A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll...
In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.
In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…
Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.
Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.
And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.
Judging A Book By Its Cover:
First of all, this cover is g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s. The colours bring to mind the classic tale that inspired this one, and the blot of ink over the Rabbit's eye is a beautiful bit of foreshadowing of a horrific something that quickly becomes apparent in the story itself.
All About That Blurb: "Mind-bending", Alice, in an asylum, in a world where the Rabbit is oh-so-real, and a terrible darkness that has escaped along with her? Oh yes, please!
Getting To The Meat And Potatoes:
As a huge fan of the original Lewis Carroll tale, I saw this book advertised on Facebook, and knew that I had to have it (A+ marketing btw -- I bought this immediately upon seeing the advert.). Whether you're a fan of Lewis Carroll, or of the Disney Classic, or of Johnny Depp Tim Burton, this book is an excellent take on the original mythos that we've all come to know as Alice In Wonderland.
Of course, as a fan of All Things Romance, I immediately honed in on the potential romance between Alice and Hatcher, and even though this was a far cry from the explicit love stories that I normally read, I have to admit that their chaste love was quite satisfying. Don't get me wrong -- this is probably the most dysfunctional romance that I've read since 50 Shades of Grey. Hatcher is much closer to Dexter than he is to any traditional romance hero, and yet, he's far more fascinating. Sexy, protective, and certainly dangerous, one of the most romantic things he does is to promise Alice a swift death should they be overcome by their enemies. Never before has a threat of murder been quite so attractive.
But I digress. Beyond the somewhat dysfunctional potential romance between Hatcher and Alice, lies the real heart of this story; one that is never really addressed properly -- is Alice really mad, or is she truly far more than a girl who has been driven insane by the terrible events that have befallen her?
You see, even setting aside the gory violence, the unconventional romance, and the horrors that Alice faces both in her past and in her present, lies the most intriguing puzzle of all: Is what you're reading actually occurring, or are you simply being taken along for the ride on Alice's completely hallucinogenic fever-dreams? Do Magicians really exist? Is the Jabberwocky real, and walking the streets of the Old City, ready to consume anyone in his wake? Or are the Rabbit, the Caterpillar, and the Walrus simply ways that the damaged mind of a traumatized young girl has learned to cope with the horrors that life has dealt to her?
That, my friends, is what's really so wonderful about this story. We never truly learn if the world that Alice lives in is organized into such a social hierarchy, with Magicians outlawed, and evil such as the Jabberwocky able to run free.
You, as the reader, can choose to believe that Alice was unfairly labeled as mad, and thrown into the Asylum as a result of the fear and misunderstanding that she inspired in those around her after a bloody escape from the Street Boss who raped her. Alternately, you can read this from the perspective that an unfortunate girl has been sold into sexual slavery by a girl she thought to be her best friend, abused horribly, and then upon her escape, was so traumatized by those events that she ended up in an asylum where her fractured mind struggled to make sense of all that had happened to her.
This is not a whimsical tale. Alice's story is not a happy one. Very Bad Things have happened to her, and will happen to her again in the future if she is not very careful, and her response to them is certainly not to turn the other cheek. There is violence. There is gore. There is betrayal, and terror, and rape. This is not a Disney Classic where a young girl falls asleep under a tree and has the most amazing dream. Instead, we are treated to a very intense roller-coaster ride of abuse and love and betrayal and redemption, all wrapped up in the mystery of just what really happened to this unfortunate girl.
In The End:
Just as in the original tale by Lewis Carroll, I find myself quite unconcerned with the question of whether or not Alice's fractured mind is creating the entire escapade. The narrative is beautifully written, with just enough references to the original tale to be familiar to fans, yet original enough to keep the reader entranced through the entire experience.
Of course, as a fan of romance, I do wish that the relationship between Alice and Hatcher had been allowed to mature a little more -- yet this is a very minor point of contention for me, since Alice's background in this story lends credence to a much more cautious approach to any new relationship.
I adored Hatcher, who is truly murderous and not even close to sane, and his protectiveness of Alice was completely swoon-worthy.
