As always, Nalini Singh comes back to tease us with more unconditional love and hot sex scenes! Oh man, thisOriginally posted at A Bookalicious Story.
As always, Nalini Singh comes back to tease us with more unconditional love and hot sex scenes! Oh man, this is so wrong on so many levels for someone my age, but sigh. I have always loved Singh's writing, and it was no different in LORD OF THE ABYSS.
Liliana is the ugly daughter of the infamous, powerful and ruthless Blood Sorcerer, the one who murdered the previous King and Queen of Elden who were peaceful, just people, the one who caused 4 children to be orphaned. The Queen, using the last of her life's force, scattered her children to the corners of the realm where the Blood Sorcerer would not be able to find them. The youngest of the 4, Micah, who was but a babe of 5 years, ended up in the lower floors of the Abyss's castle, and a few years later took the helm as Lord of the Black Castle, and Guardian of the Abyss.
The Castle held within it the gateway to the Abyss, where the servants of evil were banished after death to suffer eternal torment at the hands of the basilisks and the serpents. Technically, our equivalent of hell, and Micah was its Guardian, the one who would hunt those shadowed beings of evil and thrust them into the Abyss. And that was where Liliana was headed. To find the Lord of the Black Castle, the youngest heir of Elden, and a crucial member to save Elden from the evil clutches of her father.
Liliana's plan? To infiltrate the castle, get to Micah, and help him remember a past that he cannot recall, and get him to Elden by the midnight in a few days time to defeat her infallible father. Her job's tough enough as it is, and the longer she stays at the castle, the harder it gets. As the more time she gets to spend with Micah who doesn't only see her flawed exterior, but to the true woman inside, the more he gets under her skin, and gradually to her heart. But how can she allow this to happen, when the only way she can kill her father is through a killing spell which would require a sacrifice - her.
I thought that the collaboration between four authors idea - Gena Showalter with book one, Lord of the Vampires, Jill Monroe with book two, Lord of Rage (Royal House of Shadows, #2), Jessica Andersen with book three, Lord of the Wolfyn, and Nalini Singh with book four, LORD OF THE ABYSS - for this series was ingenious, really. But I've started out with Singh's masterpiece first, since I am a die-hard fan of ANY and every of her books. Yep, she is that good, no matter how many times my sister says otherwise. (Curse you, sista! Lol, kidding. I'm above that.)
LORD OF THE ABYSS started out with a brisk pace, throwing Liliana right into the midst of the throne room in the Black Castle. So the suspense and thrill level has always been on the up high. And from there, it never got boring.
I was a little miffed that the heroine was ugly, deformed, and just very flawed on the outside. Yes, yes, I am one of those who loves her heroine pretty and badass. What can I say? Cliches are cliches for a reason. Micah's reaction to her was very lukewarm too initially, which was only natural. I wouldn't put it past many authors nowadays in the PNR-UF line to make an instantaneous and revolting connection between the protagonists. So again, I applaud Singh for her pragmatism which ultimately made the book more believable. But as the story progressed, and Micah and Liliana got to know each other better, the romance that developed was so sweet! The way Micah behaved around Liliana made her forget about her imperfections... Made me forget her imperfections. He made her feel hot and beautiful. All that and both personas' basal characters held firm. Bravo, Nalini. Bravo.
Liliana, though flawed and with a low self-esteem, had a heart so pure and compassionate. I loved her, and Micah (who wouldn't?). They were just too cute together, especially since Micah's never been around courting couples and as such, he is, in a way, very child-like when it comes to wooing Liliana. He's very honest about his feelings, very straightfoward and explicit in showing what he wants. He loves to tease Liliana as well, oh those parts I like! Example:
“I beg you don’t forget that, or I might forget which is the salt and which the chili.”
Ignoring her threat, he waved her forward. “Pour me more chocolate—” the order of an emperor to his con-cubine “—then you may go and bathe.”
