Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blath...moreFind this and more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
Stars in my Eyes
Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blather on about myself for long - promise. It's just that this series was kinda pivotal to my transformation from "occasional reader of mystery novels", to "carnivorous reading fanatic and devourer of all things paranormal" because it was the first true Urban Fantasy series I ever read and the one that opened my eyes to this amazeballs genre. It was also the first book I ever read with a sex scene in it! Are you having that? At the ripe old age of 29 I had the blinders firmly ripped off my eyes by a Ms Karen Chance and her scorching and (as I thought then) scandalous love scenes! I finished book one wondering what the hell I'd just read, and why the hell I couldn't stop thinking about it and all the amazing and endless possibilities there were for a character that could shift through time and space - and immediately ordered the rest of the series! The rest, as they say, is history and four years later I have the sixth book in the series as an ARC to review! If I had Pythian powers and went back to tell 29-year old me that little nugget of information, she'd probably say I was deluded or crazy or both.
I'm a lucky, lucky girl:)
So, with that intro in mind, I think it's safe to say that I love this series! And that's not only because of what it did for me as a reader, or because of any sentimental attachment I have to it, but because of its brilliance, its wit, and its unrivalled cleverness. I cannot even express how mind-boggling some of the time-shift stuff is! Scenes that take place in one book that don't make sense until much later when you realize how much time travel back and forth has been going on. The amount of planning and foreshadowing involved in all that... I can't even. It's just too awesome to compute. And Ms Chance's world, although complex, is so solid. There's not a single grey area in her worldbuilding, and even if there were, it would be because she planned for it to be there three books ago. 'Cause she likes grey. And because she can. Seriously, people quiz her nigh on a daily basis through her Facebook page as they try to get their heads around some of the more head-bending aspects of her plots, and she's thought of everything and then some. There are no chinks in her armour of awesome that I've found.
Moving on to this particular book, now that I've paid my dues for never really reviewing any of the others back in the day (lol). Cassandra Palmer - Cassie to most - has advanced as the series has progressed, as all good main characters should, and as evidenced here in TEMPT THE STARS. Resolutely putting the kibosh on people - vamps, mages, and now witches! - trying to manoeuvre her from point A to point B all the time, and just being more dominant and forthright in general. She could also possibly maybe hit the side of a barn with a gun now, too, thanks to Pritkin, and her power quotient has gone through the roof when compared to that of the smiley face T-shirt-wearing girl we met back in Touch the Dark. Having said that, it's not a complete transformation - the girl whose first instincts are to run and hide hasn't been completely smothered. Indeed, running and hiding are sometimes the best options available to a savvy heroine. But recently, and most especially in this book, she's been letting her "take no prisoners" side out a lot more. That, combined with the intelligence and common sense she's always shown around the vamps, who, in this series are about as sneaky and manipulative as they come, though rarely evil, and you've got yourself an incredibly well-rounded and sympathetic character - who now also kicks ass! Don't you just love it?
In TEMPT THE STARS, Cassie is also forced to take a look at her somewhat closed-off emotions. Not that she's ever been cold, exactly, but wary? Reserved? Oh, yes. Letting people in is extremely difficult when it's been proven time and again that those people will be the first in the firing line by any who wish to control her and her powers, which are now more than just potential - they're a smack-you-in-the-face reality. But being a closed book can be lonely, and there are certain characters who have been slowly chipping away at her emotional shields for quite some time now, and it might just be time to let them in, whether she wants to or not!
Of course, the BIG thing everyone wants to know about TEMPT THE STARS is where the heck Pritkin is, right? Well, I'm not going to tell you. Ms Chance herself is notoriously strict about spoilers so it would be more than my life's worth to spill the beans. But, let's just say that being the world's chief seer - officially now, even - has its perks as well as its pitfalls. And it also has the potential to make the impossible... slightly less so.
And that's it. That's all you're getting from me.
As with all instalments in the series, TEMPT THE STARS is bursting with incredible action scenes with spells whiz-popping here, there and everywhere, often followed directly by the most exquisite introspection scene or a hushed conversation with one of the now treasured stable of characters such as Marco (LOVE him!) or Billy Joe (LOVE him, too!). Some people might say the pacing is too up-and-down, but not me. I think the balance is perfect. For fans of the series who already know this world well, I'll just say that it was business as usual - though with a slightly different feel to it as we explored different settings and magics - and just as incredible as you thought it would to be. Plus twelve. Some authors just seem to have a Mary Poppins-like carpet bag full of endless ideas, and Karen chance is definitely one of them.
There's not a lot else to say without revealing naughty things I'm not supposed to, so I'll just leave you with this: TEMPT THE STARS IS THE BEST OF THE SERIES SO FAR - BY A COUNTRY MILE!
And I love John Pritkin.
5 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.(less)
Into the Hollow picks up right where On Demon Wings left off and begins with a tough decision for our gal Perry Palomino. A dec...moreAww, this was so good!
Into the Hollow picks up right where On Demon Wings left off and begins with a tough decision for our gal Perry Palomino. A decision I was silently squeeing over going "SAY YES, YOU NUMPTY!" It also shows us a side to Mr. Declan Foray we've never really seen before since he's always been in a relationship in the past. I think I rather like the free and single version of Dex. Again, SQUEE!
And there's not just the changes in Dex's behaviour to get used to, but you'll also recall he'd transformed a lot physically when he (eventually) showed up in On Demon Wings (he was all buff and stuff). And that's not the only difference we see in him over the course of this book.
If you'd asked me before I began Into the Hollow I'd have told you it wasn't possible for me to love Dex more than I already did, but it turns out that's total bumf because I found him even more irresistible in this book than ever before! He was just so patient but still determined, cheeky, badass, adorable, annoying and absolutely everything in between. I just love him!
The plot wasn't quite as creepy or scary this time but it was definitely action-packed and full of some great dramatic scenes (which I loved). In fact, I'd say this instalment was more Urban Fantasy than Horror—much like Red Fox was—and it was super duper fun and got the old adrenaline pumping nicely.
As well as dealing with the emotional fallout from the last couple of books, Dex and Perry are asked to investigate a potential "creature" sighting in the Canadian Rockies. But even with everything they've seen, they're unsure how much credence they can put in the testimony of one of its supposed victims, so the only solution is to go check it out for themselves.
There was also a moment or two of this book that made me very interested in things to come with regards to Dex and his past demons. Very interesting developments indeed.
My new favourite nickname for an animal (or vegetable, or mineral) ever has to go to Twatwaffle the llama. Pure unadulterated genius and my new favourite word of the week.
Sigh. Of course, the sad thing is now I've run out of books! I knew this would happen, obviously, but I didn't think it would feel quite this crappy. I've got the shakes, withdrawals, extreme lethargy (although I think I had that last one already) and just general uninterest in anything anybody whose name isn't Karina Halle has written. Ever.
Find this and other reviews at The Demon Librarian Enter the mind of Dex Foray at your own risk.
This was such a treat! I love it when authors do this...moreFind this and other reviews at The Demon Librarian Enter the mind of Dex Foray at your own risk.
This was such a treat! I love it when authors do this; allow us to see the other side of certain pivotal scenes. Because the thing is, they know their characters inside and out, even if the main series is written first person from only one perspective like this one is, the author still has to know the other characters just as intimately to make the magic happen. They need to know exactly what the other player is thinking and feeling during those often convoluted conversations where people aren't saying what they really mean or the whole of the truth. But now we get to know, too! And there are certain scenes here I would have paid a handsome sum to know what Dex was thinking right then, and also some bonus scenes that I hadn't really thought much about, but that were enlightening nonetheless.