Another point I must touch on is the ending; I think that a lot of people are going to either love it, or loathe it -- as I don't think anyone could have quite predicted what would happen during the final showdown. However, I truly believe that any other ending would have been wholly unjust, both for Alice and the reader. As unconventional as it may have been, it fit beautifully in with the story as it had unfolded up to that point.
In the end, though, I have found myself already telling everyone I know that they must read this book. And for that, it receives my highest, and rarest, rating.
Lawd have mercy, I love this series so much. I've tried to make this review as spoiler-free as possible, because I don't want to ruin it for anyone, sLawd have mercy, I love this series so much. I've tried to make this review as spoiler-free as possible, because I don't want to ruin it for anyone, so please forgive me if this is shorter than usual.
Even though Kit is far from "over" her experience from a previous book that left her damaged, she's made long strides in her recovery, and we finally get some progression with her relationship with Damon. And by progression, I of course mean that those of us on Team Damon will be cheering loudly by some of the things that happen.
I also loved Justin, though admittedly his sense of timing could be better in regards to some things, and I sincerely hope that he gets his own spin-off series some day. Our favorite Bad Boy Warrior Witch holds nothing back in this installment, and really took this as his time to shine.
Fans of the series are going to be thrilled with the progress that Kit has made, both on a personal level and in her relationships, and hallelujah there is finally steam in the series again. There's also the trademark action that we've come to expect from this author, and some truly beautiful twists in the plot that left me reeling.
The ending, oh, the ending. There's a major revelation at the end of the book, leaving it in somewhat of a cliffhanger, and as if I weren't already anxious for the next book, I'm now dying to see where the author is going with this.
As a side note, though, am I the only one hoping that we get a side story, perhaps a novella, that focuses on Chang? Pretty please? *dreamy sigh*
In the end though, this book was (thankfully) exactly what I expected -- an amazing entry into one of my favorite series, and one that left me whining when I turned the final page simply because I wasn't yet ready for it to end.
This book, nay, this entire series, has been such a roller coaster thus far, and I for one love it.
I take notes as I read so that when it comes time tThis book, nay, this entire series, has been such a roller coaster thus far, and I for one love it.
I take notes as I read so that when it comes time to write these reviews, I’ll (hopefully) be able to form somewhat coherent sentences. Yet, when I glance over my notes for this installment, I find that it’s mostly filled with expletives, excited exclamation points, quite a bit of angry underlining, and, well, even more colorful expletives. That, in turn, pretty much sums up my feelings in reading this book.
I will attempt to distill my wildly flailing emotions over this story into something readable, while still refraining from giving away too much in the way of actual storyline.
Here we go.
We open the story to find Cherry still dried out from her laudanum addiction thanks to her guardian turned tutor turned friend, Lord Ashmore. Unfortunately for her, this means she’s still not quite at her physical peak, nor does she have the opium to give her the false courage and bravado she’s relied on since she began her reckless career as a Collector.
Hawke is still help prisoner at the Menagerie, but the real question remains as always — is he a prisoner of the Veil because they truly have control over him, or because he chooses to remain under their thumb for reasons that are his own?
Cherry has a lot of amends to make — Communion, Zylphia, the younger Lord Compton, and even her old servants may have been marked by the Veil for her previous antics, and it is yet unknown as to which ones may prove to be allies and which ones may have decided that their own hides are more valuable than whatever previous loyalty they may have felt towards Cherry.
We very quickly find a familiar and terrifying face from Cherry’s past has become a major player in the Menagerie, and the Veil itself has expanded its territory with the help of the Ferrymen. Not only that, but their horrifying experiments on the people under their rule have created a new breed of fighter to do their dirty work.
With Cherry’s fall from grace both from society and from her position as Collector, she finds herself in a sort of a no man’s land, unable to move as freely as she used to, with none of the easy welcome she’s accustomed to either above or below London’s fog.
