In "Ravensdale," Elliot continues her skill with satire, and tongue-in-cheek humor, combined with engaging characters the reader cannot help but root...moreIn "Ravensdale," Elliot continues her skill with satire, and tongue-in-cheek humor, combined with engaging characters the reader cannot help but root for.
I haven't read many novels set in the 1700s, but this story won me over. I was so engrossed that I couldn’t stop reading and ended up with a terrible headache, but it was worth it. What an amazing bunch of characters! First of all, there’s Lord Reynaud Ravensdale, the Disgraced Outlaw and Earl: this is a character to really fall in love with. He’s intelligent, quick, wild, impetuous, an amazing shot, and absolutely bursting with honor. Oh, and he’s apparently handsome to the point of being “nondescript,” a term that will come to haunt Lady Isabella, the heroine of the story. Isabella is an amazing kick ass woman, and a true, perfect match for the larger than life Ravensdale. She has no desire to be a shadow to a man—any man. She wants to run off and become a brigand (like the mysterious Mr Fox.) Reynaud and his cohorts have their hands full in their well-meaning but inept and misguided attempts to make her a prim, docile “lady.”
There are several layers to this story, which I don’t wish to spoil. One thing I enjoyed very much and do with all of Elliot’s books is the humor. It’s not very often I get to guffaw when I’m reading historical fiction. The setting is brought to life through picturesque descriptions that made me feel I was there, breathing in the scent of roses and watching the butterflies rise, dancing in the moonlight.
An eminently satisfying book. Bold, swashbuckling characters. A tender, memorable romance. Action, growth, and personality development working alongside plot. Not to be missed! (less)
I received an ARC for reading and reviewing purposes.
I've been bothering the author for months now trying to get my hands on Book Three of Xenofreak N...moreI received an ARC for reading and reviewing purposes.
I've been bothering the author for months now trying to get my hands on Book Three of Xenofreak Nation. I read it in a matter of two days, I think it was: it was quite difficult to put down.
Action lovers will be thoroughly happy with this, the eagerly-awaited third installment of the Xenofreak Nation trilogy. It never stops: one event leads into the next like gunfire. Lives hang in the balance as the Typhoid-like supervirus expands. Where did this contagion come from, how is it spread? Who is to blame for it? How can people protect themselves? These are the questions Bryn and Scott, Jason and Mia must answer, and quickly, before more deaths occur. The bad guys return as well, Maddy, Fournier, Dundee, and Maddy's father, Philip Singh. All have their own agendas, and some of it is, well, very bad for humanity.
There were times I wondered how these tireless heroes could go on, how they could possibly deal with yet another crisis. Yet, somehow, they do, to a backdrop of riots, trickery, and murder.
The book is filled with amazing, prophetic, imaginative twists, encompassing science, medicine, and futuristic technology that I found enthralling and captivating. I hope some of these ideas actually come to pass.
A must-read for fans of the first two books.(less)
I loved loved loved this. I don't read all that many romances so maybe I'm not very sophisticated about them, however, I wish there was a way to gouge...moreI loved loved loved this. I don't read all that many romances so maybe I'm not very sophisticated about them, however, I wish there was a way to gouge this book completely out of my brain every time I read it so that I could read it over and over for the first time!
I really loved this book: part mystery, part ghost story, part love story, part action-thriller. From the first page, I was involved and intrigued, an...moreI really loved this book: part mystery, part ghost story, part love story, part action-thriller. From the first page, I was involved and intrigued, and many hours were lost in this supernatural world set in both modern-day London and the last century. I believe the author has touched upon an idea that is mesmerizing not only to other writers but avid readers as well. The idea? Of a fictional character coming to life. Actually tearing himself out of the pages of a story and forcing his way into the real world, bent on revenge. "Motivated by Gothic dark passions of obsessive love and hate as it is... a disembodied Heathcliff." Who out there who has ever read or written a book is not able to think of a character he/she would love to meet, face to face?
A compelling concept.
The creator of this problem is Aleks Sager, a protagonist who begins as almost an anti-hero, yet soon he reveals just how sweet and loveable he truly is. He will go to great lengths to protect the woman he loves from the dangerous character he wrote into life.
