A fresh take on vampires - something you may think is impossible - is whatLarissa Ione is trying to achieve here, and I, personally, am...moreBound by Night
A fresh take on vampires - something you may think is impossible - is what Larissa Ione is trying to achieve here, and I, personally, am putting her down for a win. It didn't blow my mind or change my world - I honestly don't think one could any more, I've just read so many - but of the ones I've read recently, this is shinning a little brighter than the rest.
Why? Okay, here's what particularly stood out
The origin story of the vamps. Each original vamp (of which there are only few) stems from a tribal clan that either followed the Raven or the Crow, who are enemies still. The different spin on the human/vampire power dynamic.Vampires enslaved by humans? I didn't always see how this was logical given their greater strength. It seems to be just a case of greater numbers, better weapons, and once they're caught, a collar to keep them under control. The camaraderie between the boys. Yes, this is another one of those paranormals where they all live together (aw). I actually like this. I like meeting the other players in the background and guessing who's up next. There was hardly any brooding. I liked the fact that they were modern, cool vamps that play computer games and whatnot. And although they were clearly up to speed on all-things modern and their speech reflected that, there was no cheesy dialogue or over-the-top "bro"ness. (There's a small chance that last sentence doesn't make sense outside of my brain). The way the heroine had her horizons broadened and her eyes opened. Vamps really are seen as second class citizens, sometimes not even that - more like animals. It was good to watch Nicole comes to realize how "human" they are, how family-oriented. Points for Team V. The medical angle. Vamps are experiencing an all-time low birthrate and face extinction. Good thing out heroine here is a doctor, huh... The side story of the laboratory boy. Ican't elaborate on this much, but a subplot was introduced that I can't wait to see continue in the next book. The sexah. Ione writes good sex. We know this. It's still true here.
Things I wasn't as keen on:
A little slow to get going. Because our hero and heroine are natural enemies of the highest order, it took a while to get the romance going.
The downside of the vamps being persecuted. Of course this naturally makes humans the Bad Guys. And they really were. I would be ashamed of us if this was real. I imagine this "humans are so evil" thing might get old after a bit, however. If Nicole had to realize there was more to vamps than she'd been brought up to believe, the reverse should have been true as well, and it so wasn't.
So there you have it. And on a frivolous sidenote, the romance, once established, was kinda cute and squishy:) I liked it a lot, and will definitely read book two since that's been set up brilliantly at the end of this book as well.
Looking forward to it:)
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Back with the fantastically entertaining Evelina Cooper, niece to Sherlock Holmes, in this second instalment of the Steampunk my...moreA Study in Steampunk.
Back with the fantastically entertaining Evelina Cooper, niece to Sherlock Holmes, in this second instalment of the Steampunk mysteries - The Baskerville Affair. This time we start with the main characters all scattered hither and thither after the events at the end of the last book. It's fair to say I was bitterly, bitterly disappointed in Tobias' character in A study in Silks. Not all the way through, of course. Just the spineless move he pulled at the end. He let me down, in particular, because he was my pick for Evelina. Now, I don't think he deserves her if he's unable to man up when it counts. I probably best not go into more detail in case you haven't read in order or are peeking ahead to this review, but he was not in my good books as I set out to read A Study in Darkness, put it that way. And I was therefore hoping to see a great deal less of him in this book. And, hopefully, the swift return of childhood friend Nick. Or should I say, The Indomitable Niccolo!
Well, Nick's return wasn't quite as swift as I'd liked, as it turns out. In fact, he seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to make an appearance, but I loved every scene he was in when he finally did! The love triangle, if you can call it that, has taken such an interesting turn. My own loyalties have been hoodwinked and bamboozled, so God only knows how poor Evelina must feel! I think the romance aspect of these books, while small, is so well done. So subtle and yet so full of feeling. Really clever stuff!
As for the rest of the plot, Holloway ingeniously found a way to work in, with a bit of jiggery-pokery and a whole load of imagination and flair - real life serial murderer Jack the Ripper to her Steampunk world. I thought this aspect - the way she made it fit her plot - was truly fantastic! I honestly cannot fault the worldbuilding side of things at all. It seems water tight and is highly enjoyable to read.
So, why am I being a miserable cow and only giving it 3.5 stars? Well, simply because the beginning, before Nick reappeared, was rather slow-going. These are big books, five-hundred some pages, so it doesn't take much for it to feel like you're hardly moving. And indeed, this time, it felt like we were purposely delaying the action. Therefore, I have to in all honesty give it less than I gave book one, which moved at a much smoother tempo. Still, I found much to enjoy, as ever, and can't wait for book three!
3.5 Stars ★★★1/2 ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.(less)
You know, novellas are tricky things. They always leave me unsure how to rate them since they're too short to ever really blow me away w...moreHome For Keeps
You know, novellas are tricky things. They always leave me unsure how to rate them since they're too short to ever really blow me away with their amazing worldbuilding or character development. The only time they succeed in that way are when they're mid series in an already established world. What they are good for as prequels, however, is getting a sense of an author's writing style. And in this, HOMECOMING was a win. I enjoyed the style and the emotion she managed to draw from me in such a short time. But the actual story itself left me feeling frustrated.
Firstly, there was the off-the-charts sexual tension that never came to full fruition, if you know what I mean? *nudge, nudge, wink, wink* That was such a tease! And also the ending, if that is the end for this particular couple, was rushed and unsatisfying.
