When it comes to writing romantic suspence, Jayne Anne Krentz (who also writes as Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick) is clearly one of the best. You can’
When it comes to writing romantic suspence, Jayne Anne Krentz (who also writes as Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick) is clearly one of the best. You can’t possibly go wrong with one of her books – they are all exciting, romantic and excellently paced. She does, after all, fall into the same category as Nora Roberts, queen of the genre; and let me tell you, as much as I worship Nora, Jayne Anne Krentz has just as much to offer.
In Secret Sisters, Krentz brings us the story of two former best friends with a horrible secret that’s come back to haunt them after almost twenty years. The story mostly focuses on Madeline and her security consultant Jack, but a secondary story (and romance) is developed between Daphne and Jack’s brother Abe. Both these couples find each other right in the middle of so much danger and the bonds they create might just last a lifetime… if they somehow manage to survive.
Krentz knows how to pace a story, how to make us sit on the edge of our seats. Slowly and masterfully she builds suspense to almost unbearable levels. I had my doubts about the killer and I saw the red herring precisely for what it was, but I didn’t know for sure until the very end and it turned out that I wasn’t entirely right. It takes a lot to surprise me, and yet somehow, this book did.
The two main characters and the romantic relationship that developed between them took some getting used to. They are both fairly unlikeable people, hard and troubled, driven and very closed, but they saw each other precisely for what they were and they fit incredibly well together. Seeing two such introverts open up to each other was wonderful.
Jayne Anne Krentz (or Castle or Quick) is pretty much an auto-buy for me. She hasn’t disappointed me even once, and with dozens and dozens of novels behind her, that’s no small thing at all.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review....more
In his first full length novel, Inherit the Stars, Tony Park offered us a wonderful space adventure with excellent worldbuilding, interesting societa
In his first full length novel, Inherit the Stars, Tony Park offered us a wonderful space adventure with excellent worldbuilding, interesting societal structure, gray characters and a very memorable romance.
Tony Peak is a tremendously imaginative writer. Kivita Vondir’s world is complex, very socially layered and incredibly thought-through. I loved the descriptions of technology and of Kivita’s society, but I also loved that they never overtook the narrative and became more important than the story itself. Finding balance is the single most important thing in books that rely so heavily on worldbuilding, and it is my opinion that Tony Peak succeeded splendidly.
I found Kivita to be such a difficult character to like at times, a solitary woman intent on doing nothing but salvaging. She often suffered from far too much self doubt and for the most part, I was unable to find any justification for her splendid reputation. She was known and celebrated far and wide as an amazing salvager, but she had a tendency to mess up, which confused me to some extent. On the other hand, she redeemed herself toward the end when she proved to be both compassionate and kind.
The idea of a corrupt religious leader certainly isn’t new. If I can find a fault within Inherit the Stars, it’s that Dunaar seemed a bit stereotypical as a villain. A lot more could have been achieved with his character, but as it was, he wasn’t a truly convincing or complex threat.
For those among us who appreciate a good romance above all else, there’s enough fire and heat between Kivita and Saar to burn a whole city down. Their romance isn’t at all explicit, but their chemistry is off the charts. Admittedly, the romance could have done without the third person in the mix. I really don’t appreciate love triangles and find them to be overwhelmingly tedious and emotionally exhausting, but even that can be forgiven due to some extenuating circumstances.
Unsympathetic though she might have been, Kivita was still a delight to read about. This book’s true strength isn’t admittedly in its characters, but in the worldbuilding and in many action scenes that were done so very beautifully. The next time I’m in the mood for some really good science fiction, Tony Peak’s future works will surely be at the top of my list. ...more
Those of us who’ve been waiting for Ungodly with bated breath knew right from the start that this would not be a lighthearted conclusion. Greek gods
Those of us who’ve been waiting for Ungodly with bated breath knew right from the start that this would not be a lighthearted conclusion. Greek gods come and do as they please and they tend to leave nothing but blood in their wake. So when you put those gods in the hands of someone like Kendare Blake, an author known for her talent in writing blood and gore, a bloody battle is pretty much what you’re going to get.
Our heroes, separated in battle, find themselves in three different places, fighting different fights. Hermes, Andy and Henry don’t know whether Athena and Cassandra survived. Athena herself is in Underworld, half crazed by Odysseus’s death. And Cassandra is just a ball of murderous rage, ready to kill all the gods, friends and foes alike. They each have their own adventures and trials, and it’s not until the second half that they collide.
