Wow. This was so fun to read. I am a fan of the Dresden Files urban fantasy series, and it's wonderful to get some visuals to go along with the prose.Wow. This was so fun to read. I am a fan of the Dresden Files urban fantasy series, and it's wonderful to get some visuals to go along with the prose. Butcher wrote the foreword, and he said he was very happy with the way Harry comes out, that he'd always visualized Harry Dresden in this medium, since he grew up as a huge comic book fan. I'd tend to agree. I think the artist did an excellent job of capturing Harry and also Karrin Murphy and Carmichael. He captures Harry's physicality as well as his self-awareness of both his flaws and strengths. It was interesting to see Harry perform his typical spellwork and see him in action with his blasting rod and staff, and get a glimpse of his beloved VW Bug. While I watched the tv show, and I liked it, there were a few things they changed that I didn't care for, so this was a better way to visualize Harry outside of my own active imaginations, and truer to the plotlines of the books.
The storyline was very good. I loved the infusion of folklore and the underlying concept driving the story. The villain was really quite formidable and very creepy. Harry shows his heroism, even though he is often the underdog in the battle. And he definitely faces some serious obstacles, as always. I liked the secondary characters like Will. Of course, being an animal lover, I enjoyed the fact that this is set in a zoo.
Beautiful artwork, and great storytelling. What's not to like about this? Really glad to see Harry Dresden in the graphic novel medium. Will definitely read more of these!...more
Courtney goes with her great-uncle Aloysius on a trip to Eastern Europe. Of course, she manages to get herself in trouble, fighting for the underdog,Courtney goes with her great-uncle Aloysius on a trip to Eastern Europe. Of course, she manages to get herself in trouble, fighting for the underdog, including a patch of Gypsy werewolves, one of which is in love with a landowner's daughter. Oh, did I mention that Courtney has a boyfriend! But it's not as good as it sounds. Because her boyfriend is a vampire, and he's draining Courtney of her lifeforce and humanity. Courtney feels so disconnected and apathetic, this isn't sounding so bad to her. But her uncle loves her deeply, and he's not about to lose her to a creature of eternal darkness.
I think this might be my favorite in the series. I hope I am able to continue reading. I think my library is all out of these. Darn!...more
The Unwritten strikes me as being somehow 'impressive'. It's hard to clarify what I mean, but the idea of it and the execution was very well done. ItThe Unwritten strikes me as being somehow 'impressive'. It's hard to clarify what I mean, but the idea of it and the execution was very well done. It delves into the very fruitful literary territory of metafiction, where reality and fiction intersect. I find I truly enjoy metafiction, probably because of being such a lifelong bookworm and having my head stuck in a book for most of that life (since I was four).
In the case of Tommy Taylor, it's a painful intersection. His father is a famous novelist of children's books (in the vein of Harry Potter) who suddenly disappeared. Tommy is left depending on the uncertain income from coasting on his identity as Tommy Taylor, the eponymous character of the books his father wrote. When a lady shows up at a comic book convention and challenges his identity, the stuff hits the fan, and the adoring fans of the books become hateful, vengeance-seeking stalkers. Tommy's life implodes. But things only get worse, when he develops enemies that hail from the so-called mythical landscape of the books.
One of the things I liked the best about this graphic novel was the illustrations. It is clean and elegant. The lettering is also well done and distinctive. My eyes wanted to stay on the page and observe every detail, whereas with some graphic novels, there is too much to look at (so I pick and choose), and some aspects of the frames seem to fade into the woodwork because they are deemed less important. This book is a great midpoint where neither clarity or detail is compromised.
I also liked the prose and the storytelling. I felt sorry for Tommy. He really got a rough deal being who he was, and in effect powerless to change his life. I hope that he does gain some agency and authority in his life situation.
I do have to say I didn't care much for some aspects of one of the sections. The idea of tackling horror conventions since they were at the house at Lake Geneva in Switzerland, where Mary Shelley (and apparently John Milton earlier) wrote the famous masterpiece they are known for, was a good one. I just didn't care for the gory turn of the story. I think it pricks a sore spot I have about the horror genre in general--the sacrifice of story and genuine narrative content for splatter and gore. I understood the purpose of this, but it just seemed gratuitous (although I admit it was still tastefully done).
The last section was rather odd initially. I didn't get why Rudyard Kipling was the narrator, until well into the story, and then the lightbulb came on. It ties in very well with this developing and expansive story and endows it with increased sense of threat and risk.
