FOUR WEDDINGS AND A WEREWOLF is delightfully sweet, funny, and entertaining which is what I expected from a title that is a play off the sweet and funny romantic comedy, FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL. Aside from being a nice fluffy romance there is actually a nice underlining of a mystery and danger to make the really story interesting. While I guessed at who the stalker was almost immediately the way in which his technique becomes increasingly invasive and scary over the course of the book made me wonder just how far this guy would go. The final confrontation with the stalker and Veronica proved that as crazy as stalkers can be, this one brings crazy to a new level.
The romance between Logan and Veronica is the classic love/hate relationship which is my favorite kind in a romance novel. The banter between these two is at times sweet and touching and sometimes weird and hilarious. I especially loved Logan’s reactions to various situations while joining Veronica on her trips to wedding venues and stores. Along with the entertaining conversations there is a nice amount of emotional depth and enough character development that I felt I could relate to Veronica and Logan on some level.
The chemistry between Veronica and Logan is hot and while they click on a physical level they also click on an emotional level with their own individual relationship hangups. It was nice to see them grow closer and work through their hangups together. While I adored these two together I was baffled at Veronica’s blind hatred and lack of knowledge of all thing werewolf especially since her close sister is one. Logan is super patient in both putting up with Veronica’s slight bigotry and in his wooing of her. I found his patience to be super charming and really enjoyed seeing him try to hold back on his frustration and attraction to Veronica.
FOUR WEDDINGS AND A WEREWOLF has a delicious blend of sweetness and danger. I am definitely looking forward to the next book of the Seattle Wolf Pack.(less)
The Ashes Trilogy is better than any summer action flick. Cascading explosions and monsters and dangers fairly leap off the page, as vividly as if the...moreThe Ashes Trilogy is better than any summer action flick. Cascading explosions and monsters and dangers fairly leap off the page, as vividly as if they were splashed across the big screen. I gulped down this entire trilogy in a matter of days, and was ever thankful that I could race from one cliffhanger to another until I’d reached book three.
I was fascinated by Alex from page one of ASHES, and MONSTERS brings her story to glorious fruition. By this point in the series Bick has a lot of characters in motion, and she makes good use of the 800 plus pages of MONSTERS to give each story their due. Some pieces of the story worked for me better than others. The continued development of the Changed was awesome, making this series ever so much more complicate than just another zombie apocalypse tale. Disaster makes some characters heroic, others detestable, but all retain a spark of sympathy and humanity that is undeniable. The action in MONSTERS is, as ever in the series, completely flawless. I jumped, squeaked, gasped and flinched as if the violence and action were happening right before my eyes.
While the fast pace of these books was instrumental in building it’s heights and impact, it also helped gloss over some low points. I read this entire series in the space of a week, and only the addictive action got me past loathing Ellie for much of book one. Also, I never felt that the small town secrets and politics of this series really came together in a believable whole. Bick’s own habit of referencing the fourth wall makes it all the more painful when she pushed my credulity, making it hard to ignore the author behind the curtain pulling strings.
MONSTERS may be the end of the series, but it by no means cuts off the story. Bick spends as much time opening doors to new possibilities as she does bringing the action to a satisfying pause, but it’s clear that this fade to black could be as pregnant a pause as a gap between chapters. Hopeful and enthralled, I’ll be daydreaming about Alex and Tom and the Changed for years to come.
Sexual Content: A kiss and a reference to sex.(less)
In addition to being ninth in the Chronicles of Elantra series, CAST IN SORROW also forms a tiny duology with its immediate predecessor. CAST IN PERIL...moreIn addition to being ninth in the Chronicles of Elantra series, CAST IN SORROW also forms a tiny duology with its immediate predecessor. CAST IN PERIL brought Kaylin and her companions deep into the wilds of the West March and CAST IN SORROW is entirely concerned with what they find there. And though both books share the characteristic inscrutable magic, cataclysmic events, and fraught relationships, I enjoyed CAST IN PERIL’s quip-filled build up much more than CAST IN SORROW‘s disorienting magical resolution.
Rereading my review of CAST IN PERIL, I find it no surprise that my rating dropped from 4 bats to 3 across these books. If the first part of this journey focused on the characters, their friendships and attractions and histories, this second part is almost entirely focused on the magic. While there are juicy hints regarding several character’s pasts, their present is almost entirely obscured under a blanket of symbolism, portent, and inscrutable mysticism. Sagara’s system of runes and naming is difficult to follow at the best of times, and CAST IN SORROW is driven by little else. As a consequence, I found myself only loosely connected to the story, waiting for those moments when the actual consequences of all this magic became clear… and those moments were few and far between. Even worse, I had to wait until almost the last chapter for a taste of those heartfelt, character-to-character moments that I adore.
For those who love Sagara’s dreamy writing and High Fantasy flair, CAST IN SORROW will make for a hearty meal of dynastic portent, immortal psyche, and magic gone wrong. For those who prefer her character interactions and more Urban Fantasy-esque grit and immediacy, this book offers little by way of either quips or consequences. After drifting through chapter after chapter of magic, CAST IN SORROW brought me back down to earth with the last few chapters. And while most of this book was a forgettable tangle of magical theory, I'll still be looking for where life takes Kaylin Neya next.
Intrigued but not entirely sure what to expect from TRANCEHACK, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Intrigued but not entirely sure what to expect from TRANCEHACK, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the end of it. A mixture of genres- urban fantasy, crime drama, romance and with a bit of a dystopian government thrown in- TRANCEHACK is a bit hard to explain, but a very captivating read. While I had some minor issues with the book, it was easy to read, very original, and kept my attention the entire time I was reading it.
