Love Lessons, the first book in this milder-than-usual series (at least for this author), proved that Heidi excels at characterization. This fact wasLove Lessons, the first book in this milder-than-usual series (at least for this author), proved that Heidi excels at characterization. This fact was pretty clear from her previous work as well, especially Dance With Me, which is one of my all-time favorites. But for some unidentifiable reason, Love Lessons didn’t quite reach me emotionally, not as much as I felt it should have.
When Fever Pitch came along, I waited a bit to read it, expecting more of the same, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. This book, you guys, I have no words to describe how it made me feel.
The story starts with Aaron in his final days of high school. Aaron is one of the popular crowd, but not necessarily by conscious choice. He is a quiet boy, terrified of his father and reluctant to disappoint his weak mother. He needs to choose a college, but trying to make everyone happy is slowly driving him crazy, which is how he ends up drunk in a laundry room at a party. There he finds Giles, the school geek one of the few openly gay boys. Giles has a habit of sleeping with the closeted boys, the straight boys, and pretty much everyone he aims to prove a point to, which usually ends up with him being bullied and beaten after the fact, when said boys realize that going on the defensive is the only way to hide their adventures. For Giles, Aaron is just another closeted gay boy looking for some fun before putting him in the hospital, but by the end of the night, they both end up making some major changes.
Despite their explosive beginning, Fever Pitch is a veryslow burn romance. It takes a lot for these two to finally come together, a lot of growing on both their parts, plenty of self-discovery for Aaron, more than a little courage and quite a few disasters along the way. Although they’re at the same college and both interested in music, they both have a hard time overcoming their fear and prejudice, which they have to do in order to finally admit their feelings.
Walter and Kelly from the first book are very present in this story, as a safety net of sorts for poor Aaron. It was nice seeing them happy and engaged, fully embracing their love for each other and Kelly’s love for all things Disney-related. But Cullinan introduces a whole army of new characters as well, and gives them all plenty of attention. Those secondary characters, including Giles’ parents, Aaron’s awful family, their college friends and especially Baz and Elijah, turned this book from something ordinary and nice into something quite extraordinary and just gorgeous.
It needs to be said that music plays a huge part in this book. It gives our boys common ground, something they’re both extremely talented at, but it also gives Aaron some much-needed self-confidence and a reason to finally stand up to his father. The final scene had me laughing and crying at the same time, playing Titanium over and over again and singing for all I was worth. If you decide to read this book, you’ll likely end up doing the same and trust me, it’ll be one of the best experiences you’ve had in ages.
In many ways, The Evolution of Mara Dyer is a better book than its predecessor. It’s certainly a more mature work, free of the usual genre tropes. WhiIn many ways, The Evolution of Mara Dyer is a better book than its predecessor. It’s certainly a more mature work, free of the usual genre tropes. While The Unbecoming was emotionally challenging, The Evolution takes things a step further as our uncertainty and fear for Mara reach a whole new level.
After a horrible, terrifying event, Mara wakes up in a psychiatric hospital. Her family doesn’t believe her, and rightfully so. Mara has a history of PTSD and hallucinations that occasionally caused her to hurt herself horribly. However, while their lack of faith is certainly understandable, we can’t help but wish that someone, especially Mara’s mother, would finally listen to her. Her experience in the hospital leaves her (and us) with a horrible taste of betrayal in our mouths. Reason goes out the window when everyone but Noah turns their back on poor Mara.
Once again Hodkin shows her excellent sense of pacing and her ability to build tension to almost unbearable levels. Mara’s story is infinitely creepy, with danger lurking from every corner. No one but Noah can be trusted, and even Mara’s brothers have to be kept in the dark. Mara is the most unreliable of narrators, and fully aware of it. She often doubts the events around her, even as they’re taking place. The uncertainty doesn’t help matters, especially when she’s in danger and frozen because she doesn’t know whether the peril is real or hallucinated. Her constant questioning was painful and realistic, although occasionally frustrating.
The only thing I didn’t enjoy were the flashbacks of Mara’s (well, someone’s) life in India. They were so randomly thrown into the story and they were terribly disruptive. I didn’t really see the point, but hopefully their significance will become clear in the third book. As it is, I found it hard to concentrate during those chapters.
