I wasn’t certain about this book when I read the synopsis, but the book was an enjoyable read after all. The writing was okay, and the plot was enjoyable. I liked the whole voodoo cult part. The characters could’ve been better developed though.(less)
In Sex and Sensibility, Tommy Fraser used to have it all – an exciting past with lots of different women, a beautiful wife who he sees as his soulmate, and a vibrant life ahead of him. That is, until he’s confronted with the dianogises of a life-threatening illness.
His wife, Cathy, supports him all the way, even accompanying him to hospital visits. But the more uncertain his future becomes, the more Tommy reflects upon his past life, a life before Cathy, a life spent with lots of different women. Right at that moment it looks like his past is about to catch up on him.
The book is well-written, and the characters have distinct, refreshing personalities. Tommy was a fun character to read about, and Cathy had a strong personality. She was like a beacon in the darkness, a beacon for Tommy to hold on to. She never gave up, and she kept on going, no matter what.
A solid book with an interesting perspective.(less)
I had no idea this was the third book in a series. However, even though not reading book one and two, I wasn’t completely lost, and I got the hang of the story almost right away. This book is filled with original elements, and a great plot. I enjoyed the characters, but sometimes the plot got away from me, and some parts seem to go nowhere. A decent read, but could’ve been better.(less)
Francesca of Lost Nation is a coming-of-age story set in a small town. We have two main characters: Sarah, a granddaughter, ten years old, who is spending the summer with her grandma while her parents are away. Francesca, Sarah’s grandmother, who gets to know her granddaughter better than she thought possible while she reveals her own history, her past, and all the things she went through when she was younger, while having some adventures with her granddaughter as well, from truck driving to finding lost dogs and even encountering an arsonist.
The writing is great, and both characters stand out and shine. I loved Francesca though, her determination and how she didn’t care about what others thought, but just did what she thought was best. This book was a quick read, but I loved it from start to end. A great coming-of-age story.(less)
Auraria offers an intriguing blend of folklore, paranormal, history and even some facts, since it takes inspiration from a real Georgian ghost town, and the folklore of the Southern Appalachians. A whimsical, fun experience, with captivating writing. The main character borders on being one-dimensional though, which was a letdown, but overall, I enjoyed it.(less)
Rachel and Jacob get married young, and immediately, that poses a series of problems, like still having to finish school, not having all your family members agree on the wedding, and so on. But Rachel and Jacob manage to pull through it all, through the hardships of life as a married couple. But then Rachel finds out Jacob is hiding something, a huge secret everyone seems to know about, except her. Like that’s not bad enough, she receives a series of mysterious phone calls, and someone seems out to hurt Jacob. What the heck is going on?
First Comes Love, Then Comes… is an entertaining read that offers a different perspective on marriage, love, and all the problems it poses. The story has a few fun, unexpected twists, and both Rachel and Jacob are easy characters to relate to.
If you want an enjoyable, quick read, and you like contemporary romance, then don’t forget about this book.(less)
I love Heather Graham’s books, so of course I requested a review copy of “The Cursed“. While I did like the book, I felt like it was missing something, some of the originality I found in the other, previous books in the Krewe of Hunters series.
Hannah O’Brien, one of the main characters, owns and runs a Bed and Breakfast in Key West. The B&B is situated in a Victorian mansion she inherited from her great uncle. The mansion is haunted by a variety of ghosts, all of them friendly. Hannah sees the ghosts and communicates with them. But when a man is murdered in the B&B, and his spirit shows up on her doorstep, asking her to help him find out who murdered him, she learns there’s more to seeing spirits than she hoped for. When she finds herself in danger, FBI agent Dallas Samson must come to her rescue. Mix mystery, suspense, a smuggling ring, romance and ghosts in one package, and you’ve got the plot for this book.
It’s interesting, sure, and the combo smuggling ring, FBI, and ghosts, is still intriguing, but I felt like something was missing. Maybe the plot just didn’t sound intriguing enough. What was interesting, however, was the setting for the book, and the rich history of Key West. Heather Graham never ceases to amaze me with how much she knows about history, and how adequately she pours this knowledge into her books.
The writing, as usual, was great, and the characters… I certainly found Dallas entertaining, but Hannah came across as a little bland.
Either way, The Cursed is a solid paranormal mystery read with a large dose of romance. It’s a good book if you’re a fan of Heather Graham’s writing, and you don’t need to read the other books in the series to enjoy this one, as it can be read as a stand-alone.(less)
I have a soft spot for broken, tortured souls. Even from the moment I first encountered Aleksender de Lefèvre and Sofia Rose in The Frost of Springtime, I knew they’d be the kind of characters that would tickle my soft spot – and they are. Sofia was my favorite of both of them – she was so innocent, so pure, I could not help but like her. Alek is a more troubled character, less black-white, a lot more grey. In a way, this makes him more intriguing. I also liked how he fought his feelings for Sofia, there was a constant struggle going on, and Alek tried to deny his feelings constantly, which made for an interesting dynamic.
I kind of felt sorry for Elizabeth though, Alek’s wife. He didn’t love her, since they were married in an arranged marriage, but he didn’t wish her ill either. He just fell in love with another woman. This makes Alek a more troublesome character to understand – sometimes he acted arrogant and selfish toward his wife. He idolized Sofia, made her into the kind of woman she could never truly be, a goddess, a woman that isn’t real. And by turning her into that, no other woman could ever compete. It makes for interesting character development though.
The setting was France at the time of the Franco-Prussian war. I loved the setting, and found it very intriguing, and well-described. I could picture myself back in the Paris Commune of 1871, alongside the characters. While some might find there’s slightly too much hisotrical information, I didn’t mind – I like books in which I can learn a thing or two, even in fiction.
The Frost of Springtime offers a heart-breaking romance story in an intriguing historical setting with dynamic, interesting main characters. Ideal for fans of historical romance.(less)
The Book of Lost Fragrances is one of those rare reads that pulls you in from the first page, and keeps you at the edge of your seat until the end. M.J. Rose is a wonderful author, who has a real knack for storytelling, and for pulling the reader into the story. With beautiful, atmospheric descriptions, the author describes both settings and characters sublimely.
Jac is our main character. She’s always been haunted by the past. After her mother’s suicide she moves to America, leaving her parent’s perfume company into the hands of her brother Robbie. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives, and then goes missing, Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind. She has to discover an ancient family secret, a perfume that unlocks the mysteries of reincarnation. With a large cast of side characters, and a journey through time, this book combines mystery, history, and romance into an intriguing read I fell in love with right away.
I also liked the premise of finding a scent powerful enough to stretch through time. Kind of reminded me of “Perfume”, the murder mystery novel about a serial killer obsessed with scent. I loved that one, and I loved The Book of Lost Fragrances as well. Guess I’m a perfume lover of sorts.
It’s hard to review books you loved, since there’s nothing I can find in this book that upset me, or that I thought could be improved. If anything, it was a tad too complicated at times, especially keeping characters apart. Some names were similar, and sometimes I had trouble linking names to characters. The whole: “who’s that again?” thing. Also, it started out a little slow.
But all in all, a wonderful, amazing read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I look forward to reading more books by this talented author!(less)
This Could Have Been Our Song! is a book filled with heartbreak, love, family traditions and values, and characters struggling to break free from the destiny their families have in mind for them.
