Summoned to Thirteenth Grave. Darynda Jones
Genre:Mystery and Thrillers.
I’ve joined the blog tour as part of the release of this final book and we were asked to review another book from the series too. I’ve chosen the first book, seems ages ago I read that – when I very first bought a kindle. Charley and the gang have come such a long way since then so I’m looking forward to rereading the beginning – and I’ll probably work my way through the series once more! Good books are well worth that, I find I see things I missed first time round.
Anyway, this book. Well, after the ending of the last, where Charley was banished for 100 years what would happen why she returned, what happened to the humans she knew, what happened to Beep? So many things going on but as usual Darynda manages to give all the answers in a way that’s believable.
The thing with Charley world is you have to forget everything learned about supernatural fiction from other reads, and go with what Darynda has created. Its unique, time isn’t linear, isn’t even anything I’ve read before, but exists in a way that makes ends easy to tie up. Its worlds within worlds, past, present and future all existing within the same frame. There’s God, and his side, Lucifer and his side, and of course Charley, Reyes, and all their gang amassed over the series. If I think about it too hard its head-aching, so its easier to just accept it as is, and go with the flow.
I love Charley’s “voice”, her snark, her outlook in life. At times she sounds a little childish, but its as if that’s her way of coping with all that goes on in her life. She’s had it tough, and there are still some huge shocks to come for her in this book. What I love is that as usual she’s got the big question of Beep and Lucifer, and yet she takes time to deal with everyday issues that crop up, deal with friend’s little issues, missing people, possible murders, letting a few folk pass through her as she’s out and about. I loved that we see almost everyone I remember from the past books in this one, it really feels like a tying up of ends. I hate books where I’m left wondering “what about xxx, how did xx deal with it” and thankfully there’s none of that here.
Reyes, ah Reyes. That guy is so incredible, adores Charley, you know he always has her best interests at heart (can I sever his spine now?) He is just so gorgeous, everyone has the hots for him, but Charley really is It for him, he never even looks elsewhere. Well, he did create her for him, so I guess that’s to be expected. The fact that there are so many supernatural folk in this book, and none really fit the standard supernatural trope. Reyes isn’t one of the good guys, and yet he’s good, others are supposed to be God’s folk yet they leave things t play out, and as when Charley saved amber in the last book a good deed still has consequences for them. They seem to be all about non interference even when it means unjust endings.
Stars:Five stars, a fabulous finale. Forget all other supernatural stories, Darynda’s book are unique. Read them and lose yourself in an amazing world, full of incredible characters and a story that will stay with you for ages. I’m hoping we get more of Beep and her story, I’m not ready to leave all these characters yet
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
First Grave on the Right, Darynda Jones
Genre: Romance , Mystery and Thrillers
As part of the Summoned blog tour reviewers were asked to choose an earlier book for review a swell as the final one, and I thought it would be interesting to go right back to the start. I often find on rereading novels I pick up on things I missed first time round, look at characters and events with different eyes now I know the full story, and it was very much a case of reading First Grave with fresh insights.
I certainly looked at some of the original gang with a different opinion. It made me wonder – did Darynda plan events all the way through, of did the story dictate what happened to characters?
We see the main gang right from the start, Cookie, Amber, Ubie, her dad, Gemma, the wicked stepmother ( ok, maybe she’s not thaaat bad, just feels it), Garret, Angel, My Wong, Aunt Flo, and of course Reyes Farrow……….mmmmm.
Cookie remains this stalwart, slightly scatty, slapdash character, who’s actually got an amazingly sharp mind under all the fluff and frivolity face she presents. Amber is still a kid, but sharp and sweet, adores her mum and Charley. Charley’s dad and Uncle Bob, great supports to Charley even if on a strange level, though when she was a kid they really let her down IMO. But then she wouldn’t be the Charley I love without that so a pass for that. Garret has just been told about Charley via a drunken binge with Ubie and he’s one of those, who expect Charley to perform miracles, a skeptic always testing, but still can’t believe her results. The supernatural gang, or at least the beginnings of it, and Reyes. Nuff said.
As with each book we get Charley’s day to day life as a PI with Cookie, a sometimes police “consultant” via her dad and now Ubie. There’s a complete story in each but the overall story arc advances too each time.
What I love about Charley is her heart, her irreverent humour, and her determination to get the bad guys, do whats right even at the cost of her own well being. She comes over as immature sometimes, scatty, inappropriate, and yet she’s got an incredibly sharp mind. Doh, she’d say, Grim here, knows every language ever spoken, ever invented, can speak with the dead, so what do you expect?
