Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blath...moreFind this and more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
Stars in my Eyes
Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blather on about myself for long - promise. It's just that this series was kinda pivotal to my transformation from "occasional reader of mystery novels", to "carnivorous reading fanatic and devourer of all things paranormal" because it was the first true Urban Fantasy series I ever read and the one that opened my eyes to this amazeballs genre. It was also the first book I ever read with a sex scene in it! Are you having that? At the ripe old age of 29 I had the blinders firmly ripped off my eyes by a Ms Karen Chance and her scorching and (as I thought then) scandalous love scenes! I finished book one wondering what the hell I'd just read, and why the hell I couldn't stop thinking about it and all the amazing and endless possibilities there were for a character that could shift through time and space - and immediately ordered the rest of the series! The rest, as they say, is history and four years later I have the sixth book in the series as an ARC to review! If I had Pythian powers and went back to tell 29-year old me that little nugget of information, she'd probably say I was deluded or crazy or both.
I'm a lucky, lucky girl:)
So, with that intro in mind, I think it's safe to say that I love this series! And that's not only because of what it did for me as a reader, or because of any sentimental attachment I have to it, but because of its brilliance, its wit, and its unrivalled cleverness. I cannot even express how mind-boggling some of the time-shift stuff is! Scenes that take place in one book that don't make sense until much later when you realize how much time travel back and forth has been going on. The amount of planning and foreshadowing involved in all that... I can't even. It's just too awesome to compute. And Ms Chance's world, although complex, is so solid. There's not a single grey area in her worldbuilding, and even if there were, it would be because she planned for it to be there three books ago. 'Cause she likes grey. And because she can. Seriously, people quiz her nigh on a daily basis through her Facebook page as they try to get their heads around some of the more head-bending aspects of her plots, and she's thought of everything and then some. There are no chinks in her armour of awesome that I've found.
Moving on to this particular book, now that I've paid my dues for never really reviewing any of the others back in the day (lol). Cassandra Palmer - Cassie to most - has advanced as the series has progressed, as all good main characters should, and as evidenced here in TEMPT THE STARS. Resolutely putting the kibosh on people - vamps, mages, and now witches! - trying to manoeuvre her from point A to point B all the time, and just being more dominant and forthright in general. She could also possibly maybe hit the side of a barn with a gun now, too, thanks to Pritkin, and her power quotient has gone through the roof when compared to that of the smiley face T-shirt-wearing girl we met back in Touch the Dark. Having said that, it's not a complete transformation - the girl whose first instincts are to run and hide hasn't been completely smothered. Indeed, running and hiding are sometimes the best options available to a savvy heroine. But recently, and most especially in this book, she's been letting her "take no prisoners" side out a lot more. That, combined with the intelligence and common sense she's always shown around the vamps, who, in this series are about as sneaky and manipulative as they come, though rarely evil, and you've got yourself an incredibly well-rounded and sympathetic character - who now also kicks ass! Don't you just love it?
In TEMPT THE STARS, Cassie is also forced to take a look at her somewhat closed-off emotions. Not that she's ever been cold, exactly, but wary? Reserved? Oh, yes. Letting people in is extremely difficult when it's been proven time and again that those people will be the first in the firing line by any who wish to control her and her powers, which are now more than just potential - they're a smack-you-in-the-face reality. But being a closed book can be lonely, and there are certain characters who have been slowly chipping away at her emotional shields for quite some time now, and it might just be time to let them in, whether she wants to or not!
Of course, the BIG thing everyone wants to know about TEMPT THE STARS is where the heck Pritkin is, right? Well, I'm not going to tell you. Ms Chance herself is notoriously strict about spoilers so it would be more than my life's worth to spill the beans. But, let's just say that being the world's chief seer - officially now, even - has its perks as well as its pitfalls. And it also has the potential to make the impossible... slightly less so.
And that's it. That's all you're getting from me.
As with all instalments in the series, TEMPT THE STARS is bursting with incredible action scenes with spells whiz-popping here, there and everywhere, often followed directly by the most exquisite introspection scene or a hushed conversation with one of the now treasured stable of characters such as Marco (LOVE him!) or Billy Joe (LOVE him, too!). Some people might say the pacing is too up-and-down, but not me. I think the balance is perfect. For fans of the series who already know this world well, I'll just say that it was business as usual - though with a slightly different feel to it as we explored different settings and magics - and just as incredible as you thought it would to be. Plus twelve. Some authors just seem to have a Mary Poppins-like carpet bag full of endless ideas, and Karen chance is definitely one of them.
