TJ Klune: Author/Series Review; Bear, Otter, and the Kid

I am kind of kicking my own butt over how long it took me to actually pick this series up and read it. I’ll say straight up that my reasons for not doing so look pretty stupid at this point, but they seemed valid at the time.

Continue reading “TJ Klune: Author/Series Review; Bear, Otter, and the Kid”

Lake Silence: The World of the Others, Book 1

Lake Silence
Lake Silence

Author: Anne Bishop
Book Name: Lake Silence
Series: The World of the Others
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent/Favorite
5+stars


 

 

Blurb: Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shape-shifters, and even deadlier paranormal beings. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget….

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns such as Vicki’s don’t have any distance from the Others, the dominant predators who rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what is out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe–one of the shape-shifting Others–discovers a murdered man, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, ancient forces are roused by the disturbance in their domain. They have rules that must not be broken–and all the destructive powers of nature at their command.

The last several days I’ve spent re-reading The Others series in preparation for the new release. I’ve been sitting on pins and needles since the newest book was announced. As usual, I dropped this in my wish list as soon as it was available to do so and have been anxiously awaiting the release date.

Note to self: Just because a book is from one of your favorite authors and appears to be in their current series and you have loved every single book ever written by said author does not mean that you shouldn’t still read the blurb. Silly me didn’t actually notice that this was a “World of…” book and not actually the next installment. Oh, I noticed pretty much on the first page and figured it out, but I had to try really hard not to be disappointed. I should have really known since the cover art for this one was so different from all the other books in The Others series, but I just thought it was decided to go a different direction. Again, silly me for making assumptions.

I did struggle not to be a little disappointed because the problem was mine, but I had spent months looking forward to another Meg, Simon, Sam, Vlad and all the rest of the courtyard’s residents book. This book didn’t have them at all, even as side characters. There are teeny tiny bits where a name is mentioned in passing, but you never see any of those characters in this book. It is a whole new location, new characters and even a few new types of Others that we haven’t seen before.

The other thing that I think was hard for me is that because I love all of those original characters so much, it is exceptionally hard to measure up to them and I just don’t think that anything can ever compare. I enjoyed getting to meet these new characters and learn about a new place. I love this world and will take anything I can get from it, but the original series will probably always be my favorite. This one is still stunningly amazing, but sits just below the level of amazing that the original series holds.

I hope like crazy that this doesn’t mean that Ms. Bishop is done with that original one because I am so not ready to say goodbye to all of those characters. Then again, that is kind of classic for just about anything that Anne Bishop has ever written and why I can continue to read those books over and over again and never begin to get sick of them.

Some Kind of Hero: Troubleshooters, Book 19

Some Kind of HeroAuthor: Suzanne Brockmann
Book Name: Some Kind of Hero
Series: Troubleshooters
Order: #19
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


 

Blurb:

Navy men don’t come tougher than Lieutenant Peter Greene. Every day he whips hotshot SEAL wannabes into elite fighters. So why can’t he handle one fifteen-year-old girl? His ex’s death left him a single dad overnight, and very unprepared. Though he can’t relate to an angsty teen, he can at least keep Maddie safe—until the day she disappears. Though Pete’s lacking in fatherly intuition, his instinct for detecting danger is razor sharp. Maddie’s in trouble. Now he needs the Troubleshooters team at his back, along with an unconventional ally.

Romance writer Shayla Whitman never expected to be drawn into a real-world thriller—or to meet a hero who makes her pulse pound. Action on the page is one thing. Actually living it is another story. Shay’s not as bold as her heroines, but she’s a mother. She sees the panic in her new neighbor’s usually fearless blue eyes—and knows there’s no greater terror for a parent than having a child at risk. It’s an ordeal Shay won’t let Pete face alone. She’s no highly trained operative, but she’s smart, resourceful, and knows what makes teenagers tick.

Still, working alongside Pete has its own perils—like letting the heat between them rise out of control. Intimate emotions could mean dangerous, even deadly, consequences for their mission. No matter what, they must be on top of their game, and playing for keeps . . . or else Pete’s daughter may be gone for good.

