Reviews · Throwback Thursdays

Bitten and Stolen by Kelley Armstrong (RE-READ)

# of Pages: 384 and 389

Time it took me to read: 2 days and 4 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 55 and 55

Rating: 5 out of 5 for both


Elena Michaels is a normal woman. She has a career she enjoys, a boyfriend that dotes on her, and gets plenty of exercise. Well, most of that exercise happens on four legs, rather than two, and that is exactly what makes Elena NOT normal: once every week or so, she has to sneak out of her apartment in the middle of the night to transform into a werewolf. It’s not a big deal, she’s put that part of her life behind her, it’s really only a minor inconvenience. Except for when her former Pack’s alpha calls her for help in a way she can’t refuse.

Soon Elena is once again wrapped up in the life she’s tried so hard to forget, the world of tracking down rogue werewolves and helping to ensure that the secret of her Pack stays that way. And as always she finds herself again entangled with Clayton, the man who’s heart she’s broken a hundred times but who can’t seem to let her go, despite the fact that they have a past which she can never forgive.

But Elena is never one to back down from a fight, and when the Pack is threatened, she’s left to defend it with everything she has.

*This sequel description contains SPOILERS*

Elena Michaels is a werewolf. She’s finally accepted it and found her place at Stonehaven, the home of the Pack, with her alpha and her partner, Clay. Just as she’s started to fall into her old routines of keeping the Pack safe from exposure, she stumbles upon a new secret she never suspected: werewolves aren’t the only thing out there that goes “bump” in the night.

Elena and her Pack are just one “race” of supernatural being out there: witches, sorcerers, half-demons, vampires, they all exist for better or worse. And lately, members of each race have been disappearing. Against her will, Elena is drawn into the mystery of where these supernaturals have been disappearing to – and who’s been stealing them.

I’m going to try and keep these reviews for books I’m re-reading pretty short. This series has 13 books in it (yup), so I’m not sure I’ll review them all, and many of them I’ll probably try to review in pairs (as these are the first two books in the series and share the same protagonist.

“Women of the Otherworld” is definitely one of my top three favorite series EVER in the adult fiction genre. Typically, I have struggled with adult fiction for a few reasons: too much unnecessary sex, not enough plot, poorly developed characters, and lack of quality writing.

I have absolutely nothing against the romance genre, there’s a reason it’s the most lucrative genre in publishing, but those types of books aren’t really for me. And though there definitely is a difference between romance and adult fantasy fiction, I’ve found that the “fantasy” aspect is really the only major difference in most of my experience. I’m not opposed to a few steamy sex scenes, but I need plot and character to be driving the book, not just jumping from sex scene to sex scene.

“Women of the Otherworld” books are filled with complex characters, fast-paced plots, and yes, a few steamy sex scenes to keep things interesting. Pretty much everything you could want in adult fiction, in my opinion. Those are just a few of the reasons I find myself coming back to read the series in its entirety every two to four years. And now it’s especially fun, since I’ve roped a few of my dearest friends into reading the series along with me, so we trade the books back and forth and get to talk about them, which is especially fun, as it’s the first time reading most of them for my friends.

Specifically regarding Bitten and Stolen, you really couldn’t ask for a better introduction into this incredibly engaging and diverse urban fantasy world that Armstrong has created. Elena engages you on her journey from the very first page, her struggle against who she is and her desperate attempts to create a life for herself like she always imagined resonate through the pages. Even though I’ve never been a werewolf, I understand how upsetting it can be when your life isn’t going the way you planned, and it seems to just keep spiraling further and further from your control. Plus she’s a strong, smart, independent woman, and who doesn’t love that in a protagonist.

As for re-reads in general, there is something so comforting about returning to old favorites, being able to read through them at the speed of light, but also having forgotten enough about what happens that the action is still exciting.

I’m throwing in some new books in-between “The Women of the Otherworld”, so I’ll be bringing some fresh reviews to the site that aren’t re-reads. If you’re interested in what else I’m reading, since not everything will make it onto this blog, check out my Goodreads, you can add me at “Sarah Kruhlak”. I’m making my way through my “Book a Week” challenge this year, and I’m actually a few books ahead (one of the few good things to come out of quarantine).

If you liked Bitten and Stolen, try:

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson Book #1) by Patricia Briggs

Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires Book #1) by Rachel Caine

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Throwback Thursdays

Throwback Thursday: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

It seems appropriate on today, the first truly cold day of the year, to write my Throwback Thursday mini review about Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver.

I’m also thoroughly enjoying Stiefvater’s new book this week, which I will review once I finish it.

Shiver is the story of Grace and Sam, the wolf and the girl who fell in love. If you’ve never read one of Maggie Stiefvater’s books before, I cannot possibly describe them with the amount of words that I’ve alotted myself for these mini reviews. Maggie Stiefvater so carefully places each word on the page, it’s like poetry, or maybe it’s like music, because the spaces between the words act like the melody, and her words are so beautiful that I’ve sometimes wept at the sheer miracle of them. It is an amazing blessing that she has chosen this genre, YA, that often gets so much crap for being shallow, when Stiefvater’s characters force you to feel deeply.