Hawke’s horrifying behavior the last time we saw him left Cherry hurt and confused, and, stubborn as ever, she’s still continuing to refuse to heed the warnings from coming from practically everyone involved with the situation, nor has she yet taken to heart Ashmore’s lessons on learning to walk before you run in regards to her newfound knowledge of alchemy.
I find that that’s all I can really say without giving away spoilers. Everything else that I had angrily underlined or followed by multiple exclamation points gave away a major plot point. I will say, however, that this was one hell of a ride, full of action, adventure, and emotional turmoil, and the very last thing in my notebook was yet another very colorful expletive, followed by several exclamation points. Infer from that what you will.
A very solid 5/5 Stars and I cannot WAIT to get my greedy little hands on the next (and I think final?) installment....more
Only thing I wasn't keen on was the whole bit where it seems priests have sex with other peopleF*CK yes.
Now I want to go read the rest of the series.
Only thing I wasn't keen on was the whole bit where it seems priests have sex with other people as part of their priestly duties (my own personal hangup, oh well), but that wasn't dwelled upon, and was probably explained in earlier books.
Some readers may be a bit bothered by the fact the protagonists are "underage" for most of the book, but in their world, it obviously wasn't an issue, so it wasn't an issue for me either.
I loved the idea that Selah was unable to deny healing to anyone who asked, even if it was to her own detriment. Combine that with the fact that she h I loved the idea that Selah was unable to deny healing to anyone who asked, even if it was to her own detriment. Combine that with the fact that she had to keep her powers a secret out of necessity, and that made for some very interesting situations.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the tangled web that Selah wove when she first thought up the deception of having Henry pose as Samuel. Henry wasn't some pushover, and he wasn't always on board with keeping up the pretense of being someone that he wasn't.
When I started this story, though, I didn't realize that this was a "sweet" or New Adult romance, and I admit, I was a bit disappointed that the strong chemistry between Selah and her new husband was never actually consummated. I was also very disappointed that while we got hints as to Selah and Henry's future in England, we never really got a full-on Happily Ever After for them. I'm not sure as to whether this is because the story was intentionally left open for a sequel, or if the author felt that the ending was sufficient, but either way, it left the ending far to vague for my tastes.
Despite these things, I still enjoyed this story, though the open-ended way that it closed did bring down my enjoyment as I turned to the last page.
In the end though, this was an entertaining way to pass an evening, and recommended for fans of magic, false marriage, and good chemistry.
This book was a wonderful blend of actions and angst, and a perfect addition to the St. Croix series.
It’s been a long time coming, but Cherry’s addictThis book was a wonderful blend of actions and angst, and a perfect addition to the St. Croix series.
It’s been a long time coming, but Cherry’s addiction to opium finally brought her to rock bottom in the last book, and the painful journey towards recovery wasn’t always easy to witness, but really brought out another side of her character. The title itself is perfect, because to temper steel — that is, make it stronger — you have to heat it and cool it to extremes, and that’s exactly what happens to Cherry in this book. She’s knocked down, raised high, and forged into something stronger than she was before.
Honestly the only thing I didn’t really care for about this book was that Cherry has sex with someone who is not her Happily Ever After. I know, I know, that sounds awful, and to make it even worse (or better?), it was hot. I just prefer that when reading romance, when a couple has sex (especially hot, angry sex — guh!), it’s because they’re going to end up together. Not judging or anything, it’s just a personal preference of mine. That said, I’m actually kind of relieved that things worked out the way they did, because I’m greatly looking forward to the next book.
I did figure out the “twist” fairly early, as one of the very first questions that popped into my head when reading the first chapter was actually one that answered by the revelation of the twist towards the end. Even though I rather suspected it early on, I have to say that the reveal was still wonderfully, shockingly done.
I also really enjoyed that “magic” aka alchemy comes to play a larger part in this story. We’ve had hints and teasings, but this is the first time that Cherry has actually embraced alchemy and the mysticism that comes along with it, with fantastic results.
In the end, this is probably my favorite book of the series. Though I was (and to a point, still am) a little bothered by Cherry using no-strings-attached hot sex to distract herself from the other major issues that she was experiencing, the action and emotional turmoil in this story made it an incredibly enjoyable read (and did I mention the really hot, angry sex? Yum!)
