I absolutely loved the first book in Marillier’s Blackthorn & Grim series, Dreamer’s Pool, so I was thrilled to get my hands on an advance copyI absolutely loved the first book in Marillier’s Blackthorn & Grim series, Dreamer’s Pool, so I was thrilled to get my hands on an advance copy of its follow-up, Tower of Thorns. In fact, Tower of Thorns is one of my most anticipated reads of the fall. And let me tell you, it completely lived up to the exceedingly high expectations that I had. It's beautifully written, filled with magic, and inhabited by two fascinating characters.
What appealed to me in the first book, are the characters and Blackthorn and Grim. They are both so tortured. Blackthorn in particular is haunted by the murder of both her husband and son and burns to take revenge on the man that had them killed and her locked away. In the first book, Blackthorn had made some progress in moving away from revenge, but that quickly changes when she is confronted with a friend from her past who encourages her thoughts of revenge. In Tower of Thorns, Blackthorn seems to truly move past her revenge; it's not the only thing she desires and she starts to recognize that the new life she has been forced to create is worth living. There is one instance where she longs for her home at Winterfalls, and for me, that is the turning point in Blackthorn’s character:
And I felt, for the first time, a longing to be back at Winterfalls, in the cottage, just Grim and me with the woods close by and the settlement a safe distance away across the fields – close enough so folks could reach us if they needed to, far enough so they did not often disturb our peace. “A pox on it, Grim,” I said to my absent friend. “I’m turning soft, I’m becoming an old woman.” (p. 264)
Unlike Grim, Blackthorn has never really been content with her new life. As soon as a person from her past arrives she’s quite willing to reconsider her bargain that states she must not seek out revenge for seven long years. Blackthorn's tentative reconsideration of what is truly important is what I found so engrossing in Tower of Thorns. Character development, Marillier does it so, so well.
The other standout character is Grim. In Tower of Thorns Grim’s back story is shared and readers begin to understand what drives his intense motivation to protect Blackthorn. The way Grim sees it is that he’s failed so many in the past, he absolutely refuses to fail another. There’s an interesting vulnerability about Grim that is incongruous with his rather fearsome appearance, but this only serves to make him a more compelling character. Grim is self conscious and uncertain about his place in Blackthorn's life, yet on every occasion Grim displays his willingness to go to bat for her. For a man that too often viewed as simple, he is one complicated dude.
Together, the characters of Blackthorn and Grim are dynamite. I love the supportive relationship between these two. Blackthorn shows a lot more consideration for Grim in Tower of Thorns; they are on a much more even playing field in their relationship. No romance between the two, but I think we can safely say that hints are dropped. My romantic heart is happy and I have high hopes for book three.
Aside from the truly fantastic characters, the story is also beautiful and sad. Like Dreamer’s Pool, Tower of Thorns is also grounded in a mystery. This time round, the pair are investigating the presence of a howling monster in a tower, but all is not what it appears. The woman asking for their help is keeping secrets, which just might have disastrous consequences. The tale of the monster is the tower is interspersed with Blackthorn and Grim’s narratives. It’s a tale that’s both sad and horrifying – the lengths that Lady Geiléis will go to solve the problem of the monster doesn't exactly endear her to the reader. At the same time, its difficult not to feel feel sympathy with Lady Geiléis and all she has suffered for one instance of youthful pride. If you like stories that have an old fashioned fairy tale feel, look no further than Tower of Thorns.
Marillier introduced two flawed and well developed in Dreamer’s Pool and she continues to reveal new facets of each character while thrusting them into magical mysteries in Tower of Thorns. I can’t describe how much I love these characters and the relationship they have with one another. Blackthorn and Grim are the foundation of this series and I cannot wait to see what mystery they are involved in next.
Dreamer’s Pool is the first in a new series by Juliet Marillier. I loved Marillier’s Sevenwaters series as a teen, yet was not impressed with her YA tDreamer’s Pool is the first in a new series by Juliet Marillier. I loved Marillier’s Sevenwaters series as a teen, yet was not impressed with her YA trilogy. So, I went into this one with mixed anticipation. What I got was a bit of a mystery and an introduction to some broken characters, who are flawed, grumpy, and wholly understandable.
Blackthorn used to be a healer. When she dared defy the leader of her clan, she’s thrown into prison. Now just days away from her court appearance, and her chance to finally speak out after years of abuse in the prison, she’s told that they’re just going to kill her instead. Before that can happen Blackthorn is visited by a fae who offers her a deal: for seven years she has to set aside her revenge and help anyone that asks for her assistance and if she agrees she will be set free from her prison.
Blackthorn reluctantly agrees to this deal and soon finds herself accompanied by Grim, another former prisoner. Grim’s past is much more mysterious, but he wants to go with Blackthorn and protect her. Blackthorn would much rather be alone with her anger, but Grim is the first person to ask for help even if he doesn’t not explicitly say anything. Over time the two start to build a home outside Dreamer’s Wood. Blackthorn takes up her healer trade and helps those in the surrounding villages. Grim throws himself into repairing their cottage and making it a home. Meanwhile Prince Oran is awaiting the arrival of his betrothed, only when she does arrive she doesn’t seem to be the woman that he thought she would be. Will Blackthorn be asked to help? Will she even be able to help, ignoring the drive to seek revenge that has never left her?
