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)
Move over Urban Fantasy. Stick your vampires where the solar rays don't penetrate, and bring on the...moreFind this and more reviews at The Demon Librarian
Move over Urban Fantasy. Stick your vampires where the solar rays don't penetrate, and bring on the hot aliens! Wow. I can't get over how much I enjoyed this book! I picked it up on a whim, really, and after having a rather lacklustre reaction to another Sci-fi title earlier this year, wasn't overly optimistic that I'd enjoy it that much. Boy, was I wrong! I'm so glad I gave this a try because it was just so redonkulously entertaining and interesting and sexy and...gah! It was just amazeballs!
Cassiel Winters is a space cadet with a secret. She experiences what she thinks of as "deja vu episodes" and strange glimpses of overlapping time sequences that she doesn't fully understand. The only thing she does comprehend is that her older brother Daz - a fully-fledged member of ESE (Earth Space Exploration) and her only remaining family - is missing, and that someone left her a note telling her to hide. Having joined ESE herself in the hopes of finding Daz, we join Cassiel towards the end of her cadet training on board a spaceship about to take her final tests for the second time. Being the first cadet ever to fail her original tests is not something she feels particularly proud of, so imagine her surprise when she is asked to undertake a special mission by her commanding officer.
This mission is where it all kicks off and from here I was sold on the story hook, line and sinker. You couldn't have pried the book from my hands with a crowbar. You couldn't have enticed my eyes from the pages with the promise of naked Ryan Gosling. Seriously, it was just fun, ya know? Pure entertainment. I'm thinking SKY'S END is probably going to appeal to the ladies rather than any hardcore Sci-fi fanboys because it was very sexy and sensual in places with many a descriptive passage detailing the hotness of a certain alien race's male members (heh, I said members), and Cassiel's narration is also very female and girlish - wondering if her butt looks too big in her Spandex space suit, for example - which would probably drive guys nuts, but which I found funny. You would though, right? Head-to-toe freakin' Spandex or whatever the hell spacey equivalent there is? I know I would.
These inanities and Cassiel's charismatic, lively narration in general, all added to her appeal and drew me into the story by giving me something recognisable to grasp onto amongst all the Sci-fi whoosimawhatsit which, as a noob to the genre, was all very alien to me (heh, I said alien). That's not to say of course that Cassiel was a perfect character. She could certainly be annoying at times, and unreasonable occasionally, and a bit immature, and possibly too impetuous as well. But she needed those flaws. If not for those she would have come off far too "Special Snowflake," because there was a definite theme going on here of everyone fancies Cassiel, which might potentially annoy some readers. It was explained away by the female-to-male ratio on board the ship being seriously out of whack, and later by the unusual mating rituals of the alien race, but I know some people will take issue with it. I just find that I don't care though. I see it, I recognise it, but I give no shits. Observe how many shits I do not give. I was entertained, and that's all I care about. The set up might have been a total ploy, but it was a fun ploy. In fact, discovering more about this alien race's relationships, or lack thereof, with its female counterparts was one of my favourite things about the story, and led to much contemplation on my part. Well, that and the pew pew pew pew spaceship racing! So like, joint favourites. 'Cause, you know, I'm a dork.
Speaking of spaceships, I found all the Sci-fi stuff complex enough to be interesting, while at no point overwhelming me, and the finer details such as the technology, weaponry and cool gadgetry, all added flavour to what was already a pretty damn tasty cake, so that was great too.
I suppose the best thing of all about SKY'S END was that it kept surprising me. I couldn't have predicted one single bit of it, and that was just so goddamn refreshing! Even with Cassiel, as much as I liked her and thought I had her all figured out, even she would surprise the heck out of me by doing the unexpected. I thought some of her decisions were very brave and admirable, and my respect for her grew as I read on. She may actually be a Special Snowflake! Stranger things have happened.
I don't know much about book two yet other than that it's set to be called Sky's Surrender, but I can tell you one thing about it: When it's released, I will be reading it. Oh, yes I will. If you build it, they will come. So says the Costner.
5 Stars ★★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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.
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!
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 really enjoying this series. I particularly enjoy Deuce's characterisation. She gets so confused at times. Normally overly innocent or naive characters wouldn't be my thing, but her lack of understanding comes from her upbringing—or in her case, a distinct lack thereof. She plainly doesn't understand many things about regular relationships or male/female interactions in particular. When someone is displaying what to us are quite obvious signs of hurt and jealousy, she's totally clueless. She has no frame of reference for dealing with it. And I also like that she acknowledges this lack and rather than jumping wildly to conclusions all TSTL style, she queries it. She just says look, I don't understand all this stuff so unless you talk to me—actually say the words out loud—I am never going to guess what the problem is, 'kay? (Those were not her exact words but you get the general idea).
(How many times can I use the word lack in a paragraph...?)
The main four characters that entered the town of Salvation at the end of the last book: Deuce, Fade, Tegan and Stalker, are all there but have all been separated out into different "foster" homes. Some with more success than others. Fade isn't talking to Deuce and she has no clue why. Tegan is also avoiding her but she thinks she might have figured out the reason for that one. And Stalker...is just Stalker, and nothing seems to phase him and no town's rules will ever truly determine his actions. I've never really said what I think of Stalker. I am a bit conflicted on him, to be honest. His past actions are horrendous to me, but much like Deuce he's a product of his upbringing. He lived wild with his "wolves," more like animals than people, so I'm trying to keep that in mind and not be too hard on him. If Deuce can understand this about him, I should be able to too.
The town is pretty insistent that the new arrivals conform to their rules. Rules which would dictate that Deuce is now back in the "child" category even though in her former life she was an adult, and also that girls are suppose to wear dresses, sew, be pretty, bake, look nice, clean, be demure and polite. All things which Deuce is not and doesn't want to do, of course. She a Huntress, and as it turns out, the town might just need a Huntress a helluva lot more than it needs another pretty girl in a pretty dress.
I found some parts of this book a little slower than book one, if I'm honest, but the ending was excellent and quite moving. I'll definitely be picking up the next one to see how that all progresses from here.
