Poison Promise is the eleventh book (eleven!) in Jennifer Estep’s excellent Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. I always look forward to reading a new installment from this series because, simply, it’s excellent. I love these books, these characters and these stories.
I am always amazed how easy it is to fall back into one of these books. Part of that is how wonderfully these characters are written and how they grip you completely while you are reading. It’s also due to the fact that Jennifer does not spend 1/3 of a new book rehashing events from past books. I am grateful for that because if you are a religious follower of a series, you don’t need to spend that much time being reminded of things.
Gin is such a great character. We have watched her grow and mature so much over the course of the series. It takes strong writing chops to make readers not only sympathetic towards but also adore a character who is an assassin. Jennifer does just that. Gin is one of my favorite characters to read because she is very intelligent, loyal, independent and strong.
Finn is always a character I look forward to running into. He is serious when he needs to be but most of the time he provides the comic relief. Owen is yummy as always and all of the other supporting character we look forward to seeing are all accounted for and still doing great. Well, there was one character I wanted to smack a time or two…and it’s not who any of you would expect.
Bria was dealing with some pretty insane resentment and revenge issues and was so not herself in this book. I actually didn’t like her much in this installment. At all. No, she was not supposed to be liked or anywhere near her usual self so in that respect, she was written well, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to shake her and ask her what the hell. She was completely selfish and I think Gin was a bit too forgiving of her. I’m curious to see if any of this will appear in the next book, but I feel not.
A new character is introduced in this book. Silvio is his name and man did he turn out to be a complete surprise. And it looks like he’s sticking around. I am very interested to see what he brings to this close knit circle of friends and to Gin’s life in general. It will be interesting to say the least. But he is a solid character that I enjoyed reading and I am glad that his role is going beyond this one book.
As with any Elemental Assassin book, the pace is crazy-excellent in this book. And of course, there is a ‘final showdown’ near the end. I did find this dual to be a bit cartoonish but it was very entertaining nonetheless. I will say that how Gin er…’took care of things’ shall we say, was done in a way that was never seen before. Gone are the days of complete secrecy. And the way the final fight is done is all in an attempt by Gin to curve the attempts on her life. She is getting a bit tired of that and wants to do something about it. Not sure if it will work – we’ll have to wait until the next book, Black Widow, to see. But it was nice to see Gin try to take matters into her own hands. Not that she doesn’t do that normally…it’s hard to explain without giving too much away so to know what I am talking about you’ll all just have to read the book. ;)
The first five books in the series followed a very distinct story arc that finished in a climactic way in Spider’s Revenge. Since then each book has focused on discovering a popular supporting character’s backstory, developing Gin and Owen’s relationship and/or learning more about Gin all while solving a mystery or two. Well, it looks like that newer direction the series took is about to change. We have finally met a mysterious character who, up until know has only been known by their initials and never in person, and it looks like this might be the beginning of a new storyline – one with long-ish term potential. It will be interesting to see how Jennifer distinguishes this arc from the one in the first five books because on the surface, much seems the same. But when you look at clues here and there you see that things can get so much worst for Gin than ever before. Should make for some excellent reading.
Overall, I was very pleased with Poison Promise. Things are definitely not going to quiet down for Gin and her friends any time soon and I for one, am grateful for that. Is it bad that I want Gin to have crap to deal with? The more crap Gin encounters, the more books there will be and where Jennifer is contracted for 12 books total right now (so if you do the math, that makes the next book the end of her contract), I would not mind seeing this series go well beyond that.(less)
My jaw hit the floor, I giggled, I cried, I laughed and I balled. Repeatedly. This book was perfect and it ended the series perfectly. I am so proud o...moreMy jaw hit the floor, I giggled, I cried, I laughed and I balled. Repeatedly. This book was perfect and it ended the series perfectly. I am so proud of Sierra for being able to finish the series so well. Everything was dealt with and it all made sense. And even if you don't agree with Secret's ultimate choice, as far as the men are concerned, you will not be able to argue that the choice is good and it suits Secret well. One more time, this book was perfect. Full review closer to release date. 5plus stars. (less)
Shattered is the seventh book in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles series, and the first to be offered in hardcover.
As usual, the story is busy and crazy and intense. But it’s also smart and witty and funny. Atticus is funny, yes, but the funniest character this time around has to be a long-lost man from Atticus’ past who happened to reappear at the end of the previous book. He’s been away for centuries and seeing him trying to acclimate to modern times is quite hilarious. But Kevin didn’t stoop so low as to make this character seem weak while trying to adapt and I was happy for that. One of the things I enjoy most about this series is how very clever and smart it is. It does not treat its readers as though they are simpletons. And it’s storylines and characters are never dragged down to an uncharacteristic level either.
Another of my favorite things about this series is how Kevin writes the supernatural creatures in his world. He adds such clever spins on them! We are introduced to the Yeti in this book and I just loved them. There are hints that they may be back in later books and I sure hope so.
I also absolutely love how the gods are portrayed in this series. In these books, all the gods are real and we have met many of them. And none are as you would expect them to be. Kevin adds such a human factor to them, even though it is completely obvious that they are most certainly not human. There are many scenes in this particular installment that show just how vulnerable these supreme beings truly are. These are the moments that ground you as a reader and show you just how relatable these characters are.
Shattered is told quite differently than any other book in the series to date. It is told from three different perspectives…and these perspectives tell pretty much three different stories. Atticus tells one story while on his journeys. Granuaile tells another story on her journey to find her father and battle demons and the mysterious stranger tells the last story. His is slightly intertwined with Atticus’ story but Granuaile’s is not. That’s right, Atticus and Granuaile are not together in this book, hardly at all, and I found myself missing that. It was nice to see that Granuaile is strong enough now that she can take care of herself on magical quests and such but I still missed watching her with Atticus. They are so amazing together – all mushy in their own non-mushy Shakespeare way – and I always look forward to reading their banter and of their travels. It was not horrible that Kevin chose to write the book this way, it was just different. I have no idea if the next book will be written this way too because certain events in this book suggest that time apart may be a good idea. As usual, I am left wondering what can possibly come next for our favorite Druids. I’m just happy they weren’t running or being chased a lot this time around. That was a nice change for the series.
I mentioned about how it was nice to see Granuaile and how strong she’s become. I am very impressed with how Kevin has written her character throughout this series. She has grown so much! There is one chapter in particular involving Granuaile and her father that made me tear up for her. The raw emotion she is feeling is written in a way that you feel it too. Completely. Kevin captured that perfectly.
Overall, Shattered felt like an important chapter in this series’ telling. We find out what Loki is up to and we see what other gods are prepared to do about it. It feels like a ‘setting-up-for-something-big’ book and I hope that it is. Because I would just love to see Atticus and Granuaile, along with Oberon and Orlaith (LOVE those hounds!) kick some Loki arse. These books and these characters are on my favorite list for a reason: they are brilliant. Clever writing and engrossing story-telling, it’s impossible not to get completely absorbed into the world Kevin has created. It’s a grand place to be and if you have yet to try it, I urge you to do so.
Cliffhangers. Some cliffhangers make you go “OMGOMGOMG!!!”. Some make you go “Oh dear God no, No, NOOOOOO!!!” and some others make you want to throw your book across the room. Some make you want to scream at the top of your lungs while others make you calmly put the book down, sit back in your chair and have you say “whoaaa”.
The end of this book will make you say “whoaaa”.
Sixth Grave on the Edge is the sixth book in Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series. This is easily one of my favorite series. I love the mysteries that are one of the focus points of the books, I love the supporting characters and how real they feel, I love Reyes and his relationship with Charley but mostly, I love Charley.
Charley is a character that is so much more than she appears to be. She comes across as flighty and undependable but really, she is loving, witty, loyal and smart. And boy is she funny. I love her humor. If readers don’t connect with this series it’s usually because of Charley’s humor. But for me, it’s just right. Very sarcastic and fun. Charley is the Grim Reaper and I really enjoy how that aspect of her is portrayed in these books. Very unique. In every book Charley learns something new about her abilities and it’s no different this time. I can’t wait to see all that she can do.
Reyes. Holy hell on a cracker is he ever sexy in this book. I mean, he’s always alluring and hot, and yes he is even always sexy, but this time around he is like sexy on steroids! Day-um! He is another character that is hard not to be drawn to. He’s just so gosh darn nice and amazing and hot and smart and… *sigh* I love Reyes.
Cookie is Charley’s best friend. She has always been a great friend to Charley but I found that in this book she steps it up a notch and is a super extra amazing friend. I love reading their friendship. They really are a super team.
As usual, the main story involves around a couple of mysteries that Charley, who is a PI, is trying to solve. I always find the mysteries to be very well written. They tend to completely grip you and keep you on the edge of your seat. This time around Charley is trying to find a demon who eats souls for a client who is missing his (love that demon character!) while she is trying to find someone who is in witness protection to ask her some questions. On top of her PI investigations, we have Reyes mysteries and Charley mysteries and Uncle Bob’s mysteries… There is, as usual, a whole lot going on but it never feels forced or too much. Darynda is excellent at weaving everything together and turning it into one smooth and highly addictive story.
Most of the time, the main mysteries are solved by the end of the books but this time around, there is one mystery that is not and it’s a doozy. It involves Charley’s dad…and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Something else that stood out about this latest book for me were all the confessions. I almost want to call this “the confession book”. So many things come into light (ha! light!) and many from people I never expected confessions from!
In a past book, Rocket, another excellent character, explained a premonition he had. Not that we understood what it all meant but we do get a glimpse of what it was about in this book. And Ooo!
Speaking of past books, I am well aware that the last book ended with quite the jaw-dropping moment but I don’t want to tell you whether or not you will get an answer for that particular moment. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything…but I will say read this book because it’s worth it.
Back to Charley the Grim Reaper for a sec. How it works is, when they are ready, the departed can pass through her. As they pass, Charley can see their life through the departed’s memories. There is one particular ‘passing’ in this book that brought me to tears. It was just beautiful.
All in all, Sixth Grave on the Edge was an absolutely amazing read. These are stories and characters I have trouble parting with once I reach the end of the latest installment. In fact, I didn’t want to let them go this time around so I started listening to the audiobooks. I started with First Grave on the Right and am absolutely loving the narration and reliving the stories. This really is a stunning series and Darynda Jones is an incredibly talented author. For me, this series is a must-read.(less)
What is the first thing I did after finishing Against the Dawn, the fourth book in Amanda Bonilla’s Shaede Assassin series? I went to my good friend twitter and sent this message to Amanda:
@amandabonilla #youareevil That is all ;)
She responded by telling me that she knew but that I still loved her and she was right. After reading a book as exciting as this, it’s hard not to.
I have to say that for me, this book was filled with poor first impressions that change dramatically throughout the book.
Darian. First impression in this book was that she went through a horrible ordeal in the last book and she’s dealing. But she is bordering on not dealing well which means she’s letting it get to her…which to me didn’t suit. Next impression was that she is doing great and is finally learning that opening up to people does not make you weak. She understands where her heart is and where her loyalties lie and won’t budge from that. She continues to be a strong character that I enjoy reading…even though it would be nice if she was able to catch a break every once in a while. *grin*
Xander. First impression was that he is a spoilt child who is pouting because he is not getting what he wants. Next impression was pretty much the same thing. I just didn’t understand why no is not no for him and why he is putting everything on the line! I really didn’t get that. But my final impression of Xander was OMG! Now I am actually thinking I may have been a bit, *gulp*, wrong about him. Don’t get me wrong – I will never be on team Xander – but I was still shocked by him and now I need the next book.