Grace is a pretty ordinary girl. She’s a good student, with friends and family that love her. Sam is the opposite of ordinary. Turned into a wolf at a young age, he has lived two lives that have only one thing in common, the girl that he loves both as a wolf and as a boy.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read it, so I don’t have a whole lot of specific detail to put out there,  but the whole trilogy is incredible, and if you only ever read one book with werewolves in it, EVER, this should be it. And then, of course, you should read everything else that she’s ever written.

This is going to be the miniest review, because I am currently in the middle of participating in National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo) and am already writing at least 1,667 words a day, so at this point I’m feeling a little out of words. I will definitely not be making my book a week this month, but I will continue to post reviews and Throwback Thursdays, just probably not as long and detailed as you’re used to getting.

Thanks for sticking with me!

Throwback Thursdays

Throwback Thursday: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

For this week’s Throw Back Thursday, I’m going to give you a mini review of the first book in one of my favorite series, Women of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong.

Bitten is the story of Elena Michaels, reporter by day, werewolf by night. She didn’t choose to become what she is, but she has taken her life back by leaving her Pack behind and living in the city. She’s got a human boyfriend, a human job, almost everything to make her life perfect. The only thing that breaks the illusion is having to sneak off very once and a while and change into a wolf. But Elena is willing to live with that so she can have the life she’s always wanted. But when her old Pack alpha calls her home, she knows she can’t ignore the summons, even if it will pull her headfirst back into the world she has been trying to escape.

I’ve read this whole series a couple of times, and even just flipping through this book looking for parts to review makes me want to jump back in.

I don’t read a lot of adult fiction: I find that the storylines often get a little bit campy and predictable. Not that it can’t happen in YA too, but I’ve found that I’m not as engaged in as much adult fiction. Kelley Armstrong is really the exception. She writes for YA too, but Women of the Otherworld is my favorite of hers. Her world is thrilling urban fantasy filled with smart independent women. And while all of these women have amazing power of their own, steamy romances make it that much more enthralling. Women of the Otherworld has werewolves, vampires, necromancers, witches, half-demons, really anything you could ask for in fantasy.

I went on a bit of a tangent on the series as a whole, but Bitten really is the perfect first book to set the series off. Armstrong originally wrote it as a standalone novel, but fans wanted more of Elena, so Armstrong wrote a sequel that set the whole series up for Elena to be joined by more outstanding protagonists. Though I do love the others, Elena will always be my favorite. She really is a strong female role model for other young women to look up to. She’s got a traumatic, haunting past, and while that never goes away, she learns live with who she is and what she has survived, and become stronger because of it.

Bitten is packed (ha, pack-ed, as in wolf pack), with great characters. The alpha, Jeremy, is a wise, fatherly leader, but one who is human enough to make mistakes, too. And how can I not mention Clay, the biggest heartthrob to ever appear in ink.

People ask me often what my favorite book is, and I can never answer, because I read amazing books all the time that astound me with their characters, their worldbuilding, engaging plots, inspiring and relevant themes. And while Kelley Armstrong is a great writer, Bitten is not the “best” books I’ve ever read. But it is up there on my favorites because I can pick it up again and again and feel the same thrill, and fall in love with the characters all over again.

But I will warn you: if you pick up Bitten, you may very well get hooked. And Women of the Otherworld is 13 books long, so you’d better be willing to be in it for the longhaul.

Throwback Thursdays

Blog Update/Throwback Thursday: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

shadow and bone

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to post a little update, as I’m going to be changing around how I’m doing my blog. I will still be reading a book a week, but I won’t be reviewing every book I read, as I have decided to no longer review sequels (there will be a few exceptions, I’m sure, but for the most part I won’t be doing it).

Since that throws the consistency of blog posts out of whack (though lets be honest, they haven’t been that consistent in a long time) I am going to start posting Throwback Thursday reviews into the mix.

Every Thursday, I will be posting a mini-review of a book that I read before I started reviewing books for this blog. They will be much shorter than normal and won’t follow my usual format, but will give me the opportunity to talk about books that I read long ago that I love, but won’t get the chance to write full reviews for on this blog.

My first Throwback review is by one of my favorite authors. It is, in fact, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.

This book tells the story of Alina Starkov, an ordinary girl with an extraordinary gift. She goes from being just one of thousands soldiers in the royal army to being swept up into the glamerous life of the Grisha: the magical, elite class of the kingdom of Ravka. The leader of the Grisha, known only as the Darkling, believes that Alina’s unique gift is the key to destroying the Fold, a realm of unnatural darkness that is filled with monsters. The Fold grows larger every year, threatening to engulf not only Ravka but the entire known world. But nothing in the world of the Court is as it seems, and Alina must reconcile her new power with the person that she has always been.

I honestly don’t do this book justice in the description. In this story, Leigh Bardugo teaches a masterclass in world building. I honestly have never read any world like hers, or come upon magic like hers. Her Grisha wield incredible power, but they are abilities that are almost believable.

One of my favorite things about this introduction to a sensational trilogy is the Fold, or the “Unsea”. It is a sinister void filled with monsters, both terrifying and awe-inspiring in its creativity and mystery.

I honestly cannot recommend this book (well, really, the whole trilogy) more. Its one of those stories that draws you in from the first pages, and Alina is a character that is both admirable in her strengths and relatable in her weaknesses. Leigh Bardugo was my #1 new author for 2016, and I give all 5 of her books that I’ve read a full 5 out of 5 stars.

If you’re looking for an engaging, unique book to pick up this week, try Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone. You won’t regret this foray into magic and darkness.