Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blath...moreFind this and more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
Stars in my Eyes
Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blather on about myself for long - promise. It's just that this series was kinda pivotal to my transformation from "occasional reader of mystery novels", to "carnivorous reading fanatic and devourer of all things paranormal" because it was the first true Urban Fantasy series I ever read and the one that opened my eyes to this amazeballs genre. It was also the first book I ever read with a sex scene in it! Are you having that? At the ripe old age of 29 I had the blinders firmly ripped off my eyes by a Ms Karen Chance and her scorching and (as I thought then) scandalous love scenes! I finished book one wondering what the hell I'd just read, and why the hell I couldn't stop thinking about it and all the amazing and endless possibilities there were for a character that could shift through time and space - and immediately ordered the rest of the series! The rest, as they say, is history and four years later I have the sixth book in the series as an ARC to review! If I had Pythian powers and went back to tell 29-year old me that little nugget of information, she'd probably say I was deluded or crazy or both.
I'm a lucky, lucky girl:)
So, with that intro in mind, I think it's safe to say that I love this series! And that's not only because of what it did for me as a reader, or because of any sentimental attachment I have to it, but because of its brilliance, its wit, and its unrivalled cleverness. I cannot even express how mind-boggling some of the time-shift stuff is! Scenes that take place in one book that don't make sense until much later when you realize how much time travel back and forth has been going on. The amount of planning and foreshadowing involved in all that... I can't even. It's just too awesome to compute. And Ms Chance's world, although complex, is so solid. There's not a single grey area in her worldbuilding, and even if there were, it would be because she planned for it to be there three books ago. 'Cause she likes grey. And because she can. Seriously, people quiz her nigh on a daily basis through her Facebook page as they try to get their heads around some of the more head-bending aspects of her plots, and she's thought of everything and then some. There are no chinks in her armour of awesome that I've found.
Moving on to this particular book, now that I've paid my dues for never really reviewing any of the others back in the day (lol). Cassandra Palmer - Cassie to most - has advanced as the series has progressed, as all good main characters should, and as evidenced here in TEMPT THE STARS. Resolutely putting the kibosh on people - vamps, mages, and now witches! - trying to manoeuvre her from point A to point B all the time, and just being more dominant and forthright in general. She could also possibly maybe hit the side of a barn with a gun now, too, thanks to Pritkin, and her power quotient has gone through the roof when compared to that of the smiley face T-shirt-wearing girl we met back in Touch the Dark. Having said that, it's not a complete transformation - the girl whose first instincts are to run and hide hasn't been completely smothered. Indeed, running and hiding are sometimes the best options available to a savvy heroine. But recently, and most especially in this book, she's been letting her "take no prisoners" side out a lot more. That, combined with the intelligence and common sense she's always shown around the vamps, who, in this series are about as sneaky and manipulative as they come, though rarely evil, and you've got yourself an incredibly well-rounded and sympathetic character - who now also kicks ass! Don't you just love it?
In TEMPT THE STARS, Cassie is also forced to take a look at her somewhat closed-off emotions. Not that she's ever been cold, exactly, but wary? Reserved? Oh, yes. Letting people in is extremely difficult when it's been proven time and again that those people will be the first in the firing line by any who wish to control her and her powers, which are now more than just potential - they're a smack-you-in-the-face reality. But being a closed book can be lonely, and there are certain characters who have been slowly chipping away at her emotional shields for quite some time now, and it might just be time to let them in, whether she wants to or not!
Of course, the BIG thing everyone wants to know about TEMPT THE STARS is where the heck Pritkin is, right? Well, I'm not going to tell you. Ms Chance herself is notoriously strict about spoilers so it would be more than my life's worth to spill the beans. But, let's just say that being the world's chief seer - officially now, even - has its perks as well as its pitfalls. And it also has the potential to make the impossible... slightly less so.
And that's it. That's all you're getting from me.
As with all instalments in the series, TEMPT THE STARS is bursting with incredible action scenes with spells whiz-popping here, there and everywhere, often followed directly by the most exquisite introspection scene or a hushed conversation with one of the now treasured stable of characters such as Marco (LOVE him!) or Billy Joe (LOVE him, too!). Some people might say the pacing is too up-and-down, but not me. I think the balance is perfect. For fans of the series who already know this world well, I'll just say that it was business as usual - though with a slightly different feel to it as we explored different settings and magics - and just as incredible as you thought it would to be. Plus twelve. Some authors just seem to have a Mary Poppins-like carpet bag full of endless ideas, and Karen chance is definitely one of them.
There's not a lot else to say without revealing naughty things I'm not supposed to, so I'll just leave you with this: TEMPT THE STARS IS THE BEST OF THE SERIES SO FAR - BY A COUNTRY MILE!
And I love John Pritkin.
5 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.(less)
Move over Urban Fantasy. Stick your vampires where the solar rays don't penetrate, and bring on the...moreFind this and more reviews at The Demon Librarian
Move over Urban Fantasy. Stick your vampires where the solar rays don't penetrate, and bring on the hot aliens! Wow. I can't get over how much I enjoyed this book! I picked it up on a whim, really, and after having a rather lacklustre reaction to another Sci-fi title earlier this year, wasn't overly optimistic that I'd enjoy it that much. Boy, was I wrong! I'm so glad I gave this a try because it was just so redonkulously entertaining and interesting and sexy and...gah! It was just amazeballs!
Cassiel Winters is a space cadet with a secret. She experiences what she thinks of as "deja vu episodes" and strange glimpses of overlapping time sequences that she doesn't fully understand. The only thing she does comprehend is that her older brother Daz - a fully-fledged member of ESE (Earth Space Exploration) and her only remaining family - is missing, and that someone left her a note telling her to hide. Having joined ESE herself in the hopes of finding Daz, we join Cassiel towards the end of her cadet training on board a spaceship about to take her final tests for the second time. Being the first cadet ever to fail her original tests is not something she feels particularly proud of, so imagine her surprise when she is asked to undertake a special mission by her commanding officer.
This mission is where it all kicks off and from here I was sold on the story hook, line and sinker. You couldn't have pried the book from my hands with a crowbar. You couldn't have enticed my eyes from the pages with the promise of naked Ryan Gosling. Seriously, it was just fun, ya know? Pure entertainment. I'm thinking SKY'S END is probably going to appeal to the ladies rather than any hardcore Sci-fi fanboys because it was very sexy and sensual in places with many a descriptive passage detailing the hotness of a certain alien race's male members (heh, I said members), and Cassiel's narration is also very female and girlish - wondering if her butt looks too big in her Spandex space suit, for example - which would probably drive guys nuts, but which I found funny. You would though, right? Head-to-toe freakin' Spandex or whatever the hell spacey equivalent there is? I know I would.
