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Review Date: 7/18/2011
"I started this book expecting it to be the same as the other Arcane Society novels, but was surprised to find that it wasn't. It has the same strong, unique characters, a good plot, crafty villains--everything that makes a Quick book, but it felt different too. I guess that's a good thing, considering that it is supposed to be a parallel, almost opposing story to all of the Jones novels. Oh, and did I mention, it's book two? Reading out of order again: guilty as charged.
This book felt short to me, though it could have been that I was enjoying the story and not paying attention to how far along I was. I like Griffin. He's a strong, self-assured and capable man, and his career is rather unique. Having a character who's some kind of criminal mastermind sounds like a clichéd idea. But it isn't with Griffin. Quick weaves his web of power very convincingly, and Griffin understands his responsibilities and the risks in a way that tell you his world is a real one. Adelaide is interesting; definitely not your run of the mill girl for this day and age. She has a really in-depth background with a lot of cool stuff, but I felt her story was still kind of flat. I knew she had been all over in the new world and had done and was still doing rather dangerous things, but I just couldn't bring her background story into the actual novel. The one exception is where the novel starts, with her brothel raids.
I loved the re-intro of Lucinda and Caleb; very cool, very cool. There's no better way to make a story vivid than to bring back other much-loved characters who have already helped to establish the world.
There are several scenes throughout that caught me unawares and had really obvious messages in them. For one, I was surprised Adelaide let Griffin walk off with the lamp, especially after she had carried it around with her for so many years. She said she was glad to be rid of it, but given the energy and time she'd put into preserving it, I would have thought she'd be a little more protective. Another scene was when Griffin took a bullet meant for Adelaide--I just kind of laughed and thought, "Yeah, there's the beginning of the romance." My favorite scene is probably the first face-to-face meeting between Caleb and Griffin. They're both strong males who meet on fairly level ground, both needing information, but both also determined to hold their own and not give too much away. Putting two such characters together can either go badly or well, and Quick of course, does it well.
Overall, The Burning Lamp is a good read, though I think I prefer the Jones books. But the excerpt from the third book at the end is pretty awesome, so I'm going to stick out this series.
Review Date: 5/29/2011
"Captive Queen follows Eleanor of Aquitaine from her youth as the French King Louis' wife to her dying days in her beloved Abby of Fontevrault. The story reads like life, sometimes merry and romantic and other times frustrating to tears. Eleanor started out as many of us do--with ambitions and dreams and a desire for true love. And like many discover, things just aren't as simple as our own needs. Eleanor is a relatable character in each of her stages of life, and her emotions are well conveyed as she matures and her situation changes. I appreciated the genuine passion she had with Henry, and at the same time, I felt her frustration with him for his lack of acknowledgement of her as a capable queen in her own right.
One of the things that I connected with was Eleanor's struggle to maintain her individuality and her authority as a duchess and a queen when the whole world--even her husband--wanted to melt her existence down and mold it around Henry. This struggle to be a person and not just someone's wife is something that a lot of women go through and can relate to, and Eleanor's was on a grand scale. Not only did she have herself to look after, but her people as well, and Henry obviously didn't have much know-how in dealing with "her rebellious lords." Oftentimes, I was frustrated with how she settled to letting him hold so much power and make decisions, but I realize that that settling would have been so subtle for her that she wouldn't have even realized it was happening. I think part of it too is that I'm looking backwards across time, and so expect more from a woman's perspective.
The most powerful part of the novel is her prolonged imprisonment. I guess after fifteen years, she would have reached some kind of peace with it, but even after all of those chapters, I couldn't. I burned with indignation and the injustice of it, that Henry would think he could do something like that, and that their world condoned it. The only thing that made it better was the hope that her children were working for her release. I was disappointed that they didn't free her sooner, but you can't re-write history, and even if you did, that wouldn't have erased the exile she experienced. It just flabbergasted me that she was held captive like that and the whole world let it go on.
I liked the way the novel went back and forth between an eagle-eye perspective and a first person one. It helped me to keep the big picture in mind as well as understand what was going on with each character. This is the kind of approach that's difficult because it's easy to end up losing either the big picture or the characters, but Weir did a good job of keeping them balanced and supplemental.
This is exactly the kind of book that I've come to appreciate recently because it's a mix of historical events and people and fictional embellishment. They say reality is stranger than fiction, and in the hands of the right historical novelist, they're right. Captive Queen is a good read worth taking a look at, and Weir is an author worth keeping an eye on.
Review Date: 5/29/2011
"When compared to Jo Beverley's first Company of Rogues book, or even the second, Christmas Angel leaves a lot to be desired. The first few chapters were interesting enough though now that I've reached the end I think it was somewhat weak, and set the pace for the whole book. Leander has just returned from abroad and is looking to take an English wife to help him settle to his duties as an earl, but finds that every young lady he encounters falls in love with him on site. That's believable given how ladies were taught to be during that time and that all of the Rogues are devilishly handsome. Then, however, the forced entry of the heroine and Leander's instant decision that "she's the one" just from one fumbled meeting with her ruined any magic there might have been. So the story progresses...and progresses...and progresses.... There's a lot of interaction between Judith and Lee, but so many of their assumptions and actions are based on this idea that neither of them wants to love the other, when it's obvious that they already do.
