Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blath...moreFind this and more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
Stars in my Eyes
Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blather on about myself for long - promise. It's just that this series was kinda pivotal to my transformation from "occasional reader of mystery novels", to "carnivorous reading fanatic and devourer of all things paranormal" because it was the first true Urban Fantasy series I ever read and the one that opened my eyes to this amazeballs genre. It was also the first book I ever read with a sex scene in it! Are you having that? At the ripe old age of 29 I had the blinders firmly ripped off my eyes by a Ms Karen Chance and her scorching and (as I thought then) scandalous love scenes! I finished book one wondering what the hell I'd just read, and why the hell I couldn't stop thinking about it and all the amazing and endless possibilities there were for a character that could shift through time and space - and immediately ordered the rest of the series! The rest, as they say, is history and four years later I have the sixth book in the series as an ARC to review! If I had Pythian powers and went back to tell 29-year old me that little nugget of information, she'd probably say I was deluded or crazy or both.
I'm a lucky, lucky girl:)
So, with that intro in mind, I think it's safe to say that I love this series! And that's not only because of what it did for me as a reader, or because of any sentimental attachment I have to it, but because of its brilliance, its wit, and its unrivalled cleverness. I cannot even express how mind-boggling some of the time-shift stuff is! Scenes that take place in one book that don't make sense until much later when you realize how much time travel back and forth has been going on. The amount of planning and foreshadowing involved in all that... I can't even. It's just too awesome to compute. And Ms Chance's world, although complex, is so solid. There's not a single grey area in her worldbuilding, and even if there were, it would be because she planned for it to be there three books ago. 'Cause she likes grey. And because she can. Seriously, people quiz her nigh on a daily basis through her Facebook page as they try to get their heads around some of the more head-bending aspects of her plots, and she's thought of everything and then some. There are no chinks in her armour of awesome that I've found.
Moving on to this particular book, now that I've paid my dues for never really reviewing any of the others back in the day (lol). Cassandra Palmer - Cassie to most - has advanced as the series has progressed, as all good main characters should, and as evidenced here in TEMPT THE STARS. Resolutely putting the kibosh on people - vamps, mages, and now witches! - trying to manoeuvre her from point A to point B all the time, and just being more dominant and forthright in general. She could also possibly maybe hit the side of a barn with a gun now, too, thanks to Pritkin, and her power quotient has gone through the roof when compared to that of the smiley face T-shirt-wearing girl we met back in Touch the Dark. Having said that, it's not a complete transformation - the girl whose first instincts are to run and hide hasn't been completely smothered. Indeed, running and hiding are sometimes the best options available to a savvy heroine. But recently, and most especially in this book, she's been letting her "take no prisoners" side out a lot more. That, combined with the intelligence and common sense she's always shown around the vamps, who, in this series are about as sneaky and manipulative as they come, though rarely evil, and you've got yourself an incredibly well-rounded and sympathetic character - who now also kicks ass! Don't you just love it?
In TEMPT THE STARS, Cassie is also forced to take a look at her somewhat closed-off emotions. Not that she's ever been cold, exactly, but wary? Reserved? Oh, yes. Letting people in is extremely difficult when it's been proven time and again that those people will be the first in the firing line by any who wish to control her and her powers, which are now more than just potential - they're a smack-you-in-the-face reality. But being a closed book can be lonely, and there are certain characters who have been slowly chipping away at her emotional shields for quite some time now, and it might just be time to let them in, whether she wants to or not!
Of course, the BIG thing everyone wants to know about TEMPT THE STARS is where the heck Pritkin is, right? Well, I'm not going to tell you. Ms Chance herself is notoriously strict about spoilers so it would be more than my life's worth to spill the beans. But, let's just say that being the world's chief seer - officially now, even - has its perks as well as its pitfalls. And it also has the potential to make the impossible... slightly less so.
And that's it. That's all you're getting from me.
As with all instalments in the series, TEMPT THE STARS is bursting with incredible action scenes with spells whiz-popping here, there and everywhere, often followed directly by the most exquisite introspection scene or a hushed conversation with one of the now treasured stable of characters such as Marco (LOVE him!) or Billy Joe (LOVE him, too!). Some people might say the pacing is too up-and-down, but not me. I think the balance is perfect. For fans of the series who already know this world well, I'll just say that it was business as usual - though with a slightly different feel to it as we explored different settings and magics - and just as incredible as you thought it would to be. Plus twelve. Some authors just seem to have a Mary Poppins-like carpet bag full of endless ideas, and Karen chance is definitely one of them.
There's not a lot else to say without revealing naughty things I'm not supposed to, so I'll just leave you with this: TEMPT THE STARS IS THE BEST OF THE SERIES SO FAR - BY A COUNTRY MILE!
And I love John Pritkin.
5 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.(less)
Into the Hollow picks up right where On Demon Wings left off and begins with a tough decision for our gal Perry Palomino. A dec...moreAww, this was so good!
Into the Hollow picks up right where On Demon Wings left off and begins with a tough decision for our gal Perry Palomino. A decision I was silently squeeing over going "SAY YES, YOU NUMPTY!" It also shows us a side to Mr. Declan Foray we've never really seen before since he's always been in a relationship in the past. I think I rather like the free and single version of Dex. Again, SQUEE!
And there's not just the changes in Dex's behaviour to get used to, but you'll also recall he'd transformed a lot physically when he (eventually) showed up in On Demon Wings (he was all buff and stuff). And that's not the only difference we see in him over the course of this book.
If you'd asked me before I began Into the Hollow I'd have told you it wasn't possible for me to love Dex more than I already did, but it turns out that's total bumf because I found him even more irresistible in this book than ever before! He was just so patient but still determined, cheeky, badass, adorable, annoying and absolutely everything in between. I just love him!
The plot wasn't quite as creepy or scary this time but it was definitely action-packed and full of some great dramatic scenes (which I loved). In fact, I'd say this instalment was more Urban Fantasy than Horror—much like Red Fox was—and it was super duper fun and got the old adrenaline pumping nicely.