I still have a lot of questions, and I want to keep reading this series because it has my interest and attention. I hope that Tommy will come to understand his troublesome situation and discover the hero within.
I'd recommend this novel to lovers of books and literature in its various forms. ...more
The Fables series is back on track after Volume 13 Fables, Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover, which was one of the first volumes in the series I didThe Fables series is back on track after Volume 13 Fables, Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover, which was one of the first volumes in the series I didn't rate five stars in a long time. When I considered this book, I knew I was being extra-picky not to give it five stars. The story really is excellent, and some of the profound questions I've had about the Witches on the 13th Floor are starting to be answered. The reveal on Frau Totenkinder is deeper than I thought and was written so poetically. You even get a glimpse into the power politics between the 13th Floor witches. Frau Totenkinder has a young rival in Ozma. Yet they will have to work together to defeat the threat of the Dark Man, known as Mr. Dark. He is out to destroy all the Fables and build his own kingdom of darkness in its place. He truly is creepy and a terrible enemy. The secret of the power of the gateways and the magic that sustains Fabletown itself is revealed, and it's very much related to both Mr. Dark and an ancient corp of sorcerers who fought dark magic for the Empire, and Frau Totenkinder goes on a journey to recruit one of them to help their cause.
So much happens in this volume that I feel that I will get spoilery if I go into it. I did like the side story about Frogcatcher and Red Riding Hood. I always like catching up with the various Fables and seeing how life is treating them (and that's not always well).
This series is so near and dear to my heart. I'm glad it bounced back from the last volume so adroitly....more
I think that this volume more than others in the series conveys such a powerful sense of loss and risk. In fact, it feels very melancholy. No doubt thI think that this volume more than others in the series conveys such a powerful sense of loss and risk. In fact, it feels very melancholy. No doubt that was Willingham's intention. A character dies and it feels like an enormous hole is left in the Fable community. This volume touches on how someone can be such a part of your life and you take them for granted, until they are gone. I don't know if I will get over the loss of this person, and in that I feel I identify with the characters. The same has happened to me in my life outside of the pages of books.
Right now, theme of loss and death is hitting me hard, after having lost people and my beloved pets so recently. I feel that this is probably therapeutic for me, but it hurts, much like when a doctor debrides an infected wound.
Along with the harbinger of loss, there is a harbinger of a cloud of doom over the heads of the Fables. They have rejoiced in conquering the Adversary, but someone has awakened a sleeping giant who makes the Adversary look like a schoolyard bully. I really hope the Fables can band together and deal with this thread without losing more beloved members in the process.
I think this is another five star read. I find myself scared to pick up the next volume, honestly!...more
I have mad love for this series. I tried to stay away, take a long break, but it pulled me back. I'm a fairy tale addict and Willingham gets fairy talI have mad love for this series. I tried to stay away, take a long break, but it pulled me back. I'm a fairy tale addict and Willingham gets fairy tales and how to take them and give them a modern update without destroying the essence of what makes fairy tales so appealing.
I like that while Bigby and Snow are much loved and favored characters in this series, they take a back seat and we see the heroism and the complexity of other Fables. I love how the backstories of the characters come into play through their actions in this book. It's a happy surprise to see which ones come to the forefront as heroes. Boy Blue is a standout character, and that's a very nice development in the story. Cinderella, though not even close to being my favorite fairy tale, is rocking the spy thing. I like it very much. Even Prince Charming shows that he does have some hero down deep.
Fundamentally, this book is about war and its cost. The author handles this subject with the integrity it deserves, and shows that fairy tales are fundamentally moral and allegorical tales that teach the reader something about humanity. So Fables as a series stays very true to the heart of fairy tales, and I love that about this series....more
Willingham's exploration of fables wouldn't have been complete without a look at the Arabian Nights. The folklore of the Middle East fits into this seWillingham's exploration of fables wouldn't have been complete without a look at the Arabian Nights. The folklore of the Middle East fits into this series very well, especially as the Adversary is expanding his takeover of the Fable lands into the Middle Eastern worlds now.
I think that it would be impossible to integrate all of the encompassing Arabian Nights lore into one volume, and I don't think Willingham ever intended to try. Instead, he uses this story as an introductory volume, and it has some elements that really stand out in the 1001 Nights lore. One well done example was the Jinn that the Arabian delegation brings alone with them. I think that perhaps that shows you the powerful motifs of the Arabian Nights in one large sort of concentrated burst at the audience. And of course, the Fables of Fabletown have to account for the power of such a force of nature, and counter-attack or at least attempt to neutralize it, much as one would consider taking on a nation with a stockpile of nuclear weapon that you want to maintain peaceful negotiations with. Never fear, Fabletown has some potent tools in their own toolkit.