Despite a bit of a slow start, Dreamer’s Pool ended up really impressing me. Dreamer’s Pool is told in three voices: Blackthorn, Grim and Oran. At first, the presence of Oran was distracting and I found that it slowed down the momentum at the beginning of the book. As Oran’s narrative and Blackthorn and Grim’s started to wind together, this problem resolved itself, so for some, this might be a book that you have to stick with to really appreciate.
What I really liked about Dreamer’s Pool is the characters of Blackthorn and Grim. Both have been through a lot, prison was not kind to either of them, especially Blackthorn. However, while they were locked up together, Blackthorn and Grim came to rely on one another, which gives them a foundation for a friendship. Grim in particular is almost dependent on Blackthorn; he can’t even sleep in a separate building he’s so traumatized. Blackthorn resents Grim’s presence at first, but she slowly comes to trust him and actually acknowledge that just perhaps she’ll be able to live this new life that she’s been given. It’s that relationship between Blackthorn and Grim that really hooked me. There’s no romance between them, much of their relationship is based on overcoming what they have been through. I wouldn’t be opposed to a romance developing, but it would not have worked in book one. There is something so tentative about Blackthorn and Grim’s relationship; it was a really well developed exploration of friendship and how it is important for recovery.
The mystery element to Dreamer’s Pool was a little bit of a surprise. The mystery seemed much more conventional and identifiable than I was expecting. In a fantasy I wasn’t expecting to be able to label Dreamer’s Pool as a mystery so conclusively. Since I love mysteries, I liked this element to the book and I like the idea of Blackthorn and Grim being pulled into solve mysteries reluctantly or not. The pair make an excellent duo and I found myself compelled to read more.
Dreamer’s Pool was a fantastic introduction to two flawed and broken characters. I loved the fact that readers are treated to real character growth with Blackthorn and her acceptance of relationships to other people; it is beautifully executed. Marillier leaves readers anticipating for more by not revealing everything about her duo just yet, at this point we don’t know anything about Grim’s past but we do know that it just might challenge his hard won friendship with Blackthorn.
Raven Flight is the second in Juliet Marillier's Shadowfell trilogy. In book one, Neryn discovered she was a Caller, one who possesses the gifts to caRaven Flight is the second in Juliet Marillier's Shadowfell trilogy. In book one, Neryn discovered she was a Caller, one who possesses the gifts to call the Good Folk forward to fight on the side of the humans. It was a rough go for Neryn. She didn't know who to trust or even if she wanted to be the Caller.
In Raven Flight Neryn has come to terms with her role as the Caller and it's now time for her to hone her gifts. She's used her ability in the past, but her lack of training makes her a danger to those around her. To learn more about her abilities Neryn will need to go on a journey and learn from the four Guardians. The journey is long and time is running short. Raven Flight is your typical middle trilogy book. Quite frankly there's not a lot going on here. Once again there is a lot of traveling as Neryn goes to search for the Guardians that can teach her how to harness her abilities. A lot of time is spent on Neryn learning about her capabilities as well as her role in the larger conflict. Neryn has to come to terms with the fact that she is going to hurt and ultimately kill people with her gift, and this is a struggle for her, but a necessary lesson.
What I liked about Raven Flight is that readers get to learn more about other characters in the rebellion. In particular, Neryn is escorted on her journey by the belligerent Tali. Tali is not happy about accompanying Neryn. She is the right-hand to the leader of the rebellion and she does not want to leave him unprotected. But orders are orders, so Tali protects Neryn throughout their journey. I liked seeing more of Tali as I think she represents another element of the rebellion. She is completely focused on the ultimate goal of getting rid of the tyrant, King Keldec. Tali doesn't believe in making connections with others and she is not shy about sharing her disapproval of Neryn's relationship with Flint. In Tali's mind, there's no point in having relationships with other people; many are likely to die. However, Tali learns a hard lesson about this when someone close to her dies without knowing how she feels about them. What's the point of fighting for a future if you have no hope for it? I really liked Tali as a character. She's strong, as are her opinions, but I find her a really interesting character and I hope that she continues to have a major presence in book three.
What I was less enthused about in Raven Flight was the romance. Ugh. Not a fan of it at all. In Shadowfell Neryn found herself reluctantly forming a friendship with Flint, a double agent for the rebellion. There was a lot of back and forth between them, but suddenly in Raven Flight they're all in love and what not. Quite simply, I just don't buy it. These two barely spend any time together and now they have all these deep emotions. Personally, I thought that they came out of no where considering there is very little interaction between them in Raven Flight. The romance came off as insta-love, which is not my favourite element in young adult novels. A little more development with this plot would have went a long way in making this relationship a stronger one.
I also struggled with the pacing in Raven Flight. I had a hard time getting through this one. There was just so much traveling and pauses for Neryn to learn. The pacing was so start-and-stop it was hard to motivate myself to read through to the end. Paradoxically, it was the end that changed my opinion on Raven Flight. The novel ends full of action and heartbreak, I was left desperately wanting to read the final installment. I am hoping that the pacing of the final book will be a little more even since the slow build up to conflict is clearly not my preferred style of plot.
