Broken Blade picks up after the heart shattering emotionally destroying book two-Night Blade. Hey, I’m just being honest here. Night Blade KILLED ME....moreBroken Blade picks up after the heart shattering emotionally destroying book two-Night Blade. Hey, I’m just being honest here. Night Blade KILLED ME. It destroyed me. It made me email Daniels and ask, ”What the hell is WRONG with you???” But, I should have more faith in one of my favorite authors because Broken Blade not only brings it all to the table, it leaps over it performing intricate gymnastics and ends with an Olympic worthy ten landing.
There are mild spoilers from Night Blade in here so read at your own risk. You’ve been warned. No whining once you're finished.
Kit Colbana was broken mentally, physically, and emotionally by the end of Night Blade. Broken Blade is her journey to pick up the pieces and live again. She has lost an important piece of herself, a piece that in her mind defines her. We see a different Kit in here then the previous two books. She is scared. So, so scared. The fear is a physical entity that slams into you over and over. Daniels does a fabulous job of bringing all the emotions Kit is feeling to life. Your heart once again aches for this woman whose life has been nothing more than a continuous cycle of pain and heartbreak. Especially when the one person she lefts down all her guards for and allows into her heart walked away, leaving her bereft and emotionally crushed.
As the story unfolds, Daniel’s blends the storylines perfectly. We watch as Kit heals at her own rate, using some unconventional means to try and win back herself while taking a case to retrieve a magical relic. I enjoyed the mixture of mythology Daniel’s uses to build main conflict and expand the world; opening the way to new storylines and adventures. Lots of action and suspense lead the way with sly humor punctuating the storyline, helping to break the serious emotional onslaught.
The romance in here is delicate. It’s fragile; held together by frayed hope and once abandoned dreams and remains so as these two damaged individuals struggle to overcome years of conditioning and their lack of trust. Though you won’t get much physical contact and if you read Night Blade, you’d know why. *side eye* But the emotional connection is there and continues to slowly strengthen as they both try to come to terms with their feelings and what has happened. Damon takes some major steps to make up for what he did and I like that Kit allows it.
We see all our favorite characters from previous installments. Doyle is rapidly becoming one of my favorites, especially with his actions in Night Blade. We learn some very interesting news regarding him and I am eager to see where Daniel’s takes him.
Damon. Damon, Damon, Damon. I loved him, hated him, and am now on the fence with him right now. He screwed up and he needs to prove to me that he is now on board and better understands the gift that he so carelessly handled. The witches continue to have Kit’s back and seriously, this woman needs all the help she can get.
The ending comes at you hard and fast, taking your breathe as you watch Kit dig deep through her fear and apathy, learning that she is not as broken as she thinks and that the strength and talent she possesses has always been inside her.
I recommend this series to everyone who enjoys a darker Urban Fantasy that reviles in deception, betrayal, and hope. A word of advice though-if you have not read the first 2 of this series, then you will not understand this last one. This is a convoluted series that builds upon itself with each new book. The arc is long reaching and not self explanatory. Characters evolve and bleed over into to each story with no pause in between.
I don't often give A's. The reason being that growing up I was told that there is ALWAYS room for improvement. However, some things are done in such a...moreI don't often give A's. The reason being that growing up I was told that there is ALWAYS room for improvement. However, some things are done in such a way that they do get an A from me because I can't see what else could have been added to MAKE better. Heart of Obsidian is one of those books.
HoO is an incredible story that takes us on a fantastic journey of love, hate, discovery, revenge, and redemption. Once I started, I was hard pressed to stop. In here we finally learn of the one man we readers have been pining for. Singh shows us every aspect of his make up and the story leaves you crying for what has happened to this phenomenal hero and the woman he never stopped loving. I loved the new aspects of the storyline that opened up and I am jonsing to see where Singh takes us as we make our way towards the end. (less)
Favorite Quote: “From the moment I was born, I learned I had two choices: to fight or to die.”
Andrea made a choice to remain with the Order instead of riding with Kate to the Pack when the shifters call for help. In doing this, she sealed her fate with the boudas and with her lover, Raphael. Months later, Andrea is standing on the corner of depression and heartbreak. Having been forced into early retirement by the Order for being a shapeshifter and no longer with Raphael, Andrea is feeling lost and broken. Now working with Kate at her investigative firm, Cutting Edge, Andrea gets a chance to right some wrongs when a rash of shifter murders falls across her desk. The problem? She has to work with Raphael.
Raphael has had it easy all his life. His mother is the alpha of the boudas and he has been treated like a favored prince all his life. When Andrea didn’t do what he thought she should do, his pride was hurt more then anything and after verbally eviscerating her, he left her. With the murder of his crew, Raphael knows he will have to work closely with Andrea. Can he forgive her? Will he forgive her? And most of all…will she forgive him?
Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of the writing team Ilona Andrews. From the moment I snatched Magic Bites out of that little old lady’s hand, I was hooked by this world they have built. This is an urban fantasy series that maintains the perfect balance between action, adventure, and romance. Sly, witty humor permeates the series, which keeps it from becoming too dark. Heavily character driven, you find yourself becoming intimately connected with these people. Their joy, sorrow, successes, and failures transcend paper and bleeds into your consciousness.
I have waited a long time for Andrea’s story. Kate’s BFF, Andrea’s life has been a study in lies and deceptions. Born beastkin, she was horrifically abused by her former pack until she and her mother ran away. From that day on Andrea did everything humanly possible to never be made a victim again. She joined the Order, hid her shapeshifter status, and excelled at weaponry. Magic Bleeds was the point of no return for Andrea. One choice causes her to lose her autonomy, and in losing that, she lost it all. She disappeared for a few months, abandoning Raphael and Kate. Now she’s back, and while Kate has forgiven her, Raphael has not. Andrea knows she will have to do some bowing and scraping, but when Raphael decides to come to her office for a meeting, bringing with him his new honey bunny, all bets are off. Andrea makes the decision to stop trying to be what she’s not and embrace what she is.
I examined myself sitting there. I’d held back for so long. I’d been good for so long. I’d always did as expected. I followed the rules and regulations. Look where it got me. Being good hurt.
Andrea is HILARIOUS in here. She excels with her take no crap from no one attitude that we have grown to love but in here she takes it to a whole new level. Andrea the knight was scary. Andrea the beastkin is terrifying. While Andrea is investigating the murders, she is also trying to deal with Raphael and keep Aunt B from dragging her into the fold. The dialogue between Andrea and Raphael will keep you rolling as the sarcasm and insults fly between them.
"It not enough you bring your floozy in to my office, now you’re harassing my intern?" "Intern, huh. Just what is he learning under you? "Are you alright? First you replace me with a bimbo, now you’re feeling threatened by a fifteen year old boy? Did something happen to give you an inferiority complex?" "That boy has a long resume of sleeping with adult women and you looked a bit desperate last time I saw you." I pictured myself reaching through the phone and slapping him off his chair. "Thank you for your concern, but have no fear. I prefer men, not boys. That’s why I’m not with you anymore."
What makes this story so delightful is the way family is interwoven into it. Andrea has never had a “real” family. She thought the Order was her family but she soon learns that she was just an expendable weapon for them to use. Her prejudice concerning the pack dates back to her childhood. Yet, throughout the book, Andrea is given many examples of how the pack considers her family.
The main conflict and romance are both solid well balanced storylines that blend together perfectly; intertwining and elevating each other. Andrews introduces Egyptian mythology which makes for an interesting villain and plotline. We see many favorite characters in here. Ascanio maintains a solid presence in here as Andrea’s partner in crime. He is altogether adorable in his desperate petitions for more freedom. Kate and Curran make a few key appearances while Roman, the volhv we met in Magic Slays, also enters the fray when Andrea enlists his help. Roman is deliciously funny and I hope he gets his own story. Of course, no story in this series is complete without Doolittle. His medmage ways are a constant source of delight to me.
The conclusion is filled with nerve racking action and heart stopping decisions as Andrea fights to save herself and everyone she loves from a power hungry God. Ilona Andrews once again produces a gold medal winner with Gunmetal Magic. As I stated in the beginning, I am a huge fan of this series and will continue to recommend them to anyone who will listen to me. Though this story has a fully resolved main conflict, I do not recommend reading out of order. You need to start with the first in the series-Magic Bites- or you lose out on the overall arc advancement and character development that makes this series so unique. I want to add that the Christmas freebie novella, Magic Gifts, is also included.
This was a hard book for me to rate. I wrote a post on Smexybooks after reading this-Must I Take The High Road-that addressed a lot of my feelings on what happened in here character wise and the problems I have with this particular trope.
On one hand, I love the world and the characters in this series. On the other hand, this particular storyline left me worried, upset, and angry. I can see where Briggs may be heading but the entire plot line was an exercise in foreshadowing. In my opinion, nothing was done to expand the arc. We see some new characters introduced but no reasons were given or even hinted at for Briggs choosing this path to follow. And I refuse to believe it was only to add relationship conflict between Adam and Mercy.
Adam, the alpha and Mercy's husband disappointed me. And I took it personally. While he's always been a bit underhanded in his dealings with Mercy, it's always been done to protect her. In here, we see a change in him and the reasons shown is his ex wife. Perhaps if I had gotten his POV, he wouldn't have seemed so callous and disregarding of Mercy's feelings. It was if she couldn't be jealous and upset that another woman was invading her home, life, and coming on to her man. She has to take the high road, be the better person. Meh. But, I can guarantee this would have never been the case if Adam would have been upset (and he was) when another man showed interest in Mercy. The over all problem for me was Mercy would have never done anything to make Adam feel inferior but now Adam can't say the something.
Also, some of the pack is starting to irritate me. Sometimes you need to be the voice of reason to keep that many people happy and inline. And sometimes you need to be the hammer of doom and let people know this isn't a democracy.
I did enjoy spending more time with Coyote (crazy nut) and getting hints to the fae situation. I see war coming and that will prove to be an interesting story. Also, I liked seeing more beta members of the pack step up and verbally let the rest of the pack know they weren't falling for Christy's "woe is me" tricks. The conflict in here was action packed and violent per usual but again what was the point of it all? As I stated earlier, this is a book of foreshadowing.
I am positive the next installment will open new pathways and offer more in the way of much needed explanations. Also, we have a new Alpha/Omega book coming which may give offer an outsiders POV to the whole situation. (less)
Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance by Penny Reid Penny Reid has certainly proved she is no one trick pony with the release ofFriends With...moreFriends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance by Penny Reid Penny Reid has certainly proved she is no one trick pony with the release of Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance, book two in her Knitting In The City series.
Reid blends outrageous humor, eccentric characters, and sexy, crazy plots to produce an addictive story you won’t want to put down. Her characters are delightfully flawed and contain a sense of realism that has you thinking, “I know someone like that.” An engaging battle of wits between our protagonists will keep you in stitches as fast paced action, sweet emotional revelations, and some smoking hot chemistry kept this reader hooked to the very end.
Elizabeth Finney has given up on true love when she finds that everyone she loves seems to leave her. When she is reunited with her childhood nemesis, celebrity talk show host Nico Manganiello, she finds herself unable to maintain the "no boys allowed" wall around her heart
Nick has always loved Elizabeth but his way of showing it involved making her miserable growing up. When a series of circumstances place them in long term proximity of each other, Nick realizes this may be his only chance with her. But Elizabeth has already run once so Nick is going to have to be extra sneaky this time around.
Favorite Quote: “Every step, every breath, every second I lived on this earth, I’m thankful for, no matter how fucked up or whacked or hard or good, ’cause all that shit led me to you.”
Hopper (Hop) Kincade, a lieutenant in the Chaos motorcycle club (MC), knows some women are meant for nothing more than scratching an itch and leaving the next day. No harm. No foul. And some women are meant for much, much more. When Lanie Heron, best friend to the MC’s president’s wife, propositions him for one night of paradise, Hop knows this can not end well. Lanie has always been untouchable. Pure class and beauty. When Lanie flashes those bedroom eyes at Hop, he’s a goner.
Lanie Heron has been emotionally stagnant since almost dying eight years ago. One night with a sexy, rough, and ready biker is just what the Dr. ordered. Once Lanie gets a taste of heaven in Hop’s bed, she finds herself reluctant to leave anytime soon. But Lanie isn’t looking for love. She has discovered the hard way that love only leads to heartbreak and pain.
Hop knows Lanie is the best thing to ever come in his life and they could build a future together. He just needs to convince her of that.
Since reading Motorcycle Man, I have waited impatiently for each individual story about the brothers of Chaos and the women who love them. Fire Inside gives us Hop and Lanie’s story. Once again we are gifted with two strong willed protagonists who fuss, fight, and complete each other even as they compete against each other for the most dramatic of the year award. We also see plenty of interaction with the MC and other external characters; which I admit to missing in the last few books. I had my doubts about Hop as a hero due to his actions in Motorcycle Man that didn’t show him in a good light, but I should have trusted Ashley because she always knows what she is doing.
We first met Lanie Heron in Motorcycle Man. Tyra’s best friend and a total drama queen. This chick goes ballistic when her diet 7-up has too much fizz. We only got to see one side of her when her fiance, Elliott, drags both her and Tyra into his shady dealings with the Russian mob and almost gets them both killed. Years have passed since that fateful day and now Lanie is back home in Denver still trying to cope with the damage and grief Elliott caused her. Baggage from her childhood and Elliott’s deception leave her emotionally shattered. She vows she will never trust a man again.
Hopper Kincaid has known Lanie for years. Lanie has became a beloved member of the Chaos inner circle and is viewed with the prejudicial eye in that she is considered off limits to the brothers. Hop has always enjoyed watching her from afar. She embodies a beauty and class that he knows is not meant for him or his kind. When they embark on their affair, Hop agrees with Lanie that they need to keep it quiet though he does everything possible to further push himself into every aspect of her life.
"Never had class. Never had beauty. I’ll repeat, never… had… class. [...] But it’s a clean, pure beauty the like I’ve never had. I’m gonna respect it like I feel like I gotta and you’re gonna let me."
Laine does everything possible to keep her relationship with Hop strictly sexual with no commitments or promises, but Hop steadily sneaks under her radar and soon she finds herself falling for him.
"Never, not ever in my life, would the man I was staring at right then be a man I would expect to be in my bed. But he was and he was, for the first time in my life, in my bed on my own damned terms."
Fire Inside has two of my favorite tropes. Opposite attraction and second chance love. The push and pull of this couple is both exciting and frustrating we watch this couple struggle to discover exactly what they want from one another and themselves. They love, fight, walk away, come back…lather, rinse, repeat. It’s all deliciously adolescent in its unveiling.