I'm very very torn about something concerning this novel, and as I write, and re-write, and re-re-write my review, I realize that I'm having trouble eI'm very very torn about something concerning this novel, and as I write, and re-write, and re-re-write my review, I realize that I'm having trouble expressing my concern without wording it in a way that could be very inflammatory if taken out of context.
I enjoyed this book.
There was one particular (and somewhat major) issue that pulled my final rating down a full star, but when it is all said and done, I enjoyed this book, and that's what ratings are all about.
Therefore, 4/5 Stars, and I will revisit and amend this review as I'm better able to gather my thoughts.
I hate to be vague in a review, but unfortunately I'm not comfortable mentioning in a public review one major thing about this book that brought my final rating down a full star.
That said, however, I really enjoyed this story. I loved the fated-to-be mated vibe, as well as the push and pull between Thea and Brand, as neither of them wanted the other as a partner in the beginning.
The Crystal City was wonderful, with some truly terrifying scenes, and I especially enjoyed the maze with all of the mind tricks that were played on both Brand and Thea.
As a HUGE fan of Melanie Card's Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer series, I was pleasantly surprised by the dynamics between the two protagonists, and I admit, I was happy that there was some naughty times, even though they were fade-to-black.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I ended up staying up far to late so that I could read it in one sitting, simply because I couldn't wait to see what was next....more
As a fan of the first book of the series, I was a little taken aback wheThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
As a fan of the first book of the series, I was a little taken aback when the story began in a much different manner than the previous one. It wasn’t long, however, before I settled comfortably back into the world Ms. Altenburg has created. I found myself once again drawn in by the intriguing concept of a futuristic world that operates much like the Old West, due to the presence (and then sudden absence) of Immortals who wrought havoc on the lives of the mortals living within their boundaries, as well as the inner struggles of the characters as they learn to move past previous prejudices and fears in order to trust, and later, love.
We’re immediately thrust into the outer edges of the world as man knows it, where women are seen as property, and powerful and corrupt men take every opportunity to abuse their power. Raven, having physically defended herself against the unwanted sexual advances of her evil step-father, Justice, is about to be burned at the stake as a “test” to prove to the villagers that she is in fact demon-spawn — if she burns, she’s innocent. Blade, an outsider who once was an assassin for the Goddesses before they abandoned this realm, is traveling through her village, and thinks only to end her suffering by offering her a swift and merciful death.
The situation quickly spirals into something neither could have expected, and they form an uneasy alliance; Blade with his distrust of anyone associated with demon-kind due to both his own history as an assassin, and his horrific experience of being partially eaten alive during a demon attack years prior, and Raven with her fear of her own demon allure and her determination to avenge both her mother’s death and her own abuse at the hands of Justice.
Overall, I loved it. There was plenty of action, both for the lovers and fighters of the world, and the world that Ms. Altenburg has created continues to capture the imagination. I do think that this one stands fairly well on its own without having read the first book, but I do suggest reading them in order simply because I enjoyed both books equally.
Recommended for fans of reluctant heroes, alluring heroines, and of finding justice on one’s own terms.
I'm actually quite sad that this was only a novella -- I think it could have been expanded quite beautifuI'm so in love with this series right now. :)
I'm actually quite sad that this was only a novella -- I think it could have been expanded quite beautifully into a full-length novel, and I'm hoping that these characters will make an appearance in future Disenchanted & Co books.
Fun fun fun -- lots of action (of both the fighting and the *ahem*ing variety), interesting world-building, and likable characters. I can't wait for mFun fun fun -- lots of action (of both the fighting and the *ahem*ing variety), interesting world-building, and likable characters. I can't wait for more of this series!
I have a theory (it could be demons... Dancing demons, no, something isn't right there...) about some of the other characters that I'm DYING to discover the truth about.