Ultimately, Raven Flight did an adequate job of continuing the story of Shadowfell. The issues I had with book one, continued into the second book, but much of that has to do with personal reading taste. As much as I'm not found of the meandering pacing, I do want to know how the conflict with the king will be resolved and whether or not Flint and Neryn get their happily ever after.
The Princess of Thorns is a fairy tale retelling, but it plays around with the certain elements creating a fully developed novel. Princess Aurora is tThe Princess of Thorns is a fairy tale retelling, but it plays around with the certain elements creating a fully developed novel. Princess Aurora is the daughter of Sleeping Beauty, and when her mother sacrificed her life to give her fairy gifts to her daughter, Aurora became more:
Knowing that the end was near, Sleeping Beauty embraced her eldest daughter, Princess Aurora, and wished for the girl to be granted fairy blessings. But it was not for grace, or beauty, or the gift of song that the beauty wished…
No, what Sleeping Beauty wished for is for her daughter to be strong and a fighter; she knows that Aurora will be in for the fight of her life if she hopes to survive the ogre queen bent on her destruction. But, like most fairy blessings, this one also goes awry. Sleeping Beauty also wished that Aurora will bow to no man, and instead Aurora is fated to steal the free will of any man that dares love her. With one kiss, they will only serve Aurora, becoming a shell of the person they once were.
When the ogre queen takes her younger brother, Jor, captive, Aurora decides that it’s time to raise an army and free her brother, and maybe take back her throne. When she’s rescued by Prince Niklaas, Aurora thinks maybe she can find her army with his help, and leads the prince to believe that she is her brother, nicknamed "Ror". If only Niklaas wasn’t quite so insistent that he’s going to marry Ror’s sister…
Prince Niklaas is cursed. On his eighteenth birthday he is fated to turn into a swan. But, he just might be able to save himself if he marries a princess. If he removes himself from the succession by marrying another heir outside his father's kingdom, his curse will be broken and he will remain a man. Princess Aurora is his last choice, only her “brother” is insistent that she will not have him. Only by helping Ror raise an army will he be granted an audience.
I haven’t read another novel by Stacey Jay, but I knew that her previous works have been fairy tale retellings as well. The retelling aspect of the author’s works got my attention immediately. I’m a fan of fairy tale retellings and a good one is not to be missed. While I liked Princess of Thorns I don't feel that it is the best fairy tale retelling that I've read, the world was a touch confusing and I felt that the main characters were a bit flat.
While I liked the fact that the tale of Sleeping Beauty was played with, the world this tale existed in was confusing. The otherworldliness of this world was compelling, but hard to understand. There were ogres and fairies living alongside humans, and inevitable strife broke out between these races. I have to admit that I found the explanation for this conflict to be a little glossed over. Princess of Thorns was not high-fantasy and I think there was a rather large gap in the world building. The prophecy that motivated the ogres to subjugate the humans was explained but it wasn’t done in any depth. As a result, I was left floundering to understand the seriousness of why everyone was battling each other.
As for the characters, I couldn’t help but feel that they were a bit flat and one-dimensional. Both Aurora and Niklaas are motivated by singular goals. She wants to free her brother and he wants to avoid his curse. These seem to be their defining characteristics and as a result, there wasn’t much depth to either of them. For example, Aurora’s blessing is more of a curse when it comes to the romance department. She had kissed her childhood friend and took his free will. She’s always felt guilty about it, but then she considers doing the same thing to Niklaas in order to save him. I think Aurora’s guilt over destroying her friend’s free will had a lot of potential to make her a stronger character, but I felt that as a reader I was expected to assume these deeper feelings on her part rather than have them imparted to me. In the case of Aurora, I don’t feel that this technique worked, and she never seemed to be “more” and I felt the same towards Niklaas.
What I did like about Princess of Thorns was the style of writing. The author hits the mark in making this novel sound like a fairy tale. The writing style had that mystical and worldly tone that I identify with an old fairy tale, and she combines that with some fun humour that gives this one a more modern feel. With Aurora and Niklaas it was not love at first sight; he thinks she’s a boy for much of the novel. This lack of awareness of one character’s gender allowed for there to be a lot of great humourous interactions between them. I loved the bantering adventure they were on.
And lastly, since I have mentioned the fact that Aurora is disguised as a boy for the bulk of this story, I have to spend a moment on the romance aspect. For the most part, the romance played second fiddle to the overarching ogre conflict. What I liked about the romance was the fact that Niklaas realized that Aurora, and women in general, were more than individuals that needed to be protected and kept unaware of the dangers of the real world:
I force a smile, pretending not to be bothered by the realization that it isn’t only Aurora’s time spent pretending to be a boy that makes it hard to know how to behave with her. It’s the fact that she doesn’t fit into the usual baskets. She’s not a family member, and she’s not a girl I’d have an easy tumble with. She’s a little of both, as well as a friend of the kind I thought I could only find in another man. I never dreamt I could have fun sparring with a girl, or making rude jokes, or traveling across country with nothing but two horses and a single bedroll. I’ve never known a girl who could travel with less than two saddlebags and a pack mule.