Hop reminds me a bit of Tack. He is pure alpha and goes after what he wants with a single minded determination, yet he is balanced with a sweet softer side that hides a closet romantic. Though he went through a nasty divorce with his ex wife Mitzi, he still believes in true love. He is a wonderful hands on father and I like that he lives his life with no excuses or explanations. I will add that Hop has a dialect of English unknown to man at this time and I struggled sometimes to understand exactly what he was saying. Lanie is Tyra on steroids. She is beautiful, intelligent, loyal, and high spirited. She is wealthy but never uses that as a shield or to belittle Hop. Emotionally, she has barricaded herself behind a brick wall; believing that happily ever after is nothing more lie told to impression young girls at bedtime. It was hard to really get to know the real Laine. She is a mixture of contradictions.
The romance is sexy and filled with combustible chemistry, drama and laughter. Hop and Lanie are at their best when in bed together. Both are adventurous, dynamic, sexual creatures that fit together perfectly. Hop and Lanie slowly open up to one another and unconsciously give and take what they both need. Hop makes Lanie feel safe and secure; something she hasn’t felt since she was a child. Lanie gives Hop the respect and trust that he has needed for a while. Ashley does a good job of intertwining Hop and Lanie’s present story with tidbits from their past; showing us their conflicts and the reasons for it.
I did have some issues with this story. One, was Lanie herself. Like most of Ashley’s heroine’s, there is a lot of OMGs, breathy sighs, and overall eye rolling silliness. Yet, unlike most of Ashley’s heroines, Lanie has a faulty off switch. She goes too far on occasion and has problems admitting she was wrong. She is VERY dramatic and has a tendency to freak before she thinks. Her constant jumping to conclusions concerning Hop was irritating. When we are finally privie to Lanie’s entire backstory, we learn exactly why she is that way she is and it makes sense but still…it got old. Two, I was disappointed that Mitzi was regulated to nothing more then plot device to make Lanie seem like the better choice. Three, the ongoing suspense plot concerning Benito and the turf war. We are told nothing new and only see the same small scene that was in Own The Wind, but from Hop’s view. I understand the reasoning as this story runs concurrent with OTW, but it’s becoming repetitive.
Overall, Fire Inside brought back some the crazy zaniness that originally made me a fan of Ashley’s work. I enjoyed Hop and Lanie and getting a ring side view to their rambunctious romance. The ending is satisfying in that our couple walks the gauntlet and emerges battered but triumphant with a clean slate to start their life with.
“ He came from a life that was wild and free … Where rules didn’t apply, only feelings did. You went with your gut, you led with your heart, you did what you wanted and you didn’t think of the consequences. You lived. You were free.”
The epilogue is delightful and I loved Hop’s way of getting around Lanie’s final edict. I look forward to the rest of the Chaos member stories and dread the day they are all told.
William, The Duke of Lamont, wakes one morning only to discover himself laying in an unknown bed, covered in blood. Unable to remember what has happened, he finds himself accused of killing his soon to be step mother, Mara Lowe.
Forced to leave his birthright, a new man rises from the ashes of his former life of privilege. Nicknamed the Killer Duke, William, now calling himself Temple, along with three other disgraced men, operate a gambling hall named the Fallen Angel. For twelve years, Temple has reigned over the darkest parts of London; bare knuckle boxing in penance for his supposed crime. Money, women, and fame drip from his fingertips. But the only thing he wants and can’t have is redemption.
Until she reappears.
Mara Lowe never planned on returning to London but when her brother gambles away her fortune at Temple’s gambling hall, she is forced back into the world she ran from. She never expected Temple to be accused of her murder when she set her original plan in motion. And though she knows her actions caused his downfall, she is unable to feel much regret. With her new life hanging in the balance, she needs her money desperately. She approaches Temple with a proposition. She will reveal herself, letting London and the world know that he did not kill her, effectively restoring Temple’s honor and his place in society if he will forgive her brother’s debt.
Temple agrees but with conditions. He has suffered for twelve years and now he has his revenge in hand to do with what he pleases. Temple wants to humiliate Mara for what she has done to him. He wants her to suffer as he has. As Temple and Mara dance around the lies, pain, and attraction, Temple realizes that the circumstances that led to that night twelve years ago are far more complicated than he imagined. Now Temple must decide if vengeance is worth losing everything he never knew he wanted.
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished is a dark emotional historical romance that batters at the heart with harsh repeating blows. A story of betrayal and redemption that allows for a realistic journey from hatred to love. Heavily character driven, our protagonists are well defined with quicksilver personalities, passionate natures, and tragic shadowed pasts. MacLean digs deep into their psyches to show us what is really buried beneath the hard exterior they show the world. Two people who have survived the best way they know how.
Temple and Mara both were victims in this story. Born into luxury, you would think they had it all. But as their histories are revealed, you realize that the glitter often hides a rotten core. The wealthier you are, the less control you have over your destiny. Mara was a hard character to like. You can sympathize with her but the choices she made are hard to forgive when you see the impact they had on Temple. Part of the problem is she didn’t seem to show any real remorse for what her actions did to Temple. She knew what she did had been wrong and feels badly but what we see from her is an attitude that suggests that she cannot change the past so there is no need to dwell on it. Once she contacts Temple and offers her proposition, it seems, once again, that she is using him to her own benefit. Just as she did twelve years ago. As you get to know Mara, you realize that she did the only thing she knew to do and there were mitigating circumstances involved. Circumstances that pushed the situation further then it should have gone. Namely, Mara’s brother, Christopher.
Mara was only sixteen when she was essentially sold into marriage to Temple’s father. Sixteen and engaged to a man three times her age, whom we learn is as bad, if not worse, than her own father. Her actions to escape what she feels is a deal with the devil didn’t play out the way she had anticipated and Temple suffered for her decisions. She feels bad for everything that happened but she is honest to herself that she wouldn’t have changed what she did.
“She’d never meant for that charming young man-all muscle and grace and wide, smiling mouth-to become the unwitting victim in her escape. Not that she tried to save him. It was too late for apologies. She made her bed…now she must lie in it”
Mara did what she could as a young girl with absolutely no power or control over her life. She has grown much in her time away from London. She is not the scared little girl she once was. She has matured, gaining in strength and self assurance in her time on her own and that shines through as she now pays her own penance by running an orphanage for illegitimate boys.
Temple is an enigma. Looking like a hardened thug with his large muscular frame and inked skin, his heart is one of a gentleman. Regardless of what he has done over his lifetime, his honor has remained intact-no matter what he thinks. Your heart will break as you learn the extent of what he has gone through. Rejected by society, he was forced to survive on the streets of London, painstakingly climbing his way up from the gutter to the throne he now sits upon. All while having to listen to the whispers and feel the stares at his back…reminding him that the world sees him as a murderer.
“The whispers followed him through filth and sin, marking time. At first he had pretended not to hear the word, but as the years passed, he had embraced it-and the epithet turned honorific. Killer.”
Though he plans to ruin Mara as she ruined him, he finds himself balancing on a precipice as he gets to know her better. He sees her strength, compassion, and willingness to work hard for the sake of others. He cannot comfortably consign her to the role of villain. He wants her in his life but is unsure if he can trust her.
Undeniable chemistry singes the pages as these two engage in a battle of wills. Though no actual physical scenes till the end, the emotional dialogue sweeps you up and places you dead center into the turmoil that directs their lives. Anger, lust, vengeance, and redemption all serve as base to their burgeoning relationship. As their romance slowly develops, Mara shows Temple that she sees him for the man he has always been. She helps him reclaim his title and the life he had before and she also shows him that he hasn’t been as miserable as he professes. Temple, in turn, shows Mara that not all men are users and that he would give up everything to make sure she knows she is loved.
This was the greatest gift she could give him, even if it would take the greatest sacrifice she had ever made.
The one where she gave up everything.
Temple’s friends play a large part in the story. It’s a comfort to the reader that Temple had such strong friendships to lean on. They offer a deeper look into Temple’s life as they have been with him since the beginning and have seen the damage Mara caused. They believe Mara to be the enemy and treat her accordingly, especially as her brother keeps doing things to cast even further suspicion on Mara. It’s only when they see how Temple is beginning to feel for Mara that they start to hint to Temple that a lifetime of possible happiness is worth more than a single act of vengeance. They also provide some humor to help offset the bleakness the story holds. Mara’s boys are a delight and also offer insight into Mara’s emotional state and the reasons behind her actions.
The majority of the book focuses on Temple and Mara’s journey to forgiveness. It’s a dark story that highlights our protagonists internal demons and their subsequent ability to forgive themselves and one another. It’s not an easy story to read and MacLean doesn’t offer the reader any reassurances that either of them will make it out alive- emotionally or physically.
The ending is a series of climatic scenes that show us just how much Mara and Temple care for one another. Mara finally does what she should have done years ago but Temple realizes at the last moment that she is more important to him than his own life. If I had any qualms, it was Mara taking so long to tell Temple what really happened that night and her reasons for why she did it. We are made to understand why she held out for so long but it causes for some dragging in the story and also causes readers to hold on to their ire of Mara for longer. I was also never fully convinced that Mara would have ever made things right if she hadn’t needed her money back.
Regardless, I enjoyed Temple’s story and believe fans of Sarah MacLean and angst driven historical romances are sure to enjoy her latest offering. Temple may very well be her darkest and most romantic hero to date. Chase’s story is up next and I for one cannot wait.
Favorite Quote: “That would be the first thing on her feedback list: don’t make people-shaped cookies.”
A large group of crows is often referred to as a murder of crow. Tightly knit and family orientated, when of their own is killed, they not only remember the perpetrator…they will not rest until justice is served.
Meg Corbyn, a Cassandra Sangue, gained the trust of the Others when she risked her life to save one of their own. She now resides permanently in the Lakeside Courtyard and is accepted by the Terre Indigene who live there. But Meg is finding out that living among the Others is confusing as she is still learning the rules on how to be human…and free.
When Meg begins to dream of blood and feathers, Simon Wolfguard, leader of the Lakeside Courtyard is positive the visions have something to do with the recent violence sparking between the Others and the humans. Both species are attacking each other, urged on by ingesting two unknown but very addictive drugs.
As violence spreads through the land and Meg’s need to speak her prophecies comes more frequently, trouble comes looking for Meg. Meg’s controller wants her back and is willing to do anything to make it happen. Lakeside won’t let Meg go without a fight and soon find themselves once again working with the humans to stop a man bent on recovering his property at any cost and an epidemic that could destroy them all.
Any sequel worth its weight will not only continue to evolve the storyline, but also the world and the characters who live in it. Bishop exceeds all expectations in her second installment of the Others series, Murder of Crows. Murder of Crows is a splendid continuation of the spellbinding magic we saw in book one, Written in Red. More suspense, intrigue, action, humor, and hints of romance await readers as Ms. Bishop opens the door back to a world and inhabitants that demand your full attention. Steady pacing and smooth engaging narratives tell us a story that is both complex and linear with its multiple story lines. Vivid descriptions and realistic detailing draw you in quickly. Once again, the underlying tension ratchets up the suspense in the story, building to an action packed finale that left me exalted.
While Written in Red was a brilliant set up for this dark urban fantasy that showed us an alternative world teeming with unrest, fear, and racism that exists between predator and its prey who share this world, Murder of Crows goes above and beyond in the expansion this world while focusing on a deeper development and commitment of the characters; especially our heroine, Meg.
Meg Corbyn is still trying to gain her footing in her new life. Experiencing freedom for the first time, she struggles to grasp the intricacies and nuances of being human and also how to live among the terre indigene. Though still not a warrior in the truest sense, her loyalty, compassion, and intelligence continues to grow and shine. She is learning to trust her instincts more and has become more self-confident with herself and around others.
Bishop continues to expand our knowledge of her shape shifter culture as she reveals other various species of terre indigene, using them to highlight the unique changes that are happening within the Lakeside Courtyard. These changes are significant as it begins to alter the dynamics that currently exist between humans and the Others. Changes that not only affects some human perceptions but also some shape shifter perceptions. Bishop uses this information to push the boundaries of the overall arc beyond the area it was limited to in book one. Her introduction of new characters, backgrounds, and situations this early on allows for multiple future storyline options and graces this installment with a more serious and deadly intent.
“It’s bad out there. Maybe you should close your eyes.” “Wolf,” she said gently, “I’ve already seen it.”
While the romance is as unsure as it was in book one, it holds a stronger place in this story. Bishops does a fabulous job of balancing the conflict between the Others and the humans against the conflict developing between Meg and Simon. We must remember that Meg is emotionally a teenager in a woman’s body. She has none of the instinct or knowledge that is intuitive to most of us when confronted with certain situations. Plenty of humor flows as Meg tries to understand the varying differences between friendship, sexual attraction, and everything in between. The laughs only come harder as Simon struggles to understand his feelings for Meg and what they mean as the rest of the courtyard watches and offers them advice.
“Who knows what Others really think about. Does it feel good to them when in human form in a way that’s commensurate with our experiences, or do they view it as an experiment-the equivalent of one of us tonguing the family pet to see what it’s like?”
Vivacious and personable secondary characters walk hand in hand with our protagonists; each more than able to hold their own against the powerful dynamics that make up Meg and Simon. An eclectic bunch whose personalities and individualism only serve to heighten the appeal as Bishop divulges deeper into their relationships amongst each other, the humans, and within themselves. I adore Meg’s interactions with them. She has come a long way since the first day she arrived; cold, wet, and scared.
“Would you like cookie?” Nathan stared at her. “Two cookies?” He stared at her. “Three, and that’s my final offer.” “Arrrooooo.”
Multiple story lines and subplots run parallel and intertwine with some interesting and staggering results. Bishop have never been one to shy away from violence in her books and abuse is committed on many levels in here. Meg and the Others are learning who can and who cannot be trusted as the people behind the violence and their plans become more clear. There is a higher agenda we have not seen yet though Bishop has been dropping clues throughout the series.
Ms. Bishop has achieved a perfect balance of dark and light in this series. Enough intrigue and action to keep you glued to the pages while cleverly interjected humorous scenes keeps you from despairing that the outcome will be anything but wanted. As we race towards the end, we are once again given a viable resolution to the main conflict with just enough left to chance to transition us seamlessly into the next book; title to be announced. Once again, Ms. Bishop has managed to astound and captivate me with this series and I can’t wait for book three.
