The Weird Girls series has been a constant favorite ever since the prequel novella was released, but The Cursed Bloodline, its fourth (and hopefully n...moreThe Weird Girls series has been a constant favorite ever since the prequel novella was released, but The Cursed Bloodline, its fourth (and hopefully not final) installment left something to be desired. Apparently there’s such a thing as too much violence, even in urban fantasy, because there came a point in the second half of this book where I just felt that enough was enough.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my time with Celia – I honestly did. Being so familiar with a set of characters has its advantages, the most important being the easiness with which we rejoin them every time. Spending time with them is extremely comfortable, and I’m always eager to learn more about their lives. Emme’s heartbreaking story was particularly important in this installment and her quiet strength and elegance provoked a deep sense of admiration in me. Being someone’s second choice, even when that someone holds no blame whatsoever, would break even the strongest of hearts, but Emme held her head high and her dignity intact.
The thing this book sorely lacks, however, that the others had in spades, is structure. There is simply too much of everything – too much violence, too much drama, too many tragedies and far too many miscommunications – to the point where it all became a heavy burden for the narrative that ended up resembling a too vivid patchwork quilt, but without a solid binding to hold it all together. It was quite overwhelming at times, and unnecessarily difficult throughout.
Another very odd move on Robson’s part was that she didn’t give us a chance to witness the big villain’s demise. Since Celia wasn’t completely present for it, we missed it as well, and it was horribly anticlimactic and disappointing. I felt that this huge, important villain, the strongest of them all so far, tortured, killed and maimed, did irreparable damage to both Celia and Aric, only to disappear from one sentence to the next. Disappointing? Why yes, it certainly was.
However, please don’t make the mistake of giving up on this series before you even started. One weak(er) installment aside, this is really good urban fantasy, and definitely worth your time. Make sure to give it a try or you’ll really be missing out.
A Curse Awakened is another prequel novella in Cecy Robson's Weird Girls series (one was released before the first novel). It takes place right before...moreA Curse Awakened is another prequel novella in Cecy Robson's Weird Girls series (one was released before the first novel). It takes place right before the girls gained their full powers, which I thought was very interesting. The curse that was placed on them by a distant relative remained more on less a mystery until now, and it was great to learn more about it. The curse, it seems, actually backfired, but while the girls didn’t die like they should have, they didn’t reach their full potential either. So when Celia’s first boyfriend Danny (fans of the series undoubtedly know and love the shy geek) comes to her for help because the vampires kidnapped his father, the girls have to find a way to deal with the curse and become stronger before they run to his rescue.
I never thought I’d say this, but it was nice to see the girls when it was just the four of them, before all the romantic drama that follows. Cecy writes her action scenes very well and in this novella the focus is firmly on that. On the other hand, I was reminded of Taran’s excessive rudeness which made me glad that she mellowed out later in the story. Celia's role as the protector of her family was even more important before their entanglement with weres and vampires. I loved being reminded of her strength.
A Curse Awakened is great for those already familiar with the series, but it can be a great introduction for someone still on the fence about reading it. It will give you a great feel of these characters and Cecy’s writing, and I have a feeling it will push you in the right direction, i.e. towards these books. After all, what’s not to like?
4.5 stars I guess everything in this world can be fixed if you wait long enough. I am not known for my patience, I’m afraid, which means I’d given up o...more4.5 stars I guess everything in this world can be fixed if you wait long enough. I am not known for my patience, I’m afraid, which means I’d given up on this series somewhere around City of Fallen Angels, but Clare has come a long way since then, and it would seem that so have I. City of Heavenly Fire is a worthy finale to such a long and well-beloved series.
Clare’s novels are always emotional roller coasters, even more so when it’s the last installment. If there’s one thing the woman knows how to do extremely well, it’s writing these long, emotionally draining endings. The Clockwork Princess nearly killed me, and I fared no better with City of Heavenly Fire. I didn’t cry as much, but boy, did it hurt at times.
There were so many loose ends to tie, so many impending disasters, so much to fear and even more to root for. Clare handled it all seemingly with ease, the good moments and the bad, the joy and the loss. None of it, not even the extended epilogue, seemed like fan service, and yet I was completely satisfied with how we left Clary, Jace and the gang.