Be warned, however, Dex's mind is a dirty, mucky place! I was surprised by that most of all. He didn't strike me initially as such a sexual creature—that was something that evolved over the course of the first 5 books. But after reading this, you'll know that all those times from Perry's POV where his face was described as being blank/expressionless? Yeah, he was probably thinking about sex. The dirty rascal ;)
As well as revisiting scenes from the main series we also got scenes from Dex while he was away from Perry AND scenes from his early childhood and adolescence. Truly, if you want to know how this man's mind works, this novella will tell you.
Here is the list of scenes you get:
Prologue After School Special Dear Abby Spookshow Baby (A Darkhouse scene) Even Deeper (A Darkhouse scene) Big Dumb Sex (A Darkhouse scene) Butterfly Caught (A Red Fox scene) She’s Got a Way (A Red Fox scene) Stripsearch (A Dead Sky Morning scene) Digging the Grave (A Dead Sky Morning scene) When Good Dogs Do Bad Things (A Dead Sky Morning scene) She Loves Me Not (A Lying Season scene) Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (A Lying Season scene) Mr. Self-Destruct (A Lying Season scene) Demon Cleaner (An On Demon Wings scene) Bailout (An Into the Hollow scene)
I really enjoyed this. It was worth every penny. 5 Stars ★★★★★
My first thoughts upon reading the synopsis for this one were "Oh. Dear. You are kidding me, right?"
I mean, we've heard about Dex's girlfriend Jenn a few times in the first three books. We've heard how hot she is and how much everyone lusts after her blah blah blah, including Dex (gag). But that was kind of okay because it was only talk; she wasn't right there in the picture. She was removed, vague, indistinct, abstract...
Then comes this book, and suddenly shit just got a whole lot more real. And a lot more painful!
I don't know about you, but when I read I really, really get absorbed in my books; especially ones as well-written and evocative as these. I live vicariously through the characters, I identify with them, empathise and in some cases, I am that character. I particularly connect well to Perry because I share some of her insecurities. And I can tell you that because of that, this book seriously hurt my feelings. I mean, it literally HURT. I could feel my chest squeezing in jealousy and anguish and I had to blink hard more than once. So in that respect, it was not a 'fun' read, and yet there were other moments of it that I wouldn't swap for the world. I was such a wreck afterwards as well; it really took me a while to process everything. In fact, my husband kept stumbling upon me in a trance-like state after I'd finished and he'd be all "what is up with you today?" And I'd be like "Wha? Um, uh, book, thing, Dex, why did he, I don't...uh...."
So it could only be a five star read after that, lol.
It's impossible to say much more without getting into spoiler territory, but just make sure you have a couple of days free of interruptions when you start this one because you will not want to put it down!
As for the rest of it, Perry and Dex are in Seattle to investigate an alleged haunting at a Mental Institute. There were some great spooky scenes as you'll have come to expect by now. There were also some really nice new secondary characters introduced in the form of Dex (and Jenn's) friends. I really liked them and can't wait to see them again, hopefully.
And lastly, my final top tip would be to have the next book to hand for when you finish this one. It's not a cliffhanger, but I defy anyone not to want to know what happens next RIGHT FREAKING NOW!
This book was like an endurance test - in the nicest possible way.
This is really going to put my no spoilers policy to the test because there's a certain thing you're waiting to happen in this book, and anyone who's read it will know exactly what that something is, and so you find yourself racing towards that point (if such a point even exists;)), and I wouldn't blame you for doing that too. But I think it's worth actually slowing down a little and just examining the rest of what's going on. The changes in Perry that are in evidence for starters, and the development—for better or worse—of other returning characters. They're quite significant.
There are certain events in life that are powerful enough to actually affect your personality and change your character to a degree, whether temporarily or permanently. Having undergone just such a shocking change, Perry is in a...weird head space. I don't want to say she's in a "dark place" because she's actually trying really hard not to be dark. She's silently berating and encouraging herself to be positive, get out there, meet new people, and absolutely, positively NO DWELLING under any circumstances! But it's so hard.
It's also hard to be around people that don't understand. Her parents, for example, have never made a secret of the fact that they don't believe her about the whole ghost thing or that they think her show is a bunch of bull****. But someone who's always been on Team Perry (even if it took her a while to realise it) is her kid sister, Ada. I've liked Ada in the past books but my high opinion of her grew exponentially in this one. She's supportive but not coddling, and at times it felt like a role reversal—who's the 23-year old and who's the 15-year old? She just rocks.
Even with all this going on, though, it's not long before people start to realise Perry is acting strange above and beyond what might be expected under the circumstances. Giving us, and them, even more reason to keep a close eye on her. Some of the changes just might not be as natural as they seem...
I'm so looking forward to being able to read the Dex Files after this! It's meant to be read between books 5 and 6. I can't wait to see his take on, well, everything!
This is just a quickie review (see Janice's full review on the blog).
This was fantastic. They just keep getting better and better! Karina Halle upped the creepy factor all the way up to eleven and never let it drop. It also had a buttload of foreshadowing and questions raised for future books. As if I needed any further encouragement to devour them all! Pfft! It had lots of nice character development as well, although it was a bit of a test of my devotion to Dex at times. Still, I luuuurved it.
As a former big L.O.S.T. fan I adored the setting of D’Arcy Island and all the spooky goings on there. And the effects it had on both Dex and Perry's state of mind was harrowing yet fascinating to read.
I think I'm going to have a problem here because I already gave book one, Darkhouse, 5 stars because I thought...moreI love this series. It's now official.
I think I'm going to have a problem here because I already gave book one, Darkhouse, 5 stars because I thought it was awesome on toast with a side order of shamazeballs. But this one was undeniably, unquestionably and indisputably better in almost every sense. So where do I go from here? I do not have 6 stars, people! Everyone knows all books have to be rated out of 5 and that half stars are against God's plan, so how can I express the, the...betterness of this one? Yes, I am aware betterness isn't a word. But it should be!
In my first joint review with Janice I said that I suspected there may end up being more to the series than just ghosts and ghost-hunting. And I was right! There's so much more. I really, really loved the storyline for this book. And the setting. And all the extra paranormal elements. And the fact that it was more mystery based - almost a whodunnit. And most especially, I loved the developments between Perry and Dex!
I'm just flabbergasted at how much they both seemed to change before my very eyes in this book, and in each other's. They say that scary, life-threatening events will form an emotional bond between two people, and I certainly think that was part of it. But I also think Perry and Dex are two people who just fit together anyway. Like slightly broken puzzle pieces, they each may not be completely whole, but they still fit.
I have to admit to a certain amount of fangirl squeeing when it became apparent they would have to feign a higher level of closeness during the case they were working on down in Red Fox. Anything that might have forced them to be in the same room where they could get to know each other more would have made me happy, but the deception they had to maintain made it even better!
There were some really interesting secondary characters in this book including a blast from Dex's past who provided us with some much-needed back story on him. I loved all that but I'm not yet convinced I like the person who delivered it. His motives are highly questionable.
So, to sum up, in case you missed your cue—yes do I recommend this series! If book one was awesome on toast with a side order of shamazeballs, then book two was spaghetti bloody marvellous with Parmesan genius.
I'm going to assume that if you're reading a review for book 13 in a series, you already are familiar with it and therefore...moreAnother great read by Robb
I'm going to assume that if you're reading a review for book 13 in a series, you already are familiar with it and therefore don't need me to go into what these books are about—just whether or not this one was any good.
It was good. Very good, actually.
We got some progress on the McNab-Peabody situation (two more stubborn people I have never met), and of course Charles as well.
We got some nice scenes with Eve and Roarke. I love how much he worries about Eve when she runs herself into the ground. It's been about a year in book-time since the pair wed now. They are such a great couple.
We got an interesting method of delivery for the crime in that we had knowledge of the killer's games and even their identity way before Eve did. That was different but good. Even though being in a sicko's mind like that is never a fun place to be.
