Friday, July 25, 2014

Cephalopod Coffeehouse BOOK REVIEW: SHIFT HAPPENS, by J.C. McKenzie

Once again, it's the last Friday of the month, time for the Cephalopod Coffeehouse (what other kind would a mermaid writer participate in?) This is a monthly round-up of the best books participants have read in the last month and want to recommend to others.

I've posted a lot of book reviews this month - some of it is a cheating kind of thing, as the reviews are for books I read on vacation in May! Some were ARCs and not yet available to the public and others I just didn't get to putting on the blog until recently, as they were sitting there on my iPad and oh yeah, I forgot about them!

The book I'm going to review and recommend, however, I did read in July. In two days, despite a hectic schedule, and grabbing reading time in the parking lots of various activities the kids were involved with (you know, tennis lessons, drama rehearsals, etc., etc.) The copy I read was an ARC from the author, but the book released this month and...

I LOVED IT. Love the voice, love the action, love the sexual tension between the main characters. LOVED. Can't wait for the release of book two!

About the Book (from Amazon):
Andrea McNeilly's job as a government agent is not asking questions, but then a routine assignment turns into a botched assassination of a Master Vampire's human servant. Answers become a priority. Her search to discover the truth is riddled with obstacles, the largest being an oversized Werewolf who resembles a Norse god. Andy can't afford the distraction he offers, because if she fails, she faces eternal enslavement.

Wick's job is to monitor Andy, but he prefers more intimate activities, none of them G-Rated. His choices, however, are often not his own. His ability to help Andy is limited by his bond to the Master Vampire.

Facing many trials and challenges along her path to redemption, Andy learns the value of her freedom might be set too high.

The book starts out fast and quickly goes on from there, dragging us headlong into a future world where shifters, weres, vampires and all sorts of paranormals are officially "out" and people have learned to deal with it. Sort of. Andy McNeilly works for the government agency that polices the "supes" and takes out the baddies before things get ugly.

Things get ugly for Andy in the very first chapter.

As a shape shifter with more than one form, she is not the "normal" supe. She's never met another who can do what she does, and knows that different isn't good. She's a loner both by choice and by necessity. When her assignment goes bad and she's captured by a pack of werewolves, she's confronted by an overwhelming urge to join with the pack's alpha, Wick - despite having vowed to never trust another man ever again. Emotional conflict adds to the action and suspense, raising the stakes on everything.

The vampires aren't sparkly, but rather pure evil in Armani suits. The werewolves come in all stripes of temperament, and most shifters are defined by their chosen animals. As we go through the book with Andy (it's written in the kind of snarky first person voice I love), we experience life as a shifter and she throws in her abilities for the reader so it all feels "normal." She also discovers a few new abilities, and we're right there with her, in front row seats.

The author develops Wick's character slowly until the reader practically screams at Andy to just give in, trust him to be a good guy and do it already! Or wait, maybe that was just me screaming. Oops.

The unresolved sexual tension is palpable and keeps you turning pages at incredible speed. I loved the scenes between these two characters, and my heart went out to Andy in her conflicted desires and PTSD from her past. There was some of that past that I would've liked to see more clearly illustrated and defined, as in the conflict that sent her into the wilderness for years of recovery. But I'm hoping the author is saving more revelations for book two which is already under contract.

In short, if you enjoy paranormal with a giant side of snark, you need to grab this book and stuff it in your summer beach bag. A great read, a fun ride, and a truly enjoyable debut novel.

Now hop on over to the next blog and find another recommendation for your summer reading pleasure! Happy Summer Reading! Find the blog hop listing of participating bloggers HERE


  1. Giant side of snark: always a strong sell for me.

    Your link was misspelled on the list but I have fixed it so you should be getting more traffic now. Thanks as ever for joining us, Katie!

    1. Thanks for fixing the link! Love this monthly blog hop!

  2. I don't usually read paranormal, but I LOVE the title of this book... and your review of it. I appreciate snark, as long as it isn't directed at me, so I may have to give this book a look-see. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. I'm not into vampire, but snark? Oh, yeah.


  4. Looks like a fun one! I like that the MC is a real heroine who controls her world--or at least attempts to!
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. My only beef was the not-quite-resolved ending, as it's the first book in a series. But I knew that going into it and now look forward to book two!

      Thanks for stopping by, Veronica!


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