It is kind of funny, I rarely still like any books in a series by the time you get past book 4 or 5, let alone any deeper because it always seems like the author just no longer has anything new or interesting to add. This seems even more apt when talking about romance books because they tend to become cookie cutter, fill in the blank books. This is probably one of the very few book series that I can easily say doesn’t fit the standard in any way and that is a very good thing.

One of the things that I like so much about Suzanne Brockmann and why I still, after all this time pick up any of her books, is that her characters are always strong, especially her female leads. Too often in romance, the women suddenly become weak and needy when an alpha  male comes into the picture and they need the cliched rescue. Not so with Brockmann’s characters. They are always capable of standing on their own, even when they do need a little help. It is rare you will see a weak, ditzy character. The times it is touched on, that character is never genuinely weak, just less confident in that strength.

I also love that her alpha males are never these overbearing, borderline assholes. They are true badasses that do not diminish their romantic counterparts. Both sides fully complement the other, no matter who they are.

Her characters are also extremely varied. Yes, this series focuses almost exclusively on SEALs, but outside of that restriction, you will find characters of all shapes, sizes, races, physical abilities and sexual preferences. Not only does this give the reader variety, but it opens the door to different challenges for the characters to overcome, which is part of why this series hasn’t gone stale.

This book fits perfectly into the mold that Ms. Brockmann set from the very beginning of this series. Strong, capable characters from both sides of the romantic relationship. A truly enjoyable story that keeps you turning the page every step of the way. It does run just a little bit into the romance novel trap of “too perfect”, but sometimes that is exactly what you want and need. Something light and fun tossed with a bit of intense action.

Fire Touched: Mercy Thompson, Book 9

Fire TouchedAuthor: Patricia Briggs
Book Name: Fire Touched
Series: Mercy Thompson
Order: #5
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars


Blurb:  Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

Review:  I was reading along, totally engrossed in the story when I checked my place in the book to decide where I needed to stop for the night.  Turns out, I was already damn near to the end.  I was blown away at how quickly I blew through this.  Normally, even if I’m totally embedded in a story, I still have an idea of my place in the book without having to really think about it.  This one just kept me so wrapped up that I had no clue how far I had already read.

Like all the other Mercy Thompson books, this was absolutely awesome.  It is one of the very, very few series, fantasy genre or otherwise, where the relationship dynamics between romantic partners are totally balanced.  No matter what goes on around them, Adam never tries to down play or diminish Mercy’s strengths.  He never tries to get in the way of what she feels she needs to do, even if he isn’t comfortable with what that is.  It goes the same the other way.  It is awesome that we get to see their struggle sometimes in how they can let go of their own concerns or fears to be what the other needs and to accept each other for exactly who they are.

I also love the fact that Mercy isn’t this end all be all power that always comes in and single-handedly saves the day.  Sure, as the main character of the story, she is generally a huge part of it all, but her strengths lie in the fact that she is rarely ever alone in the saving the day role.  It is because she has other powerful people that are willing to stand by her in whatever needs to be faced.  Every one of them have their own flaws and weaknesses, but that doesn’t make any one of them any less than another.

This was another great addition to an already terrific series.

 

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Alex Craft Series Reread and Notes

In preparation for the supposed February 2nd release date of the very, very long awaited book 4, Grave Visions, in the Alex Craft series by Kalayna Price, I took the time to reread the first three books in the series.  I say supposed because the last book in the series to date was released in 2012.  4 years is a really long time to wait for a book and I’m kind of half expecting this to be yanked before it actually releases.  Not for any real reason but that I’m just so excited about his release and can’t believe it is actually finally happening.

Grave Witch – Book 1 Grave Dance – Book 2 Grave Memory – Book 3 Grave Visions- Book 4

If I had to rate the series as a whole, based on the first three books, I’d say this squeaks in around a 4.5.  I don’t use a ½ point rating, but I’m using it here more to indicate that it is just missing a 5 star rating from me.  Honestly, I love this series.  The world and the characters are all pretty vivid and amazing.  But there are just a couple of aspects to the overall story line that I’m just not a huge fan of and that is just enough to keep me from giving these my highest rating.