Lucia Mpobo-Riddell chose music over dancing, unlike all the other women in her family. Marcus Grant chose music instead of becoming a doctor like the majority of his family members. Both of them are running away from choices they do not want to make, and both of them long for a future of their own. But with Marcus almost stealing Lucia’s job, and the both of them forced to worked together, which causes tension for just about everyone. When a former dance partner of Lucia, who happens to be one of her best friends, and who has a crush on her, shows up back into town, this adds a new layer to an already complicated situation. But Marcus has girl troubles too, in the form of Mary Gillis, his on and off flame who he still can’t let go. And then there’s Marcus and Lucia, and their undeniable attraction.
Surprisingly complicated for a romance novel, with tons of layers, intriguing family issues, and set in the world of music and dancing. I connected with Lucia from the first page. She’s determined, intelligent, brave, and she knows what she wants – at least, in terms of her career. Marcus was a lot more difficult to understand. I didn’t get the whole on-and-off again thing with Mary. Marcus also has a big ego, which luckily deflated somewhat toward the end of the book. He wouldn’t be my choice, but I understand what some people see in him.
Fluent writing, an interesting spin on known romance tropes, and intriguing characters. Recommended to fans of romance and women’s fiction.(less)
The Benighted is a dark read filled with mystery, dread and suspense. It’s set in a mythical, epic-fantasy world with princesses, knights, and the ancient battle between good and evil. With a set of characters so real they feel like you could walk up and talk to them, and a plot that doesn’t shy away to explore some of the darker sides of humanity, this is an interesting, enjoyable read.
Skylar, the princess of a fallen kingdom, daughter of a murdered king, is captured and imprisoned for helping the escape of Harlin Brien, the knight who was framed for the King’s murder. But Skylar is convinced of Harlin’s innocence, and she’s certain the king’s advisor, Cross Lutherus, is the real culprit behind the murders on the royal family.
When I read “princesses” and “knights”, I can’t help but think of an unimaginative, innocent fairytale that will have a happy ending you can see miles away. Princesses tend to be personality-less cardboard figures. Skylar…not at all. She has personality, wit, backbone, courage. What she goes through isn’t for the faint of heart, and even though she wants to give up several times, part of her always manages to cling on. This is the kind of princess I can root for.
The writing is haunting and descriptive, and the fantasy world A.M. Dunnewin conjures up, is definitely intriguing, but also dark and unsettling. An inspiring story for anyone who enjoys the darker side of fantasy.(less)
Violet and her brother Luke have lived in the crumbling mansion their grandmother nicknamed Citizen, based on the movie Citizen Kane, their entire lives. They know the sleepy town of Echo inside out. Their parents are both artists, travelling the world and leaving their children alone for months on end.
This time around though, money is getting sparse, and Violet had the great idea to put their guest post up for rent. The boy replying to the ad, River West, is an enigma. He hides a lot of secrets, manages to lie with a blank face, but at the same time, he’s charismatic and intriguing, and Violet falls for his charms before she even realizes it.
But with River West turning up, strange things start to happen as well. Her best friend sees an image of the local legend, a homeless man named Blue who supposedly lured children into an abandoned tunnel. Children witnessed a “devil” kidnapping another children, and they start to stalk the cemetery, armed with whatever they can find, in hopes of finding the devil and hurting him.
Violet grows more and more convinced River has something to do with this, and when he confesses to her he has powers he can barely understand himself, and he can’t control them either, she starts to fear him almost as much as she loves him.
This book is gothic horror through and through. Never that scary, but always atmospheric, and with an underlying layer of tension that’s difficult to describe. River is an interesting, dark, charismatic character who I had not choice but to like. He’s mysterious, and it’s that mystery that makes him as interesting for the reader as he is to Violet. I loved the Citizen, its long, meandering halls, its crumbling exterior, the many secrets it harbored inside. What gothic novel would be complete without a gigantic mansion? The kids living here on their own, although a bit strange and the explenation leaves much to be desired, makes it the ideal place for an adventure to start.
The writing was great, almost like a velvet layer that wrapped itself around the story and made it shine even more. The prose is haunting, the characters wrecked by their own past and choices, each of them flawed in more than one way.
Between the Devil and the Deep, Blue Sea, is one of my favorite reads this year. A definite must read for fans of gothic horror.(less)
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When I started reading By My Choice, I was immediately impressed by the level of detail, and the quality of writing – two things you don’t often find in novellas. Jennifer, our main character, has spent her whole life in a court of vampires, mostly keeping count of the finances. But she barely resembles the girl her best friend met the first time he saw her. She barely smiles, she looks exhausted, something is definitely wrong with her. Seeing no other choice to save her, he sends her away to another vampire count.
Jennifer has no idea what’s going on, and so she feels furious at her best friend’s betrayal. But in her new home, Paris, she finds out that her life is in danger, and if she doesn’t let go of her own self-control and submit herself to her new vampire master, she’ll perish. But can Jennifer give up her own will and choice?
I’m not entirely fond of the whole “not having a choice” thing, but it actually fit the theme, mood, and setting of the story. I loved the erotic scenes toward the end, but I enjoyed the set up at the start just as much. The readers finds themselves emerged in a dark, unsettling paranormal world where vampires are the supreme masters, ruling over humans and other creatures alike. Jennifer is an interesting main character. At first, one is left wondering what’s going on with her, and when it was explained, I was impressed by how original the explenation was.
Add a solid plot, quality writing and a vast supernatural world in the mix, and you’ll understand why I enjoyed this book. I hope more books are in the works. Hopefully a novel next time. Meanwhile, if you like paranormal romance and don’t mind a few erotic scenes, pick up this book.(less)
I received a copy from this book in exchange for an honest review.
In Sins of the Fallen, Max’s life turns completely upside down when he and his best friend, Jones, go to a house party at Anthony’s place. The twin sisters they brought along on a date turn out to have less than noble intentions. One of them kidnaps Max, reveals she’s a succubus, and he’s somehow their target.
As his life is turned upside down, Max finds out things he never thought possible, not just about himself, but also about his family and friends. Nothing is as it seems.
Slowly, he finds out more about who he is, and why he’s that way. But the clock is ticking as demons pursue him, and target the people he loves…
I liked Sins of the Fallen mostly because for once, it shows us a book from the POV of a boy. And Max is very much a boy. He’s falls in love, he feels attracted to girls he shouldn’t, sometimes he doesn’t really think with his brain (if you know what I’m getting at) and he does stupid stuff, like dressing up like a girl at the start of the book. But in general, he’s a good kid.
There was plenty of action and a dash of romance. I’m sure young adult readers, especially boys, will enjoy this book.(less)
I loved “The Crossing Places”, so naturally, when I stumbled upon “The House at Sea’s End“, I have to give it a shot. I wasn’t disappointed at all. While “The Crossing Places” intrigued me slightly more, Elly Griffiths delivers here again with strong, real characters, a gripping mystery, a fash of folklore and mythology, and a subtle romance that can’t be classified under one simple category.
When a team of archeologists discover six bodies at the foot of a cliff, Ruth Galloway is called to the scene to investigate, along with DCI Nelson, who is the father of her newborn daughter, Kate. Unfortunately though, Nelson is also still married to Michelle – which means he’s more of a nuisance to Ruth than anything else, because clearly she has feelings for him. Feelings he will probably never return…
As they investigate the mystery that has to do with the Germans invading Britain in World War II, two elderly men involved suddenly meet their end. At first, the police thinks it’s just an accident and coincedence, but that doesn’t last for long when they start connecting the dots.
