3.5 stars Although I’m usually known for my reluctance to read anything contemporary, the second winter arrives, I feel like reading nothing but adult...more3.5 stars Although I’m usually known for my reluctance to read anything contemporary, the second winter arrives, I feel like reading nothing but adult contemporary romance. Not just any romance either, but low-angst, adorable, preferably set in a small-town with very developed secondary characters and a healthy dose of humor. When it’s this cold outside, angst and drama become my worst enemies, and sweet sexual tension is my only friend. (In books, people, in books.)
Taste the Heat by Rachel Harris hits everything on my checklist. Colby and Jason are those sweet, perfect(ly flawed), completely unrealistic characters. She is a famous chef, back in New Orleans to help her family and he is a firefighter, the Chief, no less, and a loving single father. These two have known each other forever, but when Colby returns, Jason fails to recognize her. What he does recognize, however, is the sizzling chemistry between them. The two are drawn to each other like magnets, but they have their reasons for staying away.
The sweet and often hilarious secondary characters were given more than enough time to develop. It’s pretty clear that Harris always intended to turn this into a longish series with the Robicheaux family at its center. A nice set-up for a second book, centered around Colby’s older brother and the timid firefighter Angelle, was provided in Taste the Heat. I can’t wait to see how their romance plays out.
All Our Yesterdays starts with one of the most impressive opening scenes I’ve come across in a very long time, possibly since Shatter Me. A drain in t...moreAll Our Yesterdays starts with one of the most impressive opening scenes I’ve come across in a very long time, possibly since Shatter Me. A drain in the floor seems like a very simple thing, but one that can become absolutely terrifying in the eyes of a prisoner. According to Cristin Terrill, it was this detail that prompted her to write the book in the first place, and it seems to have been an excellent place to start.
With that infamous drain in the very first sentence, getting pulled into Em’s and Marina’s respective stories proved to be almost effortless. Chapter after chapter, All Our Yesterdays is chock-full of action and tense moments. In addition, the two points of view from two-but-not-two narrators make this one of the most challenging and fascinating YA reads, narration-wise. If there’s one thing that needs to be said about Cristin Terrill, it’s that she used her excellent ideas to their full potential.
When it comes to time travel, I’m not ashamed to admit that I always struggle with the concept. All Our Yesterdays presented somewhat of a challenge in that regard, as I found it difficult to wrap my head around all those timelines, but I did enjoy trying. The psychological aspects of the story were equally interesting. Terrill explored the past and the present, the changes people go through and what they can and cannot influence. I don’t think there’s a person in this world who didn’t, at one point, wish to go back in time and shake some sense into their old self... or someone else, for that matter.
However, even with all the excitement and action (or precisely because of it), All Our Yesterdays failed to reach me emotionally. My feelings were those of admiration, enthusiasm and, more than once, outright fear, but to say that I was fully invested in the fate of these characters would be giving my relationship with the book far too much credit. When I remember how intensely I felt things when I was reading Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris, which is in many ways a similar book, All Our Yesterdays simply pales in comparison.
All grumpiness aside, please let me make this abundantly clear: All Our Yesterdays is a book you’ll definitely want to read. Terrill managed to bring something new to the table, and I don’t know about you, but thrill rides and romances are just about the only things that can hold my attention in this awful heat, and All Our Yesterday has more than enough of both.
This book is part of a duology, and although we still don’t have a release date for second book, I’m excited about it already. The first book wraps up nicely, but since that clearly isn't the end of things, I can't wait to see what is.
Divinity is equally divided between Evie and Daniel’s points of view and each of them brings something different to the story. Evie is 135 years old,...moreDivinity is equally divided between Evie and Daniel’s points of view and each of them brings something different to the story. Evie is 135 years old, she is – first and foremost – a demon hunter, and she’s very inflexible and unwilling to change. Daniel is younger, newly trained and still fairly optimistic. His devilish grin is a powerful weapon, especially when aimed at Evie and her hardened heart.
Unlike Evie, Daniel doesn’t take himself too seriously. He is strong and reliable in a fight, but away from battle, he is a pretty lighthearted guy. He is a perfect match for the all-too-serious woman, but at the same time, he benefits from the much needed calming effect she has on him. The two aren’t just good for each other, they are destined to be together, but Evie is too set in her ways and afraid of letting go.
Leever’s worldbuilding is pretty straightforward and simple: a group of hunters supervised by the archangel Gabriel lives in the same house and hunts demons. They are apparently immortal (or just long-lived, it’s never properly addressed) and they use various incantations when they fight. Each of them is covered with magical tattoos that channel their magic in a way that is also not properly explained.