The world this series is set in is based on a modern society where magic and Fae are real.  The main character, Alex, is a grave witch who deals mostly with shades and ghosts and can see and interact with them on a level that other grave witches normally can’t because she can interact with and see different planes of existence.  There are lots of Fae, other witches with different specialties and soul collectors as some of the other more important characters.  How that is all built and written is done in a really excellent way and are the best parts of this series.

The parts that I’m just not a huge fan of are the romantic parts.  That is because that entire thread in this series has Alex bouncing back and forth between a soul collector that she calls Death and a Fae in the control of the Winter Queen, Falin.  Neither are relationships that she should be in or is even really allowed to have.  I’m not a huge fan of impossible relationships that are really pretty hopeless, but I’m even less of a fan of the triangle theme.  It makes the character in the middle seem really flaky and fickle.  Considering I really love most everything else about Alex’s character, that is frustrating.

Outside of the relationship issues, though, there are tons of great things going on with Alex fighting soul sucking Fae, a crazy witch and soul collector that are in love and a body jumping monster from the depths of the land of the dead.  All that while learning more about her history and becoming more than she ever thought she was, and doing her best not to piss of the Fae royalty.  It make for some awesome storytelling.

Each book does have a single large story arc that is resolved by the end of the book as well as larger ones that spread across the series, never really leaving the reader hanging.  Well, with the exception of book 3.  That one left something of a cliffhanger on the larger relationship story arc.  So not a good place to end a book when there is a 4 year gap between releases.

I do really love this series, even with the not so great relationship story issues.  I’m hoping like crazy that book 4 clears some of that up as it will make it even more frustrating if this is a never ending kind of a back and forth.  That kind of thing can kill a series.  I’m also hoping that whatever happened to force the gap in releases isn’t something that is a regular occurrence.

Broken: Will Trent, Book 4

BrokenAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Broken
Series: Will Trent
Order: 4
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  When Special Agent Will Trent arrives in Grant County, he finds a police department determined to protect its own. Officer Lena Adams is hiding secrets from him, and while her role in the death of the county’s popular police chief is unclear, that man’s widow, Dr. Sara Linton, desperately needs Trent’s help to crack the case of a prisoner’s death. While the police force investigates the murder of a young woman pulled from a frigid lake, Trent investigates the police force. Caught between two complicated and determined women, trying to understand the facts surrounding Chief Tolliver’s death, Trent will uncover explosive secrets–and confront a thin blue line that could be murderous if crossed.

Review:  Another addition to the Will Trent series.  In general, I am still liking the stories in this series, but there are things that are starting to get a little old and beginning to grate on my nerves.

The attitude and treatment towards Will’s dyslexia from both his boss and partner is beyond irritating.  Not only is it pretty darn ugly, but it just doesn’t strike me as being remotely realistic.  Either it is an acceptable disability to have in his profession and concessions are made to help him find work arounds for some of the areas where he lacks or it isn’t and he shouldn’t have that job.  The ridicule and snide comments, even the occasional things that are said and done that may even make his job harder just don’t add up.  The fact that we are at book 4 in the series and none of that has changed is annoying.  That and when Faith was introduced in this series, she seemed to be accepting and non-judgmental towards him, but now she is nearly as bad as the boss.

There is also a pretty consistent presentation for regular police officers in this series and this book continues that trend where normal police officers are lazy, stupid, corrupt or any combination of those traits.  Every single police officer, with an extremely rare few, in every book so far has been presented this way.  It is yet another aspect of these stories that just doesn’t really ring true and is starting to get pretty old.  It takes away from all the rest that is going on in the books, which is usually pretty good if you can get around these other things.

The last is Will’s relationship with his wife.  I had hoped after some of the things in previous books that we would finally be getting away from this horrid relationship that, other than adding a rather ugly element to the stories and makes Will seem even more pathetic, has no real bearing on the stories.

When you combine all of those issues that run consistently through all of the books so far in this series, you end up with these really bleak and hopeless characters that, even when the crimes are solved and the story is wrapping up, leaves a depressive taste with the reader rather than a feeling of resolution and growth.  It isn’t that good of a feeling.

I generally like the crime elements of these stories and, even though he does come across as mostly pathetic, I like Will’s character and want to see some good going on for him.  Have actually been hoping to see that from the beginning, yet this book is just the same no change, no improvement, general hopeless misery we’ve seen from the beginning.  I’m beginning to wonder what the point is as I’m so not a fan of the dreary feel.

