After three wonderful and surprisingly original installments, including a heart-stopping conclusion we’ve all been waiting for, I’m ready to4.5 stars
After three wonderful and surprisingly original installments, including a heart-stopping conclusion we’ve all been waiting for, I’m ready to give my final verdict on the Jasper Dent trilogy: with these books, Barry Lyga brought a much needed breath of fresh air to Young Adult fiction, which makes him pretty amazing in my eyes, but Charlie Thurston, the narrator of these beauties, is absolutely brilliant.
I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s start from the beginning. After three novels and too many cliffhangers to count, we finally have our answers and Jazz and his friends have a right to rest. In a heart-stopping, bloody conclusion completely up to this series’ extremely high standards, Billy Dent and the infamous Crow King brought all their dirty secrets to light.
This book is much darker than its two predecessor, not for its blood and gore (of that there’s actually less), but for its psychological side and its character development. After being brave and true for so long, despite his horrendous upbringing, in Blood of My Blood, Jasper Dent is finally pushed over the edge. A new Jazz arises, a cold, detached, sociopathic version of him. In other words, Jasper-my-boy really becomes Billy Dent’s son.
It was incredibly painful to watch Jazz’s descent into almost-madness. He was sometimes too clever for his own good, but that cleverness caused us to have endless faith in him, so when he finally couldn’t take any more, we were left with our mouths wide open in surprise, hoping against hope that something would turn him back and make him who he was once again. But at the same time, the adult inside us, the person who knows that not all damage can be repaired, doubts a positive outcome for Jazz.
Unfortunately, the biggest question for us wasn’t who, as it should have been. Instead, it was just how. The identity of Ugly J was pretty obvious from the start, and the only thing we didn’t know was how everything would go down. I honestly think that the characters should have caught up sooner, except maybe Jazz, whose ignorance was completely understandable. But I loved how it all played out in the end, and I was more than happy with the way Lyga handled things.
I think I need to repeat Charlie Thurston’s name once more, to make sure you remember him well in the future. He made this great series infinitely better, and even those rough spots along the way were smoothed out by his excellent narration. Billy Dent would give anyone the creeps, but Thurnston’s voice somehow made him seem multi-layered: crazy and sociopathic, sure, but also hilarious and oddly likeable too.
I’m not sure what we can expect from Barry Lyga in the future, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be awesome. Perhaps we can even hope for more from this world! I’d love to check in now and then to see how everyone is doing, that’s for sure. I’d say Lyga deserves a standing ovation.
4.5 stars Beware the Wild is a remarkable debut and Natalie C. Parker’s defining work. It speaks volumes about this young author and about all the thin4.5 stars Beware the Wild is a remarkable debut and Natalie C. Parker’s defining work. It speaks volumes about this young author and about all the things we can expect from her in the future. It is precisely the type of book I’m always hoping to read: gorgeously written, slightly weird, completely original and even daring. There aren’t that many YA authors whose writing easily takes my breath away. I’m always hoping to add another one to the list, and today I finally have.
Parker’s debut novel is hauntingly atmospheric and absolutely gorgeous. The mood of this book is similar to that in Brenna Yovanoff’s or Tessa Gratton’s works, but Parker's writing style is different enough to make the whole thing stand out. It is so easy to get lost in Sterling’s story despite the many dangers lurking right behind the fence. All it takes is a single page for us to get lost in Parker’s beautiful and compelling prose.
Sterling only ever loved and needed her older brother Phin. He was her rock, this boy who saved her from their abusive father, protected her for years from every fear and insecurity. He is her protector and best friend, so when he disappears, Sterling’s world collapses. To make matters worse, when Phin gets lost in the swamp, no one but Sterling can remember him. In his place is Lenora May, a lovely girl and Sterling’s older sister, at least according to everyone else. But Sterling can’t forget the brother she once had, even if she also has memories of this new girl, of growing up with her, hiding from their father, whispering secrets while growing up. But what is real and what is the result of some strange magic? Is Sterling the one who is delusional or is it everyone else?