As well as dealing with the emotional fallout from the last couple of books, Dex and Perry are asked to investigate a potential "creature" sighting in the Canadian Rockies. But even with everything they've seen, they're unsure how much credence they can put in the testimony of one of its supposed victims, so the only solution is to go check it out for themselves.
There was also a moment or two of this book that made me very interested in things to come with regards to Dex and his past demons. Very interesting developments indeed.
My new favourite nickname for an animal (or vegetable, or mineral) ever has to go to Twatwaffle the llama. Pure unadulterated genius and my new favourite word of the week.
Sigh. Of course, the sad thing is now I've run out of books! I knew this would happen, obviously, but I didn't think it would feel quite this crappy. I've got the shakes, withdrawals, extreme lethargy (although I think I had that last one already) and just general uninterest in anything anybody whose name isn't Karina Halle has written. Ever.
Find this and other reviews at The Demon Librarian Enter the mind of Dex Foray at your own risk.
This was such a treat! I love it when authors do this...moreFind this and other reviews at The Demon Librarian Enter the mind of Dex Foray at your own risk.
This was such a treat! I love it when authors do this; allow us to see the other side of certain pivotal scenes. Because the thing is, they know their characters inside and out, even if the main series is written first person from only one perspective like this one is, the author still has to know the other characters just as intimately to make the magic happen. They need to know exactly what the other player is thinking and feeling during those often convoluted conversations where people aren't saying what they really mean or the whole of the truth. But now we get to know, too! And there are certain scenes here I would have paid a handsome sum to know what Dex was thinking right then, and also some bonus scenes that I hadn't really thought much about, but that were enlightening nonetheless.
Be warned, however, Dex's mind is a dirty, mucky place! I was surprised by that most of all. He didn't strike me initially as such a sexual creature—that was something that evolved over the course of the first 5 books. But after reading this, you'll know that all those times from Perry's POV where his face was described as being blank/expressionless? Yeah, he was probably thinking about sex. The dirty rascal ;)
As well as revisiting scenes from the main series we also got scenes from Dex while he was away from Perry AND scenes from his early childhood and adolescence. Truly, if you want to know how this man's mind works, this novella will tell you.
Here is the list of scenes you get:
Prologue After School Special Dear Abby Spookshow Baby (A Darkhouse scene) Even Deeper (A Darkhouse scene) Big Dumb Sex (A Darkhouse scene) Butterfly Caught (A Red Fox scene) She’s Got a Way (A Red Fox scene) Stripsearch (A Dead Sky Morning scene) Digging the Grave (A Dead Sky Morning scene) When Good Dogs Do Bad Things (A Dead Sky Morning scene) She Loves Me Not (A Lying Season scene) Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (A Lying Season scene) Mr. Self-Destruct (A Lying Season scene) Demon Cleaner (An On Demon Wings scene) Bailout (An Into the Hollow scene)
I really enjoyed this. It was worth every penny. 5 Stars ★★★★★
My first thoughts upon reading the synopsis for this one were "Oh. Dear. You are kidding me, right?"
I mean, we've heard about Dex's girlfriend Jenn a few times in the first three books. We've heard how hot she is and how much everyone lusts after her blah blah blah, including Dex (gag). But that was kind of okay because it was only talk; she wasn't right there in the picture. She was removed, vague, indistinct, abstract...
Then comes this book, and suddenly shit just got a whole lot more real. And a lot more painful!
I don't know about you, but when I read I really, really get absorbed in my books; especially ones as well-written and evocative as these. I live vicariously through the characters, I identify with them, empathise and in some cases, I am that character. I particularly connect well to Perry because I share some of her insecurities. And I can tell you that because of that, this book seriously hurt my feelings. I mean, it literally HURT. I could feel my chest squeezing in jealousy and anguish and I had to blink hard more than once. So in that respect, it was not a 'fun' read, and yet there were other moments of it that I wouldn't swap for the world. I was such a wreck afterwards as well; it really took me a while to process everything. In fact, my husband kept stumbling upon me in a trance-like state after I'd finished and he'd be all "what is up with you today?" And I'd be like "Wha? Um, uh, book, thing, Dex, why did he, I don't...uh...."
So it could only be a five star read after that, lol.
It's impossible to say much more without getting into spoiler territory, but just make sure you have a couple of days free of interruptions when you start this one because you will not want to put it down!
As for the rest of it, Perry and Dex are in Seattle to investigate an alleged haunting at a Mental Institute. There were some great spooky scenes as you'll have come to expect by now. There were also some really nice new secondary characters introduced in the form of Dex (and Jenn's) friends. I really liked them and can't wait to see them again, hopefully.
And lastly, my final top tip would be to have the next book to hand for when you finish this one. It's not a cliffhanger, but I defy anyone not to want to know what happens next RIGHT FREAKING NOW!
This book was like an endurance test - in the nicest possible way.
This is really going to put my no spoilers policy to the test because there's a certain thing you're waiting to happen in this book, and anyone who's read it will know exactly what that something is, and so you find yourself racing towards that point (if such a point even exists;)), and I wouldn't blame you for doing that too. But I think it's worth actually slowing down a little and just examining the rest of what's going on. The changes in Perry that are in evidence for starters, and the development—for better or worse—of other returning characters. They're quite significant.
There are certain events in life that are powerful enough to actually affect your personality and change your character to a degree, whether temporarily or permanently. Having undergone just such a shocking change, Perry is in a...weird head space. I don't want to say she's in a "dark place" because she's actually trying really hard not to be dark. She's silently berating and encouraging herself to be positive, get out there, meet new people, and absolutely, positively NO DWELLING under any circumstances! But it's so hard.
It's also hard to be around people that don't understand. Her parents, for example, have never made a secret of the fact that they don't believe her about the whole ghost thing or that they think her show is a bunch of bull****. But someone who's always been on Team Perry (even if it took her a while to realise it) is her kid sister, Ada. I've liked Ada in the past books but my high opinion of her grew exponentially in this one. She's supportive but not coddling, and at times it felt like a role reversal—who's the 23-year old and who's the 15-year old? She just rocks.