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Beast Behaving Badly: Pride Series, Book 5

Beast Behaving BadlyAuthor: Shelly Laurenston
Book Name: Beast Behaving Badly
Series: Pride Series
Order: #5
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars

 

Blurb:  Some men just have more to offer. Like Bo Novikov, the hard muscled shape shifter hero of this wildly funny, deeply sexy new novel from Shelly Laurenston, part polar bear, part lion, pure alpha. . .

Ten years after Blayne Thorpe first encountered Bo Novikov, she still can’t get the smooth talking shifter out of her head. Now he’s shadowing her in New York, all seven plus feet of him, determined to protect her from stalkers who want to use her in shifter dogfights. Even if he has to drag her off to an isolated Maine town where the only neighbors are other bears almost as crazy as he is. . .

Let sleeping dogs lie. Bo knows it’s good advice, but he can’t leave Blayne be. Blame it on her sweet sexiness or his hunch that there’s more to this little wolf dog than meets the eye. Blayne has depths he hasn’t yet begun to fathom, much as he’d like to. She may insist Bo’s nothing but a pain in her delectable behind, but polar bears have patience in spades. Soon she’ll realize how good they can be together. And when she does, animal instinct tells him it’ll be worth the wait. . .

Review:   This was another reread for me.  I seriously needed something I knew I was going to enjoy so this was a perfect choice.  There are quite a few books in this series that I like, but Blayne is probably one of my favorite characters of the series, so I had to pick her book for this reread.

My first time around reading this book when I hit a part that had my hubby looking at me like I’d lost my mind because I busted out laughing, I knew that wouldn’t be the only time I’d read this book.  It is so rare for any book to crack me up like that.  I’m not really sure any other book or series has even come close.  These, I’m snorting and cackling and laughing the whole way through.

Blayne is insane.  Seriously, crazy, but in such a cool way that if you had the chance you would totally be her.  Everyone thinks she is this cute, crazy, but harmless girl and she normally is.  Do not ever piss her off, though, or that crazy turns into something not so cute and very deadly.  I love that she can be an absolute ditz but that isn’t all she is.  Bo is his own brand of crazy.  When paired with Blayne, you’d think that they were completely wrong for each other, but they absolutely work.

In a way, I’d kind of forgotten how much I loved this series.  Every single character is really their own brand of crazy.  I love how this shifter world creates an environment where all the things we wish we could do in the real world, but don’t for societies sake is totally okay for these shifters.  Like that jackass that pissed you off by cutting you off in line?  It is totally okay to shove them on their ass and stomp on them on your way by.  What better way to get out your aggressions than with shifter roller derby or shifter hockey?

I don’t have this series in my personal collection, but after this reminder I think it might just have to go towards the top of my wish list because just one read isn’t going to be enough.

 

A Red-Rose Chain: October Daye, Book 9

A Red-Rose ChainAuthor: Seanan McGuire
Book Name: A Red-Rose Chain
Series: October Daye
Order: #9
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars

 

Blurb:  Things are looking up.

For the first time in what feels like years, October “Toby” Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life—and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love, and maybe, just maybe, she can let her guard down for a change.

Or not. When Queen Windermere’s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of a diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined.

How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what’s past is never really gone.

It’s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

Review:   As a series, this has all the pieces need for an excellent fantasy book.  Incredible, richly crafted world, amazing characters with loads of depth on both the good and the bad side, and intricately built stories that keep readers interested from the start and never leave them bored for even a moment.

This addition to the October Daye series is no exception.  I have always loved October’s character as she is totally imperfect but is strong enough to both stand on her own and accept help in the times she needs it.  We continue to see that in this book, especially with her relationship with Tybalt.  He has power and strength of his own, but chooses to use that in support of Toby rather than to make her do what he wants or put her on a lower footing than him.  This is an example of a balanced relationship that you so very rarely see in any genre of story that it puts this into a special category all by itself.

Even though it had been a while since I last read a book in this series, I had no problem dropping right back into the story.  I didn’t even really have too many issues with trying to remember bits of the previous stories, which is another nice aspect to this series and how it is written.

