I enjoyed this book for the characters, for the author's lovely hand with descriptions. The frequent head-hopping made it difficult to keep track of wI enjoyed this book for the characters, for the author's lovely hand with descriptions. The frequent head-hopping made it difficult to keep track of who was thinking or speaking sometimes. The ending struck me as abrupt and unfinished, but I think the author perhaps intended to leave readers feeling like that. Maybe a sequel is in the works?...more
A werewolf book necessitates the reader suspend his/her disbelief, and I just couldn't buy into this one. The premise intrigued me: werewolves in ourA werewolf book necessitates the reader suspend his/her disbelief, and I just couldn't buy into this one. The premise intrigued me: werewolves in our military!?! Okay, I'm interested. But it was just too alpha-maley for me, I guess. Clearly, judging by the inundation of positive reviews and ratings of this book, I am in the minority....more
What a lovely, captivating, maddening book. I loved it.
The pace of this book is slow - if you're into page-turning action, Night Circus will drive youWhat a lovely, captivating, maddening book. I loved it.
The pace of this book is slow - if you're into page-turning action, Night Circus will drive you crazy - but I adored the subtle action and attention to detail. Gorgeous characterizations are a strength. It's astonishing how a work that contains so much descriptive detail can yet remain obfuscated and mysterious. The suspense and romance(s) unfold gradually and beautifully, with unusual twists and an inventive resolution. Warning: (view spoiler)[It goes a little Romeo and Juliet at the end, but it's still a happy one. (hide spoiler)]
The only thing that bugged me was that while each chapter heading was dated, the narrative jumped around in time. The timeline was rendered almost impossible to follow in ebook format. This isn't really a fault of the author's, but rather a shortcoming of the digital book medium.
Erin Morgenstern is now on my must-read author list.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I spent an enjoyable afternoon reading this amusing lark. The zombie plot was tongue-in-cheek implausible but fun. Horror is most definitely not my miI spent an enjoyable afternoon reading this amusing lark. The zombie plot was tongue-in-cheek implausible but fun. Horror is most definitely not my milieu, but the title was irresistible, and the story reads like a clever send-up of the genre. Fischer's first person stream of consciousness point of view has a smart, authentically adolescent voice that rings through. And while no serious attempt is made to convey any meaningful purpose, the zombie angle is an interesting way to portray high school social angst.
The ending leaves things ripe for a sequel, and I'd be tempted to keep reading as long as the horror/violence/gore remains silly and cartoonish. Nicely done, Rusty Fischer. ...more
The first chapter was full of wonderful potential, especially considering this unique twist: the heroine's a survivalist on her own in the Yukon wildeThe first chapter was full of wonderful potential, especially considering this unique twist: the heroine's a survivalist on her own in the Yukon wilderness… and she's deaf! And the way she meets the hero—(view spoiler)[during Robyn's naked dash from the remote cabin's sauna in the dark, she literally bumps into the hero, Keil (hide spoiler)]—was charmingly hilarious/tense.
Reading further, I was disappointed to discover this was yet another destiny-met werewolf mate story with instantaneous metaphysical attraction binding the couple together. Just once, I'd like to read a paranormal romance where the main characters aren't predestined soulmates. It would be so nice for a pair of supernatural creatures or immortal beings to meet, get to know one another, and consciously decide to pursue a relationship without smelling/tasting/electrically stimulating/hypnotizing each other into an irresistible thrall.
The characters are reasonably well developed and likeable, but the plot suffers from the extremely short length of the story. Arend rushed the explanations of the wolfpack culture and biology, leaving me confused and skeptical. (For instance, how can Robyn be full blooded while her brother, Tad, is only a half-blood?) Considering this appears to be the first book in a series, I think it could have benefitted from a more firmly fleshed-out premise.
Some unfamiliar words (I suspect they might be Canadianisms?) were slightly jarring to me (i.e. "smelt" – which to me is a kind of fish – for "smelled"). But the vivid descriptions of gorgeous, unspoiled wilderness setting more than made up for this. I really admired Robyn's hard-fought independence and Keil's strength-through-patience approach. It was nice to see them have more in common than just sexual chemistry and paranormal genes. I absolutely cheered for them as a couple.
I found the sex scenes uninspired and unintentionally funny, though. Robyn has one of those pesky misplaced hymens (read this hilarious/awesome tutorial about where a hymen is accurately located at SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com), and Keil not only thinks but actually verbally compares Robyn's genitalia to a glistening dewy flower. Yikes.