As always, I love reading about how the future technology either helps or hinders Eve in her investigations. In this instance, it was the use of facial putty, synthetic hair and other futuristic enhancements that enabled characters to look totally different and it was very enjoyable to read. ('cause you all know how much Eve loves visits from Trina the beauty technician, right?)
It was another great Audio production as well, with one caveat—
seems to have totally changed how she does Peabody's voice. It used to sound quite nasally and, well, a bit odd, but now she sounds just like Eve which makes it difficult when they are conversing since Robb isn't one for using he said/she said in her rapid-fire dialogue sections. Are you trying to confuse me, Susan, because I will not be bamboozled, dognammit!
I really enjoyed this. I think anyone who enjoys emotionally-charged contemporary romances featuring messed-up...moreA very sexy, very engaging read. Rawr!
I really enjoyed this. I think anyone who enjoys emotionally-charged contemporary romances featuring messed-up characters, such as Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, for example, will enjoy this book. (Although I must say this is a more polished, more grown-up, sexier and more realistic story than BD without quite so many WTF? moments.) I make the comparison only because of how this book made me feel, which was similar to my reaction to Beautiful Disaster, in that I connected easily and strongly to the characters' twisted relationship and felt like I got sucker-punched numerous times. And it made me cry, at least twice. Which, bizarrely, is something I rather like my books to do.
It's a character-driven story with some very minor subplots thrown in and a strong theme of 'fear of letting people in/getting hurt'. The main culprit of this particular character flaw being Joss (Jocelyn) Butler, the protagonist.
I liked Joss, I really did, but sometimes she infuriated me. She lost her family (mother, father and sister) in a car crash at age fourteen and went a little wild for a few years, then closed off and withdrew from people altogether. Cut to 8 years later and she's still mostly walled off from humanity, but has at least managed to acquire a few casual acquaintances. However, circumstances force a sharp change in her life when she moves into a new flat, with a new room-mate, on Dublin Street. And said room-mate has a very handsome, very charming, utterly egotistical brother called Braden, and this book is all about their tempestuous relationship.
It's an extremely sexually-charged relationship, with some absolutely scorching love scenes that were H.O.T. without ever crossing any of my personal boundaries of what I want to read about (like some other highly popular books floating about at the moment that you may have heard of...). Where the annoyance with Joss bit comes in, however—and really, it's not actually her fault at all—is that she has been so unhappy and alone for so long, that when the chance presents itself to become part of an adopted family of sorts, and a loving relationship, she's too scared to take it. And I just wanted to shake her at times and say "It's right there! What you are looking for is right in front of your damn face!". But then I also kinda wanted to cry for her as well, because she's clearly terrified of losing anyone again and thinks the answer is to not care about anyone...like, ever.
The use of 1st person narrative through Joss works really well for this book, even though it's much more common to find romances written in 3rd. Every thought, feeling and sensation is brought to you with first-hand descriptors taking you along for the ride rather than just being a witness to it. The other plus, IMO, is that it causes Braden to be that much more of a mystery as we never have the privilege of his thoughts, so we experience Joss's worries, insecurities and emotions about him which really draws you in, and it also means we only get to see Braden through Joss's lust-filled gaze, making him seem extremely appealing!
Not that Braden needed much help to sound appealing... My, my, my. He has his caveman tendencies, sure, and I could have lived without the string of ex-Barbie doll girlfriends (as I'm sure Joss could have, too) but he was also very sweet and understanding, even when Joss was being a total basketcase. I liked his character a lot and might have a teensy weensy crush on him. Just don't tell anyone, 'kay?
To sum up, I lurved this book. I didn't want it to end. So if you're in need of a steamy, well-written contemporary read, this is the very fella for you. Enjoy!
5 Stars ★★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review.
My first thought upon beginning this book was,"First person narrative? Really? Not seen that before in my Hunky Highlander books!" But I have to say, I thought it worked brilliantly. I slightly favour 1st person perspectives in general as I find it easier to connect to the heroine—whose character I invariably like to drop myself into. Unless, you know, she's an idiot. Then I remove myself as far from her as possible and call her names—but I've become so used to third person in romances that it struck me as a bold choice. I think it worked really well here, not only in my connection to the heroine, but in making the hero seem more of a mystery to us as readers—What is he thinking? Why is he acting that way?—We have no clue; much like in real life! Men are from Mars and women are from Venus and all that. So, writing style-wise, this was a hit for me, and I didn't find it limiting at all.
As to the characters, both hero and heroine, Wilkie and Roses, were great. Roses is a blonde-haired, green-eyed exotic beauty with a secret. Wilkie is a tall, dark and handsome warrior, a hit with the ladies, and a thoroughly nice guy. Both were pretty flawless physical specimens, it has to be said. Although you got the sense that Roses didn't really realise her own appeal after so many years trying to hide herself away at her old clan. And for Wilkie, while it can't have escaped his notice that he turns female heads everywhere he goes, he's far from arrogant. In fact, it's him that's struck dumb initially by Roses's beauty. It was a fantastic first meet scene and made me see perhaps why the book is called 'Highlander Claimed' rather than, say, 'Claimed by the Highlander.' Because it's Wilkie that's been caught hook, line and sinker. He's finally met his match, and he is never letting her go!
The story, while enjoyable, wasn't anything ground-breaking and in fact, I'd read a similar story in another highlander book just this year that had used two of the same plot lines. But, to be honest, I found the romance so engaging I didn't really mind how obvious the big ta-da! moment was. Sure, the dialogue got a bit flowery at times, and Roses could be a bit too biddable and simpering on occasion, but other than that, I had a fantastic time with the book and am excited about the prospect of more from this author. And did I mention the sex scenes? H. O. T!
I shall be adding Juliette Miller to my list of Highlander romance authors I recommend. And I'm greatly looking forward to brother number two—Kade's book, which is called Highlander Taken and releases on 1st May, 2013.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This review will probably be rubbish and not do the book justice at all, for the simple fact that I was enjoying it so much that...moreLove, love, loved it!
This review will probably be rubbish and not do the book justice at all, for the simple fact that I was enjoying it so much that I actually forgot it was an ARC (for review read) and forgot to take ANY notes. Not. One. Single. Note. Normally, I keep a pad and pencil next to my eReader at all times and I'll jot down little scribbles whenever they come to me, but I was so engrossed, I forgot.
And, funnily enough, compared to other similar books of this genre, the book wasn't even particularly action-packed or fast-moving, so it wasn't that that had me flipping the pages. It was more that I was simply enchanted by it. By the world, the story and the writing. This is my first book by Marillier, but will definitely not be my last. Her writing style is immediately engaging, no doubt in part due to being in first person, which is quite unusual for this type of book.
Full confession time: this genre is fast becoming by own personal literary crack, I can't seem to get enough of it. So that will have upped my enjoyment and my rating because I was in my element, my happy place. It's a difficult genre to pin down, really. It's essentially a historical fantasy setting (in this case loosely based on a magical ancient Scotland) with lush world-building and a strong (either of magic, character or body) and often quite young, female main character, and usually has a slow-forming but very sweet romance. I may not know what the genre is called, but I know exactly who I would recommend it to. If you are a fan of any or all of the following, you should love this book.
Maria V. Snyder. (Study Series, Healer of Avry series) Kristin Cashore. (Seven Kingdoms series) R. L. LaFevers (His Fair assassin series) Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass series) Kristen Britain (Greed Rider series)
And probably more I'm forgetting or haven't 'met' myself yet.
I've seen from other reviewers who have had the pleasure of reading Marillier before, that this isn't even necessarily her best or most thrilling book, no doubt due to the aforementioned lack of action or solid conclusion. But it's a great opener for a series I'm now extremely excited about continuing. The main conflict of the story arc—the evil King Keldec and his mission to cull every town of anyone who has Canny magic (unless they work for him, of course) by whatever ruthless means necessary—is all still to come. It was only talked about in the abstract in this book because, as of yet, our brave young heroine—a girl called Neryn of almost 16 summers—isn't ready to face him. I would have had to suspend all disbelief if she were to have had a showdown with him in this book. This is no Mary Sue character and there was no Deus Ex Machina ending. She's not ready yet. She's on a journey, and it's only just begun.