She always plays down what she does, treats everything as a bit of a joke, and maybe that’s because she’s learned to get in first rather than wait for ridicule, a kind of way of coping, way of protecting herself. As well as her heart, her snark, her sharp intelligence, her coffee addiction, I love the way she names everything. By the end of the series I’m very familiar with the girls Will Robinson and Danger 😉 Misery the jeep, George the shower ( though that’s later). Her first thought on getting something new is what to call it. And of course her convoluted mind comes up with some real crackers.
Anyway, in book one we get to meet all these great folk, the nucleus of the incredible support team she develops over the series, and not only does Darynda deliver all that, along with a realistic environment for her, but we get a gripping mystery, that starts simple – as they all do – and grows ever more complex and dangerous. Does that stop Charley? You’ve guessed, no…she’s in because its the right thing to do, but despite getting battered, bruised, shot at, attacked, she carries on. Good side of the Grim job, she heals quicker, not instant but certainly quicker than human.
It ends with one mystery wrapped up, but the wider one of Charley and Reyes, the supernatural world, the people who get caught up in it, developing further with a great lead in to book two, and the start of the overall story opening out.
I have to mention the chapter headings, by the end of the series they were something I eagerly looked forward to at the end of each chapter. I knew turning the page would bring a smile to my face, even if the story was full of death and despair, those headings reminded me it would lighten up, that good would prevail. Its that mix of drama and humour, done so perfectly throughout the series that made it so perfect for me. I’ll miss these characters, though whisper in the world of books is that Beep may be bringing them back in a new series 😉
Stars: Five, a great start to a fabulous series. A real treat to read, if you love a well written, suspenseful, supernatural romance.
ARC via Netgalley and Publishers
Awakening, Shadow-walkers Book 1, Kelley Heckart
Genre: Paranormal Romance
I love a good rock star read, ditto film stars, adore romance and of course a good paranormal and this book promised all of those….trouble was it didn’t stop there , but brought in so much more. The paranormal, well there are ghosts, and the shadow walker elements (which Tbh I still can’t quite understand – but then I feel Kate doesn’t either so I’m not alone) The romance, well that brings in rock star Kate and film star Kane, but not just them, there’s Kate’s ex, manager of the band she was in, and the traumatic ending of that, and the ghosts, where its not a simple uncomplicated story either. Oh and Kate is also a writer, now involved in changing her story for film, which is how Kane fits in. I didn’t understand wholely though why Kane was involved in the rewrite? There had to be something though to get him and Kate alone in the cabin.
So they’re snowed in and the ghosties begin, not just one though….weirdly in the middle of being scared half to death but events Kane and Kate keep creaking off for hot baths and even hotter sex….that just didn’t feel credible to me. I’m assuming somehow the fire heated the water as the power was off but they existed on water and PBJ sandwiches, and energy bars. Why not use the fire to heat water for coffee, heat some of the tins, cook something hot?
The story was interesting but just too much going on which meant the major plots had to be condensed to fit everything in and for me I felt that it wasn’t the best way of delivering. It meant they were in blizzard in cabin, ghost appear and hey presto Kate has the answer, but wait…there’s a puzzle to unravel but….its all in the magazines left lying in the cabin. Once they’re out of the cabin too it was problem meet solution – all very slick and neat and I want characters to have to work for answers.
The romance, well it was hot, very sensual but I didn’t really like either character, didn’t feel the love, just some hot and sensual lust. Long term? Well, I think they’ve a lot to do yet.
The band members; well, by the time we’d met them my brain was saturated, so much had been going on that I just couldn’t deal with even more past problems and current supernatural events. I kind of switched off.
As always though reviews and reading are very subjective. Kelley has written lots of very well received books so although this style of writing didn’t work for me clearly it works well for others.
Stars: hard one….the idea is a five, the way it plays out for me though just didn’t work as explained so I guess overall its a three
Book via KU.
Grave Fortune, Nancy E. Polin
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy
EDIT: I’ve heard from Nancy since writing this, and it is the first book in a new series. Makes much more sense sounds and holds plenty of promise.
I really enjoyed Nancy’s last paranormal story, and the novel she co wrote with another author, so was looking forward to reading this one. Tbh though I found it a good read, but not a great one.
It seemed like a lot was going on but the story wasn’t actually going anywhere. I was curious about Dana’s ability and the way it affected her. I think I’d like to know more about her as a person, in fact probably more of all the characters, what makes them tick, how they are connected etc. I wanted to know more of Joseph and his history, how vampires “worked” in this setting, whether they were all isolated or if it was just him. Alex, what exactly he did in the police, how he came to be so close to Dana, other than the promise he made to her husband. I ha so many questions about the characters and the world they lived in.