There's not a lot else to say without revealing naughty things I'm not supposed to, so I'll just leave you with this: TEMPT THE STARS IS THE BEST OF THE SERIES SO FAR - BY A COUNTRY MILE!
And I love John Pritkin.
5 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.(less)
Into the Hollow picks up right where On Demon Wings left off and begins with a tough decision for our gal Perry Palomino. A dec...moreAww, this was so good!
Into the Hollow picks up right where On Demon Wings left off and begins with a tough decision for our gal Perry Palomino. A decision I was silently squeeing over going "SAY YES, YOU NUMPTY!" It also shows us a side to Mr. Declan Foray we've never really seen before since he's always been in a relationship in the past. I think I rather like the free and single version of Dex. Again, SQUEE!
And there's not just the changes in Dex's behaviour to get used to, but you'll also recall he'd transformed a lot physically when he (eventually) showed up in On Demon Wings (he was all buff and stuff). And that's not the only difference we see in him over the course of this book.
If you'd asked me before I began Into the Hollow I'd have told you it wasn't possible for me to love Dex more than I already did, but it turns out that's total bumf because I found him even more irresistible in this book than ever before! He was just so patient but still determined, cheeky, badass, adorable, annoying and absolutely everything in between. I just love him!
The plot wasn't quite as creepy or scary this time but it was definitely action-packed and full of some great dramatic scenes (which I loved). In fact, I'd say this instalment was more Urban Fantasy than Horror—much like Red Fox was—and it was super duper fun and got the old adrenaline pumping nicely.
As well as dealing with the emotional fallout from the last couple of books, Dex and Perry are asked to investigate a potential "creature" sighting in the Canadian Rockies. But even with everything they've seen, they're unsure how much credence they can put in the testimony of one of its supposed victims, so the only solution is to go check it out for themselves.
There was also a moment or two of this book that made me very interested in things to come with regards to Dex and his past demons. Very interesting developments indeed.
My new favourite nickname for an animal (or vegetable, or mineral) ever has to go to Twatwaffle the llama. Pure unadulterated genius and my new favourite word of the week.
Sigh. Of course, the sad thing is now I've run out of books! I knew this would happen, obviously, but I didn't think it would feel quite this crappy. I've got the shakes, withdrawals, extreme lethargy (although I think I had that last one already) and just general uninterest in anything anybody whose name isn't Karina Halle has written. Ever.
Find this and other reviews at The Demon Librarian Enter the mind of Dex Foray at your own risk.
This was such a treat! I love it when authors do this...moreFind this and other reviews at The Demon Librarian Enter the mind of Dex Foray at your own risk.
This was such a treat! I love it when authors do this; allow us to see the other side of certain pivotal scenes. Because the thing is, they know their characters inside and out, even if the main series is written first person from only one perspective like this one is, the author still has to know the other characters just as intimately to make the magic happen. They need to know exactly what the other player is thinking and feeling during those often convoluted conversations where people aren't saying what they really mean or the whole of the truth. But now we get to know, too! And there are certain scenes here I would have paid a handsome sum to know what Dex was thinking right then, and also some bonus scenes that I hadn't really thought much about, but that were enlightening nonetheless.
Be warned, however, Dex's mind is a dirty, mucky place! I was surprised by that most of all. He didn't strike me initially as such a sexual creature—that was something that evolved over the course of the first 5 books. But after reading this, you'll know that all those times from Perry's POV where his face was described as being blank/expressionless? Yeah, he was probably thinking about sex. The dirty rascal ;)
As well as revisiting scenes from the main series we also got scenes from Dex while he was away from Perry AND scenes from his early childhood and adolescence. Truly, if you want to know how this man's mind works, this novella will tell you.
Here is the list of scenes you get:
Prologue After School Special Dear Abby Spookshow Baby (A Darkhouse scene) Even Deeper (A Darkhouse scene) Big Dumb Sex (A Darkhouse scene) Butterfly Caught (A Red Fox scene) She’s Got a Way (A Red Fox scene) Stripsearch (A Dead Sky Morning scene) Digging the Grave (A Dead Sky Morning scene) When Good Dogs Do Bad Things (A Dead Sky Morning scene) She Loves Me Not (A Lying Season scene) Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (A Lying Season scene) Mr. Self-Destruct (A Lying Season scene) Demon Cleaner (An On Demon Wings scene) Bailout (An Into the Hollow scene)
I really enjoyed this. It was worth every penny. 5 Stars ★★★★★
And it is truly tiny—just 31 little pages. But enjoyable.
I read it directly after finishing Red Fox but I notice...moreA tiny treat for Dex and Perry fans.
