Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blathFind 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....more
In keeping with my pledge to try new genres in 2013, I decideFind more reviews like this at The Demon Librarian.
A sweet and endearing New Adult read.
In keeping with my pledge to try new genres in 2013, I decided to pick up this book; a Contemporary New Adult Romance. New Adult is a pretty new genre category all together, I've only really seen the term bandied about this last couple of months. It's basically an older version of YA, characters are generally 18 years or older, and if it's set at any kind of school it would be college drama rather than highschool drama. (Yay!) For adults reading the genre it makes that walk back down memory lane slightly more tolerable. Bridging the gap between the often explicit, sex-oriented adult romances, and the sweet, shy hand-holding variety of YA books, falling somewhere in the middle.
Slammed was a sweet, gentle story following the romantic fumblings of twenty-one-year old Will and eighteen-year-old Lake. Having lost her father and moved to a new State with her mother and younger brother, Lake meets new neighbour Will the very first day and there's an instant and strong attraction between them and a connection that surprises them both. There's also a massive complication that no one saw coming. Sadly, as much as I enjoyed the shock revelation of said complication, it effectively drew a halt to the progression of the romance for much of the book.
Aside from romantic woes, there was also a nice and rather thought-provoking family drama that unfolded. As I mentioned before, Lake has a younger brother, Kel, and he and his new buddy Caulder (Will's younger brother of the same age), were a great addition to the story. The antics of these two were really cute and also provided a reason to stay in contact with Will when times were tough, as well as just making me smile at their shenanigans.
Another big 'character,' if you will, in this book was the poetry. I'd be lying—big fat fibs—if I professed to be a fan of poetry of any kind, BUT, I would be telling the truth to say I enjoyed all the poetry in this book. A pat on the back to Hoover for writing every piece for everyone who got up to compete in the Slam Poetry events. Maybe this is something else I need to explore more in the future (**makes notes for 2014**). And the letter at the end... while not a poem, exactly, just about killed me. It was perfect.
All in all, I would have liked more romance and less complications, but I enjoyed the book and some of the quotes from it will stay with me for a while to come. One of my favourites was...
Keep an open mind; it's the only way new things can get in.
How true is that?
I'd assumed this book was a stand alone as I read it, but it seems not. Book two, Point of Retreat, looks set to re-rock the boat for Will and Lake. I'll let you know how true that is if/when I decide to read it. I'm just not sure I want to disturb my happy place right now...
My first thoughts upon reading the synopsis for this oFind more reviews like this one at The Demon Librarian
Another fabulous tale from Karina Halle.
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!
I really enjoyed this. I think anyone who enjoys emotionally-charged contemporary romances featuring messed-upA very sexy, very engaging read. Rawr!
I really enjoyed this. I think anyone who enjoys emotionally-charged contemporary romances featuring messed-up characters, such as Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, for example, will enjoy this book. (Although I must say this is a more polished, more grown-up, sexier and more realistic story than BD without quite so many WTF? moments.) I make the comparison only because of how this book made me feel, which was similar to my reaction to Beautiful Disaster, in that I connected easily and strongly to the characters' twisted relationship and felt like I got sucker-punched numerous times. And it made me cry, at least twice. Which, bizarrely, is something I rather like my books to do.
It's a character-driven story with some very minor subplots thrown in and a strong theme of 'fear of letting people in/getting hurt'. The main culprit of this particular character flaw being Joss (Jocelyn) Butler, the protagonist.
I liked Joss, I really did, but sometimes she infuriated me. She lost her family (mother, father and sister) in a car crash at age fourteen and went a little wild for a few years, then closed off and withdrew from people altogether. Cut to 8 years later and she's still mostly walled off from humanity, but has at least managed to acquire a few casual acquaintances. However, circumstances force a sharp change in her life when she moves into a new flat, with a new room-mate, on Dublin Street. And said room-mate has a very handsome, very charming, utterly egotistical brother called Braden, and this book is all about their tempestuous relationship.