This was great, fun, sexy Urban Fantasy....moreJoint read/review with Janice. Find more reviews like this at The Demon Librarian book blog.
What a fun read!
This was great, fun, sexy Urban Fantasy. Hedi's voice was immediately engaging as a protagonist, and you got the sense that she was talking directly to you, which I thought was great. It had some standard UF fare with the werewolves and Fae taking centre stage, but it definitely managed to put its own spin on even those regular staples of the genre.
And also some great new ideas as well. There were plenty of interesting plot developments and action to keep the reader glued throughout, and there was even quite a substantial amount of romance in there too! This was actually my only slight problem area. Not that I didn't like the romance - I did. I just felt at times it was moving too fast for me to keep up with. But then, I'm one of those strange people who doesn't mind being made to wait several books for a romance to form, especially in my Urban Fantasy series. I'm sure other people will be more than happy having things moving as quickly as they do.
I'm definitely going to be reading the next one as I liked the world building, the characters and the plot twists despite my minor issues with the romance. Can't wait to see how things pan out in book two: The Thing About Weres, when it releases in July 2013.
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!
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.
As amazing as I'd hoped. I cannot wait for the next one!
I admit to being slightly scared of starting this book. I don't think I've ever seen such a p...moreAs amazing as I'd hoped. I cannot wait for the next one!
I admit to being slightly scared of starting this book. I don't think I've ever seen such a positive buzz about a book that hadn't (at the time) even been released yet. Book Bloggers and Advanced Copy readers were going wild about it; doing these amazing, gushing, hyperbolic reviews. This worried me, because it wouldn't be the first time that that's happened and then I've picked up the book myself and realised it's very prettily written, and highly descriptive, but is otherwise only an average story. And I can't get excited about the talent of a wordsmith alone. You have to tell me a good story as well. That's kind of my mantra when I'm reading: Tell the story, tell the story, tell the story. So when writers get too wordy or try and simile me into submission, I get turned off. Where did my story go?
And for the most part, I would be lying if I didn't say that Kristoff's writing is highly descriptive in places. More so, even, than some of the ones I ended up not liking previously. But holy freaking cow does he back that up with a great story, incredible world-building, phenomenal fantasy, sci-fi and steampunk elements, and to top it all off, a cast of fantastically diverse and complex characters!
Of course, anything worth having is worth working hard for, and for around the first 50-60 or so pages of the book, I was working pretty damned hard! The Japanese language; mostly used for names of weapons, clothing, races, species, gods, myths and of course, character names, made reading difficult initially. I don't really like having to struggle so much, but after all the reviews I'd seen, I felt confident the pay-off would be worth it if I persevered. It was, and then some.
So, what is the book about? Well, it's a very complex world and plot and overall story arc, so I wouldn't even like to try summarising it. But I will tell you your main character is a young girl named Yukiko. She is an excellent strong and positive heroine who needs no hot boy brooding at her to make her appear so. It's not a coming-of-age story, exactly, but definitely an eye-opening journey. It set in a futuristic, or maybe alternate history? (not sure) Japan, where a plant called the Blood Lotus has been discovered and put to great and terrifying use. It powers the great machinery; the sky-ships, the war machines, even the brass and iron body armour of the samurai warriors. But the cost to the world and its citizens is immense. The choking fumes are killing everyone and everything, slowly but surely. Breathing masks and goggles need to be worn at all times. Man is playing a very dangerous and greedy game; thinking only of the benefits now, and not the consequences later. It's quite thought-provoking in that it's not that much of a stretch to imagine our species doing exactly this--especially such an industrious nation as Japan--and its message is clear, and the most ingenious use of entertainment to deliver it since WALL.E.
So, it looks like someone needs to shake things up a bit, right? But our Yukiko is just one girl, and only 16 at that. She has no power. But perhaps she has the strength after all (spot the Princess Bride quote), if only she has the help of oh, say for example, a badass THUNDER TIGER!
Check out this awesome image of Yukiko and her Thunder Tiger—or griffin—Buruu. Isn't it cool?
Stormdancer by GENZOMAN
Buruu's character—and he definitely is a character—was a fantastic part of the story. His dialogue—which is telepathic and all done in shouty capitals—was excellent and often highly amusing. I loved him!
There were several other characters I grew to appreciate and as the epic final chapters came to a close, I found myself deeply concerned over their whereabouts and well-being. That's not to say it ends on a cliffhanger—it doesn't—but there are many unanswered questions and threads left unresolved and I NEED THE NEXT BOOK RIGHT NOW!
In summation, do I recommend this book? Hells yeah. Who to? I don't know... everyone? I'm not sure who to recommend it to specifically, because it's so unlike anything else with it's blend of genres. Even if you've read Steampunk before that will in no way prepare you for this book. My advice is to just go and buy it, if it's not for you, hand it to your friend and they'll probably read it, love it, and tell you you're a crazy person not to have loved every single syllable. And they'll probably give you a cookie or something. So everyone's a winner.
5 phenomenal Stars ★★★★★ ARC provided for an honest review.
P. S. I found some more pictures I thought were very Stormdancery:
The sky-ship with the dragon on the front. [image error] Airship by ~SnowSkadi
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?
A surprisingly fulfilling and action-packed novella.
I may seem a bit harsh saying this, but I find a lot of mid-series novellas to be unworthy of the...moreA surprisingly fulfilling and action-packed novella.
I may seem a bit harsh saying this, but I find a lot of mid-series novellas to be unworthy of the e-ink they're displayed in. Most of the time, the stories within are so much padding and filler with no progression to the characters or the series as a whole. And I can understand why; you can't really have something major plot-wise happening in a novella that some people see as 'optional' reading. It will be far too confusing come the next book trying to explain what happened during the break.
However, you've got to give the people who do fork out for the novella (not me, obviously) something worth reading. And this novella did just that. It gave a surprisingly revealing glimpse into Atticus' feelings for Granuaile, as well as a closer look at the beautifully terrifying Morrigan.