The romance, at least the main one, takes a back seat in this one since these two pretty much know where they stand. Other things are more important, as well it should be, but we get plenty of time to enjoy Clary and Jace as a couple. It’s nice to see them working together, understanding each other perfectly and trusting one another implicitly.
There were plenty of broken hearts to fix in this final installment, though, and it jst wasn’t possible for everyone. Some couples found their way, some were left with nothing but loss and pain, but there was a great balance to it all which I couldn’t help but admire.
There’s something to be said about a great villain, and Sebastian Morgenstern is one of the best. His cruelty is chilling, his actions completely unpredictable, and his heart, no matter who his family may be, is well beyond redemption.
Of the two narrators, I much preferred Sophie Turner’s parts. Jason Dohring’s narration seemed a bit unnatural and his inflection was oftentimes a bit odd. I also didn’t understand the purpose of Turner’s British accent since most of this series takes place in New York, but then again, who in their right mind complains about British accent? From where I stand, it’s always a win. Overall, more than 20 hours of audio seemed pretty short with these two and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy something narrated by either of them.
I realize I was pretty vague in this review, but honestly, I see no way to review this more directly without spoiling things for someone, which is something I’d hate to do. I had my ups and downs with the Mortal Instruments series, but in the end, I’m more than happy with the journey in its entirety.
It’s been a very long time since I picked up a J.R. Ward book. I stopped reading this series after book 5, not because I didn’t like them (I loved the...moreIt’s been a very long time since I picked up a J.R. Ward book. I stopped reading this series after book 5, not because I didn’t like them (I loved them!), but because I just needed a break and I somehow never went back. But when this gorgeousness arrived on my doorstep, I knew all resistance on my part would be futile.
The King is told from multiple perspectives, which is something Ward didn’t do back when I was following the series. Seeing as I skipped more than a few books along the way (trust me, I regret it now), I had a hard time following the additional storylines. But I remember Beth and Wrath very well and I enjoyed every second I got to spend with the two of them. They’ve come a long way and changed each other so much, but they’ve both kept the most important parts of their personalities. They can be extremely hardheaded, difficult and uncompromising (well, Wrath especially), but once they come to their senses, they are a formidable couple. And so darn adorable too.
As a general rule, I dislike flashbacks in both books and movies, but there was simply no other way to tell the story of Wrath’s parents, and it was one worth telling. Wrath and Anha once ruled the entire vampire race and their beautiful and tragic story is what touched me the most in this book.
As funny as I sometimes find the names of these characters, I appreciate that it’s Ward’s signature of sorts and accept is as such even as she accumulates more and more of them, to the point where I’m finding it hard to keep track. That said, there’s a character named iAm, for heaven’s sake, and a new character named s’Ex, which if you ask me is just pushing things too far.
But we don’t read this for the names, we read it despite them and believe you me, there was plenty to love about The King. So many interesting stories have come together, and even though the details were lost on me, I was able to piece together most of it. This world is so intricate, so very well done, and the characters are simply fabulous (ridiculous names notwithstanding).
The thing I like most about Ward is the thick layer of humor in her writing. The King is full of hilarious pop culture references that have the additional purpose of anchoring the story in our world, connecting the supernatural and the (overly) familiar. There are mentions of Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and Man of Steel, and that’s just in the first chapter. Admittedly there were times when all the references to products, celebrities and such got to be too much, but all in all, including them was a brave and interesting move on Ward’s part.
I am so very tempted to go back and read what I’ve missed. For those of you who’ve been following the series diligently, The King is the best reward you could possibly get. And those among you who are yet undecided should make the decision to read this. There’s much to look forward to.
There’s something to be said about a series that’s reliably good even after ten installments. Chicagoland Vampires may not be my favorite urban fantas...moreThere’s something to be said about a series that’s reliably good even after ten installments. Chicagoland Vampires may not be my favorite urban fantasy ever, but it’s certainly on my list of favorites. And as other series disappoint me and the list gets shorter, Chloe Neill can be counted on to deliver. That’s not to say that the series didn’t have its ups and downs. There was a low point a few books back that’s pretty much forgiven and forgotten. The last few books have been excellent and the next few will likely be fabulous as well.
In Blood Games, Merit, Ethan and Jonah investigate the death of an ally. The son of a detective, a well-known friend of vampires no less, has been brutally murdered. The manner of his death blatantly points to vampires themselves, which can be taken as a warning to those who help them, or as a direct move against Merit’s kind.
