Miss Alexia Tarabotti, resigned to life as a spinster, is rudely attacked by a vampire when she escapes the ball to find something to satisfy her swee...moreMiss Alexia Tarabotti, resigned to life as a spinster, is rudely attacked by a vampire when she escapes the ball to find something to satisfy her sweet tooth. Her soulless ability to diffuse supernatural powers with a mere touch is also how she manages to kill the out-of-control hungry vampire. The brash Lord Maccon, rough and messy werewolf, turns up to investigate and Alexia is caught up right in the middle of it. Some supernaturals are going missing, whilst new ones are appearing unregistered. Just what in the heck is going on?
Soulless is a book I've had sat on my shelf for a fair few months. I'd heard great things about the series and so when I spotted the first three in The Works (amazing discount bookstore in the UK) I snapped it up. Since reading it, I massively regret only buying the first one when I could have had all three in the 3 for £5 offer and been able to read them as a series, because it is just such a fun read and I really didn't want to put it down. A lot of paranormal novels are a little bit dark and as much as I love that, sometimes you really want to read something a little lighter and Soulless was absolutely perfect. Gail Carriger has a great sense of humour and has created an interesting alternate world with such colourful characters that you can't help but love it. It is entirely immersive.
The novel is written in the style of Victorian high-society but much easier to read than, for example, Austen. It feels more like a tip-of-the-hat than a replication and it is very witty and elegant. I found myself giggling along a lot of the time and the characters had a lot to do with that. Noteable mentions go out to Lord Maccon, of course, who is a gruff, scruffy Scottish werewolf with whom Alexia seems to be constantly at war. Their arguments had me in hysterics, I loved them! Then there's Lord Akeldama, a very flamboyant vampire who lives apart from the hive with his own drones. He's a friend to Alexia and such a great addition to the alternate world I couldn't imagine it without him. Ivy Hisselpenny is Alexia's human friend with a terrible taste in hats, she's a very silly character who brings a sense of humanity to Alexia's life. Alexia's family never ceased to remind me of the Bennett's of Pride & Prejudice with their obsessions with putting in a good appearance in society and marrying well and their general demeanor. I both hated and loved them. And of course, Alexia herself, who is a half-Italian preternatural spinster with a mind of her own. She is a sarcastic and outspoken strong female lead with a brain. What's not to love?
I absolutely loved Gail's unique take on the supernatural mythos. In the Parasol Protectorate, a person's ability to become supernatural (vampire, werewolf, ghost) depends on how much soul they have. Alexia could never be supernatural because she doesn't have a soul, some people have a large abundance of soul and some don't, but it's difficult to know until they undergo the metamorphosis process. If they make it, they become supernatural, if they don't, they die. It's a fairly big risk to take but it is much more interesting than the usual. The other thing that stood out to me was that all supernaturals had something in common. Werewolves are as dead as vampires and ghosts. They're all hindered by the sun in some way, and Lord Maccon is about 200 years old. It all fit so well.
I did have a little chuckle at the American spellings dotted throughout the book amongst the very otherwise English style of the writing. My only criticism would have to be for the perspective switching mid-scene with no warning. After a while you do get used to it but it can be quite jarring to suddenly be following the story from another perspective when you were with Alexia just in the last paragraph, and there is no indication that it's happening, not even so much as a line break. I also found the story a little bit predictable though that didn't take anything away from the story as such, it was still thoroughly enjoyable, it just meant I yelled at Alexia more than I otherwise might have done.
I would definitely recommend this novel. For who? Well, the 18+ crowd. There are a few saucy bits that would be inappropriate for younger readers and they are totally hot. Seriously. It is a witty paranormal steampunk romance and if that description appeals to you, then you will enjoy Soulless.
Basically put: if you've been thinking about reading it and/or you think there's a possibility that you might enjoy it - read it. I know a few of you have mentioned it.(less)
This review may contain spoilers for the first two in the series.
Club Dead begins with Sookie and Bill parting ways for a time, him suggesting that th...moreThis review may contain spoilers for the first two in the series.
Club Dead begins with Sookie and Bill parting ways for a time, him suggesting that they may get back together when he has returned from doing his secret project. The next night, under protection from Bubba, the man from Memphis himself, Sookie is almost attacked outside of Merlotte’s by a werewolf in a biker’s jacket. It is then revealed that Bill is missing, probably kidnapped, in Mississippi. A werewolf, Alcide, who owes Eric and has a place in Jackson is tasked with taking Sookie to Jackson to find out what happened and who took Bill.