I have to confess, I'm finding Atticus' befuddlement over things with Granuaile extremely sweet. He's sounding more and more like a man suffering unrequited love by the day. And even though both of them have been heading out at weekends over the last six years of Granuaile's training for 'booty calls,' it seems it's becoming more and more unfulfilling for Atticus. And those guilt ferrets really are bastards.
As I mentioned earlier, Atticus and Granuaile—going under the amazing secret identities of Sterling Silver and Betty Baker (thanks to Coyote for that one)—are approximately mid-way through Granuaile's 12-year training to become a druid. If you recall, at the end of the last book, Tricked, Atticus suffered some damage to his healing tattoo on his hand (giant mutant cockroaches will do that to you), so when the Morrigan turns up with an offer to repair it, he accepts.
You'd think at 2100 years old he'd know better than to trust the Morrigan by now. Guess not. Naturally, madness and mayhem ensues with much hilarity.
What seems abundantly clear to me whenever I read anything by Mr. Hearne—other than the fact that he is a comedic genius of course— is that he really has a great appreciation for the mythology his series is based around; Norse and Celtic mostly. He hasn't simply chosen it because it's popular or because it comes with ready-made characters to draw from. He really seems to just love the old stories and creating his own interpretations and retellings of them. And I, in turn, enjoy reading them too.
For fans of the series, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up. It was lots of fun and surprisingly enlightening.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC received from the publisher for an honest review
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.
A cracking mystery with great characters and a fascinating world of elemental magic users.
I really enjoyed this. The mystery element was so very str...moreA cracking mystery with great characters and a fascinating world of elemental magic users.
I really enjoyed this. The mystery element was so very strong and compelling. You could get away with calling it Urban Fantasy, but perhaps Paranormal Mystery would also work as it was so centred around that aspect. It had a great cast of characters, awesome magical abilities and some surprises you just won't see coming.
The story is presented in the 1st person through Aidan Brook (f), a water Elemental (someone who can control water, call it from the air or from a direct source and basically make it do anything she wants) who has been in exile for the last decade after a tragedy forced her to leave behind everything she once knew, including her best friend, a fire Elemental called Sera.
I was pretty much hooked from chapter one. After a brief introduction to Aidan and her current situation, a blast from the past in the form of her one-time BFF sends her whole world off kilter, and the mystery that drives the book is revealed.
I thought the writing was excellent; intelligent, witty, thought-provoking. It immediately showed the interesting but highly awkward friendship dynamic that is left after Aidan's 10-year absence. Even starting out cold, not knowing these character at all yet, I felt the tension and lost years stretching between the two. Watching the former best friends walk that shaky line between wanting to fall back into their old, familiar habits and camaraderie, but holding back through fear of being hurt again. It was great stuff.
I found the character voices were very clear and distinct. It ended up being a really diverse bunch of people (and supernatural races) once the motley "crime solving" crew was fully assembled, and I enjoyed each character in turn. The secondary ones were just as well drawn as the main two, and I particularly grew fond of Simon :).
The reason for their gathering is that they, led by Sera, have all decided to join forces to end this mystery Elemental's killing spree once and for all. The killer is not being careful about revealing them to the human population, and that puts them all at risk. It was bad enough when it was happening 10 years ago, and Aidan's been having nightmares about it ever since. She can barely believe it's happening again. But when Sera reveals that another of her close friends, second only to Sera, has been murdered, Aidan has no choice but to return to the scene of the killer's, and her, crimes.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the magical abilities of the Elementals and Shapeshifters, complete with their full and fascinating origin stories. There were several expertly dispersed sections of backstory and species history. I could see the sections coming, but rather than feeling like I needed to prepare myself for a dispassionate info-dump, it was done deftly through conversation, sometimes in a story-telling format, or other times just through the narrative, and felt perfectly natural. Also cleverly interspersed were the clues, suspicions and conjecture regarding the elemental killer's identity and motivations. I did manage to correctly guess one of the big surprises, but was TOTALLY side-swiped by another. Which was awesome.
If I could wish for anything, it would have been for more indications of the budding romantic feelings between Mac and Aidan. I don't mind a slow-forming romance at all, but while I'm waiting, I love watching all the little clues, gestures and lingering looks, etc.. So there could have been a whole boatload more of that for me. Also, a bit more emotional connection to Aidan, which may come naturally over the series as I get to know her more.
To sum up, if you love a good mystery and powerful magical abilities and can appreciate well-crafted characters, get this book.
Highly recommended to fans of Amanda Stevens' Graveyard Queen series. UF for grown-ups.
4 Stars ★★★★ Review Copy: Received from the author for an honest review
An enjoyable read with great characters and hot sexy times.
McCarty has been a hit or miss author for me. I persevere simply because when it's a hit,...moreAn enjoyable read with great characters and hot sexy times.
McCarty has been a hit or miss author for me. I persevere simply because when it's a hit, it really hits! This was a hit despite one or two niggling irritations. More on that in a second.
This book is the story of Kenneth Sutherland—a highland warrior already well on his way to becoming one of Bruce's phantoms, following in the footsteps of his late cousin. He's a charmer, a womaniser, too quick to anger, cocky and self-assured and absotively posilutely sure he will never, ever, not in a gajillion years, fall in love.
And then there's Mary—a widowed former child bride with a very sad back story. She was married off at a young age to a war hero who had no interest in her and who continued about his philandering ways right under her nose with nary a twitch of his conscience or a scrap of concern for her tender feelings. Ignored and unwanted, she lived a very lonely life. Her husband, when he was around, never saw her as an adult. Right up until the day he died when she was 23, he still thought of her as the nuisance child he'd been forced to wed. It was a loveless marriage (at least it was on his part), and to top it off, as was sometimes customary for noble children, her son was taken from her at 6 months of age to be brought up elsewhere. The pain of which Mary never emotionally recovered from.