On top of that, Ethan is right in the middle of a major political battle, and the story arc about GP is finally brought to its boiling point. I have to say I was a bit surprised, but very happy with how it was resolved. The alternative had the potential to ruin the series, not to mention Ethan and Merit’s relationship.
Ethan Sullivan, I’m afraid, is his usual stubborn self. No matter how many times he gets burned for being stubborn and difficult in his relationship with Merit, the man just never learns. Honestly, by now Merit should have thought of some sort of cruel and unusual punishment for this type of behavior, preferably something that includes Ethan on display with very little clothes on. Or you know, none. Through it all, though, Merit was consistently mature. She handled the situation with her usual calmness and grace. She, apparently, learned a lot, while Ethan remained frustratingly oblivious.
The secondary characters remain just as strong. I’m surprised by how much I’ve warmed up to Jonah, considering my initial feelings about him. But I like discovering his character, finding out details that further convince me of his intelligence and integrity. Neill has had a lot of time to develop his personality, and she’s done an amazing job of it.
I love these guys so much by now and I can’t wait to continue their adventure.
Clean Sweep was first published on Ilona Andrews’ website as a serialized online novel, entirely for free. Serial novels seem to be rapidly growing in...moreClean Sweep was first published on Ilona Andrews’ website as a serialized online novel, entirely for free. Serial novels seem to be rapidly growing in popularity, but in many ways, Clean Sweep is still a novelty. What makes it different from other serial novels is the high level of reader–writer interaction. Since it was published by Ilona and Gordon themselves, on their website, and not by a big publishing house (St. Martin’s and Penguin in particular have taken to publishing serial novels), readers were allowed to comment and their comments were taken into consideration.
This type of writing had to have been extremely stressful for the authors since it doesn’t come with a rewind button. Once something is posted, it can’t be un-posted and if it later proves to be detrimental to the plot, they just have to find a way to work around it. On the other hand, since every part has to bring something of import, the pacing is tight and basically flawless.
Once again, Ilona and Gordon put their vast imaginations and their impressive knowledge on all things mythological to very good use. Clean Sweep is full of wonderful surprises, interesting (and horrifying) creatures, and faraway worlds. Theirs is not a worldbuilding done pro forma, it is thorough and quite remarkable.
Dina is an innkeeper, a young girl in charge of a magical inn. The inn is supposed to be neutral ground for all alien species, and it’s Dina’s job to keep everyone calm and safe. As the daughter of two innkeepers who have gone missing a few years back, Dina takes her job – and her neutrality – very seriously, but when something starts threatening her small community, she can’t stop herself from getting involved.
With pretty much everything about this book close to perfect, something somewhere had to go wrong… and it did, with the love triangle that somehow reared its ugly head. Admittedly, it’s not a real, fully developed, angsty LT. It’s pretty much clear who Dina wants to be with. But the very existence of it, no matter how mild, pretty much ruined the romance for me. And just like always, Ilona and Andrew are taking their sweet time with Dina’s romantic interest; rushed relationships aren’t a part of their repertoire.
Book two has been announced for early 2014, published exactly the same way, with an extra person to moderate the comments. I needed Clean Sweep to wash away the bitter disappointment that was Magic Rises and to restore my faith in Ilona and Gordon – and lo and behold, that is exactly what it did.
4.5 stars There’s truly little that can surprise me these days, but the quality of Laura Bickle’s prose, her superb characterization and her social sen...more4.5 stars There’s truly little that can surprise me these days, but the quality of Laura Bickle’s prose, her superb characterization and her social sensitivity stunned me. The Hallowed Ones is a book I’d recommend for a number of reasons, including its big educational value.
I confess to knowing embarrassingly little about the Amish ways prior to reading this book. In addition to being exciting and emotional, The Hallowed Ones was a true eye-opener in so many ways. Thanks to Laura Bickle’s extreme social sensitivity and tact, I was able to learn a lot about the Amish way of life, and to clearly see the good sides as well as the bad. It would be infinitely easy to dismiss the Plain Folk, especially in light of our sudden technological development, but there is undoubtedly some value in their simple way of life. Bickle brings it all to light, without passing any kind of judgment, and allows her readers to make their own conclusions, one way or the other.