TRANCEHACK read to me almost like a season’s worth of drama on a TV show. I really liked the detective solving a case aspect, with one overarching mystery to keep Nate occupied the entire book. There were offhand remarks made about his other work, but the main mystery- who killed Dr. Forbes- keeps him occupied, even when his boss says the case is resolved. Plus, the magical computer hacking is an unusual and fascinating blend of technology and magic, and I loved that aspect of it, and especially that it was Calla who had those skills. The marriage of the typical woman role (witch) with a typical male role (hacker) in a main character was really well done, in my opinion. And watching Nate and Calla’s relationship develop, from the rather antagonistic banter to the tentative flirting, to full on intimacy, was very satisfying. Don’t be fooled by the mystery aspect; the relationship plotline is given nearly as much page time, if not more, than the crime-solving.
The hints Clark drops in about the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world in this society she’s created are fascinating. It is always interesting to me to consider the implications of a magical coming out and how different cultures of the world would react. In TRANCEHACK, the US is definitely not portrayed as welcoming to those with magic, and instead doesn’t allow them citizenship, makes them live in special zones, and has all kinds of laws about what they are and are not allowed to do. This leads to the creation of an “underground railroad” that Calla is involved with, along with all kinds of obstacles to her and Nate’s relationship. The whole world could have been a bit more fleshed out, but overall, there was enough detail so that I didn’t get confused or feel lost, and what was explained was interesting and whetted my appetite for more.
TRANCEHACK didn’t conclude in a way I would expect and the mystery tied up a little too neatly , but with the “happily for now” ending for Nate and Calla, I’m interested to see where the next Magic Born book takes us. With multiple side characters who are touched on enough to make me want to know more about them, there is plenty of opportunity for more romantic relationships, or for Calla and Nate’s relationship to develop. This is one world I’d like to revisit, so hopefully we won’t be waiting too long for the sequel!
Sexual content: Several slightly graphic sex scenes(less)
With Halloween coming I decided to read NIGHTLIFE since based on its description it seemed like just the ri...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
With Halloween coming I decided to read NIGHTLIFE since based on its description it seemed like just the right scary suspenseful story to read in October on a dark rainy night. I was not disappointed and was met with an incredibly riveting, edge of your seat plot that was equal parts spooky mystery and gruesomely tragic horror novel. Horror works well when there are slow, quiet moments yet there is an underlining panic for what unknown evil is coming. NIGHTLIFE does this type of suspense very well as the beginning of the story takes its time setting up the world then the creepiness slowly seeps and then it hits you with the full extent of its horror. The monsters are what really makes this a truly great horror story.
The vampire like creatures in NIGHTLIFE are less suave and sexy and more primal, inhuman parasites who use their powers to ensnare their prey in devious ways. They seemed like a combination of vampires from different cultures and it was nice to have the characters acknowledge those myths as well as the movie vampires in their discussions on what the characters were dealing with.
Jack Jackson has dedicated his life to vampire hunting and while I’ve seen this solitary male fighting against an impossible threat many times I liked him. He’s funny, has some great ideas for how to kill the vampires, and came off like an all around decent guy who I would want to have with me during a vampire attack. Beth, who ends up embroiled in all of Jack’s monster hunting, took a bit more time to warm up to as I was in the mindset that she was going to be the ‘damsel in distress’ for this horror story. Luckily she wasn’t for the most part and she turns out to be very resourceful and maybe just as kickass as Jack by the end of the book.
NIGHTLIFE is a perfect blend of suspense and creepy horror mixed with a dash of paranormal. With the way this book ended I think there could be plenty of story left for a series and I hope there is.(less)
HOW TO KILL A VAMPIRE: FANGS IN FOLKLORE, FILM AND FICTION is an excellent compilation and analysis of the vampire myth and its evolution from historical folklore to present day pop culture. This book had the folklore nerd in me very happy and I loved reading theories on how the present day vampire became what he/she/it is today. There were tons of morbid stories and details on what people did to stop vampires that had me shocked at the creativity and sometimes savageness of some traditions.
While I already knew quite a bit about vampire folkloric origins before I started this book, I was surprised at what I didn’t know. For instance, vampires being killed by sunlight was never really a part of any folklore or early vampire fiction. The death by sun part of the myth came from film for a more dramatic death scene in the newly visual medium. What I found even more amazing than the origin of vampire ‘death by sun’ was the fact that Ladouceur goes on to explain a scientific reason sunlight being harmful to the undead.
Continuing her in depth analysis of the vampire myth Ladouceur also contemplates the meaning of life and death for our ancestors and how our changing approach to death and disease has affected the narrative of the vampire in fiction. Her thoughtful analysis really gave me a new perspective on vampires as they relate to our culture and the stories we pass on to eachother.
HOW TO KILL A VAMPIRE: FANGS IN FOLKLORE, FILM AND FICTION is a thought provoking look at the evolution of the vampire through the ages from folklore to film. After reading this book I found myself adding to the list of older vampire movies and books I should pick up and some I want to revisit.(less)
There’s always a natural assumption, I think, when you read anything to do with souls or redemption that th...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
There’s always a natural assumption, I think, when you read anything to do with souls or redemption that there will be a religious element to it. REDEMPTION lives up to that expectation but not in a way I found overly preachy. It’s more focused on a struggle between light and dark, choices and free will rather than an advertisement for church. Anyone with a penchant for angel-themed or reincarnation stories will definitely enjoy REDEMPTION, but there’s also an element to the world building reminiscent of THE HOST, which surprised me in a good way.
It’s hard to discuss Reya as heroine without also talking about Thane. I think it’s one of the things I enjoyed most about REDEMPTION. I started out fairly ambivalent about them both and for good reason. I don’t want to say they were unlikeable, but their characters were cold; both doing what they had to do, or felt the need to do, in their own lives. The shifts in their characters are so subtle and woven into the plot to such a degree that it’s not until the end that you see them fully. And what an end it is.
The secondary characters fleshed the story out well – from Thane’s partner to Reya’s envoy to the bad guy. Though, to be honest, Surt struck me more as Dr. Evil than Moriarty in his plan to bring the whole thing down. He was plenty evil and cold, he just wasn’t very effective at it. In a sense, it rang more convenient bells than anything else.