At the start of the book, Neryn has just about lost everything and finds herself on her own and on the run. Help comes in the most unexpected of forms and there are many a challenge and test of wills along the way. Much like in the great fairy tales of the past, our heroine first has to prove her worth, have her mettle tested to breaking point, and that's exactly what this book shows us. Seeing these early stages of our heroine's growth, while she's still so young and even a little bit naive, will no doubt make seeing the rest of her journey that much more fulfilling.
Flint, who was the other main character out of the wide and varied cast, all of whom were vivid and essential, was a real treat. Not your typical hero by any means, but what an amazingly complex and conflicted character! I can't wait to see more of him.
Even lacking in action or any big, climactic ending as it was, this was not a boring book by any means, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. There is a lot of time that Neryn is alone and travelling, but she's faced with constant challenges that kept me entertained. And then when Flint came on the scene...well, I was entertained for all kinds of different reasons then :)
Recommended to fans of all of the above authors, and to anyone who loved a good (and often rather gruesome) fairy tale as a child. Suitable for younger readers, but perfect for big kids too.
Another good one, but lacking in any moments of levity to break the tension.
Even the ever hilarious and good-for-a-laugh Peabody was subdued in this...moreAnother good one, but lacking in any moments of levity to break the tension.
Even the ever hilarious and good-for-a-laugh Peabody was subdued in this one, no thanks to MacNab being a total wolly. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't as much fun as others have been.
There's an assassin on the move in Eve's New York, one that's been on the FBI's most-wanted files for decades. His methods are brutal and hard to read about. I find that sometimes having to listen to the details of the crimes and get inside the killer's head along with Eve, is quite disturbing for me. Especially when it's rapists. I have a really hard time with it so that's why it's always so important for there to be a funny scene (or two or three) to lighten things up a bit. This book was missing that. Peabody was in it very little. Mavis was absent for most of the book too, and even Roarke, who's so often cheeky and playful, was too preoccupied with the crimes going on right under his nose to be his usual charming self.
I did however find this passage that I thought I'd quote since it's a nice reminder of just how gorgeous, intelligent and sexxeh Roarke is. For anyone that thinks Christian Grey is the sexiest billionaire on the block...try again.
She turned toward Roarke's office, then stopped in the doorway. He was at his console; captain of his ship. He'd drawn his hair back so it lay on his neck in a short, gleaming black tail. His eyes were cool, cool blue. The colour they were when his mind was fully occupied. He'd taken off his dinner jacket, his shirt was loose at the collar, the sleeves rolled up. There was something... just something about that look that always and forever grabbed her in the gut. She could look at him for hours, and at the end of it, still marvel that he belonged to her. Someone wants to hurt you, she thought. I'm not going to let them.
Thirty pieces of silver, but what is the price of a soul?
And we're back for book 11 in the In Death series with a gruesome killing spree that puts a...moreThirty pieces of silver, but what is the price of a soul?
And we're back for book 11 in the In Death series with a gruesome killing spree that puts a taint on everything Eve Dallas stands for. As usual—and this is something that I find quite comical at this point—there's a connection to Eve's billionaire husband, Roarke.
Well, he does own half the planet!
I thought the crime and mystery aspect was a great improvement over the last one. There's nothing Eve won't do to avenge the dead, and it hits even harder when it's one of their own. The connection to Roarke and the re-emergence of a contact from his less than spotless past is worrying for Eve. In trying to protect Roarke, a wall of tension is built between them which leads to some really intense scenes that were very satisfying to read.
To break the tension...Well, what does a girl do when her husband is being a butthead? Why, go and get rip roaring drunk with her oldest friend of course!
Now, I think I've mentioned before how good the audiobook narrator, Susan Ericksen, is for this series. She's made me laugh many a time with her interpretations of Robb's characters. But drunk Mavis has to go down as the ultimate achievement in audio narration. Ever. Somebody hand that woman an award, please. It was just...ah, so funny.
So, all together a great instalment with some graphic scenes of violence, some tense emotional moments, and a drunk Mavis as the proverbial cherry on the top. How does that sound?
Murder on stage. But is it simply a case art imitating life for Detective Eve Dallas?
This was a slight dip in the road for me for the In Death series...moreMurder on stage. But is it simply a case art imitating life for Detective Eve Dallas?
This was a slight dip in the road for me for the In Death series. The quality of the wrting was at its usual exceptional level; fast-paced, gritty, funny, sentimental. All the usual good stuff. But unfortunately this time the subject matter of the crime simply didn't ignite my imagination. I'm sure it was just a personal thing.
There's a murder within the first few paragraphs right on the stage in front of Eve during a performance of a play that's being backed by her squillionaire husband, Roarke. So the killer is known right from the beginning, but the question really is, who switched the fake knife for a very real one?
I didn't really like the cast of self-adsorbed, borderline narcissistic actors and luvvies. They weren't supposed to be enjoyable, I don't suppose, but it also had a somewhat old fashioned feeling to the format. A bit like an old Agatha Christie or Hercule Poirot, where all the players are known, and it's just a question of interrogating each of them until somebody spills their guts. Like I said, it just wasn't for me.
However, I'd say it was worth reading it for one hilarious scene alone. Eve gets her new computer unit in her office at Cop Central. Funniest. Scene. Ever. The narrator truly outdid herself on it.
I'm also loving the developments with MacNab and Peabody. So cute, I really hope it keeps going.
So, all in all not my favourite of the series, but not without a few high points, either.
Oh, I really enjoyed this. It's definitely Steampunk with its steam cabs, bio-mechanic limbs, clockwork toys and Metaljack...moreA sizzling Steampunk debut.
Oh, I really enjoyed this. It's definitely Steampunk with its steam cabs, bio-mechanic limbs, clockwork toys and Metaljacket soldiers. But it's also a Paranormal-Historical Romance filled with blood-drinkers, vampires and werewolves. In fact, the paranormal aspect I felt was actually stronger than the Steampunk stuff for the most part, which was mostly just used for worldbuilding and padding in the background.
It's also set in a kind of alternate history dystopian society. Oh heck, I don't know what genre it is, but it's a delicious mix of sexy Steampunk and Paranormal awesomeness. And I think I'd quite like to marry that cover too. Although, having read the book, I have to tell you that Honoria would never flash her garters in public like that. In private, well, that's another matter, and it all depends who's asking....
Honoria, of course, is our leading lady. She has an interesting tale to tell regarding how she's ended up the soul provider for her two younger siblings, the youngest of whom, Charlie, is very ill. She's having to live on the outskirts of The Rookery, which is the worst and most dangerous part of London, because it's all she can afford. A strategic position that she hopes will keep her well under the radar of the man who owns everything and everyone in The Rookery; the Devil of Whitechapel himself, Blade.
Why on earth would anyone want to avoid Blade? He's so yummy! He absolutely stole the show for me. Honoria was great as heroines go, but Blade. Ah, Blade. He was simply delicious; just the right amount of arrogance and vulnerability. Not impossibly beautiful, definitely a bit rough around the edges, but he won my heart with his willingness to give his to Honoria, whether she wanted it or not.
I thought McMaster got the balance just right in all areas of the book. Blade was aggressively male but not a dominant douchebag. Honoria was feisty but not bitchy. (She makes up for any excessive snappiness through her sacrifices for her brother and sister. And hey, if I was starving myself to leave more food for my family, I'd be in a bad mood too, let me tell you). The action scenes were bloody but not overly gruesome. And the inevitable Happily Ever After was sweet but not too saccharine.
