I was enthralled for the entirety of the last book; I dove into this one as soon as I could download it from NetGalley to my Kindle.
Unfortunately, witI was enthralled for the entirety of the last book; I dove into this one as soon as I could download it from NetGalley to my Kindle.
Unfortunately, within the first few pages it bit me hard. Cat's been keeping HUGE secrets for her whole life, it's not something that's changed despite her love for Griffin. I knew that he had to find out - it's one of the things that I was hoping for instead of more sex at the end of the last book - but the way that it all went down didn't work so well for me. Griffin finds out from someone else, and is FURIOUS. And all I could think while he was questioning Cat, and not really wanting to hear her answers, is that he was throwing a temper-tantrum. It seemed completely out of character for not only he-himself, but for his feelings for Cat. And it made me wonder, as it made Cat wonder, how powerful and all-encompassing those feelings were. Was their love really so fragile? He knew she was keeping secrets, and had to have guessed (as his men did, I might add) that it was big, but he flies apart when he learns it.
I needed this to be resolved soon. I'm not a fan on tension in a relationship - not of this sort. It reeked a little too much of a Big Misunderstanding. Thankfully, it was resolved soon, but I still feel that Griffin's response is way beyond the bounds of what I've come to expect from his character. As this all happens in the first couple of chapters, I don't really feel that I'm spoiling anything.
Then, my other big complaint for this book, the next 15% seems to be nothing but sex, thinking about sex, or more sex. I already said in my last review how much I'm really over the sex-for-sex-sake and I began to worry that the story was going to get lost in their bed. After that we spent up until around the 30% mark for the story to really get moving again.
But then IT DID. Thank the Gods. I was so worried that this was going to be one of those series that has an awesome, fun, interesting first book only to fall flat in the next. While the first 1/3 of the book does feel like a transitory-filler, the rest of the book picks up the pace, the stakes, and pushes these characters into new and terrifying directions. There's a lot of new things learned, some eye-popping moments, and plenty of mythology to wrap my head around. The action and adventure part of the story doesn't let up for the majority of the rest of the book, and I was turning pages just as fast as I could read them. I finished this book in a matter of hours - after starting it immediately upon awakening this morning.
I did spend some time comparing this book to one of my favorite series - it wasn't intentional, and it wasn't always in a positive light, but it was hard for it to not happen. When the Games came up, in an arena of sand, to fight to the death....well, I couldn't help but bring to mind Magic Strikes and Kate Daniels. And from there it's hard not to compare the main couple to my favorite Alpha couple: Kate and Curran. I will say that there isn't a couple I'd rank higher than Kate and Curran, so it's no real disparaging remark to say that Cat and Griffin don't either. They have a ways to go, but they're still young in their powers, still young in their relationship. I look forward to seeing how they grow going forward.
I'm fully invested in this story, these characters, and this world. I like how the mythology is so effortlessly woven in, and how the stakes continue to ratchet up. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the Gods involvement at this point - which is getting to be more and more direct - but I do like that it doesn't make everything a done-deal. Cat and Griffin and Company still have to face their destiny, face the future, and go into it. They have to make the choices, decisions, and take the risks. And even if the Gods, some or all, are occasionally there to help them along, it doesn't mean they can even begin to count on it.
With the biggest battle yet to come, I'm not sure how I'm going to handle the wait until the third, and final, book comes out. Heart on Fire is easily going to be one of my currently most anticipated books.
Nalini Singh is one of the few authors that I count on to deliver when it comes to novellas and anthologies. She packs just as much emotion, heart, anNalini Singh is one of the few authors that I count on to deliver when it comes to novellas and anthologies. She packs just as much emotion, heart, and heat into a shorter story as she does her longer ones. Yes, the relationship development moves quickly, but that doesn't mean that a true connection is sacrificed. I never finish one of her anthology stories feeling anything but happy, with a smile on my face.
Echo of Silence I've never been such a fan of the human/xxx relationships in this series, until this book. Here we have Tazi, a human, pairing with Stefan, a psy. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it so much, but there was such a depth of character in both Tazi and Stefan that I couldn't help be become immersed in their dance towards each other.
I loved the introduction of Tazi's cultural values and how that affected the choices that she made - both in her career and life, and the relationship that she develops with Stefan. Stefan was just as fascinating, with more than a little heartbreak in his history. He's a psy that has been known to be broken, according to the Psy anyway, but he's left to manage it without rehabilitation - and this is just after Faith defected. Highly unexpected. Until you factor in his rare and valued psychic gift.
How they cared for each other made me so incredibly happy in this book. It was the care and caring that showed the depth of their feelings. And love left simmering is one of my favorite story-lines.
Dorian Let's be honest, who hasn't loved Dorian - the changeling that was latent - from the very start when we meet him? I know I was not immune to this broken man.My heart constantly went out to him, constantly found him fascinating, and always respected his strength.
As we already have Dorian's HEA story in Hostage to Pleasure, this was more a series of vignettes about Dorian's life - from the time he was a child, seeing his determination to never be less than his very best potential, his growth, and the immense changes that he goes through in life. I especially loved the fun, playful, challenging last scene with the rest of his Sentinel pack-mates. I couldn't help but grin.