And it is truly tiny—just 31 little pages. But enjoyable.
I read it directly after finishing Red Fox but I notice that it's touted as being suitable to read as a sample of Karina's work for new readers as well. Which is tricky since it's set between books 2 and 3 and Spoiler Town is just a hop, skip and a jump away at any given moment. And I think that may explain why it felt to me like quite a step back after the massive progress Perry and Dex made in Red Fox. They seemed to have regressed right back to awkward and uncomfortable which was a shame but understandable given what I just said. Still, it was enjoyable and definitely worth a glimpse while it's free.
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.
I'm really enjoying this series. I particularly enjoy Deuce's characterisation. She gets so confused at times. Normally overly innocent or naive characters wouldn't be my thing, but her lack of understanding comes from her upbringing—or in her case, a distinct lack thereof. She plainly doesn't understand many things about regular relationships or male/female interactions in particular. When someone is displaying what to us are quite obvious signs of hurt and jealousy, she's totally clueless. She has no frame of reference for dealing with it. And I also like that she acknowledges this lack and rather than jumping wildly to conclusions all TSTL style, she queries it. She just says look, I don't understand all this stuff so unless you talk to me—actually say the words out loud—I am never going to guess what the problem is, 'kay? (Those were not her exact words but you get the general idea).
(How many times can I use the word lack in a paragraph...?)
The main four characters that entered the town of Salvation at the end of the last book: Deuce, Fade, Tegan and Stalker, are all there but have all been separated out into different "foster" homes. Some with more success than others. Fade isn't talking to Deuce and she has no clue why. Tegan is also avoiding her but she thinks she might have figured out the reason for that one. And Stalker...is just Stalker, and nothing seems to phase him and no town's rules will ever truly determine his actions. I've never really said what I think of Stalker. I am a bit conflicted on him, to be honest. His past actions are horrendous to me, but much like Deuce he's a product of his upbringing. He lived wild with his "wolves," more like animals than people, so I'm trying to keep that in mind and not be too hard on him. If Deuce can understand this about him, I should be able to too.
The town is pretty insistent that the new arrivals conform to their rules. Rules which would dictate that Deuce is now back in the "child" category even though in her former life she was an adult, and also that girls are suppose to wear dresses, sew, be pretty, bake, look nice, clean, be demure and polite. All things which Deuce is not and doesn't want to do, of course. She a Huntress, and as it turns out, the town might just need a Huntress a helluva lot more than it needs another pretty girl in a pretty dress.
I found some parts of this book a little slower than book one, if I'm honest, but the ending was excellent and quite moving. I'll definitely be picking up the next one to see how that all progresses from here.
I'm going to assume that if you're reading a review for book 13 in a series, you already are familiar with it and therefore...moreAnother great read by Robb
I'm going to assume that if you're reading a review for book 13 in a series, you already are familiar with it and therefore don't need me to go into what these books are about—just whether or not this one was any good.
It was good. Very good, actually.
We got some progress on the McNab-Peabody situation (two more stubborn people I have never met), and of course Charles as well.
We got some nice scenes with Eve and Roarke. I love how much he worries about Eve when she runs herself into the ground. It's been about a year in book-time since the pair wed now. They are such a great couple.
We got an interesting method of delivery for the crime in that we had knowledge of the killer's games and even their identity way before Eve did. That was different but good. Even though being in a sicko's mind like that is never a fun place to be.
As always, I love reading about how the future technology either helps or hinders Eve in her investigations. In this instance, it was the use of facial putty, synthetic hair and other futuristic enhancements that enabled characters to look totally different and it was very enjoyable to read. ('cause you all know how much Eve loves visits from Trina the beauty technician, right?)
It was another great Audio production as well, with one caveat—
seems to have totally changed how she does Peabody's voice. It used to sound quite nasally and, well, a bit odd, but now she sounds just like Eve which makes it difficult when they are conversing since Robb isn't one for using he said/she said in her rapid-fire dialogue sections. Are you trying to confuse me, Susan, because I will not be bamboozled, dognammit!
I really enjoyed this. I think anyone who enjoys emotionally-charged contemporary romances featuring messed-up...moreA very sexy, very engaging read. Rawr!
I really enjoyed this. I think anyone who enjoys emotionally-charged contemporary romances featuring messed-up characters, such as Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, for example, will enjoy this book. (Although I must say this is a more polished, more grown-up, sexier and more realistic story than BD without quite so many WTF? moments.) I make the comparison only because of how this book made me feel, which was similar to my reaction to Beautiful Disaster, in that I connected easily and strongly to the characters' twisted relationship and felt like I got sucker-punched numerous times. And it made me cry, at least twice. Which, bizarrely, is something I rather like my books to do.