She really wanted to smash the teapot over his head, but she poured the luscious liquid into his cup, watched his eyes glaze over for an instant as his mind tried to drag him into the past. It was the truth she’d told. She hadn’t ensorcelled either the cinnamon or the chocolate—but some sensual memories were strong enough to act as spells on their own. “Now, may I go?”
“My lord,” he said, licking out his tongue to capture a drop of chocolate on his lip.
Her entire body hummed. “What?”
“You forgot to add ‘my lord.’”
She grit her teeth and put down the teapot with extreme care. “May I go, my lord? ”
He took a sip of his chocolate, paused for a second.
Ahahaha, I love you, Micah. All the taunting and teasing...They are really so adorable together. There is a lot of affection between them that made reading it such a joy. The sexual tension's a killer too. It got so intense that I cracked my finger bones unknowingly while clenching my fist too tight. Oh, and one more thing about him - he REALLY knows how to make a woman blush. That is all.
The plot's a little fantasy-like with the usual Paranormal Romance touch. But I daresay it bordered on being an Erotica. There were quite a number of explicit sex scenes in here! Not that I'm complaining, but it did slow down the plot. Upped the sexiness, but debilitated the action.
All in all, I did like this book. A lot. I loved the action, the romance, the suspense, the characters... Everything! People said that there wasn't that feel of finality in LORD OF THE ABYSS, and they blame it on having different authors write each book in the series, but I thought it was there, just not talked about too in-depthly. The three siblings were mentioned and given minor roles in the final chapters of book four, so I guess it still constitutes as a wrap-up. The epilogue's mainly about Liliana and Micah, which is fine by me since I haven't read the first three books yet. Think I'll try book one to three soon!
*Egalley courtesy of Netgalley and Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.*...more
I have never really been taken by the whole Fantasy genre with their olden kingdom politics and magicians running amok, bonding together, rebel againsI have never really been taken by the whole Fantasy genre with their olden kingdom politics and magicians running amok, bonding together, rebel against some crazy, evil king, then The End. But this, this book has changed my perception of it.
I loved it how Snyder didn't rush thru with the romance. (Sorry I kinda always start off with the romance part of the books I review. What can I say? I'm a romantic person. Lol, pfft. Yeah right, coming from a person who have never had a bf. Heh. Confessions of a nun, huh.XP No offense meant to any nuns out there) Lover boy and Avry started out hating each other, but we all know that they were going to end up together, so it was fun watching them piss each other off. She dragged out the tension between them, Lover Boy only softening towards her about a little more than halfway thru the novel, but when they finally admitted their feelings for each other.. Wow, you'll be thinking how worth the wait was. It was amazing, magical, and one of the sweetest love scenes I've seen in a long while.
The antagonist - Tohon. Very evil, very crazy, very greedy, and very powerful. A very dangerous combination. What's worse is that he isn't all old, wrinkly and gnarled, clawed hands. Instead, he was so very handsome, and his charming personality a terrifying arsenal that he uses with ease. He even convinced me at some points that he was one of the good guys! So handsome and smart.. Too bad he's got a black heart..
I liked Avry a lot. She was smart, very smart actually, very brave, very righteous, just, compassionate, witty, and self-sacrificing.
I thought that the plot and storyline were very convincing and believable for a Fantasy novel. Very political and there were the usual amounts of skirmishes between the countries, bounty hunters, merceneries, etc.
I loved Snyder's humor and wit in TOUCH OF POWER. It's so........fantasy-like. Lol, um duh, yes I know. But well, it's such a cute way of putting things. Cute, yes, that's the word I was searching for. A cute, witty humor.
One little thing that I noticed. Even tho we're constantly in Avry's head, Snyder doesn't reveal everything that she's thinking nor about everything that had happened in the past. It's effective in building up the suspense and adding in the thrill factor. It's cool. Just a little thing that I picked out that other novels seem to not be able to duplicate. Nothing major.
