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.
After two literary successes for young adults, the amazing Cat Winters is back with The Uninvited, a breathtaking story about a 25-year-old
After two literary successes for young adults, the amazing Cat Winters is back with The Uninvited, a breathtaking story about a 25-year-old girl fighting the heavy burden of her family’s sins. Winters takes us back to final days of World War I, right in the middle of the 1918 flu pandemic, and although it’s not her first foray into that very same time period, The Uninvited stands on its own two feet, beautiful and incomparable with anything she’s done before.
The psychology of war is a dreadful thing. The hate, the whispers, dehumanization, strengthened by very loud and convincing propaganda, combine to create an atmosphere of fear and turn regular people into mindless monsters. Winters’ understanding of this phenomenon, of the mass hysteria that is so easily created when people fear for their lives, is profound. Ivy’s father is one of those war-made monsters, and so is her 17-year-old brother. After they kill a German business owner in their small town, Ivy leaves home, ridden with guilt, to somehow make things right. For all her innocence, Ivy has a backbone of steel. Her moral compass is impeccable and her bravery is astounding. It takes a great person to swim out of that pool of hate and see things for what they are, and our Ivy manages beautifully. It’s not something that happens from one moment to the next, but the process itself is a thing to behold.
The unconventional romance is one of this book’s many strengths. Bonded by a terrible tragedy and more guilt than two people should ever carry, Ivy and Daniel find solace in each other, first physically, and then emotionally. It’s a long, painful road filled with surprises, but it’s one worth taking, even when you’re crying your eyes out. While it doesn’t quite reach the literary heights of In the Shadow of Blackbirds (then again, I suspect nothing ever will), The Uninvited is a flawless story by one of my favorite authors in the world. The magic of Cat Winters is very much alive and it seems to be a gift that just keeps on giving. ...more
Although I loved the previous two books, this was by far my favorite of the three. The emotions ran deep, and the conflict felt very real to me, not sAlthough I loved the previous two books, this was by far my favorite of the three. The emotions ran deep, and the conflict felt very real to me, not somehting made up just to separate the MCs. Albert is becoming better with each word written. I hope she'll soon progress to full lenght novels, but to be honest, these novellas work for me too. They can be read fairly quickly, and they still put me through every single emotion.
I highly recommend this series and I'd recommend reading them in order. They can work as standalones, but really, they're not to be missed. ...more
Once upon a time, there was a lovely imprint called Strange Chemistry. It was small, but reliable, and it always published the very best titles. But tOnce upon a time, there was a lovely imprint called Strange Chemistry. It was small, but reliable, and it always published the very best titles. But these days, quality often isn’t enough, and overnight, Strange Chemistry simply stopped existing. Everything about this was a tragedy, but no one suffered as much damage as Kim Curran and several other authors whose books were set for release. Delete was meant to be out ages ago, but with the disappearance of its publisher, this wonderful conclusion to Curran’s Shift trilogy was pushed back until Kim decided what to do with it. Now it’s finally out and we can say goodbye to Scott and Aubrey.
I have to admit to forgetting some details from Control, and especially from Shift (and who could blame me after all this time), but it didn’t take me long to remember them all and fully rejoin Scott’s magnetic tale. Just like its two predecessors, Delete is filled with excitement, danger and adventure, but the stakes are higher than ever before, and Scott, although much more powerful, is just a little bit lost.
There are traces of the nature vs. nurture debate subtly interwoven in this story. Scott can change his (and everyone else’s) reality in a single blink, but the Scott he finds in the new reality isn’t always the one who made the Shift. People are different in these parallel universes, defined by their circumstances, but can they truly change who they are inside? And can Scott rely on his past experiences when making judgments and accusations?
Shift could just as easily be a trilogy for adults since these kids have adult responsibilities and live very adult lives. On the one side, these books are fast and entertaining, but on the other, they are very mature. And I don’t mean that they aren’t suitable for a younger audience – they most certainly are. I just mean that they have many layers and they can satisfy even a more demanding reader.
Nothing is certain when you can alter your reality from one second to the next, but I liked where we left Scott and Aubrey and I really hope they’ve found the right path for them. This is a fast-paced, action-filled trilogy perfect for when you need some excitement. I highly recommend 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.
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.
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.
Prisoner of Night and Fog, Anne Blankman’s incredible debut and part one of her duology, seemed at times too good to be true. Extensively researched,Prisoner of Night and Fog, Anne Blankman’s incredible debut and part one of her duology, seemed at times too good to be true. Extensively researched, clever, and deeply emotional, it explored a time some would rather leave forgotten, the darkest time in Germany’s history. Blankman gave us front row seats to Hitler’s rise to power, seen through the eyes of one of his darlings, a young girl he’d taken under his wing and treated as a favorite niece. But the events in Prisoner of Night and Fog took Gretchen away from the man she knew as Uncle Dolf, and in Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, the two are bitter enemies, and Gretchen is sure she’d be killed on sight.
Forced to leave her comfortable life in Oxford and return to Germany with Daniel, Gretchen is forced to face the demon from her past, the man she once loved deeply and trusted implicitly. This time, with her eyes wide open, she hopes to uncover the Nazi Party’s many conspiracies and stop Hitler’s rise to absolute power.