It's a character-driven story with some very minor subplots thrown in and a strong theme of 'fear of letting people in/getting hurt'. The main culprit of this particular character flaw being Joss (Jocelyn) Butler, the protagonist.
I liked Joss, I really did, but sometimes she infuriated me. She lost her family (mother, father and sister) in a car crash at age fourteen and went a little wild for a few years, then closed off and withdrew from people altogether. Cut to 8 years later and she's still mostly walled off from humanity, but has at least managed to acquire a few casual acquaintances. However, circumstances force a sharp change in her life when she moves into a new flat, with a new room-mate, on Dublin Street. And said room-mate has a very handsome, very charming, utterly egotistical brother called Braden, and this book is all about their tempestuous relationship.
It's an extremely sexually-charged relationship, with some absolutely scorching love scenes that were H.O.T. without ever crossing any of my personal boundaries of what I want to read about (like some other highly popular books floating about at the moment that you may have heard of...). Where the annoyance with Joss bit comes in, however—and really, it's not actually her fault at all—is that she has been so unhappy and alone for so long, that when the chance presents itself to become part of an adopted family of sorts, and a loving relationship, she's too scared to take it. And I just wanted to shake her at times and say "It's right there! What you are looking for is right in front of your damn face!". But then I also kinda wanted to cry for her as well, because she's clearly terrified of losing anyone again and thinks the answer is to not care about anyone...like, ever.
The use of 1st person narrative through Joss works really well for this book, even though it's much more common to find romances written in 3rd. Every thought, feeling and sensation is brought to you with first-hand descriptors taking you along for the ride rather than just being a witness to it. The other plus, IMO, is that it causes Braden to be that much more of a mystery as we never have the privilege of his thoughts, so we experience Joss's worries, insecurities and emotions about him which really draws you in, and it also means we only get to see Braden through Joss's lust-filled gaze, making him seem extremely appealing!
Not that Braden needed much help to sound appealing... My, my, my. He has his caveman tendencies, sure, and I could have lived without the string of ex-Barbie doll girlfriends (as I'm sure Joss could have, too) but he was also very sweet and understanding, even when Joss was being a total basketcase. I liked his character a lot and might have a teensy weensy crush on him. Just don't tell anyone, 'kay?
To sum up, I lurved this book. I didn't want it to end. So if you're in need of a steamy, well-written contemporary read, this is the very fella for you. Enjoy!
5 Stars ★★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review.
Now then, this was something a little bit different. I don't tend to read many Regency Romances but some...moreFantastic characters - a break from the norm.
Now then, this was something a little bit different. I don't tend to read many Regency Romances but something about the blurb piqued my interest for this one so I gave it a whirl and I'm very glad that I did!
This book breaks all the rules of Regency Romance as I've come to know them. Doesn't it know that the hero and heroine are supposed to meet within the first 20 pages, and then the hero is meant to be transfixed by her heaving bosom, and she's meant to turn into a blob of simpering girl goo every time he comes near. Yada, yada, pithy dialogue, blah-di-blah, several sex scenes involving creamy thighs, quivering members and throbbing manhoods, some other stuff, fiddle-di-dee, happily ever after - the end.
That is how it is supposed to go! Those are The Rules! But that's not what happened here. Far from it.
Instead, what we got were two flawed but fascinating main characters. In particular, the heroine, Mira, had a lot going on internally. She has some stuff to work through before she can even consider members of the opposite sex. So for this reason the romance had to wait quite a while to get going (which made perfect sense in context) while she sorted through some of her problems and issues.
Mira and Micheal are two people who share the same goal—vengeance and the all-consuming need to kill Michael's older brother, the Duke of Tallant. And on the surface, that's all they have in common. But as we go deeper we see that they are more like kindred spirits than they could ever have guessed. Both characters are a dichotomy in and of themselves. Michael, at the start of the book, has just returned from India to England after a decade-long absence. He outwardly looks like a total barbarian compared to all the pomps of London, but underneath, much as he would deny it, he is a decent and good man. Whereas Mira looks like an angel on the outside; soft-spoken and altruistic, caring for her disabled father and turning down frequent offers of marriage to devote herself to her father's few remaining months of life. But underneath that façade, she is a woman filled only with thoughts of revenge and calculating cold-blooded murder.
Neither character was wholly good or bad, but they were definitely interesting and engaging.
Obviously, to find out why they want to kill the duke so much you'll have to read the book, but it's quite harrowing and heartbreaking and I'm just glad that Michael and Mira found each other in time.