I liked the fact that Niklaas realized that women in this world didn’t have a lot of options other than to marry and become mothers. Through his romance with Aurora, I felt that he grew to have more respect of women as a whole. That said, his simple-minded thinking frustrated me, as did his cavalier attitude towards women through the first half of the book; thank goodness this changed by the end.
Ultimately, Princess of Thorns was a nice story that checked the boxes of a fairy tale retelling. And while I liked the book, I don't feel that it broke new ground and in some respects the tale was more simplistic than I expected.
I have been anxiously waiting for Kristen Callihan's newest Darkest London book ever since I finished Shadowdance. This series has gotten better witI have been anxiously waiting for Kristen Callihan's newest Darkest London book ever since I finished Shadowdance. This series has gotten better with each subsequent book. With Shadowdance the author took the series in a new direction and continues with it in Evernight and I couldn't be more pleased. The focus on the SOS (Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals) has opened up so many more avenues for this series, and brings new opportunities for readers to explore this alternative London.
Holly Evernight and Will Thorne were introduced in Shadowdance. Holly is a member of the SOS and Thorne a member of the opposing faction. Both were kidnapped in the previous book and Holly was forced to experiment on Thorne. At the beginning of Evernight Holly and Thorne are both recovering from their ordeal and not very well at that. Holly has secluded herself in her home and Thorne finds himself turning into something else altogether.
Holly and Thorne are thrown together once more when Thorne arrives on Holly's doorstep with revenge in mind. He barely remembers what happened to him when he was tortured, but he does remember Holly and the part that she played. However, Thorne soon learns that Holly might be the only one to cure him, or at the very least keep his encroaching "disease" at bay. This might pose a problem for Holly since someone other than Thorne is out to get her. Luckily, she now has a built in protector since Thorne literally cannot live without her. This forced partnership soon breeds more than animosity.
For the most part, I really enjoyed Evernight. There were a couple of things that I didn't personally like as a reader, but I didn't write the book so I can't complain about it. It's a matter of personal taste, so I wont go into it here.
As usual with Callihan, Evernight was action-packed and perfectly balanced with a wonderful, emotional romance. From the start, Darkest London has been characterized by it's intense and emotional romances. There's no reading between the lines here to determine how the hero and heroine feel about each other, it's explicit and what's more, it's believable. While Evernight also had that characteristic emotional quality, it was also a breath of fresh air. Despite the dark themes of torture and complicated characterizations of the hero and heroine, this one was actually quite lighthearted and funny. Holly is quite analytical, and as a result, many of her exchanges with Thorne are touched with humour. One such instance is when Holly frets about her duties as a hostess to Thorne and his certain vampiric needs...
"I ought to tell you know. I cannot provide you with blood."
Will's gaze flickered to the pulse beating at the tender hollow of her neck before meeting her eyes once more. Weariness and caution there. Disgust, too. He bristled. "I do not recall asking for blood."
"I was not referring to myself, of course," she went on plainly. "I meant that I cannot have blood brought in for you. I realize that makes me a bad hostess, but there it is. I cannot condone it."
A hostess? Is that what she fancied herself to be in this scenario? "And I suppose you do not eat all manner of beasts here? Rare roast beef with your pudding?"
"None that are bipedal, Mr. Thorne."
"You should know, he said, "that blood is not the only thing I take for nourishment."
He almost laughed at the way her expression grew closed off, that small nose of hers lifting in a haughty manner. Oh, he knew precisely what she was thinking now.
Not that she left it show in her neutral tone. "I thought that sanguis only imbue blood and - "
"Fuck anything we can get our hands on," he supplied helpfully.
She blinked. Then stared.
Will rolled his eyes skyward. "Aside from all that, I can drink most beverages. Except for lemonade."
"Why not lemonade?"
"Because I hate it." He laughed when her eyes narrowed. "Hot chocolate," he told her, "is my favorite." (p. 31-32)
Throughout Everknight Will continues to enjoy ruffling Holly's feathers and getting some sort of reaction from her. For her part, Holly equally enjoys shocking Will, only her approach is more matter-of-fact than deliberately funny. And while there are many funny exchanges between these two it is never at the expense of the development of their relationship, rather it adds another dimension to it.
Now I also mentioned that the author continues to move her series in a new direction with Evernight and in this book this alternate London and the creatures that inhabit it is significantly expanded. With the first three books the author focused on three sisters for the most part, but with Shadowdance and Evernight, readers are introduced to demons, sanguis, and the fae that also run amok in the city as well as new characters. While I've never been a fan of "the fae" as a creature feature in the books that I read, I like the way that the author it handling these changes. The fae are clearly going to play a large role in Soulbound and possibly subsequent books.
Readers of Evernight should also be aware that there is a substantial tease for Soulbound as the setup is established with Adam (creator of the GIM) and his heroine, Eliza May. I find the premise somewhat problematic considering Adam's "possession" of Eliza May in this book, but also curious as to how the author is going to bring these two to a happily ever after considering their rather inauspicious beginning.
Ultimately, I do not think fans of Darkest London will be disappointed with Holly and Throne's story. It was fun, action-packed and never became predictable. While it's possible to read this as a standalone novel, I really think it's better to read the books in order as to understand the world that the author is creating. While the romance is central to the plot, the rules of Darkest London have been set and expanded on in each subsequent book, so start with book one, Firelight.