The action scenes, on the other hand, were pretty cool. (view spoiler)[Robyn and Keil team up to rescue his brother trapped in a small avalanche. And I absolutely adored Keil for trusting and expecting Robyn to physically defend herself when they're beset by a group of rival werewolves. She didn't even have to argue her case! YAY KEIL, YOU FEMINIST STUD! (hide spoiler)]
While this book definitely had some big positives going for it, the premise feels too weak and the romance too trope-y for me to keep going in the series. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I kept thinking throughout reading this book: So much potential, but…
Maybe I'm just tired of physically perfect heroes and heroines. Maybe I've had enI kept thinking throughout reading this book: So much potential, but…
Maybe I'm just tired of physically perfect heroes and heroines. Maybe I've had enough of soul-mate destiny love at first sight. Maybe I expect more from fantasy realms than an obsession with botany and supernaturally gifted beings who live in [insert real place name here] Two (as in Chicago Two, Geneva Two).
I have no problem with complex sagas heavy on premise, new vocabulary, and a cast of thousands, and Roane delivers on all these counts. But I like some sound science with my fantasy, and while I (barely) know enough about string theory and particle physics to understand parallel dimensions might really exist, Roane's Second Earth (and all the rest of the levels) feels flimsy to me. She seems to have spent all her world-building creativity in fashioning a bureaucracy and red tape, of all things, and I was disappointed. Second Earth wasn't much different from plain old earth.
Others have criticized the editing, and I'd have to agree. The story gets bogged down in repetitive explanations (which could be eased if the main characters didn't suffer temporary amnesia so often), an overzealous attempt to bring Smell-O-Vision to paperback, and some questionable logic with world-building (Roane lost me with COPASS).
The sex scenes are fine as long as you can tolerate way too much focus on smells and an implausible number of orgasms per encounter – but this is fantasy, after all. The fight scenes are quite well written; in particular, the "Spectacle" scene (view spoiler)[where Alison, the heroine, must fight ex-Warrior of the Blood, Leto, to the death gladiator-style (hide spoiler)] is exciting and deftly handled.
Characterization is a strength of Roane's, but I just didn't connect with the heroine, Alison Wells. To Roane's credit, while precocious and powerful and pretty Alison could have been massively annoying, I didn't end up hating her, which was a feat. The villain, Darian Greaves, nor his toady, Eldon Crace, felt any more than flat, which is a shame. It would have been fascinating to be in Darian's head.
But the thing that kept me reading was the brotherhood of rough-yet-noble men who work for the Supreme Bitch (that's Endelle's real title, right?). While the idea of vampires with angel wings hit a discordant note for me, the relationships between and backstories of the Warrior men themselves were interesting, even compelling. If I read further into the series, it will be for their sakes.
When I read a great fantasy series, I find myself wanting to be a part of that world. I still want to get my Hogwarts letter. I want to do battle in the Tribute arena. I want to Impress my own dragon. But I just don't have any desire to Ascend to Second Earth, no matter how pretty the gardens or fragrant the fellas. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This second book in the All Souls trilogy picks up exactly where the first one, A Discovery of Witches, left off (quite literally). It is NOT a stand-This second book in the All Souls trilogy picks up exactly where the first one, A Discovery of Witches, left off (quite literally). It is NOT a stand-alone novel, and if #1 isn't very fresh in your mind, go reread it first. I got about 5% of the way through Shadow before giving up and rereading Discovery, and it was just as delightful the second time around.
Shadow is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through Elizabethan England, France, and Prague. Famous historical figures come alive, and Harkness' unique characters (Gallowglass and Philippe especially come to mind) are enchanting as well. Her magical imagination is impressive and lovely, making me look forward to whatever burst of power will erupt from Diana next.
But, in retrospect, I feel like nothing really momentous happened in this book. Diana and Matthew do a lot of relationship work as they bounce around England and the Continent—necessary, to be sure, but not earth-shattering. As a result of this preoccupation, they only half-heartedly look for Ashmole 782 and a magic-therapist for Diana, yet both of these were purportedly the main goals of the timewalk. They stumble onto both, but neither 'resolution' solves any of the basic questions regarding their future. If you're looking for suspense or mystery, you won't find much of either to go on in this installment.
I felt like plot-wise, this book spun its wheels a little bit. So many of the places Matthew and Diana went, so many of the people they met, seemed plucked out of the ether and with no clear purpose to the current narrative. And the single-chapter-long vignettes of modern-happenings while they were gone fell pretty flat for me (these could have been better saved for the next book). What I suspect is happening: Harkness is using this one to create an elaborate stage for book #3. And man, do I look forward to it!
Such is the curse of the middle child—and middle novel of a trilogy—perhaps. But that isn't to say that I didn't really enjoy this book. Harkness' prose is so enthralling, deftly evoking time and place, I was sucked in and enjoyed the ride anyway (could not put the Kindle down for a solid four days, much to my family's chagrin). By the end of Shadow Diana has a better handle on her magic… and Matthew… so I'm expecting quite a showdown for the final battle with the Congregation. Bring it on, Ms. Harkness! ...more
I eagerly awaited this, the final installment of Falon, Lucien, and Raphael's story. I read the entire thing in one day, racing to the finish.
