When I think about Archangel’s Shadows, I can’t help but let out a happy sigh. Janvier and AshwThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
When I think about Archangel’s Shadows, I can’t help but let out a happy sigh. Janvier and Ashwini’s story was just what I needed from these two. Insight into Ash’s hardened edge. The unyielding support of Janvier. A nice dose of Cajun romance amid the snowy landscape of New York.
One of the reasons I love Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series so much is it brings together my favorite genre elements. I’m an urban fantasy girl. I like mystery and action and heroines taking charge. But, if you read this blog with any frequency, you know I also like a heavy dose of the sweet-and-sexy moments. The Guild Hunter series marries these two elements beautifully. We get to see Ash and Janvier on missions, saving lives, trying to track down a murderer, and when they’re in public they are fierce.
…but alone? It gets hot and steamy and Ash is kind of overwhelmed by it. Touch is such a tricky thing for her, but it’s a non-issue with Janvier. And does that man know how to touch. And bite. (Sexy vampire bite scene included in Archangel’s Shadows, you heard it here first!) Their romance is sweet and supportive and selfless. I really couldn’t get enough of them.
Personally, I like when Singh steps away from Elena and Raphael (as much as I love them) to give us new couples finding their mates—and getting better footing on who they are. It’s probably part of why I loved Archangel’s Blade, too. However, this story gives us more glimpses of the other couples. We get time with the other couples and plenty of teases about who might be next. I know you’re all shouting “Bluebell!” right now, but I found myself very curious about Naasir by the end of Archangel’s Shadows, which kind of shocked me. He says something about relationships and their secrets that is beautiful and intriguing and makes me wonder what’s in store for him a few books down the road.
In the meantime, Archangel’s Shadows delivers. High-stakes mystery, insight into both the Tower and Guild side of things, and make-you-weak-in-the-knees romance merge to make one indulgent read.
Silver Shadows is the darkest book in the Bloodlines series to date. It’s also the best. RichelThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Silver Shadows is the darkest book in the Bloodlines series to date. It’s also the best. Richelle Mead has deftly woven painful, deep scenes with breaths of warmth, light and hope.
Longtime fans of Mead’s work will know she tends to go for the gut punch and the tears on the emotional roller coaster. I’ve never been one to really complain about that. However, the balance of light and dark in this novel is, simply, better. Part of that comes from the shift of this series to dual points of view. Adrian, who so long has been besieged by his own demons and the depression brought on by his spirit use, becomes a point of light this time. His chapters are the scenes that let us breathe in this book, and even when he makes mistakes he’s nothing short of a source of hope.
The ending of The Fiery Heart was wicked. If you thought we would escape seeing Sydney in re-education camp, you’d be wrong. She’s in solitary confinement when the novel begins, and her torture—both mental and physical—continues for chapters and chapters. It’s heavy, and painful, but her love for Adrian keeps her whole. She is strong and has become a character you can’t help but admire. She’s grown so much over the last five novels, and you’ll want to rally behind her as she does her best for others even in the midst of Hell.
Adrian has his own struggles, but his top goal is saving Sydney. I didn’t think I could be more in love with Adrian Ivashkov, but Silver Shadows did it. It doesn’t matter that this novel has scenes of torture; it’s a romance through and through. The power of love is a big deal here. It helps us grounded and centered and provides the hope that we can survive.
I “one more chapter”-ed the last 150 pages of this novel. You will, too.
I was a long-time fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series. I stuck with it though all thirteen books. That’s a long series, and over the course of the series my engagement was driven by the love of the characters and the desire for plot resolution. Normal stuff.
This May, though, there wasn’t my usual Sookie release. Instead there was a new novel in a new series set in Texas, and I had to decide if I was ready to dive back in. Was I game to make the commitment? I’m so glad I decided to make the leap.
Midnight Crossroad reminded me why I fell in love with Charlaine Harris’s writing originally. As I read this novel, I felt the same connection I had when I read Dead Until Dark all those years ago.