It's an extremely sexually-charged relationship, with some absolutely scorching love scenes that were H.O.T. without ever crossing any of my personal boundaries of what I want to read about (like some other highly popular books floating about at the moment that you may have heard of...). Where the annoyance with Joss bit comes in, however—and really, it's not actually her fault at all—is that she has been so unhappy and alone for so long, that when the chance presents itself to become part of an adopted family of sorts, and a loving relationship, she's too scared to take it. And I just wanted to shake her at times and say "It's right there! What you are looking for is right in front of your damn face!". But then I also kinda wanted to cry for her as well, because she's clearly terrified of losing anyone again and thinks the answer is to not care about anyone...like, ever.
The use of 1st person narrative through Joss works really well for this book, even though it's much more common to find romances written in 3rd. Every thought, feeling and sensation is brought to you with first-hand descriptors taking you along for the ride rather than just being a witness to it. The other plus, IMO, is that it causes Braden to be that much more of a mystery as we never have the privilege of his thoughts, so we experience Joss's worries, insecurities and emotions about him which really draws you in, and it also means we only get to see Braden through Joss's lust-filled gaze, making him seem extremely appealing!
Not that Braden needed much help to sound appealing... My, my, my. He has his caveman tendencies, sure, and I could have lived without the string of ex-Barbie doll girlfriends (as I'm sure Joss could have, too) but he was also very sweet and understanding, even when Joss was being a total basketcase. I liked his character a lot and might have a teensy weensy crush on him. Just don't tell anyone, 'kay?
To sum up, I lurved this book. I didn't want it to end. So if you're in need of a steamy, well-written contemporary read, this is the very fella for you. Enjoy!
5 Stars ★★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review.
My first thought upon beginning this book was,"First person naFind more review like this one at The Demon Librarian.
A truly romantic highlander tale.
My first thought upon beginning this book was,"First person narrative? Really? Not seen that before in my Hunky Highlander books!" But I have to say, I thought it worked brilliantly. I slightly favour 1st person perspectives in general as I find it easier to connect to the heroine—whose character I invariably like to drop myself into. Unless, you know, she's an idiot. Then I remove myself as far from her as possible and call her names—but I've become so used to third person in romances that it struck me as a bold choice. I think it worked really well here, not only in my connection to the heroine, but in making the hero seem more of a mystery to us as readers—What is he thinking? Why is he acting that way?—We have no clue; much like in real life! Men are from Mars and women are from Venus and all that. So, writing style-wise, this was a hit for me, and I didn't find it limiting at all.
As to the characters, both hero and heroine, Wilkie and Roses, were great. Roses is a blonde-haired, green-eyed exotic beauty with a secret. Wilkie is a tall, dark and handsome warrior, a hit with the ladies, and a thoroughly nice guy. Both were pretty flawless physical specimens, it has to be said. Although you got the sense that Roses didn't really realise her own appeal after so many years trying to hide herself away at her old clan. And for Wilkie, while it can't have escaped his notice that he turns female heads everywhere he goes, he's far from arrogant. In fact, it's him that's struck dumb initially by Roses's beauty. It was a fantastic first meet scene and made me see perhaps why the book is called 'Highlander Claimed' rather than, say, 'Claimed by the Highlander.' Because it's Wilkie that's been caught hook, line and sinker. He's finally met his match, and he is never letting her go!
The story, while enjoyable, wasn't anything ground-breaking and in fact, I'd read a similar story in another highlander book just this year that had used two of the same plot lines. But, to be honest, I found the romance so engaging I didn't really mind how obvious the big ta-da! moment was. Sure, the dialogue got a bit flowery at times, and Roses could be a bit too biddable and simpering on occasion, but other than that, I had a fantastic time with the book and am excited about the prospect of more from this author. And did I mention the sex scenes? H. O. T!
I shall be adding Juliette Miller to my list of Highlander romance authors I recommend. And I'm greatly looking forward to brother number two—Kade's book, which is called Highlander Taken and releases on 1st May, 2013.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This review will probably be rubbish and not do the book justice at all, for the simple fact that I was enjoying it so much thatLove, 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.
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,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, 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.
Another great instalment in the In Death series, this time with a healthy dose of personal drama.
