This book was a pleasure to read. The atmosphere is so classic Victorian and Gothic, the humor hit the mark, and while I wasn't sure about how success...moreThis book was a pleasure to read. The atmosphere is so classic Victorian and Gothic, the humor hit the mark, and while I wasn't sure about how successful using real-life writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and playwright Oscar Wilde as a crime-solving duo would be, it turns out to be perfect. Wilde's wit was exactly what I expected and Doyle is just as lovable as his creation. I definitely recommend this book to those who are Victoriana-inclined, and who like classic/Gothic horror.
This was more creepy than Baltimore: The Plague Ships, and that's saying something. Baltimore is still on the hunt for his one-eyed, scarred vampire n...moreThis was more creepy than Baltimore: The Plague Ships, and that's saying something. Baltimore is still on the hunt for his one-eyed, scarred vampire nemesis, but he comes across a cult of demented nuns who follow an occultist bent on rebirthing a powerful sorceress.
I think this series is for readers who loved the Monster of the Week type programs such as Night Gallery or Thriller, or even episodic television like The Incredible Hulk where our lone hero conquers a different situation each week. I could see this as a good television adaptation in the right hands.
The artwork is as beautiful as The Plague Ships, and the writing just as atmospheric. Although this was more scary. It delves deeper into the themes of diabolism and occult dealings with dark entities, and this town that Baltimore goes to is full of a sense of wrongness, death and murky secrets. I did read this at night and I didn't have nightmares, but that was because I read something else before I went to sleep.
Baltimore has to balance his selfish need for revenge against the greater good, and he teams up with an American journalist who is writing a book about vampires after discovering they were real in the Great War. I thought the reporter looked a lot like Edgar Allen Poe, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was a deliberate choice of the creators of this graphic novel. Part of the narrative even includes as passage from "The Bells" by Poe.
I think this was just as good as The Plague Ships if not better, but it's more disturbing and disarming than that prior book in the series. I know that's because it focuses on occultism, black magic, and people who trade the lives of others for ultimate power. Those subjects are inherently more affecting to me than, say zombies and vampires.
Baltimore is a very effective dark hero with an antiheroic bent. He is the dark hero that fights against the darkness, and strives to recover his own lost soul in the process. Those kinds of heroes always get me.
The Plague Ships is bonafide horror. Not only does our intrepid hero battle vampires, but he also battles Hessian zombies infected from nasty fungal b...moreThe Plague Ships is bonafide horror. Not only does our intrepid hero battle vampires, but he also battles Hessian zombies infected from nasty fungal blossoms! Baltimore is a relentlessly driven man with a soul full of vengeance and hurt. An act driven out of fear leads to his whole life being destroyed and the subsequent quest for vengeance against all vampires, and in particular one with a vicious scar on his face.
Mignola is an auto-read for me. His imagination is expansive and he plumbs the nightmares and dreams of the collective consciousness, offering up his resulting creations for the reader's enjoyment and consideration. This graphic novel is actually more true horror than his Hellboy stories, which straddle the dark fantasy line as much as horror. But the visions in this novel are right from the darkest depths of horror. The horror is of the more overt kind: vampires, plague and zombies, but also emotional. The endless quest of Baltimore and his non-healing heart wound from the loss of his family through his own well-meaning actions. The fact that he can never go home again, either emotionally or physically.
As much as the writing is a strength, so are the illustrations. They have a clarity and a concreteness, even though they are all almost monotonal (blacks, tans, reds). They convey action beautifully, making this graphic novel as much an action work as a horror work. The dialogue is rather spare, but the pictures give you the whole picture even when there is no narrative.
For readers who enjoy the enigmatic, dark loner on a quest for justice, knowing that he can no longer call any place his home, this is worth reading. I also recommend it to readers who enjoy the more traditional brand of horror, where the monsters aren't human, and where good fights against evil, even though man often struggles against the evil in his own heart.
It doesn't feel like a five star book, but it's definitely close.
I can't believe Goodreads ate another review of mine! This sucks! I guess this is an opportunity to better clarify my thoughts this time.
I was very ex...moreI can't believe Goodreads ate another review of mine! This sucks! I guess this is an opportunity to better clarify my thoughts this time.
I was very excited about reading this book, and I snatched it off the library shelf. I have a fixation on assassin main characters (don't you judge me!). I also liked the idea that the heroine might fall in love with her would be assassin and vice versa (no judging!). Unfortunately, I was disappointed with this book. I'll try to start with the positives and then go to the negatives, because that seems fitting.
What I liked:
Ananna was an interesting lead character. I loved how distinctive her background as the daughter of pirates was. The author kept her characterization true to her origins. Her narration was uneducated sounding and her actions and beliefs showed the ethics of a person who was raised on a pirate ship. She was believably down to earth, and I liked that while she could hold her own and was a capable fighter, she wasn't amorally bloodthirsty.
The background on the pirate factions was intriguing. I also liked the magical aspects of this book, although they could have been better described.
What I didn't like:
Naji's characterization palled in comparison to Ananna. While this was a 1st person point of view, that didn't necessarily have to result in such an obvious lack in definition that his character had. He felt more like a background character, which doesn't work for this story, due to the intimate connection they share.
Speaking of, I think the curse could have been better described. I understand the author was trying to keep some suspense about why Naji had to protect Ananna, but it wasn't very well explained. Also Naji's magic was cool enough for me to want more explication.
I think the plotting could have been better. The beginning was catchy and I was sucked in, but around the last third of the book, I started losing interest. I couldn't decide where she was going with the story, but I didn't really care after a point. I just wanted to finish the book.
The magical aspects had a lot of potential, but after a while the different magical factions sort of ran together and lost distinction for me. I couldn't understand where she was going with the story overall.