Unfortunately, with the distance between Gretchen and Hitler, the book has lost some of its allure. We still see actual historical events, but this time we view them from afar, as would anyone else. We are not privy to insider information, not anymore, which means that we’ve lost our chance to learn more about the deterioration of his psyche. There’s still plenty to admire about the book, but that part, the part I admired most in Prisoner of Night and Fog, is all but gone.
Of course, the events in 1933 Berlin are still thoroughly researched and presented in a wonderful blend of fact and fiction, which makes this book highly educational as well as entertaining. The work Blankman has finally put before us is impeccable. She did her job and she did it well, finding the perfect balance between history, fiction and character development.
We left Gretchen and Daniel in a very good place last time, but while life seemed to be looking up for Gretchen, Daniel has had a far more difficult time. Although he was safe, Oxford hasn’t been kind to him as everything that made him the extraordinary boy Gretchen fell in love with was roughly taken away. Friendless and unable to be a proper journalist, he spent his days in sadness and loneliness, but was determined to hide it from his girlfriend. Goying back to Germany brings light to their difficulty, and in Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, their uncertain future causes a substantial rift between them. Nevertheless, our two darlings never turn their back on each other and they constantly work in perfect sync to bring down the Nazi Party.
Minor faults aside, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke is a perfect conclusion to this story. Blankman set the bar pretty high, but she was more than up to the challenge. I can’t wait to see what she’ll give us next.
One of the best gifts a book lover can get is an unplanned sequel about beloved characters. I’ve said my goodbyes to John and Ryan from The RebuildingOne of the best gifts a book lover can get is an unplanned sequel about beloved characters. I’ve said my goodbyes to John and Ryan from The Rebuilding Year ages ago, left them in a very good place and carried them in my heart always. And while I saw some room for a sequel, I was perfectly happy rereading their story occasionally and thinking about them as one of my favorite romance couples.
However, when Kaje Harper announced Life, Some Assembly Required, I was overjoyed. This is an author I’ve come to trust implicitly, so I knew right from the start that this sequel would be something worth reading. I was not wrong.
We find Ryan and John pretty much where we left them, comfortable in their life together, but with some problems left unsolved. Ryan has bravely come out to his father, but it isn’t all smooth sailing. He was a womanizer before his accident and his family knew it. What they perceive as a huge shift in personality is a bit difficult to accept.
John’s son is still living with him and Ryan, but suddenly his daughter Torey wants to move in, too. Her mom and her stepdad are constantly arguing and her life in California isn’t what it used to be. Then one day, Torey shows up on their doorstep, but she’s not alone. Her pregnant mother ran from her horrible abusive husband right back to John.
Now this is where things get a bit dicey. I’m not a fan of ex wives, ex partners, ex boyfriends or ex anything, really, coming back into the picture. I’m insanely possessive on behalf of my beloved characters and this sort of thing upsets me greatly. Pregnant or not, I wanted to wring Cynthia’s homophobic neck, and I wanted to smack John upside the head for letting her get away with almost everything.
But minor insecurities aside, Ryan and John presented a united front the entire time, proving that theirs is a relationship meant to last. This book was more focused on John’s problems, but for me, Ryan was the true star. The endless patience and the faith he had in John staggered me.
Finally, if there’s one thing I can say about Kaje, it’s that she always knows what she’s doing, even when she’s manipulating me into fits of jealousy. Her characters are incredibly realistic and her stories always true to life. This is just one of her many successes.
4.5 stars For a while after I finished The Body Electric, I struggled to gather my thoughts and figure out how to appropriately express my feelings. My4.5 stars For a while after I finished The Body Electric, I struggled to gather my thoughts and figure out how to appropriately express my feelings. My experience with this book felt, for those few shocked minutes, far too important to be put into my unskilled English sentences. But I had to try, I had to do what I can to help this book get the attention it absolutely deserves.
I always enjoyed Revis’ work, but I never experienced it this intensely. The Body Electric brings something new to the table, both in worldbuilding and characterization. It is certainly a big step forward for Beth Revis herself and for Young Adult Science Fiction in general. Truth be told, this book doesn’t read like YA at all. Revis held nothing back, she didn’t try to make things more simple or accessible to a younger audience. This book is an explosion of creativity and emotions with no barriers whatsoever, and as such, it deserves all the praise it can get.
The issues Revis explores aren’t new to the science fiction genre. In fact, she herself mentions that she owes a great literary debt to Phillip K. Dick and his Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. She even named Ella’s father, the groundbreaking scientist, Phillip K. Shepherd, which is a nod to the famous author inside the story itself. But even though it’s been dissected so many times before, the question of what truly makes us human has never been answered with any level of certainty. Therefore, it is still just as important as it was 50 years ago or more.