These inanities and Cassiel's charismatic, lively narration in general, all added to her appeal and drew me into the story by giving me something recognisable to grasp onto amongst all the Sci-fi whoosimawhatsit which, as a noob to the genre, was all very alien to me (heh, I said alien). That's not to say of course that Cassiel was a perfect character. She could certainly be annoying at times, and unreasonable occasionally, and a bit immature, and possibly too impetuous as well. But she needed those flaws. If not for those she would have come off far too "Special Snowflake," because there was a definite theme going on here of everyone fancies Cassiel, which might potentially annoy some readers. It was explained away by the female-to-male ratio on board the ship being seriously out of whack, and later by the unusual mating rituals of the alien race, but I know some people will take issue with it. I just find that I don't care though. I see it, I recognise it, but I give no shits. Observe how many shits I do not give. I was entertained, and that's all I care about. The set up might have been a total ploy, but it was a fun ploy. In fact, discovering more about this alien race's relationships, or lack thereof, with its female counterparts was one of my favourite things about the story, and led to much contemplation on my part. Well, that and the pew pew pew pew spaceship racing! So like, joint favourites. 'Cause, you know, I'm a dork.
Speaking of spaceships, I found all the Sci-fi stuff complex enough to be interesting, while at no point overwhelming me, and the finer details such as the technology, weaponry and cool gadgetry, all added flavour to what was already a pretty damn tasty cake, so that was great too.
I suppose the best thing of all about SKY'S END was that it kept surprising me. I couldn't have predicted one single bit of it, and that was just so goddamn refreshing! Even with Cassiel, as much as I liked her and thought I had her all figured out, even she would surprise the heck out of me by doing the unexpected. I thought some of her decisions were very brave and admirable, and my respect for her grew as I read on. She may actually be a Special Snowflake! Stranger things have happened.
I don't know much about book two yet other than that it's set to be called Sky's Surrender, but I can tell you one thing about it: When it's released, I will be reading it. Oh, yes I will. If you build it, they will come. So says the Costner.
5 Stars ★★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I love these! They've all been good and Gordon always picks really good scenes to use, but this one was particularly interesting because of what it re...moreI love these! They've all been good and Gordon always picks really good scenes to use, but this one was particularly interesting because of what it reveals about the Beast Lord's lonely job.
Into the Hollow picks up right where On Demon Wings left off and begins with a tough decision for our gal Perry Palomino. A dec...moreAww, this was so good!
Into the Hollow picks up right where On Demon Wings left off and begins with a tough decision for our gal Perry Palomino. A decision I was silently squeeing over going "SAY YES, YOU NUMPTY!" It also shows us a side to Mr. Declan Foray we've never really seen before since he's always been in a relationship in the past. I think I rather like the free and single version of Dex. Again, SQUEE!
And there's not just the changes in Dex's behaviour to get used to, but you'll also recall he'd transformed a lot physically when he (eventually) showed up in On Demon Wings (he was all buff and stuff). And that's not the only difference we see in him over the course of this book.
If you'd asked me before I began Into the Hollow I'd have told you it wasn't possible for me to love Dex more than I already did, but it turns out that's total bumf because I found him even more irresistible in this book than ever before! He was just so patient but still determined, cheeky, badass, adorable, annoying and absolutely everything in between. I just love him!
The plot wasn't quite as creepy or scary this time but it was definitely action-packed and full of some great dramatic scenes (which I loved). In fact, I'd say this instalment was more Urban Fantasy than Horror—much like Red Fox was—and it was super duper fun and got the old adrenaline pumping nicely.
As well as dealing with the emotional fallout from the last couple of books, Dex and Perry are asked to investigate a potential "creature" sighting in the Canadian Rockies. But even with everything they've seen, they're unsure how much credence they can put in the testimony of one of its supposed victims, so the only solution is to go check it out for themselves.
There was also a moment or two of this book that made me very interested in things to come with regards to Dex and his past demons. Very interesting developments indeed.
My new favourite nickname for an animal (or vegetable, or mineral) ever has to go to Twatwaffle the llama. Pure unadulterated genius and my new favourite word of the week.
Sigh. Of course, the sad thing is now I've run out of books! I knew this would happen, obviously, but I didn't think it would feel quite this crappy. I've got the shakes, withdrawals, extreme lethargy (although I think I had that last one already) and just general uninterest in anything anybody whose name isn't Karina Halle has written. Ever.
Find this and other reviews at The Demon Librarian Enter the mind of Dex Foray at your own risk.
This was such a treat! I love it when authors do this...moreFind this and other reviews at The Demon Librarian Enter the mind of Dex Foray at your own risk.
This was such a treat! I love it when authors do this; allow us to see the other side of certain pivotal scenes. Because the thing is, they know their characters inside and out, even if the main series is written first person from only one perspective like this one is, the author still has to know the other characters just as intimately to make the magic happen. They need to know exactly what the other player is thinking and feeling during those often convoluted conversations where people aren't saying what they really mean or the whole of the truth. But now we get to know, too! And there are certain scenes here I would have paid a handsome sum to know what Dex was thinking right then, and also some bonus scenes that I hadn't really thought much about, but that were enlightening nonetheless.
Be warned, however, Dex's mind is a dirty, mucky place! I was surprised by that most of all. He didn't strike me initially as such a sexual creature—that was something that evolved over the course of the first 5 books. But after reading this, you'll know that all those times from Perry's POV where his face was described as being blank/expressionless? Yeah, he was probably thinking about sex. The dirty rascal ;)
As well as revisiting scenes from the main series we also got scenes from Dex while he was away from Perry AND scenes from his early childhood and adolescence. Truly, if you want to know how this man's mind works, this novella will tell you.
Here is the list of scenes you get:
Prologue After School Special Dear Abby Spookshow Baby (A Darkhouse scene) Even Deeper (A Darkhouse scene) Big Dumb Sex (A Darkhouse scene) Butterfly Caught (A Red Fox scene) She’s Got a Way (A Red Fox scene) Stripsearch (A Dead Sky Morning scene) Digging the Grave (A Dead Sky Morning scene) When Good Dogs Do Bad Things (A Dead Sky Morning scene) She Loves Me Not (A Lying Season scene) Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (A Lying Season scene) Mr. Self-Destruct (A Lying Season scene) Demon Cleaner (An On Demon Wings scene) Bailout (An Into the Hollow scene)
I really enjoyed this. It was worth every penny. 5 Stars ★★★★★
My first thoughts upon reading the synopsis for this one were "Oh. Dear. You are kidding me, right?"