I didn’t know this before, but Christy Romano was chosen by Michelle Hodkin herself to narrate these books. Apparently her voice reminded Hodkin so much of Mara that she invited Christy to borrow her voice first for the trailer, and then for the audiobooks as well. The audiobook is truly of the highest quality. It’s quite obvious that a lot of time and effort was put into it. After the story, the audio version includes an interview between Hodkin and Romano, which gives us a chance to learn more about both the writing and the audio recording process.
We are once again left with a horrible cliffhanger, but there’s finally hope for Mara as well. Hurt beyond comprehension and separated from everything she holds dear, Mara is finally finding the strength to stand up to her enemies. There’s a true fighter somewhere in there, and I believe that she’s finally waking up. We’ll just have to wait and see.
I’ll be starting the final book as soon as possible. I don’t see how things could possibly end well for Mara and Noah, but I have faith in Hodkin, and I certainly have plenty of faith in Mara.
Sometimes, a book you least expect to like takes you completely by surprise. Sometimes, even though you respect their opinion, you disagree with some Sometimes, a book you least expect to like takes you completely by surprise. Sometimes, even though you respect their opinion, you disagree with some of your most trusted friends. For me, this is one of those times.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer wasn’t at all what I expected. I was warned about the love interest, about the heroine, about the plot and about the romance itself. I was told that the story makes little sense, that the romance is forced and unbelievable, that the love interest is just another version of Edward Cullen and that the heroine is simply too unmemorable, and occasionally even too stupid to live.
I must say that I respectfully disagree.
The fact of the matter is that I found the plot to be compelling and absolutely addictive; well planned, well written and incredibly suspenseful. Mara is a completely unreliable narrator, a detached, slightly unhinged, completely broken girl who hallucinates more often than not. We can’t be sure what we’re seeing, not when we’re seeing it through her eyes, and like her, we must question everything, from her friends and family to her sanity.
In addition, it must be said that I actually like Edward Cullen, and strangely enough, I rather like Noah Shaw as well. His previous romantic entanglements made me uncomfortable at first (as they were meant to, I’m sure), but as I learned more about him and witnessed his devotion to Mara, I started genuinely liking the boy.
It was actually Mara, not Noah, who gave me pause more than once. She came perilously close to the very definition of anti-heroine on several occasions, in a way that truly put me on edge. However, despite my discomfort (or possibly because of it), I appreciated Hodkin’s excellent characterization, her insightfulness and her willingness to take her characters to pretty uncomfortable places, well beyond the limit of morally and socially acceptable behavior. Mara wasn’t the only one who questioned her sanity. I questioned it constantly and there were moments when I thought she really should be put away, for her own safety and the safety of others. This is Michelle Hodkin’s true strength – she makes us love and fear a single character, be understanding and understandably wary at the same time. Mara is not a heroine in the traditional sense, but it’s quite easy to care for her nevertheless.
This story’s only true flaw, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t offer any sort of explanation for Mara’s apparent hallucinations. I’ve developed a very thick skin when it comes to cliffhangers, but at least some answers would have been most welcome. As is, I was left with hundreds of questions, very few answers, and a deep sense of dread that will likely stay with me for days to come.
Christy Romano narrated the book beautifully and added so much to the experience. Her pacing is a bit faster than normal, but it suits this story perfectly, and her voice only amplifies the overwhelming tension of the story. Mara’s emotions, as well as her strange detachment throughout the story, were clearly reflected in Romano’s voice. In addition, she did a fairly good job with Noah’s accent – she didn’t sound native, not quite, but even in that she was more than good enough.
After the crushing cliffhanger we were left with, I have no choice but to continue the story right away. Please excuse me while I go hide in the darkest, quietest corner of my house with Freya (my phone) and headphones for company.
