Since Vicki Pettersson and Rachel Vincent are apparently dueling over recipes, I thought that meant I could talk about their books together. (Or I'm lazy - you decide.)
So, I first ran into the Sign of the Zodiac series when I picked up Holidays are Hell. I picked up the anthology primarily for the Marjorie M. Liu story, (yes, this does seem to have become a contest to see how many books I can cram into one entry). Interestingly enough, Liu's work was the only one of the four author that I was familiar with in that anthology and it is the only story of the four that isn't a prequel or sequel. So, I got to "The Harvest" (the Pettersson story) and was totally sucked in. Unlike the other two 'quels, I was part way through when I was thinking this better be part of something because I am not ready to let these people go. (The other two were enjoyable, but I could tell they were 'quels.)
So, I checked, discovered it was a prequel and that the series focused on Joanna (who is a background figure in the prequel). And I hunted the books down.
So, Joanna was raped and left for dead as a teen (the prequel occurs a few months after that). Daughter of a casino owner, she has ditched the socialite life and haunts the streets of Las Vegas taking pictures. Except now, as she turns twenty five - she is about to be hunted again.
Now, while I technically read the stories in chronological order, I recognize that my knowing the background about Warren and Zoe and even Joanna may have colored my perception. I started The Scent of the Shadows knowing more than Joanna did (at least about her Zodiac heritage) which may have actually helped since the places she was sent or people she met, I had a clue how it was going to help. (I tend to be impatient about book characters who ask stuff and get cryptic answers, no matter how well meaning. Although that is better than the book characters who don't ask.)
It may have been my mood, but I got super impatient over a timeline flaw that they acknowledged in the first book but then never fixed. And when I started the second and discovered six months had passed and they hadn't fixed it I was really annoyed. Now I want to point out that it didn't annoy me enough to stop and really, I recognize that with everything else going on - I was hung up on a teeny detail - one that had even been acknowledged in the storyline as an issue. And it did, in the second book (late, but seriously, they were busy) get taken care of. So, really, I should have trusted better.
I received Stray by Rachel Vincent as part of the Paperback Reader October paranormal stack. And what a good thing. I tend to avoid werewolf type stuff (clearly I have made exceptions for Liu's Dirk and Steele series (shapeshifters), some Nora Roberts (werewolf and a shapeshifter) and Day's Warriors of Poseidon series (lots of were-things)). Now, the folks (cats) in Stray are in fact were-cats. I picked up the book and dove in having done nothing more than read the front cover. (Having now read the back - it's pretty good.) Faythe is a grad student having chosen education over the family business of pride management for their territory. But a stray - a non-pride affiliated member attacks - and while she breaks the guy's nose, she also has to head home where they can keep an eye on her. I read one review where Faythe was called too-stubborn-to-live, which I thought was funny. I see the point, she is all about taking her first instinct to the mat, thoughtful analysis for later (and she's an English major, it's an interesting contrast). I finished the book really fast, but I felt while she was occasionally doing stuff and then seemingly surprised that decisions have, you know, consequences, it worked for me. Faythe did learn, if slowly, and try better tactics. She was also dealing with a bunch of alpha males, alpha cats even - and with the male/female cat ratio high on the male side - well the need to assert made sense to me.
So, I enjoyed it and now have to wait for the next.