It has been pointed out far too many times that The Girl at Midnight shares many similarities with Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Some miIt has been pointed out far too many times that The Girl at Midnight shares many similarities with Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Some might consider this to be a compliment and an instant recommendation, but for me, it was a sign that I should consider very carefully before reading it. But while it was clear right from the start that the stories do indeed share many elements, it was also clear to me that The Girl at Midnight lacks that pretentiousness I strongly disliked in Taylor’s books.
The world of Avicen and Drakharin is a magical, but dangerous place. I loved discovering these two cultures hidden beneath our own, learning about their customs and bonds, their friendships and sacrifices. With so many things borrowed from authors like Laini Taylor and Cassandra Clare, The Girl at Midnight has very little originality to offer, but these two cultures, one with feathers and the other with scales, certainly work in its favor.
I liked Echo right from the start, her feisty personality made me root for her in every situation. She made some bad decisions and some impressively brave ones, she had regrets and she made sacrifices, but she approached everything with the best of intensions and she followed her heart at all times, even when it lead her somewhere completely unexpected.
Although important, romance isn’t at the forefront of this story, which is good because it came very close to ruining it completely. There are far too many love triangles to count, too many infatuations to keep track of, and the whole thing is a huge incestuous mess that made me very uneasy. It was hard to get invested in something that was problematic on two different sides, and even secondary romances had far too many problems to count.
Grey’s writing is elegant and pretty, capable of evoking the right emotion at the right time. Her sentences aren’t overly decorative, but their fluency is excellent and it is very easy to separate all the narrative voices. If she can separate her story from others that came before it and find her own original path, she might just be an author destined for greatness.
The ending isn’t a cliffhanger, but it also doesn’t feel like an ending at all. If feels more like a beginning, a promise of thing to come, adventures even more dangerous and exciting for Echo, Caius and their small group of dreamers. A dangerous road lies ahead and I’m excited to be taking it with Melissa Grey and her wonderful characters.
3.5 stars End of Days is the conclusion we’ve all been anxiously waiting to read since early 2011, when Susan Ee first released what was to become a se3.5 stars End of Days is the conclusion we’ve all been anxiously waiting to read since early 2011, when Susan Ee first released what was to become a self-published sensation. Angelfall was quite a surprise for readers and publishers alike and luckily, the quality was recognized on all sides. But if Angelfall was a huge success, the book that followed, World After, was an even bigger hit. Not only did Ee manage to reach the same level of excellence, she somehow doubled the excitement and our own emotional investment.
It’s pretty clear that End of Days had some big shoes to fill, but unfortunately, the conclusion to Susan Ee’s trilogy was born with relatively small feet. All on its own, this book would have been something to talk about, but compared to the previous two, it doesn’t quite reach the same heights. From the beginning, it was extremely difficult to scrounge up the excitement we were left with in World After. While funny and filled with witty banter, this third book seemed rather aimless and poorly structured. Admittedly, I may be a bit harsh, but it’s only because my expectations were sky high.
The good news is that Penryn and Raffe spend most of this book together. We’ve seen them change from enemies to reluctant companions to trusted friends and eventually something more. And while the ‘something more’ part still can’t be if Raffe is to rejoin his own kind, the bond between these two, the true friendship and companionship, is undeniable. Although his honor demands that he maintain his distance, it is only a physical distance he keeps, and even that with limited success.
The tension between them is delicious, perhaps not quite as exciting as before, but palpable nevertheless. That could be the source of my biggest disappointment – after all the build-up, the ending seemed rather anti-climactic on all fronts. It was fine, I suppose, but if ‘fine’ is the best we can do right after ‘spectacular’, something obviously went wrong somewhere.
Be that as it may, it needs to be said that Caitlyn Davis did a spectacular job with her narration once again. I honestly didn’t like her in any of the other audiobooks she narrated, but hers is the perfect voice for Penryn and in this case, it adds a lot to the story itself. If you do decide to read this trilogy, and I definitely recommend it, then audio might be the better choice.
3.5 stars This is Your Afterlife first came to my attention because of its beautiful cover and the person behind it – our very own Jenny from Seedlings3.5 stars This is Your Afterlife first came to my attention because of its beautiful cover and the person behind it – our very own Jenny from Seedlings and Supernatural Snark. The cover reflects the book perfectly: it is upbeat, sweet and light. Just what the doctor ordered. If you’re looking for a comfort read, look no further. This book will make you laugh, swoon, and despite its title, it will leave you smiling ear to ear.