Partners in Persuasion Dominant Female with a Submissive Male - this is a story that many have been hoping for for years.Many thought that we'd get it with Indigo, and we did...to a point. I won't really get into the argument here about it, but will say that the closeness of the dominance in that pairing is brought up in this novella.
I found this story incredibly satisfying. Dezi is definitely a strong, dominant female. And Felix is definitely submissive. Submissive doesn't mean weak though. And being the dominant in this type of relationship comes with some other things to be concerned about. Dominant/Submissive isn't something we get to see explored too often; usually it's different levels of dominance, but dominant all the same. In fact, I can only think of one other pairing on this scale, and that's Cooper and Grace. It's nice to see these issues explored from another angle.
I really liked how they were both so in tune with the other that they thought consciously about how to make sure they weren't hurting each other. They talked, took it slow when need be, and respected each other. I finished this story with a happy sigh.
Flirtation of Fate I've been enamoured of Kenji and Garnet's flirtations in the Lieteniut's meetings for years. Their sarcastic barbs back and forth was always so much fun to watch. Seeing them come together in this story was a lot more serious than I was expecting. There were some light-hearted moments, and some sarcastic teasing and flirting back and forth, but overall it was a pretty serious novella.
There was the murder, and the storm - with missing packmates - injuries, and years-old hurts buried beneath the previous joking. Though I guessed the source of the secrets, and the resolution of the murder-mystery, I still was desperate to see these two make it work. It's the only of the four stories in this anthology that brought tears to my eyes. I love Kenji and Garnet. They're perfect for each other, and I'm glad they finally both figured it out.
Overall, this anthology is a nice exploration of characters and their relationships that we wouldn't get in the main storyline. Though they're side-stories, they're no less important for being so. Each member in this world makes a difference, and as we read further and further into this series it becomes clearer each book how much interconnectedness there is in the world, and how important that is.
As always, I'll be waiting on tenterhooks for Nalini Singh's next forary into this world - and every other world.
If you've read the Kate Daniels series you'll instantly recognize the scene set here - of when she first meets Saiman. Though it'sApril 2016 Re-read.
If you've read the Kate Daniels series you'll instantly recognize the scene set here - of when she first meets Saiman. Though it's very short, and a quick read, there's plenty of ass kicking and snark.
"Really? What did I fall into?"
Kate's a merc, and when she takes a job for bodyguard detail she ends up getting more than she planned for.
But bodyguard detail was a couple's kind of dance. You had to work with the body you guarded, and in my experience, bodies proved uncooperative.
You get to see why Saiman is so fascinated with Kate - and it's not just because she says no the first time. As I love Kate, too, I can't really blame Saiman; even if he is a creepy bastard.
My paper said the client's name was Saiman. No indication if it was his last or first name. Perhaps he was like Batman, one of a kind.
I love anything to do with Kate Daniels, and I have a hard time thinking about anything but how much I love these books when I read this. This is a short story, so it's an incredibly quick read, but well worth it. Definitely recommended to anyone that enjoys the Kate Daniels series; and for those that aren't too sure about Kate after the first book (some of my friends, can you believe it?) I think this novella offers some additional intriguing insights into her character. Even though it is a prequel, you needn't read it before Magic Bites.
When I opened this up and it had this alternate cover, it made my day. Michael Turner (RIP) is one of my all-time favorite comic-book artists.
Who knewWhen I opened this up and it had this alternate cover, it made my day. Michael Turner (RIP) is one of my all-time favorite comic-book artists.
Who knew that I'd also end up adoring a story where the majority of super-heroes are dead? But that's exactly what happened here.
Fifty years after the villains got their shit together, and the super-heroes died (or disappeared), we catch up with Logan. We don't have any idea what happened, except it's gotta be bad as hell because he refuses to fight, not to protect himself, not to protect anyone. He takes beatings from people that he could wipe the floor with, without breaking a sweat, but he ends up face down on the ground more than once in this book.
I love Hawkeye - always have - but I was surprised by how much I loved him here. He's blind, and still kicks just as much ass as he did when he was first made an Avenger. He also, slowly, subtly, brings Logan back to reality, back to life. Something that I'm not sure anyone else could have done at this point.
And when we do learn what happened, I can understand why Logan decided to stop resorting to claws all the time.
The story here was great - set in this mix of post-apocalyptic, dystopian, western - with plenty of graphic violence and tons of action. I was eagerly turning pages, and upon finishing found myself wishing for more.
When I first started this book, I almost immediately had my doubts. It's written in 1st person, present tense. I don't know why this doesn't normallyWhen I first started this book, I almost immediately had my doubts. It's written in 1st person, present tense. I don't know why this doesn't normally work for me, but it never has. I'm glad I kept reading because it soon became hard for me to remember that Amanda Bouchet is a debut author. I fell into the story, wandering the world with these characters, quickly and easily. Nothing could pull me out of it, and all I wanted to do was sit and read until I'd devoured it all.
Which is pretty much what I did.
I first got this book for review over a year ago. Then I went through a long book slump where the only thing I could read was favorites - I read and re-read my favorite books for nearly a year, with just a couple of new ones sprinkled in. Almost every time I picked up a new book, I ended up hating it or DNFing it. So it's probably a good thing I held off so long. I'm glad I did, because I was finally ready for this book when I started it yesterday.