Speaking off, I am heartily sick of cliffhangers. I think it's a dirty cheat to write a story that ends abruptly, just so people will keep reading. There are rare circumstances where a cliffhanger makes sense, or if the book is just really long. This was not the case in either way with this book. I truly believe the book could have been longer and the story could have been wrapped up to a satisfying conclusion without sacrificing tension for a series. When it ended, I was like, "What the What?!" like Finn on Adventure Time. Not cool! I don't want to turn this into a rantview, so I'll leave it at that.
While I don't regret reading this book, I wasn't satisfied with it overall. There were enough things I liked to propel me to read the second book in the series from my library. I hope that the character and story development are improved in the forthcoming books, since it has a lot of potential.
Sealed With a Curse starts out in medias res, and that pace pretty much matches what is found throughout this novel. I was a bit clueless at first as...moreSealed With a Curse starts out in medias res, and that pace pretty much matches what is found throughout this novel. I was a bit clueless at first as to what was going on, but I got sucked into the narrative and the Wird sisters' story almost immediately. There is more or less nonstop action, and the cool thing, is the heroine and her sisters are the main ones kicking butt and taking names. Along with laugh-out-loud humor and wonderful sisterly bonding, with a touch of romance, that adds up to a very enjoyable book.
Celia and her sisters were cursed before birth, but the curse backfired into a blessing. They are all gifted with unusual abilities. Despite the strangeness of the four Wird sisters' abilities, three of them manage to have busy dating lives and all four fulfilling careers as a nurse. Celia had a big issue that precluded dating a lot. She has an inner tigress that makes her one tough woman. Most men can't handle that. Celia fears that she never will meet that guy. Until she sees a hunky werewolf running with his pack. Their gazes connect, but that doesn't mean that they will "connect". And there is an epidemic of vampires turning into feral, bloodthirsty killers, so they might not get the chance to 'connect' anyway. Aric Connor might be the man of Celia's dreams, but as a purebred werewolf, she might not be a good partner to settle down with on his end. However, master vampire, Misha Aleksandr thinks Celia is pretty awesome, wooing her with expensive gifts and his supernatural vampire allure, which Celia is a lot more immune to it than she would have thought. Instead, her heart beats for Aric.
I loved the sister camaraderie the most in this book. They really had each others' backs. I liked how each sister had a distinct personality. They were individuals, but they worked and lived together in harmony. I also enjoyed the humor a lot (although it is sometimes of the raunchy, foul-mouthed variety). At first, I thought that would book would be too silly for me, but Robson proved she could hang with the Grade A Kickbutt Action Writers crew with her seriously intense action scenes. Readers who don't like gory description should be warned, because the author doesn't skimp on these. But seeing the Wird sisters kick butt and hold their own against a slew of powerful immortals makes up for some icktastic moments.
I thought it was cute how Celia's sisters all found romance with other weres associated with Aric. Although I didn't like the assumption that sleeping with them that fast was 'normal' whereas Celia was weird because she didn't get physical with guys like her sisters did. Sort of an inherent value judgment against people who choose a celibate lifestyle, for whatever reason. Granted, Celia did tend to be very self-pitying about her lack of a love life. I do think she could have dated more if she wanted to. And it's perfectly fine if she didn't date much, if she was okay with it. The fact that Misha definitely found her sexy and appealing from the beginning of the book (even before she met Aric) was proof that there was nothing wrong with Celia. Misha thought she was better than sliced bread, and he could have any woman he wanted. A man who couldn't handle her wasn't worth it anyway. I think deep down, Celia didn't want to settle for a Mr. Now when she could have Mr. Right.
Overall, this was a very good book. Lots of action, hilarious humor, great sister bonding. I liked that there is good ethnic diversity in this novel. The Wird sisters have Latin descent on their mother's side, and numerous characters are of different ethnic/racial backgrounds. The world-building was good, with some interesting takes on vampires, werewolves, witches, and other paranormals. Personally, the romance wasn't the biggest draw for me, although it was good. I liked the sister bond the most and the action, but the romance is pretty good (for an urban fantasy book). But there is definitely good chemistry and romantic promise for those who want that in the urban fantasy. This is a series I look forward to continuing.(less)
Although rather gruesome, I think this would appeal to fans of classic horror, such as Dracula and The Were-Wolf. Quite dark and morose, so be warned....moreAlthough rather gruesome, I think this would appeal to fans of classic horror, such as Dracula and The Were-Wolf. Quite dark and morose, so be warned.
Fated is a fantastic debut novel. This is what urban fantasy can accomplish, taking fantasy concepts and giving them a new spin in a modern setting. J...moreFated is a fantastic debut novel. This is what urban fantasy can accomplish, taking fantasy concepts and giving them a new spin in a modern setting. Jacka uses the concept of an age-old war between Dark and Light Mages and sets it in contemporary London. While many will think of Dresden and recommend this to fans of that great series, I don't even think it's fair to compare them outside of the fact that they are both male POV urban fantasy novels with magical protagonists. Jacka writes his own book here, and I loved him for it. Yes, it does have the somewhat smart-alecky, down on his luck magical protagonist, but actually Alex Verus and Harry Dresden couldn't be more different.
While I am not a big fan of witchcraft themes in urban fantasy, I love the idea of modern-day mages and magic-users. This book is for those who like to see the magical battles without all the spellwork and spellcasting along with it. And the one thing that felt so refreshing and delightfully distinct was the fact that Alex is a Diviner. His main ability is to see the future and shift through possible outcomes and choose the best one for his situation. This makes Alex more of a thinking man hero as opposed to a reactive/shoot first and ask questions last hero. His strength is his ability to assess the situation and choose wisely. He will be the first to admit that he's often out-numbered and our-powered by his adversaries, but that just makes me more loyal and root for him all the more. Because of the fact that he has been the punching bag, Alex has a lot of humility and grace for those who aren't strong. I respected his sense of right and wrong, even if he's not exactly what you'd call a Boy Scout.