I've told you that I don't usually like Fantasy novels, right? I'll tell you why I loved this book: Snyder can WRITE. Even tho the plot wasn't all that different to any other Fantasy novels, it never, never got boring. Her description of the lush forests, the adrenaline-pumping actions scenes, and romantic scenes... They were absolutely, wonderfully delivered, and her words carried me to the end. Will definitely try her other series (I think it is called Poison series) soon!
Anyway, I loved it, and would recommend this to all Fantasy fans. Maybe if you would like to tone down on the gore and eroticism factor, you can try this YA Fantasy one! :)
*This eARC was provided by Netgalley and from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.*
White Witch is a good mix of YA Romance with lots of action and high school drama. The only regrettable thinOriginally posted at A Bookalicious Story.
White Witch is a good mix of YA Romance with lots of action and high school drama. The only regrettable thing was...That cliffhanger!!!
Jax Pherson is a witch from the Miami Coven. Witch covens around the world gained power a long time ago by absorbing the powers from the earth at specific locations, but this in turn filled them with darkness. Jax feels that darkness inside her, her power spiking whenever her temper flares. These covens want absolute control, so whenever a witch tries to leave the coven, they will hunt her/him down and drain them of their powers and subsequently, their lives. Painfully.
Jax watched her mother's powers and life get Siphoned away by her father when she was but a youngin', and she has had a terrible fear of escaping ever since. But as she reaches her seventeenth birthday, she will be expected to kill for her coven. And that's when she plucked up her courage and sneaked away.
All she wants is to have a normal teenage life - go to school, make some friends, go for prom, and such. She's tried enrolling in a few schools, but has never gotten a successful application because apparently, a parent or guardian was required to be present. So when she comes to her next destination, North Carolina, she tweaks her plans and manages to enrol in Baker Gap High School. And there, she meets a new friend and her cousin, Toni and sexy Keller, and also a new enemy in the form of cheerleader Stacy and said cheerleader's mindless cronies.
Keller and Toni's families happened to be witch hunters, and all is fair and well for Jax for a time, normal high school drama and romance, until her secrets start to become harder to hide, and her family will hunt her down to the ends of the earth to silence her and take back the absolute control that they demand...
WHITE WITCH had the epic final battle that BREAKING DAWN didn't have, and the sane romance that Twilight didn't have, but still retaining that little unrealistic instant connection between the heroine and male protagonist. Some cases, like the one in FIRELIGHT by Sophie Jordan, that insta-love relationship was one of the best and most believable insta-loves I have ever read. I could feel the sizzle of attraction between them, the tension when they were alone in some dark place, and the sacrifices that they are willing to make for each other. But I couldn't for WHITE WITCH. Pity, really, cause other than that, I thought that this WW was a pretty entertaining YA Urban Fantasy!
Witches, both female and male, are all beautiful and either really kind-hearted or nasty as hell. Jax falls under the GORGEOUS blonde with a humble heart category. Er, ok. I'm not that big into gorgeous, blonde babe heroines who catches the attention of the entire school - stares and drools from the males, and envy and jealousy from the females. I mean, really? And just so that it is not generic enough, she makes an enemy of the mean head cheerleader and her mindless cronies on her first day of school. But that's not all there is to Jax - thankfully - she's also a mean machine when it comes to using her powers! She's badass and way powerful. More so than anyone could've ever anticipated - even her! Something happened when she fought the people who were after her, who are her power-hungry father and coven, that made them afraid of her. Something big. Something "bright" and magnificent. Ok, bright was a pun. Read it and you'll know it. :) But yes, Jax was not the fragile pretty-face that I thought her to be when I first read about her.