While World War II history is, at least to me, nowhere near as intriguing as the ancient history handled in “The Crossing Places”, I still liked it. Ruth is an interesting main character, and for one weird reason. She’s a little dull, and nerdy. Kind of like Bonus, except maybe even more boring. But I like boring. Ordinary people don’t go around raiding tombs or having parties all night long when they have a newborn. Ruth is real. She’s a real person, with a real, sometimes dull, sometimes exciting life.
Another top character is of course, DCI Nelson. He’s completely unpredictable, and that’s what I love about him. He bounces from Michelle to Ruth and back, all the while not realizing what the heck he wants. And again – that’s real. Who would be able to decide between his wife (who he still loves) and the mother of his newborn daughter (who he kind of likes too) right away?
But what I love the most about this series, is how the romance very obviously takes the backseat for the story. The story is the meat, the romance just a side thought.
If you’re into mystery and suspense novels, Elly Griffith’s “Ruth Galloway” series should get a spot on your bookcase.(less)
The Emperor’s New Clothes is amazing. It’s so hilarious, imaginative, and refreshingly original that I couldn’t put it down once I started reading. The main character, Royce Ree, has a sense of humor that completely matches my own.
Here’s an example from one of the first pages.
“Retrieval of what, agent?” asked the Spymaster, finally.
“Their impeccable sense of style, sir.”
“And yet…and yet what you actually brought me was their Royal Princess, intent upon marrying the Emperor.”
Royce didn’t dare shift his gaze from that perfectly neutral wall to look at the other occupant of the room.
“You also,” continued the Spymaster, “brought me half of Baldasshi’s parliament, six hundred Nova class battleships, and a menagerie of wild animals.”
“Psychic wild animals, sir,” ventured Royce.
Don’t tell me you can read that without even a hint of a smile, because I certainly can’t. Anyway, the book is filled with humoristic quirks like that, so I had a smile plastered on my face for most of my time reading. It’s also a very fast read. It was 328 pages in my .epub reader, but it went very fast. Now, back to the story.
Royce Ree is an imperial agent, who has a mission he can’t fail. Unfortunately, right at the start of it, he bumps into Les, the man he was once married to, and the last person he wanted to see. What happens next is of course, an argument, in the ventilation ducts of all places. They’re forced to work together, which means arguing more than cooperating for most of the time.
There were some minor flaws. The first was the ominipresent narrator. The book is told mostly from Royce’s POV, but every so often, the narrator jumps into Les’ mind, giving us his thoughts. Now, the omnipresent narrator (or whatever you want to call it, that’s the term my English teacher used in high school) isn’t always bad, but it’s not necessary here, and is actually a little confusing, because it doesn’t happen very often, almost like it happens without the author noticing.
Secondly, there are some typos. For example, on page 14 of my copy, right after the small introduction, there’s a sentence telling us where the characters are at (each chapter starts this way, which I don’t think is necessary either, it’s quite obvious where they are. It should only happen if we change perspective to other characters, not stick with the same ones) saying “Ventination Duct, Institute of Research and Development, Baldessh”. Which should actually be “Ventilation Duct”. Now, it’s no biggie, but the error glared at me from my screen because the words are bold and caps.
Anyway, those tiny annoyances didn’t really ruin anything. The plot was great, the characters were intriguing – I kind of want to invite Royce to every party I’m going to throw for the rest of my life, because he’s plain awesome – and the humor added an extra dimension to the story. The author is definitely very talented, and he’s crafted an imaginative, entertaining world, which I long to revisit. Please write more, and please hold on to that sense of humor.(less)
After her husband passes away, Amelia Weiss goes through the most difficult period in her life. Without Nathan, she’s lost, clueless of what to do next. Even getting out of bed in the morning is nearly impossible. Sculpting, which always brought her joy, reduces her to tears. The love of her life is gone, and she’s left alone to pick up the pieces.
Her son, Davi, leads his own life in the city with his fiance. Her relationship with her daughter Chloe is strained. They’ve never gotten along well, and Nathan always had to act as the middle man. But now he’s gone, and there’s no one left to reconcile them. Chloe makes an effort when she asks Amelia to come visit her in the city, revealing her pregnancy and marriage troubles to her mother, who tries to help her in every way possible.
As they slowly grow closer to each other, Amelia finds a new love for yoga and gets back in touch with her old love for astrology. She learns how to make new connections and rediscover who she is and who she wants to be. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll find love again.
This novel talks about a courageous woman, who’s heartbroken at first, and slowly learns to put herself together again. Missing pieces are replaced by new ones, old friends by new friends, and she becomes whole again. It’s a heartfelt novel, just in time for the holiday, about loss, sadness, grief, and never giving up, about being loved from beyond the grave and feeling that love in everything you do. About making a new life for yourself when your loved ones are taken away. Many times throughout reading, I was reduced to tears.
With good writing, solid characters, and a keen sense of detail, Twelve Houses is a novel that will appeal to many people. I thought, since the protagonist is so much older than I am, and the topic is rather sad at first, it wouldn’t appeal to me, but I found myself rooting for Amelia, her personal growth, every minor victory, and feeling for her as if she was a long lost relative. So even if you don’t think this might be for you, at first, it’s worth giving it a shot.(less)
The Muse was an interesting story, at times shocking and a little disturbing, at times romantic and sweet. Our main character, Elle, has just gotten out of an emotional abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Michael. He got famous painting her, and her nickname as a model is the “Archangel”, based on a series of portraits he did featuring her. However, she’s now gotten a job offering from Hex, an artist of the macabre, whose work is a stark contrast to work she usually posed for. Hex is Michael’s arch nemesis and greatest rival, and if he found out she was working for Hex, he’d be more annoyed than ever.
Meanwhile Elle arrives at Hex’s castle, which is occupied by other models and artists Hex likes to invite. She meets his brother, Alvarez, who is the rational mind to Hex’s near-hysteria. He takes care of the business side of things, makes arrangments, and in general does what’s best f or his family – Hex and his grandmother, who dabbels in an ancient religion involving spells, herbs and sometimes even blood rituals.
When people start showing up dead in and around the castle, Alvarez wants to find out what’s going on. He is afraid that Elle, who he’s had a crush on since the moment he met her, might be in danger as well. What starts is a race against time as the bodies begin piling up.
I liked Elle. She’d stepped out of an abusive relationship, and was now truly finding herself. She became stronger and more independent with every passing page. That’s why I wasn’t so fond of her relationship with Alvarez, and their growing attraction. He was another pillar for her to support upon, someone who’d have her back, while it seemed to me the most important thing for her was to learn to have her own back. Either way, she lacked personality, especially at the start, but it wasn’t a bad thing here. It genuinely seemed like she’d based most of her personality on who she was when she was with Michael, as if she could only have a personality reflected in his personality. At the start of the novel, she was lost, trying to find herself, and the only personality trait she had was being a movie buff. But as the story progressed, she gradually found herself, and discovered her own personality.
Hex was actually my favorite character. I’m a fan of the tormented artist as a protagonist, and he played the role well. Plus, the name. How can you be called Hex and not be amazingly awesome? Impossible, right?