(Side note: It's funny, actually, that there's been a bit of talk lately in the bookiverse about a 14 year old main character—Dani from Iced by Karen Marie Moning— and whether or not it's acceptable or appropriate for her to have way-too-old potential love interests. It's a subject that sets off all sorts of alarm bells with some readers. Alarm bells that sound like they're saying hinky hinky hinky. I haven't read Iced myself yet, but I'm aware of the discussions on the topic all the same. And then I pick up this book and see that the character was married at 14. MARRIED! And impregnated! The mind surely boggles. But it just goes to show how very much times and perceptions change.)
At the time our two characters meet, Kenneth is competing in the Highland Games and is surrounded constantly by a bevy of brain dead beauties. He's in the middle of copulating with one such female when Mary stumbles upon him in the stables and is transfixed.
This has got to be a first for me—for the heroine to see the hero banging someone else! How would you ever get that image out of your head?
Anyway. After a bit of persuasion, he also gets Mary into his bed. Since she's never known passion in the bedroom, she is unable to resist, but is adamant it will mean nothing and will never be repeated. She just wants some of what the other woman seemed to be enjoying so much.
What follows this is quite a messy relationship full of secrets, mixed-messages and an inability to commit which was nonetheless engaging and enjoyable to read. Because I like angsty, emotional story lines. I found it hard to get past my initial perception of Kenneth's character for a long time (can you blame me after that intro?) and he didn't help matters by his insistence that men can do whatever they want when married but women must be dutiful and faithful! I know it's the time it was set in and therefore more realistic that I would like to accept, but it's still annoying and off-putting for a hero to be that much of an arse.
However, I'd 99% forgiven him by the end of the book (which was quite an achievement, believe me) and I enjoyed their ultimate love story, and that's definitely what it became. I liked the action scenes, parts of the history and politics, and most notably, Mary's transformation, both physically and emotionally, from the mere shell of a woman she was at the start of the book, to the confident beauty who'd won the heart of a man who swore he had none.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
If you read my review for book one, The Stubborn Dead, you'll know I had some reservations about the format this series is se...moreLost Souls, Episode two.
If you read my review for book one, The Stubborn Dead, you'll know I had some reservations about the format this series is set to be released in. Which basically is to have each book be novella-length, and to have short, punchy action-filled "episodes" with an overarching character development. I wasn't sure I could get behind that idea, since novellas often just aren't long enough for me to get fully engaged in.
Well, I changed my mind. I'm a female, it's allowed.
I really do think that Hoar might be onto something here. As long as they are released regularly-- i.e. a couple of months apart, not the standard 12 months-- I think the idea might just work. You'd essentially be getting four 60-90 page books a year, instead of one 300-400 page book. Sound good?
Well the way Hoar writes it, it certainly seems to work as she managed to completely change my mind over the course of just two books.
So far, in each one, there's been the main ghost issue to deal with, which takes up probably 80% of the plot, with some nice action scenes and some world-building that's coming along nicely. Then the other 20% is filled with what I'd call characterization scenes; a bit of Rachel's back story, or some nice dialogue scenes between Rachel and her new pals. If anything, the characterization is the area that currently lacks in my opinion, which is no doubt due to lack of page space or any kind of slower scenes to develop them in. You're basically going to have to get to know your protagonist and the people surrounding her very gradually, but I suspect this may make them in some ways more intriguing, and you may find they stay in your mind longer, because you're only fed such little tidbits about them.
On the negative side of that coin, however, it does annoy me somewhat that I don't even know what my main character looks like, or her age. I've basically just been going off the cover for ideas. We did at least get a little back story on Rachel this time around, a bit of her family history, which was nice. But I'll look forward to hopefully getting even more in the next instalment.
The best part at the moment for me is the great ghost stories. They're not your typical Gothic-style, creepy ghosts that are all ethereal and insubstantial, making noises and writing on your bathroom mirror. Oh no. These ghosts will kick your ass there and back again. Then maybe eat your soul afterwards 'cause, you know, they're a bit peckish after all the ass kicking.
I also love the burgeoning friendship (and maybe more) that Rachel has going with Kit. I'm dying to know more about the four presences that come to take souls to the Other Side and why one keeps lingering. And who the heck are the people with their eye on Rachel are and what do they want with her?
More answers please!
All in all, I'm glad I gave this series a go despite my reservations about the books' size. They are now something I will look forward to as a delicious little morsel that gets more interesting the more I find out.
4 Stars ★★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review
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!*
Meet Deuce. A fascinating character and a creation of her time. Raised (if you can call it that) underground in what was...moreAnother really good YA read!
Meet Deuce. A fascinating character and a creation of her time. Raised (if you can call it that) underground in what was formerly the miles and miles of subways systems (I think in Post-apoc New York, just don't quote me on that). She belongs to an Enclave and has just turned 16 which means she has transitioned from Brat (child) to adult. The people of the Enclave, even the elders (who are only 25!), don't seem to know a lot about their own circumstances; like where they are, why it's safer to stay underground or what is up Topside, so we are just left to surmise along with them.
From what I've managed to ascertain it has been many years since a plague wiped out most of the population or, worse, turned them into Freaks, and what remained managed to survive by whatever means necessary. There's a lot of misinformation and so much of humanity's history has been lost that they've made up their own rules and created a new way of life that will seem completely foreign to us. Even things that you would have expected to endure; information and traditions that should have passed from generation to generation, haven't. Gone are nuclear families, people are now bred for purpose and set on a path that best fits their abilities—whatever they happen to show an aptitude for—and if you aren't good at anything else (like being a hunter, builder, cook, etc.) then there's always the occupation of Breeder as a fall back option.
Our Deuce is a hunter. Or 'Huntress', as she prefers. I was pleased to see that we joined her story right at the time when her training for that role had just ended. So often that training would have taken up the entire plot of book one in a series (been there, done that), but instead we got to see her already primed and raring to go. She just needed a partner...
That would be Fade. Another interesting a likeable character and the only member of the Enclave not born there. He came in through the tunnels a couple of years ago and no one knows where from or how he survived out there on his own with the Freaks (think snarling, salivating zombie-like creatures). It was great getting to know him and Deuce and seeing their development as well as the vast differences between them.