We see the community through the eyes of Katie, a young Amish girl with a strong stubborn streak. Katie is a good daughter and a hard worker, and yet she is different from other Amish girls. She tends to question everything and make up her own minds about things, which isn’t exactly encouraged by the Bishop and their Elders. When vampires attack the outside and come a bit too close to Katie’s home, she is forced to make some decisions that go against the wishes of her elders.
Bickle is a superb storyteller, with a talent for building tension to almost unbearable levels. There were times when I felt such a strong sense of foreboding that I was forced to stop listening for a while. That kind of emotional intensity is exactly what every voracious reader seeks and Laura Bickle provides it with seeming ease.
Nora Hunter turned voice characterization into an art form. She was able to pronounce and even sing prayers in Dutch and she added a subtle peculiarity to each character’s speech, making them all stand out without seemingly trying too hard. Hunter is, hands down, one of the best audio narrators I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening and I’ll never hesitate to pick up a book narrated by her in the future.
As for the duology itself, I went through both books in mere days, no small feat considering it’s over 20 hours of audio. Unfortunately, the second wasn’t nearly as good as the first, but as a whole, this duology is well worth your time.
As Rachel Caine pointed out herself, it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to Morganville, but at the same time, the goodby...more2.5 stars for the good old times.
As Rachel Caine pointed out herself, it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to Morganville, but at the same time, the goodbye has come not a second too soon. The Morganville well has been drained of its very last drop of entertainment, left with nothing but sweet memories to give.
While I was never the biggest Morganville fan out there, I’ve been following the series happily and eagerly from its very beginnings. We’ve had some good times and we’ve had some bad, but as with all things that belong to the past, in time, only the good will be remembered.
In the 15th and final installment of Morganville Vampires, the town faces a human enemy. The Daylight Foundation has arrived, imprisoned the vampires and turned most of the human residents firmly against their former rulers. But although their cause seems reasonable at first glance, protecting humans from vampires isn’t their ultimate goal, and Claire, Shane and Eve have to find a way to fight them while Michael is locked up with his kind. Claire struggles with the morality of her decision to side with vampires, especially since the citizens of Morganville seem safe and content for the very first time.
If forced to use a single word to describe Daylighters, ‘boring’ would probably be my first choice. I saw this book mostly as something I needed to suffer through in order to get a satisfactory ending for the characters I’ve grown so attached to. The plot itself didn’t offer anything new and it was surprisingly unemotional, with the exception of the ending, of course. My favorite thing about Daylighters was that Caine finally returned to a single point of view.
If you’ve read the previous book, you might remember Shane being bitten by a very strange dog. Caine neatly developed that storyline in Daylighters, but then just as neatly swept it under the rug, which gave me the impression that she only introduced it because she didn’t know what else to do to fill the pages.
As for the ending, everything that happened has been hinted at several times, so I pretty much expected it, but that didn’t make it any less sweet. I am perfectly happy with how we left the Glass house gang, and everyone important got some sort of closure. Caine left no loose threads.
This is perhaps the longest series I stuck with, and I’m not sorry. All things considered, it’s a fairly good one, always entertaining if not exactly original or particularly well written.
A Cursed Moon is a novella told from the perspective of Bren, Celia’s were friend. Novella’s are always hit or miss for me, rarely do they fall in the...moreA Cursed Moon is a novella told from the perspective of Bren, Celia’s were friend. Novella’s are always hit or miss for me, rarely do they fall in the middle, and luckily, A Cursed Moon is a huge success.
I adore Cecy Robson for being able to build such a fabulously complex character in a single novella. I feel like I know Bren well now, and I certainly understand what makes him behave the way he does. I have to admit I was a bit worried at first – Bren’s devil may care attitude grated on me and made me severely uncomfortable, but Robson did a fabulous job of explaining his character in a way that made sense and that succeeded in endearing him to me in a matter of minutes. The loyalty and love he shows his friends on a daily basis more than make up for his sometimes obnoxious behavior.
It was also nice to see Celia through someone else’s eyes. Due to her confidence issues, we never really got the sense of how other people might see her, so being privy to Bren’s thoughts was truly eye-opening. It is now even more clear that Celia has a somewhat distorted self-image and that she is, in fact, both fierce and stunningly gorgeous.