There's a killer on the loose who seems to have moreAnother great instalment in the In Death series, this time with a healthy dose of personal drama.
There's a killer on the loose who seems to have more than a little medical expertise and is leaving his 'patients' all over Eve's New York. Not acceptable.
Eve Dallas is many things; brave, dedicated, tenacious, fierce, headstrong. Until this book I don't think I quite realised how much of that...spirit, comes from her job as a cop. Her status, the symbols of her position; her gun, her badge, and just what might happen if those things were ever threatened, has never been explored before. In this one it is and with shocking results.
Roarke, as usual, was auditioning for the World's Best Husband award. He certainly gets my vote. He was even seen dispensing a bit of tough love. Which was probably just as tough for him to give as for Eve to receive. Maybe more so. “Roarke, the lieutenant has just come in from outside. She wore no outer gear. She looks very bad.” “Where is she?” “She’s heading up. Roarke, I insulted her and . . . she apologized to me. Something must be done.” “It’s about to be.”
The mystery was good but for me it was greatly overshadowed by the personal stuff as I'm a bit of a drama junkie. On the positive side, it was great to see everyone rallying to Eve's defence. I hope it makes her realise how respected she is, no matter how prickly she can be sometimes.
This is not my normal fare- straight YA contemporary with no paranormal woo woo- but I loved it. I didn't need anything else whilst reading it because This is not my normal fare- straight YA contemporary with no paranormal woo woo- but I loved it. I didn't need anything else whilst reading it because I was fully, 100% immersed in this story and these two great characters, Noah and Echo. And I'm all about the characters; they're so hugely important for my enjoyment. You can have a somewhat average story with amazing characters and give it 5 stars, or a great story with flat, cookie-cutter characters you don't care about, and give it one star.
Then every once in a while you get something like this, which has both! Yay!
First, as a responsible parent-type person, I'd just like to make readers aware that there was quite a bit of swearing, some scenes of sensuality and references to drug use (smoking weed at parties) as well as under-age drinking (again, at a party). I'm not saying this to put anyone off, just to make readers aware that Ms. McGarry was keeping it real when she wrote these young people, so they speak and behave in the way you would expect two troubled teens to speak and behave. I never found any of it unnecessary or over the top. In fact, I thought she got the balance just right whilst being authentic. But since it's a YA I would suggest it for more mature teens.
The story itself spends lot of the time in a highschool setting, with all the teasing, taunting and bitching that that entails. The writing of this was very well done and the target audience isn't talked down to or told every little thing. They're left to work out a lot of stuff for themselves. For example, which of the friends/secondary characters are as nice as they are supposed to be. You need to sometimes look beyond what Echo is telling you (because she is not the best judge of character) and read between the lines. I enjoyed the alternating first person POV's between Echo and Noah. He had such typical boy thoughts at times. "Ooh! Boobies!" It was rather amusing, and again, felt very authentic. (Disclaimer: he never actually says 'Ooh! Boobies!'. I am paraphrasing). I'm actually really glad she didn't pull any punches to tame it down for younger readers. Discerning teen readers deserve to have this kind of quality writing to enjoy. And it's hardly as if they won't have ever heard a swear word (or tweleve) by the time they're old enough to be interested in this book.
Going by the blurb concerning Echo's mysterious scars and memory black-out, you might be forgiven for thinking the main focus of the story was on her, and that Noah is just the token Bad Boy that turns out to be a Sweetie Pie. Well, you'd be wrong. I actually found Noah's own story even more compelling at times, and it was his scenes that brought a tear to my eye. He was a great character. A swoon-worthy hunk, to be sure, but also so much more.
I loved the way the story unfolded; the blocked memories were an ongoing issue that proved very intriguing. I really have nothing but positive things to say. If I had to find one negative it would be that some of the later scenes got a bit too sugary sweet for a jaded old bird like me, but I'm sure the YAers will like it just fine.