I mean, we've heard about Dex's girlfriend Jenn a few times in the first three books. We've heard how hot she is and how much everyone lusts after her blah blah blah, including Dex (gag). But that was kind of okay because it was only talk; she wasn't right there in the picture. She was removed, vague, indistinct, abstract...
Then comes this book, and suddenly shit just got a whole lot more real. And a lot more painful!
I don't know about you, but when I read I really, really get absorbed in my books; especially ones as well-written and evocative as these. I live vicariously through the characters, I identify with them, empathise and in some cases, I am that character. I particularly connect well to Perry because I share some of her insecurities. And I can tell you that because of that, this book seriously hurt my feelings. I mean, it literally HURT. I could feel my chest squeezing in jealousy and anguish and I had to blink hard more than once. So in that respect, it was not a 'fun' read, and yet there were other moments of it that I wouldn't swap for the world. I was such a wreck afterwards as well; it really took me a while to process everything. In fact, my husband kept stumbling upon me in a trance-like state after I'd finished and he'd be all "what is up with you today?" And I'd be like "Wha? Um, uh, book, thing, Dex, why did he, I don't...uh...."
So it could only be a five star read after that, lol.
It's impossible to say much more without getting into spoiler territory, but just make sure you have a couple of days free of interruptions when you start this one because you will not want to put it down!
As for the rest of it, Perry and Dex are in Seattle to investigate an alleged haunting at a Mental Institute. There were some great spooky scenes as you'll have come to expect by now. There were also some really nice new secondary characters introduced in the form of Dex (and Jenn's) friends. I really liked them and can't wait to see them again, hopefully.
And lastly, my final top tip would be to have the next book to hand for when you finish this one. It's not a cliffhanger, but I defy anyone not to want to know what happens next RIGHT FREAKING NOW!
This book was like an endurance test - in the nicest possible way.
This is really going to put my no spoilers policy to the test because there's a certain thing you're waiting to happen in this book, and anyone who's read it will know exactly what that something is, and so you find yourself racing towards that point (if such a point even exists;)), and I wouldn't blame you for doing that too. But I think it's worth actually slowing down a little and just examining the rest of what's going on. The changes in Perry that are in evidence for starters, and the development—for better or worse—of other returning characters. They're quite significant.
There are certain events in life that are powerful enough to actually affect your personality and change your character to a degree, whether temporarily or permanently. Having undergone just such a shocking change, Perry is in a...weird head space. I don't want to say she's in a "dark place" because she's actually trying really hard not to be dark. She's silently berating and encouraging herself to be positive, get out there, meet new people, and absolutely, positively NO DWELLING under any circumstances! But it's so hard.
It's also hard to be around people that don't understand. Her parents, for example, have never made a secret of the fact that they don't believe her about the whole ghost thing or that they think her show is a bunch of bull****. But someone who's always been on Team Perry (even if it took her a while to realise it) is her kid sister, Ada. I've liked Ada in the past books but my high opinion of her grew exponentially in this one. She's supportive but not coddling, and at times it felt like a role reversal—who's the 23-year old and who's the 15-year old? She just rocks.
Even with all this going on, though, it's not long before people start to realise Perry is acting strange above and beyond what might be expected under the circumstances. Giving us, and them, even more reason to keep a close eye on her. Some of the changes just might not be as natural as they seem...
I'm so looking forward to being able to read the Dex Files after this! It's meant to be read between books 5 and 6. I can't wait to see his take on, well, everything!
This is just a quickie review (see Janice's full review on the blog).
This was fantastic. They just keep getting better and better! Karina Halle upped the creepy factor all the way up to eleven and never let it drop. It also had a buttload of foreshadowing and questions raised for future books. As if I needed any further encouragement to devour them all! Pfft! It had lots of nice character development as well, although it was a bit of a test of my devotion to Dex at times. Still, I luuuurved it.
As a former big L.O.S.T. fan I adored the setting of D’Arcy Island and all the spooky goings on there. And the effects it had on both Dex and Perry's state of mind was harrowing yet fascinating to read.
I think I'm going to have a problem here because I already gave book one, Darkhouse, 5 stars because I thought...moreI love this series. It's now official.
I think I'm going to have a problem here because I already gave book one, Darkhouse, 5 stars because I thought it was awesome on toast with a side order of shamazeballs. But this one was undeniably, unquestionably and indisputably better in almost every sense. So where do I go from here? I do not have 6 stars, people! Everyone knows all books have to be rated out of 5 and that half stars are against God's plan, so how can I express the, the...betterness of this one? Yes, I am aware betterness isn't a word. But it should be!
In my first joint review with Janice I said that I suspected there may end up being more to the series than just ghosts and ghost-hunting. And I was right! There's so much more. I really, really loved the storyline for this book. And the setting. And all the extra paranormal elements. And the fact that it was more mystery based - almost a whodunnit. And most especially, I loved the developments between Perry and Dex!
I'm just flabbergasted at how much they both seemed to change before my very eyes in this book, and in each other's. They say that scary, life-threatening events will form an emotional bond between two people, and I certainly think that was part of it. But I also think Perry and Dex are two people who just fit together anyway. Like slightly broken puzzle pieces, they each may not be completely whole, but they still fit.
I have to admit to a certain amount of fangirl squeeing when it became apparent they would have to feign a higher level of closeness during the case they were working on down in Red Fox. Anything that might have forced them to be in the same room where they could get to know each other more would have made me happy, but the deception they had to maintain made it even better!
There were some really interesting secondary characters in this book including a blast from Dex's past who provided us with some much-needed back story on him. I loved all that but I'm not yet convinced I like the person who delivered it. His motives are highly questionable.
So, to sum up, in case you missed your cue—yes do I recommend this series! If book one was awesome on toast with a side order of shamazeballs, then book two was spaghetti bloody marvellous with Parmesan genius.
This review will probably be rubbish and not do the book justice at all, for the simple fact that I was enjoying it so much that...moreLove, love, loved it!
This review will probably be rubbish and not do the book justice at all, for the simple fact that I was enjoying it so much that I actually forgot it was an ARC (for review read) and forgot to take ANY notes. Not. One. Single. Note. Normally, I keep a pad and pencil next to my eReader at all times and I'll jot down little scribbles whenever they come to me, but I was so engrossed, I forgot.
And, funnily enough, compared to other similar books of this genre, the book wasn't even particularly action-packed or fast-moving, so it wasn't that that had me flipping the pages. It was more that I was simply enchanted by it. By the world, the story and the writing. This is my first book by Marillier, but will definitely not be my last. Her writing style is immediately engaging, no doubt in part due to being in first person, which is quite unusual for this type of book.
