**spoiler alert** In Enemy Hands is sci-fi romance hybrid filled with adventure, suspense and some spiffy tech speak alongside a developing romance. T...more**spoiler alert** In Enemy Hands is sci-fi romance hybrid filled with adventure, suspense and some spiffy tech speak alongside a developing romance. The sci-fi romance subgenre is slowly growing and I'm always jazzed to see new additions to the library.
The book starts in the past with Moon's old research partner as they work for the republic. As with many great SF stories, there are rebels working outside of the republic and Moon gets a surprise when she finds out a secret her partner is hiding. Needless to say, she is left holding the back and suffers years of interrogation and life when she held for crimes she didn't commit. Later, she is sent to work on another vessel where she meets her new research partner, Srin, a literal living calculator who also loses his memory every two days in a restart to keep him under control. Moon is fighting her attraction to Srin and is heartbroken every time she has to restart their meeting. Srin's mind is completely wiped...or is it?
Firstly, can I just say how much I love love love Moon and Srin. With Moon, I loved that she was a woman of color and a sympathetic, brilliant scientist. Although her cultural background isn't identified, I didn't mind at all. I love that she was described as having brown skin with kinky hair and was beautiful. Srin even described her being different from his previous love. I didn't like the assault she suffered in the beginning considering it's a pet peeve of mine whenever women are hurt in such a way. It slowed my reading in the story down even though I can understand why it was put in.
With Srin, ah Srin. I loved Srin. Normally romance touts alpha heroes for their leading men and Srin, although a strong character in his own right, may be classified as beta, although I don't think that's quite accurate either. He was genuine. A complex man who had a past, a life, a love and had it all taken away for his abilities in how he can be used by a bigger machine.I was rooting for Srin and Moon and was heartbroken every time Srin had his memory taken away from him.
I also have to say I love the technical bits that made this tale authentically sci-fi. Most sci-fi romances gloss over the technical aspects and just put the magic woo woo with a bit of technobabble and I'm left scratching my head and wishing for more. Ms. Augustin went all out with her research to make the republic and the science feel so real. I loved that. I always look for techie goodness in my SF and was jazzed to see it here.
On the romance end, I was glad it took time to develop and there wasn't a forced attraction right from the beginning. Although this may be billed as a sci-fi romance, I may have to shift it into erotica territory. The sex scenes are explicit, including a scene of self pleasuring, and I felt it knocked the story off its axis during these scenes where it screeched to a halt. I'm not really a fan of explicit sex scenes and here where character development and the attraction is mostly sweet, it feels like the sexual aspects came out of nowhere and fell into TMI territory.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the story development and I REALLY enjoyed the characters which were a joy to follow. The diversity was a wonderfully pleasant surprise and the adventure was fun to follow. I look forward to reading more SFR like this, although preferably with love scenes on a more sweeter scale.
This review is based on a galley received by NetGalley courtesy of the publisher.
**spoiler alert** Deep in the caves of Guatemala, a secret ancient ritual takes place opening up a gateway to the Mayan underworld. Months later, Dr....more**spoiler alert** Deep in the caves of Guatemala, a secret ancient ritual takes place opening up a gateway to the Mayan underworld. Months later, Dr. Jaid Merritt receives the video feed only to find out her father was the man leading the ritual. Despite her fear of going on dig sites, Jaid must decide whether to face her fears and find her father at the Mayan temple, or risk losing him forever.
Bloodgate Guardian was awesome! I really enjoyed this book filled with action, adventure, a little bit of romance and a lot of suspense. One of the many strengths of this book was the characters and story pacing. I loved that Jaid is not a generic kick butt heroine who rejects all feeling except her libido to do whatever needs to be done. She has a weakness (she injured her knee as a child during a dig with her parents), and although she shows signs of strength, she isn't afraid to break down with vulnerability when the weight of the world falls on her shoulders. She's a realistic heroine who shoes genuine fear and hesitance before going into a situation but when the chips are down, the girl's got moxie and will do what needs to be done. In other words, she's a great 3 dimensional character.
I also loved the hero, Ruin (especially his and his brother's name), and going into the book I tried to stay away from any spoilers or too much blurb info so it was a surprise to see how he ties into the story and not only serves as a gatekeeper in the temple but also a bridge for Jaid and her father as it ties into the story. Ruin is an appealing hero, but make no bones about it, he is also a ruthless killer with an edge. I love dangerous heroes and Ruin definitely qualifies as he teeters between killing Jaid or saving her at times. He makes no excuses for who and what he is and still there are qualities that make him redeemable so that the reader cheers him on.