The story stayed with me long after finishing it. Not quite into the realm of book hangover, but I replayed moments and scenes in my mind and even went back to reread a few of them. I’m intrigued about where the Soul series will go from here and how the dynamic will change for Reya now that she’s turned a complete 180 from where she was on page 1. I’m definitely on board for the next book in the series.
WITCHSTRUCK’s description references THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL as well as THE SECRET CIRCLE, and right there i...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
WITCHSTRUCK’s description references THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL as well as THE SECRET CIRCLE, and right there it is spot on. WITCHSTRUCK is a fun read, if you like the historical paranormal genre. It was very believable in terms of setting, and how the characters would have acted. Except for the magic of course!
Altogether though, this review is very hard to write. WITCHSTRUCK is good, but it isn’t amazing. Meg tended toward a little stupid- not veering into too stupid to live heroine territory, but sometimes doing things that made me worry about her intelligence. However, there are a few other characters who make up for Meg’s deficiencies, most notably being Elizabeth, as in, the future queen of England. Elizabeth was wonderful to read about, and the scenes with her were my favorite. The characterization of a young woman, stuck in the middle of nowhere, yet trying to be brave and put on a certain face, was excellent. The priest’s assistant, Alejandro, who Meg strikes up a bit of a flirtation with, was also one of my favorites. He was a bit more enigmatic, his intentions and motivations hidden from the reader, and sometimes confusing, but it was interesting seeing what his next move was.
My biggest problem with WITCHSTRUCK is one of the most climactic scenes- Lamb writes Meg into a situation that is nearly impossible to get out of, yet Meg manages to (of course, she is our main character, and the book wasn’t finished yet). The problem is that to get out of the unfortunate situation, Meg has to perform magic that is completely out of character of what she has done the entire book, and what she does after that. I guess if I had the inkling ahead of time that Meg was super powerful, it would have made more sense, but it really felt forced and explained away way too easily.
So, while WITCHSTRUCK had issues, it was still an enjoyable read. Well written with good pacing, it definitely left me wanting more. I am certainly curious to see where The Tudor Witch Trilogy is going, and I will be picking up WITCHFALL next.
Not having read the previous two books in the Grimnoir Chronicles, I hesitated continuing with WARBOUND as...moreReview Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Not having read the previous two books in the Grimnoir Chronicles, I hesitated continuing with WARBOUND as I found myself neck deep in a highly complex and almost confusing story but the story was interesting enough for me to carry on just to figure out what happening. I had a hard time placing this book into a genre and with interdimensional battles and magic I simply settled for mash up of sci-fi, urban fantasy, alternate history, and steampunk. Luckily, after making my way through the fascinating prologue and first chapter, I was met with a rich, violent, complex, action packed story that I was glad to have finished.
The action is set to eleven in epicness and it there are no lulls in WARBOUND. With so much action there are options for many awesome machines and magically augmented technologies like zeppelins with awesome fire power and magical armor. The magic and its rules in WARBOUND is just as intricate as the technology and the magic evolves over the course of this story as if it had its own character arc. This story isn’t just fight after fight but it’s intelligent and thought provoking with characters making calculated moves as if on a massive chessboard.
The diverse cast of characters have a wonderful array of magical abilities and backgrounds that I thirsted for more time with each one of them. Their struggles for acceptance along with their abilities were very reminicent of X-Men with abilities such as weather manipulation, controlling fire, teleportation and telekinesis. The great thing is that they aren’t all soldiers or even fighters. There are scientists, doctors, diplomats, detectives, serial killers, and engineers present making for a fun clash of personalities and abilities. There is even a samurai to round out the badassness of this group.
WARBOUND is a deeply complex action packed mash up of genres that had me relishing every moment of this epic story. Sadly WARBOUND is the last book in the Grimnoir Chronicles and I need to go back and read the previous two to revel in this amazing world and figure out how this story began.(less)
THE INCREMENTALISTS novel is one of those novels I expected to pick up and immediately love. I mean, c’mon,...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
THE INCREMENTALISTS novel is one of those novels I expected to pick up and immediately love. I mean, c’mon, it’s set in Vegas, involves secret societies and is co-written by the amazing Steven Brust. Needless to say my hopes were extremely high when I started this book and then they quickly came crashing down.
I freely admit that my score for this novel is partly based on the expectations I had for THE INCREMENTALISTS. Reviews are entirely subjective and it shouldn’t bug so much, but it does. This is a good book and I feel that if I hadn’t known who the authors were or what the book was about going in I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more.
The book is told from the alternating first person viewpoints of Phil and Renee. Phil is an old hand at being an Incrementalist and has existed in one form or another for thousands of years. The Incrementalist society itself is an incredibly cool idea; they’re a secret society consisting of exactly 200 people that exists to make the world a better place a little bit at a time through a process known as “meddling”. They use this power to nudge the powers that be along a path that the Incrementalists have decided is the best course for mankind as a whole. Neat, right?
But then there’s those two alternating first person views. There are only a few series told in the first person that I like to begin with so dealing with a book that has two (and, really, three) first person views was an exercise in frustration. It also didn’t help that I never made much of a connection with any of the characters. They’re all cool in concept, but quickly lose their charm after a couple hundred pages.
Brust and White are both excellent writers and the book does move and extremely brisk pace. I couldn’t help but wish that it had slowed down a bit and explored more of the world they created. Even so THE INCREMENTALISTS is still worth picking up if you’re looking for something completely different than the other urban fantasy novels currently out there.
I really wanted to like THE CURSE KEEPERS. It sounded like it had everything I look for when it comes to se...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I really wanted to like THE CURSE KEEPERS. It sounded like it had everything I look for when it comes to searching out new authors: a romance, a few ghosts, curses, ancient magic – right up my literary alley. Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that pleasantly surprised with THE CURSE KEEPERS. It had its moments, but not enough to make me chair dance while I read.