Another effective aspect of this volume was the addressing of cultural differences that the Middle Eastern worlds had from what I would consider the European Fableworlds. Prince Charming is a big buffoon, and is completely unequipped to handy any diplomatic relations, thus his predecessor King Cole is called in to do this important job. I did find myself agreeing with Charming on one aspect of the Middle Eastern Fablelands culture though. Sinbad is a diplomatic leader of the Middle Eastern contingent, with a very wicked advisor who might open a few cans of worms that need to be dealt with.
Not related so much to the Arabian Nights storyline but to the overall Fables arc was a story about two wooden creations of Geppetto who fall in love for each other and wish to be human, but will have to pay a hard price. This story reveals Willingham's wonderful storytelling skills and the bittersweet tone and content of this volume in a nutshell. He shows that the opposite side has players that can also evoke the sympathy of the readers, even though their acts and methods might be reprehensible or just neutral morally in the scheme of things.
I'm sure there are some heavy underlying themes in this graphic novel, and I have only scratched the surface. I feel that I would love to reread all of these and revisit the whole series at my leisure, which is why I definitely want to get copies of these for my collection one day....more
What an enjoyable quick audiobook! A nice mix of short fairy tales from the Grimms' collection. I haven't read any of these particular stories, althouWhat an enjoyable quick audiobook! A nice mix of short fairy tales from the Grimms' collection. I haven't read any of these particular stories, although I am familiar with plot devices and archetypes from more than a few of them. The narrator was great. She brought these stories to life. There is also classical music to accompany parts of the stories. I could see this audiobook being very good for kids to expose them to fairy tales. They would enjoy the stories and the narrator's different voices. I would say these are pretty kid-friendly stories, especially for the Grimms, which can be dark. Overall, each story has a good lesson about morals and ethics, from hard work, to keeping promises, and not giving up when things get rough.
Listening brought back the joy of reading fairy tales, that I have not ever gotten over, even into my 4th decade. I'd recommend it!
Wow. I love this series. Miles has such a duality to his nature: sweet, loving teddybear, and steely, ruthless warrior. Definitely worked for me. AdorWow. I love this series. Miles has such a duality to his nature: sweet, loving teddybear, and steely, ruthless warrior. Definitely worked for me. Adored Lara and the psychic storyline too.
Mistress to the Marquis was a very absorbing, beautifully-written read. It honestly deals with a relationship between a titled gentleman and his mistrMistress to the Marquis was a very absorbing, beautifully-written read. It honestly deals with a relationship between a titled gentleman and his mistress, who comes from very humble origins and has a very scandalous past. Initially Razelby embarked on his mistress arrangement with Alice as a sort of 'last hurrah' before he married and had his heir to meet a 30th birthday deadline that is proven to have a very pivotal effect in his psyche. He is slow to admit how deeply he loves Alice, even though on a heart level, he doesn't want to terminate their arrangement. He does so out of duty. It is time to marry. And he will just have to move on and forget her. But that proves difficult, even impossible in the end. On Alice's side, her feelings are not something she has the agency to dwell on. She doesn't have the power to demand anything more from Razelby, so when he ends it, she has to find a way to be happy in the future without him.
There are things I really appreciate about this book. I am not fond of the trivializing of sexual relationships in romance novels (or the media for that matter). I know that in real life that is how many view sex. However, sex is never as 'no strings' or as 'casual' as we try to make it. Both Alice and Razelby find this out the hard way. I liked that a great deal of this book is about the emotional consequences of ending their affair. While mentally, they have both agreed to move on, their hearts have not agreed, and are in fact in rebellion against their minds.
I was happy with the execution in this book. I appreciate that McPhee makes this book about something more than just illicit passion, which is what you might expect with the subject matter. Instead, she uses the page time to show more than just numerous sexual encounters between the couple that was supposed to be broken up. Instead, McPhee shows how their everyday lives have become intertwined and seeing each other is obligatory. I've always wondered how two people in the same circle who were sexually involved and then break up manage to get past that when they see each other every single day and can't rearrange their lives to not be around each other. That is the case with Alice and Razelby. It's difficult to be around each other without the emotions and the memories impressing on their minds. They both come to realize how important they were to each other in many ways. How their time together wasn't just sexual, but also a deep friendship that blossomed into a profound love affair. It's not so easy to erase that experience. They both come to realize that ignoring what the heart wants is not always possible.
