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The City of Brass,  S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass,  S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass by [Chakraborty, S. A.]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was so excited to get this book, I’d read the amazon sample and it seemed a fun and unusual read. Thankfully there’s a glossary included because its full of new and curious people and creatures.
I loved the world the author has created, I could feel the heat, the hustle and bustle and that was really well done. I liked the different beings too, felt very magical, almost reminded me of the old Sinbad et al films my kids used to love.
I started off liking Nahri, but as the story grew she seemed to lose that spark of independence, that charisma that drew me to her, and by the second half just seemed a whiny girl. I loved Dara, honest in as far as a Daeva is honest, like so many of their type they often circumvent the truth and talk in riddles almost. It’s clear he doesn’t like Nahri, and they scratch up against one another, both full of distrust. Nahri has no choice though, you can’t go home as they say, so she has to go forward with him. She also wants to know more about her past, and hopefully a better future. When we first meet him Dara seems jaded, tired of his life, of all the things he’s done, many of which weigh heavily on him. He seems to view taking Nahri as a chore almost, something he has to do but doesn’t want to. Then we meet Ali, second son of the king. I wanted to like him but though he seemed to have a good heart he was very naive for his position and I didn’t see him as being a strong character when it was needed, in contrast to Dara who would do what was needed without hesitation. Ali didn’t like the way things were run, could have stopped up, could have tried to right things but seemed too apathetic really, content to fund small changes and quiet his conscience that way.
The story though seemed to meander, little interludes of drama breaking it, but I never really understood the point, didn’t see where it was going, what was the aim. It just seemed to drift, Dara, Nehru and Ali seemed to react only to events, never had any real plans, were never working towards a purpose, it felt like they were just drifting towards the city, fighting through minor mishaps and skirmishes but no actual plan other than to get there. I couldn’t help feeling “and then what will they do?”
Then the ending – and to be fair I skim read from about 40% as I was bored but wanted to see how it ended. I hate it when that happens, when someone major is lost, and I just have the horrible feeling that its going to be one of those rabbit out of the hat successes, where that character isn’t lost, returns despite all appearances, and I just don’t like that. (Think Dallas in the early 1980’s for those of you old enough to remember!) I didn’t want them to go, but hate that kind of comeback. I’m sort of talking in riddles here, but trying not to give anything away as of course there are many readers for whom this is the perfect novel. Sadly I’m not one of them. With a few changes I could have loved this, more direction and planning, some shaping of key characters, it’s so full of potential, such a unique and fascinating world, but as it is is a series I’ll pass.

Stars: Two and a half. So much I could have loved, but the story itself let it down.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Shadow Hunt ,(Disrupted Magic 3), Melissa F. Olson

Shadow Hunt ,(Disrupted Magic 3), Melissa F. Olson

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic Book 3) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: general fiction(adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy.
I love this series, and the sister series set in the same world. It was that one, featuring Quinn and Lex that brought me the the Old World, and let me to buying more and being lucky enough to have some review ARCs too.

I love Scarlett, she’s in a tough and dangerous world, has to do things that her heart really isn’t in, but which are necessary to protect others. It means she’s alone though, having to keep family and human friends at a distance as they can and will be used to get to her.

One of her few human friends from the early days is Jesse, and he’s a human that’s been allowed to know about the Old world because of the way he learned about it via his police job, and because Dasheil, Vampire leader for the city, feels he could be useful. Jesse is retired from the police now, but still very much friends with Scarlett and helps her when she needs assistance.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Jesse, wanted him and Scarlett to be together but through the series its never been the right time for either and they have both been in other relationships, and just remained good, true friends.