Forbidden is the first book in Kimberly Griffiths Little’s historical romance trilogy with a very lush, exotic setting. Set against the backdrop of thForbidden is the first book in Kimberly Griffiths Little’s historical romance trilogy with a very lush, exotic setting. Set against the backdrop of the Mesopotamian desert in 1759, it gives us great insight into the best and the very worst of this world. Our heroine is Jayden, a 17-year-old girl betrothed to the future tribe leader. Her marriage was arranged when she was just a baby, but Jayden feels only fear and mild disgust for Horeb, and wants nothing more than to avoid marrying him. Then a young wounded warrior joins her family in the desert and Jayden is immediately taken by him, just as he seems taken by her. Her life becomes even more complicated, burdened with tragedy and the constant fight for survival and torn between two young men, one she was promised to years ago, and one who truly loves her.
Jayden’s world, which is the Mesopotamian desert, is harsh and unforgiving, cruel to those who call it home. The desert provides more than just a backdrop for this story, it is almost a character. It affects the events in so many ways, sometimes as a source of comfort, but more often as the place of constant danger. Jayden and her tribe, like all other desert tribes and travelers, feel the desert in their bones. They have to be one with their surroundings, predict everything this cruel mistress can throw their way. They would never survive otherwise.
Kimberly Griffiths Little has a gorgeous writing style and an excellent sense of pacing. Her sentences only emphasize the gorgeous, exotic setting. Jayden’s characterization was done brilliantly, but I felt that the other characters needed more work. Kadesh especially seemed far too perfect and lacked nuance as a character, but the same applies to Horeb, who was purely, unreasonably evil, and Jayden’s empty-headed, selfish sister Leila.
Although beautifully written and quite romantic, the book was in desperate need of an author’s note, some sort of explanation that would put these events in a historical context. As far as I can tell, it’s close enough to actual events and places to be considered purely historical, and not historical fantasy, and yet there are a few things that make very little sense, and a few that are glaringly inaccurate.
It must be said that Forbidden ends with a cliffhanger, and a rather painful one at that. Seeing as Banished, the second book of the series, won’t be released until January 2016, I fear I’ll forget the details of this story. A year and three months seems like such a long time between installments, especially when one is left with such a deep sense of foreboding. Nevertheless, you’ll want to read this one as soon as possible. It’s really too beautiful to pass up.
This being the seventh installment in the Charley Davidson series, there really isn’t much left to say that hasn’t been said already. Fans of the seriThis being the seventh installment in the Charley Davidson series, there really isn’t much left to say that hasn’t been said already. Fans of the series already know what they’re signing up for, and those of you who have yet to meet Charley and Reyes… who are you and what are you even doing here, folks?
When First Grave on the Left (or Right, I can never remember that) first came out, I didn’t think Darynda’s wonderful sense of humor would last. Sometimes things that are funny in the beginning end getting old and exhausting pretty darn fast. And yet here we are, seven books later, and the Charley Davidson books are still just as fresh, just as entertaining as they were when her story started. What’s more, the more we know these characters, the longer they are a constant in our lives, the more we crave their company and the laughs they inevitably bring.
While Seventh Grave isn’t my favorite of the series, Darynda gave us exactly what we’ve learned to expect: hilarious Charley at her best and at her worst, a marvelous set of secondary characters, multiple plotlines to follow and Reyes to swoon over. Honestly, what more can a reader possibly need?
In Seventh Grave, Charley, Reyes and their many ridiculous sidekicks prepare to fight the Twelve, twelve hellhounds sent after Charley by some yet undiscovered foe. Scared for Charley and the treasure she carries around with her, Reyes decides to follow her every step and ensure her safety himself. Now really, does that sound like something Charley would endure quietly? No. No, it doesn’t.
So Charley is busy dodging Reyes’s constant attention, solving a multiple murder case for the FBI, trying to find her missing father, dealing with a dead former BFF, messing with other people’s love lives and keeping a goldfish alive. In other words, it’s just another day at Davidson Investigations.
Seventh Grave leaves quite a few things open, which is understandable now that we’re finally getting the big picture. Darynda is uncovering the overall story arc slowly and skillfully, with a fabulous sense of timing. Eighth Grave After Dark will inevitably bring more changes for the gang, but we’ll have to wait until May 19th to learn what they are.
Those among you who have been missing Alyxandra Harvey’s marvelous humor ever since she ended her Drake Chronicles can heave a sigh of relief right al Those among you who have been missing Alyxandra Harvey’s marvelous humor ever since she ended her Drake Chronicles can heave a sigh of relief right alongside me. The Lovegrove Legacy series is exactly what Harvey’s fans have been waiting for – a series rich with interesting characters, complex plotlines and a whole lot of hilarious one-liners.