When theI eagerly awaited this, the final installment of Falon, Lucien, and Raphael's story. I read the entire thing in one day, racing to the finish.
When the Blood Moon Rising series is taken as a whole, the characters are vibrant, enthralling, and sympathetic. The brutal, violent, primal world of Lycan and Slayer is intriguing and complex: a supernatural dystopia mired in racial hatred and genocide. Tabke's series features blisteringly hot sex scenes cheek-by-jowl with blood-curdling, pulse-pounding action. It's a wild ride, for sure.
In Blood Vow, Tabke writes some emotionally powerful scenes as the three characters come to grips with their pasts, their responsibilities, and their relationships with each other. The exchange between Rafael and Falon in the tub—essentially their reunion after the forced separation of the second book—is gorgeous, raw, and organic, as is the subsequent heart-rending conversation between Falon and Lucien. Falon's final confrontation with her father is another beauty, charged with nail-biting tension and complicated emotion.
The three characters' angst, while genuine and understandable, becomes pretty repetitive, as do the sex scenes. The questing aspect of the plot is somewhat haphazard and implausible, and frequently gets totally derailed by the sex. There are a few too many throwaway characters for comfort: Anja (Raphael's token "chosen one") and Alana ((view spoiler)[Falon's newly discovered infant sister (hide spoiler)]) especially—I suspect Tabke is setting up a spinoff series, but these particular characters seem shoved in. Thomas Corbet was an enigma from start to finish, popping up randomly yet conveniently, then inexplicably disappearing. And while the final battle was a thrilling action sequence, I didn't quite understand how the victory was pulled off. (view spoiler)[What happened to all the Slayer warriors? Did I miss something? (hide spoiler)]
After all this mileage, the main characters have become a little flat. Nothing new about the threesome's personalities is revealed. We're repeatedly reminded that Lucien is an impetuous jokester, Raphael a tortured, responsible hero, and Falon the spunky, innocent-yet-powerful orphan heroine. I fell in love with them in the first two books, but this one didn't enhance my feelings for them, or, more critically, convince me they all belonged together.
A HUGE potential for character growth—that of the new/renewed bond between Lucien and Raphael—doesn't get nearly enough attention. I would've liked to delve deeper into the relationship between the twin brother alphas who've spent years (decades?) estranged from each other, now reunited for the good of their species as well as through the love of a woman. The book doesn't say much about how they feel about each other, only that they missed each other and both obsess over the same woman. What feelings we do see are filtered through or center around Falon: fearing her loss, fearing hurting the other with her loss.
Tabke is careful to avoid any hint of incest between the brothers, aside from indulging in a bit of voyeurism—they NEVER touch each other (quite a feat, actually, considering the logistics). But the book focuses on the physical feelings within the act of three-way sex. Tabke tosses off a quick sentence about how Rafael and Lucien had "shared" a woman before in their youth, but that's it. How is it they're so comfortable with sharing such intimacy with Falon? What emotions are they feeling for the other sibling? How does it manage to strengthen the bond between brothers rather than tear them apart? Personally, I cannot imagine myself in that position, which is why I wish Tabke had mined the emotional and psychological aspects of this type of ménage relationship.
Overall, Blood Vow, as well as the Blood Moon Rising series, is a good, though uneven, effort. I was a smidge disappointed, but my hopes were very high. More timid readers should be warned this book, as well as the series in total, contains explicit sex, voyeurism, violence, and gore. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Allard Dunmore, second bastard son and loutish lawyer, is surly and heartsore when Jo Ward, street urchin and thief extraordinaire, comes into his lifAllard Dunmore, second bastard son and loutish lawyer, is surly and heartsore when Jo Ward, street urchin and thief extraordinaire, comes into his life. And thus begins the slow discovery of her many scary secrets as they search together for her missing father. Of course these two will ultimately fall in love - this is a romance, after all - but a paranormal mystery shares equal prominence in the narrative.
Readers now have a much stronger sense that the Dunmore brothers' world is a fantasy realm rather than a medieval one. This tale delves further into the paranormal with the introduction of evil, murderous shadow-men, stolen secret spellbooks, and ancient lost cities of myth that turn out to be real. My favorite snarky fairies were back, but their overt "blasts" into the real world were a bit too convenient. The magic smacked of deus ex machina here and subsequently felt like a copout.