Luna is an interesting secondary character. I felt for her situation, and I have a feeling that her relationship with Alex will continue to be pivotal in this series. In some ways, they aren't that different. Both isolated and ostracized for being different. They have a strong connection, even just on that level.
I found the storyline very interesting. Alex having to navigate through shark-infested waters of political and physically violent power struggles between Dark and Light Mages. Jacka endows his world with a lot of weight and texture. He takes the urban fantasy genre is a much needed different direction. Instead of treading on the overtrodden territory of vampires, werewolves and even faerie, he focuses on magic users and not the kind you usually see in urban fantasy novels. I found his insights into the social dynamics of Dark Mages quite enlightening and it felt very realistic. Although he doesn't dwell on it, there are some very disturbing and dark (no pun intended) aspects to their concept of power and how it's obtained and used.
This took a while to read because the print in my copy was tiny! But that doesn't mean I was bored. I was too sucked in to feel boredom. Urban fantasy is one of my favorite genres, so I do have high expectations, but this one exceeded those nicely. I was drawn into this world whenever I picked up the book to read, and I will definitely read more of this series.
I highly recommend this to fans of urban fantasy, especially those looking for something different!(less)
Forever Found Forever Lost was an odd, often humorous tale of a reluctant werewolf and his street-smart friend who go on a vary harrowing journey. I w...moreForever Found Forever Lost was an odd, often humorous tale of a reluctant werewolf and his street-smart friend who go on a vary harrowing journey. I wasn't sure what to make of it, even at the last page, but I ended up enjoying it. 3.5 stars. Reviewed for Bitten by Books. http://bittenbybooks.com. (less)
I read this one with the Classic Horror Lovers group (albeit late), and I enjoyed it. Mr. Chambers took the time to establish the mood, the setting, a...moreI read this one with the Classic Horror Lovers group (albeit late), and I enjoyed it. Mr. Chambers took the time to establish the mood, the setting, and the characters. I like the way each person was given particular traits that brought the characters to life. He also established the Breton setting very well. The people are steeped in superstition, which the protagonist (Dick) frowns and dismisses. However, he would be wise to heed their warnings.
The scenes in which the 39th skull, the skull of the Black Priest, somehow continues to find it's way uphill out of the mass grave were quite scary. Also, when the masked priest shows up outside the window of Lys, Dick's wife. As were the climactic scenes and near the finish. I was sure that Dick and his wife were a goner. Oh, that last scene was quite creepy.
I liked how Chambers kept me guessing. He built up my expectation for tragedy, learning that Dick and his wife were so in love, and expecting a happy event. I was scared to keep reading, because I was sure the Black Priest was going to carry off poor Lys. I liked that Lys hung fast to her faith and didn't fear death, and her faith seemed to inspire Dick. Her actions, which seemed really superstitious, helped to save the day, which I am grateful about.
I have to say I enjoyed Mr. Chambers' writing, although some of the history aspects were a tad dry. I like his ability to build tension, and his romantic/melodramatic elements. I will be reading more of him.
This was a solid four star book until the last hundred or so pages, when it really turned around, and I knew it would get the highest rating from me....moreThis was a solid four star book until the last hundred or so pages, when it really turned around, and I knew it would get the highest rating from me. I must say I think the storyline is very imaginative, artistic and surreal. Ms. Douglas isn't an overly expansive writer, but she somehow paints a very vivid picture of the sights and surroundings, emotions and actions of her characters. Dark City is a nightmarish place, and the imagery rang loud and clear as I read. Sheol has an otherworldly beauty and feeling of peace, and the images of the Fallen appeal greatly to this angel-lover, even in the dark aspects.
I don't love the theology here. Earlier on, I choose to view this book merely as fiction and divorce it from my Christian beliefs, which is the wisest choice for me. Otherwise, I think the portrayal of God would be problematic for me. As a believer in the God of the Old and New Testament, I don't think there is a disconnect between the God of the New and Old Testament, as portrayed in this book, although I know many feel this way. God is shown as a vengeful, angry, unfeeling character, which is not what I believe. I believe in a God that is equally loving and equally just. If I view this merely as characters who have their own way of processing their relationships with God and their subsequent choices and actions, I can still enjoy this book very much, and I did. Outside of my disagreeing with some of the theology, I find the storyline very interesting, and the portrayal of angels is majestic and hypnotically appealing and arresting. I feel that Ms. Douglas writes this books in a very visual and cinematic way.
Azazel is not a nice hero by any stretch of the word, for most of this book. He is almost cruel to Rachel in some ways, although his reluctant feelings (and the fact that he is not a woman-hater) holds him back from hurting her physically. He made a choice that led to something very bad happening to Rachel, and I know some readers won't be able to get past that. Although I don't condone his actions, I understand the turmoil that was behind them. I do like his sea change later in the book, and I think he proved he was worthy of her love. I like how I was able to see how he evolves in his perceptions of Rachel, and as he changes in his feelings towards her, this difference is very apparent in his physical expressions of lust and later passion/love towards Rachel. I could understand that he was angry and hurting over the loss of his latest and best loved wife, and how he wanted to blame Rachel for that because of the prophecy.
