Archangel’s Viper: Guild Hunters, Book 10

Archangel's ViperAuthor: Nalini Singh
Book Name: Archangel’s Viper
Series: Guild Hunters
Order: #10
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman—it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head…

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself—because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…

No one is safe.

Years of reading and loving Nalini Singh has left me with certain expectations from one of her books. This is probably one of my least favorite in the Guild Hunter series.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a great book (see all those stars), but, for me, I just struggled to really feel or get any chemistry from this pair. I liked them both, but this didn’t quite grip me emotionally like pretty much every single other Nalini Singh book out there. What I did get, and it was there, seemed to come way late and with not quite enough going on between the two to make the fast turn around work as well as it could have.

I guess this was just missing that bit more spark I’m used to.

The Brightest Fell: October Daye, Book 11

The Brightest FellAuthor: Seanan McGuire
Book Name: The Brightest Fell
Series: October Daye
Order: #11
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Things are slow, and October “Toby” Daye couldn’t be happier about that. The elf-shot cure has been approved, Arden Windermere is settling into her position as Queen in the Mists, and Toby doesn’t have anything demanding her attention except for wedding planning and spending time with her family.

Maybe she should have realized that it was too good to last.

When Toby’s mother, Amandine, appears on her doorstep with a demand for help, refusing her seems like the right thing to do…until Amandine starts taking hostages, and everything changes. Now Toby doesn’t have a choice about whether or not she does as her mother asks. Not with Jazz and Tybalt’s lives hanging in the balance. But who could possibly help her find a pureblood she’s never met, one who’s been missing for over a hundred years?

Enter Simon Torquill, elf-shot enemy turned awakened, uneasy ally. Together, the two of them must try to solve one of the greatest mysteries in the Mists: what happened to Amandine’s oldest daughter, August, who disappeared in 1906.

This is one missing person case Toby can’t afford to get wrong.

Just one more confirmation that Seanan McGuire is still one of my favorites. All of the things that I have loved about this series are still there. The stunning world and how it works, the incredible characters, everything.

I think the one thing that I would complain about, and really it is kind of minor in comparison to all that is good, is that we didn’t get enough of Tybalt in this or really many of Toby’s personal interactions and relationships. She was forced to stand mostly on her own for this one, even when getting help from Simon. I did like that, getting to see that she can stand on her own, but one of the things I love the most are her relationships with those closest to her and those were taken away for this story. It didn’t take anything away from the story at all, just that when you come to love the characters so much, you want to spend as much time as possible with them, but there is only so much page space.

 

Rituals: Cainsville, Book 5

RitualsAuthor: Kelley Armstrong
Book Name: Rituals
Series: Cainsville
Order: #5
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance
Rating:  Favorite

5+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: When Olivia Taylor-Jones found out she was not actually the adopted child of a privileged Chicago family but of a notorious pair of convicted serial killers, her life exploded. Running from the fall-out, she found a refuge in the secluded but oddly welcoming town of Cainsville, Illinois, but she couldn’t resist trying to dig out the truth about her birth parents’ crimes. She began working with Gabriel Walsh, a fiendishly successful criminal lawyer who also had links to the town; their investigation soon revealed Celtic mysteries at work in Cainsville, and also entangled Olivia in a tense love triangle with the calculating Gabriel and her charming biker boyfriend, Ricky. Worse, troubling visions revealed to Olivia that the three of them were reenacting an ancient drama pitting the elders of Cainsville against the mysterious Huntsmen with Olivia as the prize.

This is the fifth and final book in the Cainsville series, so the description above is very vague, to avoid spoilers!

This is a hard one to write a review on without giving anything away. The story did it’s job of wrapping everything up with a solution for pretty much everything.

I’m giving this a full rating because the story is awesome. That said, I kind of felt like I already knew what was going to happen when it was all done. Yes, there were all kinds of directions this could have gone, but it ended how I expected it to, so this just kind of felt like confirming those thoughts. That was just a tiny bit of a let down because I didn’t feel all that surprised in the end.

Then again, I always feel a little let down when I get to the end of a series that I love because I’m just not quite ready to say goodbye to the characters.

The Skull Throne: Demon Cycle, Book 4

The Skull ThroneAuthor: Peter V. Brett
Book Name: The Skull Throne
Series: Demon Cycle
Order: #4
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


 

 

Blurb:  The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty.

Built from the skulls of fallen generals and demon princes, it is a seat of honor and ancient, powerful magic, keeping the demon corelings at bay. From atop the throne, Ahmann Jardir was meant to conquer the known world, forging its isolated peoples into a unified army to rise up and end the demon war once and for all.