But the mystery of Jo's father is layered and well written - the best part of the novel despite a few flaws. It's no spoiler to reveal that Duke Benedict is a bad guy - and I can't reason why neither Allard or Jo picked up on his blatant verbal slip the moment they met: (view spoiler)[Benedict claims Jo has "her father's eyes," but her father has lived in hiding most of her life - how would Duke Dickie know? (hide spoiler)]. In the process of solving the mystery, Allard makes some unfounded leaps of logic - (view spoiler)[for example, he boldly and without proof or clue proclaims, "whoever has that [spell] book has your father." (hide spoiler)] - and as a lawyer of excellent repute, he should know better.
Allard and Jo are some of Dawn's weakest characterizations within the series, but thankfully neither succumbs to complete implausibility. Jo in particular seems oddly weak-willed, almost slavish at times, which stands in marked contrast to her tough-street-girl personality. Contradictions in character are well and good, but this one seemed a bit slap-dash with little clues as to motivation. Their attraction to each other arises with little reason to bolster it aside from the fact each longs for love - almost like we're just supposed to assume they're meant to be together simply because they ran into each other in the first chapter. While Dawn's sex scenes are always stimulating, this couple feels more forced than any of the others. I began to wonder if perhaps Allard and Jane didn't make the better pair, while Wynn seems a more complementary match for Jo.
Despite its flaws - and there are more here than in the previous books, including some rough editing that became harder to overlook, use of jarring modern slang phrases, and a lamentable lack of Dawn's signature humorous slant - it's also more ambitious than prior books. The mystery and, to a lesser extent, the romance, are entertaining up until the very end. The story should have finished with the underground battle scene - inarguably the black moment - but for some inexplicable reason, the author adds two more chapters and inserts a bizarre menage-a-trois sex scene in the final one that, for the life of me, I cannot understand. (view spoiler)[The premise is beyond flimsy: throughout the book, Allard is touchy and jealous of Wynn for having wed his once favorite whore who spurned his own proposal. But in the final chapter, suddenly Wynn is jealous that Allard had frequently paid Jane for her services in the past? So Jane thinks that trading wives for a night will solve the issue and make the men friends again? Not only is the idea dumb, but it unsurprisingly only serves to piss Allard off, anger which he immediately discards so he can have sex with Jo while Wynn holds her in his lap and Jane watches. (hide spoiler)] I'm not a prude, but WTF? It was like the author or editor decided there wasn't enough sex or kink in the story and decided to tack this chunk on to the end. As a result, it feels very out of place and pointless.
I wanted to like this book more than I did and really struggled to give it three stars instead of two. Its flaws took a bit too much polish off the parts Dawn did well, and that final scene left an unpleasant aftertaste. But I decided to award points for effort; the mystery and paranormal bad guys were inventive and deserved extra credit.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A very enjoyable read. Nicely long and detailed, wonderful characters and rich settings. I read it in about 3 days - always a good sign - and flew thrA very enjoyable read. Nicely long and detailed, wonderful characters and rich settings. I read it in about 3 days - always a good sign - and flew through the final three-quarters of it. Especially loved the history and science. Laughed out loud at a few of the situations and witticisms. My favorite character of all was the Bishop farmhouse.
I would categorize this book as a paranormal romance first and a suspense/mystery second. What I started out thinking would be the driving question of the narrative - the mystery of Ashmole 782 - quickly gets dropped as the relationship between hero and heroine take precedence (not that I minded this - the romance is a gripping one). Harkness is wonderfully imaginative when it comes to magic, and I enjoyed her version of the magical world as much as JK Rowling's.
I did find myself often comparing Harkness' vampires - oftentimes disappointingly typical supernatural alpha males & females - with Stephenie Meyer's version, and while Matthew Clairmont is a superior characterization to Edward Cullen, I was a little disappointed with all the similarities. Perhaps it's just a function of vampire-as-trope: the man who lives forever simply must become a physically perfect, wealthy-beyond-belief polymath who yet behaves like a grunting Neanderthal when "his woman" is threatened.
Some of the genetics information seemed a bit skewed, in particular the extra-chromosome and unpaired-chromosome bits seem way off base. Then again, I haven't studied the stuff in about 20 years, so maybe I don't know the latest theories as well as Harkness does. Everything else about alchemy, the history of science, ancient manuscripts, and the gorgeous settings of Oxford and the French castle seem so thoroughly researched and fascinating - truly spellbinding. :)
The beginning didn't quite grab me as quickly as I expected - I caught myself using a writer's rather than a reader's eye, critically thinking the first couple of chapters was bogged down with an odd amount of backstory that didn't seem immediately relevant. Some of the head-hopping got a little confusing - the narrative was strongest when Harkness kept to the first-person POV of Diana. The very end got a little clogged with new characters, in my opinion, though I realize the author was setting the stage for what I guessed was 2 sequels (only after finishing the book did I find out it is indeed a trilogy).
I will definitely buy the next book as soon as it's published next summer!...more