Full confession time: this genre is fast becoming by own personal literary crack, I can't seem to get enough of it. So that will have upped my enjoyment and my rating because I was in my element, my happy place. It's a difficult genre to pin down, really. It's essentially a historical fantasy setting (in this case loosely based on a magical ancient Scotland) with lush world-building and a strong (either of magic, character or body) and often quite young, female main character, and usually has a slow-forming but very sweet romance. I may not know what the genre is called, but I know exactly who I would recommend it to. If you are a fan of any or all of the following, you should love this book.
Maria V. Snyder. (Study Series, Healer of Avry series) Kristin Cashore. (Seven Kingdoms series) R. L. LaFevers (His Fair assassin series) Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass series) Kristen Britain (Greed Rider series)
And probably more I'm forgetting or haven't 'met' myself yet.
I've seen from other reviewers who have had the pleasure of reading Marillier before, that this isn't even necessarily her best or most thrilling book, no doubt due to the aforementioned lack of action or solid conclusion. But it's a great opener for a series I'm now extremely excited about continuing. The main conflict of the story arc—the evil King Keldec and his mission to cull every town of anyone who has Canny magic (unless they work for him, of course) by whatever ruthless means necessary—is all still to come. It was only talked about in the abstract in this book because, as of yet, our brave young heroine—a girl called Neryn of almost 16 summers—isn't ready to face him. I would have had to suspend all disbelief if she were to have had a showdown with him in this book. This is no Mary Sue character and there was no Deus Ex Machina ending. She's not ready yet. She's on a journey, and it's only just begun.
At the start of the book, Neryn has just about lost everything and finds herself on her own and on the run. Help comes in the most unexpected of forms and there are many a challenge and test of wills along the way. Much like in the great fairy tales of the past, our heroine first has to prove her worth, have her mettle tested to breaking point, and that's exactly what this book shows us. Seeing these early stages of our heroine's growth, while she's still so young and even a little bit naive, will no doubt make seeing the rest of her journey that much more fulfilling.
Flint, who was the other main character out of the wide and varied cast, all of whom were vivid and essential, was a real treat. Not your typical hero by any means, but what an amazingly complex and conflicted character! I can't wait to see more of him.
Even lacking in action or any big, climactic ending as it was, this was not a boring book by any means, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. There is a lot of time that Neryn is alone and travelling, but she's faced with constant challenges that kept me entertained. And then when Flint came on the scene...well, I was entertained for all kinds of different reasons then :)
Recommended to fans of all of the above authors, and to anyone who loved a good (and often rather gruesome) fairy tale as a child. Suitable for younger readers, but perfect for big kids too.
As amazing as I'd hoped. I cannot wait for the next one!
I admit to being slightly scared of starting this book. I don't think I've ever seen such a p...moreAs amazing as I'd hoped. I cannot wait for the next one!
I admit to being slightly scared of starting this book. I don't think I've ever seen such a positive buzz about a book that hadn't (at the time) even been released yet. Book Bloggers and Advanced Copy readers were going wild about it; doing these amazing, gushing, hyperbolic reviews. This worried me, because it wouldn't be the first time that that's happened and then I've picked up the book myself and realised it's very prettily written, and highly descriptive, but is otherwise only an average story. And I can't get excited about the talent of a wordsmith alone. You have to tell me a good story as well. That's kind of my mantra when I'm reading: Tell the story, tell the story, tell the story. So when writers get too wordy or try and simile me into submission, I get turned off. Where did my story go?
And for the most part, I would be lying if I didn't say that Kristoff's writing is highly descriptive in places. More so, even, than some of the ones I ended up not liking previously. But holy freaking cow does he back that up with a great story, incredible world-building, phenomenal fantasy, sci-fi and steampunk elements, and to top it all off, a cast of fantastically diverse and complex characters!
Of course, anything worth having is worth working hard for, and for around the first 50-60 or so pages of the book, I was working pretty damned hard! The Japanese language; mostly used for names of weapons, clothing, races, species, gods, myths and of course, character names, made reading difficult initially. I don't really like having to struggle so much, but after all the reviews I'd seen, I felt confident the pay-off would be worth it if I persevered. It was, and then some.
So, what is the book about? Well, it's a very complex world and plot and overall story arc, so I wouldn't even like to try summarising it. But I will tell you your main character is a young girl named Yukiko. She is an excellent strong and positive heroine who needs no hot boy brooding at her to make her appear so. It's not a coming-of-age story, exactly, but definitely an eye-opening journey. It set in a futuristic, or maybe alternate history? (not sure) Japan, where a plant called the Blood Lotus has been discovered and put to great and terrifying use. It powers the great machinery; the sky-ships, the war machines, even the brass and iron body armour of the samurai warriors. But the cost to the world and its citizens is immense. The choking fumes are killing everyone and everything, slowly but surely. Breathing masks and goggles need to be worn at all times. Man is playing a very dangerous and greedy game; thinking only of the benefits now, and not the consequences later. It's quite thought-provoking in that it's not that much of a stretch to imagine our species doing exactly this--especially such an industrious nation as Japan--and its message is clear, and the most ingenious use of entertainment to deliver it since WALL.E.
So, it looks like someone needs to shake things up a bit, right? But our Yukiko is just one girl, and only 16 at that. She has no power. But perhaps she has the strength after all (spot the Princess Bride quote), if only she has the help of oh, say for example, a badass THUNDER TIGER!
Check out this awesome image of Yukiko and her Thunder Tiger—or griffin—Buruu. Isn't it cool?
Stormdancer by GENZOMAN
Buruu's character—and he definitely is a character—was a fantastic part of the story. His dialogue—which is telepathic and all done in shouty capitals—was excellent and often highly amusing. I loved him!
There were several other characters I grew to appreciate and as the epic final chapters came to a close, I found myself deeply concerned over their whereabouts and well-being. That's not to say it ends on a cliffhanger—it doesn't—but there are many unanswered questions and threads left unresolved and I NEED THE NEXT BOOK RIGHT NOW!
In summation, do I recommend this book? Hells yeah. Who to? I don't know... everyone? I'm not sure who to recommend it to specifically, because it's so unlike anything else with it's blend of genres. Even if you've read Steampunk before that will in no way prepare you for this book. My advice is to just go and buy it, if it's not for you, hand it to your friend and they'll probably read it, love it, and tell you you're a crazy person not to have loved every single syllable. And they'll probably give you a cookie or something. So everyone's a winner.
5 phenomenal Stars ★★★★★ ARC provided for an honest review.
P. S. I found some more pictures I thought were very Stormdancery:
The sky-ship with the dragon on the front. [image error] Airship by ~SnowSkadi
A surprisingly fulfilling and action-packed novella.