The author’s note informs us that the worldbuilding was inspired by Revis’ traveling, but it would have been obvious anyway. The images of Malta are too vivid, from the colors, certain traditions and smells, to the people and their ways. But Malta isn’t at the center of this story. Revis created a whole new city on a bridge between the two main Maltese islands, a city built to become the home of a new government. New Venice has everything technology has to offer 250 years from now, but it also celebrates what was lost – the old Venice, swallowed by water a long time ago. New Venice was built after a horrible war, when large nations became united in their attempt to achieve peace and a new government was formed. Ella doesn’t remember the war, she was born in New Venice a year after it ended. She is the daughter of two brilliant scientists, but lately her life has been a series of disasters. Her father died in an attack on his lab, her mother is terminally ill, and Ella herself sometimes sees and hears strange things, things that make her doubt her own mind.
The romance is central to the plot, but it stays in the background most of the time. I loved how it was done, it was important, but never all-consuming and overwhelming. Faced with an obviously unreliable narrator and a boy who claims to know her very well, I became obsessed with uncovering the truth about them and about Ella’s life since her father died. Revis has achieved something that doesn’t happen often anymore – she created a story that swallowed me completely and made me forget about everything else in the world.
The book loses a bit of its strength in the second half as things become far more complicated and difficult to comprehend. Nevertheless, it is an amazing story altogether, an experience I’m unlikely to forget. Read this if you liked Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? or Bernard Beckett’s Genesis. Or even if you didn’t, just read it. You need this book in your life.
Holy Firefight, Batman! I’m such a Brandon Sanderson fangirl.
Here’s what you can expect from the second book in Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy: A new cHoly Firefight, Batman! I’m such a Brandon Sanderson fangirl.
Here’s what you can expect from the second book in Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy: A new city. Entertainment. Goofiness. Laughs. Almost unbearable tension. Hurt. Betrayals. So many tears. Frustration. Elation. Hope.
ALL the feels.
Brandon Sanderson has done it again, and we’ve expected no less. While it didn’t surpass its predecessor (because seriously, Steelheart was almost perfect), Firefight was just as good, just as exciting, just as funny, just as well written. In it, Sanderson takes Prof, Tia and David to a new setting – former New York, now called Babylon Restored. Their mission is to save the city from Regalia, a very powerful water epic and Prof’s former friend, but David has ulterior motives as well. Firefight is already there, or at least she should be, and David is determined to find her and save her from herself, even if everyone else wants to see her dead.
David is sometimes almost childlike in his willingness to see good in everyone, and it’s both his best and his worst quality at once. He didn’t start out like that; when we met him, his world was very black and white, but over time, and with pretty good reason, his worldview started to change. In Firefight, he struggles with some very difficult moral choices, but he approaches things with his eternal optimism and the innate goodness that shines from everything he does.
Firefight is full of revelations of all kinds. David still has so much to learn about the post-Calamity world, and some of the things he thought he knew couldn’t possibly be more wrong. But surprises come from more than just the world around him. People are there to surprise him too – those he trusted implicitly, those he was unsure about, people he’s just met – but mostly himself. No one is more surprised than David to see how much he’s changed.
Babylon Restored is gorgeous! The city is underwater so things mostly happen on rooftops, and there’s weird glowing fruit everywhere. The people are also strange, more relaxed, happy, friendly and open. At first, David has a hard time adjusting; in Newcago, people are terrified and keep to themselves, but in Babylon Restored, they look you right in the eyes and invite you to a party.
I’ve come to realize that folks at Audible Studios rarely make mistakes when it comes to choosing narrators, and the same stands true for this series. MacLeod Andrews was the perfect choice for Steelheart and Firefight, his voice is full of suppressed humor, but it easily transforms in David’s more difficult moments. Admittedly, his female voices need more work, but his voice has become inseparable from David’s and that’s pretty much all we can ask. I don’t know of any other narrator (except maybe Holter Graham) who could narrate this so well.
We’ll have to wait a year for Calamity… unless we find some way to get our hands on it sooner. I could maybe sell my soul or something. No price is too high, that much I know.
4.5 stars When is a very impressive and incredibly compelling standalone book by Victoria Laurie. It’s the sort of book that pulls you in from its firs4.5 stars When is a very impressive and incredibly compelling standalone book by Victoria Laurie. It’s the sort of book that pulls you in from its first sentence and refuses to let go. The opening chapter does an excellent job in making us care for Maddie, our protagonist, and at the same time, it gives us a great idea of what lies ahead. This suspenseful, surprisingly well-written book kept me on the edge of my seat throughout, which wasn’t achieved through cheap tricks and tropes, but through a story so well-built that it would leave anyone breathless.
Maddie has been seeing numbers on people’s foreheads since she was a baby, but it wasn’t until her father died that she realized what they actually mean. The numbers she sees are people’s death dates and she is never mistaken. She has also never succeeded in changing someone’s date, even though she tried on several occasions. But being who she is, she can’t help trying again, only this time her attempt puts her in a world of trouble.
From the start, Maddie won me over with incredible ease. Forced by her alcoholic mother to abuse her gift and read people’s death dates for money, Maddie still found a way to be herself and help where she could. She made smart choices from the start, and even when she ended up right in the middle of a murder investigation, she did the best she could for everyone. I felt everything she felt in this book, the grief over her father’s death, the shame over her mother’s drinking, her love for her best friend and her desire to help.
