This was a cute book, but a bit on the light-weight side. I read a fair amount of middle grade/juvenile fiction, so I am not disparaging all books forThis was a cute book, but a bit on the light-weight side. I read a fair amount of middle grade/juvenile fiction, so I am not disparaging all books for this age range. I feel this one lacked substance compared to others I've read. I did so much like the heroine's journey for Gilly. She had taken up stealing to help provide for her younger siblings since there wasn't enough food for them in the wake of her cobbler father's glass slipper invention being co-opted by fairy godmothers casting spells and copying them with magic. Along with her stealing, she also had a dislike of the nobility and royalty. She's caught stealing one time too many and sent to the Fairy Tale Reform School. At first, she just wants to serve her time and go home, but while she's there, she realizes that she has important work to do and growing to accomplish.
The story idea is pretty good, and I did like the characters. I just wanted more depth. I felt that the climax fizzled and the truly evil character is barely on screen more than what felt like a page or two. I realize this is an ongoing series, but where is the drama and the thrill? I was looking forward to seeing what the author would do with baddies turned good guys (sort of), but there were some missed opportunities.
I would still give this three stars overall because it's a cute concept with some nice touches (such as Pegasus rides and merpeople who have tanks with desks in them for class); Jill does evolve realistically as a person, and I liked her friends. Beneath the humor is the angst of a girl who is hurting seeing her siblings suffering from injustice, and she had the intention of making this right, even though she went down the wrong path. I listened to this on audiobook and the narrator was pretty good. She sounded very American, which snobby person that I am, really expect fairy tale people to have vaguely British accents or something (I'd even settle for French or Eastern European). It's a buzzkill when they sound like they are from Southern California.
I think younger kids would get a kick out of this. Older kids and tweens might be disappointed compared to all the great fantasy that's available for the MG/JV audience....more
I wouldn't recommend reading this out of sequence, because a lot of stuff happens and you're wondering what. There is a huge life change for Selina KyI wouldn't recommend reading this out of sequence, because a lot of stuff happens and you're wondering what. There is a huge life change for Selina Kyle, one that has me intrigued when I read the blurb on the back of the book. I liked this, but I was really confused about what was going on, without having read the previous volumes. Sometimes you can skip around with characters in ongoing comic series. Not so much in this case. I liked the artwork, and Batman and Bruce show up, so I was happy with that.
I liked this. It was an interesting look at Selina Kyle outside of Gotham and in a different setting. She's in Rome trying to find out about her parenI liked this. It was an interesting look at Selina Kyle outside of Gotham and in a different setting. She's in Rome trying to find out about her parentage. She teams up with a Mafia hitman and another odd partner in crime, and everytime she turns around, one of her Gotham City foes is attacking her. How is it all related?
I think some parts were a bit confusing. The reasons why she was being attacked by what appeared to be Batman was explained, and I was like, okay. I didn't like what happen to one character, so I think that's why I didn't give it four stars. The artwork was good and had sort of a 60s Italian film vibe to it, which I thought was fitting. I'm not sure how well this fits into the continuity. Perhaps it was just a one shot....more
Catwoman goes underground is obvious from the title.This was a bit creepy with a backwoods/Deliverance/True Blood vibe thrown in. Tribal squabbles andCatwoman goes underground is obvious from the title.This was a bit creepy with a backwoods/Deliverance/True Blood vibe thrown in. Tribal squabbles and weirder and weirder societies. There is a whole culture of people who live in the flooded underground of Gotham, and their way of life is hard and corrupt and in some ways, just plain weird. I think there are probably some characters that are part of the Gothamverse, but I'm not familiar with them. I always like the look at historical Gotham and there is a bit of that here. Joker's Daughter shows up in this, but she's slightly different from her character in the recent Suicide Squad book where I first encountered her. Her character is really twisted. I did like the cat that wouldn't die, because well, I love cats. :)
I like these Catwoman books, but they feel a bit chaotic. It's kind of hard to keep up with the story at times. I do like that Catwoman is envisioned as a bit of a Robin Hood type thief/slash woman of the people instead of a self-absorbed, out for herself thief. Catwoman is a fun character to follow and I love seeing how each book designs her look....more
I have mixed feelings about this series. I am definitely liking Selina Kyle, for the most part. However, the panels are rather difficult to read in soI have mixed feelings about this series. I am definitely liking Selina Kyle, for the most part. However, the panels are rather difficult to read in some issues, and the art quality isn't always up to par. But, when it's good, it's very good. I especially liked the art in the last issue, which features Selina's interesting backstory. I think the writing could definitely have more clarity. There is a disconnect between the action in the panels and the storyline, and it left me confused, especially in the first issue. I did like the cameo of Batman, I mean who doesn't like when Bats shows up? I wasn't always the biggest Bat/Cat shipper, but I'm slowly coming around (if he can't be with Wonder Woman, that is).
