Clash of Iron, the breathlessly awaited sequel to Angus Watson’s Age of Iron is finally here. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this book ever sinc Clash of Iron, the breathlessly awaited sequel to Angus Watson’s Age of Iron is finally here. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this book ever since I finished Watson’s debut. When done right, historical fantasy is my favorite genre, and this author definitely knows what he’s doing. In Clash of Iron, he takes us one step further in exploring the British Iron Age, a period that gives him free reign and ample opportunities. Not much is known about that time, which gives Watson a lot of space to take the direction he chooses. We know, however, that Iron Age in Britain ended with Roman invasion, and that threat is at the forefront of our heroes’ minds in this book.
The first half of Clash of Iron is a bit slower than we’re used to. With so many points of view and without a definite threat on the horizon, the story lacks focus for a while. Romans’ arrival has been predicted and prophesized, but not many believe that they’re an actual threat. As a new queen, Lowa is determined to unite the tribes and give them a chance for survival, but others are not exactly cooperative.
I thought Lowa was particularly interesting this time. She struggled so much with her newfound power, unsure how to treat people or how to properly earn (or demand) respect. Most of the time, I felt that she was in over her head and the ineptitude was often quite evident from the results.
Like its predecessor, Clash of Iron is unapologetically bloody. It was a dark time and the low price of human life was reflected brilliantly in Watson’s story. There were times when it was a bit hard to read, but overall it gave the story and extra layer of authenticity, for which I was grateful. The ending is very intense, not a cliffhanger per se, but emotionally harrowing nevertheless. With so many things going on and so many enemies coming from all sides, sacrifices have to be made and lives must be lost. Watson showed us many times that he is merciless when his story requires it, and this ending was no different.
Things are a tangled mess right now, especially when we know that the Romans actually invaded in the end, which ended the Iron Age. With that in mind, the ending seems to be pretty clear. I only wonder how Watson might handle it. We’ll find out later this year in Reign of Iron. ...more
I’ve been reading these slightly out of order, which I wouldn’t normally do, but J.D. Robb makes it very easy for me to enjoy them regardless4.5 stars
I’ve been reading these slightly out of order, which I wouldn’t normally do, but J.D. Robb makes it very easy for me to enjoy them regardless of the number on the cover. In Death series is one of the most popular series in the world and with good reason. Just days ago, I sung Nora Roberts’ praises to all of you, and I still stand by my every word.
The series takes place about 40 years from now, which is highly unusual for the detective/mystery genre, but I love that Robb never makes a big deal out of it. Mostly it’s the technology that’s new. The people, the lives, are very much the same. The changes in our world are subtle, which I suspect they will be, and everything that’s available to Eve and Rourke is very easy to imagine being available to us in 2060. In a weird way, the futuristic setting makes sense. So many of my favorite long-running series (like Kay Scarpetta) run the risk of becoming outdated. In fact, reading those first Kay Scarpetta installments is a bit funny now, with all that old technology and crime investigation techniques. Robb faces no such challenge. Her futuristic gadgets will always be new and interesting.
In this installment, Eve and Peabody investigate the murder of a fitness trainer. By all accounts, the victim was a bastard and a criminal, but Even wouldn’t be Eve if she didn’t give it her all. There are far too many suspects in this one, dozens of people with excellent motives and even opportunities. Eve will have to rely on her considerable experience and sometimes her husband to find the murderer.
As always, Peabody and McNab provide some much needed comic relief, and Eve’s attempts at Christmas shopping are simply hilarious. While she’s investigating, Roarke is preparing for their huge Christmas party and Eve is somewhat lost and trying to ignore the whole thing. Our heroine is still adorably clueless in social situations (which reminds me of Sherlock Holmes sometimes), but she’s improved considerably and she is, as always, very much aware of her shortcomings.
Eve and Roarke are still an amazing couple, that’s all that needs to be said about them. Robb uses their wonderful marriage as an asset, and never as a source of drama. There’s plenty of drama with Eve’s cases and there’s absolutely no need to add to it by creating unnecessary romantic tension. These two work together as one and I adore them for it.
You don’t need me to tell you how wildly popular this series has been from the start and you definitely don’t need me to recommend it. Obviously it’s something everyone needs to read. I’m still working my way through it, having missed several along the way, and every one is a special treat. A J.D. Robb book is a sure bet if ever there was one.