Lorik. First impression was that he is a selfish man stuck in the life of a college aged boy. Next impression is that he is a bit of a jerk. Final impression was…more of the same with a bit of wha’??? thrown in. Lorik blindsided me and now I need the next book.
Tyler. First impression was that he is awesome. Next impression was that he is awesome. He is so good for Darian!!! He’s a Jinn and I just absolutely adore how Amanda writes her Jinns. So unique and interesting. And Tyler is so drool worthy.
There are a few other characters that were awesome from the beginning and remained so to the end. Asher, oh how I love that guy! I want him to have his own novella with a HEA because I am dying to learn even more about him and I feel he deserves to be happy, romance novel style. There is also Raif who is a great friend to Darian. He is someone else who I want to read more about…and I believe that is in the works already. If not, it should be ;)
I was happy to see Tyler’s novella tie in here and there in this book. Lost to the Gray was released last year and where I don’t feel you need to read it to be in the know for this (or even the last) book, it definitely sheds some light on a few things. And it makes you smile when you realize there are connections. That’s also where you first meet Kaii.
Kaii. Holy cow could there be a more mysterious character?! Okay, yes, I am aware that there are a few extra mysterious characters out there is literary land but this one…well you don’t even know if Kaii is male or female! I want more and I want to know more now.
The story was crazy in a very good way. It went this way, it went that way, always keeping you guessing and always making you wonder how everything ties in and the why behind it. Very well done.
The reason why I wanted to tweet Amanda and give her sh*t was because the way this book ended…the way this book ended…THE WAY THIS BOOK ENDED! And that is all I’m going to say about that.
Overall, I was very happy with Against the Dawn. It was a wonderful continuation of this series. I honestly have no idea where the story is headed and I can’t wait to join Darian in the next installment to see just what is going to happen next.
Ever After is the fourth book in the absolutely awesome Transplanted Tales series by Kate SeRine. I have never read anything like this series. Fairy Tale and literary characters come to life and live among us, blending in the best they can and taking on career paths you would not expect. At all. So fresh and entertaining, these books never cease to both surprise and amaze me.
Ever After follows an intriguing character we’ve met previously but don’t know much about. We know him as Gideon, aid/guard/muscle to the Seelie fairy king, but who he ‘really’ is surprised me greatly. It’s so fun and completely unexpected! I won’t tell you specifics but I will tell you that it has to do with Robin Hood. That is his HEA after all.
Robin Hood, in Kate’s world, is Arabella (Bella) Locksley. As in Miss Arabella. As in, a woman. And her story is way more intricate than you would imagine. She was well written and you feel her and Gideon’s chemistry right away. She and Gideon made a good match.
Gideon is, as always, awesome. Kate did a good job writing how torn he is between doing what part of his heart is telling him and what the other part of this heart is telling him. I felt he and Bella made a good match and I liked how his story, while sad, wasn’t too over-the-top. Well, I suppose if it were real like it would be considered insane but where book heroes are concerned, it wasn’t too extreme.
I loved the twists the fairy court presented and I adored the Merlin and Arthur aspects to the story. Yup, Merlin and Arthur! Merlin was such a fun character! (Yes, we meet him and you can’t not smile when he’s on the page)
The fairy king surprised me in this book. In a good way. And man I hate the queen! Also, not at the very end but close enough, there is one scene…yeah… Just when you think you know how everything is going to go down, shock. Not world-changing but my jaw hit the floor nonetheless.
Kate is now working on two, yes two, new series. That means that this is the last book in the Transplanted Tales series…for now. And you can tell while reading it. It’s written somewhat like a final book, featuring heroes and heroines from past books in some pretty fun and impressive scenes. Like a reunion of sorts, wetting our need to know how these characters are doing and giving us a bit of closure at the same time.
I love how this series takes me by surprise. How Kate imagines her characters, their path from their ‘stories’ to their new realities, is always fun and unexpected. Her imagination never ceases to blow me away. The fact that the stories are well written, well paced as well as entertaining makes the Transplanted Tales a must read series.
Ever After leaves the series is a very nice spot, ready to pick up again or not. I am definitely on the ‘please write more of these books someday’ team. Ever After reminded me how well these books are done and I don’t want to see it come to an end quite yet.(less)
Before I even tell you why, go to the store (or a bookstore website) and pre-order this book. Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop. NOW. I’ll be here when you get back. If you have not read the first book, Written in Red, buy that one NOW then pre-order this second one. I will wait while you do that. Go. *hums Jeopardy anthem*
Okay. Let’s get to it then.
Anne Bishop is primarily known for her straight up fantasy. Fantasy writers, in order to be successful, need to be able to build a world that is just as captivating as their characters and their stories. Anne definitely accomplishes that in her The Others series. It’s based on how the Europeans came to North America and captured the Native’s land. But what if the Natives were shifters of the most terrifying sort and didn’t relinquish their lands and resources so easily? What if they controlled everything we needed to make what we need to survive? Some pretty interesting questions come up while you are reading these books. Many times I thank goodness that our reality isn’t the one in these stories. That is the impact this world has on its readers.
The stories are also quite gripping. In Written in Red, we meet Meg and all of the scary and intriguing members of the Courtyard, a place where Others (paranormal creatures) live and handle trades with humans. Meg is a blood prophet, which means she can see the future when she cuts herself. You just have to ask her a question before she does so and you’ll get an answer. A cryptic and weird answer but an answer none the less. We watched as the Others took Meg under their wing and started seeing her as one of their own.
In Murder of Crows, humans are starting to get gutsier, or stupider -however you decide to look at it, and are starting to attack Others. Why anyone would want to purposely incite a war with creatures that see you only as meat is beyond me. Others are vicious. They are animals. Animals who know they are the top of the food chain. There are also Elementals mixed in there. I love these characters. They control the wind, air, fog…name it. If it’s natural, weather related and outside, there is an Elemental that controls it. And don’t tick them off because they are unapologetic in their attacks. You get to see their sheer power in this book and it will for sure make you shudder. You also have sub-plots of how the ‘human pack’ is forming in the Courtyard, the Controller wants Meg back and someone is making drugs that can turn humans and Others alike into either blubbery balls of goo who don’t care what is happening to them or angry rage-filled beings. All of these make up the story in Murder of Crows and all of these plotlines will keep you interested while keeping you guessing until the very last moment.
There is one more little side story line of sorts in this book and it’s one we romance/chemistry lovers are excited about and that is Simon and Meg. I know, there isn’t really a ‘Simon and Meg’ but we ‘love-junkies’ are hoping there will be someday. And we are also hoping that it won’t cause too much trouble for them because they deserve happiness and each other.
Simon is one of the most feared Other. He is a wolf shifter and leader of this particular Courtyard and in the first book, it was very easy to see how people tended to pee themselves at the mere sight of him. He’s vicious and unrepentant. He is wolf, animal, and he has no desire to be anything else. We watch him transform a wee bit by being around Meg in the first book and his transformation continues a bit in this latest book. I love watching his growth. Anne writes it perfectly. He is nowhere near ‘human’ but there are moments here and there, endearing scenes with Meg, where you almost swear there is a little bit of ‘man’ in him. I love watching his struggles to understand human women, and Meg in particular. She has been locked up in an institution before her escape in book one so she is also just learning about herself. Watching the two of them trying to figure things out together really warms the heart.
We meet a new sort of human/Other in this book. Intuits are humans who have a ‘feeling’ when something is going to go wrong. Very interesting people and I like how Anne added them to her world. We also have Monty and the human police force. They play a very important role in this book. I liked how Anne managed to even add character growth to these side characters. There are many characters in this book and some of them seem to come out of nowhere then drop off for a while only to come back in later chapters bringing with them a pivotal line or scene that just brings everything together. Anne weaves such an intricate story it really is impossible to put the book down once you start it.
Meg has many opportunities to prophet in this book, and thank goodness she does as she manages to thwart many nasty things. Watching Meg and her friends trying to decipher and read a prophet was so interesting. This is just another example of how Anne writes her world with incredible detail.
The side characters, as I mentioned, are abundant but each memorable. Vlad, Henry, Sam…I can go on and on, but I won’t. I’m sure you all don’t want to read a 72 page review ;)
One BIG revelation occurs in this book: we finally learn what Tess is! All I’m going to say is *shudder*
Overall, I absolutely adored Murder of Crows. It is, in my opinion, a near perfect urban fantasy read. It is the perfect mix of endearing moments that make you smile and giggle and moments that scare the poop out of you on a psychological level. It has some of the best written characters I have ever found in Urban Fantasy and storylines that suck you in so completely you try to convince your bladder that no, it does not have to pee right at that moment. The pace is perfect and Anne’s voice is stunning.
Leave it to Sierra to leave me in a blubbery snotty mess…and nobody ‘special’ even died! *grabs Kleenex, wipes eyes, blows nose*
Where to start?!
Cold Hard Secret is the seventh book in Sierra Dean’s Secret McQueen series and the title suits is perfectly. Our Secret, our snarky sassy Secret, has changed. What happened to her in the last book has pretty much crushed her spirit and who can blame her? No one would be able to survive what she did and escape unscathed. Sierra did a fantastic job writing the ‘new’ Secret but I have to admit that she was very hard to read. I felt so bad for her and just wanted to give her a hug!
The book starts with Secret with Desmond in Paris. They are hunting one of the big-baddies from this series, Peyton. I knew from the blurb that this would be the book where Secret would have her showdown with Peyton but I never expected it to go quite the way it did. Or that it would not take up more of the book! But ultimately, it was done well with all the twists and wtf moments you expect. And that is just the beginning of those kids of moments in this installment.
Secret does not get any downtime after meeting Peyton in Paris. The story takes on directions I never expected! There is a lot of killing in this book. Now I don’t usually cheer when murder occurs – that just seems wrong – but I must say that the two main deaths in this book were freaking fantastic.
As I mentioned, Secret definitely has some stuff to work out and I don’t feel she’ll ever be fully healed from her ordeal. She’s harder and so is her wolf. But as the book progresses, I felt a little of the ‘old’ Secret peeks through which made me realize that no, she’s not the same and she is very damaged but yes, she will ultimately be okay.
One of the most gripping aspects about this series is the relationship between Secret and her men. Yes, men. As in plural. There was a love square for a while then a love triangle. I have said this before and I say it again: I’m not a fan of love triangles but the way Sierra writes it in these books is really good. You don’t find any whining or other petty and annoying romance-book-love-triangle clichés. We are dealing with adults here after all.
You may have heard rumors about Secret and how she says “yes” to one of her men. Well, it’s true. Secret turns her love triangle into a perfect circle. I can’t wait to see what you guys thing of her choice! I have been torn between Des and Holden for the last couple of books and I honestly can’t tell you what I think of her choice. I actually saw her with both men, each having something to offer Secret. So I was surprised when I was a little disappointed when she said ‘yes’. But really, I think that I would have been a little sad with a ‘yes’ to either one. That is just how well Sierra has written these characters. Speaking of the men, I love them both in this book. They both have moments where they shine but I think Holden wins in this book where that is concerned. He has a speech-moment and OMG! It will make you swoon! And ball. And think your man at home is inadequate. If you were not a Holden fan before, after his little speech, you will be. And that is all I’m going to say about that. But Desmond fans, do not fret. There is a lot of Desmond and Secret alone time in this book so you’ll be happy.
There is another man that is somewhat prominent in this series, but not in a romantic way and this man has one hell of a scene in this book. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about Sig. All there is to say really about him and this scene is ‘whoaaaaa’.