Even with all this going on, though, it's not long before people start to realise Perry is acting strange above and beyond what might be expected under the circumstances. Giving us, and them, even more reason to keep a close eye on her. Some of the changes just might not be as natural as they seem...
I'm so looking forward to being able to read the Dex Files after this! It's meant to be read between books 5 and 6. I can't wait to see his take on, well, everything!
This is just a quickie review (see Janice's full review on the blog).
This was fantastic. They just keep getting better and better! Karina Halle upped the creepy factor all the way up to eleven and never let it drop. It also had a buttload of foreshadowing and questions raised for future books. As if I needed any further encouragement to devour them all! Pfft! It had lots of nice character development as well, although it was a bit of a test of my devotion to Dex at times. Still, I luuuurved it.
As a former big L.O.S.T. fan I adored the setting of D’Arcy Island and all the spooky goings on there. And the effects it had on both Dex and Perry's state of mind was harrowing yet fascinating to read.
I think I'm going to have a problem here because I already gave book one, Darkhouse, 5 stars because I thought...moreI love this series. It's now official.
I think I'm going to have a problem here because I already gave book one, Darkhouse, 5 stars because I thought it was awesome on toast with a side order of shamazeballs. But this one was undeniably, unquestionably and indisputably better in almost every sense. So where do I go from here? I do not have 6 stars, people! Everyone knows all books have to be rated out of 5 and that half stars are against God's plan, so how can I express the, the...betterness of this one? Yes, I am aware betterness isn't a word. But it should be!
In my first joint review with Janice I said that I suspected there may end up being more to the series than just ghosts and ghost-hunting. And I was right! There's so much more. I really, really loved the storyline for this book. And the setting. And all the extra paranormal elements. And the fact that it was more mystery based - almost a whodunnit. And most especially, I loved the developments between Perry and Dex!
I'm just flabbergasted at how much they both seemed to change before my very eyes in this book, and in each other's. They say that scary, life-threatening events will form an emotional bond between two people, and I certainly think that was part of it. But I also think Perry and Dex are two people who just fit together anyway. Like slightly broken puzzle pieces, they each may not be completely whole, but they still fit.
I have to admit to a certain amount of fangirl squeeing when it became apparent they would have to feign a higher level of closeness during the case they were working on down in Red Fox. Anything that might have forced them to be in the same room where they could get to know each other more would have made me happy, but the deception they had to maintain made it even better!
There were some really interesting secondary characters in this book including a blast from Dex's past who provided us with some much-needed back story on him. I loved all that but I'm not yet convinced I like the person who delivered it. His motives are highly questionable.
So, to sum up, in case you missed your cue—yes do I recommend this series! If book one was awesome on toast with a side order of shamazeballs, then book two was spaghetti bloody marvellous with Parmesan genius.
This review will probably be rubbish and not do the book justice at all, for the simple fact that I was enjoying it so much that...moreLove, love, loved it!
This review will probably be rubbish and not do the book justice at all, for the simple fact that I was enjoying it so much that I actually forgot it was an ARC (for review read) and forgot to take ANY notes. Not. One. Single. Note. Normally, I keep a pad and pencil next to my eReader at all times and I'll jot down little scribbles whenever they come to me, but I was so engrossed, I forgot.
And, funnily enough, compared to other similar books of this genre, the book wasn't even particularly action-packed or fast-moving, so it wasn't that that had me flipping the pages. It was more that I was simply enchanted by it. By the world, the story and the writing. This is my first book by Marillier, but will definitely not be my last. Her writing style is immediately engaging, no doubt in part due to being in first person, which is quite unusual for this type of book.
Full confession time: this genre is fast becoming by own personal literary crack, I can't seem to get enough of it. So that will have upped my enjoyment and my rating because I was in my element, my happy place. It's a difficult genre to pin down, really. It's essentially a historical fantasy setting (in this case loosely based on a magical ancient Scotland) with lush world-building and a strong (either of magic, character or body) and often quite young, female main character, and usually has a slow-forming but very sweet romance. I may not know what the genre is called, but I know exactly who I would recommend it to. If you are a fan of any or all of the following, you should love this book.
Maria V. Snyder. (Study Series, Healer of Avry series) Kristin Cashore. (Seven Kingdoms series) R. L. LaFevers (His Fair assassin series) Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass series) Kristen Britain (Greed Rider series)
And probably more I'm forgetting or haven't 'met' myself yet.
I've seen from other reviewers who have had the pleasure of reading Marillier before, that this isn't even necessarily her best or most thrilling book, no doubt due to the aforementioned lack of action or solid conclusion. But it's a great opener for a series I'm now extremely excited about continuing. The main conflict of the story arc—the evil King Keldec and his mission to cull every town of anyone who has Canny magic (unless they work for him, of course) by whatever ruthless means necessary—is all still to come. It was only talked about in the abstract in this book because, as of yet, our brave young heroine—a girl called Neryn of almost 16 summers—isn't ready to face him. I would have had to suspend all disbelief if she were to have had a showdown with him in this book. This is no Mary Sue character and there was no Deus Ex Machina ending. She's not ready yet. She's on a journey, and it's only just begun.
At the start of the book, Neryn has just about lost everything and finds herself on her own and on the run. Help comes in the most unexpected of forms and there are many a challenge and test of wills along the way. Much like in the great fairy tales of the past, our heroine first has to prove her worth, have her mettle tested to breaking point, and that's exactly what this book shows us. Seeing these early stages of our heroine's growth, while she's still so young and even a little bit naive, will no doubt make seeing the rest of her journey that much more fulfilling.
Flint, who was the other main character out of the wide and varied cast, all of whom were vivid and essential, was a real treat. Not your typical hero by any means, but what an amazingly complex and conflicted character! I can't wait to see more of him.