When has a movie-like quality to it and every scene is shaped to achieve its full potential. The tension builds slowly but steadily, all the way to a heart-stopping finale. The mystery is well-done, clearly the work of an experienced author, and it kept me guessing throughout. When the killer was finally revealed, I was completely taken aback, but it made sense in retrospect, which I think is the holy grail of crime fiction.
I adored the romance aspect of this book mostly because there was no romance, not until the very end. With everything going on around Maddie, pushing her into a relationship of some sort would have been a bit ridiculous, and I’m so happy Laurie chose not to take that route. As it is, the small glimpse of romance ahead was tasteful, well-timed and simply delightful. It’s just one of the things that make this book stand out.
In short, Victoria Laurie did a fabulous job with what seems to be her YA debut. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for her next book, but even if we do, I have a feeling it will be worth the wait.
There is nothing even remotely new or original about this book, but that’s not a reasonable expectation within the (paranormal) mystery genre4.5 stars
There is nothing even remotely new or original about this book, but that’s not a reasonable expectation within the (paranormal) mystery genre. The important thing is to find a perfect balance between suspense, character development and a well-built mystery, and Marr achieved this to absolute perfection.
Marr is excellent at building tension slowly but steadily. The constant promise of senseless violence combined with Eva’s horrifying visions keeps us wide-eyed and at the edge of our seats, fully convinced that the killer is coming for everyone, Eva included, and that they stand very little chance of actually stopping him. As expected, there were a few red herrings along the way, and they were pretty easy to recognize as such, but the identity of the killer remained a mystery to me until it was casually, brilliantly revealed at just the right time.
Eva approaches the world with refreshing honesty and directness. The willingness to say exactly what’s on her mind at any given time is her most admirable quality by far. With one understandable exception, she expresses her thought and feelings with candor we all wish we could achieve, but aren’t brave enough to actually try. In a town where status is everything, she is the uncrowned princess, daughter of the richest, most powerful family in the tight little Southern community. But Eva, while well-aware and respectful of her position, approaches it with a healthy dose of self-irony and makes it impossible for us not to admire her for it.
The romance also worked well, even though the timing could have been better. I liked the idea of two childhood best friends finally coming together, and I liked Eva’s behavior toward Nate tremendously. For his part, Nate took his time in finally admitting his feelings, but when he did, there was no doubting his honesty and devotion.
In the end, while the well-built mystery certainly helps, for me it all comes down to Eva herself. The story is told from multiple perspectives, rules this book like she does her small community – gracefully, convincingly and by making smart decisions the entire time.
Yes, it’s finally that time of the year – Charley Davidson is back with us, in all her glory, to amuse and entertain, to make us laugh and even breakYes, it’s finally that time of the year – Charley Davidson is back with us, in all her glory, to amuse and entertain, to make us laugh and even break our hearts.
Charley’s world is becoming more complicated by the second. Eighth Grave finally offers some answers, but with them come even more questions and uncertainties. Darynda Jones knows how to give us just enough, intrigue us even more, and leave us begging for the next installment.
Eighth Grave is more static than the previous book due to Charley and Reyes being geographically limited. Instead of running all over the place and jumping from one case to the next, Charley is closed up in a convent, unable to leave the premises. This limits her ability to investigate, but she wouldn’t be Charley if she didn’t find ways around her. Mystery follows our girl everywhere, why should an abandoned convent be any different?
Eighth Grave may be a slower book, but it’s a game changer nevertheless. It’s one of the most emotionally charged Charley Davidson books to date and as usual, you can expect laughs and tears both. Most of us who read Seventh Grave already suspected that things would never be the same, but none of us could have predicted where Jones would choose to take it all in the end. The changes are scary for Charley and they’re very scary for us fans. For the first time since the beginning, even after all the hardship, the injuries and the losses, we don’t know how our beloved character might change.
The ending is not a cliffhanger as such, but it’s wide open and it gives us a clear idea of what to expect in the next book, which will undoubtedly be very emotional for all of us. However, the set up, the brand new situation our heroes find themselves in, will likely be a source of hilarity too. Things usually are where Charley’s involved. The release of Ninth Grave has been pushed to 2016, which I’m none too thrilled about, but I’d wait forever for Charley and Reyes. What’s nine months between friends?
4.5 stars There is a ghost in the slaughterhouse. I kid you not. After our time in Suicide City with Lela Santos, this is where Sarah Fine chose to sen4.5 stars There is a ghost in the slaughterhouse. I kid you not. After our time in Suicide City with Lela Santos, this is where Sarah Fine chose to send us. A slaughterhouse. With a ghost inside. Can someone please give me a hug?
Of Metal and Wishes promised to be a terrifying and strangely beautiful story and it certainly delivered. It is practically unputdownable; once the atmosphere envelops you, the only way out is through the last page, and you have no choice but to go there. Fine’s writing is beautiful and lyrical and her prose flows effortlessly. It is both different from her previous works and similar in that it clearly shows the enormity of her talent and the richness of her imagination.