Keira’s former crush and her school’s football star shows up one day in her bedroom, but alas, he is no longer alive. Jimmy is Keira’s first ghost, but she isn’t surprised. Her recently deceased Grandma had the same gift. Keira and Jimmy have very little history between them, except in Keira’s imagination, but an easy friendship develops fairly quickly and Keira is determined to find Jimmy’s killer, regardless of the cost.
Unlike with Jimmy, she has far more history with his brother Dan. Jimmy may have been a safe infatuation, but Dan was the real deal – her best friend and confidant, until she hurt him terribly in eighth grade. Finding a way back from all the hurt isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely necessary if they’re to help Jimmy and send him safely to his real afterlife.
I liked Keira a lot, and I simply adored Jimmy and Dan. The mystery part of this book is very predictable, which leaves the three main characters in charge of keeping us happily reading nevertheless, and these three do their job beautifully. Spending time in their company was so heartwarming and pleasant, I truly didn’t want to leave them at all.
Stephanie Bentley narrated the story beautifully. Her voice sounds young, which is a definite advantage when you’re borrowing your voice to a 16-year-old. I’ve been known to abandon YA audiobooks because the narrators sounded too old, but with Bentley, that’s really not an issue. To make things even better, her voice characterization is fantastic. I’ve already checked out other books narrated by her on Audible and there are several I won’t hesitate to buy.
This is Your Afterlife is a perfect book for those days when you find yourself tired of angst and unnecessary drama and you just want to relax with a sweet, undemanding read. It is a book about second chances and forgiveness, and while it may be slightly predictable at times, even that can be oddly relaxing.
We all know that good YA fantasy is hard to find. It’s where we find the brightest stars, but it’s also the most challenging of genres. For a debut auWe all know that good YA fantasy is hard to find. It’s where we find the brightest stars, but it’s also the most challenging of genres. For a debut author, writing in the same genre as Melina Marchetta, Kristin Cashore, Megan Whalen Turner, Rae Carson and many, many authors, can be very risky and, I assume, somewhat intimidating. After reading The Storyspinner, I believe Becky Wallace is one of the good ones. Not great just yet, but very promising indeed.
The Storyspinner is told from multiple points of view, and through the eyes of many, we follow two different storylines that eventually collide. Both are equally interesting, although I was partial to the storyline with the stronger romance. Constantly switching between six point of view characters could have been disastrous, but Wallace made it work with seeming ease.
The world she created for us seems simple at first, but it gets more complicated as the story progresses and I hope that the hardcover includes a map because keeping track can be difficult at times. In the beginning, we seem to have two worlds divided by a impenetrable barrier. One is the world of Keepers, filled with magic and wonders, and the other is inhabited by humans. When the barrier starts weakening, a group of Keepers has to cross for the first time in 300 years to find a missing princess and renew the wall between worlds. The world is a bit more complicated on the human sides, with so many dukes and their countries to keep track of. The political games may be light in this book, but they are nevertheless thrilling.
By constantly jumping from one storyline to the other, the author managed to keep the tension high throughout the lengthy novel. She made us care equally for all characters, which made the jumps between them all the more interesting. We also have two romances, one on each side and one stronger than the other. Johanna and Rafael stole my heart from the very beginning, and even when they despised each other, the tension between them was palpable.
But the ending was mean! I don’t appreciate cliffhangers and in fact, they are counterproductive in my case. I am less likely to pick up a sequel after a cliffhanger, strictly out of principle. A good novel should be able to pull us back for more all on its own, without relying on cheap tricks. And yet, I will be picking up the next Keepers' Chronicles book the second I can. It's just that good.
I’ve been reading these slightly out of order, which I wouldn’t normally do, but J.D. Robb makes it very easy for me to enjoy them regardless4.5 stars
I’ve been reading these slightly out of order, which I wouldn’t normally do, but J.D. Robb makes it very easy for me to enjoy them regardless of the number on the cover. In Death series is one of the most popular series in the world and with good reason. Just days ago, I sung Nora Roberts’ praises to all of you, and I still stand by my every word.
The series takes place about 40 years from now, which is highly unusual for the detective/mystery genre, but I love that Robb never makes a big deal out of it. Mostly it’s the technology that’s new. The people, the lives, are very much the same. The changes in our world are subtle, which I suspect they will be, and everything that’s available to Eve and Rourke is very easy to imagine being available to us in 2060. In a weird way, the futuristic setting makes sense. So many of my favorite long-running series (like Kay Scarpetta) run the risk of becoming outdated. In fact, reading those first Kay Scarpetta installments is a bit funny now, with all that old technology and crime investigation techniques. Robb faces no such challenge. Her futuristic gadgets will always be new and interesting.