Like in the two previous installments, I found Athena to be the most interesting character by far. This time she faces tremendous loss, more than she can bear, and she approaches it like she approaches everything, with no regard for her own safety. Her adventure in the Underworld is my favorite part of this book and her romance with a certain not-quite-mortal the thing that warmed my heart the most. A few more complex characters were added in this final installment, and several unlikely allies showed us a different side.
Characterization isn’t the only thing that Kendare Blake does extraordinarily well. Her descriptions are beautiful and precise and she doesn’t shy away from anything, no matter how bloody or painful it may be. With one goddess coughing up feathers, another’s skin stretched out for miles in the desert, and an emaciated god who keeps eating enormous amounts of food to no avail, there’s plenty of imagery to keep us occupied and grossed out.
The most important part of this trilogy and especially its final installment is the deep emotional impact it has on the reader. Kendare doesn’t always make it easy to sympathize with the gods, but she gives us just enough to become invested in their fates. The conflicting emotions we feel for them, our struggle between love and hate, is reflected perfectly in the characters of those few humans around them.
Now that it’s over, I’m going to miss the Antigoddess trilogy very much, but I am even now excited for Kendare Blake’s next project. She has the most amazing ideas and she truly knows how to carry them out. You really can’t go wrong by choosing one of her books.
For those of us who are great fans of Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, Walk on Earth a Stranger couldn’t come soon enough. But for a lot
For those of us who are great fans of Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, Walk on Earth a Stranger couldn’t come soon enough. But for a lot of us who’ve been expecting something similar to her debut, Carson’s sophomore project came as a complete surprise. Following the new Western trend in YA fiction, Carson takes us to a very real place in the middle of actual historical events, and adds just a touch of magic to spice it up a bit.
Carson’s writing is so compelling that it takes no effort at all to sink into one of her stories. Walk on Earth a Stranger is no different: a single chapter is more than enough to get caught in that page-turning frenzy. It helps that she keeps a steady, rather fast pacing the entire time, with peril for Lee and her friends at every turn.
Lee is on the run from her uncle ever since she realized that he killed her parents in a plot to control her and her ability to sense gold. Her goal is to reach California, where gold is said to be lying on the ground, just waiting to be picked up. Her best friend Jefferson is already on his way. All Leah has to do is disguise herself as a boy and catch up to him as soon as she can.
For all the importance they are given, Leah’s powers don’t really get a major part in this book. It’s just another secret she has to hide on her way to California, along with being a girl and a runaway to boot. I really wanted to understand more about her ability to sense gold, and I wish it was used a bit more, but there is still plenty of time to develop that aspect.
It’s silly to talk about worldbuilding when the world wasn’t actually built. It was, however, researched, explored and described so beautifully. Carson has the ability to take us precisely where she wants us to be without going into endless wordy descriptions. All it takes is a few sentences and the setting becomes so vivid that we can almost see, hear and taste everything around Leah and her friends. The road from Georgia to California is merciless and harsh, hard on any living creature, and especially on a young girl pretending to be a boy. I love that we were given insight into the best and the worst of it and that not a single thing was hidden from our eyes.
The romance in this book is weak to the point of being non-existent. We’ve learned from our previous experiences with Carson not to count on anything when it comes to romance, which holds true in this case as well. I saw a lifelong friendship with some potential, but there was very little chemistry between Lee and Jefferson and virtually no passion to speak of. Perhaps that’s what Carson is aiming for. Not every love has to be of the sudden and desperate variety. There is beauty in comfort and absolute trust, and a friendship like theirs can be a far better foundation for something solid and lasting.
It’s quite obvious that what we have in our hands is only a part of Leah’s journey and that more is yet to come. The story doesn’t have a solid conclusion, nothing substantial to hold onto, just a single goal achieved and a lot of uncertainty ahead. ...more
3.5 stars Although it falls somewhere on the line between middle grade and young adult fiction, Seriously Wicked is a very entertaining book for reade
3.5 stars Although it falls somewhere on the line between middle grade and young adult fiction, Seriously Wicked is a very entertaining book for readers of all ages. In it, author Tina Connolly – known first and foremost for her Ironskin trilogy – allowed her imagination and her considerable sense of humor to run wild. The end result is a book that, despite being somewhat naïve and predictable, makes us laugh at every turn.
Camellia is a very reluctant witch’s apprentice, a fifteen-year-old forced to serve the witch but determined to thwart as many of her evil plots as she can. All Camellia wants is a normal life and normal friends, an existence that doesn’t include snakeskins, dragon’s milk and spells. Cam longs for her real parents or at least someone to love and appreciate her when all she gets from the witch are reprimands and more wicked demands.
