Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blatFind this and more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
Stars in my Eyes
Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blather on about myself for long - promise. It's just that this series was kinda pivotal to my transformation from "occasional reader of mystery novels", to "carnivorous reading fanatic and devourer of all things paranormal" because it was the first true Urban Fantasy series I ever read and the one that opened my eyes to this amazeballs genre. It was also the first book I ever read with a sex scene in it! Are you having that? At the ripe old age of 29 I had the blinders firmly ripped off my eyes by a Ms Karen Chance and her scorching and (as I thought then) scandalous love scenes! I finished book one wondering what the hell I'd just read, and why the hell I couldn't stop thinking about it and all the amazing and endless possibilities there were for a character that could shift through time and space - and immediately ordered the rest of the series! The rest, as they say, is history and four years later I have the sixth book in the series as an ARC to review! If I had Pythian powers and went back to tell 29-year old me that little nugget of information, she'd probably say I was deluded or crazy or both.
I'm a lucky, lucky girl:)
So, with that intro in mind, I think it's safe to say that I love this series! And that's not only because of what it did for me as a reader, or because of any sentimental attachment I have to it, but because of its brilliance, its wit, and its unrivalled cleverness. I cannot even express how mind-boggling some of the time-shift stuff is! Scenes that take place in one book that don't make sense until much later when you realize how much time travel back and forth has been going on. The amount of planning and foreshadowing involved in all that... I can't even. It's just too awesome to compute. And Ms Chance's world, although complex, is so solid. There's not a single grey area in her worldbuilding, and even if there were, it would be because she planned for it to be there three books ago. 'Cause she likes grey. And because she can. Seriously, people quiz her nigh on a daily basis through her Facebook page as they try to get their heads around some of the more head-bending aspects of her plots, and she's thought of everything and then some. There are no chinks in her armour of awesome that I've found.
Moving on to this particular book, now that I've paid my dues for never really reviewing any of the others back in the day (lol). Cassandra Palmer - Cassie to most - has advanced as the series has progressed, as all good main characters should, and as evidenced here in TEMPT THE STARS. Resolutely putting the kibosh on people - vamps, mages, and now witches! - trying to manoeuvre her from point A to point B all the time, and just being more dominant and forthright in general. She could also possibly maybe hit the side of a barn with a gun now, too, thanks to Pritkin, and her power quotient has gone through the roof when compared to that of the smiley face T-shirt-wearing girl we met back in Touch the Dark. Having said that, it's not a complete transformation - the girl whose first instincts are to run and hide hasn't been completely smothered. Indeed, running and hiding are sometimes the best options available to a savvy heroine. But recently, and most especially in this book, she's been letting her "take no prisoners" side out a lot more. That, combined with the intelligence and common sense she's always shown around the vamps, who, in this series are about as sneaky and manipulative as they come, though rarely evil, and you've got yourself an incredibly well-rounded and sympathetic character - who now also kicks ass! Don't you just love it?
In TEMPT THE STARS, Cassie is also forced to take a look at her somewhat closed-off emotions. Not that she's ever been cold, exactly, but wary? Reserved? Oh, yes. Letting people in is extremely difficult when it's been proven time and again that those people will be the first in the firing line by any who wish to control her and her powers, which are now more than just potential - they're a smack-you-in-the-face reality. But being a closed book can be lonely, and there are certain characters who have been slowly chipping away at her emotional shields for quite some time now, and it might just be time to let them in, whether she wants to or not!
Of course, the BIG thing everyone wants to know about TEMPT THE STARS is where the heck Pritkin is, right? Well, I'm not going to tell you. Ms Chance herself is notoriously strict about spoilers so it would be more than my life's worth to spill the beans. But, let's just say that being the world's chief seer - officially now, even - has its perks as well as its pitfalls. And it also has the potential to make the impossible... slightly less so.
And that's it. That's all you're getting from me.
As with all instalments in the series, TEMPT THE STARS is bursting with incredible action scenes with spells whiz-popping here, there and everywhere, often followed directly by the most exquisite introspection scene or a hushed conversation with one of the now treasured stable of characters such as Marco (LOVE him!) or Billy Joe (LOVE him, too!). Some people might say the pacing is too up-and-down, but not me. I think the balance is perfect. For fans of the series who already know this world well, I'll just say that it was business as usual - though with a slightly different feel to it as we explored different settings and magics - and just as incredible as you thought it would to be. Plus twelve. Some authors just seem to have a Mary Poppins-like carpet bag full of endless ideas, and Karen chance is definitely one of them.
There's not a lot else to say without revealing naughty things I'm not supposed to, so I'll just leave you with this: TEMPT THE STARS IS THE BEST OF THE SERIES SO FAR - BY A COUNTRY MILE!
And I love John Pritkin.
5 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
Move over Urban Fantasy. Stick your vampires where the solar rays don't penetrate, and bring on theFind 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.
This was great, fun, sexy Urban Fantasy.Joint read/review with Janice. Find more reviews like this at The Demon Librarian book blog.
What a fun read!
This was great, fun, sexy Urban Fantasy. Hedi's voice was immediately engaging as a protagonist, and you got the sense that she was talking directly to you, which I thought was great. It had some standard UF fare with the werewolves and Fae taking centre stage, but it definitely managed to put its own spin on even those regular staples of the genre.
And also some great new ideas as well. There were plenty of interesting plot developments and action to keep the reader glued throughout, and there was even quite a substantial amount of romance in there too! This was actually my only slight problem area. Not that I didn't like the romance - I did. I just felt at times it was moving too fast for me to keep up with. But then, I'm one of those strange people who doesn't mind being made to wait several books for a romance to form, especially in my Urban Fantasy series. I'm sure other people will be more than happy having things moving as quickly as they do.