The reason why I said that the romance here was a little unbelievable was because firstly, Jax shouldn't have approached Keller in the first place since she already knew he was a witch hunter. (Abnormal and illogical behavior on her part!) Secondly, she hung out with him. (No sense of self-preservation on her part!) Thirdly, she saw him, "omg big hottie", and suddenly there's a current of electricity flowing between the two of them. Like suddenly. Ok so she went against all forms of normal behavior, hung out with Keller, and she deigned to start going out with him when he wields a gun EVERY NIGHT hunting paranormals like her. And on top of that, she spilled the beans about her identity to Keller after this particular incident. I mean, you don't tell a witch hunter you're a witch just because he's your friend and he suspects you're a witch. If he knows already, shouldn't the first instinct of a person who has been living life on the run to, well, run? Far away from danger zone? But well, Jax didn't and just dumped the cat out of the bag and looked at Keller with goo-goo eyes, hoping he will look at her the same way, heart breaking into a million pieces when he didn't. Well, what did she expect, his uncle died because of witches and his mom left because of that too. Ok, I'm exaggerating, but someone's got to stand for logic.
Keller was cool. Handsome, good with a gun, tough guy, protective and all. The whole package. The reason why I didn't swoon all over him is because I've seen his type plenty nowadays in YA novels. The genre is practically saturated with this type of guys, including adult fictions PNRs, UFs, Fantasy, Historicals, and all, so for me to swoon over another male protagonist, he's gotta have something extra on top of all the others. But Keller was cool. That I'll give credit.
As for the side characters, Toni is the best friend Jax has always dreamed of having, and she also happens to be, so coincidentally, Keller's close cousin. Toni's a cool chick, one who stands up for her friends, plays the drums for her rock band, and wears shirts with funny quotes. As for Jax's evil, heartless bastard of a father, he was rather....fake. That typical You-Have-Failed-Me-By-Running-Away-Thus-You-Are-No-Longer-My-Daughter-And-I-Will-Kill-You-And-Your-New-Friends-Now-Slow-And-Painfully evil villain. It got a little corny at times, but oh well, he is the evil villain, so I'll just get on with things.
Let me tell you that I LOVED that ending battle! It was epic, fast-paced, and...that suspense! They were all in some seriously deep shit, one of them was dying, and I just couldn't see a way out of their predicament. But Milburn did it. She opened a door for Jax and others and everything went out with a BOOM! Epic.
And then we have.. THAT CLIFFHANGER ENDING!!!! Noooooooo! Milburn can't end the book like that...this is just....torture!! And it's not a good cliffhanger ending. Dammit.
WHITE WITCH had action, had romance, had friendship, had suspense, and had the high school drama that most YAs seem to have. It was very generic and stereotypical, but amusing all the same. It made for a quick, light and fun read. Until you reach the three-quarters mark. That's where the thrill comes into play. It was so much more than what I expected actually, and I really liked it!
*eARC courtesy of Bell Bridge Books via Netgalley*
P.S. I was planning on writing a short review, but look how it turned out! Well, please excuse my verbosity. Seems like I had more to say about WW then I thought I had.
Here's a little teaser from Netgalley that convinced me to pick it up:
The guy makes his way down the side of the road, near my hiding spot. My frantic heartbeat increases. He retrieves something from his truck. When he turns back toward the woods, he’s holding a gun in one hand. But when he opens his other hand, it’s the small, dark object lying in his palm, the one with the slight red glow, that really concerns me.I hold my breath, not moving a muscle, and hope that’s not what I think it is. But deep down, I know it’s a bloodstone. If he were supernatural, he wouldn’t be able to hold it. My heart rate skids to a halt. Supernatural beings don’t tote bloodstones around. Humans do. Humans who hunt my kind.He’s not some goon my family hired. He’s a hunter, the real deal. I lean my forehead, warm from the burst of magic I used, against the cool bark of the tree hiding me from my hunter. Why, oh why, did I use my power to zip into these woods? Why couldn’t I have simply run in here like a normal person instead of using inhuman speed that leaves a trail?Because what were the odds the person driving by was a hunter? The crunch of gravel makes me look up. With a final questioning glance in my direction, he slides the gun, no doubt loaded with spirit-killing rock salt, into the truck’s cab then climbs in. Only when he starts the engine and drives away do I let out the breath I’ve been holding for fear he’d hear the slight sound of air escaping my lungs.The ground catches me as I slide down to sit at the base of the tree. In the darkness surrounding me, I spot the night animals scurrying across the forest floor. The occasional pair of raccoon or opossum eyes turns my direction before hurrying away. They sense my power, the darkness from which it was born, and don’t want to be anywhere near me.I lean my head back against the tree’s rough bark, stare at the sky filled to bursting with stars, and let the tears trickle down my cheeks, down my neck to soak into the normal T-shirt of a not-so-normal girl. --Netgalley