I'd have to say this isn't my typical type of book, so I'm glad it was selected for Action group's read this month. I found it enjoyable. I think thatI'd have to say this isn't my typical type of book, so I'm glad it was selected for Action group's read this month. I found it enjoyable. I think that if this was a movie, it would be a Steven Soderburg movie for sure. I could see his touch all over the movie adaptation.
What I liked:
*I liked the wry and subtle humor. You have to be paying attention to see it, and it's highly ironical. The CIA's big thinkers believe their culprit is anything from the Russians to a huge terrorist cell, but it's not anything of the sort. Their antics to resolve the situation only seem to make things worst. I felt kind of bad rooting for Chinese and his gang, but they were seeming more and more like the good guys in that situation anyway. This book doesn't give a person the best view of the CIA, that's for sure. *I liked Doctor Henry Metzger and his dog. I wish they were in the book more. Considering that the book is named after them, I expected more of an appearance. But when they are there, they steal the scenes. I think Perry is an animal person. He seems to understand their psychology and how they seem to run the households in which they live and often leave their persons baffled. *The descriptions were very well rendered. I used all my senses as I read this book. The narrative is never wordy, which would have lent this book to boredom, considering that some much of the narrative hinges on theoretical sociological research. *This whole book is deftly plotted. I think it could have easily fallen apart, considering the subject matter. But it doesn't. *I think Margaret is one of the strongest characters. Surprisingly Chinese Gordon takes a back seat to her. She is really the brains of the operation.
I wasn't at all sure what I'd get when I started this book. It's kind of like when you go to a restaurant and let your companion pick something off the menu, and you decide you like it. It's a win on both sides....more
I liked the artwork in this volume much better. Selina's features aren't harsh in this version, and she does have the sharper, intelligent beauty of aI liked the artwork in this volume much better. Selina's features aren't harsh in this version, and she does have the sharper, intelligent beauty of a cat. The story was pretty good, but the ending was a bit anticlimactic as far as the Dollhouse storyline. It was really disturbing what the Dollmaker was doing to those poor streetwalkers. I'm glad that they had Catwoman to fight for them.
I liked Catwoman's team-up with Spark. The inclusion of the Talon storyline was good too. Catwoman's sympathy for the Talon made sense in light of her antiheroic/villainous reputation. Catwoman continues to toe the line of moral ambiguity. Her actions are often spurred on by self-interest even if she does the right thing.
I like the style of this series. An armchair adventurer with an interest in history and culture will get their desires well satiated as they accompanyI like the style of this series. An armchair adventurer with an interest in history and culture will get their desires well satiated as they accompany Jaya on her adventures. To anyone who is a Francophile, look no further.
I'm working my way through my library's graphic novel collection and availing myself of the New 52 titles. I would be remiss if I didn't check out CatI'm working my way through my library's graphic novel collection and availing myself of the New 52 titles. I would be remiss if I didn't check out Catwoman. I did start reading an earlier run (single issues) with Ed Brubaker several moons ago (still have a stack I never got around to reading). I thought, why not try this?