While Fine’s world has a distinctly Asian flavor, it’s best to keep in mind that it has no direct links to our world. I like my fantasies elaborate and far removed from anything familiar, but getting inspiration from Asian culture worked very well for Sarah Fine. Her world may not be the most detailed or clearly presented, but she gave us all the information we needed, and set an excellent foundation for the fabulously creepy atmosphere.
And it’s precisely this atmosphere that will leave readers enchanted. The slaughterhouse, where every nook and cranny is not only unexplored, but also extremely dangerous, provided an excellent setting for this story. We as readers are quickly transported to this place of dirt and blood, filled with loud noises and awful smells, that is somehow strangely beautiful as well.
Of course, even the worst of places (and the haunted slaughterhouse certainly qualifies) can be made beautiful simply by the pleasure of Wen’s company. Fine excels in creating fabulously well-rounded characters and Wen is perhaps my favorite so far. We see some growth in this book as she makes peace with her new reality, one where a young girl has few uses and none of them good.
I started Of Metal and Wishes last night and finished it a few hours later, trembling, teary-eyed and shaken to the core. The open, somewhat ambiguous ending was easier to bear once I learned that there is a sequel planned, scheduled for release in August 2015.
Just recently Chloe Neill announced that she’ll be ending her Chicagoland Vampires series with book 13. While I’ll be very sad to say goodbye to theseJust recently Chloe Neill announced that she’ll be ending her Chicagoland Vampires series with book 13. While I’ll be very sad to say goodbye to these characters, I feel that she’s made the right decision. The series has been noticeably losing steam and the last few books have become just a tiny bit repetitive and predictable. However, predictable can be as comfortable as a warm blanket, and when you add to that a bunch of characters you’re very familiar with, you get a recipe for a very pleasant afternoon.
I’ve been with this series from the start, through excitement, disappointment and everything in between. I’ve loved Merit and Ethan and I’ve suffered with them. I feel like I know them inside and out, which is the absolute best, especially in my favorite genre.
This time around, the vampire that created (and tormented) Ethan, a vampire supposedly dead for centuries, is suddenly in Chicago threatening everything Ethan and Merit have created. To make matters worse, Merit’s ex-boyfriend and leader of the Navarre house, Morgan, is neck-deep in trouble and asking Cadogan for help.
This installment was very emotional for the usually unflappable Merit. She’s always so confident, so sure of her place in the world, but everything was thoroughly shaken this time around and her struggles were extremely hard. I loved seeing the supportive side of Ethan, who remained by her side the entire time. These two have become such a wonderful, mature couple. They’ve finally started communicating openly and completely honestly, and now that there’s nothing between them, I’m enjoying every moment we see them together.
The main thing that bothers me, that has always bothered me in this series is its very short time span. We’ve spent years with these characters, but for them, a lot less time has passed, which makes everything that’s happened to them all the more stressful and far too unlikely. The short time affects the romance as well – it’s much harder for me to believe in its strength when it’s only been a year and a half or so, and Ethan and Merit have had maybe two peaceful days during that time.
Aside from that, though, this is undoubtedly one of my UF favorites, a series I keep going back to whenever I need something familiar and comfortable, and yet exciting at the same time. Neill certainly knows what she’s doing, and I hope that her new series will be just as good.
The Cure for Dreaming is Cat Winters’ breathlessly anticipated sophomore novel. After last year’s brilliant debut, expectations from this book were skThe Cure for Dreaming is Cat Winters’ breathlessly anticipated sophomore novel. After last year’s brilliant debut, expectations from this book were sky high, but we needn’t have feared. Winters was more than up to the task. Although not as emotionally intense and tragic as In the Shadow of Blackbirds, The Cure for Dreaming has a different kind of strength; the kind that inspires us to fight for our place in the world, to give everything and do everything to achieve what we think is right.
One would think that today, 114 years after this story takes place, its educational value would be limited to history alone, but one would be truly, utterly wrong. It is clear (and wonderfully articulated by young Emma Watson in her recent UN speech for gender equality) that women are still far from being equals in our male oriented societies. The right to vote and the suffragist movement were just a first step in achieving something that has yet to be fully accomplished, and that makes Cat Winters’ new novel much more than just a brilliant piece of fiction. The relevance of this book is, in fact, immeasurable.
Olivia Mead is an open-minded, highly intelligent girl in a time when girls are expected to be pretty and silent, just decoration in a male-dominated world. After finding out that she participated in a suffragist rally, her father hires a young hypnotist to cure Olivia of her unfeminine thoughts. Obviously, a deep-seated belief can’t just disappear, but if thinking and talking about it can be made unpleasant enough, it was his hope that Olivia (and other women after her) could be trained through simple classical conditioning to remain silent and demure, like a proper woman should.
There were times when this book made me so angry it made my stomach churn, and then there were times when I was ready to burst with pride, because as hard as Olivia’s father, her would-be suitor and other men around her tried to tame her, she simply refused to stay silent. With a little help from the young hypnotist himself, she handled everything that was thrown at her, and even managed to teach them all a lesson.