I have to say, I loved the setting and all the Indian fables and stories that were thrown in via Michael's Sikh friend Hari. They were used sparingly, but were a nice (and again, different) addition. I also really enjoyed the dialogue, I thought that was very well done. And it was really endearing to read Michael's hopes and dreams through his narration, even though he was adamant he didn't deserve any of what he secretly wished for. All that was just too cute!
If I could wish for anything, I would have loved a few more intimate scenes. However, I would not have brought them forward to earlier in the book, I would simply wish for it to have been longer or to have had a nice epilogue. Particularly after the way things went the first time they were together!
I definitely recommend this book. I may be no expert on this genre, but I know good characters when I meet them, and they certainly were that.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review [image error] [image error](less)
My first thought upon beginning this book was,"First person narrative? Really? Not seen that before in my Hunky Highlander books!" But I have to say, I thought it worked brilliantly. I slightly favour 1st person perspectives in general as I find it easier to connect to the heroine—whose character I invariably like to drop myself into. Unless, you know, she's an idiot. Then I remove myself as far from her as possible and call her names—but I've become so used to third person in romances that it struck me as a bold choice. I think it worked really well here, not only in my connection to the heroine, but in making the hero seem more of a mystery to us as readers—What is he thinking? Why is he acting that way?—We have no clue; much like in real life! Men are from Mars and women are from Venus and all that. So, writing style-wise, this was a hit for me, and I didn't find it limiting at all.
As to the characters, both hero and heroine, Wilkie and Roses, were great. Roses is a blonde-haired, green-eyed exotic beauty with a secret. Wilkie is a tall, dark and handsome warrior, a hit with the ladies, and a thoroughly nice guy. Both were pretty flawless physical specimens, it has to be said. Although you got the sense that Roses didn't really realise her own appeal after so many years trying to hide herself away at her old clan. And for Wilkie, while it can't have escaped his notice that he turns female heads everywhere he goes, he's far from arrogant. In fact, it's him that's struck dumb initially by Roses's beauty. It was a fantastic first meet scene and made me see perhaps why the book is called 'Highlander Claimed' rather than, say, 'Claimed by the Highlander.' Because it's Wilkie that's been caught hook, line and sinker. He's finally met his match, and he is never letting her go!
The story, while enjoyable, wasn't anything ground-breaking and in fact, I'd read a similar story in another highlander book just this year that had used two of the same plot lines. But, to be honest, I found the romance so engaging I didn't really mind how obvious the big ta-da! moment was. Sure, the dialogue got a bit flowery at times, and Roses could be a bit too biddable and simpering on occasion, but other than that, I had a fantastic time with the book and am excited about the prospect of more from this author. And did I mention the sex scenes? H. O. T!
I shall be adding Juliette Miller to my list of Highlander romance authors I recommend. And I'm greatly looking forward to brother number two—Kade's book, which is called Highlander Taken and releases on 1st May, 2013.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This review will probably be rubbish and not do the book justice at all, for the simple fact that I was enjoying it so much 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.
Another good one, but lacking in any moments of levity to break the tension.
Even the ever hilarious and good-for-a-laugh Peabody was subdued in this...moreAnother good one, but lacking in any moments of levity to break the tension.
Even the ever hilarious and good-for-a-laugh Peabody was subdued in this one, no thanks to MacNab being a total wolly. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't as much fun as others have been.
There's an assassin on the move in Eve's New York, one that's been on the FBI's most-wanted files for decades. His methods are brutal and hard to read about. I find that sometimes having to listen to the details of the crimes and get inside the killer's head along with Eve, is quite disturbing for me. Especially when it's rapists. I have a really hard time with it so that's why it's always so important for there to be a funny scene (or two or three) to lighten things up a bit. This book was missing that. Peabody was in it very little. Mavis was absent for most of the book too, and even Roarke, who's so often cheeky and playful, was too preoccupied with the crimes going on right under his nose to be his usual charming self.
I did however find this passage that I thought I'd quote since it's a nice reminder of just how gorgeous, intelligent and sexxeh Roarke is. For anyone that thinks Christian Grey is the sexiest billionaire on the block...try again.
She turned toward Roarke's office, then stopped in the doorway. He was at his console; captain of his ship. He'd drawn his hair back so it lay on his neck in a short, gleaming black tail. His eyes were cool, cool blue. The colour they were when his mind was fully occupied. He'd taken off his dinner jacket, his shirt was loose at the collar, the sleeves rolled up. There was something... just something about that look that always and forever grabbed her in the gut. She could look at him for hours, and at the end of it, still marvel that he belonged to her. Someone wants to hurt you, she thought. I'm not going to let them.