But what about that sexual tension, eh? If allowed the time to be explored properly in a full-length novel, and with all the other wonderful steampunk and paranormal elements to be found, it could really turn out be something special. So I suppose you could say I'm slightly conflicted over HOMECOMING and unsure if I'm going to carry on with it or not. If the ending had been better, more HEAified, I might be more eager to move on to couple number two. But as it is... The jury's still out, I'm afraid. I'll probably watch for others' reactions to book two; let them be my litmus paper and take it from there, because I do see potential, I'm just not sure it was enough to add the series to my already teetering TBR pile.
An uncertain 3 Stars ★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. (less)
This book didn't really work for me and there are, on the surface, a lot of reasons why it should have. Firstly, because I love dystopians. And I also love mystery and intrigue. I love friends-to-lovers, and I love YA. What I don't love are books that feel like they're trying to cash in on a popular genre, rather than adding something new or dynamic to it.
ABERRANT tries to be everyone's friend. Kinda like those people you meet who seem to change and morph into a completely new personality right before your eyes depending on what crowd they're in or who they're speaking to, but otherwise seem devoid of their own authentic personality. Maybe they had one once, but they've been pretending to be so many other people for so long in order to fit in, they've forgotten.
You can't please all of the people all of the time. And you can't fool all of the people, either. Adding lots of different (and familiar) ideas from the dystopian genre all into one book, didn't make this the Über Dystopian the author was probably hoping for - the one that has it all, the best bits from all the bestsellers. No, no. It really didn't. It just made a mish mash, a hodge podge of different individual stories that did not, in any way, work as a whole.
As the characters moved from location to location it was like moving through each familiar book. "Oh, look! Now we're in the Hunger Games section!" Or like the author wasn't sure which story she wanted to tell, so she flitted and drifted and refused to settle on one idea. I haven't recapped the plot in my review for this very reason; it was too messy. It would take too long to explain all the little mini stories.
So, this one wasn't the book for me, sadly, but I did have oodles of fun .gif hunting, so... bygones.
2 Stars ★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. (less)
I thought HELL WITHOUT YOU started out really strongly. I was extremely receptive to the...moreFind more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
With or Without You
I thought HELL WITHOUT YOU started out really strongly. I was extremely receptive to the premise and the first meet scene - or re-acquaintance scene? - was really good! Lots of tension right off the bat, which is impressive for two characters I don't really know yet. The one that got away is a trope always fraught with high tension and emotions just waiting to boil over, and Ranae captured them really well.
I also thought the issues Donovan was dealing with after his time in the military were compelling.
And while we're at it, the sex scenes were bang tidy, and the flashback scenes were really cute.
Now that's about it for what I liked, and, sadly, I do have a rather large list of things I didn't like which only really came into play in the second half, where I found the book really seemed to lose its way. And that's why it's only a 3-star rating.
First of all, there was a murder mystery that was handled in such a bizarre and ineffectual way. It could have been something interesting, but it had its legs cut out from under it prematurely and then just fizzled into nothingness.
Then there was Clementine, who began as quite a feisty character, but seemed to morph into a bit of a lovelorn drip in the second half. It wasn't a good look for her.
And lastly Donovan. Let's be frank, he sounds totally lickable, and started off rather sweet too. But then he had to go and spoil things by doing all those butthurt moves like deliberately burning himself to "get his anger out". Let's call it the Travis Maddox method of anger management - and I happened to like that book so that's not a criticism in itself - but if you're going to write a character with cray cray tendencies like that, you need to at least commit and write it convincingly, instead of just peppering the book with random odd behaviour in an attempt to make your hero seem tormented. I'd already accepted he was legitimately tormented about the things he'd seen in service, but that was undermined by him doing these other things just because he was having a difficult conversation with his woman. It didn't work for me.
So, a bit of a mixed bag as you can see, but not a totally lost cause. I really did like the first half, so if you don't think the other things will bother you as much as they did me, give it a try!
3 Stars ★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.(less)
This was mostly a win for Team UF. There were a couple of things I wasn't crazy about, but...moreFind more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
Hells to the yeah
This was mostly a win for Team UF. There were a couple of things I wasn't crazy about, but the end had me wanting the next book to find out more, which is always a good sign, right? I'm going to put the other things down to Book One Syndrome for now and hope the next book starts with a bang!
So, what's it about? Well, your main character is a half-vampire called Nina. She's quite the little badass and has a goodly amount of snark. She rides a motorcycle (nice!). She has to hide what she is from the unsuspecting public, which is made easier by the fact she doesn't actually consume blood, though she still reaps the other benefits like strength and speed. She had a very isolated childhood and spent most of it in a facility being trained in combat along with other supes, including her full-vampire bestie, Frankie, whom I loved and who's also partnered with her in a sort of supernatural government agency. Or, at least, he was until Nina had to come back home to tend bar with her aunt, which is where we pick up the story.
Nina's appearance back in her birth town doesn't go quite as smoothly as one might hope. See, first there's a sexy cop asking too many questions, then there's a vampire mercenary whose more of a kill-first-ask-questions-later type, and all Nina really wants to do is go on a freakin' date! Is that so much to ask?
Apparently it is, yes. And actually, I'm glad the romance subplot was interrupted because this was one of the aspects I was only luke warm about. The romance in this book didn't really hit the sweet spot for me. It may do in future books, I'm willing to reserve judgement for now, but to be truthful, I'm not sure she's with the right guy yet anyway. I'm wondering if there might be someone else more... fitting, and maybe he's just the decoy guy. I guess we'll see, won't we?
The book had a good dose of action, some decent worldbuilding and the setting sounded fun. I also loved the ending - very excited by that tantalising finish! All in all, a good start and one I will be continuing. Go ahead and jump on the pile! You'll be in good company.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.(less)