There’s a reason why Nora Roberts is indisputably one of the most popular writers in the world. Her experience is enormous and her self-assuredness isThere’s a reason why Nora Roberts is indisputably one of the most popular writers in the world. Her experience is enormous and her self-assuredness is evident on every page. Calling her a skilled storyteller is a bit of an understatement. Roberts is much more than that, she is the queen of genre fiction and as such, she can do no wrong.
The Liar is a fabulous example of everything I love in her books. She easily combines mystery, small town drama, a wonderful community and a delightful romance. In a 500-page book everything runs smoothly, and somehow, during that time, you and the characters become like family.
At the beginning of The Liar, we find a distraught young widow. Her husband has died, her baby daughter has lost her father and life has come crashing down hard on her, but the worst of it all is learning that her husband wasn’t a decent man, wasn’t who she thought he was at all. Left with a huge debt and very little self-esteem, Shelby must find her way once again and become the woman she deserves to be.
The opening chapters of the novel are a bit hard to get through. We can almost taste the bitterness of Richard’s betrayal, and the anger is sometimes too much. But 500 pages of watching Shelby claw her way back to a healthy life more than make up for it, and the initial difficulties only make the end that much more rewarding.
Left all alone and choking in debt, Shelby returns to Tennessee to be with her family. That’s when things really get interesting – Roberts paints for us a small town in such vivid detail, full of colorful characters and everyday events. Her choice of narration – third person (I could almost say omniscient) with many switches in perspective – would seem a bit odd in a different book, but here, everyone important was able to offer a glimpse through their eyes. I find it thrilling that something that could have been so messy ended up being smooth and put together seamlessly.
The romance was another pleasant surprise. Although the plot was a bit predictable and I was disappointed that Shelby didn’t think of the answer herself, the rest of the story made up for that small fault and the romance especially made it completely worthwhile. A perfect man can sometimes be so boring, but not Griffin. He was just what Shelby and her little girl needed.
This book is absolutely perfect for when you want to let everything else go and just be surrounded by something else altogether. Trust me, Nora Roberts won’t disappoint. I don’t think she knows how.
I went into this book with no small amount of trepidation. The book description seems to imply that there’s a lot of angst in this story, and I’m in nI went into this book with no small amount of trepidation. The book description seems to imply that there’s a lot of angst in this story, and I’m in no mood for it at all. However, I’ve been following Jay Clark on social media for quite a while now and angst doesn’t seem to be his thing, so I decided to give this book a chance after all. I was right about the angst part, at least.
While it’s true that Finding Mr. Brightside is blissfully free of angst, it’s also devoid of any sweetness. It’s a pretty claustrophobic little book that revolves around two characters, Juliette and Abram, with only two or three more secondary characters to lighten things up a bit. Juliette’s mother and Abram’s father were having an affair and they died together in a car accident. Juliette and Abram are both grieving in their own ways, but Juliette is having a much harder time getting over her anger. Abram didn’t strike me as angry. He didn’t strike me as anything, really, and I can’t say that his character stood out in any memorable way. As for Juliette, her behavior often made me very uncomfortable, and while I can forgive some of it because of her grief, she was sometime bossy and appallingly inconsiderate of others. Not something I want in my heroines.
Finding Mr. Brightside tries too hard to be quirky and different, and while it succeeds with the latter, it falls considerably short with the former. I had high hopes for it, especially after reading the first few, very promising chapters. But after the initial humor, the rest mostly just fell flat, and I ended up struggling to finish this unusually short book.
It’s pretty obvious that Jay Clark has a lot of talent, though, and I’m positive that he can and will show it. I don’t think he’s found his voice quite yet, but he’s getting there.I have high hopes for his next book.
Prisoner of Night and Fog, Anne Blankman’s incredible debut and part one of her duology, seemed at times too good to be true. Extensively researched,Prisoner of Night and Fog, Anne Blankman’s incredible debut and part one of her duology, seemed at times too good to be true. Extensively researched, clever, and deeply emotional, it explored a time some would rather leave forgotten, the darkest time in Germany’s history. Blankman gave us front row seats to Hitler’s rise to power, seen through the eyes of one of his darlings, a young girl he’d taken under his wing and treated as a favorite niece. But the events in Prisoner of Night and Fog took Gretchen away from the man she knew as Uncle Dolf, and in Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, the two are bitter enemies, and Gretchen is sure she’d be killed on sight.
