This is completely different from UPROOTED. Kind of. It’s still a fairytale-like story, but it’s wholly unrelated to the4.5 stars
I’m. Just. SO. Happy.
This is completely different from UPROOTED. Kind of. It’s still a fairytale-like story, but it’s wholly unrelated to the Dragon and Agnieszka. There are no awesome tree people. There’s no wooden Kasia or royal orphans or upstart wizards.
There are awesome some-other-kind-of-people who may or may not be wintery in origin. And a not-so-awesome demon. And not one, not two, but THREE new heroines, all hampered by expectations, all saying, EFF that, RAWRRR.
Just getting started with this one and not sure how long I'll be able to stick with it.
Ruby's parents' firstborn is a drug addict (who eventually dieJust getting started with this one and not sure how long I'll be able to stick with it.
Ruby's parents' firstborn is a drug addict (who eventually dies of an overdose), but he's "so beautiful and enchanting" that Ruby believes she and her equally "podgey, unattractive, and socially helpless" twin brother are disappointments, despite Parents having been so desperate for more children that they invested in IVF. Ruby even blames their divorce on said disappointment.
Not her addict brother. Not even his death. Herself and Twin. B/c average looking and socially awkward.
And that's just the obnoxious. I'm not getting into the disturbingly darrrrrrk and somewhat uncomfortable relationship Ruby has with dead elder brother . . .
Last year I read CITY OF THE LOST more out of duty than expectation of loving it. Armstrong writes several of my favoReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Last year I read CITY OF THE LOST more out of duty than expectation of loving it. Armstrong writes several of my favorite urban fantasy series and has been an auto-buy author for over a decade, but I had limited success with her last mystery series (NADIA STAFFORD), so I was prepared to feel pretty MEH about it . . .
In CITY OF THE LOST, we learned about Casey's inner darkness. In A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE, we watch as she begins to come to terms with it. Once again, she finds herself in a cave with Anders, completely devoid of light, and once again, it makes her introspective:
Absolute dark and absolute clarity, reaching into the darkness inside me. But there seems to be nothing dark in Anders. I know better know. It took some time fore me to comes to terms with his past. And then more time to realize that the person I'd befriended wasn't a mask he wore in Rockton. It's all him, the dark and the light.
And if Anders can be both darkness and light, perhaps she can as well.
But there's more to this follow-up than self-discovery. There's also another creeptastic mystery to solve. *shudders*
I'd thought Armstrong had hit the ceiling of creepy with her potentially cannibalistic mountain people, but she destroys her previous record when Casey finds the remains of two women shoved into a crevice of the aforementioned cave . . . In addition to the still living woman . . . A woman who had disappeared from Rockton over a year ago . . . A woman thought to be dead, b/c a woman of her general description had been found WEARING HER CLOTHES after the spring thaw . . .
I won't detail the horrors Nicole Chavez endured while held captive in that cave, but there are few reasons a man would do such a thing, so if that type of scenario is unacceptable to you when picking out your next read, you have been warned.
That being said, Armstrong doesn't give too much detail either. She doesn't need to, so she doesn't, and I appreciated the deft handling of such a horrific reality.
B/c it is horrific. And an almost palpable dread seeps from the pages into the reader when Casey becomes the mystery man's new target. *shudders violently*
(Thankfully) A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE isn't all horror and dread.
Eric and Casey provide blessed relief from the mounting tension as they stumble haplessly through the the early dance steps of a new relationship, neither of them having much experience with such things. I compared Eric to Clay Danvers in my review of CITY OF THE LOST, and the comparison remains apt. In his entirely human way, he is as devoted to Casey as Clay is to Elena, and his fumbles are equally adorable.
A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE is the second installment of Kelley Armstrong's CASEY DUNCAN series, and it's the best book I've read . . . in ages. I'm not content to say, "this year," b/c it's too early for that to hold much weight, and it's a truly stellar book. Casey's experience may be one I can't personally relate too, but her struggles and doubts resonate in a very personal way, and the horrors of the mystery she must solve are tempered by the growing relationships with the residents of her new home. I cannot recommend this series more highly. Read it, read it NOW.
I didn't know the outside world would cease to exist the moment I sReviewed by: Rabid Reads
This book . . . Gah.
I didn't know what I was getting into.
I didn't know the outside world would cease to exist the moment I started it until the moment I finished it (at roughly 3am, FYI). I didn't know I would be haunted by the images from Carina's dreamzealscape.