The writing was decent, and the story flowed well. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t too pleased with the relationship between Elle and Alvarez. Not only did I feel like she should get to know herself first before jumping into another relationship, I also felt like their relationship progressed way too quickly. I’m not a fan of insta-love, or even anything close to that, so maybe that’s why. A few kisses I wouldn’t have minded, but the way Elle depended on Alvarez completely, and almost right away, that bothered me a little.
The mystery was great – I only figured it out toward the end, only a few pages before it’s revealed. The characters were great, the story was strong, and in general, I’d recommend this book to all fans of mystery romance novels.(less)
The plot of A Haunting in Trillium Falls wasn’t all that original, and the characters and writing fell a little flat. The title is a bit misleading, so if you’re going on expecting a ghost story or a horror novel, then you’ll be dissapointed. Instead, the reader is offered a mystery of sorts that borders on a little scary sometimes, but mostly sticks firm within the mystery genre. While I do think this could’ve been better emphasized in the synopsis, I didn’t mind that much.
Taylor, our main character, has just bought a supposed haunted mansion in town. She lives there with her grandfather, whose health is declining and occassionally goes through periods of depression. Her grandfather used to renovate houses, so she hopes he’ll rejoice in having to renovate this place, but nothing like that happens. Luckily she gets help of dashing Dillon Nash, a successful real estate developer who poses as a handyman to get closer to Taylor. Because of his success, women have been falling head over heels for him, and this time around he doesn’t want a woman who’s in it for the money. Hiding his true identity, he tries to help Taylor and her grandpa however he can.
After a while, eerie things start to happen in the house, and somehow these events seem connected to the locked-off tower room. Taylor begins to suspect the house is haunted, and someone wants them out of there. However, the answer may not be as simple as a random haunting.
Taylor was an okay character. I liked how she didn’t just fall for Dillon, even though he was charminbg and good-looking. What she did for her grandpa was very admirable, and the relationship between the two of them was what really made this book intriguing for me. It doesn’t happen often that we get to see these kind of family relationships in books, and it’s really well done here. Grandpa is grumpy sometimes, and he sure can nag, but in the end he wants what is best for his granddaughter, even if that means hiding how sick he feels, or telling her to move on with her life.
Dillon was all right. I didn’t like him posing as someone he wasn’t, or his obsession with people wanting him for his money, but apart from that he was an okay guy. A little too alpha for my tastes, especially when he told Taylor not to climb the ladder and then got mad. Not a smooth move, that one.
Either way, I liked the book, even though it was a clear-cut mystery to solve, and the romance was a little tame. That was actually a bonus, because the main characters definitely took the time to get to know each other before they dived into a relationship. It was an okay read, but nothing spectacular.(less)
Rosalyn Delaney moves to Whiskey Ridge, an old mining town to find her missing husband. She arrives at Rose House, a majestic old mansion with the reputation of being haunted. In Whiskey Ridge, she finds out the entire story of how her husband was killed by his business partner Whip Kincaid, and how the last is still listed as a wanted fugitive. But Rosalyn has the feeling more is going on than she realizes at first glance. What she doesn’t know however, is that Whip Kincaid has been hiding in his own house, Rose House, the mansion she just moved into. At night he sneaks out to investigate, and when he finds out his mansion is occupied by this strange but elusive woman, the first thing he wants to do is scare her away. But Rose doesn’t scare easily, and when she’s not phased by his continuous attempts to scare her, Whip is intrigued. The more he learns about her, the more he realizes he may not want her out of his life after all.
This was a delightful, interesting, well-written book. I’ve always been a fan of gothic novels, and with Rosalyn moving into the large, supposedly “haunted” mansion reminded me of the many gothic novels I devoured as a kid. The novel keeps on this vibe for some time, but it’s primarily a western historical romance. What I loved the most however was the mystery behind the murder, who was responsible, the long-kept secrets, and of course, the haunting. This all added up to an amazing story, and the romance was almost unnecessary – the book had already a lot of potential. The romance was really the top of the cake though.
Lots of tension, nail-biting moments and some spoilers I didn’t see coming. The Scent of Roses is a delightful mix of romance, mystery, historical fiction and suspense.(less)
Carmen is a Magistrate in the dystopian sociedty of London in the future. With elements of the Victorian era sipping through, this dystopian world is one of the most amazing settings I’ve had the pleasure to read about. It’s like steampunk, sort of, except dystopian, and set in the future. So it’s not entirely steampunk, and I’m glad it isn’t – the book is far more original and intriguing this way. Magistrates uphold the law whenever technology fails to do so. They track down criminals and serve justice. Everyone detests Magistrates for upholding such a strict law, and sometimes even Carmen detests herself and what she has to do. When she grew up, she was as far away from being a Magistrate as humanly possible. She lived on the streets, was sold to a workhouse, and then ended up in the clutches of the most vile and cruel man in London. She narrowly escaped thanks to the Madam of a whorehouse, Lina, stepping in. Ever since, Carmen has owed Lina her life, but so much more.
Carmen has long lost touch with her rescuer, but when the corpse of a prostitute sends her to the whorehouse she grew up in, Carmen reconciles with Lina, and they both figure out the years haven’t changed all that much in regards to their feelings for each other. However, in this dystopian society having a gay relationship is strictly forbidden, and warning voices go out to Carmen to stay as far away from Lina as humanly possible. The problem is Carmen doesn’t know if that’s what she wants to do…And then, when another figure of her past resurfaces, and Lina ends up in the middle of all that, she doesn’t know if she can leave her anymore.
I loved the setting. The society Keira Michelle Telford creates in The Magistrate is rich in detail. It’s a layered society with rules hidden behind rules. Instead of an info dump, we only get the information slowly, until our views on the society are fully shaped at the end. Carmen is a complex, but enjoyable characters. She’s stuck playing a role she never signed up for, having to focus on being the person she never wanted to be, while hiding her sexual preferences for everyone around her.
To add a murder mystery to a world and story already so complex, is more than a little impressive. Carmen had me interested in her story, sure, but the murder mystery was what pulled me in completely. It’s not clear at first who is behind it, or what exactly is going on, and as the plot thickens, the suspense only continues to grow.
My only issue with this book, is its portrayal of male characters. It’s like every single man who appears in this book has to be an asshole or an idiot. While there’s a fair share of those out there, I doubt all men are like that, and the book gives a rather one-sided view on the male population. But like I said, that’s my only issue with the book.
The Magistrate is a well-written, detailed, complex story about a woman trying to figure out who she is in a society that tells her she can’t be the one person she wants to be.(less)
Prince Severin of Arcathia occassionally wanders into Oscia, in disguise, as not to upset the tentative peace after centuries of waging war against each other. He uses money he saved to buy slaves and set them free. This time, his eyes falls on Havyn, a young slave, who Severin decides to rescue. But Havyn isn’t an ordinary slave. With abilities far surpassing the ordinary, and traces of magic in his blood, plus a sharp tongue and a good amount of wit, he makes an excellent match for Severin, who has no interest in women or ever getting married, and would much prefer Havyn’s company. However, Severin doesn’t want to force the young man into something he may not entirely agree with, so he stays mute about his feelings.