Full review to follow shortly, but for now, 4.5/5 Stars will have to do. ...more
Expected Release Date: July 18, 2013 Publisher: Entangled Publishing ImpriThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: July 18, 2013 Publisher: Entangled Publishing Imprint: Entangled Teen Author’s Website: http://melaniecard.com/ My Source for This Book: Amazon.com Part of a Series: Yes, Book 2, Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer Series Best Read In Order: Yes Steam Level: Chaste Pet Peeves: None Favorite Tropes: Betrayal
I have been a fan of Melanie Card and the Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer since shortly after I started this blog. The first book, WARD AGAINST DEATH, has long been a favorite of mine even though I don’t typically find myself reading YA/NA very often, and I knew that this book was going to be amazing.
It’s so nice to be right.
What I think I loved most about this book was the character development. Ward starts off just as we left him — clumsy, insecure, and on the run for his life. As the story progresses, though, we get to watch Ward grow up quite a bit, and get exciting glimpses into just the type of man that he will someday be — strong, confident, and powerful.
Celia, too, matures from the cold-blooded assassin that we’ve come to know and love into a more toned-down version of herself, with her affection for Ward growing, and the uncertainty of her life span really starting to weigh down on her.
More than that though, we get action, intrigue, and tons of danger, along with some unexpected new allies and some thrilling twists.
I do wish that there were a little more communication between Ward and Celia, as they both kept their developing feelings for each other under tight wraps, but for once, I wasn’t actually reading for the romance. There was also a slight issue with my copy (purchased for Kindle), where some page breaks between scenes would have really come in handy, but that was a minor issue and not one that counts against the final rating.
Overall, I adored it, and I’m hoping against hope that it won’t take another two long years for me to get my greedy little hands on Book 3.
Expected Release Date: April 15, 2013 Publisher: Cynthia Eden Imprint: N/This is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: April 15, 2013 Publisher: Cynthia Eden Imprint: N/A Author’s Website: http://www.cynthiaeden.com My Source for This Book: Amazon.com (Personal Purchase) Part of a Series: Yes, Book 5, Bound In Series Series Best Read In Order: Works Well As A Standalone Steam Level: Steamy Pet Peeves: None Favorite Tropes: Betrayal, Amnesia, Mates For Life
One minor issue where the word “vampire” was used in a place that should have very obviously been “werewolf” (and yes, I’m picky, and that drove me a bit bonkers for a minute), but other than that, a very solid read.
Full of love, lust, anger, grief, betrayal, and revenge, with Ms. Eden’s trademark delicious chemistry thrown on top, I couldn’t put it down, and there’s a beautiful potential for a follow-up book with some secondary characters who also quickly captured my heart.
Expected Release Date: May 28, 2013 Publisher: Simon & Schuster ImprinThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: May 28, 2013 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Imprint: Pocket Books Author’s Website: http://mollyharper.com/ My Source for This Book: Edelweiss Part of a Series: Yes, Book 3, Half Moon Hollow Series Series Best Read In Order: Works well as a standalone. Steam Level: Warm Pet Peeves: Infidelity (Heroine) Favorite Tropes: Major Betrayal
The premise of this story was quite intriguing, and I knew as soon as Jed stepped onto the pages that his relationship with Nola was going to be quite enjoyable. However, despite how much I enjoyed his character, in the end, there wasn’t really much about this story that stood out to me.
There was so much focus on the townspeople of Half-Moon Hollow (which makes sense seeing as how this is the third installment in a series) that I found myself actually getting bored with Nola’s search for the artifacts that had drawn her to the town in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the secondary characters, especially Jane, but there was almost a “chick-lit” vibe to this book, when I had gone into it expected a somewhat steamy paranormal romance.
Overall, I would recommend this one to fans of the series, as they will be more likely to fully appreciate all of the emphasis placed on the residents of the town, but while I enjoyed it, I doubt that I will be reading more of this series in the future.
I almost fell over myself when I saw this one on Netgalley, because I love Shona Husk's writing, and was a big fan of Dark Vow.. I'd no idea there wasI almost fell over myself when I saw this one on Netgalley, because I love Shona Husk's writing, and was a big fan of Dark Vow.. I'd no idea there was even a sequel in the works, so I knew immediately that I had to read this one.