Oh, and the sex scenes were extremely well done as well I thought! Sexy, but with an emotional connection to go with them.
My only complaint (because there has to be one, right?) was the way Blade's Cockney dialogue was written. Writing someone's accent can be a tricky venture and I felt like some of the dropped letters were incorrectly placed, forcing me to stumble through his dialogue sections, which just bugged me. But I have say this, and it's only a teeny tiny peeve really, was the only reason it didn't get 5 stars.
I'm very interested in several of the secondary characters that were introduced, including Honoria's sister Lena, and Blade's second in command Will the Verwulfen, as well as several others. I hope to see them starring in their own books very soon. I'll definitely be checking out the next instalment which is called Heart of Iron, when it hits the shelves in May 2013.
Recommended to fans of Meljean Brook's Iron Seas series, and Kristen Callihan's Darkest London series.
41/2 Stars ★★★★1/2 ARC provided for an honest review.
Despite taking a while to grab me and a few minor complaints about the characterization of the Wird sisters, this ended up being a really fun urban fantasy romp with some great action scenes, sizzling sexual tension and really fun magical elements.
Told from eldest sister Celia Wird's POV, she and her three sisters are introduced to us in the opening scene already in hot water with master vampire, Misha, having been summoned to "vampire court" on charges of murder. This introduction—which was used as a convenient way to tell us about each sister's unique supernatural abilities—raised instant warning flags for me as it became apparent the sisters had all been given personas so large and so extreme as to be bordering on the ridiculous. I realize the need to make it easy for us differentiate between them, to make each stand out, but for someone like myself who appreciates more subtly nuanced characters, the Spice Girl-like qualities of the sisters' personalities made me baulk.
There's the brash, crude and loud sister—Taran (Scary Spice).
There's the blonde-haired, timid and shy sister—Emme (Baby Spice).
There's the fun-loving, bouncy, calls everyone "dude" sister—Shayna (Sporty Spice).
The protagonist, Celia, however (who must be some amalgamation of Posh spice and Ginger Spice since that's all that's left) was a much more complex character (thank heavens!) and I grew to like her a lot. As the eldest sister, she's taken on the role of protector/defender of the family, having also the strongest physically ability when it comes to fighting. She's a Tigress shape-shifter with some other... interesting... abilities as well, all derived from a curse that was put on all mother Wird's unborn children. A badass when it comes to fighting, but totally hopeless when it comes to relationships and those "men" thingies, I really enjoyed discovering these two very different sides to her nature. I also felt quite sorry for her since she was quite a lonely character as well. Having an inner "beast" that people—whether they know it not—can sense, has always caused them to give her a wide berth. Her sisters are the ones that go on dates and get noticed by the opposite sex, not Celia. Until, that is, very Hot and very Alpha werewolf, Aric, who is her beast's equal in every way, comes on the scene!
I loved Aric. He was the perfect blend of strong manly man and total sweetie-pie. The romance was one of my favourite things about this book, actually. That and the action! It's not just the personalities that are big in Robson's world! Oh no. Even the Big Bads were Marvel comic book-like in their size, strength and descriptions. They could give Hulk a run for his money any day of the week! I found myself glued to these sections and up rather late at night finishing the book as I just couldn't put it down. Which is always nice.
So overall, while not perfect, this book was Fun with a capital F once it got going and I will definitely be reading the next one, A Cursed Embrace, when it comes out in July 2013. If you can accept some larger than life aspects in your Urban Fantasy, you should enjoy this book, as I did.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Another great instalment to this engaging futuristic police procedural series with a diverse cast of loveable characters.
Eve Dallas just can't miss....moreAnother great instalment to this engaging futuristic police procedural series with a diverse cast of loveable characters.
Eve Dallas just can't miss. After nine books, I'm starting to notice some patterns and repeated ideas within the series, quite naturally so. Such as Roarke ALWAYS somehow managing to get involved in Eve's cases. Not that I really mind; I want him on the scene. But even with this slight repetitiveness, I've still thoroughly enjoyed every single one of the books so far, and I'm continually impressed at how the standard stays so high.
The usual gang is in full swing in this politically motivated crime/mystery plot, with the addition of Peabody's Free-ager younger brother, Zeke. He was such a sweetie-pie, I do hope to see him again in future books. Speaking of Peabody; if anyone is patiently waiting for her and MacNab to get a clue and realise they like each other, and that MacNab's teasing is the equivalent of pulling the pigtails of the girl you liked in the school playground, you might want to read this book for a slight insight on that situation.
I admit to being totally hoodwinked by one of the characters and enjoyed being surprised. Again, each crime is fresh and different and the politically motivated bomb threats were interesting and exciting. As was the part Zeke played in the subplot.
I do love all the futuristic technology, but I still can't quite wrap my head around some of the stuff, like the hover cars and androids for example (can you say creepy?). It's all just flavouring to the series, though, and never takes over or becomes too bogged down in techo gibber jabber. It's just the right balance.
Another goody. Well done Robb. 4 Stars ★★★★ (less)
A slight change of pace this time. The plot was not based around a mystery, but was more of a problem solving affair. I prefer a mystery if I'm honest...more
A slight change of pace this time. The plot was not based around a mystery, but was more of a problem solving affair. I prefer a mystery if I'm honest, but, if you've been following this series in order, you'll be nicely invested in the characters by now and so will be pleasantly surprised and delighted by some of the progress made in this instalment. There are some very interesting developments. Some people will impress you, some really, really won't.
The setting of the Netherworld didn't make as much of an impression on me as I'd imagined after reading Dulcie's glimpse of it. But, to be fair, she really didn't get the chance to see a whole lot of it, so I will look forward to seeing more of that setting in future books. And judging by certain events, that's a distinct possibility.
Well now. I've gone from 'like' to 'love' over the space of two books. I 'liked' the plot for book one, but I 'loved' the plot book two. It wasn't tha...more
Well now. I've gone from 'like' to 'love' over the space of two books. I 'liked' the plot for book one, but I 'loved' the plot book two. It wasn't that it was better written either because the standard was already high, but it was just more interesting because it had such devastating repercussions for Duclie's personal life.
I also loved the new characters that were introduced. Dea, for example, was a nice surprise. I'd grown quite attached to her by the end. I hope she's a regular feature from now on. And getting to know the characters we'd already met before more... intimately was fun too. Especially Knight and Bran. Bran has his moments, but ultimately always ruins it for himself by being a total narcissist. And Knight....ah, Knight. I love Knight Vander!!! (Extra exclamations marks were required- you have no idea). I just can't hide it any longer. I need to confess it to someone. He's too cute/hot/sweet/arrogant/funny/sexy for words. And I think we saw a different side to him in this book, too. Okay, the Knight that we met in book one- the self-confessed "cocky bastard"- is still very much there, but we discovered new depths in A TALE OF TWO GOBLINS and were it a test, he would have passed with flying colours in the "is also a pretty freaking nice guy" department.
This book wasn't perfect. The BIG BAD was unguessable (my red squiggly line maker says unguessable isn't a word, but it so should be) and there were also some pretty major time discrepancies going on between what was said in book one, and what's said here in this one, which in the end I just decided to overlook and make it up for myself. So I was perhaps a bit generous giving it a full five stars (which is not like me at all!), but I enjoyed it so much it seemed mean to mark it down.
Another great instalment in the In Death series, this time with a healthy dose of personal drama.
There's a killer on the loose who seems to have more...moreAnother great instalment in the In Death series, this time with a healthy dose of personal drama.
There's a killer on the loose who seems to have more than a little medical expertise and is leaving his 'patients' all over Eve's New York. Not acceptable.
Eve Dallas is many things; brave, dedicated, tenacious, fierce, headstrong. Until this book I don't think I quite realised how much of that...spirit, comes from her job as a cop. Her status, the symbols of her position; her gun, her badge, and just what might happen if those things were ever threatened, has never been explored before. In this one it is and with shocking results.