As far as Rachel, I liked her from the beginning. She starts as something of a blank canvas, and as the story continues, more and more depth and definition is evident with her character. Her latent identity is slowly and deftly revealed, and it was interesting to process this. The myth of Lilith is interesting, although I have never put much emphasis on it. It ties into that pervasive belief that Judaism and Christianity is inherently misogynistic, which I have never agreed with. More than anything this is a manifestation of the way that these beliefs have been used as a tool for control over others, and through human and societal cruelty, and not due to God disvaluing women (take religion out of the picture and people would find another tool to use against others). Having said that, Rachel is a very sympathetic character, and I liked how Douglas gives the Lilith myth a human and emotional (and relatable) feel instead of dwelling on the horrific aspects of that legend.
As I alluded to earlier in the review, the romantic aspects of the story bloom later, because initially, it's very apparent that Azazel mainly has hatred in his heart for Rachel. It was hard to see that possibility of love initially, but by the end of the book, I did see it. I think that took some skill on Ms. Douglas' part. I went from thinking Azazel was a total loss, and hoping he'd just leave Rachel alone and in peace and safety, to wanting him to prove he was worthy of her and for them to be together. I feel that this ultimately was a successful romance because I was able to arrive at the conviction that they should be together. The love scenes were well-written, showing not just the act of sex, but the emotions, good and bad that went along with it. They were integral to the story, because they revealed crucial aspects of both Azazel and Rachel's psyche, and also their healing processes from damaged emotions and hearts from their journeys in life.
Ultimately, I was very impressed with this novel. This is not just from the viewpoint of a lifelong (and therefore biased) admirer of this writer (Anne Stuart). It is because of her obvious and proven skill as a writer. To take a story that somehow shouldn't appeal and make into something that intrigues me and gets under my skin, leaving me thinking about the story long after I finish it. This book won't work for everyone. Although clearly paranormal romance, there is something very atypical about it. The writing has this flavor that puts it into a different and not always comfortable category. However, I found this to be a feast for the reader's senses. This kind of book takes me on a journey and fully rewards me for the time spent reading it. I definitely loved it.
It's hard to say exactly what I felt for this book without rambling. First of all, let me say, I think this book has one of the most tormented heroine...moreIt's hard to say exactly what I felt for this book without rambling. First of all, let me say, I think this book has one of the most tormented heroines I've ever read about, both in adult and young adult literature! How much crap can one girl go through? As I listened, I kept thinking how morose this story was. But I had to keep listening. Hoping that Plain Kate would find joy and a place to call home.
This is a novel that shows the destructive effects of prejudice in an interesting way. In this book, anyone who is different or odd has to be a 'witch.' Everyone is so busy blaming everything that goes wrong around them on witches (who are more than anything just anyone who sticks out), they don't even have the sense to go after the real cause of the problem. Even those who are outsiders don't show nearly the amount of tolerance that they should. That makes for a very bitter pill to swallow.
What I loved about this story, what kept me reading was Kate. It was not easy to walk alone, and to keep walking after all she had lost. But she does. And I admire her for that. Also her cat, Taggle. Talking about a scene stealer. I loved him. The author knows cat behavior very well. I would laugh at Taggle's antics and what he would say. He's charmed so that he can talk, but he expresses himself in very much the way I can imagine my cats talking. I definitely give the author brownie points for that.
Although it's never stated, the setting is very Russian. Even the folkore gives this story an indisputible Russian stamp. Russian elements always work for me!
The tone of this story was hard to handle at times. It's very grim in a way. There are spots of brightness and joy like a ray of sunlight shining through a cloudbank. But for the most part, this story has a very downcast feel to it. That sadness that permeated this story grabbed at me. I was glad that Taggle was there for needed comic relief. As an optimist, I looked for evidence of hope for Kate, another thing that kept me reading, even when one event had me sobbing out loud. I mean really crying. I was thinking how much can this one person suffer?
Although definitely the most depressing young adult book I've read in a long time, Plain Kate was a very good book. It's not one of those books that you put down with a smile, though. Instead, you feel a sense of moody reflection. If only to convey how ugly prejudice is, this book succeeds on that point. Substitute any class of people for the 'witches' as the persecuted group and you have a powerful story told in an imaginative way, and the lesson will get transmitted to an audience who I hope will take this lesson very seriously. I think that one should think hard about these issues. Thinking clearly might help a person to see that hatred of others because of their differences is just wrong. And a world that condones that kind of injustice makes for a cold, cruel world for all of us. If I have to read a book that's not so sunny and happy to get that message, I guess that's a good thing in the end.(less)
Immortal Wolf was a good follow-up in the Draicon series, although I loved Enemy Lover more. The romance element was the real winner here. I have said...moreImmortal Wolf was a good follow-up in the Draicon series, although I loved Enemy Lover more. The romance element was the real winner here. I have said it many times, I am a sucker for the concept of two lonely, alienated souls finding love together, and it was done very well here. Raphael has always felt inferior for his mixed heritage among many purebred Draicon (wolf-shifters). He is part Cajun, and the purebloods look down on that. On top of this, is his role as the Kallan, the sacred life-taker of the Draicons (tasked to end the lives of the very old and suffering, and those who have a decree of execution placed on them). Many fear him for his powers, and avoid him as such. Emily feels cursed by her ability to take lives and to give life. A year ago, she was cursed by the Draicon goddess, Airebelle, that she would be able to kill with her touch. She has been able to heal with her blood most of her life. She accidentally killed her father and aunt, and her pack has issued a decree of execution on her, after a year of ostracizing her to the periphery of her clan. And Raphael comes to their pack to do exactly that. To make matters more complicated, it turns out that they are fated mates.
I wondered how things would wrap up in this story, with these huge obstacles between the two lovers, and I was not disappointed. I sort of guessed that Emily and Raphael's weaknesses would turn out to be their strengths, but that's compelling storytelling (and what I would have done had I wrote this kind of story), but I still felt like this book had satisfactory surprises for me.