The story's climax was also rather anti-climatic. Some stories are written to be what I call meandering--they're not so much about an extraordinary set of events as about character development and the world around. Christmas Angel felt like it was trying to be one of those books but didn't quiet grasp it. In retrospect, the climax is easily identifiable but during the read there was little lead up and almost no emotional attachment to what was happening. Frankly, the part that had me most ensnared the whole time was when Bastian goes missing (while under Nicholas' care no less!) and is found half frozen at the top of a huge tree.
The closing was a bit hard to swallow, though in keeping with Ms. Beverley's style. I call these "smothering happy endings" and thus far Beverley is the only writer I've encountered who qualifies for the label. I had to put the book down several times in the last ten pages because it was just so cheesy I felt somewhat embarrassed to be reading it.
For its lack of plot though, Christmas Angel does have its high points. Leander is a rather unique man; I've never encountered one quite like him. The way his parents' relationship plays into his life is also rather effective and lends weight to his ideas on love and marriage, and his affection for Bastian and Rosie always earned an "Aww!" moment. As with all of the Company of Rogues books, the weaving-in of other Rogues created highlights throughout and kept the world itself from being flat. When in doubt, go on to another member of that elite circle!
Review Date: 5/29/2011
3 member(s) found this review helpful.
"I have to be straight-up honest. This book was hard to read. From the very start I knew it was going to be a lot different than the other novels simply because of Gideon's wicked sense of humor and never-ending sarcasm. And I was okay with that, until the sarcasm became cheesy and redundant about two pages in. The only two things that snagged me and kept me trudging through were (1) Scarlet's background and (2) Gideon's blue hair. Gotta love a modern/mythological man who walks around with electric blue hair!
Further into the story, either I got used to the cheesiness or it ended, I'm not sure which, but the majority of the book flowed without many problems. I did find several typos, unusual mistakes for Showalter's books.
I felt like the story itself didn't have a lot of structure, it was just kind of one event after another with the usual mix of the other Lords coming and going, though to a lesser extent than in previous books. I did love that there were surprises--no, I'm not telling!--because when I first started reading, I thought I knew pretty much what was going on. But it's a complete turn around in the middle of the story. I can appreciate Scarlet's fears and insecurities that develop afterward, but how those came to dictate her got annoying. I was so relieved when Gideon was finally like, "Okay, tough love time" because it forced her back into the confident, kick-ass woman she is. The irony of almost everything Gideon said wasn't lost on me though--I think I laughed more times reading this book than any other.
Now, as noted in my review of The Darkest Pleasure, I reserved judgment on Aeron until I could see how it ended with Legion. I admire that he ventured back into Hell, sans Wrath, to rescue her. I found it utterly stupid that only Amun and William accompanied him. I mean, I realize that not all of the warriors could have gone, but going into the most dangerous place known to humanity with three warriors just seemed lacking in common sense to me. But, the act of it puts Aeron in the "decent guy" category.
Oddly enough, I've kind of started to like Cronus, though I'm sure that's a mistake. Even when he's being self-serving, he has more depth of emotion in Lie than in any of the others. Consequently, my favorite scene in the whole book was when he sat down next to Gideon with a bowl of popcorn and goes, "This is what humans enjoy during spectator events, is it not?" NO! Or maybe my favorite scene was when Gideon discovered that his demon is-- oh, sorry. Spoiler.
I wasn't much on the end battle though... Even in Mnemosyne deserved it.
Anyho, I'm looking forward to Amun's book, which is supposed to be next. According to my Which Lord of the Underworld do You Belong With quiz, he's my man. Stay tuned, fans!
Review Date: 5/29/2011
"I'd actually paid very little attention to Aeron throughout the series, even when he was blood-crazed and completely intent on killing Danika and her family. I suppose he'd always felt too distant to connect with, or even try to relate to. Once his story starts though it's hard to maintain that illusion; Aeron is no flat character. Neither is Olivia--so far I think I like her the best out of all the Lord heroines. It's a classic tale of nice to naughty but with an entertaining and amazingly convincing twist. I loved how quickly Olivia developes; her desires, motivation and extreme, angelic innocence propel her fully into the physical world's pleasures. In some ways, I've lived a similar life so reading about her exploring her new world helped me relate to her even more. Olivia is definitely a heroine I want to be best friends with!
From the first sentence the main question I had was, "What about Legion?" I knew from reading the previous novels that the little demon's interest in Aeron was very romantic but his toward her with the parent-child relationship and there were enough problems in that relationship (whatever it ended up being) to be a novel in and of itself. For Olivia and Aeron to work, Legion couldn't be part of the picture and I didn't think for even a minute that she'd step aside and give them her blessing. She'd fight back. Which left a lot of unsavory options for the poor thing and any of them I could think of made me angry. Legion had helped Aeron so many times and he did love her after all, so discarding her in any way would have ruined the connection between Aeron and Olivia. I think where she's left at the end is cruel, but I have hopes that she'll regain her life and happiness later on in the series.
I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. Choosing to kill off the hero is a dangerous move for any writer, and while it can be done when accompanied by expert skill, it usually becomes cheesy when you pair it with the miraculous return to life. Since Showalter went the death-to-the-hero route, I almost wanted Aeron to stay dead. But of course he doesn't, and I suppose the precious little tidbit she gives us (no, I'm not telling!) is worth the whole ordeal.