Catwoman isn't always my favorite. On one level, I like that she's morally ambiguous, sometimes on the good side, sometimes on the bad side. I like strong women who can fight and hold their own, but her selfishness and how it leads to others being hurt is hard to handle. I couldn't stand her in the last Nolan Batman movie. I didn't like her with Bruce/Bats, but I did like them together in this book. I can see why some ship Batwoman and Catwoman so avidly. I think they understand each other, even though they are on the opposite side of the line more than not.
I didn't like the artwork. Catwoman looks harsh and rather scary. Her features don't have the catlike beauty or appeal that I would associate with her. The colors were too washed out for my tastes as well.
I like Judd Winick's writing. I didn't find that much fault with the storytelling in this one. He shows Catwoman as a morally conflicted person who has made poor choices out of a damaged psyche. I can get that about her.
Overall, this was pretty good. The biggest issue for me was the artwork. Otherwise, I'll keep reading this title. Batman showing up drove my rating up a lot (I can't even lie). My library also has Brubaker's run, so I may grab those to read next year (which is only two months away now).
Lady Ayla is threatened with either marriage to the powerful, conquering lord Margrave von Falkenstein or for her lands to be confiscated and Synopsis
Lady Ayla is threatened with either marriage to the powerful, conquering lord Margrave von Falkenstein or for her lands to be confiscated and her people killed in war. With her father ailing from a long-term degenerative condition, she has assumed command of his lands in his stead. She refuses the Margrave's offer of marriage, knowing that it will mean war, because she realizes giving into him is the wrong decision to make for herself and her people. On a trip through a nearby forest to notify her vassals of her need for men to protect Luntberg Castle and its villagers, she is robbed by the fearsome, dreaded, red-armor-wearing Robber Knight, who dares to take her money, property and her beloved horse, although he spares her life and doesn't harm a hair on her head. Lady Ayla vows to see him caught and hanged.
When Ayla and her steward find a sole-surviving, wounded man in a field of bloody, mutilated bodies, they bring him back to the castle. His name is Reuben, and he claims to be a merchant, but he is really the same Red Knight. If he reveals his identity, he will be hanged as a thief. And he is too weak to flee for his life from his wounds and a subsequent fever and infection. As he is nursed back to health by the beautiful Lady Ayla, his cynicism and overpowering self-interest gives way to love. Can Ayla keep her people safe from a deadly siege, and avoid falling for a man below her station who she believes is not telling her the whole truth about his identity?
The Robber Knight is an entertaining trip back in time to the medieval era. The narrative voice is lively, with subtle humor and vivid characterizations. Reuben is the perfect rogue character, a man who hasn't decided if he wants to take the trouble to be a better man again, until Lady Ayla shows him he is capable of it. Ayla is sweet and determined, a woman of her times. Beneath her ladylike exterior, she has the heart of a lion and a backbone of steel. The secondary characters, such as the old vassal but still capable knight and fighter, Sir Isenbard, are well-developed.
Mr. Thier clearly has a background in medieval history, and a talent for writing a story that is enlightening about the period, but in a very entertaining, readable fashion. The depiction of medieval castle warfare is lifelike and realistic without being overly graphic. The reader learns the ins and outs of protecting a castle against invaders alongside Lady Ayla, and her people, most of whom have lived in a time of peace and whose war skills are limited to non-existent. I cheered along with them as they survived numerous assaults due to the advice of the injured Reuben.
Readers who enjoy romance stories will appreciate the slow build of attraction and feelings between Ayla and Reuben. The author makes the most of their every moment together to show romantic tension and growing love between the characters.
The Robber Knight is a story that will appeal to readers who have interest in the medieval period. It's an edifying read, flows and keeps the reader's interest with engaging characters and a well-paced narrative. This reader recommends it, despite the fact that the cliffhanger ending pricks at one of the biggest pet peeves of mine.
