Boundary Broken, Boundary Magic Book 4, Melissa F. Olson
Genre: General Fiction (adult) Sci-fi and Fantasy
I found the first book involving Lex and Quinn a couple of years back, and avidly devoured that trilogy, then went on to read everything else Melissa has written about the Old World.
This series and the sister one overlap with characters from each making cameos and being referenced in both. Its one of those series I love to reread, and in fact have recently just done that, working my way through all the books and novellas. I’m not certain if this is the start of a new trilogy, it certainly lays the seeds of a bigger story but this tale is complete in itself.
Its that same gripping writing as all the earlier reads, convincing me that witches and magic could be real, vampires and werewolves could exist.
Even in fantasy I have to be convinced that IF the supernatural world was real this scenario could happen, and Melissa does that for me every time.
There are no magical shortcuts, no solutions pulled from thin air but ones that are hard worn, take their toll on the characters and take me time to work out how things can be resolved. I’m usually struggling to find that answer until I reach it in the story – nothing her is predictable!
I love the mix of characters, Lex and Quin, Lex sister’s voice, chiming in on occasion, silent – constrained by rules – on others. There’s her brother in law John, father to Charlie, who’s had to be brought in to the Old World secrets because of Charlie’s abilities which make her a target.
Maven, vampire leader extraordinaire, she’s an amazing character, I like her even if she is incredibly pragmatic at times. She’s old, she hasn’t got to that age without some hard decisions. In common with many vampires and werewolves she sees humans as unimportant, and Lex balances that and reminds her of how there are better ways than just killing ones who threaten Old World secrecy.
Then of course there’s Simon, Lily and the other witches. They’re the mainstay of this story but there are others from past stories and new ones to meet.
I really enjoyed meeting Tobias again, and seeing how he’d progressed from the sad life Lex – or maybe Scarlet – rescued him. I can remember him clearly, just not which book it was…. 😉
Once more the story races along, events building to an incredible conclusion with little side plots happening and seeds being sown for what I hope are more books, further developments between the witches, werewolves and vampires. This and Melissa’s other books aren’t the usual supernatural light, fluff read, but more fully developed, real stories, events that feel genuine, and solutions that are at times hard to take. I love them.
Stars: five, another cracking read, another for the keeper files and I so hope there’s more to come 😉
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Bad Moon, (Bad Duology Book 2), Shyla Colt
Genre: general fiction (Adult), Sci-fi and fantasy
Well, where to start? I guess with the fact that I persevered and got to 30% but simply couldn’t finish this book. I hadn’t a clue what was happening, didn’t really like or empathise with any of the characters. I missed that it was book two so in an attempt to understand I read the sample of book one when I finally tracked it down but that doesn’t seem to relate at all to this one? Confused? I was….
It wasn’t helped by the bad grammar and spelling issues that made it hard to understand what was happening, or the swapping of characters speaking without telling the reader, and the verging from third view to first which was weird. No book is perfect, we’re human, we make mistakes but there were so many here that combined with a story that confused me I just gave up. Its surprising as Shyla is a very prolific author so I’d have expected proofreading to be more accurate. Errors such as “soil yielded monster talks yearly” “The silky a lot of her best friend Kennedy” Chapter two starts with “….stepped into the masculine space.” Then talks about vampires, so I assume its a vampires room but next paragraph she’s walking into her own bathroom…talking about hair colour, her father apparently has bright right locks ( red?) then there were words and phrases added that just felt wrong or overdone. “small pumpkin Spice shaped latte purse” “she sensed an ellipsis behind the sentence, letting her know that could change” “the danger within lied him” these and more were within the first 15% and added to the fact I just didn’t like the characters or really feel any story development I pushed myself to 30% and then gave up.
As I said Shyla is a prolific writer and I’m sure has many fans who will love this book but for me her writing style and my reading tastes just don’t mesh. Make your own judgment, it could be a story you love if you can get past the issues I had.
Stars: Two, one to pass for me. I just didn’t ever really understand what it was about but I DNF it.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Heart of Ice (Alice Worth Book 3) Kindle Edition
by Lisa Edmond
Genre:Fantasy and sci-fi, romance
I was lucky enough to get a copy of heart of Malice via Netgalley and loved it. Found Heart of fire on KU, and now this one. Its a fantasy read with a solid strand of romance, and which also delivered an exiting plot, ongoing over the series but with each book being complete in itself. You could read this without the earlier ones but you’ll get far more if you know the back story, the characters and the motivations. So many fantasy romance are just an OTT romance, with a thinly veiled fantasy backing it, so I love to find gems like this, books that are solid five star reads.
The stories revolve around Alice and her past, and her job as a PI. She’s in a romance with Sean, alpha of the local Werewolves, and as she isn’t a shifter, that’s not gone down well with all of them. In addition there’s local vampire Charles. He’s pretty high in Vampire structures and has made no secret of his attraction to Alice. He seems to think her being with Sean will wear off, and of course Vampires have the luxury of time. And are masters of manipulation – but so is Alice, her past has taught her to watch for all catches. Thinking in 12D she calls it at one point, and that sums it up perfectly.