Like once I refused to hold the neighbor’s cat so she could permanently mute its meow, and she turned me into fifteen hundred worms and made me compost the garden.
Seriously Wicked is a lighthearted read, very predictable in its development but entertaining nevertheless. We follow Camellia as she tries to stop the witch’s plan to overtake the city, save the new boy from demon possession and still keep up appearances with her teachers and friends. Camellia is reluctant to trust anyone despite having a few amazing people around her, but overall, I loved her for staying true to herself despite the witch’s overpowering presence.
The only thing that really missed the mark for me was the romance. I had my eye on a different boy for Camellia, even though she herself never gave him a second’s thought. I wanted someone whose appeal came from more than just his good looks, someone who was there for her, dependable and true. As the new boy, Devon was a bit of a mystery even before the demon possession and I didn’t get a clear picture of him until the end.
Seriously Wicked is appropriate for both middle grade and young adult readers. Although fairly short, it packs a lot of fun. ...more
The Girl in the Road follows bravely in the footsteps of some of the most famous science fiction authors. It is a very ambitious debut project, but M
The Girl in the Road follows bravely in the footsteps of some of the most famous science fiction authors. It is a very ambitious debut project, but Monica Byrne is more than up to the task. In it, she offers an elaborate vision of our future, focusing mostly on new energy sources. Byrne takes her time in explaining the new sources of energy and the advancements in existing ones. Her imagination is largely based on possibilities and probabilities, which gives her world an almost tangible quality. In addition, with a story set partly in India and partly in Africa, she gives us a clear view of different cultures with a very modern twist.
Bryne’s writing style is very thick, lush and intense. She sometimes jumps randomly from memory to memory, event to event, which gives her narrative a dreamlike quality, an amount of uncertainty in how much of it is real and how much is happening inside Meena’s head. And Meena’s head, let me tell you, is a wondrous place, filled with seemingly odd conclusions and paranoid jumps.
The story is full of symbolism, with meaning hidden behind meaning in several layers. Snake is the most prominent symbol, often mentioned throughout the book, reminding us constantly of ouroboros, the mythological symbol depicting a serpent eating its own tail. It symbolizes renewal, the endless cycle, things that end only to begin again. It’s easy to see why it is central in Meena’s story.
“The snake begins and ends all things, of course.”
The Girl in the Road is practically bursting from diversity of all types. Meena is Ethiopian and bisexual and her former lover – her one great love – transitioned from man to woman while they were together. When you add to that cultural diversity, The Girl in the Road becomes a novel one can read, enjoy, but also learn from. Byrne approaches all these things matter-of-factly, as one should, and the result is a book that is freeing and feministic, even though it might make a more conservative reader run for the hills.
Neil Gaiman wrote that it is transfixing to watch Monica Byrne become a major player in science fiction, and as usual, Neil Gaiman was right. With such a strong debut behind her, who knows what she has in store for us next. ...more
When someone is often referred to as the world's greatest storyteller, you can be sure, even before you open her new book, that you're in for a treat
When someone is often referred to as the world's greatest storyteller, you can be sure, even before you open her new book, that you're in for a treat. This always stands true for Nora Roberts, who is famous for her exciting plots, unforgettable settings and steaming hot romances. Regardless of whether she writes contemporary romance, paranormal fiction or even futuristic crime fiction as J.D. Robb, the underlying recipe remains the same.
Stars of Fortune is the first in Nora’s brand new paranormal trilogy set on a small Greek island and filled with mythology and ancient mysteries. We meet six very different individuals brought together by fate itself for one common goal – to find three stars forged by three ancient goddesses and protect them from evil forces.
Nora takes her time with these six characters, building each of them into such interesting well-rounded individuals. My favorite, of course, was Riley, because I can’t resist a woman with brains and guts both, but each of these characters has an interesting story to tell and I strongly suspect that three books in their company might not be enough.
Nora wouldn’t be Nora without a very strong, utterly convincing romance. Her relationships always progress at a rapid pace, but she knows how to create strong bonds in a very short time. As a seer, Sasha has foreseen her relationship with Bran long before she ever laid eyes on him, but when she does, she doesn’t trust herself or him enough to let go, at least not at first. Bran has his own secrets to keep and he too works on convincing himself that there are more important things than this woman he’s drawn to. We’re certain, however, from the very first page that they won’t be able to stay away from each other, and the sheer magnetism between them is almost unbearably strong from the start.
