You may or may not be aware of my great appreciation for Kalayna Price's Haven series--it is my personal favorite between the two she's published. The Alex Craft books, while imaginative and well-written don't appeal to me, character-wise, as much as Kita and Nathaniel do. My old prejudice against the Fae probably pays a part here, too. The Alex Craft books feature a love triangle, and I fear I am firmly entrenched on the losing side--a habit I abhor. As the description says, Grave Dance picks up a month after the events of Grave Witch. We find Alex in a better place financially--work has picked up and she's semi-notorious. Unfortunately, her recently awakened Fae side has been making a nuisance of itself in any number of ways. All of which are about to come back to bite her in the butt. I didn't dislike this book, but my primary enjoyment of it doesn't come from Alex's first person narrative. What I like best is the secondary characters. Roy, the ghost, her friend Holly, her recently rediscovered (and now Changeling) best friend, her landlord Caleb, and the her friend, John, the policemen. I spent a great deal of time speculating on a secondary romance that was either completely in my head, or is going to take some more time to come to fruition. I often felt that I could leave or take Alex, which was a bit odd because she possesses a great many of the attributes I like in a heroine. I also remember liking her better in the first book. In Grave Dance, there was a disconnect. At times, I felt like she was a pale imitation of Merit from the Chicagoland Vampires series. They have plenty in common (familial estrangement, unhealthy eating habits), but Alex can't really live up to the awesomeness that is Merit. Neither, unfortunately, can her love interests live up to swoon-worthy Ethan. I used to think of myself as a person who enjoys love triangles, but the way this book handles the theme is a perfect example of why they are also frustrating--and risky for authors. Keep in mind this is my opinion, okay? Love triangles work when it's clear which party will win out. When a reader becomes invested in one half of a triangle (as they invariably will be), they will only find satisfaction if the series ultimately goes their way. This is why the Merit/Ethan/Morgan triangle worked for me--there was never any question in my mind who Merit would end up with. Ditto Mercy/Sam/Adam. It's a phenomenal thing when an author can maintain the tension of a love triangle while still conveying the outcome. It's a dangerous widow's walk--with too obvious on one side and frustratingly vague on the other. The Alex Craft books lean heavily on the too vague side, which makes me disinclined to become invested in the stories. I think my dissatisfaction with this novel is based on two personal preferences: my feelings about love triangles, and the fact that most of it revolves around the Fae and Faerie. They were definitely a presence in the last book, but Grave Dance takes things up a notch, Faerie-wise. However, I hope you'll still give this series--and the Haven books--a try.(less)
I surprised myself with my enjoyment of this book. Faeries are not my favorite supernatural creatures (as I think I've mentioned), but the publisher sent me a copy for review and I was determined to give it a try. In the beginning, I was sure I wasn't going to like it. When things really got started, about a quarter of the way through, I got sucked in, as I am wont to do. I read the last half at a gallop and resurfaced blinking like a newborn foal. So, yes, the tale is absorbing. It involves murder, family rivalry, greed, ambition and regret. There's a fairly large cast, which was unfortunate, because I was less enamored of the characters. Maddie, the heroine, is a well-known writer and creator of graphic novels. I think. I'm pretty sure. Lots of her stuff has been made into movies. But she's also recently divorced. Her husband left her for her best friend. Maddie is Scarred, Vulnerable and has Writer's Block because of these painful events. The writer's block is dangerous because Maddie needs money to ensure that she gets custody of her son, Tucker. I'm not really clear on why a woman so widely successful is so much in need of money, but there you are. The hero's name is Ash. Is Ash a traditional Fae name? I can think of two, and it's not even my preferred genre. Anyway, Ash, too, is Scarred. Though in his case, the scar is literal. Once, when Maddie was a child, he saved her life because she was too young to harvest. When he meets Maddie again, she is an adult and he is eagerly anticipating that, er, delight. Too bad his extended family is in town for the hunt (wherein the faeries feast on dreams--get it?), and they don't share Ash's respect for humanity. Ash acts as the guardian of the town. There's a tenuous balance held in place by a curse that came about as the result of Ash's wife's death. Too bad his family isn't interested in maintaining the balance. Or in listening to Ash. I spent a great deal of this novel trying to follow all the threads. I often felt like there was a prequel that I hadn't read because the characters had established relationships that required a bit of backstory. This was particularly evident in Ash's relationship with his half-human daughter Elspeth, with his cousin Thane, with his friend Ross. It's Ash's relationship with the humans in the town that make him a sympathetic character, but I don't really know how he formed them in the first place. It kind of reminded me of when Elizabeth Bennett visits Pemberly for the first time and begins to fall in love with Darcy once she sees what a wonderful landlord he is. It makes sense in early 19th Century terms, but not so much in a modern novel. I think what all this boils down to, is that I felt like