There’s a section towards the end of the book when I was afraid of what was going to happen, really got drawn in to the story and wasn’t certain how Alice could sort things to everyone’s satisfaction. The route she took – wow, what a risk, but I understood perfectly why she didn’t take the easier way, and oddly I also understood Sean’s seemingly ungrateful reaction. Sometimes when we have a big scare it does make us react in what seems an odd way, does throw up all sorts of odd feelings. That unpredictability is what makes this series a must read for me, Lisa really keeps me thinking, working out what may or may not happen, where the story is going, what Alice is going to do and how….and all that I love to read. Its a story to get lost in, lose the real world for a few hours, and one I’ll re-read right through when all the books are out.
There’s secrets all round here, with characters knowing bits about each other but not the whole story, links to past events and books, and a whole new investigation for Alice which of course brings her into danger, and adds to the overall story arc. Its another tautly written adventure for readers who want more than thin plots and grunting alpha males who spend the greater part of the book having sex…..there’s sex here but it fits the story, doesn’t dominate it as in so many fantasy reads.
Stars: Five, a fantastic read, a great addition to the series and a welcome change from so much fantasy romance dross that dominates the best sellers.
Copy via KU.
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
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.
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
Hunt the Moon, (Mated by Fate 1), Kari Cole
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy
I enjoy paranormal romances, so this appealed. I did feel at first as if I’d made a mistake as it seemed to be rather cliché ridden and I thought it was going to be one of those where frankly the romances are more or less the same and only the characters and settings change. As the story continued though I found I was wrong, it took its own path, and was a decent read.
I did find Izzy’s conversion to meat eating a little weird, and also the fact that she’d managed to control her wolf and sustain herself ( though not healthily) on a vegetarian diet. Its find for humans but wolves?? The thread that usually goes through all shapeshifter books is a hungry wold is a dangerous one, and Izzy’s career choice took her into stressful, dangerous and blood filled areas.
Still, an interesting read, even if I did want to smack Luke a few times for his alpha posturing in front of Izzy. He just about stopped short of calling her Little Woman, but somehow I got the impression barefoot and pregnant in his kitchen was how he saw her ideal future with him, when she’s go so much more to offer. He did grow to see just how strong she was and respect it but those early scenes were irritating for me.
I did struggle with how was who and where they fitted in the story. For a long while it felt as if I was reading a spin off series and should know who all these folk where and how the pack arrived at the position it was in. I can’t find any other books though so I guess I’m wrong there.
Stars: Three, slow start, a bit confusing at times but overall a decent read.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Day Reaper, Melody Johnson
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy
I loved the first three in this series, but this final novel was a real disappointment for me.
Its a complex cast of characters, not just the usual Humans and Vampires, but Night Bloods, Day Walkers and The Damned too. At times they overlap a lot, and I had to keep reminding myself of the differences between the groups. Its not always a s clear as it seems with Walker being a Night Blood who is out to kill Vampires ( and The Damned and Day Walkers), Ronnie who’s a Vampire but can’t seem to thrive on blood, and Cassidy’s brother Nathan transformed to one of The Damned back to Something Else….he still has the same characteristics of The damned, but not the murderous impulses and rages.
The friendships that were such an integral part of the early stories take a battering, with Cassidy fighting her friends to convince them she, Dominic and co can work with them, that they are on the side of good despite being vampires. At times its hard seeing which way either side will go. Harsh too that bonds of friendship were stretched, that Cassidy’s friends were so ready to just dismiss her, write her off a Vampire=Bad. It’s difficult too, to know who is going to help and who is just going to take advantage of the situation and change sides, or revert back to their history of preservation at all costs, or killing non humans, believing they are all evil.
The thing that really got me from this book was the credibility. Dominic has been so strong throughout, loyal to his coven, a great leader ( though I’m not sure why when the Levelling is a regular event he wasn’t more prepared…) but in this book I felt he became emasculated and that Cassidy became what I hate in fantasy reads, one of those recently transformed characters who have endless new powers popping up to save the day. It just doesn’t feel real that someone who only weeks earlier learned about vampires, gets transformed and becomes The Great Savior, so to speak, not struggling with her days only transformation but able to think clearly, adapt and do what Dominic and the others with their combined thousands of years experience can’t. I know part of it is the friendship she has with the humans but its just a step too far for me. A per hate, one that I guess won’t bother many readers, but for me which always spoils novels when it happens. 😦
I felt much of this story was dragged out just to fill pages, and perhaps the books would have been better condensed into three. Dominic could have been left as the strong, intelligent character he’s been for hundreds of years, with his quick, strategic thinking, The focus could have stayed on the Levelling, which as a huge part of the early books seemed to fizzle out into a non event really, and less attention put on Cassidy as the Saviour of Everyone! No New Girl saves the Day, keep my pet peeve out.
Stars: Three, a really disappointing ending for me, still a good read but this final book lacks the special qualities that the earlier ones had, the thing that made it such a perfect read.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
The City of Brass, S. A. Chakraborty
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