And I'm thankful that I have the second book for review as I finished this one today.
I'm going to talk, quickly, about a couple of things that I either expected to bother me, or that did bother me (though not enough to take away from my enjoyment in this book and world). First is the "captive" trope. Cat is captured by Griffin early in the book. She's literally tied to him, physically, for nearly a quarter of the book, then she's bound by her binding vow for another good portion of the book. I expected this to bother me quite a lot. It removes agency from the heroine, places everything - including, and especially her feelings - into doubt, and usually doesn't allow for me to even begin to like the captor.
But, for some reason, it didn't do that here. Griffin didn't take advantage - at all. And, in all honesty, he was doing what he felt needed to be done for the good of many, including the family that he loves. Does that make it any easier to be the captive? Not really, but as a reader it blurred the lines a bit for me. For Cat's part, even though she's captive, it didn't really diminish her agency, fight, or spirit at all. She has no problem fighting, going kicking and screaming, or making life as difficult as possible for her captor. As she should. I thoroughly enjoyed that even while I understood what Griffin was doing (and it still feels a little weird to call him Griffin as he's referred to as Beta Sinta through most of the book).
I'm going to talk next about the sex and before I go there, I want to get the captive thing out of the way. Captive and sex don't mix for me. And while there was flirtation and thought before on both Cat and Griffin's part, nothing happened while she was his captive. Nothing happened until she'd asked for - and been granted - release from her vow without any other binding on her. She went into this relationship, however convoluted and complicated, of her own free will. I'm sorry if that's a spoiler, and it's a minor one, but it needs to be stated because it's something that I worried about when I saw which way the wind was blowing.
My one complaint about this book? The sex. Don't listen to me when I say that - I used to be a prolific reader of romance, all kinds of romance, the sexier the better. I loved the sex in these books. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And now? Meh. I just don't. I'd rather read something else. It would have been nice to have a couple of answers or discussions at the end instead of more sex...There is some definite relationship building during some of the sex scenes, and there's some important plot points that come into play in a couple of places, but if the sex scenes aren't your thing - rest assured, you can skim or skip. If the sex scenes are your thing - well, they are actually pretty hot.
Everything else in this book I absolutely loved. From the world to the characters to the magic. It was enchanting, evocatively written, and tension-filled. I can't wait to go back. Let me talk a little about the world. We're firmly in the realm of Greek mythology - Olympus and the Gods play a fairly active, if usually distant, roll in this world. Magic is plentiful, if you're of the right bloodlines or blessed by the Gods, and all sorts of magical creatures are roaming the world. Thalyria is the overall land, split into three kingdoms: Sinta, Tarva, and Fisa (from least to most magical) by war many years ago. And I find I don't want to say too much more for fear of ruining the story. Be forewarned - the Gods do interfere in the world, even if they're maddeningly unspecific and demanding.
I opened this book at exactly the right moment. It was perfect, everything I didn't know I was looking for. The world intrigues me, the characters make me feel, and the story that I can see just beginning to form makes me need to read more. And now it's time for me to dive into the next one.
I wish I'd had a bit more of one going into this. Yes, you can tell from the blurb that something horrible happeFirst things first: TRIGGER WARNING!!!
I wish I'd had a bit more of one going into this. Yes, you can tell from the blurb that something horrible happens, since Naomi is rescuing some woman from a cellar, but this is a central theme throughout the book.
Rape and torture happen, not just once or twice, but multiple times, and we experience these things from not just the heroine's speculation and memories, but from the perpetrator's thoughts. There have been a couple of times while reading this book that it's been a bit too much for me. I skimmed long sections detailing what the 'bad-guy' was doing, thinking, feeling and skimmed many sections where it was speculated on. This probably affected my reading and, consequently, how I feel about this book overall.
Nora Roberts' books and I have a long and varied history. The first thing of hers I ever read was Carolina Moon (still a favorite), and there have been many other favorites along the way. There've been just as many meh and do-not-like's as well, though.
This fell somewhere in between. Part of my problem is that the romances just don't feel as believable to me anymore. If I go back and re-read my favorite NR books, I LOVE the romance, I love the dance, and the getting to the HEA. It never feels rushed or too quick. It's always perfect. So, it's weird that now it does feel rushed and too quick and slightly unbelievable. Maybe that's my growth as a reader, wanting different things from my books. I don't know.
Xander was a mechanic/business owner, half-owner of a bar, book lover, nerd, and lead guitarist in a band (that's actually good). It felt like a little too much. And beyond naming him these things, and showing him within these environments it felt a little like window-dressing. I just didn't buy them all. He was a general care-taking, (nice) alpha with some domineering tendencies, but mostly loves that this woman is independent and smart.
Naomi had been through some shit. Seriously. And I loved that it affected her, that she wasn't just over it - or even able to get over it quickly. I loved that the book took us through her development and growth throughout her life, instead of just plopping us down with her to-be-HEA and showing how love heals all (don't get me wrong, I believe love heals a lot, but it's overused in romance novels, I think).
What lost this book the most love from me was the villain. 1) I figured out who he was very early in the book. 2) The time we spent in his head was incredibly disturbing. And considering he's the (majority of the) cause of the trigger warning up above, it was too much for me.