*4.5 stars* Valek didn't have any spotlight moments in the front three-quarters of Fire Study, regrettably. But the action was good, plot was thick, a*4.5 stars* Valek didn't have any spotlight moments in the front three-quarters of Fire Study, regrettably. But the action was good, plot was thick, and the ending was super sweet!! Totally made up for the lack of romance at the start. :D
*3.5 stars* MY LADY MAGE was a very nice blend of High Fantasy and Romance. There was a development of plot where we were initially plunged directly i*3.5 stars* MY LADY MAGE was a very nice blend of High Fantasy and Romance. There was a development of plot where we were initially plunged directly into the fear that Merewen constantly lives with, and how she found her way to the river where she could summon the warriors of the mist.
Just a brief summary of the story (a little more detailed than the official synopsis which might contain spoilers):
(view spoiler)[In times of dire need, when a person deemed worthy by the gods stands beside the lake and summons the legendary Damned warriors of the mist, six champions will rise up and help rid the world of its evil. It has been centuries since the last time the gods have granted a request.
An evil has been growing in the heart of Agathia, but bringing it closer to home for our protagonist, Merewen, daughter of the recently-deceased Lord of a keep a few days ride from the capital of Agathia, her keep isn't in good shape at all under the government of her uncle, the new lord of the keep. Her uncle is a selfish ruler, a cruel husband, and just inherently a cold man who enjoys watching his subjects squirm and cower in fear or pain, or both. It is a bad time for Merewen and her people, and in the dusty tomes of her father's rather expansive library collection, she stumbles upon an ancient spell to summon help from the river.
Captain Gideon and his men has been asleep in the cold, winter river for many centuries and only been slightly jolted awake a few times by failed summons, however, this time his gods are allowing them to rise up from their sleep and allowed time on land for three months. Three months to feel the sunshine on their face and smell the scents of fresh grass - and to rid the land of an evil far larger in scale than just Merewen's uncle. If the warriors fail, him, his men and Merewen would have to spend the rest of eternity wandering the cold depths of the Afterlife together. Gideon has enough on his mind so far, but add in to his plate is a brash but kind, loyal and sweet woman who has opened his heart up after all these lonely centuries... (hide spoiler)]
MY LADY MAGE was an enjoyable read, very relaxing and engaging, however, it is quite a typical High Fantasy novel plot-wise, and the romance was ummm...it could have been developed a little more. I mean, where's the sexual tension and suspense? Not that I'm against the attraction at first sight stuff, but I would've preferred if it was dragged out a little more, and if they didn't started kissing and all quite so soon after they met.
The characters were lovable! Merewen was the usual courageous and headstrong heroine now commonly found in High Fantasies and more often than not, Urban Fantasies and Paranormal Romances, even Contemporary and Historical fictions; Gideon and his men were very, VERY similar to the dudes in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward! Especially Kane! Kane was the ultimate doppelganger of Zsadist, I swear! With that dark mage mark on his cheek, that mysterious, you-mess-with-me-and-I'll-skin-you-alive-dice-you-into-pieces bad boy thing going on. He's cool. And add to that, each of the warriors had an avatar that can be called to life from their shields, which were animals that could form a mental link with each of the warriors. All the avatars had a personality of their own which was very endearing. And of course, Kane had the coolest avatar. (view spoiler)[A GARGOYLE!! *swoon* haha (hide spoiler)]
Morgan was writing mainly in the selective third person POV, but often switching from one character to another. It was mainly Merewen's and Gideon's, but she does switch to the other warriors' and Alina's (Lady of the keep) and even Fagan's, Merewen's evil uncle. It didn't get confusing at all throughout the entire novel and I thought that that spoke a lot about Morgan's stellar writing style.