Even though this novella focuses on Bren and his new position in Aric’s pack, a big part of it continues to explore Celia and Aric’s situation. These two break my heart to teeny tiny bits. Their love for each other is so strong, but Aric is not selfish enough to put his own desires and happiness above that of his pack. They are the very definition of star-crossed lovers, and Robson writes these emotional moments extremely well.
For a novella, A Cursed Moon is pretty eventful and it brings some permanent changes, which is rather unusual. I can’t wait to see how they will reflect on the series as a whole in Cursed by Destiny, the next novel in this wonderful series.
Apparently, my previous assessment holds true: Cecy Robson sure knows how to write good romantic urban fantasy. She is, in fact, excellent at what she...moreApparently, my previous assessment holds true: Cecy Robson sure knows how to write good romantic urban fantasy. She is, in fact, excellent at what she does and she keeps giving us one successful installment after another.
Cursed by Destiny is no different. A fabulous cast of characters, great action scenes, and a romance that will turn you into a puddle of goo someone will have to mop right off the floor. This is a series you can easily get invested in. I guarantee you will feel both joy and heartbreak with these characters, and you will laugh and cry along the way.
The unbreakable bond between our four sisters continues being the glue that holds the series together. In Cursed by Destiny, the sisters have chosen (or been forced to choose) different pats. They’ve had to leave their home and move elsewhere, but they remain close nevertheless. Every one of these girls is a heroine in her own right, the characters so well-rounded that I can easily imagine each of them getting a spin-off series. Although we got off to a rocky start, Taran has somehow become my favorite, her temper and honesty a most welcome detail in this fantastic series.
While I appreciate everything else about these books, the torturous romance is a constant source of struggle for me. Celia and Aric give a whole new meaning to the term ‘star-crossed lovers’ and to be honest, the whole thing is making me anxious, which isn’t something I tend to appreciate. I was always more fond of those series that feature a strong couple united against outside dangers. Celia and Aric’s relationship (or lack thereof) makes such an important part of this series that I often wish it could be different.
Celia’s friend Misha and his vampire servants are in charge of supplying comic relief, but although we came close, I’m glad a love triangle didn’t fully form between Celia, Aric and Misha. With everything that’s been going on with our favorite couple, there simply isn’t room for a third.
The Weird Sisters is a series I keep recommending to anyone who would listen. It is written to appeal to a much wider audience: thanks to all the humor and the romance, those who aren’t comfortable with dry, old school urban fantasy will have better luck with it, but there’s plenty of action and mythology to satisfy hard core UF fans like myself.
Here’s a fact I point out very often, but it bears repeating: good urban fantasy is hard to find. And here’s something I don’t point out often enough:...moreHere’s a fact I point out very often, but it bears repeating: good urban fantasy is hard to find. And here’s something I don’t point out often enough: Cecy Robson writes good urban fantasy. In many ways, A Cursed Embrace is a better book than its predecessor, and extremely significant for the series as a whole.
The sisters Celia, Shayna, Emme and Taran stunned me with their growth, the complexity of their relationships, their fierceness and strength, but also their emotional vulnerability, dedication and willingness to make sacrifices. Taran in particular exposed her softer side, and while she remained the same loudmouth on the outside, I understood and liked her much better.
It seems that Celia’s were boyfriend, Aric, developed a strong case of ericnortmaneosis*, and I’m terrified that it might be terminal. The symptoms are as follows: uber hotness, alpha status, strong aversion to healthy communication, high-handedness, and worst of all, existence under pressure to marry someone other than our heroine. I was Aric’s biggest fan in Sealed with a Curse, perhaps because he and Celia appeared to be on the same side, but in A Cursed Embrace, I felt that there was Aric’s side and Celia’s side, and I was decidedly Team Celia throughout.
He has his moments, though, our Aric. Left to his own devices, he is a swoon-worthy hero if there ever was one. But when he brings his pack into the equation, things go very wrong very fast. In some ways, I wish he could be more like Misha – Celia’s vampire friend – self-serving and completely independent. But then he wouldn’t be Aric, would he?
Plot-wise, A Cursed Embrace is extremely well thought out. Robson found the perfect balance between an engaging plot and character development. This book is incredibly emotional, yes, and the second part is heartbreaking, but we’re also given an excellent mystery and a villain that is sure to make you tremble with fear.