Midnight Crossroad could probably be labeled magic realism, but for our purposes I’m going to call it paranormal mystery. Honestly, though? It’s a the story of a tiny Southern—in this case Texas—town, the people within it, and how they deal with secrets, loss, and friendship. The paranormal elements—yes, there’s a vampire—are considered matter of fact by the residents of Midnight, Texas. There’s a psychic and witch. Everyone has a reason for living in the remote, one-stop-sign town, and they all know better than to pry into others’ lives. However, when one of them is accused of murder, hard truths are exposed and the community has to become stronger because of it.
Harris has a skill for portraying the small-town dynamic in a real, honest, and engaging way. It almost made me homesick for the small town I grew up in. The characters are fleshed out, and by the end I found myself craving more of their stories. I want to unearth more of the secrets in Midnight, and you can bet I’ll be reading Midnight Crossroad‘s sequel next May.
Ivy is having the worst week of her life as The Beautiful Ashes opens. Her parents have diedThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Ivy is having the worst week of her life as The Beautiful Ashes opens. Her parents have died in a suspicious car accident, and her sister Jasmine has disappeared. She’s going from one tiny bed-and-breakfast to another trying to find Jaz. Her problems aren’t as simple as finding a sibling who doesn’t want to be found.
Her sister has been kidnapped by demons, and only Ivy can save her. And she has one hot, very off-limits guy to help her.
Jeaniene Frost employs some straightforward and engaging mythology. Ivy and Adrian, the hero, are mortals caught up in the battle between heaven and hell—or in this case Archons and demons. The two mortals are helping the angelic side (obviously), and have special gifts as being the last of their bloodlines. Each is descended from a key Biblical figure. The visuals in the book, especially when looking at demons or within demon realms, are the right balance of uncomfortable and familiar.
Supernatural fans will certainly find lots of love within the pages of The Beautiful Ashes. Battling demons, saving innocents, a bitchin’ car and often too-cryptic angels—for starters. The concept isn’t entirely new, and you’ll certainly spot some new adult tropes in action. However, Frost’s writing shines bright enough that it doesn’t matter.
Putting this book down once I began was near impossible. I was driven to get answers about Ivy and Adrian’s destiny. Their chemistry is palpable, and my chest tightened the first time they kissed. The pacing is spot on.
Larissa Ione brings the slow burn in Chained by Night, and I loved it. While her Demonica boThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Larissa Ione brings the slow burn in Chained by Night, and I loved it. While her Demonica books often get dirty quickly, the MoonBound novels are definitely taking on a different romantic tone. And it works.
Much like the first book, we have some category tropes at play. In the case of Chained by Night, it’s a case of mistaken identity alongside an arranged marriage. If you read much historical romance, you may find some interesting choices here. Thanks to the contemporary setting and, you know, vampires, though we don’t have to deal with as much of the impropriety issues there.
Hunter is the leader of the MoonBound Clan of vampires. In order to save two of his own (in the previous novel), he’s agreed to marry the daughter of a rival clan’s leader. Rasha is far from his type. She’s cruel and has beliefs that are the complete opposite of his own. (She’s a big fan of subjugating the weak, for example.) Her twin sister Aylin, however, comes with her to the MoonBound Clan as a decoy against human attacks. She’s one of those her sister considers weak.
Aylin is smart and kind and determined. So, she’s a natural match for Hunter. Too bad marrying her isn’t an option. Rasha wants what’s hers and breaking that treaty will mean war. That doesn’t stop Hunter from spending more and more time with Aylin, and the two end up having to take a mission to save the lives of others. Expect some mega closeness. Sexy closeness.
The chemistry between Aylin and Hunter in Chained by Night was scorching the pages. They both have strong senses of duty and aren’t sure who they can trust. Watching them become closer and open to one another was a great journey. Enough to make me read this 400-page book in a single sitting.
Chained by Night better focuses on the vampires and their lore than the woes of the human side, which was more the focus of Bound by Night. There are still some interesting revelations there—mostly secrets revealed—but the novel is free of having to set the world building and only thrives in the openness to explore its characters.
Be prepared to stay up all night with Chained by Night. You’ll be ready to hear Hunter saying, “mine,” before you know it.