Originally published at The Book Adventures. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I've been meaning to read Starling since it came out, and I've heard wonderful things about Lesley Livingston, so at long last I got my copy2.5 Stars
I've been meaning to read Starling since it came out, and I've heard wonderful things about Lesley Livingston, so at long last I got my copy of Starling and started reading.
Mason Starling is a rising star for her private school's fencing team and she's hoping to make the national team. Practicing all that she can and crushing on her fencing partner, Cal, are pretty much her biggest concerns at the moment. She's had a seemingly charmed life, considering her dad is a millionaire; of course, these rich families always have skeletons in their closets, although Mason doesn't expect them to jump out and attack her. Or for a naked guy to fall out of a tree in the middle of the storm and fight off zombie creatures. Oh private school; where anything can happen.
It seems that Mason is a descendent and part of an ancient prophecy that spells out the end of the world. It's part of the Norse mythology for Ragnarok that states:
One tree. A rainbow bird wings among the branches. Three seeds of the apple tree, grow tall as Odin's spear is, gripped in the hand of the Valkyrie. They shall awaken, Odin Sons, when the Devourer returns. The hammer will fall down onto the earth to be reborn. (p. 98)
Apparently Mason and her brothers are part of this prophecy, although Mason is left in the dark about her ancestors while both her older brothers have the inside scoop. Instead Mason's cloistered at Gosforth Academy, where all the other students are descendents of servants for the gods of mythology. Some seem to be aware of this fact, but others, like Mason, don't have a clue. But, when this prophecy starts to unravel, Mason and others start to see some strange and monstrous characters in New York City.
Overall, I thought Starling was okay. It was entertaining and there was some funny moments, but I felt that the story wasn't original. This mythology mix has been done before and so has the prep school motif. For me, I didn't think there was really anything that stood out for me that made Starling markedly different from other stories that I've read. So while there wasn't anything really wrong with the story, I did feel that it fell flat for me because of the unoriginal theme.
I did like the characters and the writing style of the book. In my opinion there are not enough teen books that show multiple points of views. I thought this technique was extremely appropriate for Starling considering that many characters had different levels of understanding of the prophecy and the existence of magic and gods. The focus was definitely on Mason and her romantic lead, The Fennrys Wolf (a.k.a. naked guy), but I thought the inclusion of multiple points of view kept Starling interesting enough for me that I could continuing reading something that I wasn't completely invested in.
As for the secondary characters that readers get to know, I have to say I really hope we get to see a turn around with Rory Starling, Mason's middle brother. I'm getting an Edmund from Chronicles of Narnia vibe here, and I'm hoping that Rory's not all bad, although this may be wishful thinking. As for the rest of the secondary characters, I really liked Roth Starling (the eldest brother), Cal (Mason's crush), and Heather (the token gossip queen). At this point these characters are not completely fleshed out and are somewhat stereotypical, but I would love to see these characters grow a little in book 2, so fingers crossed. Because of the wide array of characters, I think Starling will have appeal to both guys and girls; however, the feminine cover may turn away some readership.
Ultimately, I liked the book, but I'm not inclined to rave about it, and I think only finishing the trilogy will tell me whether or not I'll be recommending this trilogy to friends and teen readers.
Shadow’s Curse is the second in a historical paranormal romance series (whew, what a genre mouthful!). I should preface this review with the fact thatShadow’s Curse is the second in a historical paranormal romance series (whew, what a genre mouthful!). I should preface this review with the fact that I have not read the first book in the series, and after finishing Shadow’s Curse I have to recommend that you read the books in their proper order to really understand the world and the larger conflict that binds the books together.
The world of Shadow’s Curse is an interesting one. There are shape shifters and fae creatures, all hidden from the general masses in Regency England. David St. Leger is one of those shape shifters, cursed after being exiled from his clan. David stalks the stews of London and helps those in need, but it’s certainly not for altruistic purposes, rather he just needs something to do. And he finds a whole lot more trouble than he bargained for when he comes to the aid of a young woman.
Callista Hawthorne is the young woman rescued by David, although she's unaware that it's actually a "rescue" at the time. Callista is being used by her brother for her ability at necromancy; she can contact the dead and her brother has been using this as a money making scheme. Callista wants out of this life and longs to escape to her aunt in Scotland. Unbeknownst to Callista her brother has sold her off to an underworld crime lord that plans to marry her and use her powers for his own purposes, and he will resort to any means necessary to make that marriage come about. Understandably Callista’s none to happy about this and when her path crosses again with David, she strikes a bargain and gets an escort to Scotland. Of course, the crime lord is not so keen to let Callista go and David’s got his own problems trailing behind them as well. The course of true love never does run smooth...
Essentially, what we have in Shadow’s Curse is an on-the-road romance. Callista and David are both on the run and they band together because of common goals. At first they don’t like each other all that much (Callista did inadvertently help capture David); however, they quickly become attracted to one another. I liked the romance aspect of this book, I just didn’t feel like there was enough of it. The main focus of the book was the adventure and the greater conflict that had started in book one. If I had read book one I think I would have been more invested in what was going on, but since I had not I was really reading it for the romance and I didn’t get enough of it.