I may seem a bit harsh saying this, but I find a lot of mid-series novellas to be unworthy of the...moreA surprisingly fulfilling and action-packed novella.
I may seem a bit harsh saying this, but I find a lot of mid-series novellas to be unworthy of the e-ink they're displayed in. Most of the time, the stories within are so much padding and filler with no progression to the characters or the series as a whole. And I can understand why; you can't really have something major plot-wise happening in a novella that some people see as 'optional' reading. It will be far too confusing come the next book trying to explain what happened during the break.
However, you've got to give the people who do fork out for the novella (not me, obviously) something worth reading. And this novella did just that. It gave a surprisingly revealing glimpse into Atticus' feelings for Granuaile, as well as a closer look at the beautifully terrifying Morrigan.
I have to confess, I'm finding Atticus' befuddlement over things with Granuaile extremely sweet. He's sounding more and more like a man suffering unrequited love by the day. And even though both of them have been heading out at weekends over the last six years of Granuaile's training for 'booty calls,' it seems it's becoming more and more unfulfilling for Atticus. And those guilt ferrets really are bastards.
As I mentioned earlier, Atticus and Granuaile—going under the amazing secret identities of Sterling Silver and Betty Baker (thanks to Coyote for that one)—are approximately mid-way through Granuaile's 12-year training to become a druid. If you recall, at the end of the last book, Tricked, Atticus suffered some damage to his healing tattoo on his hand (giant mutant cockroaches will do that to you), so when the Morrigan turns up with an offer to repair it, he accepts.
You'd think at 2100 years old he'd know better than to trust the Morrigan by now. Guess not. Naturally, madness and mayhem ensues with much hilarity.
What seems abundantly clear to me whenever I read anything by Mr. Hearne—other than the fact that he is a comedic genius of course— is that he really has a great appreciation for the mythology his series is based around; Norse and Celtic mostly. He hasn't simply chosen it because it's popular or because it comes with ready-made characters to draw from. He really seems to just love the old stories and creating his own interpretations and retellings of them. And I, in turn, enjoy reading them too.
For fans of the series, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up. It was lots of fun and surprisingly enlightening.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC received from the publisher for an honest review
Well now. I've gone from 'like' to 'love' over the space of two books. I 'liked' the plot for book one, but I 'loved' the plot book two. It wasn't tha...more
Well now. I've gone from 'like' to 'love' over the space of two books. I 'liked' the plot for book one, but I 'loved' the plot book two. It wasn't that it was better written either because the standard was already high, but it was just more interesting because it had such devastating repercussions for Duclie's personal life.
I also loved the new characters that were introduced. Dea, for example, was a nice surprise. I'd grown quite attached to her by the end. I hope she's a regular feature from now on. And getting to know the characters we'd already met before more... intimately was fun too. Especially Knight and Bran. Bran has his moments, but ultimately always ruins it for himself by being a total narcissist. And Knight....ah, Knight. I love Knight Vander!!! (Extra exclamations marks were required- you have no idea). I just can't hide it any longer. I need to confess it to someone. He's too cute/hot/sweet/arrogant/funny/sexy for words. And I think we saw a different side to him in this book, too. Okay, the Knight that we met in book one- the self-confessed "cocky bastard"- is still very much there, but we discovered new depths in A TALE OF TWO GOBLINS and were it a test, he would have passed with flying colours in the "is also a pretty freaking nice guy" department.
This book wasn't perfect. The BIG BAD was unguessable (my red squiggly line maker says unguessable isn't a word, but it so should be) and there were also some pretty major time discrepancies going on between what was said in book one, and what's said here in this one, which in the end I just decided to overlook and make it up for myself. So I was perhaps a bit generous giving it a full five stars (which is not like me at all!), but I enjoyed it so much it seemed mean to mark it down.
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 more...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...more 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
This is my favourite book of the three so far. The story was very different in feel to the first two with the new setting of Kitty's holiday house, th...moreThis is my favourite book of the three so far. The story was very different in feel to the first two with the new setting of Kitty's holiday house, the strong presence of both Ben and Cormac, and the very surprising plot developments that occurred!
Also I enjoyed the mystery element over the more political plot of the last book. All in all, a much more satisfying read in terms of emotional connection and character development.
Kitty has basically decided to hide herself away for a month or so to get over the shock of her new status as the world's first celebrity werewolf after being filmed Changing on live TV in the last instalment. She's also supposed to be using the time to write a book, her memoirs, which isn't going quite as well as hoped.
I started a new page and wrote a title at the top: “Ten Ways to Defeat Macho Dickheadism.” Then I realized that most of the world’s problems stemmed from macho dickheadism, and if I could defeat that I could save the world.
I can't say a whole lot more about what else happened because of spoilers, but it was very shocking. At first I liked the development, until I realized what else it was going to affect and what it meant for other characters. Then I definitely didn't love it so much. However, I still have to give the book an extra star for entertainment, even if I don't like the developments. I'm hoping they are only temporary. I'll head straight on over to the next book to find out.
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.
So, we come to the end of this brilliantly gripping trilogy and I ask myself the question, am I satisfied with how it ended?
Second questio...moreSo, we come to the end of this brilliantly gripping trilogy and I ask myself the question, am I satisfied with how it ended?
Second question: does that mean it ends with all happy hearts and flowers and dancing unicorns?
Answer: what do you think? This is dystopian fiction, and when you are talking about changing the "bigger picture", not just the characters' immediate futures, these things don't happen overnight.
Still, Collins certainly puts her readers through the emotional mill and goes out with a bang. I actually think she was maybe a little too ruthless and bloodthirsty in some areas, but, hey, I guess she was just keeping it real. We never would have bought the whole unicorn thing anyway...
Here are some of my favourite non-spoilery quotes:
“They'll either want to kill you, kiss you, or be you.”
“I think...you still have no idea. The effect you can have.”
“Never underestimate the power of a great stylist.”
“Well, don't expect us to be too impressed. We just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear.”
A fantastic follow up. Taking place around 3 months after the events at the end of the first book, we catch up with all of the characters from Distric...more A fantastic follow up. Taking place around 3 months after the events at the end of the first book, we catch up with all of the characters from District 12 to see how life is treating them in the Victor's Village.
Although this book had a much slower start than book one, the ending more than made up for any initial lack of action. And there were twists to the overall plot that have me more than a little intrigued as to how Collins plans to wind up this story. I would definitely recommend having the next book ready as it ends rather abruptly as well.
“Katniss, the girl on fire, has left behind her flickering flames and bejewelled gowns and soft candlelight frocks. She is as deadly as fire itself.”