Roarke, as usual, was auditioning for the World's Best Husband award. He certainly gets my vote. He was even seen dispensing a bit of tough love. Which was probably just as tough for him to give as for Eve to receive. Maybe more so. “Roarke, the lieutenant has just come in from outside. She wore no outer gear. She looks very bad.” “Where is she?” “She’s heading up. Roarke, I insulted her and . . . she apologized to me. Something must be done.” “It’s about to be.”
The mystery was good but for me it was greatly overshadowed by the personal stuff as I'm a bit of a drama junkie. On the positive side, it was great to see everyone rallying to Eve's defence. I hope it makes her realise how respected she is, no matter how prickly she can be sometimes.
A short tale set immediately after the events of Holiday in Death.
There is clearly no rest for the wicked good cop because no sooner has Eve Dallas g...moreA short tale set immediately after the events of Holiday in Death.
There is clearly no rest for the wicked good cop because no sooner has Eve Dallas got rid of one psycho, there's another one escaped from jail with his sights set directly on her. One she remembers very well from when she put him away 3 years ago. And when his "Christmas list" of victims has more than one familiar name on it, Eve decides that this time, she will take no prisoners.
Favourite quote: “You annoy me, Eve.” “Why? Because I’m right?” “Yes. And snotty about it.” But his smile warmed a little. “Why did you call?” “So I could be snotty.
Another great instalment in the In Death series. This time there's a killer on the loose with a thing for Christmas. Murder victim one is found with a...moreAnother great instalment in the In Death series. This time there's a killer on the loose with a thing for Christmas. Murder victim one is found with a partridge in a pear tree icon. Does that mean there are 11 more victims to go?
These books are so good. It amazes me how the quality never dips. The cast of characters steadily grew throughout the first three books, and now you just grow to love each character that much more with each book.
Roarke and Eve are in a good place, but Eve still struggles with things other people, other women, might find easy, and the Christmas holiday period brings some of these issues to the fore.
“The wanting of you never stops.” His fingers skimmed over her hips; the trousers pooled at her feet. “The loving of you never peaks. There’s always more.” Undone, she leaned against him, her face buried in his hair. “Nothing’s the same for me since you.”
The mystery was good, the crimes disturbing, and the chase exhilarating. I'm heading on to Midnight in Death which is a novella that apparently picks up seconds after this one ends.
The Horngate Witches series is set in a post magical apocal...moreFind more reviews like this one at The Demon Librarian book blog.
Five action-packed stars!
The Horngate Witches series is set in a post magical apocalyptic America and features badass sword-wielding, not quite human, warriors, mildly sociopathic witches, not very angelic angels, and all manner of other weird mythological creatures and beasties. With a splash of romance enough to make me grin like a weirdo, worldbuilding that knocks my socks off, and action by the bucket load, you can see why this series is right up their with my other Urban Fantasy favourites like Kate Daniels, The Hollows, Mercedes Thompson and all those other great female-led UF series. If you haven't started this series yet and you are a fan of any of the above, add this to your TBR today! You will not be sorry.
The warriors in this series—Shadowblades and Sunspears—act as guardians for the witches and are, in fact, the main focus of books, despite the slightly misleading series name. They're woven with spells that make them nearly indestructible, as well as faster, stronger, more resistant to extreme temperatures, etc. But the downside to all that is eternal servitude to the witch who turned them. Which wouldn't be so much of a problem unless, say for instance, that witch used to be your best friend and did it to you without your permission.
Our main character is Max (that's a girl, btw), but at this point in the series, it's fair to say that Alexander is just as much of a main character as it's told in alternating third person POVs between them. Max and Alexander not only have to fight all manner of nasty things in this book as part of their role as leaders of the Shadowblades, but they're also fighting some more personal demons, as well as their increasingly complicated feelings for each other.
Following on from the giant waves of magic that erupted a couple of books back, and then Max's trials in Shadow City, she and her fellow Blades are reunited once again and decide it's time they get out from behind the safety and insulation of Horngate's wards to check out the aftermath and find out what's happening with the humans still out there in the towns and cities. Which is nothing good, as it turns out. Food is in critical demand, people are reverting back to their baser natures, and where there's chaos and panic, there's always some douchecanoe wannabe dictator ready to lead them all up the creek without a paddle. Which loosely sums up the premise of this book, in a very crude and ineloquent way.
I thought the use of the split POVs proved really useful once again; allowing us to see the action from all sides at once. The awkwardness that's developed between Alexander and Max was showcased brilliantly, too. Max, being Max, isn't handling the new dynamic with Alexander very well. She's been acting like Jekyll and Hyde with him and he is both perplexed and annoyed by it. I fully expected Max to make some mistakes at the whole "relationship" thing, and she certainly didn't disappoint! I thought that entire situation was really well-written, and with a few unpredictable twists thrown in for good measure.
Overall, I thought the story was engaging, well-paced, amusing, emotional, exhilarating, intense...I mean, I could just go on and on. It was just superb urban fantasy.
So what are you waiting for, hmm? Go grab yourself a copy right now!
5 Stars! ★★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Lynsey: Well, as recommendations go, this was certainly a winner!
I'd had this book on my TBR for a while and had snapped it up as a Kindle Freebie. I was vaguely aware of a good buzz surrounding it, but was ultimately convinced to bump it to the top of my list when Janice said the immortal words, "you have to meet Dex."
Now, when a character is so awesome that he defies describing in a few sentences, you just "have to meet him" to understand, I'm instantly intrigued because I am all about characters; the more unique, the better.
Not only was Dex 100% unique (literally unlike any other character I have read in any book from any genre), but so is Perry! I think possibly Dex gets mentioned in reviews more often since he's more mysterious to us as readers—it's written 1st person through Perry—but I have to give Perry a virtual high-five too because she totally rocks as a protagonist!
So thank you, Janice! I am so glad to have started this series and can't wait to read the rest! (I've already started book 2. TBR list? What TBR list?!)
Janice: You're very welcome, Lynsey! I knew you'd love it!
I discovered Karina Halle's Experiment In Terror series earlier this year and fell instantly, utterly, in love with both it and Halle's engaging writing style. In anticipation of the release of book #6 (Into The Hollow), I decided to re-read the entire series, beginning with Darkhouse, and I gotta say, it was even more enjoyable the second time around. There were so many little details I'd forgotten, hints and clues of things to come in future books. But more than that, I just wanted to revisit the world of Dex and Perry. It's a very cool and creepy place to be.
Lynsey: It certainly is. I think this will be a series I end up re-reading, too. Once I finally get some answers about Dex, I'm sure it would be fascinating to go back to the beginning and look again at some of his scenes and be like, "Ohhhhh, I get it now," lol.
So, aside from having two fascinating, intriguing and endearing main characters, what is the book about? Well, ghosts and ghost-hunting, essentially. I suspect there's a lot more to the series once you get a few more books down the line, and I definitely get the sense that we've only seen the tip of the iceberg where Dex and Perry's back stories are concerned, but for this first book alone it was the story of how Perry met the delightful Dex who is a webshow filmmaker, cameraman, composer and all-round enigma with an... unusual approach to conversation, shall we say (understatement alert), and how they set out to make a documentary-style film about a haunted lighthouse.
Janice: But who, exactly, are these incredible characters Lynsey speaks of? Well, Perry is a twenty-two year old college grad living at home with her parents and younger sister, working a dead-end receptionist job and sort of drifting through life without any real purpose or direction. She's always been the odd duck in her family, always felt like she was meant to do something more, only she could never quite figure out what that something was...that is, until one fateful night when she investigates the lighthouse on her uncle's property and bumps into a trespasser named Dex Foray.