Aside from being wildly entertaining (and one can always count on Harvey to be just that) The Lovegrove Legacy is an excellent example of YA historical paranormal fiction done just right. Harvey has built a world rich in detail and interesting facts, not just a perfunctory setting to serve as background for romantic developments, but strong enough to support very complicated and well-crafted plots. She then filled this world with fabulous characters: our three heroines, Emma, Penelope and Gretchen, are further developed in this second installment, and supporting characters are also built extremely well and they shine just as brightly.
Whisper the Dead is a very strong second installment that leaves us begging for more. I’m less than thrilled about the cliffhanger, but I can forgive even that to a reliable author like Alyxandra Harvey. If you enjoy exciting plots, lovely romance and a good laugh, these books are perfect for you.
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.
Black Ice is a surprisingly exciting YA contemporary thriller, full of twists and heart-stopping moments. Thrillers finally seem to be finding their p Black Ice is a surprisingly exciting YA contemporary thriller, full of twists and heart-stopping moments. Thrillers finally seem to be finding their place in the YA market and I couldn’t be happier about it. This being my first encounter with Becca Fitzpatrick’s work, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I needn’t have feared. Her control over the story is absolute, her sense of pacing is quite good, and her characters are flawlessly created, three-dimensional and very much alive.
Throughout the story, Britt proves over and over again that intelligence and emotional maturity don’t always come hand in hand. While fighting for her life during a snow storm in the mountain, she shows excellent reasoning and resourcefulness, even when faced with two kidnappers. She finds ways to stave her best friend and make herself invaluable her two kidnappers in order to be kept alive. Once she has no choice but to stop pretending to be helpless and incompetent for the sake of ex-boyfriend, her best friend and even her family, Britt quickly turns into a girl we can easily admire. But even through these trials, her emotional maturity remains that of a 17-year-old as her decisions keep being influenced by her ex-boyfriend Calvin. It would be easy enough to judge her for it, but it helps to remember our first love, and how enormous and wild and uncontrollable it all seemed. Keep in mind that the first cut runs deepest and you might be a little more understanding of Britt’s actions.
It is precisely through Britt that Fitzpatrick shows her excellent characterization. It likely wasn’t easy to get the mindset of a pampered 17-year-old girl just right, but she achieved it to perfection, the good parts and the bad. An excellent job was done with Calvin and Mason as well, especially Calvin through whom we witnessed the horrifying results of constant child abuse. If there was a weak spot in her characterization, it was in Britt’s best friend Korbie. Admittedly, her role in was tertiary, but I wished for more nuance to her character. As it was, I didn’t quite understand their friendship, which made some of Britt’s motivations equally non-understandable.
As for the plot, I believe it’s best to go into this blindly, like Britt did, and discover things as you go. Black Ice is a page turner, its every chapter full of danger and excitement. I must say that I wasn’t as surprised as Britt was by some revelations, but I still had no idea how things would play out, and I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout.
Even if you didn’t like Fitzpatrick’s previous work, I would definitely give this one a try. I haven’t read her Hush, Hush series, but this seems to be a step in different direction and one definitely worth your time.
Although it has a firm connection to our world, Trial by Fire could very well be considered a fantasy novel. The worldbuilding isn’t particularly elabAlthough it has a firm connection to our world, Trial by Fire could very well be considered a fantasy novel. The worldbuilding isn’t particularly elaborate, but it serves the story very well, and it will probably expand in the next two installments, although I don’t really feel that there’s too much to add. While simple, Lillian’s world (as opposed to Lily’s world, which is also ours) is perfectly functional and developed just enough to carry the story easily.
Lily is exactly the type of heroine that’s easy to admire and even love. Her own world was never kind to her, not only because of her allergies to just about everything, but because of the difficulties she had to endure socially. Her friendship with Tristan was often the only thing holding her together, so when even that was taken from her rather cruelly, the episode was almost too difficult to bear.