Katniss is still very unsure and confused about the two boys in her life: Gale is like family, and Peeta has come to mean so much to her, as often happens with people who meet in stressful circumstances. Ha, did I really just call the Hunger Games a "stressful circumstance"? Anyone for an understatement?
So I have no idea how that will all be resolved, or even if it will at all. I guess I'll have to head on over to Mockingjay to find out!
Squeeeee! I freaking LOVE Terrible! Could he be any more adorable if he tried? I think not.
This novella packs quite a punch for twenty-four little pa...moreSqueeeee! I freaking LOVE Terrible! Could he be any more adorable if he tried? I think not.
This novella packs quite a punch for twenty-four little pages and is an absolute must read for fans of the series. It was a real feel good story, a bit of a mystery thrown it but the main focus was on Chess and Terrible finally together and happy! If you loved the end of City of Ghosts as much as I did, you will love this too. Having said that, I have a sneaky suspicion this might only be the calm before the storm in the next instalment. Chess wouldn't be Chess if her life wasn't a hot mess now would she?
Can't wait for the next book, Sacrificial Magic. Wish I had it already. Oh wait! I do! *grins*(less)
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble is the first book in the Jolie Wilkins series. We join Jolie's story to find herlivinghappily inignorantbliss, believin...moreFire Burn and Cauldron Bubble is the first book in the Jolie Wilkins series. We join Jolie's story to find her living happily in ignorant bliss, believing she's a psychic; giving readings and fortunes from her quirky little shop with her best friend Christa. Turns out the reason she's so good at reading people has nothing to do with being psychic at all, it's because she's a witch. She has her eyes forcibly opened to this salient piece of information by Rand, a rather dashing warlock, who, among other things, has a job he needs her to do that she just can't turn down, but may later wish she had anyway.
I'm already three books into H.P. Mallory's other series about Dulcie O'Neil, a Faerie law enforcement agent, so I came to this expecting a similar style of writing and world-building, and that's just what I got. I don't believe they are actually set in exactly the same 'world' (although I could be mistaken about that) because there do appear to be some discrepancies, particularly regarding the Fae race, but it has that similar feel to it. So basically, if you enjoy one series, you'll probably enjoy the other one, too.
It's written from Jolie's POV in first person, and I found her to be endearing and likeable, if sometimes a little naive and clueless. I can't help but compare her to Dulcie, who is a lot tougher and more sure of herself, particularly about her skills at her job as a sort of supernatural cop. Jolie is much softer, much less kick-ass, but no less enjoyable to read about. Her whole life has just been turned upside-down, and because everything is so new to her, she's naturally a lot less confident at the start of her journey.
I also really liked Rand, the warlock I mentioned earlier. He's Jolie's first connection to this new supernatural world and I enjoyed reading about the relationship that's slowly developing there. He's a Brit, a bit of a loner, his dimples sound adorable and I just hope to see much more of him as the series progresses.
At first, I found the scene jumps a little bit jarring. There are lots of transitions between settings, time lapses, skipping over any travelling or long journeys, and it can feel a bit jumpy at first. But by the end of the novel, when I thought back on all the different scenes that were still flying around in my head, it actually served to make it feel as though I'd read a story much longer than only 300ish pages. I felt like Jolie had come so far, seen so much, been so many places. It gave it a feeling of scale and scope.
As I said earlier, if anyone's read the Dulcie O'Neil series and were wondering about this one, you should like it just fine. And as with her other series, which also has these cutsie cartoon covers, you always get a lot more substantial plot than you're probably expecting. They're not just silly, ditzy mysteries. There are credible bad guys, a couple of hot guys, some heartache, a steep learning curve. And if this is still free on Amazon, which it was last I checked, you should absolutely, positively, definitely snap it up ASAP.
I thoroughly enjoyed this. I found myself quite taken with Ms Mallory's writing style right from the offset. It's light, conversational in tone, funny...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this. I found myself quite taken with Ms Mallory's writing style right from the offset. It's light, conversational in tone, funny. But please don't be fooled by that nor by the cartoon-like cover. This is not as fluffy, or 'paranormal-lite' as you might be expecting once you get into the meat of the story. It was actually surprisingly dark and sexy in places and had violent scenes, but those scenes were usually described off page rather than experienced first-hand. Mallory herself describes her writing as "a blend of suspense, humor, light horror, and romance with a sprinkle of fantasy to tie everything together" and that's pretty accurate. And I loved it!
It's written first-person through Dulcie who is a faerie. She's a pretty fabulous character; intelligent, good at her job, witty and attractive (although she has a tendency to fixate on the bits she doesn't find attractive and ignore the rest). There are plenty of other people that have no issues seeing her full level of attractiveness, however, and there are some very interesting possibilities set up in the romance department. But that will be for future books. Dulcie isn't running into anything after being put through the wringer by her last boyfriend. No matter how persistent her potential suitors get!
One thing I really enjoyed was the variety of supernatural species. You've got Faries, Werewolves, Vampires, Trolls, Elves and Goblins to name only a few, as well as some more that I'd not heard of before. I like Urban Fantasies with a nice diversity like that. And this time, refreshingly, they all seem to get along pretty well. There's no inbred animosity between any two species. Nope, any animosity found between charatcers is earned all on its own. Such as between rival potential love interests for example...
The mystery plot was well-executed, with some big twists and turns. The pacing was excellent and moved at a good clip throughout. The sexual tension was almost off the charts, and overall I'm just very excited for this series.
My only complaint would be that the best friend character, Sam, was slightly underwritten. She could have been put to better use and maybe displayed the level of closeness between her and Dulcie more. Especially if she's going to be an important character in future books.
All together, a very impressive 4.5 Stars! ★★★★
(At the time of writing this, the first book is free on Amazon. You would be totally cray cray not to snap it up! (less)
I absolutely loved this book. I became a fan of Maria V. Snyder's work back with Poison Study (book one in the Study Trilogy) and I enjoyed this one j...moreI absolutely loved this book. I became a fan of Maria V. Snyder's work back with Poison Study (book one in the Study Trilogy) and I enjoyed this one just as much. The world created for this new trilogy, although not in any way connected, had a very similar feel to it to that of the Study series. It is very similar to our own world in many ways, although without the benefits of our modern technology- plumbing, electricity, cars etc. - but with the added bonus of magic. Lots and lots of lovely magic!
The story had excellent pacing. Right from the first page we were off and running (literally) and before I even realised what I was doing I had inhaled the first 100 pages of the book. If not for that darn pesky sleep thing we humans require, I wouldn't have stopped there either.