I'm definitely going to be reading the next one as I liked the world building, the characters and the plot twists despite my minor issues with the romance. Can't wait to see how things pan out in book two: The Thing About Weres, when it releases in July 2013.
Greta and the Goblin King follows the adventures of Greta, a 17-year old human who 4 years ago fell through a magical portal to
Mylena, a world of goblins, Faeries, Giants and Witches. It's also a place where being human is a one-way ticket to an early grave, as they are blamed by the locals for, well, everything. Luckily for Greta, she was found early on by Luke, a Sprite and Bounty Hunter who became a father figure to her and taught her how to not only hide what she is, but how to fight, how to survive the harsh climate (it's constantly winter there) and how to be a Bounty Hunter, like himself.
When we meet Greta for the first time she's on a mission in her role as Bounty Hunter and I thought this was a really strong opening scene
. She's a sword-wielding badass with a snarky attitude who seemed very likeable and I appreciated that she'd kept her human traits and vocabulary despite the dangers involved in doing so. Where this book fell apart for me, though, was the romance. It was pretty terrible, I'm afraid. Absolutely paper-thin characterisation of Isaac the Goblin King. And even though his name graces the title, don't think for a minute that stopped there from being a love triangle thrown in for good measure. And sadly, I preferred the second potential love interest over Isaac, which I don't think was supposed to happen.
I think perhaps the fundamental mistake and the reason I didn't connect well with the romance was that at the time we join Greta's story, she and Isaac have already known each other for two weeks. Now if only we'd been privy to that first meeting
— which sounded rather good and flirtatious and would have told us much about Isaac's true nature and personality. Plus, it was only two weeks ago; it's not liked we'd have had to backtrack years! You could even just stick it on as a prologue—
But no, instead we only hear about it in brief retrospect and so when he all of a sudden, out of absolutely nowhere to my eyes, starts talking about these great immense feelings they share, I was like "What now? Did I miss a something?" I just wasn't feeling it at all.
On the other hand, when we meet the second potential love interest we get a proper introduction, some nice life and death actions scenes together, some tender, quiet moments and a believable beginning to a relationship. So I found myself totally rooting for the underdog, which judging by the title, is not the author's intent.
Having said all of that, there were some really good aspects to this book; it's not all doom and gloom by any means. I thought the actual concept was good—a human surviving undercover in a world that detests humans— and Greta was a pretty decent kick-ass protagonist (although considering she was meant to be very skillful, the amount of times she needed saving somewhat belied that fact). Also, there were some nice secondary characters that were fleshed out quite well. The action scenes were really easy to visualise, the weird creatures sounded funky and the idea of the eclipse affecting everyone and turning them rabid was interesting and unnerving. So definitely not a total loss. Just such a shame about the romance angle, really.
I would possibly try this author again in the future because there's clearly a good imagination in play here, but I think I might have been a bit too underwhelmed with the characters to continue with this particular series.
3 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 thaLove, 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.
I definitely enjoyed this, just not quiiiiite as much as Graceling. The romance wasn't as prevalent or as sweet and I nReturn to the Seven Kingdoms.
I definitely enjoyed this, just not quiiiiite as much as Graceling. The romance wasn't as prevalent or as sweet and I needs me some sweet romance! I'm getting slightly disenchanted, actually, with the way these books end. They don't end with hearts and flowers and riding off into the sunset happily married with 2.4 kids. (How do you get 0.4 of a kid anyway?) I didn't comment on it at the end of Graceling because, stupid me hadn't realised at that point that books two and three wouldn't be following Po and Katsa. Which, now that I think about it, really sucks because of how up in the air everything was left with those two...
Anyhoodle. It's Ms. Cashore's world and she can write the books however she sees fit, I guess. And if she doesn't want the romance to be front and centre, then I'll have to just deal with it or move along the bus.
Whatever they may lack in romance, however, is always more than made up for in imagination and creativity. I loved the concept of the Gracelings in book one, and in this one she gives us more new creatures/species to explore, in the form of Monsters.
Monster: (noun) A creature of varied species, including (rarely) human, with unusually bright, colourful attributes, overwhelming beauty, and the ability to alter and/or warp the minds of others.
That's the interpretation in this world anyway. They can be anything from a horse to a fox, in vivid, vibrant colours so different from their natural counterparts, and are able to get into people's minds, either to communicate, or to bamboozle.
Our heroine is a Monster. She's called Fire due to her flame-red hair. She's seen as especially dangerous because human men are pretty easy to manipulate by even normal beautiful women (not my words), but the unnatural advantages Fire has make her a source of contempt, fear and distrust for both men and women alike.
This story sees Fire invited to a neighbouring kingdom to help evaluate their potential rivals in a war that's brewing in the Seven Kingdoms. While there, she meets Prince Brigan and his brother, King Nash, and finds friends in the most unlikely of places. It's set prior to Graceling and even features a much younger Lec.
This was another great audio production, but sadly wasn't Full Cast this time as Graceling was. However, the reader had a great voice and it was still a really good listen.
I'm looking forward to Bitterblue to see if maybe that gives me an update on Po and Katsa. I really hope so!
An interesting glimpse at Jocelynn Drake's new world.
So, forgive me for being dense here, but I was under the impression this was going to be all abAn interesting glimpse at Jocelynn Drake's new world.
So, forgive me for being dense here, but I was under the impression this was going to be all about Trixie (whoever she may be) and therefore perhaps written from her POV. Colour me puzzled then when it's actually written in 1st person POV from a man—or a warlock as it happens—called Gage. It's about his first meeting with Trixie when she first came to Low Town, the setting for this new Urban Fantasy series. So, intrigued by this discovery I then went to read the blurb for the first full-length book, Angel's Ink, more closely (with my eyes open and everything) and saw that that is also going to be told from Gage's POV. Now, before you all start "duh"ing me, you have to admit the title and the cover art suggests a female main character. Does it or does it not? I don't read very many series with male main characters; only really my beloved Atticus from the Iron Druid Chronicles, which is also penned by a man. So this being written by a woman is doubly intriguing.