Book three of the Sookie Stackhouse series was much better than the first two in my opinion. I didn’t find myself cringing or rolling my eyes at all in this one, and that may well have been due to the most excellent lack of Bill. He is possibly the dullest character in this series and I’m glad to see more characters popping up and taking precedence. I actually thoroughly enjoyed reading Club Dead.
I have come to realise, though I may have mentioned this before, that Harris’s writing style can be a bit lacklustre. Very often there is little to no description, for example, she describes Pam at one point as wearing a ‘red sweater’, but what kind of sweater is that? It doesn’t really give us much to go by. She also manages to do a kind of time jump in which Sookie will be thinking or having a conversation and then with no real warning, a day or two will have passed. This always throws me off and I’m never quite sure which way to look, thinking perhaps it’s me being a bit tired and missing things, but I notice it a lot with her books. However, all that being said, I do enjoy Sookie’s voice throughout the novel. It’s very easy to empathise with her, especially in Club Dead.
The great thing about having Miss Sookie Stackhouse as a heroine is that as beautiful and well-loved as she is, as kick ass as she can be, not to mention the telepathy that gives her that extra edge, she is the kind of heroine that we can relate to. She’s almost believable as a human being and that is great. She kicks some butt to save her own hide, but at the same time she can be quite squeamish, and when she has a chance to she allows herself to be. She has also had financial worries ever since her grandmother died. Such an old house would be difficult to pay the upkeep of, it would deteriorate and on a small town waitress salary, this would be very hard to deal with especially when you keep taking time off work to jetpack around the world with vampires. She takes all the weird in stride but still manages to come across as a normal human woman, and for that I applaud Charlaine Harris.
Although I’ve been reading the Sookie series as urban fantasy, because romance doesn’t really appeal to me, the love interest in Club Dead had me intrigued. As I mentioned, I don’t like Bill. Eric acts a little less possessive, he still has his moments, but he’s a much better love interest than Bill. And Alcide.. well. Let’s just call me “Team Alcide” and be done with it. I found myself enjoying Club Dead as an urban fantasy and a paranormal romance, and I’m okay with that.
If you enjoyed Dead Until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas, you’ll love this one. It has certainly got me more interested in checking out some adult urban fantasy.(less)
Elena is living a normal life in Toronto with her boyfriend Philip, well as normal as you can get creeping out in the small hours of the morning to ch...moreElena is living a normal life in Toronto with her boyfriend Philip, well as normal as you can get creeping out in the small hours of the morning to change into a massive wolf. She is the only female werewolf and is trying to live apart from her Pack, but when she receives a desperate phonecall from her Alpha, she knows she has to go to them, but can she stay away? Can she risk her life for the people who dragged her into this life?
A little while ago I was searching for a good werewolf-based urban fantasy as up until now I hadn't read any and I seem to have a thing for werewolves and I decided this just would not do. Almost everybody recommended this one and they were spot on, this was exactly what I was looking for. I became utterly engrossed in Elena's world of werewolves and this is the first book I have read in a very very long time that I was sad to see end because I just wasn't ready to leave Elena and the Pack behind. I wanted to see how her relationships continued and developed after everything that happened and how they celebrated Christmas. The best thing about Bitten is how perfectly executed all aspects of the story are. The legend, mythology, and history of the werewolves is deep and involved, the characters all have their backstory, unique personalities, and flaws, and instead of these things making them angsty, they made them who they were as people. It is the perfect balance of dark supernatural, lighter moments of fun between Pack members, mystery, and just a little bit of romance.
The first-person writing style puts you directly inside the mind of Elena. You know exactly what she thinks and feels, even when she isn't being true to herself because her emotions practically burst off the page. It draws you in. And the world-building is expertly done, slowly feeding us Elena's and everybody else's backstory throughout the novel, building upon their world. You feel as though you are a part of Elena's memories rather than just being fed information, it is very immersive. The characters are strong and the world is believable.
I did notice an undercurrent of sexism in Bitten, how in the human world women are expected to behave a certain way. They're expected to be these calm, gentle creatures who have babies and do as they're told. We see this in the way the Bear Valley folk treat and look at her, Philip's family presuming she's into shopping and wedding planning, and more so in the new mutts, which I won't go into for the sake of spoilers. Elena wants to conform to these ideals believing that this is the way to have a 'normal life', however she has lived a decade with a Pack of werewolves who treat her not as the only female werewolf but as one of them. And man she knows how to kick some ass. I believe that Kelley did this intentionally in a bid to prove that hey, women can kick butt too without being sex objects, and I love that message!