When Severin and his travel companion, the royal wizard Ildar, leave to go back to Arcathia, it is decided that Havyn, with his magical aptitude, will become Ildar’s newest apprentice. However, this means it is the young man’s duty to stay chaste…Something that grows increasingly tougher the more time he spends with Severin. Relationships between princes and former slaves are highly frowned upon, naturally, but that doesn’t stop Severin and Havyn from longing for each other…
I was surprised by the depth of this story. At only 96 pages in .pdf format, it’s a quick, but intriguing read. The fantasy world we’re introduced to, with the neighbouring kingdoms of Oscia and Arcathia, is a vast, imaginative world, and well-explained, even in such a short time frame. We’re straightaway introduced to our main cast, and the relationships between the characters take shape rather quickly, but not too quick. I’m a fan of slow romance, the kind that builds gradually over time, starting with attraction and only over time developing in love. While there was definitely a build up here, I would have no problem if the build up had lasted longer.
The book started straight into the action though. Fantasy novels often start by rambling off the world’s history in the first few chapters, but this certainly didn’t happen here. The story is very character-driven, and it’s the characters who shine and make the book come alive. I preferred Severin over Havyn, but I liked both of them. Severin had a more serious attitude, which I preferred. His internal struggle was very well described, and I could easily relate to him.
Story-wise, I was hooked. This was a fast-paced, intriguing, romantic read.(less)
I’m slightly dissapointed in this series. I expected a lot going in, but didn’t get a whole lot in return. The book starts out promising enough. America Singer belongs to the Fifth caste, and she’s doomed to stay there for the rest of her life. Her family are artists, and they barely have enough food or money, except around Christmas holidays, the only holidays left. Her Mom wants her to participate in “The Selection”, a one-time only event in which thirty-five girls from all provinces randomly get chosen to participate in a program much like “The Bachelor”. One of them will get the crown, and will get to marry Prince Maxon, an eligible bachelor.
America started out as an interesting character. She was seeing Aspen, a member of caste six, even though it wasn’t allowed. She was headstrong and stubborn, and I liked her. But then, in a moment of pride, Aspen breaks up with her, America decides to join “The Selection”, and she turns into a stupid dimwit. She sees Prince Maxon and acts like a completely spoiled brat, but that gave her personality and some charm, so I decided to go with it. But then she, out of the blue, falls head over heels for the prince, although they agreed to be friends. It’s obvious Maxon is attracted to her from the get-go. I don’t like insta-love, so this was a major let-down for me.
There’s barely any world building. All right, so the world exists out of castes from one to eight, there’s a castle and a prince, and they get attacked by rebel groups. But what else? The answer is simple: nothing else. How does the world look like? Are there cities or towns? How are they grouped? Why are the rebels attacking? Nothing is explained at all. The world has no culture, social life, religion, nothing.
Maxon was all right at first, but quickly turned around. He’s awkward in the beginning, but then turns into a control-freak who thinks he’s superior just because he’s a prince. Ugh.
I’ll read the next book because I want to see how it ends, but I’m not as enthusiastic as I hoped I’d be. Hopefully America grows into a less-childish character and Maxon grows up to be more capable and interesting.(less)
The Elite started out even more irritating than The Selection. Instead of worldbuilding, we get thrown straight into the action, but there’s just not all that much action. America and Maxon go back and forth on their feelings toward each other, never truly expressing how they feel. America grows into an even shallower individual. She’s nice to her maids. Right. But she acts superior toward everyone else. So I don’t really buy it. I don’t buy half the stuff she says or does, because she’s simply too inconsistent. She never makes up her mind.
Maxon isn’t that great either. He’s boring and annoying, and he changes his mind every other minute as well. I started hating him halfway through the book, especially after what happened to Marlee. I’ve always liked Marlee – sometimes I wished she would’ve been the main character instead of America.
Storywise, not a lot happens. America and Maxon play a game of hot and cold, Aspen shows up at the palace, the girls still compete for Maxon’s affections and our dear prince doesn’t exactly stay monogamous. If I were America, I’d probably slap him, but hey, I would probably not fall for such a douchebag in the first place. Either way, Maxon doesn’t redeem herself and by the end, I’d wholeheartedly prefer Aspen over him.
I can’t really tell you the plot, because there’s barely any plot. There’s barely any character development. There’s barely anything. Either way, I enjoyed it enough to start reading, hence the somewhat-positive rating, which surprises me. It’s kind of like “The Bachelor”. The show is empty, there’s no spark, no story, but still you get hooked for an unexplainable reason.
I might pick up the third book to know how it ends, but I’m not enamored by the series at all.(less)
Wow. Just wow. Sora’s Quest is one of the few books I’ve read this year that left me breathless. It certainly is the first self-published book this year that reached the quota, and all of that is mostly due to one person: Crash. Or Viper, if you want his other name.
Sora’s Quest starts out with introducing us to main character Sora Fallcrest, daughter of Lord Fallcrest who would rather have nothing to do with his offspring. It’s time for Sora’s Blooming ceremony, but she completely messes it up, doing the one thing she never wanted to, namely disappointing her father. That same night, Sora’s dad is murdered by a strange assassin, and Sora is kidnapped by that same assassin. He brings her to his companion, a Wolfy thief named Dorian. Wolfies are all but extinct, and Sora is surprised to meet one of them. They run to get away from soldiers chasing Sora, and from Volcrian, a dark bloodmage intent on killing Crash and everyone who stands in his way. Before long, Sora is suspected of hiring the assassin to kill her father, and any hope she might have had about returning back to her normal life, is swept from under her feet.
Sora, Dorian and Crash decide to travel through the nearby swamp, which legends has it, nobody has survived traveling through. But Sora is in the posession of a special necklace, a Cat’s Eye, that has tremendous power and might succeed in sending them through the swamp alive and well.
The story is imaginative, and has an obvious ‘high fantasy’ feel. The settings are well-detailed, and the descriptions very visual. I enjoyed following Sora, Crash and Dorian on their travels through the Fallcrest town, the village, and eventually the swamp. I also enjoyed their meeting with the Catlin people, and the Panthera, which was very suspenseful and detailed.
Crash was, by far, my favorite character. He reminded me a lot of Achmed, the assassin with some kind of special blood magic, who played one of the main roles in the Rhapsody series by Elizabeth Haydon, which was one of my favorite series ever, mainly because of the interesting dynamic between the main characters. Crash is silent, barely says anything, and comes across as being very threatening, mainly because of his past. But an interesting dynamic evolves between him and Sora, and he begins to care for her. I loved his personality, the typical ‘bad boy’, maybe taken a stretch too far (I like bad boys, but they don’t necessarily have to be assassins) and I loved how, despite himself, he began to care for Sora.
Sora’s personality is a bit of a hit or miss. She seems a bit inconsistent, one moment shouting about how the assassin and thief should both be hanged, and the other moment fighting to save their lives. It showed her confusion, but confused me as well, making it almost impossible to guess her ture feelings. We don’t get to see a lot of her reasoning either. She apparently cares next to nothing about her father, and even though he didn’t give her a lot of love, he did raise her for many years. When she’s kidnapped, she comes to terms with the situation rather easily, barely even trying to escape. Her motivation for staying is never truly explained.
And that brings me to the major issue of this book, and the sole reason why I didn’t give it a 5-star rating, even though it was one heck of a read. Motivation. Every character in this book lacks motivation or reasoning. Why does Crash take Sora with him? Does he know about the Cat’s Eye already (although I thought it was only revealed later)? It’s completely out of character for him. Why do they travel through the swamp, a supposed short cut, when it takes them ages to get through and is very dangerous? What was their original plan, if Sora hadn’t shown up with her Cat’s Eye? For a bunch of thieves and assassins they certainly aren’t very keen on planning. Why did Sora’s Dad have to die? Why does everyone automatically blame Sora? Why did Crash change his name?