I also appreciated how dimensional the characters were. Instead of Razelby coming off as a heartless rake who enjoys his pleasures without considering the consequences, he is actually a man of consideration, a good man. I mean, he didn't have to end his mistress arrangement, but could have gone ahead and got married. Many did that in reality. But something in him knew that wasn't fair to either his future wife or his mistress. Perhaps in the past he wasn't so considerate, but through his relationship with Alice, he really starts to see her not as a commodity, a piece of pretty flesh for his exclusive and convenient use, or someone that he can use and throw away. Razelby is forced to consider the ethics of the titled gentleman's debaucheries. One of his cronies makes a suggestion to visit a bawdy house and he cringes internally at the thought of how Alice was forced to pursue this profession for her survival. I don't think Razelby could ever see houses of prostitution the same way in the future. This reader can't abide prostitution and particularly hates when it's trivialized as a mere harmless thing. This false conception the idea of a man paying a woman (or vice versa) has no inherent ills associated with it. At the same time, Alice is viewed as a whole and lovable person, despite the fact that she has a past as a prostitute. Many women end up in that life, and there is nothing inherently bad or worthless about them just because they had to make that choice. Razelby is well aware of this past and doesn't think any less of her. It's fortunate that Alice was able to move on from her past and hope for a better future, which is not always the case with women who end up in prostitution, either in the past or now.
I also liked how McPhee shows the the daily life of a woman in the demimondaine. It was interesting to see the rules that they live by and how some of them actually travel in the same circles as the ton, even though they aren't accepted in some places.
At first, I didn't like that Razelby didn't consider marriage to her a viable option. But later, it's revealed that his reasons are as much about her well-being, knowing how hypocritical and cruel the ton particularly the women could be towards a woman with her past, even if she is married to a titled gentleman), as his own status in society.
Frankly, I hate the hypocrisy of this system in which men can act like complete dogs and women are held to a different standard. Women are forced into the sex trade and their world and options shrink and doors close to them because of that, but the men who pay for their services are free to do pretty much whatever they want. It was awkward for both Razelby and Alice to encounter acquaintances who knew them as a couple and now consider Alice fair game or not suitable to be acquainted with. In effect, while Razelby has the option to carry on as usual, Alice is put in the situation of dealing with the fallout of their separation and its effects on her own reputation and future prospects.
I have rambled on big time. I guess that's a good thing when a book gets you thinking so much. I found Mistress to a Marquis that kind of read--involving me in the story, enthralling me with a really good love story, and giving me a lot of issues to ponder. While this is not my favorite theme in romance, it was handled very well in this book, and it definitely a higher rating for that.
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 nThis 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.
A good tertiary addition to the Baltimore graphic novel series. Readers who love classic horror fiction can't help but enjoy this series, and this oneA good tertiary addition to the Baltimore graphic novel series. Readers who love classic horror fiction can't help but enjoy this series, and this one just cements the classic horror sensibility of the work by Mignola and Golden. Forgive the pun, but they are a bit of a Golden Team for me. I think their writing is seamless where I can't figure out which part Mignola wrote and what was written by Golden. The artwork is sober and dark in color, matching the unrelenting darkness of the literary tone of the stories. Baltimore is a lone hunter who travels with one goal in mind: finding Haigus, the vampire who turned him and destroyed his family. Along the way, he will destroy evil he encounters. His relationship with God is complicated. He still calls him Lord, but he has a palpable anger towards Him. Baltimore seethes with it. He shakes his fists at God, but doesn't curse him. He only asks that he be left alone to seek his vengeance. To my mind, God manages for him to be in the right place at the right time, a fierce warrior against darkness and evil creatures of all kinds. I am not saying I like an invincible hero all the time, but I appreciate how Baltimore always ends up in tight spots where I would expect him to be a goner, but he manages to survive, even if he adds a few more scars to the landscape of his body and face.
It's hard to rate this as a good book, in the sense that it's not at all feel-good. It's very depressing in a lot of ways. The vampire plague has left destruction in every place, and all manner of foul creatures prey on the humans who manage to survive the plague and aren't turned into vampires. So, no, it's not an uplifting read. However, the writing and the artwork are beautiful and has a penetrating effect on me as I read. An excellent example of how successful the graphic novel medium can be for storytelling. And since I don't get to read much Gothic/classic horror, lately, it satisfies my palate for the stories in a quick reading format, and the art-lover/artist in me.
I'm ever so grateful that I am able to get this from my library. These volumes would cost a pretty penny to buy new.