Its another exciting adventure, bringing into play characters, enemies Scarlett thought had been neutralised – or at least a truce reached with them. The attack, when it comes, is very unexpected, and once more its Scarlett and Jesse in the thick of things, rescuing those they love, and trying hard to prevent a massive tragedy and loss of life. We meet a few new characters, catch up from some from past stories and Maven, we learn a bit more about her too!
I really enjoyed this, perfect pacing, perfectly balanced and “realistic” within fantasy realms 😉 situations. The why ad hows were the usual puzzle for me, with me thinking “ooohhh…riight” when all was revealed. And the ending, Sob, just perfect.

I’m glad the way is open for more Old World adventures, I’ve grown close to many of these characters, and would love to read more from them. Molly and Wyatt, Maven, Will and Sashi, there’s so much more to learn about all these guys, plus Jesse and Scarlett of course 😉

Stars: Five all the way, fabulous finish to the trilogy. More please Melissa!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Vampire Fight Club, Larissa Ione

Vampire Fight Club, Larissa Ione

Vampire Fight Club by [Ione, Larissa]

Genre:  Romance

I love Larissa’s writing, but somehow lost track of the series after reading the first few Demonica books. Still, I’d read enough to follow this story, I think possibly if you haven’t read any you could still enjoy it 😉 Its a short, hot paranormal, set in the Demonica world.
Its not a complex story, that’s good as its so short…I don’t often read novellas for that reason, they don’t have space to let me really get to know the worlds and characters in the story, but when its part of an existing series it works for me.

I liked Lena, she’s had a tough upbringing and is now facing death but before that she’s determined to get revenge on whoever killed her brother, the one that understood her, protected her, not the two that have made it their work to torment her. With her loving father dead and now Vaughn gone she’s alone, and for her last weeks she’s going to find the killer.
That brings her in the sphere of Nate, manager of Thirst, and the cruel vicious Demon, Fade….and maybe death too soon. Of course Larissa throws in events that change what’s going to happen very rapidly, and of course there’s sex…lots of it, hot and sensual.

It’s a series that features sex demons as main characters, so its no surprise the main books have that angle, but even this short does -however it fits the general story line, and is not the more-sex-than-story issue I so hate. There needs to be a balance, and Larissa always seems to find it 😉

Stars: four, a fun addition to the series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Trilogy Book 3) by [Bouchet, Amanda]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

The final stretch, and what a fantastic trilogy this has been. A mesh of traditional legends, Gods, Goddesses, fantastical creatures and imagined kingdoms. Amanda has taken bits of stories we all grew up with and shaped them into an amazing story that had me gripped right from the start.

The characters, a real mix, and finding out some of the ones Cat has known for years were actually more then just magical humans came as a shock to her. Griffins family, she wishes she’d been brought up that way, secure in her parents love, but her upbringing was very far from that. Griffin and his siblings and parents support each other at every turn, Cat’s siblings were forced to fight each other and their mother for their lives, and killing her sister scarred Cat’s psyche in unimaginable ways.
When she ran, aided by Thanos, and found the circus they became her family for many years, but she kept secret inside her talents, her magical skills. Then Griffin came into her life.

Griffin has been incredible, he’s ambitious, but not for power, for peace. He wants to reunite the fractured kindoms and stop all the fighting, the abouse by those in power, the cruelty and murders, but he’s happy to stand behind Cat, to take second place as he knows she’s meant to be the figurehead.
Turns out much of what he feels is real, that he and Cat were shaped for each other, given the skills to get this done but that doesn’t mean its plain sailing. They’ve come so far but still have a big battle in store, Cat’s mother won’t give up her kingdom easily, and Cat knows just how powerful she is.

I love the way this plays out, as with the other two books there are battles, both on a large scale, and small with just Cat, Griffin and sometimes some of the others from Elpis team.
There’s a backstabbing betrayal that comes as a shock, there are multiple times they face death and scrape by aided by one of the Gods, or by a talent they’ve gifted them in the past – nothing was ever free though, they had to prove they had the skills, they were right to hold that gift.