At the end, there’s a supposed big reveal I saw coming the moment the character was introduced, that left me with a half-hearted explanation about Sora’s origin and family, and more questions than answers, which I hope are explained in the next book.
This book is full on the fantasy, sword and sorcery and action-aspect, but there isn’t a lot of character development. Sora doesn’t really go through a large emotional change, more like a small change at most. There’s no romance, although perhaps a hint of it, but I liked that. Too often people assume fantasy novels need to have romance, when that’s certainly not the case. I’m not a big fan of insta-love either, and if the next book goes the way I suspect it will in the romance department, then I’m glad we only got the subtletly of a few romantic hints here.
All that said, I loved Crash, and I liked Sora, mostly when she interacted with him, because it seemed like another, perhaps darker, part of her personality came forward in their conversations. I liked the world T.L. Shreffler created in this book, and I can’t wait – literally, I might start to stalk the author after this tour for a review copy – to read the next book, Viper’s Creed. The title makes me suspect Crash plays a very big part in that book and well…any book featuring a cold-hearted assassin slowsly becoming less cold and distant, is a must-read for me. Especially if you add in fantasy as a big bonus.(less)
I liked The Prophet a little less than The Kingdom. True, it ties everything nicely together, but it leaves too much loose ends for me to rate it a five-stars. It’s like the author deliberately wanted to leave a gap open so another book could be written in the series if she wanted to. Or maybe she wanted to maintain a sense of mystery at the end. Either way, I like my trilogies more nicely tied up, so that brought down the rating for me. Apart from that, Amanda Stevens once again delivers a gripping, fascinating read with protagonist Amelia Gray starring in the main role as graveyard restorer who can see ghosts.
Amelia returns to Charleston, worn out after everything that happened in Asher Falls and the dreadful discovers she made about her own past. This time around she goes back to restore Oak Grove Cemetery, forcing herself to face her own fears after what happened there. But going back to Charleston also means going back to Devlin. The spirit of Devlin’s daughter comes to visit Amelia, luring her to a house where she finds Devlin and another woman. Trying to cope with her feelings of jealousy, Amelia grows fixated on Devlin’s daughter and why she keeps on haunting her, and more importantly, why she can’t let go. She also goes to see her Dad and talk about what happened in the past, and his aversion toward ghosts.
The Prophet from book one makes a re-appearance. He needs to know who killed him if he ever wants to rest, so Amelia, amidst all the other commotion, goes out to search for his killer. Meanwhile a man named Darius, who’s related to Devlin’s deceased wife, shows up and threatens not only Devlin but Amelia as well. The plot thickens, and Amelia will have to come to terms with who she is if she wants to survive. She realizes there’s more to the spirit world than she ever thought possible.
I liked Amelia here. Strong and capable, intelligent. Even when she sees Devlin with another woman, she doesn’t completely freak out, and she handles it as maturely as can be expected. I doubt anyone would be thrilled to see the object of their desire with someone else, but Amelia has other stuff to worry about. She’s really grown throughout this series. She’s much more confident in her abilities, less afraid of ghosts somehow. I also liked Devlin here. He was the mysterious ‘bad boy’ cop persona in book one, but he’s a real person now. I finally understand his attraction toward Amelia, and they truly had chemistry here.
The plot was a bit of a let-down. It was like it picked up from The Restorer, tying up the loose ends from that book but without the urgency The Restorer and The Kingdom had. I wouldn’t have minded another visit to Asher Falls. The plot was less intense somehow, even though a lot was going on, and it was like the other wrapped up too much and didn’t explain enough. The vibe was the same though: haunting and mysterious, and the writing was solid.
But because of the ending, which disappointed me because so much was left unresolved, I really want another book to wrap things up nicely. What happens to the Ashers and what the old Asher patriarch predicted or wished? Why is The Prophet so much more powerful and different than other ghosts? What will Amelia do about her heritage? (less)
I’m having a hard time coming up with a proper rating for Eighty-Eight Keys. The book is a romantic murder-mystery with main character Leah stuck in t...more
I’m having a hard time coming up with a proper rating for Eighty-Eight Keys. The book is a romantic murder-mystery with main character Leah stuck in the middle of something she barely understands. Her lover, Jason, was murdered. Now Leah is left to pick up the pieces. The police has no clue as to who’s done it, and the trail has reached a dead end. Occupied with hosting a charity gala for the foundation Bright Horizon, a foundation Jason helped established, she’s caught in the middle of schemes and plots. Rosa, the mother of Jason’s son, little Jay-Jay, helps out at Bright Horizon as well, and she’s the last person Leah wants to see.
But then Leah gets knocked out while at work and Tanvir, one of the other employees, gets attacked and falls into a coma. It looks like whoever killed Jason isn’t done with them yet. There may be more murders before the culprit gives up. Leah has to find out why and who, not ust for her sake, but also for Jason’s. Meanwhile she tries to get over Jason by dating another man, Calvin, who happens to be married. As Leah tries to solve the mystery, she also tries to find who she truly is.
My main issue with this book were the characters. Some of them fell kind of flat, like Coach Turner and Tanvir. We’re introduced to them, but that’s all. Their purpose in the book is minimal at best, so I didn’t understand why some parts of the book were from their POV. I think it would’ve made more sense to leave that out, since they’re small, insignificant characters anyway.Marla, Calvin’s wife didn’t have much personality either, yet again she gets some scenes from her POV. I actually felt sorry for her, and I didn’t mind her scenes, but I’d rather the story would’ve been more focused on the mystery at hand than dwelling off into several directions.
Some of the other characters do have personality, like Calvin, Leah’s newest love interest. To be honest, I barely understand the reason why Calvin would be introduced in the book in the first place. Making the main character likeable isn’t going to be easy if you have her snooping around with a married man, so this overly complicates things. Leah isn’t the most likeable person in the world from the get-go, but this just made everything worse for me. If actual feelings are involved then I can live with ‘home wreckers’ and adultery, but here it seemed so…random. Calvin is a pretty awful character. What little personality traits he has, they’re all awful. He’s the kind of spineless jerk who can’t stay faithful to one woman, and who can’t stand being on his own, so he jumps from date to date, cheating on his wife Marla like it’s a national sport. While that makes him an awful person, it actually had the potential to turn him into an interesting, dynamic book character. However, he fell a little flat, and this made his actions incomprehensible and random at times. I disliked him from the get-go.
What’s worse is that I disliked Jason as well. All right, he never makes a real appearance in this book except through memories – he’s dead the moment the book starts- but that doesn’t mean I can’t come up with my opinion about him. And my opinion is that he’s kind of a bastard. All right, they can try to blame Rosa as much as they want about trying to tie him down to her, but in all honesty, he was the one who chose to have sex with Rosa, which ended up in Jay-Jay being born. Rosa is a fierce woman, but she clearly loves Jay-Jay. Yet Jason was determined to ‘take his son and run’. Right, because that shows he’s the best Dad ever, and a responsible adult. The excuse for this woudl be that Rosa threatened to do the same. Two wrongs never made a right before, and it doesn’t happen here either. I actually thought Rosa was more likeable than Jason, and while I understand some of the nasty feelings toward Rosa, I thought she had every right to feel nasty feelings toward Leah as well.