The romance was great, both sensual and emotional. I could feel the bond between Emily and Raphael, how he was one of the few to ever show her kindness, tenderness, and a regard for the unique person that she was. I liked that Raphael took the time to help Emily explore who she was meant to be, not what her pack restricted her existence to becoming. I also liked how Emily cared for Raphael, and heals him emotionally and physically in very crucial moments. I felt a true connection between them on many levels. I became acquainted with Ms. Vanak's writing through her historical romances, and she definitely writes romance very well.
As far as the paranormal elements, I liked most of them. I do find the aspect of the Morphs weird and off-putting. I liked it more than in the first book, The Empath, which was a little too weird for me. But the whole cloning and feeding thing that they do gave me the shudders, especially when (view spoiler)[ one of the morphs turns into a giant tick and sucks Raphael's blood until he gets big as a baseball bat. Yuck much! I hate ticks. They are disgusting! This part hit me where I live! (hide spoiler)] I have to say that I am convinced that Ms. Vanak is a fan of the Carpathian series by Christine Feehan, because there were elements in this story that reminded me very strongly of some of the aspects in that series. I am not saying she was copying, because I don't feel that way. However, I feel she was inspired very strongly to do her own version here, with wolves instead of vampires. Although the Morphs are highly disgusting, I liked the mystical elements very much, how Raphael goes on a vision quest as part of his duties as Kallan, and the spiritual way that he and Emily become connected, and how their uniqueness becomes a tool to aid their people.
I think this book had enough desirable elements to more than earn a four star rating, despite my dislike of the Morph aspects. I loved the romance, the sensuality, and the characters. It was great seeing all the brothers again, whom I became acquainted with and came to like in Enemy Lover. I would recommend this book to readers who are like shorter paranormals. I have made no secret of my desire for the Nocturne books to be longer so that the full potential of the storylines could be revealed. This one struck me favorably, although I could see areas where I feel Ms. Vanak had to cut her story shorter to fit into the prescribed book lengths for this series. If a paranormal romance fan can get past this, they might find a good, sexy, romantic paranormal story to enjoy as much as I did.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Yet another favorite for me in this series. I found Olivia and Aeron to be a great couple. I loved how Aeron just couldn't resist her, and how Olivia...moreYet another favorite for me in this series. I found Olivia and Aeron to be a great couple. I loved how Aeron just couldn't resist her, and how Olivia was so drawn to Aeron, that she was willing to 'fall' for him, instead of killing him as she had been ordered to do.
As this series progresses, I am seeing more investment in developing the heroines. I liked Olivia's steadfast ability to love. Her determination to enjoy her time with Aeron, and for him to be happy. Even though Legion was a real pain, she tolerated her as much as she could, because she knew how much Aeron loved her. Olivia was a heroine who brought to mind 1 Corinthians 13, which explains what love is. For Olivia, her love for Aeron wasn't an easy thing. It wasn't simple, but complicated her life, and she knew that she wouldn't have him forever, but she was willing to be with him as long as she could. Truly, she was hesitant to define it as love because she didn't view it as a sacrifice (she was wrong about that). In the end, her love helped to save him. As you can tell, I really loved this heroine.
Aeron had closed his heart off from people, so that he could avoid the pain of loss. To him, dying and having those he loved die was the worst thing possible. He didn't seem to understand that it's more important to live the time you have to the fullest. In some ways, I could understand why he had boxed himself in emotionally. His demon caused him to harm and kill people for their sins, and he had seen so much death. He knew more than anyone just how frail humans were. When Olivia comes along, he does all he can to resist her. But even Wrath, the demon that possesses him, knows how important she was to him. Even though Aeron didn't realize it, his actions showed love. The way that he watches out for Paris, the tenderness and care he shows for Legion. He doesn't want to let Olivia in his heart, but when he does, she becomes so important to him, he's willing to do just about anything for her to be happy. And in the end, his true, deep love for Olivia causes him to make a great sacrifice, one that is very much rewarded by the One True Deity, the god that Olivia loves and serves.
I think the theme of this book was love. You could see this played out through the actions of the various characters. Interestingly, Legion truly believed she loved Aeron, more than Olivia ever could. But her actions showed a very selfish aspect to her love. Olivia, her nemesis, taught her a lesson about what real love was. One that I hope she takes to heart.
This book had some exciting twists and turns. The focus wasn't exactly on the war between the Lords and the Hunters, but on the issues that Aeron and Olivia faced instead. I liked that. And there was an unsuspecting angle that tied into Aeron's relationship with Legion. That was pretty interesting.
I was pretty surprised at how this one ended. I didn't expect things to unfold the way they did. It wasn't quite a cliffhanger, but pretty darn close. Things promise to get very complicated in the forthcoming books. But I have to say, I really did like Aeron and Olivia's happy ending. It was the best one so far--a silver lining to the dark cloud of how things progressed at the climax.
The Darkest Passion is my favorite in this series so far. I loved the romance aspects, and the underlying message about love. I think Olivia was a great heroine. And the love scenes were pretty darn steamy. I thought I liked Aeron in the previous books, but seeing him as the hero in this book showed me more depth to him that made me love him even more.
I will take a short break before reading The Darkest Lie, because I don't want to go too long without more Lords of the Underworld books. These books feed my paranormal endorphins, and my spirits took a downer when this book was over. What will I do when this series ends?(less)
Rosemary and Rue is well-written urban fantasy. This novel is full of the melancholy. Not what I would call fatalistic or depressing, but instead in t...moreRosemary and Rue is well-written urban fantasy. This novel is full of the melancholy. Not what I would call fatalistic or depressing, but instead in touch with the sad, the weary, the timeless angst of the faerie folklore and myths. San Francisco is a beautiful setting for this story, this grand old city of hills, water, and mists. It's not difficult to believe that Faeries would situate their courts in this place. There is something magical to this setting that does half of the world-building in itself. Ms. McGuire very credibly does the rest with her descriptions of the various faerie and changeling denizens. I am no stranger to faerie fiction, but she brought something new to her treatment, describing creatures both achingly beautiful, and horrific, sometimes at the same time. Not to mention their convoluted and ancient rituals sealed in blood and by their words spoken in oaths. When I read books this rich in authentic details, I have trouble doubting that Faerie is real afterall.