Forced to leave her comfortable life in Oxford and return to Germany with Daniel, Gretchen is forced to face the demon from her past, the man she once loved deeply and trusted implicitly. This time, with her eyes wide open, she hopes to uncover the Nazi Party’s many conspiracies and stop Hitler’s rise to absolute power.
Unfortunately, with the distance between Gretchen and Hitler, the book has lost some of its allure. We still see actual historical events, but this time we view them from afar, as would anyone else. We are not privy to insider information, not anymore, which means that we’ve lost our chance to learn more about the deterioration of his psyche. There’s still plenty to admire about the book, but that part, the part I admired most in Prisoner of Night and Fog, is all but gone.
Of course, the events in 1933 Berlin are still thoroughly researched and presented in a wonderful blend of fact and fiction, which makes this book highly educational as well as entertaining. The work Blankman has finally put before us is impeccable. She did her job and she did it well, finding the perfect balance between history, fiction and character development.
We left Gretchen and Daniel in a very good place last time, but while life seemed to be looking up for Gretchen, Daniel has had a far more difficult time. Although he was safe, Oxford hasn’t been kind to him as everything that made him the extraordinary boy Gretchen fell in love with was roughly taken away. Friendless and unable to be a proper journalist, he spent his days in sadness and loneliness, but was determined to hide it from his girlfriend. Goying back to Germany brings light to their difficulty, and in Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, their uncertain future causes a substantial rift between them. Nevertheless, our two darlings never turn their back on each other and they constantly work in perfect sync to bring down the Nazi Party.
Minor faults aside, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke is a perfect conclusion to this story. Blankman set the bar pretty high, but she was more than up to the challenge. I can’t wait to see what she’ll give us next.
4.5 stars I’ve admired Nova Ren Suma deeply ever since she published her debut, Imaginary Girls. Her books aren’t easy reads and they could never be de4.5 stars I’ve admired Nova Ren Suma deeply ever since she published her debut, Imaginary Girls. Her books aren’t easy reads and they could never be described as entertaining, but they are, as a rule, thought provoking and brilliantly written. There’s always such quiet beauty to her narratives, an unpretentious quality of her writing, very simplistic in nature but gorgeous beyond compare. Her style is far from being decorative or lush, but she still somehow creates an atmosphere that envelops the reader completely.
Nova Ren Suma builds anxiety slowly, little by little, brick by brick, until it becomes a huge, suffocating wall. Aside from being overwhelmed and claustrophobic, the reader must also deal with the paradox of liking a convicted criminal and despising a successful young ballerina. The two girls at the center of this story, Violet and Amber, are worlds apart from each other. Life gave them very different opportunities, completely different starting points, and they each did with them what they could.
In her quiet way, the author addressed the prejudices we all deal with (and make) daily. How easy is it to convict a girl from a broken home, a poor, motherless girl, regardless of her own success? And how much harder is it to see the faults in a rich girl, America’s sweetheart if there ever was one? Even though they’re hidden beneath a very odd story, these issues jump at the forefront all on their own, without being thrown in our faces by the author. The prisons are filled with underprivileged, unfortunate, some of them judged for who they are, but some of them convicted for what they are. We should know better by now, but somehow we still don’t.
It’s also very interesting to see the dark side of ballet, a prestigious art form that we tend to view as pure and innocent. Ballerinas in this story are anything but, though. They’re raised to be insanely competitive, self-absorbed and mean. Of course, some take to it better than others.
I’ll admit that this book was hard for me to read. All that jealousy and resentment, the pure evil and the unfairness of it all were simply suffocating. But in the end it was more than worth it. Rarely do I find a book that leaves such a strong impression. So read this, but find something light and funny to read right after. After, that is, you take some time to untangle things and think them through.
There are days when I need a serious book, days when I need to read something relaxing, and days when I need to be shaken to my very core. There are bThere are days when I need a serious book, days when I need to read something relaxing, and days when I need to be shaken to my very core. There are books that are appropriate for each of those days, but only one I can think of that’s appropriate for all of them. From a reader’s point of view, Shattered Glass is a dream come true.
