Another cute, comical romp through the eyes of Katie Chandler.
Straddling the line between urban fantasy and chicklit, these books feature a frothy rom...moreAnother cute, comical romp through the eyes of Katie Chandler.
Straddling the line between urban fantasy and chicklit, these books feature a frothy romance tempered by competent world-building. In Kiss and Spell, Swendson gives Katie and Owen some much-needed alone time. I expected things to heat up a bit - even if it was of the closed-door, fade-to-black variety - but Swendson keeps the romance very PG. I find the pair sweet, but I sometimes balk at their squeaky-cleanness.
But, all things considered, Owen and Katie don't have time to fit in anything naughty. In typical Swendson fashion, our leads are running to and fro in an attempt to thwart the most recent Big Bad, Sylvester. They're also dealing with Owen's notoriety and Katie's unprecedented change, as well as Granny's continued presence. And then there's the kidnappings. There's a lot going on and Katie and Owen work well together.
It being June, this series once again strikes me as a perfect vacation read. It's light and quick-moving and would perfectly complement a leisurely day spent poolside. I'm pleased Shanna Swendson decided to keep publishing them and look forward to more of Katie's NYC-based adventures.(less)
This might have held some pleasure for me had I read Colters' Woman, so perhaps I'm being unfair. It serves as an epilogue to that bo...moreTerribly boring.
This might have held some pleasure for me had I read Colters' Woman, so perhaps I'm being unfair. It serves as an epilogue to that book. I'm sure anyone who loved the first volume will be anxious to learn how the group is faring.
However, as a stand-alone and as a sample of Ms. Banks' writing, it just won't do. It doesn't entice me to dig into the Colters' lives. The men are fawning, doting creatures who treat the woman as if she's made of glass. There's little distinction made between them other than some references to events of the first book. Holly doesn't stand out either, apart from her ambushing each of the brothers and guilting them into sex.
It's an odd story that lacks eroticism - so much so that I'm taking it off the ol' rumpity-bumpity shelf. I'm sad. I expected to be far more titillated by a romance featuring menage a quatre.
Part Mission Impossible, part Lord of the Rings, No Quest for the Wicked takes our heroes on a hectic search through NYC. Their goal is to recover a p...morePart Mission Impossible, part Lord of the Rings, No Quest for the Wicked takes our heroes on a hectic search through NYC. Their goal is to recover a powerful jewel before it falls into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, it's the sort of piece that gives even the well-intentioned a hankering for world domination.
In these last two books Swendson has moved away from larger story arcs, instead letting her characters' evolution become the running thread. I prefer this, as I've always felt Katie and Owen were underdeveloped.
Granny is a welcome addition. I feared at first she'd be mere comic relief. Though she does inject the story with a fair amount of humour, she's used judiciously and I look forward to more of her.
The gang picks up some other additions along the way - as you do on a quest; I hope this leads to even more exploration of the magical races in Katie's world.
There are some major twists at the end of this one, setting us up for a very different storyline - one perfectly poised to answer my cry for deeper character development.
I hope these self-pubbed installments prove successful enough for Ms. Swendson to continue!(less)
A welcome continuation to the series, wrapping up many of the loose ends that made the fourth book so irksome as a series ender.
Considering the author put this one out herself, I was a tad worried. However, as the updates kept coming in and Ms. Swendson announced she'd landed the same editor used for the previous volumes, I became eager to dive in. The result is a polished, professional piece that shows the merit of self-pub when in the right hands. I'm so happy the author went ahead with this project; it wasn't fair for the original publisher to drop this mid-series - especially considering its similarity to many currently popular titles.
Much Ado About Magic follows in the same vein as the previous installments, maintaining the chick-litish style of urban fantasy that's entertaining and easily devoured in a short time span. Katie is the country girl gone city, but she never comes across as trying too hard to be either. I found her and her boyfriend, Owen, a little less saccharine this time which was a welcome change. I just wonder when and if they're ever going to get some genuine quality time together so we can see what their relationship is really like.
The glimpses into office life at MSI are still amusing - from the constantly partying sales team to the gargoyle security force - and I enjoy learning about the more practical aspects of running a magical company. I feel like the author has the organizational chart mapped out and has dealt with her own fair share of office politics, making Katie's work life relatable. I also like seeing NYC through the eyes of a relative newcomer and found myself smirking in agreement through some of the descriptions (I may have looked around the train once or twice wondering if any fellow commuters might be sporting an illusion...but New York has enough weirdness without digging around for more).