This is one of those stories that I have a somewhat difficult time articulating what I liked about it because I honestly pretty much loved the whole thing.  The only even remotely negative thing I can say is that it ended way before I was ready to leave that world behind.  I just want more.

 

If You Know Her: Ash Trilogy, Book 3

If You Know HerAuthor: Shiloh Walker
Book Name: If You Know Her
Series: Ash Trilogy
Order: #3
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  A SHADOW IN THE WINDOW

Nia Hollister doesn’t scare easily. She’s returned to Ash, Kentucky, with a vengeance–and with a mission: find the killer who brutally ended her cousin’s life. What she didn’t count on was trembling with desire every time she sees Law Reilly. If any man can help her escape the nightmares for a while, it’s him. But can she allow herself to take comfort in those strong arms when her sister’s killer still roams free?

She may think she’s a bad ass, but she should not have come back to his town. He is watching her–as she slips into Law Reilly’s house, as she storms into the sheriff’s office. These men won’t be able to protect her when her time comes. Timing is everything, though he can’t wait forever. She’s nosing around the woods, looking for his hiding place. Yes, he is watching her . . . through the window . . . in her bed . . .

If she’s not scared, she should be . . . because he is very good at what he does.

Review:  As the third and final book in this series, this ended on a better note than the first two as there weren’t any hanging frustrations left at the end.

I liked the fact that the story was resolved by the characters figuring everything out rather than a big reveal.  It was fully played out and not just handed over in an info dump at the last minute.  Actually, I love that it turned out that way.  As a reader, if you paid really close attention, you could have figured some of it out along the way, but there were enough counter hints dropped to keep you from being 100% sure for a while at least, which was also really nice.

The series as a whole was really good, even with my frustrations with the first two book.  Each book was enough different from the others that they in no way felt cookie cutter.  They each brought something new and a bit different to the overall story.  This book still had the romance story, but unlike the first two it wasn’t the biggest part of the story.  That was balanced pretty equally with solving the big serial killer arch that was introduced in book 1.

I think I would have liked a little bit more of a look at the aftermath at the end to know what the fallout was and how it impacted these characters.  This was a great series even without that.

Cainsville Series Overview

Kelley Armstrong‘s latest book in the Cainsville series, Deceptions, was released earlier this week.  I again wanted to make sure I had a refresher read to make sure I didn’t end up missing anything in the new book, so I took the time to read the previous two books.  So glad I did, because I’d kind of forgotten how complex this story line actually is.

These books are all intricately connected and cannot be read as stand alone.  They absolutely have to be read in order or you are going to be seriously lost.  The general, larger story line, focuses on the main female character Olivia (Eden) and that she is the daughter of serial killers who was adopted after her parents arrest when she was two.  She didn’t find that fact out out until the point where the book starts (when she is 25).  Once she finds out, she spends her time dealing with the fallout when that becomes public knowledge, delving into her history and digging into the facts surrounding her birth parents crimes with the help of Gideon, an ethically questionable lawyer.

This series is packed full of side plots, dramas, details, intrigue and conspiracy throughout this series that makes this the kind of read where you really need to be aware and paying attention or you may end up missing something.  The first book gives quite a few hints as to what direction the series is going to go with hints of fae and celtic mythology showing up in Olivia’s background.  That takes a minor role starting out, but you know it is going to become a larger one later on down the line.  Everything is always tied back to the very unusual and isolated small town, Cainsville.

The unique approach to the paranormal in this book is probably one of the things that lands this series solidly on my favorites list.  It is contemporary, but with the aspects that put this into that paranormal genre beautifully worked in.  With the first book, you get those hints but then it twists off into a totally unexpected direction.  Each book seems to delve deeper into the paranormal side as more bits and pieces of Olivia’s history and origins are uncovered.

If you are a fan of Ms. Armstrong’s Otherworld series, this has a very different feel to it than those stories.  Since there is so much to these and they are so tightly woven together with lots of the side plots left open by the end of the books (without any ugly cliffhangers), the focus stays on the main characters instead of different characters and their stories being the focus of individual books.  I love how we get a smattering of reading from the different characters’ perspectives (and not just the main characters, but some of the side characters as well), but we aren’t constantly flip flopping.