Of course, it's not the first time Drake has written from the male perspective. She did one of the books in her Dark Days series from Danaus' POV, but it still strikes me as an unusual way to go. And kinda misleading with the covers having girls on.
Anyway, once my confusion cleared I found I rather liked Gage. He seems like an interesting and likeable chap. Slightly flawed in his plans to be an asshole in order to keep the beautiful Trixie at bay, but nice nonetheless. He strikes me as the reluctant hero type. He tells you he's all bad, bad, bad but his actions prove otherwise.
Other characters we met were Jo, the ex-girlfriend/vampire guitar player. Bronx, the troll and partner at Gage's tattoo parlour. A few gargoyles. A delightful Chinese fellow called Chang who seems to be able to procure almost anything magical, for a price. And of course, Trixie. A woman who seems to be hiding a few secrets and is so far unaware that Gage is on to her.
So, it all looks very promising. There's a nice mix of supernatural species and the characters I've met seem interesting but flawed, with lots of secrets yet to be uncloaked. And most especially, I was pleased to see that the overall tone of the world and characters seems lighter that her previous series. I did enjoy Dark Days and read through them very quickly, but I never really connected to the main character, Mira. She was so cold, and some of the scenes were so violent— literal blood baths—that it got too much for me. But so far, from what I've seen from this small sample, it appears this isn't going to be quite as dark; there was some nice funny dialogue and Gage seems a much warmer character. Hopefully it will be just as exciting and fast-paced, though.
I'm looking forward to getting to Angel's Ink to find out more about everyone I've just met. And there's also another novella, The Asylum Interviews: Bronx, presumably about how Gage met his Troll friend, that I might get beforehand too.
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 thA 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
Despite taking a while to grab me and a few minor compFind more reviews like this at The Demon Librarian.
After a shaky start, I really enjoyed this.
Despite taking a while to grab me and a few minor complaints about the characterization of the Wird sisters, this ended up being a really fun urban fantasy romp with some great action scenes, sizzling sexual tension and really fun magical elements.
Told from eldest sister Celia Wird's POV, she and her three sisters are introduced to us in the opening scene already in hot water with master vampire, Misha, having been summoned to "vampire court" on charges of murder. This introduction—which was used as a convenient way to tell us about each sister's unique supernatural abilities—raised instant warning flags for me as it became apparent the sisters had all been given personas so large and so extreme as to be bordering on the ridiculous. I realize the need to make it easy for us differentiate between them, to make each stand out, but for someone like myself who appreciates more subtly nuanced characters, the Spice Girl-like qualities of the sisters' personalities made me baulk.
There's the brash, crude and loud sister—Taran (Scary Spice).
There's the blonde-haired, timid and shy sister—Emme (Baby Spice).
There's the fun-loving, bouncy, calls everyone "dude" sister—Shayna (Sporty Spice).
The protagonist, Celia, however (who must be some amalgamation of Posh spice and Ginger Spice since that's all that's left) was a much more complex character (thank heavens!) and I grew to like her a lot. As the eldest sister, she's taken on the role of protector/defender of the family, having also the strongest physically ability when it comes to fighting. She's a Tigress shape-shifter with some other... interesting... abilities as well, all derived from a curse that was put on all mother Wird's unborn children. A badass when it comes to fighting, but totally hopeless when it comes to relationships and those "men" thingies, I really enjoyed discovering these two very different sides to her nature. I also felt quite sorry for her since she was quite a lonely character as well. Having an inner "beast" that people—whether they know it not—can sense, has always caused them to give her a wide berth. Her sisters are the ones that go on dates and get noticed by the opposite sex, not Celia. Until, that is, very Hot and very Alpha werewolf, Aric, who is her beast's equal in every way, comes on the scene!
I loved Aric. He was the perfect blend of strong manly man and total sweetie-pie. The romance was one of my favourite things about this book, actually. That and the action! It's not just the personalities that are big in Robson's world! Oh no. Even the Big Bads were Marvel comic book-like in their size, strength and descriptions. They could give Hulk a run for his money any day of the week! I found myself glued to these sections and up rather late at night finishing the book as I just couldn't put it down. Which is always nice.
So overall, while not perfect, this book was Fun with a capital F once it got going and I will definitely be reading the next one, A Cursed Embrace, when it comes out in July 2013. If you can accept some larger than life aspects in your Urban Fantasy, you should enjoy this book, as I did.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange 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
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.
This is the second instalment in the Darkness Falls series and will probably contain spoilers for those that haven't yet read book one,[image error]
This is the second instalment in the Darkness Falls series and will probably contain spoilers for those that haven't yet read book one, Wilde's Fire.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series- it almost got a 5- and therefore I came to this book with a relaxed, bring-it-on kind of attitude. So it really came as a shock when I found myself struggling to pay attention during the middle section of the book.
The beginning was great and it picked up straight after the cliffhanger ending of Wilde's Fire. And it was clear right from the onset that Perth's character would be playing a bigger role this time, which was great because his character, and indeed his entire race, is very intriguing. Perth's the kind of character that you want to believe is like a good egg in an otherwise bad batch, and yet something always prevents you from completely trusting him. Still, it was great that he got to play a much bigger part in it since he is a big obstacle in the prophecies of both Arland and Kate.
My problems came shortly after this good start, however. The characters had to make a journey which took probably around 80-100 pages. And during that time, it seemed as though the plot was stuck on a loop. The same things kept repeating themselves; have a long, drawn-out conversation with someone- usually a cryptic one about prophecies, or one about Brad- then encounter some demons or shapechangers and fight for your life for a bit. Rinse and repeat x 3. I'm afraid I put the book aside for several days due to this section; it just wasn't holding me.