This was a fast-paced, involving read. I liked the frequent action scenes and the globe-trotting, caperish narrative. While Nicholas is quite dashing,This was a fast-paced, involving read. I liked the frequent action scenes and the globe-trotting, caperish narrative. While Nicholas is quite dashing, the antiheroic Fox really steals the show. I would continue reading this series.
This is the first book by these authors that I’ve experienced. This one was on audio at my library, so I took the opportunity to read it.
UnfortunatelyThis is the first book by these authors that I’ve experienced. This one was on audio at my library, so I took the opportunity to read it.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this book was very good. At the most, it was somewhat entertaining, but the writing was just odd and didn't succeed with me. Gideon is a strange character. He never quite comes off as completely competent. Instead, he seems to bumble his way through situations. He is a fast talker and has a way of getting people to tell him what he wants to know, but I didn’t really count that as a significant skill. He's intelligent, but still slow on the uptake at times. I know that as a reader, we often have oversight in a situation that the character lacks, but I like to think that the main character can use the brains the Good Lord gave him. And I hate when the villain continually out-thinks him.
This book has this 'off' feeling that never goes away. I had hoped things would come together, but it stayed weird, and not in a good way, over the course of the book. I would use the term 'half-baked' to describe this book. Ingredients in this novel could have come to a good finished product, but they just don't.
While I don't like paper tiger villains, I felt that the villain was way out of Gideon's league. I didn't get this David and Goliath feeling where you have an unlikely hero who has the odds stacked against him and triumphed. Instead, I felt as though Gideon didn't have a chance against Nodding Crane. I was actually wincing at how inept Gideon was at times. I really hate being so harsh in my criticisms, but it's how I felt. I always hope for the best when I read a book, and this book never got to be better. It's just barely at 2.5 star read.
The saving grace was that I did listen to it on audio. The narrator, well-known actor John Glover, brought this story to life with his clever vocalizations and personifications of the dialogue. This is one of those cases when a good narrator can stave a sinking ship from going down, or mostly. While this book is not a good one, it was at times entertaining because of the narration.
I might seem foolish, but I want to try the next book, since it is also at my library on audio. My hope is that Gideon does get his act together and has learned something from his experience in this book. I'd like to see that Gideon has something to offer as a hero in future books. Maybe the authors have a better grasp on his character for his next outing. I'm holding onto my hopes! ...more
The Hammer and the Blade is fun sword and sorcery adventure. Kemp has done something interesting here. This book is quite low brow in its use of vulgaThe Hammer and the Blade is fun sword and sorcery adventure. Kemp has done something interesting here. This book is quite low brow in its use of vulgar descriptions: constantly describing puking and spitting and other bodily functions. Yet in contrast, I had to look up a lot of words when I read this, for apparently Kemp has quite a vocabulary. Maybe he was trying to prove that just because someone has a potty mouth doesn't mean they lack intelligence.
As far as a buddy story, this one succeeds on that level. Egil and Nix are tight. We don't get to find out how they met, and they are quite different. But that doesn't stop them from being very good friends who watch each others' backs and fight at each others' sides. Egil is a hulking man, who uses two hammers and a crowbar as his weapons. He wears a tattoo of an eye on his head, a symbol of the Momentary God. He is reflective and tends towards somberness. Nix is smaller, the body and persona of a thief. He reminds me of the trickster archetype. He is quick and sly, and fond of sharp, slender blades. He grew up in the slums, and part of him doesn't want to leave that behind. It's a huge part of his identity. He doubts that he possesses any sense of morality, but the quest he undertakes in this book will prove whether that's true.
While sword and sorcery can tend towards sexism, Kemp seems to want to subvert this. While most of the main characters are not women, there are more than a few secondary female characters that show a lot of depth and the complexity of the female gender. Nix and Egil are forced to reexamine their views of women and how women should be treated continually throughout this story. I really enjoyed this aspect of this novel. Yes, I am a woman, so it makes sense that this would be a crucial aspect for me. But I like to think that men can also be dismayed at how women can be sidelined, maligned, and abused in most cultures, simply because they are women. I am glad to see that Kemp seems to struggle with this as well.