Both the character development and world building in this series is beautifully done.  The characters are richly expressed and easily connected with.  The world is subtle, but that makes it so much easier to believe in it without stretching the imagination too far.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who hasn’t picked it up yet.

Bengal’s Quest: Breeds, Book 30

Bengal's QuestAuthor: Lora Leigh
Book Name: Bengal’s Quest
Series: Breeds
Order: #30
Genre: Romance/Erotic/SciFi
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  He was a shadow, ever shifting and insinuating, able to blend in everywhere and anywhere. The elusive ideal conceived and created by the Genetics Council, he went by just as many names as he had identities—the last one being Gideon.

Now calling himself Graeme, he hides in plain sight, terrifyingly close to his goal. A rogue Bengal Breed, he has loyalties to no one but himself. And he has a need for vengeance that surges hot and swift through his veins.

Graeme plans to exact an extreme and ruthless vendetta against those who wronged him—Breed and human alike. All will suffer his wrath: those who created him, those who pretended to love him, and those who betrayed him.

That includes the one at the center of it all: a seductive, enigmatic woman helpless against the man whose desire is just as desperate as his need to destroy.

And he’s on her scent…

Review:  It is kind of hard to review this book without some heavy commentary on the series as a whole.  Originally, I had liked the concept and the world that this series exists in, but there have always been bits that I haven’t been all that thrilled with.  As I’ve continued to read the series, those things continue to be issues and other, new things keep popping up.

It is hard to follow along from story to story, even reading in order, because sometimes there are huge time gaps on the story arch between stories, sometimes you end up in an entirely different group of characters with new connections and histories that the reader has never been introduced to, so it feels like you’ve missed a lot, especially when the last book left you hanging on something and it never gets addressed.  Sometimes there are just some random things that get tossed in there and it all ends up being confusing because the purpose isn’t defined or explained.  I guess you just have to assume that it is something of the world the story is set in, but it is hard to understand because of the lack of definition.

One of my biggest problems with this series, and this book is no exception, is that almost 100% of the time, the relationships start out on a rather antagonistical foot.  In some cases, they start out from a point of out and out hate.  Because of that, almost every single one of them end up with the initial sexual encounters coming across as forced, not consensual, with a whole lot more continuing throughout the majority of the book, not just the first time.

A series aspect in this world is this mating hormone thing, which is supposed to go a long way to explaining some of the issues with the forced concept, but honestly?  It is just a date rape drug as far as I’m concerned.  That is not sexy.  Taking a person’s will away from them by any means is not sexy.  I don’t really care if it is a “biological imperative” and something that is created naturally, it still takes away a persons will and ability to decide for them self what they do or do not want.  This bothers me on so many levels, but I sort of skimmed past some of that because I still liked the story beyond that part.

This story in particular just kind of pissed me off (and isn’t the only one that has done so).  I don’t think it is remotely attractive to have a romance story where one character out and out hates the other in the beginning, yet later in the story it is all “Oh, but deep down I really love them” later on.  Especially when you start throwing a sexual relationship in there.  It just does not work for me in any way.

The last thing that really drove me nuts with this book is that there were some pretty glaring editing problems that kept tripping me up, forcing me to reread parts to try and figure out what certain sentences or paragraphs were actually meant to say.  Along with the editing (have no clue who’s job it is to push an author for variety), and this is also a series peeve for me, is the constant and repetitive use of certain words and phrases in specific scenarios.  If I had to read the words flesh or pleasure-pain in one more sex scene, I’d have burned the damn thing.

I came very close several times to just putting this down and not reading.  I had already passed it up on my list several times before I decided I just wanted to get it over with (should have known I really wasn’t all that jazzed to read it in the first place at that point).  Between issues I’ve had with the series in the past and issues with this book in particular (which was actually pretty boring in comparison to some of the others), I think I’m done with this series.  I know I missed several books throughout the series up until this one, but I just do not have the desire to suffer through one more.  Besides, by the time you get to book 30 in a series (really?), you are at or beyond the cookie cutter stage and there just isn’t much new you can offer unless you are seriously damn good at what you do and are a creative genius and that is not the case here.