The length of the dialogue scenes was probably the biggest factor in slowing things down. Of course, it doesn't help that the stiff and formal dialogue was one of the few negatives I found in book one, and this one seemed to only exacerbate that negative for me. In fact, in order for Kate to fit in at the place they were heading to, they were trying to get her to speak more formally, and kept criticising her every time she used a contraction like don't instead of do not. There just never seemed to be any dialogue that felt like a natural conversation. It was always a pledge or a declaration or a speech or a prophecy. I think that's why it always feels so... stiff.
The main "problem" in this book- meaning the issue that characters are facing, not my own personal problem with it- felt extremely contrived. These people are a hair's breath from extinction and I'm just not sure I believe they would be behaving like schoolchildren over who gets to marry whom when there's only a handful of them left. So the whole "pretending Kate and Arland aren't in love so as not to upset the ground Dwellers" bit, was really annoying.
Dughaul/Brad (sp?) was barely in the story, so aside from the rinse and repeat cycle of battling demons and shapechangers, there was no Big Bad for them to face. The main nemesis for Kate and Arland seemed to be the arrogance and ignorance of the Encardians who were only interested in fighting amongst themselves.
I probably will read the next one to see how it all turns out, because I do love Arland's character, and I do think the world Wade has created is wonderfully unique and interesting. I just hope it reverts back to the great story-telling of book one.
2.5 Stars ★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review
The Horngate Witches series is set in a post magical apocaFind more reviews like this one at The Demon Librarian book blog.
Five action-packed stars!
The Horngate Witches series is set in a post magical apocalyptic America and features badass sword-wielding, not quite human, warriors, mildly sociopathic witches, not very angelic angels, and all manner of other weird mythological creatures and beasties. With a splash of romance enough to make me grin like a weirdo, worldbuilding that knocks my socks off, and action by the bucket load, you can see why this series is right up their with my other Urban Fantasy favourites like Kate Daniels, The Hollows, Mercedes Thompson and all those other great female-led UF series. If you haven't started this series yet and you are a fan of any of the above, add this to your TBR today! You will not be sorry.
The warriors in this series—Shadowblades and Sunspears—act as guardians for the witches and are, in fact, the main focus of books, despite the slightly misleading series name. They're woven with spells that make them nearly indestructible, as well as faster, stronger, more resistant to extreme temperatures, etc. But the downside to all that is eternal servitude to the witch who turned them. Which wouldn't be so much of a problem unless, say for instance, that witch used to be your best friend and did it to you without your permission.
Our main character is Max (that's a girl, btw), but at this point in the series, it's fair to say that Alexander is just as much of a main character as it's told in alternating third person POVs between them. Max and Alexander not only have to fight all manner of nasty things in this book as part of their role as leaders of the Shadowblades, but they're also fighting some more personal demons, as well as their increasingly complicated feelings for each other.
Following on from the giant waves of magic that erupted a couple of books back, and then Max's trials in Shadow City, she and her fellow Blades are reunited once again and decide it's time they get out from behind the safety and insulation of Horngate's wards to check out the aftermath and find out what's happening with the humans still out there in the towns and cities. Which is nothing good, as it turns out. Food is in critical demand, people are reverting back to their baser natures, and where there's chaos and panic, there's always some douchecanoe wannabe dictator ready to lead them all up the creek without a paddle. Which loosely sums up the premise of this book, in a very crude and ineloquent way.
I thought the use of the split POVs proved really useful once again; allowing us to see the action from all sides at once. The awkwardness that's developed between Alexander and Max was showcased brilliantly, too. Max, being Max, isn't handling the new dynamic with Alexander very well. She's been acting like Jekyll and Hyde with him and he is both perplexed and annoyed by it. I fully expected Max to make some mistakes at the whole "relationship" thing, and she certainly didn't disappoint! I thought that entire situation was really well-written, and with a few unpredictable twists thrown in for good measure.
Overall, I thought the story was engaging, well-paced, amusing, emotional, exhilarating, intense...I mean, I could just go on and on. It was just superb urban fantasy.
So what are you waiting for, hmm? Go grab yourself a copy right now!
5 Stars! ★★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The overarching plot for the series becomes clearer in this instalment. It's written, as Green Rider was, in thA really good follow up to Green Rider.
The overarching plot for the series becomes clearer in this instalment. It's written, as Green Rider was, in third-person omniscient, which makes it feel very broad-sweeping and grand in scale. I like the way we sort of zoom in like a telephoto lens on different characters and scenes. I actually lost count of the number of different character POV's I experienced along the way, although of course the main character, Karigan, has the majority of the page time. At one point it was written from the point of view of a swirly black tendril of smoke that had sentience. Bizarre but fabulous.
It's a long book and too much happens to summarise in a review, but suffice to say I was just as entertained by it as I was first time around with Green Rider, and I was more than thrilled by a couple of developments, and completely dismayed by others. The magic, politics and fascinating characters make this an engrossing and absorbing read. One I will probably re-read at some point in the future. And the addition of the time travel aspect proved an excellent way to fill in gaps in the world's history of important events that affect the current situation with the Wall and Blackveil forest. “She was unfettered and free, a wild spirit he could not capture, tame, or confine, but one he wished would come to him, as a deer is tempted by a handful of oats.” I really would love to go straight onto the next book but as there are only two left in the series currently, and with the prospect of 3 years before the next book comes out ahead of me, I think I'll hold off for a while and read them back-to-back in a few years. I understand you can't rush or force creativity, but I really wish the gaps between these books weren't so enormous. It's a longer than average book at 600+ pages, but if authors like Kim Harrison can manage a 400+ page book every 12 months, plus anthologies, plus a separate YA series, then 4 years is just dilly dallying no matter how you look at it.