Even lacking in action or any big, climactic ending as it was, this was not a boring book by any means, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. There is a lot of time that Neryn is alone and travelling, but she's faced with constant challenges that kept me entertained. And then when Flint came on the scene...well, I was entertained for all kinds of different reasons then :)
Recommended to fans of all of the above authors, and to anyone who loved a good (and often rather gruesome) fairy tale as a child. Suitable for younger readers, but perfect for big kids too.
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
Well now. I've gone from 'like' to 'love' over the space of two books. I 'liked' the plot for book one, but I 'loved' the plot book two. It wasn't tha...more
Well now. I've gone from 'like' to 'love' over the space of two books. I 'liked' the plot for book one, but I 'loved' the plot book two. It wasn't that it was better written either because the standard was already high, but it was just more interesting because it had such devastating repercussions for Duclie's personal life.
I also loved the new characters that were introduced. Dea, for example, was a nice surprise. I'd grown quite attached to her by the end. I hope she's a regular feature from now on. And getting to know the characters we'd already met before more... intimately was fun too. Especially Knight and Bran. Bran has his moments, but ultimately always ruins it for himself by being a total narcissist. And Knight....ah, Knight. I love Knight Vander!!! (Extra exclamations marks were required- you have no idea). I just can't hide it any longer. I need to confess it to someone. He's too cute/hot/sweet/arrogant/funny/sexy for words. And I think we saw a different side to him in this book, too. Okay, the Knight that we met in book one- the self-confessed "cocky bastard"- is still very much there, but we discovered new depths in A TALE OF TWO GOBLINS and were it a test, he would have passed with flying colours in the "is also a pretty freaking nice guy" department.
This book wasn't perfect. The BIG BAD was unguessable (my red squiggly line maker says unguessable isn't a word, but it so should be) and there were also some pretty major time discrepancies going on between what was said in book one, and what's said here in this one, which in the end I just decided to overlook and make it up for myself. So I was perhaps a bit generous giving it a full five stars (which is not like me at all!), but I enjoyed it so much it seemed mean to mark it down.
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.
The overarching plot for the series becomes clearer in this instalment. It's written, as Green Rider was, in th...moreA really good follow up to Green Rider.
The overarching plot for the series becomes clearer in this instalment. It's written, as Green Rider was, in third-person omniscient, which makes it feel very broad-sweeping and grand in scale. I like the way we sort of zoom in like a telephoto lens on different characters and scenes. I actually lost count of the number of different character POV's I experienced along the way, although of course the main character, Karigan, has the majority of the page time. At one point it was written from the point of view of a swirly black tendril of smoke that had sentience. Bizarre but fabulous.
It's a long book and too much happens to summarise in a review, but suffice to say I was just as entertained by it as I was first time around with Green Rider, and I was more than thrilled by a couple of developments, and completely dismayed by others. The magic, politics and fascinating characters make this an engrossing and absorbing read. One I will probably re-read at some point in the future. And the addition of the time travel aspect proved an excellent way to fill in gaps in the world's history of important events that affect the current situation with the Wall and Blackveil forest. “She was unfettered and free, a wild spirit he could not capture, tame, or confine, but one he wished would come to him, as a deer is tempted by a handful of oats.” I really would love to go straight onto the next book but as there are only two left in the series currently, and with the prospect of 3 years before the next book comes out ahead of me, I think I'll hold off for a while and read them back-to-back in a few years. I understand you can't rush or force creativity, but I really wish the gaps between these books weren't so enormous. It's a longer than average book at 600+ pages, but if authors like Kim Harrison can manage a 400+ page book every 12 months, plus anthologies, plus a separate YA series, then 4 years is just dilly dallying no matter how you look at it.
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!*
So, we come to the end of this brilliantly gripping trilogy and I ask myself the question, am I satisfied with how it ended?
Second questio...moreSo, we come to the end of this brilliantly gripping trilogy and I ask myself the question, am I satisfied with how it ended?
Second question: does that mean it ends with all happy hearts and flowers and dancing unicorns?
Answer: what do you think? This is dystopian fiction, and when you are talking about changing the "bigger picture", not just the characters' immediate futures, these things don't happen overnight.
Still, Collins certainly puts her readers through the emotional mill and goes out with a bang. I actually think she was maybe a little too ruthless and bloodthirsty in some areas, but, hey, I guess she was just keeping it real. We never would have bought the whole unicorn thing anyway...
Here are some of my favourite non-spoilery quotes:
“They'll either want to kill you, kiss you, or be you.”
“I think...you still have no idea. The effect you can have.”
“Never underestimate the power of a great stylist.”
“Well, don't expect us to be too impressed. We just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear.”
A fantastic follow up. Taking place around 3 months after the events at the end of the first book, we catch up with all of the characters from Distric...more A fantastic follow up. Taking place around 3 months after the events at the end of the first book, we catch up with all of the characters from District 12 to see how life is treating them in the Victor's Village.
Although this book had a much slower start than book one, the ending more than made up for any initial lack of action. And there were twists to the overall plot that have me more than a little intrigued as to how Collins plans to wind up this story. I would definitely recommend having the next book ready as it ends rather abruptly as well.
“Katniss, the girl on fire, has left behind her flickering flames and bejewelled gowns and soft candlelight frocks. She is as deadly as fire itself.”
Katniss is still very unsure and confused about the two boys in her life: Gale is like family, and Peeta has come to mean so much to her, as often happens with people who meet in stressful circumstances. Ha, did I really just call the Hunger Games a "stressful circumstance"? Anyone for an understatement?
So I have no idea how that will all be resolved, or even if it will at all. I guess I'll have to head on over to Mockingjay to find out!
I absolutely loved this book. I became a fan of Maria V. Snyder's work back with Poison Study (book one in the Study Trilogy) and I enjoyed this one j...moreI absolutely loved this book. I became a fan of Maria V. Snyder's work back with Poison Study (book one in the Study Trilogy) and I enjoyed this one just as much. The world created for this new trilogy, although not in any way connected, had a very similar feel to it to that of the Study series. It is very similar to our own world in many ways, although without the benefits of our modern technology- plumbing, electricity, cars etc. - but with the added bonus of magic. Lots and lots of lovely magic!