I was told too much about the characters. What to think about them, what events in their past affected their present. I prefer to infer, if you'll pardon the rhyme. I know that Maddie is scarred by her divorce (which was a double betrayal), but I don't know anything about how Maddie really feels about it. I imagine it's the kind of event that creates visceral reactions. Is there shame burning a hole in Maddie's stomach? I don't know, and therefore her emotions seem less real to me. It was also hard for me to buy the romance. Ash has been carrying around his grief for his dead wife for a century. It's a literal wound for him. Given the depth of his grief, he doesn't really make a great romantic counterpart for Maddie. It was the first time I was hoping that the romance didn't reach a conclusion. Maddie and Ash's romance needs at least two more volumes to mature before it can work. Ash is still grieving for his wife. He still magically revisits her. He's kept an entire town in stasis because of the way she died. And don't even get me started on the whole Elspeth thing. I think the treatment of children is one of the main reasons I don't like faeries. Invariably, they show little affection for their offspring. Though I'd be happy to have this theory proven otherwise. Before I finish the book review: One of my major publishing pet peeves is when covers don't accurately reflect the contents of the book. In this case, the cover model is entirely too young to be Maddie. She looks like she's probably in her early twenties. Maddie has a nine year old son. So, while I suppose it's possible that Maddie had her child when she was twelve, I highly doubt it. Plus, it's the kind of thing that would be mentioned. As far as cover inaccuracies go, this doesn't top the list of transgressions, but I noticed it, and it irritated me. Enough that I had to mention it in the review.(less)
I was starry-eyed about this book from the moment I read Tricks and Tiago's first on screen interaction in Dragon Bound. I knew they were going to be a combustible couple and I wasn't wrong. They bicker up until the last minute, but it's bickering layered with centuries of affection. It's also the bickering of two people who have always been attracted to each other but never in the same place long enough to do anything about it. The death of Tricks' uncle (which happened at the end of Dragon Bound) flings them together with a force that's plenty strong enough to light the fire inferno between them. Unfortunately, it could also be the thing that could keep them apart. Though Tricks (who quickly reverts to her given name, Niniane) and Tiago have known each other for a couple of centuries, they've never had much to do with one another. Tiago revels in conflict, so he's usually away from New York, fighting Wyr battles and such. Tiago is also old as dirt, and so powerful that he's been mistaken for a god at least once in his long life. Niniane is somewhat younger, but no spring chicken (she won't see two hundred again), making the pair refreshingly adult. In contrast to Tiago's dour battle-honed demeanor, Niniane likes clothes, makeup, shoes and fashion magazines. After the death of her family, she fled to Dragos (the hero of Dragon Bound, and the Wyr leader) for safety, and embraced the human way of life. Now, with the death of her uncle, she's forced to return not just to live among the Fey, but to rule them. It's easy to empathize with Niniane's desire to forget ruling the dark Fae and just live a normal life. Niniane was the star of this book for me because she was feminine without being helpless. Due to her small stature, she's not really a physical match for her enemies, but that doesn't mean she lays down and dies at the first sign of trouble. During her years with Dragos and his sentinels (of whom Tiago was one), they taught her how to fight using her size as an advantage. She's also just a sweetheart--you know you'd love her if you met her in real life because she has alluring charisma that pulls you in. Tiago I was less enamored of. I know that, to a certain degree, this is purposeful on Harrison's part--Niniane's the people-person--but while I liked Tiago's alpha personality, I still loved Dragos more. They have a lot of similarities--It's fun to watch heroes this alpha struggle to accommodate their heroines--but Tiago often felt like a pale comparison of Dragos. There were some awfully sweet moments where Tiago discovers an interest in a certain part of Niniane's wardrobe, and when he takes care of her when she's injured that were tenderly sweet. In the end, though, Tiago doesn't really exhibit much personality beyond the warrior, the bodyguard and protector. Niniane will have to turn to someone else for conversation and--worse--laughter. Never a good sign. The next book in this series is Rune and Carling's, the vampire queen introduced in Storm's Heart. I'm pretty psyched about it, and I'm hoping we'll be able to touch bases with Dragos and Pia and Tiago and Niniane. I adore this world. Thea Harrison rocks my face off.(less)
I loved the Gothic elements of this story and, of course, the boarding school setting. It was perfectly eerie and impossibly attractive all at the sam...moreI loved the Gothic elements of this story and, of course, the boarding school setting. It was perfectly eerie and impossibly attractive all at the same time--perfect for the genre. Gothic novels MUST have a thorough sense of place. It's part of the genre description. Acosta did a fantastic job of creating the classic Gothic setting without taking us out of the present day. I loved this book and I'm eager to try Acosta's adult novels--though I understand they're lighter in tone. One of the MCs from her adult books makes a cameo in Dark Companions and I'm definitely intrigued.