A sweet Scottish Romance with just a hint of paranormal.
This is the story of Caden MacBain, chief of clan MacBain, and Meg Boswell, niece to the MacB...moreA sweet Scottish Romance with just a hint of paranormal.
This is the story of Caden MacBain, chief of clan MacBain, and Meg Boswell, niece to the MacBain's fiercest enemy, the Munro's. It's just barely a Historical-Paranormal, although really the paranormal aspect was very small and limited to only one main character. I found it to be a really sweet and sexy story and I will definitely be reading more from this new (to me) author.
It was also quite a quick read; I probably could have happily read it in one sitting if real life hadn't gotten in the way, as it was instantly engaging and very readable.
I think my favourite character had to be Caden. He was a most unusual highland Laird; so invested in his people's well-being, making daily rounds to each family in the village to make sure they had everything they needed. He was just a really nice guy, despite some of his shady decisions made in hopes of saving his clan from starvation. I had no trouble forgiving him his transgression at all. He seemed pretty selfless to me. And as well as being an all round decent guy, he also sounded particularly delicious with his low-slung kilt and rippling muscles and narrow hips and..... Och, aye.
Meg was a very likeable heroine as well. Tough and more than capable of taking care of herself, either with her words or with her bow, or failing both of those things, her pet wolf.
I liked the way the pair met in such unusual circumstances, and I enjoyed reading about Caden's instant attraction that he tried to keep to himself, knowing that once Meg found out what was really going on, she would hate him. I also liked the fact that the clan members were all (well, mostly all) kind and honourable men. Especially sweet young Donald. Bless him.
And I definitely appreciated that the dialogue was written very straightforwardly. There wasn't really any attempt to portray the Scottish dialect with strange spellings or dropped letters, other than exchanging 'you' for 'ye', and 'your' for 'yer'. That was about it. This makes it so much easier to read. No more stumbling and tripping my way through people's speeches. I know what a Scot sounds like without any visual assistance thanks very much. A few little changes such as these are more than sufficient, if you ask me.
There were a couple of parts of the plot that were a little obvious, and of course, many of the plot devices used—clan feuds, kidnapped daughters, marriage alliances, etc.—have all been done before numerous times. But I thought the addition of the witchy healing powers and the clues left within the notebook were an interesting twist and made the story stand out as unique.
All together, a quick, fun, sweet and sexy read. Recommended to all fans of Scottish/Highlander Romances.
This was a very cute little short story. One I wish someone had instructed me to read before Fury's Kiss. Yes, I know the reading ord...moreSnack-sized Dory
This was a very cute little short story. One I wish someone had instructed me to read before Fury's Kiss. Yes, I know the reading order would suggest it needed reading beforehand, but it was so short I was pretty sure I wouldn't have been missing much. Well, I can tell you that events from this story are referenced in Fury's Kiss, and it would be nice to know what the hell they are talking about. Instead of giving it the old "Wuuut?" head scratch.
Now I just need to figure out which short story told you all about this Geminus dude. I'm thinking possibly Buying Trouble as he was involved in the smuggling and cross-breeding stuff.
Thirty pieces of silver, but what is the price of a soul?
And we're back for book 11 in the In Death series with a gruesome killing spree that puts a...moreThirty pieces of silver, but what is the price of a soul?
And we're back for book 11 in the In Death series with a gruesome killing spree that puts a taint on everything Eve Dallas stands for. As usual—and this is something that I find quite comical at this point—there's a connection to Eve's billionaire husband, Roarke.
Well, he does own half the planet!
I thought the crime and mystery aspect was a great improvement over the last one. There's nothing Eve won't do to avenge the dead, and it hits even harder when it's one of their own. The connection to Roarke and the re-emergence of a contact from his less than spotless past is worrying for Eve. In trying to protect Roarke, a wall of tension is built between them which leads to some really intense scenes that were very satisfying to read.
To break the tension...Well, what does a girl do when her husband is being a butthead? Why, go and get rip roaring drunk with her oldest friend of course!
Now, I think I've mentioned before how good the audiobook narrator, Susan Ericksen, is for this series. She's made me laugh many a time with her interpretations of Robb's characters. But drunk Mavis has to go down as the ultimate achievement in audio narration. Ever. Somebody hand that woman an award, please. It was just...ah, so funny.
So, all together a great instalment with some graphic scenes of violence, some tense emotional moments, and a drunk Mavis as the proverbial cherry on the top. How does that sound?