Another thing I really liked was the tension that was built over the course of the story. Sometimes romances feel manipulated in that character's bodies react to one another within seconds of meeting each other instead of allowing the tension and need to grow naturally over time. In Bloodgate Guardian the characters reacted to more pressing matters and only later in the story did they start finding each other attractive. Even then, it slowly took its time while they focused on what was important which added to the "will they get together or won't they" that also added to the suspense in the story and made the actual consummation all the more rewarding after what they've been through. I love it when this course of action is taken because it keeps me guessing and flipping pages to find out how things unfold and how (or if) they will be together after the last page.
Another thing I really liked about the story is the dialogue. The story started out with a bang of an opening line: "He never hated his magic until it compelled him to kill" and just kept floating from there. Another fave of mine is "If men were as easy to decipher as Maya glyphs, then perhaps Jaid would have been able to translate "beware" carved in her boyfriend's handsome forehead and saved herself the trouble." Jaid often referred to herself as the Un-Indiana Jones which I thought was cute and during her revelation to how she hurt her knee and carries guilt due to her mother's death, there's a lot that's revealed through clever dialogue.
"Do you know what they call me in the archeology circles? The Un-Indiana Jones."
Head tilted, he studied her, a small smile flickering on his face. "I have no idea what that means, but it amuses you."
"Yeah," she admitted, nodding. "But it's embarrassing too. Indiana Jones is a movie archeologist, an action-adventure hero. I've built up ruins and archeology in my mind, believing I had to be a great risk0taker, an action-adventure heroine of my own."
"Deep down your heart you're still the little girl trying to impress her father."
Ouch, but oh so true."
Not only is there a great overall conflict, there is also a great inner conflict as evidenced in the dialogue above. Jaid's relationship with her father has been strained ever since her mother died at the dig where Jaid injured herself and ever since then she's stayed away from digs while her father became well known for his. There's a lot she has to overcome outside and within herself that was a joy to explore.
One last aspect out of many I really enjoyed about this story was the world building and the history of the Mayan culture. I have to admit, I didn't know much about it going in but after reading this, I'm eager to read more about the ancient civilization. I love how it was weaved into every aspect of the story and it helped drive the story at every turn. I also got to learn a lot about the belief systems and mythology, all of which was very interesting.
I have a few Joely Sue Burkhart books in my TBR that I've been collecting from Drollerie Press (one of my fave publishers) and after reading Bloodgate Guardian, I'm eager to dive into them. Ms. Burkhart has a way of writing a great story with snappy prose and dialogue to accompany such well rounded characters. I'm jazzed that Bloodgate Guardian was my first taste of her work and I can definitely say it won't be my last.
Bloodgate Guardian is now available in ebook format from Carina Press and other online bookstores. This is a review based on a book galley from Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher.
The Iron King was a book that came way out of left field and took me off guard. I'm a recent fan of Young Adult books, especially of the speculative v...moreThe Iron King was a book that came way out of left field and took me off guard. I'm a recent fan of Young Adult books, especially of the speculative variety, and being a fan of practically anything fae related I was quick to jump on the book. Julie Kagawa's intro into the world of the Iron Fey was addictive and after finishing the first, I couldn't wait to dive back into the world to see what the cast of characters was up to in their next adventure.
Just like I hoped, The Iron Daughter turned out to be another wonderful visit with a couple of old friends. While reading this, I would always promise myself just to read a chapter or so before bedtime. I never kept up that promise because I would always get sucked into an obstacle that seemed like all hope was lost or a threat of losing one of the characters. Ms. Kagawa has a way of keeping the pace going while putting her characters through the hardest of times and making them suffer. My hats off to authors who can do this because it adds a real sense of danger and keeps me flipping pages.
Although the first book didn't lead itself to a love triangle, quickly becoming a new go-to trope in YA fantasy these days, this book fully explores it. Although I'm biased and already have a favorite of the two, I wish the story would have focused on said character and Meghan's developing relationship as they work through trying to be together despite coming from different worlds. In the end, there was enough to satisfy this wish and even the ending was more than I could every hope for. (Thank you, Ms. Kagawa for that ending.) Looking back, I can definitely see shades of A Midsummer Night's Dream in how the setup between the three is presented.
This story picks up right were The Iron King left off and there are some awesome revelations that come to a head in continuation of the groundwork that was set in the first book. We get to know more about the fae courts and how they work, there are characters who are introduced and there's an interesting twist in the revelation of what memory Meghan lost to the Oracle in the previous book. I was hoping we'd find out eventually and I was excited to see how it ties into the story here. There's also an interesting twist to the mean girls situation that Meghan faced in the first book which is paralleled in the Fae world. I'm hoping we see another visitation of that situation with a stronger and wiser Meghan the second time around especially after the school events in this book.
I was sad to some characters go after I had grown attached to them and I commend Ms. Kagawa for creating great characters to incite such feeling from this reader; all the while putting them in mortal danger at each turn. The story lulls a bit in the middle during a making up sequence but quickly picks up toward the end to bring another obstacle in the fray. There's also a new array of awesome characters including a zombie corporate clone army in an office space setting, a viral fae and a cheery fae with a royal disposition and a fondness for pet names. I love the voices that come from these characters and being a big fan of audio books (which is how I fell in love with the first book in the series) and I can't wait to hear the narrator bring her and the other characters to life.
Fans of Fae political intrigue, adventure and fantasy YA works will love this series. You can tell Ms. Kagawa is inspired by a lot of different classic fantasy literature from Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll but she clearly makes these characters and situations her own within this world. What I love about each of these books is that they have clear endings. Each book has it's own set of problems and a main conflict which is solved by the end but is left open enough for more stories within the world. The Iron Daughter is no different in that we end on a wonderful note with Meghan completing her missions and also leaving it open enough for another story to see what happens due to the consequences of their decisions. I loved it. I highly recommend this series and this book which is also going on my fave 2010 best reads list.
FTC Advisory: This review is based on a galley received by NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. (less)
The Little Prince is a beloved classic French children's story that many continue to love well into their adulthood. Even today I hear friends and pee...moreThe Little Prince is a beloved classic French children's story that many continue to love well into their adulthood. Even today I hear friends and peers of mine talking about wonderful memories they had of the little prince that came from outer space. I still have fond memories of the animated movie that I grew up loving.
That's why I jumped on the chance to check out a recent incarnation of The Little Prince in graphic novel formats, also considering I love GNs.
That said, I would say this version of the novel is more fit for those like me who are familiar with the story they grew up loving. The essence of tale is here in that The Little Prince has his adventures and an immense imagination as he tries to understand grownups and the new world he landed in, but the style of the narrative seems more fit for adults who may also be fans of philosophy. There are a lot of things that I tripped over a bit that may be tough for a little kid to get into. Plus there are also a few existential and somewhat trippy topics that often jump from one situation to another before ending abruptly. The narrative is written in a very dream-like scenario and even beginning the story felt like a dream that was already in progress. It reminded me of Linklater's Waking Life in that narratives stop and start with no defining end or beginning, it just is.
Coupled with illustrator Joann Sfar's whimsical Moebius inspired artwork, younger readers may be uncomfortable with the overall unsettling style. Characters are drawn in an exaggerated style often out of symmetry which adds to its dream-like quality. Older fans will definitely be interested in adding this to their collector's shelf (especially in hardcover edition) as another take on a beloved children's tale that carries it's own charms to add to the awesome legacy that is The Little Prince.
This review is based on a galley received by NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. (less)
**spoiler alert** Ric Thornhill is on an assignment from the Queen of Fae herself, to find the missing half Fae heir. Artist Meagan Kelly is his targe...more**spoiler alert** Ric Thornhill is on an assignment from the Queen of Fae herself, to find the missing half Fae heir. Artist Meagan Kelly is his target and he must bring her back to the queen to help stop keep the delicate peace between both human and Fae that hangs in the balance. As soon as they meet, sparks fly. Meagan is confused about the power the mysterious blond stranger has over her and Ric is enamored by Meagan's beauty and energy. Can he put his feelings aside to finish the mission that will safe their people?
Being a Fae fanatic I had to have this book. With the gorgeous cover (which appeared more urban fantasy than the actual paranormal romance story itself), enticing blurb and being eager to try out Carina's new books, I jumped at the chance to read this galley (thank you Carina for no DRM and changeable formats).
Unfortunately, I had a hard time connecting with the characters and the world within Motor City Fae. The hero and heroine's feelings at their first meeting had a 'hit the ground and start running feel to it rather than allowing for tension and chemistry grow between the two. This would have nicely built up a way for the reader to root for them and also would have given the reader time to get to know the characters rather than constantly be told explicit descriptions of how body parts were affected by the other. There is an explicit sex scene towards the beginning that pushes this into erotica territory for me and the characters couldn't make a move without getting turned on or thinking about sex. Plot seems to have been thrown aside at this point in the story. I would have loved to have gotten to know the characters more and had the tension build until a later love scene which seals the deal between the two so it doesn't feel like a gimmick to keep the reader interested.
