Can we just take a moment to collectively appreciate the cover?
I got this book as an advanced read, and I really intended to read it over at least two...moreCan we just take a moment to collectively appreciate the cover?
I got this book as an advanced read, and I really intended to read it over at least two days – I really did! But then I started and I just couldn’t stop. If you liked Assassin’s Honor, you’ll love Assassin’s Heart.
The Setting -- deviates from the Chicago and New England setting of the previous book. Assassin’s Heart picks up with the search for the Tyet of Isis which began in earnest in Assassin’s Honor. The setting is in the heart of Rome, visiting many historical landmarks and brushing history its self. Because of the peculiar nature of the main set of characters in Assassin’s Heart several pieces of the story take place in the past, like in the days of the ancient Roman Empire past. The world of the Sicari is vivid and rich with history that makes you want to believe in it.
The Characters -- are, once again, phenomenal. Lysander piqued my curiosity in the first book and I was really excited when I learned that the second book featured him. The characters in Assassin’s Heart have a lot to overcome; brutal deaths, torture, inner demons and past pain. I liked how both of the characters experienced uncomfortable growth. Not only did they have to face some things they really would have preferred to never deal with, but they had to get over themselves and learn how to apologize and trust and work together. I’m probably completely biased too, because I liked Ares, but loved Lysander. I couldn’t help but feel for him.
The Plot -- picks up the search from the first book. The Assassin’s books really should be read in order because of the over arcing plot that spans the books. There is at play the constant struggle between Sicari and Praetorians. And then there are the stories of Lysander and Phe, and Atia and the Sicari Lord, long lost missing children, and secret loves! I like my romance books with plot and this one delivers a punch and jab! You cheer on the romance and bite your nails during the action. There’s this really awesome fight scene towards the end that I reread to get a really good minds-eye-view of what was going on; part of me wants a movie based on these books – because they’re that exciting, and movies these days just can’t hold a candle to some of the books I read.
Thank you Monica Burns. Can we fast forward to the release of the third book? I can’t wait to hear Cleo on paper again.(less)
The Setting — begins in LA, harmlessly enough one night with a young woman minding her own business. As Jolie gets dragged into a secret world of wick...moreThe Setting — begins in LA, harmlessly enough one night with a young woman minding her own business. As Jolie gets dragged into a secret world of wickedly sexy witches, sultry vampires, and playboy werewolves she’s forced to flee across the pond and is taken on a whirlwind adventure to places normal humans never see. I thought that the setting was well done; a lot of paranormal authors don’t give much thought to the setting because it’s just as your or I are sitting in now, but I liked the authors sense of surrounding. It wasn’t long paragraphs of detail, but simple comments and details that clued me into where we were.
The Characters — were hysterical. Mallory has a great talent for wit, and Jolie just seems to attract trouble. I liked Jolie’s character arc; she started out as a sort of mousy, quiet, insecure kind of woman and through the story blossomed. I thought there was a lack of tension at times, and I would have liked to see more internal processing of events before she jumped into action. There was a lot of flirtation going on, between Jolie and Rand and Trent and the list goes on! It was a little bit of a stretch, but it worked and you kept biting your nails the whole time either screaming, “NOOOOO!” or “YESSSS!”, so I can’t say I mind too much.
The Plot — of this book is setting up for a much more large scale battle to come. I was disappointed that the whole book was what felt like a prequel to the real action to come. This is my ax and this is me grinding; I’ve said it before and I hate doing this to such a fun book, but I had to cut a star for what I felt was an ending that just…. ended. There was a great emotional wrap up that leads us into what could be, and there’s a lot of great story that happens, but the story didn’t come across to me as finished enough to close the book.
I want to read the next one, in fact I absolutely must because I frakking need to know what happens!(less)
I’m always intrigued by stories that feature an angel-demon dynamic and interweave Biblical beliefs. I won’t lie – I have a degree in Biblical Studies...moreI’m always intrigued by stories that feature an angel-demon dynamic and interweave Biblical beliefs. I won’t lie – I have a degree in Biblical Studies so I’m a bit of a snob for when things are taken and twisted to be something else. However, those that either do it well or create their own world are the ones to be really admired.
Demon’s Fall creates it’s own world; I was never certain what time period to call it, which made it all that much more interesting. The bulk of the story takes place in Hellsgate, a city of mixed mortal and demonic population just this side of Hell. Here demons and mortals co-exist. The worldbuilding was really cool; the author acknowledges the self-serving nature of both angels and demons; angels want humans to go to Heaven because it’s better – demons want humans souls to commit to hell, because in both instances the angel or demon gets something. There is also a reference to a third path humans can take but it’s only mentioned in passing.