A Cursed Embrace ends in the middle of a worst possible emotional moment for Celia and it ripped my heart right out. I don’t appreciate cliffhangers, but I was too busy being devastated to get really angry about it. If you like urban fantasy at all, I guarantee you’re going to love this series. As for me, I’m going to sit here all depressed until the next book comes out. Join me, it’s true that misery loves company.
*named after Eric Northman, first known terminal patient
I went into this knowing I’d have a hard time saying goodbye to the Drakes (and Hamiltons), but fairly optimistic about the whole thing anyway. After...moreI went into this knowing I’d have a hard time saying goodbye to the Drakes (and Hamiltons), but fairly optimistic about the whole thing anyway. After all, this series is a favorite of mine, a guilty pleasure, if you will, since it’s not exactly what one might call a quality read, but it’s cute and fun nevertheless. Not even in my wildest dreams had I considered that I might end up struggling through it, forcing myself not to put it down, or after that battle was lost, bribing myself to pick it up again. But that pretty much describes my state of mind through the first 30% of Blood Prophecy. It was tedious, unnecessarily complicated and boring.
However, right around the 30% mark, it was as if someone flipped a switch and I got to reunite with all the characters as I remembered them. Things got better fast, and they stayed that way until the very end. It still wasn’t a quality read but I didn’t care much, just like I didn’t care with the first five books.
Heroes didn’t get a say in this one, the burden of storytelling fell entirely to our heroines. Most of the chapters were told from Lucy’s and Solange’s points of view, but there were some from Hunter’s, Isabeau’s and Christabel’s as well. Since the Drakes & Co. were being attacked from all sides, each of them had quite a story to tell.
”Anyone else think evil should take a vacation so we can catch a nap?”
Most of the plot was centered around Solange, of course. It’s been so long since I actually enjoyed reading about her that it took a while for me to remember the real Solange – fierce, loyal and maybe a bit shy. When it became clear why I didn’t like her in any of the last four books, I had to conclude that Alyxandra Harvey is a bit brilliant, even when she’s writing fluff. I always write my reviews spoiler-free so I can’t really go into detail, but I look forward to discussing Solange with other Drake Chronicles fans after they finish the book.
The Drake Chronicles are, in fact, fluff, but that doesn’t mean I liked them any less. Quite the contrary, in fact. Having a feel-good series I can always go back to is strangely comforting. And if I could choose a best friend from any of the characters I’ve been reading about in the last few years, I would choose Lucy Hamilton in a heartbeat. Well, unless we’re talking friends with benefits, in which case my choice would probably be more dark and brooding. But I digress…
There will be more e-novellas featuring the Drakes and there’s been some talk about a spin-off, but that’s still unconfirmed. Either way, knowing this isn’t the last we’ll see of Lucy, Nicholas, Hunter, Quinn and others makes saying goodbye somewhat easier.
3.5 stars With hundreds (yes, hundreds) of urban fantasy books behind me, I really thought I’d seen it all, but a sentient amulet for a sidekick is new...more3.5 stars With hundreds (yes, hundreds) of urban fantasy books behind me, I really thought I’d seen it all, but a sentient amulet for a sidekick is news even to me. Merry the fae amulet is an endless source of entertainment. She doesn’t speak, obviously, but she has ways to express her opinions rather loudly regardless. Most of those ways end up being very painful for poor Hedi. But Merry also has the ability to heal and she uses it to help Hedi whenever it’s needed, and in turn, Hedi feeds her and keeps her safe.
Hedi is a somewhat unusual UF protagonist. A half-fae-half werewolf in hiding, she is neither nice nor particularly brave, and she never utters a sentence that isn’t rude to at least three people simultaneously. But being privy to her thoughts meant I also got to see the hows and whys of it firsthand, and while none of it made her more likeable, it did at least made me sympathize to a certain extent. At the same time, being inside Hedi’s head was often a hilarious experience. Her distinctive, clear-as-bell voice jumps out at the very first page.
If people stayed with proven facts, work environments would be easier. Groundless accusations just stir things up, like the whole “Who hid the turkey breast sandwich behind the milk?” controversy. Did they think I did it? Well, prove it. Maybe I did do it, and maybe if you were an anal retentive asshole who counted cookies and sandwiches, you might feel those were two good reasons to fire your barista. Maybe.