One of the best things about Maria's writing is her amazing characters. She writes beautifully forming friendships that really touch you as a reader. Her writing is emotive, I felt my heart plummet several times during the course of the book over something that was said or revealed. But the very best thing of all for me, is the way she sets up the romantic storyline. That is to say, she doesn't set it up in any kind of in-your-face or obvious way. It's so very clever and subtle that you don't even realise what's happening until it creeps up on you. Little actions and gestures. Words said when people think themselves unheard. I absolutely loved trying to read between the lines and hear what went unsaid. This kind of subtlety is so much more enjoyable to me than the insta-love of so many other books.
I also enjoyed all the magical abilities we saw. The healing power of our main character, Avry, is fascinating in that she has to assume the injuries or illnesses into her own body first in order to heal them. Her healing is greatly accelerated over that of a normal person, but that doesn't mean she doesn't suffer. She feels every bit of it and has the scars to prove it. This makes her seem incredibly altruistic at times but that doesn't mean she will heal everyone she is told to on command. And this is the main crux of the story. She is asked by Kerrick, the leader of the band of rogues who abduct her at the start of the book, to heal Prince Ryne. Avry flat out refuses for reasons that she initially doesn't wish to share. As you can imagine this news isn't received well and the plot takes off from here.
There really was not a dull moment in this book. It had me bemoaning each and every one of my responsibilities that kept me away from it during the course of the 3 days it took to read. I am greatly looking forward to the next book and just hope it maintains this incredibly high standard, and that all of the characters I have come to love will be there waiting for me inside.
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review (less)
Oh, this was exactly what I was in the mood for. I enjoyed every single minute of it! Sometimes I just need some goofy jokes told by some...moreSo much win!
Oh, this was exactly what I was in the mood for. I enjoyed every single minute of it! Sometimes I just need some goofy jokes told by some loveable and familiar characters, and that's exactly what Charley and gang provide, without fail, every time. As well as, in this instance, a good dose of action, interesting plot developments, and some more sombre moments that really make me excited for what's to come.
And it also has Reyes Farrow! Let's not forget him. He wasn't in it a great deal at first because Charley has been avoiding him (along with the rest of the world) for 2 months at the start of the book, ever since the happenings of the last instalment when Charley was brutally tortured. The fact that Reyes set her up for that seems to have pissed her off somewhat. Weird, huh?
That's actually a bit of a recurring theme in this series; betrayal. And it's so odd, because Charley is one of the most likeable, all-round awesome, not to mention hilarious of personages, and yet her closest friends and even family seem to keep shitting all over her. It's enough to give a girl a complex! I find it quite sad that in the face of these betrayals she still tries to maintain her humour and sarcasm, but it's only the thinnest of coverings for the hurt she is clearly experiencing :(
I'm quite liking the strained relationship between Charley and Reyes at the moment, as odd as that sounds. I feel like it's at least more real than him just turning up all the time and Charley melting into a big pile of girl goo, losing all coherent thought. She's analysing now, making decisions based on more than just lust. It's got a long way to go yet before it could be called a healthy relationship, but I now at least have hope for the future where they are concerned. Reyes also seems a lot more human (which is ironic) and a lot less cartoon-like in this instalment, which is a welcome development.
Charley really doesn't do anything by halves, and being depressed isn't any exception. She's really going to town on it at the start of this book—copious amounts of ice-cream, a burgeoning addiction to tele-shopping, and a couch that's developing a perfect moulded impression of her backside—all included. Feeling sorry for yourself is never attractive, but BFF Cookie soon puts things in perspective again. Then Charley gets hired in her P.I. capacity by a woman who's being tormented with dead bunnies left in her bed and other places. It's just what she needs to get her out of her funk.
The mystery was pretty good but slightly overshadowed by the Reyes stuff and also some other issues with her family. Not to mention Charley's own demons that she's working through. But the balance worked and, as I said, I enjoyed every minute of it.
I can't wait for book 5, Fifth Grave Past the Light, which releases in July 2013. This series comes highly recommended as an audiobook, read by the very talented Lorelei King.
In some ways this was even more enjoyable than book one. Although I slightly preferred the murder mystery plot in First Grave on the Right, this time,...more In some ways this was even more enjoyable than book one. Although I slightly preferred the murder mystery plot in First Grave on the Right, this time, because we know these characters now and have a lot more info on the bigger picture, it was more effective. I was saddened by some of the scenes and revelations because I care about these characters and what happens to them. Yet more evidence that, although this series is hilarious in places, it has a serious underbelly that catches you by surprise every now and again.
Charley has experienced a rather steep learning curve recently. Specifically about her own skill set. It's great that even though it seemed like we began with a girl who knew all there was to know about being the Grim Reaper, she really couldn't have been more wrong.
This series has some outstanding secondary characters that really support Charley and allow her to shine. I particularly love Cookie, her BFF. Their dialogue scenes are excellent in the way they bounce off one another. I like UB (Uncle Bob) too for his supportive nature. I also really like Garret and their repartee. As a possible second option, he's pretty darn cute. And then of course there's Reyes Farrows *thud*. The man gets more mysterious the more you learn about him. How is that even possible?
It's a shame that not everyone seems to appreciate Charley the way I/they do. Those bad guys just keep on coming. And they are not the only ones to blind side her in this instalment.
All in all, an excellent continuation to this feel good UF series. You know I have to go and read book three now, don't you?
This is definitely my favourite storyline of the series so far. It's a culmination of bits and pieces of story threads we've been getting over the las...moreThis is definitely my favourite storyline of the series so far. It's a culmination of bits and pieces of story threads we've been getting over the last two books. And again, it's proven my developing theory that when you make someone laugh and feel all happy and comfortable, it only hits them that much harder -like a sledge hammer to the gut harder- when something ...unsettling happens, because they're just not expecting it.
I cried. This book made me cry!
Charley Davidson, aka the Grim Reaper, aka Private Detective extraordinaire, is a very funny lady, as anyone who's read books one and two will know. Charley Davidson after nearly two weeks of trying to stay awake because she's scared of what Reyes Farrows might do to her in her sleep, is freaking hilarious! She may or may not be slightly more than human, but 13 days of no sleep will catch up with the best of us. There's only so much coffee in the world. This makes for some of the funniest dialogue scenes I have ever read. Ever.
I really enjoyed the main mystery this time. Charley is hired in her PI capacity to find a missing wife. Again. But it's a very different story this time. She also gets delivered a prophesy of sorts at the beginning of the book which makes you very worried about exactly whom it involves throughout the rest of the story. And even though you know it's coming, it really doesn't lessen the blow.
Did I mention I cried?