Demon’s Fall does take some Biblical prophecy and craft it to its own purposes. This could be cliché; I know I’ve seen so many things that twist the book of Revelations that I almost squirm and fight to not roll my eyes – but the way that it was done in Demon’s Fall was just really cool. It no longer seemed as if the author was twisting Christianity to fit the story, but that we were talking about something completely different – a whole other pantheon and prophecy.
The novella is, despite my long winded assessment of the setting and prophecy of the story, a love story. A demon purchases a caged angel and proceeds to fall in love with her. The story is told from Kenan’s point of view, which I thought was interesting because in the long run it was Jahel who had more to lose. My biggest problem with most romance novellas is that the actual step to falling in love rarely feels plausible. I will admit that the romance didn’t 100% convince me that they were in love, and perhaps that was why – oh wait, that would be a spoiler ;D about three fourths of the way through I was liking the build of the romance, but it’s that last chapter that sealed it for me and made me wanna go – aawweee.
Demon’s Fall is also an erotic novella, so yes, there is sex and it is graphic in nature – it’s erotic. But despite the titillating factor it is motivated by the story, it’s not just sex for the sake of having sex depicted on the page. On a purely logistical nature, it’s interesting to see how one would manage wings and sex.
Not for younger readers, or readers who are easily offended by warping traditional Christian beliefs. But if you like a short romance that is both erotic and fantastical – read it. I liked it a lot.(less)
Christine kindly gave me an advance copy of this novella to read. I’ve never read a book that featured a m/m romance before so this book was something...moreChristine kindly gave me an advance copy of this novella to read. I’ve never read a book that featured a m/m romance before so this book was something entirely new for me. For people who are uncomfortable reading a story about two men falling in love I’m sorry, but this story is not for you. I thought I might be a little uncomfortable reading the more sensual and erotic scenes, but it seemed a natural progression of the characters stories.
Island of Icarus is a novella, so it is a brief recanting of a span of two weeks. The story is at times sparse for detail and insight, but I think that the first person point-of-view gives economy of words purpose. Since the story is told from the perspective of Jonathan who is an intellectual man, it would make sense that his recounting of events would have an economy of words. The language is both anachronistic and authentic, creating the Victorian era not only from telling us that is the time period, but by showing the mannerisms that held fast at that time.
The story is also steampunk, which I love! It is not a heavy steampunk, mired in details of steam and invention, but the steampunk elements are enfolded in the story. Those workings of brass and steam have a purpose for being there other than showcasing how ‘cool’ steampunk can be.
My only problem was that I want it to be longer! I thought that the character journey for Jonathan could have been made more powerful given more time to explore his thoughts on his healing and subsequent falling in love. Marcus is wonderfully accepting, but you finish the book not knowing much else about him. This last thing might just be me, but the English point of view uses pounds instead of stone for measuring weight. But you know what? It’s steampunk, so maybe pounds prevail!(less)
It’s no secret I’m a huge Austen fan. I love rereading Jane Austen, I love the stories that put a twist on her classics so when I was given the chance...moreIt’s no secret I’m a huge Austen fan. I love rereading Jane Austen, I love the stories that put a twist on her classics so when I was given the chance to read Bespelling Jane Austen it was like an early birthday present to me.
Almost Persuaded – This is very losely based off of Persuasion; the story of a woman who meets the man she was persuaded to turn down in her youth and discovers she still loves him. Almost Persuaded is the story of reincarnation. The story moves quickly, and reads a little cheesey, but it’s cute and in the spirit of a true Austen heroine Jane goes after what she wants. There are some questions at the end of the story that are left unanswered, but I chose to believe that the story has a happy ending.
Northanger Castle – Based on Northanger Abby, this story stays true to Caoline’s obsession with novels and falling into the trap of an overactive immagination. I really liked this story. It has all of the same awkward interaction of Northanger Abby, but in a new setting. I really enjoyed the twist on the characters in this version. I won’t give it away, but it’s really good.
Blood and Prejudice – This is the first one in the book that departs from the origional setting. A contemporary, business setting, the Bennetts have a family business that is in danger of being bought and maybe even shut down. The traditional roles of Darcy and Bingly are altered, but the characters go through many of the same motions. I thought this story was a little ambitious; it set out to cover the entire plot to Pride and Prejudice in a novella form. It was interesting and I thought that maybe if the plot had been scaled back and the characters allowed to develop and breathe a little it would have been a more captivating read – but it’s fun and interesting and people who are familiar with the story will fill in the blanks regardless.
Little to Hex Her – This was my favorite of the whole set. I’m sorry – I probably shouldn’t chose favorites, but Little to Hex Her, a take on Emma, was so wonderfully done. In spirit to the origional Emma’s tendency to match-make and always know best, in Little to Hex Her Emma is a match maker. There is boy drama galore, a shunned exlove interest to contend with, and moody werewolves and overly snappy vampires. I highly suggest Little to Hex Her.