Favorite Quote: “Congratulations, you’ve been granted the title of trusted singular. I suggest you refrain from wearing hats.”
For the past three months, Rachel has been providing security for Trent Kalamack while Quen is across the country, regulating Ellasbeth’s visit with the girls. When Rachel’s spells begin to misfire, Rachel thinks it’s a reaction to her deepening feelings for Trent. Soon, spells begin to misfire all over the city, creating chaos and weakening the already tremulous truce that exists between the humans and the supernaturals. As Rachel and her friends dig deeper, they discover a plan that will destroy the master vampires and throw the city into an all out super natural war. One thing will stop the catastrophe coming their way; invoking the wild elven magic. Only, that may do more harm than good where Rachel is concerned.
Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series (also known as the Rachel Morgan series) is one of the top selling urban fantasies series to date and with good cause. Appealing to readers of all ages and genres, Ms. Harrison’s unique blend of sharp wit and whimsical imagination (tomatoes, anyone) has created an alternative world that is filled with never ending magic and mayhem. Ms. Harrison has kept us laughing and weeping since her first book, Dead Witch Walking, released in 2004. Filled with intriguing suspense, non stop action, tense romance, biting humor, and some truly heartbreaking scenes; this intense character driven series continues to enchant readers.
The Undead Pool is the twelfth book and the second to the last book in this series. I am sad to see this series ending. Good urban fantasy is hard enough to find but good urban fantasy with a compelling female lead is even harder to find. And Rachel Morgan, for all her flaws and less than stellar decisions, is a fantastically dynamic and complicated heroine. Perhaps it’s because of those flaws that readers gravitate to the series. It isn’t often we get a lead character who, even gifted supernaturally, doesn’t always win. Rachel has suffered so much throughout this series. She has lost friends, family, lovers, and even her powers for a bit. She fails as much as she conquers and that makes it easy to like her and her band of equally dynamic sidekicks.
Those who have kept up with the series will be surprised and happy by the turn of events that occurred off scene between books 11 and 12. This installment finally addresses the underlying sexual and emotional tension that has existed between Rachel Morgan and Trent Kalamack since their first meeting. From the very beginning, Trent and Rachel have been at odds as they each strived to do what they thought was best for the city of Cincinnati and in Trent’s case, himself. Trent, the perfect anti hero, has used his money and power to thwart Rachel at every turn while Rachel has always managed to turn the tides and hold him off at the last moment.
“You’d better learn your history before you become part of it.”
Rachel and Trent have a long history together that goes back to their childhood. A history that is steeped in deception, betrayal, and violence that left them often on opposite sides of the battle field. We have watched their slow evolution from antagonists to actual friends and perhaps something more. Both Trent and Rachel have grown considerably throughout the series. Starting out as a untried and untrusted slightly flaky witch, Rachel has grown into a mature powerhouse who can more than hold her own against the larger than life players who populate her world. Her friend base has grown and she has finally begun to comfortably accept their help.
“You have amazing friends.” “I need them to stay alive through my amazing life.”
Trent, a rich elven CEO with a finger in every dark and shady pot the country has to offer, has gradually changed from an emotional void, hellbent on conquering the world through what ever means necessary to actually caring about people and how his actions affect them. Through his relationship with Rachel and others, he has finally learned the meaning of sacrifice and why some will give their all with no thoughts to their own mortality.
Though their animosity has gradually lessened and they are now at a turning point in their lives, Rachel doesn’t trust her feelings for Trent. She fears anything deeper between them will only lead to his downfall. And he has a lot to lose. Trent has some hard decisions to make in this book. Decisions that not only affect him, but also others who depend on him in so many different ways.
“You’re halfway to ruining him already.”
Sacrifice and friendship is the base on which this series is built and this particular installment pushes the envelope, acknowledging that Rachel doesn’t always have to be the one who has to sacrifice for those she loves. For the first time in a long time, Rachel decides to take a leap of faith and go with her heart and leave everything to chance.
“Most warriors think with their hearts,” I said, [...] “It’s what keeps them alive through the crap they have to deal with to keep the rest of you safe."
Through it all, Rachel has always had Ivy and Jenks at her back. They too have grown and evolved so much throughout the series; becoming much more than mere secondary characters. Rachel and Ivy have always had a deep loving relationship with hints of a romantic attraction; especially on Ivy’s part. I love how Harrison has never maligned or made this portion of the storyline seem like a dirty little secret. It’s an important aspect in their relationship as Ivy has always felt that Rachel saved her life when no one else cared.
“I almost quit a hundred times,” she said as she smiled at me, eyes beautiful and black. “But you thought I had it in me and I wanted to prove I was as good as you thought I was…”
Jenks. What can you say about Jenks but that he is one of the true highlights in this series. If Ivy is Rachel’s best friend, then Jenks in her soul mate in almost every way possible. They have loved, loss, laughed, cried, fought, and consoled one another. Only death will part these two. His sardonic humor and never ending protectiveness towards Rachel only serves to further entertain as he tells it like it is.
“Watch out, cookie maker, or I’m going to own you.”
Though we don’t get as much interaction with Al or the Ever After this time around, it’s what we do see that is very important and goes far in preparing us for the final book. Newt makes an appearance and as usual, gives us some needed clues in a mash up of gibberish conversation.
The conflict is an interesting action packed juxtaposition as we learn more about the wild magic and the effects it has on the city and it’s supernatural inhabitants. Desperate times calls for desperate measures as Rachel finds herself having to deal with the unfamiliar magic and the results of its unleashing. This has been a long time coming and Harrison lets loose as she strives to make us understand the path on which she has placed Rachel, Trent, and the Hollows. The Hollows are beginning to unravel, as is the Ever After, and soon both worlds will be forced to deal with one another…again.
The Undead Pool is an eclectic mixture of everything I have come to love about this series and Urban Fantasy. Action, suspense, emotional revelations, romance, humor, and heartbreak. I can easily see it becoming a much beloved re read in the future. Fans will rejoice in it’s reveals and revelations. My only qualm is now I have to wait a year for the last book. *shakes fist at the injustice of waiting*
Blurb: The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and m...moreJOINT REVIEW: Reviewed by Tori, May and Mandi
Blurb: The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale—and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…
Charlotte de Ney is as noble as they come, a blueblood straight out of the Weird. But even though she possesses rare magical healing abilities, her life has brought her nothing but pain. After her marriage crumbles, she flees to the Edge to build a new home for herself. Until Richard Mar is brought to her for treatment, and Charlotte’s life is turned upside down once again.
Richard is a swordsman without peer, future head of his large and rambunctious Edger clan—and he’s on a clandestine quest to wipe out slavers trafficking humans in the Weird. So when his presence leads his very dangerous enemies to Charlotte, she vows to help Richard destroy them. The slavers’ operation, however, goes deeper than Richard knows, and even working together, Charlotte and Richard may not survive…
Tori: I’m all about Charlotte. Man, she freaking ROCKED!! I also loved seeing a more of George and Jack. They have always been a huge draw for me to this series. The slaver plot was original and facilitated the romance well. What was up with the ending though? Andrews said this was it. They said they would revisit for the kids but it this was the end. The ending left a bit too much open for my liking. Will they revisit Sophie also?
May: I want to first say, I thought this book was a great way to wrap-up the threads that they had going while leaving things wide open to come back and visit Jack, George, and Sophie/Lark in the future in their own unique way. I really truly hope that they will come back to that when inspired.
For me, this book felt less romance and more Urban Fantasy which I really dug. It was like being in the middle of such an intense situation and world – and there happened to be a budding romance to be found as well. The entire book I’d say was intense, and I felt like they really went for it with this one – nothing held back.
Mandi: My initial thoughts on the books are: #1 – The team of Ilona Andrews are amazing storytellers. While this didn’t have the same romantic impact as previous books in this series, it didn’t bother me. Their storytelling ability is so engrossing, I could not get enough of these characters. #2 – The ‘kids’ (they are growing up so fast *sniffle) Jack and George steal every single book. And I’m totally okay with that. I expect them to. They are absolutely amazing characters. #3 – Ilona Andrews doesn’t write safe. Meaning – they don’t hold back. People die violent deaths. Crap happens. I love it. It’s so realistic for the world their characters live in.
Tori: Steel’s Edge reminded me of the first book in the series and was definitely more Urban Fantasy than PNR . We were immediately embroiled into the lives of two extremely charismatic protagonists with a perfect blending of action and background. The slaver storyline helped to wrap up all the loose ends and bridge the gap between the Edge with the Weird-joining everyone together. I literally could not put it down.
Charlotte was amazing. I loved everything about her. Strong, loyal, intelligent, and in absolute control of her life. I liked that she wasn’t made a victim to be pitied or to be saved by Richard. Her magic and the spin they put on it was fantastic and played out without a hitch. Richard was the perfect match for her. He also has had grief, pain, and betrayal in his life so he could understand where she was coming from and understood her emotional and mental state. He accepted her for what she was and expected nothing from her except for her to be herself. . I also enjoyed that she called him out when he was being a moron. lolol
Mandi: I really enjoyed these two characters. Together they were ok (I wasn’t super convinced of their love, but like I said, this book definitely had a UF feel, so I can kind of forgive an unconvincing romance). Charlotte was a great character. Fighting the darkness within her, but at the same time, using it to get revenge. Richard too – a fighter. Never gives up. Lonely, but finding companionship in Charlotte. If Ilona Andrews ever decides to write a book for them, I will weep with joy. I’m not kidding.
May: I really enjoyed this couple both individually and together. I liked how they saw the potential for a really great match in one another, and approached the relationship at a time and pace I found fitting with the story as well. While burned, I felt like they were not without a small spark of hope. They’ve each been so busy with their work that all hope for a romance in future was not extinguished, while hardened on the outside both are still such tender people that want true love and happiness – I really got invested in their story.
While we don’t have to talk specifics (don’t wanna spoil things) – can we just talk about the plot twists in this book? For me, they start from the very beginning and carry on all the way through the end and I loved it! Oh, the twists were sometimes painful or ugly, and one made me cry a bit, but I really was impressed with how this story was crafted. It really brought together this world of the Weird and the Edge (as you mentioned before, Tori), and I was completely on the edge of my seat- they made it pretty clear that nothing was safe and anything could happen!
Tori: I have always admired the fact that the Ilona and Gordon don’t shy away from the brutal but also don’t use it for mere shock value. I loved the new characters we met ( J and Miko). I wish we had seen them from the beginning. They were such viable characters, I would have loved to watched them throughout the entire series. I found it very interesting how close the villains and the heroes were in here. It reminded me of the saying-A Gentleman’s War-when enemies would fight each other during the day but sit and sup together in the evening. I was amazed at some of the paths the plot lines went down.(some tears were shed). They managed to pull together an arc that had 18 different substories going on, resolve them, and make it all make sense. I’m sad this series is ending here, I really think it finally clicked in this installment. The action, suspense, romance…it all balanced perfectly. I give this a B+
May: I couldn’t agree more Tori! This was definitely an A read for me.
Mandi: They did a great job with the plot twists in this one. It’s gritty and non-stop action. With the various things going on in this book, it could have all gotten tangled and confusing but instead we get a lush, rich world with action and characters that are developed so well. I give it a B+. Highly recommend this entire series.(less)
Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast—at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn’t plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn’t count on finding the one right girl.
Anne Rollins never thought she’d ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls—especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn’t end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?
Tori:Rockstar bad boys are a guilty pleasure of mine. The more intense and outrageous they are, the more I am attracted to them. I think it’s the combination alpha/beta personality and the usual secret that causes them to act the way they do. The push/pull relationship between the hero and heroine combined with heroes often self destructive behavior draws me in everytime. The emotional dialogue is often compelling but it’s what’s not said but implied that pulls me into their sphere.
Play is a sweet new adult romantic contemporary that focuses on the relationship between an out of control rock star and a down on her luck young woman. Ms. Scott uses her skills to paint an engaging, quite humorous,and at times heartbreaking picture of first love as she builds a swoon worthy romance on a false premise. Not a trope I normally go for; it works well in here. Though told from primary from Anne’s viewpoint, we do get in depth dialogue between both protagonists, enabling the reader to see both sides of the story.
Anne Rollins has just been royally screwed. She just discovered her roommate, her supposed best friend, has skipped out owning months of back rent. No one but Anne is surprised by this turn of events. Lauren, Evelyn’s (Lick) best friend, invites her to a Stage Dive party to help take her mind off what just happened. When Anne arrives, she meets Mal and the fireworks start. Anne has had a crush on Mal for years and has dreamed of meeting him but never quite imagined it like this.
“Your cheeks have gone all rosy. Are you thinking rude thoughts about me, Anne.” “No.” “Liar,” he taunted in a soft voice. “You’re totally thinking of me with no pants on.” I totally am.
Mal is having a rough year. Personal issues has him almost acting bi polar with his manic behavior. Drinking and partying too much, Mal knows he needs to slow down before he crashes and burns. Meeting Anne and feeling an instant connection has him invading her life and home, offering her a position of his pretend girlfriend. With Anne Mal doesn’t have to play the “rock star”. She brings him a sense of peace and tranquility he so desperately needs while he encourages her to take chances and have fun.
From there the laughs just keeps coming. Anne and Mal are fantastic characters whose personalities explode off the pages. Individually and together, they instantly steal your heart and you become heavily invested in their story. Both of them have some serious baggage that not only affects their relationship, but their lives in general. I liked that Anne wasn’t your average star struck groupie. She carries on with her life as normal…well as normal as one can with a 6 ft plus totally hot rock star living with her. She continues working and doesn’t take any crap from Mal. She knows when to push and when to back away.
What did you think Mandi?
Mandi: This book surprised me. I read and enjoyed Lick and I think as soon as I was done I tweeted Kylie Scott and demanded Mal’s book. What surprised me is the type of hero Mal really is. In Lick he was silly and made me laugh – and while in Play he is silly and made me laugh he also is not your typical rock star hero. He almost has an immature vibe but at the same time is very sexy. I honestly don’t know how this author played both sides so well. I laughed out loud so many times in this book, swooned at how sexy Mal is and yet felt deeply for him and what he was going through. Anne is great too – she gets Mal. She really, really gets him and that just made it all work. Even though he is a lot to take when they first meet (and yes I’m using Tori’s quote above just expanding)
“Are you thinking rude thoughts about me, Anne?” “No.” “Liar,” he taunted in a soft voice. “You’re totally thinking of me with no pants on.” I totally was. “That’s just gross, dude. A massive invasion of my privacy.” He leaned in closer, his breath warming my ear. “Whatever you’re imagining, it’s bigger.” “I’m not imagining anything.” “I’m serious. It’s basically a monster. I cannot control it.” “Malcom – “ “You’re pretty much going to need a whip and chair to tame it, Anne.”