5 Stars! ★★★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review
I must admit to being initially a bit disappointed that Rionna wasn't going to be the heroine as I'd assumed after reading the last book. As you'll reI must admit to being initially a bit disappointed that Rionna wasn't going to be the heroine as I'd assumed after reading the last book. As you'll recall (assuming you are reading them in order as you should!), Alaric stepped up to marry Rionna McDonald in order to form the alliance that his brother Ewan could no longer make after his marriage to Mairin Stewart. This kind of selfless honour describes Alaric perfectly. He's is a very honourable man and fiercely loyal to his brother, Laird Ewan McCabe of clan McCabe. That's what makes the storyline for this so heart-wrenching. The conflict of loyalties Alaric has to battle with is almost painful to witness.
After my initial worry, I soon came to absolutely adore Keeley. She was such a strong heroine. Emotionally strong, stubborn, determined and very caring. I thought she was wonderful and perfect for Alaric. If only fate weren't so cruel...
“Angel. I've gone to heaven, aye. 'Tis the only explanation for beauty such as this." "Nay, warrior. 'Tis not heaven you've found. You're still of this world, although you might be feeling as though you've been gripped by the fires of hell." "'Tis not possible for an angel such as you to reside in the bowels of hell.”
I admit to crying like a newborn babe for at least an hour whilst reading this book. It totally got me hook, line and sinker. It's a real emotional ride. Bittersweet doesn't even begin to cover it. My only negative, and the only reason it didn't make a full house stars-wise, was that the sex scenes were a bit OTT for me. I realise this won't bother most people, people that enjoy erotica and such, but I don't so the second round of sex scenes could have been skipped for me.
If you are a fan of Scottish Romance as I am, this trilogy is a must read. It made me want to go straight onto the next book, which I did. Highly recommended.
Another great highland romp from Monica McCarty. This time, there was just as much emotion and drama as the first book in the trilogy, Highland WarrioAnother great highland romp from Monica McCarty. This time, there was just as much emotion and drama as the first book in the trilogy, Highland Warrior, but whereas that all came from external forces, this time, the heartache comes from within.
I really just wanted to shout at the two main characters from the very first pages because there was so much deception going on, and it was so obviously all going to end in tears and upset, that it was like watching a slow motion train wreck. And I really felt for Lizzie when she found out the truth. I also have to commend McCarty for writing Patrick's character in such a way that although he did something awful, when you learned of his plight and the terrible history of his clan, you forgave him.
"God knows why with the way you are acting right now, but for some reason you make me happy. I love you and I'd rather endure hell with you than hell without.”
The love scenes were very hot as I'm coming to expect from this author, and the ending totally satisfying. A great read- highly recommended!
Lynsey: Well, as recommendations go, this was ceThis is a joint review with Janice. Find more reviews like this one at The Demon Librarian book blog.
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 questioSo, 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.”
This was a wonderful book. I have nothing but praise.
First of all, taking on the challenge of writing a character that is mute in the first place earnThis was a wonderful book. I have nothing but praise.
First of all, taking on the challenge of writing a character that is mute in the first place earns big bonus points with me, as it's quite the undertaking and I just thought it was handled superbly.
I have read a number of books where the lead male character, or hero, if you prefer, has been tortured and/or imprisoned. Often this leads to your character becoming a very angry, volatile, impossible to be around, kind of character that needs 'taming' by a female... Hm. This was very different, and I found it a lot more thought-provoking. In this case, our hero, Callum, has been imprisoned since he was just a boy of 12 (he's 19 when the book starts) and can barely remember anything but cruelty and suffering, and instead of lashing out, he has reverted inwards. He's mute, and hasn't spoken for over a year.
When you discover the cause, the thing that started his silence, it actually makes a lot of sense from a psychological point of view. He isn't physically incapable of speech, all the words are just jammed up inside and no matter how hard he tries, he can't bring them forth.
Our heroine, Marguerite, is a young maiden who's been betrothed to the man imprisoning Callum by arrangement with her father, the Duke. Callum would have expected her to be the same kind of ilk as her fiancé and show him nothing but scorn and distaste. Instead, after a particularly harsh flogging where he's been left to die out in the cold, he meets an angel. His angel.