In the end, I felt a little confused when I finished the book. I was missing something, and it was that first book. I liked the writing style and I thought the world had potential, but I think the confusion that I felt reading Shadow’s Curse really hampered my enjoyment of this one. Ultimately, I’m not sure that I’ll be back for the next installment in the series since I don’t feel invested in the outcome of these characters. I’m also not really a fan of the fae in fiction. Don’t really have a reason why, I just find them odd creatures, and I tend to stray away from books with these characters in them. I think had the romance taken more of focus I would have enjoyed this one more; however, I think those looking for more plot in a romance will enjoy this one a lot more than I did. Overall, not a bad book, just not my favourite.
*Review copy provided by NetGalley. Review with read-alikes available here. ...more
The Cursed is the first in a new series by Alyssa Day. Here, readers are introduced to an alternate Manhattan, Bordertown – the dimensional fold betweThe Cursed is the first in a new series by Alyssa Day. Here, readers are introduced to an alternate Manhattan, Bordertown – the dimensional fold between the human and supernatural realms. Rio Jones is a bike messenger with no apparent past, but after witnessing a kidnapping she’s thrust into the political dealings of Bordertown. Rio knows there’s only one person that she can trust to help her find the kidnapped girl – the Dark Wizard, Luke Oliver, who just so happens to be the guy who rejected her when she asked him out. The pair team up and discover a much larger concern, one the deals directly with Rio’s unknown past, and may just come at the cost of her life.
Luke Oliver agrees to help Rio against his better judgement. He likes her (really loves her, *sigh*), but he knows he should stay away since he was cursed long ago and he knows that getting entangled with Rio could activate his curse. When Luke learns that Rio’s life is in danger he will stop at nothing to protect her and in the process realizes that he wants to keep her around and will do anything to make that happen. The question is whether the fae or the demons will allow Rio to live past her twenty-fifth birthday.
I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with this one. I really liked the premise for this urban fantasy, but in the end I found it difficult to finish the book. What I didn’t like was the pacing, as I found it was up and down constantly; it was ultimately a very uneven reading experience for me. For example, the kidnapping that instigates the plot was resolved quickly but then it was one thing after the other for Rio and Luke to confront and it came off rushed rather than action-packed. Even the relationship between the two of them was uneven and felt off kilter to me.
We finally encounter the eldest Davenport brother in the conclusion to The League of Illusion trilogy. For the past five years Sebastian Davenport hasWe finally encounter the eldest Davenport brother in the conclusion to The League of Illusion trilogy. For the past five years Sebastian Davenport has been living an alternate reality atoning for a fatal mistake that killed one of his friends. In this alternate reality Sebastian encounters Drea Blairwood, a healer, from whom he feels he must keep his distance.
Drea has been drawn to Sebastian since he arrived in her little village but she has no idea that he is from an alternate reality or that he can wield magic. When the pair of them is thrown together Drea is drawn into adventure and romance that she has been craving.
While I enjoyed this one, I have to admit that it wasn’t my favourite in the trilogy. The romance aspect seemed a little rushed in favour of wrapping up the overarching conflict that started in book one, but I enjoyed the conclusion to the trilogy. So far, book two was my favourite, as Rhys and Corina were fantastic characters (the other brothers and their significant others just didn’t measure up for me). I still enjoyed this one, but I would have liked more interaction between Sebastian and her brothers.
All in all, a nice little steampunk trilogy with a good helping of romance. ...more
I picked up this urban fantasy/paranormal romance for one reason and one reason only: LIBRARIAN DEMON HUNTER. Unfortunately, the fact that Maya FloresI picked up this urban fantasy/paranormal romance for one reason and one reason only: LIBRARIAN DEMON HUNTER. Unfortunately, the fact that Maya Flores was a librarian was not a huge part of the book. Really, Maya was in the library for her first meeting with the half-demon Taeg and then that’s it. I think it would have been fun to see the author play around with the librarian stereotypes – not that I’m a librarian or anything…
I also did not know this one was a series when I picked it up. While I read it just fine without reading the previous book, I think it would have been better had I read the first book since the reason for Taeg’s mission to destroy a book is all because of what happened in book one. That said this one was a fairly enjoyable read. The characters were amusing and the world building reminded me a lot of the t.v. show, Lost Girl. Fans of this show would definitely like this one. Folks looking for a paranormal romance with a hot demon would for sure enjoy this one!
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley....more
A Conspiracy of Alchemists is a steampunk novel. Elle Chance is a pilot and has come to Paris to transport some cargo via her regular contact, PatriceA Conspiracy of Alchemists is a steampunk novel. Elle Chance is a pilot and has come to Paris to transport some cargo via her regular contact, Patrice. The cargo turns out to be a mysterious box and it comes with a passenger, the irritating Mr. Marsh. Before she leaves Paris, Elle is attacked and rescued by Mr. Marsh leading them to race to England to evade the forces that have targeted Elle.
The world building in this novel was pretty interesting with fairies and other mythical creatures being commonplace in this alternate version of 1903. This magical society is divided into the Light and the Shadow, with the alchemists of the Shadow being the villains of the novel. The leader of the alchemists, Abercrombie, wants to unleash the power from an in-between plane through an Oracle in order to break all those of Shadow’s bond with the Nightwalkers (ie. vampires).