Speaking of Carina, I didn't know I could like a heroine as messed up as she is. I'm talking Dexter-level messed up. So I guess I did know I could like a character as messed up as Carina b/c I bloody loved Dexter.
Carina lives in near(ish) utopian(ish) future version of our world where the USA has been divided by war. Pacifica, the region that covers what used to be California, has practically zero crime . . .
As anyone with the most basic understanding of human nature knows, Utopia is an unrealistic daydream, and Pacifica is nowhere near as crime-free as the government would have its citizens believe.
The illusion is maintained by a drug called Zeal. This drug allows people to enter a make-believe world in which they can act out their deviant urges, returning to themselves sated of the need for violence.
So in all fairness, yes, crime has been drastically reduced for the average person.
For Carina? Not so much.
READ THE BOOK.
My only complaint is purely a matter of preference . . . There are certain scenarios that just don't work for me. "Secret" identical twin siblings, for example. Anytime a Secret Twin makes an appearance as a plot twist, I . . . can't. Similarly, anytime the major conflict involves (view spoiler)[mind control (hide spoiler)], I roll my eyes and grind my teeth. It's just so . . . Pinky and the Brain.
But that's my issue, (probably) not yours. And I loved it anyway. The second I figured out that SHATTERED MINDS is a companion novel for another book (FALSE HEARTS) set in this world, I downloaded it immediately.
Verdict: SHATTERED MINDS is the first book I've read of Lam's, but it won't be the last. Recommended for anyone who likes the sound of a gritty sci-fi lite thriller.
ADDICTED, the second installment of Elle Kennedy's OUTLAWS series, picked up where the last book left off.
The survivors of the Enforcer attack on Lennox's den of iniquity have relocated to Conner's compound, with Lennox and co. struggling to adapt to a more rigid lifestyle.
Oh, they still have ALL the free and shared love, but their movements are restricted (secret compound location is secret), and Conner makes unilateral decisions b/c Conner.
Fortunately for Lennox, Reese calls in the favor she's owed in the form of Pike and Rylan going to her settlement for a month and teaching her people how to defend themselves, which prompts Conner to send Kade as well--the newest member of his badass squad needs to work on his hand-to-hand fighting skills--roping Lennox in as well to keep an eye on him.
And while he resents being ordered to go, Lennox doesn't argue b/c cabin feverish.
Unfortunately, the whole thing was pretty MEH for me.
The compelling plot line that keep ALL the sex from becoming tedious in CLAIMED was sadly absent in ADDICTED.
In fact, there wasn't much of a plot at all.
It was mostly, "Lennox does really stupid shit after ten drinks," Lennox having nine drinks, and oh, hey, now's a good time to act on the blistering attraction I've stifled for, oh, twenty years, b/c drunk.
Like he's never been ten-drinks-drunk before.
Oh, wait! The reasons Jamie knows about Lennox's ten-drinks-drunk is b/c she's observed it at regular intervals during a great many of those twenty years.
But whatever. This time's different.
And now that they've finally acted on their long ignored lust, they get to start freaking out. B/c miscommunication and false assumptions and MEH.
I still have hope for the series--CLAIMED was fantastic--but ADDICTED is a clear case of Second Book Syndrome. I felt like I was rereading every other friends-to-lovers romance I've ever read, and not even the dystopian nature of the OUTLAWS world could make it more interesting, b/c the setting was barely part of the story. BUT. Next on the dock is my shiny ARC of RULED, so wish me luck . . .
My knee jerk reaction to ARCHANGEL'S HEART is to say it was a roller coaster.
But that's not right. I wasn't up and down and sReviewed by: Rabid Reads
My knee jerk reaction to ARCHANGEL'S HEART is to say it was a roller coaster.
But that's not right. I wasn't up and down and sideways on repeat from start to finish.
It was more that I was way, way down, struggling up that first incline until somewhere between 25 - 30%, then I hit cruise straight through the next 50 - 60%, then that last 15% was so spectacular . . . It almost made me forget how long it took to settle in.
That extra 10% that kicked the MEH into a full quarter of book, though . . . Unfortunately, forgetting wasn't in the cards.
But first things first. I'm sure a lot of you are concerned about the POV switch back to Elena and Raphael. It's hard to muster up the same excitement we had for Janvier and Naasir in the last two installments for our returning alpha couple, am I right? Especially, when what we really want is Illium and Aohdan's book.