But Rosa isn’t the only woman Jason cheated on Leah with. He was also having an affair or something – it’s never really mentioned if it was a full-blown affair or not – with Claudia, a mysterious woman who once send him a love letter. So really, I have no freaking idea why Leah, Rosa, or anyone else would like the man. He clearly clarifies for the title of ‘scumbag of the year’ along with Calvin. Jason keeps on telling Leah he’s not ready for a full relationship and the troubles that come with that, yet he’s willing to settle down with Rosa and his little son. He keeps Leah on a string, and it angered me.
Then there’s something else. Leah. She’s the main character of this book and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to like her. I just couldn’t. It’s not that she’s mean or anything, but she’s just so ignorant. She acts like a sixteen-year-old girl instead of a grown-up woman. She goes around and dates Calvin although she knows he had a kid, without once bothering to wonder what could possibly have happened with the kid’s Mom. Even when she finds out Calvin is married, she happily goes on dating him after throwing a tantrum. Uhm. Right. That move certainly didn’t add to her credibility. She never really stops to think about Jason’s son either when she’s dating him, or the consequences it might have on the little kid that his Dad is seeing other women. And the moment she lands in Vegas, she instantly starts dating yet another guy, forgetting all about Calvin, Jason, etc. First of all – the meeting with Austin, the Vegas guy, was weird. I wouldn’t trust that, but Leah, although thinking he’s a creepy stalker at first, quickly changes her mind and hangs out with him. Why is every guy she meets interested in her? And why does she have to say yes to every person who asks her out? On top of that, her mind isn’t focused. She’s supposedly still mourning over Jason, but when she’s with Calvin or Austin, it sure looks like she’s moved on rather quickly. She’s trying to find who murdered Jason, but meanwhile she’s focused on her own journey to finding herself. I truly supported the latter, and thought that, especially for a character like Leah, some soul-searching would be great, but when Tanvir was attacked, it seemed logical to me she’d jump on the case and try to solve it asap. Why? She’d been attacked earlier, and the attack on Tanvir was obviously a lot more brutal, so wouldn’t she at least have considered herself in danger?
Oh, and that said, when Tanvir was attacked and put in a coma, the police was pretty much absent, like through the rest of the book. Even if they have no leads, the police handled the case rather disinterested here, and I don’t think it would happen that easily in real life. There’s protocol, and if a friend of a recent murder victim was brutally attacked, the police would look into it.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff. Because there is a lot of good stuff here too. The idea behind the book was intriguing, the build-up suspenseful. If the book had focused only on the murder mystery, or more profoundly on the murder mystery, it would’ve probably gotten a higher rating from me. As it stands, the plot is a bit all over the place. There’s the murder, the upcoming gala, the many murder suspects lining up, Leah doing her soul-searching. It would’ve worked if the book had been longer, but in its current form, it’s too much too soon, and it makes the book hard to follow. I was trying to find out who’d done it – like I usually do with mystery books – but because of the various directions the plot took, I had trouble focusing on the mystery. However, when it’s revealed who’s done it and why, and all the strings come together, then the plot starts to make sense. There are still some storylines left unresolved, but the main plot ties up nicely.
The writing itself was good, but it could use another proofreading round. There were about ten places I counted – and my grammar isn’t perfect either – where there should’ve been commas that had been left out. That aside though, the pace is solid, the style isn’t too flowery or descriptive, and the author obviously has a rich vocabulary and isn’t afraid to use it.
All that taken into account, I did enjoy the book. I wish the plot had been more consistent and the characters more likeable, but c’est la vie, and it’s actually quite refreshing to read a book about a main character I don’t like at all. The suspense build-up was solid, the writing was good and the overall reading experience pleasant. For a debut novel, I think the author did rather well. I’m looking forward to reading more books by this author in the future. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is a decent, quick and enjoyable read. (less)
Marking Time is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Ever. Seeing as this comes from the girl who averages between 150 and 200 books read a year, tha...moreMarking Time is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Ever. Seeing as this comes from the girl who averages between 150 and 200 books read a year, that’s saying something. April White has a remarkable talent for creating strong, realistic characters, amazing fantasy settings and intriguing, surprising plots. Needless to say I’m more than a little amazed by the author’s ability to combine all three of these elements into one book. I read Marking Time in about three days, in the middle of university exams, so that’s saying something. I longed for my breaks simply because I wanted to read this gem.
Our main character, Saira Eilan has it tough. Her mother vanished into thin air, but that’s not what she’s worried about, since her Mom happens to do this approximately every two years. No, she’s worried about a strange fellow chasing her around while she’s exploring the catacombs underneath Vienna. She’s worried about the strange but somehow familiar symbol she finds there. As a tagger and free-runner, the city has been her playground for years, but in one night, it turns into a jungle, and she becomes the prey. When she runs into the police who takes her home only to find her home ransacked, her Mom nowhere in sight, she knows she’s running out of luck. The only way to escape child protective services is to hang out with her grandmother, a woman she barely knows and who kicked her Mom out while she was pregnant.
Traveling to London brings more secrets than answers for Saira. Not only does she discover her family is filthy rich and lives in one of the most gigantic old mansions she’s ever seen, she also finds out she’s different than she could ever imagine. When the same guys who chased her in Vienna turn up in London, she barely escapes with the help of a handsome stranger who introduces himself as Archer and claims he’s no stranger at all. But even with Archer’s help, Saira runs into the wrong crowd again, and this time she ends up in London…in 1888. The London of Jack The Ripper, a terrifying, gloomy version of the London she’s come to know. Having no clue what’s going on, Saira bumps into Archer again. Except he’s now Archer in this time, in the nineteenth century, and he has no clue who she is or what she’s doing this far away from home. What’s even worse is that, just before she managed to travel back to the present using a strange marking on the wall, she sees her Mom, dressed like a proper Victorian lady.
For Saira, the secrets pile up, burying her underneath. Who is she? Why can she travel to the past? She hopes to find answers with her family, but is instead sent to an Academy for Immortals, where she meets two Seers who can see into the future, and can instantly predict they’ll be friends. She also meets a friendly teacher, Mr. Shaw, who can transmorph into a bear. And at the academy, she reunites with Archer, now a Vampire, who’s been waiting for her since they first met in London 1888.
But if Saira wants to rescue her mother, who is being held captive in the folds of time, she’ll have to find a way to travel back in time and meet an ancient evil. But doing so may risk Archer’s life, and the lives of her new-found friends.
As you can see even from the brief synopsis I tried to give, this book is long. Long and complicated, and kick-ass awesome. Let’s start by taking a look at the main character, Saira, who isn’t your typical girl. She prefers to stay as far away from others as possible, mostly keeping to herself. It’s been her and her Mom against the world for as long as she can remember, yet she adapts quickly when necessary. She’s witty and sarcastic but not in an over-the-top way. She’s brave, but not foolish, and she’s intelligent enough to figure out what’s going on. She accepts she’s traveled back in time the moment actual proof is given, which to be was a big bonus. Nothing worse than a character complaining about their powers and how this can’t be happening when they have heaps of proof it is happening. All this together makes Saira quite unique, a refreshing, well-developed, multi-dimensional character I would love to read more than one book about.