Sierra Dean should be obligated to stick around twitter and not go anywhere when people are reading her books. You can’t read and not want to either ream her out or ask her “why? Why? WHY?!”. She has the ability to get her readers emotionally involved in her books at a level that not many authors manage to achieve. I am not overly excited that the next book, A Secret to Die For, is the last in the series but I can’t wait to see what happens.
Cold Hard Secret was a great read. It continued the series perfectly and answered some questions with answers I did not expect. If you have not taken the time to read these books, I urge you to do so. It really is a fantastic series.
And now I’m off to read that Holden soliloquy again. *sigh*(less)
Banishing the Dark is the fourth book in Jenn Bennett’s absolutely amazing Arcadia Bell series. This is easily one of my favorite urban fantasy series. The storylines are so interesting and the characters are simply outstanding.
This installment follows Arcadia (Cady) and Lon, her boyfriend who happens to be quite a bit older than her, an Earthbound demon and sexy as hell, as they try to keep Cady’s mother in the Æther, where she belongs because, as we learned in the first book, she is a special kind of crazy. Yeah…imagine completely nuts and you have Enola, Cady’s mom. Cady battled an equally crazy man in the last book and this one starts off with Cady waking up from a long coma. She is dealing with some soreness and some fuzzy memories. Lon is by her side *dreamy sigh* and is helping her recover as quickly as possible. Because, you know, crazy mom wants to find her and take over her body. See?… batshit crazy.
Cady really comes into her own in this latest installment. She is continuing to learn about her abilities and is figuring out how to use them when she needs them. There are some pretty impressive examples of how far she’s come in this book. I have always liked Cady and seeing who she becomes by the end of this installment makes me very happy. It works perfectly with her character and makes me feel that she is going to be okay.
Jupe is Lon’s teenaged son. I can’t say this enough: I am not usually a fan of teenagers in books – I find they tend to either be whiny or annoying – but Jupe is written in a way where it is impossible not to find him completely delightful. He has such a big heart and the fact that he can’t seem to stop talking even when he knows he really should is both funny and endearing.
The book is told from Cady’s point of view but we get a few chapters that are told in the third person from Jupe’s point of view. Jupe is the type of boy who follows his heart now and thinks that maybe it wasn’t the best idea later. So every time a chapter would start and it was Jupe doing…something, I found myself saying “No Jupe. Oh no Jupe. Don’t do it!” even though it was not necessarily a bad thing that he was doing. I just tend to assume that where Jupe’s intentions are very honorable and everything he does is with a deep seated passion, most of the time they don’t quite turn out as he wished. Now, whether or not his actions helped in this book or hindered Lon and Cady’s quest is something you will have to read the book to find out.
And finally we have Lon. I think I’ve mentioned this in every review that I’ve written for this series but it’s true: he really is absolutely perfect for Cady. And there is just something about him that is beyond sexy! Maybe it’s that he’s mature or maybe it’s that he’s smart and totally captured by Cady. Maybe it’s that he’s normal and isn’t perfect, that he admits to having trouble being a single dad to his energetic teenaged son. Maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever it is, just seeing his name on the page makes me smile. And same as with Cady, he’s changed in the series but not so much that he’s unrecognizable. He’s still quiet and intense yet is now able to open up a bit to Cady, showing her how he really feels. Overall, he’s a wonderfully created character, as are all of the characters in this series.
At the end of the book, you will find Jenn’s Acknowledgements. I read these and boy, did I find a surprise in there. Jenn basically tells us that Banishing the Dark will be the last Arcadia Bell novel. Yes folks, for now and maybe even for always, this is the end of this brilliant series. When I read that I started crying. Yes, I may have been pms-ing but that is not the point. The point is that I have grown so attached to these characters over the last four books that the mere idea of not seeing them through new adventures brought such an overwhelming sadness, one I had much trouble understanding. I mean, it’s only been four books! But in these four books, Jenn manages to bring Cady, Lon, Jupe and the rest of the gang to life in such a way that you think of them as real. You know better, of course, and you can pick up an Arcadia Bell book at any time to re-read it but it’s just not quite the same. The last couple of lines in the acknowledgement passage is “It’s never easy to say goodbye, but Cady, Lon, Jupe and Tabby now belong to you. Please take good care of them.” and she’s right. They do belong to us, thanks to her. Seeing this line made me realize what power authors truly hold over their readers. Jenn created these fictional people in her head and wrote down stories about them. And we ate them up, welcoming these ideas into our lives. Kind of freaky when you think about it…
All in all, Banishing the Dark was the perfect continuation to the series and, essentially, ending to it as well. There is a wonderful epilogue that takes place three and a half years after the book ends and it really makes everything right in the world. I am so happy that I read these books and I urge you all to do the same. These are superb urban fantasy reads.
Julie: Once in a Lifetime is the ninth book in Jill Shalvis’ hugely popular Lucky Harbor contemporary romance series. The series is pretty much divided into three sets of three. This latest trio focuses on three “best” girlfriends and how they each fall in love with one of three guy best friends. I place the word best in ” ” for the girls because the gals in this trio didn’t really start being close until later in the seventh book, if that.
This latest book is about Aubrey and Ben. Ben is a mysterious character that comes back to town in the last book and Aubrey…well, she’s the bitch. When you meet her in It Had to be You, she is cranky and has an overall bad attitude but you could tell, there was something about her attitude that didn’t quite click. It’s almost like when someone’s smile doesn’t quite reach their eyes. Aubrey is being bitchy but is that really who she is or is it just a façade that she has built up over the years?…
I can’t say I was a fan of Aubrey after reading books seven and eight but I knew that if someone could make me like a rather unlikable character, it was Jill Shalvis. And I was right. Aubrey ended up being endearing and awkward and completely charming. And by the end of Once in a Lifetime, I actually considered her one of my favorite heroines in this series to date.
Anne: I always felt Aubrey was hiding. And with everything life threw at her, she just sucked it up and did the best she could. That’s why she’s my hero. She isn’t any better or worse than anyone else. She’s made mistakes like everyone does. Her mistakes have just been highlighted, all the time, in the worst possible ways. She doesn’t just curl up and die; she works to find ways to make things better. I can totally relate to her, especially on the holding in true feelings. She is also much harder on herself than she is on others.
Julie: She totally is. She has trouble understanding why people enjoy her company. She really is stronger than she gives herself credit for. And Ben was such a good match for Aubrey because he could see through her bullsh*t. He was also very good at helping her see she is not really the horrible person she thinks she is.
Ben has a sad story but not as much of a sob story as I was expecting – which was good. I find too many heroes now a days have a story that is almost over the top. Jill does a great job with her heroes. They have just enough baggage to give them room to grow or mature. Ben’s back in Lucky Harbor to face his past and to start a future. He is honestly curious about Aubrey and you can tell immediately that he cares for her even though she’s not the easiest person to like. And day-um is he sexy! He’s sexy in that understated strong and smouldery way.
Anne: I fell in love with Ben in the last book because he was so funny. I adore funny. Oddly, it took longer for me to warm up to him in this book. I mean, really, I don’t want a relationship. I don’t really want you unless someone else does or someone hurts you. *Eyeroll* I came around as he did. He got me with his interest and support for Aubrey, also his stepping up in the community plus his heart-melting way with Pink and Kendra. He went out of his way to help them. I enjoy the well rounded parts of the story, where there is more than just a romance here.
Julie: Ben’s scenes with Pink and Kendra were so sweet! I love how Jill writes. Like you say, it’s a whole story and not just a romance.
As for Ben, you make a good point. I guess I knew he’d come around so I was not as bothered by his reluctance. But his being more cautious did suit his character. It showed his loss affected him deeply and if it hadn’t, then he’d be an asshat in my book and I would not be drooling over him as I am now. *wipes drool* But if he’d been in denial longer than he was, I would have not enjoyed the book as much.
However you feel about Ben, you can’t deny he is sexy and that his chemistry with Aubrey is really well written. The two of them just being in the same room together, doing nothing but talking, smolders up the pages!
Anne: oh yes, Ben may not want a relationship but he certainly wants Aubrey. And more than that, he treats her better than many relationships would, spending his time with her, supporting and encouraging her, as well as making her feel beautiful. That’s sexy! His messy hair may be having an effect on me as well.
Julie: Oh that messy hair… Speaking of messy hair, let’s chat about the animals in this series. Jill often chooses to add dogs to her stories – I’m not even a dog person but I love how she writes them into her stories – but this time around, we have a cat. A cranky cat that has sort of adopted Aubrey and the bookstore she is fixing up as his home. This cat had such a personality! All of the animals have great personalities in this series. They manage to really add to the story without overwhelming it.
Anne: Well, I’m more a dog person, since I’m deathly allergic to cats. It is funny how the cat chooses Ben over Aubrey, but as in everything, Aubrey keeps trying. But my favorite is still Kevin! – as long as he lives with Jack. My favorite giggle worthy quote includes him. Something about this quote just cracks me up every time.
Jack rose and snapped his fingers at Kevin.
Kevin squeezed his eyes tight and pretended to be asleep.
Ben found a laugh after all. “Leave him.”
“He ate chili at the firehouse tonight.”
“Take him.” Ben said.
I have to mention Aubrey working so hard in an “My Name is Earl” way to try to improve her karma. It’s not easy to say you made mistakes and try to improve things with people who mostly don’t like you. It’s even harder when it is someone you like, who HAS been good to you.
Julie: Just another reason why I loved Aubrey so much in this book!
Let’s talk a bit about Lucille. She has been in each and every book in this series. She is the ‘nose in everybody’s business little old lady’ of Lucky Harbor. I liked her a lot in the first books but then I found she was becoming a bit too much of a ‘nosy-betty’. In this book, I liked her role. She went back to being the hilarious old lady with tons of very insightful things to say.
Anne: Lucille was wonderful in this book. She really made a difference in putting things right. I also loved the support Ali and Leah gave to Aubrey, as well as the support for Ben from Jack and Luke. That is one of the best things about stories set in small towns. One gets to know the people and their friends. The “town” continues to play a role in every story.
Julie: You are right about the support. Aubrey had not always been the friendliest to Ali and Leah but to see them understand and want to help Aubrey in making things right was very nice.
And the town of Lucky Harbor really does play a role in these books. It’s a place I would definitely want to visit.
All in all, I really liked Once in a Lifetime. Aubrey blew me away, Ben was yummy and there were plenty of scenes that either warmed the heart or made you giggle out loud. I am thinking especially the scenes with Ben and the kids at the center and Aubrey with, well, herself. Jill always does a wonderful job bringing her characters to life and making them feel as though they could be your next door neighbor. I was really pleased with this latest installment.
Anne: I more than really liked this book; I loved it! It is one of my favorites in the series. Are we going to agree on the rating?
Grim Shadows is the second installment in Jenn Bennett’s incredible Roaring Twenties series. It’s a paranormal romance series that is very unique in its paranormal. There are no vampire. There are no werewolves. What there is are ghosts and spirits and lore from far off ancient lands. And it’s all wrapped in a murder mystery type of bow. Very cool and highly entertaining.
In the first book, we followed Winter Magnusson as he fell in love with Alda Palmer. I loved Winter. He was the kind of hero I enjoy reading. Strong and smart yet completely at a loss when feelings of like turn into feelings of love. The word ‘cute’ does not really match Winter but I found it cute how he went all gaga and lost. This time around we follow Winter’s brother Lowe as he meets and falls for one Hadley Bacall.