The story had excellent pacing. Right from the first page we were off and running (literally) and before I even realised what I was doing I had inhaled the first 100 pages of the book. If not for that darn pesky sleep thing we humans require, I wouldn't have stopped there either.
One of the best things about Maria's writing is her amazing characters. She writes beautifully forming friendships that really touch you as a reader. Her writing is emotive, I felt my heart plummet several times during the course of the book over something that was said or revealed. But the very best thing of all for me, is the way she sets up the romantic storyline. That is to say, she doesn't set it up in any kind of in-your-face or obvious way. It's so very clever and subtle that you don't even realise what's happening until it creeps up on you. Little actions and gestures. Words said when people think themselves unheard. I absolutely loved trying to read between the lines and hear what went unsaid. This kind of subtlety is so much more enjoyable to me than the insta-love of so many other books.
I also enjoyed all the magical abilities we saw. The healing power of our main character, Avry, is fascinating in that she has to assume the injuries or illnesses into her own body first in order to heal them. Her healing is greatly accelerated over that of a normal person, but that doesn't mean she doesn't suffer. She feels every bit of it and has the scars to prove it. This makes her seem incredibly altruistic at times but that doesn't mean she will heal everyone she is told to on command. And this is the main crux of the story. She is asked by Kerrick, the leader of the band of rogues who abduct her at the start of the book, to heal Prince Ryne. Avry flat out refuses for reasons that she initially doesn't wish to share. As you can imagine this news isn't received well and the plot takes off from here.
There really was not a dull moment in this book. It had me bemoaning each and every one of my responsibilities that kept me away from it during the course of the 3 days it took to read. I am greatly looking forward to the next book and just hope it maintains this incredibly high standard, and that all of the characters I have come to love will be there waiting for me inside.
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review (less)
In some ways this was even more enjoyable than book one. Although I slightly preferred the murder mystery plot in First Grave on the Right, this time,...more In some ways this was even more enjoyable than book one. Although I slightly preferred the murder mystery plot in First Grave on the Right, this time, because we know these characters now and have a lot more info on the bigger picture, it was more effective. I was saddened by some of the scenes and revelations because I care about these characters and what happens to them. Yet more evidence that, although this series is hilarious in places, it has a serious underbelly that catches you by surprise every now and again.
Charley has experienced a rather steep learning curve recently. Specifically about her own skill set. It's great that even though it seemed like we began with a girl who knew all there was to know about being the Grim Reaper, she really couldn't have been more wrong.
This series has some outstanding secondary characters that really support Charley and allow her to shine. I particularly love Cookie, her BFF. Their dialogue scenes are excellent in the way they bounce off one another. I like UB (Uncle Bob) too for his supportive nature. I also really like Garret and their repartee. As a possible second option, he's pretty darn cute. And then of course there's Reyes Farrows *thud*. The man gets more mysterious the more you learn about him. How is that even possible?
It's a shame that not everyone seems to appreciate Charley the way I/they do. Those bad guys just keep on coming. And they are not the only ones to blind side her in this instalment.
All in all, an excellent continuation to this feel good UF series. You know I have to go and read book three now, don't you?
This is definitely my favourite storyline of the series so far. It's a culmination of bits and pieces of story threads we've been getting over the las...moreThis is definitely my favourite storyline of the series so far. It's a culmination of bits and pieces of story threads we've been getting over the last two books. And again, it's proven my developing theory that when you make someone laugh and feel all happy and comfortable, it only hits them that much harder -like a sledge hammer to the gut harder- when something ...unsettling happens, because they're just not expecting it.
I cried. This book made me cry!
Charley Davidson, aka the Grim Reaper, aka Private Detective extraordinaire, is a very funny lady, as anyone who's read books one and two will know. Charley Davidson after nearly two weeks of trying to stay awake because she's scared of what Reyes Farrows might do to her in her sleep, is freaking hilarious! She may or may not be slightly more than human, but 13 days of no sleep will catch up with the best of us. There's only so much coffee in the world. This makes for some of the funniest dialogue scenes I have ever read. Ever.
I really enjoyed the main mystery this time. Charley is hired in her PI capacity to find a missing wife. Again. But it's a very different story this time. She also gets delivered a prophesy of sorts at the beginning of the book which makes you very worried about exactly whom it involves throughout the rest of the story. And even though you know it's coming, it really doesn't lessen the blow.
Did I mention I cried?
I think the other reason it's my favourite is the further development of Reyes' character. I felt like I got to see him more as a real person. Whether or not I liked all that I saw...well that's a different question all together, isn't it. All I know is I want more. Lots more. I have a feeling that, now that we've wrapped up certain events that the bigger story arc is going to make itself known. And since we are already three books in before this happens, this makes me hopeful that this series has a long way to go yet before it runs its course. I truly hope so.
Can't wait until October for Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet.
I absolutely adored this book! If you are a fan of Maria V. Snyder's writing style you should really enjoy this too. It features the same strong plot...moreI absolutely adored this book! If you are a fan of Maria V. Snyder's writing style you should really enjoy this too. It features the same strong plot and characterisation that you'd find with her work, with a subtle but so very compelling love story to go along with it. It's a fairly chaste love story, based more on romance than lust, but very compelling nonetheless. Anyone who enjoyed Yelena and Velek from Poison Study, or more recently Avry and Kerrick from Touch of Power, will appreciate the slow burn of the developing relationship. And it has plenty of time to develop and get under your skin, since this book weighs in at nearly 600 pages.