I really suggest this anthology. Even if you aren’t an Austenite, you’ll enjoy them!(less)
I love-love-loved this book. I was hesitant to read it after the first one, but the world in which this takes place was so interesting and hooked me s...moreI love-love-loved this book. I was hesitant to read it after the first one, but the world in which this takes place was so interesting and hooked me so well from the first book that I HAD to read it. Just because *I* didn't care as much for the first book DOES NOT mean it's not worth a read. It is because it sets up the second book - which I think is going into my top books at home. The Marked Souls world is one that entices you to ask 'what if' questions.
I loved the characters in this book. You don't see Asian, especially Asian punk chicks playing heroine very often. The story continues from the first book, pushing it right along. You know something is up in the beginning, but you don't really realize what's going on until the end.
I passed Mob Rules several times in book stores, picking it up and pondering buying this, because lets face it, that’s a cool cover. But this book is...moreI passed Mob Rules several times in book stores, picking it up and pondering buying this, because lets face it, that’s a cool cover. But this book is more than just a pretty face and an interesting story. I knew when I picked it up that it was urban fantasy, but I was surprised by the mixing and melding of histories to create the world Cameron Haley writes in. Magic is juice, gangs focus on who can control the most juice, but what are they really doing with it? I think that the world building and the plot are both amazingly done. This is more than just an urban fantasy – this is an interesting take on the gang world as it could be, the character deals with moral issues of what she has to do, but I’ll touch on that in a moment.
The plot is both a mystery and an action type story. Most of it revolves around Domino trying to figure out who is squeezing their people. In the beginning this felt a little slow, but that’s deceptive. There’s a lot going on, and it’s parceled out.
Mob Rules is written in first person, which has the difficulty of sounding more as if you’re being told the story by the character sitting on the sofa with you instead of shown the story through their eyes. There were times, especially towards the end when stuff what just stated – this is how it was – and I thought it lost a little of it’s mojo that way. (Note: I said a LITTLE, it’s still a pretty fan-frikken-tastic book.)
The other hurtle with first person, is drawing your audience into the mind of that character. You were pretty firmly ingrained in what Domino was thinking, though some things were left in the dark on purpose for the reveals later. For me, I read books and want to connect with the characters; I found it a little difficult to ‘hear’ Domino in my head because there was very little emotional ques on the page. For me, that was the weakest part of the book – but it’s not a bad thing or even a real weakness – that’s a personal readers preference. That said, there are times that you see and feel through Domino’s eyes, and one of those is possibly my favorite, even if it tears you up.
Book two is called Skeleton Crew and is slated to be out May 2011. You can see a picture of the cover over on Goodreads.(less)
Like Clockwork is set in Victorian England during a time when automatons have begun to replace the lower co...moreI’m a sucker for steampunk. What can I say?
Like Clockwork is set in Victorian England during a time when automatons have begun to replace the lower cogs of the workforce, displacing them into poverty and creating a new set of problems. It’s happened time and time again in history, and while some people might call that a cliche in a story, I think it gives credibility to the idea; a sense of this-could-really-happen.
I was surprised from the beginning how exciting this book was. Like Clockwork is a novella, around 100 pages. Unlike other novellas, this one doesn’t skimp on the elaborate plot. There are several facets to the story that I found myself wondering as the pages ticked down: how is all of this possibly going to be wrapped up? It’s an engaging and exciting read. The characters, Victoria and Dash, feel natural and not tossed together for the sake of a mixed social romance. In a world pushing forward, why wouldn’t it be the scientist woman that defies social standing for someone she sees potential in?
I really enjoyed Like Clockwork; I’m only sad that it was over so quick and there isn’t more. I want more!! (less)
This story takes place in the Five Hundred Kingdoms; a world governed by the will of magic to follow set paths. Paths...moreA Tangled Web by Mercedes Lackey
This story takes place in the Five Hundred Kingdoms; a world governed by the will of magic to follow set paths. Paths are stories like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and so forth. Magic pulls a person who fits those molds into those types of stories – even if all the parts aren’t present and even if it has a terrible ending. A Tangled Web combines Norse and Greek mythology in the story of how Persephone is kidnapped by Hades. The story is magical, fun, and explores the traditional lines of fairy tales as the heroes try to use magic’s Tradition to work for them. If you’re looking for something fantasy, something magical, something adventurous – this is a great bite sized story to get into the world of the Five Hundred Kingdoms.
Other books in the Five Hundred Kingdoms universe include: The Fairy Godmother, One Good Knight, Fortune’s Fool, The Snow Queen, The Sleeping Beauty
Cast in Moonlight by Michelle Sagara
This is the one story in this anthology I knew nothing about. From what I can tell, Cast in Moonlight is a prequel story to the Chronicles of Elantra, which features Kaylin Neya. In Cast in Moonlight, she is barely a teenager, sent to kill someone. Her would be victim catches her and instead of the quick death she expects, Kaylin is given the chance at a new life. The world around the city of Elantra is complex – too complex to probably grasp in the span of this short story, but I can say that I’m interested. The different races, the magic system, the undercurrent of something’s-just-not-quite-right makes for a very compelling read.
Other books in the Chronicles of Elantra series include: Cast in Shadow, Cast in Courtlight, Cast in Secret, Cast in Fury, Cast in Silence, Cast in Chaos
Retribution by Cameron Haley
I’ll admit – I was really excited about this story. A prequel to Cameron Haley’s debut novel, Mob Rules, Retribution is a glimpse into what D’s life was like before the fairy world came knocking. In Retribution, D has to use her brains and juice to defeat a death curse, untangle messy mob business, and keep her nose clean from the cops. I love the world Haley has created for her Underworld Cycle books; they aren’t much on the happy, adventure kind of story. They’re fairly gritty, exploring the dark underbelly of the mob world as it could be if they dealt in magic and arcane.
Other books in the Underworld Cycle: Mob Rules (See my review of Mob Rules.) and Skeleton Crew, slated to be out May 2011.(less)
Pleasure Me is a historical romance that features an aging courtesan and a young nobleman crippled by a hidden birth defect. Ruth Attwood is a woman w...morePleasure Me is a historical romance that features an aging courtesan and a young nobleman crippled by a hidden birth defect. Ruth Attwood is a woman who has not chosen her place in the world, it was a last resort but despite the circumstances that pushed her into becoming a courtesan, she behaves with grace and dignity. Ruth Attwood is the kind of person you want to know, and the kind of woman who could be very dangerous Garrick Stratfield and his secrets.
This is unlike Monica's other books in that there is no immediate, serious physical danger to the characters. Pleasure Me is more about two people finding themselves and each other. That's not to say that there isn't external danger, but they stand to hurt one another far more than others.
Each of the characters has a crutch: Ruth is hung up on her age, and Garrick believes his defect is more debilitating than it really is. I read this book straight through, so if you're like me, you're probably going to get to the last quarter of the book and shrug each time Ruth brings up her age. I pity Garrick getting through that stone wall! But it was Garrick's crutch that really hooked me. At a young age he was mocked for his defect and has spent much of his adult life compensating; so much that he's let much of life pass him by. I cheered for Garrick the whole time. He stole bits of my heart as I read. The characters, in Monica Burns style, come alive; not just Ruth and Garrick, but Garrick's sisters and Ruth's friends.
The supporting cast is just as endearing as the two main characters. Ruth and Garrick are not the only ones with a story going on in this book. A lot of books seem to forget that life goes on for people surrounding the pivotal couple, but not in Pleasure Me. The whole cast of characters connect with you on some level; from the character who got the second chance at life, to those struggling through the pitfalls of life.
As with Monica's writing, there's plenty of hot, steamy stuff between the sheets and everywhere else. There's also other elements of Ruth and Garrick's lives that intertwine through the story that just goes to show that age and disability mean a person doesn't live and do great things, even if those great things are small acts of kindness.
I love Monica's books; they make you feel, and not all writers can do that.(less)
I have been anxiously awaiting the newest Kyndred book; not only did I have it on preorder for my ereader, but I won an early copy. For those of you w...moreI have been anxiously awaiting the newest Kyndred book; not only did I have it on preorder for my ereader, but I won an early copy. For those of you who are not familiar with the Kyndred series, it is an offshoot from the Darkyn series, which is being featured this month. A lot of the characters from that series show up in passing in the Kyndred books, but unlike the Darkyn the Kyndred are human and mortal.
Established in the Darkyn series, Kyndred are people who have been biologically altered. They have evolved separate from the Darkyn and are subject to a whole other set of hardships in life. Unlike the Darkyn, there is not set society to help protect them. The Kyndred are in the world, for better or worse, on their own and more often than not they are on the run because of what they are.
Frostfire melds a lot of storylines together. I’ll admit that about halfway through the book if you aren’t paying attention closely you will be confused. There are characters that show up from not only the previous Kyndred books, but from the Darkyn series. However, I am possibly the worst person about forgetting names with complex plots that jump around, and I followed it pretty well. There were only a few places where I had to flip back and forth to double check who was who that did what.
I laughed, I cheered, and I’m going to go reread now – because there won’t be a new book from Lynn Viehl for a few months and that makes me sad.(less)