Shards of Hope: Psy-Changeling, Book 14

Shards of HopeAuthor: Nalini Singh
Book Name: Shards of Hope
Series: Psy-Changeling
Order: #14
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars

 

Blurb:  Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.


And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what. This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.

Review:  Love, love, LOVED it.  Yet again, Nalini Singh shows that she is an example to follow when it comes to writing a truly excellent fantasy novel.

The world she created for the Psy-Changeling series is amazingly done.  There are so many times where something that would have, under any other author, blown my ability to stay enmeshed and believing in the stories right out of the water, but she always follows through and makes it work so smoothly that I don’t even realize it until much later and I think back on how well she crafts her stories.

I adore the blend of cultures she has created for this world and that each one has their own unique abilities and vulnerabilities.  I have to say that my favorites are the changelings.  Though we didn’t get to spend as much time with them in this book, I was not disappointed.  We did get to see how much the world has begun to change after the fall of Silence and the fact that it impacts more than just the Psy.

Both Aden and Zaira in this book are strong characters and I love that, even with Silence in place while they were young and becoming Arrows, they stayed connected and loyal to each other.  Their story has some similar characteristics we’ve seen out of other Psy pair stories from this series in the past, but it is still very unique.  Even though this is book 14 in the series, it is far from cookie cutter.

Zaira has her damage and with that, her doubts, but they way Ms. Singh brings her to life in this story still allows her to have those doubts without the character becoming so doubt filled she is unable to still be an amazingly strong character.  That is sort of a signature in her writing and a facet that I love about all of her books.

I really enjoyed the revelation of Aden’s actual strength and his uniqueness.  It makes me wonder if his abilities are hints at what some of the Forgotten children, that are mentioned in passing in this book, will develop in later books.  Lots of new potential for new, future, issues were hinted at and I’m anxious to see where the next book is going to take us.

 

 

Asa: Marked Men, Book 6

AsaAuthor: Jay Crownover
Book Name: Asa
Series: Marked Men
Order: #6
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  You never know which moment might lead to forever . . .

Asa Cross struggles with being the man everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t change its spots, and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but also her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends, she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs, but his allure is too strong to resist. And she knows chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop just seem so wrong together . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.

Review:  This is the last book in the Marked Men series.  Because of that, it is almost impossible to write a review without reviewing the series as a whole.  While the books are connected because of the characters, you can generally read them in any order and not feel lost.  I actually read book 4, Nash, before I realized that there were other books before it.

The characters in this series are all quirky, messed up, struggling with who they are and how they fit in their world.  Basically, they are real and human and totally believable.  They are the kind of people that I’d love to know in real life.  Asa and Royal are no different, though Asa may be a bit more messed up than most.

I have loved this series.  When I first saw in the intro at the beginning of this book that it actually was the end of the series, I was pretty disappointed because it has been a refreshing change of pace for the romance genre.  Thankfully, Ms. Crownover intends to write around the characters I’ve come to love by focusing a new series on some of the supporting characters we were introduced to.

As this was the end of the series, we saw a bit more about the previous characters and where they were at in their own relationships than we have in previous books.  I like that it was done in such a way that it didn’t take away from Asa’s story.

The resolution at the end of this book was a bit of a twist that I didn’t see coming.  It was an interesting perspective when it comes to relationships as it isn’t something that I think most people would even consider, but I liked that it was so out of the box.  Much of this series deals with out of the box characters and situations and this one was no exception.  It really makes a person think of where there own personal line of what they are willing to live with or compromise may be.  It really was a great ending to an already wonderful series.

 

Iron Kin: Half Light City, Book 3

Iron KinAuthor: M.J. Scott
Book Name: Iron Kin
Series: Half Light City
Order: #3
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  Imagine a city divided. Fae and human mages on one side, vampire Blood Lords and shape-shifting Beast Kind on the other. Between these supernatural forces stands a peace treaty that threatens to shatter at the slightest provocation….

I was raised to do the right thing. But to my family that means staying safe behind the walls of human society. To be a respectable metalmage and never put myself at risk. But the treaty is faltering. And if it fails, nothing is safe. To help save the city and everyone I care about, I will use whatever means I can to ensure the negotiations to renew the treaty are successful—even if that means forging an alliance with a man who is the very opposite of the right thing….