The paranormal mystery itself has a lot more to give and the villain Roberts created is powerful enough to make us genuinely afraid for our group of heroes. Dark caves and evil bats are just one of the hardships these six have had to face, with so much more ahead of them in the next two installments. Roberts has written hundreds of books, but it only takes one for a reader to become her loyal fan. I count myself as one and I can’t wait for more of this trilogy and anything else she might decide to write. ...more
4.5 stars A series that’s still exciting and fresh after no less than 41 installments is truly something to admire. I don’t think there are many autho
4.5 stars A series that’s still exciting and fresh after no less than 41 installments is truly something to admire. I don’t think there are many authors who can produce such a thing, and in fact, I know only of one: the wonderful, the incomparable J.D Robb, or Nora Roberts, if you will.
In Death series is a wonderful blend of romance, thriller and futuristic police procedurals. The futuristic setting sets it apart from others of its genre, as do the strong relationships between characters, both primary and secondary. There are many things about Robb’s recipe that work, and more than one reason why this series has consistently made #1 on the New York Times list.
In Devoted in Death, Eve and her team work to catch a pair of spree killers who’ve been running wild across the country. The couple of deranged lovebirds are leaving behind a trail of dead bodies, tortured and mutilated beyond comprehension, and Eve must use her considerable resources and her husband’s help to catch them. I generally don’t enjoy crime stories that offer the killers’ perspective. I don’t like knowing things and waiting for the investigators to catch up. But even with that, Robb does what no one else can do – she makes the hunt itself interesting enough to make up for the fact that we know who is being hunted. I must confess that I skimmed through several short insights into the victim’s mind, though. I can stomach most things – blood and gore don’t bother me at all – but rape isn’t one of them, no matter how subtly described. Overall, though, Robb is perfect at bringing forth every side of a crime, every emotion that occurs in the process, be it the killer’s, the victim’s or the investigators. She’s also perfect at building lives around her dead bodies, at showing us people after she shows us their deaths, so that we suffer and cry and mourn them right alongside their families.
Eve and Roarke have such a beautiful, unique relationship. It is a pillar that holds the series, but it doesn’t take attention away from the actual crime. I know people have been expecting some progression in their relationship, but I’m really happy with how things are. It’s been 41 books for us, but only three years for them. Things feel so deeply and utterly right.
Eve’s team is as strong as ever, with one very interesting addition in this installment. It takes a lot to create such a strong cast of characters, but that’s only to be expected in the 41st installment. At this point, I think I love Peabody She-Body, McNabb, Mira and everyone else just as much as I love Eve and Roarke, as impossible as that sounds.
We’ll have to wait almost a year for the next installment, but there’s plenty to reread until then. I have no doubt that I’m going to love as many books as Robb decides to write.
Reminiscent of the TV series Scandal in several aspects, Courtney Sheinmel’s YA debut novel Edgewater brings a lush atmosphere, romance, political in
Reminiscent of the TV series Scandal in several aspects, Courtney Sheinmel’s YA debut novel Edgewater brings a lush atmosphere, romance, political intrigue, and deeply buried secrets.
Lorrie’s life is all about keeping up appearances and living the life she feels entitled to, even though it’s fairly obvious that she doesn’t quite belong among the rich and carefree. On the surface, it seems quite shallow, but there’s more to Lorrie’s efforts than that. Abandoned by both her parents and left in the care of a flaky, possibly bipolar aunt, Lorrie sees boarding schools and riding camps as an escape from her shameful family and her embarrassing home. The family estate, Edgewater, was once an awe-inspiring house, but now it’s in ruins and completely out of control. Lorrie is deeply ashamed of her circumstances and her only goal for years has been to hide the downfall of her family however she can. When the funds finally dry up completely, Lorrie has to adjust her worldview, but just then, long ago buried secrets start coming to light. It seems that both her family and that of Charlie Copeland, political prince and Lorrie’s crush, have something awful to hide.
Edgewater may be Courtney Sheinmel’s debut YA novel, but she has plenty of other works behind her, and she already honed her writer’s voice into something gentle and distinctive, beautiful yet unobtrusive. Her style is fairly simplistic and clear, but it still manages to surprise and impress with a particularly clever turn of phrase or an unexpected epithet. Even more importantly, her sentences are saturated with emotions, Lorrie’s shame in particular screaming at us from every page.
If I were to offer any constructive criticism, it would be about secondary characters, which, on occasion, seemed a bit cartoonish and over the top. A lot more could have been accomplished by focusing more on Gigi and Susannah and less on the romance and Lorrie’s friendship with Lennox. I felt that those two characters in particular had more to give and I was disappointed that they weren’t used to their full potential.