Unfortunately for Elle, her mother was the Oracle, and Elle is discovered to be the next one. Both sides of the struggle want to have Elle in their court since she will provide them great power with the dwindling of magic in the world. Marsh believes that Elle should join forces with the Council of Warlocks, which he is part of, where she will live a life of luxury and isolation. Elle, a modern girl for the times, is understandably irritated by Marsh and his suggestions and fights his assertions of her power at every point. However, Elle ultimately has to face the fact that her mother’s blood runs in her veins and she will have to acknowledge her power.
Overall, I liked the plot of A Conspiracy of Alchemists; it was an interesting concept in an interesting alternate world. I liked the combination of the Oracle mythology and the steampunk genre and it really demonstrates the versatility of steampunk as a genre. At times I found the pacing a little slow, especially considering there were pretty intense things happening. For example, when Elle learns her father has been kidnapped, it takes her a few days to start her search for him. I felt the pacing was at odds with what was happening in the novel.
My other issue with the novel was the insta-romance between Elle and Mr. Marsh. I liked each character individually but I didn’t buy the romance between them. They went from blatant antagonism to love fairly quickly. There was more about Elle’s thought process and her progression of feelings towards Mr. Marsh, but when it came to Marsh, I didn’t really buy his feelings for Elle; it seemed very sudden.
Lastly, I was a little confused about the whole Oracle thing. Is becoming an Oracle a hereditary trait; the fact that Elle’s mother was an Oracle seems to suggest that it is something inherited by from a parent? If being an Oracle is hereditary, then I do not know why the Council of Warlocks would be isolating the Oracle from everyone, wouldn’t the Oracle’s need to go out, marry and have kids? I just felt that this was a hole in the story and I think it should have been addressed.
Ultimately, I did enjoy the novel, and I would probably read the next one in the series because of the cliffhanger ending and the reveal about the true conspiracy. I think A Conspiracy of Alchemists would be a good book that could be read by an adult or teen audience. I wouldn’t blatantly call it a teen book, the age of the characters seem to suggest that it is not a teen book, but I think it has versatile appeal.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. ...more
I received an ARC of Lexi’s George’s new paranormal romance via NetGalley. Demon Hunting in the Deep South was a lot of fun and it will have a lot ofI received an ARC of Lexi’s George’s new paranormal romance via NetGalley. Demon Hunting in the Deep South was a lot of fun and it will have a lot of appeal for fans of the Sookie Stackhouse series. It should also be noted that this book is the second in a series, which I was not aware of when I requested it on NetGalley – I really wished I had read the first one, as I very much felt that I had missed important details necessary for Deep South.
Demon Hunting in the Deep South occurs relatively soon after the events of the first book in the series, Demon Hunting in Dixie, and the main characters remain the same; however the focus of the romantic relationship changes. The first book focuses on Addy and the demon hunter, Brand; this book now focuses on Evie and Brand’s “brother,” Ansgar, who met and started a relationship in the first book. This romantic relationship begins anew in Deep South because Evie has lost all of her memories of Ansgar when she died and was brought back by Ansgar. Evie and Ansgar reconnect because Evie's life is in danger from a demon and Ansgar takes it upon himself to protect Evie despite the fact that he has been trying to stay away. Evie is unaware that her and Ansgar had a romantic relationship but she feels drawn to him even though she feels that she doesn't stand a chance with the guy who looks like a Norse god.
The pre-existing relationship between Evie and Ansgar was the main reason I did not enjoy this book as much as I could have. There wasn’t a lot of relationship building in this book; Evie and Ansgar didn’t exactly have a lot of conversations, so I didn’t completely buy it when they each professed to be in love with one another. Evie and Ansgar seemed to have more of a physical relationship rather than a more romantic one. I am assuming that this relationship was examined more fully in the first book, but I still would have liked there to be more dialogue between the two romantic leads in this book.
What I loved about this book was the secondary characters; George included a lot of details about secondary characters without it overshadowing the main plot of the novel; Addy’s brother, Shep, and his shade girlfriend, Lenora, were adorable. I also enjoyed how George sets the stage for the next book in the series with a relationship building between two characters – my money’s on Conall and the bar owner, Beck – and the presence of another supernatural threat. Series that change characters like this are my personal favourite; I love seeing the same world from different perspectives. And if I’m right about the next relationship (Conall and Beck) it will be interesting to see what life for a half-demon is like through Beck. Fingers crossed on my prediction!
Overall, I thought this was a very fun book and it would make a perfect summer read. It would be great for those who enjoy light-hearted paranormal romances. ...more
Shadowfell is the first in a YA historical fantasy trilogy from Juliet Marillier. While I liked this one, there was something about it that made it haShadowfell is the first in a YA historical fantasy trilogy from Juliet Marillier. While I liked this one, there was something about it that made it hard to get through.
As a teenager, I loved Marillier's Sevenwaters series. I ended up moving away from fantasy books and essentially forgetting about this author. After hearing good things about Shadowfell from a number of readers, I thought I'd give it another try. The pressure was on to really enjoy this one, and unfortunately, I didn't love it. I liked it, and I'll read the remaining too books, but it was not a book that I had a hard time putting down.