Its well written, but the whole story felt very much like it was the prequel for a series maybe, and as that it would have made sense, but as a stand-alone it just felt a little flat for me.
Stars:Three, interesting story but it felt a little too confusing to work as a story on its own.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Lionheart, Thea Harrison
I was wondering what to read next recently, I love to re-read good novels and this trilogy flicked in my mind as one I’d really enjoyed, and then only a couple of days later the final book appeared on Netgalley 😉 Yay!
Sadly though I loved the first two books in this series this one, well, not so much 😦 and just have to say here, I hate that cover. That guy just doesn’t do it for me. I get that Oberon is tough and growly, not a slight, pretty boy type, but that guy just looks hairy and – dare I say it – a little chubby rather than muscly……and that ‘tache!! Still, I’m sure he’s a hit for others 😉
Where books one and two were very people orientated and we had lots of action, drawing in so many different characters, it felt like the bulk of this book was just Oberon and Katherine, and I didn’t really enjoy that part. I’m glad he wasn’t a sap when he saw Katherine, that he was his own abrupt, arrogant, imperious self, even when they did fall for each other. Equally I love that Thea has strong women as heroines, no simpering misses, no-one that can be described as “his little….” that always infuriates me. Just strong, confident ladies. They often have issues, but that’s a world away from being weak and easily impressed. I did enjoy their battles, where neither backed down.
I love Puck, and I’m glad we saw more of him, he’s a strange character, I so feel for his past and the effects it had on him, and that makes him very unpredictable. His heart is for Oberon ( and Sophie) and he’s ultra protective, giving nothing for convention, politeness, politics, just takes the course of action that feels right to him. That gives Thea a freedom to introduce all sorts of events….
I missed seeing the characters we’d met in the earlier books, they were there but so briefly considering the size of the book, and that affected how I enjoyed it. It just didn’t feel properly connected to those earlier ones. I do like the link with the elder Races but you don’t need to have read them to enjoy this trilogy.
The battle with Isabeau, when it finally came, felt anti-climatic, there had been so much build up through previous books and then it seemed to be over in a trice. It made it feel a bit of a non event for me. I’d guessed a way back what was going to happen, not quite how but the seeds for the event were pretty generously sown.
Stars:Three and a half, fabulously written as always with Thea – that parts a solid five stars, but the rest just didn’t live up to books one and two for me. I really missed meeting all the others, missed the actual world connections, Lyonesse v the world we know, the magic that connects it, and they way Oberon’s people have been fighting so hard for Lyonesse and him on both sides of the divide. I felt so much of this book was just Katherine and Oberon and they took over too much of the story for me. I also felt the ending was a little anti-climatic somehow, all that build up and then…..
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Daughter of Light and Shadows, Anna McKerrow
Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy
I’ve just finished a reread of the amazing Sarah J Maas Court of….and another favourite trilogy, Jeffe Kennedy’s Covenant of Thorns, and was expecting something along those lines. I love novels that have a fae story-line.
Sadly I was disappointed, this never really got going for me, I felt a disconnect between me and the characters, I didn’t really feel the sensuality between Faye and either of the two contenders, and didn’t really understand the whole plot. It seemed very light, very small to base a whole book around it and maybe if some of the side issues had been fleshed out, provided more drama it may have worked better for me. But, I did skim read from about the half way mark, it wasn’t working for me ad I wanted to finish, so possibly I missed something.
As always though the reminder reading is very subjective, and what suits one reader is awful for another and vice versa. This book could be exactly what you want, especially of you found the two trilogies I named and loved to be too intense for you.
Stars:Two, a book that just didn’t suit me, and for me is nothing like the Sarah Maas trilogy. Could be perfect for you though.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Wolf Unleashed, Jessica Meats
Genre: General fiction (adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy.
I really wanted to love this book, it sounded so interesting, a unique take on the genre.
It has some excellent characters too, and an interesting plot-line that I can see developing further within future books.
And yet….it was interesting, it was well written, paced to keep the reader engaged and yet somehow I kept putting it to one side.
Possibly it was the sheer unpleasantness of the idea of keep werewolves as pets/slaves, and of breeding them for that purpose, taking away the children and selling them. Its all too reminiscent for me of the human trade in slaves where non whites were considered sub-humans and we used and abused them.
Although it made for a great main plot it did make me feel incredibly uncomfortable and guilty as a human for the past atrocities white people forced onto non-whites.
If you can set that aside and enjoy the story for what it is, fiction and well written, then this is a series you’ll enjoy. I might try later books as they come out, I know once the imbalance starts to get addressed I’ll be happier reading about these people.