I'm a bit conflicted on this one because I really enjoyed reading it. Loved it, in fact. It totally sucked me in; it was sexy, funny, poignant and allI'm a bit conflicted on this one because I really enjoyed reading it. Loved it, in fact. It totally sucked me in; it was sexy, funny, poignant and all good things like that.
But, it was very, VERY reminiscent of Kresley Cole's Immortals after Dark series: Several different races of immortal beings all heading towards an event that only takes place every few centuries; insta-love mating bonds, one whiff and she's mine, usually with a person not of your race; Scottish rough and ready highlander types; a future-seeing, foul-mouthed, scatter-brained witch who can't give a straight answer; time lines overlapping (you hear about secondary characters in the book and you know they are acting strange because they've met their mate too); and just the overall writing style, the narrative, is very humorous and reminded me of KC's style a lot.
But that's not a bad thing is it? I mean, that series rocks so more of the same can only be a good thing, right? And as I said, I totally enjoyed it. I guess it's up to you how you feel about the similarities. For me, I'm happy to have two series that are this enjoyable. And the quality of writing was excellent, especially for a debut which I believe this was. *shrugs*
Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of very original content in this book as well, it was not a carbon copy by any stretch of the imagination.
First off, we have some very unusual species/races/creatures/clans/whatevers. In this one we dealt predominantly with the Pookahs (Do you see Pooh Bear when you read that too?). They are, from what I could gather, immortal beings with the animal spirit of razorback pigs... Okay that sounded way cooler when Britt Bury described them. Bear with me. Oh hey you can get bear Pookahs too! And wolf Pookahs as well, I think. Okay, so I don't know exactly what a Pookah is but the point is... The point is the one we met in this book, Kelvin Kerr, was muchos muchos yummios and not all stoopid meat head alpha either which was such a relief for me because I hate those types. He's a thousand year old Scottish warrior and War Chief (second in command) of the Kerr Clan, and for most of those thousand years, has lived only for vengeance against the Campbells. Izel, his fated mate, is the last surviving Campbell. Oopsies.
The story was well-paced, sexy, and I even teared up once or twice. I was totally invested in them as a couple, and for those emotional drama junkies out there (Yes, Sharon, I am talking to you), you will be well satisfied, I think.
I will definitely be reading future instalments. I'm guessing Ian's story will be next what with the visitor he's currently got in his dungeon.
4 Stars! ★★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review...more
What? No, no, no, no, no, that's not the end! It's doesn't end there! *Shakes eReader furiously* Ah man! That sucks!
Well, aside from the book ending VWhat? No, no, no, no, no, that's not the end! It's doesn't end there! *Shakes eReader furiously* Ah man! That sucks!
Well, aside from the book ending VERY abruptly, and without any warning. (Usually you can tell you are being prepared for the end, even for a cliffhanger ending. This one kind of just stops. And I REALLY didn't want it to because I was enjoying it tremendously). So aside from THAT, I loved it!
I always know when my interest has been peaked by a book a bit more than usual because all other activities cease and desist. Normally, I might read for an hour, then maybe go online, listen to some tunes, then go back to my book.
Eeeeeyyyyeah. I don't think this book has left my hands since I picked it up 2 days ago except for maybe working and sleeping.
I can't honestly say the book was perfection; hence the four stars not five. But in terms of enjoyment it was way up there. My main negatives were some slightly stiff and formal dialogue sections. A bit of repetition in the narrative (lots of hand holding, hand grabbing) and just a couple of teensy weensy niggly things like that, that as a reviewer I'm supposed to notice and comment on. Well there you go, I commented on them and they didn't really lessen my enjoyment much at all.
It's always nice to be shown something different and this book and the world(s) it's set in are very creative and unusual, which I just love. It's written in first person, present tense, which seems to be becoming an increasingly popular way of writing at the moment. I remember the first book I read in present tense felt very weird and jarring, but now I'm pretty much used to it and even prefer it in certain circumstances where you don't want your main character to have any clue what's coming. And that fits this book perfectly, because the main character, Katriona (Kate) Wilde, is literally thrown in at the deep end (and then shoved through a magical portal) and it's nice to have to figure things out right along with her.
The main themes of the book deal with prophecies, destinies, chosen ones, fated love etc. I know a few people have issues if their lead character comes across as too "special" and there are certainly elements of that in evidence here. But I don't mind it so much.
The world that she encounters on the other side of the portal I'm reluctant to say too much about as I want people to discover it for themselves. But, suffice it to say, they are having a hard time of it, and Katriona may be their only hope.
“This might be difficult for you to accept, but please know I will never lie to you. You are Encardia's only hope of surviving this war.”
If I could wish for one thing, it would be that the ending was more suspenseful and climactic, rather than just being a surprise because it came out of nowhere. I realise the author will be saving a lot of the fighting/battles to come for future instalments, and judging by the dreams and visions Kate has been having, these should be pretty epic. But it might have been an idea to have some sort of mini battle to close out this book.
Anyhoodle. I will definitely be reading the next one, and I'm now off to stalk the author about when exactly I'll be getting it!
4 Stars! ★★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher 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 questioSo, we come to the end of this brilliantly gripping trilogy and I ask myself the question, am I satisfied with how it ended?
Second question: does that mean it ends with all happy hearts and flowers and dancing unicorns?
Answer: what do you think? This is dystopian fiction, and when you are talking about changing the "bigger picture", not just the characters' immediate futures, these things don't happen overnight.
Still, Collins certainly puts her readers through the emotional mill and goes out with a bang. I actually think she was maybe a little too ruthless and bloodthirsty in some areas, but, hey, I guess she was just keeping it real. We never would have bought the whole unicorn thing anyway...