Then comes Heath, a boy Sterling likes.. He’s also lost someone to the swamp, and no one but him remembers. While they search for their loved ones desperately, a romance slowly develops, but it never gets in the way of their search and what is truly important. The romance worked very well for me; it kept things interesting without overtaking the plot, and I liked seeing Heath and Sterling together, their relationship was simple, beautiful and natural.
As I mentioned before, this is only Parker’s debut, and she already shows so much maturity and promise. She joined Yovanoff, Stiefvater and Gratton on my auto-buy list, and I fully expect her to stay there for years (and many more novels) to come.
3.5 stars Meridian resumes where Arclight left of, with a newly established, fragile peace between humans and Fade and with Marina right in the middle3.5 stars Meridian resumes where Arclight left of, with a newly established, fragile peace between humans and Fade and with Marina right in the middle of things as an ambassador of sorts. However, it is a weaker book than its predecessor, somewhat aimless and heavily burdened by the infamous middle book syndrome.
Meridian’s biggest flaw is that it doesn’t have a clear story arc. It’s a series of fast-paced events that can (and often do) become extremely confusing. However, even with all those random, loosely connected events, not much actually happens in this book. There are so many characters to keep track of in this claustrophobic world, and the amount of information we get on each page is quite overwhelming, but the actual story is insubstantial at best.
Splitting the novel between Marina’s and Tobin’s points of view was certainly part of the problem. For one, their voices were far too similar, so much so that I had a hard time telling them apart. What’s more, two perspectives made the narrative seem choppy and disorganized, which certainly didn’t work in McQuein’s favor.
What did work in her favor was the new enemy she introduced. McQuein is surpassingly good at writing extremely creepy scenes. The new enemy of humans and Fade alike is absolutely terrifying.
The romantic situation wasn’t my favorite at all. Marina’s Fade self, Cherish, has strong feelings for the Fade boy Rue, while Marina still feels plenty for Tobin. It’s more than just a love triangle, it’s a torturous mess with seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel. And yet, the whole thing doesn’t really go anywhere, not in this book at least. It’s an awkward, mostly silent tug of war between Rue and Tobin, with Marina (or Cherish) as the prize.
I was quite ready to hate Rue for the disruption of our “first” romance (which, if you think about it, really wasn’t first at all), but that boy is all sweetness and self-sacrifice, completely impossible to hate. In fact, I find myself far more interested in his story and other good Fade, than Marina and her human friends and enemies.
I’m still hoping for a satisfying conclusion to all this, although I’m not even sure how I want it to end. I suppose I’ll just relax and wait for the next book to come out.
For decades since the World War II, the name Adolf Hitler has been synonymous with monster all over the world. But to 17-year-old Gretchen Muller, AdoFor decades since the World War II, the name Adolf Hitler has been synonymous with monster all over the world. But to 17-year-old Gretchen Muller, Adolf Hitler is simply Uncle Dolf, protector, substitute father, a great leader and a kind, gentle man. If he wasn’t, why would Gretchen’s own father jump in front of a bullet to protect him? Why would this somewhat strange Austrian take Gretchen’s entire family under his wing?
We must keep in mind that Blankman portrays Germany in 1931, before the Third Reich, when Hitler’s intentions were still hidden behind clever rhetoric and only those closest to him had any inkling of the monster he truly was. Beatings and political assassinations were done covertly, and this young girl had nothing but the word of a trusted family friend to help form her opinion of the world.
The Gretchen we meet at the beginning of this story is a follower, a brainwashed creature, Hitler’s golden pet. Even though she wishes to become a doctor, she isn’t used to thinking for herself because, as Hitler likes to point out, a young girl’s brain is like wax, soft and pliable, ready to be shaped at any man’s will. But as things around her stop making sense and even her father’s heroic death comes into question, Gretchen has no choice but to discover the very dangerous truth and find her own independence in the process.
Through it all, she is accompanied by the most unlikely of allies, a young Jewish journalist named Daniel Cohen. All her life, Gretchen’s been taught that Jews are filthy, evil and subhuman, but there Daniel is, kind, smart, outspoken and entirely too pleasant to be anything but a real, warm human being, just like Gretchen herself. As the two form a very tentative friendship, Gretchen starts seeing the world through her own eyes for the very first time, and she is terrified of what she sees.
