Nov 7 2012 3:00pm

Surprising Reads: Kresley Cole, Kevin Hearne, Kim Harrison

Poison Princess by Kresley ColeThis might sound a little crazy, but I don’t go into every book expecting it to be a home run. This is especially true of the first books in new series. I get pulled in by pretty covers and recommendations, and sometimes I just try something new from an author I like.

I sit down to read hoping for a remarkable escape, but I’ve read so much that I know it’s more likely I’ll get an enjoyable journey. Maybe later in the series it will become addictive. Or maybe it did its job of distracting me for a few hours.

Regardless, I love when a book surprises me—when that one you’ve picked up without a clue of its potential for real awesomeness turns out to be brilliant.

Most recently, I was floored by Kresley Cole’s Poison Princess. One of the things that make Cole’s adult romance novels so addictive is the well-written and super-steamy sex scenes. That’s a primary reason many of us come back to the Immortals After Dark series over and over.

Poison Princess is Cole’s first young adult novel. That means no graphic sex. I just wasn’t sure about the whole thing. Even seeing good reviews from friends didn’t sway me. But since Kresley wrote it, I was willing to give it a read. The prose was clearly her voice from page one, and I thought to myself, “See, all those reviews were just fangirl swooning, because it feels like a Kresley book.”

Then, I kept reading. The world building was detailed and the visuals let me feel the book. The hero was alpha with emotional flaws to make him so damn desirable. In short, I finished the book and felt like an idiot for ever questioning that it would be good.

And I love that kind of surprise.

Hounded by Kevin HearneShe’s not the only author who brought the sneak-attack wow. Kevin Hearne won me over damn near immediately with his first Iron Druid Chronicles novel Hounded. As a debut book in a new series I expected it to be heavy on setting the stage for future books. Hearne never gets bogged down in setting descriptions. We’re immersed in Atticus’s world with nuance.

The writing in Hounded is spry, keeping the reading rushing forward through the pages. Not only was I surprised at how quickly I finished the book, but also at how much I loved Atticus as a protagonist. I don’t read much fiction with male main characters, after all.

Sometimes surprises don’t come from new series, though. Maybe the best surprise was discovering just how strong Kim Harrison’s Pale Demon turned out. It’s hard to sustain a series as it nears the double digits. The longer the series goes, the more it can feel like the author is phoning it in. I got my copy of the ninth The Hollows novel expecting good, but not excellent. So, as I went on the supernatural equivalent of the Great American Road Trip in Pale Demon, I was floored. This was the Rachel Morgan I knew. This was why I loved this series. And somehow a book so far into the series is one of my favorites from Harrison.

What about you? What books caught you by surprise? Do you pick books up on a whim and hope to be surprised?


While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. Her appreciation of Alexander Skarsgard is well documented. Bother her on Twitter — @ChelseaVBC — she likes it.

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1. Ezequiel
Hey there, found this blog through Kevin Hearne's Twitter feed. Glad you liked the series too. I'll admit, though, that while I like Atticus as a protagonist, Oberon is the one I'd most want to hang out with, if I had to shoose between the two.

As for Kim Harrison's book, I'm glad the series stays strong. I'm working my way through the Hollows books now, and you've made me glad I started. Reminds me... I need to get back to those Anita Blake books...

P.S. You've probably already read these, but just in case: The Dresden Files, Garrett P.I.

Chances are that if you like Kevin Hearve's stuff, you might like those series as well.
2. Ezequiel
Sigh. "Choose", "Hearne". You guys go through the trouble of giving me a comment editorial process and what do I do? Ignore it. That's what.
Lege Artis
3. LegeArtis
Kevin Hearne took me by surprise, too! How can anyone not fall for Oberon? Other debuts that surprised me pleasently were Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett and The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay. But one that left me open mouthed with awesomeness that I didn't see coming at all is Mob Rules by Cameron Haley. It's not so known like previous , but it's also UF. It has this crazy plot where most powerful magic users are actually gang bosses who have turf fights and main character is girl who is also enforcer for one of them and she investigates murders on her boss's teritory. I really didn't expect anything of this book. When you read UF as much as I, it seems that with every new book, you're reading the same story, basic ideas are recycled and plot became predictable. So, yeah, that book shut my seasoned-reader-know-it-all mouth and I ordered second in series immediately.
Carmen Pinzon
4. bungluna
I love Hearne. I discovered him through my quest to read more male authors. I also discovered Benedict Jacka's "Taken", which worked very well for me. I'm very finicky in my reading and am always extatic when I discover a new author.