So, yes, I do recommend it to readers who aren't averse to a dark read. It's violent and at times visceral, but not at all over the top or graphic. As I said earlier in the review, it has the Gothic and Classic horror sensibility that any fans of 18th-early 20th century horror will appreciate.
The Plague Ships is bonafide horror. Not only does our intrepid hero battle vampires, but he also battles Hessian zombies infected from nasty fungal bThe 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.
This is my first book by Joanna Bourne, and I'm glad I've been collecting her books in my tbr pile. She's an excellent writer, with that rich voice IThis is my first book by Joanna Bourne, and I'm glad I've been collecting her books in my tbr pile. She's an excellent writer, with that rich voice I love so much in historical romance. Her characters are complex and the romance drew me in and had me holding my breath. I loved Pax! Cami was a singular heroine, lethal in her own right. This is also an excellent spy novel (I love genuine spy stories).
Young country maiden, Penelope Fairweather arrives in London to stay with the Radclyffs, her goal to catch a husband. However, Penelope is theSynopsis
Young country maiden, Penelope Fairweather arrives in London to stay with the Radclyffs, her goal to catch a husband. However, Penelope is the most awkward of ducklings. She is a disaster magnet, with no polish, a penchant for saying whatever comes to her mind, and a best friend (Lady Bathsheba) who is a goat. So the dowager Duchess of Blackthorne and her daughter, Anne, Lady Radclyff, have their work cut out for them. It doesn't help that Charles, the present duke, despises Penelope, and wants to send her back to Finnshire. What they don't know is that Penelope has no home to go back to, since her stepmother hates her. Penelope has one chance to have a home, and that's to succeed at finding a husband. If only she could do something right and temper her incautious, enthusiastic ways, so she can have a chance at a home and a family of her own.
The Radclyff women recruit Madame Bellafraunde, a dynamo at styling women of the ton, who just happens to be a man dressed as a woman, to turn Penelope into a stylish young lady who can catch a husband. What ensues is moment after moment of zany scenes, as Penelope struggles to find her feet in a new world. The Duke of Blackthorne slowly finds his feelings change for Penelope, her sweet spirit and generous, authentic nature finding the key to his frozen heart. Now if he could only convince Penelope that he doesn't hate her. There's also the matter of his mean-spirited fianceé, Lady Lydia Snowly.
Penelope is a laugh riot. This is a book for romance readers who really want to enjoy themselves with lots of slapstick-style comedic scenes and absurdity. Penelope is absolutely adorable. Her sweetness and honest spirit makes her a heroine that readers will love. At times, I wondered how she could constantly stumble from disaster to disaster, but it's all in fun. Mixed with the hilarious moments is pathos for Penelope's situation. She lost her true mother at birth, and was never loved by her stepmother. She never felt accepted in her own home. She hasn't had the same opportunities as many, but that doesn't stop her from being a young woman of courage and strength.
Charles, Duke Blackthorne is not very likable for most of the book. He says the most horrible things to Penelope, which makes him seem like a puppy-kicker. I loved that Penelope stood up to him, and demanded his respect. She didn't try to fit into his narrow boxes and narrow world, and over time, he realizes that he loves her for who she is, despite her lack of a verbal filter and penchant for disaster. While I didn't much care for Charles initially, he does come around and redeem himself, and he and Penelope have great chemistry. I wanted him to fall in love with her, just because that would be the last possible thing a lofty duke like himself would ever consider doing.
This novel is populated with quirky characters that kept me laughing and engaged in the story. I love to laugh, and Anya Wylde definitely had me laughing with this book. I couldn't wait to see what zany disaster would occur next. I liked the crazy twist on "My Fair Lady", with a little cross-dressing thrown in.
Penelope is a thoroughly enjoyable novel. It's unashamedly goofy, but it's done so well, this book is infectiously readable as a result. I would recommend this novel to readers who love funny romance stories. Penelope is a heroine that you can't help but love. Charles isn't quite as likable, which is why this isn't a five star read, but I did like how he comes to realize that he can't resist falling in love with Penelope. And it's great to see her get the happy ending she deserves. Definitely recommended!
I am not overstating to say that the release of the new Black Dagger Brotherhood series book is a highlight of my spring, and I view it as JR Ward's pI am not overstating to say that the release of the new Black Dagger Brotherhood series book is a highlight of my spring, and I view it as JR Ward's present to me for my birthday! That said, let's get to my review:
**Disclaimer: This review is as spoiler-free as I could make it!
Wrath, Son of Wrath and Beth Randall have come a long way since Dark Lover, and it's been my pleasure to accompany them on the ride!