Overall, I thought that MY LADY MAGE was a light and enjoyable read, some quite-intense fights here and there (not reaaaaally considered battles), and a few intimate scenes, and the building of an even greater plot up ahead in the following sequels. It wasn't as intense as I first expected it to be, that's why I didn't give it 4 stars.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
SIEGE AND STORM is reminiscent of the seventh installment of the Harry Potter series, IMO. It’s gOriginally posted at A Bookalicious Story.
SIEGE AND STORM is reminiscent of the seventh installment of the Harry Potter series, IMO. It’s got the whole gloomy outlook and landscape, a growing evil force, a girl looking for the objects that will hopefully bring an end to said evil thing down pat, but with a tad more romance and politicking.
S&S starts off where SHADOW AND BONE ended, with Alina and Mal onboard the Verhadder, sailing for the shores of Novyi Zem where they hope they’ll earn enough coins to travel out of the Darkling’s insidious reaches. But we know how these stories go, don’t we all? Happy ever after never comes easy. The Darkling survived the Fold, gaining a horrible scar and terrifying new powers and soon catches up to them. He has plans for Alina and Mal, but along the way, they meet unexpected allies – though Malina are still unclear of said allies’ true motives and allegiance – and barely escapes the Darkling.
This story has a very different style of plot layers than most other High Fantasies. Most others have complex storylines, a number of other subtle plotlines happening concurrently as the main story arc. However in S&S, it’s about mindplay as much as politic maneuverings, betrayals, deceptions and the ultimate battle/showdown between good and evil. During their short stay in Novyi Zem, Alina is happy, but she is also not. She feels this loneliness and discontent because she’s got to hide her powers and she can’t ever wield it again if she and Mal are to live in the shadows. She doesn’t like it, but what the Darkling said was true – they are similar, and no others will ever be like them.
Throughout the novel, most of Alina’s issues happens inside her head and with the new love interest – who I’m still pretty conflicted about – the pace of the story did slow down quite a bit. There wasn’t as much adventure and fighting as the previous installment, though there were plenty more problems dished out to our protagonists. I did like seeing more of the world outside Ravka though, and of course the new characters that were fleshed out.
The new love interest, Sturmhond, is a privateer with a secret identity with a very off-hand, witty attitude that can turn steely and dangerous the next second. Alina prefers to call him pirate though. He’s…well, he’s cool and funny and the captain of a very awesome bunch of crew and his secret identity is even more awesome… but I’m still Team Mal cause nothing shouts true love like a guy that gives up his present, his future, his friends and his other passions just to be with and protect his girl, so, GO MAL! Beat that stuck-up pirate! Hahaha, moving on.
After helping Alina and Mal escape the Darkling, Alina feels the guilt and burden of the lives lost in Novokribirsk where the Darkling used her powers to expand the Fold, and of the bajillions other Ravkans now that the Fold is constantly expanding. She feels responsible for these people, and so she goes back to Ravka and devises a plan to, well, essentially to save the world.
I feel that Bardugo did a superb job with the internal turmoil in Alina. I feel and surprisingly sort of understand her obsession with finding the amplifiers, her confusion of whether or not it is her thirst for power or genuine desire to save her people, and the rift that it causes between her and Mal. I can feel her helplessness as it happens, her heartbreak and feeling of inevitability. I was just so invested in her I read S&S in two sittings! I did feel a little dirty after putting it down though, because the decisions Alina had to make were terrible and I did just go through it all the way with her.
THAT ENDING. I pity Alina and ARGH, Mal. What is a girl supposed to do with you. I’m Team Mal, but…ARGH, I can’t put this into words! The situation between them isn’t anyone’s fault, and I just can’t stand this…situation. ARGH.