Once again, Winters added authentic photographs to strengthen the effect of her story. It was a brilliant move on her part and I hope she’ll keep doing it in her future works as well. After this, there is no more doubt: Cat Winters is an unstoppable literary force. She does her research, she combines fact with simply marvelous fiction, she touches our hearts and somehow teaches us all a valuable lesson in the process. What more could we possibly want?
A whole lot of time has passed between books three and four in Briggs’ Alpha & Omega series, and yet most of us haven’t forgotten a single thing aA whole lot of time has passed between books three and four in Briggs’ Alpha & Omega series, and yet most of us haven’t forgotten a single thing about Fair Game or any of the previous books. The explanation is rather simple: it’s all due to the quality of Briggs’ writing. She is, and always was, incredible. I dare say she’s the reigning queen of urban fantasy.
Dead Heat is not her best book to date, though, not even close, but Briggs at her weakest is still better than 90% other authors. It read at times like a filler book, and it was, on occasion, more an ode to horses than anything else. Patty loves her horses and she knows them well – understanding their behavior has influenced her writing greatly, and in fact, the way she writes her werewolves is heavily influenced by her knowledge of animal psychology. She raises horses and spends every day around them, which makes her books truly special. In this installment, however, she took things just a tiny bit too far, offering a lot more information on breeding and raising horses than her story actually needed.
That aside, it’s always a pleasure to see how her characters develop and behave. Charles and Anna have progressed so much, and while it’s more obvious on her, his changes seem a lot more significant. I didn’t understand the need to bring in another woman as Charles’ former love interest, but while it bothered me as these things usually do, it also showed how much more confident Anna has become and how firmly she believes in her marriage.
The mystery elements were very nicely done and that part of the story progressed at an excellent pace. This is where Patty’s experience really comes to light – she weaves her stories expertly and smoothly, balancing romance, creepy moments, dreadful monsters and character development with seeming ease. She is the absolute best at what she does and I hope she’ll keep writing stories in this universe for many more years to come.
Her next book will be in the Mercy Thompson series and as far as I know, the next Alpha & Omega book has yet to be announced, but things happen on a firm timeline and, with each new installment, the two series are brought closer and closer together. I feel that they’ll collide at some point, especially now that war with the fae seems more or less inevitable.
4.5 stars Earlier this year, when I reviewed Dust, I mentioned that my beloved Kay Scarpetta series seems to be getting back on track. Keeping a series4.5 stars Earlier this year, when I reviewed Dust, I mentioned that my beloved Kay Scarpetta series seems to be getting back on track. Keeping a series fresh for no less than 22 installments is something not many authors can do. There was certainly a rough patch around the middle when I considered giving up entirely, but these last two books have shown me that Cornwell is still very much in control.
Flesh and Blood is, if possible, even more suspenseful, even more exciting, even more gorgeously written. Patricia Cornwell’s writing has always been elegant and rich, but lately she has been taking it a step further, dazzling us with her beautiful sentences and the emotion behind them. That sort of writing combined with scientific facts and procedures is recognizable as something that is solely her own, unparalleled in the world of crime fiction.
Kay Scarpetta was getting ready to leave for Miami with her husband, the famous FBI profiler Benton Wesley. But even the best laid plans often go awry, so when someone shoots a man who previously slandered Scarpetta in front of president Obama, no less, she and Benton have no choice but to postpone their vacation and investigate this crime.
Is there a killer more dangerous than a sniper shooter? It’s danger one doesn’t even see coming, which makes it impossible for people to protect themselves, people including our favorite Chief medical examiner. Danger is everywhere this time, on rooftops, windows and other high places and it could strike at any time.
All our favorite characters are back together this time. After 22 installments, Kay, Benton, Lucy, Marino and even Janet really feel like family to us loyal fans. As usual, they are faced with many random facts and pieces of evidence, things that don’t seem to make sense when put together, and they need to work as a group, each of them from their own angle, to solve the crime puzzle and save lives.
My relationship with Detective Pete Marino, currently of Cambridge PD, has been somewhat tumultuous over the years, and so has Kay’s. His behavior has ranged from sweet and touching, to rude, irritating and even violent. But I have to give it to him, he is the absolute best at what he does, and he is never intimidated either by politics or by various threats. As much as I want to dislike him, as much as he deserves it, even, it’s never quite possible for me. His rudeness is awful when it’s aimed at Kay and Benton, but absolutely hilarious when he’s dealing with a suspect.
I prefer not to go into the plot more than absolutely necessary. Fans of the series will be glad to know that this novel reads very much like old Scarpetta books, before Cornwell switched to third person, multiple perspectives and almost ruined the whole thing. Now that we’ve been back to just Kay’s voice for several books, they’re getting stronger with each written page and the old charm is certainly restored.
The cliffhanger at the end was completely unusual for Cornwell and I really don’t see the need. But to be completely honest about it, it will make me reach for the next book that much faster. Can I please have it now, Ms. Conrwell? Pretty please?
4.5 stars By once again using her trademark sense of humor combined with superior writing, Kiersten White added another work to her list of literary su4.5 stars By once again using her trademark sense of humor combined with superior writing, Kiersten White added another work to her list of literary successes. Illusions of Fate has just about everything I’ve learned to expect from this excellent author: interesting characters, beautiful writing, dry wit and an unforgettable ending.