Tori: I loved that this wasn’t an insta love romance. Though they have to play off they are in a committed relationship, Scott gives Mal and Anne ample time to get to know one another. The chemistry between them sizzles HAWT (limos for the win) but neither was pushing for sex. Mal and Anne’s witty banter gives rise to friendship and more as they spend more time together. Both are givers though Anne more so and that balance resonates through the book. From their first meeting, you know they are destined to be together. I also enjoyed that any misunderstandings were easily carified. Neither protagonists are true emotional black holes, wallowing in self pity and wanting to be the center of everyone’s attention. I seriously just loved them both to pieces. *laughter* I wish I could list all the scenes that made me laugh but then I would be pretty much retelling the entire story.
Mandi: I liked that Anne is honest with Mal. She calls him on his bullshit when she can tell he is bullshitting – with Mal it’s hard to tell.
“God, you confuse me. I don’t think my head has stopped spinning since you walked in the door.” “You can be confused later. But come on my face now, please?”
I liked how things play out with Anne’s good friend Reece too. Reece can’t decide if he has feelings for Anne, and the jealousy that arises plays out well.
And yes – I have about 50 quotes highlighted I want to share.
Tori’s favorite quote: “A biter and a screamer. And you seemed like such a nice quiet girl. I’m shocked”
Tori’s Grade: B+
Mandi’s favorite quote: “I’ll sleep with Anne.”
“No you won’t.”
“Yes, I will.” He raised a hand high. “For I am, Malcolm, Lord of the Sex!”
Favorite Quote: ”If you come into these mountains with open hands, I will welcome you. If you come holding a sword, you will die by it.”
Pirates, and sea monsters, and princesses…oh my!
Kate Daniels and her mate, the Beast Lord, find themselves once again putting their life on the line to save an innocent. When two pack teenagers start to go loup, Kate and Curran have to negotiate with the European packs for access to the herbal medicine that can save the teenagers from certain death. The Europeans agree to a trade which requires Kate, Curran, and some of the pack to travel to Europe. The Europeans want Curran and the pack to protect an important pregnant shifter until she gives birth. Then and only then will they release the formula for the medicine. Soon Kate and Curran realize there is much more at stake than simple bodyguard duties. Someone wants Kate and Curran separated permanently and are willing to destroy whoever and whatever gets in their way.
Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series remains one of my top urban fantasy series picks to date and I frequently recommend to anyone who'll stop and listen to my fangirling. Often rereading this series multiple times per year, I find comfort in this dynamic duo’s writing. While the familiar draws me in, it’s the ever changing world and vibrant characters that keeps me returning. I find their style of writing addictive and I await their new releases with barely concealed impatience. This series is the perfect urban fantasy with its balance of power and vulnerability. We are not overburdened with emotional angst or ridiculous unbelievable feats. Plot action and ripe tension is tempered with snarky humor and everyday life.
A strongly character driven series, we share an intimate connection with our protagonist, Kate Daniels. Her pain, sorrow, triumphs, and defeats are also ours. It has been a thrilling ride as we have watched her grow from a solitary lonely figure hiding herself and her power to having friends, family, and a lover who is more than able to handle Kate and all her idiosyncrasies. Her growth shines through more and more with each book. She is still scared but she is learning how to trust in herself and others. The world building stays fresh and exciting with constant evolution as we travel throughout an alternative magical version of our world.
Magic Rises is an emotionally dark and weighted story that opens up new doorways for both the arc and the romance. Centering almost exclusively around our protagonists, the storyline(s) explode in multiple directions, using our lovers as the catalyst.
Kate and Curran are one of my favorite urban fantasy couples. Enemies to lovers has always been a favorite trope of mine and these two have led us all on a merry chase. Starting from book one, they have slowly and somewhat antagonistically carved out a relationship, obliterating anyone and anything that dared to stand in their way. Secure now as Liege and Consort of the Southwestern Pack, Kate and Curran are beginning the delicate process of trying to sustain their love. Jealousy, anger, and sorrow fill this installment as Curran’s over protectiveness and Kate’s insecurities rear their ugly heads.
“I’m so used to watching people for swords, I never saw the knife. You were too close.”
Kate and Curran’s relationship has provided plenty of entertainment throughout the series. It’s not the main focus, but it is a large part of it. Especially as the series has progressed. The plot and romance blend so effortlessly now, it has become a major component of the series without corrupting the genre. I enjoy the dynamics of their relationship and the challenges that they face. Curran admits he is more dominant than most; but he tries so hard to achieve a balance of give and take. Kate is still unsure of how to proceed in this relationship (or any relationship) but she makes remarkable advancements. She still doesn’t understand (or refuses to believe) why Curran loves her. She constantly builds walls to keep him away only to tear them down in her rush to get back into his arms. Curran’s ability to effortlessly and unwittingly hurt Kate, often in his need to protect her, still catches her off guard. That’s not to say Kate is a pushover in her love for Curran. She carries a big sword and fought over twenty two shapeshifters for her right to stand by his side. She gives as good as she gets and is one of the few people who can make Curran second guess some of the decisions he has made concerning her. Curran’s biggest fear is losing her yet by his own actions he pushes them straight towards that conclusion.
“You still don’t get it [...] I trusted you and you used it against me [...] We are not okay.”
Our cast of supporting characters are still a vivid and dynamic group. I’m amazed by Ilona Andrew’s skill at characterization. Each one has a distinctly separate personality that continues to evolve and grow with each new installment. Andrea, Kate’s very first and bestest friend, has always had Kate’s back. Even when Kate pushed her away. She has proven time and time again her loyalty to Kate and their friendship. She and Kate work well together on paper and I always find myself laughing out loud at their playful banters. Andrea is the type of friend who would help you bury a body-no questions asked.
“I hate her already,” said Andrea. “George hates her too, don’t you, George?” “I think she’s adorable,” George volunteered. “We should give her cookies and milk and if she promises to keep quiet, she can sit at the big peoples’ table.”
Kate’s entourage, Barabas and Jezebel, started out as her advisers but are now willing to challenge anyone in their quest to keep her safe and happy. And I do mean anyone. A firm solidarity is presented by the pack towards Kate, which was delightful to see. They can insult and be rude to Kate but anyone else who does it gets their arses kicked. New characters are introduced without any confusion. They fit in as if they were always present. We get plenty of scene time with various other favorites who keep the dialogue hilarious and the story flowing smoothly. There is a scene that may shock readers. Not the event itself as much as the character it concerns. *sad moment*
The main conflict of the story is a whirlwind of intrigue, tension, and heart stopping action as Kate finds herself in the middle of a political catastrophe where being the Beast Lord’s consort works against her. Multiple sub stories race though the book, twisting and turning to close previous open storylines while giving us hints to new ones. Kate learns more about Roland’s end game while being introduced to possible allies who, like her, are not impressed with daddy dearest. Villains galore run rampant through this installment; from hilariously vapid to down right scary. There is one scene that had me giggling like a fiend as they all play “who’s the biggest monster here.”
“You are trapped with us. Give money!” “You have it wrong, dear. We are not trapped with you. You’re trapped with us.”
A series of diabolical events set in motion by the villains ends in a climactic finale that guarantees the final coming battle against Roland and his army will be brutal and deadly.
Magic Rises more then rises to the occasion in this delightfully funny, dark, high octane action packed installment that addresses love, loss, and choices. This series just keeps getting better and better. I honestly can’t think of one single problem I had about this book. The storylines and direction they take are top-notch. The way it ends opens up a new future, and I am sure a new set of troubles for Kate to drag Curran and the pack into. Sure to appeal to all fans of urban fantasy and the mythological world and characters Ilona Andrews has created in their bestselling Kate Daniels series. I do not recommend starting the series here. The arc is long reaching and the characters and storylines bleed over without much recap.
Favorite Quote: “…this gypsy girl happens to have a grandma who can curse you so bad that your dick will fall off, so watch your step…”
First off let me say I LOVE Jennifer Estep’s adult Elemental series. So when I heard she was writing a YA series I begged, pleaded, schemed, and had some “not so proud moments” in order to secure an ARC Of A Touch Of Frost. Having just finished this book I can honestly say that I can live with what I did to get it.
Gwen Frost is a gypsy; like her mother and grandmother before her. Her gift is touch. Meaning that she can get pictures, emotions, and background from objects and people she touches. When her mother is killed in a drunk driving accident, her grandmother feels it’s time for her to understand her gifts and enrolls her into the Mythos Academy; a school for mythical children. Here she will learn to be a warrior. But Mythos Academy isn’t what Gwen expected. An uber prep school for the children of the rich and famous gods and goddesses, Gwen doesn’t feel she fits in next to rich princess Valkyries, gorgeous Spartans, and stuck up Amazons. As Gwen tries to maneuver her way through school without drawing attention to herself, she and another student are attacked in the library. The other student, Jasmine Ashton, is killed and a sacred artifact is stolen. An artifact that can help Loki escape his prison and bring about the second Chaos war.
Gwen wants to know why Jasmine was killed and proceeds to investigate her death. She gets help from two unexpected allies. Daphne Cruz, a Valkyrie and one of Jasmine’s best friends, and Logan Quinn, a very hawt Spartan who seems very interested in Gwen. Mysterious accidents, dark magic, and talking swords are only the beginning as Gwen slowly finds out that nothing is as it seems at Mythos Academy and if she isn’t careful, she may not last the year.
Fantastic world building draws in in from the first page and holds you captive till till the last. I love the idea of a school where snooty stronger then life mythological kids go yet they have deal with regular everyday problems. Prom, underage drinking, and dating all centering around a Greek and Roman mythological base. Ms. Estep has a wonderful “voice” of realism that that draws you in and has you believing that all this could really happen. A largely character driven novel, I found A Touch Of Frost to contain smooth writing, fast pacing, and engaging witty dialogue.
I fell in love with the characters in here. Personable, engaging, and witty with a realistic baseline; you find yourself instantly able to relate to them. Gwen is a wonderful protagonist. Having just lost her mom and stuck in a school where she feels inferior, you’d expect some pity or angst in her voice yet she deals with her problems in a quiet way-with class and snark. I like that Gwen isn’t empowered with the skill of a warrior or the strength of the gods. She admits she sucks at sword play and can barely lift her book bag. She’s a human with a gift and Ms. Estep keeps her that way.
Logan Quinn is the bad boy of the story. Gorgeous, dangerous, and flirty, he zeros in on Gwen but she proves she can more then hold her own with him. He has been added to my book boyfriend list. There are hints in the book that led you to believe that Logan may have a dark past and no matter what happens, he and Gwen will tangle in the future. Perfectly snobby classmates and cryptic professors round out the story beautifully.
The main conflict is an interesting who dun it that brings mythology into the modern world. It kept me well in the dark till almost the very end but even guessing what happened didn’t stop the story from being intriguing. The ending is rich in tension as it reveals our villain and their reasoning behind the murder and theft. We are also clued into Gwen’s main reason for being sent to Mythos which guaranteed (one way or another-cue the daunting music) this reviewer will be reading the next in the series, Kiss Of Frost, which releases December 2011.
Favorite Quote: “You got me a Buns Of The Month subscription?”
Charlie Madigan, ITF agent, has had a very hard year. Dying and brought back to life, she has acquired unknown powers and gifts that have yet to fully reveal themselves. Her ex husband cheated on her and became of victim of his own black magic use. She has inherited an illegal hellhound who adores her daughter and when she accepts the DNA from two off world races in order to save her daughter’s life, she unwittingly covers Atlanta in darkness and has yet to figure out how to remove it. She also is dealing with her feelings for her sexy siren partner Hank. Especially after an altercation with him leaves her bearing his mark. Is it the mark or the man who has Charlie’s heart in a twist? Now someone in the Sons Of Dawn cult is ordering the ash addicts to kill themselves and she has to find the culprit before her sister, Byrn, becomes the next victim. With time running out, Charlie makes a deal with four ancient beings and is forced to enter Hell (Charbydon) with Rex and Hank in order to keep her sister alive.
There are some little spoilers from previous books in here so proceed at your own caution.
The Hour Of Dust And Ashes is the third book in Ms. Gray’s dark and gritty urban fantasy thriller that combines strong personable characters with an ever evolving world that keeps you hanging on to the edge till the end. Filled with emotional and realistic situations, it’s the perfect balance of power and vulnerability. We are not burdened with over ripe angst or ridiculous unbelievable feats. Plot action and sizzling tension is tempered with humor and everyday life.
I absolutely adore this series. A character driven series, we share an intimate connection with Charlie Madigan. Her pain, her sorrow, and her triumphs are also ours. It has been a thrilling ride as we have watched her grow from a lonely figure to having a more enjoyable and intimate connection with her family and friends. Her strong personality and values shine through more and more with each book. She is still scared but she is learning how to trust in herself and others. The world building stays fresh and exciting with constant evolution as we travel through an alternative magical version of Atlanta, GA. Smooth steady pacing and exciting informative dialogue keeps our attention firmly fixed on the prize.
This world that Ms. Gay has created fascinates me with its faint religion based mixture of alien races, called off-worlders. The “heavenly” Elysia and “hellish” Charbydon are presented in the story as the basis for our perceived heaven and hell. Ms. Gay takes it a step further by allowing the off worlders to come forward and integrate into our society thus effectively shattering our religious illusions. We and the humans learn that they have been with us for thousands of years, using our world as their personal battle ground. I like that she stops there and chooses not to further incorporate a religious theme into the storyline. As the three races continue to intersect and mingle, Charlie and her partner Hank are being drawn towards a war that may end end them all. Smooth steady pacing and exciting informative dialogue keeps our attention firmly fixed on the prize
Our protagonist, Charlie Madigan, is the ultimate heroine. Strong, intelligent, and most of all human. Well, almost. Her vulnerability keeps her grounded and approachable as a character. She is a single mother who’s life has been turned upside down, yet she strives to do the right thing for her family and friends, regardless of the outcome. She doesn’t rely on her unpredictable powers to do her job for her. Plain, old fashioned detective work helps her solve her cases. Hank, an off worlder, is a siren and her partner. He is walking sex on a stick and in the beginning of the series, you sensed Charlie’s unease with him. Yet as we and Charlie have gotten to know him, you get the feeling that Hank wants more from Charlie and Charlie isn’t oblivious to him either. She is unsure though because in Better Part Of Darkness, he gave her a mark in a fit of anger that makes her feel good when she’s around him. She is unsure where she stands with him. Is it the man or the siren that calls to her? She also has the normal insecurities of a female faced with a man who can make everyone’s panties drop in a 20 mile radius just with a smile. She can’t phantom why he would want her. The chemistry between them is sexy and hot and the dialogue is humorous with a sensual undertone that had me hoping in my chair in excitement.