Other notes: While the main character, Jane, is often frustrating, I did like her. More often, I felt for her predicament. The situation she gets herself into is a direct result of her upbringing--of the failures of the foster care system. She's too broken to see the way that she's being manipulated and too powerless to change things.
Mary Violet, one of the friends she makes at her new school (Birch Grove Academy) is divine. We should all have a Mary Violet in our lives. Lucky is a total ass and Jack, while swoon-worthy, also a blind idiot. His parents...if he truly loved Jane, he'd never speak to them again. Their treatment and manipulation of her is unspeakable. One of the real accomplishments of this novel is that I didn't feel ambivalent about ANY of the characters. I couldn't--they're THAT well-defined.(less)
Let’s just get right down to it: This was a DNF for me. I was on the fence about reading it in the...moreThis weeview was originally posted on Ruby's Reads.
Let’s just get right down to it: This was a DNF for me. I was on the fence about reading it in the first place because I found Dani’s narrative in the earlier Fever books so incredibly irritating. If you, too, were worried about that, let me reassure you! Dani’s voice in Iced is sufficiently removed from that earlier obnoxious tone. It’s still the perspective of a fourteen-year-old, though, so beware. KMM captures it fairly well. It’s just that fourteen-year-old girls are not my favorite demographic.
So why did I DNF it? Due to extreme frustration. Dani is powerless in this novel, despite all of her supposed kick-assness. I remember having issues with this where Mac was concerned, but withIced, my cup runneth over. She’s surrounded by alpha-males who all kind of suck. I was initially pro-Ryodan, but Dani’s only 14 and won’t be much older by the time the series finishes. Here’s the thing, though (and I realize that I’m focusing on the romantic aspect, but come on! Whose blog did you think you were reading?!) I don’t think I’d be happy if Dani ended up with Ryodan…but I also wouldn’t be happy if she ended up with anyone else. So I think I’m going to wait for the last book to come out, spoil myself with Dani’s HEA (if she’s going to have one) and then decide whether or not to read the trilogy.(less)
Since I listened to the audio version of this book, I'm splitting my review into two parts: 1) The Book and 2) The Narration. The Book The Iron Fey opens with Meghan Chase telling the story of her father's inexplicable, unsolved disappearance, and how it led to current life as the stepdaughter of a poor Southern farmer. On the surface, Meghan's life is normal, if a bit dismal. She doesn't have fashionable clothing, the guy she likes doesn't seem to know she exists (nor does anyone else for that matter), she only has one friend, and her mom won't agree to take her to take the test for her driver's license. Little does Meghan know that her problems aren't as mundane as she thought they were. You see, Meghan is half-Fae. And her brother has been kidnapped in order to lure her into Faerie. And it turns out her best friend is Fae. Not just any Fae, but the famous Puck, and all these years he's been watching over her on behalf of his king, Meghan's father. Just when Meghan thinks things can't get any worse, she meets her stepmother, Titania, and witnesses the opening salvo of a war between the Winter and Summer Courts. These are all incidental to Meghan's quest to rescue her brother. Or she thinks they are, anyway. She leaves the Fae Courts to embark on her rescue mission. Along her intermittent way, she's accompanied by Grimalkin, the Caith-Sith, Puck in his Fae form, and Ash, a prince of the Winter Court. Meghan is not my favorite heroine. It would make sense for her to be ignorant of Faerie ways, but Meghan isn't just ignorant, she's thick-skulled. When she encounters things that are different from her expectations, she becomes easily bewildered and, ultimately, doesn't take action. Also, I find it a little unbelievable that she was so entirely ignorant of all things Faerie. It would be nearly impossible for her not to have developed some sort of preconceived notions about