White penned Illusions of Fate with her usual elegance. Her writing flows fluidly and effortlessly, which makes our journey through this story a light and pleasant experience. Her chapters blend smoothly together into an enchanting tale, filled with danger, romance and unusual magic.
While the magic part of this story could have been better developed, it was interesting enough to support the romance, which was definitely at the forefront. Illusions of Fate takes place in a fantasy setting, and as such, it left a lot to be desired, but considering that it’s a rather short standalone, we were given details aplenty for our needs. And the romance itself was very successful; there was undeniable strong chemistry between Jessamine and Finn which made their love seem very sincere, but also inevitable.
Although I liked her from the very first sentence, Jessamine’s path from cautious admiration to outright love made me appreciate her so much more. She didn’t fawn over Finn or indulge him in any way. If anything, she questioned his every action, determined to keep her integrity and independence, even when his involvement would have made her life so much easier.
For his part, Finn quickly learned to abandon his high-handed ways and allow Jessamine to make her own decisions. His youth was long lost due to the tragedy that struck his family so I never blamed him for his attempts of control and overprotectiveness, and neither did Jessamine. But not blaming him and allowing him to have his way are two different things entirely, and Jessamine fought all her battles, including those with Finn, admirably.
The villain was a bit too villainous and too vaguely motivated for my taste, but the rest of the secondary characters were simply fabulous, especially Jessa’s new best friend Eleanor. The little society girl had me laughing myself into stitches, but underneath the amusement was a deep and honest admiration for the clever and underappreciated girl.
All in all, Illusions of Fate was a splendid and highly entertaining read, which is exactly what I expected from Kiersten White.
Although I’m a big fan of Amy Plum’s Revenants series, I started After the End with no small amount of trepidation. Writers are sometimes more than juAlthough I’m a big fan of Amy Plum’s Revenants series, I started After the End with no small amount of trepidation. Writers are sometimes more than just defined by their first story, they get stuck writing endless variations of it, unable to find their voice elsewhere. For whatever reason, I feared that Plum might be one of those authors. Boy, was I ever wrong.
I’ve had little time to read and even less patience for it lately, being preoccupied with finishing my thesis in time. Therefore, finding something to read that would make me drop everything else and focus on it entirely proved to be incredibly hard. And yet, I started After the End at 9 pm, and finished it that very same night.
The idea of someone’s life being built entirely on lies fascinated me to no end. Juneau was raised believing that World War III ended the world as we know it in 1984, leaving just a few survivors scattered around the planet. Her small clan supposedly found salvation in Alaskan wilderness, far away from civilization and technology. Through their close connection with nature, they developed certain powers that others would love to exploit. And Juneau, being the most powerful among them, is the most important father.
As the son of a pharmaceutical mogul, Miles is your typical attention-seeking spoiled rich kid. In trying to get back in his father’s good graces, he sets out to find the one person his father wants above all else – a young girl with very strange eyes.
These two are so interesting together. It’s clear from the start that they couldn’t be more different. Miles was raised with access to all the commodities of the 21st century, and Juneau with a clear understanding of the world beneath. The animosity they felt towards each other and the level of mistrust were expected. No starry eyes for those two! I felt that the progression of their relationship was handled beautifully, with deliberate slowness and tact. When you add to that their hilarious banter, it’s clear why they quickly became one of my favorite couples.
This world and these characters have a lot more to give, and while I don’t appreciate or even understand cliffhangers, I was left with just enough hope to tide me over until the next book. That said, hurry up, Ms. Plum! I realize living in Paris can be distracting, but would you please write faster?!
After the brilliant Magic Breaks, Burn for Me further proves that Ilona and Gordon can do whatever the hell they want and it will always be gloriouslyAfter the brilliant Magic Breaks, Burn for Me further proves that Ilona and Gordon can do whatever the hell they want and it will always be gloriously entertaining!
Only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and good UF from Ilona Andrews. There aren’t many authors who can be counted upon to always deliver the best, but Ilona and Gordon are among them. Burn for Me is just another in a long string of successes for this husband-and-wife writing team.
Please don’t let the cover and the title mislead you. Burn for Me is not paranormal romance. In fact, it’s urban fantasy in its purest form, with only a hint of romantic development to keep things even more entertaining. Ilona and Gordon once again did what they do best – they created a compelling world and filled it with fascinating characters and plenty of danger and action.
Nevada Baylor is a heroine with a backbone of steel, just the way I like them. She carries some heavy burdens and makes some hard decisions along the way, but she’s never indecisive or weak. Her family is also very colorful, starting with her grandma Frida and ending with her young cousin with a man-crush on Mad Rogan.
And then there’s Mad Rogan himself (and yes, he actually answers to that name). He has the looks, the money and the unimaginable power. In short, he has everything but Nevada Baylor’s trust, and he’s determined to get it (and consequently her) at any cost. Their relationship starts with a kidnapping, involves things like snipers and duct tape, and ends with a juicy promise and lots of pent-up passion. Lots and lots of pent-up heat and unfulfilled desires. Their interactions are hilarious, the dialogue witty and quick, Ilona-Andrews-style, and the promise of things to come is more than enough to keep us fully invested and desperate for the next installment.