Its an excellent look at human nature, how ready we are to believe what “the authorities” tell us, which of course is what benefits a few powerful people the most, but gets dressed as if its helping everyone. Cynic? Me? There’s a quote from Edmund Burke that suits this book really well, it goes something like this… “all that is needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. Here we’ve a handful of good people, starting with Crystal, doing something which hopefully will grow, but it isn’t going to be easy.
Even then if Crystal’s brother hadn’t been bitten she would still have gone along with the official line that this treatment of werewolves is essential for them and us.
It mirrors what happens so often, as humans we mostly ignore or turn a blind eye to distasteful practices and injustices until we’re forced to confront them personally.
Stars: Three, a really well written story, but which made me feel so guilty for similar human past practices it affected my enjoyment of the story
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.
Thorne Bay, Jeanine Croft
Genre: Romance, paranormal and fantasy
I enjoyed this story, its a debut novel for Jeanine and a great start. However there were a couple of issues that hopefully will get fine tuned as later books come out. I can certainly see more books in this series, Dean’s story sounds promising, plus of course there are other pack members and the whole keeping the secret in modern times issue.
Its a fun read though I wanted to slap Evan at times for her stupid decisions. Especially when she decides to return home – that’s something we can all see isn’t a good idea, is very unsafe and yet….I did like the chemistry between her and Tristan, and the way he was hot and cold for her – she doesn’t know of course why he seems all over her one moment and giving her the brush off the next, nor why his family and friends are so strange. I liked Tristan, but wanted to know him ( and the others) in a bit more depth really. Nicole, I love characters like hers, and though she plays a big part in the later end of the novel I’d have like to see more of her early, more of her bitchyness and jealousy over Evan. I love the “bad” guys, they really add to a story for me.
I’d guessed what was going to happen, but not exactly how or how things would play out so that made for some fun reading. Its nicely paced, apart from the stupid decisions Evan makes. I did get tired of all the wolf references that kept cropping up at first, when even doesn’t know what they are, it felt a bit like ramming the point home. Yes they’re werewolves, no she doesn’t yet know that, I could do without references to wolf eyes, behaviours, claws etc, like the language issue it felt jarring, overdone. Hopefully as later books come out Jeanine will find the balance, although it irritated I’d still rather have over use than back to the grunting and two syllable words that predominate in so much paranormal romance.
Its not a deep plot but kept fairly simple, which means its easy to follow given its a whole new world setting, with unknown characters. Its hard in a paranormal story delivering all that with an interesting plot, and sometimes simple and well done is better than a poorly done and complex plot, that leaves the reader with too many unanswered questions. I would have liked to know a little more about the main players in the story, and of course how on earth they manage to keep secret what they are. Usually in books like this is by way of some form of Vampire style wipe or alteration of memories, and/or having witches who can wipe clean scenes when things go wrong. If Evan had died what would they have told her family? How would they have dealt with authorities and the inevitable investigations. I think for later books these questions need to be addressed, maybe bring in some other types, or some humans in the know in certain places, IT, local cops etc who can help keep that believable.
My biggest issue was the language that kept cropping up, overly descriptive, using four words when one would do. Its kind of odd because I’m always banging on about books that seem to use only words of three syllables or less, and repetitive language.
When I’m reading a historical story I love to find words I don’t know, that fit the period I’m reading about but in this book words kept cropping up that I had to look up. I’m an avid reader and it rarely happens, I’m pretty literate as far as knowing language ( using it is something else!) but here I found words that I didn’t know, or was uncertain about it they didn’t really feel right in the context used.
I rarely make notes when I’m reading, but after about the 5th or 6th time I started to note the words, “a momentary pulse of igneous green, like St Elmo’s fire, suddenly flickered in his eyes.” In fact St Elmo’s fire is blue or violet, not green, igneous or otherwise….and
igneous refers to rocks and fire rather than colours. You can get green igneous rock but it doesn’t solely mean green. Using language like this its easy to make errors and for me it detracts from the actual story.
A few more examples, canid, sylvan, attestation, “whatever the myriad of secret thoughts quickening behind those unfathomable variegated eyes” that one is easy to understand but feels clumsy. Asseverated, limbal rings ( in an eye), gibbous moon, “mantled the ripples with bands of silver…an otherworldly moon with its strange halo of diaphanous cloud” cilice, syzygy, abnegate, senescence, declivitous, stygian.
I know many of those words, though not all, and not well but they felt out of place, as if the author was trying a little too hard. Sometimes Less really is More. The story is good enough without this, in facts IMO they bring it down. I did notice that past the halfway mark this issue became far less evident and for me that really made a difference.