This meeting, although brief, stays with Callum throughout the rest of his imprisonment, because it's the first kindness he's known in so long, and so unexpected. The image of Marguerite's face is the only thing that gets him through the days and nights to come.
I can't even begin to tell you what a sweet man Callum is. We have no dialogue from him, obviously, but the way he communicates through actions and small touches, and the thoughts from his point of view, are so unbelievably adorable. He has, quite understandably, put Marguerite on a pedestal as his saviour and wants nothing so much as to protect her for the rest of his life if she'd allow it. He feels he owes her his freedom and sanity both. But it's impossible. He's a penniless ex-slave, and she's a Duke's daughter. It can never be...
"I shouldn't let you do this, I know," she whispered. He touched a finger to her lips, bidding her to be silent. Then he went down on one knee before her. "What is it?" she asked, frowning at his position. But Callum took her hand and set it on his head, needing her to understand what he couldn't say. Her hand moved against his wet hair and she sighed. "I know you're not going to hurt me." Slowly, he stood and took her hands. He struggled to speak, trying to force the words out. I never thought I'd see you again. The desperate need for words tormented him, but nothing came forth. Marguerite saw his failure, but instead of offering sympathy, she stood on tiptoe, resting her cheek against his.
I confess I read this book out of series order, which I know is a crime punishable by severe finger-wagging, but I have to say I was never lost or confused at any point. It just makes me want to go back and read the story of the other two brothers, at least one of whom was also imprisoned in the same place. I plan to do that real soon.
A fantastic, poignant read that will melt your heart. Highly recommended.
5 Stars! ★★★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review...more
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 jI 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 ...more
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 lasThis 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.
This series of high action, high romance, historical paranormal romances in the beautiful Gothic setting of late nA 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.
As a self-confessed Urban Fantasy fanatic it probably seems weird that I have this big soft spot for historical romance. Not all the time, bFavourite!
As a self-confessed Urban Fantasy fanatic it probably seems weird that I have this big soft spot for historical romance. Not all the time, but every now and again I just need some real romance, you know? And to me, no one does that better than a hunky highlander or a fearsome knight. They have to be warriors of some sort for my liking- no rakes, rogues, fops or dandies for me, thank you. I want battle-worn men with the scars to prove it. This is for two reasons: Reason one. Hello? Warriors, swords, big muscles, yeah, yeah, yeah, I really am that shallow. And reason two: slightly less shameful, it's because this generally means that the book will contain some kind of battle/conflict/fight scenes to keep my action-loving tomboy alter ego happy.
This book is quite simply one of the best of this genre I have read. It pretty much had everything I could hope for in a highlander romance.
The dialogue was one of my favourite parts. So authentic (or at least it seemed so to me). The banter was excellent, the stories that the characters would tell around a camp fire really served to bring them to life for me. I could imagine their lilting brogue as if I were sat amongst them.
The characters themselves were very enjoyable. After my initial worry over Alex's womanising ways - I'm not always a big fan of men who believe themselves God's gift to women- I grew to greatly appreciate his character and the changes he went through during the course of the book. The transformation was convincing and I genuinely believed it was sincere, which often isn't the case with former "sinners". Once a player, always a player as Jerry Springer would say.
Equally delightful was Glynis. From the initial encounter in her "disguise" to the very last pages, she was someone whom I respected and could easily empathise with. There was not a moment of whining from her regardless of the circumstances. She really was a great female lead.
I was very invested in both of these characters. Although sometimes I did want to scream at them to talk to each other, and indeed there were some painful, heart-rending moments to go through along the way, but to me, this just proves how good the book was. That I was so engrossed I felt the heartache right along with them.
The main story and the two or three sub-plots were all well paced. There was a great climactic finish which was very satisfying also. And a lovely epilogue as the cherry on the cake.
This is book two in a four-part series featuring each of the four warriors I met in this book. I know now that I will be reading the rest of them at some point. And I recommend that you do, too.
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review...more
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 imaginabShe'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...more
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!