The Prisoner of Night and Fog is an extensively researched novel. In fact, not many novels come with an author’s note and a bibliography attached. Having done the research myself once upon a time, I am quite familiar with pre-WWII German history myself, and Anne Blankman did her job well. Everything from German educational system to the personalities of Hitler’s elite is accurate and well presented.
On top of it all, Blankman explores psychopathic personality disorder, not only through Hitler, but through Gretchen’s brother Reinhart as well. It is easy to see how people like Reinhart became The Fuhrer’s most trusted soldiers, following age-old rule that like calls to like.
Even those with superficial knowledge of the time period will easily recognize the impossibility of Gretchen’s situation, the slim chances of survival for her and Daniel both. It is almost impossible to see a satisfactory ending for these characters, knowing what we know of Hitler’s rise to power. Blankman counted on this feeling of dread that inevitably rises and used it to this story’s best advantage. The end result is one of the best books I’ve read in ages, with the potential to win both prizes and the hearts of readers everywhere.
There’s something to be said about books that take you completely by surprise, grab you with their first few words sometime late in the evening and reThere’s something to be said about books that take you completely by surprise, grab you with their first few words sometime late in the evening and refuse to let go until the very last page, when you, bleary-eyed but elated, finally go to sleep already thinking about the next installment. Queen of the Tearling came to me in a month when I had little time and even less patience for fiction, and yet it held my attention from start to finish, leaving me thrilled and completely breathless in the end.
The pacing was a bit slower than expected, but I for one thoroughly enjoy a worldbuilding well thought-out, even when there were things I wished were done differently. Queen of the Tearling is high fantasy with roots in modern society, which makes it unique but also a bit confusing. It’s an interesting blend of old customs and new technology that sometimes worked and sometimes bothered me greatly. I would have preferred a simple historical fantasy, or even some straightforward futuristic world, but this blend of the two didn’t always sit well with me.
Johansen took her time with Kelsea and her closest companions, giving them layer upon layer of complex personality, but at the same time she completely neglected her villain, Kelsea’s uncle, who was almost cartoonish in his heartless stupidity. Truth be told, a villain can make or break a book, but in this case, with everything I admired about Queen of the Tearling, I found that I didn’t mind this fault too much.
I did feel that Kelsea’s physical appearance was somewhat exaggerated in the attempt to give more weight to her inner strength. Something similar was initially done to Elisa in The Girl of Fire and Thorns but to an even larger extent. Kelsea constantly struggles with her looks and her weight, which I suppose adds a layer to her character and makes her seem more human, but it’s something I could have certainly done without. A girl can be smart and brave and resourceful and be quite ordinary on the outside, not too pretty and certainly not quite so unattractive. And it wasn’t just Kelsea’s distorted self-image we were dealing with; other people never hesitated to tell her that she looks nothing like a queen.
Queen of the Tearling has no more than a hint of romance, a stray thought here and there, an occasional yearning for someone completely out of reach. As a romance girl through and through, I would normally be very bothered by this, but this fabulous story, well plotted and nearly flawlessly executed, left no room for wishes and regrets.
This is a story I’m quite eager to continue. Even with a few faults that I’m sure will be fixed later on, it’s the best fantasy I’ve read in a good long while. The second book hasn’t even been properly announced and I’m already impatient to get my greedy little hands on it.
It’s been a very long time since I picked up a J.R. Ward book. I stopped reading this series after book 5, not because I didn’t like them (I loved theIt’s been a very long time since I picked up a J.R. Ward book. I stopped reading this series after book 5, not because I didn’t like them (I loved them!), but because I just needed a break and I somehow never went back. But when this gorgeousness arrived on my doorstep, I knew all resistance on my part would be futile.
The King is told from multiple perspectives, which is something Ward didn’t do back when I was following the series. Seeing as I skipped more than a few books along the way (trust me, I regret it now), I had a hard time following the additional storylines. But I remember Beth and Wrath very well and I enjoyed every second I got to spend with the two of them. They’ve come a long way and changed each other so much, but they’ve both kept the most important parts of their personalities. They can be extremely hardheaded, difficult and uncompromising (well, Wrath especially), but once they come to their senses, they are a formidable couple. And so darn adorable too.