It's hard to categorize exactly what genre this book would fall under. It's not your typical Historical Romance (no sex: shocking), it's not a full-out fantasy book although it has fantastical elements. What it does have is a strong mystery plot with espionage, betrayals, political manoeuvring and murder. It's loosely based around actual historical events involving Anne, Duchess of Brittany, who after her father dies when she's just 12, is paraded around to every power player of the time in the hopes of marrying her off. And she has no shortage of suitors as you can imagine with the title and lands she holds. Unfortunately for Anne, each one is as unappealing as the last, and someone, it seems, is willing to eliminate the opposition at any cost.
So what they really need to ensure things go smoothly and everyone behaves themselves, is an undercover nun assassin, right? (I know that was going to be your next guess). And so we meet our main character, Ismae, who, although the price was much, much lower, has also experienced first hand what being sold off at a young age for marriage to the highest bidder feels like. Indeed, that's how most of the young ladies trained at St Mortain's came to be there. They've been beaten but not broken and are ready to right some wrongs.
Overall, the amazing characters made this book for me. Both of the main characters were very likeable as were many of the secondary characters. The writing was excellent and the plot solid and I barely noticed it was such a big book as the pacing made it very hard to put down. If I wanted to nitpick, I could find a couple of small issues of implausibility, but not enough for me to mark it down to 4 stars.
I can't wait for the next book, Dark Triumph, out in 2013 which features a very intriguing character we met briefly in this book.
5 Stars! ★★★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review(less)
Engaging from the first page. Absolutely wonderful YA (or adult) fantasy fiction with a heroine worth championing.
This little gem of a book is the first of hopefully many more chronicling the life of Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan's most notorious assassin. It's set in a fantasy world that's similar to our own in many ways, in a time of swords, sorcery, castles, princes, evil overlords, forgotten magic, oppression, slavery, deception and treachery.
I was a gone, gone, goner from page one. This is so far up my street. It's that kind of fantastical, historical setting with a strong female protagonist that gets me every time. Reminiscent of the kind of worlds built by Maria V. Snyder (try her Healer series), and R L. LaFevers (try her His Fair Assassin series) only I think this might just be my favourite of all of them.
The book begins with Celaena in residence at a Death Camp, the Salt Mines of Endovier, where she has slaved in the dark for around a year. Which already is quite an achievement in and of itself since the average life-expectancy there is less than half that. It's not all down to a strong will to survive, however. The guards there were under instruction not to end her life prematurely, to make sure she served out every last day of her punishment. She's Adarlan's assassin, after all. It's no more than she deserves. That, however, was their only instruction towards leniency, and sometimes death is preferable. So she's in very poor physical condition when she's met one night after her day's work is over by a hooded figure who escorts her under guard into the building of the countries officials. It's the first time she's breathed such fresh air for too many months to remember, but that doesn't mean she's not paying attention. So when the hooded figure tries to confuse her bearings on the walk, taking her around in circles and therefore curtailing any potential escape attempt she might make (or so he thinks), she can only grin at his naivete. She may have been betrayed and caught, but some training is too ingrained to be forgotten.
I basically fell in love with Celaena right from this first scene. Her smug satisfaction, that she managed to keep to herself, endeared her to me instantly, and it only grew as the story progressed. She's clearly been through hell but her character, her tenacity, is not so easily diminished. She's a strong-willed, witty, teasing, aggravating, exasperating little tinker who doesn't know when to stop talking. And I LOVED her! She's deliciously spiteful, deliberately annoying. I mean, what else can they do to her? It's not like they can sentence her to life as a slave twice.
But that's not what they have in mind for her at all as it turns out, and as the back cover suggests, they come bearing an offer she can't refuse: Compete against the best of the worst that Erilea has to offer to become the King's champion and earn her freedom, or die in the Mines.
Um.... Option one?
I loved the developing relationship between Celaena and the prince, Dorian, who couldn't be less like his pig of a father. And also with her guard/trainer Chaol, who's aloof but not uncaring. There's the budding beginnings of a love triangle situation, kind of, but it's not ridiculous teen angst and silliness. Celaena is far too developed for that. It's more of a complication of more than one interested party, and a girl who's mind is on freedom, not frivolity. If I were in Celeana's shoes I would have a hard time deciding between both men. Both characters have some wonderful qualities as well as some realistic flaws, and the repartee between each potential pairing is fantastic to watch. I loved Mass' dialogue. It flowed wonderfully and was snappy and often funny. I'm keen to find out where it all leads in the end.
Celeana also developed well as a character in her own right. Although strong of mind right from the word go, she was physically a wreck, quite understandably, but works hard, above and beyond what's asked of her, to regain her strength with the help of Chaol. It also becomes apparent to all that underneath all that grime and stink, Celaena was once a beauty, and with a little more meat on her bones, would be again. She's a contradiction to all that meet her. How can this young, smart-arsed woman with such beguiling features, be such a notorious killer? Well, we only got snippets of exactly how it came about, but I know there's so much more to come. And even though I finished the book with still lots of questions burning, I was totally satisfied and will gladly wait for further instalments to get the rest of her backstory. Because that means more books!
The fighting and training scenes were well done and easy to visualise. Celaena is a smarty pants at times but it was never crossing that line over into unnecessarily snarky or bitchy. She was arrogant, but she backed up every drop of it with action. I thought the balance was perfect.
I feel like there's so much more to come from this story and this world. This was just the tip of the iceberg. Maas said in her acknowledgements that this book was a decade in the making. I can believe that. But seriously hope the next one doesn't take so long and maintains this incredibly high standard. I'm so excited to get to it. It can't come soon enough.
5 Phenomenal Fantasy Fiction Stars and a Big Fat Favourite Heart ★★★★★ ♥
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review.
This is the first book in a couple of books of this series that's had a real impact on my opinions of both of the main characters, husband and wife, E...moreThis is the first book in a couple of books of this series that's had a real impact on my opinions of both of the main characters, husband and wife, Eve Dallas and Roarke.....just Roarke. He's a billionaire, he doesn't need to have surname if he doesn't want to! And even Summerset, the butler and Roarke's old friend from the back streets of Dublin, doesn't escape with all his secrets intact.