Another great book, another four stars. The plot this time is, as the title suggests, is a hunt for a "demon" or whatever it is that's leaving half-eaAnother great book, another four stars. The plot this time is, as the title suggests, is a hunt for a "demon" or whatever it is that's leaving half-eaten bodies all over Seattle. Joanne and her partner in crime, Billy Holliday, are called in to check over the crime scenes as there is something funny about the way the bodies are being found. Even though it's late December and there is snow all over the ground, there are never any tracks around the dumped bodies.
Now that Captain Morrison has well and truly had his blindfold ripped off where all things magical are concerned, he now uses Joanne and Billy as his own personal X-files department. He may still not like the supernatural side of the world he's been forced to acknowledge, but he's too good a cop not to utilise every one of his available resources. But the thing is, both Joanne and Billy have got nothing this time; there are no spirits for Billy to question and no magical tracks for Jo to follow. So they are at a loss as to what to do.
Refusing to just sit back and wait for the next victim to turn up, Joanne takes herself off to a cabin retreat out in the woods, as she has established the creature is not a city-dwelling beast from where all the previous bodies have been found, and sets about setting herself up as big, shiny, magic-filled demon bait. What could possibly go wrong?
There were a couple of big surprises in this book. Like, BIG surprises. And it was a really good read for those alone but with the addition of the high octane demon hunt it was definitely one of the best of the series so far. I loved it.
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, presentThe 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 :)
(This review contains spoilers if you haven't read books one and two)
At the end of the last book both Ash, the Unseelie prince, and Meghan, our half-f(This review contains spoilers if you haven't read books one and two)
At the end of the last book both Ash, the Unseelie prince, and Meghan, our half-fae protagonist were banished from Faerie forever for their love which they now refuse to hide or give up. It was an enormous gesture made by Ash. After fighting his feelings for so long and trying to push Meghan away at every turn, he suddenly decided that he will not give her up, no matter what, and said as much to his mother, Queen Mab of the Winter court. As love between different courts is forbidden, Mab was left with only two choices for her son and heir: death or banishment. And Meghan, who is loyal to a fault, as well as being just as hopelessly in love with Ash, opted to join him in his exile.
So we join the happy couple at the start of the book back in the human realm, or the "real world" as Meghan prefers to call it. Being back is actually quite a relief for Meghan. Daughter of Oberon or not, she spent the first sixteen years of her life here thinking she was just a regular human girl, and so it still feels like home to her. For Ash, however, being in the human realm means only that he will start to fade; his immortality will weaken and he will eventually wither and die, but not before watching Meghan do the same. Also, the Nevernever was his home for a lot longer than sixteen years, so his sacrifice for Meghan goes way beyond what she did for him. When he finally decides to declare his love, he certainly doesn't do it by halves!
They are soon joined by a jealous, bitter and also banished for bad behaviour, Puck. He also made his feelings for Meghan known loud and clear in the last book, and they shared a kiss, but she has ultimately made her choice. So although it was nice to see the trio back together again, it was hard to watch Puck suffering. He's usually so unflappably jovial, it was hard to witness him being snide and bitter.
The action really hits off when they recieve a message from Mab and Oberon. The war with the Iron Fae is not going well, and guess who is the only one who can go into the Iron Fae's realm without dying from iron poisoning? Yes, you guessed it, it's half-human Meghan. The message states that all three will have their banishments revoked on the condition that she goes to the Iron court and kills the Iron king. She might have been tempted to tell them both where they could stick it until she sees the looks of longing for home on both of Ash and Puck's faces.
The rest of the book is all out war. Meghan's character described it as feeling as though she'd been dropped into a movie scene, and that's just how it felt for me as a reader. The world-building has been phenomenal in the previous two books, and this one was no exception. I could see the encampments clearly, the various fae creatures all waiting to go into battle, celebrating with song and faerie wine on what could potentially be their last night alive. It was truly a joy to read. After the somewhat quiet beginning to this book in the human realm, the rest of the novel is just action sequence after dramatic emotional scene after epic battle and was an exhilarating, fast-paced read with an ending that shocked even me. I cannot wait to see what happens next for these characters after the events from this book!