I'm going to struggle now to talk about much more of the plot because there was a big twist that I don't want to spoil. All I will say is that I really enjoyed this Dystopian YA read; the writing was good, the ideas intriguing and the action intense and exciting. And it even had a dash of romance too!
I moved straight onto the next one as soon as I finished because it felt like it didn't so much wrap up as go "to be continued..." So I did.
Recommended to all Dystopian fans, YA or not so YA. 4 Stars ★★★★
This series of high action, high romance, historical paranormal romances in the beautiful Gothic setting of late n...moreA fantastic follow-up to Firelight.
This series of high action, high romance, historical paranormal romances in the beautiful Gothic setting of late nineteenth century London, is swiftly becoming a favourite of mine. It's often the case that when a series starts out really well, as this one did with Firelight, the follow-ups are almost inevitably a disappointment. Especially if the best character pairings were used in the first book. I was hoping and praying this wouldn't be the case with Moonglow, but my outlook was gloomy since I hadn't developed any great love for Ian, one of the main characters, in book one.
In Firelight Ian played the role of antagonist to Miranda and Archer's relationship, throwing a spanner in the works at every given opportunity, and generally being a pest. Although, even then it was clear he wasn't as bad as he wanted people to believe him to be. But, nevertheless, his interference and general attitude didn't endear him to me, so I began Moonglow with slight trepidation. And at the start of the book, his constant talk of whoring-- particularly with red-headed, green-eyed prostitutes-- didn't help his cause much. He tells the readers early on how he had fancied himself in love with Miranda (who is red-headed and green-eyed). And why not? She is stunningly beautiful, after all. But it is later revealed that his obsession with red-haired women stems from something much further back than we were led to believe, and he has a past that may make you forgive him for all of his sins.
I ended up enjoying Ian's character immensely. He was a lot more complex, gentle and caring than you'd have ever suspected. And he has a cheeky wit and rakish charm. His werewolf mythology that was explored was interesting and showed a new way of looking at immortality. It's not always a bonus for a race that has few females and a very low birth-rate. What's the point of living forever if you're destined to be alone?
Daisy, our other lead character, was wonderful also. She's Miranda's older sister and has been in a loveless, sexless marriage for the last six years to a complete pig. At the beginning of the story she's just finishing up her year of mourning his death (bah!) and wearing black to keep societies' tongues from wagging, and is looking forward to finally being free, throwing caution to the wind...and possibly getting a little som'n, som'n. She's a lady with a healthy appetite for pleasure- something her late husband never failed to make her feel dirty about- but that's in her past. No one is going to tell her what to do, say, wear or how to behave ever again! She's even more 'no nonsense' than Miranda was, if you can believe that. She's having absolutely none of it from charming rogue Ian. And he just doesn't know what's hit him when they meet. Miranda who?
I enjoyed their developing romance. The obstacles that were put in their way were believable and there were several really charming scenes, as well as the obligatory scorching hot ones, and some heartbreakingly tender ones. Moonglow had a slightly different feel to it than Firelight in that both Daisy and Ian worked together to solve a mystery, rather than one of the characters themselves being the mystery. This gave us some great scenes as their relationship developed.
I did find some of the descriptions of the seedier side of London, the side that Ian had previously been revelling in, rather crude and vulgar at times. All the talk of whores and such. Speaking of the seedier side, there was an appearance by the street thug Billy Fingers whom you might remember from Miranda's days on the streets in Firelight. I swear I have no idea what that man is saying. I'm a Brit, I can understand Cockney Rhyming Slang and the colloquial language of Londoners, even if it's not from this century I can usually decipher it, but what comes out of Billy's mouth is unlike any slang I've ever heard. It doesn't even make sense half the time. Oh well.
In summation, I'd say the romance side of things was just as compelling as book one. I also enjoyed some of the new world-building elements that were introduced, including the GIMs, this mysterious 'Mother' person, and several other things I shall keep schtum about for now, and it was altogether a great sequel and highly enjoyable.
If you loved book one, you will love this one, too. Go forth and enjoy!
4 Stars ★★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review
Reunited lovers aren't my favourite thing to read about in a romance novel, and I was very wary of that fact when I set out to read this book, and yet this was probably the best book using that trope that I've read. Instead of the bitterness and resentment they so often come parcelled with, here we have heartbreak and sad acceptance and a stunning star-crossed lovers set-up that I absolutely loved!
We begin this couple's journey at the tender ages of seventeen (Moira) and nineteen (Duncan) as they carry on a clandestine affair. They have to be extremely careful as Moira is a Chieftain's daughter, and Duncan is the bastard-born son of her nursemaid, and if caught, The Chieftain would be well within his rights to kill Duncan for soiling his only daughter (at least, that's how he would see it). But Duncan and Moira are deeply in love; and it's that first love that's so intense and all-consuming. Moira is a bit spoiled and demanding at this age—a bit of a pampered princess unused to the word 'no'—but she's also full of life and exuberance as well as breathtakingly beautiful, and Duncan is unable to resist, no matter how hard his honour demands he try.
As you've probably guessed from the blurb, they do get caught, and Duncan is given the choice to either leave for France immediately, or die, and Moira is married off to the first Chieftain's son that visits the castle.
And that's all just in the prologue!
Sadly, in her father's haste to get her married off respectably, he makes a grave error in judgement. Moira's new husband is not a good man. At all. He's an abusive, manipulative and cruel sonnova bitch, and more of a bastard than Duncan could ever be.
We catch up with Moira seven years later when Duncan is sent by Connor—Moira's brother, who is now the MacDonald Chief after her father passed—to check on her welfare. Duncan may have come seven years too late in Moira's eyes, but he's also just in time to save her from her husband's angry fists, and in a twist of fate, they end up in each other's company once again.
Both characters are greatly changed from last they saw each other, Moira especially. She's far from the spoiled princess she once was. And Duncan! Ahh, sweet, gentle Duncan. He was an absolutely gorgeous hero. So sensitive, intelligent and caring, yet still a fierce and infamous warrior. I can't fault him at all as a male lead, and their romance was fraught with tension as they tried to contain their emotions and get the answers they'd both waited so long for.