We already knew a little bit about Roarke and Summerset's history and the terrible loss that they both shared. I was obviously a fool to think that was the end of that story, and in this one, we get the rest...
It was explosive. It would have been a great book anyway because the mystery element and the poetic clues from the serial killer were all really well executed- I much preferred this plot over the last one- and the pacing was great with the usual mix of action, humour, romance and intrigue. But it was so much more than that. Obviously I'm not going to tell you why it was so much more, you'll have to read it for yourself. But trust me, it was a biggie.
There was, in the background to all that, great further development to the secondary characters as well. It even furthered my already abundant and slightly inappropriate love for Peabody, Eve's aide and growing friend. And I love McNab, the new tech guy! Yet another of Eve's colleagues that worships the very ground Roarke walks upon. But they only love him for his gadgets... only Eve knows the real man. And after this book, she knows a hell of a lot more than she did before!
She's done it again! How does she keep doing this to me? Just when I think Stacia Kane has sent me on every possible emotional roller coaster imaginab...moreShe's done it again! How does she keep doing this to me? Just when I think Stacia Kane has sent me on every possible emotional roller coaster imaginable, there she is again with ride tickets clutched in her hand and a wicked gleam in her eye.
I am somewhat conflicted about certain elements of this book. As flawed as Chess is, and Lord knows she's one of the most, if not the most, flawed Urban Fantasy characters out there, I've still always respected her. Even as hard as that is to do sometimes with the way she's constantly telling you what a shitty person she is. I was always able to see through that and admire her strength anyway.
In this book she did something I didn't like. I'm not going to say what it was, not even a hint, save to say I actually had to put the book down and didn't pick it up again for 4 days. I still haven't decided if I'm mad, sad, disappointed or what, but I had to take a break to put my thoughts in order.
Aside from that, though, it was business as usual. Except these days Chess' business comes with lots more Terrible! I loved the amount of time they were able to spend together in this book. They're relationship is very intense and they have a lot of issues, but they're also a pretty freaking great team and they worked together on the crime/case like they've been doing it for years. Chess is the investigator, Terrible is the muscle, and it just works perfectly.
They also made some more progress as a couple. Although with Chess it's likely always going to be one step forward for every two steps back, I ended the book feeling more confident in Chess for the future. There are no major changes happening yet, but maybe in the next one....
“I ain't...Don't know how to say it up right. Never--Fuck, Chess. Thought you was dead once before, you recall? Never felt so bad in my life, not ever. Then on the other day, thought you was gone and just....I can't do it, bein without you.”
All in all, another fantastic book, despite my hiccup. And, hey, it's only a testament to how involved with these characters I am that it was able to affect me so much.
Outstanding job, Ms Kane. Next one please!
4 Stars! ★★★★ ♥ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review(less)
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?
This was an excellent follow up to the first book, which I really enjoyed. I sometimes worry when I've loved the first book in a series that the next...moreThis was an excellent follow up to the first book, which I really enjoyed. I sometimes worry when I've loved the first book in a series that the next one(s) will pale in comparison. In this case, I needn't have worried.
The mystery element here really had me stumped. I thought I had it all figured out right until the end, and there was the baddie, with his/her back to me and I'm thinking, I've totally got this, then they turn around and.... doh! Looks like I'm not quite as much of a smarty pants as I thought, huh? I love that I was surprised and thought it was really cleverly written.
Alex's character had time to shine in this one a bit more than the first book as well. I don't think I really mentioned much about her as a lead character in my first review, I was too busy being all excited about the world-building and cool magical abilities and such, but she is a good leading lady: strong in her magic, honest, loyal, fierce, free and open with her opinions of others, both good and bad. And I can see why people are drawn to her.
Lets not say the words "love triangle" because they upset me, and really, that's not the case here at all, BUT, but there is more than one person who thinks Alex is the bee's knees in this series. One of them is just lovely, and seems to have really deep feelings for Alex, but I just can't see any possible way that it could work out between them. The other is a bit more of a conundrum, both to Alex and to us as a reader. He has his secrets and loyalties that lie elsewhere, and these make him a risky choice. But he's, like, all yummy and stuff..... I just don't know what I think at this point other than that I like both of them for very different reasons.
I can't wait for the next next book, Grave Memory (write faster dammit!) and really hope this series continues to keep up this high standard for many books to come.
This was a great book, and easily my favourite so far. As you can see from the back-cover blurb Joanne actually goes on a date with Morrison! Did...moreWhew!
This was a great book, and easily my favourite so far. As you can see from the back-cover blurb Joanne actually goes on a date with Morrison! Did you hear what I said? A Date! With Morrison! I know!
Of course partially shifting into a Coyote during a "special" dance performance will put a dampener on most romantic evenings, still, progress is progress and I'm taking it where I can get it!
I don't want to spoil the rest of the plot from here but lets just say that, whereas other books have involved a mystery for Joanne to chase down and solve, this time the stakes are higher and a lot more personal.
Joanne is really living up to her abilities in this one too. She has fully accepted what she is and what she has to do. Even though her "warriors path" is perhaps a cause for concern between her and her mentor, it's a role that Joanne, with her police training and new sword fighting abilities, seems made for.
I wish you could have seen my face after finishing this book. Do the words "About damned time!" mean anything to you C. E. Murphy? I loved the ending and I hated it because after reading these books back-to-back over the last week or so, I have now run out! And have to wait until NEXT YEAR for the next one! Grr. I think I might be suffering actual, physical withdrawals...Okay, it's okay, I'm okay, I'll be fine, this is just the adjustment period, I'll get over it.
This book picks up almost immediately after the events at the end of the last book, Spirit Dances, with our lovely protagonist Joanne Walker on her wa...moreThis book picks up almost immediately after the events at the end of the last book, Spirit Dances, with our lovely protagonist Joanne Walker on her way to Ireland to take care of that pesky werewolf bite. I had some very big expectations for this book after the way the last book ended, and in most ways those expectations were met, maybe even surpassed. And yet, I can't help deducting one respect point for the missing characters in this instalment. Phone calls are all well and good (very good, actually) but after being made to wait six books (SIX books!) for something to happen between Jo and Morrison, and then to have this be what I call a "departure book" - basically a book in a series that sticks out as separate from the rest in some way and can often be referred to as "the one where she goes to ... " and to have nearly all of the secondary characters I've grown to know and love be absent as well, was a slight disappointment.