Quite dark, with some very heavy issues at hand, it was just as good as the first, if not better. I loved Haidyn *dreamy sigh*
I couldn't bring myself to rate this one, as mine would be the only rating, and the fact that I didn't care for it really wasn't the fault of the authI couldn't bring myself to rate this one, as mine would be the only rating, and the fact that I didn't care for it really wasn't the fault of the author. I think I snagged it free for kindle or something and found it when I was browsing through my library one night, and I didn't realize what it was at first, so I wasn't prepared for a husband and wife, bored and insecure, who ended up living out a few sexy fantasies together with the help of a smutty djinn.. That part was alright, until it turned out that those fantasies included having sex with people other than each other -- while the spouses watched.
Just....... *winces* Not my thing.
I can't really rate the steamy bits either, because I was so squicked by the fantasies that I couldn't really get into the rest of it.
I did like the underlying romance of it, because behind all the explicit smut was a rather sweet romance, but in the end, I'm just not an erotica reader at heart, so this wasn't my cup of tea.
Still, it wasn't adultery in the technical sense, and all parties were consenting, so if that sort of thing floats your boat, it may be worth checking out :)...more
I almost hate myself for enjoying this one so much. Very dark, lots of Very Bad Things happening to people, but awesome.
It's good to mention that therI almost hate myself for enjoying this one so much. Very dark, lots of Very Bad Things happening to people, but awesome.
It's good to mention that there aren't any shape shifters in this series though. The Dragon Kings are a sort of paranormal race descended from (or who worship, not 100% clear on that at the moment) The Dragon, their deity.
4.5-5 Stars, full review to follow once I get my thoughts in order. ...more
Man this one was a WILD ride. I loved loved LOVED the world-building, and there's no denying that it was steamy, but there were a few things that madeMan this one was a WILD ride. I loved loved LOVED the world-building, and there's no denying that it was steamy, but there were a few things that made me want to punch the characters in the face (or at least throw the book against the wall).
Plus, the hero's name is "Heyerdar", which I kept pronouncing as "Hurrderr" in my head, which made it hard for me to take him serious as the big bad alpha that he is :P
And even with those things I HATED, it's still a solid 4/5. Very well done. Full review to follow. ...more
Sadly, not really my thing. I admit fault in that I was unfamiliar with any series these authors may have penned, but... it just didn't do it for me.Sadly, not really my thing. I admit fault in that I was unfamiliar with any series these authors may have penned, but... it just didn't do it for me.
I also admit that I didn't read Of Monsters and Men by Jocelynn Drake. I'm fairly certain (well, hoping, anyway) that this is part of a larger series that the reader is dropped into, as I felt a bit disconnected with the characters. Plus, at no fault of the author, I'm not a big fan of fae in general.
I enjoyed Terri Garey's The Ghoul Next Door, but was disappointed at the lack of sensuality (what can I say? I like my romance steamy!), and while I liked the basic plot of Trick or Treathen, I just didn't mesh well with the writing style.
This was a surprising miss for me, as Avon publishing and I usually get along splendidly.
Expected Release Date: November 27, 2012 Publisher: Penguin Imprint: Ace AuThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: November 27, 2012 Publisher: Penguin Imprint: Ace Author’s Website: ilona-andrews.com My Source for This Book: Amazon.com Part of a Series: Yes, Book 4, The Edge Series Best Read In Order: Yes Steam Level: Warm
I’m so devastated that this is said to be the last book in the series. As a big fan of this world, and of course, of these characters, I’m so saddened to see them go.
That said, however, this book was wonderful. With a wonderfully crafted main couple, as well as many of our old favorites from previous books, the story was very well crafted and kept me glued to the pages long after I should have been asleep for the night.
The biggest thing that bothered me was that the ending didn’t really hit it’s mark for me, and so the book was left on a bit of a sour note for me, which in the end, pulled the final rating down a bit.
Even so, it is firmly on my keeper shelf, and highly recommended for anyone who enjoyed any of the previous novels in the series.