Anyhoo, I thought that SIEGE AND STORM is another brilliant addition to the High Fantasy genre and definitely an awesome sequel to an amazing debut.
P.S. I really don’t get the draw for the Darkling that other girls are squealing about!! He’s not really a bad boy, brooding type. He just seems…relentlessly annoying and weird…and old. :/
*3.5 stars* SEA OF SHADOWS was amazing in all its undead, horrific glory. The palpable fear, heartbreak, budding love, deception, betrayals...my feels*3.5 stars* SEA OF SHADOWS was amazing in all its undead, horrific glory. The palpable fear, heartbreak, budding love, deception, betrayals...my feels were running rampant and all over the place! And that plot twist at the end... It was amazing.
“The face of something from a nightmare, gray skin stretched over bone, jutting chin and nose and cheekbones. No lips, just a slash of a mouth. And teeth. Fangs. So big his mouth couldn’t close. He let out another of those terrible cries, his jaw stretching open until all she could see were the fangs.”
Admittedly, I DNFed SoS way back last year when it was first released cause it has a prologue. Yes, it has a prologue. I think they're the most boring thing that was ever created by mankind. (Remember ERAGON? Waow, that was Boring.) So I DNFed it but saw the hardcover at a sale a few days ago...so I caved cause I love the cover. Even though I agree with everyone else I can't really tell what's up with the swirly things on it, but I'm guessing it's the shadows of the shadow stalkers (the vicious undead that can turn to shadow) with a bloodred tint as they gather. Which is cool. And I love the color scheme. Anyhoo.
The twins, Ashyn and Moria, were awesome and they complimented each other. Or so I'd like to say and what everyone else is saying. To me, they felt more...strategic than natural on the author's part. You see, Moria is the fighter without restraint, a young Joan of Arc, brilliant and fiery, while Ashyn is the quiet scholar, sensitive and gentle of spirit.
1) Even though Ashyn is supposed to be the learned one, the one who wins in games of strategy, Moria just so happen to be the repository of the tales of the land. Moria's the one to regale stories of fantastical beasts and horrors of the night. Then suddenly Moria's the one with the strategies and only occasionally it seems Armstrong remembered Ashyn was supposed to be the smart one and graces her with a spotlight moment. So now Moria seems almost too perfect and Ashyn seems almost lame in comparison. Ashyn gets dissed sometimes too, albeit subtly, but still. I'm pissed,
2) The strategic part about them I felt was that, nowadays the YA genre, or more specifically the YA Fantasy genre, is dominated by badass, take-no-shit female protagonists that are both capable in sword and wit. I felt that Armstrong split that popular, almost ideal(?), persona into two sisters, each completely opposite and complimentary. If that wasn't her intention, then maybe they weren't fleshed out enough or complex enough as individuals for me to accept them, at least subconsciously, as persons.
In terms of love interests, this disregard for Ashyn continues and is especially prominent in the second installment of this trilogy, EMPIRE OF NIGHT. I don't know, it just feels like Ashyn gets the leftovers or gets a love interest as an afterthought. I'm not sure why, but I really want Ashyn to step up and show all that potential she's got and get a real dude.
On Moria's side...they're not bad, definitely better than Ashyn's but none too memorable. (I say they but its not a triangle...at least it's only a hint but everyone can smell it from a mile away. So.)
The best part about SEA OF SHADOWS though, is the plot. The buildup, the anticipation to it. Ominous, but not overtly so. Then the trap in the forest. The death of the village. Their first encounter with a shadow stalker. And then both sister's journey to the capital and to find each other. The pace got pretty slow and it dragged for a bit at the start and many points in the middle, but the last 15% was packed with surprises and a pretty good plot twist. The world building was slow, but I loved the old medieval village setting, but then it transitioned to an Edo Japanese era landscape as the sisters moved towards the capital and surrounding warlord clans. Pretty classic fantasy, but still exciting stuff. I can't wait to see where Armstrong is taking this series to and to learn more about the different clans and culture.