OMG did I ever love Lowe! I actually loved him more than Winter! Go ahead and gasp. I know I did. Winter is a pretty amazing hero after all. But Lowe…he is so sharp! You would have to be to be able to weave as many stories (read ‘lies’) as he does on a regular basis. He is a bit *clears throat* of a con man and can charm his way out of pretty much anything. What a fascinating fellow. And so sexy! There is just something about the era that these books are written in that makes the hot scenes that much hotter. Also, I am finding that intelligence is becoming more and more important for me in the characters that I read And wit too. Lowe has both and knows how to use them. Yet there is a definite vulnerability to him that makes him more real. Such a great character.
Hadley is another smart individual and that’s important, especially if she is to keep up with Lowe. I found them to be the perfect match, and not only because their career paths are very similar (ish). I love how she is, at face value, Lowe’s opposite yet dig down a bit deeper and there is so much there to discover. She too is a very well written character with almost as many layers as Mr. Lowe Magnusson possesses. They balance each other out very well. Her character is also where the paranormal aspect of the book comes in. Hadley has a…shall we say ‘talent’. It’s a terrifying yet amazing talent that no one knows much about. Curious to know more? Then read the book ;)
I would not consider these books to be historicals in the true sense of the word even though they are marketed that way. Yes, they are set in the 1920′s but the era and the setting feel more like characters, adding a depth to the story that would not be achieved if set in modern day.
The story this time around is so much fun! Lowe and Hadley are trying to decipher some pictographs in order to find urns that hold important pieces to a very impressive and dangerous artifact. That means the mystery is mixed with Egyptian lore. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and makes the story incredibly interesting.
Overall, I absolutely adored Grim Shadows. If I found book one in the series strong, this one was even stronger. I can’t wait to read the next book, Grave Phantoms. Not only because this series rocks but also because it will tell Bo and Astrid’s story and I can’t wait to see how Winter and Lowe react to their little sister falling in love. *grin*
What more can I say? Jenn writes books that are hard to put down. You definitely have to check this one out.(less)
Wow. Just...wow. This was an absolutely amazing novella. I did not read like a novella, at all. Fast paced, amazing character development, surprised a...moreWow. Just...wow. This was an absolutely amazing novella. I did not read like a novella, at all. Fast paced, amazing character development, surprised and an incredible ending. If you read this series, read this novella when it releases. You don't have to be caught up in the series - as long as you read book one, Red, you need to read this one. I'm telling you...wow. Full review to follow :) (less)
Julie: There should be a law stating that when a new Kate Daniels book comes out, I, Julie, has the day off work with pay and a day off from life too. It was painful to me how little reading time I had when I first got this book in my hands! I wanted to read more. Craved to read more. Yet couldn’t. But when I finally reached the end, I was pleased.
Magic Breaks is the seventh book in Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. Some may think I am a bit biased when it comes to this series because it is my favoritest but I don’t feel I am. You see, if you read this series, you no doubt feel the same way I do. And if you have yet to try it and decide to, you will very quickly feel the love for these books too.
Anne: I have loved everything I have read by Ilona Andrews. The Kate Daniels series is easily my favorite series ever. This book is no different. I’d give them all 10 stars. I care about these people. Yet I laughed so much. That is quite an accomplishment for the author in a book where people you love are fighting for their lives.
Julie: You are absolutely right. What makes these books as amazing as they are is the people in them. Kate is amazing. Curran is amazing. Doolittle…I always loved him but in this book he is freaking amazing! They all are! Even the bad and crazy guys are amazing in their own messed up way. These authors (I say ‘these’ because Ilona Andrews is actually Ilona and her husband Gordon) really take the time to build their characters. They are flawed and vulnerable and so…real! Even though they are shifters and magic users and converse with vampires and other such beings, they are still completely relatable.
Anne: This book is perfect. It absolutely is because of the characters. I LOVE Kate and Curran, Derek, Jim, Andrea and more. I even like Ghastek. Another reason it’s perfect is the humor, the action, the smart banter and plot. It’s the setup of the world which makes everything right.
And pork sword? I’ll cut it off and feed it to him. I HATE Hugh.
Julie: I also love the humor in these books. It’s smart and subtle. Okay, maybe subtle is not quite the right word but it’s not in your face either. It fits.
In the previous book, I actually didn’t mind Hugh. He was not a good guy but I didn’t get the absolute evil vibe from him either. He was mostly…crazy. But when I finished reading the scene at the Order in this book…yeah, Hugh must go down. What a meanie! Actually, I invite you to insert the most colorful word you know where ‘meanie’ is. You say ‘hate’ in all caps and I will too. I HATE him!
Anne: Yes, because Hugh doesn’t care about Kate. He pretends but he really only wants to best her, control her and support his own ego.
Humor is an important component for me. And it’s the banter between the characters that shows both how smart they are and how much we have come to know and enjoy them. I get some of the jokes and they are funnier because I know them. And you’re right, it’s fitting.
Julie: Ilona mentions at the beginning of the book that Magic Breaks reads like a final installment and I found that to be very true. Many loose ends are tied up, but not to worry! There are still three books to go in the series so there are some new loose ends that come up. One in particular…whoa! I NEVER imagined the series heading in THAT direction. I was shocked…but I am also excited as to where the series is going.
Anne: I think the next part is important for the true urban fantasy genre. It is also one of my favorite things about this book. We get more intimacy between Kate and Curran, and I mean honest/ caring conversations, not sex, than any other book I think. It is wonderful to see how their relationship grows and changes as they do. There are many interesting, very personal talks. I also loved learning more about Ghastek.
Julie: I love Kate and Curran’s growth, as individual characters and as a couple. Again, it’s real. And Ghastek! I really enjoyed knowing more about him. He has always intrigued me so learning more about his character was a real bonus. He is, after all, one of the very first characters we meet in the series! It only took seven books to find out some of his little secrets lol.
Another character I always enjoy and was happy to see keep growing was Andrea. Seeing her in this book with Raphael makes me want Ilona and Gordon to write another book from her point of view (like they did with Gunmetal Magic)!
There is one character in particular who has finally made his long awaited appearance. I’m not sure what I think of how that all went down but whatever I think, it fit. If guns went blazing, it would have been the end of the series because there is no way anyone was truly prepared for this guy. It would have been a very forced scene. But the way it was written works. I am quite curious to see how this new character affects our favorite couple.
Anne: I’m not very comfortable with this character. I’ll be interested to see how everything goes for Kate and Curran in this next phase. They are making some big changes. I also wonder how things will go with Ghastek now. And will Hugh show up? Also, I’ll be interested to see what happens next with Andrea, at least in passing. If they are “in town” for the next book, we may see more of the “regulars” than in this book.
Anyway, I can’t wait. I’m so amazed at the intimacy and humor in this book – amazing!!! This is the best series EVER.
10+++ stars, lots of extra love. (5plus stars for this blog)
Julie: You are so cute, how much you ‘fan-girl’ over these books Anne. And it’s all so well deserved.
Magic Breaks really is the end of an era and the beginning of what I can assume will be an incredible next phase in the lives of all the characters involved in this series to date. The story is engrossing. You feel you know what will happen but it’s never quite right. Ilona and Gordon really keep you on your toes, once again.
This series truly is an example of what urban fantasy should be. All authors of the genre should look to this series to know what to aspire to and all readers of the genre absolutely must read it. Magic Breaks continues the series better than I would have anticipated. I can’t wait for you all to read it.
Julie: It is always a good day when a new Julie James book is released. I just love her voice, her characters and her smart stories and dialogue. It Happened One Wedding is the fifth book in her FBI/US Attorney series. Julie has said that this book is a little different for her and she’s right. But it’s a good different. A very good different. This book is about FBI agent Vaughn and how he is taken by surprise by the lovely Ms. Sidney.
Anne: I love all the books in this series, so I was excited to get this one to read. We have seen Vaughn in previous books. He is friends with Cade Morgan (the previous book’s hero) and partnered with Huxley. He is one of those alpha male, such a guy guys. I rather like that; I find it rather ridiculous and funny. This is my absolute favorite thing about this book – it has some real humor.
Julie: I have always enjoyed the humor in Julie’s books. It is a smart humor. Vaughn has that smart humor along with a sarcastic wit that I appreciate. And Sidney can certainly hold her own against him.
Vaughn likes women. He is not ashamed of it and likes his life. Don’t worry – we hear about his escapades but we don’t see them. I was happy for that because I find too many contemporary romance authors focus too much on the hero before he meets the heroine but Julie doesn’t do that. That is one of the reasons I like her writing. She keeps focus on what is important for the story.
But I digress… Vaughn. We were talking about Vaughn.
Vaughn is smart, confident (without being overtly cocky) and loyal. He is also funny (as we have already established) and sexy. He holds all of the characteristics I look for in a strong contemporary romance hero. He comes from a good home with awesome parents and has no really huge and crazy ‘issues’. This is refreshing for the genre of late! I like how he enjoys his work and enjoys his family. Yeah…I just like him a lot.
Anne: OK, yes I like Vaughn. He’s funny and nice and he has the good family. I just can’t believe he’s never had a real relationship or that if he is so upfront about it, why get involved with him? Well, for sex. But I didn’t find him sexy, fun but not sexy. I’m sorry but I “friend zoned” him at the beginning and couldn’t leave that emotionally. There was something in his attitude and style. Maybe it’s something wrong with me but as you say he was so normal and nice. I couldn’t find the sexy. And does he think as he gets older at 45 or 50 or 55 he will always have a bunch of willing partners? Doesn’t he even think about settling down ever? It’s like even with his friends settling down, and now his brother, he doesn’t seem to give it any thought. I can believe he is fine with his life, but not that he doesn’t consider a relationship since his parents, his friends and his brother have good ones.
Sidney, on the other hand, knows she wants to settle down. She just doesn’t want to go through any heartache in the process because she has been there, done that. So she is just as unrealistic in her list and plan. But she was funny and understandable. I had faith she would work through those issues when she started dating.
Julie: At the beginning of this book, Vaughn in a man-boy and I’m totally okay with that. He knows he is going to settle down one day, just not this day. And even though I am not the type of person who has ever enjoyed just a ‘hook-up’, many do and that is what Vaughn is going after right now. I feel that it’s because of the relationships around him that he is finally able to recognize a good thing, a.k.a. Sidney.
I found her obsession desire (I will edit this in my WP by crossing one out) with wanting to settle down sort of funny. It speaks of her personality. She is unrealistic in her plan, yes, but she is so sure her ideas are foolproof! It charmed her to me. I liked Sidney. She was quite relatable as I think we’ve all been there, at some point in our lives, when we are ready to settle down and wonder if we’ll ever find the right guy…or more likely wonder if we’ll ever not find the wrong guy. I liked how she didn’t fall for Vaughn’s ‘plays’ right away and how she challenged him. I think if she just fell for him the moment they met, it would not have made for a realistic story. And this one felt quite real to me.
After reading this book, I completely understand what Julie means when she says this is a different sort of book for her. There is no heroine in trouble or hero in need of heroine’s help. This is a brother-of-the-groom and a sister-of-the-bride. Two people who happen to have to spend time together while helping plan their sibling’s wedding. Yes, Sidney is still a professional and kicks ass at her job and Vaughn is still an undercover FBI agent but they are not ever doing their jobs together. This is a first for Julie yet she wrote this sort of story beautifully. The pace of the relationship was as good as always and nothing felt rushed or forced for me.
Anne: You make a good point about the type of book it is. It isn’t where their work lives are involved; the couple meets through their family. It is a lighter, funny story with the Vaughn and Sidney getting thrown together because of the wedding and then getting to know each other. There is no big bad here. There are just the personal issues. Vaughn has to realize she is important enough to him to want a real relationship. Sidney has to risk her heart, again. They are allowed to work through this and get to know each other at an easy pace. It’s nice and a very realistic story emotionally, but I didn’t feel enough.