Elliot writes beautifully, visually, so that the reader is caught up in the smells, the textures, the food and lights and life of London. Each scene is immediate, vividly drawn, filled with sensory details. There's more: she's a master at characterization: I LOVED the way Aleks and his best mate, Rick, banter and curse at each other, and poor Natalie's vapid thoughts, and the wonderful Aunt Sally. Then she brings in the scary, paranormal element, which includes, yes, an ouija board. Elliot never fails to include humor in her stories, a dry, tongue-in-cheek look at the foibles of humanity.
Perhaps it's inevitable that a modern day woman falls in love with this romantic figure from old Russia. Their scenes together are so animated, as are all the scenes, really, that I began to think what a wildly popular movie this story would make. Ivan Ostrowski, the character dragged from fiction into reality, is more enticing than any zombie or vampire out there.
I received an advanced reader's copy of this book for review purposes.
Dying Phoenix is its own story, but in its pages, the reader gets to know the ch...moreI received an advanced reader's copy of this book for review purposes.
Dying Phoenix is its own story, but in its pages, the reader gets to know the child of Andrew Cassimatis and his young Greek lover, Anna, from Proctor’s book The Long Shadow. As I dearly loved The Long Shadow, I was thrilled to see Andrew again and to meet his tempestuous, mesmerizing, passionate daughter, Nina. Nina will capture your heart instantly.
Nina has grown up in England, though she was born in Greece: she's married to the deeply flawed yet somehow loveable Englishman, Max Hammitt, so she is a child of two worlds, just like her father. As she says, “My mother’s Greek warrior blood stirs in me.” It is, perhaps, this warrior blood that sends her over to Greece during a dangerous time of political uproar and upheaval.
When the book opens, Max and Nina are separated, due to casual infidelity on Max’s part. Needless to say, Nina is not the type of woman to easily forgive such a betrayal.
It just so happens that Max is in Greece at the same time as Nina, though they aren’t together. He gets caught up trying to rescue a young girl from her brutal pimp—an act of kindness that causes him much harm later in unforeseen ways, leaving me feeling very sorry for him.
Set in the tumultuous political events of the nineteen-sixties, Nina and Max are swept up in terrible circumstances. They are exposed to, and endure, much, as do many others.
Dying Phoenix is lyrical and immediate. It is both beautiful and ugly. It will seize you and place you into those ancient towns, the dusty streets, nightmarish prisons, the riots and their repercussions. The dialog is especially well done: natural and flowing, spiced with Greek phrases, it gives an enticing flavor of native conversation.
Max, Nina, and Andrew are wonderful characters, but there’s also an unforgettable supporting cast—finely-drawn, idealistic resistance fighters, older, jaded, yet surprisingly caring friends, innocents caught up in savage situations. Dying Phoenix alternates between beauty and brutality, never shying away from reality or falling into trite euphemism.
All these things left me feeling I was in the hands of a master author. I read Dying Phoenix with great enjoyment, and at times sadness, punctuated with shock. Though I’m an American reader, and a bit too young to know much about this period in Greek politics, I was utterly absorbed by the story, never lost or confused. A captivating follow up to The Long Shadow, Dying Phoenix is a masterful creation, deserving of high accolades.
This book is an amazing fantasy ride, full of unique characters and vivid scenes.
Nell is facing college and has secretly applied to one. But there's a...moreThis book is an amazing fantasy ride, full of unique characters and vivid scenes.
Nell is facing college and has secretly applied to one. But there's a reason her father doesn't support this idea, and it isn't any reason you've ever heard of before.
For seventeen years, Nell has lived a rather lonely--but fairly normal--life. Then one day an alligator speaks to her, and from that moment on, BIG changes come barreling, sweeping her away from any hint of normalcy, and taking her good friend Sam with her.