But Arlen Bales, the Warded Man, stood against this course, challenging Jardir to a duel he could not in honor refuse. Rather than risk defeat, Arlen cast them both from a precipice, leaving the world without a savior, and opening a struggle for succession that threatens to tear the Free Cities of Thesa apart.

In the south, Inevera, Jardir’s first wife, must find a way to keep their sons from killing one another and plunging their people into civil war as they strive for glory enough to make a claim on the throne.

In the north, Leesha Paper and Rojer Inn struggle to forge an alliance between the duchies of Angiers and Miln against the Krasians before it is too late.

Caught in the crossfire is the duchy of Lakton—rich and unprotected, ripe for conquest.

All the while, the corelings have been growing stronger, and without Arlen and Jardir there may be none strong enough to stop them. Only Renna Bales may know more about the fate of the missing men, but she, too, has disappeared. . . .

Review:  At first, I wasn’t even going to write a review on this because I was so conflicted I just didn’t know where to even begin or how I really felt about it.  After thinking on it and having it drive me crazy I decided that I apparently needed to just get it out.

From a general standpoint, the concept and basic story is still pretty interesting and is really the only reason why I decided to read this one after the first three frustrated me so much.  They are actually pretty good, but there are also so very many specifics that make me want to toss this across the room and that just out and out piss me off.  There isn’t a rating for “This is good, but it also totally sucks.”

For the first time, we didn’t spend over half the book focused on stuff that has already happened and that we apparently have to suffer through from yet another character’s viewpoint, so that was a plus.  Sadly, Mr. Brett still managed to find ways to bloat this with so much that was rather unnecessary filler.  This could have easily been cut down by about 1/3 at least.  I have no problem with lengthy books.  In fact, those are typically some of my favorites, but only when every bit is important to the overall story.  That isn’t the case here.

Once you wade through all the stuffing, you then have to deal with seeing characters that have been pretty great in the series suddenly get a personality transplant into something rather ridiculous.  We saw it between book one and book two with Leesha.  With this one, it was Rojer.  He had his moments of self pity in previous books, but he seemed to get over those and get a backbone.  In this, he kind of becomes pathetic and only interested in getting yet another wife (don’t even want to get into the cultural overload in this series or how pathetic or horrible every single woman is portrayed).  He isn’t the only one.  By the time this book was finished, I don’t think that there really was a single character that was left even remotely likable, with maybe the exception of Arlen and that is only because he hardly has a second of page time, yet another annoyance.

Not only does the author do a pretty thorough job of destroying the personalities and likability of the majority of his characters in this book, he decides that it is a good idea to go on a giant killing spree and knock off a few pretty major characters as well as a whole slew of other secondary, but still prominent characters.

Between the personality changes and so many characters dying and the fact that not a single character is now left in this story that isn’t a self-serving, greedy, hateful creature, by the time I reached the end of this book I was ready to root for the demons to wipe out the human race because they were all too stupid to live.  While I would like to know how this all ends, I don’t think there is enough left to like after this book to suffer through all the garbage that I just can’t stand enough to read any more books in this series.

Save

The Oracle’s Queen: Tamir Triad, Book 3

The Oracle's QueenAuthor: Lynn Flewelling
Book Name: The Oracle’s Queen
Series: Tamir Triad
Order: #3
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


 

 

Blurb:  Under the rule of a usurper king, the realm of Skala has suffered famine, plague, and invasion. But now the time for the rightful heir has come, a return to the tradition of warrior queens. And the Lightbearer’s prophecy is to be upheld at last: so long as a daughter of the royal line defends and rules, Skala will never be subjugated.

Now a mystical fire has burned away the male body known as Prince Tobin, revealing Princess Tamír, a girl on the verge of womanhood–and a queen ready to claim her birthright after a life in disguise under the protection of wizards and witches. But will her people, her army–and the friends she was forced to deceive–accept her? Worse, will the crown’s rival heir, friend to Tobin, turn foe to Tamír, igniting civil war in a fierce
battle for Skala?

Review:  It is a little shocking, if you consider how closely I came to not finishing the first book in this series, how much I ended up liking this.  I’ve said before that this just isn’t quite what I typically like to read in a fantasy book/series.  That is still true.  This wouldn’t be one of my first choices, but it would be one that I’d absolutely pick up and read again.