As a general rule, I dislike flashbacks in both books and movies, but there was simply no other way to tell the story of Wrath’s parents, and it was one worth telling. Wrath and Anha once ruled the entire vampire race and their beautiful and tragic story is what touched me the most in this book.
As funny as I sometimes find the names of these characters, I appreciate that it’s Ward’s signature of sorts and accept is as such even as she accumulates more and more of them, to the point where I’m finding it hard to keep track. That said, there’s a character named iAm, for heaven’s sake, and a new character named s’Ex, which if you ask me is just pushing things too far.
But we don’t read this for the names, we read it despite them and believe you me, there was plenty to love about The King. So many interesting stories have come together, and even though the details were lost on me, I was able to piece together most of it. This world is so intricate, so very well done, and the characters are simply fabulous (ridiculous names notwithstanding).
The thing I like most about Ward is the thick layer of humor in her writing. The King is full of hilarious pop culture references that have the additional purpose of anchoring the story in our world, connecting the supernatural and the (overly) familiar. There are mentions of Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and Man of Steel, and that’s just in the first chapter. Admittedly there were times when all the references to products, celebrities and such got to be too much, but all in all, including them was a brave and interesting move on Ward’s part.
I am so very tempted to go back and read what I’ve missed. For those of you who’ve been following the series diligently, The King is the best reward you could possibly get. And those among you who are yet undecided should make the decision to read this. There’s much to look forward to.
By now, those of you who read my blog regularly probably know that I tend to avoid paranormal romance whenever I can. I have friends who are huge fansBy now, those of you who read my blog regularly probably know that I tend to avoid paranormal romance whenever I can. I have friends who are huge fans of the genre and I respect that, but quite frankly, the whole growling-alpha-male-swooning-female combo gives me severe allergies. However, there’s something about this series that appealed to me from the very beginning, and after all the fun I’d had while reading the first book, picking up this one was a very easy decision to make.
The friendships in this book are simply extraordinary, They are so strong and lovely and they easily prevent the romance from taking over. Like Liv before her, our Stacey has magical powers, albeit of a different variety. While Liv brings inanimate objects to life, Stacey makes potions – powerful ones at that – and sells them to help pay the bills. Peach is the only one with no magic whatsoever, but she is special in so many other ways that it doesn’t really matter. These three girls support each other through everything, so when Leo comes back into town and things go terribly wrong for Stacey, Peach and Liv are all the help she could ever really need.
The dreaded growling Alpha male, J.R. Ward-style, is fortunately absent from this book. Instead, we have Leo, a flawed-but-lovable ex-lover, ex-cheater and ex-priest, all rolled into one. Leo and our heroine Stacey have far too much history between them, and even years later, Stacey is still hiding a shattered heart. I have to admit I wasn’t Leo’s biggest fan at first, nor was I meant to be. After all, he cheated on Stacey while in college, broke her heart when he admitted it and then ran off to become a priest. I have no sympathy for cheaters, even nine years later and even when they so obviously still suffer the consequences, but it is a testament to Lucy March’s skill that I did forgive him in the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed the villain in this book too, even though I saw him coming from a mile away. I loved how the entire situation was handled and I was (reluctantly) impressed by the obstacles he put in Stacey and Leo's way. There’s nothing I love more than a truly devious villain and fortunately for me, Lucy March really knows how to create one.
Recommended by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie and Darynda Jones, the Nodaway Falls series is a witty, funny treat, with a perfect magic to romance ratio. It is a true comfort read, enjoyable and sweet. I highly recommend it.
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?!
Please note that some minor spoilers for this year’s Veronica Mars movie were inevitable.
I just love the 21st century, don't you? A TV show gets cancePlease note that some minor spoilers for this year’s Veronica Mars movie were inevitable.
I just love the 21st century, don't you? A TV show gets cancelled, leaving behind millions of grieving fans. After years of struggle, a movie gets made, crowdfunded by adoring viewers who were unable to let go. While this is happening, creator of the show Rob Thomas (originally a novelist), decides to start a book series, which will pick up exactly where the movie leaves off. And all of it, every single thing ends up being a huge success. At this point, one can safely call Veronica Mars a multimedia sensation.