“For the record,” he said, looking up at me with a crooked smile, “this is not how I pictured removing your pants for the first time.”
“That confidant, are we?” His smiled filled out, deep and brimming with humor. “When something is this inevitable. Yes.”
“You’re wearing Spongebob underwear.”
My gaze flew downward and my mortification was complete. “Patrick is on my ass.”
“I can take off the voice-mod Charlie.” Hank’s voice dropped. “I can make you feel better with a word.”
I couldn’t help but wonder what he would say. How it would feel. Silly girl. You know exactly how it would feel. And without a doubt I would like it way too much.
Our cast of supporting characters are still as vivid and dynamic as ever. Each one fully capable of holding their own story. I like that each have their own distinct, separate personalities and sub stories; ensuring they are never overwhelmed by our protagonists. Emma, Charlie’s daughter, has had to grow up fast in the last year but holds her own brilliantly. She is a strong presence in the book and the love she and Charlie share is physically shown through out the book. Rex, the reverent, has also become a permanent fixture in the storyline so much so that I cannot imagine him not being there. Living with Charlie and Emma, he may inhabit her ex husband Will’s body but he is 100% mischievous Rex. Regardless of his personal agenda, he will do anything to protect Emma and Charlie.
“Your work’s not bad,“ he told Rex, mistakenly attributing the mark to him.
Oh boy. A blinding grin split Rex’s face. “Why thank you. It keeps my old lady…in line.”
“Come on, let’s go get Em. We can stop for ice cream on the way home. “
“You think this is an ice cream moment?”
He paused, carefully, as though treading on shaky ground. “Ummm….yes?”
I didn’t respond.
“No?” “This is a Charlie needs to kiss someone’s ass moment?”
The oracle Alessandra is still messing with Charlie and provides a few good laughs as she once again confuses Charlie with her “visions”. We see more old friends in here and get to meet a few new ones with an expansion in the off world backgrounds and practices storyline. In here we learn even more about life on Elysia and Charbydon and the reasons some of those species prefer living on Earth.
The main conflict of the story is a whirlwind of suspense, tension, and action as Charlie has to stop a madman from killing off ash addicts and survive needed gifts from a group of ancient sylphs. Multiple subplots intertwine through out the main conflict, giving us clues to the next book’s main conflict.
Charlie and Hank’s investigation leads them back to the Son Of Dawn cult and Carrig, a High Lord in Charbydon, who Charlie still doesn’t trust. While you really don’t see the villain in here till almost the end, they are still a force to be reckoned with. A series of events set in motion by their actions changes everyone’s lives at the end and not all for the better.
The conclusion is heart stopping and left me shocked speechless. A dramatic finale that wraps up a huge storyline but opens another that left me shaking with the need for book 4 now. Ms. Gay’s Charlie Madigan series is one of my top Urban fantasy series to read and I cannot recommend it enough to everyone who enjoys a dark gritty read with plenty of action, suspense, and humor to keep you entertained till the very last page. I advise you start from the beginning, The Better Part Of Darkness, as the characters and main arc evolve in each book and bleed over to the next.
Favorite Quote: “Hellooo. I’m a Horseman of the Apocalypse, and I’m betrothed to the most infamous, most powerful demon in existence. I couldn’t draw more attention to myself if I wore Lady Gaga’s meat dress to a PETA convention. “
Limos has problems. One of the four Horseman of the Apocalypse, she was born and raised as a demon princess in hell. Her mother, Lilith, promised her to Satan as a bride when she was an infant. She eventually escaped Hell, reconnected with her brothers, and now is trying to do whatever she can to avoid her seal being broken; thus pushing the world one step closer to Armageddon. As a 5,000 year old virgin with a chastity belt that cuts off anything that comes near her, Limos spends the majority of her time alone.
When Arik, a member of a special military branch that has been fighting the supernaturals and the coming apocalypse, gives into to his urges and plants a big wet one on her, he goes to hell in a hand basket. Literally. Part of Satan’s claim on Limos is that if anyone kisses her and can be made to scream out her name in anguish, then she will willingly take her place at Satan’s side. For eternity.
Now Limos has to make some difficult choices to make that could spell disaster for her, Arik, and the world.
I am a HUGE fan of Larissa Ione and her Demonica series. A sensual action packed PNR series that will have you looking all over for a sexy demon to call your own. Lords Of Deliverance is a spin off of that series. Often when an author creates a spin off of a popular series, they have a 50/50 chance with the spin off. Either it will be loved or hated. This one, by all accounts, is much loved. I myself find it to be somewhat better then the Demonica series in that it is darker and not as predictable.
Immortal Rider has to be her best one to date. It slams you out of the gate and doesn’t slow down till you reach the last page. Incredible world building allows for easy comprehension even though it is rather convoluted. Filled with dark action and snark, you will find yourself devouring each page as new subplots yield bigger clues and dangerous situations, leading us towards our final outcome.
Limos and Arik are fabulous characters both together and separate. Limos is not an easy woman to like. Strong, fierce, and immortal… she carries a lot of guilt over past deeds and lies and it tends to give her a certain, laissez-faire attitude. Arik is the only man in centuries who has made her feel something and she works tirelessly to free him from Hell. Of course, it helps that Shade (hero from Desire Unchained) is his brother-in -law, and he is riding her to do something or else. Limos’s brother Pestilence, the only horseman whose seal has broken (Sin Undone) and is actively evil, blackmails her into helping him in exchange for freeing Arik from Hell. Limos soon learns that no good deed goes unpunished when she fully understands the chaos her helping Pestilence has unleashed.
Arik has some not so pretty secrets of his own that come to light after Pestilence sticks his hand in and stirs up the mixture. I loved the combination of strength and vulnerability that fills Arik. Coming from an abusive childhood, he has risen above it all and accepts both his good and bad side. He is unbelievably tortured in Hell yet not once does it even occur to him to say Limos’s name. He has a good heart and the gentleness and understanding he shows Limo makes him a winner in my book. Once he is rescued it’s heartbreaking to watch him try and understand that he is really free and it’s not just one more trick to make him suffer.
Though you don’t get as much smexy time in here as you did in Eternal Rider, the chemistry and sexual dialogue between Limos and Arik is off the charts. You never have a doubt they will come together and when they do-WATCH OUT. Arik spends his time telling Limos in great detail what and how he will make her his and it is unbearable hot. It’s hilarious watching Thanatos and Ares as they try and comes to terms that someone may be trying to have sex with their baby sister. They are both so freaked out by the whole situation you can’t help but laugh as they try so hard not to kill Arik and bury him in a deep, deep hole.
We see many old faces in here from this series and her Demonica series; adding depth and continence to the ever evolving arc. There are some fabulous side stories that will leave you panting for more as Ms. Ione teases you with hints of her plans for Reaver, Harvester, and Thanatos. In fact, Thanatos’s story left me feeling quite protective of him and, well, you’ll just have to read this to find out why.
The ending is an intense, emotional mash up of action, deception, and betrayal as Ms. Ione further sets the stage for what is sure to be a battle of a lifetime. Immortal Rider is perfect for all paranormal romance readers who love their heroes and heroines to be kick ass, sexy, funny, and always willing to cross the line.
Demon Marked (Guardians #7) by Meljean Brook September 6, 2011 Paranormal Romance Paperback Berkley
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “The Guardians are proof that the universe likes to reward those who sacrifice themselves for others-but I’ve never been interested in that martyr bullshit. So… we have to get that reward some other way. Me? I lied, cheated, and killed my way into it. I paid for it in blood…and I would have paid more if I had to. But I’d be damned before I let that price be our lives or my soul on that field.”
Demon Marked is the 7th installment in Meljean Brooks dark and captivating Guardians series. We met our hero, Nicholas St. Croix in Demon Blood . Not a primary character then, in here we find out more about Nick and what his interest is in the Guardian/Demon war.
Nicholas is a volatile tortured man. He has waited six long years for revenge against his “mother. Psychologically hurt as a child by a demon, Madeline, inhabited his mother’s body, he trusts no one and keeps his emotions buried deep never allowing anyone to get close to him. When he grew to adulthood, he set in motion his plans to destroy his “mother” but she was always one step ahead of him. When Madeline attempts to kill him and his lover Rachel dies as the result, Nicholas’s plans for revenge reach a new level and he vows nothing will stop him until he or she is dead. When a woman appears at his lover’s old apartment, Nicholas is elated, thinking Rachael is back. Ash is the exact replica of his lover, Rachel, only when Nicholas kisses her, he realizes that she is a demon.
Ash wakes up in a hospital not knowing who or what she is. She spends three years in the psychiatric facility trying to remember anything that may explain why she is there. When she breaks into her Doctor’s office and reads his notes, she realizes that he has been keeping her there and he’s known all along. Ash escapes and uses what feels familiar to guide her to Rachel’s apartment. There she comes across Nicholas St. Croix. When Nick realizes she is not Rachel but actually a demon he decides to use her to find Madeline. He forces a bargain on Ash. If she helps him find Madeline he will help her with her memories. Nick and Ash start out rocky. He refuses to trust her as she is a demon but Ash is the strangest demon he has ever met. She exhibits no known demon tricks and seems to genuinely want to help him. The more time they spend together results in some interesting changes. Nick realizes that she is as much a victim in this as he is and his feelings slowly begin to change towards her. He goes from wanting her dead to just plain wanting her.
I absolutely love Ash. Her mannerisms crack me up. She has no memories but also no emotions. She is like a glass that has been emptied. She has no filters and no idea how to act ‘human’. Witnessing her developing a personality is hilarious. She tries very hard to make Nick laugh and like her and presents it all in a package of charming innocence and naiveté.
“I didn’t say it wouldn’t be effective. It’s just not original. And if I think it’s cliché, when my only experience with demons is what seems familiar from books and movies, then the whole ‘killing a boy’s dog’ thing must really be tired.
An odd way to come around to it, but she wasn’t wrong. “So it is,” he agreed.
“I’d rather be a clever demon. Perhaps that’s why it is taking so long to come up with a plot against you. My standards are too high.”
When she gets it in her head that she has to see Nick naked, I found myself choking with laughter.
“What is your plot, then?”
“To tell you about all the dried semen in this room. I’m hoping it makes you feel skeevy enough to take another shower, and that gives me another chance to see you naked.”
“Why do you want to see me naked?”
“Because you don’t want me to see you naked. I want to know why. I also think that I’d like looking at your ass, and I want to see whether you lied about your not-monstrous genitals. For all I know, the truth is that you really only have one leg, but prop yourself up with a dragon-sized penis.”
“So you say, but it’s difficult to trust humans who aren’t bound by a demonic bargain to tell the truth.”
Nicholas has had it rough and you can not blame him for his prejudices. I really like that even though he hates demons with a passion, he doesn’t see the Guardians as the automatic good guys. A conversation with Taylor about Rosalia that sums up the whole situation:
“How is Rosalia?”
“Concerned about you.”
“ Ah yes. The mother to everyone.”
“Better then your mother.”
“Is she? She lies, she manipulates. I don’t see the difference personally.”
That is the beginning where we begin to see that while the much older Guardians believe the means will always justify the end, the younger Guardians have a problem with that. They don’t believe that automatic sacrifice is an acceptable price to pay in this war. The younger Guardians are dragging the older Guardians in to the present; questioning and demanding answers, whether they want it or not. That’s what I love about this series. Good and evil are not clearly defined. They all walk a fine line. There are rules that must be followed (interesting rules that are further explained in here) in every interaction and the Guardians bend and manipulate those rules just as much as the demons.
In Demon Blood,book 6, Rosalia goes to her friend, a priest, and tries to gain absolution for what she has done and will do.
"I’ve forced a good man onto a path with me. I cannot win without his help. But he has not offered it. I am using him."
"So you are no better then the demons."
"I’d like to think I have better intentions…"
"I imagine you do like to think that. But if the suffering of even one good man is needed to gain victory, it is not a true victory."
Right there is the gist of this book. No matter what the prophecy has foretold or what the Guardians have foreseen, everything comes down to free will. No matter what side of the war you stand on-good or bad-how you choose to conduit yourself is what actually determines the purity of your soul. Frankly, I find the older Guardians to be almost as bad as the demons-in fact worse-because they use duplicity to achieve their goals all while hiding behind their self righteousness. With Lucifer and the demons you know they’ll lie, cheat, and steal and that makes them more honest.
I am enamored with this whole series and it continues to enchant me with each new storyline. Ms. Brooks world is dark and violent; filled with deception, betrayal, and death, but it’s the characters that really draws me into this series. Three dimensional with viable personalities that all have the ability to support their own storylines. Fast pacing and a steady storyline keeps Ash and Nick rolling along in a believable timeline and allows their romance to bloom naturally and realistically. It isn’t easy for them-each carrying some heavy baggage. Not a lot of visible sexy time in here but the dialog between them makes for some heavy, emotional scenes.
The continuing misdirection on Ms. Brooks part keeps you on your toes as you try and often fail, in figuring out who to trust and who not to. We see many old face in here; Lillith, Khavi (who needs a serious take down) , and Taylor. Especially Taylor. I cannot wait for her and Michael’s book, which I hear is the next in the series. We’ve all been waiting and I have no fear that it will disappoint.
All in all, Ms. Brook’s Guardians series is an action packed PNR that uses taunt suspense and intrigue to keep you hooked till the last page. As long as Ms. Brook keeps writing-I’ll keep reading.
Favorite Quote: “ You can take that Tinkerbell shit and shove it up your ass. “
There are some spoilers from book 2 in here so proceed at your own risk.
If You Know Her is the conclusion to Shiloh walker’s exciting, nerve racking, explosive romantic suspense Ash Trilogy. She has led us on a merry chase as we watch a town terrorized by a serial killer scramble to stop him from claiming anymore victims. Though a fan of everything Ms. Walker writes, I am bias in my thinking that she absolutely kicks arse in romantic suspense. Not only does Ms. Walker deliver her trademark scorching hot love scenes and dynamic, personable characters in here but she goes above and beyond in creating a suspense that will keep you perched on the edge until the very end. Exciting pacing and a dramatic multilayered storyline will hold you hostage as the tension builds through the book, increasing with each new revelation. Ms. Walker gives us two wonderfully strong and charismatic protagonists in the form of Nia Hollister and Law Reilly.