As for the clips setting up for future books... As a writer and an avid reader I have to say that I really appreciate Gideon. Writing a good character (especially when there are as many as there are in this series and keeping them all unique) is difficult enough, but Gideon must be even more of a challenge with his inability to say what he means. It always takes me aback when he enters a scene and speaks, and though his backwards talk often gives me a headache, I very much admire the ingenuity it takes to create someone like that and write him effectively.
Despite its length, Darkest Passion is definitely a page tuner and I'm so looking forward to The Darkest Lie. I've already bought some Advil!"
Review Date: 5/29/2011
3 member(s) found this review helpful.
"I have to say that for the book I anticipated most in this series, I am really disappointed. I feel the boy-meets-girl part of the plot is reused from previous LOTU novels; the characters are developed funny, if at all; I still have questions pertaining to Haidee; and I don't get to see any of my other favorite peeps.
I thought the beginning was interesting. You learn a decent amount about Amun and Haidee because they're confined to a single room with only themselves and a lot of random, seemingly conflicting information. I feel that part was probably difficult to write, but it was nicely done. However, I don't like that the first ¼ of the book is limited solely to that room. Part of the beauty of the series is that you can watch the other characters develop and interact. Keeping Amun and Haidee in that room really got to me after fifty pages and I nearly put the book down. When it does cut to another Lord, it's Strider. Don't get me wrong, I love Defeat as much as the next, but I wanted to see the others too. Them being scattered all over creation with different excuses wasn't something I liked either.
There are three scenes I want to comment on. The first is when Amun and Haidee mentally relive her wedding night (while in Hell) using Amun's ability to read minds. That's cool because it does show some of how Haidee got to be where she is, but it also shows that the Lords were indeed once savage murderers and that now, in comparison, they're quiet tame.
The second is actually two separate but connected scenes that also took place in Hell. I understand wanting to make Hell a real world instead of just this bottomless, fiery pit, but give me a break. They are safe enough to have sex (and for her to be screaming) and later to alter the physical stone to take a bath? It made me laugh because it took so much away from the reputation of the place and what it could have been in terms of terror and danger. Also... the multiple "little lady" comments didn't do it for me.
The last scene is the one with the Horseman and it is. Just. Strange. After the two suddenly decide to completely abandon the warning not to trust anyone without much ado, they're brought right to the Horsemen by a little demon who thinks their encounter will be fun. I know you have to up the ante when you're dealing with bad-ass demons but who agrees to have their hands and feet chopped off in a card game, while in Hell? Amun does!
I really wanted to like this book. Amun's story was the one I was looking forward to the most, but I had a hard time enjoying it. I read it mostly because it's LOTU. Amun was supposed to be the dark, broody one, but lacked anything romantic or broody. And Haidee was all right, but she didn't have that sizzle, that punch, that other LOTU heroines have had before her.
Review Date: 8/28/2011
"LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!!! Dark Fever is a 5+ star read, and it's not often that a book ranks that high on my list. It's beautifully written, has a captivating flow and brilliantly flawed, relatable characters. Karen Marie Moning has been one of my favorite since the first of her Highlander series (which also ranks very high on the list; if you're looking for sexy, rugged heroes, the books in this series are just the thing.) But the Fever series has a totally different feel to it than her Highlander series, in a good way. There's something down and dirty about Dark Fever. It's in the characters and the settings; everyone's lying and hiding stuff, and Mac can't trust anyone. And the world she's been thrust into is one that's so seamlessly woven into our own that it makes the things she encounters more believable and more unfathomable. Mac is stumbling around trying to get her barring, and she's totally taken the readers along for the same ride.
Okay, I have to stop right now and say that this is the second time I've read this book. Normally, I don't re-read books; I remember them and am not amused with stories that I already know. But I read Dark Fever right after it came out, and at the time it wasn't the kind of book I was looking for. I liked it well enough--it's in my reading list with 5 stars, but it just didn't stick out. I don't remember what made me decide to give the series another try, but I'm sure glad I did. The book is exactly what my now-self is looking for.
Part of the reason I love the book is how it's written. In the first person, from a future perspective. Most of the book keeps you in the story, but a couple of times, Mac will pan out and foreshadow something, and that's a great twist. It's also hard to write. I have a hard time with first person, so I admire Moning that much more.
Now, on to the characters. Mac is... Well, interesting. We know she's a virtual Barbie, or at least she was before her sister's murder. It's a good thing Moning didn't spend any time dwelling on Mac's former self because if she had, I doubt I would have finished. Instead, we're thrown right into the action and emotion, much like it must have felt for Mac when she found out about Alina. Mac also has great character development. For her to drop everything and go overseas like she does, all alone, she's either very brave or just plain naïve. Even she labels her actions as a mix of nativity and stubbornness. Jericho Barrons is... Well, fascinating. All I remember about Barrons from my first read is that he's distant. An alpha male definitely, but one detached from the world and from Mac. This round I see so much more. He's still an alpha male, but he's got a strong, complex character that we've only just seen the tip of. (Hehe, no pun intended.) Not to mention the secondary characters, who are also really cool and help build the background and scene.
Review Date: 5/29/2011
"This was my first graphic novel, and I enjoyed it a lot. I've read a few manga, and compared to those the layout of Exile was much more blocky and symmetrical, which I found easier to read. The art and characters themselves are also more life-like and less... anime-ish.