I love the way Amanda has dealt with my pet hate, when characters are right on the edge of losing and one of them gets a new power and miraculously is skilled and wins the day. Mostly she has them use powers we already know they have, having worked hard to refine the use of them. There are times when they are almost in the situation I’ve described, but they have to really think about, understand the consequences of using what they have, and often it doesn’t go right first time, or even fourth time, and they need a quick Godly rescue 😉
I want my characters to have to work to win, to have to make tough choices, to really understand what it is their asking, doing, wanting.
I need them to practice to get the skills they need, not just whip them out of a hat at the tough moment, and Griffin ensures Cat and the rest of the team do all that.
There’s lots to understand to about him and Cat, why and how they are who they are, the consequences of their actions, their pasts and how that has affected them.

Of course it culminates in an amazing battle bringing in so much of whats gone down earlier in this book, and in the previous two.
I love stories that do that, build on events and characters, let them play a full role in how the story ends, not just a bit part along the way.

Way back when I read the first part of Charlie N. Holmberg’s  Magician trilogy, I wrote that I thought it would make a fantastic family film – and a couple of years later Disney picked it up.
I really think this trilogy would be a terrific film too, but more for new adults upwards. There are scenes between Cat and Griffin that are very sensual, which belong to the story, show their connection, but which would probably get toned down too much or disappear if this became a family film, and that would be a real loss IMO.

Stars: five, a fantastic trilogy, gripping, entertaining and one to keep.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Water Viper ,(Jesse Alexander 1), R.J. Blain

Water Viper ,(Jesse Alexander 1), R.J. Blain

Water Viper: A Jesse Alexander Novel by [Blain, RJ]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

My first novel by this author, got it as part of some free book offer, I’d read the amazon sample and wanted to read more. Sadly I didn’t note exactly how I came by this book, just found I’d filed it in the review collection….

Its a long book at almost 500 pages, and usually I love long books but TBH at times this felt a bit Padded, a little too much Filler and – heresy for me saying this – I think if it had been a little more succinct it would have been better for me.
There were story-lines which looking back the day after finishing I can’t recall what was their purpose, nor what the resolution was in some of them. I’m thinking here of who was behind the second bounty/kidnapping attempt, the one where Henry and Anatoly find her? There are other parts too which were funny the first and second times but after a while….they got old. Its frustrating reading plots and then finding they don’t actually add anything to the story.
I didn’t see how on earth, even cleverly disguised, she thought she was still getting away with fooling everyone about who she really is/was when she was day to day living with people who she classed as friends, who knew her very well.

Set against those moans though was some subtle humour, some terrific characters, and a really interesting new world post Starfall, with a good mix of paranormal creatures. Sometimes the shifter/magic types stories feel like I’m reading the same ones but with minor plot changes and new names. This was very unusual and I really liked it.
Overall, even with my caveats, I really enjoyed the story, and would be happy to read more Jesse Alexander stories, or other characters set in this world. I think it has a lot of potential, and is an interesting take on a genre that can get tired from all the stories set in it.

Stars: Four, an interesting read, one I really enjoyed but which dragged at times, losing it a star.

 

Maid of Ice, Shona Husk plus black friday audible offers.

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Maid of Ice, Shona Husk

Maid of Ice (Blood & Silver) by [Husk, Shona]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

I hate the title of this book, its horribly “twee”, sounds more like a 70’s M&B title than a contemporary fantasy.
Don’t let that put you off though becuase under that awful title is the third novel in a fun and unusual fantasy world.

Each book is slowly building on this world, where supernaturals who can do magic live unnoticed among humans. Barely noticed actually, though there’s a group called Guardians who want to rid the world of all of them.
The battle between Albah and Guardians has been one from centuries back, and currently there’s supposedly a truce, though its looking more and more that the Guardians have been killing off Alba in what were first thought of as accidents.
The Guardians main grump is that the Albah can make vampires, Albanex, and those can create mayhem in their search for human blood.