The good news is, it's a' comin'. At least it has every appearance of coming, based on my decidedly biased opinion. Regardless of whether it's the next book or three after that, the majority of the groundwork laid for future HEAs, was in reference to Aodhan. We still don't know what happened to him, but it's clear he's healing, if not healed, and the mysterious mystery was brought up half a dozen times at least.
The neutral news is, there's no getting to it without more Elena and Raphael.
So suck it up, and let let Singh do what she needs to do. *orbit gum smile* Trust me, by the time you finish GH #9, you'll be glad you did.
But I repeat, first things first, and in order to get to the super fantastic revelations at the end of this book, you have to wade through the swamp:
1. There's no mystery surrounding who the Bad Guy is.
“By dint of their spiritual quest, the Luminata have no earthly ties and no loyalties beyond that to their quest for luminescence. They take no lovers, participate in no wars, and when they become Luminata, they sever all blood ties.” “A perfect neutral body.”
"Perfect," Elena says.
*scoffs* BEWARE anything described as being "perfect." That's just common sense.
2. Our common sense isn't enough to clue us in.
The slight redundancy that can be characteristic of Singh is more than slight in ARCHANGEL'S HEART. We are reminded constantly that something's not quite right:
“There’s something off about this place,” she muttered. “Gian’s spookiness aside, the sense of peace I expected is missing.”
And on the very next page:
The shallow bow from an escort who had not earned that right, the fact Gian had taken the names of the Cadre without adding “Archangel” to the front, the Luminata who’d watched them from the shadows, their faces hidden under the hoods of their robes, none of it was as it should be.
This pattern continued, but once the plot picked up the pace, it was easier to ignore (per usual).
3. On a similar, yet different note, basic rituals are given point-by-point explanations:
There was no shower, but someone had already partially filled the large stone bath with cold water, minerals swirled into the clear liquid. It was a normal angelic courtesy to ensure guests didn’t have to wait too long for their bath to fill. Finding the handle—old but functional—that made the hot water start to gush out from a spout in the wall, Raphael turned it on. By the time it filled to the top, it would be the correct temperature.
These kinds of things made getting started an uphill climb.
I want to be clear that I very much enjoyed this book.
I can't tell you what made it so wonderful and lovely and ALL the good things, b/c huge, enormous spoilers, so instead I'm being painfully honest about the less than stellar start. That way, if you have a similar experience, hopefully, you'll be encouraged to push through.
It's so very worth it. I promise. Highly recommended.
DEN OF WOLVES picks up where TOWER OF THORNS left off. Blackthorn and Grim have returned to their cottage, Blackthorn curmudgeReviewed by: Rabid Reads
DEN OF WOLVES picks up where TOWER OF THORNS left off. Blackthorn and Grim have returned to their cottage, Blackthorn curmudgeonly about her recent revelations and Grim silently and steadfastly enduring.
Once again, their attempt at a quiet life is interrupted, this time by a young girl who has been thrust upon our Prince to chaperone for an indefinite period of time. The girl is a wild thing, despite being the only daughter of a widowed lord, and she escapes into the forest near B&G's cottage whenever she can.
Stuff happens and Blackthorn takes Cara under her wing, and thus begins the slow unraveling of this installment's fairytale-like mystery.
This is going to be a short review, b/c:
1. I'm sad the series is over. VERY sad.
2. Fairytale-like mysteries are best unraveled by the reader.
3. It was so damn lovely that I'm having a hard time putting all of my FEELS into words.
I actually read DEN OF WOLVES weeks ago, but it's taken me this long to cobble together even this semblance of a review. Suffice it to say that this was my favorite individual plot.
The outline of the mystery isn't difficult to guess, but the particulars are exceptional, and while it didn't pack the same emotional punch as TOWER OF THORNS, there's something to be said for the perfect ending that creeps up on you---I spent the last hundred or so pages constantly checking my progress, convinced there wasn't enough time to satisfactorily resolve ALL THE THINGS.
*shakes head at self* (B/c Juliet Marillier is a GODDESS.)
Sometimes a series ends and while there are no fireworks, no parade, no idiot celebrities fist-pumping on couches . . . it is perfect. Quietly perfect, but perfect nonetheless. Highly recommended.