If that had been all, I probably would have still scored this a bit higher. But then there was all the times - in the first half - that I was pulled out of the story with irritation over some sexist, slut-shaming, or woman-bashing comment. It wouldn't have been so bad if there'd been some calling out on this sort of behavior and thoughts, but there wasn't. It was said, it was laughed about or brushed off, or just a normal part of conversation, and then it was over. I know these comments ("bros before hos," "she's a slut,") happen in real-life, a lot, but I'd have liked to see a bit better from my heroes, maybe just someone saying 'hey, that's not cool. Happily, after the half-way mark these sorts of things eased up.
Considering the above, color me surprised that this book passes the Bechdel Test. Not only does the heroine have a real passion and career, but so do other female characters in the book. AND they talk about things OTHER THAN men. Not just once, but several times. It was refreshing to actually see Naomi talk about her love of photography, and go about actually doing her job, selling her pictures, making business deals, etc. Jenny refinishes furniture - and is excellent at it. They haggle and deal, barter and trade. All of it without male influence. I love it.
Overall, I think if someone didn't have the issues with the type of crime perpetuated in this book it would probably be much more enjoyable. I've read, and loved, quite a few Nora Roberts' books in the past, and I'm sure I will in the future. I might have to start sticking with her series though, as they tend not to be as dark.
A better writer than I could maybe do justice to the absolute magnificence that is this series - The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne. I sit here, haviA better writer than I could maybe do justice to the absolute magnificence that is this series - The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne. I sit here, having just finished the third (and final) book in the trilogy, and am at a loss.
The Emperor's Blades made Brian Staveley one of my favorite authors ever, The Providence of Fire affirmed that, but The Last Mortal Bond has ensured that this series will always remain a favorite, one that I'll read and re-read many times throughout my life, one that will always stick with me, always be in the back of my mind while reading other books, other journeys, and one that will forever haunt me. It's ensured that I'll always be first in line to buy anything by him. So rarely has a first book enamoured me so completely, the second book made that love even larger, and the third actually finished it out so beautifully that I turned the last page with a feeling of completeness and contentedness.
This series has given me equal parts joy and sorrow, pain and love - and that's pretty fitting considering Meshkent, God of Pain, and Ciena, Goddess of Pleasure, are the parents of all gods in this world that Staveley has weaved effortlessly onto these pages.
This is a story to be experienced, so you can ride the plains, stand in Intarra's Spear, smell the smoke, hear the cries, feel the determination, and feel the determination coursing through every action, word, and decision. My words, written here, can compare nothing to the simple act of picking up the book and joining the battle alongside Valyn, Kaden, Adare, and so many others that my heart hurts to hold them all.
It's not just an epic story with everyone fighting for the throne, or their lives, it's a million smaller stories tied together with bonds of family, friends, enemies, and millenia-old battles.
Something that I've really come to appreciate over the last several years is amazing female characters. All too often they are caricatures or prototypes, instead of fully fleshed out people. Not so here. Here, Brian Staveley, has created women who are just as real, fully complete and individual, as the male characters. They're not token characters, they're involved in the plot, the world, the story. They're good and bad, indifferent and involved, just as much as anyone else in the world. Don't let the fact that in the Malkeenian family there are two brothers and one sister fool you - women, here, are integral.
Brian Staveley weaves words and plots, stories and emotions, action and thought effortlessly, as I've come to expect. But he exceeded my expectations with a tale so involved and intricate that I couldn't see how we could possibly survive. I fell in love with the prose in the first two books, but even here I was blown away. I have pages and pages and pages of notes on this book, not that it says much beyond a page number for me to reference with a quote that I love, a moment I want to relive, or a passage that deserves to be revisited every couple of hours.
Many times while reading this series, and this last book, I've stopped - arrested right in the middle of all the action, all the tension - and re-read a paragraph or scene so beautifully written that I had to read it again. I couldn't go on without appreciating the prose there in front of me.
Considering the level of tension that is the ENTIRETY of this final book, that's saying something. Every spare moment I had - and trust me, with three kids, three dogs, and a full-time job, it's not much - I was reading this book. Staying up way past a reasonable bedtime, getting up early to read before I had to go to work, lunch, breaks, waiting in line for coffee, I had The Last Mortal Bond out and was reading. I needed to know how and why and where and when. And just when I thought that I couldn't possibly take any more suspense, Brian Staveley ratcheted everything up, again, and I was left on the literal edge of my seat, biting my nails, devouring every word to the finish.
This year was a year of re-reads for me, which is going to skew my average rating for the year, but I'm still really happy with my reading. I took aboThis year was a year of re-reads for me, which is going to skew my average rating for the year, but I'm still really happy with my reading. I took about a six-month break in the middle of the year and managed to read a lot of really great books. And a few really bad ones.
A year later and I still can't come up with words to describe my love. Here's a one-line quote from my review: "Brian Staveley weaves beauty with his words, ensnaring the senses and filling the surrounding air with the world he's created."
Bonus Books More really great books - also in no particular order 1. UprootedMy review
A fairy-tale, fantasy that absolutely enamoured me.
I'm including two "books" here as they're really part of the same story. I devoured these first two entries. And though I had a couple of minor problems with them, they are really, really excellent books. Anti-heroes (seriously, ANTI-heroes) fill these pages, and I'm riveted by Pippa DaCosta's weaving of this story.