Oh, but the romance in this one is as heartbreaking as it is unusual. Hedi has been in love with the werewolf Trowbridge for as long as she can remember, but he never returned her feeling. For one, when they knew each other she was only twelve and he was in his late teens, and later she disappeared and he married a girl named Candy. Now Candy is dead, and Hedi and Trowbridge are forced to work together. To make matters worse, there’s also the small matter of Hedi’s amulet being in love with the Royal Amulet around Trowbridge’s neck.
Achieving a life-long dream and getting Trowbridge into bed isn’t so hard for Hedi. There’s a connection between them and neither of them tries too hard to resist it. But as Trowbridge himself pointed out, he’s no prize – after years of hiding, guilt-ridden, drunk and bent on revenge against the weres who killed his family, not much of the old Robson Trowbridge remains. And the memory of his dead wife Candy is always between them.
He waited for me to explode again, and when I didn't, he used two fingers on my forehead to ease me back into my seat. "You are one crazy-ass Tinker Bell," he said, returning his attention to the road.
The Trouble With Fate is full of action and sexual tension, my two favorite things. The ending, I have to admit, took me completely by surprise, and although it’s not a cliffhanger at all, it left me pining for the next book.
3.5 stars Oh, I should have listened to this entire series on audio! It’s a completely different experience. With her great accents and excellent chara...more3.5 stars Oh, I should have listened to this entire series on audio! It’s a completely different experience. With her great accents and excellent characterization, Emily Gray breathed life into a series that very much needed it in its last installment. She’s done such an amazing job that I’ll purposely seek out other audiobooks narrated by her, regardless of the genre, and enjoy them while driving to work and back. Of all the narrators I’ve come across so far, she and Holter Graham are by far my favorites.
Unfortunately, Gail Carriger doesn’t deserve such praise. Timeless is essentially plotless, and what little excitement there is pales in comparison to previous books. Everything I used to love about this series is gone – even the humor isn’t what it used to be. The Parasol Protectorate simply lost its charm. It’s a good thing Carriger decided to end the series when she did – this is where we would have parted ways anyway. By making Timeless the last book, she allowed me to say my goodbyes with a smile and a little bit of nostalgia, instead of the bitter taste so many authors left me with.
Timeless picks up two years after the end of Heartless. Alexia’s daughter Prudence is an extraordinary child and she’s keeping her biological parents and her adoptive father, Lord Akeldama, very busy indeed. She’s even managed to attract the attention of Queen Matakara, vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive, the oldest supernatural in the world. Alexia, Prudence and their numerous entourage travel to Egypt to indulge Matakara, and hopefully, to uncover Alessandro Tarabotti’s plans for the supernaturals. Meanwhile, Biffy and Professor Lyall investigate the murder of a Beta, but they somehow spend more time flirting with each other than actually investigating. The budding romance between these two was my favorite part of this book. I loved seeing a different side of Lyall – the reserved professor is surprisingly passionate under the surface, much to my (and Biffy’s) delight.
I never gossip. I observe. And then relay my observations to practically everyone.
After many adventures and several misunderstandings, the relationship between Lord and Lady Maccon is finally steady and calm, but never boring! After all, neither of them is very conventional and Lady Maccon becomes rather restless if she isn’t involved in at least three different conspiracies and secret societies at any given time. But the tenderness she shows her darling husband, and his complete and utter adoration for her turned this book into a satisfying conclusion, despite its many flaws.
You know I have to mention some of those flaws, right? I’ll try to make it quick, like pulling off a band aid. The most important thing is that I wanted more! Many questions were left unanswered and I’m still unclear on quite a few things. The humor… oh, the humor! I used to adore Lord Akeldama and his many fashion experiments, but he, too, became tiresome after a while. Much like the series, he just lost his shine.
In the end, I will go back to the beginning: if you’re considering reading this book, do yourselves a favor and get it on audio. Emily Gray made everything so much more interesting. As for the rest, this is one of those times when saying goodbye isn’t hard. I’m sure Gail Carriger has a lot more to offer, but in a different series and with a new set of characters.
The ending of a series isn’t necessarily a bad thing, even if it is a well-beloved one. Sometimes, the timing is just right, and with Cat and Bones, i...moreThe ending of a series isn’t necessarily a bad thing, even if it is a well-beloved one. Sometimes, the timing is just right, and with Cat and Bones, it was already a bit overdue. These strong and passionate characters had very little left to give, it was time to put them to rest.