I only have a few gripes about this book. One is inherent to the category: being chick-litish, it doesn't have the opportunity to get very gritty or deep in terms of character development or true villainy. That could be a personal thing, as I generally gravitate towards series where few characters are completely safe from severe injury or death. The other is the passage of time. The book covers about a month and a half(?) of Katie's life and it was a bit hard for me to resolve how much time was spent doing more mundane things. Again, this is probably related to the category but I find it interesting to think Katie's life seemed almost too normal for me.
As for the overall plot, this volume focuses on uncovering more baddies and resolving the Idris issue for good(?). It's a much stronger finish to the story arc, giving us names and motivations and solving other mysteries we didn't even know we wanted solved, so I'm very grateful to Ms. Swendson for getting this book out. My only questions now are what what will Katie and Owen have to deal with next? And will they ever have time for a proper date or two!
Gabriel’s Ghost is absorbing, both in terms of its sci-fi elements and its romantic underpinnings. It’s not as gripping as my favorite of the g...more**3.5**
Gabriel’s Ghost is absorbing, both in terms of its sci-fi elements and its romantic underpinnings. It’s not as gripping as my favorite of the genre, Grimspace, but it’s a solid read with characters to root for.
Within the first few lines, Linnea Sinclair establishes the narrator, Chasidah Bergren, as a strong-willed, level-headed heroine. Chaz is capable of taking care of herself. She assesses situations quickly, gathering facts and objectively analyzing them. However, she’s not the stereotypical hard-ass. Although she reached the rank of Captain while in the Imperial Fleet, she seems to have done so without subsuming her feminine side. She resists her attraction to Gabriel Sullivan, but only for practical reasons. She never denies feeling a strong pull towards him and even flirts with him willingly in moments she feels at ease. She’s a likable character.
In many ways, Gabriel Sullivan fits the rogue archetype: devastatingly handsome, overtly masculine, with a magnetic sexual personality he uses to full advantage. He’s got a “wicked, wicked” smile, and an infinite talent for skirting around the law. That’s Sully on the surface. As the story progresses and secrets are revealed, Sinclair grants him more depth of emotion - making him a sympathetic and engaging character who’s not as cocksure as he seems.
(My favorite character may be Ren, though. I seem to have a big ol’ soft spot for aliens befriended by heroines - Sirantha Jax’s Vel, anyone?)
The romance between Sully and Chas often frustrated me. They would come to an understanding, only to backtrack significantly as more information came to the fore. Although Chas had a right to her confusion and fears, her repeatedly renewed outrage at Sully grated on me. I couldn’t help but feel the romance suffered some as Sully withstood several emotional beatings. Not that Sully does himself any favors. He withholds a great deal of information from Chaz, and the truth is always revealed at the most damaging moments.
While Sully’s secrets and Chaz’ quickly ignited fear undermined their closeness, the two still have undeniable chemistry. The moments in which they come together are very strong; it’s the strength of that connection that makes all the miscommunications and misgivings so frustrating! I’m glad to hear the next book delves into these characters more. It’ll be great to see how their relationship progresses now that (hopefully) everything is out in the open.
The sci-fi elements are pervasive but never overwhelming. As my friends and I discussed, this would be a good transition book for PNR fans sampling the SFR genre. The characters - which include non-humans - travel from an inhospitable planet to several space stations, navigating through different sectors and using jumpgates to cross large distances. Tech-speak is woven throughout the story, and in most cases Sinclair allows the context clues to define the new vocabulary. It’s easily understood and doesn’t hamper the flow. The pace slows down during travel from one stop to the next, but that’s simple to overlook compared to the emotional turmoil and explosive action scenes. The over-arching plot is one of political intrigue and conspiracy, and Sinclair does a good job of making everyone seem suspect. Protagonists against the Big Bad Corporation/Government/Mogul is a bit played out, but Sinclair makes it engaging.
Gabriel’s Ghost wraps up at an appropriate scene. It finalises the action of the moment, but makes it clear there’s much more intrigue and tension to come. Sinclair has done her job well - so well that I’ve already downloaded the sequel, Shades of Dark, and I’m curious about everything else the Dock Five Universe will offer.(less)
Not too bad an anthology, but all of the stories seemed abrupt on the wrap-up. The women and men involved are kick-ass equals and it's nice to see the...moreNot too bad an anthology, but all of the stories seemed abrupt on the wrap-up. The women and men involved are kick-ass equals and it's nice to see the "partners in crime-fighting" dynamic.