Save

Hidden Warrior: Tamir Triad, Book 2

Hidden WarriorAuthor: Lynn Flewelling
Book Name: Hidden Warrior
Series: Tamir Triad
Order: #2
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


 

 

Blurb:  A trick of magic, a twist of fate.

As the orphaned nephew of the king, trusted companion to his cousin, and second heir to the throne of Skala, Prince Tobin’s future is clear. But not as clear as the spring in which a hill witch shows him his true face–and his secret destiny….

Now Tobin carries a burden he cannot share with even his closest friend, Ki, his squire. He is to rule–not as he is but as he was born: a woman. Given the shape of a boy by dark magic, Tobin is the last hope of the people of Illior–those who desperately seek a return to the old ways, when Skala was ruled by a line of warrior queens. They still believe that only a woman can lift the war, famine, and pestilence that have run rampant through the land since the king usurped his half sister’s throne. It is these outlaw wizards and witches who protect Tobin–and it is for them that Tobin must accept his fate.

With the unsuspecting yet fiercely loyal Ki at his side, Tobin must turn traitor against the only blood ties he has left. He must lift the masks of Skala’s rulers to show their true colors–before he can reveal the power of the woman within himself.

Review:  Thankfully this lacked much of the morbid factor that the first book had.  That opened up the story more for me to enjoy better.  It still skirts the fantasy genre line of what I like, though.  There are not a ton of elements that allow this to fit into that genre and is a big par of why it skirts that line for me.

Tobin’s whole situation is because of magic (which is mostly just background fact rather than situational substance), but outside of that and the extremely rare appearances of Brother there aren’t many instances of anything truly fantastical until late in the book.  Even then it isn’t really the focus of the story.   The focus is more on the characters themselves, their relationships and fighting rather than anything out of the ordinary.

I did like this, even though it isn’t my typical kind of read and is actually more of a young adult book, so I will be reading the last one in this series to see how it all finishes out in the end.

Save

The Bone Doll’s Twin: Tamir Triad, Book 1

The Bone Doll's TwinAuthor: Lynn Flewelling
Book Name: The Bone Doll’s Twin
Series: Tamir Triad
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


 

 

Blurb:  Sometimes the price of destiny is higher than anyone imagined….

Dark Magic, Hidden Destiny

For three centuries a divine prophecy and a line of warrior queens protected Skala. But the people grew complacent and Erius, a usurper king, claimed his young half sister’s throne.

Now plague and drought stalk the land, war with Skala’s ancient rival Plenimar drains the country’s lifeblood, and to be born female into the royal line has become a death sentence as the king fights to ensure the succession of his only heir, a son. For King Erius the greatest threat comes from his own line — and from Illior’s faithful, who spread the Oracle’s words to a doubting populace.

As noblewomen young and old perish mysteriously, the king’s nephew — his sister’s only child — grows toward manhood. But unbeknownst to the king or the boy, strange, haunted Tobin is the princess’s daughter, given male form by a dark magic to protect her until she can claim her rightful destiny.

Only Tobin’s noble father, two wizards of Illior, and an outlawed forest witch know the truth. Only they can protect young Tobin from a king’s wrath, a mother’s madness, and the terrifying rage of her brother’s demon spirit, determined to avenge his brutal murder….

Review:  I have to be honest, there were several points throughout this where I came very close to putting this down and not finishing it because, even though this is a fantasy genre book, it is just enough outside the type of fantasy that I typically enjoy.  It is very dark at points, with a horribly morbid, twisted undertone that was just almost too much for me to enjoy.  I was able to enjoy and appreciate the quality of writing despite struggling to stay in the story because of how twisted this got.  It was for that reason that I decided to stick with it until the end and I am glad because this is a good story.  It is still just a bit outside of what I normally like and is the main reason I can’t give this a higher rating.  That and the fact that this left off with a rather nasty cliff hanger, which drives me crazy so I am very much interested in seeing where the next book takes this.

Save

Primal Possession: Moon Shifters, Book 2

Primal PossessionAuthor: Katie Reus
Book Name: Primal Possession
Series: Moon Shifter
Order: #2
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:  To protect her, he will unleash the beast within…

As his pack’s second-in-command, lupine shifter Liam Armstrong gives orders and takes what he wants—until he meets red-headed, blue-eyed December McIntyre. Liam knows the human beauty is his intended mate the moment he sees her, but December is far too strong-willed to accept his protection.

December, whose brother is the town sheriff, has every reason to mistrust shifters after one killed her youngest sibling. But the forceful and handsome Liam has gotten under her skin in a way she hadn’t thought possible, and the desire she feels for him is almost too much to bear.