The art is my favorite part because of just how deceptive and good it is. Some of the Scots looked a lot a like but Gabaldon always gives you some clue in each frame as to which one is which, whether it's the color of the plaid or the hair or angle of the cheekbones.
I'd never heard of the Outlanders, so story-wise I was completely new to the world. I really like Jamie--he's an adorable rascal, but honorable and dedicated. He's young and foolish, but surprisingly aware of the politics being played at around him, and of his own worth within those schemes. Claire is also cool. She handles her sudden change in surroundings and shift in time well compared to other time-traveling heroines I've read. I'm not sure how she got there, exactly, and with Kenneth and Geillis running around apparently knowing more than any medieval person should, I felt lost in the larger scheme of the story.
I like the development of the love story, but I'm kind of surprised that Claire acquiesces so easily to marry Jamie considering she continually references her present-day husband several times and that connection appears to give her strength. But still, she and Jamie are a good match for each other.
I'm not for sure how Geillis and Claire came to be accused of witchcraft, so I would have liked a little more clarity there. Also, Geillis is a character I would have loved to learn more about. She seems to have a lot more going on that what little bit you get to see. Kenneth too has more going on, but I think Geillis is the more interesting, partially because she comes right out at the end and says she's a witch. She's obviously got an ulterior motive, but it's not revealed.
Overall, I good, relaxing read.
Review Date: 5/29/2011
"Simply put, there are very few authors who can match Marion Zimmer Bradley's amazingly rich and encompassing fantasy tales. With a reputation for using intriguing ideas and old-world realities, the stage is set for anything of Bradley's that goes into print, whether her own or that of her close friend Diana L. Paxson, who often writes under Bradley's name. Together these two provide an in-depth look at times long past in an enlightening and entertaining way. I've also discovered that her books appeal particularly to Wiccans and Pagans because of their often Goddess/Mother centered themes.
Personally when I think of Troy and that epic tale originally told in the Iliad, I almost always think of the Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom movie that was released in 2004. Knowing that that movie as my only real knowledge of Troy, and knowing full well that one of the film's greatest criticisms was that it wasn't historically accurate, I decided to discard all that I knew about the siege of Troy to read Firebrand.
One of the things that I loved the most was the characters. When Kassandra is a child, she describes Hector as a bully and isn't overly fond of him, but when she meets him again after his death in the Spirit World, they're obviously fond of each other. Paris, traditionally depicted as the romantic, star-crossed lover who sparked the Trojan War along with Helen, doesn't get away scot-free in this version. Here, he's depicted as petty, arrogant and not very likable. Makes me wonder why Helen went with him, even if she did have Aphrodite Herself urging her to go.
The introduction and development of other characters that are rarely, if ever, talked about today also added to the depth of the story. I loved that Kassandra's mother, Hecuba, had once been an Amazon but had chosen to settle down with a man. Hecuba is a direct contrast to her sister Penthesilea, who is an active Amazon Queen. Depicting the Amazons, at first from Kassandra's young eyes all the way to their ultimate destruction fighting Agamemnon was heart-wrenching but also brilliant. Bradley represented virtually every kind of woman and explored all of the choices we have to make throughout our lifetimes. It was both entertaining and eye-opening.
Something that I feel Bradley is legendary for is how she keeps time flowing. Her flawless transitions let you know how much time has passed in vivid, worldly descriptions that are much better than "X Months Later."
The only reservation I have about Bradley's books is how long it takes me to read them. I have to be in the right mood and really have to keep myself on task to get through them. Don't get me wrong; her stories are great. They're just very overwhelming. I suppose they have to be like that though, otherwise they would be regular paperback novels, and she just another fantasy writer.
Review Date: 7/18/2011
"Judith Tarr has always been one of my favorite epic fantasy writers, bested only by Marion Zimmer Bradley. In fact, I think that's why I enjoy Tarr's books so much; both authoresses have a deep knowledge of all old things, and the skills to paint masterpieces with words. Tarr's stories focus on a specific character, a specific set of events, and less on the overall encompassing story as Bradley does, but they're not less powerful for the different perspective. In fact, it's like another side to the same story. And I do love old-world, Goddess-centered stories.
Now to review the book. Lady of Horses is a vivid story about young Sparrow combating both gender norms and her own personal demons to find acceptance and be herself. The novel is kind of Native American in feel, though there's a lot that suggests the setting and culture were more a mix of several realities rather than just based on one.
I love the characters. You can tell from the start that Sparrow and Keen are going to be key players, even though they are never in full accord. The two are friends from the get go, but not best friends like we think of inseparable teenagers today. They are individuals who happen to enjoy each other's company and have a sense of kinship, but they see things very differently. Keen is interesting to start with because she's not a rebel, a foil to Sparrow's character. She's strange to the People in that Walker doesn't follow custom and take more than one wife and it's marked on that either he's just strange or there's something special about her. But she's just there, happy with her existence and her lot in life. Then, as the story progress, she's angered and her character starts to develop; she stands up for herself and doesn't take Walker's crap. Once she has truly broken with the White Stone people, I thought for sure she would be the one to kill Walker, because aside from Sparrow, he has done the most harm to her. But she isn't, and having finished the book, I see why. But I digress into too much of a spoiler already.