One of the things that drew me to THE CURSE KEEPERS was the setting – I live very close to Dare County, NC and have been to the places mentioned. The author did a wonderful job with that part. She got the feel of the Outer Banks and it’s clear by her descriptions that if she hasn’t actually been there, she did her research well. She also got the nature of the Outer Banks residents in her secondary characters – both the hospitality as well as the love-hate relationship everyone in a tourist town feels towards the tourists themselves. For this, THE CURSE KEEPERS gets full marks.
The plotline itself is fairly tight. THE CURSE KEEPERS uses a great deal of local Native American lore and while I don’t try to be an expert on it, the stories she draws from match those I’ve heard and read since I’ve lived here. There were a few moments in the main exposition where I had to really stretch my this-is-fantasy muscles as Ellie comes into her part of being a Curse Keeper, but overall it’s an interesting dynamic.
The main thing that kept me from pushing THE CURSE KEEPERS from 3 to 4 stars was Ellie. She was at best irritating and at worst insufferable. She thinks about sex constantly, which might explain her insta-lust for Collin. The problem with someone having this much of a high-functioning libido, is that her claims later that she’d never wanted anyone like this ring hollow. Apart from her need to mention her lust every few pages, she also takes assertive young woman over that very nebulous line into stupidly reckless – something that, of course, puts her in further danger. If it was a plot device to set up that secondary danger, I could understand it; but if the intent was to show her as a strong-minded woman, it didn’t quite work for me.
I’m on the fence about whether I’ll continue the series or not. It did end on a cliffhanger but it didn’t have me letting loose a primal scream of “no!” I didn’t even really drop my jaw too much at the Big Secret Reveal in the end scene. I’m intrigued enough to be curious, so I may yet pick it back up. It won’t be an auto-buy, though.
Sexual content: Several sex scenes, minimal on the graphic description(less)
NEVER DEAL WITH DRAGONS was a fun paranormal romance with a bit of mystery, suspense and action to keep thi...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
NEVER DEAL WITH DRAGONS was a fun paranormal romance with a bit of mystery, suspense and action to keep things interesting. The futuristic world where dragons were created from a lab accident and technology is spotty is an intriguing and different setup, I’ll admit. Well, maybe not the spotty technology part (I can think of a few series that feature that) but definitely the dragons, and the lack of any other supernatural creatures.
As a heroine, I really liked Myrna’s character. She is smart and driven to succeed, eager to learn, and willing to take opportunities outside her comfort zone. This is the kind of woman I like to see in a romance. The unfortunate part was the history she had with Trian and how he had caused her problems in the past. It didn’t make him very likable to start out with and I can’t say he’s my favorite romance hero ever. Don’t get me wrong, he still sounded hot as hell, but it’s also what’s inside that counts too, right? Trian and Myrna were kind of adorable together though- her indignation at his very presence in her life and Trian’s suave confidence made for some great conversations.
My biggest complaint with NEVER DEAL WITH DRAGONS was that it was pretty predictable. A few of the big reveals were easily discerned far before they were confirmed. While it wasn’t a deal-breaker, it was a little frustrating to have the foreshadowing be that heavy and obvious.
I think NEVER DEAL WITH DRAGONS was a good first in a series. It introduced us to an atypical world that holds a lot of possibility for more development, some side characters who I would love to see more of, and even though it wasn’t perfect, it was a quick, light read that kept my attention and has me interested in more. Since it appears it is the first in the Dragons Trilogy, it looks like I’ll have my curiosity satisfied.
DANGEROUS was one of those books that I was certain I would like. I was looking forward to reading it, and...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
DANGEROUS was one of those books that I was certain I would like. I was looking forward to reading it, and I went in with a super positive mindset and the willingness to give it more than a fair shot. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into DANGEROUS. I do so love a good paranormal romance, but Devon and Liam’s relationship got so physical so fast that I felt it lacked the emotional connection I really like reading about. While DANGEROUS did have a few redeeming qualities, at the end of the day, it wasn’t a super enjoyable read for me.
My biggest issue was the relationship between Devon and Liam. Individually, I liked them both. Together, they were just meh. In romance, I like to see the slow build up in a relationship, and Liam and Devon don’t have that. Once they give in to their attraction (after a few pages of both of them trying to avoid the other because of this or that reason), the relationship is pretty full throttle, so we don’t get an in between part. Basically, the thing that really stuck out at me- the thing I am still thinking about a few days after finishing the book- is that DANGEROUS had a lot of sex. Lots of Liam thinking about how sexual Devon was, how she didn’t realize it, how to her he was, lots of Devon going on about how nobody had ever kept her attention this way, how it was the best sex she’d had ever, lots of kissing, lots of nudity and lots of sex. Near the end, I started skimming. I was nearly 90% done with the book, and it felt to me that all Liam and Devon were doing was having sex. The climax (pun not intended- okay maybe a little intended) of the action happened at the very very end of the book, and as a result felt rushed. I could have done with less sex, and more plot.
But, aside from the sex, there were a few things I liked about DANGEROUS. Two great characters were Inez and Kellen, employees of the security company run by Liam. They are partners who clearly care about each other, and even though they didn’t appear frequently, I felt a lot of depth to them and I would love to read more about them. Also, the mythology behind the vampires (morphates) is very interesting- they’re caused by genetic experimentation- and the history of their development and how they took over large cities is something that could have definitely touched on more without me being bored. Unfortunately, the things I liked came up infrequently, too infrequently for me to really get involved in the book.
I really wanted to like DANGEROUS more than I did. It has all the trademarks of a perfect Kate read- the alpha male, the woman with brains who is capable of taking care of herself, an interesting, original setting, and some fun side characters to break up the action- yet I didn’t find myself getting into it. And while I can see DANGEROUS working for other people, it just wasn’t for me.