Faeries--especially since she's obviously read A Midsummer Night's Dream because she knows who Puck is. What I found most irritating about Meghan was her constant goodness. Kagawa overdoes Meghan's pacifism a wee bit too much. It's like when vegetarians are turned into vampires or werewolves. Okay, I get it. The heroine loves all god's creatures. There were times when I (who hides her face during boxing movies) wished someone would inject her with some bloodthirsty juice already. As for the other characters, I never felt that I got to know them very well. Ash is kind of typical Fae--cold and stand-offish, haughty, but beautiful--and Puck is Puck. Grimalkin was a slightly more interesting character, but not very. Kagawa left these characters largely unexplored, and while that makes sense in Grim's case, it's not so for Puck and Ash. At least, I don't think it is since they're Meghan's romantic interests. Not that I think Puck has a chance. I can even understand a little mystery about Ash, but Meghan's spent most of her childhood with Puck as a friend. Wouldn't she know more quirks of his personality? Or maybe wonder why she was friends with someone who was never, ever serious? There was very little hint of their shared past history, which seemed odd, given that he was her only friend. I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy listening to this book. It's more that there wasn't anything special in it for me. I wasn't particularly attracted to either of the male leads, and Fae just seems like the woods at first and a junkyard later. A few times, Ash does things with his winter magic, but having finished the book, I have very little idea what it means to be fae--or in Meghan's case, half-fae. I don't know if I'll be listening to the next book in the series. The Narrator A good narrator is hard to come by, and I think this is especially true for teen books. The range of voices required is, frankly, exhausting, and I've listened to far too many narrators give characters bizarre quirks of speech (impediments, lisps, etc) in order to illustrate who was speaking. By and large, Kristine Hvram did a good job with Meghan, but many of her male characters sounded alike. I confess that I cringed every time she used the word faerie because she put so much emphasis on the "fae" part. Maybe this is how you pronounce the word, but it annoyed me anyway. (less)
Only Thea Harrison could make me excited about a Fae story. I mean, seriously, the woman is a wri...moreThis review was originally published on Ruby's Reads.
Only Thea Harrison could make me excited about a Fae story. I mean, seriously, the woman is a writing goddess. Her heroines kick butt and make me laugh and her heroes are alpha males capable of compassion and tenderness. So, when Ms. Harrison revealed the cover for Hunter’s Season, my feelings were mixed. Half of me was all, “Aw, man! What’s with the pointy ears!” And the other half sat back and pointed out that this was Thea Harrison. Fae or no, this was going to be a hero to swoon for.
I admit, though: initially, I was afraid that Thea Harrison had let me down. Hunter’s Seasonstarts off a little slowly. We’re treated to Xanthe’s return to the land of the Dark Fae in homey detail. It’s the kind of stuff that I’d love in a full-length novel. In a novella? Every word needs to count. I wanted to jump ahead to the action. The good thing about the slow beginning, though, was that we got to revisit Niniane and Tiago right away–which was fun and funny. Niniane’s proclivity for floofy lingerie makes an appearance and Tiago is as indulgent (and protective) of his “Faerie” as ever.
More so than the other novellas, Hunter’s Season is light on the action. There is a sort-of mystery, but it’s solved off-screen and not by the main characters. The resolution is neither forced, nor left unexplained. And yet…I was disappointed by it. The romance is sweet (okay, smokin’) and I wanted it for both Xanthe and Aubrey, but that’s all this story really was–a romance. I prefer the fullness of Dragon Bound and Oracle’s Moon. I don’t think I’d ever pass up an opportunity to read a Thea Harrison book, but for my money? The full-length novel is where it’s at.(less)