Veronica may have been gone for many years, but Neptune is still the same cesspool of crime and corruption. It gets even worse during spring break, when thousands of adolescents, unsupervised and wild, travel there to drown in alcohol and irresponsible behavior. When two young girls go missing, no one is really surprised, least of all Veronica herself. But she is surprised when she discovers that she has a strong personal connection to one of the girls and that she has to find a way to put aside her own emotional turmoil in order to work the case. To make matters worse, her father is still unhappy that she gave up her career in law and he’s still recovering from a grave injury. Logan has been deployed and a bad Skype connection is all they have for comfort. Corruption in Neptune is worse than ever, which means Veronica has to work around the inept Sheriff if she wants to make any progress on her case. And then, just to push things from bad to worse, her Mom shows up…
I’ve come to admire Veronica even more now that she’s an adult. She is emotional and soft, but fiercely independent. At this point, she doesn’t need anyone to come to her rescue. She is perfectly capable of defending herself. That’s not to say that she doesn’t have a very supportive group of friends! The entire old gang is back right alongside her, and with the exception of Logan, they all help in some way. For his part, Logan is the one she turns to for emotional support. When push comes to shove, she is far more likely to e-mail him than talk to anyone else.
Really, if you think about it, audio is really the best choice if one wants to enjoy this book fully. Narrated by Kristen Bell (because who else could narrate it?), it’s almost like Veronica herself is sitting beside you, telling you her story over cocktails and snacks.
The second book, titled Mr. Kiss and Tell, is scheduled for release in late October 2014. My copy is already pre-ordered, what are you waiting for? ...more
2.5 stars The House of Ivy and Sorrow is my second book by Natalie Whipple and like her debut Transparent, I found it entertaining, but far from impres2.5 stars The House of Ivy and Sorrow is my second book by Natalie Whipple and like her debut Transparent, I found it entertaining, but far from impressive. It is a cute, but entirely forgettable story about a young witch and her small community.
By now, you’ve probably realized that this cover and title are awfully misleading. The House of Ivy and Sorrow is a far cry from the dark, gothic novel I’d been hoping to read. Deceptive advertizing doesn’t work in this book’s favor, and I can’t for the life of me understand why someone would do it.
On the other hand, I appreciate a decent sense of humor, and Natalie Whipple certainly has it. I’ve taken the time to read a few reviews right before starting this novel, so I knew to expect more silliness than anything else. If you take it as such, The House of Ivy and Sorrow can be quite entertaining. It’s only if you go into it expecting a serious novel that you’ll end up sorely disappointed.
Josephine Hemlock is strong, opinionated, likeable and unfortunately, unmemorable. She strikes me as a character written for readers, not for herself. She is exactly the type of girl everyone can like, without risky idiosyncrasies to make her stand out. I found her characterization to be sorely lacking, in nuance or in depth.
The story itself is interesting enough – with better characters and better background, it had the potential to become amazing. I liked this idea of a curse following Jo and her family, and I thought the witch lore was original and interesting. But without good characters to back it up, none of it is worth very much.
The House of Ivy and Sorrow might work for younger readers, just like Transparent, but as an adult, I don’t think Whipple is the right author for me. Her lack of attention to details and superficial characterizations are impossible to overlook.
Well, it’s official: when it comes to urban fantasy, Amanda Carlson can do no wrong. Her fourth book in the Jessica McClain series is her fourth succeWell, it’s official: when it comes to urban fantasy, Amanda Carlson can do no wrong. Her fourth book in the Jessica McClain series is her fourth success in a row, which is no small feat. Admittedly, it might be my least favorite of the four, but that’s only because the competition is so strong. All things considered, this is one of the strongest, most consistent urban fantasy series still being published.
Red Blooded takes Jessica McClain to the demon realm in search of her twin Tyler, who was taken from her at the very end of the previous book. Instead of going with a group of paranormals and friends, Jessica ends up there alone through a series of unfortunate events, and she wanders around quite a bit before reuniting with the others. Instead of bringing a new freshness to the series as I’m sure it was supposed to, the complete change of setting succeeded in alienating us from the secondary characters we’ve grown to love. In addition, the entire demon realm adventure seemed directionless and it was difficult to understand why Carlson chose to make such a move.