Julie: I know you didn’t feel the couple or the story as completely as you hoped. But for me, it was fine. I really enjoyed Vaughn and Sidney and found their story to be both sweet and entertaining. I liked how Vaughn eventually came to realize how special Sidney was and vice versa.
One of my most favorite things about Julie’s books is the detail she shares about her characters’ professions. She was/is a lawyer so writing lawyers was easy for her but lately, she is steering away from that and focusing on FBI agents. Vaughn is an undercover agent and you can tell that Julie did her research to write him at his job. Even the detail about Sidney and her investment banker’s job was thoroughly explained. I find when Julie writes like this it makes the reader not only completely understand the specifics of her characters’ jobs but also a large part of what makes them tick as they are all work-focused. I like how none of her characters are just flouncing around; they are all responsible adults with focus and dedication.
Anne: Julie James is an excellent writer and I have enjoyed all of her books including this one. It was fun and easy; it is just not my favorite in the series. The characters were a pleasant way to spend time but I couldn’t bring myself to care enough about them. I highly recommend the author and the series though.
Julie: Where I’m concerned, you will not often see me rate a Julie James book lower than 5 stars. I love how her characters are professional grown-ups. I love her style and I love how effortless her books are to read. I always find it amazing how so many contemporary romance authors write books lacking depth and focus while a few manage write the genre with a flair and maturity that sets them far apart. Julie James is such an author and It Happened One Wedding is an example of a good contemporary romance. Smart and sexy with well crafted characters, this book is definitely one for your ‘must-read’ shelves.
Archangel’s Legion is the sixth book in Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. If you have been reading this series and love it but sometimes think to yourself “Hmm…these books are still amazing but there is something missing that I just can’t put my finger on…” you will absolutely love this latest installment. It feels and reads like the very first book. It’s pacing is perfect, the characters have grown so much they are even more captivating and the story draws you in completely.
Elena has really come into her own and I for one am super happy about that. In the first book, she was a perfect example of a kick ass chick, but after gaining wings and being thrown into the immortal world, she started losing her confidence. I understand why she would and it did make sense for her character to feel inadequate especially after experiencing what she did but I missed the Elena I adored in the first book. She is feeling more at ease with herself and her place by Raphael’s side. She is still vulnerable and dealing with nightmares from her past but she is getting past them and that is what makes me happy. She is such a thorough character. Nalini has written her so well, you truly feel as though you know her. And in this book, she really shines.
Raphael. OMG he is so freaking sexy! I love how Elena has affected him. He is still himself yet not. I don’t dare use the word ‘softer’ for him but I really can’t think of a better one to use. He is dealing with his mother’s waking and his powers growing. I am very curious to see what exactly his new talents will be. We learn about some in this book but I’m sure we are just scraping the surface where he and his powers are concerned. Really cool.
Speaking of powers, it was very interesting to learn what the other Archangels are gaining as far as strengths caused by the Cascade are concerned. We don’t see all of the Archangels in this installment but we definitely hear of all of them. Of course, as we expect and hope, we also hear of Raphael’s Seven.
I really love his Seven. Seven members of his entourage who he trusts without question and who would die to protect him and what is important to him. Who wouldn’t want that?! What Nalini has done recently is sometimes bring the series away from simply focusing on Raphael and Elena and giving some members of the Seven their own book with their own HEA. So far, we have watched both Dmitri and Jason fall in love and learned what made them tick. While reading Archangel’s Legion, I thought I was convinced who the next book would focus on. Aodhan is very intriguing and we see quite a bit on him in this book. But then, Naasir was brought up so I thought maybe the next book would be his? Then, of course, we see a lot of Illium. I would LOVE for the next book to be his. I just love his character! But I feel Nalini will make us wait a bit longer before giving us his story as I know he is many peoples’ favorite. So all that to say that I am not sure who the next book will feature buy my best guess would be either Aodhan or Naasir.
There have been quite a few little plot points that have been thrown out there but have not really gone anywhere over the past five books in this series. Well, this is the book where many of them get brought back to light. There were some I’d completely forgotten about but they’re really good! I no way mean everything has been tied up in a nice bow, but things are rolling and I hope they are mentioned again in the next book because I am very curious to see how they turn out. Especially the story involving Vivek.
There are few ‘main’ storylines in this book. War is imminent so we witness preparations for that. We also actually see some fighting and let me tell you, those are some very exciting scenes! But along with the war, we find out that there is a disease that is affecting vampires (who are NOT supposed to be able to get sick) and Elena, the Tower and her Guild Hunter friends are trying to find out the what, where, who and how behind this nasty sickness. Very interesting stuff.
Speaking of interesting, there is one part during the fight scene near the end that totally made sit up straighter in my chair. There are a slew of new characters that just popped up and I am dying to know more about them!
Hmm…that just made me realize that maybe all of these things can’t be taken care of in a book about one of the Seven. Maybe the next book will be yet another Elena and Raphael book. Dang. And here I thought there was a good chance I knew who the next book would be about. Oh well…
The only thing that sort of rubbed me the wrong way was Lijuan. I am sort of getting tired of her. She is a creepy nasty annoying evil character and Nalini writes her very well but all her craziness is starting to feel old for me. I want her gone but that won’t ever happen because she is pretty much invincible but still, that is my wish. But my feelings come from her being written so well so really, my slight bug about this book is really a compliment to the author ;)
All in all, I was very happy with Archangel’s Legion. I loved the overall story and the character growth. Nalini’s voice is stunning and it really suits the extraordinary world she has created. Elena and Raphael are so perfect together, each bringing to the table qualities that the other needs. They are a great example of how a paranormal romance couple should be written and how they should evolve. I strongly recommend this series to fans of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance alike.
When I wrote my review for Magic for a Price, the last book in Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series, I started my review by saying “Now THIS is how you write a final book in a series!” And let me tell you, Stone Cold deserves the same acclamation. It is the last book in this short series but it finished it off perfectly.
Stone Cold is non-stop so make sure you have time to sit and just read without interruptions when you are about to crack it open. It is very difficult to put down and with the twists and turns you meet, you won’t want to.
Shame. OMG Shame! I thought the guy had it tough in the first book! Shame is going through some pretty intense sh*t. The worst of it is that there doesn’t seem to be a precedent for what is happening to him so he has no clue how to help himself, or Terric. But where Shame is dealing with Death magic and all that that means, Terric is dealing with Life magic. Now, you might think that’s not as bad as Death but it’s still pretty extreme.
Terric. I love him! Shame, I loved him the moment I met him in the Allie books. Terric had to grow on me a bit but now I adore him. He is the perfect friend to Shame and extra awesome in his own right.
Dash is amazing. That is all.
I’ve always loved how magic is portrayed in this world that Devon writes. You pull magic and infuse it into a glyph you trace and some are faster at it and better at it than others…it’s all very exciting. And even though magic has been ‘tamed’ since the Allie books, Shame and Terric still manage to be neck deep in it and the awesome power that very few can channel.
Eleanor. I really liked her in the first book and I like her even more in this one. I love how she handles Shame and her own situation. She is a great character put into very interesting situations. She fit perfectly in this book’s plot and I am very happy with how Devon wrote her.
Allie and Zayvion fans will be over the moon with this installment. We see them a little and hear about them a whole lot and what you hear will definitely bring a smile to your face. Okay, maybe not all of it, but what you see and hear by the end of the book will put a smile on your face. The other stuff will just stress you out but seeing that you are fans of their books, you are used to it by now ;) There is tons of Davy and Sunny action too. Sunny did drive me nuts a bit but seeing her situation, I suppose it’s all justified. Cryptic much?… *grin*
The villain is so nasty in this series! I have absolutely no sympathy for him this time around and just kept hoping that Shame or Terric or, heck, anybody would give him a miserable ending that involved quite a bit of pain. Devon wrote him very well. Every last maniacal inch of him.
I went into reading this book with a certain expectation when it came to the ending. I didn’t necessarily like the ending my mind conjured up but that was still the ending I expected. Boy was I wrong. Devon completely took me by surprise with how she wrapped this book up and looking back on it once I was finished reading, I found that she really did write the best ending for Shame and his story. My ending was just dumb. Hers was glorious. Yet another example of why I am not an author.
More glorious writing from Devon’s part came in how she wrote Heaven. I am not going to tell you why we see Heaven or who goes there but I will say that Devon’s version of it is fan-freaking-tastic.
I cried like a baby at the end of the first book. It really does take a lot to make me cry for a book and Devon managed to find the perfect formula to make me cry. Did a cry this time for Stone Cold? Yup. Yup I did. I didn’t cry for sadness (much). I cried over all of the emotion my poor heart and head went through while reading this book. The ups and downs and the constant craziness, in the very best way, really took it out of me which really only heightened my enjoyment of this book. But I’m still not impressed that Devon managed to make me cry. Again. (*shakes fist at Devon* Dang you Devon Monk! )
All in all, Stone Cold was an absolutely amazing read. Fans of urban fantasy NEED to check this series out and fans of the Allie Beckstrom books need to jump on these too. Shame and Terric have some of the most impressive on-page chemistry that I have ever read from a non-romantic couple. And Shame alone will break your heart, make you laugh and make you *happy sigh* over and over again. I can’t stress enough that this book is a NON-STOP RIDE! It really is an incredible read, one you should not pass up.
I know that when I write this form of review, the ‘what I liked’ and ‘what I didn’t like’ review, it’s usually because I didn’t like a book all that much and I’m trying to not write a review where I will pretty much vent for 3 or so minutes of your time. But do not fret, that is not the case at all this time around. While trying to write this review, I noticed that I very clearly loved some aspects of the book and very much didn’t appreciate others. So writing a review in this ‘style’ seemed adequate.
So here we go.
Night Broken is the eighth book in Patricia Briggs’ incredible Mercy Thompson series. This is what urban fantasy series should aspire to. Patricia has written one of the best shifter-based worlds out there, with the details being so precise you swear she knows all of it thanks to witnessing it for real, and the characters, especially Mercy herself, are hard to match.
As the story goes…I’ll talk about that in a short while. And a heads up, I included mild spoilers. Meaning, I talk about specifics but nothing that you will look at and think ‘well dang, now I don’t have to read the book!’. So no worries about that ;)
What I liked about Night Broken –
Mercy. She continues to grow and learn Pack politics. I just love her as a character. She is not perfect, far from it, yet she tries her hardest. She is loyal and lovely and incredibly smart. And in this book, she showed restraint I don’t think I would have found in her situation.
Adam and Mercy. They are one of my favorite couples because they have an adult relationship without the teenaged-type drama. Although I didn’t agree with everything Adam did (or didn’t do) in this installment (see ‘what I didn’t like’), I can’t help but love how Adam is with Mercy. They are fantastic together.
Tad. OMG Tad! I loved his role in this book. We learn so much about him in a relatively short time in this installment. I really hope we continue to hear more about him in future books because, where Tad is concerned, there is much we still need to know.
Honey is another character that impressed me in this book. She is still in mourning but it’s nice to see her have a bit of bite. I liked how she sided with Mercy when the going got tough. Go Honey!
Gary Laughingdog. No, you won’t know who this guy is because he is indeed a new character. I won’t say much about him because I think the surprises are one of the things that makes him so interesting, but he is awesome. He will make you laugh even when he’s not trying to be funny. I hope we see more of him in later books.
The walking stick! I don’t know why but I love that thing.