The Night Huntress series was always a rare treat – halfway between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, it had the best of both genres. The first few books were simply fabulous, action-packed, often funny and steaming hot. Frost’s biggest strength is her sense of humor, but she also writes fabulous romances and her secondary characters are always fleshed out and memorable, a fact proven by her three very successful spin-offs.
However, with the fourth installment, the series clearly started losing its steam, and the last two were almost embarrassingly bad. Yes, I read them solely because I was eager to reunite with the characters, but the disappointments kept piling up and it was clear to me that Frost was a bit tired of this story arc.
Up from the Grave unfortunately offers more of the same. It is finally time to face Madigan, a strong enemy from the previous two books, under the threat of an all-out war. Cat has a huge personal investment this time, and she fights for her race, her friends and her family. The action scenes were always one of Frost’s strengths, and yet in Up from the Grave, the action seemed almost cartoonish. In fact Frost herself (in Cat’s voice) compares the biggest fight scene to a cartoon. Another thing that bothered me immensely was the repetitiveness. There was a great emotional, almost devastating moment earlier in the series which was basically repeated in Up from the Grave, with similar results. As heartbreaking as it was the first time around, this time, the outcome was pretty clear from the start, and I was mostly bored and severely annoyed.
Now, I love and need my happily ever after as much as the next girl, especially after seven installments, when I care about the characters so much it hurts. But believe it or not, there is such a thing as a too perfect ending, when things align to give the protagonists (and everyone else) something no one even dreamed about. One of these was served to us on a silver platter in this book, and while it was emotionally satisfying, the rational part of me was quite unhappy.
Nevertheless, after years of following this series, it was nice to say a proper goodbye. I do hope we’ll see more of Cat and Bones, in spin-offs or novellas, but I’m perfectly happy even if we don’t. I was more than ready to part ways with them.
Once Burned is a radical improvement over the last few Night Huntress books, but unfortunately, that isn’t saying much. Cat and Bones have been losing...moreOnce Burned is a radical improvement over the last few Night Huntress books, but unfortunately, that isn’t saying much. Cat and Bones have been losing steam, but their world still has so much to give, which in some ways makes this a very smart move. I was a bit skeptical at first (aren’t I always?) about Frost using such a huge historical figure as a protagonist, but she handled that part well: she stayed very close to what the world knows about the real Vlad III Tepes.
However, she didn’t stay true to herself. When I tried to combine what we found out about him in the original series (he appeared in at least two Night Huntress books) with what I know of the real Vlad, this wasn’t what I came up with at all. Obviously she had to offer more than she did when he was just a secondary character, but she still needed to stay close to her previous portrayal of him. A lot of things were missing, most of all the sardonic sense of humor I’ve learned to expect. Frost chose to put emphasis on his other traits like arrogance and ruthlessness – all understandable, of course, he is Vlad the Impaler after all – but he seemed too cold somehow, and I didn’t get the attraction between him and Leila at all.
It didn’t help that Leila seemed seriously underdeveloped. Too much of her character was left unexplored. She carried guilt over causing her mother’s death, and yet the whole thing was barely mentioned. Years of animosity between her and her sister were resolved in one very short conversation. Everything was too abrupt. When I fist found out that she was a circus performer, I was excited and I wanted to learn more, but that too was barely mentioned. I see no point in giving your protagonist such an interesting occupation if you don’t intend to make the most of it.
Most of this book takes place in different parts of Romania. Being who I am (linguist, grammar nerd and lover of all things old and European), I was disappointed by the amount of research Jeaniene Frost invested in this book. Sure, she did her homework on Vlad Tepes himself, but Romanian language, culture and customs were all painfully neglected. Even Vlad’s humans, some of whom didn’t even speak English, all had English names.
Like my friend Missie (you can read her review here), I think it best not to overthink this book. Thinking about it too much only makes you see the barely hidden flaws. But Jeaniene Frost’s books are never boring, and they’re always hot. Sometimes – especially in the middle of the summer – that’s all you can ask.
Even after reading Vlad and Leila's adventure, Mircea II Basarab remains my favorite Wallachian prince and my favorite fictional crush. You can meet him in all his glory in Touch the Dark by Karen Chance.