Wolfcub is also interesting because he's a mix of sympathy with Sparrow and also a subtle enforcer of the system she so obviously questions and disdains. He never out right tries to lord his power over her, but he doesn't shy away from the customs and men's laws that privilege him. He's not really antagonistic, but he could be viewed as a bad guy. The start of his new life in the Grey Horse tribe as Kestrel shows a great contrast between the two lifestyles divided by the river. He's gone from a world where one man can own several women to a tribe where no one owns anyone else. I think a lot of the difference is best summed up by another character, Cloud, who says, "Women are the embodiment of the Earth Mother, and men, the Skyfather. Do you give away the earth under your feet? Do you value it so little?"
As for plot, I feel like Keen is the one you're supposed to keep an eye on because of how she grows. At first, she is a model part of this patriarchal world, then she encounters the pitfalls, the inequalities, the lack of relationship that that toxic male role often creates; then she breaks with it; then she learns about stillness and emptying herself and becomes the Earth Mother's daughter. Then she finds a world that is entirely different from what she knew growing up. The dialogue too helps to build contrast between the two cultures and the characters within each. One person is angry to have his values flaunted, another is coolly rational and fair, always in this rotating fashion that shows the different realities.
And finally, the most powerful part of the story is the rites of old, and the justice too. The rites and ways to power are hard to ignore because they're so brutal. By the start of the story, human sacrifice might have fallen out of favor but it never truly went away, and that foreshadows for later on. This rite and other facets of Sparrow's walk to power makes you re-evaluate your existence in relation to the earth and the spirits, and gives a different spin on death. In Sparrow's time, death isn't necessarily something bad. It literally is just a part of the circle. So being sent on in a sacrifice to the gods isn't a bad thing like we would think of it. It's hard to wrap the mind around. But that's part of why Lady of Horses is so good. I recommend this read, like all of Tarr's other books I've gotten my hands on, especially to those interested in old-world fantasies with strong characters.
Review Date: 5/29/2011
1 member(s) found this review helpful.
"Wow. Just wow. I'm not even sure where to start in reviewing this book; it was such a great read. It flowed well, and was just the right mix of historical accuracy and literary liberties to be fascinating. The cover art was what drew me, as well as the title; I thought I had a good idea of what would happen, a rags to riches stories in the form of a slave girl who ends up with the whole world on a platter as the Emperor's mistress. But it isn't that simple at all, and none of the situations our Thea finds herself in can be characterized by a single emotion. This book is vivid!
One of the things young writers are often taught is that everything within the story must have some kind of purpose. Kate Quinn has mastered this skill. All throughout the story, she introduces characters that could easily fade back into the background, but remain an active part in the plot line. Each is also more a person than a character; they make impressions on you as if you are meeting them face to face and as the story continues you learn more and more about each of them. They don't always get along with each other. They don't always like themselves and the things they've done.
Thea has a lot of internal conflict going on that influences her choices and the situations she finds herself in. That conflict makes for more strife than ease, but that's what life is really like. It's within her world as an unhappy slave that we enter the world of Rome. As a slave, Thea has a rather cynical view of the world, and that view is directly contrasted by her mistress, Lepida Pollia. It's obvious from her first appearance that Lepida is a self-serving girl, and obliges the readers by staying around for the duration of the book to cause a number of problems. She is a jealous creature, but that serves as a foil for Thea's character. Thea is such a surprise as she develops. She has more strength of will and courage than I ever imagined she could, and her journey is both fantastic and rough. She deserves her happy ending.
I feel like there's not a lot I can say about the story itself just because everything is so intricately intertwined that if I give you even a single sneak peak, I'll mess the story up for you. The book is a little bit bigger than your usual paperback novel, but don't let that intimidate you. It reads so well that you'll be through a dozen pages before you realize it. I highly recommend this five-star read to anyone even remotely interested in the historical romance genre; it is a standard to which all future books must compare themselves.
Review Date: 5/29/2011
1 member(s) found this review helpful.
"It's been a while since I've read any of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series. I stopped reading shortly after Acheron's book because I felt each one is too similar to the one before, and I still feel that way a little because Dev's character is somewhat flat, but it isn't the same monotone as it was before.
I remembered Samia from the little bit of Dream Warrior that I read, but liked seeing more of her character. I love that she's an Amazon; too few authors recognize Amazons as a real people. Right from the start, her character is detailed. Her approach to life is obvious in the aggressive way she rides her motorcycle. Dev is another story. Even though he's the hero, I didn't see a lot of character or development from him. I was more interested in Ethan's character, and his relationship to Sam. My lack of interest in Dev might be because I was never taken with the bear or all of his siblings, but I still feel he was flat. He just didn't stand out like some of Kenyon's other bad boys.
As the story progresses, their mating marks appear. Dev thinks the Fates are messed up for pairing a were-hunter with a Dark Hunter, but Kenyon doesn't give us anything other than that. No real background information. I would have loved to know what was going on behind the scene and why the Fates decided they'd be together. I feel it could be part of a larger story, but as it is I felt frustrated with the lack of background story which is a tell-tale part of Kenyon's series.
As I mentioned before, I was interested in Ethan. Between him and Sam, Kenyon has created her own version of the Amazon culture that I can really appreciate. That culture also reveals a lot about both of their characters, and I loved the story between and behind the two of them. Even though it's against the rules for Dark-Hunters to get involved with each other--or maybe because of that--I would rather have seen Sam paired with Ethan. I get that they were painted as not being compatible, but still...