I always enjoy the use of mythology in this series. Whether it’s Native American or, as is in this case, volcano gods, Patricia always makes it relevant and interesting. I like the spin she put in this book and the villain is pretty intense. He was very challenging and, as usual, I really enjoyed watching Mercy and cohorts trying to crack the mystery of how to take him down.
Relationship-based plotlines. That is not something you usually see in this series but I liked the timing of it. I find it helped continue to build on relationships that we have witnessed in this series for some time. It’s also nice to see just how strong these friendships and relationships are in this world.
What I didn’t like about Night Broken -
Christy and everyone’s reaction to her. Christy is Adam’s ex-wife. Yes, she is ‘back’ in this book and boy, did I NOT like her. At all. But I believe that is the point of her. She was created to make us hate her. And we do. A lot. But as much as I didn’t like Christy, I disliked the way everyone reacted towards her even more. I never felt that she was a threat to Adam and Mercy’s relationship. I feel Patricia built a very strong bond there and would not cheapen her series by making Adam re-fall for the self-centered ex. He is better than that and so it this author. But everyone kissed Christy’s feet! No one noticed how manipulative she was and no one respected Mercy’s authority while Christy was there, which surprised me because Mercy is Pack and she’s Alpha! That didn’t make sense to me. But Christy did bring the ultimate bad guy to town so for that, I suppose I should be grateful because I really did like how that whole plot went down.
Adam. Yes, I love him, but in this book I feel he needed to grow a set. Christy was in his home, thanks to an invite from Mercy, and she was doing her best to make Mercy look bad or put her on the spot. Yet Adam just let her! What the heck?! I don’t think it would have undermined him as Alpha or done anything else Pack related if he told her where to go instead of letting Christy do what she did to Mercy. I didn’t get it while reading the book and I still don’t.
The random plot lines. I have to say that by page 100 I still was not sure exactly where the story was going. We had volcano god and Coyote and evil Fae and the ex-wife and… It was not clear what was going on. Eventually, of course, everything worked out but I felt there were many little details that were not necessarily needed in order to weave the plot and that instead they just added to the sense of ‘what?!’.
So there you have it. Lots of things I enjoyed and three that I did not. But I’m still giving Night Broken 4 stars. Why? Well, it was a solid and very imaginative story (even if a little confusing at times) and the character growth where Mercy was concerned was awesome. I also love the world, the voice, the pace and the new characters. And even though this was not my favorite installment in the series, it always feels nice and homey when I pick up a Mercy Thompson book. There is just something about these books that always manages to put me in a state of awe. And if you are a fan of urban fantasy books, let this one awe you too.(less)
Requiem for the Dead is the fifth book in Kelly Meding’s Dreg City series. You cannot just jump in with this book. You really have to read this series in order because there is just so much going on! And even though Kelly does a good job recapping things, you will still feel lost if this is your first experience with the Dreg world. Besides, this series is phenomenal, filled with stories and events that will leave you speechless and exhilarated. Why wouldn’t you want to read starting at book one, Three Days to Dead?
Okay, now that I have gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about Requiem for the Dead. First, let’s do the ‘how I felt immediately after finishing this book’ quickie review. I felt something like this: “OMG there is so much more to come! So many more things I need to know! Please please PLEASE Kelly write faster so I can read the next book!!!”
Now I will go into more detail.
This is a series that tends to take you one way then another then back again all while raising your heart rate to probably dangerous rates and this latest installment is no exception. There are a few storylines developing in this book. Some are plots that were started in previous books and other are new to this one. In Requiem, the story takes one direction and then another until finally it sticks to one story and goes with that. That left me curious as heck to know where things were going in the beginning and at the end it left me curious as heck to know what plot was going to be the focus of the next book. I was pleased with the plotline that Kelly decided to follow through this time around though.
Wyatt and Evy’s relationship is in a very comfortable place and I love seeing them together. They are a wonderful match and it’s great to finally see them in a place where they can actually be a couple, even though they are still battling evil beings and trying to stay alive and/or in one piece. Wyatt is transitioning well after his transformation in the last book and I look forward to seeing how that will affect things in books to come. I also really enjoyed watching Wyatt becoming a father figure to some werewolf pups we met in the last book. The role suits him.
You also see a lot of interaction with Evy and Wyatt and their co-workers (for lack of a better word). The secondary characters are as interesting as the primary ones in this series so I was happy to see where everyone was at. New and interesting relationships are forming and I quite liked that.
One of my favorite parts of this series is how Kelly lets her imagination run wild when it comes to her paranormal beings. They are creepy and nasty and unlike anything you’ve read before. It’s great to read creatures you’ve read a thousand times before but in a completely different way. I find that shows how much the author is willing to stretch and it makes for fabulous reading.
Kelly’s books always take you on one hell of a ride. Just when you think things can’t get anymore ‘omgomgomg’, they do. And just when you think you can put down your emotional guard, she whaps you with something that at you didn’t expect. This happened quite a few times in this book and especially near the end of the book. Seriously, I made the mistake of thinking Kelly was done messing with us because there were just a few pages left to go but nope, wrong wrong wrong. A word of warning, do not let your guard down in this book at all because otherwise you will be left a blubbering mess. In the very best of ways.
Overall Requiem for the Dead was a wonderful continuation to the series. And it leaves things open for more wonderful continuations to the series. As always, I can’t wait to see where Kelly takes us next. I will just be sure to take my own advice and prepare for the worst and hope for the best. In other words, be ready for one hell of an urban fantasy read.
Iron Night by ML Brennan is the second installment in my newest favorite series. Generation V was released last year and it quickly became one of my favorite reads of the year. Fort and Suzume are such well crafted characters and the world the author produced is absolutely unique. It’s a book that stayed with me long after I was finished reading it and I was very anxious for the second book to release. You could say I had very high hopes for book two and I am happy to say that the book met each and every one of my expectations.
And then some.
Fort is a vampire but he has not finished transitioning into a full vampire yet. That means he’s a little bit vampire and a little bit human. When we meet him in book one he is fighting what he is becoming, vulnerable and scared. When we see him in this second book, he is a bit more comfortable with his role in his family and his ‘race’, but he’s still learning. In fact, his brother is showing him the ropes. That opening scene is SO FUNNY! Lines such as “This is why we don’t name or pet the goats.” made me laugh so hard. I love the humor in these books. It’s smart and witty humor – my favorite kind.
But back to Fort.
He is more confident but he still has that awkwardness and vulnerability that makes him so likable and so endearing. But I loved his growth and I love his moral making. He’s not cold like a vampire usually should be – he truly cares about the wellbeing of others, friends and strangers alike, and that is yet another thing I love about him.
Can you tell that I absolutely adore this character? He is definitely going on my favorite character list.
Another character that I absolutely love is Suzume. She is a kitsune, a fox shifter. She is unapologetic and sassy and suits Fort to a tee. The thing is they don’t seem to know this yet. But their chemistry is amazing, their dialogue is awesome and their scenes together are some of my favorite. She was sent to guard Fort in the first book and this time around she becomes his partner when they are trying to solve a mystery that Fort thinks he’s inadvertently involved in.
Which brings us to the story in this book.
Fort’s roommate, the first good one he’s had in ages, turns up murdered and Fort is wondering if it has anything to do with him and what he was responsible for in the first book. Turns out, the fae are involved and what is going on is EXTRA messed up! Amazing that ML’s imagination could even go there! The mystery part of the story really kept me on my toes. Let’s be honest though, there is no way anyone could figure out what was going on or who the ultimate bad guy was in this before you actually read it and your jaw hits the floor. And you wrinkle your nose. Because really…ew.
We meet a new character in this book that I really took to. Her name is Lilah and she hurt my head. What I mean by that is she is just a perfect match for Fort! I know I said that Suzume was, and I still think she is good for him, but Lilah really is just like him except she’s fae and he’s vampire. I wanted to only feel Suzume was compatible but here Lilah is, all sweet and cute and perfect and strong… I wanted to dislike her because she is ruining my perfect romantic image in my head for this series and yet I also found myself sort of rooting for her to hook up with Fort. How messed up is that?! ML did a fantastic job writing Lilah and, even though I want Suzume and Fort to wake up and hook up someday, I would still like to see Lilah in future books. She really was a sweet character.
I love where the book left off and where it is leading the series. Love the direction it seems to be going in. Of course, this means I can’t wait for the next book, Tainted Blood, which will be released later in 2014.
There are many fantastic scenes in this book but the one I keep going back to is the very last one. In that scene, our little Fort grows balls! And I loved it. I must have re-read that scene alone at least a dozen times. So awesome.
Generation V introduced us to a family of vampires unlike any you’ve ever met and introduced us to its youngest member. It also warmed your heart while keeping you on the edge of your seat. Iron Night expands on the characters in the series and the chemistry between them. It also expands on the world ML has created, showing us even more creatures that lurk within it. Iron Night did a wonderful job continuing Fort’s tale.
If you are looking for an exceptional urban fantasy read, you must check out Generation V and Iron Night. These are some of the best urban fantasy books I’ve read…ever. The style, the pace, the voice, the characters, the world, the story…all outstanding. A MUST for your bookshelves.
Uncharted is a follow up novella to the hugely popular book, On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves. I adored that book. Absolutely adored it.
One of the best parts of On the Island was the tone. It was not a light read in the least but it still managed to put a warm feeling in your heart while you were reading it. And the ending…wow. It is the very definition of a feel-good book. Uncharted captures the essence that is On the Island perfectly.
When Anna and TJ were stranded on the island they discovered a cabin and a human skeleton. There was a name in the cabin: Owen Sparks. Uncharted tells the story of Owen and his time on the island and explains some of the questions that came up in the full length book.
Owen went to the uninhabited island voluntarily. After working like mad to make a fortune, he pretty much burned out by the time he was 23. He wanted to get away from everyone and everything and thought leaving humanity behind and embarking on an adventure to a deserted island was the perfect plan. He hired a pilot to take him to the island and once a month he would return for Owen so he could go to the mainland to restock on supplies, get a shower, etc. He was on the island for 15 months and during that time decided to teach himself how to build a house. Near the end of his stay, he meets Calia and her brother James and invites them to join him when he returns to his temporary home. Owen loves the company and finds himself falling for Calia. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes the trio and changes everything.
Tracey writes amazing characters. Her story is simple but you can’t help but get completely lost in it and it’s because of how she writes her characters. Think about it – this book follows one man alone on an island…and I couldn’t put it down. The emotion created by the story is just wonderful. I completely felt Owen and where he came from and how lost he felt. I reveled in his accomplishment and was happy for him when he started to realize he found a match. I loved him and I loved Calia too.
This is not a novella you can read on its own. Why? Well, it’s because at the beginning of the book, Owen is at Anna and TJ’s door waiting to talk to them. If you have not read On the Island, you won’t enjoy this novella as much. Owen’s parts of the story will be interesting to you but the Anna and TJ parts will lose its sparkle. But if you have read the full book then you will love to see how these two are doing. There are chapters that are told from TJ and Anna’s perspectives and learning how they are reacting to Owen’s story is really incredible. How Owen was there by choice and they were not. How the environment affected Owen and how it affected Anna and TJ. So many things, so many comparisons – to see it from not only Owen but the others’ point of view is fascinating.
The only other thing there is to say is that Tracey did it again with this book. The characters are lovely, the story is lovely and the feel-good-perfect ending is lovely. Uncharted is a MUST for On the Island fans.