Stars: three and a half. The basic story-line was a good start to what I hope will be a series, introducing some promising characters, a pack structure within other packs in the US.
KU read, suggested by author.
Hidden Hearts, An Alpha Project Psychic Romance, Eva Chase
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy
I really liked the sound of this and saw that if I went to Eva’s website I could get the prequel novella Burning Hearts, free. Its also on amazon. That gave me an insight into alpha Project and Nicks family. Stupidly I missed there was another book before this one, but I was still able to follow this story easily and have borrowed the first book via KU.
Its a fabulous story, scary in that its all too believable, that some wealthy organisation is trapping and experimenting on those with psychic talents. The prequel sets pout the parents story and escape and this series seems to be about the brothers meeting people for themselves. Poor Nick has the misfortune to get feelings for Carina, who’s working for AP, using her talents to help track down Nicks family, having been told lies about how dangerous and murderous they are.
I really enjoyed the story, but what stops it being five stars is its brevity, just under 200 pages. That means even though I felt the plots and characters were excellent there wasn’t space to fully develop them, let the dangers and suspense really play out and for me that was a real shame. Other love shorter books, and this will be what makes it a five star for them. Horses for courses and all that…
Even though the story was short for me I still want to continue with what is going to be an excellent series, and as I said I’ve now borrowed book one so can catch up with whats gone before.
Stars: Four, a really interesting series, just wish it was a bit ;longer and I could see characters and plots in more depth.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Crossroads of Bones, A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1, Luanne Bennett
Genre:, Sci-fi and Fantasy
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, Luanne is a new-to-me author, but its a story I really enjoyed.
There are some terrific characters here, and that’s really important for me. I loved Katie, a strong and independent lady, not a whiny TSSL heroine. She’s got a mysterious past, is making a new life for herself in her tattoo shop. Her employees are a mixed bunch but really interesting, and as the story unfolds some of them have valuable info for her. I loved her friend Sugar too, a great secondary character who proved very important and was such a treat to read. I really enjoy reading about people who are different in some way, individuals in the fullest sense and Sugar was perfect.
The adventure, the story, the bit that’s the focus of the book was cleverly done, and kept me reading avidly and this book set me up to look forward for the next. I like that there are characters other than the usual vampire/shooters, I love those but I love stories which take things a bit further too. This one was very vivid in the way it played out and even though we’re talking about fiction, specifically fantasy, it all felt so very real to me. The touches of root/voodoo/voudun magic were good and added so much to the atmosphere, and blended perfectly with the setting.
That ending, not a cliffhanger but a terrific, tantalising glimpse of what’s in story for Katie next. I look forward to reading that.
Stars: Four and a half, almost the magic five, and a terrific series opener.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
The Howling, Erin McCarthy
Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance
This is a really short read, novella length barely at just under 1000 kindle locations ( typical books run at 3-5K ) and I rarely enjoy short reads. If I’d known before I wouldn’t have chosen it as all the reasons shorts don’t work for me were here.
I read quickly, but I’ve a friend who reads just a few pages a night. She loves novellas as she can finish them while still remembering how they started. She’d probably like this book.
I found the story a little confusing at times, so much seemed to have already happened with Sebastian and Scarborough and the pack, and we just get a quick recap of events through memories, dreams and dialogue. There simply isn’t the length in the story to let that play out. I hadn’t realised at first that it was so short and spent time looking for earlier books as it felt like I’d jumped into a series and should know what had already happened.
I didn’t really like any of the characters, Scarborough was just two faced and an ambitious, amoral schemer, Sebastian had what felt like weird reasons for not asking Liv to marry – why not just Talk to her? And Liv, she was a bit of a mix, so in love with Sebastian, allegedly, but when he disappears with her money she doesn’t think “oh, this is out of character. I wonder if everything is OK, where he’s gone, why he did this?” Nope, she just falls into Scarborough’s waiting arms and is about to marry him six months later. Some Love she held!
As for that sex scene, where she thinks she’s dreaming – hey, would that all dreams were that lifelike. I don’t think so…..
So a book that was a fail for me, in part because its just too short to allow the story to play out properly, which is why I avoid novellas. Having got to the end I still wasn’t really sure just what it was all about, the dreams/premonitions just felt too slick and weren’t really treated as a plot properly IMO, Liv fell into accepting werewolves – and that she was one – with just an “OK then, werewolves are real. Cool beans” well, along those lines ;-). The big fight was soon over and all was happy…. full length it could have been a story I enjoyed, this length it was a fail.
Stars: Two, if you like shorts and novellas you may love this, I don’t and didn’t 😦
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers