There is a reason why I never read series out of order, and Masks proved that yet again. Though not part of the Cassandra Palmer narrative, Masks tell...moreThere is a reason why I never read series out of order, and Masks proved that yet again. Though not part of the Cassandra Palmer narrative, Masks tells the story of Mircea, a recurring character in the series.
The story is set in fifteenth century Venice. Mircea is a masterless vampire, and therefore unprotected. When his luck runs out, he gets bought by an influential vampire to be a courtesan.
Usually I can pin-point the exact reason that ruins a book for me. It can be glaring plot holes, terrible characterisation or just butt-awkward writing. With Masks, I can only sum up some random elements that I didn't enjoy. The issue I had with this book was mostly that there weren't enough parts that I did like, rather then there being too many things I didn't like.
Masks doesn't make any concessions for readers unfamiliar with the Cassandra Palmer world. We meet Mircea, who is apparently a vampire, but never do we get any descriptions how a vampire looks. Do they have fangs? There are no mentions of fangs, but they do bite people. Are they sparkly? Pale? Or do they look like ordinary people? As someone that is new to the universe, I need those kinds of pointers to see the characters.
And it wasn't just visual input that I was missing. I had no idea what the limits of the vampires were. It is stressed at several points that a vampire needs a family to survive, but how this would work isn't explained. Why would Mircea go to Venice? It's said that this is the only "open port", but what does that mean? At no point he decides to get on a boat to some place different, so why would he go there at all?
I didn't care much for Mircea as a character. He mostly comes off as a rather selfish and odd guy. Maybe this is part of his vampire-ness, or that's just the way he is. The plot didn't engage me very much - plenty of key happenings are told as a flashback because Mircea was knocked out once again. His vampire friends seemed very fickle and childish, constantly bickering amongst themselves. Masks shows a rather depressing view of vampires: if we would all live centuries, this free for all oppressing kill-and-fuck-fest would be the result?
For fans of the Cassandra Palmer series, Masks might shed a light on the past of a beloved character. For readers unfamiliar with the world, this is not the place to start.(less)
Thirteen (or 13) marks the end of an era. For at least a few years, there won't be any full-length Women of the Otherworld books. I'm still hoping she...moreThirteen (or 13) marks the end of an era. For at least a few years, there won't be any full-length Women of the Otherworld books. I'm still hoping she will write some spin-offs in the form of a trilogy or something. I think I'm completely in denial that this actually might really be the end.
I have had a hard relationship with the last few books in this series, but Thirteen returned to that what made me fall in love with the series. Awesome characters, cute interactions, and plenty of action. I won't try to give a summary of the plot, but it will suffice to say that shit hits the fan in Thirteen. Most notable are the parents and grandparents of our lovely half-demon supernaturals that rear up their heads. I loved the way Ms Armstrong handled these lord demons, making them scary yet somehow vaguely relateable and human.
Almost all characters make a short appearance in the book. This was done with variable success - I think some characters could have used more page time, while others could have done with some less. The book has the same length as all of the other Women of the Otherworld books, but for this kind of "letting all characters pass by" to work it should have been longer. There is a conflict between Paige and Lucas that is never fully resolved. We don't really know what will happen to Eve and Kristoff. In itself the ending was satisfying, but I can't help the feeling that I was expecting more from the ending of such a long series with such a big and diverse cast of characters.
There is plenty of action in Thirteen and it was one of the quickest reads I've had lately. Savannah finally finds some balls, and the dynamics between and inside Cabals have always been a fascination of me. The book ticked more than enough boxes to fulfil my criteria of a good book, and if it hadn't been the last one it might have been a five-star book. But it leaves me with questions, and I know there won't be a next book to answer them.
Having read the entire Women of the Otherworld series now, I can whole-heartedly say that I recommend them. They're good urban-fantasy, and a few of them have been amazing. Most of them were great. A few were okay. Because of the narrator changes it gives more the impression of books set in a world, rather than one continuous narrative (like with the Sookie Stackhouse books). The ending might not have been perfect, but it was a good one. It didn't leave me with a bad taste in my mouth, just a desperation to find more Paige, Elena, Savannah and Jaime.(less)
Finally, an instalment of the Women of the Otherworld books I enjoyed like old times!
Savannah has lost her magic, and with that her courage and confid...moreFinally, an instalment of the Women of the Otherworld books I enjoyed like old times!
Savannah has lost her magic, and with that her courage and confidence. And now is terrible timing - with witch hunters chasing her to kill her, and other stirrings in the supernatural community.
The problems I've been having with the latest Women of the Otherworld books were still prevalent in Spell Bound, but less so. Savannah is a bit whiny in the book, especially in the beginning, but Adam soon gives her the kick in the butt she needs. Spell Bound is not a self-contained story like most of the Women of the Otherworld books are, but continues the plotline started in the previous book. Neither does it give full closure at the end, but rather builds the action for Thirteen.
Almost all characters make an appearance in Spell Bound, and often in my opinion too short. I also didn't like the way Savannah and Lucas consort together, not telling Paige crucial information. I felt like this wasn't something that would fit in Paige and Lucas's relationship, and I was quite disappointed in his medieval "don't tell the woman because she can't handle it" attitude. Paige has shown her backbone again and again, and I think she deserved to be kept in the loop.
That being said, I think Spell Bound shows all the traits that made the Women of the Otherworld books so successful. It has a (mostly) likeable heroine, a love interest you can root for, plenty of action and intrigue. I felt that the pacing of this book was more on par with what I'm used to, and I'm especially looking forward how the overarching plot will turn out in Thirteen.(less)
I loved it! When I hear "fairy-tale retelling" I'm not on my chair jumping up and down of joy, but Cinder surprised me in its ingenuity.
Cinder is a c...moreI loved it! When I hear "fairy-tale retelling" I'm not on my chair jumping up and down of joy, but Cinder surprised me in its ingenuity.
Cinder is a cyborg mechanic, living with her stepmother and two stepsisters in New Beijing. A mysterious plague claims thousands of victims, and there are people living on the moon. One day the Prince stops by Cinder's shop to repair an android. This android contains crucial information for the well-being of the whole Empire.
Like every child from the Disney generation I grew up with the story of Cinderella, but I never liked the movie. I was always appalled by how unfair she was treated, and that she didn't fight back. Enter Cinder. I loved how Ms Meyer took the story of Cinderella and made it her own, though keeping the essence of it, and keeping the suspense of the ending. She has changed some things - for the better in my opinion. One thing I loved was that one of the stepsisters was actually Cinder's friend. It was good to see that she had a person to confide in.
In the beginning Cinder doesn't fight her abusing stepmother, but she grows throughout the story into a stronger person. I loved following her growth, anticipating with joy the moment she breaks free. It does happen, but not in the way I was expecting.
There is so much going on this book that I have a hard time describing it. I've read a lot of rave reviews of Cinder, but I never understood what it all was about. Let me summarize it for you: there is political intrigue, threats of war between earth people and lunar people, Lunars can mind-control, Prince Kai is awesome and swoon-worthy, it's all set in a futuristic world, some science talk now and then, mysterious plague, Cinder's secret heritage.
I absolutely love the cacophony of Cinder's world. For once, the Prince is a good guy that would do anything for the well-being of his people. After reading so many dystopians this was a breeze of fresh air. Yes, there is a plague that's killing people. But it's not so bleak and hopeless as many other YA books seem to be lately.
The only problem I had was with the ending. Argh, cliffhanger alert! I know this is going to be a series, but I wanted it to end like the real Cinderella story, with a perfect happy ending. Sadly, this wasn't the case. I want the next book in the series now! I need to know how the story of Cinder continues!(less)
In Living with the Dead we continue with the Hope and Karl storyline, this time adding Hope's best friend Robyn. On many points Living with the Dead i...moreIn Living with the Dead we continue with the Hope and Karl storyline, this time adding Hope's best friend Robyn. On many points Living with the Dead is very different from its eight predecessors, and in my opinion this is not a good thing.
After being widowed at twenty-eight, Robyn takes the job of being Portia's PR person. When Portia is murdered in a club and Robyn flights the scene to chase after the killer, she is number one suspect on the police's list. Together with her friend Hope and Hope's boyfriend Karl, she gets caught up in several plots to kill her.
Overall I think Living with the Dead's main problem is the severe lack of focus. The story is all over the place, with tons of characters each having their own motivation for their actions. Living with the Dead is written from multiple points of view in third person, creating a whole chorus of voices instead of the steady, personal first person view we're used to.
One of Ms Armstrong's forte's is usually creating a mystery. I'm always fully engaged into the plot, trying to figure everything out along with the characters. Because we have so many POVs here, the reader is privy to more information than the characters. For example, the reader knows Detective Finn is actually a good guy trying to help, while Robyn and Hope are constantly trying to stay away from him. I absolutely hate having to see characters making prejudices about each other while all I want to do is bump their heads together and scream "YOU'RE ON THE SAME SIDE HERE!". This all makes for a frustrating, and in the end unsatisfying read.
It saddened me to see Hope and Karl's relationship to be reduced to a standard male-dominated one. I don't think Hope stood her ground enough, and most of the story she felt more like a needy puppy than an adult woman. I love the couples in the Women of the Otherworld series that are equals, like Paige and Lucas. Hope and Karl were okay in the previous book, Personal Demon, but I don't think Living with the Dead did them justice. In Personal Demon I loved how they were sweet to each other, how they had a healthy and loving relationship>. I didn't see any of that in Living with the Dead. There are no romantic moments, most of the time it's just Karl ordering Hope around.
In the end I did enjoy the story, even though at times it is overly gruesome (it features a commune that celebrates inbreeding and torture of children). Ms Armstrong knows how to write an engaging story. Sadly Living with the Dead was my least favourite book of her so far.(less)
You know the feeling when every single person you know loved a book, but you don't? And you wonder why people don't see it? That is how I feel about F...moreYou know the feeling when every single person you know loved a book, but you don't? And you wonder why people don't see it? That is how I feel about Fire Baptized.
Supernaturals are being forced to live in cages the size of small cities. Here they live in poverty and suppression. But things are even worse if you are a Mixbreed. They are second-class citizens, even in the Habitat. When she witnesses a gruesome murder on the way home, Lanore is determined to find the killer. But then he starts targeting people around her, and the killings get more personal.
The best way to describe Fire Baptized is an Anita Blake novel merged with a dystopian with social suppression themes. Think pre-orgy Anita Blake here. It's graphic urban-fantasy. There is a high level of gore and sex scenes that leave very little to imagination. I wouldn't recommend this for the sensitive reader. But for those of you who like it gritty - you might like this.
I admire the idea behind the story. It's different from what we're used to. There are Shifters, Vampires, Fairies, Pixies, Half-Demons and Witches; about every supernatural creature you can think of. They live in a caged city, cut off from the world. It's a highly original concept, and I just wish the execution was better.
The thing is, when you make this fantastic world with countless creatures that inhabit it and even make a whole religion for them, I want details. I want to know who built the cage. How does it look. What kinds of supernaturals are there, and what are their powers. When did supernaturals come out of the closet, so to speak? My main problem with Fire Baptized is that these details aren't there. There are pixies flying around, but I don't even know what they look like. Trolls make an appearance, but I have no idea whether they're black, green or orange. I get that you have to avoid info-dumps in books, especially in genres like urban-fantasy, but I sense a new phenomenon here. I'm calling it info-voids.
One of the biggest info-voids is why the supernaturals are even in a cage. Who put them there? Didn't they put up a fight or something? It mustn't be easy to put witches inside of a cage. The elements that make this story unique are just hinted on. Too much information is bad for a story, and it bogs it down. But too little makes it senseless.
Another thing that bothers me is inconsistencies. At one point in the novel, a law is mentioned that says vampires can't grow older than the age of a hundred. A few chapters later, we meet some vampires that are about two hundred years old. Maybe there is an explanation for this, but it isn't mentioned in the book.
My biggest annoyance in the book is the language Ms Wright has created. I think it's admirable to create your own language; I think it's great that Rebels speak some kind of dialect. You can even call it Lib Lib if you want to. What I don't like is that the Rebels talk like Yoda on a trip to Jamaica. As an illustration, I will quote some of the Lib Lib sentences spoken by a Rebel.
"Me no like this place already," Nona complained. "It's full of oppressors. We sit in the front."
"Me understand, but he can't harm you. You're Zulu's breeder."
And this is a response from heroine Lanore.
"Rest your... um, mouth, Nona," I said, straining to think of the few Lib Lib phrases I knew. "Him good."
I'm willing to believe in magic. But I am not willing to believe that this person cannot understand basic English. She SPEAKS basic English, only like a three-year-old. It just wasn't credible at all and turned into something that annoyed me every time it came up.
If you like stubborn (not necessarily smart) heroines, love triangles, alpha males with rock hard abs, gruesome murders and grown-up bullying, I think you might like Fire Baptized. It really isn't a bad book, and a lot of people have enjoyed and will keep to enjoy it. As of now I am the only person here on Goodreads not to like it that much. Try it, and see for yourself. (less)
More of the same and yet completely opposite to the first part of the series... I still haven't made up my mind yet.
Wizard for hire Harry Dresden has...moreMore of the same and yet completely opposite to the first part of the series... I still haven't made up my mind yet.
Wizard for hire Harry Dresden has more enemies than he can count on one hand, and they all want him dead. When there are serial killings that seem like the work of a bloodthirsty werewolf, he makes a few more. Will Harry be able to keep his head above water, and maybe restore his police friend Murphy's trust in him?
I like Harry's voice, and Mr Butcher is a good writer, yet still there is something about his book that is... itchy. I don't know how to describe it. I want to love them, but I just never get there. There is something about Harry, about the story that stands in the way. I can't put a finger on it.
What I can tell you about Fool Moon is that it is quite werewolf-heavy, in a good way. There are different kind of wolves, all with different strengths and weaknesses, which I found very interesting. Usually urban-fantasies only sport one kind of werewolf. Mr Butcher managed to create quite a few, and made them all distinct species.
For me Fool Moon felt a lot darker than the first book in the Dresden Files series, Storm Front. There is tons of violence, and because the main villains are wolf-like, there is a lot of gruesome detailing of people shredded to bits. Not only was there more violence and fighting, I also felt like Harry was not quite his cheerful self. He felt quite depressed, like he had lost all hope. And not just during one situation, but throughout the whole last half of the book. I'm wondering if this is how the whole series is going to be like. Maybe the darkness and bleakness of the book is why I'm not that eager to continue reading.
These are good books, and I will keep reading the series, but I'm not really rushing to get to them. (less)
My first venture into the unknown world of the graphic novel! When I heard Kim Harrison was writing a graphic novel that described the conditions in w...moreMy first venture into the unknown world of the graphic novel! When I heard Kim Harrison was writing a graphic novel that described the conditions in which her Hollows main characters Rachel and Ivy meet, I know I had to read it. I was a bit scared that I wasn't going to like it, because to be honest I have never read in this format before.
Turns out, it was pretty awesome. I can't talk for the hardcore graphic novel readers out there. But as a fan of the Hollows series, I can say that Blood Work is definitely worth it. The art is easy on the eyes, and even though I didn't always pictured the characters different than they turned out. I liked the little background in Rachel and Ivy, and see Ivy and Kisten together.
If you haven't read the other Hollows books, I'm not sure how much you will like Blood Work. The plot is pretty much self-explanatory, and pretty exciting too, but it will probably be too short a book to truly appreciate the characters. But then again, maybe that is always so in a graphic novel?
I would definitely recommend Blood Work if you're curious how Rachel and Ivy met.(less)
As a highly female-dominated genre, urban fantasy has very little male protagonists. The archetype male main character is Harry from the Dresden Files...moreAs a highly female-dominated genre, urban fantasy has very little male protagonists. The archetype male main character is Harry from the Dresden Files, and it's almost impossible not to have the Jim Butcher books in mind when reading Hounded. Compared to the dark and grumpy Dresden books, The Iron Druid Chronicles promise light-heartedness, humour, and action.
Atticus tells people he's 21 - which is technically not a lie, since he is 21 centuries old. He is the last Druid, and he is hiding from his immortal enemy. Atticus has a sword that the Celtic god of love wants back, and Atticus won't be able to hide from him forever.
Where Storm Front was serious and grim, Hounded is just plain old fun. All gods and goddesses walk the earth (yes, all of them) and they all have different alliances and feuds. Atticus is caught in the middle and forced to fight, but he does so with good humour and style. Nothing fazes him much, so when some lower fey come to kill him, he kicks their butts.
The world Mr Hearne has created is intriguing. In a true Supernatural romp fashion all gods exist - from Thor to The Morrigan, they are all somewhere. They are powerful, more powerful than mortals, but not truly immortal. Atticus, an Irish Druid himself, mainly deals with Celtic gods and goddesses. I'm quite fuzzy on my Celtic lore so I just kinda went with it, and it was a very enjoyable experience. I'm hoping to see more of the pantheon in the next few books; the possibilities are practically endless with the open world of Hounded.
Atticus draws power from the earth, which means that he spends a lot of time going around bare-footed or sleeping underneath trees to replenish his strength. The magic system isn't very intricate but it holds its purpose well and it makes for pretty fun action scenes.
Hounded is filled with quirky side characters like Atticus' talking dog Oberon, his vampire and werewolf lawyers, the sexy barmaid Granuaile with a secret, and the old Brit-hating and scotch-loving Irish widow. Together with a witty narration and fast pace, Hounded was a pleasure to read.(less)
Oh, Ms. Karen Marie Moning, how could you?! How could you leave us hanging like that? How are we supposed to live without having a sense of closure af...moreOh, Ms. Karen Marie Moning, how could you?! How could you leave us hanging like that? How are we supposed to live without having a sense of closure after that roller coaster ride that was your book? That's just plain sadistic. No really.
When her sister is killed in Ireland, small-town Georgia girl MacKayla Lane has no peace until the murderer is found. The police decides there aren't enough leads and close the case, leaving Mac no choice but to travel to Ireland herself and convince the police to open her sister's case again. When she sets foot in Dublin, she is within days sucked into a strange world where monsters exist, and only she can see them for what they are.
I loved this book. I love the way it's constructed, the voice in which it's written. I love the world that slowly but steadily unfolds before our eyes, where more and more Unseelie Fae are entering our world through a portal, infesting our cities and killing innocent humans. The only ones that can save mankind from being overrun by these monsters are the Sidhe-seers. These humans can see through the glamour of the Fae and see the real monster within them.
The world Ms. Moning has created isn't pretty. It's dark and gruesome. You can't trust anyone. Everyone has its own hidden agenda, including the supposedly good guys. Then, you throw our pink-loving small town girl from the Deep South Barbie heroine into this mess. I don't believe there could be a bigger contrast.
I've read a lot of reviews saying they couldn't stand Barbie 'cause she's so annoyingly shallow and not-heroic. I'm not going to lie to you, she totally is both things. She has two things working for her though. One, she is still grieving the loss of her sister, her best friend. Don't tell me you wouldn't do stupid things to revenge a loved one. Two, I don't think any regular human being has world-saving ambitions. In books we see the I-have-to-save-the-world-on-my-own complex a lot, but we all know that it isn't realistic. Mac is just an ordinary girl, maybe shallow and superficial, but can you blame her for not wanting to fight monsters straight from your worst nightmare?
One thing that did annoy me about Mac was not her habit to describe every piece of her wardrobe in detail, but her awful romantic chattering about the Deep South. I know that's where she comes from, and she is apparently damn proud of it, but do you have to measure every single thing that happens to you to how different it would be if you were back at home? It seems like every single person in her home town is extremely kind, hospitable and polite. Personally, I hate small towns. The idea that everyone knows you and knows what you do every second of the damned day freaks me out. Sometimes I wanted to give Mac a nice slap to the head and tell her that not everything that's different from provincial life is a bad thing.
