crap out of anyone. They’re a perfect balance, because Scarlet is everything Ruby is not. One thing they do have in common: they will do anything to protect the people they love. Next, we meet Peyta. Smart, spunky, quick-witted Peyta. I love her. Seriously. She doesn’t take crap from anybody, and she’s very mature for age. She has to be, because a lesser girl would not have been able to deal with the shitstorm that quickly becomes her life. Finally, we meet Matty. Sensitive, caring, adorable in that younger brother kind of way, but yummy in that total hottie kind of way… all at the same time. Ruby’s more than a little naïve for not seeing the vibes he’s throwing her way, but it’s really not her fault, we can all be a little clueless sometimes and she has a lot going on. We also meet a few of the PC guys too, but all I can say about them is that they’re kinda douchebags.
This book is fantastically written and I was enthralled the entire time. It’s so hard to talk about this book without giving anything away!! There’s this one part, where Peyta could possibly… but she doesn’t. Then Ruby almost… but then, nope. Then, there’s this thing that happens with the guy at this place where Peyta could possibly… but then Ruby, well, Scarlet, has this idea to… and it works, so Cooper… Oh, Cooper!! He is just as amazing as ever. The guy I love to love. And Sean, of course, the complication a girl could really sink her teeth into. And then, I couldn’t believe what happened with Ronnie! The whole thing…it’s absolutely mind-blowing.
This book is a definite must-read, and I give it a solid 5 stars.
Haunted (The Caged Series) on Amazon: HAUNTED (Book 2, The Caged Series)
At 22, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, living under religious prejudice, the shadow of her bi-polar mother, and an unsolved murder.
Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she’d settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.
One of them is a man named Charles, a centuries-old shape-shifter who Sophia falls for despite her better judgment. He has connections that can help her unveil the mystery surrounding her ancestor’s hanging, but she gets more than she bargains for when she finally decides to trust him. Survival in his world, she learns, means not asking questions and staying out of the immortal council’s way. It’s a line she crossed long ago.
If Sophia wants to survive the council and save the people she loves, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.
I bought this book off of a recommendation by Amber Lynn Natusch (author of the Caged series). Honestly, I didn’t think I would like it that much, but as soon as I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I will definitely read the second book.
Hamilton has a way of writing that ensures that you have to keep reading. Like when she writes that, basically, the whole town thinks Sophia killed a man then moves on with NO elaboration. I didn’t just have to keep reading to find out the whole story (which is revealed later in the book), but she had lit the flame under my curiosity, so I wanted to. The plot was nothing like I expected. I thought the predominant theme was going to be about wicca, but that ended up just being a very small, though important, part of the storyline. There were some plot twists that I definitely didn’t see coming, but I don’t want to give anything away, so you’ll just have to read the book.
The tone of the book wasn’t too fast paced, but it wasn’t slow either. I definitely wasn’t bored at all, but there also weren’t any moments that made me say “holy crap, what’s gonna happen now?!”. I thought the characters were developed pretty well. Sophia was relatively likeable, though a bit naive without cause, and Charles was very yummy–despite the name. Hamilton’s writing style isn’t extraordinarily remarkable, for me it was just barely above average. Her style is not to be compared with her creativity and originality, though. She’s definitely above average there.
The book was original in a vaguely familiar way. Even though some of the stuff Hamilton included in her book has been written about time and again, she did it in a way I have never read before, and used names for the creatures I had never heard. The creatures Hamilton writes about also have different traits from the ones I have seen before. Even though some of the differences are refreshing, some are just annoying. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, call it a duck. (Obviously I’m not talking literal ducks here…)
The book was well written and captivating. I loved the refreshing twist on the same creatures we’ve all come to love. I give it 4 stars.
The Forever Girl at Amazon: THE FOREVER GIRL (an Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance Novel of the Occult) (Forever Girl Series #1)
Zoë Merrick lived a less than ordinary life, until late one night, she was brutally attacked and left for dead.
A man named Adam spotted her running down the road covered in blood, and took her under his wing. Zoë didn’t just survive that night – she underwent a physical transformation and acquired strange new abilities. Severed from her old life, her frustration grows as she tries to comprehend what’s happening to her.
Serendipity leads her to Justus. He’s handsome, arrogant, and not entirely human. Zoë learns the truth about what she is, and just how dangerous their world is for a young Mage. The only way she will understand her power is by putting her trust in this man, and accepting the protection he offers.
When her immortal freedom is threatened by the one man who has a right to claim her, Zoë learns the price of freedom…and the value of loyalty.