I took 15 pages of notes while reading this because I was so furious, and so *not* in the story. And then I used more than 2 FULL review spaces on Goodreads to review it. The 2 stars I gave it, way too generous. Hate. Hate. Hate.
I'd like to say this is a case of "it's me, not you," and be nice, but this is REALLY NOT FOR ME. It was SO dark, and so vicious, and so incredibly unbelievable to me that even though I tried to see (after the failure of the first book) if it could bring me around, I ended up more enraged than I thought possible.
From the beginning, when I saw these character introduction pictures, I knew this was going to be a fun ride.
This collection is full of irreverence anFrom the beginning, when I saw these character introduction pictures, I knew this was going to be a fun ride.
This collection is full of irreverence and fun. Absolutely little regard for anything "serious" resides within these pages. The story is pretty simple, even straightforward if you've played any sort of RPG, or quest-based game. What really makes this un-put-downable are the characters. They are so full of bad-assery that I love them all!
The variety and nods to characters and archtypes made me smile the entire way through. The nods to gaming are actually everywhere and I LOVED it. It's has a tongue-in-cheek silliness to it that made me laugh out loud more than once.
"Nice one, Gary." Heh.
This is a quick read at 128 pages. There's plenty of action, and tons of humor. I can't wait to pick up the next collection to see where the Rat Queens take us next!
I went into this novella knowing very little, except that it had potentially world-changing events within its pages. Now that I'm done - I tore through this on my (extended) lunch break today - I can definitely say that's the dead-honest truth.
I've long wanted a Derek book, and I've been 'shipping Derek and Julie, hard, for a very long time (since the metal rose). To say I was excited when I realized exactly who this would center around is a massive understatement. I could not wait to dive into the world. I thought, initially, that it would be told in Julie's point-of-view, but it's actually in Derek's, and I think I like that better. I think Julie might have begun to sound a bit too much like Kate, not that that would be unrealistic, but it would make it harder to fall into the story.
Derek has a very different voice. Different from Kate, Curran, and just about every other character I've read from Ilona Andrews. And I love that. He's himself. If you've read the rest of the series you know who Derek is (if you haven't, stop here and go start!), and exactly how Kate describes his scars - which is minimally. I like that when we get to step into other characters' heads in this series we learn a bit more about Kate and Curran as well. Kate tends to minimize things that others would see as faults or disfigurements in her friends and loved ones, and even though I suspected that, seeing how true it is in regards to Derek's scars was a bit of a revelation. I think an even bigger revelation, though, was the scars he carries on the inside. He hides them well, until we're in his head.
Julie kicks ass. I'm not usually a fan of kids in stories, because they're generally written so unrealistically. That was never a problem with Julie, she's always been exactly who she is, and it never felt forced or fake (like some kids do). She's grown so much, and seeing those changes in her is amazing. She's strong, and powerful, and smart, and absolutely, awesomely, self-assured and confident. I love her. A lot.
I won't say a lot about the plot because it is a novella and I don't want to risk spoiling anything, but I will say that a lot of new, interesting, world-building things appear. And a few WORLD-CHANGING things are revealed. I think I'd known some of the revelations from previous books, but the extent of the implications and knowledge of that was nothing compared to what I learned here. I can't wait to see how this affects everything going forward. Considering we're in the home-stretch of the main story-arc of the series, this story just amps up my excitement - and worry - for everyone I love in this series.
This book was amazing - I always enjoy the Kate Daniels' World novellas, but this one is something else altogether. I loved every moment and read it in one sitting. Now I just want more.
And I still 'ship Derek and Julie. Harder now than ever before.
No, Hugh’s book that is the April Fools joke. People have requested it at libraries. We are writing it.
2. JULIE IS TALKING TO ROLAND! AND LEARNING FROM HIM! AND SHE CAN USE POWER WORDS!!!!!!!!!! And she doesn't have the problems that Kate used to have because she incants beforehand! OMG. Please, please, please tell me that Kate will learn this, too.
3. Julie KNOWS. O______________O
4. Derek already belongs to someone. *melts and dies* (hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I've been reading this series for years - reading and re-read. In fact, you may have noticed I'm in the middle of a re-read right now with all my reviI've been reading this series for years - reading and re-read. In fact, you may have noticed I'm in the middle of a re-read right now with all my reviews of the earlier books finally being written. So it's no secret that I absolutely adore the world, love the characters, and am entranced by the storyline. I won't talk a whole lot about that here, in this review, because I think that I've said it often already, and probably will say it more as I continue to review previous books in the series.
What I do want to talk about is something amazing that Nalini Singh has accomplished here. Something that I've never seen successfully pulled off before by an author of a long-running series. Something that I wasn't expected, but was oh-so pleasantly surprised by. Fifteen books in and Nalini has provided what every fan of a long-running series has ever asked for: follow up on characters and connections that we don't get to see in the day-to-day activity of the "regular" books in the novel. And she does it brilliantly.
This series is a romance series and so is connected by the larger storyline and the world, with each individual book or novella being focused on a single couple - though of course their connections and the world building itself does give us some updates on some characters throughout. What this book does is so much different. It focuses on no one couple, but on nearly all the couples. That's more than fourteen pairings that she weaves together into one book. And, get this: she does it coherently, with a real story driving it.
