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)
This is the second instalment in the Darkness Falls series and will probably contain spoilers for those that haven't yet read book one,...more[image error]
This is the second instalment in the Darkness Falls series and will probably contain spoilers for those that haven't yet read book one, Wilde's Fire.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series- it almost got a 5- and therefore I came to this book with a relaxed, bring-it-on kind of attitude. So it really came as a shock when I found myself struggling to pay attention during the middle section of the book.
The beginning was great and it picked up straight after the cliffhanger ending of Wilde's Fire. And it was clear right from the onset that Perth's character would be playing a bigger role this time, which was great because his character, and indeed his entire race, is very intriguing. Perth's the kind of character that you want to believe is like a good egg in an otherwise bad batch, and yet something always prevents you from completely trusting him. Still, it was great that he got to play a much bigger part in it since he is a big obstacle in the prophecies of both Arland and Kate.
My problems came shortly after this good start, however. The characters had to make a journey which took probably around 80-100 pages. And during that time, it seemed as though the plot was stuck on a loop. The same things kept repeating themselves; have a long, drawn-out conversation with someone- usually a cryptic one about prophecies, or one about Brad- then encounter some demons or shapechangers and fight for your life for a bit. Rinse and repeat x 3. I'm afraid I put the book aside for several days due to this section; it just wasn't holding me.
The length of the dialogue scenes was probably the biggest factor in slowing things down. Of course, it doesn't help that the stiff and formal dialogue was one of the few negatives I found in book one, and this one seemed to only exacerbate that negative for me. In fact, in order for Kate to fit in at the place they were heading to, they were trying to get her to speak more formally, and kept criticising her every time she used a contraction like don't instead of do not. There just never seemed to be any dialogue that felt like a natural conversation. It was always a pledge or a declaration or a speech or a prophecy. I think that's why it always feels so... stiff.
The main "problem" in this book- meaning the issue that characters are facing, not my own personal problem with it- felt extremely contrived. These people are a hair's breath from extinction and I'm just not sure I believe they would be behaving like schoolchildren over who gets to marry whom when there's only a handful of them left. So the whole "pretending Kate and Arland aren't in love so as not to upset the ground Dwellers" bit, was really annoying.
Dughaul/Brad (sp?) was barely in the story, so aside from the rinse and repeat cycle of battling demons and shapechangers, there was no Big Bad for them to face. The main nemesis for Kate and Arland seemed to be the arrogance and ignorance of the Encardians who were only interested in fighting amongst themselves.
I probably will read the next one to see how it all turns out, because I do love Arland's character, and I do think the world Wade has created is wonderfully unique and interesting. I just hope it reverts back to the great story-telling of book one.
2.5 Stars ★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review
The Horngate Witches series is set in a post magical apocal...moreFind more reviews like this one at The Demon Librarian book blog.
Five action-packed stars!
The Horngate Witches series is set in a post magical apocalyptic America and features badass sword-wielding, not quite human, warriors, mildly sociopathic witches, not very angelic angels, and all manner of other weird mythological creatures and beasties. With a splash of romance enough to make me grin like a weirdo, worldbuilding that knocks my socks off, and action by the bucket load, you can see why this series is right up their with my other Urban Fantasy favourites like Kate Daniels, The Hollows, Mercedes Thompson and all those other great female-led UF series. If you haven't started this series yet and you are a fan of any of the above, add this to your TBR today! You will not be sorry.
The warriors in this series—Shadowblades and Sunspears—act as guardians for the witches and are, in fact, the main focus of books, despite the slightly misleading series name. They're woven with spells that make them nearly indestructible, as well as faster, stronger, more resistant to extreme temperatures, etc. But the downside to all that is eternal servitude to the witch who turned them. Which wouldn't be so much of a problem unless, say for instance, that witch used to be your best friend and did it to you without your permission.
Our main character is Max (that's a girl, btw), but at this point in the series, it's fair to say that Alexander is just as much of a main character as it's told in alternating third person POVs between them. Max and Alexander not only have to fight all manner of nasty things in this book as part of their role as leaders of the Shadowblades, but they're also fighting some more personal demons, as well as their increasingly complicated feelings for each other.
Following on from the giant waves of magic that erupted a couple of books back, and then Max's trials in Shadow City, she and her fellow Blades are reunited once again and decide it's time they get out from behind the safety and insulation of Horngate's wards to check out the aftermath and find out what's happening with the humans still out there in the towns and cities. Which is nothing good, as it turns out. Food is in critical demand, people are reverting back to their baser natures, and where there's chaos and panic, there's always some douchecanoe wannabe dictator ready to lead them all up the creek without a paddle. Which loosely sums up the premise of this book, in a very crude and ineloquent way.
I thought the use of the split POVs proved really useful once again; allowing us to see the action from all sides at once. The awkwardness that's developed between Alexander and Max was showcased brilliantly, too. Max, being Max, isn't handling the new dynamic with Alexander very well. She's been acting like Jekyll and Hyde with him and he is both perplexed and annoyed by it. I fully expected Max to make some mistakes at the whole "relationship" thing, and she certainly didn't disappoint! I thought that entire situation was really well-written, and with a few unpredictable twists thrown in for good measure.
Overall, I thought the story was engaging, well-paced, amusing, emotional, exhilarating, intense...I mean, I could just go on and on. It was just superb urban fantasy.
So what are you waiting for, hmm? Go grab yourself a copy right now!