It's not fair to compare, but I did feel like October Daye could hang in the Dresden club, with that feel of the ne'er do well, who gets wounded more than her share, much like the wizard from the series by Jim Butcher. Also the fact that her lot in life has lead to losses that she can't slow down to count, or she wouldn't keep moving. This adds to the melancholy vibe of this novel. Nothing excessive, but inherent to this story, like the mists climbing the twisted streets of San Francisco just before dawn. This is not light-hearted, happy-go-lucky urban fantasy. This is the serious kind where you know that October won't come out of this adventure unblemished. But she will be a little wiser, and probably sadder. With faerie, it's expected. That sadness mixed with wonder pulls me back every time. The reason I'll pick up the authentic version of faerie any day over a Disney-style version. (If you need an example, read The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson and give the Disney version a pass). There's a place for Disney, but it doesn't satisfy like the real thing, tears and all.
Rosemary and Rue was a good start to a series. I can see myself become quite captivated with it, due to its rich faerie texture and hint of sadness and sacrifice. I'd recommend it.(less)
Lair of the Lion is the first historical I've read by Christine Feehan. It's hard to believe I read my first Feehan book last January. Since then, I'v...moreLair of the Lion is the first historical I've read by Christine Feehan. It's hard to believe I read my first Feehan book last January. Since then, I've glommed her backlist. She's one of my favorite authors now. This isn't one of my favorites, but it was a good, enjoyable book. I think my problem is, I really don't care for gothic romance, in general. I think too much time is built on going into the mystery and the dark forces out to get the heroine. I like my romance to focus on the attraction and the unfolding relationship between the hero and the heroine. If the story can do that and have some tension and suspense at the same time, I'm all for it. I think Anne Stuart does this better than any other author, so I usually love her gothic romances. But I digress.
There were elements to this story I really enjoyed. I liked that Ms. Feehan wrote a historical that was set in Italy, not the usual UK setting. I liked that her characters were Italian and had the aspects of this culture. I think she did a great job of establishing the scene: the ever-present air of menace, a remote occasion, a heroine who doesn't know who she can truly trust because danger is all around her. I also liked the medieval setting.
As usual, I love her heroes and heroines. In this story, Isabella really shines. What a strong heroine she is. She was brave enough to go to the beast's lair to get help for her brother from their enemy. Several times, she put herself in danger to protect others, her selfless love for Nicolai. But she also showed a lot of pluck, telling this big, scary guy off with no qualms, when he deserved a good tongue-lashing. Nicolai was as scrumptious as most of Feehan's heroes. Tortured to boot. I almost felt like he could have been in this book more, because he was usually hiding in the shadows or dealing with threats. But when he was in the book, and interacting with Isabella, it was great. Oh, yes. And the passion. Check. That's always there in a Christine Feehan book. Well-done in that regard. And the secondary characters were well-drawn and added significantly to the story. Ms. Feehan kept me guessing who was behind the sabotage that was occuring. I didn't guess the right people, and that's always nice when it happens.
So, I won't go on and on about this book. I don't have that much to say. It was an interesting premise, with the curse that destroyed generation after generation of marriages and wives, because of a terrible event in the past. That dark legacy hanging over the people in Don De Marco's holding. Isabella being the key to their salvation. I didn't quite get all the nuances of Nicolai's condition, but it was interesting, nonetheless. And I love cats, so it was very nice to see all the lions and how dangerous they were. Very unique spin on the Beauty and the Beast story, without trashing the essential elements of this tale. Not my favorite by Ms. Feehan, but a very good book. I'll keep this one and add it to the collection.(less)
I found the world that Mary Jo Putney created in this book to be very imaginative and unique. I loved the unicorn aspects, since I have been an avowed...moreI found the world that Mary Jo Putney created in this book to be very imaginative and unique. I loved the unicorn aspects, since I have been an avowed unicorn admirer my whole life, and the fact that the hero of this book was also a virgin was great. In this universe, the Ton are Sorcerors and Sorceresses, and that was pretty interesting. Spells are everyday, common occurence, although some don't realize that magic is being used all the time.
Simon is the biggest strength of this book. I admired him tremendously. I really appreciate an honorable hero, and Simon is definitely that. It's nice to read about antiheroes, but I find that too many romance novel heroes are unprincipled, in either their dealings with women, or their life philosophy. As romance novel readers, we have come to accept heroes who sleep around and don't commit to women, because they are just waiting for the woman they love to change their ways. I don't mean to judge this, but I grow weary of it at times. Honor is a multi-faceted thing, and a lack of honor can show in many ways. I think rakes show a fundamental lack of honor, even though they may only sleep with women who "know the score." Simon is not like this at all. He is not perfect, but he really does care about doing the right thing. He takes his sense of responsibility very personally, even to the degree of offering to marry the heroine who's reputation has been harmed by their association, even though she easily could leave the Ton and build a life elsewhere without anyone knowing she has been "ruined."
So it really fitted Simon when a spell cast by an evil warlock turned him into a unicorn. In my mind, unicorns are synonymous with purity and nobility, and I don't mean being born a royal or peer nobility. I loved the scenes where he is in unicorn form, and finds himself irresistibly drawn to the heroine, who is a virgin, but is also his soulmate, although he doesn't know it.