This story surprised and delighted me at every turn. I don't want to give any spoilers, but The Curse of Wexkia has a lot going on. It's a little bit sci-fi, a little bit fantasy, a little bit teenage angst, a little bit rebellion, and a little bit sweet budding romance. While the story ends very satisfyingly, there is definitely room for a sequel, and many more adventures. (less)
In "The Golden Dice," Caecilia has matured significantly, and has borne another son. She's made her choice. She is committed to Veii and her husband,...moreIn "The Golden Dice," Caecilia has matured significantly, and has borne another son. She's made her choice. She is committed to Veii and her husband, Mastarna. Unfortunately, peace remains elusive, and Mastarna spends much time fighting the Romans, even as political intrigue continues unabated in Veii, as well.
The characters Storrs creates are magnetic, especially the compelling Mastarna, but in this book, he is joined by a more courageous, willing-to-gamble Caecilia and more characters as well that I have found unforgettable. There is Arruns, the brutal yet somehow enchanting guard with the snake tattoo. I can easily see why Semni wants him so, and I found their scenes together mesmerizing. There's Tarchon, Mastarna's son, who is led astray, and Drusus, who becomes a lightning rod. But two of the most compelling characters, fleshed out gorgeously in this volume, are Pinna, poorest of the poor prostitutes, and Semni, the artistic, independently-minded, slave. Pinna, especially, I sympathized with. Storrs brings the pathetic life of a low prostitute, one who plies her trade at gravesites, to vivid life, and I do so want her lot to improve. She has the guts to set her sights high, and I like that!
Pinna and Semni become major characters in The Golden Dice, and I love them both. They add great dimension to the story.
The religion, traditions, customs, and lifestyle of the Etruscans are told in vivid detail in this book, which I actually read first, before "The Wedding Shroud." I had no trouble at all doing this. "The Golden Dice" works well as a stand-alone novel. With Caecilia having chosen her side and standing firm with the Etruscans, one wants them to triumph over Rome. Yet Storrs creates equally compelling Romans, in the character of Camillus, the captivating general, Drusus, and Marcus. Each character, in his-her own way, draws the reader into their thrall.
Twists and turns abound in this beautifully told, complex story that takes place in the later years of the nineteenth century. The Crawfords of Holdaw...moreTwists and turns abound in this beautifully told, complex story that takes place in the later years of the nineteenth century. The Crawfords of Holdaway Hall make an offer to a young lady, Abbie, an offer that is more than simple courtesy and care: they have something in mind, something that concerns her. This is the secret of "Cry of the Peacock." What is Ruskin's motive when he asks for Abbie's hand in marriage? A marriage, which, if it takes place, would be well beneath his station? Why does Abbie's Aunt Newhaven despise the Crawfords so much? Into this strange tableau of Ruskin asking for the overseer's daughter's hand comes the two younger Crawford brothers, David and James. Their father has not confided in them: neither understands why their brother is trying to win the heart of this common lowborn woman and they don't believe love has won him over.
Both set out to discover the truth, and both are inclined to think Abbie a gold digger. For her own part, Abbie doesn't understand Ruskin's motives either, but the pressure put upon her to accept his offer is tremendous, from everyone except her aunt. Her instincts warn her that something isn't right and she hardly knows Ruskin, but cold hard commonsense fails her when it comes to another young man.
From page one, "Cry of the Peacock" is a mystery, a journey of discovery, a peeling of the onion down to its core of truth. I found it deeply compelling, a character-driven story with a flavor reminiscent of "Pride and Prejudice." Having read the author's debut novel, "Of Moths and Butterflies," I was looking forward to a new set of well-drawn protagonists and first-rate dialogue, and I wasn't disappointed. Christensen's selfish, sometimes cruel men, especially, are so well done that one wants to throttle them. Lighthearted scenes are juxtaposed with dark drama, and carry the reader through to a satisfying end. I enjoyed it thoroughly. (less)
I just love this author's books & am always eagerly anticipating the next one. She has a never-failing imagination and an extremely sharp mind. Sh...moreI just love this author's books & am always eagerly anticipating the next one. She has a never-failing imagination and an extremely sharp mind. She weaves science fiction into fantasy flawlessly, and creates real characters the reader can root for. She is also a professional: there are no typos or grammar gaffes in her books. Every one I've read has been a true pleasure, both for the clean format and the story. I'm impressed with her knowledge and/or research into scientific things. This one reminds me a little of "The Andromeda Strain", for the way everything in the story, no matter how fantastic, is believable.