There’s more to the story, the Albah are concerned that their race is dying out. They’ve kept themselves isolated and hidden for so long, but the threat of the Guardians has made many of them drop out of the group, go their own way. The fracturing of the group like this, and the actions of the Guardians have made them a weakened society, and there are those that think its time to be proactive, make changes.
Its a tough time for them right now, Finlay’s dad is the Albah King, leader of all, and that’s part of why Finlay doesn’t join in, share with the group. He was conceived as a kind of duty baby in his eyes, brought up by his father when his mother left to go on to have another family with the man she loved, and to do her job protecting Keepers.

Keepers, they’re a third arm – centuries in sleep, they’re the people who hold all the old secrets, and people like Archie, Findlay’s mother, protect their hidden sleep places. Finlay has always felt abandoned by her, his stepmum died when he was young, and he’s regarded her as his mum. He just doesn’t want to join in on Albah stuff, wants to stay alive and live his life, believing that maybe it is time they died out as a society. Then he meets Alina, and gets a taste of what that could be like and its not the way he envisaged.

Alina has no idea what she is, her mother has kept them on the move, away from her family and done her best to keep Alina’s water magic hidden. When she meets Finlay circumstances bring her heritage to light, and place both of them in extreme danger.

Its an entertaining read, not as good IMO as the last story but still very interesting. I wasn’t quite convinced of the love between Alina and Finlay, that’s the main issue for me. Their romance seemed to go from nothing to full pelt with little in between. What did work well here though was the story-line that advanced the overall novel arc, leading up to what looks to be at some point a gripping fight involving all of the factions, and before that happens Finlay and those like him need to decide what they want from the group. Do they see a future for them or not, will they fight or give in?
Finlay makes his choice here, but with others having broken off from the main group, tracing them is going to be a hard challenge and time is running out fast.

Stars: four, not quite the five star read of the last novel for me, but an excellent installment moving forward the overall story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

Beneath the Skin, Lauren Dane

Beneath the Skin, Lauren Dane

Beneath the Skin (de La Vega Cats) by [Dane, Lauren]

Genre: sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

A reworking of an earlier series, this is book three.
I hadn’t read first two books, and they’re not on netgalley or available to buy, and that’s a shame as it would have helped the story a bit. There are characters and events from those that crop up here, and would have made understanding motives etc easier.
There are terms too – The Bringer, and the Jambouree – that I kind of worked out as I went along, but which would have been good to know early on exactly what they were.

Anyway, its a pretty fast flowing story, succinct and yet packed with action. I loved Mia, a strong lady, she’s no Baby to be tucked in a corner….and she’s a perfect foil for Gibson, tough guy, charged with overseeing justice for the pack.
He’s a real ladies man, but he’s also a true gentleman. He’s secure enough in his own skills to enjoy Mia’s strength, knows he wants to protect her but has to let her do so much for herself. Its who she is, and he has to let her be that person if they are to be happy together.

I enjoyed meeting the rest of the family, seeing how the Cats all connected, and working out what was going on, who the bad guys were. Its not a brain taxing thriller, but a fun and sexy suspense, and a perfect HEA sensual read.

I have to finish with a bit that made me snort. On my review blog i have a post called bad sex terms – and this has to go in, it’s perfect. “he nudged at her gate, pushing in very slowly. thick and meaty he filled her up…..” WTF? Her gate? Thick and meaty?? Oh that had me sniggering like a twelve year old….

Stars: five, bad sex terms aside 😉 its a fun short, a sexy and sensual quick escape into the supernatural world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Booke of the Hidden, Jeri Westerson. Hardheaded, Deep in the Heart Book 1, Kim Law

Booke of the Hidden, Jeri Westerson

Booke of the Hidden by [Westerson, Jeri]

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy

I really wanted to like this book, sounded a fun read, and to start I thought it was going to be OK…and parts of it were, its just that there were also some strange parts ( and I don’t mean her name), too many convenient co-incidences, people who she needed to know who just appeared at the right time, too many mysteries and unexplained things that didn’t really seem to lead to much.As for the bikers…the least scary scary people I’ve ever read I think. I’m not sure whether we’re meant to be afraid of them or whether they really are meant to come off as ridiculous as they seem to be.
Its got potential as a series, but for me this isn’t a good start. The characters seemed very stereotypical, rather than genuine, Kylie an odd person – who does that, just ups and starts a tea and herb shop without checking to see if you can actually make a living from it, that there is call for it, there isn’t another already there who do it bigger and better….It was a struggle to finish, and I really wasn’t invested in the story despite really looking forward to it.