When I first read Dark Lover (about eight years ago), I will be honest in saying that my biggest draw was not Wrath or Beth, but the world and the storyline of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and the strange world within a world of Caldwell, New York. While I enjoyed their relationship, it didn’t blow me away, and neither character is my favorite in this series. However, I knew I was going to keep reading the series, and boy am I glad.
With The King, I feel that an immensely important chapter has been closed in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and it makes me happy because I feel that all the Brothers and their Shellans have found peace and the close bond of family, drawing close friends into their net. I also feel a sense of excitement in knowing that the storyline can continue and branch off in different ways and directions, and the waters seem uncharted. While there are tendrils that Ms. Ward has planted in this novel, I honestly don't feel I can predict too much about what is coming next. It's going to be fun to see where the story leads, and I am in no way ready for this series to end.
I feel we got to see some added depth to Wrath that was very good for expanding my view and appreciation of the King. He came to terms with some major hurts and issues he was facing, and I felt the flashbacks were a crucial aspect of the storyline. Wrath always regretted that he could not save his parents and he divorced himself from the concept of family and his legacy so long out of a sense of fear and guilt. In this book, he came to terms with his past and how his future did not have to be governed or hemmed in by fear. I loved his evolution as a King and what that responsibility came to mean for him. It was joyous for him to get everything he needed, but didn't even realize he wanted. Even though I know things didn't end well for his parents, their powerful love for each other and their son was still inspiring to me.
Beth's storyline was thought-provoking. She was all over the place emotionally, and I understand why. I feel that she was at some of her deepest lows and her highest highs both in this book. While the story is about her, as Wrath's shellen, I think that more of the story was about Wrath. Her role seems more peripheral, but in a pivotal way. I still enjoyed reading about her character journey in this book. Beth is the best Queen for the race, and I can think of no other shellan to stand at Wrath's side.
Beth and John Matthew
I think this book explored their relationship in a more satisfactory fashion than any of the proceeding books. They know they have each other's backs, and the readers as well. Also, it shows that although you may have your desired life partner, you also need the connection of family (blood and found). I almost thought the thing Ward said would never happen was going to happen, but it turns out that it wasn't necessary. I like the way the story unfolds instead. That John Matthew remains his own person, and his relationships with others aren’t hinged on his secret heritage.
Xcor remains a complicated male, not quite likable in many moments, and captivating and deeply sympathetic in others. Since I like my characters complex, he definitely has my interest, and he may turn out to be a new favorite of mine in this series. He remains a wild card in this new series arc, his behavior not the slightest bit predictable. To his great surprise, his feelings for a certain Chosen have opened closed off parts of his psyche, and this cannot be a bad thing at all. I think he will have a potential enemy in his own nest, but he’s not unaware of that.
Layla is on shaky ground, but she is making her own choices and defining herself as a female. In her own way, she may have helped to avert a war that wasn’t going to end well, and that’s a good thing. I’m happy about that. I’m very excited to see where the story leads her next.
Assail and Sola
Assail is probably the most amoral of the lead characters in this series to date. His behavior chilled me at times, but he was also very sweet in others to Sola and her grandmother. It’s hard to know what to make of him. I hope we see more of his viewpoint. I can’t believe their road ends here. Sola’s in a place where she has to deny the desires of the heart. How long will she be able to tune out the siren call of her unwise feelings for Assail, who logically seems like a ‘very bad man?'
The Shadows: Trez and iAm
I am jubilant at the expansion of their storyline. These two promise to be a gamechanger in the series. We will finally explore the world of the s’Hisbe, and what a fascinating world it is. Trez has been running from his past for a long, long time, dragging his brother iAm along for the bumpy ride, as iAm has ever been his self-appointed guardian. iAm will soon step out of his brother’s shadow and find his own destiny, since Trez must soon face the music. Trez’s character is both repellant and alluring. He breaks my heart in many ways, but I feel hope for his future. I am drawn into this exploration of the dark path he has walked. The Shadows, once merely loyal allies of the Sympath King, have their own grand tale to be told.
I didn’t expect her secret struggle at all. Another case of ‘keep reading’ to see how she will get her happy ending. And she had better!
The Usual Suspects
It's always a pleasure to see the various characters who have had their books, and at the same time, I want more of them. I don't think the WARDen could ever sate my desire for enough of each character, honestly.