Austin Glass is a vice detective, a trust fund baby and an aspiring FBI agent. He is young, successful, competent, instantly likeable and engaged to a gorgeous, intelligent woman. But there’s one thing Austin Glass isn’t – he most certainly is not gay. So then why can’t he stop obsessing about a gorgeous busboy in bunny slippers? Why can’t he get those darn bunny slippers out of his head? If only he could buy the man some shoes, something safe and unattractive like loafers – all his problems would surely disappear.
“I'm not gay.” That wasn't what I meant to say. “Congratulations. Would you like a medal?” Bunny Slippers asked. “I already have a medal. For bravery, not for being gay. I think you made me gay.” “I made you gay?” He set down the napkin he was holding. “Is that better or worse than the person who made you stupid?”
Peter, or Bunny Slippers if you prefer, is a study in contradictions. He is rude, but has an obvious vulnerable side. He is a (former) prostitute, but he has very high standards. He gave up on his education, but he is astonishingly smart. He used to sell drugs, but he cares for his younger brothers with everything he has. Needless to say, Austin is enchanted. Gay or not, staying away from Peter becomes impossible overnight. Dating a former male prostitute isn’t the smartest thing you can do when you’re a vice detective, but Austin will give it his best nevertheless. Turning his life upside down is a small price to pay to get Bunny Slippers in his bed. And when it turns out that Bunny Slippers comes with a whole lot of baggage – baggage that shoots to kill more often than not – Austin still chooses to go ahead with it. He just laughs it off and marches bravely ahead. Peter is not so easy to convince. While Austin jumps in without regard for his life or career, Peter is far too careful to trust a spoiled rich boy. But Austin’s charm is impossible to resist for too long and pretty soon their lives, and Austin’s investigation, become a huge tangled mess.
"Is he my competition?" “Everyone is your competition.” Peter lifted his hand to his eyes and began lowering it incrementally. “It goes normal human beings, crazies, republicans, my hand, imaginary characters, corpses and then, in a moment of lustful psychosis, you.”By the time he was done, his hand was below the table. Ouch. “A little over the top, don’t you think?” “No.”
If it isn’t clear from the previous two quotes, here is it: Shattered Glass is hilarious. With chapter titles like Dear God, I’ll Take That Lobotomy Now. Thanks, Austin. and How to Win Friends and Alienate Albanian Table-lovers , I promise you you’ll laugh until you drop. What makes the book truly stand out, however, is Austin’s voice. He is one of the most honest, refreshing characters I’ve ever stumbled upon. Upon meeting Peter, his life is turned upside down. Although he does things that aren’t exactly honorable, he is always wonderfully upfront and honest about them. So honest, in fact, that even his (ex) fiancè can’t stay mad for too long.
The mystery part of this story requires some suspension of disbelief, but trust me when I tell you, you won’t care one bit. You’ll fall in love with Austin on page two and fall head over heels for Peter not long after. Once you meet Cai, it’s pretty much a done deal – you’ll want to stay with this gang forever.
Finally, let me say this. I’ve read this book first, and enjoyed it on audio just a few months later. As far as I’m concerned, audio is by far the best way to go. From what I can tell, this is the only book Joseph Northton has narrated so far, which is undoubtedly a tragedy. Austin’s voice is delightful and hilarious all on its own, but Northton added an extra layer of humor with his spectacular narration, turning this into a book I couldn’t listen to while driving because I was laughing too darn hard. You try driving while constantly laughing to tears. If you’re an audioobok fan, definitely go with that, but any format works. Not reading this, however, is simply not an option.
If I had to compare Austin with another character, I’d say he’s the male Charley Davidson, minus the paranormal element. He is just so incredibly funny and honest, he reminded me of Charley right from the start. So if you like Charley, read this. And if you don’t, read it anyway. Really. Preferably now.