I picked up Sterling because of the same friend who recommended Angelfall. While she hadn’t read the book, she was curious about it and I decided to be the guinea pig this time around. I’m still quite pleased with my decision.
The book starts off following Zoe, who’s character was a bit hard for me to pin down at first. She is written very sharp and sarcastic in one scene and then seems almost sullen in the next…like there was no clear sense of identity. I just didn’t feel that the character was very well developed going into her transformation. BUT…what a transformation it was. Dannika Dark did an amazing job of introducing the new Zoe after her near-death experience. Somewhere during Zoe’s transformation, the book experienced one as well. Her character became solid (and still sarcastic-a-plenty) and her world opened up to me, albeit a new, mysterious, and secretive world. The world of the Mage. Not the typical magic and spells kind, either, but a world where energy could be harnessed and borrowed and then utilized when necessary. The fabulous part was that the supernatural didn’t get in the way of the story, but rather enhanced it.
Speaking of supernatural and enhanced…can I dish about Adam and Justus??? The leading men in this story are fascinating indeed. Adam is the handsome savior from the night of Zoe’s attack who may or may not be more than he seems. Justus comes into her life later and speaks a word that will forever transform her existence. I know what you’re thinking…a love triangle. It’s what I was thinking. But Dannika Dark outwitted me, and I love being outwitted…
Dannika Dark’s writing style is fast paced and laced with sarcasm, both of which I adore. My only issue with the book, other than the character development early on that I already mentioned, was the editing. There were quite a few grammar and punctuation errors that made me a little nuts (and I’m normally the sort of reader who hardly notices that stuff). Her writing style was very similar to Amber Lynn Natusch of the Caged Series and Karen Marie Moning of the Fever Series. Overall, I really enjoyed Sterling and have already downloaded the sequel, Twist, to my Kindle.
Sterling (Mageri Series: Book 1) at Amazon: Sterling (Mageri Series: Book 1)
After the death of her parents, Ruby awakens from a lifetime of shadows and finds herself alone, thrust into a world of lies, deceit, betrayal and the supernatural. As her quest for truth continues to come up short, she realizes that maybe some questions really are best left unanswered. When her true identity is finally unveiled, she is forced to choose between two of the mysterious men who continually seem to crop up in her life.
She chooses poorly.
Now abandoned, Ruby must learn to call on the darkness within to survive, or spend a hellish eternity imprisoned because of it.
I have a confession. You are now reading a review by someone who is not above choosing books solely based on their covers. Give my eyes an ethereal, captivating, or disturbing image to burn into my mind and I’m in. Yep, I’m superficial. But, this shallow girl scored big time using that selection criteria with CAGED, the first novel in The Caged Series by Amber Lynn Natusch. Amazingly, the inside was even better than the outside as I found CAGED to be a well-written novel with fabulous character development, brilliant dialogue, and a gripping plot.
It’s next to impossible to talk about this book without giving away spoilers…it’s one of those books that grabs you from the first page and doesn’t let go until the very last word. Ruby is easily the coolest protagonist I’ve ever read…and I’m not just saying that because I totally identify with her. She’s sarcastic as hell, she doesn’t deal with her emotions, and she’s into music and shoes. What’s not to love? Throw in the incredibly yummy men that Natusch has written into Ruby’s world (one of whom is my new book crush) along with the supernatural element…and you have a recipe for sheer reading bliss!
While reading the prologue, my husband made the ridiculous mistake of trying to ask me a question. I held up a silencing finger and shook my head in an attempt to nonverbally communicate to him that I would answer his question later. Poor guy. Later never came. I stayed up night all glued to Ruby and company. I laughed out loud more times than I could count and ended up with whiplash from the OMG plot twists. Despite the fact that I was carrying luggage for a European vacation under my eyes the next day, I could not shut up about this book. I was talking about it to everyone and my husband. Literally. Not since the Fever Series, have I been so enthralled. CAGED is one of those books…it just sucks you right into its world without warning and by the time you realize what’s happened, you don’t want to come back to reality…you enjoy life in Ruby’s head.
If it sounds like one amped up rollercoaster ride of amazing, that’s because it is…CAGED is an original, fast-paced, character driven paranormal romance that had this reader ignoring the pull of reality in order to find out what would happen next.
On a side note, once I finished CAGED, I was desperate to read HAUNTED, the next book in the series. I found the authors website at http://www.amberlynnnatusch.com and emailed her. Amber was fabulous when she responded and she even was gracious enough to allow my bookclub to interview her via Skype for our discussion of CAGED, which was fantastic! I highly recommend CAGED and will be reviewing HAUNTED in no time!
The Caged Series at Amazon: CAGED (The Caged Series)