And last but not least, let me ask: what's up with Nick? Is it just that I've been out of the world long enough that he's become some kind of whacked god or is that news to everyone? I guess that's what I get for skipping half a dozen books. Oh well. Overall, No Mercy is a decent read, if predictable.
Review Date: 5/29/2011
2 member(s) found this review helpful.
"All four stories are good reads, though there are parts in each that bug me. So I'm just gonna go through them in order. Ironically enough, I rate them backwards, with "Red Angel" my favorite and "Ever Night" my least favorite.
"Ever Night" by Gena Showalter
This little story is a play on the old real-person-in-a-fantasy world tale. Rose gets sucked into the world she calls Nightmares every year on her birthday and the first time this happens she encounters Vasili, this dark and powerful man. I loved his character right away--he's vivid and develops well as his feeling for Rose change. The story stays focused on the two of them to the exclusion of much development outside of them. I wanted Vasili to be a prince, to have to navigate power plays and politics and kingdom relationship problems, so in that regard I felt the story was lacking.
Rose is a cool chick. I like that she takes the initiative and learns to fight and takes care of herself throughout the whole thing--none of the hesitant, faint-heartedness that too many novel heroines have.
Despite nice characters and a decent world description, the ending is lackluster; it feels random. When she comes back to Nightmares and asks him to gather his people in 24 hours I thought it was a trap and the whole thing just felt off. I still want to know what she was doing after she returned to her world those few days before the finale, where everyone lives happily ever after trying to bridge their differences.
"The Collector" by Shannon K. Butcher
First I want to say that I like the concept of a lifemark, and that Neal being only 450-something years old rather than some kind of immortal is cool. It gives him more depth because even though he's long-lived, he's still gonna die at some point. As much as I liked Neal though, I disliked Viviana even more. The real woman under a prim and proper facade just doesn't work for her.
I like the hierarchy set up and little bit of development for the Theronai that's presented, but it feels incomplete, so that's a definite area for more exploration.
I was not impressed with the ending at all. The sgath killed Viviana's professor friend to get the artifact but then got cornered in a cave? It's anti-climatic. And then confusing on top of it when Viviana seemingly passes out for, what? Touching the artifact? I still don't know what happened.
"Crystal Skull" by Jessica Anderson
I love both of the main characters--and even the secondary ones--in Crystal Skull. JT's got that dark alpha male down and Natalie is a take-no-prisoners kind of gal. Even better, JT is well rounded and has a past that propels him forward. I won't provide any spoilers, but he's not what you think at the beginning, and I love that twist; it's brilliant because it's so simple and obvious but I never would have thought of it.
This story progresses well and comes to an ending that's reasonable and not melodramatic. I would have liked more doomsday stuff, more mythology about crystal skulls and such, and also what JT and Natalie think will happen in the next couple of years. But I guess since the characters don't know then we shouldn't either. Definitely loved this short story; I'm going to keep any eye out for Jessica Anderson from now on.
"Red Angel" by Deidre Knight
Right away, I could tell this story was gonna be sweet--the characters were good and the way the world was set up felt so easy, real and normal for these characters. It helps that the hero, Jamie, is smoking-hot! The perfect alpha male with the right mix of humanity. Not to mention I have a thing for hunters. I like that Sunny is an angel but at the same time Jamie has never heard of guardian angels in human form. That lack of knowledge on his part also helps the reader question other things s/he might know about angles and the supernatural. Using what Sunny knows about her own kind, what we gather from third-party sources and Jamie's glimpses of angels, Knight illustrates how important Jamie and his siblings are, and that makes them even cooler.
I have to stop right now and say that I think it's awesome that Sunny is African American and Jamie is white, and even more so that his brother Mason is gay. It brings another real-world dynamic to the story.
The ending was a little predictable but it is more than compensated for by a good time getting to that point. I would have liked to see more of Jamie as the hunter, though that's my only real complaint.
Review Date: 5/29/2011
1 member(s) found this review helpful.
"So out of all the books sitting on my self awaiting my attention, I chose one of my newer arrivals. The Queen's Bastard. The title implies a couple of things--we're looking at a historical context and a lot of power. I have to admit that right away, it wasn't what I expected it to be. I knew the queen's out-of-wedlock child would have a rather sordid life, but C.E. Murphy instantly started painting a world far beyond what I expected. Belinda herself is a resilient and adaptable woman who is completely dedicated to the mother who can never acknowledge her, as well as the father who raises her to be a deadly weapon. Robert telling Belinda to find a way to kill du Roz and then her quick work in pushing him down a flight of stairs the same night really jarred me. It was then I knew that I was reading about a woman who was literally a weapon.
With this single book, Murphy has earned a place on my Favorite Authors list because of her descriptive style. Being the sponge of a writer that I am, I found myself going back over entire sections to pull out key phrases and look at wording and gauge the amount of information given. She had in-depth descriptions, but not the conventional type; hers somehow float around the issue at hand in a way that's both detached and very straight to the point, and I really liked that.
Another thing I admire was the virtual lack of wasted ends. Everything came back around in one way or another, even Viktor, one of her many lovers. As the hopeless romantic, I'm used to seeing a meshing of emotions and attempts to not hurt others. Belinda acknowledges Viktor but still disregards him in a way that shows her dedication to her mission and her detachment from the world. Her abandonment of him is powerful, because nothing will stand in the way of her duty to her mother, the queen.