Here are some of my favourite non-spoilery quotes:
“They'll either want to kill you, kiss you, or be you.”
“I think...you still have no idea. The effect you can have.”
“Never underestimate the power of a great stylist.”
“Well, don't expect us to be too impressed. We just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear.”
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 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!
Meet Deuce. A fascinating character and a creation of her time. Raised (if you can call it that) underground in what wasAnother really good YA read!
Meet Deuce. A fascinating character and a creation of her time. Raised (if you can call it that) underground in what was formerly the miles and miles of subways systems (I think in Post-apoc New York, just don't quote me on that). She belongs to an Enclave and has just turned 16 which means she has transitioned from Brat (child) to adult. The people of the Enclave, even the elders (who are only 25!), don't seem to know a lot about their own circumstances; like where they are, why it's safer to stay underground or what is up Topside, so we are just left to surmise along with them.
From what I've managed to ascertain it has been many years since a plague wiped out most of the population or, worse, turned them into Freaks, and what remained managed to survive by whatever means necessary. There's a lot of misinformation and so much of humanity's history has been lost that they've made up their own rules and created a new way of life that will seem completely foreign to us. Even things that you would have expected to endure; information and traditions that should have passed from generation to generation, haven't. Gone are nuclear families, people are now bred for purpose and set on a path that best fits their abilities—whatever they happen to show an aptitude for—and if you aren't good at anything else (like being a hunter, builder, cook, etc.) then there's always the occupation of Breeder as a fall back option.
Our Deuce is a hunter. Or 'Huntress', as she prefers. I was pleased to see that we joined her story right at the time when her training for that role had just ended. So often that training would have taken up the entire plot of book one in a series (been there, done that), but instead we got to see her already primed and raring to go. She just needed a partner...
That would be Fade. Another interesting a likeable character and the only member of the Enclave not born there. He came in through the tunnels a couple of years ago and no one knows where from or how he survived out there on his own with the Freaks (think snarling, salivating zombie-like creatures). It was great getting to know him and Deuce and seeing their development as well as the vast differences between them.
I'm going to struggle now to talk about much more of the plot because there was a big twist that I don't want to spoil. All I will say is that I really enjoyed this Dystopian YA read; the writing was good, the ideas intriguing and the action intense and exciting. And it even had a dash of romance too!
I moved straight onto the next one as soon as I finished because it felt like it didn't so much wrap up as go "to be continued..." So I did.
Recommended to all Dystopian fans, YA or not so YA. 4 Stars ★★★★
The plot for this was was a lot clearer and easier to follow than all of the previous three thus far. It was more or less a straightforward police invThe plot for this was was a lot clearer and easier to follow than all of the previous three thus far. It was more or less a straightforward police investigation involving Marcus, Kaylin's Leontine Sergeant and friend. And a subplot about putting on a play to help relations between the humans and the Tha'alani.
That was about it, and if you ask me, it was not enough content to justify nearly 500 pages of book.
Perhaps if, in the world of Elantra, they conducted regular police work; following clues and interviewing suspects and such, it might have worked better as a police procedural novel, but they don't. They already had most of the answers before they even started and it was just a case of playing it out. Hell, they could have just asked Marcus since he would have been able to tell them all everything he knew and saved everyone a lot of trouble, and us as readers, a lot of filler.
I'm also getting annoyed by the lack of character development. Surely we could have used a few of those 500 pages of text to do something, anything, with the two "potential" love interests in the series? I need for something to happen; a conversation, a lingering look. I will accept ANYTHING at this point that indicates Kaylin isn't 100% asexual.
Moan, moan, whinge, whinge. Hey, it wasn't all bad. I enjoyed learning about the Leontines and how Marcus lives with his wives. I enjoyed getting Marrin's back story...but I'm just really ready for something BIG to happen . And soon!
Sagara's writing felt a bit wordy and self indulgent in this instalment. There were some excessively long dialogue scenes and just long scenes in geneSagara's writing felt a bit wordy and self indulgent in this instalment. There were some excessively long dialogue scenes and just long scenes in general, taking a long time to change to new locations, settings and characters. I was also very confused at one point about what was going on, who was speaking, (I think she was speaking to water at one point? Or witnessing a conversation between water and the Keeper of water from a long time ago???). Anyway, I was lost, so I had little choice than to just let the words flow over me (ha) and hope I got it in the end.
It's funny, actually, because no doubt Michele Sagara considers this a stronger instalment than the first two; that she has excelled herself in her poetic prose. And maybe she has, but I'm not necessarily looking for poetry. I want a story. You know, that story thing you were telling me? Yeah. Can we get back to that, please?
That said, there were a couple of positives. Kaylin seems to be developing a little from that compulsively tardy, impertinent girl of books one and two. A bit, anyway. Although I feel like more progress would be welcome. And there were some slight (and boy, do I mean slight) hints of possible feelings from Severn that are not of a platonic nature. A slight edge to his voice when he thought Lord Nightshade had dressed her up. But please, please, please can we expand on this angle, and soon? She needs to have some kind of inter-character relationships going on. You can't tell me she's the only 20 year old in existence that doesn't think about men! And why is she not putting Lord Nightshade straight when he calls her his consort? It doesn't appear to be what she wants, so why keep schtum?
Oh, dear. Now look what's happened. I've gone and made one of those ranty, frustrated reviews to go with the many other ranty, frustrated reviews about this series. I was really hoping not to do that, but it seems to be an easy trap to fall into. The series shows so much imagination and potential that it is frustrating to see it being executed in such a long-winded, aggravating manner.
Okay, I am going onto the next one about the Leontines and am hoping to be better impressed. Wish me luck!...more
The first comment that has to be made about this book is that horrendous cover! It does not reflect the book's content or give any glimpse as to whatThe first comment that has to be made about this book is that horrendous cover! It does not reflect the book's content or give any glimpse as to what type of book it is at all. If I were to make an assumption based solely on that, I'd guess it was an historical romance novel. It's just awful!