Full review to come, but in short: Cover-to-cover amazing. Definitely will end up on my Best of 2013 list. Love in dark places. Angst. Complications.Full review to come, but in short: Cover-to-cover amazing. Definitely will end up on my Best of 2013 list. Love in dark places. Angst. Complications. Sympathy for characters you didn't originally want to love. Just... stunning....more
Richelle Mead’s new adult series Age of X had significant potential, but unfortunately GameboarThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Richelle Mead’s new adult series Age of X had significant potential, but unfortunately Gameboard of the Gods tries to do too much and the reader connection is lost along the way.
Gameboard features a future version of our current world, one where a government is focused on genetic perfection and regulates procreation to that end. Tied in with their control over having kids is their anti-religion policies. They allow some religions to exist with permits, though require their believers to say they worship a “fictitious entity.” It was never clear to me why some religions were allowed and others weren’t, but the existence of the supernatural and ancient gods (think Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian mythology) is core to what is happening in the book. Outside of the government-run area, in the provinces (part of the novel is set in Panama) people are free to worship their gods, have babies without authoritarian say so, but they also have guns and drugs and the like. It took me a good portion of the book to sort out what exactly the rules were and how that effected everything else. The idea is clever, but there is so much to cover that the first half of the novel gets bogged down in the interplay of government vs. provincial life.
Part of the disconnect for me was the multiple viewpoints in Gameboard. Readers get to be inside the heads of three characters, and I only ever felt connected with one. First we have Mae, who is by far the most fleshed out of the three characters and the one that I was able to make an emotional investment with. She’s a military warrior and general badass. She’s assigned to help Dr. Justin March investigate a series of murders. Okay, she’s there mostly to protect him while he investigates. She has trouble expressing her emotions, had a dark past and a whole lot of confusion about her feelings regarding Justin.
Justin is kind of a dick, if we’re being honest here. He was kicked out of the country and now is invited back to help solve these murders. If he succeeds, he may get to stay. He’s excellent at reading people and incredibly cocky about it. He has ties to the supernatural that make him a bit crazy. He’s got substance abuse issues and a penchant for gambling. At times he’s incredibly sincere, others you want to smash a bottle on his head. Generally both those things happen when he’s around Mae.
The third POV comes from a sixteen-year-old girl named Tessa. She’s from Panama and Justin brings her back to his home country to give her a better life and education. Tessa acts as our eyes for how weird everything is in this new world. The clothes, the technology, the travel—all of it fascinates and bothers her, not always in equal measure. Her presence softens Justin’s persona for us and helps make him more likeable. (I didn’t dislike Justin, but I never felt connected with him.)
The last quarter of the book really picked up the pace and as the mystery was solved I found myself engaged, however it took me hundreds of pages before I felt that way. Mead’s prose is top-notch as usual. However, between the disconnected POV and too much world building, too fast, I couldn’t get into Gameboard of the Gods the way I’d hoped to....more
Throughout the Dark Mission series Karina Cooper has thrown together enemies and made them intoThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Throughout the Dark Mission series Karina Cooper has thrown together enemies and made them into lovers. It’s part of what always appeals to me about these books. Each novel has a constant push and pull: lies versus truth, love versus hate, pain versus ecstasy. The final book One for the Wicked gathers all these elements and exhales them in a miasma of hidden truths, long-desired revenge and unbidden attraction.
Basically, One for the Wicked is an explosion of emotional sexytimes and characters fighting for their lives. Both things I love.
We’ve heard plenty about Dr. Kayleigh Lauderdale in previous novels. We’ve heard about her role in the Salem Project. We know she’s been working to find a way to stop the degeneration of its subjects (like super delicious Simon). What we don’t know is what’s really going on inside Kayleigh’s head. In One for the Wicked we discover Kayleigh’s motivations and realize she takes the lies of her father at face value.
Shawn doesn’t buy Kayleigh’s innocent routine. The other Lauderdale killed his parents and if he has to use Kayleigh to exact his revenge, he will. He just didn’t plan on finding her so damn attractive or her stirring real, non-violent feelings within.
Both Kayleigh and Shawn betray one another repeatedly. You’ll be shocked at the way he pulls the rug out from under her. Then even more blindsided when she ignores her feelings and turns on him. And again. And again. This book is about how hard it is to accept the truth. Both Kayleigh and Shawn have to learn to trust each other, believe the new truths they’re faced with and find a way to live with the results. Not an easy task.