JR Ward, like every other author, has her own distinctive voice. There are aspects to her storytelling that turn off some readers. While I can see where she can overdo some of her affectations (like the brand name dropping and the copious use of slang), I love reading her writing. I feel that her depiction of the ancient culture of the vampires and their various subspecies is very poetic and dramatic, like an epic in its own way. Her romantic exposition lushly romantic and deeply sensual. It wraps around me like the dark spices her bonded males exude for their mates. Her tendency to adapt an urban vibe doesn’t bother me, because I think it’s an interesting juxtaposition to the very antiquated rituals of the vampires. While I can’t deny that the Black Dagger Brotherhood is at its heart a soap opera (not a bad thing in itself), it’s an enthralling one that draws me in and doesn’t let go of me until I read the last page (although the stories and characters continue to linger deep in the recesses of my imagination long after I finish the books). I feel like the Brothers, their shellans, and their friends/associations are part of my family, and each book release is like a yearly family reunion that I don’t dare miss. If only I was as excited to go to my real life family reunions!
I’m sure that I could nitpick about the things I felt could have been better written, but I don’t want to. It won’t make me feel I wrote a better review, and I’m not sure it would change my rating at all. I just want to bask in the glow of a new release of one of my top three series. I don’t drink JR Ward Kool-Aid, but I certainly enjoy her fine literary comestibles.
**The countdown has begun until next year’s release.**
Lynne Graham excels in getting the reader's juices flowing, particularly in her older books. I pulled this one off the pile as part of my Harlequin PrLynne Graham excels in getting the reader's juices flowing, particularly in her older books. I pulled this one off the pile as part of my Harlequin Presents Binge because I knew I'd get something cathartic. I wasn't disappointed.
I liked the fact that Vito is quite sympathetic. He is actually a nice guy, although he does tend to want things his way. He did and said things the wrong way to Ashley, but He had no idea about how traumatic her upbringing was. So I can't really hold that against him.
Even though Ashley was hard to get along with, I liked that about her. I get tired of the heroine who is the hero's dumpbucket, there to be kicked around except for in bed. Ashley isn't shy about standing up for herself or telling Vito what for. Her aggressiveness about certain topics is 100% linked to her past, and I think that if she had felt free to open up, I don't think they would have broken up in the first place.
I think Ashley is definitely one of Graham's most tortured heroines, despite her flaws. Frankly, her homelife sucked, and the abandonment she faced by her family was lousy. Because of her parents highly dysfunctional marriage and her father's abuse (both mental/emotional and at times physical), she has a low opinion of marriage and any sort of commitment, and she was raised to disdain anything feminine. I like to think that Vito could have been the family she lacked, if he had been given full disclosure on her past. Instead, he thought the worst of her instead of digging to the deeper issues beneath her posturing. He took her aversion to commitment and marriage as a sign of a moral failing in her, instead of a sign of emotional scars. They missed out on three years together as a result.
While Ashley is still argumentative and abrasive, she genuinely loved Vito and was heartbroken about their breakup and a loss she suffers shortly thereafter. She has the time to revisit her past strong opinions about marriage and family, realizing a lot of them weren't her own. But now Vito has cast her in the role of heartless jade, although he never got over her. I like that Vito still went after her, even though he thought the worst of her and knew she could hurt him. It showed that his love for her hadn't died. And this time, he wasn't going to settle for a non-committed sexual relationship. He wanted marriage, as he had before, and he wasn't afraid to blackmail to get it this time around.
There is a lot of tension, both sexual and relationship, and plenty of drama in this book. I don't know if I ever read this back in the day. I didn't own it, and I think I would have remembered if it had read it. The feels like Classic Lynne Graham and is worth having in the collection of serious fans of hers. ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing is sly, sensual, humorous and firmly ensconced in the period. Even if I wasn't the biggest Anne Stuart fanI thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing is sly, sensual, humorous and firmly ensconced in the period. Even if I wasn't the biggest Anne Stuart fan on earth, I will still have found this book utterly enchanting.
I was really nervous with the storyline because I hate adultery with a burning passion. I'm happy with how things unfolded. There was no line crossing in this book that I couldn't live with. While Lord Kilmartyn is supposed to be a sleazy rake, I was completely in love with him quite early on in the book. I found him very seductive and I could see why Bryony fell for him, despite being a very sensible young woman. I liked the importance of his Irish heritage to his persona, and how it had gotten him into a shaky situation of late, but defined him in a way that he couldn't turn his back on. I wish that Ms. Stuart had delved more into where his marriage went wrong, but I got the impression that he wanted to be a good husband to his wife at some point, and he loved her, but now he hated her. In some books with the unrepentant, adulterous rake, I question the character's ability to remain faithful to the heroine, but I have no doubt that Kilmartyn would be capable of that with Bryony. His caring for her when she was in need was very touching and showed more than words.