She can't remain detached forever though, and years of being moved from one life to another in the interest of accomplishing someone's death finally seems to catch up with her when she settles in to play the role of a minor noble lady, Beatrice Irvine. Belinda admits to herself that playing such an obvious public role is a stark contrast to the serving maids she's used to being, and it presents her with unique challenges. Her past threatens her present though, in a way that both challenges her and places her mission in jeopardy. Couple that danger with the sudden question of whether her loyalty will win out over her love and affection for the prince she's using, and Belinda is in more than one tight place. Not to mention the power she's found within herself!
I won't tell you about the ending, in part because I don't know it. The series is just getting started, with The Pretender's Crown as the next installment, and I'm very much looking forward to it. The Queen's Bastard has been a smooth and crazily addictive read, and I highly recommend it to fans of conspiracy, romance and fantasy.
Review Date: 5/29/2011
"Jayne Ann Krentz, or Amada Quick in this case, is indeed a pillar of today's romance genre. Though I haven't read too many of her books, I've quickly fallen in love with the characters from the Arcane Society, and each book has delighted me just as much, if not more, than the last. As one who unintentionally makes a habit of reading the first book in a series last, Second Sight was no less powerful for its being out of order.
I'd found Gabriel Jones fascinating from the start of Caleb's book, The Perfect Poison. I freely admit to being a sucker for the dark, tormented souls. Not to mention if the author throws in the hunter aspect as well. I was not disappointed with Gabriel; every time he spoke I could hear his voice and every time he moved, I could see his grace and his strength. The most amazing part of that though, is that I wasn't aware of being told about him; it was a seamless introduction that carried me right into the story. And Venetia! Rarely have I read a heroine who is that self-sufficient and sure of herself within this time period. The world of the Victorian Era is less than favorable for women who want to be independent, but Venetia manages without completely flaunting her world. Her background story is rather original too, as well as having her family be both dependent on her and very vital help in her career. Her being a photographer is another stroke of brilliance (has Ms. Quick run out of original ideas yet? It seems every novel there are so many that surely she couldn't top them!) They say the mark of a good heroine is that you would want to be best friends with her, and if that is the going standard, then Venetia is a success.
I love the beginning, and especially getting to see Caleb again (er...for the first time, I mean.) The setting and the conversation between the cousins really set the mood for the rest of the novel. The pace and timing are also very well done. I was kept on my toes, but the events fold nicely into one and another so I wasn't being jerked around. The climax's start is obvious, but I wasn't aware of having been "led up" to it, the story itself was so entertaining.
There were a number of memorable moments throughout, such as Gabriel's stark refusal to be photographed. That was amusing to no end! And him having to sleep in the attic for the duration of the story. *giggles*
Another trademark of Quick's books is how she gives you a recap of what the whole novel has been about, usually in a story circle format. This is helpful to those of us who don't necessarily have an eye for mystery and might have missed a piece here or there. Not to mention that it makes for a good reason to bring the whole cast together for comparison. I'm not spilling details on the ending, but I will say that it was interesting to have two villains that were so intertwined and independent of each other at the same time.
Overall, a very entertaining read!
SiddharthaAuthor: Book Type: Mass Market Paperback315
Review Date: 10/11/2010
"I'm still reading this book for my religious studies class but I really like it so far. It poses very real questions about what we as individuals consider sacred and how we view ourselves in relation to the divine. I can't wait to see how it's going to end just because I don't think there are any answers."
Review Date: 5/29/2011
"Jo Beverley's historical romance An Unwilling Bride is an unlikely Cinderella story, and very aptly named. Beth Armitage is a school teacher, living quiet comfortably teaching unruly girls how to be strong and capable ladies, while Lucien de Vaux, heir to the dukedom of Belcraven, is enjoying all the wealth and prestige his high social ranking can afford him. A more unlikely match is hard to imagine, and especially once Napoleon returns from exile and turns Europe on its head, the chances of the two working out their personal conflicts seems nil. But in a clever twist of a scandalous nature, Beverley reveals a different heir to the dukedom and these two--who didn't seem to like each other much from the get-go--are forced to endure each other's presence, and even to act the part of star-crossed lovers.
Because of this unique play on an old storyline, the first several chapters of the book had me totally engrossed. I liked Beth from the start, and once she was removed from her school mistress guise and able to relax and show a little more of herself, I liked her even more. Lucien is...interesting. One minute you want to love him and the next you hate him, and that pendulum swings in full arcs most of the way through the story. In fact, a good majority of the book is about their back and forth "quicksand" as Beth calls it. I got very bored with the exchanges after a while, because even though the situations and dialogue were different I knew how each confrontation was going to end: Lucien storming off and Beth left fuming or bemused. Once the first love scene came around (and we all know that's really a part of the reason we read romance novels!) all I could think was "Oh, whatever!" That tedium aside, however, the character growth was excellent, and the scenes and secondary characters gave the complete impression of being in an era long past. The historical aspect was flawlessly worked. The intertwined tidbits from other members of the Company of Rogues, particularly Nicholas, really helped to bring the story to life because it illustrated a wider world than just Lucien's and Beth's.