This is Book Two of a planned trilogy. I wish I had read Book One, "The Gossamer Sphere: The Gossamer Crown" first, because I'm detailed like that, and like to do things in order. As it turns out, I was offered Book Two, this one, as an ARC before I had a chance to read Book One, and I decided to go for it. It worked beautifully. I was never lost or puzzled. The story flows so well, with backstory effortlessly integrated, little by little, and characters fleshed out so gracefully, that I never had to pause.
Nearly every chapter ends with a new twist, a startling cliffhanger, and each time, I wondered, "How are they going to get out of this!" Things happen fast, and I never felt I could begin to predict what would come next, or how it would end.
The Gossamer Sphere itself is an amazing invention. It changes some of these characters. Some become shape shifters, some can use telepathy. Because the world is as it is, there are those who are afraid of these changes and want to destroy the people who have been altered. But the reader definitely wants them to find a way to triumph, survive, and thrive.
The books take place in the near future, not so far away that everything is strange. Most everything is familiar, almost as though in the present day. There are a few older folks, but most of the characters are in their teens, and even though they are exceptional (they've actually saved our world), they are still your typical hungry, sometimes awkward, sometimes hormonal, teenagers, and enormously likeable.
I highly recommend this book as I do all of Conway's! (less)
Trying War takes up the story of Hero and her brothers right where Chasing Odysseus leaves off. The reader is taken first into an atmospheric, evocati...more Trying War takes up the story of Hero and her brothers right where Chasing Odysseus leaves off. The reader is taken first into an atmospheric, evocative prologue in the viewpoint of Pan, the goat-footed god, who reflects on the events of Chasing Odysseus. It's an inventive, interesting way to remind the reader of what has happened up to now.
Without any more preamble, the reader is swept into the siblings' next wild adventure. After the culmination of their encounter with Odysseus, they sail for Troy. As they approach their homeland in the magical Phaeacian ship Pan leant them, they can't even land in peace--they fall under attack as they enter the bay. It's the Amazons, who have come to fetch (kidnap) Pentheselia's child, Hero, though she was discarded as an infant for being "flawed." (Her eyes aren't very strong.) Now, all of a sudden, they apparently require her again, and they're willing to kill thousands in order to achieve their aim. They call Hero "Bremusa," which must have been the name Pentheselia gave her when she was born. Needless to say, the Amazons, a fierce fighting tribe, overpower the other Herdsmen and Hero's brothers, who are held captive. Seconds only remain until every one of them is slaughtered. Hero steps in and offers herself, if the attackers will spare the others. The Amazons accept her offer and off she goes, leaving her brothers broken-hearted, terrified for their sister's safety, and resolved to get her back.
Hero, or Bremusa, has been taken with the intent of becoming lover to the war-god, Ares, because the Amazons are convinced their god has abandoned them. Machaon, Lycon, and Cadmus, with the aid of their dead brother Paris's first wife, Oenone, sail after Hero.
Oenone has been largely forgotten in the myths that have come down through the centuries, in favor of the more glamorous tale of Paris and Helen. But yes, Paris was committed to another woman before Helen came along. In Trying War, Oenone is brought to glorious life. She almost steals the story! We get to know her in a wonderfully detailed way, her endless grief, her continuing love for Paris, her anger and rage at him too. All are in the pages of Trying War, and she is fleshed out so beautifully that her character alone makes the book worth reading. BUT, there's much more to Trying War.
The reader will also be exposed to (I don't know how else to put it) Medea, yes, the very same who was abandoned by Jason (of the Golden Fleece). She is gorgeous, and delightfully evil. Also the Erinyes, who are spine-chillingly described: "Taller and larger than most men they stood naked to the waist. Withered breasts hung low and pendulous over folds of flaking skin. Serpents sprang from their scalps like hair, and fought, devoured and regurgitated one another without pause or concern for their hosts. The Erinyes' crude features were stained with the blood and gore of losing vipers." Poor Machaon, Hero's eldest brother, falls victim to Medea and the Erinyes; the outcome of this betrayal concerns all the protagonists. Trying War also contains (barely) Electra, Orestes, and Oedipus! Besides entwining with the stories of all these famed mythical characters with whom we've grown up, we actually encounter the gods and goddesses themselves in Trying War, for Ares himself is put on trial (Trying War!) by his Immortal brothers and sisters. And who finds their way right smack dab in the middle of this earth-shaking event? Yes, Hero, Machaon, Cadmus, Lycon and Oenone.
