Saturday Showdown: Half Cast Vs Half Bound

Although there were definitely serious elements hidden in the content of the last showdown we had here, the post was in general meant to be fun. But this one? Oh this one is where things get real. Seriously.

You guys know I'm a total book nerd, right? I mean, I'm a reader, an author - I even decorate with books! Or at least, I will, once I've finally gotten a little further along on the road toward settling down in my dream home.

But even though I don't yet own the perfect space for all my decorating dreams, I can still use books to nurture and grow myself as a person, a woman, a mother, a friend. I can still use them to decorate the tapestry of experience that makes me so uniquely me.

I can still sit up late at night reading when I'm anxious about stuff and can't sleep.

But sometimes ... it gets really hard to pick a favorite.

I published my first novel in December 2012, and but the spring of 2013, I had become fast friends with author Lauren Dawes - I found her friendship refreshing, and by the time I finished the second book in her Half Blood series, I was hooked on her darker writing style and sexy characters. As the series began to grow, I fell more and more in love with the members of the Helheim pack ... but then life stepped in the way and Lauren and I moved in different directions for a while.

Don't get me wrong though - I was still reading her books when they came out. It was just that I was reading slower because my personal life was stuck in a repeating implosion cycle, and hers had changed dramatically with the addition of her first born. But while life got busier and busier, Lauren stayed in my thoughts, and I'm thrilled that as things have settled down for both of us, we've been able to make time to reconnect, not only through our chats but through the books (both hers and mine) that brought us together in the first place.

Lauren's just starting the process of wrapping up her Half Blood series, and while I'm sad to know that these characters will soon be laid to rest, I was thrilled and honored to have gotten to be one of readers chosen to read an ARC of Half Bound, the newest book in the series - which is now available for preorder!

Still, I started the new book with a little trepidation - with as much as I loved the storyline in Half Cast (#4), I was pretty sure this new book (Half Bound, #5) was going to let me down, and I hated the idea of having to give that news to someone about whom I care deeply.

When we started out, Half Cast was my favorite book in the entire Half Blood series - It started out with a human man in a fight for his life, a wolf woman in a fight for her autonomy, and a world of werewolves on the brink of civil war. But despite the rough nature of Lauren's streetwise writing style and baddest-of-badass characters, there was woven throughout the story a romance that pulled hard on my heartstrings.

Because it doesn't matter what the genre is; a good love story gets me every time, and Half Cast was no different. I actually loved Half Cast so much that it's probably why I didn't love Lauren's Dark Series as much as I had expected to. Not that I didn't like it, but it wasn't Alex and Saskia.

Then I sat down and started Half Bound. As it was an ARC copy of the book, I kept my phone handy while I read, to send notes and discovered editing errors along as I found them - and in the beginning, that was easy enough. There was a sort of clumsy character I wasn't all that crazy about - and was in fact downright irritated with - so breaking to send notes and comments was easy since I spent so much time closing the book in irritation and swearing at this particular character. To be clear though, this wasn't because the character wasn't well developed or well-written - it was simply because she was a dunce and I wanted to slap her for being so stupid at times. Still, she straightened out well in the end, and went back to being the character I had so loved in Half Cast.

But as I got more into the story and began to relate to and fall in love with certain other characters, I found myself lost in a story not unlike my own in some ways. I found a character struggling to let go of what once was, a woman desperately trying to carve a new path after the one she set her whole hope on didn't pan out. I found a wolf pack trying to do the right thing, and a young man finally ready to look for a future he wasn't sure he deserved. There was love, yes, but also a duplicate thread of vengeful rage that kept the story moving - two sources of pain and suffering that perfectly showcased the old saying that "hurt people hurt people," one with a motive a reader could at least understand if not relate to, and one with a spirit the reader could only hope to see snuffed out entirely.

Where Half Cast was heavy on the romance I so love to read, Half Bound was heavy on the type of climax required to bring a five-book series to its close, and I spent a good deal of my reading time turning pages madly, almost skimming the words in order to absorb the story faster. And while it is dark and twisted and bloody - it's also a story of so much redemption, so much hope and healing, that I couldn't help but totally fall in love with it..

And don't even get me started on the deeper exploration of what a family really is - and how the truest bonds are not created of blood, but of choice.

Maybe you could tell from the review and maybe you couldn't - but I think it's pretty clear where my loyalties lie here. With Alex and Saskia, Lauren touched cautiously on some tough stuff - but with Brax and Andrea, she split the vien wide open and let it bleed. And while both books were deep and easy for me to love, I have to call favorites with Half Bound - not only for the perfect way everything came together to bring the series as an arc to its end, but for the richness and depth of the smaller story woven between the characters of Half Bound and the way they had to reach outside themselves in order to find the comfort they needed in those around them.

I'll be sad to see these characters go - but man, it was good knowing them while they lasted.

Interested in seeing just how much I loved Half Cast before reading Half Bound? Check out my review for Half Cast here

I don't know about you guys, but I'm totally a dog person - I love the wild that lives inside a dog, tucked away next to his love of and loyalty to humans. Dogs are my spirit animal, I guess. But how much of that is because I'm a dog person, and how much of it is because you can't keep a wolf for a pet?

You can keep a howling wolf set of salt-and-pepper shakers though, which is why today's "Featured Favorite Product" is one of the cutest pairs of salt-and-pepper shakers I've ever "awww!!"d over. These are totally in the top spot on my current wish list of shaker sets to add to my collection!

Aren't they the cutest? And they're a steal at just under $15, too - I'm totally in love! Look at their howly little faces!

Quick Disclaimer: Since I am using affiliate links, remember that if you choose to click any product links on my site and end up purchasing through them, I will receive a (very) small commission for referring you. Rest assured that this is at no extra cost to you, but my family and I appreciate your support. (If you'd like to see a list of other companies I'm currently working with on a more regular basis, click here.)
When you've gone wild over a great new book or movie, do you ever like to pick up a little reminder of how much you loved it? If so, what sorts of mementos have you collected over the years, and what made you choose what you chose? Tell me about your favorite story-inspired collectible in the comments below!

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In the meantime, rest assured that my brand is built on the concept of what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman." But what's an undaunted woman? Click here to find out more about what it means to be undaunted - and how you can nominate your favorite undaunted woman to be interviewed right here on the blog! The first interview was a total success, and I already can't wait to introduce you to September 2017's Undaunted Woman!

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  1. I haven't heard of either of this book series but it sounds right up my alley - I'm going to check it out! And I definitely like mementos of books I've read. I get book depression when the story is over and I miss the characters!

    1. It's definitely a great series to look into - full of everything from suspense to action to romance, they've got a little something for everyone (my favorite kinds of stories!), and they of course also touch on the fantasy elements that make this sort of series so popular and well-loved.

      I get book depression too! It's like the worst kind of hangover - I can't imagine the kind of wreck I'm going to be once the last Outlander book is written.


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