As for "Pale Demon" it restored my interest in The Hollows series. I'd been wandering away from it and this road trip reminded me why I love Kim Harrison's world.
5. ChelseaMueller
Loving all the praise for Kevin Hearne in the comments! I, too, love Oberon.

@Ezequiel - Don't fret about the typos. We all have done the "quick reply" when we shouldn't have. You're not alone!

@bungluna - That's exactly the reaction I had to Pale Demon. *high five*

@LegeArtis - Oh, Jenn Bennett is a good addition. I fell for that series, too.
6. CdnMrs
I love Kevin Hearne. Fantastic writing, great characters and the dude totally knows his lore and mythology.

The most recent book that took me by surprise was a YA called
Mothership (Ever-Expanding Universe #1) by Martin Leicht, Isla Neal. I agreed to review it and was fully expecting it to be ridiculous and infantile. I was totally proven wrong and I was very pleasantly surprised.
7. ChelseaMueller
@CdnMrs - Isn't is crazy how much we like being proven wrong when it comes to books?
8. Charlayne
My husband and I love Kim Harrison and I'm a huge Kresley Cole fan. I've not read Herne, though.

I wonder, those who have read Poison Princess, is it "nice" enough to let a 10 year old read? She's finishing up Jaz Primo's "Gwen Reaper" and loves it so I want to get her something else.
9. SassyT
I read Poison Princess and really enjoyed it. I have been reading a lot of YA books (after avoiding them like the plague for years) and I must say there are a lot of great stories. I too was a bit concerned about this book because I have read all of Kresley Cole's other books (love them) and wasn't sure how this would turn out. But it was really enjoyable and the desolation was papable in the book. Can't wait for the next one in the series.

@Charlayne: I don't know if you should let a 10 year old read this. It does have some plot points that were a bit uncomfortable for me to read (and I'm 38 years old). I'm not usually too squeamish but reading some of the situations made me feel...bad for lack of a better word. If I were you, I'd read it first. That way you'd know if you daughter could handle it or not.

Another good one I read recently was Gena Showalter's Alice in Zombieland. It was pretty kick @ss. I was already a fan of her books and this is an interesting take on the whole zombie phenomenon. Also, after reading it, I felt like a dirty old woman for thinking the hero sounded really He's like 16 and I'd be all over him like white on rice.
10. SassyT
Forgot to mention that Alice in Zombieland is the first book in a new series as well. I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment.
Kat Bernard
11. Abforth
I haven't started the Poison Princess yet, although I am a huge KC fan. My best friend is a massive Karen Chance fan, but even when she was vibrating down the phone at me because I HAD to read Fury's Kiss because she needed someone to squeal with, I was still sceptical because I wasn't quite a big a fan as her. But I was blown away by Fury’s Kiss. It the third in the series and I really enjoyed the first two, but this third instalment just ticked all of my boxes and has me buzzing for the next one. I loved it; Dory is now my ultimate favourite heroine. I didn't like the Cassie Palmer series and only read the first. But I loved Fury's Kiss so much, I have restarted the Cassie Palmer series and I am enthralled.
I love the sound of this Hearne book and will be looking it up!
Kaitlin Blaker
12. Allan-Hatai
I recently picked up a few books by Marcia Lynne Mclure and absolutely fell in love. First I read An Old-Fashioned Romance, which is still my favorite, and now I am trying out others. So far no steamy scenes, other than making out, but the males are pure alpha (plus they're just so dang cute when they fall in love!) Bonus: MLM writes in several genres, so there's probably something for everyone.
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