A surprisingly fulfilling and action-packed novella.
I may seem a bit harsh saying this, but I find a lot of mid-series novellas to be unworthy of the...moreA surprisingly fulfilling and action-packed novella.
I may seem a bit harsh saying this, but I find a lot of mid-series novellas to be unworthy of the e-ink they're displayed in. Most of the time, the stories within are so much padding and filler with no progression to the characters or the series as a whole. And I can understand why; you can't really have something major plot-wise happening in a novella that some people see as 'optional' reading. It will be far too confusing come the next book trying to explain what happened during the break.
However, you've got to give the people who do fork out for the novella (not me, obviously) something worth reading. And this novella did just that. It gave a surprisingly revealing glimpse into Atticus' feelings for Granuaile, as well as a closer look at the beautifully terrifying Morrigan.
I have to confess, I'm finding Atticus' befuddlement over things with Granuaile extremely sweet. He's sounding more and more like a man suffering unrequited love by the day. And even though both of them have been heading out at weekends over the last six years of Granuaile's training for 'booty calls,' it seems it's becoming more and more unfulfilling for Atticus. And those guilt ferrets really are bastards.
As I mentioned earlier, Atticus and Granuaile—going under the amazing secret identities of Sterling Silver and Betty Baker (thanks to Coyote for that one)—are approximately mid-way through Granuaile's 12-year training to become a druid. If you recall, at the end of the last book, Tricked, Atticus suffered some damage to his healing tattoo on his hand (giant mutant cockroaches will do that to you), so when the Morrigan turns up with an offer to repair it, he accepts.
You'd think at 2100 years old he'd know better than to trust the Morrigan by now. Guess not. Naturally, madness and mayhem ensues with much hilarity.
What seems abundantly clear to me whenever I read anything by Mr. Hearne—other than the fact that he is a comedic genius of course— is that he really has a great appreciation for the mythology his series is based around; Norse and Celtic mostly. He hasn't simply chosen it because it's popular or because it comes with ready-made characters to draw from. He really seems to just love the old stories and creating his own interpretations and retellings of them. And I, in turn, enjoy reading them too.
For fans of the series, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up. It was lots of fun and surprisingly enlightening.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC received from the publisher for an honest review
Oh, I really enjoyed this. It's definitely Steampunk with its steam cabs, bio-mechanic limbs, clockwork toys and Metaljack...moreA sizzling Steampunk debut.
Oh, I really enjoyed this. It's definitely Steampunk with its steam cabs, bio-mechanic limbs, clockwork toys and Metaljacket soldiers. But it's also a Paranormal-Historical Romance filled with blood-drinkers, vampires and werewolves. In fact, the paranormal aspect I felt was actually stronger than the Steampunk stuff for the most part, which was mostly just used for worldbuilding and padding in the background.
It's also set in a kind of alternate history dystopian society. Oh heck, I don't know what genre it is, but it's a delicious mix of sexy Steampunk and Paranormal awesomeness. And I think I'd quite like to marry that cover too. Although, having read the book, I have to tell you that Honoria would never flash her garters in public like that. In private, well, that's another matter, and it all depends who's asking....
Honoria, of course, is our leading lady. She has an interesting tale to tell regarding how she's ended up the soul provider for her two younger siblings, the youngest of whom, Charlie, is very ill. She's having to live on the outskirts of The Rookery, which is the worst and most dangerous part of London, because it's all she can afford. A strategic position that she hopes will keep her well under the radar of the man who owns everything and everyone in The Rookery; the Devil of Whitechapel himself, Blade.
Why on earth would anyone want to avoid Blade? He's so yummy! He absolutely stole the show for me. Honoria was great as heroines go, but Blade. Ah, Blade. He was simply delicious; just the right amount of arrogance and vulnerability. Not impossibly beautiful, definitely a bit rough around the edges, but he won my heart with his willingness to give his to Honoria, whether she wanted it or not.
I thought McMaster got the balance just right in all areas of the book. Blade was aggressively male but not a dominant douchebag. Honoria was feisty but not bitchy. (She makes up for any excessive snappiness through her sacrifices for her brother and sister. And hey, if I was starving myself to leave more food for my family, I'd be in a bad mood too, let me tell you). The action scenes were bloody but not overly gruesome. And the inevitable Happily Ever After was sweet but not too saccharine.
Oh, and the sex scenes were extremely well done as well I thought! Sexy, but with an emotional connection to go with them.