The action/adventure part of the equation is well done. Plenty of fighting and escapades. Tomb robbing and escaping mystical booby traps. Lots of demon and creature fighting, and some fights between characters of the human persuasion. Some of the scenes got a little gory, but I guess that's to be expected in a sword and sorcery romp. While I didn't like some of the vulgar descriptions, I didn't think Kemp went over the top with the violence.
As far as the sorcery, that was definitely a strong aspect of this novel. One of the characters is a sorcerer whose family has a dark pact with demons for their power. And I do mean dark. This storyline becomes a very prominent thread that place Egil and Nix at some crucial moments of defining who their identities are as people and where they draw their line in the sand. As I read it, I marveled at the extremes people go to obtain and keep power, and usually they end up making someone pick up the tab for their actions and ill-gotten gains. Definitely the case in this book. Glad we had some unlikely heroes around to try to make things right.
I didn't rate this book higher because it was just too vulgar for my tastes. I felt like this was a hindrance for me to dive deeper since I just can't stand vulgarity. It's a personal taste thing here. There were other things to like about this novel, such as the fantasy world-building and the humor and camaraderie between Egil and Nix and a few other characters. It was a fairly entertaining novel despite the fact that the vulgarity was off-putting. I will probably continue this series.
I give the author credit for putting a lot of heart, soul and energy into this story. It has a lot of authentic-feeling details, although I had troublI give the author credit for putting a lot of heart, soul and energy into this story. It has a lot of authentic-feeling details, although I had trouble with the initially slow-moving narrative. I really liked the intricate infusion of The Divine Comedy into the story. I would like to rate this higher, but it was just too hard for me to get into the story initially, and I didn't love the conclusion overall.
For that reason, I'd have to rate it 3.25/5.0 stars. It's hard when you don't love something someone has written with love. However, I have the feeling that this book will resonate with some readers.
This was an interesting book, although some aspects were rather off-putting. I liked the vision of a post-apocalyptic Russia. This isn't a book whereThis was an interesting book, although some aspects were rather off-putting. I liked the vision of a post-apocalyptic Russia. This isn't a book where you can say, "Wow, that's a really good person!" Everyone is highly flawed. This is one of those books I'd love to sit down the author and ask what he was thinking when he wrote this.
An omnibus of three different books, it took me forever to read this, but it was very good. Lots of fantastical elements and a great show of the authoAn omnibus of three different books, it took me forever to read this, but it was very good. Lots of fantastical elements and a great show of the author's imagination. It's a poignant story that will stay with me for a while, like an ache inside that I can't message away. I recommend it to fantasy readers.
Dragon Bound was an awesome book. I loved just about everything about it. I'm not even going to pretend that my favorite element wasn't Dragos, 'causeDragon Bound was an awesome book. I loved just about everything about it. I'm not even going to pretend that my favorite element wasn't Dragos, 'cause it was! I have an unnatural attraction to possessive, jealous, stalkerific heroes who are scary as heck, and Dragos is going on my list of favorite heroes of this type. I liked that although Pia started out as a thief who dared to steal from him, she became his own personal hoard. He acted like a dragon of old, used to having his way in all things. Even though he came on kind of strong, it was clear that he wouldn't do anything to hurt Pia. He cared enough to make sure that Pia was happy! He brushed her hair all the time! He was actually a softie underneath all that hard scaly dragon armor! Ms. Harrison knows how to write this kind of hero very well!