In this installment, Eve and Peabody investigate the murder of a fitness trainer. By all accounts, the victim was a bastard and a criminal, but Even wouldn’t be Eve if she didn’t give it her all. There are far too many suspects in this one, dozens of people with excellent motives and even opportunities. Eve will have to rely on her considerable experience and sometimes her husband to find the murderer.
As always, Peabody and McNab provide some much needed comic relief, and Eve’s attempts at Christmas shopping are simply hilarious. While she’s investigating, Roarke is preparing for their huge Christmas party and Eve is somewhat lost and trying to ignore the whole thing. Our heroine is still adorably clueless in social situations (which reminds me of Sherlock Holmes sometimes), but she’s improved considerably and she is, as always, very much aware of her shortcomings.
Eve and Roarke are still an amazing couple, that’s all that needs to be said about them. Robb uses their wonderful marriage as an asset, and never as a source of drama. There’s plenty of drama with Eve’s cases and there’s absolutely no need to add to it by creating unnecessary romantic tension. These two work together as one and I adore them for it.
You don’t need me to tell you how wildly popular this series has been from the start and you definitely don’t need me to recommend it. Obviously it’s something everyone needs to read. I’m still working my way through it, having missed several along the way, and every one is a special treat. A J.D. Robb book is a sure bet if ever there was one.
There’s a reason why Nora Roberts is indisputably one of the most popular writers in the world. Her experience is enormous and her self-assuredness isThere’s a reason why Nora Roberts is indisputably one of the most popular writers in the world. Her experience is enormous and her self-assuredness is evident on every page. Calling her a skilled storyteller is a bit of an understatement. Roberts is much more than that, she is the queen of genre fiction and as such, she can do no wrong.
The Liar is a fabulous example of everything I love in her books. She easily combines mystery, small town drama, a wonderful community and a delightful romance. In a 500-page book everything runs smoothly, and somehow, during that time, you and the characters become like family.
At the beginning of The Liar, we find a distraught young widow. Her husband has died, her baby daughter has lost her father and life has come crashing down hard on her, but the worst of it all is learning that her husband wasn’t a decent man, wasn’t who she thought he was at all. Left with a huge debt and very little self-esteem, Shelby must find her way once again and become the woman she deserves to be.
The opening chapters of the novel are a bit hard to get through. We can almost taste the bitterness of Richard’s betrayal, and the anger is sometimes too much. But 500 pages of watching Shelby claw her way back to a healthy life more than make up for it, and the initial difficulties only make the end that much more rewarding.
Left all alone and choking in debt, Shelby returns to Tennessee to be with her family. That’s when things really get interesting – Roberts paints for us a small town in such vivid detail, full of colorful characters and everyday events. Her choice of narration – third person (I could almost say omniscient) with many switches in perspective – would seem a bit odd in a different book, but here, everyone important was able to offer a glimpse through their eyes. I find it thrilling that something that could have been so messy ended up being smooth and put together seamlessly.
The romance was another pleasant surprise. Although the plot was a bit predictable and I was disappointed that Shelby didn’t think of the answer herself, the rest of the story made up for that small fault and the romance especially made it completely worthwhile. A perfect man can sometimes be so boring, but not Griffin. He was just what Shelby and her little girl needed.
This book is absolutely perfect for when you want to let everything else go and just be surrounded by something else altogether. Trust me, Nora Roberts won’t disappoint. I don’t think she knows how.
There are days when I need a serious book, days when I need to read something relaxing, and days when I need to be shaken to my very core. There are bThere are days when I need a serious book, days when I need to read something relaxing, and days when I need to be shaken to my very core. There are books that are appropriate for each of those days, but only one I can think of that’s appropriate for all of them. From a reader’s point of view, Shattered Glass is a dream come true.
Austin Glass is a vice detective, a trust fund baby and an aspiring FBI agent. He is young, successful, competent, instantly likeable and engaged to a gorgeous, intelligent woman. But there’s one thing Austin Glass isn’t – he most certainly is not gay. So then why can’t he stop obsessing about a gorgeous busboy in bunny slippers? Why can’t he get those darn bunny slippers out of his head? If only he could buy the man some shoes, something safe and unattractive like loafers – all his problems would surely disappear.
“I'm not gay.” That wasn't what I meant to say. “Congratulations. Would you like a medal?” Bunny Slippers asked. “I already have a medal. For bravery, not for being gay. I think you made me gay.” “I made you gay?” He set down the napkin he was holding. “Is that better or worse than the person who made you stupid?”