They had some lovely scenes together and some bitter-sweet ones, too. And Moira has to overcome her hurt and finally tell Duncan the secret she's kept for seven long years. All of this made for terrific reading!
Plenty of action was provided in the form of a battle for Trotternish Castle and a showdown between two adversaries with a score to settle. Of all the Scottish Romance authors I've read, I think Mallory gets the romance side of things, and the rest of the plot/action scenes, balanced out the best, as well as writing some really terrific heroes!
To sum up, this book was a true delight, and I recommend it to all fans of Scottish Romance!
4.5 Stars ★★★★1/2 ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I have to admit, I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy Andrea's POV; I thought I would miss Kate more, but it turns out that Andrea...moreIt's Andrea, bitch!
I have to admit, I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy Andrea's POV; I thought I would miss Kate more, but it turns out that Andrea's just as much of a badass as Kate, just with different weapons selection.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for her ex, Raphael. He is no Curran. Not that I would have expected him to match up to my book husband, but he didn't even come close. He ticked me (and Andrea) off quite royally at the outset and acted like the spoiled baby he's been brought up to be, and never really recovered. There was progress made with him throughout the book, of course, but I'm still only luke warm about him at this point. Naturally, as a die hard Ilona Andrews fan, I'm more than happy to keep reading until they convince me to change my mind. But it was disappointing that the bantering dynamic they're so good at, was absent in this first book.
Back to Andrea for a second. There was a wealth of information provided on her back story. Up until now we've known she'd had a terrible time with her first Bouda clan, but the details we garnered in this book were still shocking. We also find out where she went and why during her absence in Kate's books right after dear Aunt Era came a-visiting. All of which only endeared her to me and made me root for her all the more. And want to slap Raphael all over again!
The plot, which was mostly easy to follow (although I did get a bit lost in the details on occasion) focuses on yet another branch of mythology—Egyptian. The Andrews writing team seem to like focusing on one per book. Lucky for me, Egyptian is one of my faves.
So, to sum up, I enjoyed this a lot but not quite as much as a Kate and Curran book, mostly because of Raphael's failure to impress. But it's still a solid UF read with all the fun stuff you've come to expect from this duo I like to call Team Awesome.
Kim Harrison is the reigning Queen of Urban Fantasy!
One of the most highly anticipated reads of 2013 for many people, Ever After by Kim Harrison most certainly will not fall short of expectations. It will, in many areas, surpass them. It will also shock, it will thrill, and my goodness it will entertain. An outstanding instalment, easily replacing any and all past favourites as the new pinnacle of the series...so far.
As is usually the case, the story picks up a couple of months after the events of the last book, A Perfect Blood, and sees Rachel meeting up with Quen to discuss the prospect of becoming a part of Trent's workforce once again. Only voluntarily this time, and will no bodily threats involved. Which makes a nice change. Rachel's not too sure, though, and perhaps not for the reasons you might expect. It seems she puts more faith in Trent's abilities to protect himself than Quen does these days, and doesn't think he needs anyone else watching him. Quite the opposite, in fact. However, after a drastic and heartbreaking turn of events, the choice about working alongside Trent is taken out of her hands completely. It's now imperative, especially since she feels partly responsible for what's happened.
Fans of the series will recall Rachel's unfortunate experience with a ley line back in book nine, Pale Demon. For me, personally, those last few chapters of Pale Demon were where my appreciation of Kim Harrison's worldbuilding went from thinking she was simply fabulous, to thinking she might actually be some kind of supernatural creature herself. I mean, she must have been to the Ever After in person to be able to describe it so vividly. And not just visual descriptions, either, but the magic, the culture, the social structure, the history, the wars, the continual decline of the demons as a race. Which, incidentally, Rachel has managed to speed up exponentially by ripping a large hole in one of the ley lines. If only the demons thought it was so incidental. Strangely, they're rather annoyed about their impending doom, and in this book they use one hell of a bargaining chip to make sure Rachel fixes her mistake, and fast. The clock is most definitely ticking.
I'm reticent to highlight too many other plot points as I think it's best to just experience it as it unfolds. And it was a real roller coaster, that's for sure. Totally unputdownable with near-perfect pacing. There are some big shocks in store, as I mentioned earlier, some controversial returning characters, plenty of conflict—both internal and external—and a fair amount of introspection for our dear Rache, as well. There were a couple of instances where the plot moved a bit slower, but out of a 500-and-then-some page book, that's really not bad at all. Perhaps even a necessity. Overall, this instalment felt really meaty, with little filler and lots of massive plot twists and character progression that really change the game entirely for the last two books. And of course, being titled Ever After, you can expect to bask in yet more of Harrison's phenomenal worldbuilding for that setting, and also, get some fantastic insight into everyone's favourite demon, Algaliarept. Outstanding stuff!
For the Rachel and Trent shippers out there (much like myself) you'll be pleased with the amount of time spent together in this book. Gone are the days where Trent would make one, maybe two, brief appearances—usually managing to annoy the crap out of Rachel in the process—but it's clear now that, in whatever role, Trent is a part of Rachel's life. They make strange bedfellows in some respects, but in other's, they couldn't be more compatible. What's lovely to see as well is the developing trust between them; something we couldn't have ever imagined coming from Rachel even as little as three books ago. It's an amazing transformation and a fantastic journey Kim Harrison has taken us on. I'm sad to think there's just two teeny weeny little books left in this series, but judging by the ending of this book, they're gonna be good ones! Oh, yeah.
5 Stars ★★★★★ A special thanks to Harper Voyager for the ARC. I read many ARCs throughout the year, but to receive one for your favourite series is a special treat. Like Christmas come early!
Ahh, so good to be back in this world! There are a select few urban fantasy authors that really take their worldbuilding seriously, and probably none quite as seriously as Ms. Chance. She knows her vampire lore inside and out, and is steadily increasing the intricate layering of her fey mythology as well, both within this, the spin-off, and the main Cassandra Palmer series. And it's fabulous stuff, let me tell you.