Luckily, the story inside it is not awful, however. I found this all together a much smoother and easier read than book one. Naturally, that will partly be down to me now understanding all the various species and races and with a fairly good handle on the main character and her abilities, back story and relationships. Although some of her still remains a mystery and she seems to be one of those heroines that is destined to discover new and greater power within herself as each book goes on.
This time she has to attend the Barrani High Court to assist one of the Lords there with her healing ability. This leads to all sorts of fun. She has to face a few tests- magically, intellectually and emotionally. The story arc regarding Severn and Kaylin as children gets re-addressed and looked on in a new light. We didn't really give much consideration in book one as to how Severn felt about what he'd done and it was very interesting to see it from this angle. I am glad the two have found each other again. Now I just wait patiently for them to realise they fancy the pants off each other as adults and fall madly in love. Can that happen soon, please?
It looks like we're going to concentrate on a different race in each book as I've just begun book three and that seems centred on the Tha'alani, and this one was all about the Birrani. As each race is fascinating in its own way, this is fine by me. I wasn't sure I'd ever warm to or understand the cold, reserved Birrani race, but I felt I definitely did make progress with that by the end of the book. This might help me appreciate Lord Nightshade more in the next one, perhaps. Although I'm not sure you'll ever convince me he actually cares for Kaylin as anything other than a prized acquisition. And how did he know to mark her as his within 30 seconds of meeting her anyway? What's that all about?
Well, there's only one way to find out, and that's too keep on reading!
Oh, and I have to praise the narrator of these audiobooks for really bringing them to life for me. I think she might be assisting my enjoyment of them quite a bit. Her name is Kristine Hvam, and she rocks!
I found most elements of this story really engaging and unusual. And unusual is something I generally appreciate. I like being surprised and shown stuI found most elements of this story really engaging and unusual. And unusual is something I generally appreciate. I like being surprised and shown stuff I haven't seen a dozen times before in fantasy novels. But then, on the other hand, some of the events in the plot made even me raise incredulous eyebrows. There were a couple of instances where I wished the author had taken a different route and not gone to some of the places she did. And this lowered my rating down to 3 stars from the 4 I thought I was going to give it most of the way through the book.
I loved the concept of the way magic works in Luiken's world. It's quite a big part of the plot that one of our main characters has to uncover for herself, so I'm not going to give you any details, but it was a very interesting take on magic and who can access it.
I was slightly surprised at how prevalent the romance angle was in this book. At times, I almost felt like I was reading a historical romance. The highly prejudiced class system that is in place made me feel it too. The term "nobles" or "of noble birth" often being applied in such novels. However, what they don't have at the other end of the scale that this world does have, is slaves. I thought this was handled relatively well and Luiken showed the different ways people can look at the same issue. Even within the nobles themselves. Our main character, Sara, for example, as a noble born has almost convinced herself that they are merely "maids" or "servants". I'm sure this is partly down to seeing only what you want to see, and partly because she does treat hers with the respect a valued member of staff would receive. But it quickly becomes evident she is in the minority in her way of thinking.
Lance, the other lead character and a former slave, naturally has a very different take on the issue and has seen first hand what other slave masters are like. He has prejudices of his own to overcome, however. It's a journey for both of them in more ways that one.
Even with the strong and often touching love story that was threaded through this book, I would not call it a romance book. Don't expect to find any riding off into the sunset happy endings in this instalment. This is part one of a duology, so the story here finishes only half told.
A solid 3 Stars! ★★★ Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review...more
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, funnyI 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! ...more
This is book three in a series that's gradually becoming a top favourite of mine. What makes it a favourite? WSo good to be back with Alex and crew.
This is book three in a series that's gradually becoming a top favourite of mine. What makes it a favourite? Well, you've got the imaginative world-building, the diverse cast of characters of all ages and from all walks of life, the new spin on the Fae race, the interesting take on witch magic, including its harsh drawbacks, and all the inter-layered plains of existence and creatures that live in them. And also the potential love interest characters are none too shabby either.
Now, I know a lot of people hate love triangles with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, but this one I feel is more than worth while getting involved in. Because you've basically been given two good (mostly) men, both of whom love Alex and who I like to think she loves in return in slightly differing ways, and then Price has just complicated the ever living hell out of it, making each potential pairing seemingly impossible for one reason or another. It's very interesting and I'm completely torn over how I feel about each of them. I was pleased, therefore, that this book had a little more time devoted to Death and the Collectors, to try and balance out my opinion since Falin was hogging the limelight for most of the first two books.
It's really hard to watch what's happening with Falin at the moment. He's tied through compulsions to the Winter Queen (can you say bitch in a tiara?), who, despite her animosity towards Alex, wants her to join her Court. The way she's been trying to "gently persuade" Alex to her side has been to dangle the prospect of being with Falin in her face.... by sending him to raid her house every couple of weeks on bogus charges and searches as part of his F.I.B job. Just to torment her with the fact that she can see him, talk to him, but he's been compelled to only have contact with her in an official capacity. No small talk, no niceties. It's painful for Alex and more than a little cruel of the Winter Queen. I'm dying to see what else she has up her sleeve after what happened in the final pages.
Death, as I mentioned before, gets more time to shine in this instalment. I enjoyed learning even more about the Collectors and Death himself. He's so yummy. I really struggle to find fault with him. I guess his main fault is that he's unattainable.
Alex is having a slightly hard time of things. Her friend John seems to be giving her the cold shoulder, she can't seem to do right for doing wrong in the investigation currently ongoing, and her love life is a disaster. Still, she's trying to make the best of things and is thrilled to have her childhood friend Rianna back in her life. They've decided to do something they planned as kids together; open a P. I. firm called 'Tongues for the dead.'