Otherwise, though, Edgewater was a breath of fresh air that pushed me right back into reading YA after growing tired of it in late spring. It’s not your average contemporary YA and not just another mystery. It jumps skillfully back and forth between genres and enchants with depth of emotion and its rich atmosphere. ...more
4.5 stars September already promises to be a month of successful debuts. There have been several excellent first works already, but none as shiny, wel
4.5 stars September already promises to be a month of successful debuts. There have been several excellent first works already, but none as shiny, well written or as deeply romantic as The Next Together by Lauren James.
James tells the tale of one love affair in four different places and four different time scapes. Matthew and Katherine are, at once, a wealthy young lady and her servant, an ambitious journalist and his assistant, married young scientists uncovering a conspiracy and two college students intent on clearing the names of their relatives. In every time scape, Katherine and Matthew are different, but the love they feel for each other is immutable. We watch them time and time again as they discover each other and inevitably collide, desperate to be together despite so many obstacles.
The narrative itself is beautifully assembled as one story bleeds into another seamlessly. The pacing is pure perfection – James somehow achieved simultaneous crescendo in all four stories, thus ensuring our equal interest in them all. A single small mistake had the potential to ruin everything, to make us care more about one couple than all the rest, but all the threads were handled masterfully and the result is a thing of beauty.
If not for Katherine’s extraordinary sense of humor, the story would have been suffocating and grim at times. Instead, I found myself laughing out loud when the sense of foreboding threatened to overwhelm me, swooning when I should have been biting my nails in terror, and generally reacting unexpectedly to anything Lauren James had to offer. Even more spectacular than the book itself were my reactions to it, my emotions manipulated so skillfully by an author with so much to give. The Next Together demands your full attention and dedication and it simply refuses to settle for anything else. As someone who reads a lot of romance, I shouldn’t have been blindsided by my reactions to this book, a novel that’s not primarily a romance. However, I found myself in utter disbelief and more than a little awestruck. This is one of the most deeply romantic books I’ve read in ages.
Overall, The Next Together broke my heart time and time again, but it was a sweet pain. I wouldn’t change a second of it.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Nora Roberts is the Nora Roberts for a reason. She knows just what her readers enjoy, and it’s clear frI’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Nora Roberts is the Nora Roberts for a reason. She knows just what her readers enjoy, and it’s clear from every page that she still enjoys it too, even after so many years and over 200 books behind her. It’s pretty clear when authors love what they do, and you can tell right from the start that this woman writes precisely what she herself would want to read.
The Collector is another one in a long line of successes, and while it’s far from being her best, it’s a book worth remembering. From passionate romances, to sociopath and long lost treasures, Roberts packed it all in this compulsively readable book.
We meet Lila Emerson, a YA paranormal author, as she is house-sitting for a wealthy couple. It’s something she does in her nomadic life, and while she does it, she likes observing people around her and making up their life stories. When she witnesses a murder right across the street, she doesn’t hesitate to notify the authorities and do something about it, but what seemed like a lovers’ quarrel gone terribly wrong is actually far more sinister and dangerous. Ash is the brother of one of the victims, determined to discover the truth about his baby brother’s death. In his grief, he doesn’t see Lila coming until she’s very deep under his skin, but they are both stubborn people set in their ways so their path is not the easiest or the quickest. Ash was sometimes difficult to like, although he was always easy to understand. He isn’t Nora’s usual hero – perfect in every way. While he’s handsome and rich, he is a hard man to live with, and I loved that Roberts never quite changed his nature, not completely. Anything else would have been a fairy tale.
There are two romances in this book – the main one, and the secondary romance between Ash and Lila’s best friends. Ash and Lila met under highly stressful circumstances and it reflected on their relationship. I wasn’t always convinced that they were meant for each other and it wasn’t all smooth sailing for them, but they grew together, they both compromised and changed and by the end, I was right there with them. It was a bit different with Julie and Luke. They got less time on page, but their second chance romance made my little heart beat faster right from the start.
I’m not the sort of person who shies away when a book is over 300 pages long, but I did wish for better editing in this case. There were times when I was extremely tired of this book because it seemed to go around in circles, and I suspect it would have been much more exciting with about a hundred pages less.
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.
Saying goodbye to dear characters is never easy, but when they’ve been through hell and back in the time you’ve spent with them, it’s even harder to lSaying goodbye to dear characters is never easy, but when they’ve been through hell and back in the time you’ve spent with them, it’s even harder to let them go. My time with Nadia, Nate, Bishop, Agnes and Dante was exciting and wonderful, and I'll gladly join them again if Jenna Black ever decides to revisit them.