Nia and Law first met with dubious results in If You See Her. Nia is the cousin of the first murder victim and comes to Ash to identify the body and try to figure out what happened. She was out of the country when her cousin was murdered and the guilt has her doing some investigating on her own. She is accosted by the town gossip and goes on a rampage, pulling a gun on Hope and Law, demanding they confess to her cousin’s murder. Law is instantly fascinated by Nia, and can’t stop thinking about her after she leaves.
“Stupid, he knew, being that hung up on a woman with that kind of reckless disregard. Even now he found himself wondering what that mouth of hers would feel like pressed against his. How she would taste. How she would feel if he pressed her up against a wall, then pressed himself against her…”
When she comes back to Ash, she instantly gravities to Law and they begin to work together to find the killer because neither of them believe the official story that Hope’s ex husband was the serial killer.
The sparks light the pages on fire from the moment these two first meet. The characterization of these two is so real in their personalities and actions. Both are intelligent, aggressive, independent loners. They have their own way of doing things and aren’t concerned in how others view them. I like that there were no huge hurdles or misunderstandings with their relationship to weigh their story down. The extreme steamy sexual heat these two generate will leave you exhausted as you watch them find their way in to each others arms.
“ …he wanted, so bad, to stretch her back out on the bed and learn every inch of her lovely body, first with his eyes, then with his hands, then with his mouth.”
What starts as lust develops into to an explosive love affair that is stunning to watch unfold. The romance balances nice with the main conflict-each a main component to the story and play off each other well.
Our villain comes alive in this installment. We learn of his reasoning’s behind his killing spree and the path he has chosen to take in this story. Ms. Walker did a fabulous job of hiding in him plain sight and while I had inking of who it might be, I wasn’t absolutely sure until she revealed it. His character is multi faceted and leaves you chilled as you realize the sheer magnitude of what he has done, hidden behind the normal facade he presents to the town. His narcissistic personality is so shocking in it’s duplicity that you can’t help but be impressed with him. It’s an interesting story line as we flash between his POV and the other character’s POVs. Other characters maintain their larger then life roles and continue to deepen the storyline. Our previous protagonists; Ezra and Lena, Hope and Remy continue to be central figures in this storyline as they join with Nia and Law to try and solve this case. I enjoyed the animosity that sparks between Hope and Nia. Law may think Nia is the cherry on his sundae but Hope isn’t so forgiving.
The ending is a roller coaster ride of mixed emotions as we take dangerous curves and stomach turning loops, flinging us towards an explosive confrontation that leaves no one untouched. Ms. Walker wraps up this series in a concise fashion that answers all our questions and leaves us with a HEA for our heroes and heroines. I can’t recommend this trilogy enough and proclaim it a must have for all romantic suspense fans. I don’t recommend reading it out of order. Ms. Walker’s unique set up and endings for the first two books make it almost impossible to understand what is happening if you do not start with book one-If You Hear Her.
Killer Frost is the sixth and final book in Jennifer Estep’s action packed mythological based urban fantasy series-Mythos Academy. A YA series that has followed high schooler, Gwen Frost, through her trials and tribulations as she is unceremoniously pulled into a secret war between the gods and goddesses. Heralded as Nike’s Champion, Gwen and her talking sword, Vic, learned in Midnight Frost (book five) that Gwen holds the key to defeating Lori and his band of Reapers. She just needs to figure out what that key is before Lori rises fully and destroys Gwen and everyone she loves.
TORI: So May, what did you think of Estep’s and Gwen’s finale? Overall I enjoyed the story though there were a few things that dragged it down for me. It starts out with Gwen having to use her gift to read some mythological artifacts. Rumor has it the Reapers are looking for one artifact in particular that will complete Loki’s transformation and everyone hopes Gwen will discover something that points them in the right direction. An attack by the Reapers pushes Gwen towards discovering the correct artifact but when the Reapers attack again, to close to home, Gwen takes matters into her own hands.
The book starts out slow in my opinion as Estep sets up the story line and places the players in position. There is still some uneasiness between Gwen and Logan and I liked that. In reality, he has let her down quite a few times and though she loves him, the trust is still trying to rebuild. Plus, it reinforces that for all that Gwen has been through, she is still a teenager with all the angst and drama that goes along with it. I also enjoyed her anger. Anger she is entitled to. She didn’t grow up in this world and she is unable to accept the unspoken adage that some losses are okay in order to win the war. Especially since she has lost so much to it. One aspect that did bother me was Gwen had a few to many pity parties in the beginning. She continues to bemoan being the Champion, her parent’s deaths, ect…What did you think, May?
MAY: I really hate to admit this Tori, but I had a hard time staying interested and actually reading this book. A number of times I actually had to force myself to not skim. I feel like I’ve known what the overall outcome was going to be of this series since the start and so for me I didn’t have a sense of urgency with this book.
Now don’t kick me out of the J.E. fanclub!! Seriously – this was a great series and I do think it was time for it to end. I liked knowing that there would be a set number of books and that when the story of Gwen battles Loki ended, the series would end.
Where to start talking about this book in particular? Well since I already admitted I had a bit of trouble being invested in it – let’s get dirty. I’ve gotta say I’m tired of the “Gwen the good girl who never puts out” squeaky clean bit. As a character Gwen has been getting on my nerves lately but I feel like she has this smugness to her – she’s so good, she’s such a champion, clearly she has control always. I wanted more darkness, more depth, and more raging teen hormones with Gwen! Get out of control, girl! Ok, so I know that we were not going to get any heat with this series (it is YA, after all) and I agree with Estep’s choice there. Annnnnnd now I’m dying to throw a “but” in here so I will stop typing and turn it back over to you!
TORI: I have to agree with you, May. As this is the last book in the series, the foreshadowing up till now pretty much tells us what’s going to happen and a little of the how. Similar to Midnight Frost, I felt this installment wasn’t as action packed as books one thru four. Once again, the focus is placed primarily on Gwen and her actions and reactions to events unfolding. I did wish for more darkness and depth. I do feel she achieves some of this towards the end but it resolves too easily to allow for any real sense of anticipation.
Since Logan and Gwen’s quintessential conflict which places them at odds, I too wanted them to have a special make up moment to solidify their love and commitment to one another. Of course, we weren’t going to get that. Sex isn’t on the table in YA that often and Estep uses Gwen as the first true love in Logan’s life. She changes him. I do feel his role went from an equal protagonist to a sidekick after they started dating and that bothered me a little. Rather, they conflict with each other until one needs saving, then all is forgiven.
Now on to the secondary characters. May, how did you feel their roles towards the end correlated with how they have been characterized through the series?
MAY: I think Estep was very consistent with her voice throughout the series – and with her characters as well. This is something I always love about her writing! I feel like if a character changes or develops in new surprising ways you can look back and see the reasoning or even realize you should have seen it coming. Love it when she surprises me.
When it comes to the secondary characters, I feel like some really developed nicely and others were always just filler. Nicomedes was by far and away the big surprise through this series for me – he added so much in his own ways, and he was a highlight of this book for me. Especially for a YA series – I really like seeing an adult character who is respected and who adds to the story as he did. Teenagers most certainly do not know it all – despite what they may think.
I did not find myself surprised, impressed, or otherwise happy with any of the other adults in this book of the series which was a disappointment. Grandma, Matis, Nike, and even Logan’s dad seemed like they all had more potential for Gwen’s story. How did you feel about them?
TORI: I agree with you across the board. Estep has a fabulous voice that does well for adult and YA. I never felt as though I was just reading the story. She easily drags me in and consumes me. Nicomedes had to be, by far, my favorite character. He was the most developed and dynamic of the secondary characters. I enjoyed watching him and Gwen go from frenemies to allies to friends. Was it just me or did you get the feeling that “Professor Snapes” finally got his happily ever after? I couldn’t help but compare the two as the arc progressed. As for the other characters, they were all pretty much were regulated to a standby position, used to reinforce and elevate Gwen’s character. I was deflated by their lack of action in this installment. Though, I’m glad someone finally got their moment in the sun. *grin*
The storyline was predictable but the journey was interesting. I think the path Gwen chooses to take is noteworthy in it’s undertaking but reflects back on what you mentioned, May. Her need to be “the one.” I was irritated by her all her secrecy though she does explain her reasons why in a way that is understandable. Loki’s appearance definitely amps up the action and drama in the storyline, adding a sense of seriousness and dread to the storyline that’s been missing, but it wasn’t delivered with the “punch” I thought it would have. Vivian and Agrona were good, but after Crimson Frost, they seemed to have developed a juvenile tone in their scenes. What did you think, May?
MAY: I totally agree with you. In fact, I was going to comment on the overall juvenile (great choice of words, Tori!) feel to the villains. Even Loki felt like a cheap punchline and not a real threat. I needed a lot more from the bad guys, especially since they were the entire focus of this book. We didn’t have Gwen learning, growing, doing other stuff – she was 100% kicking ass and finishing up with them. I think that hurt the strength of this book for me because I was waiting for her to deal with a worthy adversary instead of trotting around so easily.
For me, this hurt the power of her choices at the end of the book because while yes, she’s been through hell and back, in this particular book she really hadn’t. As it has been quite a few months since reading the last book the power of previous events wasn’t still with me as I read.
Reading this book actually has me wanting to re-read the whole series though. Mostly because I think this is a series that would read much stronger if done back-to-back vs over a number of years as we did.
TORI: Yes, that is a good point. It’s such a strong cohesive series with so many ongoing plot lines, the time between each book seems to dampen the edge. The internal drama that usually surrounded Gwen wasn’t there. Her choices aren’t really choices. The path in here is predetermined and there wasn’t room to maneuver beyond it. Regardless of my issues, I do feel Estep wrapped this series in an acceptable fashion, giving us a action packed ending and some clues to the Gwen and Logan’s future. Small clues hint that perhaps Estep may revisit this world again. All in all, I was happy with the conclusion and will miss this series now that it has ended. I don’t recommend new readers starting here. The series is on going with an evolving arc that doesn’t do an in depth recap.
Favorite Quote: “ I understand your reasoning. Really, I do. But don’t expect me to save you in return.”
MAY: While this wasn’t the strongest book in the series, it is a fitting conclusion. I really liked how she ended this series, giving us enough information and a leisurely last few chapters to draw our own conclusions and say goodbye to this cast of characters. Overall, sitting on my shelf the complete series will be an excellent read for my daughters in a few years but also as enjoyable for myself to re-read.
“You know how… clumsy I can be with things especially artifacts. Who knows? I might… lose it or something.”
“It’s a risk I’m willing to take Gwendolyn,” Nickamedes replied in a soft voice. “Even if others are not.”
The librarian stared at me again, and I saw the certainty blazing in his eyes, along with his faith- in me.
Kit Rocha has done it again with the third installment of their Beyond series-Beyond Pain. Set in a post apocalyptic world of drugs, gangs, sex, an...more4.5
Kit Rocha has done it again with the third installment of their Beyond series-Beyond Pain. Set in a post apocalyptic world of drugs, gangs, sex, and violence, Beyond Pain brings us the story of Bren and Six. Six, a former rival gang member was captured by the O'Kane's during a turf war. Six has no love for her former gang nor their now dead leader who abused her both physically and sexually. Now living with the O'Kanes, she finds herself wanting to expand her horizons and experience a sexual relationship that is consensual.
Bren, a former soldier for the Elite, was branded a traitor and exiled from Eden (the walled city. He hooked up with the O'Kane's and is now a high ranking member. He has been helping Six regain her confidence by teaching her how to defend herself and showing her that not all gangs are like her former one. A man who lives by keeping control, he finds himself becoming more and more inclined to lose it when it comes to Six.
As Six and Bren begin their courtship dance, Six learns that sex and violence can go hand in hand when it's consensual and that in regaining her sexuality, she regains the freedom she thought she lost.
Beyond Pain is so far my favorite book in the series. A more traditional romance in comparison to the other two, I absolutely feel in love with Six and Bren. They both have a calm steady natures and neither feel the need to dramatize everything. I enjoyed watching them work on their individual issues and learning to communicate their wants and needs. Bren never made Six feel ashamed of or unable to do anything she wanted to do; from being a bouncer at the bar to having sex while watching a threesome. The emotional base was hot and needy as these two struggle to find a balance that can benefit them both. I liked that Six wasn't a novice to the workings of the gangs. Unlike Noelle, she isn't an innocent, yet she also isn't as bold as Lexie. She is a combo of the two that fit perfectly with Bren's personality.
A filthy, sexy, hot as hell series that continues to offer mind blowing erotic romances between tough as hell characters to produce an outstanding story.(less)
Laurenston does it again with the ninth installment in her hilarious, sexy and action-packed Pride series. Bite Me introduces readers to a whole new breed of shifters — who have the rest of the shifters hiding their valuables when this new breed comes rolling in to town. A fun romance blends well with the engaging storyline and multiple subplots. Nonstop action and crazy antics keep this world delightfully fresh. If you enjoy laughter, witty banter and unforgettable characters in your paranormal romance, you’ll be addicted to Laurenston’s Pride series.
Hybrid shifter Vic Barniov likes his life to be quiet and orderly, but that carefully controlled existence gets blown to smithereens every time he comes home to find honey badger Livy Kowalski burrowing into his cabinets and eating his honey. Livy drives Vic insane in all the right ways, and Vic sets out to convince Livy that being in his bed and using the front door isn’t the end of the world. Livy enjoys her nomadic lifestyle, using it to avoid her criminally insane family. But she can’t avoid them forever; especially when her father passes away. When she discovers her father died under suspicious circumstances, Livy reaches out to her family — and soon chaos reigns supreme. But when someone wants Livy to stop asking questions and they almost succeed in silencing her permanently, Vic shows the world why you shouldn’t mess with hybrids.
The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire #2) by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith Urban Fantasy Paperback September 6, 2011 Prometheus Bo...moreOriginally posted at
The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire #2) by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith Urban Fantasy Paperback September 6, 2011 Prometheus Books
Favorite Quote: “Fine, I was brooding. It’s not like you don’t.”
“Mine’s inherent in my romantic nature. Cloaks and castles.”
“That’s it. You are forbidden to look at anymore cheap books about yourself.”