When I finished ALL OUR YESTERDAYS, the first in the Cassandra Chronicles duology, you could have knocked m...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
When I finished ALL OUR YESTERDAYS, the first in the Cassandra Chronicles duology, you could have knocked me over with a feather, and I would not have noticed. This is one of those books where in the last few pages you’re given what you feel is closure, and then boom! The author turns around and smacks you- not with a cliffhanger, but with the possibility of so much more, the understanding that just because the specific story being told ended, doesn’t mean there isn’t more for these characters that we’ve come to know over the 400 or so pages. I love those kinds of books, the ones that allow you to think and imagine and try to plot out what will, or could, or must happen, because it feels like the book could go on forever in your mind.
I am amazed that ALL OUR YESTERDAYS is Cristin Terrill’s first novel. It’s a very intricate story, with Terrill deftly switching between viewpoints and times frequently. Our narrators, Em and Marina, are two well developed characters, both fascinating in their own way. Em is hardened and rough, having lived through some terrible things, whereas Marina is innocent, almost naive in her trusting, and so young feeling. Over the course of the book, they both change and learn things about themselves and what they are – and are not – capable of. Aside from Em and Marina, the development of all the characters and how their actions and decisions set off events like dominos is well done and fascinating.
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS isn’t a book you pick up if you’re looking for clean lines and obvious good and evil. Time travel is one of those plot devices that can end up being used terribly or wonderfully, and it is used wonderfully in ALL OUR YESTERDAYS. Sometimes, I felt like my brain was being turned inside out, trying to put together the various twists and turns. Having the ability to time travel allows Terrill to explore how one little action on the part of Marina or Em, or James or Finn, can change the course of history. There are so many intersecting plot threads, so much ambiguity that I felt both sympathy and anger toward the “bad” guy who honestly thinks he is making the world a better place. It is a hard thing to make such a despicable character have any kind of redeeming qualities.
When I picked this book to review, there wasn’t anything that I could see that indicated it was going to be part of a series (or as I now know, a duology). When I finished the book, I discovered that there is going to be a second in the Cassandra Chronicles- and I’m not sure how I feel about that. ALL OUR YESTERDAYS stands so well on its own, I’m worried what a second book will do to the delightful open ended feeling we get from the first one. But I am also very curious about how Terrill will be twisting the story and getting another whole book out of the plot, so I will absolutely be picking it up. And I’ve already gushed about ALL OUR YESTERDAYS to all my young adult reading friends- this is definitely one you’ll want to add to your pre-order list.
If you thought THRONE OF GLASS was action packed- you better put your seatbelt on, because you’re liable t...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
If you thought THRONE OF GLASS was action packed- you better put your seatbelt on, because you’re liable to get whiplash from CROWN OF MIDNIGHT. Full of mystery, conspiracies, secrets and betrayals, CROWN OF MIDNIGHT covered so much ground that I’m still reeling, three days later. This was one of those books that once I started, I couldn’t put it down, and despite the level of action, I didn’t feel overwhelmed, because the pacing was just the right balance between action and exposition to keep me hooked.
Quite a few of the questions left unanswered in THRONE OF GLASS were answered in CROWN OF MIDNIGHT. We’re given so much more information about Celaena’s background, where she came from, what’s going on in the kingdoms, and much more. But at the same time, we get new questions and Celaena continues to be a bit of an enigma. Saddled with a burden from an ancient queen, trying to keep her pride and dignity in the face of the king’s never-ending list of people to kill, and fighting her attraction to Chaol, the captain of the guard, she is constantly having to make tough decisions which further her growth and change as a character. She’s not perfect- she can be stubborn, rude and even mean, but overall, she is the type of girl character that I love reading, one who is figuring herself out and trying to find her place in a complicated world.
The world of the Throne of Glass series continues to grow and become more intriguing. We’re given hints about the magic, about how the king of Adarlan so easily and handily defeated all his enemies, and about what may yet exist outside of the kingdom’s boundaries. CROWN OF MIDNIGHT had, in my opinion, a bit more of a chance to go into the world and the history, as opposed to THRONE OF GLASS, which was focused on the champion competition. There is so much depth to this story that it felt like there was a surprise around every corner, but at the same time, it wasn’t too much. Sometimes, authors can get a bit carried away, creating excessive barriers for the character, or making the characters too perfect, and I definitely didn’t feel this was the case in CROWN OF MIDNIGHT.
Going into CROWN OF MIDNIGHT, I only remembered that I had enjoyed THRONE OF GLASS, and that I thought it was a good read. Now, having read CROWN OF MIDNIGHT, I want to go back, read them both again, and read all the novellas, too. Also possibly speed up time so I can get the third in the series. Luckily, it looks like there will be at least four more books in the Throne of Glass series (untitled as of yet) so I won’t be denied my fill of Celaena.
Sexual content: Kissing, very briefly described sex, references to prostitution(less)
When I claimed UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY for review I had no idea this was a young adult novel. I simply saw C...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
When I claimed UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY for review I had no idea this was a young adult novel. I simply saw Chuck Wendig’s name and, since I absolutely loved THE BLUE BLAZES, I quickly claimed it. When I saw that it was young adult I was a little worried. Would Wendig’s style be so watered down I wouldn’t enjoy it? I’m pleased to say that wasn’t the case at all and UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY is a great read for both adult fans of Wendig’s writing and for the younger crowd who probably has never heard of him.
With YA fiction I often find myself rolling my eyes at the idealized teenage life the authors portray in the books. When I was sixteen I cursed, did stupid things and generally acted like someone who was too old to be a child and too young to be an adult. In UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY Wendig does a fantastic job of portraying his teenage characters as, well, teenagers. They swear, talk about (and have) sex and make the kind of rash decisions that you probably would have made as a teenager.
The book tells the tale of Cael McAvoy – captain of the Big Sky Scavengers. He and his friends try to supplement their family’s meager earnings by scavenging what they can find in the corn fields that are, well, everywhere. In this future the Empyreans rule from colonies in the sky and people like Cael are left to manage the corn crops that supply the Empyreans with the resources they need to continue living in luxury. Corn has long since stopped being grown primarily for food and it is used in everything. When Cael and his friends stumble upon what they see as their way out of poverty, they quickly learn that nothing is every as easy as they want it to be.
UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY is an excellent book and the only thing stopping this from being a five bat review is the lack of depth for the other characters (especially Gwennie and the other female characters). Wendig has never had a problem writing strong female characters in his adult novels and I imagine we’ll get to see more of them in the next book of this series. I’ve seen several reviews that question Wendig’s frank portrayal of teenage life, but I found it to be a breath of fresh air and I would have loved this book to pieces if I had read it when I was a teen.
As I’ve been waiting for BITTERSWEET MAGIC since about three minutes after I finished BITTERSWEET BLOOD, th...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
As I’ve been waiting for BITTERSWEET MAGIC since about three minutes after I finished BITTERSWEET BLOOD, the first book in The Order series, I think we can easily say I was pretty excited to read this book. Luckily, even though I had a few issues with BITTERSWEET MAGIC, it lived up to my expectations for it, and I was completely enthralled by Roz and Piers, and now I can’t wait for the next book in this series!
Roz is the exact opposite of a heroine than Tara, from BITTERSWEET BLOOD. Where Tara was naive and sheltered, Roz has nothing of that- she’s quite tough and has no problem lying through her teeth to get what she wants. I suppose that’s what happens when you’ve been around for four or five centuries, though. I admired Roz’s loyalty and fierce protectiveness towards those who got into a sticky situation because of her- if she had been able to just leave them to their own devices, I would have thought less of her as a character.
Then we have Piers- bad boy extraordinaire! However, my biggest complaint is related to him. Twice he took blood from Roz without her permission. Now, obviously vampires do this in books all the time- but I think it bothered me because it was our heroine. It just seemed like an unnecessary invasion on Piers’ part, and it rubbed me the wrong way. But otherwise, we find out more about Piers’ history, and while he’s almost as scary as he was in book one, we also see a bit of a softer side to him where Roz is concerned. The two of them together have great chemistry, and there is minimal agonizing over the relationship (oh I want him but he’s so bad, etc etc) which I appreciated.
I would have liked to see more world building, since there is so much going on that I’d love to get an idea of what else inhabits the world of The Order series, especially since a fourth dimension- heaven- was just introduced in BITTERSWEET MAGIC, rather casually, without much explanation. We did get more history about the demon and fae wars and why they’re so at odds with each other, which was interesting but just left me wanting more!
All in all, BITTERSWEET MAGIC gave me exactly what I expected (and wanted). With Roz and Piers, we get some super sexy moments, plus there’s action and mystery all set in an interesting world. And now, with two spectacular books in The Order series, I’m wondering who’s up next? Caleb, the werewolf head of The Order’s security? Graham, Piers’ assistant? So long as there’s another book, I’ll be happy!
I have come to treasure novellas that offer a glimpse of familiar characters between the books. I’m less excited when these glimpses give me a behind...moreI have come to treasure novellas that offer a glimpse of familiar characters between the books. I’m less excited when these glimpses give me a behind the scenes of secondary characters. The May/ December romance between Shannon and Jesse piqued my curiosity enough to be excited for FORBIDDEN FRUIT, and my excitement is not mislaid.
Mentioning the age difference between the hero and heroine in this book is important, because a reader’s feelings towards this dynamic will most likely make or break their enjoyment of the story. Anyone who picks up this book icked out about a 19 year-old woman dating a guy ten years her senior isn’t going to find anything to change their mind, not in this story anyway. Shannon is a hilarious narrator, and I enjoyed this peek through her eyes. She is struggling with blank spots in her memory, though, which makes it hard to sell her relationship with Jesse based on this novella alone. For those of us who know the backstory, however, FORBIDDEN FRUIT offers a tantalizing glimpse behind the scenes. While I didn’t enjoy reading Jesse’s issues all over again (as a “recycled” romantic interest he’s already had his share of the spot light), knowing that this time around promises a happily-ever-after made it worthwhile.
Shannon brings out a sexy side of Jesse that I’ve never seen before and getting a glimpse of their relationship dynamic was thoroughly entertaining. For those looking for a little taste of the Corine Solomon world to tide them over, FORBIDDEN FRUITis a delicious treat well worth a read.
If prior books established this intricate, fascinating world, COLD STEEL is all about Cat and Vai living in it. Revolution convulses the land and the...moreIf prior books established this intricate, fascinating world, COLD STEEL is all about Cat and Vai living in it. Revolution convulses the land and the politics of their world is as much of a concern as the magic swirling around them. Cat continues to explore her heritage, Vai struggles to find a future, and together they work through obstacles and compromises that may offer hope of happiness.
Even through their struggles, I couldn’t help but find my own happiness. Happiness to be back with characters I’ve grown to love, happiness with Elliott’s blend of realism and magic, and happiness with the way all of the carefully constructed pieces of this trilogy come together in a satisfying whole. Elliott doesn’t trade in the apocalyptic panacea of the usual Happily Ever Afters, but rather, she creates strong individuals, loyal companions, and a flawed world that offers happy opportunities for both. Cat doesn’t bloat with invincible magical powers to find her way in the world, but instead, gets better and better at navigating turbulent waters with the abilities she has. Her relationship with Vai is lovely to watch, a young couple finding their way after the fairytale moment of their marriage. Even better, this is not a relationship growing in a vacuum. Cat watches as Vai relates to her brother, to Bee. Vai starts to understand how he and Cat will fit into a world no longer defined by war or class struggle… as the passion he admires in Cat during their adventures won’t fizzle down to a socially correct polish once trouble is past.
One of my favorite aspects of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was the way Tolkein seduced me into loving his characters, feeling as if I knew them as my own friends. Until COLD STEEL, I didn’t realize Elliott had piece by piece built the same kind of affection and connection. I was gripped to the last page, drinking in every conversation and glance, and the end scene left me with a happy glow that I know my mind’s eye can return to again and again. Despite a slow start with the trilogy, and a bit of a slow start to this installment, COLD STEEL is a glorious story in the best tradition of fantasy and adventure. Treat yourself to this immersive, encompassing trilogy.