Revolution is even darker than the previous two books, as our three young Executives and their two companions are forced to hide, first in the Basement, and then in Debasement, a dreadful place ruled by the most vicious gang lord. Nadia and Nate have enemies coming at them from all sides. Thea and her replica puppet Dorothy are ruling Paxco with an iron fist, aiming all their efforts towards killing Nate and his friends and making an example out of them. The Resistance is no better, and Maiden’s gang is simply terrifying. A bunch of kids, no matter how smart, stand very little chance against all of them, but Nate and Nadia have been known to beat those odds before.
Nevertheless, things looked incredibly bleak for a while, with no visible way out for the mini resistance. Their entire arsenal against no less than three powerful enemies consisted of a hope, a prayer, and some clever maneuvering. The savage world of Debasement was perhaps the hardest to handle for Executives, but they had Bishop to lead them through. In the end, worlds collided everywhere they turned, and they had to truly open their eyes and see everything that was wrong with Paxco.
Jenna Black is a seasoned writer, which is evident from her every sentence. Her sense of pacing is superb and her writing clean and tightly controlled. Above all, Revolution stands out with its characterization. It didn’t take the direction I was expecting, but the characters grew and learned the entire time.
I believe the point that Jenna Black tried to make with this trilogy is that winning the war is usually only the beginning. When the war is won, true battles are only just starting. Power doesn’t come without sacrifices, and the willingness to make those sacrifices for the greater good is the mark of a true leader. Therefore, a truly happy, fulfilling ending was all but impossible for some, but their sacrifice wasn’t at all in vain.
Jenna Black’s Replica trilogy may be somewhat underappreciated, but I highly recommend it to fans of dystopian fiction, delightful action and strong romances. Honestly, what’s not to like?
What could be better on a slow Sunday afternoon than a book that can make you smile and cry at the same time? With the protagonist dead on the very fiWhat could be better on a slow Sunday afternoon than a book that can make you smile and cry at the same time? With the protagonist dead on the very first page, one would assume this book to be gloomy and heartrending, but The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter is really the farthest thing from it. This heartfelt, hilarious story celebrates life as it’s meant to be lived, with no regrets and not a moment wasted.
We meet Rosie on the first day of her afterlife, but alas, she is stuck on Earth, and in the middle of Barrycalagh, Ireland, where her death happens to be the most exciting thing in years. Rosie isn’t at all concerned about herself. Her main worry is her family, including her best friend and her boyfriend. But Rosie’s in for a huge surprise; her beloved Jack isn’t the wonderful, kind boyfriend he appeared to be. Quite the contrary, in fact, and as his lies are slowly uncovered, Rosie’s love for him vanishes into thin air.
Rosie’s life looks a whole lot different from the other side and there are so many things she would love to change. But Kate Winter doesn’t focus on regrets in this charming story. Instead, she celebrates love as it truly is, flawed and filled with regrettable mistakes, but also perfect in its imperfection.
Rosie doesn’t wallow in self-pity, not for a second. It’s actually her most admirable quality, that and her very kind heart. Like her life, Rosie herself isn’t perfect at all, but her intentions are always good and in death, she is painfully honest with herself, even if her life was full of denials. Finding your one true love when you’re already dead would be devastating for most people. So much time lost, so many opportunities missed. But Rosie and her perfect man aren’t most people, and instead of regrets, they celebrate the fact that they acknowledged their love at all.
Although bittersweet, The Happy Ever Afterlife is ultimately an enchanting story filled with hope. It’ll make you rush to hug your loved ones and to celebrate the life you’re living, no matter how hard it may seem at times. After all, every day is a new oportunity, and who better than Rosie to remind us of it.
Amy Plum, one of my most trusted YA authors, has apparently reached new heights. Her Until I Die trilogy has a very special place in my heart, but AftAmy Plum, one of my most trusted YA authors, has apparently reached new heights. Her Until I Die trilogy has a very special place in my heart, but After the End is in a completely different category. With its imaginative worldbuilding and heroes we can admire and adore every step of the way, this duology is really every reader’s dream come true.
In this second part, Juneau and Miles are outnumbered and outgunned. They have enemies on all sides and very few resources, but for Juneau, abandoning her clan simply isn’t an option. Plans need to be made and battles need to be fought, and Juneau’s sense of honor and responsibility through it all is stupendous.