Stars: two, sounded good, may get better but a bad start for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hardheaded, Deep in the Heart Book 1, Kim Law

Hardheaded (Deep in the Heart Book 1) by [Law, Kim]

Genre: General fiction (adult), Romance

I usually love Montlake books, so it came as a bit of a shock that though I liked this book, that was all 😦

Its a good story, has some terrific characters ( I especially liked Little and Big Red!), and the premise of the show added a different edge.
Its just that somehow for me the whole thing failed to really gel, I didn’t really ever feel the settings of the characters were real. That’s so important to me, I read to get lose in another world, to lose this life for a while and immerse myself in another.
Here though I just always felt like an onlooker, so though I enjoyed the story, when I reached the end I didn’t feel sad, didn’t miss characters I’d come to love, and I know its a story that’s a one time read only for me.

I can’t really explain why I feel this way. Its possibly that all the characters were so nice, and I use that word deliberately. There wasn’t any nastiness, jealousies, the closest it got was Marci ( I think that was her name ) calling Jill a two-bit orphan, or something along those lines.
With all these “good” characters there wasn’t any friction, and for me that  makes a book.

I love it when sparks fly, I love some genuine temper. Though Jill flipped a couple of times it wasn’t as if she didn’t have provocation, and that’s the only hint of any real drama I felt.
The issues between Jill and Cal were really storm-in-a-teacup, and I just couldn’t see how they were so at odds about what the other wanted, how the other felt when they were supposed to be so close, so in love. Yes they were young when they married but did they ever actually talk to each other?
I just couldn’t see things would play out as they did and it didn’t feel right.

Stars: Three, a decent read, but lacked real emotion and drama for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Molten Dusk, The Norse Chronicles: Book 3, Karissa Laurel

Molten Dusk, The Norse Chronicles: Book 3, Karissa Laurel

Molten Dusk (The Norse Chronicles Book 3) by [Laurel, Karissa]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

A fabulous finish, with the tension and excitement ramped up right to the end.
This isn’t one of those reads where you can jump in part way through – you need to start at the beginning or you’ll have no idea whats happening. Its not a run-of-the-mill paranormal, but one which takes on Norse legends and weaves them and the characters into modern day life.
Its so different from most current paranormal offerings and a real treat to read. The romance part is very muted so if you don’t like romance in your reads don’t be put off, its a small part. Personally I love it so long as the story is strong, but I also like reads such as this where romance takes a back seat.
In fact although its clear how Solina and Thorin feel about each other she’s still fence sitting, worrying about that Immortal God v Human paradox. She’s a fiery Star though herself, literally, so not quite just a human….

Helen and Skoll are still a danger and threatening the second Ragnarok. Baldur now has Nina, but she’s struggling with trying to remember her previous incarnations and with his feelings.
He’s less of a wimp in this book – maybe unfair I titled him that in book two but he really did cop out of helping his freinds, saving the world stuff – then again seeing the person you love die time after time after time and trying to find them each re-incarnation must affect one’s mind and priorities.
Val and the Ravens are still a danger, with them knowing a Thought soon as it takes form and being on Helen’s side, but how can Solina and co plan anything without thinking – tough one but aid comes from an unexpected quarter. Can it be trusted though?
There’s still the doubts about the Valkyries Solina has too, she’s not sure if there’s loyalty there or whether they are playing some long game. She knows Skyla is true but doesn’t know about the others.
Helen seems to be one step ahead all the while and she’s making things pretty tough for them, trouble is they have to treat each threat as real even though they know that she’s possibly double bluffing them, and while they fight one threat she’s planning another.
Its real down to the wire stuff this time, and both sides are pretty equal.