The worldbuilding is considerably different from their other series, and it’s where this fabulous duo shines. I loved their version of Houston, and the quality of their writing made the short world-establishing prologue almost unnecessary. They have a way of including just enough information for the story to function smoothly, never overwhelming the reader, never creating confusion and never ever info-dumping.
I don’t give five stars often, nor do I do it lightly, but this book deserves more praise than I can possibly give. All I can say after this is ‘more, please’.
I should say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I grew up with the Kay Scarpetta series. I started reading it in my early teens and stayed withI should say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I grew up with the Kay Scarpetta series. I started reading it in my early teens and stayed with it through good times and bad, several awful books and many spectacular ones, deaths, disasters, epidemics, and many, many tears. To say that I’m a bit biased is an understatement; after 21 installment, these characters are practically family, their hurts are mine and their successes something I celebrate with a smile and a full heart.
Admittedly, the series went through a very rough patch just recently. Several books were written in third person POV, for no apparent reason other than Cornwell experimenting, and it was in that time that she lost a great number of her readers. I myself came very close to abandoning her, too. But the second she went back to first person narrative and Kay Scarpetta’s sharp and intelligent voice, those of us who are most faithful to her didn’t hesitate for a second.
In Dust, we find Scarpetta in a very bad place. She just survived a horrible ordeal and she’s down with the flu. With Benton away in Washington DC, she is alone in their huge house, with no one but their rescued dog for company. When a case comes her way, a murder Kay knows is more than it seems, she has to get up and work with Pete Marino, regardless of their strained relationship.
The case itself is extremely sensitive and complicated. With her husband Benton Wesley ostracized by his FBI peers and her niece Lucy Farinelli somehow involved, Kay must walk around on eggshells, careful of her every word. It’s not just the case that’s at risk, but all their careers and Lucy’s freedom as well. With Marino kept in the dark and acting more like an enemy than an ally, our dr. Scarpetta has a very difficult task ahead.
Just like the series itself, Kay and Benton’s marriage went through a pretty rough patch, but we see a significant change in Dust. As I was growing up, Benton was always my idea of a perfect man: highly intelligent, polished, graceful and strong, radiating confidence and competence both. Dust reads a little like a love letter to him, which I didn’t mind one bit. It’s been a long time since we’ve really seen him through Kay’s eyes – him, and not accumulated resentment and hurt. Even close to retirement, in his late fifties (or so I assume), Benton is marvelous.
Kate Reading did an excellent job with Scarpetta’s voice, making it sound calm and measured, extremely educated and intelligent, but never cold. Scarpetta’s feelings may be well hidden from everyone, sometimes including Benton, but they’re never hidden from us, not when we’re privy to her thoughts.
I am thrilled to see this series finally back on track, and after 14 hours with Kay, Lucy, Marino and Benton, I’m looking forward to many, many more.
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 fantasThere’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.
Although I’m understandably wary of self-published books (and growing more so as the time passes), sometimes it’s good to take a leap of faith and seeAlthough I’m understandably wary of self-published books (and growing more so as the time passes), sometimes it’s good to take a leap of faith and see where it takes you. Jenny Undead came recommended by Tim Marquitz, a great author whose opinion I trust, and let me tell you, I have a lot to thank him for. Jenny Undead is perfect for zombie fans, and especially for fans of Rhiannon Frater.
Jenny lives in a brutal, unforgiving, zombie-filled world, and her own family is to blame. Both her mother and her grandfather were scientists who experimented on Jenny, her brother Casey and several other kids. Jenny escaped her family years ago, but every day, she regrets leaving Casey behind. In her desperate attempt to find and save her brother, Jenny falls straight into a trap and her life (and afterlife) get changed forever.
Jenny is a heroine you’ll have no trouble following into one bloody battle after another. She is strong and charismatic, a natural born leader, yet she also has a softer, more vulnerable side, one that is scared to hope for a better life. After surviving a horrendous childhood and just marginally better adulthood, Jenny is a woman with strong principles and a very kind heart.
Ah, but let’s not forget the romance! When we meet Jenny, she’s already in a long, loving relationship with Declan Munro, a strong man with a reputation for being vicious and merciless. The depth of emotions these two share is astonishing and heartwarming. Jenny is the only thing that matters to Declan, and their relationship is the pillar that makes this book much stronger. Finding a book with an already established romance is a rare treat, and Jenny and Declan proved that authors should definitely do this more often.
To people who are understandably cautious when picking up an indie book, I’ll say only this: Jenny Undead is perfectly written, perfectly edited and perfectly formatted. I’ve seen traditionally published books in far worse shape. Don’t hesitate to pick this one up, I promise you won’t regret it for a second.
Clean Sweep was first published on Ilona Andrews’ website as a serialized online novel, entirely for free. Serial novels seem to be rapidly growing inClean 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.