Tristan’s unforgivable actions at the beginning of this story caused me to fear that Lily would somehow end up back in their unequal, dysfunctional dynamic, but she was spared from it both by her crossing into Lillian’s world, and by her own strength which wouldn’t allow her to be anyone’s inferior for long. On the other side, she met Lillian’s Tristan which was once again cause for some concern, but while he shared many similarities with Lily’s, his existence was heavily marked by Rowan’s, who was inexplicably absent from Lily’s world. Tristan’s affection for Lillian/Lily was quite evident, but so was his peace with the fact that he’d always come second to Rowan. The romantic feelings that threatened to develop between them never even so much as sparked as Rowan’s strong presence overtook both the story and the possibility of gaining Lily’s affection.
I must confess that Lily and Rowan’s relationship of trust and attraction made me a bit uneasy at times. On the surface, it was pure perfection, slowly built from dislike and mistrust to strong friendship and perhaps even something more. But I couldn’t force myself to forget the fact that Rowan was once intimate with a different version of Lily, and that he loved Lillian strongly, even though she wronged him, and every time I thought about it, I found it infinitely creepy.
Despite my focus on the romance in this review, I should mention that the book’s focus is primarily on Lily herself and her long journey. The path from childish infatuation with Tristan to mature, genuine feelings she developed for Rowan is just one of the things that show her tremendous growth in this book. Wherever she goes and whatever she does next, I’ll be her ally until the very end.
There’s an important lesson to be learned here about the opening chapters of a book. It took me ten days to fight my way through the first two or threThere’s an important lesson to be learned here about the opening chapters of a book. It took me ten days to fight my way through the first two or three chapters of The Dark World, only to end up glued to the pages once things started picking up. It’s a good thing I’m stubborn; in the end, this was a surprisingly entertaining (albeit not particularly memorable) story.
It starts out as your typical YA paranormal romance. Paige Kelly is the weird girl at school, a social outcast considered crazy by her peers and her parents, all due to her ability to speak with the departed. Her best and only friend is a ghost from the 1950’s until the new boy starts paying attention to her. In many ways, Logan is your typical YA PNR boy, but he does stand out in that he’s much kinder and softer from the start. I loved the progression of romance in this book and I have high hopes for the sequel.
The worldbuilding was also done refreshingly well. The Dark World is actually a different dimension, ruled by demons and their Queen. Most of this story takes place in our world, but the Dark World is a constant threat, a creepy background our heroes fight against.
In conclusion, The Dark World is a promising start to a new series. I can’t wait to read more!
4.5 stars Sometimes, though not nearly often enough, a book grabs my attention from start to finish and refuses to let go. Rites of Passage is one of t4.5 stars Sometimes, though not nearly often enough, a book grabs my attention from start to finish and refuses to let go. Rites of Passage is one of those books that make you experience and react strongly to everything that happens, but also forces you to realize some harsh truths about yourself, truths you could have kept hidden and unacknowledged otherwise.
In other words, it made me face the fact that I’m a wuss.
Watching Sam McKenna go through hell at the military school she chose to attend on a dare – not only physical hell, but emotional as well – made me realize that I might just be a quitter somewhere deep inside. However, while I can’t finish a year (or even a day) of training at DMA, I can certainly finish a book in one sitting. Or, you know, several. Hah! Take that, Mac! You can do a gazillion push-ups, but I can turn those pages like nobody’s business.
And turning the pages frantically is exactly what I did. Unexpectedly… shockingly even, Rites of Passage was very emotionally draining. It had been a long time since a book really made me cry, but watching Sam being ostracized, completely rejected not only by her peers, but by her dysfunctional family as well, broke my little heart into a million pieces. I admired this girl’s bravery and persistence the entire time. She never once faltered, not even when she was left all alone, beaten and abused.
I was also more than a little surprised by the quality of Hensley’s writing. Her language is simple and clear, but the level of emotions that permeate every sentence of her narrative is extremely high. I have, unfortunately, learned not to expect much when picking up something entirely unfamiliar, but my low expectations made this whole experience that much more thrilling.