Secondly, the other cast of characters. Archer was amazing, except I would’ve liked him to have a bit more backbone. I mean, he loves Saira, and tells her. Great. But I expected, if we went back in history, to see more explanation for this. Of course I understand he liked her back then, but it takes a lot to keep on loving someone for over a hundred years, so I would’ve liked a bit more explanation there, or a bit more love. Anyway, apart from that, Archer totally ruled. As a human in 1888, he’s your typical charming gentleman who blushes when he thinks about sleeping in one room with a girl. In the present, he’s a bit more badass, and I liked the constract. It’s not often that we see a book portraying the changes a human goes through when turning into a Vampire, and what hundred years can do to one’s personality and beliefs. I loved this addition here.
Then there’s Adam. All right, I have to admit, I was kind of cheering for Adam and Saira to end up together. But hey, more books, more hope. Adam is a bit arrogant, a bit cocky, but all in all, a good guy. He knows he’s good looking and charmin and isn’t afraid to use it to his advantage, but that’s all playful and innocent. Underneath is the kind of person you can trust upon, the kind of friend everyone wants to have. And he’s a Seer. I mean, what’s cooler than being able to see the future (except wandering back in time of course). Right, nothing! So Adam definitely has my support. With this, I’d also like to give a thumbs up to Mr. Shaw, who wins the teacher of the year award for saying no to all the rules and doing what he thinks is right. Then there’s also Ringo. I loved him. He’s so genuinely good, especially for a ‘street rat’. I wish I would’ve seen a bit more interaction between Saira and her mother though. I had the feeling we didn’t once see her Mom, only heard about her.
The setting was, of course, amazing. How could it not? We have Clockers who travel back in time, Seers who see the future, and age-old family lineages intertwining and fighting. We have a hatred for mixed bloods, which kind of reminded me of Harry Potter, but was still freakingly awesome. The people with special abilities are descendants of time, and I loved the entire legend behind how they got their powers. I also really liked how the author used the names of streets in London, and used an actual historical figure, namely Jack The Ripper. It made me feel like I was actually thrown back in time.
The plot ruled. When you throw all these awesome things together, it can’t go anywhere other than awesome. I was genuinely surprised by how much this plot sucked me in. I was glued to the book until the very last page, and whenever I couldn’t read, I wanted to read. Badly. That’s what an amazing book will do to you, and Marking Time definitely belongs under the category ‘amazing’.
I can’t wait to read the second book in these series. If I could hold Mrs. White’s pen myself and make her write, I would, that’s how good this is. If you want to read one book and one book only in the new year, pick this one.(less)
I’m finding it quite difficult to review Medusa’s Desire, mainly because the book invoked a rollercoaster of emotions inside me, and I have trouble fi...moreI’m finding it quite difficult to review Medusa’s Desire, mainly because the book invoked a rollercoaster of emotions inside me, and I have trouble finding out what emotion was the strongest. The story, quite literally, haunts me. I’ve always been a fan of Medusa, and the legend about how she used to be a beautiful young woman who was transformed into this terrible monster because Athena grew jealous of her. I’ve always found it fascinating – I think Greek mythology in general is fascinating – but I never thought about what could’ve happened to the monster Medusa is she fell in love with the man destined by the Gods to kill her – Perseus – and if, in return, he fell in love with her. That’s what Medusa’s Desire is about, in a nutshell.
The story provides many more layers though. Medusa’s relationship with her siblings and parents is touched upon. For me, the most heartbreaking moment of the entire book is when Medusa meets her mother after Athena’s curse was placed upon them. Athena, in her jealousy, didn’t only want to torment Medusa, but her entire family. I would’ve liked to see a bit more reasoning behind the God’s decisions. Athena torments a family because she’s jealous, and endangers the entire world by releasing immortal monsters into it. Zeus wants to make out with every woman he lays eyes upon, without much depth or insight. I’ve always known the Gods as superficial in most books based on Greek mythology, but it would’ve been refreshing to see a change to that. However, Medusa’s Desire provides more than enough not to dwell on the woes of Gods for too long.
Medusa’s relationship with Perseus is complex and intriguing, for two reasons. She’s ugly – a monster – and on top of that, they have to keep up the charade that Perseus killed her, thus he has to keep her a secret from the outside world. This weighs on Medusa, especially when they meet an exotic princess named Andromeda who runs away from her family to be with Perseus, convinced he’s a lonely hero who could use some love. Perseus is already in love with Medusa, but for the latter’s safety he can’t spill the beans. But each day he spends growing closer to Andromeda, is a day Medusa loses more and more of her humanity. She’s battling the monster within, while fighting for Perseus’ affections, and that battle is so touching, her love so delicate, that it made me feel horribly sorry for her. She’s been dealt a tough card in life, but she’s strong-willed and determined to make the best of it, naief enough to still believe in love, yet strong enough to sacrifice everything for love. This made me admire the character of Medusa a great deal. I also admired Perseus, although sometimes he did things that seemed a bit out of character. I would’ve liked to see inside his head as well, but the way the story is told now, from Medusa’s POV, does add more mystery to his persona. I admired him though, for being able to look past the monster, and see the spirit growing within.
You can best compare this story to a turn-around of Beauty and the Beast, with raw, painful emotions and a vivid imagination to illustrate it all. The writing style was fluent and the character’s voice were easily recognizable. I look forward to reading more books by E.B. Black. Medusa’s Desire moved me in a way not a lot of books do.(less)
The Rebel Princess is truly unlike any book I’ve ever read. It’s hard for me to classify it in one category, or to express why it’s so different. For...moreThe Rebel Princess is truly unlike any book I’ve ever read. It’s hard for me to classify it in one category, or to express why it’s so different. For starters, it’s written by an author who has real knowledge of the inside and outside of the movie industry, and it shows. The book starts with a bang, and from the very beginning it pulled me in. I had no idea the movie business actually was set up like this. Needless to say, I was more than a little surprised by the discoveries I made throughout this novel, but all in a good way. The book isn’t too technical, although it conveys the entire process of movie making from the beginning to the end. As a reader, I absorbed all this information without even realizing it. There’s no trace of ‘info-dumping’ anywhere in this book. As the story unfolded, I learned more about the movie business, while still staying right in the middle of the action.
Don’t think there’s no story in the book because it focuses largerly on the life and chaos on set. There is a story, and an intriguing one at that. The main character is one of the most intriguing characters I’ve ever come across in a novel. She has a myriad of contradicting emotions, an ambitious goal fitting for Hollywood and an attitude to match it. The side characters are each unique individuals as well, and they’re well-developed and three-dimensional. Cardboard characters? This author has obviously never heard of that before, thank goodness!
Not only was it a huge relief to be greeted by an, in my opinion, original, well-researched storyline, to add refreshing characters to do was a great asset as well. I also loved how author Anne M. Strick never once failed to keep the tension running high – from page one until the end I was biting my nails waiting to see what was going to happen next.
The Rebel Princess is a must-read. If you’ve ever been interested in Hollywood, you need to get this book. If you’re not that interested in life on set, but you feel like reading a contemporary romance with enough suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat from start to end, then you need to read this book as well. It’s original, it’s intriguing, it’s sexy, it’s daring. I’m truly amazed by this author’s talent and her ability to write about believable characters in believable situations. Also, did I mention that his happens on location? Add an exotic location in the mix and you know you’re in for one hell of a ride.(less)