DNF for me, since it's filled with things I absolutely don't tolerate in any romance, and especially in M/M. (view spoiler)[There's an explicit M/F sceDNF for me, since it's filled with things I absolutely don't tolerate in any romance, and especially in M/M. (view spoiler)[There's an explicit M/F scene when the MCs have already started their relationship, and there's "sharing" one of the MCs with several people during a BDSM club scene. The concept of sharing or sleeping with other people is much more than I can tolerate in my romances, so I just gave up. I love LA Witt, but Grant's books have never worked for me since her limits and mine are not the same. (hide spoiler)]
No rating since it seems unfair to rate something I haven't actually finished.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Are we ready for a love story involving one brilliant but autistic boy and one boy with severe depression and clinical anxiety? Just days ago, I wouldAre we ready for a love story involving one brilliant but autistic boy and one boy with severe depression and clinical anxiety? Just days ago, I would have said an emphatic no because honestly, how would that even work? Right now, as I’m eating my third comfort cupcake and wiping happy tears from my eyes, I know exactly how: it works splendidly, beautifully, poignantly and amazingly. It’s challenging and often ridiculed, yes, but it works. My eternal gratitude to Heidi Cullinan for showing me that I was both blind and – forgive me for using the S word - stupid. We’ve been seeing more and more diversity in YA and NA books, which is absolutely wonderful, but positive representation of mental illness is another marvelous step further, and one not many dare to take.
Carry the Ocean is filled with hope, but it’s not always an easy read. When Emmet or Jeremy become overwhelmed, we become consumed by our desire to save them, to hide and protect and love them forever. These fully fleshed out characters are entirely too real to us from the very first page, and their all-consuming pain is sometimes almost too much to deal with. But the strong feeling of hope never quite abandons us as Cullinan reminds us over and over again that normal simply doesn’t exist and that there’s a place out there for everyone, even Emmet and Jeremy.
Heidi also did an amazing job of showing us the world through Emmet’s eyes, of bringing us closer to autism itself and making us see and truly experience the difficulties of people on the autism spectrum. However, Carry the Ocean isn’t about autism or depression, not really. It’s about two boys finding love, same as everybody else. How they love each other and depend on each other along the way is what makes this book worth your while.
While Fever Pitch remains my favorite by Heidi (because Aaron!), Carry the Ocean is sort of in a league of its own, impossible to compare or even rate. Five measly stars can’t to this book justice, and neither can my clumsy, not so eloquent praise. Read it, enjoy it, cry and cheer, and when you’re done, let me know so we can gush together. There’s nothing else I’d rather do.
You don’t need me to tell you that a crime series blurbed by Stephen King, Kathy Reichs, David Baldacci and Dennis Lehane is kind of a big deal. A simYou don’t need me to tell you that a crime series blurbed by Stephen King, Kathy Reichs, David Baldacci and Dennis Lehane is kind of a big deal. A simple glimpse at the cover can reveal all you need to know. But even that simple glimpse isn’t needed in this case – if you’ve somehow managed to miss the hype surrounding J.D. Robb’s (Nora Roberts’) In Death series, it’s safe to conclude that you’ve been living under a pretty big rock.
Obsession in Death is the fortieth book in this series (that’s right, 40th), and it’s quite easy to see why Nora Roberts is so successful. The book is pure perfection, tightly plotted and so smoothly written that you barely even notice the words and the sentences. It’s a story that develops right in front of us, outside of language or any confines of its genre.
By now, Eve Dallas is one of the most popular characters in detective fiction – or fiction in general, really. We know the woman inside and out, we know that she’s tough as nails, but also kind-hearted and fair. We know that she doesn’t trust easily and has a god reason for it, and above all, we know that she loves Rourke more than life itself. Eve is nothing short of brilliant and Rourke is her perfect match. The balance Roberts creates between gruesome murders and their comforting love is practically flawless. Consequently, our emotional investment in these two is sky high.
In this installment, Eve faces a formidable enemy, a murderous secret admirer. A psychotic individual is killing people who have wronged Eve, seeing it as a favor of sorts, and it’s only a matter of time before the murderer turns on the object of his or her obsession. The game is tense and the stakes are high, but we know by now that Eve and Dallas are more than up to the task.
It needs to be said that the mystery was perfectly plotted and executed. I was surprised at every turn and solving the puzzle was completely beyond me. Roberts allowed me no time to breathe, which is exactly how I love my crime novels.
Don’t be intimidated by the number of books in this series. You can jump right in anytime and anywhere you want. Each book can easily function as a standalone, and although there’s mention of old cases, not knowing the details won’t take away from your reading enjoyment.