Fen is trouble. Wild. He would rather bind himself in iron and drink himself into oblivion than learn to master the visions that come to him. Those visions might just hold the key to peace, and it seems that my power might hold the key to his control—if I can keep it around him….

Review:  As a series, I have really enjoyed the blend of Fae, Vampire, Shifters and Magic users that exist in this world.  It is a very unique blend that includes a touch of steampunk to the mix.  The first two books are a bit more self contained than this one.  You absolutely must know what has happened in those to really understand and grasp some of the underlying plot lines in this book.

The focus on this book is  Saskia, a metalmage, and Fen, a mixed breed seer and what their part is in the overall story arc of the series as well as their relationship with each other.  I’m not certain that their characters were quite as strong or interesting as the characters in the previous books, but this book wasn’t quite as clean cut as the others either.  It seemed to be more stage setting for the next book than anything which necessitated a level of complexity that we haven’t seen before.

Even though the characters didn’t come across as well for me, I did really enjoy this book.  There was an awful lot of stuff going on in this one and it ended on a “what the hell just happened” note that made it a bit frustrating with where it actually ended as I just wasn’t ready to be finished yet.

The House War, The Sacred Hunt and The Sun Sword Series Notes

Author: Michelle West
Series: The House War, The Sacred Hunt, and The Sun Sword

I have FINALLY gotten around to finishing all the re-reading I wanted to get in before I started on the latest book in this series.  I thought that before I actually wrote up the review for it, I needed to post a little about the series itself, which is actually listed as three separate series, though I’m not sure why as they are all pretty intimately connected.

The order that these books need to be read in also does not follow from series to series.  They overlap.  If you are not familiar with them, I recommend reading them in the order listed below:
The Hidden City – The House War
City of Night – The House War
Hunter’s Oath – The Sacred Hunt
Hunter’s Death – The Sacred Hunt*
House Name – The House War*
The Broken Crown – The Sun Sword
The Uncrowned King – The Sun Sword
The Shining Court – The Sun Sword
Sea of Sorrows – The Sun Sword
The Riven Shield – The Sun Sword
The Sun Sword – The Sun Sword
Skirmish – The House War
Battle – The House War
Oracle – The House War

The first note to the series that must be made is that Hunter’s Death and House Name are pretty much the same book.  I will admit that these were not the books that I took the time to re-read on this go round as I’ve already read the first several books in the series several times and felt that with the short time I had, I was okay to skip those.  Because of that I cannot say definitively, at this time, that they are exactly the same books (hey, it has been a while).  They are substantially enough the same that you could easily get away with only reading one.  The events in the last couple of books in the Sun Sword series happen at the same time as Skirmish and Battle from the House War Series.

These books are not the kinds of books that you can pick up one of the later books and not be totally lost.  You absolutely have to read them in order to be able to follow the story.  The entire storyline is incredibly intense and packed full of various different characters and places and political and personal interactions.  While each individual series has central characters, which are numerous, many of those characters are critical across the entire story line of all three series.  You could probably read the Sacred Hunt Series or the Sun Sword series alone, but if you want to read the House War series, you need to read them all in order to not miss out on something.

If you stop and think of what kind of mind can create the level of writing that is in these books, you just might break your brain.  Incredibly detailed world, phenomenally developed characters, intricately wrought and complex situations, relationships and political intrigues.  It is just so much to take in and absorb.  I actually described it to my husband as though you were reading about all of the residents in a small town, with all the details and personalities of each of those people and their interactions and relationships, except in a completely fantastical world filled with humans, magic, immortals, gods, and demons.  While this is a pretty dumbed down description, it is still pretty accurate.

In a way it is funny, because I’m not sure I would like a series like this written by any other author.  I don’t typically like reading books that are quite that intricately detailed and full while having to keep so close track of what is going on in a story, nor am I a huge fan of books that are that wed to the entire series that I would feel at a complete loss if I started in the middle somewhere.  In the case of these books, though, it is done so expertly that I cannot help but love every bit of it.  It is absolutely one of those “suck me in and devour me” kinds of series.