I will be getting my hands on the rest of the series as soon as I can to devour because I loved the overall feel and story of this book so much, as well as a copy of Bitten for my shelf as this was a library copy and I do believe I will be re-reading this one at some point, it's fantastic. Thank you to everybody who recommended it to me! I know Laura of Book Chick City initially told me to read Bitten and Stolen, and Hanna from Booking in Heels kept nudging me.. a lot, and when I asked for werewolf recommendations on the Fantasy Faction forums, Mark also recommended it. Great book!(less)
I really enjoyed reading Flying Blind. I adore dragons and shapeshifters alike so a book about dragon shapeshift...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon A Time.
I really enjoyed reading Flying Blind. I adore dragons and shapeshifters alike so a book about dragon shapeshifters was sure to be a recipe for success. It was a joy to read with such a comfortable writing style and I'm sure that if I had had a little more time in the past couple of weeks to read, it would only have taken me a couple of nights to finish. Ooh and I didn't realise until I was grabbing the blurb from Goodreads that this is actually a series set a little further on from a previous series (Dragonfire) by Deborah Cooke which is an adult series that focuses on the parents (Quinn and Sara) of one of the characters' around Zoë's age, I shall definitely be getting hold of those when I can!
Zoë was a pretty well-rounded character, all in all. She's your typical 15 year old high school girl. Desperate to start puberty, and whilst she would never tell her best friend Meagan, hoping that puberty will finally bring with it her Wyvern powers. She seems to get crushes on any boy who pays her the slightest bit of attention which can be a little odd but not far-fetched for a hormonal teenage girl. And she's pretty big on protecting her friends and the people she cares for, which in my eyes makes her a loveable character with appropriate flaws. I also have to give an honourable mention to Jared who I particularly liked. He's good to Zoë and just a little bit yummy.
While I loved the familiar writing style that felt as though Zoë was talking to you, it also came with a couple of flaws. There were a few instances in which something said didn't make sense to me. Sometimes I can put this down to my own tiredness but not when there are more than one or two. They didn't take away from the story as a whole but they were a little jarring as I had to go back to re-read and make sure I knew what was going on. I also found the story became fairly linear towards the end. My favourite novels interweave plotlines and side stories with such intricacy that you feel as though the story is happening to you because they feel real, but Flying Blind didn't really have that and it took away from my enjoyment a little bit as one plot would be unveiled and dealt with, then another, and another..
However, that being said I still loved reading about the Pyr and following their story throughout Flying Blind. Whilst this is definitely a young adult novel that I might not recommend to folk who are exceedingly picky about their young adult fiction, I would definitely recommend it to everybody else, particularly dragon fans because Flying Blind is, as expected, very juicy on the dragons. Love it!(less)
To my knowledge, Jason Starr is primarily a crime-thriller author, so the initial press release for The Pack deeply intrigued me. An urban fantasy thr...moreTo my knowledge, Jason Starr is primarily a crime-thriller author, so the initial press release for The Pack deeply intrigued me. An urban fantasy thriller without all of the will-they-won't-they romance of many, many other urban fantasies out there? And it's about werewolves? Sinister ones? Yes please! Thankfully I was not disappointed, despite not really knowing what to expect but I enjoyed reading it and I must agree with Lee Child: `Jason Starr is hypnotically good'. There were many times when I found myself unable to put this book down because I had to know what was going to happen to these characters that felt so real.
Simon is our main protagonist but there are other character perspectives throughout including Simon's wife Alison and a woman called Olivia, all of these seem to focus somehow on Michael and his effect on their lives. However, none of them suspect the terrifying way it's going to turn out.
While this is an urban fantasy, the fantasy parts unfold very slowly and those expecting a fast paced thriller style novel are in for a bit of a slow start. In fact, to me it felt a little like chick lit for men with all of the focus on relationships and home life in the beginning of the novel. It is the gradual unravelling of deeply embedded mysteries and how the characters are effected and react to these that make the novel. It is how Jason Starr doesn't feel the need to be overly descriptive in his writing style yet the novel doesn't feel at all lacking for it. It is the `what ifs?' that drive The Pack and keep us reading.
Obviously, though it isn't rubbed in your face, The Pack is a werewolf urban fantasy. The clue is in the name after all and these are not the kind of werewolves many of us have grown used to in recent years but the ones that featured in horror previous to the paranormal craze. They're uncontrollable, unstable and terrifying. They have no remorse and are quite literally animals.
The latter part of The Pack was a fair bit more fast paced, but the ending itself felt too much as though it was missing something. It just felt like it ended and I wanted to see a little more after the resolution. It was quite unsettling. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I can recommend The Pack to folk who like their urban fantasy without all of the romance and just a little more horror and thriller.(less)