Every scene that Simon was in sizzled and kept my attention. To me he is a one of a kind hero. The heroine, Meg, was interesting and likable, but she didn't really stand out to me from other heroines. The secondary characters were all very interesting, and you cared about them. The villain was a detestable piece of work that you despised.
I can't give this book five stars because the resolution fell a little flat for me. One of the major reasons was a pet peeve of mine. I am a big proponent of world building and establishing the rules in a fantasy or urban fantasy book. It's obligatory, just like writing a mystery must include introducing all the possible subjects before the killer is revealed. Ms. Putney did build a fantastic world and did lay down the rules of this world, but towards the end, she shifted gears in a way that felt very abrupt. All of a sudden, the worship of the earth as a Goddess became part of the mythology of this story, when initially it didn't seem as though this was the belief system of these sorcerors and sorceress. Initally the world was setup with characters who lived in a magical world, but seemed to follow a Judeo-Christian belief system (and she didn't make this clear that it was merely for show but they were in reality pagans. You really do believe they worship the Judeo-Christian God). Then all of a sudden, the origin of their magic and the root of their beliefs became more pagan. That was too jarring for me, and really got me off track as I read the climax of this book. So I can say that I enjoyed this book and found it to be a keeper, mainly for Simon's character, and for the innovative world that Ms. Putney built, I can't say it was exceptional. Very good, but not exceptional. So although I was a bit disappointed with this book, I would love to read the other books in this series at some point to see where she goes with this series. I do have to thank Ms. Putney for creating the wonderful Simon. (less)
One thing I really love is when a book exceeds my expectations. I didn't really expect to like this story nearly as much as I did. For one, reunited l...moreOne thing I really love is when a book exceeds my expectations. I didn't really expect to like this story nearly as much as I did. For one, reunited lovers is one of my least favorite themes. I hate the baggage of a broken relationship going into a romantic novel. Also, I wasn't too keen on Shade for his womanizing ways, and how females/women didn't seem to be that important to him. Just objects to be used and abused. This is a major pet peeve of mine.
I am happy to say that I was proven wrong about Shade. He was a very complex character that I grew to love fairly early into the book. He had depth that really appealed to me. At heart, he loved women, as it was part of his nature, from his mother's side and rearing. As a seminus or incubus demon, through his father's side, he was compelled by his nature to take any woman who wanted him, to satisfy her sexual needs, and his in the process. Although it probably sounds like a dream come true at face value, in my mind I can't help but think, what a horrible deal that must be. In some ways like a sex addiction. Probably worse because Shade will die without having sex. As his s'genesis, the last stage of sexual maturity comes, it will only get worse. And if he is not mated, he will become a demon who is crazed by his desire to mate any female he comes in contact with, willing or not. He will wreak havoc on females all around him.
In essence, Shade cannot say no to his nature or what women want from him. And some of those women/females wanted some very dark, awful things. Shade had a gift given to him by his Umber demon mother, the gift to see darkness in a person and to draw it out and heal that person. As a seminus demon, he utilizes this gift during sex. The nasty, ugly kind of torture sex that I certainly want no part of. The females come out of it healed by having their worst emotions and regrets taken way, giving them the ultimate orgasm that last forever, a pure conscience. Thankfully, Ms. Ione does not go into detail, but this fact about Shade's past does play into his future.
Shade does wrong Runa. But he cannot help doing it. It is his nature, but also his fears about the maluncoeur, or curse put on him as a younger demon. If he falls in love, he will suffer a shadow existence of thirst, loneliness, and unslaked sexual desire. As such, falling in love is not on his plate. So when he finds himself falling too deeply for Runa, he pushes her away. When she finds him with two females doing the deed, she breaks it off with him. Only to be attacked by a werewolf minutes later, and left for dead.
They meet again at the beginning of this book. And Runa is very different. Hard where she was once soft. Full of confidence where she was shy and retiring before. Although Shade was attracted to her softness (as reminders of his mother and sisters who are of a race of demons who are gentle homemakers), he is even more attracted to her now. And it turns out that Runa has become a werewolf.
Their reunion is not under good circumstances, as they have been imprisoned by Ghouls, demons who harvest organs from other demons and sell them on the black market. Things only get worse, as Shade finds out that he has a very personal relationship with the leader, and the leader hates him and wants to kill him and his other two brothers.
Runa and Shade reconnect and have to deal with the ugliness of their pasts, and due the magical machinations of their enemy, they end up mated. For Shade, the timebomb starts ticking down, because he is unable to keep an emotional distance from the female he is mated to.
As the story continues, we see this couple, forced to spend time together due to their mating bond, realize they are soulmates. Both have hidden wounds that have affected their lives and how they relate to others. Runa has a guilt that she cannot rid herself of, and presses Wraith to use his talent to get rid of it. But Wraith hates that ability and would never do that to a woman who is so precious to him. I was really glad that this book doesn't have a lot of bondage/torture stuff going on. I am not a fan of BDSM, so I really don't want to see a lot of that, especially in a mainstream romance. I think Ione handled it very well, because I was afraid that it would go there. Fortunately, the way that the scenes with Shade dealing with his gift and Runa's need to have her darkness extracted were written showed a deft handling that didn't turn my stomach and ruin this book for me. It showed how much Shade loved her, and his determination to sacrifice himself for her out of love.
This is a complex, intense story. Ione's worldbuilding is incredible. I haven't read a book that creates such a multilayered world of demonarchy. These demons aren't the silly demons you can dismiss like some of the ones on Buffy. There is a whole spectrum, some that are good, some that are not so bad, and some that are really, really bad. And there's not only demons in this world, but faery, and other creatures. There's even fallen angels (I love stuff with angels). I appreciated the idea of the Underworld General Hospital that treats demonkind. It's the medical show-lover in me. This book is like Trauma Life in the ER meets Angel. And what a great combination.