I enjoyed the plot surrounding the 'Rider' once it got going. Unfortunately that seemed to take quite while. Also, there was not much sign of either Falin or Death in the first half so I found it a little slow going. It did have plenty of recaps in the opening chapters for anyone who, like me, has forgotten a lot of the details since the last book. I was worried at first that I'd forgotten too much as I couldn't even remember the names of her house mates, but it all came back to me with the gentle re-introductions provided. By which I mean, we were given just enough info to jog the old memory box, but not pages and pages of character bios copied and pasted from past books (take note, Estep!).
All in all a great instalment, definitely one for the Death fans, and a great progression of the series.
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 f
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.
I have to admit, I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy Andrea's POV; I thought I would miss Kate more, but it turns out that AndreIt's Andrea, bitch!
I have to admit, I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy Andrea's POV; I thought I would miss Kate more, but it turns out that Andrea's just as much of a badass as Kate, just with different weapons selection.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for her ex, Raphael. He is no Curran. Not that I would have expected him to match up to my book husband, but he didn't even come close. He ticked me (and Andrea) off quite royally at the outset and acted like the spoiled baby he's been brought up to be, and never really recovered. There was progress made with him throughout the book, of course, but I'm still only luke warm about him at this point. Naturally, as a die hard Ilona Andrews fan, I'm more than happy to keep reading until they convince me to change my mind. But it was disappointing that the bantering dynamic they're so good at, was absent in this first book.
Back to Andrea for a second. There was a wealth of information provided on her back story. Up until now we've known she'd had a terrible time with her first Bouda clan, but the details we garnered in this book were still shocking. We also find out where she went and why during her absence in Kate's books right after dear Aunt Era came a-visiting. All of which only endeared her to me and made me root for her all the more. And want to slap Raphael all over again!
The plot, which was mostly easy to follow (although I did get a bit lost in the details on occasion) focuses on yet another branch of mythology—Egyptian. The Andrews writing team seem to like focusing on one per book. Lucky for me, Egyptian is one of my faves.
So, to sum up, I enjoyed this a lot but not quite as much as a Kate and Curran book, mostly because of Raphael's failure to impress. But it's still a solid UF read with all the fun stuff you've come to expect from this duo I like to call Team Awesome.
Ahh, so good to be back in this world! There are a select few urban faFind more reviews like this one at The Demon Librarian.
Don't fear the Damphir.
Ahh, so good to be back in this world! There are a select few urban fantasy authors that really take their worldbuilding seriously, and probably none quite as seriously as Ms. Chance. She knows her vampire lore inside and out, and is steadily increasing the intricate layering of her fey mythology as well, both within this, the spin-off, and the main Cassandra Palmer series. And it's fabulous stuff, let me tell you.
Everyone does vamps slightly differently, of course (although, let us never again mention the sparkly vegetarian variety, please, if you don't mind), but Chance's are without doubt my favourites. From their ability to take blood without biting, to the sense of family and loyalty they have within their feudal society, to the various extra abilities they acquire once reaching master level status. And just when you think you know exactly what it means to be a first level master, such as Mircea or Louis Cesare, there's more! And I do so enjoy the richness of it all; that no detail has been overlooked, even though I'm sure much of it doesn't even make it into the books, it's clear Chance knows the rules and limitations of her world, and that leaves us as readers feeling completely secure and able to just sit back and enjoy. Which I did!
In this instalment, we not only delve deeper into both the vampire and, to a lesser extent, the fey societies, but we also look more closely at our very own, very rare, resident damphir, Dory. Or should that be Dorina....?
She's not the only damphir in existence, but they are so rare and so short-lived, she might as well be. But we've never really examined too closely the why of it, of her. Why has Dory lived centuries longer than all other damphirs in existence? Why has she managed to stave off the insanity where none of the others have? Why wasn't she killed on sight like vamp law says she should have been? And why can't she ever remember what happens during her rages?
Wanna know? Read this book!
As well as the excellent worldbuilding, you've also got some pretty fabulous characters that are all equally fleshed-out and real. In some cases, quite literally real. Real historical people, that is. I thought the scenes with Mircea and Dory were really nicely done, and although I like Mircea in both series, it's nice to finally see him in a better light through Dory's eyes in this one. Also seen in a slightly new way were Kit and Louis Cesare. The latter of which gets a bit of a hard time from Dory. There's nothing quite as resistant as a scared damphir, it seems.
For me, though, the stand out character, the scene-stealer, the handsdown winner for best dialogue and most improved character, has to be Ray. I'm not even going to try to describe him or explain why; I wouldn't do him justice, I'm sure, but I just loved him. He has a new fan!
As is often the case with Chance's writing, although brilliant, it can sometimes seem a little hectic in places, or, in complete contrast, over explanatory in others. You've got some action scenes where it's hard to follow what's happening because everything is moving so fast—Whose foot was that that just kicked Dory in the face? You fell through where into a what now?—Then the next thing you know, you're reading a conversation over a chessboard that takes almost three entire chapters. Go figure.
Once the story had built sufficiently, however, and the mystery was in place, it was one of those books that you just wished would never end. Just keep going forever. More adventures, more fight scenes, more worldbuilding, more revelations, more sweet, sexy moments. Please just keep them coming!
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. And I'm even more sad this it will likely be two years until we get another Dory book. They are most definitely worth the wait though, much as it pains me to admit it. But please, Ms. Chance, for the sake of my sanity, couldn't you just write a little faster?
It's the amazing disappearing reappearing novella! But I have to say it was worth the wait and a great follow up to A Family Affair. John is a great cIt's the amazing disappearing reappearing novella! But I have to say it was worth the wait and a great follow up to A Family Affair. John is a great character and the scenes with Casanova and Cassie were priceless!