Oddly enough, Until the Beginning is a bit slower than After the End. It is a different book, focused more on Juneau’s introspection and crisis of faith. With everything she thought she knew about her world gone, Juneau has much to consider and make some very difficult choices for herself. Miles also faces some enormous changes and although the struggles with them somewhat, he quickly takes them in stride, as is his way. Unlike Juneau, he is more ‘go with the flow’ kind of guy, which is certainly an advantage when your world shifts from one second to the next.
Their relationship develops beautifully in a very short time. There is a true friendship and companionship between these two, followed by deep and honest trust. When you have all that, love follows not far behind, and even though it happened in mere weeks, theirs was a connection I believed completely. There’s not much to do except wholeheartedly recommend this duology to all of you. Amy has shown us that her imagination knows no bounds and that she’s an author with so much to offer. I’m willing to bet that we’ll be getting many incredible stories from her, and all those updates about her life in Paris certainly don’t hurt either.
If you have yet to meet Juneau and Miles, make sure to do so as soon as you can. From Alaska to Nevada, their adventure will leave you breathless.
Being a child of the 80’s, I get really nostalgic whenever I’m reminded of anything from those years, be it the music, the fashion, or David Bowie’s wBeing a child of the 80’s, I get really nostalgic whenever I’m reminded of anything from those years, be it the music, the fashion, or David Bowie’s weird personas. But with or without nostalgia, with or without understanding of the period, The Rise and Fall of the Gallivanters is a truly magical book. Heartbreaking, overwhelming, deeply metaphorical and symbolic, painful, strange and so very honest, this sucker punch of a novel will stay with you for a very long time.
I’ve seen this book labeled as paranormal. It is not. I’ve seen it described as confusing and unexciting. It is not. It is, however, filled with symbolism, allegory and metaphors. This novel isn’t your average, everyday read. It’s something truly special, and as such, it will easily find the hearts of its true audience.
Beaufrand allows Noah to tell us his own story, but Noah’s mind is full of mysteries and monsters, missing girls and frightening fogs. He is more than happy to turn the spotlight on his best friend Evan, a modest, kind boy, a sidekick by nature if ever there was one. Noah and Evan have depended upon each other since they were just boys, and together they survived disasters, abuse, suicidal parents and hospitals. They made it thanks to each other and their music.
With tragedy behind him and tragedy on the horizon, Noah’s past and present painfully collide, and it’s far more than he can handle. In a desperate attempt to put his world to rights, he decides to re-form the Gallivanters, his failed punk band. The goal is to create a demo and enter a contest to play at a famous brewery, which happens to be the place where more than twenty girls disappeared.
Noah wants to be a musician and a knight, but even more, he wants Evan to be both. For a kid who is supposedly a self-centered troublemaker, he does very little for himself. Beaufrand delved deep into Noah psyche by subtly showing us consequences of constant horrible abuse, by giving us glimpses of a masochistic personality, and miraculously shaping it all into a character we can’t help but love. I am in awe.*
Be patient with this book. Be kind to it when it seems confusing and strange. Give it time, be tolerant, and the book will give back to you tenfold. This is quite easily my favorite book this year, with a quiet sort of beauty that might, just might, go tragically unnoticed. Some of the best things are, though, and I’ll always feel extremely lucky to have stumbled upon this gem.
*Just writing this review, thinking intensely about the beauty of this book, made me cry like a baby. ...more
The best thing about Julie Kagawa is that she can get away with almost everything. She put us through hell so many times – just think of that cliffhanThe best thing about Julie Kagawa is that she can get away with almost everything. She put us through hell so many times – just think of that cliffhanger in The Eternity Cure – and still we keep coming back for more.
The very simple truth is that I liked Rogue more than Talon. The first read like light contemporary YA at times, what with all the surfing, parties and teens hanging out. It’s true that we needed to really see Ember as part human in order to understand her struggles, but it’s also true that for a dragon book, Talon had very little actual dragon action to speak of.
Rogue is certainly an improvement in that (and every other) regard. There is more tension, more danger, more drama, and there are more dragons flying around. Kagawa still doesn’t explore them to their full potential, but she’s getting there, and we’re happily following along.
Ember, being two-natured, is torn between two men, one for her human, and one for her dragon self. It’s clear, as it usually is, who she leans toward more strongly, which makes the whole thing tedious and unnecessary. Fortunately, the focus in this book is very far from romance. There is a war brewing which puts romantic entanglements very low on everyone’s priority lists.