Note:There are some mild spoilers from book one in here.
At the end of book one, The Greyfriar, Adele is back with her family in Equatoria, recovering from her experiences with Prince Cesare and being held captive at his vampire holding in London. Adele also learned the identity of the elusive Greyfriar and found herself rethinking many of her own personal prejudices. The Greyfriar has retreated to his own estate and they both are doing their best to forget each other. With an unavoidable war brewing between the vampires and the humans; they know there can never be anything between them.
At the beginning of The Rift Walker, Adele is trying her best to delay her wedding to the obnoxious American, Senator Miles Clark, who wants her crown and her country for himself. She has fallen for the mysterious Greyfriar despite learning who he really is and finds herself unable to forget about him. When Adele learns of a plan by her father and the Senator to use humans as fodder in their war against the vampires, Adele attempts to call off the wedding only to learn it is being held in two weeks regardless of her feelings. While Adele is trying to come to terms with her upcoming nuptials, Greyfriar learns her life is in danger and races to her rescue, effectively spiriting her away from her own wedding. As these two avoid her army and her “husband” they set in motion a chain of events that are staggering in the chaos they release.
The Rift Walker is an splendid continuation to the spellbinding magic of The Greyfriar. Filled with mind boggling political intrigue, betrayal, deception, magic and a healthy dose of romance-you will be once again swept away by this burgeoning epic saga. While The Greyfrair was a brilliant set up for this gothic, horrific, end of the world adventure in which vampires and humans work their way towards a war to end all wars; The Rift Walker expands this world while focusing on deeper development and commitment of the characters; especially our heroine Adele. Adele is a young woman who has matured in the past 3 months. Set to become the next Empress of Equatoia, she has grown into her expected role while settling comfortably into her own skin of expectations and values. If we we not sure before, we are sure now that Adele will be no one’s pawn again. Greyfriar is a solid commanding presence in the book though he takes a backseat to Adele in here. This is Adele’s story 100 percent. I love that while everyone in Adele’s life only sees parts of her (in relation to how they can benefit from her) Greyfriar sees the whole her; good and bad, and loves her regardless . Even knowing that there cannot be a happy ending for them. While the romance plays a heavier role in here then in book one, it continues to co exists comfortably with the main storyline rather then attempting to overshadow it.
The secondary characters are just as important and strongly defined as our protagonists. Rather then simply extending the storyline, they expand and lift it. Senator Clark, along with Flay, General Anhalt, and Mamoru all excel in their scenes and gift us with additional explanations and clues to the roles they are playing and will play in the third and final installment of this series. Additional characters are introduced that leave you shuddering at some introductions and laughing at others. Adele uses her intelligence and political savvy to garner herself additional allies to help her in her quest for her throne and to use as a shield against her husband’s and father’s political agendas.
“Let the senator come to me when we reach Bunia.”
Greyfriar started. “Are you sure?”
“I’m not afraid of him.”
“No, I shouldn’t think you would be,” Msiri laughed in complicity and clapped his hands together. He murmured to himself, “This will be an auspicious reunion. There may have to be cake.”
Multiple storylines and subplots run parallel and intertwine with some staggering revelations. Greyfriar is finding it harder and harder to maintain his anonymity while his brother Cesare has found humans who support his vampire agenda. Adele is learning who can and who can not be trusted as the net surrounding them all tightens. Everyone has their own agenda and I look forward to seeing how it all plays out in the end. Not that it is all doom and gloom though. There are quite a few humorous scenes and dialogue in here that engages the reader.
“You ate my food!” Jaga glared at Gareth. “And you try to kill me in front of my son! What sort of monster are you?”
Mr and Ms. Griffith have achieved a perfect balance of dark and light in this series. Enough angst and suspense to keep you glued to the pages while cleverly interjected humorous scenes keeps you from despairing that the outcomes will be anything but wanted.
As we race towards the end, we are once again given a clean viable ending to the main conflict with just enough left to chance to transition us seamlessly into the next book; title to be announced. Once again, Clay and Susan Griffith has managed to astound and captivate me with this series and I am both elated and saddened for the third and last book. The Vampire Empire series remains at the top of my must read list in Urban Fantasy.
While I enjoyed parts of the story, I felt it was too long, drawn out, and had a tendency to ramble. Also Ashley e...moreI don't even know how to rate this.
While I enjoyed parts of the story, I felt it was too long, drawn out, and had a tendency to ramble. Also Ashley essentially puts Frankie and Benny into a relationship without taking much effort to resolve the very issues that led to their falling out. Basically everything is forgiven once the Bianchis love her again. Frankie doesn't demand explanations, a little groveling, or even a simple sorry. She just smiles, hugs, and viola...all is better.
Favorite Quote: She’s died twice while protecting her city…and she’d do it again to save the people she loves.
Many fans including myself were not sure this particular book would come into existence after we were informed the series had been dropped by Meding’s publisher. I was pleased to see Meding decided to publish on her own and bring her fans book five-Requiem Of The Dead. Meding does a fabulous job of bringing readers up to speed with brief recaps from throughout the series and especially, book four, Wrong Side Of Dead.
Requiem Of The Dead picks up not long after Wrong Side Of Dead. One important aspect to remember about this series is that everything takes place in a relatively short time period. Only a few months go by between book one and now. Insane scientist William Thackery is dead though his experiments, Halfies (the goblin half breeds) are alive and well, multiplying at an unheard of rate. The Watchtower (an alliance group formed of supernatural clans and the hunters) is severely understaffed due to the vampire’s withdrawal of their support and the Assembly’s internal strife. Evy and Wyatt, along with various other enforcers and certain human allies are now responsible for protecting the entire city. When a rash of vicious goblin attacks begin to cripple the city, all clues circle back to Evy and her killing of the Goblin Queen in retaliation for her part in Evy’s torture and death.
As if Evy didn’t have enough on her plate, she is also trying to help Wyatt deal with his new half breed status, find some missing werewolf teens, and discover who has the cure for the vampire infection that is eradicating their race. Politics play hard and loose as Evy finds herself once again having to place her life on the line to save everything and everyone she loves.
I am a huge fan of Ms. Meding’s Dreg City series. A dark edgy Urban Fantasy filled with nail biting action, suspense, and intrigue. The originality of the world and it’s characters is what keeps me hooked in this series. The lines between good and evil are blurred; giving credence to knowledge that sometimes heroes and villains are only separated by a single action. Smooth writing, fast pacing, and engaging dialogue keeps you on your toes to the very end. A convoluted storyline engages us as we learn of the many supernatural factions and the human warriors who stand between them and us. Betrayal and redemption continue to be underlying themes as we watch our heroine navigate through her convoluted life.
Evy is a force to be reckoned with. She has learned the hard way what blind obedience can do and that colors every decision she makes from here on out. Ms. Meding has allowed her to grow within the storyline at a steady comfortable pace. Evy has accepted the body she now inhabits and her love for her former handler, Wyatt. Ms. Meding does a wonderful job of voicing Evy’s emotions for her boyfriend and the friends she had made along the way. Harsh betrayals by those she thought were friends left a vulnerability in Evy that she is still struggling to come to terms with. They were her family and she misses that security though she has begun to build another family unit filled with various human and supernatural entities. Courage and loyalty are her strongest points as she continuously tries to save a world that has done nothing but throw her to the wolves from day one. She’s not completely forgiving though. She will never trust those who betrayed her again and will show no mercy should they get in her way.
Wyatt, Evy’s ex-handler and current lover, has dealt admirably with the blows that continually strike Evy and him. Though their relationship is still feeling it’s way due to past events, they reach a sense of peace in here that offers a much needed break. They have more than earned it. Throughout the series Wyatt and Evy have both sacrificed much to be together. We see in here how Wyatt’s life has become much more complicated after being infected by a lupa-werewolf. Now considered a half breed, he finds himself an anomaly in a unknown long game. Regardless of his own issues though, he is a constant presence and we are left with no doubt where his loyalties lie.
There is a deep emotional aspect in here that began with book four and continues on in here. Evy is once again tested in ways that would destroy a lessor person yet she triumphs, not through supernatural means but through her strength and courageousness. One aspect of this series that never fails to astound me is the lack of fear Ms.Meding has in choosing to show the violence of an unsteady world and the huge risks she takes in regards to her characters. Chances are taken and while some bets pay off (within the story), others don’t and we are left to bear witness to the outcome. Some scenes in here take an emotional toil on your heart yet there is a ray of hope that lets you know things will continue to get better. I will say I missed Phin tremendously. He is such a large part of the series and Evy’s life. I’m looking forward to seeing him again soon.
The main conflict and events leading up to it’s climactic resolution are a stomach dropping rollercoaster ride of thrills and chills. There are some rough spots in here that had me jittery with nerves as I tried to figure out exactly how this would resolve itself. But Ms. Meding wondrous sleight of hand tricks allows us an acceptable outcome while leaving some issues open to ensure more exciting adventures for Evy and us are on the way.
Action, suspense, intrigue, and just the right amount of humor and romance makes Ms. Meding’s Dreg City series a must read for all noir urban fantasy aficionados.
Favorite Quote: “Never be afraid to dart around in public humming the Mission Impossible theme.”
Second Grave On The Left opens up one week after First Grave On The Right when Charlotte Davidson’s (Charley) secretary/bff Cookie comes to Charley needing help finding her old friend Mimi, who has suddenly disappeared off the face of the Earth. During Charley and Cookie’s investigation, they discover that Mimi’s high school classmates are being killed one by one and something from Mimi’s past is coming back for her. During all this, Charley is visited by Reyes (fangirl squeeee) in his incorporeal form, who commences to tell her he is being tortured by demons and is going to let his physical body die in order to save her, himself, and the world. While Charley is still not sure about the whole Satan/Angel portal deal and where she and Reyes fall into it, she is positive that she doesn’t want Reyes to kill off his body and decides she will just have to find him too. She also has to deal with the FBI, some mob wise guy fashionistas breaking in her house, and an annoying ghost that appears in her shower but won’t talk to her. How rude!
While book one, First Grave On The Right, had me howling with laughter as we got to know Charley Davidson and watched her snark her way through her job as the Grim Reaper, it’s here in book two, Second Grave On The Left, that we get more a personal and in depth look into Charley’s life and those that are part of it. Ms. Jones delicately enhances the main arc, adding tension and angst, while not sacrificing the characters or the overall appeal of the storyline.
Still chocked full of humor, snark, and plenty of adventurous action, Second Grave From The Left brings us some shocking revelations concerning Charley’s family, Charley herself, and the sexy supermodel son of Satan- Reyes. Fast pacing and witty engaging dialogue keeps the multiple story lines flowing smoothly and the laughter continuous till the end.
Charley is a great protagonist in that she doesn’t take herself seriously. Full of wit and charm, Charley does her best to save the world one latte at a time. I love the banter that Charley has with her friends, enemies, and herself. She never crosses the line to eye rolling clichés as she bounces from scene to scene. Her inappropriate responses to some things had me crying with laughter.
“…Two men from the FBI are here,” Cookie said. Crap. “Men in black are at the office?” “Well, yes, but they’re actually in more of a navy.” Crapola. I so didn’t have time for men. In any color. “Okay, two questions. Do they look mad, and are they hot?” After a long, long pause, Cookie said, “One, not really. Two, no comment at this time. And three, you’re on speakerphone.” After another long, long pause, I said, “Okie dokie then. Be there in a jiff.”
There are three story lines that intertwine and resolve themselves slowly towards the end. None of them are related to one another yet they all blend together fantastically. I loved seeing more of Cookie and watching her help Charley with Mimi’s case. She is such a spaz yet so adorable you can’t help but laugh and cheer her on. She is a great sidekick for Charley in that she believes in her 100% and always has her back.
Other characters, some old and some new, round out the storyline and keep us in stitches. They are every bit as crazy as Charley. Officer Taft‘s ghostly little sister, Strawberry Shortcake, is hilarious and totally steals every scene she’s in.
“Look,” I said, luring his attention my way, “your sister says the chick your dating is a ho.” He turned to me, aghast, “She’s not a ho. Well, yeah, okay, she’s a ho thus my dating her, but she knows?” I shrugged incredulous. “Dude, I have no idea if your GF knows she’s a ho.” “No, I mean Becky. She knows I’m dating someone?” I threw my palms up. “Maybe if I knew who Becky was…” He starred at me appalled. “My sister.” Who knew Demon Child would have such a normal name? I expected something exotic like Serena or Destiny or the Evil One That Comes In The Night To Make Us Chilly.
Charley and her step sister Gemma have a love/hate relationship but they do make some headway in here that shows promise of them becoming friends. Charley’s Uncle Bob and her Dad both pulled a fast one on her and while I personally felt she was way to forgiving towards them, it goes a long way to showing how Charley isn’t as human as she thought and her family knows it.
We get some great scenes and arc development with Reyes and Charley though I wish we could have had more one on one time with them. While Charley understands she is the Grim Reaper, Reyes hints that her powers are astronomical and she could really put a whammy on him if she knew everything she can do. I love the relationship between them though there isn’t a lot of bed play-none in fact. lol The sexual tension and chemistry between them burns up the pages. And Reyes…OMG Reyes. He’s just so yummy. As the son of Satan he is the ultimate temptation. Ms. Jones doesn’t make him all rainbows and butterflies though. He is a demon and he warns Charley repeatedly that he will kill her to prevent world domination by his father. Yet you can’t help but love his devotion it Charley. I mean, here is a guy that managed to circumvent his father and fate in order to be born when she was. Reyes had it all lined up for them to grow up together and live happily ever after till fate struggled to re align itself and tragedy struck. Yet no matter the circumstances, he has always had her back from day one. Now they have reached an impasse and Charley makes a split second decision that changes everything between them.
The ending is a high speed roller coaster ride of fun, action, suspense, and a quite a bit of intrigue as everything comes to a head and Charley fights for her life yet once again. All in all, Second Grave On The Left, is a delightfully funny sequel that more then lives up to First Grave On The Right. I can’t wait for the third book in the series, Third Grave Dead Ahead, which is scheduled to release February 2012.
Favorite Quote: “I will be with her again, or I will die. There aren’t any other options.
Once upon a time a handsome dark prince of the Winter Court met and fell in love with the half human princess of the Summer Court. The law states though that Winter and Summer can never be together, so the pair were threatened with banishment and death if they did not part. However true love cannot be denied and the lovers set out on their own to find their way in the world. When war came to Neverever, the lovers fought and won the Summer Princess’s right to be Queen of the Iron Fey.