Yes, there is a STORY here. One that broke my heart at times, and made me cry with happiness at others. It never feels like vignettes into characters lives, it's an epilogue for fourteen novels that tied up some questions - but in true Nalini fashion, uncovered so many more. We get further introductions and insights into new characters and see how beloved characters are evolving in this new world that they've begun to create, and learned that despite all the positive changes, it's not time to relax just yet. There is still work to be done.
One could think that a series would start to lose it's shine, the readers' interests, so far into it. Truly, there aren't many series that hold readers' attention this long (if you know of others, I'd love to hear about them), and none that have held mine this long. Even I thought that after Shards of Hope, the series might be coming to a close, that we might start up spinning off and learning of completely different aspects of the world. But that's not even close to the truth. There's so much more to explore here. So much more to figure out. And we're not even close to out of the woods yet.
I loved this novel. I wasn't expecting it, hadn't even really hoped for it since Nalini is so generous with her extra scenes in her newsletters - a scene to catch up with a couple that we haven't seen in a while, every month. But it's here. And it's beautiful.
Oh, and I do have some extras (a Q&A with Nalini and an excerpt) that I'll be posting soon on the blog, so be on the lookout.
It's not often that a second book in a series (or serial) will get a higher grade than the first from me. This one19 November 2015: $0.99 on Kindle!!
It's not often that a second book in a series (or serial) will get a higher grade than the first from me. This one does. And earns it. Partly because it blew through all my expectations and gave me something that I wasn't expecting - more than once.
Everything I said in the first one still holds. Our protagonists are not heroes - they're not good people, and yet....I still root for them. I think that probably says more about me than it does about them.
There's a HUGE twist at one point in the book. Something I did NOT see coming, and still really shocks me with its simplicity and I-should-have-known moment. Then there's the moment when I start to complain about something, thinking that one thing is going on, thinking that it should go a different way, and something even better than I imagined happening, happened. Hell yes. Loved it.
There's a lot of sex, or near sex, in these books. It's usually angry sex, without a lot of "good" emotions behind it. But it's freaking hot as hell. And, to quote my friend Navessa:
Also, I figure in a near-lawless space setting, sex would be as common as violence, which seems to be the case in these books. Now that I think about it, I tend to feel that way about any setting in which humanity breaks down.
It's a good point, and I definitely agree. Violence and Sex are BIG in this series. So is self-recrimination, questionable actions, double-crossing, and lawlessness. For a society that's supposed to be "perfect" with Fleet and Chitec...it's pretty fucking grim.
And the ending? I saw it coming, I knew it would happen from the moment the scene started, and still - I read that last sentence and groaned that I have to wait until December for the next book (and Spring 2016 for the concluding book). I needs it, precious. I needs it, NOW....more
DNF - normally that'd get 1-star from me, but I'm going to leave it with no rating. I pushed myself to get as far as I did (a quarter of the way throuDNF - normally that'd get 1-star from me, but I'm going to leave it with no rating. I pushed myself to get as far as I did (a quarter of the way through), and nothing really happening, me not caring about pretty much anyone, and the fact that I was pushing myself meant I should just give it up.
Maybe I'll come back with the 3rd book comes out, re-read the first one and then binge on them. But right now, I don't want to re-read the first one, I can't remember crap that happened in the book, and I don't care enough to continue. This is probably the biggest problem. I remember who Jess is, but that's about it. I don't remember one single thing that happened in the first book. I've even read my review and other reviews to try and get a better idea....I've got nothing.Which means, in this second book, that I feel like I've been dumped in the middle of a story (which this is), and I'm left floundering. I don't like it. It's my fault, but I don't like it.
I feel awkward reviewing this because it's not an entire story. It's the beginning of the story. It does have a nic19 November 2015: $0.99 on Kindle!!
I feel awkward reviewing this because it's not an entire story. It's the beginning of the story. It does have a nice arc - for which I'm thankful - but it's so clearly just the start that I almost want to wait until I've read the next 2 books (which should finish it out, I hope) before I review and grade it. The ending can make a huge difference in how I feel about the earlier sections. However, this part of the story still made a really big impression on me and I have to talk about it.
One of my best friends recommended this book to me - in all CAPS - and we usually are on the same exact page when it comes to awesome books. So I immediately bought this one, and the second one from Amazon. (Sidenote: $2.99 for under 200 pages? Not cool. I'm going to end up paying around $12 for a full-length novel. Ugh. Do not like. Anyway.)
I flew through it. Read most of it on my lunch, and then did some sneak-reading because I just couldn't stop.
The world is interesting, but a fairly light background to the story and characters. It's a prop for them to play in front of. And I'm okay with that here. I would like to see it further explored, and see the implications of the characters' actions dig deep into that world, but that's for the second, third, and fourth parts to live up to, I think.
What really shines here are the characters - which is kind of ironic, because none of the characters are what you would consider "good" people. Caleb (I love this name, I hate when it's shortened to Cale) is our "hero." And I use that term incredibly loosely. He's a womanizer, smuggler, asshole. He thinks with his dick, and has little regard for consequences. He also has a TON of guilt and self-recrimination (justly and rightly so).