WELP, that was a short-lived endeavor. Maybe I'll try it again at a later date, but first impressions are hard to negate, and man alive, this was a DOWELP, that was a short-lived endeavor. Maybe I'll try it again at a later date, but first impressions are hard to negate, and man alive, this was a DOOZY.
Yes. A doozy. That's what I said.
I was willing to overlook the heroine's one-track mind--preoccupation with *ahem* companionship is a common theme in sci-fi involving space travel. Kind of like getting out of jail. But when she walked into a bar and EVERYONE, I'm talking upwards of a dozen+ bar patrons, unabashedly want to jump her . . .
I began reading A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING with trepidation. I'd read the preview months prior, and at the time, I'd been greReviewed by: Rabid Reads
I began reading A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING with trepidation. I'd read the preview months prior, and at the time, I'd been greatly impressed, but since then I'd suffered numerous disappointments of the finished-product-not-remotely-living-up-its-promise variety.
And initially, my inner cynic taunted me, pointing out perceived flaws, whispering to get it over with and DNF already . . . Then a hobgoblin unexpectedly appeared, and I told my inner cynic to shut its trap.
From there, the already interesting early Victorian England--this version plagued by seven Ancients that walk and talk and quack like demons--expanded into a spectacular alternate version of our own world with sharp-toothed faerie dressmakers, tricksy, not-to-be-trusted-but-oh-so-charming Magicians, estates gifted by fae royalty, yet still recognizable by the ugly, ugly prejudice.
Henrietta Howel is a witch in a time when witches are burned. An orphan, she now teaches at the charity school where she was raised . . . The charity school currently being visited by a royal sorcerer . . . A royal sorcerer whom Henrietta fears was sent to investigate the rumors of mysterious fires.
Mysterious fires that she herself is responsible for.
But when she meets the man, she is surprised to discover a kindred spirit:
“I find a dash of insolence to be quite enjoyable from time to time.”
Then we discover that Henrietta is not a witch, and Agrippa (the royal sorcerer) not only believes that she is a rare female sorcerer, but also that she is the girl prophesied to take England back from its demonic invaders.
Is Henrietta this so-called Chosen One?
Maybe she is and maybe she isn't. After reading the last page, I was still undecided. The only thing I knew positively was that whatever the answer, it's not so simple.
Also not so simple is the answer to the inevitable question: is there a love triangle?
There are two definitive love interests (maybe a third, if you're a particularly contrary sort, who never goes for the obvious choices), but the way Cluess handles the situation . . . Honestly, neither are good candidates for our girl. And anyway, it's not one of those angsty, dueling for the lady's affection scenarios.
Option 1 is a comfortable childhood friend, and option 2 is a flamboyant and hilarious blue blood you don't take seriously until option 1 starts to look like a Red Shirt, then you don't take him seriously b/c REASONS, then option 1 looks less and less like a Red Shirt . . . but still you can't help feeling like no good can come of it . . .
Basically, I felt option 1 is only in the running b/c familiar, and option 2 made me swoon a time or two, but I never gave him my heart. *whispers* I may be the contrary sort I mentioned earlier.
BOTTOM LINE: though Henrietta's future HEA may at this time be unclear, I didn't feel jerked around or manipulated like with so many other love quadrilles triangles.
As for other typically YA aspects some of you try to avoid, there were surprisingly few.
I felt the first few chapters were a bit rushed, the circumstances coming together far too serendipitously, but once we got to where we were going, things began to unfold more naturally, and often hilariously.
Beyond that I had a couple of minor issues where Henrietta's not-so-simple situation and her fear of discovery were referenced a bit more than necessary, and a couple of times she was appallingly self-absorbed: (view spoiler)[like when she was newly arrived at Agrippa's home, and Rook was sent around back b/c "servants don't use the front door," and she, potentially the most celebrated discovery in years, comments on how she feels alone. *flares nostrils* (hide spoiler)]
But those times are few and far between, and only warrant comment as explanation for my 4.0, not 5.0, star rating.
Overall, A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING by Jessica Cluess, the first installment of her KINGDOM ON FIRE YA fantasy series, was a delightful surprise, and I very much enjoyed this fantastical version of early Victorian (NOT steampunk) England. There are hideously beguiling Fae creatures, repulsive demons hellbent on England's destruction, rapscallion magicians in hiding, and a girl with a gift that terrifies her, who may or may not be her world's salvation.