When a radical hate group targets all humans known to sympathize with paranormal beings, December is attacked in her bookstore. Reluctantly, she turns to the only one who can help her: Liam. And he is going to take her to places within herself she never knew existed.

Review:  There was nothing about this book that really made it stand out as being all that different than just about any other shifter book on the market.  You have your standard pushy, arrogant, alpha male shifter that isn’t all that smart and the weak, ineffective human female that he is stupidly determined to protect, even from himself.  That isn’t such a horrible concept, but it is just so typical and common and over done.  I didn’t hate this but I also probably won’t remember it a month from now.

Save

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.

 

Save

Marked In Flesh: The Others, Book 4

Marked In FleshAuthor: Anne Bishop
Book Name: Marked In Flesh
Series: The Others
Order: #4
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Favorite
5+stars


Blurb:  For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within themselves and within their community…

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…

Review:  Yes, yes, YES!  Seriously, you just can’t get much better than this.  I knew it was going to be good because I love Anne Bishop, but even going in knowing that, expecting that, I still got way better than that.

I also knew going in that this was going to be one of those intense books since this was the Humans against the Others collision that had been getting built up in the previous books, so that part wasn’t a surprise.  It isn’t often though that the book I’m reading forces me to get up and move while I’m reading because I just can’t sit still.  I was antsy all the way through this.

My biggest complaint with this is really the same one I always have with these books (not that is any kind of real complaint) and that is that there just isn’t enough.  I want more Meg and Simon and Sam and all the rest of the Lakeside Courtyard cast because they are my absolute favorite parts of these books.  I also want more story because I am never ready to hit that last page, knowing that I’m done until the next release.  Even giving myself the time to reread the first three books before this one came out, I’m still not ready to walk away from some of my absolute favorite characters.

Part of what kept me on edge was feeling like this had to end up being the last book in the series, because where can it go from here after such a huge shift, but just not ever really knowing for sure as there were possibilities either way all the way up until the end.  Thankfully, it doesn’t look like Ms. Bishop is ready to let this wonderful world go just yet.

Save

Daughter of Blood: Wall of Night, Book 3

Daughter of BloodAuthor: Helen Lowe
Book Name: Daughter of Blood
Series: Wall of Night
Order: #3
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Malian of Night and Kalan, her trusted ally, are returning to the Wall of Night—but already it may be too late. The Wall is dangerously weakened, the Nine Houses of the Derai fractured by rivalry and hate. And now, the Darkswarm is rising . . .

Among Grayharbor backstreets, an orphan boy falls foul of dark forces. On the Wall, a Daughter of Blood must be married off to the Earl of Night, a pawn in the web of her family’s ambition. On the Field of Blood, Kalan fights for a place in the bride’s honor guard, while Malian dodges deadly pursuers in a hunt against time for the fabled Shield of Heaven. But the Darkswarm is gaining strength, and time is running out—for Malian, for Kalan, and for all of Haarth . . .

Review:  So much better than the last one!  Instead of huge chunks of time seeming to just drag along like we saw in the first two books, this one picks things up and keeps a steady, intense pace throughout.  We also spend way more time with the focus being on our main characters rather than hopping all over between main and secondary characters.

Of the main characters, this one seems to focus most heavily on Kalan so we get to see his character growth first hand.  While we do see bits of Malian, they are small and with the little actual growth we saw of her in the last book and the short page time in this one, it feels like we’ve missed some important changes along the way.  That would have to be one of my only drawbacks to this, the fact that we saw so little of her.

The only other drawback, and it is more of a personal taste thing than anything, is the giant cliff we were left hanging off at the end of the book.  It is understandable that with an ongoing series that builds book to book that you aren’t going to see major story line resolutions and that is fine.  I’m just not a huge fan of a main character doing or experiencing something big only to not know the outcome.  As a major character, you know it can’t be world ending, but still.  Not a fan of the hang.  Sadly, I’m not seeing when the next one in this series is going to get released yet, so I’m going to have to wait a while to get any answers.  Otherwise, I liked this one the best of the series so far.

Save

The Gathering of the Lost: Wall of Night, Book 2

The Gathering of the LostAuthor: Helen Lowe
Book Name: The Gathering of the Lost
Series: Wall of Night
Order: #2
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Garrisoned by the Nine Houses of the Derai, the towering mountain range called the Wall of Night is all that separates the people of Haarth from the terrible Darkswarm.