Fran, Caleb's second-in-command (and only crewmate, so the title confused me a bit) fascinated me. She's Caleb in a female body. Everything I hate about him, I hate about her. They have little regard for anyone, including themselves. They're destructive and assholes. But...I love them. They're the kind of characters that I want to see - not redeemed exactly, but whole. I want to see them have the contentment they deserve, whatever that may entail. I want to see them stop hating themselves.
#1001 was a mystery for most of the book, though I began to guess about a third of the way in, so I don't want to spoil too much. Suffice it to say that I'm most interested in her. She has a hell of a story, and I'm really, really, really looking forward to seeing how Pippa DaCosta brings it all together.
The plot doesn't seem like much of anything until you get near the end - which is why I say that this is a starter story. It doesn't finish much of anything. What it does do is pull you in, sit you down, tie you up and demand that you finish. It builds beautifully, and upon finishing I immediately grabbed part two. I'm already lamenting the fact that the third part isn't available until December 2015 - with the fourth (and final) to follow in Spring 2016....more
Barbara is a character that I continuously hadContent warnings: Abelist slurs Lesbian slurs Bullying Violent responses/reactions to non-violent situations
Barbara is a character that I continuously had to remind myself to not judge too harshly. I figured there had to be an explanation. And there is...I'm just not sure it's enough. She's not nice, she's abusive and mean, and there's nothing in these pages that excuses that behavior - though many people make excuses for her behavior. However, there are reasons for her actions, too. It doesn't make them right, but she's an 11 (or so) year old child and even adults don't always react in the best possible way to difficult circumstances.
The author took an interesting angle of not allowing us to know what exactly is going on with Barbara, and not letting us find out until nearly the very end. I went into this book expecting a good fantasy, slaying, giant-killing story. And that's what I got, but on a different level. We, each of us, have giants to slay, things to overcome, and I think children have some of the most difficult ones as they learn how to navigate all the different, and sometimes painful, realities of life.
So, while I absolutely detested some - or a lot - of the things that Barbara did, it's hard to judge her. Because I understand, too. She takes her pain and anger out on those around her, not always justly, not fairly, but it's an emotional reaction that she can't quite control yet.
If I could have wished for one thing, it would have been her getting called on the behavior a bit more. The story dealt with getting her to deal with the underlying issue, and that's definitely needed, but I think that if we don't check ourselves when we're in pain and angry, care and empathy can get away from us - and it's a good lesson for kids that might be reading this to learn.
As I tell my son, nothing excuses violence - and believe me, it's a fine line to walk teaching no violence and the right to defend yourself. That's something I would have appreciated seeing reinforced here. When I started this, in the first dozen or so pages, I was going to pass it on to my daughters' to read. Now, I think I'm going to pass. Because no matter how much I can understand Barbara's pain, I can't excuse her violent responses to non-violent circumstances, or hurtful language - especially in a time when such things are so prevalent as it is.
There were a couple of things - beyond the violence that I mentioned above - that really bothered me here: 1) the comment from Barbara to her PE teacher (calling the teacher a "bull dyke"), this book would have been much more highly rated. But that's a line I wasn't comfortable with, especially when it was never, ever addressed or recriminated. Honestly, the more I think about it, the madder I get; 2) "fat girl bully"; 3) "I'm not like other girls, other girls are stupid"; 4) the boy/girl interests divide - can we just have a book that shows it's okay to like whatever one wants to like and not disparage others for liking other things? Ugh.
The more I write my review, the more I dislike what I've read. And that's just the story. I also didn't find the art particularly engaging - most of the time I had a hard time figuring out what was going on. I think that's a stylistic choice to fit with the fantasy/reality divide that we're straddling, but it didn't work for me.
Wow. Just wow. I'm so glad that Kaynan urged me to read this RIGHT NOW. This is an incredibly good book, and I had a really hard time putting it downWow. Just wow. I'm so glad that Kaynan urged me to read this RIGHT NOW. This is an incredibly good book, and I had a really hard time putting it down to deal with (very necessary) tasks, like: getting kids ready for school, helping with homework, making dinner, bedtime routines, and playing with the kids...Oops.
The very best part of this book is the two main characters, Brishen and Ildiko (how the hell do you pronounce her name?? Every time I see it in the text I took 5 seconds to try to reason it out before moving on. I'm quite sure I'm saying it wrong in my head).
Brishen is the spare prince of the Kai. Ildiko is the niece of the Gauri king. Both are unimportant in their respective kingdoms. Left aside to be used as pawns in some negotiation or another. A negotiation, it turns out, that finds them wed to each other.
I don't think there's anything particularly spectacular about either character alone. They're both nice, kind, honorable people. They face life rather than bemoaning their circumstances. They don't take their frustrations out on those that are undeserving of them, and the genuinely try to be good. In fact, it's kind of hard to find a flaw with either of them. But that's okay. Because the true love that I have here is them together.
Together, Brishen and Ildiko are amazing. They are one-hundred-percent honest with each other. Their love is built on friendship and mutual care and respect, not attraction and the desire to have sex at every other turn. They learn each other, they are honest with each other, and - to start - they find each other hideous.
"You find me ugly, don't you?"
Brishen had faced abominations on the battlefield without flinching, leapt into the thick of the fighting against creatures born from the nightmares of lesser demons. Not once had he been tempted to run away in fear. Now, his leg muscles rippled with the urge to flee. He clenched his teeth instead, prayed he wouldn't start a war with their newest ally and answered honestly.
"Hideous," he said. "A hag of a woman."
Another peal of laughter met his words. Brishen wilted, relieved she took no insult in him so bluntly validating her assumption. He didn't even know her name, but he liked her and didn't wish to hurt her. Assured she wasn't planning to flounce off and send a pack of offended relatives after him, he turned the same question on her.
"And you," he said. "You don't think me a handsome man?"
She shrugged. "I've only seen your hands and eyes. For all I know, you're hiding the face of a sun spirit in that hood."
Brishen scoffed at the idea. "Hardly." He'd never lacked female company, and his people thought him well-favored. Certainly nothing as wretched as a sun spirit. He slid the hood back to his shoulders.
The woman's eyes rounded. She inhaled a harsh breath and clasped one hand to her chest. Her mollusk skin went a far more attractive shade of ash. She remained silent and stared at him until he raised a hand in question. "Well?"
She exhaled slowly. The space between her eyebrows stitched into a single vertical frown line. "Had you crawled out from under my bed when I was a child, I would have bludgeoned you to death with my father's mace."
How could I *not* love them after that meet-cute??
Because their marriage is to secure and alliance there's obviously some other machinations going on in the book, but really this is the story about Brishen and Ildiko growing to love each other. Two outcasts that find true love and companionship in each other.
The slow burn of their budding relationship was so refreshing. Without attraction and sexual desire mucking up the works, they form their relationship organically - on friendship and respect. Who'd have thought that could work so well? Don't get me wrong, I love the attraction and sexual tension as much as anyone (and you get some of that here too, don't worry), but can't there be a time and place? Can't our characters have something more to fall back on than ... well, their backs?
This book says, emphatically, YES!
I said that this is really the story of Brishen and Ildiko's falling in love, and that's probably where my only real complaint lies, too. I love their story. A LOT. But I do wish that we'd gotten more of the world, more of the threatening war, more of the politics, more of the cultures of both peoples.
And then we get to the ending. After such a sweet moment between our heroes, that epilogue hit me over the head and shocked the hell out of me! What? Where did that come from?? Things just got real!
I NEED to see what happens next. Eidolon, please. Gimme....more
Time to face facts. It's unlikely that I'm ever going to go back to this book. At least not for a while. Something about the writing isn't wDNF at 7%.
Time to face facts. It's unlikely that I'm ever going to go back to this book. At least not for a while. Something about the writing isn't working for me. It's abrupt and unengaging. I think this just isn't for me....more
To be honest, I'm still a little shell-shocked. I haven't read a series out of order in more than 10 years...and even then it wasn't on purpose. NeverTo be honest, I'm still a little shell-shocked. I haven't read a series out of order in more than 10 years...and even then it wasn't on purpose. Never mind that this series is only loosely connected; only the reference of a godfather that leaves his goddaughters with castles in his will makes this a series. I think that's the only way I could do it - that and the fact that I was at work and simply had to read another Tessa Dare novel. The first I'd read was just so freaking much fun!
And this one is, quite simply, adorable - the heroine alone would make it so. I adore Maddie. She's this incredibly awesome mix of fanciful and grounded. I don't know how it works so well, but Tessa Dare has done it beautifully.
I think that's one of the things that I like about both of her heroines (that I've read so far). They are romantic, but it doesn't stop them from being self-sustaining, productive, intelligent women. They know their hearts can get away from them, feelings becoming more powerful than they intend them to, and they guard against it. They know that love doesn't solve all, but they hope. They plan for their security, even at the expense of their hearts. And they have such a fun sense of humor.
Maddie cracked me up, more than once, while I was sitting at my desk on break. Her letters to the fake Captain Logan MacKenzie were perfectly, suitably, irreverent. I can see why Logan became intrigued, Maddie's absolutely fascinating - the way her mind works, the things she loves, the way she expresses herself and cares about others. I'm a little in love with her.
Logan was a little bit more of a hard sell for me. It wasn't the fact that he started off blackmailing the heroine into marriage - which would normally be a problem for me - because I understood why. Even though it's blackmail, he's still honorable, he's not planning to take advantage, and he just wants to give his men, injured, in need of healing, and fresh from the war, a place to call home. So I gave that a bit of a pass. Plus he was just so damn nice about everything in regards to Maddie. My problem with him came with his anger at Maddie. I get that it's emotions and one can't always control their emotional knee-jerk responses to something, but, logically, I have trouble understanding his anger towards Maddie.
She had invented this character to ensure she didn't need to enter society, due to extreme social anxiety. And I do mean extreme - she freezes, panics, and nearly goes into shock because of it. Anyway, so she invented a beau. Is she wrong to kill off this fictional man? Does this make her at fault because someone actually received her letters and felt abandoned for it? No, of course it doesn't. And I think Logan knows that, again, logically, but it makes his frustrations and blame feel incredibly irrational to me.
That being said, it's a small complaint. The book is fun, charming, and delightfully romantic. Tessa Dare is becoming a new favorite for feel-good historical romance.