I also loved Bryony as a character. Her pain in feeling unloved and unattractive because of her smallpox scars made sense. While it scarred her self-esteem, she was still a strong-minded person and no fainting flower in the face of her family's recent change in fortunes. I like her pluck and how her natural personality comes out in her interactions with Kilmartyn. I rooted for her to get him, and win him over in a way that didn't cross the line into adultery or illicit affair territory and I was glad Ms. Stuart gave her that happy ending with no compromise in that area.
The secondary characters are a fun addition to the book, with a little bit of the "Upstairs, Downstairs" vibe as Bryony gets engrossed in the world of the servants and they take her in, especially Mrs. Harkins the kindly chef.
I confess I read the last book before this, so I sort of know how it ends, but it didn't spoil things for me. There is still plenty of mystery in the storyline with what happened to Bryony and her sisters' father to keep the story interesting. That is if steamy romance with a soon-to-be reformed rake isn't enough to keep things exciting.
Never Kiss a Rake is a promising start to this newest historical romance series by Ms. Stuart. She brings all the steamy romance and engaging characters that make her books delicious reads for me. I hope to read Never Trust a Pirate very soon....more
Fifteen-year-old Veena Solomon lives in Bahrain with her parents and brother, a transplanted Indian in an Arab country, although she attends CSynopsis
Fifteen-year-old Veena Solomon lives in Bahrain with her parents and brother, a transplanted Indian in an Arab country, although she attends Catholic school. Her family moved there to seek a better life than the one available in India. Her mother is Catholic by faith and worrier by profession (although she also works as a teacher in Veena's school). Veena is trying to figure out what she believes herself, especially when her fervent prayers to grow breasts and for gorgeous Rashid to fall in love with her go unanswered. When her teacher selects her to be Juliet in the Romeo and Juliet production, opposite her beloved Rashid, Veena needs an edge to set her above the other girls. Being Indian is very low on the totem pole in status-oriented Bahrain, where European/Whites are first, Arabs second, and brown-skinned Indians, Pakistanis, and Sri Lankans are on the bottom. Veena is also small and flat-chested. She's suffering from an identity crisis, wondering what's so great about being Indian when all the Arab boys make fun of her accent and she isn't blond or big-breasted like one of her popular classmates. Veena learns that being herself is the best thing of all, even if playing Juliet will get her close to the boy of her dreams.
Bras, Boys and Blunders: Juliet and Romeo in Bahrain was an incredibly fun, engaging read. I loved the view into the life of a young Indian teen and how being Indian is something she has to learn to embrace. I appreciated this multicultural view in young adult fiction that doesn't seem as prevalent as I would like. I don't know much about growing up in an Arab country, especially as a person of a different nationality like Veena, and this book gave me a view into that life through Veena's eyes.
The great thing about this book is that while Veena's experiences are distinctive from the average American life, they really aren't that different when it comes down to it. Any person who survived teenage-hood knows how Veena feels. The awkwardness of fitting in and feeling like you never measure up. For female readers, we can also identify with the inherent struggles of the mother-daughter relationship, when our mothers have different goals than what we have in life, and they force us into molds that we don't fit. How we feel we can never measure up to their standards, and they don't really seem to understand where we are coming from.
Veena was a sweet girl. She inspires loyalty and a comradeship in this reader, as I read her about struggling through those everyday moments of young life that seem like major crises, however you live to fight another day. While Veena is Indian, she is surrounded by people of various cultures, and this can cause conflicts, as issues of religion and cultural morals dictate the choices that Veena has, even if they don't fit into her own belief system, which she is in the process figuring out. The secondary characters such as Kyle, an American boy who seems determined to be the Baddest White Boy in School, and who seems to have quite a crush on Veena, although she's oblivious, add a lot to this story. They provide insight and show that while we might feel we are lacking, others actually might envy and respect us for who we are.
The humor was fantastic. I was laughing out loud through most of this book, although Samson also gives the reader a lot to think about along with those hilarious moments. Samson's light, but vivacious narrative makes me want to read more young adult books like this, where the story is just about growing up, with no major plot devices necessary to prop up a story. Coming of age is very ripe subject because of so many everyday experiences a young person goes through that are full of inherent pathos and humor.
I am really glad I had the opportunity to read this book, and I hope to read more of Vidya Samson's writing. She is a talented writer who gave me a story I enjoyed, from beginning to end.