Five years have passed since the Wall was breached and the Keep of Winds nearly overrun. Five years since the Heir of Night, Malian, and her friend and ally Kalan went missing in the wild lands of Jaransor.

Now, in Haarth’s diverse southern realms, events are moving. From the wealthy River city of Ij to the isolated Emerian outpost of Normarch, rumors of dark forces and darker magics are growing. As the great Midsummer tournament at Caer Argent approaches, Haarth will have one opportunity to band together against an enemy in which few believe . . . or be lost forever.

Review:  This was a frustrating read.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still really liked this, but it took way too long to get to that point where I was still interested in what was going on.

It started out just fine and looked like it was going to continue from where the first book left of, but quickly turned into something else entirely.  Firstly with the entire focus being on the heralds from book one rather than on the two other major characters.  I get it.  Most of what went on was important to events later in the plot, but there was a whole lot of extra in there that could have been paired back.

Then there is another character perspective shift, one that made absolutely zero sense.  I had my suspicions as to the general path it was leading to, but there was just so much that, at that point, had no relation to the story so far.  A good half of the first 50% of the book fell into that “didn’t relate” realm that I very nearly called it quits.  Yes, I’m glad I didn’t as there was a really nice twist that helped, but it was just almost too much and it felt like a lot of the momentum that was built up in the first book got lost in this one during that apparently unrelated time.  By the time you actually got to the point where the familiar characters emerged and became a part of the story again and things got interesting with many of the magical aspects from the first book, it stalls out a bit again with the heavy emphasis on the tournaments.

In the end, we actually see very little actual page time or character growth from the two expected to be the focus of this series, Kalan and Malian.  What we do see is only just alluded to because there is a 5 year gap in the timeline of their story (which still makes them only 17 and 19, so still a YA book) so we don’t get to see what little growth they did have and how it came about.  That and the purpose behind the title of this book doesn’t even come into play until the very last 10% or so.  I do absolutely enjoy this series.  It is definitely unpredictable and doesn’t follow any set formula for a book in this genre.  There is just a lot of extra that tends to drag at the parts that are so good that it doesn’t break into the truly great class.

Save

The Heir of Night: Wall of Night, Book 1

The Heir of NightAuthor: Helen Lowe
Book Name: The Heir of Night
Series: Wall of Night
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  

If Night falls, all fall . . .

In the far north of the world of Haarth lies the bitter mountain range known as the Wall of Night. Garrisoned by the Nine Houses of the Derai, the Wall is the final bastion between the peoples of Haarth and the Swarm of Dark–which the Derai have been fighting across worlds and time.

Malian, Heir to the House of Night, knows the history of her people: the unending war with the Darkswarm; the legendary heroes, blazing with long-lost power; the internal strife that has fractured the Derai’s former strength. But now the Darkswarm is rising again, and Malian’s destiny as Heir of Night is bound inextricably to both ancient legend and any future the Derai–or Haarth–may have.

 

Review:  As with many new fantasy series (at least new to me), this one left me cautiously optimistic.  The world is wonderfully crafted and there is a full cast of interesting characters.  I was definitely pulled deeply into the story.

I was a bit surprised at the ages of a couple of the main characters because this wasn’t noted as being a young adult book.  Since Malian is 12 and Kalan is 14, this kinda sorta should have that label.  They aren’t the only big characters and all the rest appear to be adults, but Malian and Kalan are mostly the focus of this story.  I can say that many of the things I don’t like about YA books are not present here.  If anything, I had a difficult time remembering that those two were actually that young as they appear much more mature than their stated ages, so for me that was actually a plus.

I already have the next book checked out and ready to go, so I’m excited to see if book 2 holds up to what book 1 has built up so far.

Save

Hell & High Water: THIRDS, Book 1

Hell & High WaterAuthor: Charlie Cochet
Book Name: Hell & High Water
Series: THIRDS
Order: #1
Genre: SciFi/Fantasy/LGBT
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  When homicide detective Dexter J. Daley’s testimony helps send his partner away for murder, the consequences—and the media frenzy—aren’t far behind. He soon finds himself sans boyfriend, sans friends, and, after an unpleasant encounter in a parking garage after the trial, he’s lucky he doesn’t find himself sans teeth. Dex fears he’ll get transferred from the Human Police Force’s Sixth Precinct, or worse, get dismissed. Instead, his adoptive father—a sergeant at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron otherwise known as the THIRDS—pulls a few strings, and Dex gets recruited as a Defense Agent.