Everyone does vamps slightly differently, of course (although, let us never again mention the sparkly vegetarian variety, please, if you don't mind), but Chance's are without doubt my favourites. From their ability to take blood without biting, to the sense of family and loyalty they have within their feudal society, to the various extra abilities they acquire once reaching master level status. And just when you think you know exactly what it means to be a first level master, such as Mircea or Louis Cesare, there's more! And I do so enjoy the richness of it all; that no detail has been overlooked, even though I'm sure much of it doesn't even make it into the books, it's clear Chance knows the rules and limitations of her world, and that leaves us as readers feeling completely secure and able to just sit back and enjoy. Which I did!
In this instalment, we not only delve deeper into both the vampire and, to a lesser extent, the fey societies, but we also look more closely at our very own, very rare, resident damphir, Dory. Or should that be Dorina....?
She's not the only damphir in existence, but they are so rare and so short-lived, she might as well be. But we've never really examined too closely the why of it, of her. Why has Dory lived centuries longer than all other damphirs in existence? Why has she managed to stave off the insanity where none of the others have? Why wasn't she killed on sight like vamp law says she should have been? And why can't she ever remember what happens during her rages?
Wanna know? Read this book!
As well as the excellent worldbuilding, you've also got some pretty fabulous characters that are all equally fleshed-out and real. In some cases, quite literally real. Real historical people, that is. I thought the scenes with Mircea and Dory were really nicely done, and although I like Mircea in both series, it's nice to finally see him in a better light through Dory's eyes in this one. Also seen in a slightly new way were Kit and Louis Cesare. The latter of which gets a bit of a hard time from Dory. There's nothing quite as resistant as a scared damphir, it seems.
For me, though, the stand out character, the scene-stealer, the handsdown winner for best dialogue and most improved character, has to be Ray. I'm not even going to try to describe him or explain why; I wouldn't do him justice, I'm sure, but I just loved him. He has a new fan!
As is often the case with Chance's writing, although brilliant, it can sometimes seem a little hectic in places, or, in complete contrast, over explanatory in others. You've got some action scenes where it's hard to follow what's happening because everything is moving so fast—Whose foot was that that just kicked Dory in the face? You fell through where into a what now?—Then the next thing you know, you're reading a conversation over a chessboard that takes almost three entire chapters. Go figure.
Once the story had built sufficiently, however, and the mystery was in place, it was one of those books that you just wished would never end. Just keep going forever. More adventures, more fight scenes, more worldbuilding, more revelations, more sweet, sexy moments. Please just keep them coming!
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. And I'm even more sad this it will likely be two years until we get another Dory book. They are most definitely worth the wait though, much as it pains me to admit it. But please, Ms. Chance, for the sake of my sanity, couldn't you just write a little faster?
It's the amazing disappearing reappearing novella! But I have to say it was worth the wait and a great follow up to A Family Affair. John is a great c...moreIt's the amazing disappearing reappearing novella! But I have to say it was worth the wait and a great follow up to A Family Affair. John is a great character and the scenes with Casanova and Cassie were priceless!
Toby kicks ass in this high octane addition to the October Daye series.
At this point, six books into the series, we've seen October's character make...moreToby kicks ass in this high octane addition to the October Daye series.
At this point, six books into the series, we've seen October's character make quite the transformation, both emotionally and physically. From orphaned changeling kid, wandering lost in the human world. To wife and mother, trying to play Fairy Bride. And finally, where we are today; to kickass hero and knight errant to the Duke of Shadowed Hills, friend and ally to the King of Cats and Sea Witch, rescuer of lost kids, acquirer of loyal friends, and just all-round reckless but totally lovable main character with an infectious personality. I absolutely love her! For reals.
And throughout all these changes in her circumstances, and the physical changes and power-ups she's gone through that make her now almost as indestructible as May (her former Fetch and kinda twin sister), she's somehow managed to keep that wonderful glibness, that highly inappropriate wit that so often gets her in trouble, but that is hilarious to read.
I have to say, Seanan McGuire's writing of Toby's dialogue is so funny, and so...random. I think her humour is quirky and possibly won't be for everyone, but it really tickles me. I often have to stop to do that silent laughing thing when she catches me off guard. I just like the silliness of it, especially when it's completely inappropriately-timed.
The plot for ASHES OF HONOR was a little more simplistic than past instalments have been, which I think is a good thing because this world is complex enough without having head-bending, multi-stranded plots to try and wrap my tiny mind around. It's another missing child case; a changeling teleporter this time. Which is problematic since Toby can't exactly follow a teleporter around. But that's why it helps to have friends in high places, such as the Sea Witch who can make a spell for almost any occasion, or the King of Cats who can travel through the shadows (which is almost the same thing as teleporting, but significantly more uncomfortable for a non-Caith Sidh like Toby).
There was also a separate subplot surrounding the Court of Cats which brought with it some new and very exiting developments. (You can't see me, but I'm grinning).
Most of the characters from past books made and appearance with a few notable exceptions: There was no Queen of the Mists this time (not really sad about that since she's batshit crazy and hates Toby's guts), but also not much mention of Danny the Bridge Troll (who I really like), and no one from the Undersea realm either. But I was happy to see we revisited Tamed Lightning. I love April the techno-Dryad and her complete inability to understand, sarcasm, jokes, emotions or anything said that's not meant 100% literally.
The best thing about ASHES OF HONOR for me was seeing the character development of many key players, but especially Toby. It's been a year since the last book (in Toby time as well as our time), and much has changed: Quentin, who's around 18 now, is growing up fast. May is becoming more and more like the twin sister people think she is. The Luidaeg still hasn't killed Toby. And maybe, just maybe, Tybalt doesn't dislike Toby as much as she once liked to believe he did. But at the start of the book, the one person who hasn't changed in the last year or moved on from the sad events of ONE SALT SEA, is Toby. Lucky for her, she's surrounded by awesome peeps who won't let that continue for much longer, and the progress she makes here in this book is immense.