I liked the information about the bond between a werewolf and her sire. It's a profound bond that has some pretty serious consequences. And Runa has to deal with some aspects of being a werewolf that make her very dangerous to others, and restrict and affect how she can live her life. Her werewolf nature can overcome her thoughts and conscious desires, and this comes into play as well.
We get to visit with Shade's brother Eidolon, who's now happily mated to Tayla, his other brother Wraith, who is clearly on the path to self-destruction and hanging by a thread, and see the developing relationship between Gemella (Tayla's half-sister and a doctor), and the human ex-Aegis leader, Kynan, who is still heartbroken from his wife's betrayal. I just loved seeing more about Kynan. In the last book, I didn't think I'd be that interested in him and Gemella, but this book has gotten me very interested indeed. Kynan is such a good guy (and you get some inkling as to why he is such a good person that I am sure will unfold further in the forthcoming books). Gemella is externally hardcore goth, but she has a soft heart and is deeply in love with Kynan, although she knows she doesn't have a chance at him, being a demon. Their relationship has some poignant parts that got to this softie.
This book was so enjoyable and involved me emotionally. It was clear from the beginning that Ms. Ione put a lot of thought and effort in this series, and this book really shows it and her talent as an author. That's what I look for in a read, so I was very happy to give it five stars.(less)
My favorites in this collection were the Maggie Shayne and Kathryn Smith stories. The Jeaniene Frost story wasn't bad, and the Terri Garey story was d...moreMy favorites in this collection were the Maggie Shayne and Kathryn Smith stories. The Jeaniene Frost story wasn't bad, and the Terri Garey story was decent.
"Till Death" by Maggie Shayne
I didn't expect to like this story with the family curse due to a female witch ancestor embittered because her husband had cheated on her. She killed him and the woman he betrayed her with, cursed all her female ancestors to die by their husbands' hands if the husbands are unfaithful, because it was better to die than to know that their husbands had cheated on them. It just sounded...not to my taste. Well, it turned out to be a good story. I admit I really liked Ian (well he's a big, sexy Scot--so that's practically a given), and he was a sweetie. I liked Kira too. Although she was a bit skeptical at first, she showed real resourcefulness and bravery, confronting her ancestress to end the curse. I thought the accents were a little hokey. I'm thinking modern Scots don't talk like that. But, I guess that's a small thing. Four stars.
"Happily Never After" by Jeaniene Frost
This is my first story by Ms. Frost, and I'm not sure what I think about her. The humor was a bit on the cheesy and hokey side. Don't get me wrong, I like cheesy humor, but the tone of this story didn't always work for me. I thought Isabelle was a little hard for my tastes. She didn't trust, and didn't believe in much. I didn't really get to know her or come to like her. I hope that she learns to open up a little more in the future. I liked Chance, and I did get some good laughs. I mostly like Ms. Frost's concepts of vampires. I was offended at one comment about what modern women should have done regarding the lie that Isabelle told her unwanted fiance. It makes it seem as though a woman of a certain age who is chaste can't possibly be modern. It was a throwaway comment, but rather presumptuous. I guess I shouldn't take it personally, but I did. All in all, pretty decent. 3 stars.
"Ghouls Night Out" by Terri Garey
Overall, not a bad story. I liked the mystery and the unfolding of the dead bridesmaid haunting Nicki to solve her murder. I did not like the liberal throwing around of the offensive term 'redneck' and the low-brow offensive humor directed towards 'backwoods" people. Some of the jokes were funny, but some were mean spirited, making Nicki seem like a mean snob. Overall, she was likeable, but the judgmental attitude she had towards her country cousins made it hard to warm up to her at first. Her boyfriend, Joe, was scrumptious. It was an entertaining read, other than the offensive parts. Not enough to get me to read this series though. 3 stars.
"The Wedding Knight" by Kathryn Smith
This is part of the Brotherhood of the Blood series, about Payen, one of the knights who drinks from the Blood Grail chalice, becoming a vampire in the process. He seduced and left Violet five years later, but returns when he finds out she's marrying a member of The Silver Palm, a dastardly organization behind the betrayal and extermination of the Knights Templar, and worse. He refuses to let her marry such a dishonorable man, so he barges in on the engagement party, leading to Violet breaking the engagement. In truth, he never got over Violet, although he told himself he couldn't have her because she was human and he was a vampire. Violet realizes that she never stopped loving Payen, and is determined to make him realize their future belongs together. Ms. Smith managed to get three love scenes in this very short story. I liked that Violet was a larger-sized woman, and Payen liked her just fine that way. It was a passionate, well-written story for all its shortness. If a reader doesn't like her love stories earthy and sensual, she probably won't like it. I liked it a lot. Four stars.
This story collection does indeed touch on weddings with a supernatural edge to their distaster quotient. Thankfully weddings do occur in two out of four (with a botched wedding scene in another), so it qualified for my challenge read! So to recap: I received a pleasant surprise with Ms. Shayne's story (although she has proven herself to be a good writer when I've read her). As for Frost, I will one day start the Night Huntress series, and I hope that the humorous tone is more to my liking in those. I'm not stricken with a burning desire to read Nicki Styx's series, since my tbr pile is already massively large and I don't tend to like the more chick-lit-oriented urban fantasy. Of course, I appreciated the Brotherhood of the Blood Offering and look forward to reading the rest in the series. So, I'd say two out of four isn't bad.(less)
The story was not as intricate as I would have liked, but the gothic atmosphere was appealing, and I liked Maddie and Carver/Paul's characters. I also...moreThe story was not as intricate as I would have liked, but the gothic atmosphere was appealing, and I liked Maddie and Carver/Paul's characters. I also liked the message about sacrificial love.