If there was a moment that determined the course of my future, I'm pretty sure this was it. I had two somewhat simple choices. I could make a run for it and go back to Uncle Al's. Back to the bonfire where my cousins and dear sister would be drinking and revel in the normalcy of a Saturday night and forget I ever went to this horrid place and ran into this weirdo. Or I could go with said weirdo up the stairs in this decrepit old lighthouse, which was most likely condemned and unsafe, towards some unknown person (or thing) that was walking around, potentially waiting to murder us in horrific ways.
It didn't seem like a very hard decision to make. In fact, I think 99.7% of people in the right frame of mind would have picked from column A and gone on with their merry lives. But for some freaking crazy reason, I thought that maybe, just maybe I should go with this stranger up those kelp-ridden stairs and toward the lair of unimaginable horror. You know, because it was the more interesting alternative.
That's what I love about Perry. Even when she's scared out of her mind, she is not a roll-over-and-play-dead type of girl. As a narrator, she's snarky and so easy to relate to; she just draws you into the whole experience. What she feels, you feel. She is also more than able to hold her own with Dex, which I don't think many people could do.
I wish I could describe Dex to you. Oh sure, I can rattle off an impressive list of adjectives - intense, flawed, enigmatic, funny, maddening, and sexy, just to name a few - but the truth is, Dex is not a man who can be pinned down with mere words. He must be experienced.
Lynsey: That's so true; I can totally see why you say that now. It's almost like it would do him a disservice to try to sum him up or something...
Janice: Exactly! Dex is...well, Dex. I love the dynamic between him and Perry. It's so electric and brimming with possibility, and Karina Halle does a brilliant job conveying the tension in their relationship. They are constantly pushing and pulling each other. Can I trust you? What are you going to do in this situation? How will you react if I say this? Who are you, really? And as the reader, you're totally caught up in it. And you know, instinctively, that these two characters are going to take you on a journey unlike any other.
If any two people were fated to meet, Dex and Perry were. Don't believe me? Ask the Creepy Clown Lady. (That restaurant scene.....*shudder*....freaky!)
Lynsey: No, not Creepy Clown Lady! Anything but her! Lol.
There were quite a few interesting secondary characters, actually. It wasn't just the Dex and Perry show (although they totally stole it). I quite liked Perry's kid sister, Ada, for example. I really felt like she added another layer to Perry's character. I haven't encountered many heroines with a teenage sister before—in fact, quite often they have no family at all or were adopted or fostered—so it's refreshing to read about Perry's relatively normal family and all its accompanying issues.
Like most things with Dex, his family (or lack thereof?) remains a mystery at this point.
I thought Halle's writing overall, although quite straightforward in style, was extremely effective in creating a scary movie-like atmosphere and made everything very easy to visualise (Creepy Clown Lady being a prime example!). I thought all the ghostly action scenes were really well-done; nicely spooky with a sinister edge. And although much of the book was an introduction to the characters (to be expected in a first book), there was definitely plenty there to keep action-lovers happy. My favourite thing of all, though, has to be the dialogue—I do love reading dialogue and body language! Especially when you have to work at reading between the lines, seeing past what you're being told to what might really be the case.
Janice: For me, the beauty of Darkhouse - of all the EIT books - is how well it blends the mundane and the scary. You're going along, cheering for Perry or laughing at some shocking thing Dex has said, and then....everything shifts. The tone darkens. Sometimes it's sudden, like a door slamming down the hall, making you jump. But most of the time, it's more insidious, creeping over you like a rolling fog. As I was reading Darkhouse (both times), I could often feel my body curling in on itself in a sort of defensive posture, as if I was subconsciously preparing for an attack. My grip on my ereader tightened, too - not quite a death grip, but close - and I was suddenly, intensely aware of every shadow in every corner of every room. That uncomfortable, on-edge feeling, it doesn't just go away when you put the book down, either. It lingers. That, to me, is more frightening than any monster in any horror movie.
Lynsey: So have we convinced you yet? I hope so because I definitely, wholeheartedly recommend this book. Especially while it's still a Freebie. I mean, what have you got to lose? Answer: nothing!
Janice: Seriously, folks, don't wait. Get your copy of Darkhouse today and START READING! You'll thank us, I promise!
Lynsey's Rating: 5 Stars ★★★★★ Janice's Rating: 5 Stars ★★★★★ *This is currently a Kindle freebie - snap it up while you can!*
What? No, no, no, no, no, that's not the end! It's doesn't end there! *Shakes eReader furiously* Ah man! That sucks!
Well, aside from the book ending V...moreWhat? No, no, no, no, no, that's not the end! It's doesn't end there! *Shakes eReader furiously* Ah man! That sucks!
Well, aside from the book ending VERY abruptly, and without any warning. (Usually you can tell you are being prepared for the end, even for a cliffhanger ending. This one kind of just stops. And I REALLY didn't want it to because I was enjoying it tremendously). So aside from THAT, I loved it!
I always know when my interest has been peaked by a book a bit more than usual because all other activities cease and desist. Normally, I might read for an hour, then maybe go online, listen to some tunes, then go back to my book.
Eeeeeyyyyeah. I don't think this book has left my hands since I picked it up 2 days ago except for maybe working and sleeping.
I can't honestly say the book was perfection; hence the four stars not five. But in terms of enjoyment it was way up there. My main negatives were some slightly stiff and formal dialogue sections. A bit of repetition in the narrative (lots of hand holding, hand grabbing) and just a couple of teensy weensy niggly things like that, that as a reviewer I'm supposed to notice and comment on. Well there you go, I commented on them and they didn't really lessen my enjoyment much at all.
It's always nice to be shown something different and this book and the world(s) it's set in are very creative and unusual, which I just love. It's written in first person, present tense, which seems to be becoming an increasingly popular way of writing at the moment. I remember the first book I read in present tense felt very weird and jarring, but now I'm pretty much used to it and even prefer it in certain circumstances where you don't want your main character to have any clue what's coming. And that fits this book perfectly, because the main character, Katriona (Kate) Wilde, is literally thrown in at the deep end (and then shoved through a magical portal) and it's nice to have to figure things out right along with her.
The main themes of the book deal with prophecies, destinies, chosen ones, fated love etc. I know a few people have issues if their lead character comes across as too "special" and there are certainly elements of that in evidence here. But I don't mind it so much.
The world that she encounters on the other side of the portal I'm reluctant to say too much about as I want people to discover it for themselves. But, suffice it to say, they are having a hard time of it, and Katriona may be their only hope.
“This might be difficult for you to accept, but please know I will never lie to you. You are Encardia's only hope of surviving this war.”
If I could wish for one thing, it would be that the ending was more suspenseful and climactic, rather than just being a surprise because it came out of nowhere. I realise the author will be saving a lot of the fighting/battles to come for future instalments, and judging by the dreams and visions Kate has been having, these should be pretty epic. But it might have been an idea to have some sort of mini battle to close out this book.
Anyhoodle. I will definitely be reading the next one, and I'm now off to stalk the author about when exactly I'll be getting it!
4 Stars! ★★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review
This was a wonderful book. I have nothing but praise.
First of all, taking on the challenge of writing a character that is mute in the first place earn...moreThis was a wonderful book. I have nothing but praise.
First of all, taking on the challenge of writing a character that is mute in the first place earns big bonus points with me, as it's quite the undertaking and I just thought it was handled superbly.
I have read a number of books where the lead male character, or hero, if you prefer, has been tortured and/or imprisoned. Often this leads to your character becoming a very angry, volatile, impossible to be around, kind of character that needs 'taming' by a female... Hm. This was very different, and I found it a lot more thought-provoking. In this case, our hero, Callum, has been imprisoned since he was just a boy of 12 (he's 19 when the book starts) and can barely remember anything but cruelty and suffering, and instead of lashing out, he has reverted inwards. He's mute, and hasn't spoken for over a year.