On the other hand, the demon realm itself was a very vivid and imaginative setting. I loved She’ol, the demon capital, and all the different kinds of demons there. Their social structure was described fairly well and untangling the rules of their society provided a lot of entertainment. That’s the sort of thing urban fantasy readers usually enjoy, and here it was done very well.
As always, I found Jessica’s relationship with her wolf and their rather odd dynamic quite fascinating. She’s not a regular shapeshifter like the ones we’re used to. Jessica and her wolf are two completely separate entities that share a body, and they communicate directly, especially when in danger. On the down side, Jessica is slowly turning into one of those all-powerful urban fantasy heroines, the ones that have no limits whatsoever, and it’s slowly becoming too much. The line isn’t far, though, and Carlson’s going to have to be very careful not to cross it.
Right now, however, this is a very strong, very reliable series and I hope it stays that way. With all the cross-genre novels that are currently being published, true urban fantasy books are increasingly difficult to find, and Jessica McClain series is UF in its purest form. That fact alone makes it special and worth your time.
Although I routinely go out of my way to avoid contemporary fiction (especially the so called issue books), I can, off the top of my head, name at leaAlthough I routinely go out of my way to avoid contemporary fiction (especially the so called issue books), I can, off the top of my head, name at least five that made me want to curl up in a fetal position and cry my little heart out. Which, make no mistake, is a very good thing. They are the books I don’t hesitate to recommend to teens and adults alike, books I admire even though they make me extremely uncomfortable. Because, in the rare event when I do decide to pick up an issue book, I want it to shake me to the core, make me thing about things I’d rather ignore and force me to acknowledge the potential ugliness of the world.
Faking Normal isn’t one of those books.
Admittedly, I did finish it more or less in one sitting, which would usually mean that I enjoyed it greatly. But you see, I shouldn’t have been able to breeze through a book about two severely damaged teens. I should have felt the need to stop and distance myself at some point, as I so often do. A book like Faking Normalshould have been emotionally overwhelming, but instead, I more or less flatlined.
Even after many hours spent thinking about it, I cannot quite pinpoint what it was about Faking Normal that rubbed me the wrong way. Techinically, Stevens did everything right. Her writing is almost flawless and her pacing superb. I adored Bodee, the wonderful Kool-Aid Kid and there were times when I did feel Alexi’s pain, although not as often as I’d have liked. I think it was mostly Alexi’s attacker that bothered me. His reactions and overall characterization simply didn’t ring true.
The mystery surrounding Captain Lyric added a much needed touch of normalcy into this heavily burdened story. I believe it to be a calculated move on Stevens’ part, designed to constantly remind the reader that Alexi is indeed a very young girl, and in that, it was successful. But the identity of Captain Lyric wasn’t a mystery for the reader at all. Looking at him from this side, there was really only one possible solution.
The understated beauty of Courtney’s Stevens’ prose isn’t likely to disappear with a change of topic, which is why I won’t hesitate to read and even pre-order her sophomore novel. She undoubtedly has enormous potential. I wonder where she’ll take us next.
Sweet Damage is a compelling New Adult mystery with a distinctly gothic feel. I was new to Rebecca James' work so the quality of her storytelling took Sweet Damage is a compelling New Adult mystery with a distinctly gothic feel. I was new to Rebecca James' work so the quality of her storytelling took me completely by surprise. She is a master at building suspense to almost unbearable levels and leaving her readers terrified of their own shadows.
In other words, this woman scared the living daylights out of me.
In addition, good male narrators are hard to find, and Tim is far better than most. His voice isn't particularly strong or particularly memorable, but it's easy to slip into. Even though he is at times extremely unsympathetic and frustratingly weak, his numerous flaws make him seem more human and far more approachable, which allows readers to effortlessly slip into his skin. We've all known a Tim at some point: the not-quite-boy-and-not-quite-man, determined to avoid responsibility at all costs. He pines for his ex-girlfriend, a manic pixie dream girl type, not because she's especially lovable, but because she makes him feel wild and unrestrained.