The ending, however, was less than satisfactory, which broke my heart in a different way altogether. This was going to be a perfect five-star read until things started to unravel. When they did, they went in two different directions: some were resolved far too neatly and suddenly, and some felt completely unfinished. The romance especially, after a whole lot of build-up, didn’t leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling like I expected and needed it to after the emotional turmoil this book put me through. There is talk of a sequel, however, so hopefully things won’t be left like this permanently.
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.
I went into this book blindly, with no prior knowledge of this author, series, or the world she created. It’s not something I normally do, especiallyI went into this book blindly, with no prior knowledge of this author, series, or the world she created. It’s not something I normally do, especially not this late in a series, but the synopsis was too alluring to pass up and I fervently hoped it could function as a standalone. As it turns out it can, or at least the main storyline can since it focuses on two previously unknown point of view characters.
It was a bit different with the world, since it’s very elaborate and well-built. It’s no wonder, considering the length of the series. I had a slightly harder time understanding the rules and the setting, but Castle made it transparent enough even for a newbie like me. Admittedly, it took me a while to realize that Harmony isn’t even on Earth, but none of it stopped me from enjoying the hell out of this story from start to finish.
Instant Jayne Castle fan, that’s me, and with good reason. I don’t much care for paranormal romance, but The Hot Zone doesn’t really read as one. For one, while the romance is strong and well-done, it’s not the only thing that matters and the moments of extreme closeness between Sedona and Cyrus (Ha! I’m the queen of euphemisms!) are few and far between. The main conflict is more than just a solid background for the romance – it’s actually pretty important and very engaging.
I quite liked both Sedona and Cyrus. They’re both strong in their own right, but they work extremely well together. They fell in love kind of quickly, but it was believable and it didn’t bother me one bit. Aside from them, Sedona’s sidekick – a dust bunny named Lyle – made this book so much more shiny and interesting. Just imagine an adorable little dust bunny with two pairs of eyes and a penchant for collecting gemstones. What’s not to love?
I will not only continue this series, but I’ll go back to read the books I’ve missed. Characters from previous installments were briefly present in The Hot Zone and I liked them enough to want to know their full stories. This series is long-running and there’s a reason for it. If you do decide to pick it up, let me know so we can compare notes.
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?
4.5 stars. Wow. Those of us who are familiar with Kristen Painter House of Comarré series knew to expect great things from her new urban fantasy advent4.5 stars. Wow. Those of us who are familiar with Kristen Painter House of Comarré series knew to expect great things from her new urban fantasy adventure. However, I don’t think any of us expected this level of improvement over her previous work. As good as House of Comarre was, the Crescent City series is urban fantasy at its best, a shining star that promises to be even brighter in future installments. The two series are even vaguely linked, but rest assured, once can be fully enjoyed and understood without the other.
House of the Rising Sun is mostly told from two points of view: those of Augustine Rabelais and Harlow Goodwin. I connection with the two protagonists, Augustine especially, is instant and very strong. The prologue reveals a single scene from Augistine’s dreadful childhood which immediately causes us to develop protective feelings toward him, feelings that only strengthen once we discover what kind of man he’s become. The amount of strength and resolve he must have needed to outgrow such horrendous circumstances and become a charming, upstanding man is admiration worthy and quite staggering.
Harlow is a bit more difficult to understand and like, at least at first. While Augustine learned kindness from those who were kind to him – namely his benefactor Olivia Goodwin – Harlow had no such opportunities. The Harlow we meet is closed and self-centered, focused on her own needs and careless of other people’s feelings. She’s a bit spoiled and so afraid of everything, and she constantly hides behind her computer screen, preferring a life online to actual human contact. But as Harlow starts caring about those around her, our own affection for her grows stronger, and by the time we finish the story, she is just as dear to us as Augustine.
Augustine and Harlow are complete opposites in everything, but their attraction is undeniable. This being a real urban fantasy novel and not a paranormal romance disguised as one, the focus is primarily on the war between the fae and vampires, a war in which our Augustine, as fae Guardian of New Orleans, has a lead position. The romance, however, is a constant subtle presence in the background, and only Harlow’s reluctance to trust keeps things from progressing too fast. As it is, the slow burn of their feelings is a true delight and we’re left with so much to look forward to in future installments.