My only complaint (because there has to be one, right?) was the way Blade's Cockney dialogue was written. Writing someone's accent can be a tricky venture and I felt like some of the dropped letters were incorrectly placed, forcing me to stumble through his dialogue sections, which just bugged me. But I have say this, and it's only a teeny tiny peeve really, was the only reason it didn't get 5 stars.
I'm very interested in several of the secondary characters that were introduced, including Honoria's sister Lena, and Blade's second in command Will the Verwulfen, as well as several others. I hope to see them starring in their own books very soon. I'll definitely be checking out the next instalment which is called Heart of Iron, when it hits the shelves in May 2013.
Recommended to fans of Meljean Brook's Iron Seas series, and Kristen Callihan's Darkest London series.
41/2 Stars ★★★★1/2 ARC provided for an honest review.
Another great instalment to this engaging futuristic police procedural series with a diverse cast of loveable characters.
Eve Dallas just can't miss....moreAnother great instalment to this engaging futuristic police procedural series with a diverse cast of loveable characters.
Eve Dallas just can't miss. After nine books, I'm starting to notice some patterns and repeated ideas within the series, quite naturally so. Such as Roarke ALWAYS somehow managing to get involved in Eve's cases. Not that I really mind; I want him on the scene. But even with this slight repetitiveness, I've still thoroughly enjoyed every single one of the books so far, and I'm continually impressed at how the standard stays so high.
The usual gang is in full swing in this politically motivated crime/mystery plot, with the addition of Peabody's Free-ager younger brother, Zeke. He was such a sweetie-pie, I do hope to see him again in future books. Speaking of Peabody; if anyone is patiently waiting for her and MacNab to get a clue and realise they like each other, and that MacNab's teasing is the equivalent of pulling the pigtails of the girl you liked in the school playground, you might want to read this book for a slight insight on that situation.
I admit to being totally hoodwinked by one of the characters and enjoyed being surprised. Again, each crime is fresh and different and the politically motivated bomb threats were interesting and exciting. As was the part Zeke played in the subplot.
I do love all the futuristic technology, but I still can't quite wrap my head around some of the stuff, like the hover cars and androids for example (can you say creepy?). It's all just flavouring to the series, though, and never takes over or becomes too bogged down in techo gibber jabber. It's just the right balance.
Another goody. Well done Robb. 4 Stars ★★★★ (less)
A slight change of pace this time. The plot was not based around a mystery, but was more of a problem solving affair. I prefer a mystery if I'm honest...more
A slight change of pace this time. The plot was not based around a mystery, but was more of a problem solving affair. I prefer a mystery if I'm honest, but, if you've been following this series in order, you'll be nicely invested in the characters by now and so will be pleasantly surprised and delighted by some of the progress made in this instalment. There are some very interesting developments. Some people will impress you, some really, really won't.
The setting of the Netherworld didn't make as much of an impression on me as I'd imagined after reading Dulcie's glimpse of it. But, to be fair, she really didn't get the chance to see a whole lot of it, so I will look forward to seeing more of that setting in future books. And judging by certain events, that's a distinct possibility.
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.
A short tale set immediately after the events of Holiday in Death.
There is clearly no rest for the wicked good cop because no sooner has Eve Dallas g...moreA short tale set immediately after the events of Holiday in Death.
There is clearly no rest for the wicked good cop because no sooner has Eve Dallas got rid of one psycho, there's another one escaped from jail with his sights set directly on her. One she remembers very well from when she put him away 3 years ago. And when his "Christmas list" of victims has more than one familiar name on it, Eve decides that this time, she will take no prisoners.
Favourite quote: “You annoy me, Eve.” “Why? Because I’m right?” “Yes. And snotty about it.” But his smile warmed a little. “Why did you call?” “So I could be snotty.
Another great instalment in the In Death series. This time there's a killer on the loose with a thing for Christmas. Murder victim one is found with a...moreAnother great instalment in the In Death series. This time there's a killer on the loose with a thing for Christmas. Murder victim one is found with a partridge in a pear tree icon. Does that mean there are 11 more victims to go?
These books are so good. It amazes me how the quality never dips. The cast of characters steadily grew throughout the first three books, and now you just grow to love each character that much more with each book.
Roarke and Eve are in a good place, but Eve still struggles with things other people, other women, might find easy, and the Christmas holiday period brings some of these issues to the fore.
“The wanting of you never stops.” His fingers skimmed over her hips; the trousers pooled at her feet. “The loving of you never peaks. There’s always more.” Undone, she leaned against him, her face buried in his hair. “Nothing’s the same for me since you.”
The mystery was good, the crimes disturbing, and the chase exhilarating. I'm heading on to Midnight in Death which is a novella that apparently picks up seconds after this one ends.