I loved that it wasn’t all about Daniel and Evie, though. All their friends, hunters and handlers both, were given due attention and I felt that I really got to know them exceptionally well for such a short book. They make this series much stronger and their presence promises strong future installments.
Divinity can be read in no more than a couple of hours and it will leave you with a smile on your face, which is the very definition of a good summer read.
These days, my brainpower has been as low as it can possibly get with me still alive to tell you about it. Considering the circumstances, I was in des...moreThese days, my brainpower has been as low as it can possibly get with me still alive to tell you about it. Considering the circumstances, I was in desperate need of something my bestie Lisa would classify as a “two-neuron book”, and Janet Evanovich seemed like a pretty sure bet.
An even safer bet, however, was Lorelei King’s excellent narration. I love her work with the Mercy Thompson series, I enjoy her narration of Stephanie Plum, and I downright adore her as the real-life voice of Charley Davidson. There is not a book in this world that Lorelei couldn’t make infinitely better. When Love in a Nutshell threatened to become dull and uneventful, Lorelei combined her excellent voice characterization and her charm to make it more interesting.
Love in a Nutshell is exactly what you’d expect: a light, entertaining, romantic book that begs to be read in a single sunny afternoon. There is no angst, no conflict to speak of and plenty of sexual tension to make one’s skin tingle.
Matt is the perfect hero – gorgeous, funny, kind and loyal to a fault. When Kate marches into his office demanding a job, he is determined to get to know her better. She is someone he can trust and maybe love, and once his course is set, he patiently works to achieve his goal. Still hurt from her awful first marriage, Kate is a bit more reluctant to start something with Matt, but his charm and good looks combined with his persistence prove impossible to resist.
There is a bit of a mystery thrown into the mix, but it’s pretty straightforward and, admittedly, somewhat uninteresting. Someone is trying to sabotage Matt’s micro brewery and he hires Kate to be his eyes and ears among the employees. While I didn’t even come close to guessing the identity of this person, I can’t say I was particularly interested either. My focus was on Kate, Matt and the development of their romance… in other words, right where it should have been.
Although welcome (to an extent), mystery and conflict weren’t my reason for reading this – I chose it because of Janet Evanovich’s trademark sense of humor, which is exactly what I got from it. It wasn’t without flaws, but I didn’t much care: I laughed, I smiled, and I relaxed.
Apparently, my previous assessment holds true: Cecy Robson sure knows how to write good romantic urban fantasy. She is, in fact, excellent at what she...moreApparently, my previous assessment holds true: Cecy Robson sure knows how to write good romantic urban fantasy. She is, in fact, excellent at what she does and she keeps giving us one successful installment after another.
Cursed by Destiny is no different. A fabulous cast of characters, great action scenes, and a romance that will turn you into a puddle of goo someone will have to mop right off the floor. This is a series you can easily get invested in. I guarantee you will feel both joy and heartbreak with these characters, and you will laugh and cry along the way.
The unbreakable bond between our four sisters continues being the glue that holds the series together. In Cursed by Destiny, the sisters have chosen (or been forced to choose) different pats. They’ve had to leave their home and move elsewhere, but they remain close nevertheless. Every one of these girls is a heroine in her own right, the characters so well-rounded that I can easily imagine each of them getting a spin-off series. Although we got off to a rocky start, Taran has somehow become my favorite, her temper and honesty a most welcome detail in this fantastic series.
While I appreciate everything else about these books, the torturous romance is a constant source of struggle for me. Celia and Aric give a whole new meaning to the term ‘star-crossed lovers’ and to be honest, the whole thing is making me anxious, which isn’t something I tend to appreciate. I was always more fond of those series that feature a strong couple united against outside dangers. Celia and Aric’s relationship (or lack thereof) makes such an important part of this series that I often wish it could be different.
Celia’s friend Misha and his vampire servants are in charge of supplying comic relief, but although we came close, I’m glad a love triangle didn’t fully form between Celia, Aric and Misha. With everything that’s been going on with our favorite couple, there simply isn’t room for a third.
The Weird Sisters is a series I keep recommending to anyone who would listen. It is written to appeal to a much wider audience: thanks to all the humor and the romance, those who aren’t comfortable with dry, old school urban fantasy will have better luck with it, but there’s plenty of action and mythology to satisfy hard core UF fans like myself.
Why did everyone fail to inform me that Mind Games happens to be a duology? How cruel are you people? I was absolutely convinced more was yet to come,...moreWhy did everyone fail to inform me that Mind Games happens to be a duology? How cruel are you people? I was absolutely convinced more was yet to come, at least until I reached the last page and put my googling skills to good use. The sisters have found a place in my heart and I was devastated to learn that the time has come to part ways with Annie, and especially Fia.