I think the other reason it's my favourite is the further development of Reyes' character. I felt like I got to see him more as a real person. Whether or not I liked all that I saw...well that's a different question all together, isn't it. All I know is I want more. Lots more. I have a feeling that, now that we've wrapped up certain events that the bigger story arc is going to make itself known. And since we are already three books in before this happens, this makes me hopeful that this series has a long way to go yet before it runs its course. I truly hope so.
Can't wait until October for Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet.
I absolutely adored this book! If you are a fan of Maria V. Snyder's writing style you should really enjoy this too. It features the same strong plot...moreI absolutely adored this book! If you are a fan of Maria V. Snyder's writing style you should really enjoy this too. It features the same strong plot and characterisation that you'd find with her work, with a subtle but so very compelling love story to go along with it. It's a fairly chaste love story, based more on romance than lust, but very compelling nonetheless. Anyone who enjoyed Yelena and Velek from Poison Study, or more recently Avry and Kerrick from Touch of Power, will appreciate the slow burn of the developing relationship. And it has plenty of time to develop and get under your skin, since this book weighs in at nearly 600 pages.
It's hard to categorize exactly what genre this book would fall under. It's not your typical Historical Romance (no sex: shocking), it's not a full-out fantasy book although it has fantastical elements. What it does have is a strong mystery plot with espionage, betrayals, political manoeuvring and murder. It's loosely based around actual historical events involving Anne, Duchess of Brittany, who after her father dies when she's just 12, is paraded around to every power player of the time in the hopes of marrying her off. And she has no shortage of suitors as you can imagine with the title and lands she holds. Unfortunately for Anne, each one is as unappealing as the last, and someone, it seems, is willing to eliminate the opposition at any cost.
So what they really need to ensure things go smoothly and everyone behaves themselves, is an undercover nun assassin, right? (I know that was going to be your next guess). And so we meet our main character, Ismae, who, although the price was much, much lower, has also experienced first hand what being sold off at a young age for marriage to the highest bidder feels like. Indeed, that's how most of the young ladies trained at St Mortain's came to be there. They've been beaten but not broken and are ready to right some wrongs.
Overall, the amazing characters made this book for me. Both of the main characters were very likeable as were many of the secondary characters. The writing was excellent and the plot solid and I barely noticed it was such a big book as the pacing made it very hard to put down. If I wanted to nitpick, I could find a couple of small issues of implausibility, but not enough for me to mark it down to 4 stars.
I can't wait for the next book, Dark Triumph, out in 2013 which features a very intriguing character we met briefly in this book.
5 Stars! ★★★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review(less)
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, b...moreFavourite!
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(less)
Engaging from the first page. Absolutely wonderful YA (or adult) fantasy fiction with a heroine worth championing.
This little gem of a book is the first of hopefully many more chronicling the life of Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan's most notorious assassin. It's set in a fantasy world that's similar to our own in many ways, in a time of swords, sorcery, castles, princes, evil overlords, forgotten magic, oppression, slavery, deception and treachery.
I was a gone, gone, goner from page one. This is so far up my street. It's that kind of fantastical, historical setting with a strong female protagonist that gets me every time. Reminiscent of the kind of worlds built by Maria V. Snyder (try her Healer series), and R L. LaFevers (try her His Fair Assassin series) only I think this might just be my favourite of all of them.
The book begins with Celaena in residence at a Death Camp, the Salt Mines of Endovier, where she has slaved in the dark for around a year. Which already is quite an achievement in and of itself since the average life-expectancy there is less than half that. It's not all down to a strong will to survive, however. The guards there were under instruction not to end her life prematurely, to make sure she served out every last day of her punishment. She's Adarlan's assassin, after all. It's no more than she deserves. That, however, was their only instruction towards leniency, and sometimes death is preferable. So she's in very poor physical condition when she's met one night after her day's work is over by a hooded figure who escorts her under guard into the building of the countries officials. It's the first time she's breathed such fresh air for too many months to remember, but that doesn't mean she's not paying attention. So when the hooded figure tries to confuse her bearings on the walk, taking her around in circles and therefore curtailing any potential escape attempt she might make (or so he thinks), she can only grin at his naivete. She may have been betrayed and caught, but some training is too ingrained to be forgotten.
I basically fell in love with Celaena right from this first scene. Her smug satisfaction, that she managed to keep to herself, endeared her to me instantly, and it only grew as the story progressed. She's clearly been through hell but her character, her tenacity, is not so easily diminished. She's a strong-willed, witty, teasing, aggravating, exasperating little tinker who doesn't know when to stop talking. And I LOVED her! She's deliciously spiteful, deliberately annoying. I mean, what else can they do to her? It's not like they can sentence her to life as a slave twice.
But that's not what they have in mind for her at all as it turns out, and as the back cover suggests, they come bearing an offer she can't refuse: Compete against the best of the worst that Erilea has to offer to become the King's champion and earn her freedom, or die in the Mines.
Um.... Option one?
I loved the developing relationship between Celaena and the prince, Dorian, who couldn't be less like his pig of a father. And also with her guard/trainer Chaol, who's aloof but not uncaring. There's the budding beginnings of a love triangle situation, kind of, but it's not ridiculous teen angst and silliness. Celaena is far too developed for that. It's more of a complication of more than one interested party, and a girl who's mind is on freedom, not frivolity. If I were in Celeana's shoes I would have a hard time deciding between both men. Both characters have some wonderful qualities as well as some realistic flaws, and the repartee between each potential pairing is fantastic to watch. I loved Mass' dialogue. It flowed wonderfully and was snappy and often funny. I'm keen to find out where it all leads in the end.
Celeana also developed well as a character in her own right. Although strong of mind right from the word go, she was physically a wreck, quite understandably, but works hard, above and beyond what's asked of her, to regain her strength with the help of Chaol. It also becomes apparent to all that underneath all that grime and stink, Celaena was once a beauty, and with a little more meat on her bones, would be again. She's a contradiction to all that meet her. How can this young, smart-arsed woman with such beguiling features, be such a notorious killer? Well, we only got snippets of exactly how it came about, but I know there's so much more to come. And even though I finished the book with still lots of questions burning, I was totally satisfied and will gladly wait for further instalments to get the rest of her backstory. Because that means more books!
The fighting and training scenes were well done and easy to visualise. Celaena is a smarty pants at times but it was never crossing that line over into unnecessarily snarky or bitchy. She was arrogant, but she backed up every drop of it with action. I thought the balance was perfect.
I feel like there's so much more to come from this story and this world. This was just the tip of the iceberg. Maas said in her acknowledgements that this book was a decade in the making. I can believe that. But seriously hope the next one doesn't take so long and maintains this incredibly high standard. I'm so excited to get to it. It can't come soon enough.
5 Phenomenal Fantasy Fiction Stars and a Big Fat Favourite Heart ★★★★★ ♥
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review.