DAYSIDER doesn’t bring to mind your typical paranormal vampire romance. The vampires don’t fit the sexy va...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
DAYSIDER doesn’t bring to mind your typical paranormal vampire romance. The vampires don’t fit the sexy vampire mold and it takes place in a society following a war between vampires and humans, with a shaky truce between the two and separate societies. In other words, it was not entirely what I was expecting after having read the blurb, which doesn’t make it bad, but I thought it was worth a fair warning.
Aside from all that, the book doesn’t actually focus on the vampires and humans. It focuses on the daysiders and dhampirs- the result of a failed human to vampire transition, and the product of a vampire and human coupling, respectively. The relationship is between our heroine and hero, Alexia and Damon, is sizzling, I think at least partially because it is very forbidden. And their relationship develops very quickly, something I attribute to their presence in the dangerous no-mans-land area between the human and vampire cities and the fact that at multiple points people try to kill them. Those are usually pretty strong bonding experiences and the feeling of Alexia and Damon against the world is very strong throughout DAYSIDER. Alexia ends up coming off as mostly smart, but way too trusting- she pretty much automatically agrees to go along with Damon, despite the fact that in theory he’s the enemy and she has no idea what he is really up to. I really couldn’t get a grip on Damon’s character, and I think most of that is because of his multiple objectives he has that the reader doesn’t know about, plus the objectives that his leaders gave him that he doesn’t even know about. I felt like overall he had good intentions, so I didn’t dislike him as a hero, he just felt a little less real compared to Alexia’s character.
The main thing that stood out about the book was the ridiculous amount of twists and turns in the plot. Basically, take every vampire book you’ve read, and think about all the vampire politics and drama- for example, the Long Game in the Kitty Norville series, the drama between Cadogan House and the GP in the Chicagoland Vampires series, or anything involving Mircea in the Cassie Palmer and Dorina Basarab series. I could go on, but I’m sure you have some series or book in mind. Now take that amount of backstabbing and political maneuvering and multiply it by ten. Or maybe fifty. Then you may start to get an idea about the amount of twists and turns that happen in DAYSIDER. For about 75% of the book, it was nearly impossible to tell who was on whose side, what everybody’s real mission was, and what the end-game was (aside from the obvious getting Alexia and Damon their happily ever after). Now, take all that drama and twisty plot turns, and multiply it again by the fact that everybody had different names for everything- for example, what the humans called daysiders called themselves darketans, and we have vampires, which are also called opirs or nightsiders. Plus, there’s the enclaves and the citadels, which each have specific names too. I was pretty much lost by chapter two since not everything was always explained the first time it came up.
DAYSIDER is so creative and different, but at times I feel like that was what ended up holding it back. It was so outside the norm of what I normally read and sometimes so complicated that I felt like I was missing out. If you like the kind of thing where you can’t guess what’s coming around the corner because it is so unexpected or you’re a more attentive reader than me (maybe that was my issue?) you’ll probably like DAYSIDER. For me, though the romance was hot, that was a smaller portion of the plot than I expected, and I was confused for most of the rest of it. As it stands, I’m probably not going to continue on with the Nightsiders series.
THE WEIGHT OF SOULS read like Gossip Girls with a paranormal twist- a high brow school in London, a myster...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
THE WEIGHT OF SOULS read like Gossip Girls with a paranormal twist- a high brow school in London, a mysterious club with secrets, and a girl with the ability to get vengeance for murder victims. What originally drew me in to THE WEIGHT OF SOULS was the striking cover, and what kept me hooked was action that started from page one, the mystery that Taylor has to solve and the sweet romance that develops throughout.
With Egyptian mythology and a heroine of Asian descent, THE WEIGHT OF SOULS manages to cover ground that you don’t see frequently in young adult paranormal, or really in urban fantasy at all. But the book doesn’t feel like fantasy. It could be any two friends trying to solve a murder- it just so happens in this book one of them is a ghost. The murder has nothing to do with the paranormal aspect at all, and the juxtaposition of the very real aspects of hazing and high school cliques with ghosts and the darkness that follows Taylor is an interesting one. I liked that this book didn’t necessarily follow the typical “girl gets powers, is super special, everybody falls in love with her” cliched plot that seems to have become relatively common. If anything, Taylor’s abilities keep her apart from others, and she is constantly dealing with her father, who is trying to “cure” her with a single minded focus that to me, made him a very sad character.
The world building in THE WEIGHT OF SOULS was done very well. Through journal entries of Taylor’s ancestor, we find out why her family is “cursed,” and we learn about the logistics of the curse in the first scene, where we see Taylor passing on a mark to a murderous gang member. Right away, we’re introduced to the life she lives, complete with danger and constant vigilance, since she’s always trying to avoid ghosts who could pass on another mark.
Usually, ghost and human romances kind of drive me nuts. I can never tell where they’re going, and they seem impossible to me (I guess everybody has their urban fantasy deal breakers). And that would probably be my one complaint about THE WEIGHT OF SOULS- I think it would have made a good story without the romantic connection between Justin and Taylor. Their relationship evolved from antagonistic to friendly, and I thought that change was believable, but the step to her liking him was a bit harder to swallow, and while a lot of it had to do with the fact that he’s a ghost, it also has to do with the fast transition from hating to liking- it seemed unrealistic.
THE WEIGHT OF SOULS was a very worthwhile read. This one kept me up way past my bedtime, but I didn’t regret finishing it as quickly as possible. It was different and I would definitely recommend you try it out if you’re looking for something a bit out of the norm. And while I couldn’t find anything about it being the start of a series, I know I would pick up a second book about Taylor, if there is one.