Peter, or Bunny Slippers if you prefer, is a study in contradictions. He is rude, but has an obvious vulnerable side. He is a (former) prostitute, but he has very high standards. He gave up on his education, but he is astonishingly smart. He used to sell drugs, but he cares for his younger brothers with everything he has. Needless to say, Austin is enchanted. Gay or not, staying away from Peter becomes impossible overnight. Dating a former male prostitute isn’t the smartest thing you can do when you’re a vice detective, but Austin will give it his best nevertheless. Turning his life upside down is a small price to pay to get Bunny Slippers in his bed. And when it turns out that Bunny Slippers comes with a whole lot of baggage – baggage that shoots to kill more often than not – Austin still chooses to go ahead with it. He just laughs it off and marches bravely ahead. Peter is not so easy to convince. While Austin jumps in without regard for his life or career, Peter is far too careful to trust a spoiled rich boy. But Austin’s charm is impossible to resist for too long and pretty soon their lives, and Austin’s investigation, become a huge tangled mess.
"Is he my competition?" “Everyone is your competition.” Peter lifted his hand to his eyes and began lowering it incrementally. “It goes normal human beings, crazies, republicans, my hand, imaginary characters, corpses and then, in a moment of lustful psychosis, you.”By the time he was done, his hand was below the table. Ouch. “A little over the top, don’t you think?” “No.”
If it isn’t clear from the previous two quotes, here is it: Shattered Glass is hilarious. With chapter titles like Dear God, I’ll Take That Lobotomy Now. Thanks, Austin. and How to Win Friends and Alienate Albanian Table-lovers , I promise you you’ll laugh until you drop. What makes the book truly stand out, however, is Austin’s voice. He is one of the most honest, refreshing characters I’ve ever stumbled upon. Upon meeting Peter, his life is turned upside down. Although he does things that aren’t exactly honorable, he is always wonderfully upfront and honest about them. So honest, in fact, that even his (ex) fiancè can’t stay mad for too long.
The mystery part of this story requires some suspension of disbelief, but trust me when I tell you, you won’t care one bit. You’ll fall in love with Austin on page two and fall head over heels for Peter not long after. Once you meet Cai, it’s pretty much a done deal – you’ll want to stay with this gang forever.
Finally, let me say this. I’ve read this book first, and enjoyed it on audio just a few months later. As far as I’m concerned, audio is by far the best way to go. From what I can tell, this is the only book Joseph Northton has narrated so far, which is undoubtedly a tragedy. Austin’s voice is delightful and hilarious all on its own, but Northton added an extra layer of humor with his spectacular narration, turning this into a book I couldn’t listen to while driving because I was laughing too darn hard. You try driving while constantly laughing to tears. If you’re an audioobok fan, definitely go with that, but any format works. Not reading this, however, is simply not an option.
If I had to compare Austin with another character, I’d say he’s the male Charley Davidson, minus the paranormal element. He is just so incredibly funny and honest, he reminded me of Charley right from the start. So if you like Charley, read this. And if you don’t, read it anyway. Really. Preferably now.
4.5 stars A quick note: This was supposed to be an LGBT Monday review, but the first thing you need to know about THIRDS agent Dexter J. Daley is that
4.5 stars A quick note: This was supposed to be an LGBT Monday review, but the first thing you need to know about THIRDS agent Dexter J. Daley is that he lives to bend the rules. He never does what he’s told, so I knew better than to schedule this post on a day that would actually make sense. That’s Dex for you: loving, unruly, and hilarious.
In Dex’s world, being gay is perfectly normal and accepted, but the two co-existing species, humans and therians, are constantly at war. Humans fear the shapeshifting Therians, and Therians resent being forced to register and get tattoos on their necks. The conflict is always brewing and acts of terrorism from both sides are far too common. Enter Therian-Human Intelligence, Recon, Defense Squadron, also known as the THIRDS, whose only mission is to keep the peace between the two races.
Agents Dexter Daley and Sloane ‘Broody Bear’ Brodie are THIRDS agents. One is human and the other is therian. They are both excellent agents, but personally they’re as different as they can be. They are also partners, on and off work. Dex is a half-glass-full type of person, loveable, extroverted and funny. He is very close to his father and brother and he makes friends with seeming ease. Sloane Brodie is none of the above. Having lost his previous partner and lover, he is very careful with his feelings. It’s always one step forward, two steps back between him and Dex. But he is strong, honest and fair, even when someone doesn’t deserve it.
Rise & Fall is the fourth book in Charlie Cochet’s THIRDS series, and like the three before, it left me completely in awe. This is how everyone should write paranormal fiction, M/M fiction, action, romance… everything. This is how everyone should write. Enough said.