I found the ending incredibly interesting as all throughout the novel, Lucien is the one who has to be in control and everything must go his way and then suddenly he lets Beth do something she wants to do and it's much more drastic than walking out of Belcraven House unescorted. You'll have to read this one for yourself to find out exactly what it is, and I think it's fair to say that readers of Ms. Beverley's should keep an eye on Clarissa Greystone.
Review Date: 5/29/2011
"The only way I could love this series more would be if Marie Brennan would write another book. This is one of the most original and tasteful fantasies I've ever read! I feel like she definitely left the series open to another book, one that would focus more on Starfall's recovery and Mirei and Eclipse's relationship. (Yes, as the avid romantic, I finally see a twinge of hope for the not-so-star-crossed couple.)
Eclipse is still my favorite character, even though he is gone most of the book. His character--strong, loyal and capable--is already established in Warrior, as is his love for Mirage/Miryo/Mirei. His decision to take a second blood oath was powerful, because in my head I could see all of the implications of it unfolding. And they did, in a way. Another step-in from the Goddess saves the day though. She must really like Mirei.
As far as the actual plot development, that is amazing. I've tried to write stories like this one, that ripple out from a single conflict into a full-blown war, and it's extremely hard, but Brennan does it with skill and style. It helps when you have vivid characters who help shape what's going on. The conflict too is one that the reader could see from both sides, though the story is told from Mirei and Satomi's. Everything they do and say, especially Satomi, I'm able to see it from the other side as well, and I can't really fault Shimi from breaking with them. There are protagonists and antagonists, but no clear cut "bad guy" which is a playing field many a writer shoots to achieve.
On that same note, I resonate strongly with Indera. The doppelgangers have the most to lose in this whole situation. Either they're killed by their witch halves to stabilize the magic, or the two are re-joined back into one being. That's not without consequences though. Mirei steadily losses her physical superiority that Mirage had worked for and maintained her whole life, while Miryo's magic remained ready at her fingertips. The doppelganger half seems to be the one that fades away the most. I myself wondered numerous times if the way Starfall had done things all along was the "right" way, or if neither Starfall nor Mirei were right and there was a better way still. I suppose Indera will be safe though, given what tips off the climax, but that doesn't say anything for the other doppelgangers already there and the dozens more to be born.
Brennan has set everything up very nicely and everything came back together in a way we would think of as realistic. But like I said, I want more! It's too bad there doesn't seem to be any more planned, but at least we have these two. Definitely a five-star read!
Review Date: 5/29/2011
2 member(s) found this review helpful.
"5 stars! This is one of the best books I've read in a long, long time and it didn't even have an ounce of romance in it! Marie Brennan is a master writer, and I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on Warrior and Witch. I have to see where this goes!
The plot and layout of the story are surprisingly simple, but no less vivid for it. Very few authors can create a world that is both realistic and unique and still effectively entertaining. Even fewer authors can describe that world as effortlessly as Brennan does throughout Warrior. She never took the droll, plain description approach, but instead wove the world through the characters' eyes and experiences, and showed the different lifestyles, friendships and rivalries in a mundane air that conveyed the actuality of the world. The characters are developed this way as well; other than Mirage's and Miryo's red hair, she really doesn't give physical descriptions of anyone, but you can see them through their mannerisms, their words, and in how others act around them and react to them. "No one truly relaxed in Jaguar's presence."
As much as I love Miryo and Mirage, Eclipse is my favorite character. It's unusual for me to read a story with an attractive guy (we're never really told what he looks like, but his actions speak louder than any looks could, so he's definitely attractive!) and there not be some kind of romantic pairing. In my head, I played with him and Miryo together, and the dynamic of her being Mirage's other half made the possibilities interesting, though weird. But romance simply wasn't what the story was about; it was about both girls finding themselves, finding a way to have both sides of magic live when the norm for hundreds of years has been to kill off the non-magical half. I'm really looking forward to seeing Eclipse again in Warrior and Witch, because I know he's not going anywhere.
Another thing that I loved about this book was that as I read it, I couldn't predict the ending, or even the next step. I was thinking the whole puzzle through right along with Mirage and Miryo. I felt their confusion, their curiosity, their insecurities. I was completely along for the ride because, unlike romance novels where killing the hero or heroine is a total taboo, there wasn't such a rule here. Something really bad happening simply wasn't out of the question. I really respect Brennan for being able to weave that kind of story and still keep me believing in a good ending.
Speaking of believing, the faith in this book is right up my alley. Miryo is brought up as a witch, so reveres the Goddess through her training and Mirage, while having a base in her youth as a Temple Dancer, is also aware of the Goddess as a higher power. Even though sometimes they sit down to pray and neither of them really feels it, they never completely disregard Her influences, and in the end, She doesn't desert them.
Both on the whole and on the micro scale, I really don't have anything negative at all to say about Warrior, because I simply loved it. It is well-written, flows perfectly, has excellent descriptions and rounded character development. Have I mentioned it is just plain good? Yes? Well, you get the picture. Onward to Warrior and Witch!
WitchAuthor: Book Type: Mass Market Paperback39
Review Date: 11/2/2010
"One of my favorite books ever! Marie Brennan is a gifted storyteller who has created both a world and characters to maximum effect. It helps she has an original plot line, and a story that you can see both sides of. A very good read!"
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