The best moments of DARKER DAYS, the first book in Jus Accardo’s The Darker Agency, are like an early episo...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The best moments of DARKER DAYS, the first book in Jus Accardo’s The Darker Agency, are like an early episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with snappy one-liners, balancing supernatural smackdowns with homework, and impossible romance. The weaker moments, however, are a little more prevalent and reveal Jessie’s grating immaturity and the worst case of insta-love I’ve read all year.
Mom and daughter supernatural P.I. business? Sounds like a mix between Buffy and Veronica Mars, how awesome would that be? DARKER DAYS may have the premise down, and even the particular case which involves tracking down and capturing the seven deadly sins that have possessed innocent people, but the characters and tone are miss. Jessie, in particular, was irritatingly bossy and flippant. She makes rash decisions and talks constantly, not the most appealing mix, but the romantic lead is immediately captivated. And when I say immediately, I mean it.
Insta-love. Does anyone like it? Why do we see it over and over again in YA? In this case, they are dropping the L word in four days! And these aren’t spend-all-day-talking-and-sharing-our-souls days. They are filled with school and sleuthing and fighting demons and learning HUGE secrets about each other. As the start of a series, why couldn’t this romance be given time to breath and develop gradually? If only.
There is some fun to be had in DARKER DAYS due to the entertaining premise and basic plot. This could have been a much better book if the romance was more realistically portrayed and Jessie’s personality toned down a notch or two. Hopefully, the next book in The Darker Agency series will find a better balance.
THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB had a lot of potential – the niece and sister of famous literary characters! steampunk...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB had a lot of potential – the niece and sister of famous literary characters! steampunk! Egyptian mythology! – and while it lived up to some of my expectations, I was slightly disappointed with parts of it as well. The very first thing I’ll mention is that the book description is a bit misleading- Mina and Evaline didn’t know each other before the book started, so they were barely rivals (even if they did dislike each other after meeting), and they definitely weren’t fending off advances from three gentlemen (because I would barely call their conversations advances and I can’t even remember a third gentleman) and they are both definitely already in the family business (even if Evaline hasn’t managed to kill a vampire yet). It does get right the bit about the mystery, though.
THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB brought to mind The Parasol Protectorate series, with double the heroines and not as much cleverness. Since Mina and Evaline (Holmes and Stoker, respectively) switch off telling the story, it was hard to get engaged with either of them. They were both fun and interesting characters though, Mina with her inventions and scientific sleuthing, and Evaline with her inherited vampire hunting skills. I felt Mina was a more fleshed out character than Evaline, and as a result, I liked her narration better. I also enjoyed her little barely there flirtation with the detective. It was cute and the perfect amount of boy/girl interaction for this story, since the mystery was clearly the focus. I do wish I had gotten as much of a feel for Evaline as I had for Mina, because there seemed like there could have been a lot of possible depth there, and more back story that could have been delved into.
My biggest complaint is the random plot line of Dylan, a secondary character who became a friend of Mina’s. I felt it was totally unnecessary to the book. Without spoiling anything- I have a threshold of suspending disbelief. And Dylan’s plotline crossed that threshold in the world Gleason created. His being there didn’t seem to make sense and he didn’t seem to add much. My other issue is that the mystery didn’t feel very resolved at the end. They never really confirmed who the villain was, and Dylan’s plotline didn’t get tied up, and as a result I felt a little unsatisfied.
I’m certainly curious to see where the Stoker & Holmes series goes. As a first book, THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB was a good opener, even if it wasn’t perfect. The world was creative and I want to see where the relationship with Mina and the detective goes, and find out if Evaline ever gets to kill a vampire- any of which would be enough to bring me back for book number two.(less)
QUINTANA OF CHARYN is the kind of book that inspires haunting the internet, keeping an eye out for pre-orders and strategizing to outsmart regional pu...moreQUINTANA OF CHARYN is the kind of book that inspires haunting the internet, keeping an eye out for pre-orders and strategizing to outsmart regional publication dates. Here in this last story, the rhythms of the trilogy transmuted to something new. If FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK gave me Finnikin and Evangeline, if FROI OF THE EXILES broke my heart and reassembled the pieces around Froi and Quintanta, QUINTANTA OF CHARYN is the story of all of these characters. Of their kingdoms and politics, of their past loses and vengeful anger, of the danger and passion that no sword can fend off.
The stage starts with political intrigue. Charyn convulses with warring factions and political agendas, and the reality of ruling Lumatere means Finnikin’s happily-ever-after is as fraught and beautiful as the events that lead up to it. But if the politics provide the backdrop, the true stars are the returning characters. Despite the ferocious cover and title, Quintana’s point of view doesn’t dominate this book. Rather, this is the story of Froi trying to protect his family. Lumateran or Charyn, both blood and adopted, Froi battles to bring some measure of safety and happiness to them all. Marchetta has strung so many threads over the course of these books, written so many beautiful and heartbreaking relationships, and she forsakes none of them in QUINTANA OF CHARYN. In this culminating story the true measure of her genius is revealed as the little hints and events from past books create a natural cascade. Anger, love, and grief, forgiveness, healing, and hope, this book had me strung tight between tears and laughter the whole way through.
The politics of this series are complex enough that I wouldn’t recommend skipping a single book, let alone how important the slow build of these relationships is to this most satisfying of conclusions. Fans of Game of Thrones will find sweeping intrigue and politics with a bit more humanity, fans of fantasy will find a rich mysticism that blurs the lines between death and life, and fans of romance will find relationships so real, so heart-wrenchingly beautiful and painful and glorious, that the day to day events following a storybook happily-ever-after are just as rewarding as any glamor and drama that preceded it. I gave QUINTANA OF CHARYN 5 bats, but in reality this rating needs to be shared across the entire series. Marchetta has created something haunting and lovely in these books, terribly sad and undeniably real, and this last installment delivers the full fruit of the promise that has built from page one.
Sexual Content: References to rape, non-explicit sex scenes.(less)