This isn’t like Simon and Parker’s story in Sacrifice the Wicked where they hated each other but knew one another beforehand. Kayleigh and Shawn haven’t met before the start of this book, and there is no foundation for trust. The answers they find not only bring them together, but give readers many of the answers we’ve longed for throughout the series. You’ll know more about the earthquakes. You’ll know more about Kayleigh’s mom and the Eve Sequence. You’ll understand what links the Salem Project team and you’ll better understand the senior Lauderdale’s motivations much better.
As this is the final Dark Mission novel, Cooper made sure you get to revisit every couple from previous books. Silas even gives relationship advice. (I know, right?) The ending is a nice reward for readers who have stuck with the series.
Every time I finish one of Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines novels, I clamor for the next one. The FieThis review was originally posted on Vampire Book Club
Every time I finish one of Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines novels, I clamor for the next one. The Fiery Heart isn’t an exception. No, for those who read the Vampire Academy series, I say: Remember when you finished Shadow Kiss and you needed Blood Promise in your hands with every fiber of your being? Yeah, that’s the end of The Fiery Heart.
The Fiery Heart indulges in the connection between in Adrian and Sydney. Hell, it relishes in it. As a reader, I found myself damn-near languid after their interactions and yearning for their stolen moments. They finally admitted their feelings for one another in The Indigo Spell. But with Sydney’s little sister moving in and bringing along piles of Sage and Alchemist baggage, it’s difficult for the two to enjoy their relationship. Their meetings are stolen moments. They text on special cell phones. And they are so in love it hurts.
Why am I harping on the romance angle? Other than the fact it’s smoking hot and just—gah—so good? Fine. This is the first time I’ve read a book by Mead (and I’ve read them all) that read like a romance novel. The main focus of The Fiery Heart is Adrian and Sydney’s relationship and the goal of them being together. To make this even clearer, we spend half the novel in Adrian’s head. His points of view were brilliant and insightful. He continue to struggle with the consequences his spirit use, but wants to be a better man for Sydney. Look, the short story here is you’re going to swoon. And maybe cry. Mostly swoon, though.
The book isn’t all steaminess between these two. We also have big progress on the magical front, on working to break the tattoos that force Alchemists to behave and even on the spirit use against Strigoi. Pretty big strides there, but I just can’t spoil that for you.
I would be remiss if I didn’t admit the ending is wicked. Good wicked. It’s what needs to happen for this journey to move forward correctly. There are so many possibilities as to what might happen next and I need answers. In the meantime, I’ll be happy I devoured The Fiery Heart. It was by far my favorite book in the Bloodlines series and Vampire Academy fans will probably put it in the same league as Shadow Kiss, which is definitely an epic compliment.
I am in perpetual awe of Julie Kagawa. Every book I’ve read of hers is better than the last andThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
I am in perpetual awe of Julie Kagawa. Every book I’ve read of hers is better than the last and The Eternity Cure is no exception. She takes heroine Allie to some dark places in this latest book, but anything else would have cheapened the experience.
Allie’s character arc continues to develop beautifully as she truly understands what it means for her to be a vampire and fights to balance that with maintaining her humanity. Zeke continues to be her source of good here, and it isn’t just that he’s human, but that he sees the good in her. There’s a great juxtaposition between the way Allie behaves in reaction to Stick and her emotions when Zeke is with her. I’m not just talking about romance here, but about the way another’s faith in you can make you into a better person.
Characters are in real peril in this one, and as a reader I was never certain anyone would make it. The plot twists were devious enough to catch me off guard and the staging done well enough to make think, “Oh, God, she’s actually going to do…”
I adored The Immortal Rules, but I promise you The Eternity Cure is even more brilliant. It gave me what I really needed in this journey: huge emotional development, answers about the world Allie grew up in, down-and-dirty fight scenes and some of the most gorgeous prose I’ve read in some time.
I’ve been stingy with the five-star ratings of late (picky, picky, I know), but The Eternity Cure deserves a perfect score from me. Expect this one on my Best of 2013 list....more