I feel a little late to the game getting around to finally reading this, as it seems like everyone and their aunt has already read it ahead of me. AndI feel a little late to the game getting around to finally reading this, as it seems like everyone and their aunt has already read it ahead of me. And there's not much I can add in a review that hasn't been said in all the other squillion reviews for it, but I'll just add a few thoughts.
First of all, hoorah! For once, a popular book that actually lives up to all the hype and hoopla surrounding it. I'm glad to know this book is reaching lots of readers of all ages as it really is a fantastic story. It's YA but definitely one that adults can enjoy. And I wouldn't even worry too much if SciFi or Fantasy isn't usually your thing. A good story is a good story no matter what genre and this one definitely sucks you in. It wastes no time about it either which I really appreciated. There was no dithering about before the games began. We meet Katniss, get a little glimpse of her normal every day life, and then BAM! off we go in the Games.
It also exceeded my expectations in certain areas. Although I'd been warned that I'd probably cry I wasn't expecting to be so emotionally involved quite yet, I thought that might come later in the trilogy, but it was a real roller-coaster on the emotions. So many twists, shocks, heart-pounding moments. Even knowing there's two more books didn't help at times because you get so wrapped up in it that any kind of rational thought like that goes right out the window.
"Remember, we're madly in love, so it's all right to kiss me any time you feel like it."
I loved Katniss. I thought she was a great protagonist. I can see why she has become the way she is from her harsh beginnings and it only made her more interesting to me. I feel like I've only seen a surface glimpse of other secondary characters so far like Gale, Haymitch and even Peeta to a certain extent, so I'm really looking forward to the next book to see more of them. And the way this book ends makes me glad I have the next one right here. It's not a cliffhanger, but it's an "end of part one" type ending that makes you want more more more!
I can't wait to see the movie now too to see what they've done with it. There are many visually strong scenes in the book that I think are going to look amazing. I doubt they'll ever do Katniss' dresses justice though. Just not possible.
And so, my love affair with Juliet Mariller's writing continues. I'd been so lookiFind more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
A Fairy Tale for grownups.
And so, my love affair with Juliet Mariller's writing continues. I'd been so looking forward to this. After reading my very first Marillier book, Shadowfell, last year and absolutely loving it to pieces, I decided to go right back to the beginning with this, her début novel, Daughter of the Forest. It's loosely based on the Brother's Grimm fairy tale, The Six Swans, about a girl who, had she been born male, would have been the seventh son of a seventh son. Instead, she is the much doted on sister of six older brothers, and daughter to a stoic but steadfast father. Set in a magical ancient Ireland, the beauty of Marillier's historical fantasy setting has once again completely captured my imagination, and Sorcha has won my heart with her determination against impossible odds, and the way she handled the nightmarish tasks set before her. A heroine worthy of respect, if ever there was one. The story spans 3-4 years and so feels quite grand on that scale, and yet the biggest aspect by far is the growth of Sorcha's character as she goes from a sheltered, protected girl of twelve, to... well, you'll just have to read it and see.
The cast of characters was quite large, Sorcha's six brothers alone making it so, not to mention everyone else she meets along the way. The secondary characters were all wonderfully realized a fleshed out. I made a comment in another review recently about cartoonish, over-the-top characterisation. I won't repeat myself, but let's just say that THIS is how your write subtly different siblings! You get to know a couple of them much more than others, but each had merit in their own way.
I found it impossible not to make comparisons to Shadowfell. Having read her most recent work first, then gone back to her earliest book, I was able to see the changes in her writing over the decade or so, particularly in the tone. This was a lot more formal, which occasional made it feel slightly stilted, but it was just as evocative and, once I'd found my flow, the hours slipped by without notice.
My favourite aspect, by far, was the romance. It was a long time coming, and the characters are painfully timid and awkward about it, but it was really beautiful. I may be slightly unnerved by Sorcha's young age, but those were the times, I guess. Their definition of "marriageable age" being very different from our own.