When you discover the cause, the thing that started his silence, it actually makes a lot of sense from a psychological point of view. He isn't physically incapable of speech, all the words are just jammed up inside and no matter how hard he tries, he can't bring them forth.
Our heroine, Marguerite, is a young maiden who's been betrothed to the man imprisoning Callum by arrangement with her father, the Duke. Callum would have expected her to be the same kind of ilk as her fiancé and show him nothing but scorn and distaste. Instead, after a particularly harsh flogging where he's been left to die out in the cold, he meets an angel. His angel.
This meeting, although brief, stays with Callum throughout the rest of his imprisonment, because it's the first kindness he's known in so long, and so unexpected. The image of Marguerite's face is the only thing that gets him through the days and nights to come.
I can't even begin to tell you what a sweet man Callum is. We have no dialogue from him, obviously, but the way he communicates through actions and small touches, and the thoughts from his point of view, are so unbelievably adorable. He has, quite understandably, put Marguerite on a pedestal as his saviour and wants nothing so much as to protect her for the rest of his life if she'd allow it. He feels he owes her his freedom and sanity both. But it's impossible. He's a penniless ex-slave, and she's a Duke's daughter. It can never be...
"I shouldn't let you do this, I know," she whispered. He touched a finger to her lips, bidding her to be silent. Then he went down on one knee before her. "What is it?" she asked, frowning at his position. But Callum took her hand and set it on his head, needing her to understand what he couldn't say. Her hand moved against his wet hair and she sighed. "I know you're not going to hurt me." Slowly, he stood and took her hands. He struggled to speak, trying to force the words out. I never thought I'd see you again. The desperate need for words tormented him, but nothing came forth. Marguerite saw his failure, but instead of offering sympathy, she stood on tiptoe, resting her cheek against his.
I confess I read this book out of series order, which I know is a crime punishable by severe finger-wagging, but I have to say I was never lost or confused at any point. It just makes me want to go back and read the story of the other two brothers, at least one of whom was also imprisoned in the same place. I plan to do that real soon.
A fantastic, poignant read that will melt your heart. Highly recommended.
5 Stars! ★★★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review(less)
Squeeeee! I freaking LOVE Terrible! Could he be any more adorable if he tried? I think not.
This novella packs quite a punch for twenty-four little pa...moreSqueeeee! I freaking LOVE Terrible! Could he be any more adorable if he tried? I think not.
This novella packs quite a punch for twenty-four little pages and is an absolute must read for fans of the series. It was a real feel good story, a bit of a mystery thrown it but the main focus was on Chess and Terrible finally together and happy! If you loved the end of City of Ghosts as much as I did, you will love this too. Having said that, I have a sneaky suspicion this might only be the calm before the storm in the next instalment. Chess wouldn't be Chess if her life wasn't a hot mess now would she?
Can't wait for the next book, Sacrificial Magic. Wish I had it already. Oh wait! I do! *grins*(less)
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble is the first book in the Jolie Wilkins series. We join Jolie's story to find herlivinghappily inignorantbliss, believin...moreFire Burn and Cauldron Bubble is the first book in the Jolie Wilkins series. We join Jolie's story to find her living happily in ignorant bliss, believing she's a psychic; giving readings and fortunes from her quirky little shop with her best friend Christa. Turns out the reason she's so good at reading people has nothing to do with being psychic at all, it's because she's a witch. She has her eyes forcibly opened to this salient piece of information by Rand, a rather dashing warlock, who, among other things, has a job he needs her to do that she just can't turn down, but may later wish she had anyway.
I'm already three books into H.P. Mallory's other series about Dulcie O'Neil, a Faerie law enforcement agent, so I came to this expecting a similar style of writing and world-building, and that's just what I got. I don't believe they are actually set in exactly the same 'world' (although I could be mistaken about that) because there do appear to be some discrepancies, particularly regarding the Fae race, but it has that similar feel to it. So basically, if you enjoy one series, you'll probably enjoy the other one, too.
It's written from Jolie's POV in first person, and I found her to be endearing and likeable, if sometimes a little naive and clueless. I can't help but compare her to Dulcie, who is a lot tougher and more sure of herself, particularly about her skills at her job as a sort of supernatural cop. Jolie is much softer, much less kick-ass, but no less enjoyable to read about. Her whole life has just been turned upside-down, and because everything is so new to her, she's naturally a lot less confident at the start of her journey.
I also really liked Rand, the warlock I mentioned earlier. He's Jolie's first connection to this new supernatural world and I enjoyed reading about the relationship that's slowly developing there. He's a Brit, a bit of a loner, his dimples sound adorable and I just hope to see much more of him as the series progresses.
At first, I found the scene jumps a little bit jarring. There are lots of transitions between settings, time lapses, skipping over any travelling or long journeys, and it can feel a bit jumpy at first. But by the end of the novel, when I thought back on all the different scenes that were still flying around in my head, it actually served to make it feel as though I'd read a story much longer than only 300ish pages. I felt like Jolie had come so far, seen so much, been so many places. It gave it a feeling of scale and scope.
As I said earlier, if anyone's read the Dulcie O'Neil series and were wondering about this one, you should like it just fine. And as with her other series, which also has these cutsie cartoon covers, you always get a lot more substantial plot than you're probably expecting. They're not just silly, ditzy mysteries. There are credible bad guys, a couple of hot guys, some heartache, a steep learning curve. And if this is still free on Amazon, which it was last I checked, you should absolutely, positively, definitely snap it up ASAP.
I absolutely loved this book. I became a fan of Maria V. Snyder's work back with Poison Study (book one in the Study Trilogy) and I enjoyed this one j...moreI absolutely loved this book. I became a fan of Maria V. Snyder's work back with Poison Study (book one in the Study Trilogy) and I enjoyed this one just as much. The world created for this new trilogy, although not in any way connected, had a very similar feel to it to that of the Study series. It is very similar to our own world in many ways, although without the benefits of our modern technology- plumbing, electricity, cars etc. - but with the added bonus of magic. Lots and lots of lovely magic!
The story had excellent pacing. Right from the first page we were off and running (literally) and before I even realised what I was doing I had inhaled the first 100 pages of the book. If not for that darn pesky sleep thing we humans require, I wouldn't have stopped there either.
One of the best things about Maria's writing is her amazing characters. She writes beautifully forming friendships that really touch you as a reader. Her writing is emotive, I felt my heart plummet several times during the course of the book over something that was said or revealed. But the very best thing of all for me, is the way she sets up the romantic storyline. That is to say, she doesn't set it up in any kind of in-your-face or obvious way. It's so very clever and subtle that you don't even realise what's happening until it creeps up on you. Little actions and gestures. Words said when people think themselves unheard. I absolutely loved trying to read between the lines and hear what went unsaid. This kind of subtlety is so much more enjoyable to me than the insta-love of so many other books.
I also enjoyed all the magical abilities we saw. The healing power of our main character, Avry, is fascinating in that she has to assume the injuries or illnesses into her own body first in order to heal them. Her healing is greatly accelerated over that of a normal person, but that doesn't mean she doesn't suffer. She feels every bit of it and has the scars to prove it. This makes her seem incredibly altruistic at times but that doesn't mean she will heal everyone she is told to on command. And this is the main crux of the story. She is asked by Kerrick, the leader of the band of rogues who abduct her at the start of the book, to heal Prince Ryne. Avry flat out refuses for reasons that she initially doesn't wish to share. As you can imagine this news isn't received well and the plot takes off from here.
There really was not a dull moment in this book. It had me bemoaning each and every one of my responsibilities that kept me away from it during the course of the 3 days it took to read. I am greatly looking forward to the next book and just hope it maintains this incredibly high standard, and that all of the characters I have come to love will be there waiting for me inside.
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review (less)