I would have probably given this book 5 stars, if it wasn't for the terrible cliffhanger at the end. I thoroughly hate it when a writer doesn't give you any sense of an ending. We read the whole thing, but now we are forced to buy part two of the series. Which will probably end with a cliffhanger too. That's so not cool. Problem is, I will probably buy the second part of the series, Bloodfever, very soon anyway.
Darkfever was an awesome urban-fantasy book, especially for a first book in a series. Beware of the cliffhanger ending.(less)
Rereading these books feels like returning to an old friend. Even though you might not have everything in common any more, you can't help but love the...moreRereading these books feels like returning to an old friend. Even though you might not have everything in common any more, you can't help but love them anyway.
Rachel is in big trouble, once again. She made a pact with a demon to put a vampire master in prison, promising to be the demon's familiar, yet keeping her soul. She's living together with a living vamp that still craves her blood, and we haven't started on her complicated relationship with the city's drug baron yet. Prepare for another book of Rachel trying to keep her head above the proverbial (and literal) water.
In this book we see a slight shift from the fast-paced plot-driven books we're used to, to a book more focussed on the complex relationships Rachel tries to balance. Ms. Harrison has created a few of the most layered secondary characters I have ever seen. Which is both a blessing as a curse. A good example of this is Ivy, Rachel's roommate. She has so many issues with her identity that at times, she is really hard to like. She takes unpredictable into the extreme, often making choices I don't agree with at all. Yet she is always Rachel's friend when she needs one, and will protect her with her life. A big part of her private life is still shrouded in mystery, making it even harder to sympathise with.
But to make up for Ivy's sometimes not so sociable skills, this series has the most awesome pixy in the world of books. I don't think there is a person out there that doesn't like Jenks. He is so tiny he can fit on a large earring, but incredibly brave and protective. He isn't afraid to say what's on his mind which only makes him more charming. I want more of him!
As for our narrator, Rachel herself, I feel like she is growing up a bit. She is starting to accept help from her friends without hesitation. She is taking more responsibility, without losing her edge. I'm really glad that Nick is kind of fading out of the picture. I always thought he was one hell of a strange human, muddling with demons and such. I really wonder if there will be a happily ever after for Rachel at the end of the series. And if so, with who?
Another great book in a great series. Maybe not the best one tension-wise but there is enough of character development going on to keep you interested. On to the next one!(less)
Stray really was one big meh for me. There was nothing that really stood out. Yes, I know, I haven't read about werecats before. Yet, these cats live...moreStray really was one big meh for me. There was nothing that really stood out. Yes, I know, I haven't read about werecats before. Yet, these cats live together in a system that reminds a lot of the werewolf hierarchy like in Bitten. Main character Faythe was a little bit too ignorant for my taste. She has one hell of a strange view on the world. She constantly boasts around that she's so tough, she's not weak, she can handle anything! Yet when anyone tells her bad news (yes, it was horrible news, but still) she faints. Yeah. You're so tough.
The romance was more lust than love. I know they were supposed to have this history together, but I don't see the attraction. He is so idiotically possessive, while Faythe seems to rebel against anyone that wants to protect her. I have no idea how she can love Mr. I-beat-the-crap-out-of-a-guy-because-he-touched-you-once.
Except that this book lends itself well for ranting, I don't really see how this book stands out from the gigantic amount of urban-fantasy books out there. It's way too long (a massive 600+ pages) for a story that starts to pick up around halfway. When the action finally arrived I did like it though. The writing in itself is not bad at all, and it was quite enjoyable.
There are some scenes that crossed the fine line of my comfort zone. There was sexual assault and graphic torture. What stung me most was that the torture was performed by the "good guys". I'm sorry, I just can't live with that. I feel like we should be warned or something. You can't see from the cover or the blurb that this book has such violent aspects.
Not a big fan of this one, especially because I couldn't agree with the heroine at all. I have heard that the series does get better with every book, and though Faythe won't win a science quiz, she does gain some more common sense. I think I will read the next book in the series, but I definitely won't be rushing to get it. (less)