Dex is determined to get his life back on track and eager to get started in his new job. But his first meeting with Team Leader Sloane Brodie, who also happens to be his new jaguar Therian partner, turns disastrous. When the team is called to investigate the murders of three HumaniTherian activists, it soon becomes clear to Dex that getting his partner and the rest of the tightknit team to accept him will be a lot harder than catching the killer—and every bit as dangerous.

Review:  This is one of those books that has a lot going for it that is really pretty good, but has a handful of things that just rubbed me wrong and kind of threw it off.

Overall, the story line is pretty good and kept things interesting, though I picked up the bad guy and a lot of details right off the bat, so it fell more into the predictable range after that.  Where things got weird and kept yanking me out of the story is with the characters.  Don’t get me wrong, I really kind of liked them, but they just didn’t quite work for me.

Both of the main guys, Dex and Sloane, are these supposed tough guy cops with lots of experience, Sloane even being more badass as he is a shifter.  Yet… their general personalities and several situations contradict those facts.  Dex is constantly getting his ass handed to him, whether by several people at a time or sparring with Sloane.  This happens several times throughout the book, even towards the end when it is up against only one guy.  Compound that with some of Dex’s personality and antics that gets thrown around in what is supposed to make him funny, but it makes him seem kind of weak and cowardly (the funny usually worked, but in a really weird way).  Sloane didn’t bug me quite as much as Dex, but we hardly saw any of what should have been his potential strengths.

There are certain job types or rolls that really do take a certain kind of personality to fit those rolls.  That may seem a bit stereotypical, it is still something of an expectation people have.  In what is darn near a SWAT like team or even a kind of military group, the personalities of both Dex and Sloane just don’t quite always work.  Dex especially as there are times that he just really kind of comes across as the nerdy guy everyone beat up on rather than as a tough cop.  Sloane’s was more in how his thoughts and emotions were presented along with his more “off duty” personality.  Enough that it was hard for me to stay immersed in the story and that ended up overshadowing what could have been a really good story.

Throw into that mix a story that doesn’t really have any clean resolutions by the end of the book and this was a mostly good, but frustrating read.

Save

Elemental Arcane: The Eldritch Files, Book 1

Elemental ArcaneAuthor: Phaedra Weldon
Book Name: Elemental Arcane
Series: The Eldritch Files
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Samantha Hawthorne lives a rather curious life in New Orleans running a magic and herb shop. As an Elemental Witch in the Big Easy and owner of a wolf Familiar as well as the head of a former Faerie Queen, curious is as quiet as it gets for Sam.

Until children start turning into blood-thirsty Changelings and attack their parents.

When one of these children shows up in front of her shop, Sam and her friends are determined to find out where they’re coming from and where the exchanged children are being kept and put a stop to it. But will they succeed when they find themselves pitted against ninja ghouls, one of the oldest and darkest enemies of the mortal world, and a secret from Sam’s childhood that could unravel her magic?

Review:  Since this is a new author for me, I really wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  Though on the shorter side, I did end up liking this quite a bit.

There were enough twists and turns in the plot to keep it interesting and is apparently not one of those stories where the main character is this can do not wrong, perfect, mega-magic user that just happens to be able to easily solve everything with the awesomeness of her powers.  Instead, she has lots of potential balanced out by normal, human imperfections.  So far I’m liking many of the supporting cast of characters as well.

I’m left feeling cautiously optimistic about this author.  Sadly, these aren’t carried at my local library, so I may only be able to grab additional books occasionally between my “must have” purchase budget.

Save

Dragon Storm: Black Dragons, Book 2

Dragon StormAuthor: Katie MacAlister
Book Name: Dragon Storm
Series: Black Dragons
Order: #2
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  TURN ON THE CHARM
According to some (including himself), Constantine is one of the greatest heroes of dragonkin who ever lived. Too bad he’s now lonelier than ever and his biggest adventure involves a blow-up sheep-until he has an opportunity to save his kind once again. All Constantine has to do is break into a demon’s dungeon, steal an ancient artifact, and reverse a deadly curse. The plan certainly does not involve rescuing a woman . . .
TURN UP THE HEAT
Bee isn’t sure whether to be infuriated or relieved when Constantine pops up in her prison. The broody, brawny shifter lights her fire in a way no one ever has before, yet how far can she really trust him? Their chemistry may be off the charts, but when push comes to shove, Constantine will have to make a crucial choice: to save the dragons or the woman he’s grown to love with fierce intensity.

Review:  Not sure if I just wasn’t much in the mood for this one, if it was that it just wasn’t  as interesting, but I just didn’t like this one as much as I have many of the other books in this world.  Constantine’s demeanor is supposed to be funny, but it just kind of felt more pompous and it all sort of fell flat for me.  Bee’s personality didn’t grab me either.

The story wasn’t bad, I just didn’t really get as into it as I had hoped, so I think I may have to go with mood more than anything.

Save

Sing the Four Quarters: Quarters, Book 1

Sing the Four QuartersAuthor: Tanya Huff
Book Name: Sing the Four Quarters
Series: Quarters
Order: 1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:  The Bards of Shkoder hold the country together. They, and the elemental spirits they Sing – earth, air, fire, and water – bring the news of the sea to the mountains, news of the mountains to the plains. They give their people, from peasant to king, a song in common.

Annice is a rare talent, able to Sing all four quarters, but her brother, the newly enthroned King Theron, sees her request to study at the Bardic Hall as a betrayal. To his surprise, Annice accepts his conditions, renouncing her royal blood and swearing to remain childless so as not to jeopardize the line of succession. She walks away from political responsibilities, royal privilege and her family.

Ten years later, Annice has become the Princess Bard and her real life is about to become the exact opposite of the overwrought ballad her fellow students at the Bardic Hall wrote about her. Now, she’s on the run from the Royal Guards with the Duc of Ohrid, the father of her unborn child, both of them guilty of treason – one of them unjustly accused. To save the Duc’s life, they’ll have to cross the country, manage to keep from strangling each other, and defeat an enemy too damaged for even a Bard’s song to reach.

Review:  Not really sure how I felt about this one.  It was an okay story, but I had a really hard time getting pulled into it or having any kind of an emotional connection with the characters.  Not that they were bad or anything, but there was just so much that seemed to be missing that I never really got to understand them or even the world this was set in.

There were lots of concepts and ideas that were tossed around that you could only ever make some very general assumptions about because they were never explained.  I think a huge portion of this was based on the world’s belief system, but with little to no details provided to help the reader understand what that was made it incredibly difficult to grasp a character’s behavior or how those beliefs either enhanced or limited their abilities, if it did at all.

I guess it just felt like there were a lot of important details missing or that they were never fully fleshed out.

 

Save

Mind Magic: World of the Lupi, Book 12

Mind MagicAuthor: Eileen Wilks
Book Name: Mind Magic
Series: World of the Lupi
Order: 12 (Goodreads listing)
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Thanks to the mindspeech lessons she’s receiving from the black dragon, Lily is temporarily benched from Unit Twelve—until her brain acclimates and the risk of total burnout passes. At least she has her new husband, lupi Rule Turner, to keep her occupied.

But when her mentor calls in a favor and sends Lily to a murder scene, she’s suddenly back on active status—despite the hallucinations she can’t keep at bay. With one touch, Lily knows the man was killed by magic, but her senses don’t warn her how far the conspiracy goes…

A shadowy force within the government wants to take Unit Twelve down, and they don’t mind killing to achieve their goal. With none of her usual resources, Lily is up against impossible odds—because with her mind in disarray, she can’t trust anything she sees.

Review:  I have always really enjoyed this series and this book is no exception.  I can say that I don’t think that I loved it quite as much as I have previous books.

For me, this seemed to kind of drag on without a whole lot of anything specific going on.  There wasn’t quite the amount of flashy, showy magic in this one as we’ve gotten in many of the other books.  I was also hoping to see a lot more of Lily’s character than we did, especially after reading the blurb, which made it seem like the focus of this book was more on her.

I did still really enjoy this, but it felt kind of like a background set up book, basically putting certain things in place so that they could be brought out in a later book.

Save

Not Broken: True Destiny, Book 5

Not BrokenAuthor: Dana Marie Bell
Book Name: Not Broken
Series: True Destiny
Order: #5
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars


Blurb:  Slade Saeter endured centuries of torture, longing for the day he could claim Magnus Tate and Sylvia Grimm as mates. Now freedom is his, but nightmares still plague this son of Loki, and he fears his lovers will believe him too fragile to bond.

Magnus never thought he could have the woman of his dreams, not when she was broken by his own father, her heart shattered by Thor’s infidelities and their ultimate divorce. But Slade’s determination gives him a glimmer of hope.

Never one to let anything keep her down for long, Sylvia has long since healed from her ex-husband’s betrayals. But accepting her own stepson as a bonded mate? While it’s something she can wrap her body around, her heart is another story.

As three war-weary, damaged hearts slowly find balance among them, they form bonds of surprising strength. But with danger descending upon them with the fury of a Valkyrie, time is the one thing they may not have.