Hunted is the sixth book in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles series. I love this series. It is not like anything else I read. It’s not a romance book per se but there is (now) a central relationship that would keep you romance book lovers satisfied. My favorite part of this series are the characters. And how clever and smart the dialogue is. And how it features every mythology ever. Seriously, name the mythology and it’s in here with a neat twist or two to make it fresh and modern. And if it has not been featured yet, you can bet that Kevin has plans for it. It is an imaginative series that leaves me amazed by the end of each intstallment. I truly think Kevin is an incredible writer.
As you can tell by the title, the story in this book is Atticus, a Druid, is being hunted by Artemis and Diana, goddesses of the hunt. They are taking something Atticus did a little too personally and are now out to kill him. But they are not the only ones who want him gone so the goddesses are getting a bit of help. Basically, to stay safe, Atticus has to run across Europe. Literally run.
As a proof of Kevin’s talent, he had me tearing up by page six. PAGE SIX! And thanks to the event that takes place in that teary-eyed scene, Hunted takes on a slightly more somber tone than the previous books in the series. There is still proof of Atticus’ wit here and there and yes, Oberon has some cute lines as well but not quite as many as usual. Kevin also had me tearing up later on in the book and it’s something Oberon says that got to me that time. Yes, Oberon brought tears to my eyes! Really, this was a slightly different book for this series and I’m curious to see what tone the next book will take. I’m not opposed to how this book felt but personally, I prefer the feel of the other books.
I must admit that as much as I like this series, Hunted was not my favorite book. It took me a while to figure out why though. As I mentioned above, almost the entire book is about Atticus and friends being chased across Europe. As you can imagine, this book is not slowly paced and we do revisit many of our favorite characters from past installments. So why did I not click with this particular book as much as the others? After much thought, it finally hit me: it’s the chase! In the last few books, Atticus has been running from one thing or another. That was a subplot in the books and I was starting to feel frustrated by how many people wanted him dead! The poor guy couldn’t even sit down somewhere without beign warned of this or attacked by that. This latest book is all about him running. It’s not just a subplot – it’s the whole plot! Where this book left off gives me hope that things will be a little more chill in the next book, which makes me happy.
Overall, even though this was not my most favorite installment to date, it was still an entertaining read that fans of the series must pick up. There are some pretty important events that take place that will definitely come into play in the following books. And the surprise at the end of the book!…I can’t wait to see what that’s all about. Many things will surprise you while reading this. That I guarantee.
I have sitting next to me a box of Kleenex, a bottle of hard liquor and a punching bag. You know what that means…it’s time to crack open a new installment in Sierra Dean’s grossly addictive Secret McQueen series.
Secret Unleashed is book six in the series and takes place a few months after the last book leaves off. Secret is being shuffled from place to place while everyone tries to keep her safe from the crazy vampire who wants to kill her. Are they successful? Is there a Peyton/Secret showdown at dusk by the end of this book? Will Peyton stay escaped? Will Secret’s mother come back for her? Will Holden and Desmond finally duke it out in a Wal-Mart parking lot?! All good questions and all queries we get answers for by the end of this installment.
Speaking of answers, yes people this is THE book. The one where we finally find out what is the deal with Sig! And OMG it’s a doozie. I loved it though. I don’t think his and Secret’s story is exactly like anyone would guess. I think there will be ‘well I thought it was something like that’ but I don’t think anyone will be able to guess it spot on. It made me smile. I am anxious to see Secret and Sig on the page in the next book together to see if their relationship changes now that everything is out in the open.
The story this time starts off one thing and ends up taking you on twists and turns you would not imagine…only to leave you off with a perfectly acceptable ending. That’s right! This one does not end with one of Sierra’s almost patented crazy-hardcore-cliffhangers! I do NOT mean you will be feeling completely satisfied. I mean you won’t want to hunt Sierra down to shake the truth out of her immediately after closing the book. I never saw the direction this book ends up taking coming. At all. But man, it broke my heart. And I believe it broke Secret too.
Secret goes through a horrible ordeal and you can tell that it changes her. I expect her to be quite different in the next book and that what happens in this book to affect how Secret reacts to everything around her in the next books. If you wished Secret would mature a little bit, I believe you get your wish in this read.
The villain in this book is the vilest villain Sierra has ever written. And that is saying something considering what sort of evil minds she has created. The thing with this guy is that, as horrible he is (and he is HORRIBLE), you can’t completely hate him because he truly believes he is a good guy. Sierra wrote him brilliantly! It is so difficult to write a villain of that caliber that readers will have trouble hating. He is not likeable; don’t think that’s what I mean. But he’s hard to despise. You will all understand what I am talking about when you read the book.
Something else that I found was well done was how Sierra took real life things (such as buildings and stories) and worked them into the story here. It brings a level of real to an otherwise very much not real world.
The ending of the book, though it may not be a super-insane cliffhanger, is great. It happens thanks to a ‘boo-ya Holden’ moment held earlier in the book and I believe it showcases the beginning of the more mature Secret. (There is also a ‘boo-ya Secret’ moment where Lucas is concerned. *grin*) And even though I keep mentioning that the end was not a get-drunk-worthy cliffhanger, that doesn’t mean the rest of the book isn’t insane in the very best of ways. As usual, this installment is one hell of a ride. You will definitely find your heart in your throat on many occasions.
Overall, I loved Secret Unleashed. Holden, Desmond, Sig and Secret all have great moments in this book. It is definitely a book you won’t be able to put down and definitely not a book you should pass up.(less)
Always on my Mind is the eighth installment in Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor series. This is absolutely one of my favorite contemporary romance series. It’s sweet and charming and warms your heart – each and every installment. Jill writes friendships very well and she writes ‘small town’ well too. The town is pretty much a character in these books, bringing a sense of cohesiveness to these books even though the series is basically made up of three trilogies.
This time around we follow Jack and Leah. Jack and Leah met back in high school. Even though Leah is a couple of years younger than Jack, they hit it off forming a strong friendship. Leah’s childhood was tough and Jack was a source of comfort for her. They never dated, just became best friends. And even though Leah has left Lucky Harbor and returned on a few occasions, their friendship has survived, almost growing deeper as they got older.
I love the ‘friend to lover’ idea for a story and this is the first time Jill has tackled it in this series. I love it when (usually) the guy suddenly notices how hot his friend is. That sort of happened in this book too and it managed to make me giggle like it always does when I read it. But the part of the story that made me giggle the most was when Leah told Jack’s mother that they were a couple…without letting Jack in on her lie. Jack’s reaction was priceless.
I enjoyed both Jack and Leah and found they made a fine couple but I have to admit there was just something that didn’t make me completely fall in love with either of them. They were nice, witty, went really well together and got along great with their friends. I just didn’t feel as strong as a click with these two as I have the other couples in the series. Jack is a firefighter and is trying to live up to his dad’s legend and Leah’s mom is odd and Leah was recently on a baking reality show which embarrasses her to no end. These issues were brought up quite often but I just didn’t feel as bothered by them as I was probably supposed to. But even though I didn’t quite feel the adoration (I felt strong like but not adoration) Jack and Leah were still wonderful characters and knowing I will see them in the next book isn’t upsetting me.
One thing I really enjoyed in this book was Kevin. I am not a dog person, but Jill is. She often writes dogs into her stories…and I don’t mind. She writes them so well that they sometimes overshadow the main character in some scenes. And her dogs are fun-ny! Kevin is a giant Great Dane and he is Jack’s dog. He was an excellent character and helped make light and fun scenes even funnier. I was glad he was in this book, and that is saying something seeing as I am not often a fan of pets as major-ish character in what I read.
Again, as in the last intallment, Jill adds a bit of a mystery sub-plot to the book. This one involves suspicious fires that are being set across the town. Being a firefighter, Jack is in the thick of things. Who is responsible for the fires came out of nowhere, which is a good thing, but I never quite understood this person’s motivation.
Overall, even though Always on my Mind was not my favorite Lucky Harbor book, I still enjoyed it immensely. I really look forward to any new book in this series as they are just lovely. Ben and Aubrey are up next in Once in a Lifetime (hitting shelves February 11th 2014). Ben is a bit of a mystery and Aubrey…well let’s just say that as of now I am not really an Aubrey fan. But there was very strong chemistry between these two in Always on my Mind and I’m sure once we learn the why behind Aubrey’s behavior, she’ll be a better person for me. Looking forward to seeing what Jill does with those two.(less)
Hell Bent is the first book in Devon Monk’s new Broken Magic series. Yes people, this is Shame and Terric’s series. Now for those of you who have no idea who these two are, Shame and Terric were introduced in Devon’s Allie Beckstrom series. They were not the main characters but they were in every book of the nine book series and they were favorites among readers.
Holy crap on a cracker, this one put me through the ringer! In fact, I don’t remember the last time I was this affected by a book. To be honest, I believe it knocked me out so much is because I read all of the Allie Beckstrom books and in that series, Shame goes through hell and back (sometimes literally). So to see him in this book, going through both happy and devastating moments, made my heart truly go out to him. I don’t believe you need to read the Allie books to get anything out of this book. I honestly think if you are a fan of urban fantasy with a snarky element to it and a very unique concept and world, you will love this book. I’m just saying you will get just a little bit more out of it if you met Shame and Terric previously, as I did.
In no way was this ‘Allie Beckstrom series 2.0’. Hell Bent takes place three years after the end of the Allie books and the world and the way magic works within it has changed dramatically. Devon does a good job rehashing the important details from her previous series – the parts that are important to know for this series – but she did not dwell on any of it. We also see many familiar characters but again, not too much that it feels like a sequel book rather than a new book.
I was very surprised by who the villain was in this book. I won’t say any more. Wait, just one more thing: *shudder*
I’d heard that Shame will meet his special someone in this book and sure enough, he did. Her name is Dessa and OMG I LOVE HER!!! She is absolutely perfect for Shame. Just perfect! Spunky, strong, smart and an assassin to boot. She is his match in every way. Their chemistry is wonderful and how they meet is perfect for them. Exactly how I think Shame would have to meet a girl.
Dash is another new character and I love him too! I hope he ends up being Terric’s HEA but for now, he is just his assistant. Terric has a boyfriend in this book. It’s Jeremy. Jeremy is a douche. I do not like him. One bit. Can’t wait to see where everything leads in the next book, Stone Cold, due out April 1st 2014.
Devon did a perfect job telling the story through Shame’s point of view. The book is told in the first person and not once did I feel this was a woman trying to write from a man’s pov. One of the things I adore so much about Shame is his humor and snark. He has a sarcastic sense of humor and I love that kind of laugh. Devon definitely manages to incorporate Shame’s ‘smart-mouth’ while giving us a great inside view of what is going on inside Shame’s head and heart. He is such a beautiful mess but one you will love if this is the first time you meet or one you will love even more (if that is even possible) if you have followed his adventures before.
The story is a mix of a few things. People are dying via magic and that is not supposed to be possible anymore. How is that possible? Who is responsible? On top of that, the government is interested in strong magic users. Why? What do they want with these people? Why is there a sniper on that roof? All things you find out in this book. So good!
All in all, I adored Hell Bent. Devon’s voice blends perfectly to Shame’s. I laughed, I giggled, I cried (boy did I ever cry) and I sat at the edge of my seat. The moment I finished it, I wanted to start it all over again. This book will definitely end up on my top reads of 2013 list. Hell Bent blew me away.
Generation V is the first book in ML Brennan’s American Vampire series and it’s a book that any and all urban fantasy fans have to read. It is stellar.