Dragos is like a Harlequin Presents hero done well (with an intensity times one hundred). He is unbelievably wealthy, prominent and gorgeous. He is also immensely powerful. And he was done so well, there was never that incredulity factor where I have this sarcastic cheerleader moment in my head: "Yay, he is so awesome!" (rolls eyes). Dragos truly was awesome! Sick girl that I was, I liked that even though Pia found him hot and fell in love with him, she could still see he was a scary guy. Who doesn't like a guy who would give you the world, but he could also slaughter a whole army of enemies for you? Who's so jealous, he doesn't even like his crew touching you? (PSA awareness moment: Not okay in real life, but I like it in books. So shoot me!)
I thought the world-building was really good. I loved the fact that this book has a strong fantasy element, equal to the romance. It wasn't just a backdrop for paranormal loving (which was verra nice, mind you). There was a lot of thought put into creating this world in which humans live alongside Wyr (shapeshifters) and Faerie folk of all kinds, and old magic is alive and well in this world, and into the adjacent magic realms. It seemed eminently plausible that one of the most powerful economic figures could be an ancient dragon. Don't I wish?
Dragos is an awesome hero, and Pia is an equally awesome heroine. She is gutsy, intelligent, funny, and sweet. She never gave me the urge to ignore her and focus on the hero because I didn't like her. I loved her a lot. I could see myself having similar reactions to the strange circumstances she faces. I loved how utterly fearless (although inwardly quaking) she was when faced with the very scary Dragos, and especially at the end when she finds herself in a very rough situation. I loved her self-deprecating, humorous way of looking at the world, very down to earth and resourceful. I loved her secret heritage, and how Dragos cherished that part of her, and all parts of her. I felt tears brimming when she discovers what she truly is. (You have to understand that I was the little girl who was in love with Pegasus, Unicorns, and all mythical creatures. It was a sweet moment for this little girl who has never truly grown up inside).
I loved Dragos' crew, especially Graydon (who reminded me of Butch from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward), and Tricks (a very hip elf who works as Dragos' PR rep and happens to be the true heir to Throne of the Dark Fae). How cool was it that his sentinels consisted of four gryphons and a tough female Harpy (she reminded me of my girl Xhex from the Black Dagger books). It was funny how Dragos came to life when Pia came around, and seeing how his crew reacted to the new Dragos.
I don't think my review can really add anything because there are some great reviews out there of this book. I really did love everything about it. It was just hip enough (but not annoyingly so), the story and the fantasy elements were fantastic, there were many laugh out loud moments (this book was really funny), and some poignant moments. I loved the relationship between Pia and Dragos, and how they had to work at some things, but they weren't going to give up on being together. (view spoiler)[ And my being a romance reader who likes babies, I was so happy that she even had that element. Not enough PNR books have pregnancy and babies in them for me (I know some readers hate that, but not me!) So I was glad she did have that in this book, and it was so cool how she did it. Definitely some 'aww' moments there. (hide spoiler)]
I know I want to hug this book tight to my book-loving heart. I will put this out on my favorites shelf for a frequent reread. I can't wait to see what Ms. Harrison does in the next Elder Races books. She has a fan in me!
My friends who said I would love this were right. High five!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The Crown Conspiracy is perfect for readers who enjoy epic fantasy, but in a smaller package. When you have the time and energy for a 500 or more pageThe Crown Conspiracy is perfect for readers who enjoy epic fantasy, but in a smaller package. When you have the time and energy for a 500 or more page epic, why not? But if you want a good historical fantasy tale that is shorter but doesn't lack what you enjoy in the genre, then it's great to find one. This is a good choice if you have encountered that dilemma. When I developed a renewed taste for fantasy as an adult reader, I looked at different fantasy novels that many established fans of the genre recommended, and this one continually came up. I've had this on my to read pile for years, and fortunately, my library had a copy. I had a ball reading it.
A good writer can use an economy of words and bring a character to life. Most of my favorite authors are ones who excel at this. I would say Sullivan acquitted himself very well in this area. The portrayal of characters in this novel gave me what I need but also left some mystery. Some characters more than others. He reveals most of their personalities through what they do and say, instead of in long descriptions of them or telling their histories. That's okay with me. I like a story that keeps moving.