I remember starting this series with a very healthy dose of skepticism. I didn’t need another Cut & Run series, with two amazing, all-powerful agents perfect in everything they do. I wanted strong, but fallible men with a great sense of humor and a romance I could actually enjoy. But Charlie Cochet must have known exactly what her readers crave because she gave us a series that is both amazing and insanely popular.
I can’t say too much about the plot in Rise & Fall for fear of spoiling some important detail from the previous two books, but I can say that this book is the biggest emotional rollercoaster so far. By now, the Destructive Delta agents are all very familiar to us: Ash, Cael, Letty, Hobbs and others have become our close friends. There’s so much going on in this series, plenty of action and danger from all sides, but the characters are what makes it truly stand out, and their weird dynamic a constant source of amusement.
Mark Westfield narrates the story beautifully. He is the perfect person to bring us Dex’s light-hearted perspective. Every emotion comes through loud and clear in his voice, and although I read this one the second it came out, I couldn’t resist getting the audio when it finally showed up.
I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for excitement, excellent characters and a whole lot of action. Oh, and laughter. Lots and lots of it. ...more
You don’t need me to tell you that a crime series blurbed by Stephen King, Kathy Reichs, David Baldacci and Dennis Lehane is kind of a big deal. A simYou don’t need me to tell you that a crime series blurbed by Stephen King, Kathy Reichs, David Baldacci and Dennis Lehane is kind of a big deal. A simple glimpse at the cover can reveal all you need to know. But even that simple glimpse isn’t needed in this case – if you’ve somehow managed to miss the hype surrounding J.D. Robb’s (Nora Roberts’) In Death series, it’s safe to conclude that you’ve been living under a pretty big rock.
Obsession in Death is the fortieth book in this series (that’s right, 40th), and it’s quite easy to see why Nora Roberts is so successful. The book is pure perfection, tightly plotted and so smoothly written that you barely even notice the words and the sentences. It’s a story that develops right in front of us, outside of language or any confines of its genre.
By now, Eve Dallas is one of the most popular characters in detective fiction – or fiction in general, really. We know the woman inside and out, we know that she’s tough as nails, but also kind-hearted and fair. We know that she doesn’t trust easily and has a god reason for it, and above all, we know that she loves Rourke more than life itself. Eve is nothing short of brilliant and Rourke is her perfect match. The balance Roberts creates between gruesome murders and their comforting love is practically flawless. Consequently, our emotional investment in these two is sky high.
In this installment, Eve faces a formidable enemy, a murderous secret admirer. A psychotic individual is killing people who have wronged Eve, seeing it as a favor of sorts, and it’s only a matter of time before the murderer turns on the object of his or her obsession. The game is tense and the stakes are high, but we know by now that Eve and Dallas are more than up to the task.
It needs to be said that the mystery was perfectly plotted and executed. I was surprised at every turn and solving the puzzle was completely beyond me. Roberts allowed me no time to breathe, which is exactly how I love my crime novels.
Don’t be intimidated by the number of books in this series. You can jump right in anytime and anywhere you want. Each book can easily function as a standalone, and although there’s mention of old cases, not knowing the details won’t take away from your reading enjoyment.
Jayne Ann Krentz wrote over fifty New York Times bestsellers in a variety of genres under three different names. That kind of experience can’t be bougJayne Ann Krentz wrote over fifty New York Times bestsellers in a variety of genres under three different names. That kind of experience can’t be bought or faked, and we as readers are lucky to reap the benefits.
Trust No one is another in a long string of successes for this author. I love her paranormal stuff, but this type of romantic suspense is what I go for when I want to relax and stop thinking about everything else. Murder and romance are what Krentz does best, and she did it even better than usual in this latest novel.
Our heroine is Grace, a young, intelligent woman famous for saving a child from a vicious killer in her teens. Grace is strong, but she is still traumatized and somewhat reluctant to allow people to get too close. Paradoxically, she is a bit too trusting in her professional life and she tends to focus only on the good in people. When she finds her boss’s dead body in his mansion, her life gets turned upside down. Her past and present suddenly collide and it seems that someone, probably the killer, is completely focused on her.
With so many walls around her personal life and her heart, Grace has never had a man she could trust. That all changes when her best friend sets her up on a blind date with Julius Arkwright, a successful yet utterly bored businessman. Sparks fly between the two, and despite being extremely careful, they manage to find common ground.
Once again, Krentz took us on an insanely exciting ride. The danger felt completely real, and Grace’s stalker seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at once. Add to that one dead rat, two thugs and a knife and you’ll get 320 pages of well-built suspense.
This is an author whose work I’ll never get tired of reading. Her books don’t necessarily stand out, but they are reliably good with clever plots and delightful romances. Highly recommended.