If I could wish for one thing, it would be that the beginning wasn't quite so slow to get going, and that Sorcha didn't spend so much of the book being 12. But I didn't feel that either of those things were enough for me to drop a star. The magic, the journey, the romance and the sense of triumph were more than enough to make up for any weak spots.
My first glimpse at the Navy Seal team 16 I've been hearing so much about.
This book started out at quite a slow burn. There were three distinct strandMy first glimpse at the Navy Seal team 16 I've been hearing so much about.
This book started out at quite a slow burn. There were three distinct strands to the story and I preferred two of them over the third one which was told in retrospect. Probably because I knew from the present day accounts that it didn't end well. The other two stories at least had a glimmer of hope to them.
I really enjoyed the romance of the main couple, Kelly and Tom. I don't usually like my characters to have too much past history together, I'm not a fan of the lovers reunited plot device where everything is all bitter with loads of baggage and resentment, but this wasn't like that at all. What they'd had was more of a "near miss" as teenagers and they had never quite forgotten it or each other. This provided a very strong foundation for them as a couple and made it more emotive for me.
The second storyline was a kind of Beauty and the Geek thing. I have a massive soft spot for a geek with a heart of gold (as my nickname might suggest) so I absolutely LOVED this part. It might have even been my favourite bit.
The third romance we learned about was more of a tragedy and as I said, these parts were the slowest for me. It was just so bleak.
The plot regarding the possible terrorist attack was more in the background than I was expecting- this was definitely more of a character driven novel than anticipated. But I really enjoyed it once it found its legs.
Firstly, can I just say how much I enjoyed the audio narration for this. It was a full cast audiobook so thereA 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!
My favourite plot line of the three books so far, the great rescue attempt!
At the end of the last book, after the battle had died down and they we ablMy favourite plot line of the three books so far, the great rescue attempt!
At the end of the last book, after the battle had died down and they we able to count casualties, it became known that Maisie, Sabina's long lost twin sister, had been taken by Lavinia (Sabina's grandmother and ruler of the vampire race) during the fight. Now Sabina will stop at nothing to get her back and to kill Lavinia once and for all. It's way past time for granny to die!
Just thinking about the conditions her sister is being kept in is enough to send Sabina into a killing rage. Maisie, who, unlike Sabina is rather soft hearted, almost naive in nature, is just not mentally equipped to deal with the foul evilness of her vampire side of the family. So even if they manage to rescue her, they cannot be sure the Maisie they get back, will be the same girl that they lost.
Naturally these are tense times for everyone. Luckily, Sabina has sexy mage Adam Lazerous by her side. His formidable magic abilities as well as just the strength she derives from his confident, calming presence is all that's going to get her through this hunt. She also has Giguhl, aka Mr. Giggles, her demon familiar (and the star of these books if you ask me) as well as some interesting new characters: a human voodoo priestess, a drag queen who goes by the name of Pussy Willow, and a female werewolf.
It's a tough battle they face, As we know from book one, Lavinia and her followers have access to mage blood which makes them doubly hard to kill. An ancient vampire is one thing, a magic-wielding ancient vampire is so much worse. It's going to be the biggest battle yet and not everyone may come out the other side in one piece.
There was a short story available in between this book and the second book in the main series, The Mage in Black, entitled Violet tendencies. I actually didn't read this as I couldn't find a download for it here in the UK for my eReader, but it is available from Amazon Kindle (I just don't have one) or from the Sony Store in the US. I don't think it's imperative to read it, I certainly was able to follow what was happening without it. The only thing to note is that, as you'll recall in the last book, Giguhl, the lovable Mischief demon was madly in love with the female Vanity demon, Valva, and then all of a sudden in this book, she is nowhere to be found and is referred to only as as "she who must not be named". Basically, poor Giguhl has had his heart broken for the first time. Bless his little cloven hooves. Luckily for us that doesn't mean we don't get some brilliantly funny lines from him in this book as we've come to expect, and in fact, he's even able to dole out a helping of relationship advice for our Sabina, which, lets face it, she kinda needs!
There were some very sweet scenes with Adam and Sabina in this book. I even had to blink back a few tears at one point. For readers of this series this is one not to miss!