The now Queen knew her beloved Winter prince would never survive in her kingdom of iron so with every ounce of love she possessed for him, she invoked his true name and banished him from her land; never to return. But the Winter prince had fought too long and too hard to be with his true love so he made an unbreakable oath on that day. He vowed, as her prince and knight, he would find away to be with her forever…or die trying.
This is his story.
*Tiny spoilers if you haven’t read The Iron Queen*
Often sequels never live up to their predecessors. Thankfully this is not one of those times. The Iron Knight continues with the same intensity and darkness; a dark lush multilayered fantasy that enchants and enslaves your imagination. In Ms Kagawa’s thrilling conclusion to her Iron Fey series, The Iron Knight, we are gifted with the Winter Prince’s story. Ash was devastated when Meghan exiled him from her kingdom in The Iron Queen. By using his true name and absolving him of his oath to protect her forever; she effectively banished him, allowing for no return. However, Ash has played this game far longer then Meghan and was able to countermand her edict. By proclaiming an oath to all that he would to find a way to be with her, he can now return to her should he succeed.
The appeal of this story is that we finally see the emotions and angst that has been long buried beneath the icy exterior of the Winter prince. Being Unseelie and part of the Winter court, he could show no emotion in order to survive the harsh arena that his mother rules with an iron fist. Ms. Kagawa slowly peels back Ash’s layers, sifting through the artifice and glamour to reveal the nature of the beast. He is not the ultimate, unbeatable hero. He is not your typical white knight who comes to save the heroine and whisk her away on his white horse. Ash has always been the dark whisper of warning parents give naughty children. The nightmare in your dreams. The fear under your bed. His past, present, and all future are laid out in an attempt to help him and us better understand who he is, was, and may become.
Ash sets out on his quest to find a way to be with Meghan with Grimalkin and Robin Goodfellow (Puck)-Ash’s once best friend and now mortal enemy. A past tragedy led to Ash making an unbreakable oath that he would kill Puck to avenge a death that nearly destroyed him. Ash has always felt that Puck doesn’t take his threats or the death of their friend seriously. Here we learn that Puck has always felt Ash’s pain along with his own and took the loss very hard, he just deals with it differently.
“You think I don’t know pain? Puck shook his head at me. “Or loss? I have been around a lot longer then you, prince! I know what love is, and I’ve lost my fair share, too.”
It’s only the memories of their past friendship that keeps Ash from committing the fatal deed. A deeper look of this event and the players involved helps us and Ash better understand all sides of the story and his role in it. Ash gets unexpected help on his quest that adds to the suspense and evolution of his character.
As this is Ash’s story and told in the first person, we don’t see many of the regular characters who beguiled us in the previous installments. It’s set up also slows it down, yet once the players make their stand, the pace picks up considerably and your hopelessly lost once again in their lives. Meghan plays a very small role in here and we do not see the other courts, Summer and Winter, at all. Yet we do meet some new characters that were discussed in the past and are allowed to venture into parts of Neverever that would normally be off limits to us silly mortals.
Puck is wonderfully annoying with his endless chatter and sarcasm. Though he has loved Megan far longer then Ash and resents their relationship, it is because of Meghan that he travels with Ash in order to help him succeed in his quest. His love for her is so deep that he is willing to give it all up for her to be happy. Even if it means allowing her to be with someone besides him. His gift of stating the obvious and commentary adds much humor and lightness to the story.
“You know, it’s always rafts and skinny little pole boats that you have to suffer thorough on these types of trips. Why can’t we ever travel to the End Of The World in a yacht?”
Sacrifice is the main underlying theme of this epic conclusion. Friendship, love, honor, life. It asks the question over and over in many different ways; what would you give up for the ones you love? We are gifted with an intimate view of what true sacrifice and love are in here and it leaves you curiously elated and yet sad at the same time as one by one, each character answers that question.
The ending grants us our happily ever after in an imaginative, convoluted way with some shocks and surprises that are indicative of this series. We are in Neverever after all and nothing is ever concrete. We are left satisfied and I for one was able to close this with a smile and a happy sigh. This whole series will hold a special place on my bookshelf and provide many happy re-reads.
Favorite Quote: “ Let me in…let me in…LET ME IN… “
*A tiny recap from Dark Frost, so be warned, this could...more4.5 Stars Originally posted at Smexybook.com
Favorite Quote: “ Let me in…let me in…LET ME IN… “
*A tiny recap from Dark Frost, so be warned, this could spoil if you have not read the series*
Once again, I have entered the hallowed halls of Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy in her latest release, Crimson Frost, and found myself living every single moment as though I was a part of the storyline itself. By the end of book three, Dark Frost, Gwen’s relationship with Logan had grown in leaps and bounds, she discovered a new and scary aspect of her powers, but she inadvertently aided the reapers in releasing Loki. Crimson Frost starts out with the usual BANG when Gwen is arrested by the Protectorate for her role in helping to release Loki and is accused of being a reaper. The head of the Protectorate is none other than Linus Quinn, Logan’s father, which puts Gwen and Logan in an awkward position.
"Shocked gasps rippled through the coffee shop, and everyone looked at me. After a few seconds, the surprised stares shifted to horrified looks that quickly melted into harsh, accusing, angry glares."
I am a HUGE fan of Estep’s works. She is one of the few authors I have read who was able to cross from adult fiction to YA with no missteps or awkwardness in the transition. She has a wonderful, powerful voice that resonates through her characters. I absolutely adore this series. It continues to balance the normal everyday life of teenagers with fascinating evolving mythological world building. Steady pacing firmly engages you into the storyline while witty, snarky dialogue keeps you entertained. This is a wickedly fun series. We aren’t overwhelmed with intricate plots or long drawn out angst. Multiple subplots intertwine throughout but never confuse or isolate you from the main storyline. Heavily character driven, I find myself able to sink right back into Gwen’s world as though I never left with each new installment.
If Dark Frost was the game changer, then Crimson Frost is the large ante that is being placed upon Gwen to win this game. Her role as Nike’s champion has been solidified and she knows her mission is a heavy load bearing one that could eventually destroy her. She has to prove her innocence to not only the Protectorate but also the student body at Mythos Academy. Friendship continues to be a large aspect that the story is built upon. I loved the fact that her unusual group of friends continue to stick by her side, even at risk to themselves. We continue to see an emotional, mental, and metaphysical growth in Gwen that serves to heighten the anticipation of Gwen’s destiny. She has come along way from the social loner whom we met in book one, Touch Of Frost. She has instigated herself firmly into Mythos Academy with not only her improving warrior skills but also through some important friendships. Gwen is tested in ways that will leave in an emotional tornado and make it almost impossible to touch upon without spoiling. Lets just say that fans will NOT be disappointed.
"Every angry shout, every enraged scream, every bitter word twisted the invisible blade in that much deeper, making me want to vomit from the phantom pain."
The secondary characters remain a delightful addition to the story; continuing to elevate and evolve within it. Gwen’s Valkyrie bff, Daphne, has Gwen’s back through thick or thin. She has remained a constant in Gwen’s life. We are introduced to some new characters who situate themselves firmly into the arc and are used to address and resolve some past issues and bridge us towards the conclusion. We meet Logan’s father, Linus, and we learn some more of the story behind his and Logan’s separation. We also meet the young man whom Oliver met during the winter holiday. Estep not only introduces a new and exciting character for us to cheer for, but also paves the way for a secondary romance that I am thrilled with. Ms. Estep not only captures the unique individuality of each character but also forms a distinct place and position/action for them throughout the story. Though existing in a fantasy world, the realism of their actions and emotions only adds to the overall enjoyment. Gwen’s and Logan’s romance seems to finally be on track but circumstances will have you face palming and wondering why Estep hates us. Or maybe that was just me. Hmmm. Either way, it will leave you NEEDING the next book… NOW!
The main conflict is quite a Machiavellian journey of misdirection and deviousness as we follow Gwen and the clues to the end. High octane action, suspense, and intrigue will keep you glued to the pages as you watch Gwen fight for her friends, the academy, and her life. I was shocked by some directions the story took and found myself scrambling for purchase at the climactic finale. Ms. Estep leaves us to ponder what is on the horizon next for Gwen, Logan, and the rest of Mythos Academy as we wait impatiently for the fifth installment of this series-Midnight Frost-which is set to release in 2013. Crimson Frost has laid down the gauntlet and I am on pins and needles to see how Gwen and the students of Mythos Academy will keep Loki and the reapers from taking over the world. Estep’s Mythos Academy series is a must have for all YA fans who enjoys a rich blending of snark and serious in an incredible mythological world. I can’t wait for my next visit to Mythos Academy.
Favorite Quote: “The world had turned its back on me. I should turn my back on it”
Rachel Morgan has been officially shunned and accused of black magic. She has three days to get to get to California in order to appear before the Witches Convention to clear her name. If she is found guilty she either has to go to the ever after for good or be put to death. As part of her shunning, she isn’t allow to fly. So when Trent Kalamack approaches Rachel asking for her help with a mission of his own in California; Rachel and the rest of the gang get ready for a road trip. But this trip isn’t going to be the piece of cake Rachel thought. From kidnapping pixies to soul devouring demons, Rachel will have to use everything she has to stay one step ahead in this game-even if it means dying.
** I make reference to the previous book Black Magic Sanction in here so there are some very minor spoilers**
Pale Demon, the 9th installment of Kim Harrison’s Hollow series is a crazy, action packed, convoluted ride that answers some pretty important questions but asks even more to assure us that this is not the last we will see of Rachel and the gang. For that I say YEA!!
We pick up right after Black Magic Sanction ends. At the end of Black Magic Sanction Rachel, with Trent’s help, makes a deal with the head of the Witches coven to allow her to present her case before the annual Witches Convention in San Francisco or she will go public with some VERY sensitive and world impacting information. Yet, for all the posturing Rachel did, all of us knew that the head of the coven wasn’t going to make this easy for Rachel. They don’t want her shunning revoked. To do so would admit they were wrong. Hence to “no fly” rule. This gives Rachel only 3 days to get cross country. When Trent approaches her for bodyguard protection, Rachel instantly thinks something is up. And she’s right. Quen can’t go with Trent on his mission. And Trent has to do this mission. The reasons and results are quite shocking.
After only a few hours in the car with Trent, Rachael realizes why Quen is always with Trent. He is a walking magnet for trouble. Most of it his own making. In fact, 98% of the trouble that Rachel deals with in this book is caused by Trent. As much as I love him, I’d have hog tied him and tossed him in the trunk till I hit Cali. But Rachel, with help from some unlikely allies, manages to hold her own as she runs the gauntlet on her way to California.
I love Rachel. She is the best of unlikely heroines. Just wanting to be left alone in her church, she inadvertently manages to involve herself in all sorts of trouble as she fights for the underdog. Gloriously flawed, at times I’m irritate with her, yet I can’t help but admire the way she sticks to her convictions. She may mess up a lot, but they are her own mistakes and she owns them. Her loyalties are unwavering and she would give her life for her friends. She believes in the best of herself and holds everyone else to those same high standards. Unfortunately, not everyone else lives by her moral code so she is unpleasantly surprised a lot by the betrayal she is constantly a victim of. Even at the end, she rises above her own anger and need for revenge to do what needs to be done.
We see many old faces in this installment. Trent, the “little cookie maker” that he is, is in here and is a devious and closed mouth as ever. We do see some interesting developments that bear watching in the future.
Al, Rachel's demon teacher, is here as well. He truly makes me laugh in his attempts to exploit yet care for Rachel. In his own way he loves her and I am very curious to see where he goes in future installments. Of course, Ivy and Jenks are along for the ride. They don’t get as much time with them as normal-most of the storyline focuses on Rachael-so they are indeed regulated to secondary characters this time around.
We meet some new faces and we get new and fabulous information to some characters that had been standing patiently in the background. BIZ!!!! That is all.
I know many, myself included, are interested in the romance angle. After Kristen died *SOB* we were all as lost in grief as Rachel. I’m not going to spoil here (did you really think I would TELL you?) but I will say that the doors opening for Rachel bear watching.
I have to say I like our antagonist. A villain that makes you laugh and cringe as you follow his reign of terror. A new face that had to show itself. Their appearance adds a new layer to the arc and ends up changing everyone’s lives.
Only two small problems I had. One is Rachel’s immaturity. Most of which is actually based on her moral code I spoke of earlier. I find that while I enjoy her innate goodness, I really feel she needs to grow up a little and take more control of her destiny. We do see a beginning to this in here and for one I am glad. I just wish it would have happened a little sooner in the series. Trent makes mention in Black Magic Sanction of some serious fall out that she had no idea of that he and David (her werewolf friend) has been handling. I felt in a way that she should know about this or at least have some sense that things don’t just “go away” after she’s done her part. But on the other hand, so many of her friends “protect her” that it’s a hinders her more then anything.
I also felt that the road trip, which last about half the book, slowed things down a little. Of course, once you reach the last half, you really don’t care. It’s just that good.
All in all Pale Demon BRINGS IT this time around with plenty of small and large sub plots that will have you thinking and ruminating for a long time. Action, suspense, tension, and some misdirection that will have you biting your nails and speed reading to see what happens next. Rachel experiences some major life altering changes and where this will go from here is anyone’s guess. But I can guarantee you won’t want to miss this ride for anything.
Pale Demon releases February 22 so mark the date and be there to pick up your copy.
A short but informative look at the events of Crimson Frost from Logan's POV.
Favorite Quote: “Tell her I’m sorry. Again.”
Spartan Frost is a light novella that falls between Crimson Frost and Midnight Frost and addresses the events from the hero’s POV, Logan Quinn.
In Crimson Frost, Logan was possessed by Loki and tried to kill his girlfriend, Gwen Frost. Guilt over his behavior and fear that Loki may once again possess him has sent Logan running from the academy and Gwen.
I enjoyed seeing what happened in the last few pages of Crimson Frost through Logan’s eyes. The entire series is told from Gwen’s POV so it was interesting to get Logan’s thoughts and feelings. Logan spends most of the book thinking about Gwen, giving us answers as to why he left without even saying good bye, and texting his friend Oliver to keep tabs on Gwen and get updates. He also uses the time to repair his relationship with his father, with whom he’ been at odds with for most of his life. While I enjoyed the novella over all, it isn’t much more than a brief look into Logan’s emotional state.. Those who follow the series will enjoy this brief interlude but it’s not a necessary component in advancing the arc of this series. I was a little confused as to why Gwen was on the cover. I would have preferred seeing Logan as it was his story.