I love the characters here, love that the women are all pretty strong. Thor – well, I adore him. I’ve a soft spot for the Ravens too. All these characters have been through so much over the long years, so many battles, so many tragedies.
When Thor talks about his life and family I found it very emotional, and I adore the way he is so in love with Solina, so protective and yet respects her and doesn’t try to stop her from venturing into danger when he knows she needs to do it.

It’s another fabulous read, and the ending is perfect.
Its a fantasy read for Thinking readers, those who want more than the weak story wrapped around a hot romance, that’s sadly so much of the current best sellers lists.
Its story you’ll want to re-read, certainly now I’m planning a back to back read of all three parts.

Stars: five, fantastic ending to an amazing trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Beautiful Ones, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy

I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but it sounded so intriguing I wanted to read it – and what a gorgeous treat it was.

Its kind of curious world setting, one that feels historical with its emphasis on The Season, Elegance and Society, but which also accepts that some people have magical powers, although its supposed to be scientifically explained…
I’m not sure if there are other types of magic in this world, we only meet her and Hector who also is telekinetic.
I’d have liked a little more background about the world setting and the magics within it.

Anyway, Antonina (Nina) is staying with her cousin and his wife for her first Season. Telekinesis is not something one does in polite society, and poor Nina struggles to control her telekinesis. She’s got no one to guide her, and back home was called names and ridiculed for it, but when she’s emotional it flames out of her control. She’s not really suited for society life anyway, she’s intelligent, asks questions where Ladies should be silent, doesn’t like frills and fripperies, dressing up, wasting time on tea parties when she could be out collecting beetles and butterflies, reading science papers etc.

Valerie, her cousins wife is quite the cold b itch. She’s very much a person of Society, very much admired as the most beautiful woman in the city. She likes being admired, being rich, likes the power it gives her, likes her position in society. She’s very calculating.
She’s bitter, acts the loving wife but secretly despises Gaelan having married him for money and position, she resents the close relationship he has with his family.
She’s not happy at Nina staying with them, at the money being spent on her, the attention paid to her and takes every opportunity to politely belittle her, under the guise of helping, instructing her in the ways of Society.

Then Nina meets Hector. She’s a sweet girl, he enjoys her company and conversation, and is teaching her about her telekinesis.
Nina of course assumes he’s someone that accepts her for what she is, and not like the rest of society who ridicule her, call her names, and aren’t lining up to marry her despite her rich dowry. Of course she can’t help falling in love, Hector is a good-looking, charming and a courteous man. She thinks her feelings may be reciprocated, as he’s happy to converse with her about nature, science, and of course the telekinesis that others want her to keep hidden, spends time with her and gives every appearance of being interested in her. There are other things at play though, things from the past she doesn’t know about and all is not as it seems.

I love Nina, such a genuine, kind and intelligent girl. When things went wrong between her and Hector I so felt for her, convinced they were a good match, that Hector felt more than he would admit, even to himself. I wanted them back together but then someone else comes into the picture…..has Hector left it too late?

Its a fun read, I would have likes to know more about the world setting and the magics in it. The supernatural part is very much Nina and Hector only, we don’t meet anyone else even though clearly there are more people. Do they all only have telekinesis or are there other types of magic? How do people get it? Is it some kind of genetic link or just random. There’s no talk of Nina’s family having anyone else who could do things ( that I recall) but Hector had been performing in a troupe as a child, presumably with his parents who must have had some abilities to work in the group. I’d like to have those sort of questions answered.

Stars: Four, its an enjoyable read, a little light escapism for a few hours. I don’t think its one I’ll reread, but is one that will appeal to younger and older readers. Some book suit all ages and this is one.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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