Shadowfell is a coming-of-age tale following sixteen-year-old Neryn. Neryn has been on the run with her father since her brother and grandmother died. She has particular gifts that mark her as interesting to the oppressive king. He'll either kill her or use her powers for his own purposes. After her father dies, Neryn decides to strike out for a distant settlement that she's heard about: Shadowfell. Shadowfell is reputed to be the headquarters of the rebellion, and after seeing her family suffer at the hands of the king, Neryn is willing to be part of that rebellion. When Neryn learns that her mysterious savior, Flint, is also an Enforcer of the king, she balks. How can this seemingly gentle man kill and plunder under the king's banner? But all is not as it seems. The more Neryn learns about Flint and the rebellion, as well as her gifts, the more that she questions her role in the rebellion. Should she use her gifts for the cause? Does the end justify the means?
What I think the strongest element of Shadowfell is the thought process that Neryn goes through. Her powers indicate that she is a Caller. She can call the uninterested fae forward to rally on the side of the humans. However, Neryn questions whether she should use this gift. Essentially, Neryn could force the other folk to bend to her will, but this would make her a questionable character. Neryn rebels at the thought of using the other folk in this way, but she also understands that she just may have to use it if she wants to be useful to the rebellion. I really appreciated reading Neryn's conflicting thoughts about using her powers. That said, I personally felt that Neryn was too "good", a little too concerned about others. She's sixteen, where's the selfishness?
Throughout Shadowfell I couldn't help but consider Neryn the epitome of the classic "chosen one". She's special; the rebellion hinges on her power. While I appreciate the fact that Neryn was conflicted about her role as a Caller, I felt that she was too goodhearted, for me, it seemed disingenuous. I'm not sure that I believe that Neryn is simply this saintly. What's more, I personally felt that this made her a bit of a bore. Neryn might have been a more interesting character if she had a bit more rebellion to her role. I'm not ready to write the trilogy off yet, and I am hoping that Neryn will acquire a little more depth in book two.
The other aspect of Shadowfell that I wasn't keen on was the constant traveling. The whole book was a journey. Neryn was constantly walking somewhere. Again, this was an element that I found a little dull. The constant walking to someplace was repetitive and simply wasn't my cup of tea.
While I didn't love Shadowfell there is no question that Marillier writes beautifully well-researched historical fantasy. The world that Neryn walks through is well rendered and grounded in mythology and lore. I think readers who are more interested in the setting will really love Shadowfell, but I think those looking for a story driven by it's characters may be a touch disappointed.
The Nightmare Affair is a teen paranormal mystery. Dusty Everhart is a “Nightmare” – a mythical creature that feeds off the nightmares of others. AfteThe Nightmare Affair is a teen paranormal mystery. Dusty Everhart is a “Nightmare” – a mythical creature that feeds off the nightmares of others. After coming into her powers she was enrolled at Arkwell Academy, a school for others like her. One night she feeds on Eli Booker, the hot guy from her old school; however, things do not proceed as usual. Eli wakes up and Dusty is not able to use her powers on him, to make matters worse his dreams of murder actually come true.
Following the disastrous feeding things only get worse. Eli is enrolled at Arkwell despite his norm status, as his dreams may allow Dusty to find the killer. As Dusty and Eli get closer to the true of the murderer, Dusty’s life is turned upside down. She has to deal with her feelings for two very different guys, her tumultuous relationship with her mother (the new teacher at Arkwell), the school bully, and to top it all off, the murderer is now after her.
Overall, I thought the novel was okay. I didn’t realize that it would be a series when I picked it up so the novel left a lot of loose ends. While I liked the world building of Arkwell, I found the pacing to be too slow and I just couldn’t get into the mystery. ...more
I suspect I would have given this book four stars if I had read more science fiction. Among Others is at times a mediation of the state of science ficI suspect I would have given this book four stars if I had read more science fiction. Among Others is at times a mediation of the state of science fiction literature in the 1970s. While I picked up on some of the classics like LOTR and Narnia, there was a lot of books that I hadn't read, making it harder to understand the narrator.
The focus on books aside, the novel follows Morwenna Phelps following the death of her twin sister. Mor ends up being put under the guardianship of her father, whom she has never met, in order to stay away from her mother. Mor is sent to a boarding school by her father and his sisters.
All of the narration of the novel is in Mor's own hand as it takes the form of journal entries. This style worked really well for the book because it allowed for the 15 year-old to talk very frankly about her experiences throughout the book. In a way, this frankness reminded me of Judy Blume a bit and I had a laugh when Mor commented that she didn't like Blume and the "issues" that are always brought up in Blume's books.
Another interesting facet of the book was the presence of magic and fairies in the book. It was strange because I wouldn't label this book fantasy as I found magic and fairies were integrated too well into a contemporary world. I liked how magic in the book wasn't like reciting spells, it wasn't as easy to pin down as something that you could recite. It was interesting that magic became a way to discuss fate and whether people have the power to make things happen or if they are already predetermined in advance.
Overall, I liked the novel and I would recommend it to SF fans because of the mediation on SF as a genre. ...more