As mentioned before, the world building could have been more established early on to bring the reader into the plot. There were many instances of long expositions where Ric would tell Meagan who her family was, what the Fae were all about and how she tied into the Fae realm. In other instances, there were short cuts where some good description would help this reader imagine the uniqueness of the land and its people (for instance, the court members were described as "looking like a character from Lord of the Rings"). The story mainly spends its time laying things out via a road trip and other excursions despite the rush to get Meagan to the Fae realm before it's too late. Once the characters would attempt to go in a direction to move the plot to the next level, they would make a detour to a club or party which seemed to come out of nowhere. While good for establishing the setting and character backgrounds, the exposition scenes broke the flow of the story just when we're getting somewhere good.
Shortly after the halfway point, I finally started to get into the story and have a chance to enjoy the world of the Fae. There were only instances where I was yanked out of the story by modern curse words but it was still enjoyable to see more action with Meagan taking out two Fae assassins (with a baseball bat no less!) and having her identify with Ric on a level that didn't involve the physical.
Ms. Pape has the beginnings of a interesting world and I'm curious to see how and if she tackles it down the road. After reading similar favorites in the genre, I can't help but notice how the territory feels traveled but not quite changed enough to make it unique from the others.
All in all, even though the book doesn't break any new ground for the paranormal genre, readers who are looking for an erotic light paranormal romance will enjoy Motor City Fae, the first in the Urban Arcana series.
Galley reviewed via Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher.
I'm a sucker for marriage romances and being a Hallmark fan, I love the fake marriage/engagement trope. Couple that with a winter themed sweet romance...moreI'm a sucker for marriage romances and being a Hallmark fan, I love the fake marriage/engagement trope. Couple that with a winter themed sweet romance and I'm hooked!
I liked the way Seth and Layla interacted. Although I felt that Layla was a bit dim at times in not seeing Seth's interest in her, it helped to keep the conflict going and to see them draw closer to each other. Not to mention it added fuel to their cute back and forth banter. I must say my favorite part was when Murphy swooped in to save Layla in the first chapter. The encounter happened at the wedding and Layla was in a tough spot seeing her ex get married (to her snooty, plastic and self centered cousin worthy of any slap-worthy Hallmark villainess), so in order to save face Murphy takes Layla as a fake fiancee to save face. Layla is quick to end the story as she must keep the facade up but when a chance to make a big impact for her career presents herself, she asks Murphy (much to his excitement) to keep the facade up until she can nail the job.
While on the subject of Murphy, I love this character! He was sweet, caring and he would do anything for Layla even if it meant putting his own reputation on the line. Although he's not a stereotypical alpha (thank goodness, we need more sweet betas in romance) he was drawn in such a way that I couldn't help cheering for him to get the girl. I also loved Ms. Hunters description of him being a strong, fit guy with a gentle heart. Swoon!
The inspirational aspects were low key but there. For Christian romance fans, it delivers everything they are looking for in a short fiction format. Don't let the novella length fool you, there's a sweet and satisfying romance story between these pages and if you're a reader like me with a short amount of time on her hands, this one is a perfect sweet story you can finish in between things on your to do list.
I'm looking forward to reading more of the stories in the series! (less)
Deceptive Innocence piqued my curiosity after I read the blurb. It kind of reminded me of the recently canceled Meagan Goode series Deception and I wa...moreDeceptive Innocence piqued my curiosity after I read the blurb. It kind of reminded me of the recently canceled Meagan Goode series Deception and I wanted to see how the author weaved a story of revenge with a developing romance. Well, it's not called an erotic thriller for nothing! The serial format that seems to be prevalent in 'edgier' sexy fiction these days makes it appearance here and although that didn't interest me much, I must say I do love the linked up covers for each installment.
Although I found the premise interesting, I couldn't really get into the book. The revenge aspect was interesting but the coldness of the main character Belle and her 'on the surface sexual chemistry' with revenge target Landers left me wanting more of an emotional connection to make me care for her journey. I felt bad for what happened to her mother and how she was treated but I would have loved to have more complexity to Belle's character rather than "turned on", "angry revenge mode" and "cool, calm cucumber mode" to showcase her character.
Deceptive Innocence may not be my cup of tea but readers looking for more edgier fiction with detailed sex scenes and dark characters will enjoy going on Belle's journey of revenge while battling her desire for her target.(less)