5 Stars! ★★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned. I'm a little tiny bit in love with Father Tomas!
This was my first book by Maggie Shayne. She's a rather well-...moreForgive me, readers, for I have sinned. I'm a little tiny bit in love with Father Tomas!
This was my first book by Maggie Shayne. She's a rather well-established author, however, so even though it was my first time reading her, I felt I was in safe hands hands.
Her writing style—at least in this instance—was quite interesting in that she switched from first person narrative for the heroine, Indira's, POV, and then to third person for the hero, Father Tomas'. That's 'Toe-MAAHS', not 'Thomas'. A distinction made by the author several times.
The main themes of the story are those of lost or broken faith, self-doubts, guilt, beliefs, convictions, all wrapped around a wonderful story of three sisters from Babylonian times, and their connection to our current-day heroine, Indira.
Indira's character was likeable—she's smart, attractive, kinda quirky—but I couldn't help but notice that sometimes her light-hearted "voice" was often in direct contrast to the overall feel of the story. Her misplaced humour and flippancy grated initially, until I recognised it for the defence mechanism that it was. In times of trouble, she uses bad jokes or that old faithful 'denial', that so often comes in handy. But until I came to that realization, it was just annoying. And I also felt it lessened the impact of what was being revealed in the dreams, because if Indy wasn't taking things seriously, then why should I?
However, the second half of the book seemed to change Indy's character once the straits got considerably more dire, and once Father Tomas became that much more of a distraction.
He's a priest. A really good looking and somewhat tormented priest, just to make things more complicated. And that's not all he is, either, but you'll have to read it yourself to find out the rest.
I really enjoyed the slowly drip fed back story of the three sisters. We got a little nugget more each time. I also enjoyed reading about the Wiccan practices and rituals. And of course, the other issues of faith, the dangers of extremists and close-minded people in any religion, was all interesting to explore.
It did, unfortunately for me, utilise a plot device that I personally don't care for very much, and this is probably why I was unable to rate it quite as high as others have. But, overall, I thought it was an interesting, mostly fast-paced, read, with a nice romance and some good twists and turns. It was quite suspenseful and thrilling, and I'm interested enough to read the next two books in the trilogy.
First of all, I cry foul! Where's the Elvis hair gone? I was promised Elvis hair!
When the cover for this was first released the guy on the cover had t...more First of all, I cry foul! Where's the Elvis hair gone? I was promised Elvis hair!
When the cover for this was first released the guy on the cover had this massive Elvis quiff that brought me no end of amusement. Seriously, you could have done a Half Pipe off the thing.
Don't believe me? Check it out, here's the original:
And here's the new one: No Elvis hair:
Now where's the fun in that? It's all, like, normal and stuff. B. O. R. I. N. G.
As for the contents inside the book? Eh. It was okay. It was a decent enough story, but it had a lot of cliches, incredibly 2D cardboard cut-out characters, and a rather unlikable protagonist.
The worst part for me was the characterisation of the main character, Samantha, which consisted of TELLING me (as opposed to showing me), that she was a bookish, nerdy type that incongruously, for reasons unknown to the world at large, kept banging on about how she'd once shoplifted and ran away from home and spent three nights sleeping rough on the streets. #troubled #introverted
She was also quite bitchy and snarky, which was another thing she kept TELLING us about; that she had this incredible wit and had learned to fight people with her sharp tongue. Not once did I find any of her comebacks funny or cool in any way, but whatevs. #ohsnap #noyoudi'n't
She was also a bit TSTL. Like, "Hee, hee! Let's follow the weird, clearly mental, homeless dude into a dark alley. 'Cause he's like, super hot!". #inspired #tinygenius
And that's really all the characterisation you get. #theend
Oh, but then there were the boys: One good but tormented. One bad but redeemable. One really sweet, the token friend. One bad as bad can be...
I'm pretty sure the YAers will lap it all up, but I've read far too many books, including recently two brilliant YA books (Wilde's Fire by Krystal Wade and Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa), to accept this mediocre writing. It's all been done before so much better.
Having said all that, I did read it all the way through and in pretty short order. Like I said, the story itself was not too terrible and could have been so much better if it had some decent characters to carry it. But alas, it did not.
To sum up, it entertained me for a few hours, but I didn't like the characters enough to want more. I won't be reading the next one.
Whew! I feel like I just read about 4 different books in one with this novel. The book was very long and I have to say that I really felt its length....moreWhew! I feel like I just read about 4 different books in one with this novel. The book was very long and I have to say that I really felt its length. Unlike other lengthy books that can seem as though the pages just fly by, I found myself twitching at the pace of this book. It was too slow and drawn out for me and the pivotal, memorable scenes in it too few and far between.
It's a shame because the book features two very likeable characters, Diana and Matherw. Both are incredibly intelligent, interesting and complex. And they have a very good chemistry together as well, even if the passion side of things wan't exactly scorching, you at least truly believed they loved one another very much..
"My ideas about vampires may by romantic, but your attitudes toward women need a major overhaul."
I also felt as though the authors own studies on the history of science were well used, even if a lot of it flew right over my head. The author is clearly a very intelligent woman and has written a very intelligent novel to match. As an self-confessed action lover, however, I just found the pacing a little too slow to get as excited about it as I know some of my fellow book buddies have been. For me it was good, but nothing world-shattering.
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!
It's the amazing disappearing reappearing novella! But I have to say it was worth the wait and a great follow up to A Family Affair. John is a great c...moreIt's the amazing disappearing reappearing novella! But I have to say it was worth the wait and a great follow up to A Family Affair. John is a great character and the scenes with Casanova and Cassie were priceless!