So far so good! It runs pretty close to the vein in which the LOTUS WAR trilogy by Jay Kristoff runs. Fantasy with mythical creatures and Asian elements, with elements of horror and girls with big destinies. I'm still torn between 3 and 4 stars...but I'd go with 3 first.
P.S. I think I might be the only one in SHIPPINGASHYNANDTYRUS!!!!...more
My first Ilona Andrews book and it's pretty not bad! I have never read anything like this before, and that maOrginally posted at A Bookalicious Story.
My first Ilona Andrews book and it's pretty not bad! I have never read anything like this before, and that made CLEAN SWEEP a refreshing and exciting read. Judging from the cover I was expecting Fantasy, but it turned out to be URBAN fantasy. I was in the mood for some fantasy, but this turned out to be an unexpectedly-fortunate mistake.
Dina is an innkeeper, and that means she has magical abilities and she's strongest when she's within the boundaries of her inn. Innkeepers have a sort of connection to their inns that allows the inn to respond to commands and comments from their keepers. They're sort of like a really loveable pet dog - the inns, I mean. Inns thrive with the flow of customers and guests, so with good business, the inn becomes stronger; Too little or no guests will cause an inn to go into hibernation.
Dina's parents were innkeepers that run a thriving inn, with a booming business and top ratings, a whopping five-stars. A highly-rated inn will be reflected in the directory and that tells customers that it is safe and guarantees quality. Dina's learnt the ropes and is pretty familiar with the codes and etiquettes that comes with being an innkeeper. However, about three years ago, her parents and their inn vanished without a trace and her brother and her had spent a few years attempting to find clues to their disappearance but to no avail. She decided to settle down and The Innkeeper Assembly allocated to her Gertrude Hunt, an inn that went into hibernation years ago.
With time, patience and lots of TLC, she slowly coaxes Gertrude Hunt out of its slumber and even have a permanent guest, the eccentric but elegant Her Grace Caldenia who has a thing for Funyuns and Mello Yello...and who's cannibal too. Anyway, it's all peaceful until her neighbor's dogs start to turn up at public places grotesquely mauled that Dina starts to investigate. Innkeepers are neutral ground, and that means staying out of anything that does not directly threaten their inns and their customers. But Dina can't just stand by and let this...whoever it is start killing and threatening the lives of the people in her town.
In walks Sean Evans, ex-military and resident werewolf who just moved into town a few months back. When their town is threatened, werewolves usually feel the need to protect it and establish their claim on the town. Then the Marshal of vampire house Krar, Arland, from some other planet drops by too claiming that the one responsible was a wanted criminal from their planet. And so Dina will have to work with two very big, bad, infinitely stubborn and protective dudes to save their little town.
I want to be an innkeeper too, dammit! This writing-duo made Clean Sweep such an adorable and fun read that I just want to be a part of their imaginary world for just awhile.
Dina is a very relatable character. She might not be kickass, but she has a broom that can change shape when she sends her magic into it, a Shih Tzu that isn't really a Shih Tzu but is still plenty cute and an inn that can send out roots to hold down attackers and wield guns to help defend itself and Dina. Then there's the cool, calm and gorgeous werewolf, Sean, and reserved, mysterious and muscular vampire, Arland. I wouldn't say that they were terribly unique love interests in the UF genre, buuuut they do provide comic relief that's for sure. (Watch out for Arland with coffee, hahaha. Vamps have this funny reaction when they ingest caffeine)
CLEAN SWEEP is a short, light and fun novella with just the right amount of humor, action and good ol' UF mystery. The ending provided enough closure, but I sense so much more adventure coming our way. CLEAN SWEEP was originally published free at this website, chapter by chapter each week, and it's been announced that they're doing it again for the sequel starting early 2014. I'll probably wait for the final copy of the book cause I prefer to read my books in one shot. I'll definitely be checking out the Andrews' other works in the mean time though!...more