As far as characters that stood out the most:
I definitely want to see more of Esrahraddon. But then wizards have that effect on you. The more mysterious the better. Besides Hadrian and Royce, the lead characters, I have to say my favorite was Myron. His sense of wonder about the world (which makes sense considering he was in a monastery for over 30 years and most of his life at the age of 36). He has some of the funniest lines in the book. He's utterly captivated by horses, for instance. He's never seen one before, and he thinks they are brilliant. The same goes for women. You can't help but laugh at him, but it's in a gentle way, because he's really a sweet guy.
Other characters grow on you, such as Prince Alric. He's pretty much a pompous jerk initially. But he comes into his own. You realize that he's not different from Myron. Merely a person shaped by his experiences. He comes to realize that being King is not just luxury and privilege, but also a lot of responsibility and discomfort and self-sacrifice. He learns that the hard way. He also learns who he can trust, and that is not always who he might initially think.
Hadrian and Royce are two of those amiable rogues that make fantasy so fun. They are thieves and proud. But they have honor, in their own way. I like how they end up saving a kingdom, the unlikely heroes of this piece. Although they might be criminals, they are never the bad guys in this book. I liked that distinction. Sometimes you can be on the wrong side of the law and not be a bad person (I am not advocating breaking the law, mind you). Sometimes that law isn’t necessarily fair across the board or makes it hard for you to do what’s right. Or maybe you’re just a criminal who is otherwise a decent person. I don’t see why it can’t happen, at least in theory.
I liked that the characters’ motives aren’t necessarily crystal clear initially. You have to read to see the story develop (sounds like a no-brainer) and what choices the characters make that will define them ultimately, or at least elucidate who they are. There were some nice twists and turns along the way that I wasn't expecting. While some of the secondary characters are less developed, that’s only to be expected, unless you want a 1000 page book, and I definitely don’t.
The World of this Novel and Magic:
What could have been complex world-building instead is simply explained, which is a relief. I like books that have good world-building, but I don’t like things so complicated that I can’t figure out what’s going on or I am drawn out of the story and get bored. The political themes are a constant undercurrent of the story as there is a struggle between the imperialists, nationalists, and royalists, and the main characters get caught up in this struggle on a personal level. The religious foundations and spiritual beliefs of these countries also play a role in the storyline, since the governments are more or less based on the founding/creating gods worshiped. When Myron explained all this to Royce and Hadrian, I admit I was captivated. It made sense, and at the same time, it was rather sophisticated how the ancient past related to the present of the world at the time of this book. Albeit subtle in rendering, magic is part and parcel of this world, used as another instrument to wield for everyday uses. I especially loved Esrahaddon's prison. It was unnerving and yet fascinating that magic allowed such an invention. And the fact that they would go to so much trouble just to keep one person locked up made me long for more information about this unique individual. I wish that Astria had been able to demonstrate more magical ability. She only got to do a couple of simple magical things, and with her role being so important to the story, it would have been nice to see more of her. Perhaps Sullivan didn’t want magic to be a fix all in this book. With that as a presumption, I can understand why he kept magic low key in the story overall.
Overall, I was quite satisfied with this story. I think it was a very good fantasy adventure tale. While I have read some epic fantasy stories that have more wow factor, I think this is one that sneaks in on you and delivers in a way that can’t be questioned. It harkens back to the older adventure tales, such as Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser by Fitz Leiber or even Elric of Melnibone’ by Michael Moorcock. Shorter stories that are great reads in their own way even if they don’t seem as majestic as Tolkien. From reading this work, I would say that Sullivan definitely has a love of this genre, and he created a story that treats it with respect.
I definitely want to follow this series, and it’s gratifying that these books were written in such a way that they are self-contained despite being related to each other. I would recommend The Crown Conspiracy to fantasy readers, and those who want to give the genre a try.