Review:  Normally I enjoy Dana Marie Bell’s writing, if for no other reason than it is generally pretty humorous.  This one just didn’t do it for me for some reason.

After having read the whole thing and got to the end, I was still trying to figure out what was supposed to have happened because nothing really did.  Sure, there are lots of sexy times going on in this as is typical of this series, but the story outside of that just really isn’t there.  That and even the sexy times weren’t all that awesome.  They were just kind of there.

Even the characters weren’t that great here.  Both Slade and Syliva were these weepy, pitiful people, at least when they weren’t constantly giggling.  Magnus was decent, but even he didn’t come close to the level of interesting that many other characters from previous books held.

It kind of feels like the author completely gave up on the larger storyline that runs through this series to focus on the steam, but failed to even reach the simmer stage.

Save

Grave Visions: Alex Craft, Book 4

Grave VisionsAuthor: Kalayna Price
Book Name:
Grave Visions
Series:
Alex Craft
Order:
#4
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  If you want to hear voices from the dead in Nekros City, you call Alex Craft. She’s a grave witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary powers who specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. But she has her own secrets. She’s not human—and her newly discovered heritage is causing havoc for her both in the human realm and in Faerie.

Fae can’t survive without a tie to Faerie, and now that Alex’s true nature has awoken, she’s no exception. She must align herself to a court, and soon. To retain as much freedom as possible, she makes a deal to track the source of a new glamour-infused street drug which causes hallucinations that kill—and not just the user. Her investigation entangles Alex in a conflict brewing in Faerie, and she must find answers before she’s dragged so deep that she loses not only her freedom, but her life.

Review:  There is always a huge worry when there is a large gap between releases in a series that it just won’t be the same as it was before, even more so when that gap lasts 4 years.  I can say that this had very much the same feel as the previous 3 books, which is and isn’t necessarily a good thing.

It is good because all the elements that I’ve loved about this series are still there.  The world is still rich in both characters and setting.  We get to see plenty of it in this book and is the biggest reason for the rating, along with an interesting main story line.

It is not so good because it seems as though the characters didn’t grow or progress all that much from the previous books.  There was no obvious or significant change in Alex’s powers.  There is still the three-way drama with her sort of relationships with Falin and Death.  The only difference at all doesn’t even take place until the end of the book and even that is apparently just a temporary fix that doesn’t actually solve anything.

On a spoiler note…

While this does resolve the main issue story line, it also doesn’t.  It mostly leaves a whole lot of open ended speculation that there is more going on than what we saw here.  It also felt pretty anti-climactic that the reader never learns why Glitter didn’t burn out Alex like it did every other user.  You can speculate that it is because she is at least part Fae, along with the Winter Queen, but it is never actually addressed.  You would think that with her ability to see through glamours, it wouldn’t have affected her the same way and that there should have been a very different affect on the Queen than there was on Alex.

I do really enjoy this series, but I would love it a whole lot more if we could get past the unnecessary relationship flip flopping and move on to something different now.  Resolve it one way or another and lets explore Alex’s place within the world of Faerie as that seems to be a much more important issue.

Save

Night Study: Study Series, Book 5

Night StudyAuthor: Maria V. Snyder
Book Name:
Night Study
Series: 
Chronicles of Ixia (Soulfinder #2)
Order:
#8
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Excellent/Favorite
5+stars


Blurb:  Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana’s life has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he’s quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he’s been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander’s mysterious plans, they realize it’s far more sinister than they could have ever imagined.

Review:  As this series moves forward, it just keeps getting more and more intense.

The shifting around and changing of powers, or lack thereof, with Yelena and Valek is only one of the things that ups the intensity.  It is kind of nice to see a fantasy series where the characters have magical powers that don’t just always keep growing and saving the day.  Magic is awesome in fantasy books, but I don’t want it to always be the thing that fixes everything.  All the characters in this book (and the series) need to rely on both their powers and their smarts to get through all the stuff that gets thrown at them.

For a bit during this story, I was a little overwhelmed with the feeling that the characters were in an utterly hopeless situation and that it would always be non-stop struggle, one obstacle hurdle after another, but there were enough nuggets and hints of information that let me know it wasn’t quite as bad as I was thinking.  Which is a good thing because I’d hate to see this series go that direction.

As is typical, I so wasn’t ready for this to be done by the time I got to the last page.  I really loved this addition to the series and where it looks to be going next.  Even though I’ve already read this now, I may have to go back and reread all the rest again, just because.

Save