For fans of the series, I think this instalment will become a new favourite. It certainly has for me. I feel like McGuire delivered everything I could possibly want from a UF novel, and I simply can't wait for the next one. I still have unanswered questions, but I'm confident McGuire has a master plan set in motion for revealing the answers in due course. For example, when are we going to see Amandine again and where the hell has she been? Who the frack are Quentin's parents? And what did the Sea Witch mean about the Selkies having to pay their debt soon? All these questions and more will have me counting the days until The Chimes at Midnight, which releases September 2013. Go faster time, damn you!
Firstly, can I just say how much I enjoyed the audio narration for this. It was a full cast audiobook so there...moreA great book, and an amazing audiobook.
Firstly, can I just say how much I enjoyed the audio narration for this. It was a full cast audiobook so there was a main narrator and then separate male and female voice actors for the characters' dialogue. It was like listening to a play, it was so good. Why can't all audiobooks have both boy and girl narrators. Why world?
Graceling is essentially a swords and sorcery YA fantasy with romantic elements set in the completely made-up world of Seven Kingdoms. It follows Katsa, a young lady on her road to self-discovery, and Po, a fellow Graceling and a total sweetie pie.
What is a Graceling? Well, it's someone born with the gift/curse of having a 'Grace,' which is similar to having a supernatural ability of some sort. For example, Katsa's 'Grace' is killing. Not the prettiest of abilities, certainly, but something that her uncle, the King Randa, has put to good use ever since it manifested when she was a child. Katsa is more or less unbeatable in a fight. Even outnumbered. I dread to think how much you would actually have to outnumber her to win, but at the last count, 8 men wasn't enough. So it's safe to say she's pretty badass, but other than her ability, she's no stronger than anyone else; just faster, with lightning quick reflexes and good instincts for danger.
Then there's Po. A boy/man of a similar age to Katsa (around 18-20) who is a Graceling, but also a Leinid. The first one Katsa has ever met. Leinids have a completely different outlook on Gracelings than the rest of the realms where they are largely treated with wary caution at best, or outright contempt and distrust at worst. In Leinid they are revered for their gifts. Watching the two characters deal with their differences was great and I grew to really like Po and could empathise well with Katsa. My only complaint where Katsa is concerned is that she wasn't as giving of herself as Po was willing to be. But maybe the next book(s) will change that.
The story takes Katsa and Po on a journey where they uncover an evil lurking within the Seven Kingdoms. It's also an emotional journey for Katsa as she goes through some changes and makes a few revelations along the way.
This kind of genre is one of my favourites and I usually have no issue with them being YA. In this case, however, I almost wish it had been an adult book so that we could have gotten a bit more fear and tension built up, and maybe a closer look at Katsa's Grace. But of course, with it being a YA, it was not nearly as violent or bloody as you might expect a story about an assassin to be.
I'm looking forward to the next book, Fire, which I will also be getting in audio format. Can't wait!
A PERFECT BLOOD has absolutely everything you have come to expect from a Hollows novel: humour, mystery, magic, romantic e...moreWow! What a fantastic read!
A PERFECT BLOOD has absolutely everything you have come to expect from a Hollows novel: humour, mystery, magic, romantic elements, danger, adventure, friendships and so much more.
A lot of series would be losing steam and momentum by their tenth book. Not so for The Hollows. Instead, it feels more like Kim is finally getting to have a bit of fun by letting some of the seeds she's been sewing come into fruition and it marks some exciting changes on the horizon, as well as some potentially sad and poignant ones.
The characters in this series are some of the most diverse and interesting I have ever come across. And any writer that can make me go from hating a character in one book, to having me jumping up and down in fangirl excitement every time he steps on the page in recent books, has my utmost respect. Yes, of course I am talking about the delectable, incorrigible, part-time businessman, part-time badass, all the time pain in the ass, Trenton Aloysius Kalamack. There is yet more development of his character in this book, as if the huge steps he made in the previous one, Pale Demon, weren't epic enough. This time we get to see Trent when he's relaxed, Trent when he's having fun, Trent when he's furious and many other Trent's that we haven't ever seen before because they were hidden underneath his professional façade of political bullshit. I loved every single one of his scenes in this book and I'm so excited to see what else Ms. Harrison has up her sleeve for the elf you love to hate and hate to love.
The rest of the supporting characters were excellent too, of course. We saw all the usual faces and returned to many familiar settings which was nice after the departure we took in Pale Demon. Rachel is back in her church trying to lay low and take some much needed me time after the hell she went through four months ago. She's also got a new bodyguard- a Were named Wayde, whom I though was an okay addition to the cast, and who now lives in her belfry. We also saw quite a bit from David and, if anything, this is probably the character and relationship I understand the least. I think from what I've read on Kim Harrison's website, the werewolf angle was something she would have liked to have addressed in more detail, but decided against it when she plotted out the Demon/Elf/Witch story arc for the remaining books. So now David feels a bit surplus to requirements within the series. I was glad to see she got her werewolf tattoo sorted out, but it had a definite "tying up loose ends" feel to it.
Jenks has some great moments and one-liners as always. Still worshipping the almighty Tinkerbell in all of her red-thonged glory. There wasn't a great deal of Ivy and it's made clear that Rachel feels they might be drifting apart. I wish I could say that really, really bothers me, but to be brutally honest, their relationship has always seemed to have an unhealthy balance to me, so I'm glad Ivy is moving on a bit and isn't quite so focused on Rachel. That doesn't mean Rachel is happy about it, though. It's more like something that she has accepted as inevitable, but still finds very sad.
There were a few more new characters introduced as well but I shall leave them for you to discover yourself. They were very intriguing, though. As was the mystery plot. There was truly not a dull moment throughout.
There may be a slight upset for Al fans as he has very little screen time in comparison to others, but for me, again, this wasn't so much of a problem because I'm all about the elf.
All together, a wonderful addition to the series. Easily Pale Demon's equal and one I look forward to re-reading again next year while I wait impatiently for "Ever after" to come out in early 2013.