The Bride Wore a .44 by Maggie Shayne. Amnesiac bride is a little stunned when her memories begin to return--along with her vast fondness for guns. Rushed and a little anti-climactic, but I liked the couple enough that I may look up more by this author.
The Incredible Misadventures of Boo and the Boy Blunder by MJD. I love the title. So ludicrous. And the author's note: "There are vampire hunters, and there are albinos, but usually they aren't one and the same." Boo is the albino vampire slayer and Eddie becomes the Boy Blunder after she saves his uber-geek tuckus and he starts following her around like an overenthusiastic puppy. They soon meet Greg, a vamp who's still a cop at heart. As the stakes and sparks fly, Boo starts to think that maybe not all undead are slavering fiends. Not MJD's funniest, but I'm still fiercely hoping for a meeting between Betsy and Boo.
Warfem by Angela Knight. I've only read one other story by Knight (based in her Mageverse) and didn't enjoy it. By comparison, this futuristic space story of genetically engineered warriors wasn't as cliched and bears some potential. Not sure if I'd seek out more from her, but the sex was pretty hot!
Painkillers by Jacey Ford. Reminiscent of Miss Congeniality, but in reverse. A supermodel is recruited as a low-level CIA operative. The token agent and her handler arrive on an island nation on the verge of being torn apart by political unrest and sibling rivalry. Lauren is a little too gullible for words and, as others have noted, this one felt contrived. (less)
I enjoyed the world: the idea of implants to enhance and improve stamina, fighting ability, etc; the old Italian/mafioso feel of the society; the over...moreI enjoyed the world: the idea of implants to enhance and improve stamina, fighting ability, etc; the old Italian/mafioso feel of the society; the overall futuristic theme grounded by the characters' connection to more earthy and provincial interests.
Unfortunately, I didn't care one jot about Meli or Corvino. Both lacked some indefinable oomph necessary to make them real. I had no compassion for Meli and did not see Corvino's appeal--apart from the first few days they spent together, I did not believe in them as a couple.
Having read On the Edge as well as the Kate Daniels series, I think this writing duo's strengths lie in the creation of a simmering romance. While I love the concepts presented in Silent Blade and On the Edge, both were lacking the delicious build up and tension of Kate and Curran...and suffered because of it. Ilona Andrews' expertise is the slow reveal. Anything else from them seems a little forced, and the writing style of Silent Blade floundered and flailed before settling down and finding a steady rhythm.
That said, I would definitely read a full-length novel set in the Silent Blade world. There's a lot of potential to it!(less)
Recipe for success: - Liberal amount of Austen & Wodehouse - Generous helping of the supernatural - Sprinkling of steampunk - Heavy dose of humor - Do...moreRecipe for success: - Liberal amount of Austen & Wodehouse - Generous helping of the supernatural - Sprinkling of steampunk - Heavy dose of humor - Dollop of romance
Icing: - One sorely abused treacle tart - One hedgehog, slightly squashed
What a success Soulless is. No First Book Syndrome here.
Gail Carriger shows that she is a woman with ideas in this alternate history paranormal tale. Not only does she have ideas, but Carriger knows how to execute them. Soulless is a refreshing and wildly amusing new take on the supernatural--and on the strong, capable heroine. The characters are memorable, the writing is tight, and the banter is delightfully witty.
Her main character, Alexia Tarabotti, is a sharp and intelligent spinster whose lively conversations and astute observations belie her status of "soulless." She's a wonderful and determined character. Miss Tarabotti is very passionate about her beliefs, and more than willing to whack would-be attackers about the head with her parasol.
Alexia lives in a Victorian England where vampires and werewolves are accepted by society. She's acquainted with several members of the supernatural set--most notably the outrageous vampire Lord Akeldama (he often speaks in italics, my petal), and the gruff and brawny Alpha werewolf, Lord Maccon (a delicious Highland brute).
Carriger's story takes Alexia through high-society functions, human and supernatural courting rituals, familial unrest, gruesome attacks, and several instances of appalling attire. The result is enthralling, brisk, and sure to keep you smiling throughout. I wish book 2 were here already!(less)