However, that was basically my only complaint with this book. The rest of it was grade A awesome. The narrative was fresh and funny as ever. Joanne has always been comical, but some of her inner thought processes in this one had me laughing out loud. I love the way she weighs up her options when she faces a new situation or danger. She counts them on one hand, then on the other hand, then on the third hand...it really tickled me. One of my favourite passages that displays this:
"On the positive side, I'd caught a banshee with nets before. On the less positive side, it had taken Sheila's help to hold it in place. But on another positive side, I was a lot more confident in my powers than I had been then. Of course, on the negative side that confidence was currently stymied by a werewolf bite and general uncertainty about using my skills at full bore. Then again, back on the positive side --- apparently I was an octagon---if things were going to explode, they might take a banshee or too along with them."
This kind of dithering made the narrative seem friendly and relatable and I could really connect well with Jo because of it. Obviously her Shamanic and fighting skills have both improved exponentially since book one, but that doesn't means she always knows exactly what to do in any given situation. There is no "How to be a badass Shaman" handbook, after all. So seeing her face down the bad guys even with this level of uncertainty, really upped my respect for her as a main character.
The delightful Gary, her septuagenarian BFF was with Joanne for some of the book which I was very thankful for, and his scenes were as sweet as can be and often highly amusing as well. They really are very close friends now, probably more like family, actually, and it's just adorable to watch. We also meet some interesting new characters, revisit some old ones, as well take on some amazing creatures, beasties and bad guys. All of the things you have come to expect from this series is here (Except Morrison!).
I'm really, and I do mean REALLY, looking forward to the next book and just hope (wish, pray, expect, demand) that the rest of the gang will be reunited once more and that we will also find out what Jo will be doing now that she is officially unemployed...
I give this 4 stars and a big, fat Morrison-shaped heart.
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review(less)
My first reaction after finishing this book is a resounding "Awwwwwwwwwwwwww!"
It was such a touching love story! Don't get me wrong it was sexy too, a...moreMy first reaction after finishing this book is a resounding "Awwwwwwwwwwwwww!"
It was such a touching love story! Don't get me wrong it was sexy too, as all these paranormal romances tend to be, it's not all mushy lovey dovey stuff, but the connection that developed between the characters was so compelling I totally fell in love right along with them. It has me in a kind of ooey, gooey state of contented bliss as I close the final pages.
Both the hero and heroine were refreshing and extremely endearing. Roland (Nice guy, shame about the name) is a 937 year old Immortal Guardian. Unlike some of his counterparts out there in paranormal romance land, he has a rather quiet, shy, vulnerable personality. He has the prerequisite tortured past and resulting ingrained lack of trust we've seen often, but instead of making him a brooding (sulking) nasty piece of work as others are, he just comes across as...kinda sad, lonely and a little bit tired of the slog. 937 years is a helluva long time to be alone.
Enter stage left Sarah Bingham. It's like she suddenly turned all the lights on in his world. She's smart, funny, caring, brave, and he couldn't be more shocked by his reaction to her if she'd whacked him upside the head with a shovel. Luckily, she saves that little treat for the guys chasing him instead.
The vampires and guardians here were interesting too. Basically they are both infected with the vampire "virus" (Vampiritis?) but those that become guardians instead of the shorter-lived and eventually insane vampires, are the ones who were "different" even as humans. Maybe they could read minds, see ghosts, heal with their hands, that kind of thing. They have recently been established as having different DNA, although they still don't know the why of it.
And impressively still, even the bad guy was interesting! Instead of the often seen, 2D, bad for being bad's sake, Dr. Evil wannanbe, he had an interesting tale to tell as well.
There were a number of subplots introduced which will no doubt see fruition in future books. I have to say I am greatly looking forward to reading more from this author and this exciting new series!
The only word that comes to mind when I think of this book and this series, is "beautiful".
The writing is beautiful; written in first person, present...moreThe only word that comes to mind when I think of this book and this series, is "beautiful".
The writing is beautiful; written in first person, present tense. The prose is lyrical, sometimes poetic. The dialogue is sweet, endearing and often highly amusing. I've never really had any great love for present tense narrative before now. It's so rare, I've only actually come across it once before. With that series, it drove me completely nuts. With this, I barely gave it a second thought because it just flows from Hand in such an effortless way, that it's clear to me why she chose it. Because it fits her style, and it really makes the writing stand out to me, but in a good way this time. It helps you to feel everything Clara feels right there in real time; every decision that's made you can understand her reasons for- even if you don't necessarily like the decision- because you've just watch her struggle to make it. This means you can really empathise with her.
The characters are also beautiful. And I don't just mean outer appearance, although they are that too, but that's almost irrelevant in this series. It is a very character driven piece. I'm actually surprised how much I like it as, action wise, it is on the gentle side and I am a card-toting action lover. But I'm just so darn in love with these amazing characters, these incredible young people, and the confusing, heartbreaking journey they are on. They are each at a pivotal time in their lives; at an age where life-changing decisions are often made, but for these guys, those decisions are so much bigger. The conflict Clara is going through is so fascinating, and other parts of it were simply gut-wrenching. I admit to crying like a baby for a large portion of this novel
I haven't mentioned much in terms of plot but I'm sure other reviewers will fill you in on that score. But I will say there were a number of shocks, surprises and big reveals in this book. There were also some big changes- those darn decisions I mentioned earlier- which I'm not sure I'm totally on board with yet, but I will definitely be waiting with breathless anticipation for the next book to see where that leads us to.
I would recommend this series to all. Young, old, YA lover or not, because it is simply...wait for it...beautiful :)