The title of this book could just as easily be Ember in the Middle, and I don’t only mean romantically. With Talon’s search team on one side (led by her twin brother), and The Order of Saint George on the other, Ember has no shortage of enemies to run from. But even worse than guns are the secrets. It seems that everyone has something to hide.
The worst thing about Julie Kagawa is that she can get away with almost everything, and she knows it. Using the same tropes, putting us through hell and back, leaving us hanging from a cliff by our very fingertips… all is fair and all is forgivable. And we’ll always keep going back for more.
3.5 stars For some reason, I was quite sure The Glass Arrow would be a fantasy book. The cover certainly points that way, and although I should not hav3.5 stars For some reason, I was quite sure The Glass Arrow would be a fantasy book. The cover certainly points that way, and although I should not have assumed, I was still surprised to find a complex dystopia instead of the fantasy novel I was hoping for.
The world Simmons gives us is horrifying: hunger, disease and awful living conditions for everyone but the very few rich men. The women are considered to be merchandise and they are sold like objects on the meat market. They are groomed and fattened and polished to become more appealing to wealthy men. Most girls know that it’s the only future for them and some even welcome it, but Aya was raised in the wilderness, with her mother, her aunt and cousins. The mountains were Aiyana’s home since she was born and they’re all she knows, but once she is captured and taken to the city, she is able to show us the sickening societal structure and the absolutely horrendous treatment of women.
The Glass Arrow is a strange mix of old and new. People die from the simplest diseases, most barely surviving the hunger and filth. Food is rare, everyone but the rich survives on food supplements. However, they use plastic surgery to correct the flaws of girls ready to be sold, there’s permanent make-up and many other cosmetic procedures. Apparently, at one point the society decided to throw away cars and technology and return to a simpler life. But somehow, the rich still have the advanced video games and other technological developments.
The thing with dystopias, I think, is that they have to be believable, as close to reality as possible. We must be able to see things happen exactly that way, become utterly convinced that the world described is just around the corner. There are dystopias that work exactly like that, and they are always the best ones. But the future described in The Glass Arrow was illogical and full of discrepancies. It did not work at all.
Oddly enough, the romance saved the story. Aya’s feelings for Kiran changed very slowly and her weariness was understandable and even welcomed. Her internal struggle was done exceptionally well and the long journey from prejudice to trust seemed entirely believable and perfectly done.
I was surprised and glad to be reading a standalone. It’s nice to have a well-rounded ending that doesn’t attempt to do too much, but that covers all the things that are truly important to characters and readers both. Despite its flaws, The Glass Arrow is well-executed story that doesn’t have the strongest emotional impact, but it’s necessary and educational nevertheless.
Clash of Iron, the breathlessly awaited sequel to Angus Watson’s Age of Iron is finally here. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this book ever sinc Clash of Iron, the breathlessly awaited sequel to Angus Watson’s Age of Iron is finally here. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this book ever since I finished Watson’s debut. When done right, historical fantasy is my favorite genre, and this author definitely knows what he’s doing. In Clash of Iron, he takes us one step further in exploring the British Iron Age, a period that gives him free reign and ample opportunities. Not much is known about that time, which gives Watson a lot of space to take the direction he chooses. We know, however, that Iron Age in Britain ended with Roman invasion, and that threat is at the forefront of our heroes’ minds in this book.
The first half of Clash of Iron is a bit slower than we’re used to. With so many points of view and without a definite threat on the horizon, the story lacks focus for a while. Romans’ arrival has been predicted and prophesized, but not many believe that they’re an actual threat. As a new queen, Lowa is determined to unite the tribes and give them a chance for survival, but others are not exactly cooperative.
I thought Lowa was particularly interesting this time. She struggled so much with her newfound power, unsure how to treat people or how to properly earn (or demand) respect. Most of the time, I felt that she was in over her head and the ineptitude was often quite evident from the results.
Like its predecessor, Clash of Iron is unapologetically bloody. It was a dark time and the low price of human life was reflected brilliantly in Watson’s story. There were times when it was a bit hard to read, but overall it gave the story and extra layer of authenticity, for which I was grateful. The ending is very intense, not a cliffhanger per se, but emotionally harrowing nevertheless. With so many things going on and so many enemies coming from all sides, sacrifices have to be made and lives must be lost. Watson showed us many times that he is merciless when his story requires it, and this ending was no different.
Things are a tangled mess right now, especially when we know that the Romans actually invaded in the end, which ended the Iron Age. With that in mind, the ending seems to be pretty clear. I only wonder how Watson might handle it. We’ll find out later this year in Reign of Iron. ...more
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.