From what I’ve noticed, Kiersten White seems to be a pretty polarizing author. People generally either love or hate her books and it mostly comes down to her writing style. Some find it bold and some find it too peculiar. If we somehow forget Supernaturally and Endlessly (and please, let’s), I think her books always push boundaries and that her writing is just interesting enough to be worthy of admiration.
Like Mind Games, Perfect Lies is divided between two narrators, Fia and her sister Annie. The sisters are mostly separated in this book, which makes their two points of view even more important. Even though they’re not together, their bond is extremely strong and they work hard to protect each other, no matter the cost. Fia is determined to keep pretending that she killed Annie, and Annie refuses to hide if that means staying away from Fia.
As impossible as this may sound, Fia is crazier and more vulnerable than ever. Separated from her sister, she only has James to rely on and she clings to him with all her might. James, being his usual morally dubious self, plays seven different games at once and no one quite knows where his loyalties lie. Fia got under my skin in Mind Games, but she flat-out broke my heart in Perfect Lies. She was lost, confused, scared, possibly more aggressive than ever – a wounded animal with nowhere left to run. From the start, I had the distinct feeling that she’d given up on herself, having achieved her only goal, which was to keep Annie safe. Her apathy made me hurt so much I almost couldn’t stand it.
”Do I look like I need protection?” I hold out my hands, one with streaks of blood on it, and give him my best crazy crazy crazy crazy grin. “You know, I like Dmitri. I crippled him, but I like him.”
Compared to Fia, Annie has always seemed almost bland. She does spread her wings a little bit in Perfect Lies when she’s forced to stop cowering behind Fia and to finally take some responsibility for her own fate. There is finally a romantic interest for her too, but like everything else with Annie, it’s pretty complicated and a tiny bit frustrating.
If there’s one thing that bothered me in Perfect Lies, it was the messed up timeline, the constant jumps back and forth in time, chapter after chapter, until I lost track of what had happened and what was yet to come. I suppose this was done to build up tension, but, while good, the idea wasn’t thought through. Instead of achieving the desired effect, it made me feel more than a little lost at times.
The ending, I must confess, was left a bit too open for my taste. If there was ever a book in desperate need of an epilogue, it’s this one. As it was, I can’t say I was satisfied with how things were left, and I even felt a bit cheated.
Be that as it may, I nevertheless strongly recommend this duology (!) to fans of peculiar stories and even more peculiar writing.
Holy cliffhanger, Batman! Darynda sure knows how to end a book with a jaw-dropping moment. It may take my poor heart a good long while to recover from...moreHoly cliffhanger, Batman! Darynda sure knows how to end a book with a jaw-dropping moment. It may take my poor heart a good long while to recover from this one, but seeing as the next book comes out in October, rest assured, recover I will.
At this point, picking up a new Charley Davidson book feels a lot like coming home after a long and rather painful absence. Darynda’s characters have such strong personalities that it’s almost too easy to imagine them having lives beyond these pages. Getting a glimpse of their hilarious existence is very much an honor and a privilege.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. Truth be told, Sixth Grave seems to be a bit of a rush job. I was disappointed by the lack of structure in this plot, some conversations that lead absolutely nowhere and more than a few loose ends. I realize that unfinished storylines can be expected this late in the series, but some of them seemed forgotten rather than left purposely for later installments. It’s not something Darynda normally does and while I enjoyed Sixth Grave overall, I felt just a little bit let down.
Be that as it may, the fact remains that this is a series one can count for fabulous entertainment, sizzling hot romance and too many sidesplitting one-liners to count. Charley herself takes few things seriously which makes her different from every other UF or PNR heroine out there.
I’ll keep this short because, at book six, there’s little to say I haven’t said before: the Charley Davidson has hordes of fans for a reason. I suspect Darynda Jones might have a hard time moving on from this series because there’s too much of her in Charley, but as long as she’s writing these, there’s not much to worry about. If making people laugh and swoon at the same time were a sport, Darynda would be a multiple Olympic gold medalist.
Clearly the gods of beautiful covers feel very benevolent towards Kiersten White. Her Mind Games cover is simply gorgeous, but this one is even better...moreClearly the gods of beautiful covers feel very benevolent towards Kiersten White. Her Mind Games cover is simply gorgeous, but this one is even better because it’s actually connected to the story. I love the night sky and all those stunning stars…
Okay, moving on to more important matters now.