House of the Risings Sun is without question the best new urban fantasy I’ve come across in a very long time. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
3.5 stars Fireborn is not my first book by Keri Arthur, but it’s the first one I truly liked. It’s neither paranormal romance nor urban fantasy in thei3.5 stars Fireborn is not my first book by Keri Arthur, but it’s the first one I truly liked. It’s neither paranormal romance nor urban fantasy in their purest form, but a successful blend of the two, with strong UF elements and plenty of romantic interests.
Emberly Pearson, our heroine, is a phoenix, which is certainly new and interesting in both these genres. She is basically immortal. She burns once every century and is reborn from the ashes, free to continue her existence any way she pleases. With each new rebirth she is destined to fall in love just once, but never with Rory, another phoenix and her counterpart, who keeps her grounded and alive.
The thing with me, however, is that I’m a one-man-one-woman kinda gal. I don’t do love triangles, squares or any other shapes or forms, I don’t do multiple love interests and I most definitely don’t deal well with jealousy. It is, therefore, too bad that I constantly get jealous on behalf of my characters. So when my heroine has one counterpart she doesn’t love romantically but has to have sex with in order to survive, one lost-but-never-forgotten love who abandoned her because of said counterpart and one hot, practically irresistible silver-tongued fae vying for her attention, I’m bound to get more than a little uncomfortable. But that’s just me.
The urban fantasy elements however, are very well done, and the plot is extremely tight. Keri Arthur is a seasoned author, and her vast experience shines from every page. She never once loses control of her many characters or her plot and she knows exactly how to steer the reader through her rich and complicated world.
And let me tell you, with vampires and werewolves out in the open and plenty other creatures still hidden from the world, Arthur had a lot to keep track of and it’s very fortunate that she was up to the task. I loved seeing this dark side of Melbourne and I’ll enjoy going back to it every single time. I just hope the romance will be more focused in future installments.
4.5 stars I guess everything in this world can be fixed if you wait long enough. I am not known for my patience, I’m afraid, which means I’d given up o4.5 stars I guess everything in this world can be fixed if you wait long enough. I am not known for my patience, I’m afraid, which means I’d given up on this series somewhere around City of Fallen Angels, but Clare has come a long way since then, and it would seem that so have I. City of Heavenly Fire is a worthy finale to such a long and well-beloved series.
Clare’s novels are always emotional roller coasters, even more so when it’s the last installment. If there’s one thing the woman knows how to do extremely well, it’s writing these long, emotionally draining endings. The Clockwork Princess nearly killed me, and I fared no better with City of Heavenly Fire. I didn’t cry as much, but boy, did it hurt at times.
There were so many loose ends to tie, so many impending disasters, so much to fear and even more to root for. Clare handled it all seemingly with ease, the good moments and the bad, the joy and the loss. None of it, not even the extended epilogue, seemed like fan service, and yet I was completely satisfied with how we left Clary, Jace and the gang.
The romance, at least the main one, takes a back seat in this one since these two pretty much know where they stand. Other things are more important, as well it should be, but we get plenty of time to enjoy Clary and Jace as a couple. It’s nice to see them working together, understanding each other perfectly and trusting one another implicitly.
There were plenty of broken hearts to fix in this final installment, though, and it jst wasn’t possible for everyone. Some couples found their way, some were left with nothing but loss and pain, but there was a great balance to it all which I couldn’t help but admire.
There’s something to be said about a great villain, and Sebastian Morgenstern is one of the best. His cruelty is chilling, his actions completely unpredictable, and his heart, no matter who his family may be, is well beyond redemption.
Of the two narrators, I much preferred Sophie Turner’s parts. Jason Dohring’s narration seemed a bit unnatural and his inflection was oftentimes a bit odd. I also didn’t understand the purpose of Turner’s British accent since most of this series takes place in New York, but then again, who in their right mind complains about British accent? From where I stand, it’s always a win. Overall, more than 20 hours of audio seemed pretty short with these two and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy something narrated by either of them.
I realize I was pretty vague in this review, but honestly, I see no way to review this more directly without spoiling things for someone, which is something I’d hate to do. I had my ups and downs with the Mortal Instruments series, but in the end, I’m more than happy with the journey in its entirety.
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?