Ever watch a movie and wonder, 'What if the villain ran off with the femme fatale?' Then you might like this book. I sure did. I love dark romance. SoEver watch a movie and wonder, 'What if the villain ran off with the femme fatale?' Then you might like this book. I sure did. I love dark romance. Sometimes I ask myself why I enjoy seeing the dark side of this genre, not depravity and kinky deeds, cheating heroes, and bickering, but heroes and heroines who are more like antiheroes and villains, who find love and their happy ever after. I think it's my unassailable belief that love does conquer all. Like Fox Murder, I really want to believe.
Ava Gray has written an excellent offering for those of us with a taste for the noir. In this book, we have a heroine who lives for the next con, moving from town to town, and relieving fools of their money, feeling no remorse about it. But, at least she only takes money from those she thinks deserves it. On her tail is a hero who kills people for a living. Yes, an assassin. Like Kyra, he plys his trade on those who he feels deserves killing. Now, to like this story you have to be willing to read about people who are morally flexible, or at least, those have a different view of morality than the norm. I think that Ms. Gray brought these characters to life in such a manner that I could feel enough respect and empathy for them that their dark ways didn't offend me. I admit, I don't like the idea of stealing for a living. But, Kyra managed to be a heroine that I could like, although I didn't always agree with the choices she made. She had her own sense of honor, which endeared her to me.
I freely admit that I am intrigued by the idea of an assassin hero or heroine. Don't ask me why. It's morbid, but there is an appeal to seeing what motivates them to do what they do. Reyes is probably one of my favorite assassin heroes so far. He truly believes that he does a service to the world. The only reason he took Kyra's contract was because he was decieved into believing she was a bad person who needed killing. Fairly soon after he takes up with her as her apprentice in the con game world, he comes to realize that she's not the person he'd been led to believe she was.
Both Kyra and Reyes struck me as intensely lonely and somewhat sad characters. After Kyra's father was murdered, she had no one (other than her friend Mia), and lived a lonely life, seeking only the sexual satisfaction of one night stands as she travels. Although she's suspicious of Reyes at first, she ends up taking him into her solitary world, and falling for him.
Their first intimate encounter is all about lust, but Ms. Gray turns things around, allowing us to see a somewhat slow-building, and in some ways, innocent courtship between these two lonely people. They both start to hope that they have found someone who they can possibly love. However, Reyes knows he's on borrowed time. He has a job to perform. His reputation is built on always completing his kills. He doesn't want to kill Kyra, but he doesn't see a way around it. I found this a little disturbing that even halfway through the book, Reyes was still contemplating killing Kyra. I think that was a brave move on Ms. Gray's part. I held my breath, hoping that Reyes would realize that he couldn't hurt Kyra, because he loved her. Soon, this dangerous man turns his formidable skills to protecting the woman he has been hired to kill.
Skin Game is more suspense than action. I liked the fact that we were able to see the viewpoints of various characters: Kyra and Reyes; the fascinating Addison Foster, who is the security head for the man who wants Kyra dead; Mia, Kyra's friend; and Serrano, the man that Kyra used, humilated, and stole millions of dollars from, who will stop at nothing to see her dead to save his face. It gave a greater depth to this dark story, turning this book into noir romance for the thinking woman.
Skin Game is as gritty as it gets. It has some moments that made me wince a few times, as Kyra and Reyes have to deal with some enemies they make along the way. The love scenes are hot and earthy, and the love between Kyra and Reyes was believable and deep. I truly enjoyed reading this story. I was sucked into this dark tale with a silver lining. I wouldn't want to live the kinds of lives that Kyra and Reyes lead, but I liked the fact that they were able to find each other and hope for the future. They didn't really get the best hands in the poker game of life, but they managed to play a killer game with the ones they are dealt. I like the idea that even in the dark, there are those who do have motivations that show some degree of honor. Skin Game couldn't have been an easy book to write, but Ms. Gray did it very well. This one goes on my keeper shelf. ...more