When I first learned what The Chaos of Stars was about, I was afraid the pitiful sum of my knowledge on Egyptian mythology would cause me to do this book injustice. But instead of making me feel like the idiot I am, Kiersten White elegantly took care of that problem by including small mythology lessons with a humorous undertone at the beginning of each chapter. It is through them that I learned who is who and what is what, which helped me feel less lost and enjoy the story more. And what a story it was…
When your mother is a goddess and you an insecure teen, a healthy mother-daughter relationship is simply not in the cards. Isidora is the daughter of Isis and Osiris, but she is not a goddess herself. As a mere mortal, she knows her life will one day end, and she knows her parents could stop it, if only they cared enough to actually try. Feeling hurt and unloved, she decides to leave Egypt, convinced she would never return.
While in San Diego with her favorite brother Sirus and his wife Deena, Isadora finds her first friend and meets a boy she really, really likes. Trouble is, Isadora has long ago sworn off love and she’s determined not to allow romance to enter her life. But Ry refuses to be dissuaded. If friendship is what Isadora wants, he’s ready to be her friend. If it’s a living, breathing restaurant guide she needs, he can become one in a heartbeat. Their friendship and romance were rather enjoyable because I always knew Isadora would come around eventually – that certainty made me smile even when she was being extremely difficult and frustrating. Besides, even though her logic was seriously thwarted, I understood where she was coming from, which is all that really counts.
"He's a show-off, that's what he is. I don't give a mummified cat whether or not he can speak Arabic. I add show-off to my list of reasons why I will never like Ry in a way that would be dangerous. And then I'm mad that I even feel like I need to have a list, which is another thing to put on the list I wish I didn't have to have."
Even with the strong paranormal (umm, mythological?) element, first half of The Chaos of Stars reads very much like a contemporary. Isadora has to learn about the modern world and discover things she’d never had access to, which is especially fun. The second half is a bit more exciting, as Isadora finds herself in the middle of a power play as old as time itself.
The truly brilliant thing about Kiersten White is that she somehow changes her writing style for each new book and/or series. She truly is a writing chameleon, and each time her ideas are unusual and richly imaginative. The Chaos of Stars is by no means free of flaws, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nevertheless. It’s been a long time since I’d felt compelled to finish a book in one sitting so that alone is enough to make me grateful for this reading experience.
I wasn’t even the least bit surprised by how much I enjoyed The Last Bastion of the Living. Rhiannon Frater is well known for being a horror...more4.5 stars
I wasn’t even the least bit surprised by how much I enjoyed The Last Bastion of the Living. Rhiannon Frater is well known for being a horror writer par excellence, and she only confirmed her status with this futuristic zombie novel. Well, she did a bit more than that: she outdid herself and surpassed all my expectations by far.
Vanguard Maria Martinez is an officer of the constabulary. Although young, she’s already a decorated war hero with a very strong sense of duty. Her job is to guard the wall that separates the living from the dead – the Bastion from the zombie-infested lands – but the war against the Inferi Scourge, i.e. the zombies, has long ago been lost. The last city, last Bastion, is fighting for mere survival, nothing more. Maria doesn’t remember a world without the scrags, but when she is called to lead a desperate mission, she sees it as her duty to accept.
Castellan Dwayne Reichardt is Maria’s boyfriend, twenty five years her senior. They keep their relationship a secret for several valid reasons, but their love is strong and true. He is there to support Maria every step of the way, and he never hesitates to bend a few rules if that’s what it takes to keep her safe. Frater did something not many authors do: she wrote a solid relationship that was already established at the beginning of the novel and that remained a warm, comforting presence throughout. This story did not need relationship angst – it needed both Maria and Dwayne, confident in their love and united against their enemies. Everything about them was perfectly realistic and even though they were physically apart most of the time, their love kept softening the edges of this story.
The Last Bastion of the Living is told both from Maria’s and Dwayne’s third person points of view, and both perspectives were needed to understand the full extent of their troubles. Frater is a fabulous storyteller, one who knows how to build up tension to an almost unbearable level, and The Last Bastion is her most mature work to date, unpredictable and fascinating.
Kristin Allison narrated this audiobook and I thought she did a stunning job. Her voice is calm, measured and mature-sounding, perfect for a fierce soldier like Maria. She narrated the action scenes in that same tranquil manner, which, instead of making them seem dull, increased the creepiness and the tension. She was an excellent choice for a book like The Last Bastion and I won’t hesitate to buy something narrated by her in the future.
As for Rhiannon Frater and I, our love story is only just beginning. She’ll keep writing, I’ll keep reading and we’ll both live happily ever after. (less)