Trying War holds many twists and turns. Good battles evil and the outcome is never a foregone conclusion. I was swept along with the siblings as they literally fight for their lives against Zeus and his Immortal companions.
I found this sequel addicting, and couldn't wait to get back to it when I had to do other things. I just received "The Blood of Wolves," book 3 (and I think the conclusion of this story) a few days ago, and will be reading it as soon as I finish my current read. (less)
Black Tiger is one of those special paranormal romances that transcends the ordinary. Set in India, around the vividly well-characterized protagonists...moreBlack Tiger is one of those special paranormal romances that transcends the ordinary. Set in India, around the vividly well-characterized protagonists, Ash and Sally, the reader is swiftly drawn into the heat, majesty, and charisma of this ancient, evocative land and its beliefs, sometimes magical, other times violent and cruel.
Ash is a mesmerizing romantic hero. He's standoffish, but not necessarily because he wants to be: he has certain special obligations he dares not share with anyone.
He's drawn immediately to Sally Carter, a doctor he's recruited to care for the villagers he's in charge of. He resists the attraction: as long as he's lived, he's known he can only get together with a certain kind of woman.
The Legend of the Black Tiger pulls them both irrevocably into its mystery, its grace, its terror, and Sally discovers more about herself than she ever could have imagined.
This is the type of book I can enjoy reading over and over again.
Important note: The proceeds from this book go toward tiger preservation. (less)
I was fully involved until close to the end. Then the book veered away from what I was expecting, into a disappointing area. This had to do with the S...moreI was fully involved until close to the end. Then the book veered away from what I was expecting, into a disappointing area. This had to do with the Somni story. The writing is lovely.(less)
This was such a good book. It's complex yet not hard to understand, and it has amazing characters that linger on in the mind (yes, I'm thinking of Mas...moreThis was such a good book. It's complex yet not hard to understand, and it has amazing characters that linger on in the mind (yes, I'm thinking of Mastarna.) I fell in love a little with him, and wow, the way the book ends, you really root for this couple.
I've seen some comments about Caecilia and would like to add my two cents. She's just 18 when BOOM, she's told she's being given in marriage to a man (a complete stranger, and 20 years older than her) who is the enemy of Rome! (It's some political thing.) This to me would be similar to current stories of young women (even girls) being given in marriage to old men in certain countries today. We feel bad for those girls: some have committed suicide. This is no different. It's important to remember the facts as they were given to her: she has lived an extremely sheltered life and all of a sudden she's married to an enemy, and taken away from everything she's ever known. For me, Caecilia's reactions were spot on, very believable, and any other reaction on her part would have turned this historical delight into a trite romance. Oh, there's plenty of romance, by the way--but because it's hard won, it has more meaning. One line I thought described it so well: "She felt like she was nothing. Less than nothing. Displaced among the living; unwanted amid the dead." Tarchon, her stepson, takes her under his wing, teaches her the language, is kind to her, as is Mastarna's mother. Thank goodness: it could have gone so differently. Yes, Caecilia clings to her past, to her loyalty to Rome, to her cousin and a Roman boy she thinks loves her. She knows nothing else. But in all good fiction there's growth, setbacks, new growth, realizations.
There are those in her new home who don't have Caecilia's best interests at heart, though they pretend to--for awhile, which of course lends itself well to painful betrayals. It all makes for a fascinating, enlightening, memorable read! I really enjoyed how carefully the author fleshed out everyone, even minor characters. Everyone had a face, a personality. I was involved with them all.
When she does go back to Rome, she is chastised for "changing." Really? I thought her reply magnificent: "What did you expect," she said, "when you sent a bride to live with lions?" What a wonderful line!
The research that went into the detail and flow of the story is impressive. The author doesn't skimp on the sights, smells, and sounds either. I felt immersed in Rome, in the Etruscan society, in the time period, and in the characters.