In his effort to avoid the dreaded real life, he ends up living with the agoraphobic, recently orphaned Anna in her mansion. On the surface, Anna seems weak and vulnerable, but inexplicable things tend to happen to people around her, things that can’t just be explained away. After some very strange events and a few sleepless nights, Tim has to wonder whether Anna is unstable enough to hurt herself, and possibly even him.
Sweet Damage was so skillfully planned and constructed that it kept me guessing to the very end. I had no idea what might be the story behind Anna’s strange self-imprisonment, but I knew it must be awful beyond belief. I also couldn’t even begin to guess who was to blame for her situation, and while I had my doubts, none of them turned out to be correct.
Sweet Damage is frightening, fascinating, frustrating and so incredibly good. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it seems that when it comes to Aussie writers, wonders never cease.
Paula Brackston’s Witch series is actually a series of standalones, with each book set in a different time period, but united by a common theme: a youPaula Brackston’s Witch series is actually a series of standalones, with each book set in a different time period, but united by a common theme: a young witch struggling to find her place. After 17th century England and 19th century Wales, Brackston now takes us to visit the high society of Edwardian England.
At the center of the story is Lilith, a Duke’s daughter and a powerful witch. Lilith’s father just died, and while her brother inherited the title, Lilith inherited something much more important – his position as the Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven, as well as his backbone and his ability to keep the family together. Lilith is young, but she is both powerful and smart, level-headed and emotionally strong. One can help but admire her as she makes the decisions that affect more than just herself and the two men in her life.
At its very center, The Midnight Witch is a story about good vs. evil, but Brackston manages to turn this very basic concept into a truly captivating story. While there are admittedly some inconsistencies in the plot, there is emotional resonance from the opening moments of the story, and the characters are extremely relatable.
If possible, Brackston’s writing is even more elegant than before, combining deep emotionality and superb quality of prose. Even with third person multiple perspectives narrative, by far my least favorite, Brackston keeps a tight rein on her POV characters, never allowing them to take control or blend together. Her narrative mode almost takes us back to European literary realism, albeit with far stronger emotional attachments between us and the characters.
I don’t read historical fiction that often, magical realism or not, but if more authors wrote it like Paula Brackston does, that would change in a heartbeat. These books can be read in any order, so check them all out and see what sounds best, but don’t let them slip by you. They are not to be missed.
Well then, color me surprised. Romantic science fiction hasn’t been this good since Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series! With a strong worldbuilding andWell then, color me surprised. Romantic science fiction hasn’t been this good since Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series! With a strong worldbuilding and an even stronger romance, The Ophelia Prophecy is a breath of fresh air in a (sub)genre that desperately needs it.
Asha and Pax were born on opposite sides of a long and bloody conflict. She is one the few remaining humans, raised in the Sanctuary, humanity’s last stand. Pax is Manti, a human-animal genetic hybrid, and a prince of sorts among his kind. When they meet, both their memories have been tampered with, and Asha ends up as a prisoner on Pax’s spaceship, Banshee.
Paradoxically, the romance was both quick and slow to develop. The attraction was instantly there, as well as Pax’s determination to keep Asha safe, no matter the cost. But while strong, attraction wasn’t accompanied by trust, and it took these two a long time to learn how to trust each other. Asha, for her part, didn’t just hide behind the first strong man determined to protect her, not even when a big part of her wanted to start a relationship with him. She insisted on making her own choices, and for the most part, those choices lead to something good.
I was more than a little surprised by the quality of Fisher’s worldbuilding! Sci-fi romances are usually just romances with a few sci-fi elements thrown in as a disguise, but here I felt that the author achieved a perfect balance between the two and took her time to develop the world, the well thought-through plot, and the romantic entanglement(s).
Admittedly, the big finale wsas somewhat poorly handled. A big and important scene happened mostly away from the reader’s eyes, which I resented. The switching of POV in that particular moment was, I suppose, meant to increase the suspense, but it only managed to irritate me. Luckily, the switch didn’t last long and everything was adequately explained afterwards.
The ending left plenty of room for a sequel, and I do hope we’ll get one in the near future. I’ve grown to care for these characters and I wouldn’t mind another lengthy visit to their exciting world.
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’.