I know you are seeing the word ‘vampire’ in the title of the series and are probably rolling your eyes a bit. Afterall, hasn’t everything vampire related been done before? Let me tell you that I have never read any vampires like the ones in this book before. And where vampire babies come from? Think about the oddest thing imaginable and you’d still be wrong. ML’s imagination is amazing and how she is able to translate it onto the page is brilliant.
The American Vampire series follows Fort (short of Fortitude) who is a vampire in waiting. In ML’s world, humans born to vampires transition when they are adults. Fort is completely happy being human and has no interest in becoming a full vampire. Looking at his family, vampires are unfeeling and mean and Fort does not want to become like them. There is also a whole story behind why he doesn’t want to become a vampire but I won’t get into it here. I will leave it for when you read this book – and you will read it.
I adored Fort. Absolutely adored him. He is awkward and insecure and totally lovable. I am actually very curious to see how he becomes once he fully transitions because something tells me he’s not going to become like his mother Madeleine or like his siblings Prudence or Chivalry. That’s what he fears. Vampires in this book aren’t immortal but they are long living. They are stronger and faster than humans and their empathy towards humans is pretty much non-existent. He is attempting to slow down his transition for as long as possible and how he tries is kind of cute. He is totally a hero you want to root for. And you also want to hug him and tell him everything is going to be okay.
Madeleine is mostly creepy, for a mom. She is heartless yet not. You want to hate her but can’t. She is wonderfully written. And Prudence… *shudder* She is either a huge mystery or really that cold. I guess we’ll find out in future books. Chivalry I really liked. You think he’s going to be cold like his mother and sister but there is so much more to him than initially meets the eye. And his wife Bhumika seems weak on the surface but she is one of the strongest characters in this book. Such a sad and well told story there. Each and every character in this book has such a rich story. Each and every character is remarkable but there are two that are just a bit more so and that’s Fort and Suzume.
Suzume is freaking brilliant. She’s a kitsune so she shifts into a fox. She is smart and a bit selfish and clever and hilarious. And being a kitsune, she is essentially a trickster. Her and Fort’s dynamic is amazing. I can’t call it sexual chemistry as there is no full on romance in this book but their time together on the page is incredible. Their scenes are some of the most memorable of the book. I can’t wait for you guys to meet her.
The main bad guy in Generation V is Luca. Luca is a vampire trying to father vampire babies and he is one sick f*ck. I’m sorry, but there really is no other way of wording it. He is just sick and you hate him pretty much immediately. Then you loath him. Then you wish he was dead. Finally you think if he were dead that you would want him to come back to life just so you can kill him again. And you feel all of this yet he’s not even in the book much. It’s what he’s doing and how careless he is over the consequences that makes him such a formidable villain. Then there is Phillip. You think you’ve read disgusting characters before? This guy is just gross. He is Luca’s child so I suppose it’s not surprising that he’s just to nasty but really, ew.
Generation V is about Fort and his life but it’s also about young girls going missing and Fort trying to save them…with very little odds of success. The story is gruesome and it really isn’t pretty, so don’t expect fluff. It is true urban fantasy at its finest.
The book ends on a slight cliffhanger. Fort’s father was a cop and Matt was his partner. Matt is involved in the “oh, what will happen next?” that occurs near the very end of the book. The very end of the book is perfect. I re-read it three times. And just thinking about it as I write this, I want to go and read it again. ML ended the book just as it should end. No other way would have worked better.
As you can tell, I adored Generation V. The story is amazing, the pacing is perfect and the characters are superb. I picked this book up on a whim and boy am I glad I did. It is easily one of my favorite reads of the year and will definitely be making my Favorite Reads of 2013 list. If you enjoy urban fantasy, I urge you to read this book. You will not regret it.
Written in Red is the first book in Anne Bishop’s The Others series. This is a book I’ve seen floating around the blogosphere sprouting rave reviews since it released earlier this year. Many of my friends suggested I read it but one look at my reading schedule showed me that was not going to happen anytime soon. Then my blogger BFF and one of my new auto-buy authors both suggested I read it within days of each other and I knew: I knew I just had to shuffle things around and make myself read it as soon as humanly possible. And that’s what I did.
And let me tell you…wow.
It is very hard to explain this book and this story to you as the world that Anne created is very detailed and without understanding it you won’t fully understand a quick recap so I won’t even bother trying. But it’s good for you to know that there are all sorts of paranormal creatures in this book and they live alongside humans. Also know that the paranormals in this world are NOT fluffy fun creatures. They are vicious and they see humans as food. But humans serve their purpose producing things that the Others (the paranormals) need and use so they won’t kill them…yet.
The tension between humans and the Others is incredibly well written. You feel how nervous these people are when they are in the presence of a vampire or a shifter. And the shifters in this book…there are all sorts! I especially loved the crows. They cracked me up.
There is tension between Meg, the main heroine, and the Others too but for a whole other reason. Meg is on the run. From what and why we don’t know at first but it is very interesting, let me tell you. I adored her character. She is perfectly written. A lost soul who has no idea what truly happens in the real world, I was so proud of her when she accomplished new things on her own. She is very smart and clever yet almost childlike. But strong. Very strong. I just loved her.
Another character I loved was Simon. He continuously gave me chills both of the sexy and of the spooky variety. He is what he is and getting inside his head was frightening. There is quite a lot of depth there even though at first he may seem like a big bully. Don’t get me wrong, he is a big bully, but that’s only because he is Other and he is Alpha and you can’t get much more bully than that. I just loved watching him with Meg. How he slowly lets her in as she lets him in. There is no romance in the book but the relationship between Meg and Simon, the chemistry and the connection, is enough. It’s beautiful…in an odd sort of way.
And Sam! He is a wolf pup and is absolutely adorable. There is much to his story but I’ll leave it there for you. Want to know more…read the book. ;)
I actually loved (or at least liked) every character save one. Asia. Just thinking about her makes me So MAD! I don’t recall hating a character more in my life. I have read some pretty nasty villains yet I have not reacted this strongly towards one of them before. Every time she appeared on the page I wanted to throw the book across the room. I actually contemplated skipping her scene but then realized how much I would be missing if I did that. The moment you meet her you know she is a selfish slime ball of a bitch. You know she is not good news for the Courtyard where the book takes place. But that still doesn’t explain my reaction to her. I mean…I was p-i-s-s-e-d! The more I thought about it the more I realize that my loathing her is actually a huge hat off to the author. Asia, from the very beginning, is out to screw over Meg and Simon. I believe the characters of Meg and Simon are so well written that I became very attached to them from the start and I was taking it as a personal insult that this crazy character was going to attempt to do them harm. I wanted to protect them and myself from reading what was going to happen. Sound wonky but it’s true. I hate Asia Crane with a passion unlike any I have felt before and it’s because I loved Simon and Meg with a passion I don’t often feel this quickly. THAT is how amazing the characters are in this book.
The friendships, the connections are truly something to behold. I love watching the Others come together around Meg. How they take her under their wing and end up seeing her as one of them. It’s superb to read. And the pace is not quick nor does it drag. You are on the sidelines watching a truly amazing story unfold and the pace matches that.
Written in Red is a very impressive book. I know those of you who have read it are thinking “Yeah Julie, we know that. That’s why we read it, you know, MONTHS ago”. Sush you. If you are a fan of true, gritty urban fantasy stories and are, like me, strong characters readers, you absolutely must check out this book. It is raw and powerful and will leave you both covered in chills and smiling with satisfaction. And like me, it will leave you thinking that Anne Bishop is a genius.(less)
One tiny little issue but other than that, great book! Quentin surprised me. I liked him more than I anticipated. I knew Aryal was deeper than she app...moreOne tiny little issue but other than that, great book! Quentin surprised me. I liked him more than I anticipated. I knew Aryal was deeper than she appeared and I was right. She is a very strong character. Full review to follow :)(less)
I am going to come right out and say that I am not a fan of baseball. I find it slow and a little dull. I am a huge fan of Sierra’s writing and I know that she is a huge baseball fan. So when I found out she was writing a contemporary romance series about members of a baseball team I was not surprised. What did surprise me was how much I enjoyed the baseball aspects of this book even not being a fan! Sierra does an absolutely amazing job sucking you into the games and you can’t help but cheer for the team while completely understanding what is going on. And not once is it dull.
But I am getting ahead of myself – as often happens when I talk about a book by this author. Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?
Pitch Perfect is the first book in Sierra Dean’s new Boys of Summer series. In this installment, we meet key members of the Falons (Sierra’s made up major league ball team) and we witness the team’s dynamic, which is very good. Tucker is the main hero this time around. He’s a pitcher on the team and just getting back from a year off after having surgery. He’s determined to make it back on top but has a vulnerability to him when he’s feeling his confidence waver. He is such a well written hero. In a sea of crazy-almost-too-over-the-top alpha romance heroes, Tucker is a wonderful breath of fresh air. He is strong but not a jerk. Even as famous and as wealthy as he is, he has not let it get to his head. He treats his teammates with respect. For me, that was very important. I didn’t want to read a whole book about a sports diva – that would have gotten on my nerves. He’s a very well balance hero, one who is extremely sexy and swoon worthy, intelligent and kind. In my opinion, he is the best sort of contemporary romance hero.
He is also very good to and for Emmy.
Emmy I liked. She’s the head athletic trainer for the Felons and therefore is a chick in a man’s world. I loved how Sierra described Emmy while she worked. You really got a feel for what she was doing and you really felt she knew what she was doing. You also felt her passion for her work. She is good at what she does and she knows it. She has a boyfriend at the beginning of the book and I even liked how she handled that situation. She is drawn to Tucker but is respectful of her relationship with Simon. I liked how she handled every situation thrown at her. She was smart about things yet still normal. You know, human. And I love her with Tucker.
There are quite a few notable scenes in this book. Emmy and Tucker’s meet-cute is adorable. And there is a break-up scene that is not like any I have read before. I laughed so much during that scene because Sierra writes so visually that I totally pictured what was going on and how the people involved were reacting. I also absolutely adored the game near the end of the book. This is one game that spans a few chapters and let me tell you my heart was in my throat the entire time. And remember – I don’t even like baseball! Tucker is on his way to pitching a perfect game. OMG Will he do it? Or will Sierra be as mean to him as she is to Secret and crew in her UF series and have him bomb it at the very last minute? I really wanted Tucker to do well and I really wanted the team to win. Sierra really did a brilliant job writing that game.
One of the reasons Sierra did so well with this book is not just because she is a baseball fan but she did a lot of research while writing it. She even interviewed the head athletic trainer for the LA Dodgers! And you can really tell. But you don’t feel like she’s writing while thinking “look at all the stuff I know about baseball and therefore I am made of awesome”. She is sharing her love of the sport while setting up her scenes and her characters. It’s all very well blended and very well done.
As I mentioned we meet other team mates and other members or the athletic department in this book. Alex is the catcher and Tucker’s best friend. His is the next book and I know I am going to enjoy knowing more about him. He comes across as a bit harsh at times but you also catch glimpses of a keen intelligence there. We also meet his HEA Alice and that should be an interesting match-up. We also meet Miles and Jasper, the other heroes for this series. Neither are jerks or pompous idiots and I can’t wait to read each one of their tales.
As you can tell, this book got me all excited because I feel I found a contemporary romance series with the potential to jump onto my favorite list. My credentials for contemporary romances to end up on my list is tougher than other genres. I read contemps to unwind after reading a bunch of heavier UF books. I need to be able to pick it up and read it then want to re-read it right away. And I need to feel I can re-read it many times over the next few years. I like the way this series is set up and the characters are some I know I will want to visit again and again.
Pitch Perfect is a truly excellent read. I would recommend this to any fan of the genre.